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.

Keizoku Spec 2 (Japanese Drama 2010)

Synopsis:

Like the original series, “SPEC” will revolve around a pair of police detectives as part of a special division solving difficult cases (Mishou). Touma Saya is a woman with an IQ of 201 and an inability to “read the atmosphere” in social situations. Due to a previous case, her left arm is in a sling. Her partner Sebumi Takeru used to be the star performer of the Metropolitan Police. After some incident however, he was transferred to Mishou. Those two track down offenders with special abilities(SPEC) who managed to get away with their crimes.

Words From Me:

I haven’t seen the 1990’s version of Keizoku Spec where this latest drama was based on, but I sure did love the latest one.

Toda Erika as Toma Saya was perfect. It was like the character was made for her. She usually had cutesy or prim-proper roles but here, it was like an overhaul of every drama she did. As for her co-actor Kase Ryo (who speaks perfect English with a US accent), I haven’t seen him in a starring role and am not too familiar with the guy but his acting here as Sebumi Takeru was in perfect sync with Erika’s. The chemistry between the actors was so smooth there were no dull moments even in silence. There character had this specific peculiarities and that’s what made them really interesting. Like in Toma’s case, she has an IQ of 201 which doesn’t really define her – because in actuality she is already eccentric in the first place. She has this great feature of annoying people because of her mannerism and certain habits that are out of place to any normal person, but this does not make her insane, it only makes her different. As for Sebumi, he is the usual honor police with really good fighting skills and a really uptight person. This type of character is what would seem normal and boring, but what makes his role peculiar? It’s the way he handles situations and most of all that specific thing he always carries with him; a brown paper bag which consists of his things – gun, wallet, etc. It kind of makes me wonder why that paper bag never rips and spills all his stuff. LOL.

The story line was continuous, it reveals enough on every episode to make you seat at the edge of your chair to continue on watching and ask yourself, “What’s going to happen next?” or just plainly say “WTF?!?”, yes this is how this show was for me. There were wtf moments, but those are the times which made the show much more fun.

Another boost for this drama is the fact that the soundtrack was also nice. It was kind of funky-pop-ish-rock themed sang by the band The Ricecookers. For those who are into the jrock genre, the theme song would not disappoint. As for the whole OST – it was very much appropriate for every scene.

If you are into sci-fi and mind boggling suspense things with a twist of weird wackiness on the side-lines, this may suit you as it did to me.

Rating this 8/10 – because though I really loved the characters and storyline, there are still limits on this drama, like the fact that there are times when the characters go overboard. I know that’s part of all the drill to make this drama more interesting but still, there’s that point in which how much of that silliness you can take in.

Nobunaga Concerto (Japanese Drama 2014)

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Synopsis:

Saburo, an ordinary high school student, travels back in time to the Sengoku era (1549). He encounters a young lord who looks exactly like him and is told, “Be my substitute. I’m the eldest son of the Oda family, Oda Nobunaga.” After the young lord leaves, Saburo is mistaken for Nobunaga by a vassal and taken to the castle. He starts to live as Oda Nobunaga from this day. The young samurai of the Oda family, which is merely a minor feudal lord, set out towards the extraordinary dream of unifying the whole country through the power of Saburo. 

Saburo, a person from modern times who has no experience killing people, does not understand the willingness of the warlords of the Sengoku era to lay down their lives for their family. It is the same for the vassals too. They have had a hard time understanding Nobunaga’s actions ever since the ill-mannered, wilful Saburo took over. Despite this “generation gap across space and time”, they are soon on the brink of achieving their dream.

Words from Me:

Nobunaga’s Concerto isn’t your ordinary time travel drama where the main character is looking for a way to get back home but instead he decides to live accordingly to the time he was thrown into and do his best.

When I watched this drama, I had a mindset that this was going to be a series full of mishaps, comedy and light mood scenes because the main character had to pretend to be someone who was a powerful Samurai Warlord during the Warring States Period. It did somewhat meet my expectation but what surprised me was the way they incorporated the serious into the funny. The mood tones of this drama was very much well mixed. If you parallel it alongside the real Japanese History before and during the Tensho Era, it does makes sense and goes accordingly to history, only it was elaborated in a very fictional way thus the comedy blends in. I also learned that this drama was also a manga adaptation, I haven’t read the manga yet but I did enjoy this live action.

Oguri Shun as Saburo/Oda Nobunaga was funny, annoying and at the same time full of wisdom when he sets his mind into it. This was another drama than Shun nailed since he had to act two different characters at once. It would have been hard for an average actor to internalize that but watching him here, it was like a breeze turning from one klutzy idiot to being a ruthless samurai.

The other characters I liked are:

Shibasaki Kou as Kicho, she’s the wife of Nobunaga, a very fierce woman who tries to hide her affection from her husband. Her acting complements well with Shun and they definitely have this chemistry going on, regardless if Shun is acting as the fake Nobunaga or the real one.

Mukai Osamu as Tsuneoki Ikeda, Nobunaga’s right hand man. Aside from being good looking all throughout this series (yes, he is good looking so please do not contradict my feelings for the guy, he’s been a long time crush now since Nodame Cantabile *fan girl mode on!*) he had a good role portrayal. I still can’t believe he was duped by the Saburo and he was able to unknowingly assist the guy into being the legit Nobunaga he can be. I liked Tsuneoki’s personality where he follows head in line with his heart and does things smartly and not being rash about his decisions.

Fukiji Naohito as Hanbee Takenaka, this guy! I’m really amazed that the drama is supported by veteran actors like Fujiki. So him, being casted in the later episodes is a bonus for me. I like his role as a tactician and how he worked with Saburo along the way due to his dreams of peace and unity for the whole of Japan.

Issei Takahashi as Nagamasa Azai, his character is someone I could not hate despite the fact that he and Nobunaga are fighting each other’s clans. His acting style and the way he shows his emotions in this drama was something that was really heartfelt. This gave way to a special spot for Takahashi in my own heart.

Yamada Takayuki as Denjiro/Kinoshito Tokichiro/Toyotomi Hideyoshi, maaaaan… this guy has so many names and aliases. I loved his vengeful character and still looking forward to the things he is about to do. I will not say more anything about his role because that in itself will become a spoiler. What I would leave here though is that he was awesome in this drama.

The drama is basically re-watchable, specially the slap stick comedy scenes. It made me laugh out loud to see some of the casts who looks intense at first but becomes idiots the next second. Then there’s also the music. I really love how the Japanese industry inserts there OST into the whole series. It makes everything more colorful and sets off all kinds of feeling or mood depending on the scene.

There is still so much I want to say about this drama but I can’t really put it here due to spoilers, so if some is reading this and want to discuss or do not mind being spoiled, please do send me message. Over all, I am recommending this to those who are interested into Japanese entertainment and its history.