Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review: Azumi 2 - Death or Love

Genre: Historical, action
Release Date: Mar. 12, 2005

  • Ueto Aya as Azumi
  • Kuriyama Chiaki as Kozue
  • Oguri Shun as Ginkaku
Azumi 2 takes place shortly after the events of the first movie. Azumi and Nagara are the only surviving assassins whose purpose was prevent a civil war in Japan. Their last mission is to assassinate Sanada Masayuki. However, Sanada has recruited an army and has hired a deadly ninja clan. During their mission, Azumi meets a bandit who resembles her friend Nachi.

Both movies are very similar and are basically about assassins killing anyone that the enemy can throw at them. However, I thought that the first Azumi movie was slightly better than Azumi 2. Azumi 2 had a couple of things that just turned me off. First of all, in Azumi 2, Azumi meets a group of bandits that decide to help her out, but most of the actors who play the bandits just seem very goofy. They’re very horrible actors who are just in the movie to get killed and they just put a bad impression on the movie. I also didn’t like the order in which some of the characters were killed. I won’t mention who gets killed, but for some reason the important characters that seem like decent fighters get killed pretty early on while the no-names get to live a lot longer. Azumi 2 also had a very high death count, too high in my opinion. The sheer number of major characters who die make the ending very week. If they just kept some of the characters alive, they could have added a little extra to ending.

However, Azumi 2 can provide some enjoyment to fans of Japanese historical action movies. The fighting choreography is nothing too special, but the fighting scenes are somewhat enjoyable to watch because of the unique enemies and the weapons they use. I also enjoyed watching how some of the enemies got killed. Though very unreal, they’re pretty interesting to see. The same goes for how the movie deals with blood. When an enemy gets killed blood splatters everywhere like a hose. It’s definitely better than seeing just blood dripping.

view larger screens

  • Has some enjoyment for historical/action movie fans
  • Blood splatter goodness
  • High production quality
  • All-star cast, this time with Oguri Shun as a main character
  • Number of major characters that get killed is way too high
  • Characters that look like decent fighters are killed early on while the no-names get to live longer
  • Ending was very weak, they could added a lot more if some major characers stayed alive
  • Some special effects were cheesy
If you’re a fan of historical/action movies, you should watch Azumi 2. If you’re not, you should probably avoid it.

Rating: 6.7/10

Related Reviews (historical/action)
Shinobi: Heart Under Blade

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review: Sapuri

Alternative Titles: サプリ, Sappli, Supply, Suppliment
Genre: Romance, workplace
Episodes: 11
Broadcast: Jul. - Sept. 2006

  • Ito Misaki as Fuji Minami
  • Kamenashi Kazuya as Ishida Yuya
  • Eita as Ogiwara Satoshi
Fuji Minami is a 29-year-old employee at a marketing firm. One day, while riding the train to work, she finds a lost cellphone ringing and answers it. A young man named Ishida Yuya claims that he has lost his cellphone and wants her to return it to him before his job interview. When Ishida gets hired and starts working, he notices that Fuji Minami works in the exact same office.

Sapuri is a pure romance drama that takes place in the workplace. There is absolutely no other genre you can really recognize. In other words, it's just full of love triangles. Having said that, Sapuri is unquestionably the most boring drama I’ve ever watched. Each episode mainly deals with the relationships between the workers at the marketing firm. About mid-way through the series, if you were to draw a correlation chart that shows who likes who, it would become pretty complex. However, many of the relationships between characters are every predictable and there aren’t any significant plot twists. You could probably take a good guess of the two employees that will end up together at the end. In addition, Sapuri takes place mostly in a office, which makes it even more boring to watch.

On the other hand, not 100% of Sapuri is about romance. Romance does dominate most of the series, but there is a subplot in every episode about the marketing firm that Fuji and Ishida work at. The marketing firm is called Create Agency and it produces CMs for various companies (CM is a abbreviation used by the Japanese for the word commercial). Basically in every episode, they create a different commercial for a different product or service and it’s somewhat interesting to see how they create the CMs. These segments can be interesting if you’re the business type.

view larger screens

  • Scenes showing the creation of CMs can be interesting
  • Boring since it’s a pure romance drama, contains no other genres
  • Basically about love triangles and not much else
  • Relationships between characters are predictable
  • Not many unexpected plot twists to keep story interesting
  • Mostly takes place in one office
I bet many females will watch it because Kamenashi Kazuya (KAT-TUN) plays the lead role, but it’s not worth it to just watch Sapuri because of one person. I had to force myself to watch it so that I could review it. In other words, I watched it so that you don’t have to.

Rating: 5/10

Related Reviews
(ItoMisaki or Kamenashi Kazuya in a major role)
Densha Otoko
Nobuta wo Produce

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Featured Artist: ayaka

Real Name: Iida Ayaka, 飯田絢香
Birthday: Dec 18, 1987
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

Quick Facts

  • Debuted in 2006 with the song, "I believe"
  • "I Believe" reached #3 on Oricon charts and was featured in J-drama Rondo
  • "I Believe" also made her the first singer/songwriter after Utada Hikaru to debute in the top 5
  • First Message (her first album) was a great success despite being delayed several times
  • First Message reached #1 on Oricon charts, sold over 1,000,000 copies, and was 13th highest selling album of 2006
Ayaka was choosen as Featured Artist because I absolutely love her ballad songs. Recently, she has been releasing more rock songs, which I don't really enjoy. I think she's definitely better singing ballads.
Here's a list of my favourite ayaka singles with their release date:
  • [2006.02.01] I believe
  • [2006.07.19] Real voice
  • [2006.09.27] Mikazuki
  • [2007.07.04] Jewelry day

Here's a playlist of ayaka's first album, First Message.

These are all of ayaka's PVs released so far. Just click on the thumbnail and the video will show.

Previous 3 Featured Artists
Bonnie Pink
Kou Shibasaki

Friday, December 21, 2007

Review: Azumi

Genre: Action, Historical
Release Date: May 10, 2003 (Japan)

  • Ueto Aya as Azumi
  • Oguri Shun as Nachi
  • Hiroki Narimiya as Ukiha
  • Yuma Ishigaki as Nagara
After a major battle, Japan is closer to being united thanks to the Tokugawa clan. However, three warlords seek to overthrow the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa clan orders a master samurai named Gessai to raise and train ten assassins. After years of training, the assassins are put through one final test that leaves only five of them alive. They are then given their mission which is to kill the three warlords.

Azumi is probably one of the most popular action films in Japan. It has a very high production quality and an all-star cast. There’s the talented and popular singer/actor Ueto Aya and there’s the ever so popular Oguri Shun who you might recognize from Hana Yori Dango and Hana Kimi. Like I said before, production quality of Azumi is very high. There are very nice environments, Edo-period customers, music, and gory effects. Unfortunately, the all-star cast and the production quality were the only good points of Azumi.

Ultimately, Azumi is just a pure action movie with the assassins battling it out with any enemies the warlords can throw at them. However, I thought the fighting choreography was quite boring to watch compared to what I’ve seen in Chinese and Hong Kong movies. In Azumi, every battle between characters is just a simple block or evade then a slash, nothing too special. One of reasons for this was because most of the cast aren’t the people you see in action movies often.

view larger screens

  • High production quality, with nice scenery, costumes, music etc.
  • All-star cast
  • Ueto Aya!!! (>//<)
  • Pure action film with a weak story
  • Fighting choreography is boring
  • Cast is inexperienced in terms of action movies
  • Death count is really high
  • Monkey ninja guy makes a very cheesy dog sound (-_-‘)
If you like action movies, you will get some entertainment out of Azumi. If you don’t, I suggest you stay away from this movie.

Rating: 7/10

Stay Tuned! I plan to review Azumi 2: Death or Love

Related Review (action/historical)
Shinobi - Heart Under Blade

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Review: Hana Kimi

Alternative Titles: 花ざかりの君たちへ, For You in Full Blossom, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Genre: School, comedy, romance
Episodes: 12
Broadcast: Jul. - Sept. 2007

  • Horikita Maki as Ashiya Mizuki
  • Oguri Shun as Sano Izumi
  • Ikuta Toma as Nakatsu Shuichi
Ashiya Mizuki is a Japanese girl living in the United States. One day, she sees Sano Izumi compete in a high jump competition on TV and Sano immediately becomes her idol. However as time passes, Sano stops high jumping. Ashiya decides to travel to Japan so that she can attend the same school as Sano and convince him to high jump again. However, Sano attends an all-boys school so Ashiya must look and act like a male student.

Hana Kimi is probably one of the most hyped J-dramas ever. In my opinion, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. The number one thing I disliked about Hana Kimi is the overall silliness. There are just so any scenes with dozens of students doing random and ridiculous things in the background. The more serious and romantic scenes were kind of weak since all of those wacky scenes dominated most of Hana Kimi. I just wished it had a more serious tone to it in some of the scenes.

Another major thing I disliked were cliff-hangers at the end of some episodes. This somewhat relates to what I said previously. Some episodes end with a nail-biting, dead serious cliff-hanger, but when you watch the next episode, the cliff-hanger gets finished right away and turns out to be not so serious. In other words, they’re just useless cliff-hangers that don’t add anything to the story and are there so that you’ll watch the next episode. Watch the cliff-hanger at the end of episode 4 then watch beginning episode 5, then you’ll know what I mean by “useless cliff-hangers”.

On the other hand, I liked the fact that Horikita Maki plays the main role. Also, there were many twists in the story that kept me interested in continuing the series. In addition, not all the cliff-hangers were bad. There were some that added to the overall story and kept the story moving.

view larger screens

  • Horikita Maki plays the main role
  • Enough twists in story to keep you interested in continuing the series
  • There’s TONS of Japanese boys with long hair…I always like to put in something for the female readers(⌒▽⌒)
  • There were some funny scenes
  • Many scenes are way too silly, there’s dozens of people doing random things in background
  • Some cliff-hangers don’t add anything to the overall story, they’re just there so you’ll watch the next ep.
  • Some of the school “challenges” were too weird for me
  • The last ep. had too many boys dressed as girls (-_-‘)
I bet many people have already watched Hana Kimi due to the hype. I don’t strongly recommend that you watch it, but it’s an ok drama to sit through.

Rating: 8.5/10

Video Preview
Here's the first 10 minutes of episode 1:

Related Reviews (school dramas)
Dragon Zakura
My Boss My Hero
Nobuta wo Produce

Sunday, December 16, 2007

TopChart: Top13 Winter PVs

Here's my top13 PVs for the winter season. I based this list on the content of the actual PV as well as the song. ENJOY!!!(^_^) and Happy Holidays!

Previous TopCharts
Top5 Most Boring PVs
Top9 Most Beautiful PVs
Top5 Weirdest PVs

Friday, December 14, 2007

Review: Death Trance

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date: May 20, 2005 (Japan)
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi as Coffin man, Takamasa Suga as a young monk

A mysterious man who is known as Coffin Man sets out to a holy place called the East Template to steal a coffin. Legend says that if the coffin is open at a specific place then it will grant wishes. A young monk set out to retrieve the coffin and prevent anyone from opening it. However, there are many other people are after the coffin and all-out battle is started.

Death Trance is the worst Japanese action movie I’ve watched so far mostly because the story is unexplained. You ever get find out any information about all of the major characters and there are several plot holes. Death Trance is just a group of people battling it out for a coffin. Every few minutes there’s at least one fight scene, but I thought many of the enemies were just thrown in the movie for no reason. The main character is walking through the forest and suddenly a group of enemies that you’ve never before comes and starts a fight. The fight scenes weren’t all that great either. The first fighting scene was the best because there’s a guy who fights by break dancing. After that, the other fighting scenes were less inventive.

view larger screens


  • First fighting scene was good
  • Story and characters are unexplained
  • Many fighting scenes were meaningless
  • Mediocre acting
Stay away from Death Trance at all costs even if you like action movies.

Rating: 5/10

Related Review
Shinobi - Heart Under Blade

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review: Dragon Zakura

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Alternative Title: ドラゴン桜
Genre: School, comedy
Episodes: 11
Broadcast: Jul. - Sept. 2005
Starring: Abe Hiroshi as Sakuragi Kenji, Yamashita Tomohisa as Yajima Yuusuke, Nagasawa Masami as Mizuno Naomi, Aragaki Yui as Kosaka Yoshino

Sakuragi Keniji is a a poor lawyer and former gang member who's always looking for a chance to become more successful and popular. His perfect chance comes to him when he find out about Ryuuzan High School, one of the worst schools in Tokyo, where just about every student skips classes regularly and ends up failing. In addition, the school is almost bankrupt and the teachers have given up hope on the students.

Sakuragi soon becomes a teacher at the school and organizes a special class that aims to prepare five students to pass the entrance exam for Tokyo University, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan.

Compared to other school dramas I've watched, Dragon Zakura definitely isn’t the most enjoyable one to watch. I thought that certain parts of every episode were too repetitive and boring. In just about every episode the five students of the special class are involved in some sort of lesson that's supposed to help them pass the Tokyo University entrance exam. Every one or two episodes has the students learning a different subject. One episode might be about math and another one about english and so forth. These episodes are boring because they basically deal with three things....advice....advice...and more advice. During these lessons, Sakuragi just blurbs out tons upon tons of advice to the students. Most of the time you'd just wish that the students just write exam and get it over with.

Bad things aside, the good parts of Dragon Zakura were parts outside the classroom. Every student of the special class is trying to get into Tokyo University, but at the some time, they face issues that slow down their progress or completely change their mind about even taking the exam. Every student has a different story and the drama does a good job of focusing on all characters and getting their stories across.

Another positive thing about Dragon Zakura is the humour. There’s two things that make this drama one of the funniest I’ve watched. One is the character, Okuno. He’s a student of Ryuuzan and is basically an idiot that does random things. The other one are the short scenes in every episode about Ino Mamako’s friend who goes on a double date with one guy who is good-looking but stupid and another guy who is ugly but smart. (Mamako is a teacher at Ryuuzan)

view larger screens

  • Parts that don’t take place in the classroom
  • Okuno adds a lot of humour to the series
  • Short dating scenes in every episode are also hilarious
  • Acting is fairly good
  • All-star cast
  • Scenes about the special class preparing for exam are boring and repetitive
  • Sakuragi gives way too much advice
  • Subject teachers that help teach the special class are way over-the-top
Do the teaching methods used to teach the special class really work?

The humour definitely makes up for the boring parts so I recommend you watch it for the humour.

Rating: 8.5/10

Related Reviews (school dramas)
My Boss My Hero
Nobuta wo Produce

Announcement: The KJ is back in action!

You might have noticed that The Keizou Journal has been quite inactive for about two months. This was because I was very busy with my university workload and exams.

However, I'm now finished with my last exam and my winter break was begun! (≧∇≦)/
Stay tuned! I 'll be posting more often and I have a very special announcement about a new type of blog post.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Featured Artist: melody.

Birthdate: Feb. 24, 1982
Birthplace: Hawaii

Quick Facts

  • She began her career in Japanese music in 2003
  • Her songs have been featured in many Japanese commercials ranging from videogames to automobiles
  • Her first single, Sincerely become a major hit, reaching third spot on the Oricon charts
  • One of her most successful singles "realize" was featured in the J-dorama Dragonzakura
  • She had her first solo music tour in 2006
Interesting Facts
  • She was raised by Japanese parent in Hawaii so she can speak English and Japanese fluently
  • She's the VJ for a new Japanese music show called J-MELO
  • J-MELO is recorded completely English and is about introducing J-music to the world
Discography ♥= My Favourites

  • [2004.01.21] Sincerely
  • [2006.04.12] Be as one
  • [2007.07.04] READY TO GO!
  • [2003.02.19] Dreamin' Away
  • [2003.06.18] Simple As That / Over The Rainbow
  • [2003.11.27] Crystal Love
  • [2004.06.09] Believe me
  • [2005.01.12] Next to You
  • [2005.08.17] realize / Take a Chance
  • [2006.02.15] see you...
  • [2006.11.08] Lovin' U
  • [2007.02.14] Finding My Road
  • [2007.05.30] Love Story
Now, sit back, look at some melody. pics and listen to her two previous albums, Be As One and READY TO GO!

Previous Featured Artists
Bonnie Pink
Kou Shibasaki

Friday, October 5, 2007

Review: NANA 2 (live-action movie)

Genre: Romance
Release Date: Dec. 9, 2006
Starring: Nakashima Mika as Osaki Nana, Ichikawa Yui as Nana "Hachi" Komatsu

NANA 2 takes place after the events of the first movie. Komatsu Nana meets her favourite member of the popular rock band TRAPNEST, Takumi. Takumi brings Nana to his hotel room and the next thing you know, he starts liking her. Meanwhile, Osaki Nana has her doubts about Takumi and is experiencing difficultly in her own life. Both girls must now keep their friendship from falling apart and deal with their issues in life.

Interesting Fact
Many of the actors and actresses in NANA did not reprise their role in NANA 2. The most notable change is that Miyazaki Aoi no longer plays Komatsu Nana. Other changes include the characters of Ren and Okazaki Shinichi.

Just like the First NANA movie, NANA 2 is flat-out boring to sit through. There are tons of moments where nothing is happening. Moments where one character is just starring at another character, no dialogue, no movement, no joke. I also noticed that many of these scenes are boring because there's a lack of background music. Background is important in any movie. In NANA 2, there's scenes where a lot of drama is going on, but absolutely no background music is present. Having more background music would have greatly reduced the boringness.

To makes things worse, NANA 2 ended without finishing the Takumi storyline. Close to the ending, you get to find out something about Takumi that's a bit shocking, but then the movie ends and the story feels a bit uncompleted.

view larger screens


  • Real-life J-music artist, Yuna Ito does a nice short preformance
  • Story does get a bit more interesting halfway through...
  • ...but shortly after that, it gets boring again
  • just flat-out boring throughout
  • lack of background music (especially in very dramatic scenes)
  • minor cliffhanger at the end
  • it's more than 2 hours long
  • I thought Miyazaki Aoi played Komatsu Nana better
Unless you enjoy every aspect of the first NANA movie, I suggest you stay away from this one.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Review: Kurosagi

Alternative Title: クロサギ, The Black Swindler
Genre: Police, Crime, Romance
Episodes: 11
Broadcast: Apr-Jun 2006
Starring: Yamashita Tomohisa as Kurosaki/Kurosagi, Horikita Maki as Yoshikawa Tsurara

Kurosagi is about a young man named Kurosaki who had his family destroyed by swindlers (con artists). When Kurosaki grows up, he becomes a swindler named Kurosagi, so that he can avenge his family. Ever since his family was destroyed by swindlers, Kurosagi swindles other con artists and returns the money to the victim.

Kurosagi's life changes when a law student name Yoshikawa moves into the same apartment. Yoshikawa soon finds out about Kurosagi's illegal activities. She immediately disapproves of his actions, but how will she convince him to give up?

Kurosagi is a bit different then most other J-dramas. Most dramas focus on one main plot, but in Kurosagi, every episode has a completely different story. In other words, every episodes has a different main plot and the sub-plot for every episode is about Yoshikawa's attempt to stop Kurosagi's swindling. This causes most episodes to be quite boring and sometimes even confusing.

Most of the episodes basically go like this: a swindling victim comes to Kurosagi for help...Kurosagi goes to apartment to put on disguise....Kurosagi meets up with the swindler....after talking, Kurosagi successfully swindles the culprit...Kurosagi calls the police...police arrest swindler...the victims get their cash back and everyone's happy!

The only thing that wasn't boring about Kurosagi is the sub-plot about Yoshikawa. This drama only touches on the sub-plot for only about ten minutes at the end of every episode. I wish there was more of a balance between the different swindling jobs and the Yoshikawa sub-plot.

view larger screens


  • Sub-plot about Yoshikawa trying to stop Kurusagi's swindling
  • Yamashita Tomohisa!!!!! >//< (That one was for the females)
  • Horikita Maki plays her character very well
  • Every episode has a different main plot
  • Every episode is dominated by Kurosagi on a swindling job
  • Sub-plot about Yoshikawa only takes up a small portion of each episode
  • Ending was a cliffhanger
  • Some scenes had way too much coincidence
?Perplexing?: How come every time the police arrest one swindler, they have to use like a hundred police officers?

Watch Kurosagi is you absolutely love Yamashita Tomohisa (I know that many girls do) or crime dramas.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, August 18, 2007

TopChart: Top5 Most Boring PVs

These are the most boring PVs as chosen by me.
Note that I'm NOT judging the PVs by the actual song, melody, or lyrics. This list is only based on the visual content of the PV.

In my opinion, all of these PVs are really nice to listen to, but they're a drag to watch. Here's a definition of boring so that you'll know what these PVs represent.

- adjective
stimulating no interest or enthusiasm

5. Utada Hikari - Flavour of Life
One of my all-time favourite J-ballad songs, but the video just shows Utada singing in a music studio.

4. ayaka - Mikazuki
Another great J-ballad song. The PV is boring since it just shows ayaka sitting on a light.

3. Mr.Children - Shirushi
This PV is boring since it only shows the lead singer of Mr.Children (Sakurai Kazutoshi) on a chair through the whole video.

2. Shimatani Hitomi - Koimizu
This PV only shows Shimatani's face through the whole video.

1. Remioromen - Island
The most boring of them all...This PV doesn't even show the artists singing. It just shows one of the members of Remioromen struggling to swim in the ocean.

Previous TopCharts
Top9 Most Beautiful PVs
Top5 Weirdest PVs

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Review: My Boss My Hero

Alternative Title: マイ★ボス マイ★ヒーロー
Genre: Romance, school, comedy
Episodes: 10
Broadcast: Jul. - Sept. 2006
Starring: Nagase Tomoya as Sakaki Makio, Tegoshi Yuya as Sakurakouji Jun
Related: Nobuta wo Produce Review

Sakaki Makio is a 27 year-old that is part of a Japanese gang named Kantou Sharp Fang. His father, Skaki Kiichi is the boss of the gang. Makio is physically strong, but when it comes to academics, he is very dumb. He's a highschool drop-out and can't even write his name in Kanji. Sakaki Kiichi becomes worried about Makio's inabilities and wonders if Makio will be able to become the future boss of Kantou Sharp Fang. Kiichi forces Makio to attend highschool to earn a diploma and tells him that if he doesn't succeed, then Makio's younger brother will become the boss. To make things even more complicated, Makio must pose as a normal young 17 year-old highschool student.

Interesting Fact
- Three actors in My Boss My Hero are actually music artists who are part of a popular boy band
- Nagase Tomoya is from a group called TOKIO, Tegoshi Yuya is from NEWS, Tanaka Koki is from Kat-Tun

My Boss My Hero is my favourite school-related drama so far, beating the only other school drama that I've watched, Nobuta wo Produce. Before watching My Boss My Hero, I had the intention that gangs and schools was a strange combination of genres. However, after finishing the series, I thought that it did a perfect job mixing in gangs, romance, and humour into a school drama.

The strongest part of this drama would have to be the humour. Most people would get the wrong impession that My Boss My Hero isn't a funny drama because of the first scene. However, throughout all episodes, My Boss My Hero is filled with funny scenes and characters throughout. There's also the nice addition of some gang and romance scenes.

view larger screens


  • Funny scenes and characters thorough whole series
  • Nagase Tomoyo (Makio) is one of the funniest drama characters ever
  • Good balance between gangs, school, and romance
  • (Female viewers will LOVE this) but I think three boy band members in one drama is too much
  • Ending was a cliffhanger (I want a sequel/special, anything to finish off the story!)
  • Romance subplot was left a bit unfinished
Watch My Boss My Hero if you enjoy Nobuta wo Produce or school dramas in general.

Rating: 9.4/10

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Review: NANA (live-action movie)

Alternative Title: ナナ
Genre: Romance
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2005 (Japan)
Starring: Miyazaki Aoi as Komatsu Nana, Nakashima Mika as Osaki Nana

NANA is based on the anime/manga of the same name. It's about two girls who coincidentally meet on a train ride to Tokyo. After arriving in Tokyo, they even find themselves living in the same room. Both girls share the same name and age but everything else is different between them. Komatsu Nana is a playful, obedient, talkative girl who is always has a smile on her face. Osaki Nana is part of an rock band. NANA follows the struggles that these two characters go through in life and how their friendship helps them to tackle their problems.

Interesting Fact
Nakashima Mika (Osaki Nana) is actually a popular and successful J-music artist. So far, she as starred in four films.

NANA is the typical romantic story with a love-triangle. It's something that you would see in a J-drama. Since that's the case, NANA doesn't have anything that makes it better than other movies. The only thing I thought was good about the movie was Miyazaki Aoi. She does a great job of playing a joyful and obedient girl. On the other hand, the acting from most of the other character were either average or just plain terrible.

view larger screenshots


  • Miyazaki Aoi does a perfect job of portraying a joyful, obedient girl
  • Acting from all other characters is either average or terrible
  • Nakashima Mika should just stick to the J-music industry instead acting
  • Plot is very predictable early on
  • Flashbacks with Osaki Nana and her boyfriend were pointless and weird
Unless you're a huge fan of the anime or manga series, you should skip the live-action adaption.

Rating: 7.0/10

Stay tuned! I plan to review NANA2!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Featured Artist: Bonnie Pink

Real Name: Asada Kaori
Birthdate: Apr. 16, 1973
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
view more images

  • She first appeared on the J-music scene on Sept. 1995 with her debut album: Blue Jam, but it failed to gain attention
  • Two years later, she released Heaven's Kitchen, an album with good sales
  • Rose in popularity and had her music featured in several anime
  • Has a talent for singing in English with reasonable skill
  • Her latest success comes from "A Perfect Sky", which was on oricon charts for 14 weeks, making it the most successful single in her career
♥= My Favourites
[1995.10.20] Orange
[1996.04.19] Surprise!
[1996.09.20] Do You Crash?
[1997.04.18] Heaven's Kitchen
[1997.06.18] It's Gonna Rain!
[1998.03.04] Forget Me Not
[1998.05.20] Kingyo
[1998.10.21] Inu to Tsuki
[1999.10.06] Daisy
[2000.03.01] You Are Blue, So Am I
[2000.06.07] Kako to Genjitsu
[2000.07.12] Sleeping Child
[2001.02.07] Take Me In
[2001.05.09] Thinking Of You
[2001.08.29] Nemurenai Yoru
[2003.01.22] Tonight, the Night
[2004.01.21] Private Laughter
[2004.04.07] Last Kiss
[2005.08.03] So Wonderful
[2006.05.10] LOVE IS BUBBLE
[2006.06.28] A Perfect Sky ♥ (one of my all-time favourite J-music singles)
[2007.03.28] Anything For You
[2007.06.06] Water Me

Why Bonnie is a featured artist: She just released her album, Thinking Out Loud, which features her best songs ever and a very cool classical take on my favourite Bonnie Pink Song, "A Perfect Sky".

Now, listen to her newest album, Thinking Out Loud (released Jul. 25, 07) and her newest "best of" called Every Single Day -Complete Bonnie Pink (1995-2006) (released Jul. 26, 06).

Previous Featured Artists
Kou Shiabasaki

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Review: Densha Otoko DX~Saigo no Seizen (2nd SP)

Alternative Titles: 電車男デラックス, 最後の聖戦, Densha Otoko Deluxe
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 1 (1.47 hr.)
Broadcast: Sept. 23, 06
Starring: Itoh Mizaki as Aoyama Saori, Itoh Atsushi as Yamada Tsuyoshi
Related: Densha Otoko (orig. series) review, Another Final SP review (1st SP)

Densha Otoko DX takes place a year after the events of the original series and the first special. It starts off by introducing the drastic changes that are happening in the Akihabara distict of Tokyo. (see my review of the orig. series for more info on Akihabara). In the original series, Akihabara was the Holy Land for otakus, a place where they are safe from the rest of Tokyo. However, normal people have started to go to Akihabara and torment the otakus, causing most of them to go into hiding.

Meanwhile, Tsuyoshi tries to propose to Saori, but he fails. Tsuyoshi returns to forum and tells his story. While he's trying to propose, something else is going on. Densha Otoko has now become very popular, but no one knows his real identity so a large corporation mysteriously offers one million yen to anyone who can find his real identity...

Interesting Fact
- A girl idol group named AKB48 or Akihabara48 makes a short appearance in Densha Otoko DX
- They have their own theater in Akihabara and they do weekly performances
- They are quite popular among the otaku in Akihabara

Densha Otoko DX is the best (and longest) drama special that I've ever watched. Densha Otoko DX has the same great elements found in the original series. All the classic characters, funny scenes, and otakuness are back! Basically, everything that I said was good about the orig. series remains the same for DX.

When comparing it to the first special, Densha Otoko DX is a lot better. One thing I thought they really improved on is the plot. DX had a more interesting plot than the first special. I also thought that DX had a much higher production value than the orig. series. It had more extra actors in many scenes and they actually went to Tahiti to film part of it.

  • Same great characters and hilarious scenes
  • Some very touching moments (esp. towards the end)
  • Ending was really nice (T▽T)
  • Plot is more interesting than 1st special
  • Increased production values
  • Star wars music!
  • n/a (-_-)
If you enjoyed the original series then this special is must watch! Note that you don't need to watch the first sp. to understand DX.

Rating: 10/10

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Review: Honey and Clover (live-action movie)

Alternative Titles: ハチミツとクローバー, Hachimitsu to Clover, Hachikuro
Genre: Romance
Release Date: Jul. 22, 2006 (Japan)
Starring: Sakurai Sho as Takemoto Yuta, Aoi Yu as Hanamoto Hagumi

Honey and Clover centers around four art students (Takemoto Yuta, Mayama Takumi, Morita Shinobu and Yamada Ayumi) who live in the same housing complex that is run by an art teacher, Hanamoto Shuji. During a party at the complex, Hanamoto introduces a new member to the building, a relative of his named Hanamoto Hagumi. Takemoto instantly falls in love with Hagumi. While Takemoto is trying to confess his love, another love story between Mayama and Yamada is happening. Mayama likes Yamada but Yamada doesn't return her love and secretly loves an older women named Harada Rika.

Honey and Clover is a very subtle, slow-paced, and simple romance movie. It basically tells the story of two love-triangle and there isn't much more than that. That's the main reason why it tends to be a bit too slow-paced (ie. there's not a whole lot happening in the plot). There aren't even many twists in the plot to keep it interesting and when there is a plot "twist", it's usually predictable. The strongest point of H&C are the scenes when one of the characters confesses his/her love to another person. These scenes have pretty good acting and they can make butterflies go up your spine.

view larger screens

  • Romantic confession scenes have good acting
  • Scene with Mayama spying on Rikua is just hilarious
  • Slow-pace, not much going on in plot
  • Very simple story
  • Plot twists are too predictable
Do professional painters REALLY paint like Hagu does?

H&C is more for the female audience, but it deserves a try are those who enjoy romantic movies.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, July 22, 2007

TopChart: Top9 Most Beautiful PVs

Here's the the top six most beautiful PVs. Here's a definition of beautiful so that you'll know what exactly this list of PVs represent.

Beautiful - adjective
Having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, or think about.

9. Tainaka Sachi - Saikou no Kataomoi
Beautiful because: Nice scenery and lots of flowers, trees, and greens
Please don't judge this one by the beginning vocal part. I know that it's bad but the song gets better.

8. GAM - melodies
Beautiful because: Fujimoto Miki and Matsuura Aya in the same video, wearing nice white dresses

7. melody. - Realize
Beautiful because: Scenery and melody's dress

6. Otsuka Ai - Planetarium
Beautiful because: Up-close shots of Otsuka Ai

5. melody. - See You
Beautiful because: Melody's dress and up-close shots of her

4. Leah Dizon - Softly
Beautiful because: Nice scenery and the part where she's walking on the beach

3. Shimatani Hitomi - Haru Machibito
Beautiful because: Cherry blossoms and the kimono

2. Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai - Bokura Ga Ikiru My Asia
Beautiful because: A lot of white and the blue dresses

1. Shimatani Hitomi - Camellia
Beautiful because: The ballroom dancing scenes

Previous TopChart
Top5 Weirdest PVs

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Review: Densha Otoko - Another Final SP

Alternative Titles: 電車男, でんしゃおとこ, The Train Man
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 1
Broadcast Year: 2005
Starring: Itoh Mizaki as Aoyama Saori, Itoh Atsushi as Yamada Tsuyoshi

Another Final SP takes place three months before the last episode of the original series (ie. beginning of episode one) and tells the story of the whole series from the perpective of two characters, Matsunaga Yuusaku and Ushijima Sadao. (Yuusaku is Yamada's friend, the otaku that does the turtle impression. Sadao is one of the form members that is a fan of the Tokyo Tigers.)

The special tells the story of Yuusaku's encounter with a girl on a internet dating service and Sadao's story of trying to win over the love of someone named Tiffany. The special starts off a few hours before the first episode of the orig. series when Yuusaku gets tricked by a girl into buying a guitar. He goes on the forum (before Tsuyoshi becomes Densha Otoko) and he tells others about his problems. Thus, he is given the name, Guitar Otoko.

This special is a very nice spinoff to the Densha Otoko series. Another Final SP shows a lot of memorable scenes from the original series and then shows what Sadao and Yuusaku were doing at the time of that scene. All of the classic characters and humour from the original series are back. All the forum members are still funny and Matsunaga Yuusaku is even funnier. I previously said that this special takes place throughtout the whole orginal series but there's actually some extra content featuring Saori and Tsuyoshi that isn't in the original series.

view larger screens


  • Same great characters and humour from original series
  • Shows classic scenes from original series
  • Some classic scenes are re-created using Sakurai (the restaurant owner) and Jinkama (Tsuyoshi's co-worker)
  • Extra content featuring main characters from original series
  • (-_-') Can't think of any
Watch Another Final SP if you have already watched the Densha Otoko original series and you enjoyed it.

Rating: 10/10

Stay Tuned! I plan to review the second Densha Otoko special (Densha Otoko DX)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Review: Shinobi - Heart Under Blade

Alternative Titles: Shinobi
Genre: Romance, Action
Release Date: Sept. 17, 05 (Japan)
Starring: Odagiri Jo as Gennosuke, Nakama Yukie as Oboro
Related: Basilisk anime review

Shinobi is a movie adaptation of the novel, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Yamada Futaro. Shinobi is about two ninja clans named Kouga and Iga. Both ninja clans practice superhuman techniques that are unknown to the rest of Japan. Both clans have been waging war against each other for hundreds of years but a truce brought peace to both clans. However, the current ruler of Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, sees the threat posed by the two ninja clans. Tokugawa comes up with a plan. He lifts the truce and tells both clans to choose five of their best ninjas to battle to their deaths.

Shinobi is all about ninjas and awesome fighting scenes. It has a very easy-to-understand plot. Shinobi also contains a nice subplot about the romance between the leader of Iga and the leader of Kouga, but there aren't many scenes that focus on it. Shinobi is more about ninjas fighting each other. It's filled with well-choreographed fight scenes that shows each ninja's unique abilities.

view larger screens


  • Interesting characters with unique abilities
  • Well-choreographed fighting scenes
  • Nice scenery in many parts
  • Simple story and plenty of action
  • Some characters die way too early on and you'll wish that you got to see more of their abilities
  • Some people might not like the simple story
Shinobi was obviously made for the male audience so you'll enjoy it if your a male. I recommend watching the anime adaptation, Basilisk, if you enjoyed Shinobi.

Rating: 8/10

Here's a 3 minute clip I made. It shows the first fighting scene in the movie.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Featured Artist: Kou Shibasaki

Alternative Names: Shibasaki Kou, 柴咲コウ
Real Name: Yamamura Yukie, 山村幸恵
Birthdate: Aug. 5, 81
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
view more images

Kou Shibasaki is a Japanese actress and singer. She started her career at 14 when an agent found out about her talent. She became working on many TV shows and commercials including excellent performance in the movie Battle Royale as Souma Mitsuko.

In 2002, she embarked on a singing career with her first single, "Trust my feelings". Her second single, "Tsuki no Shizuku" was a major hit of 2003. In 2004 she had a minor role in the movie Crying out, in the Center of the World. When the movie was made into a drama, her song, "katachi aru mono" was featured as the beginning theme.

♥= My Favourites
[2002.07.24] Trust my feelings
[2003.01.15] Tsuki no Shizuku
[2003.06.04] Nemurenai Yoru wa Nemuranai Yume wo
[2003.09.03] Omoide Dake Dewa Tsura Sugiru
[2004.01.14] Ikutsuka no Sora
[2004.02.11] Mitsu (album)
[2004.08.11] Katachi Aru Mono
[2005.02.16] Glitter
[2005.10.05] Sweet Mom
[2005.12.14] Hitori Asobi (album)
[2006.02.15] Kage
[2006.08.09] invitation
[2006.12.06] actuality
[2007.02.21] at home
[2007.03.28] Hito Koi Meguri
[2007.05.30] Prism
[2007.04.25] Kiki (album)

Why Shibasaki is AOTW:
Shibasaki was chosen because she was one of the first J-Pop artists I listened to and I thought that her new album had most of her best songs in it.


Now that you know about Shibasaki, listen to her new album, Kiki.

Previous Featured Artist

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: Hana Yori Dango 2

WARNING, Proceed with caution! This post contains spoilers for those who haven't seen the first season of Hana Yori Dango.
(view HYD season 1 review)

Alternative Titles: 花より男子, Boys Before Flowers, Boys Over Flowers
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 11
Broadcast Year: 2007
Starring: Inoue Mao as Makino Tsukushi, Matsumoto Jun as Doumyouji Tsukasa
Related: Hana Yori Dango season one review

Hana Yori Dango 2 takes place a few months after the events in the last season. If you've seen season one you'll know that Doumyouji goes to New York to study business. Meanwhile, Makino hasn't seen Doumyouji for several months so she goes to New York. When Makino finally meets Doumyouji, he is a completey different person and he rejects Makino so she returns to Japan. Shortly after, Doumyouji's mother decides to go back to Japan to celebrate his birthday. At his birthday, Doumyouji's mother plans to announce something that is very important.

In my review of HYD season one, I said that HYD was an addictive drama. Season two still holds that advantage of keeping viewers hooked through every episode. However, I thought that season one was slightly better than season two. Mainly, season one had a better story than season two. This is because in season two, there were too many reused love-triangle story lines. Let me explain, in the first few episodes, Rui likes Makino, but then later on, Rui stops liking her then he suddenly starts liking her again. Obviously, it's more complicated then that but the point is that HYD2 keeps on switching the "who-likes-who" storyline just to make the story interesting.

view larger screens


  • VERY addictive, plot will get you hooked
  • Inoue Mao is still the best J-drama actress I've seen
  • Same cliffhanger endings as season one keeps the story interesting
  • Matsumoto Jun!!! (that one's for the female J-drama fans (-_-')
  • Reused story lines from season one
  • Too many "who=likes-who" (love-triangle) changes between several characters
  • The dancing at the stadium in the last episodes was terrible
Even though I thought season one was slightly better, I still think all J-drama fans should watch both seasons of HYD.

Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Review: Death Note - The Last Name (2nd movie)

WARNING, proceed with caution! The following post may contain spoilers. Please see the review of the first Death Note movie if you haven't watched the 1st movie yet.

Alternative Titles: デスノート, Desu nôto: The last name
Genre: Mystery, Police, Supernatural
Release Date: Nov. 3, 2006 (Japan)
Starring: Fujiwara Tatsuya as Kira, Matsuyama Ken'ichi as L
Related: Death Note (1st movie) Review

The battle between L and Kira continues. L is now more suspicious that Light is Kira. In addition, Light meets a girl who also has a Death Note and is the second Kira. L learns of the second Kira and continues to investigate.

The second Death Note movie is very similar to the first. The plot remains interesting, but the acting is still mediocre. Once again, the plot remains almost identical to the anime except a few characters and scenes. Most notable, the ending was completely different from the anime and is probably the best part of the this movie.

view larger screens

  • Interesting plot
  • There are a few plot twists to keep story interesting
  • Ending is better than how season one of the anime ended
  • Matsuda is a bit less annoying
  • Acting from most of the minor characters is very weak
  • The girl who plays Light's sister is the worst actress I've ever seen
  • CGI for the death gods are terrible when compared to Hollywood films
  • Last few seconds was weird
First, watch the episodes 1 to 25 of the anime. Skip the first Death Note movie and watch the second movie so that you can see the awesome ending.

Rating: 8.0/10

Friday, July 6, 2007

TopChart: Top5 Weirdest PVs

Here's this week's TopChart. This is the Top5 Weirdest Japanese PVs. They represent the most bizarre PVs I could find, but that doesn't mean the song is bad. In my opinion, all of these PVs have a good melody except the one by misono.

5. Nana Kitade - Kibou no Kakera
What makes it Weird: Kitade is sort of cosplaying and her band are in mascot uniforms, but the song is pretty good.

4. Ai Otsuka - PEACH
What makes it Weird: The scenes with the Caucasian person moving his "breasts". The song's ok though.

3. misono - Lovely Cat's Eye
What makes it Weird: The background and how the story is conveyed. The song also is pretty bad.

2. SMAP - Arigatou
What makes it Weird: SMAP members are portrayed as Lego-esh figures, but the song is great.

1. Ai Otsuka - Chu-Lip
What makes it Weird: everything

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Quick Review: GUNxSWORD

Alternative Title: ガン×ソード
Genre: Mecha, Sci-fi, Adventure
Episodes: 26
Broadcast Year: 2005

A Man named Van searches the desert for a mysterious man with a claw hand that killed his wife during their wedding. During his travel, he saves a girl named Wendy from a group of bandits. Wendy is searching for her missing brother that disappeared many years ago. Van agrees to have Wendy tag along on his mission. Together, they fight more bandits and they meet tons of other characters that lead them closer to their goals.


  • Mechs are beautifully animated without using any CGI
  • Van and Wendy meet a lot of interesting characters
  • Twists in plot keep action going
  • Plot is easy to understand
  • A bit slow-placed at the beginning
  • Last few episodes can be confusing
Interesting thought: If you've ever watched CowboyBebop and Trigun, Van's character is like Vash and Spike out together. Van has many characteristics that are similar to those two characters.

Watch GUNxSWORD if you want a sci-fi anime with plenty of fighting and a simple story.

Rating: 8.5/10