kutsuwamushi: (they see me rollin')

According to Wikipedia:
Ishikawa Goemon (石川 五衛門 or 石川 五右衛門?, 1558-1594) was a legendary bandit hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor. He is notable for being boiled alive after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A large iron kettle-shaped bathtub is now called a Goemon-buro ("Goemon bath").
This movie is loosely, loosely based on that story--to begin with, this Goemon doesn't get boiled alive, although he does try to assassinate Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

This movie has almost nothing to do with actual history. If you mentioned research to the writers, I'm sure they would have blinked at you as if you were a madwoman.

If I had to describe their approach, it would be something like: "Take one part fantasy Japan, one part video game cut scenes, and one part visual kei. Stir well. Season with popular storytelling tropes such as tragic orphans, maniacally evil rulers, and star-crossed relationships." But that almost makes sense, while the actual movie raises an endless series of questions of "why did they do that?"

(The usual answer must be because it looked cool. This is why Oda Nobunaga wears European plate armor and why the McGuffin that Goemon accidentally steals is decorated in Egyptian hieroglyphs and is called Pandora's box.)

Much of the storyline is revealed through flashbacks, making it even more confusing. By the time that I had finally pieced it together (note: that did not mean it made sense), it had turned rather dark, in that tragic now-it's-suicide-revenge-fantasy way, and the main female character had become even more pointlessly helpless.

Final verdict: Quite silly. There's no point to watching unless you like the style of pretty, or are a fan of action scenes that are set in a world with video-game physics.

Music Time!

Fly, Fly My Sadness - Angelite and Huun-Huur-Tu

Angelite is an offshoot of the famous Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a Bulgarian women's choir. Huun-Huur-Tu is a renowned Tuvan folk group. Combine the two and you get something gorgeously haunting and perfect for a cold, lonely day outside.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)

"But this doesn't look like a time machine at all."

Number of episodes watched: 4

Number of successful edo-period brain surgeries: 3

Number of cholera outbreaks: 1

Love rhombuses: 1

Minakata Jin is a neurosurgeon in modern Tokyo. One night, while treating an assault victim, he discovers a strange tumor in the victim's head--one in the exact shape of a fetus. He removes the tumor, and then things get weird. He's catapulted back in time to 1862, where he has to decide whether sharing his medical knowledge is worth the risk of changing the future.

Some important characters so far. )

I'm enjoying the series so far--of course, or I wouldn't have finished four episodes. Despite the premise making absolutely no sense, the storytelling isn't bad for a semi-historical quasi-sci-fi metaphysical fetus melodrama. The production values are also good.

And just to cheer up [personal profile] sudaki, here are some screenshots only slightly out of context:

Wanna go out? )
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
So, last night I decided to finally clean out the clog causing my bathroom sink to not drain. I unscrewed the trap: no clog. So I took off the pipe directly under the sink, and cleaned that.

Except after putting it all back together, the sink now leaks and also still seems to be clogged, so now I have to call my stepdad and tell him that I'm a moron whose handyman skill did not actually just level up, can you please come fix my sink.


Do not shine pen laser directly into eye.

The first season of Mr. Brain is complete, and I watched all of it. Not that that took much dedication - it's only eight episodes long. I hope there's a second season, because it was getting crazier as it went on.

The whole thing was a fantastic mess of crime drama cliches, from the amnesiac pianist to the murderer who may or may not have split personalities. But it still managed not to feel repetitive, because it wasn't that easy to predict what actually happened even when you know the current plot point being thrown at you is a red herring.

Tsukumo Ryuusuke remained annoying to the very end, but I eventually came to shift some of the blame on the writing. In a show where people jump to conclusions all of the time and (impossibly) have them almost always turn out to be correct, can I really blame the main character for it? He lives in a universe where normal logic doesn't always apply.

His assistant did get a little more personality, as I hoped, but she still felt like a prop. Well, I'm not sure that I should look to cheesy Japanese crime dramas for progressive representation of female characters, but I'll still bitch about it. Here's the bitch: ARGH JUST HIT TSUKUMO UPSIDE THE HEAD ALREADY, HE DESERVES IT. STOP LETTING HIM WALK ALL OVER YOU.

Anyway. I want more.


Yamaguchi Kumiko is a high school teacher with a secret: She's the heir to the Oedo family, an infamous yakuza group. However, she doesn't want to inherit, since teaching is her dream.

There are three seasons of Gokusen, and each one is about Yamaguchi being assigned to a classroom full of delinquents, and gradually setting them on the right path through a mixture of starry-eyed idealism and ass whoopings. Sometimes I'm confused about just what message the show is sending, but for the most part it's full of paeans to the glory of education and friendship. At moments the show is ironically self-aware, but at others, it's an unabashed cheesefest.

I only watched Gokusen 2 in its entirety. The reason is that the show is really repetitive, and it feels like if you watch one season, you've watched them all. The same plot elements are used each time, so the next season is more like a retelling of the story than a continuation of it. The episodes, as well, use a formula - if I had to take a shot for every time Yamaguchi removed her pigtails in preparation to kick the butt of some thug who's framing her student, I would still be hungover. By the last episode, I was fast-forwarding through those scenes.

After watching Gokusen 2, I tried to watch Gokusen 3, but couldn't get into it. I already knew the story, and the students just weren't as appealing as the students in Gokusen 3. And by appealing, I mean "hot, in that Japanese pop idol way." They also didn't have an adorable runt.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
"Hey, sensei... am I the only one with a professional haircut?"

Tsukumo Ryuusuke is a neuroscientist who solves crime. Before that, he was a host, but then a wall fell on him and the resulting brain damage turned him into a genius. He works for the unbelievably advanced and well-funded Institute for Police Science.

Things that the IPS can do:
  • Extract fingerprints from fuzzy security-camera images.
  • Determine the age, place of birth, height, and face shape from someone's voice.
You can probably already tell that there's very little "science" in the Institute of Police Science. It reminds me of a less serious and less plausible version of CSI: New York. There's no way to enjoy this without suspending your disbelief - without nailing your disbelief to the wall in a closet, and then shutting the door and locking it.

I did enjoy it, although the characters are all pretty one-dimensional so far. There's the "cute" quirky genius, the shy assistant, the hard-boiled cop and his earnest young partner... Tsukumo is an annoying archetype, but tolerable. I hope that his assistant gets more depth, because she's kind of cute.

Bonus: I actually was pleasantly surprised by the solution to the mystery.

In episode two, Gackt shows up as a sociopathic murderer on death row, which I haven't watched yet because I'm still waiting for the subtitles. I do wonder how he found eyeliner and hair spray on death row - maybe that's the mystery Tsukumo is called in to solve? I'm looking forward to it.

("He must have used his left brain and his right brain in concert, giving him twice the mental power of an ordinary man! Who knows what he could do!")
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
Ando Natsu (DramaWiki)

ando natsu title image

Ando Natsu dreams of becoming a patissiere, but fate leads her to a traditional Japanese confectionery, where she becomes the owner's apprentice.

It's light, feel-good, and ultimately pointless fluff, shot with a lot of soft focus on a set that looks like it was built in a school gymnasium. There are touching backstories and speeches about making things from the heart and so on.

Nothing is particularly new or interesting about it except the Japanese confectionery angle. My guess is that the manga it's based on was better, in order for it to become popular enough to spawn a live-action version.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

fullmetal alchemist brotherhood title image

This is a remake, not a sequel, of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime.

The series has only just begun, but I'm already diappointed. The writers have made the classic adaptation mistake: they forgot that how a story is told is as important as what the story is. You can't throw a bunch of plot points at your readers and expect them to have the same impact as if they were put in a well-developed story.

Specifically, in the original anime, the costs of alchemy, especially when combined with things like ambition and hubris, were revealed over time. We knew that alchemy could be sinister almost at once, but the true scope of it only became clear as the series progressed. In this version, it feels like most of it is crammed into the first episodes.

I hope that this will change later. It could be that the writers are trying to communicate the basics of the story before moving on to manga events that weren't covered in the first anime. I'll keep watching until I find out.


kutsuwamushi: (Default)

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