JPTV Summer 2007 Season
Alright, alright, we’ve established that I’m behind. Very much so behind. Bear with me here as I attempt to catch up – you’ll bear with me, right? Of course you will.
I partially considered ignoring Japanese TV altogether this summer – because I’ll be spending a third of it in Hong Kong and surrounding areas, most likely lacking a proper internet connection with which to watch any of it. But ohhhh, no matter how hard I try, its siren call always claims me back.
A whopping seven dramas on my watch list this season!
Jotei: Kato Rosa stars as Tachibana Ayaka, a young woman whose life has been ruined after she lost her boyfriend then her mother became gravely ill. Looking for revenge, she starts out as a hostess with the goal of rising to become the “empress” of the Osaka nightlife scene. Matsuda Shota plays a member of the underworld who becomes Ayaka’s ally.
All you need to know: My current actor obsession (though Urata is equally placed), Matsuda Shota. In another of those morally-ambiguous but still oh-so-hot roles. Though admittedly between AcQuA-EP and Ouran Koukou Host Club, I’ve had more of an interest in the host industry, let’s admit it. The main draw of the host industry is the pretty. And the pretty paying attention to you, but mostly the pretty. Kato Rosa? Is undeniably pretty. Even with her hair done up in that pompadour. Tamaki Hiroshi, you’re a very lucky man.
Tantei Gakuen Q: Adapted from the manga by Tadashi Agi (Seimaru Amagi), Tantei Gakuen Q revolves around a team of genius students studying in a detective academy run by a famous detective, Morihiko Dan.
I liked the original manga, the resulting anime, and the artist‘s other work, Kindaichi. What can I say? How about Kaname Jun as Kinta? Better yet, Yamamoto Taro? There’s 14-year-olds Kamiki Ryunosuke, Yamada Ryousuke, and Wakaba Katsumi if that’s where your tastes lie. If you’re not as much into pretty boys, Battle Royale alumni, and loli-shota, Shida Mirai is getting pretty hot, and Makoto Akita is just plain hot though I don’t know what her character’s role is. And in J-Pop relations, the ending theme for this drama is provided by the brilliant green (that’s right, their comeback single.)
Okay, so if there’s one disparaging thing I have to say, it’s that the change in ages make me worry about character interactions. Kinta has become 25 instead of 18, not that Kaname could pass for an 18 year old too well anyways, but how does a 25-year-old man interact in a friendly manner with 14-year-old kids and not come off as a pedophile? And Kazuma is now the same age as the other three members of Class Q, which makes his quirk as the “computer genius still in elementary school” unusable, and we won’t have any fun scenes where the 14-year-olds tease the 11-year-old about liking his elementary school teacher. But we’ll see how the drama handles that.
Sushi Oji!: KinKi Kids member Domoto Koichi stars in this action comedy series. Domoto plays Tsukasa Maizu, who was known for being a gifted sushi maker when he was younger. Now skilled as a martial artist, he returns to the world of sushi and travels across the country for training, fighting evil along the way. KAT-TUN’s Nakamaru Yuichi takes on the role of Tsukasa’s companion, Taro.
It’s the return of Domoto Koichi to J-Dramas. He hasn’t starred in a full series since Remote. And hey, look, food! It’s cheesy, oh man is it ever cheesy, like a bad anime plot – but the show is clearly relying on the allure of its Johnny’s stars, and it’s worked. With me, at least.
Ushi ni Negai wo ~Love&Farm~: Six agriculture students travel north to Hokkaido for first-hand training and experience in a farm setting. The story focuses not only on their daily life and their growth as young men and women, but also on the economic situation in the region, which received national attention earlier this year when the national government cut off aid to the struggling city of Yubari.
Being the Harvest Moon fan I am, and the title being what it is (“Wish Upon a Cow”)… well, could you resist seeing girls like Aibu Saki, Karina, or Toda Erika milking cows? Or doing other farm chores? I didn’t think so. (Erm, I guess there’s the boys too, if that’s your draw. But the girls are hotter by far.)
Yamada Taro Monogatari: Arashi members Ninomiya Kazunari and Sakurai Sho star in this comedy series based on “Yamada Taro Monogatari” by mangaka Ai Morinaga. Ninomiya plays the title character, Taro Yamada, whose family lives in extreme poverty. But because of his looks, intelligence, and athleticism, others mistakenly believe that Taro comes from a prosperous family. In contrast, Sakurai plays Taro’s best friend Takuya, who really is from a successful family and who often helps out Taro in various ways.
This is another one of those dramas based off a manga I liked to begin with. I’m not too fond of Ninomiya Kazunari and Sakurai Sho playing the two main characters, partially because they’re from Arashi (one of the biggest Johnny’s groups), partially because I can’t tell who’s who. (Yes, that matters.) They could’ve just debuted Yamada Shintaro (Yamada Yu’s younger brother) with a starring role and it would be funnily ironic because of his name, but… Oh well.
LIFE: Adapted from Keiko Suenobu’s manga “LIFE,” this drama delves into the dark side of high school life. The story focuses mainly on bullying, but the manga also touches on subjects such as self-mutilation, suicide, and rape. Kitano Kii stars as Ayumu Shiiba, one of the students bullied by a group of classmates led by Ayumu’s former friend, Manami Anzai.
Not one of the dramas I was originally planning to watch, I admit. But I’ve heard lots of good things about it, Maya Miki is in it, and it’s got lots of pretty girls in a high school setting if you need that visual appeal.
Yama Onna Kabe Onna: “Yama Onna Kabe Onna” tells the story of a department store girl (Misaki Ito) who is good at her job but suffers from a complex, due to the flat chest that has earned her the name of “kabe onna” (“kabe” meaning “wall”). Her situation only worsens when she is joined by a new girl (Kyoko Fukada), who is a much more well-endowed “yama onna” (“yama” meaning “mountain”).
I’m a sucker for slice-of-life dramas as well as mystery/food ones. But this just fulfills the fetishes of Japanese men – Ito Misaki (of Densha Otoko fame) and Fukada Kyoko (who needs no introduction) as deparment store girls? Deliberate comparison of sexual body parts? Hey, why not? And the lovely Uehara Misa is a definite bonus.
In case you’re wondering why Hanazakari no Kimitachi e isn’t part of the lineup – I offer you the same reasons I do for Hana Yori Dango. 1) It’s over-hyped and said hype got me sick of it. 2) I didn’t really like the original manga they were based on (though normally cross-gender are my favorite sort of shoujo stories.) 3) Oguri Shun (and in this case, Horikita Maki) annoy me.
Unfortunately there’s only one anime I’m interested in this season, but I may inexplicably drop that for a show I didn’t even plan on watching (like I did last season).
Baccano!: Baccano is Italian for noise, but Narita Ryogo, the author, translates it as “stupid commotion.” Each of the stories in the series involves several unrelated plots intersecting and crossing each other as events spiral farther and farther out of control. Immortal alchemists, mafia operated speakeasies, and many other elements of pulp fiction mashed together for a world straight out of the movies.
It takes place in New York. Old New York, but New York. Being egotistical the way I am, I’m interested in seeing yet more portrayals of my home city – what more can I say? How about some gorgeous looking character designs, a decent lineup of seiyuu, and the city that is New York being animated in a gritty manner yet again? Oh, wait, we brought up that last one already.
I’m curious to know what you guys are watching this season, if at all. (But spare me any raves on HanaKimi. Please.)
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