Osozaki no Himawari (Japanese Drama 2012)

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Drama Rating: 9.5/10

Jotaro is a young man who finds himself at loss after losing his job and breaking up with his girl friend. In a desperate move to make something out of his life and find employment, he decided to move from Tokyo City to a small province in Kochi to join the “Revitalization Group” of the Shimanto River. In this place, he meets several people who becomes his friends and shares the same sentiments that he has in life.

What makes Osozaki no Himawari such a special drama is how it portrayed all these types of characters and slowly peeled off their facade to show the kind of person they really are… in a good way.

The story line is very simple, a guy named Jotaro came to a province as a temp worker and in this process he gets to learn and find more about himself then touch the lives of the people around him. The people he meets along the way has their own quirks, but upon watching the episode further, these people show some similarities specially in the way they thought about each other, which made it more interesting. One person envied the other for having what they don’t have but at the same time, that same person is thinking of the exact same thing of the other.

The characters in this drama were portrayed so well that it left me deep impressions on each actor. I am already a fan of Ikuta Toma so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him back into a bubbly character such as Jotaro. Kiritani Kenta, I’ve seen this guy in the movie Solanin and Beck, he definitely has that gangster look and he can easily play that kind of character, but his character in this drama, Junichi – I would have to say that he definitely tried hard to portray a guy who can be really gentle and vulnerable despite his looks and he pulled it off brilliantly. Maki Yoko as Nikaido is one of the characters that really stuck in my head, not only is she pretty but her voice… it resonates in my ears and I love hearing her talk. I feel that she’s really a good actress despite the fact that this is the first drama I’ve seen her in. Her chemistry with Toma was great and I really love the scenes in which they start their phone conversation like this even though they already know who’s at the other end of the line:

Jotaro: Ore, ore. (It’s me, me.)

Kahori: Ore, ore Tada re? (Who’s me, me?)

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I also like the message the drama is sending its viewers, there is no contentment until you’ve experienced something without regrets. Finding ones contentment and happiness depends on the individual, people all get to the point when they’ve lived their lives the same way for so long, think about the past and the choices they made then eventually regret those choices and resent the current situation they are in. Another thing that makes this drama more meaningful for me is that the age of the characters are basically the same as mine, so I could relate so well to it.

The OST was well incorporated to the drama while the opening song was really catchy and very much enjoyable to watch specially when the main characters lip sync along with the song. Because of that, I don’t get tired of listening and watching the intro of this drama. I will also surely re-watch this drama as it has been marked as something dear to my heart.

Recommending it to those who are into a dramas that depicts life and reality, those who are at a cross road and for those who just want to watch something good, light and meaningful.

PHOTOS ARE NOT MINE. CREDITS TO THE OWNER.
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Ajin (Japanese Movie 2017)

Synopsis:

An Ajin is considered as a demigod because they cannot die.

Nagai Kei only wanted to live peacefully, become a doctor and save his little sister from her illness. However, fate wanted something different for him. He discovered that he was an Ajin when he was accidentally hit by a truck and died on the spot but miraculously came back to life. This was caught on video which was quickly discovered by the government. As soon as they got hold of him, they immediately conducted research experiments on his body as if he was a guinea pig.

There were two other Ajins whom the government experimented earlier on, Satou and Tanaka Kouji who were called subject 001 and 002. They were able to escape the facility before Nagai was discovered. Both decided to go back and attack the place to save Nagai. Satou, the main instigator of the raid wanted to recruit Nagai to join their cause in killing humanity and letting only the Ajins remain on earth.

Words from Me:

The main reason I wanted to watch this was because of Sato Takeru and the sci-fi-action scenes wherein I get to see unimaginable things including some gory stuff for the fight sequence. That being said, I wasn’t entirely disappointed with my expectations, however the movie’s narrative felt lacking. It seemed as if it was rushed to give way to the battle that would take place between humans and the Ajin. They weren’t able to highlight the background story of each character which I think was vital for the whole movie to make more sense into what was happening. Another drawback for me was the subtitle. I watched this with crappy subtitles. So I advise those who are planning to watch this to please refrain from seeing it in Kissasian because the hard subs would definitely leave you annoyed and dissatisfied.

Setting that aside, what I liked about the film aside from the main lead and the violence are the other sub characters including the antagonists. I love Shirota Yu ever since I’ve first seen him back in 2007 from the drama “Hanazakari no Kimitachi e”, it was great seeing him here despite being the side-kick of a bad guy. Ayano Go as the main evil guy works well for me too. I liked how he brought his role to life, because his character is the type I would love and hate at the same time. Lastly there’s Kawaei Rina as Shimomura Izumi, the only female character in this whole movie who kicked ass. She may be the smallest and most vulnerable looking in the cast, but heck! This woman could throw punches and give head locks like any other MMA fighters out there.

Music wise, I appreciated the loud rock music that accompanied most action scenes. It made me feel pumped up every time I watched those scenes. Over all I liked the movie and would recommend it to those who wouldn’t mind watching an action packed film despite the lack of background story. I would also suggest to find a better streaming site that hosts this movie and make sure that the subtitles are translated well enough.

Online Shop: It’s Cool to Be Fab

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Instagram Desktop View

 

 

 

Instagram Mobile on Android View

There used to be days when online selling through different social media was the hype… well actually even these days it’s still the same. The only difference in my opinion is that some were able to establish their reputation in the long run and that includes a seller in Instagram who called herself “It’s Cool to Be Fab”.

This isn’t the typical online shop where I was able to download an app and cart stuff because it’s a shop from Instagram. There are a lot of bogus sellers in Instagram so it’s best to check out the comments and the followers to see how genuine the account is. Speaking of followers, this account has a total of 26,500+ followers. Believe me, she’s not an actress endorsing something but a real life seller. I’ve been following this account since 2015 and not once did she ever let me down with my orders. If there’s a problem with the item, she would inform me about it before hand. Sometimes she would include a cute note along with her packages and when I’m lucky enough, she would also give out a couple of freebies but these are usually on special occasions. I also don’t have to wait too long for my orders to be delivered because she has a schedule for shipping. When the payment arrives to her account on the right time prior to her arranged shipment, chances are my bought items will be included in that bunch.

What I like about this shop is that it’s in Instagram and I get to interact with the seller herself. Another thing about the shop owner is that she’s super nice and easy to talk with. I love the products she sells, although most are thrifted, the quality of the clothes are in their best shape as if it’s still brand new. Most online shops in IG are very misleading, because the photos are very nice but when I finally get the item, it would only disappointed me. Not in this shop though, because here, what you see is what you get. She takes pictures meticulously, then posts several photos showing the whole outfit including the details on close up and lastly, she comments about it. Yes, she comments on her own products to verify about the item’s worth. I always take her word for it because I know it would be what it is and she doesn’t give false hope to her clients.

Every collection she would post has a theme of either Japanese, Korean or current trend inspired clothes and accessories, this is also usually pre-announced. When she says 7 pm, she would post stuff during that time unless something urgent comes up. When she starts posting, I suggest to refresh the feeds quickly, since she already has a lot of followers most of the items are easily sold out in no time. Buying is a first come first served basis unless there’s a “bid” or a “steal”. Bidding or stealing means you can buy the item for a higher price than the first person who grabbed the item.

itcfab2.pngSample sold items: So Cute!

There are several ethical rules on online buying in IG accounts or any social media account to be exact, but here is the number one golden rule: Don’t be a bogus buyer. It means, reserving the item but not really paying for it or sometimes asking a lot about the product but don’t have the intention of buying it. That’s really annoying for the seller and a total waste of time. I’ve experienced being an online seller too and it’s such a bother to answer queries and end up not selling anything at all. Other rules and details are already in the IG account so all you have to do is read, browse and buy.

As for the payment, there are different modes of payment and you can also see this in the rules. For those who want to check out the account, you can go directly here: @itscooltobefab – add the account and wait to be approved since it is a private account and only approved people can buy in her shop. This is to verify that the person buying is real and not a bot.

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Over all I enjoyed shopping in her store and even have clothes from her shop that became memorable milestones in my life. Hopefully the shop goes on steadfast and make a lot of other people happy with their clothes.

 

 

Tops in courtesy of @itscooltobefab
3/4 sleeves made in Korea for my 30th Birthday and engagement night.

 

 

Virgin Snow (Korean-Japanese Movie 2007)

Synopsis:

Min moves to Japan following his professor father. One day at a local shrine, he meets a beautiful, long-haired Japanese girl with innocent eyes. Her name is Nanae, and she is an aspiring painter. Min falls for her at first sight. He longs for her but soon learns that Nanae attends the same school to which Min has just transferred.

Min befriends Nanae, and despite the cultural and language barriers, they become fast friends, taking in the famous sites of Kyoto. Their feelings for each other grow, and on a visit to a ceramic store, Nanae promises some day to paint Min’s portrait on the pottery that is made by him. Min continues to learn the craft from his father, and he comes to realize that he has to put all of his heart, the kind of love he feels for Nanae, into making the pottery for it not to crack.

Because of his grandmother’s sudden illness, Min has to return to Korea to be with her. He cannot get in touch with Nanae, and he becomes anxious. After his grandmother regains her health, he hurries back to Japan to look for Nanae, but she is nowhere to be found. Have his true feelings for Nanae not reached her? Why has Nanae disappeared without a word?

Excerpted from: AsianWiki

Words from Me:

I can’t say I loved it but I am not saying I hate it, it was an average kind of film for me. I was probably just expecting so much from it since both main actors are my favorite but the story line was a typical one and there wasn’t anything special or surprising about it. The fact that there was so much hype for the movie prior to it’s screening, it was a bit of let down when I finally saw it and there wasn’t much of the feels aspect in it.

Despite having Lee Jun Ki and Aoi Miyazaki who are both top a rated Korean actor and Japanese actress as the main leads, the movie still didn’t make it into my must watch and recommended movies.

The story was more in the line of innocent love, or love at first sight and has many sweet moments. A girl would love to be treated like how Jun Ki treated Aoi here. It was just so sweet… but then again the character build up was slow (although amazingly it doesn’t have too many draggy moments as I have expected it to be) and the whole story lacked heart clenching moments as it could have been. It really had so much potential, so I wonder what the writer was thinking because the directing and cinematography was beautiful and I had not thing to complain about that. Maybe because this was a Korean-Japanese collaboration, the expectations were high and the pressure was heavy for the writer and producers.

As for the music, it was well done as both Japanese and Korean musicians incorporated their musical scores through out the film and it had a great outcome. It’s one of the things that perked me up. Then add the cinematography in it, the movie became bearable. The colorful views and touches in clothes, back drops and even the things that they hold… it was a pleasure to watch. Seeing Korea and Japan in one movie was breathtaking, making me want to travel there even more.

Crows Zero 2 (Japanese Movie 2009)

Synopsis:

Several months after “Crows: Episode 0” trouble brews again when thugs known as “The Army of Killers” from rival high school Hosen Academy threaten Suzuran High aka the School of Crows. The ruthless Hosen gang go after Suzuran alumni Sho Kawanishi after his release from the reformatory for killing a Hosen member two years back. Kawanishi turns to his younger Suzuran gang members for protection. The Housen gang then seeks outright revenge on the entire Suzuran school, while fighting at Suzuran High makes them even more susceptible to the Housen threat.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

The second installment was not as dramatic and action packed as the first but it definitely had substance. What got my attention during the whole movie was how the characters paved the way to make a real man out of a man. Does anyone get my drift? So who was the best example in the film to show how a real man should act? It was Genji’s father.

Darn! I so love the old man. He seems like the regular kind of yakuza-boss-gangster who only knows how to fight and spill blood, but he definitely says the right thing at the right moment.

Setting the father figure aside, rival gangs are always not my cup of tea when watching violent movies but CROW ZERO II worked on me for some reason. Of course there were still a lot of comparison from the first movie due to many differences, yet watching it still felt good. Even though it may not the best it was still worth my time.

Oguri Shun’s character as Genji-san shall never be forgotten and simply holds a special place in my heart. I’m partly thankful that most of the sub characters made him seem extraordinary. They truly were great in supporting the main character.

The soundtrack was perfect even for the fighting scenes. I love how they have incorporated the music in crucial moments. That’s one thing that I love with Japanese films, they use rock music that really pumps up the adrenaline of anyone who listens to it regardless if the lyrics are understood or not.

I’m recommending this movie even though it’s not as good as the first one, it’s still a pretty neat watch and a great reminder of how cool Genji’s character is.

 

Ao to Shiro de Mizuiro (Japanese Movie 2001)

Synopsis: 

Uchiyama Kaede (Miyazaki Aoi) and Shiina Kasumi (Aoi Yuu) used to be best friends. Now in high school, Kasumi grew more popular than Kaede, which has led her to continually bully her ex-best friend. One day after school, Kaede meets Kishida Takumi (Oguri Shun), a bike thief who’s especially talented in picking locks. She asks him for a favour: if he could possibly open the key to the school roof. Meanwhile, the arrival of a new teacher (Konishi Manami) seems to bring changes to the school.

Excerpted from: Drama Wiki

Words from Me:

The film was short, simple and has a lot in it. Although I didn’t understand 75% of what they’re talking about, I was able to get the gist of the whole movie. What I love about it is that it doesn’t need much words for me to understand what was really happening on screen. Still, I would really love to see this with subs! It was a good watch especially for teenagers who are having troubles in school and bullying.

The film shows two unlikely characters meeting and helping each other in the most critical circumstances. The storyline is quite heavy as the theme is about bullying and suicide. In a place where a person feels isolated and hurt, despair usually creeps in and when that happens, the mind can make a person think irrationally. The ending was pretty much special for me and I personally think it was directed well. The last scene kind of gives you a glimpse of a drastic change due to a decision that was made.

Since this is a fairly old movie, the main characters Miyazaki Aoi, Oguri Shun and Aoi Yu wer still young and looked like they were still in their teens. Even though they were young, that doesn’t mean they did not portray their characters well, because they were good that dialogues weren’t that much important.

That’s all I could say about this movie because if I talk some more about it, I’ll just probably blurt out some spoilers, so I’d rather have people checking it out instead.

 

One Million Yen Girl (Japanese Movie 2008)

Synopsis:

Suzuko Sato (Yu Aoi) is an unremarkable young teen that has trouble fitting in. While her younger brother is often praised for his smarts, her family & neighbors have nothing to say about Suzuko.

One day at work, Suzuko’s co-worker offers to become roommates with Suzoko. Suzuko jumps at that chance to move out of her parents house and they set out to find an apartment. Unfortunately, Suzuko’s friend never mentioned her plan to have her boyfriend Takeshi live with them – until after they sign the lease on their apartment. Making matters worse, on their big moving day Suzuko finds her co-worker a no-show but her boyfriend Takeshi (Ryusei Saito) sits glumly in the apartment. It turns out that the couple recently experienced a falling out, with the boyfriend still intending to move into the apartment without his girlfriend. Things then hit the boiling point when Takeshi throws out Suzuko’s cat. Suzuko retaliates the next day by throwing away all of his belongings and then quickly moves out before Takeshi returns.

The next day at work Suzuko is visited by detectives who ask Suzuko to come in for questioning. It seems Suzuko broke the law by throwing away Takeshi’s belongings and because of this she is fined and receives a criminal record. When news of this spreads to Suzuko’s neighborhood, Suzuko suddenly feels even more alienated. She then decides to save up one million yen with the goal of moving out of town. Suzuko then plans to find another job, save one million yen, and then move on to the next town.

Excerpted from: MyDramalist

Words from Me:

It was much like an indie film, the usual feel for Aoi Yu’s movies. I wonder why she always pick weird roles? Hmmm…

The film was a bit draggy but a couple of indie film lovers would probably like this. The cinematography was quite nice for a low budget film but nonetheless the cast were big timers which was unexpected. I loved Aoi’s role here as Suzuko, she made the character much realistic. Her features would show a calm girl on the outside but could burst like a bubble any moment. The younger brother Satoru was a good supporting actor and made Suzuko’s role much stronger because of him.

The main character Suzuko, skipped from town to town, changing places as soon as she saves up 1 million yen, professing that she’s really not finding herself but instead running away from circumstances that lead from one thing to another. In the end, love crept on to her and she had no way to shrug it off.

Most of the dialogue wasn’t much memorable, except for the one where the main character had a conversation with her brother at the ending part where some sort of confusing revelation or “not?” was given. That particular conversation put my understanding for the last 1/3 of the film into shattered pieces. I think the director or script writer intended to do that so as the viewers would make their own conclusions instead. I usually tend to hate these kinds of open ended finale because it means there are loose ends which I’ll never get over with no matter what kind of conclusion I come up with.

Soundtrack wise, I liked the ending credits song for it’s cute melody. It sort of reminded me of the movie OST for film the “Synesthezia” entitled Gerbera. Over all the film give me a half-hearted impact and wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be.