Thursday, December 23, 2010

Judith McNaught- Once and Always review


Judith McNaught is one of my favorite writers of historical romances. I don't like her contemporary romances all that much (I have read Paradise and Double Standards).

Once and Always is a historical romance- one genre where she is at her best.

Across the vast ocean sailed Victoria Seaton, a free-spirited American beauty left suddenly orphaned and alone. Eager to claim her long-lost heritage, she was amazed at the formal elegance of Wakefield, the sumptuous English estate of her distant cousin...the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Sought after at plays, operas, and balls by London's most fashionable ladies, Jason remained a mystery to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she came to sense the searingly painful memories that smoldered in the depths of his jade-green eyes.
Unable to resist her spitfire charm, Jason gathered her at last into his powerful arms, ravishing her lips with his kisses, arousing in her a sweet, insistent hunger. Wed in desire, they were enfolded in a fierce, consuming joy, free at last from the past's cruel grasp. Then, in a moment of blinding anguish, Victoria discovered the shocking treachery that lay at the heart of their love...a love she had dreamed would triumph...Once And Always. (taken from mcnaughtized.com)

Victoria is the classic Judith McNaught historical heroine- she has spirit, vitality, energy and is innocent. Jason Fielding is the typical historical romance hero- dashing, playboy, a bad past, cold on the outside, rich with good title. I am unable to understand why every one of Judith McNaught's heroes are so perfect (rich with good looks and good title).

Neverthless, the book is quite good. It resembles her book Something Wonderful which I read just recently. Both the heroes are somewhat similar.

Overal, the book had almost all the ingredients of a successful romance novel- good characters, interesting plot and lots and lots of emotion. Definitely wroth reading. It is sad that Judith McNaught writes novels so slowly. We never have enough to read!

Ratings-

Characters-4.5
Story-4
Style-4.6
Plot-4

Overall- 4.3

Lisa Kleypas- Someone to watch over me review


I decided to read this book by Lisa Kleypas after reading good reviews of her other books. It is a historical romance- a genre that I seem to read a lot these days.

She couldn't remember who she was...
A temptingly beautiful woman awakens in a stranger's bed, rescued from the icy waters of the Thames, her memory gone. Told that she is Vivien Rose Duvall, one of London's most scandalous beauties, she finds herself under the protection of enigmatic, charming Grant Morgan. Her life is in his hands. Deep in her heart, she knows he has mistaken her for someone else...
He was the only man she could trust.
As one of London's most eligible and unattainable catches, Grant Morgan is a man who has known every kind of woman. And the one in his arms now seems so innocent, so vulnerable, that he can't help but be enchanted. And as his love for this mysterious beauty grows, he's determined to unravel the secrets of her past and discover the truth -- no matter what.  (Taken from official website)



The more historical romances I read, the more convinced I become that they are similar to each other. Lisa Kleypas is just as good as other historical romance writers, in fact if I judge her on the basis of this book, she is very good.

The characters are good and much like stereotypical historical romance characters. the hero is strong and mysterious with a bad past, the heroine is naive. But Lisa gives it a twist through the amnesia plot. The explanation is quite good and real and even unexpected (you can read and find out).
One more thing that was unique was that the hero was not a duke, viscount or marquess or in fact any titled person. Historical romances are usually populated by rich and titled heroes. This book is unconventional in that respect because the hero is a Bow Street Runner (which, according to what I gathered was something like a government detective)

This book is part of the Bow Runner series. I am in the process of reading the second book in this series. I have been reading a lot of series these days (Malory Family by Johanna Lindsey and Once and Always by Judith McNaught which I don't exactly know is part of which series. I will review those books also.)


Overall, the book was not long so it was a quick read. She didn't bore, either and I would definitely recommend you to read this book, especially if you have not read any other book by her like me.

Ratings
Story-4
Plot-4.3
Characters-3.2
Style-3.9

Overall- 4

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Author Interview- KP Wee

Hello everyone. It's already December and the new year will be starting soon. I have with me today, K.P. Wee, author of Fess Up, Jessup (which I will be reviewing shortly) and other books. This is the author interview of the month December.



 KP Wee is a teacher and market researcher in Vancouver, Canada. He enjoys writing, hockey, and baseball.

While he has written short stories in the psychological fiction genre, he much prefers chick lit and sports biographies.

KP has previously published "Showing Their Scales." He began writing because he often had to write stories as lessons for his students, and he realized, "Hey, writing is fun. I can do it. I can write stories and try and get them published." And that's how it all began.

TRIVIA-

Favorite color- Blue
Favorite author- Camy Tang.
Favorite book- Zodiac sign- Scorpio
Your motto- Don’t Say I Can’t. It’s the motto of my favorite athlete, Tom Candiotti, and it’s something that I firmly believe in.
Here is the interview:
RC-  Is the life of a writer what you imagined it to be?
KP Wee- Not necessarily. I think as a writer, it’s not solely about writing. You need to think about things like marketing, having a blog or website that promote your books, and you need to come up with interesting content on your blog to get people to come back and check your site out. There are things like Twitter and Facebook too. If you don’t have those things, you’re not going to be successful. So essentially, it’s not what I imagined it to be – you have to basically worry about the business side of it, the marketing and promoting aspect of things. So, it’s kind of like running a business as well as being able to write.

Also, there’s a fair amount of research to be done. You want to get your facts straight. You want to make sure what you write about makes sense. For instance, if your character is a teacher, you better make sure you can portray his or her occupation in a story in a realistic way. Even the lingo he or she uses, you have to get that right. I once had to interview people in the engineering and marketing professions to determine if those occupations were suitable for my main character! There are all these types of details you need to be sure about before you can use them in your stories.



RC- What genre do you write and why?

KP Wee- I’ve written psychological fiction – I enjoy writing stories where you expect the unexpected. You see perhaps the bad guys getting what they want, or someone getting back at others for revenge, for instance. My philosophy when I began writing was that we’ve seen enough books were the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and everyone’s happy at the end. I stayed away from those kinds of endings because I wanted to be different. I liken my stories to those you see from the TV series, "Tales from the Crypt," where there isn’t a happy ending but perhaps a tragic and even violent one to certain characters. That was my genre, at least when I first started writing. My first published book, "Showing Their Scales: Three Tales of Lies, Lust, and Deception" was exactly like that. "Fess Up, Jessup!" is a little different in that you do see a bit of justice, so to speak, by the end of the stories.

More recently, I’ve been working on chick lit, realizing it’s not always about what I want to write. It’s more about what people want to read. Statistics do show that women tend to read more than men do, so the reality is to write what women want to read about. It’s been quite an adjustment, for sure, going from one extreme of violence and revenge to a genre where the heroine gets what she wants at the end.



RC-What quality do you think is essential for becoming a good writer?

KP Wee-I believe you need to do a lot of research. You need to be creative. You need to get inside the heads of your characters and think like they do, and be able to convey that in the story. You need to describe things well. You need to get the lingo right. Basically, you need to have a strong understanding of how people think, how to make your characters compelling, and you need to be creative and funny. You need to incorporate all that into your writing and if you think about it, it’s not an easy task to accomplish.

RC-Who are your favorite authors?

KP Wee-When I was younger, I enjoyed mystery novels. I would always pick up novels by Agatha Christie and other detective/mystery authors. As I have gradually tried to write chick lit, I’ve tried to read novels written by chick lit authors. I find Camy Tang’s novels to be funny.

RC-Have you ever suffered from the dreaded writer's block? How did you deal with it?

KP Wee-I wouldn’t say I’ve had writer’s block. What I do have is too many ideas, and I would try to set one story aside if I don’t feel motivated to write it, and move on to the next one. I think the biggest enemy I have isn’t writer’s block, but a lack of time. Being employed full-time doesn’t help with my writing, because there have been times when I return home and do not feel motivated enough to spend a few hours writing.

RC- What message would you like to give your fans?
KP Wee-I would say, "Never give up." No matter what people may say or what negativity you may hear about what you can't do, always believe in yourself, try your best, and maybe you CAN do it. Having the proper attitude and the willingness to try goes a long way.
RC- That was so inspiring! Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. You can learn more about SP Wee by visiting his website http://kpwee-author.blogspot.com/
You can read more about his book Fess Up, Jessup on its Smashwords.com page and also buy it there- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/30976

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review- Barbara Cartland- Hungry for Love

Just as the title suggests 'Hungry for Love' is a romance novel by Barbara Cartland that focuses on food. It is not something expected of Barbara Cartland.

The story follows Araminta (a strange but cute name), a poor girl who is a great. After her parents die, she is forced to cook to earn a living because she has not got any other skills. Her influential uncle helps here by placing a bet worth a lot on money on her. She is hired by a Marquis who is willing to pay lavishly to hire her. She amazes everyone including the royalty with her delicious and exotic food. She however, does not get to see the Marquis during their initial meeting. Someone who attends the party takes her to a restaurant and tries to take advantage when the Marquis rescues her. They eventually fall in love and strive towards one of Barbara Cartland's specialities- a happy ending.

The 'gourmet' twist to the novel made it interesting. Romantic development was slow but satisfactory. The name of the protagonist is unusual. The names of many exotic dishes are mentioned during the novel which sometimes make your mouth water.
The story has a complex plot for a novel of that length. The romance was great as expected from Barbara Cartland.

The cover was good with a nice colour scheme and apt title.

Overall, an above average-average book from Barbara Cartland which is a good way to pass time.

Pros

Cover
Idea
Story

Cons

Weak female lead
Typical male lead

Book Review- Barbara Cartland- Who can deny love?

Who Can Deny Love? is one of the seven hundred+ books written by the 'True Queen of Romance', Barbara Cartland.

The story is a unique one for Barbara Cartland who experiments with a woman of higher family rank falling in lvoe with a man of lower family rank.
The heroine of the story forges paintings for a living. Her mother, a duchess married a painter because she loved him. They found it hard to pay for her mother's needs after she fell ill due to which she later died. Now, the heroine forges paintings to make a living.
The hero, a marquis comes across one of her forged paintings of herself when he meets his friend, the prince who loves to invest in paintings. On coming to know that the painting is a fake, he demands the address of the forger from the company that sold the painting and hence lands up in the hreoine's house. She is a dead ringer of the woman in the painting. The marquis begans visiting her frequently and they fall in love. Towards the end, she goes back to her father (a duke) without informing the Marquis. He accidentally discovers her and pleads her father to give him permission to marry his daughter. He refuses because the Marquis' reputation as a flirt preceeds him. In the end, he gains the Duke's trust and they marry.

The painting/art angle to the story was unsual. The heroine was shy and introverted while the hero was frank and open. Characterisation was not all that great but she filled a lot of stuff into a 160 page story. The story has more twists than any of her other novels I have read. It has two parts- one before her disappearance and the second after the Marquis finds her. In case all these titles seem alien to you, you can google it. A Duke is the highest rank that can be obtained by a commoner.

The story's flow was good. It was boring initially but the end covered up for it.

Overall, one of Barbara Cartlands's better novels. She has experimented a bit here with great results. The title like most of her book titles contains the word 'love'.

Pros

Story
Characters

Cons

Cover
Boring initially

Book Review- Judith Mcnaught- A Kingdom of Dreams

A Kingdom of Dreams is a prequel or sequel (it is supposed to be first in the series but was written after Whitney, my love) to her smash hit Whitney, my love. It narrates the love story of the first Duke of Clarymore who is referred to many times during Whitney, my love.

The story is a little different from other novels of Judith Mcnaught. It is set in the fourteenth or fifteenth century unlike her other novels which are set in eighteenth and nineteenth century.
It narrates the story of a proud scottish girl, Jenny Merrick who is the daughter of her tribe's leader. Her town is going to be attacked by 'The Wolf' a dreaded english commander of troops. Jenny and her sister are captured by The Wolf's (Royce Westmoreland) troops and imprisoned. It is in the camp of the english army that Jenny falls in love with the Wolf (who later becomes the Duke of Claymore). Later, she is forced to marry him and reluctantly agrees. They evetually fall deeper in love and conquer their differences.

The story has a dark atmosphere because it is set is medieval times. The male character was a little unconventional (even though he was a Duke) because he wasn't spending his time courting ladies at high end parties. He was rotting in camps trying to conquer lands. Jenny is a little bit stronger than other heroines of Judith Mcnaught because she is stronger physically than mentally and is famous for her troublesome nature. She is sent to be a nun at the church but later comes back.

There is some humour in the story which diverts attention from the dark atmosphere. There is war going on all the time and most of Jenny's love happens in the camp so, the atmosphere tends to be a little depressing. The love is quite slow. The book begins well with Jenny complaining of the hostile atmosphere before her marriage but later slows down (and is a bit boring) as Jenny narrates her adventures before the marriage.

I felt the end was a little abrupt. Their love could have been given more time to develop after they arrive at Royce's house. While there was all the romantic development that was needed, the story could've dragged a little more. It felt a little incomplete (even with the happy ending).

The hero and heroine were equally strong in the book unlike many of her other books where the heroines try to show they're smart by showing intellect with no success.

Overall, this books was not as great as her classics but is one of the good romance novels written by Judith Mcnaught. My only complaints were the abrupt ending and depressing atmosphere. There are no balls or social gatherings- only wars. The story is set in medieval times with more of knights and wars than balls and parties.

Overall rating- 4.1/5

Pros

Hero
Heroine
Strong side characters
Title
Cover

Cons

Abrupt ending
Dark tone

Book Review- Judith Mcnaught- Something Wonderful

Judith Mcnaught is a multi million selling writer of a string of romance novels. I have reviewed two of her books earlier. I started reading her because a friend recommended her books and I got addicted immediately. I read her historical novel Something Wonderful last week. It is a 'historical romance'- the genre Judith Mcnaught is famous for.

It revolves around the life of Alexandra, a seventeen year old girl whose father dies. Her father was accused of bigamy and her mother spends her life depressed over marrying someone like Alexandra's father. Alexandra is very smart with a great interest in philosophy. Her grandfather teaches her about various philosiphical writers and texts. While going to visit her friend one day, Alexandra saves a man from bandits. He takes her to an inn. When he takes her back home, there are rumours that the two are in love because they were seen together. Concerned about Alexandra's reputation, her mother forces the man to marry her. The man turns out to be the Duke of Hawthorne who is a famous lady killer. He plans to leave Alexandra to rot in his country house. But they eventually fall in love. A few days after marriage, Jordan (the duke) drowns in the sea. Alexandra goes into mourning. After a year, he returns and tells he was imrpisoned, not killed. However, now Alexandra knows of his way with women and wants to run from him because he is a reckless flirt. The story progresses furthur with twists and turns and as expected of Judith Mcnaught, has a happy ending.

This book was a step down from the last book I read- Whitney, my love. With every consequent book, I feel Judith Mcnaught's style is getting repetitive (Law of diminishing marginal utility). A repetitive feature I noticed was that all her heros are Dukes (with the exception of Until you's hero who is an Earl).

After reading four books by her, I now know every move she is going to make. All her heroines are similar but not identical like heros.

The book was quite long but not as long as Whitney, my love. I found Almost Heaven her best so far. The after marriage plot was unusual.

If it is your first or second book by Judith Mcnaught, you'd probably like it.
The romance is great, as usual. That's where Judith Mcnaught gets ahead of her contemporaries. Her books are full of spontaneous feelings of love.

Overall, an average historical romance. It is a little above average because it comes from Judith Mcnaught.

Overall rating- 3.8/5

Pros

Romance
Cover

Cons

Predictable

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Free book giveaway- Roses of Doom by S.P. Wish

It's already December and time for christmas. Why not spice up your christmas with this new, free ebook? December's free ebook is Roses of Doom by S.P. Wish. It is a horror/thriller/children's book and it is available for free on Smashwords.com. Here is the link- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/30899



Here is a short summary of the book-

When horror strikes, black roses are left behind........

A school camping trip leads quirky middle schooler Mizu, her smart brother Kaji and her friends Akumu and Seiya to a strange mansion in the mysterious Greenfire forest. Mizu's best friend mysteriously disappears and reappears, Mizu finds old newspapers which are two hundred years old. From these, she manages to unearth a centuries old intrigue.....one with deadly consequences on the present. Who is behind these mysterious happenings?

You can also view the book trailer on youtube at- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAFInpvLYoE

Enjoy the ebook!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Author interview- Mindy Klasky


Welcome everyone! This is the second author interview on Review Carnival. This time, I will be interviewing author Mindy Klasky whose works include the As You Wish series, Jane Madison series, The Glasswrights series and others.

Mindy Klasky learned to read when her parents shoved a book in her hands and told her that she could travel anywhere in the world through stories.  She never forgot that advice.
Mindy’s travels took her through multiple careers.   After graduating from Princeton University, Mindy considered becoming a professional stage manager or a rabbi.  Ultimately, though, she settled on being a lawyer, working as a litigator at a large Washington firm.  When she realized that lawyering kept her from writing (and dating and sleeping and otherwise living a normal life), Mindy became a librarian, managing large law firm libraries.  Mindy now writes full time. (taken from the official website)

Now here's the interview

TRIVIA

Favorite color-  Blue
 Favorite author-  This changes, with my mood, with the weather, with whatever I happen to be reading!
 Favorite book-  The Lord of the Rings is the book that most influenced my life, because it was the one that first got me to think about writing, and storytelling, and becoming a full-time writer
 Zodiac sign-  Libra
 Your motto-  “Thou mayest” (from Steinbeck’s East of Eden)
 City of your dreams- Florence, Italy (where I traveled on my honeymoon!)



INTERVIEW




RC- First of all, thank you very much for doing this interview with Review Carnival. We are really honoured. The first questions is: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Is the life of a writer like you had imagined it to be?

Ans.  My first major writing project (aside from short stories for class) was an attempt at writing a sequel to The Lord of the Rings, which my best friend and I decided to write over spring break when we were in eighth grade.  (We didn’t finish, even though we spent both weekends and the entire week of vacation on the project!)  That experienced whetted my appetite for writing.  When I was in law school, I returned to writing fantasy novels (as a break from the tedium in some of my classes).  Writing full time has been better than I ever imagined it – for the first time, ever, I have time to develop all (or at least, most) of the stories in my head!

RC- Who has influenced you/your writing style/choice of genres the most?

Ans.  I bounce between genres, mostly between traditional fantasy and romance (with a fantasy element).  For my romantic fantasy novels, I was most influenced by Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary – because of its light tone, its realistic depiction of a frustrated singleton, and its literary references.

RC-  Do you ever have the dreaded writer's block? How do you deal with it?

Ans.  I don’t have writers’ block, per se – I always have ideas for my stories, and the ability to put them in a computer file.  I do sometimes suffer from laziness and/or distraction – where I just don’t feel like writing.  The best solution for that, at least in my case, is to make myself sit down and start writing.  After the first 10 minutes, I’m over “the hump” and able to continue working.

RC- What kind of characters/settings do you like the most?

Ans.  I enjoy writing about young women who discover their inner strengths.  Sometimes, in my more serious traditional fantasy novels, this discovery is literally and figuratively painful.  In my lighter romantic fantasy novels, my characters don’t suffer as much – but they do discover how they can best be strong, independent women.

RC- Thanks for being with us and giving so much of your time. The last question is: What message would you like to convey to your fans?
Ans.  I very much enjoy being in touch with my readers.  I welcome people to stop by website – http://www.mindyklasky.com/ – and to join in on my blog posts with comments and discussion!  Thanks so much for the opportunity to visit here!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Manga review- Spicy Pink

Spicy Pink is a josei manga by Wataru Yoshizumi. It is only two volumes long. I finished reading it within two hours.

Spicy Pink tells the story of Sakura, a shoujo mangaka who meets a rude, plastic surgeon in a doctors and mangakas gokon. They start out with an informal relationship that later progresses to liking. But both of them have had past relationships that make their way into their lives again.

The manga was too short to be of any value. This manga has the same problem that persists with other Wataru Yoshizumi's mangas- it's very light and shallow. She could've increased the depth at least for a josei. I have mentioned this many times in her manga reviews- Relationships in her manga are not serious. The same problem persists with this manga. It was tolerable with Ultra Maniac and Mint na Bokura since they focused on sibling relationship and friendship. But Spicy Pink is the story of a twenty six year old and thirty year old who meet in a gokon. There's no scope for a shallow relationship here.

The manga had conflicts but these were not satisfatorily solved. The manga focused more on her friendship and work than romance. All the romantic conclusion is crammed into the last chapter. It was too short to make anything happen. Even in the end, the protagonist remarks she doesn't know how long the relationship will work out but she wants to make the most out of it while it is still going well. This is what I say when I mean problem. The romance is not deep and passionate or fulfilling. Even Sakura's friend who had a worse relationship got married.
While it is true that in reality many romantic relationships end in dating, in mangas, people expect some fantasy. Even if it is josei and supposed to be realistic, she should have at least carried on the romance well while it was lasting. They rarely meet up and most of the time the femlae protagonist is busy in friends and work.

It is okay for a manga you'd finish in one hour and be happy that you've read  manga but there are better one shots and short mangas out there. Skip this one.

Characters-3/5
Story-3.5/5
Art-3.8/5
Overall-3.4/5

Pros

Art
Idea
Cover

Cons

Shallow romance
Not a good ending
Too short
Unresolved conflicts
No comedy or seriousness

Monday, November 15, 2010

J-Drama review- Seigi no Mikata



Seigi no Mikata (正義の味方?, Ally of Justice) is a story first published by Shueisha as a manga, and then made into a short-running TV drama in 2008 by Nihon Television, directed by Satoru Nakajima. The story is about a 15-year-old girl named Yoko, who is being tormented by her older sister Makiko. Only Yoko and her parents know her sister's true nature, while other people are fooled by her unbelievable good luck.

15-year-old Yoko is constantly tormented by her self-centered and fiendish older sister Makiko, who works for a government office after having graduated from a famous university. But despite her ill nature, Makiko's actions tend to somehow make things better for those around her, causing others to praise her as an "ally of justice."

Because of her sister's attitude, Yoko longs to be free. She decides to get her sister married so she will move out. However her plan backfires. There is also a boy called Riku who always teases her because he has a major crush on her. He becomes one of her closest confidants.



Makiko eventually reveals her true nature to her husband, Naoki, who decides to get a divorce.

Meanwhile a close friend of Riku's, Chika, tells Yoko that he is about to move away. Her friends attempt to get Yoko to confess through a live T.V. program, but her sister storms in and starts yelling at her, right before Yoko confessed and when she (Makiko) is taken away by security.

A few days, Naoki and his parents arrive to talk with Makiko. As the divorce is about to be finalized,
Makiko tells everyone that she is pregnant. The series ends with Yoko finally talking to Riku before he went to Osaka and Makiko giving birth to a baby. Yoko is the one left caring for it.

Now for the review- It was an okay drama. What was good was that the story was interesting. The younger sister's characters and romance and quite good though her love became a disappointment in the end. The character of the elder sister's husband was also very nice and polar opposite of the elder sister's character.



The biggest problem with this series was the elder sister. Her personality was extremely unlikeable and at times, she feels more like a villian than a heroine. The fact that Yamada Yu did her role made matters worse. Yamada Yu is not visually pleasing as one might have expected the elder sister to be. She is totally stone-faced except for some fake and childish expressions she shows in the series. I still cannnot believe that Yamada Yu won an award for this.

The younger sister blames her older sister for her misfortunes but it really is her fault for listening to her older sister like a puppy. The older sister once doesn't say very harsh words or threaten her. There was virtually no comedy in the drama. If the drama makers were relying on the cruelty of the elder sister to make the viewes laugh, they have failed terribly.

A drama worth skipping and I am not sure why I ended up watching it.

Pros- Everyone except Yamada Yu acts well
Mother-in-law brings much needed variety to this show
Riku and Yoko's romance

Cons- Yamada Yu's poor acting and lack of visual apppeal
Boring storyline which becomes extremely repetitive and predictable
Weakness of the younger sister

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book review- Edward de Bono- Six Thinking Hats

Edward de Bono is a famous thinker, author and physician who is credited with inventing the tern 'Lateral thinking'. His books mostly revolve around thinking processes, patterns and methods. He developed the six hats thinking method which has been very successful. It is used in board meetings and schools to promote fruitful thinking and get maximum results in minimum time.

This is the first time I read a book of this nature (non fiction and thinking). Other non-fiction books I read were all the books by Linda Goodman. This is quite different from those. The review might be a little biased because I am not used to reading such books.

The six thinking hats are six ways of thinking about the same thing. They prevent argument and save time. Edaward de Bono explains in the beginning how the six hats method has helped reduced time alloted to board meetings and solve problems quickly with effective results. Here is a summary of the six hats.

White hat- It is a way of thinking objectively- merely stating facts without bringing in emotions.
Red hat- Considered a pair with white hat. It is thinking on basis of feelings.
Black hat- It is counting the cons and negetive aspects of things. It is used for caution. This hat is often overused.
Yellow hat- The opposite of black hat. It is seeing the brighter side of things- counting pros. However, it can sometimes be unrealistic.
Green hat- Green means fertile land. It signifies the growth of ideas.
Blue hat- Like the blue sky that covers us all below it, a blue hat thinker is mostly the manager or the head of the meeting who triggers all kinds of thinking.

The books is factual and theoritical in nature. CEOs and other managers and office employees might find it useful. Though these methods of thinking are interesting, the book focuses more on applying these in board room meetings, schools etc. rather than encouraging individuals to use these hats in appropriate situations. Like a white hat view, the book states facts- the qualities of each of the hats. It doesn't bias the reader or help in using these in daily life. Even the examples in the book are taken from board room meetings.
It is a little disappionting that the book endorses this method only for CEOs. Common people can benefit a lot by using these hats. The book however doesn't speak about the micro level.

The book also talks about how ego gets in the way of parallel thinking, another concept brought out by Edward de Bono.

While the six hats thinking method was interesting, it really didn't help much. As an individual, I found no use of reading the book. It is focused on boardroom meetings and gatherings where decision making is required. Though it is a nice way of decision making, the author could not tell what use it has for an ordinary person who doesn't atttend board meetings.

Overall, a rather theoritical book. It states facts objectively. It is about Edward de Bono's new method- something like a textbook with examples. It is rather short- around 180 pages with lots of spacing and big print. I really don't know how to give a score to this book because I usually read fiction and the non fiction I read is completely different from this book. I'll leave the score upto you.

Pros

Creative idea
Cover
Detailed explanation

Cons

Of no use to an individual
Theoritical
Does not teach to use principles in real life situations-impractical
Contains references to previous books

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drama review- Hotaru no Hikari season 1&2

Hotaru no Hikari is a popular drama starring actress Ayase Haruka and actor Naohito Fujiki in the main roles. It is based on a popular josei manga of the same name. It has a second season too.

Ayase Haruka starring as Amemiya Hotaru is an average office lady with a decent amount of elegance. She works very hard at office and most of of co workers consider her a mature and elegant lady. But when Hotaru gets home, she changes into her jerseys, sits on the porch and drinks beer from cans. Furthurmore, she keeps her house in a terrible mess, sleeps wrapped in newspapers and eats preserved food. Her lifestyle undergoes some change when her manager (bucho) movies into the house with her. The house is the manager's father's property. Bucho (manager) is in the process of divorcing his wife but does not tell Hotaru about this. They make a cohabitation treaty and decide to stay together. Hotaru can be her true himono onna (dried fish woman) self with bucho. She also develops a liking for Teshima who wroks with her. The manager helps her make her way to his heart which trying desperately to hide the secret of their staying together.

The drama has lots of comedy with Ayase Haruka doing goofy expressions. Ayase Haruka is at her best here. Her acting skills fitted very well into the character. I saw Naohito Fujiki's G@me earlier in which his acting disappointed me. Here however, he shows me a completely different side. His acting is just as good as Ayase Haruka if not better. The characters fit well together. Even if the pairing didn't have much chemistry, it went on well. The house and many other backdrops are beautiful.

Most actors and actresses act well in the series. The comedy is refreshing with a unique storyline. Hotaru's personality is unique and even though different from Bucho's, it fits well with him. Ayase Haruka is mostly kawaii (cute) with a sweetened voice and lots of clumsiness and comic dialogues. Her monologues are entertaining.  Along with the protagonist's romance, the side characters' romance stories go on as well. In the first season it is Yuuka and in the second it is Yamada nee san.

The second season focuses on Hotaru's marriage. She comes back from Hong Kong after three years. During these years, she never once phoned or wrote to Bucho. He is angry in the beginning but towards the end of the first episode, proposes marriage. However, Hotaru doesn't know what marriage should be like. In this season Yamada, Hotaru's senior and Seichi's Takano's friend get married after a rocky relationship. There are new characters in the second season with Yamada, Takano and his friend being the only ones from the previous season. Hotaru faces many difficulties and Takano even withdraws his proposal for marriage. But in the end, they get married.

The second season was as good as the first one. Both had the same problem- They beat around the bush too much. In the first season, Hotaru was busy with Teshima and confessed to Bucho only in the last scene of the last episode. Much like that, in this season too she focuses on work and daily life and gets married only in the last episode.

The second season had more merits than the first one. While the first season is entertaining, it is disappointing since Hotaru beats around the bush and never confesses to Takano. In the second season however, their romantic relationship is given more importance. They clear hurdles and progress together. Takano manages to pick up some of Hotaru's habits like sleeping on the porch with newspapers in place of bedsheets. In the end, he leaves for Taiwan but Hotaru doesn't accompany him. He comes back and gives her the marriage paper after one year but she leaves it in her room and the cat poops on it. She promises to bring another one the following day. The drama ends at that but it didn't leave any ambiguous ending. Knowing Hotaru, she'll probably get another marriage paper and of she fails Takano is there for her.

The music for both the season was horrible. The first theme was Yokogao by aiko and the seocond one was Kimi ga iru by Ikimonogakari. I couldn't even hear the second one, it was hardply featured. The first one though genric was played in the last scenes of the first episode so, it has some sentimental value. But overall, the songs were terrible.

The first season is more or less incomplete without the second season that is why I watched them continuously. The first season ends with confession and leaves a question about their future together in the viewers mind. If you want to complete the journey and be satisfied, I recommend the second season too. The pros for the second season are much like the cons. Hotaru remains a himono oonna with too many monologues and clumsiness till the end. Her senior Yamada says it is okay to be a himono onna as long as she remains cute. Even though after the second season, you feel like you've got an overdose of Hotaru, it is still fun watching.

Overall, one of the best romantic comedy dramas. I enjoyed the comedy. The romance was quite slow but okay. The actors and actresses acted well with proper script, direction, story and backdrops. I have started to like josei dramas. Nodame Cantabile, Kimi wa petto, Hotaru no hikari, Gokusen and many other wonderful dramas have been adapted from josei mangas. Viva josei manga!

Characters-4.5/5
Story-4.2/5
Acting-4.5/5
Script- 4.3/5
Music-3/5
Overall-4.4/5

Pros

Entertaining
Comedy
Characterisation and development
Acting
Backdrops
Second season that completes the story
Ending

Cons

Might get repetitive after the second season
Beats around the bush too much especially in the first season

Book review- Sophie Kinsella Dreamworld of a Shopaholic


The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic is the first book in the acclaimed Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. It is about a financial journalist, rebecca Bloomwood who is a shopaholic. She is obsessed about buying clothes, makeup and shoes the point that she lands in financial troubles when her Switch card is frozen and her VISA ooverdraft is long due. She is in a sea of debts but still cannot her urges to shop. She ends up lying to others and making excuses to herself.

The book is written in the witty and humorous style of Kinsella. The character of Rebecca is quite unrealistic. I have never seen anyone so obsessed with shopping and spending money despite the knowledge of debts. The fact that she is twenty-five makes it harder to believe her complete lack of sense. She behaves like a child (running away from an interview when she doesn't understand Finnish, saying things she doesn't want to say on impulse, making up completely fictional and often fantastic-sounding diseases to avoid meetings with her bank manager)



Her attempts to cut back or make more money are also futile. She tries to woo a millionarire bachelor despite having nothing in common.

I am a very frugal person and I found it impossible to relate to the character of Rebecca. I didn't enjoy this book as much as her previous book The Undomestic Goddess. The letters before each chapter are good jokes in thelselves. One thing that is not lacking in this book is hilarity. It is an easy read but unnecessarily long. Some of the events could have been easily cut without making a difference to the overall quality of the book.

Pros- Original idea
Humorous writing style

Cons- Main character is hard to relate to
A bit too shallow in the love department
Unnecessarily long

Hope that the future installments of the series are better.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Drama Review- Nobuta wo produce

Nobuko Kotani is a shy, reclusive girl who doesn't fit into her school. Her fringe is forever covering her eyes and she has no social skills. To make matters worse, she is picked on by other students. Shuji is a teenager who is searching for the meaning of youth and teenage life. He is pretty popular but thinks of it as shallow. He wants to make the most out of his teenage life. Akira, is Shuji's sidekick who gets along with everyone except Shuji. Shuji finds his optimism irritating and his habit of poking his nose into everything quite annoying. When the boys set their eyes on Nobuko Kotani referred to as Nobuta (pig), they decide to reform her and make her the most popular girl in school. The decide to produce her (like a music producer) to make an image for her and make her popular. Nobuko has no problem and she decides to ride along. Shuji however, doesn't want to be seen with Nobuta fearing that he might lose his popularity. Shuji and Akira give her lessons on the terrace.

The drama is basically a friendship and youth drama. Kamenashi Kazuya didn't act too well and there wasn't much acting to do in Maki's role. Yamashita Tomoshisa was the only one who acted well because his character was significantly different from the other two. While producing Nobuta, Shuji and Akira become close friends. Nobuta becomes more sociable and starts cutting her fringe. There are some common teenage problems like popularity, bullying, jealousy etc. depicted in the drama.

In the end, Shuji leaves school because his father is moving to Tokyo. Akira and Nobuta are left behind. Nobuta tells Akira to follow him to Tokyo because Shuji and Akira are best friends and need to be together. She becomes popular in school and says she can manage on her own. Akira obeys her and Shuji and Akira end up in the same school in the end. Nobuta remains in the same school but makes friends and remembers Shuji and Akira occassionally.

The drama was mediocre at best in my opinion. It is not much different from all the youth dramas out there. My boss, my hero is a much better version of Nobuta wo produce. It had an all star cast therefore, received good viewership ratings. Most actors despite being famous didn't act well.

The theme song, Seishun Amigo sung by Kamenashi Kazuya and Yamashita Tomoshisa sold over a million. The B sides Kizuna and Colourful were insert songs of Gokusen 2 and Dragon Zakura respectively in which the actors had main roles. Due to over promotion, the single sold well. The theme song is not very prominent in the drama.

Story-3.5/5
Characters-3.6/5
Acting-3.5/5
Script-4/5
Music-3.4/5
Overall-3.5/5

Pros

Yamashita Tomoshisa
Theme
All star cast

Cons

Acting
Stereotypical
Boring at some points because of bad acting and dull characters
Ending

Drama review- Atashinchi no danshi

Atashinchi no danshi is a drama starring popular actress Maki Horikita. It had around 10% viewership.

Maki Horikita is a poor girl who lives in temporary tents with other poor people stealing food and visiting cybercafes. Her father abandoned her while she was young and left her a huge debt to pay. She is frequently hounded by loan sharks. One day, while running from creditors, she reaches an abandoned construction site where a rich man lands from his private jet and pays her loan. In exchange, she has to be his wife until his death after two months. Believing that this shouldn't be hard, she agrees. Only after his death does she discover that the contract she signed is ten feet long with many more details. He had adopted six sons each with a different personality. Maki Horikita's job includes looking after these rebellious youngsters, forcing them to eat together at the table, get along with each other, stamp their fingers, play games and discover the treasure that is hidden in Trick heart castle which is where they live.

One striking feature about this drama is the beautiful backdrops. Trick Heart castle's interiors as well as exteriors are eye candy. Almost all actors are good looking which makes this drama a visual treat. Since the director is the same person who directed Hana Kimi also starring Maki, the backdrops, style and everything is similar to it but inferior in a sense. The script is okay but Maki Horikita's acting is stiff.

The story progresses quite well with each member's family background, past experiences and interests being shown. Sho, has a son. The kid is supersmart and the oldest one was a biker. They learn to work with each other despite differences and make a loving family. Maki faces challenges but she overcomes these. Some sons stay with her just for the inheritance but later, they become attached to each other.

In the end, the siblings discover that Chisato is not their mother but the real daughter of the president and the marriage contract is fake. Many propose to her but she rejects. In a sense, she is their sister (step sister). The vice president decides to takeover the trick heart castle and capture the treasure. Chisato and the six men discover the treasure just in time. The treasure is a room full of gold biscuits and a story book which tells the touching story of seven knights who prevented the take over of Trick heart castle and discovered the most precious treasure called 'family'. The vice president, defeated by the president's foresight, gives up on the treasure. All the seven siblings go their seperate ways. Soem go back to their original parents with only Chisato remaining in the castle. Later, they all come back because they have become attached to their family.

It is a modern day Kamen Rider with a family twist. The ending especially was a little childish. The drama is a family drama.

Overall, okay for light entertainment but don't expect anything great and groundbreaking. A good drama for families to watch especially those with teenage kids.

Acting-3.6/5
Backdrops-4.4/5
Script-4/5
Characters-4/5
Story-4.2/5
Overall-4/5

Pros

Ending
Beautiful scenes
Theme
Characters

Cons

Maki Horikita's acting
Stereotypical family drama
Childish and inconsistent

Friday, November 5, 2010

J-Drama review- Celeb to Binbo Taro


Taro Sato (Yusuke Kamiji) has been poor all his life. Since the death of his wife, his situation has become even more desperate as he has to raise his three kids by himself and has no real marketable skills. So when he applies for a job that he doesn't expect to get, as a chauffeur to a rich young woman, he's surprised when he does. His employer is Alice (Aya Ueto), your usual spoiled rich kid. Her father is a hotel magnate and her mother a popular actress. She's never wanted for anything her whole life and expects to get everything she wants. She and Taro have nothing in common, and, at least in the beginning, all they do is get on each other's nerves.

The drama stars Ueto Aya who is a very popular actress in Japan though I find her acting mediocre and Yusuke Kamiji, who is the guy you can see with Ayumi Hamasaki in her tours.



The drama is okay. It has an interesting start. The events take make unexpected turns. The last few episodes are especially good. The transformation of Alice from a selfish, rich, spoilt girl to a humble and caring person shows that every one can change. The drama was nothing spectacular. It had its share of good scenes and its share of boring scenes. The excessive potrayl of Taro's poverty was not so good. I mean, we know he is poor, no need to overemphasize it. The realtionship of Alice and Gotoda is one of the focal points of this story. The addition of friendly and caring side characters gives this drama a good atmosphere and makes it more watchable.

I would not strongly recommend watching this drama if you are looking for something great. It is actually mediocre. If you find yourself genuinely interested in the story or want to see Aya Ueto in many beautiful dresses, watch this drama.

Ratings
Plot-4
Characters-2
Actors-2.5
Script-3
Direction-3

Pros- Good character development
Eye candy settings and dresses

Cons- Cliched plot
Mediocre acting
Somewhat disappointing since it doesn't go where it seemed to be going

J-dorama review- Kimi Hanin Janai yo Ne?


Morita Sakura is a peculiar "freeter" (freelance part-timer) who dreams of becoming a mystery novel writer. While switching between various jobs throughout the series, she also becomes an assistant to Officer Udagawa, a detective who discovers her excellent memory and reasoning skills. On the other hand, Udagawa (who has just joined the police ranks through his father's connections) is fairly inept and has a tendency to fall in love with female suspects.

Kimi Hanin Janai yo ne stars Kaname Jun who has acted in popular dramas before and Kanjiya Shihori who is also quite famous in the acting world.

The drama started out well. The fact that Morita Sakura is an aspiring novelist whose novels are always rejected by the editor, provided an interesting change from the usual detectives. Udagawa does have some sense but he usually is unable to get enough proof to prove his point. His character seems rather unrealistic at times, especially the fact that he is so gullible. The two make a terrible team, with Sakura doing everything and Udagawa present there just as her sidekick.



The first epiosde was somewhat good but the subsequent episodes were just copies of the first. The person Udagawa falls in love with always turns out to be thr criminal which was very annoying. Since the criminal is revealed within the first few minutes of the episode, there is not much left to find out. As a viewer, I found this a serious flaw. The mysteries are not  complex like the ones in Galileo or Detective Conan. I could solve these mysteries easily.

Kimi Hanin Janai yo Ne? is a drama  worth skipping. As a mystery drama it gets no points. The criminals are obvious, how they did it is too easy to figure out, the motives of all the criminals are pathetically weak and the characters are pretty boring. There is an attempt to spruce up the plot by using fragments of memory that Sakura cannot remember. It succesfully builds towards a climax but ends in an anti-climax in the last episode. The ending, though happy, was thoroughly disappointing.

A true waste of time.

Ratings
Plot-3
Script-3
Actors-4
Characters-2
Direction-3

Pros- Started off well
Unusual occupation (aspiring novelist) for a detective story

Cons- Kaname Jun does not act well
Unrealistic characters
All criminals have extremely weak motives
Not much suspense
It is neither mentally or emotionaly satisfying

Movie Review- Yellow tears

Yellow tears is a movie starring all the five members of Arashi as the main characters. It is based on the manga 'The young ones' by Shinji Nagashima.

The story follows the experiences of four friends- a manga artist (Ninomiya Kaunari), an author (Sho Sakurai), A singer/composer (Aiba Masaki) and a painter (Ohno Satoshi) who decide to spend the summer of 1963 together in Ninomiya's house. All four have it hard trying to break into the artistic world. Ninomiya wants to write literary manga for children which is constantly rejected by his editor who thinks it won't sell. Sho Sakurai can't write a good novel. Aiba Masaki enters singing contests but can't seem to win and Ohno Satoshi paints well but is dissuaded by a tragic incident. All four of them decide to live at Ninomiya's house in the summer while trying to follow their dreams. They have to pawn the guitar, fountain pen, painting and clothes to eat. It follows the hardships of their life.

Ninomiya Kazunari gets the main role. Sho Sakurai, Aiba Masaki and Ohno Satoshi have a lot of role too. I was disappointed to know that Matsumoto Jun is only a side character. Kashii Yu is another side character who is Aiba Masaki's lover in the beginning but gets married to Matsujun in the end.

The series is realistic and I should warn viewers that the ending is not good. It maintains a lull and peaceful atmosphere, much like a lullaby. It vibrates with 1960s elements. I was surprised to see Arashi starring in a realistic and old movie like this. The songs resemble Kyu Sakamoto's style. Only enka was missing from the movie. There is nothing comic or modern about this movie at all. Its the kind of film you'd expect Hibari Misora not Arashi to act in.

Most of the series follows the protagonist's struggles and conflicts with reality. One thing I noticed was that none of the protagonists had any sense of business, commerciality or promotion. The singer just composed songs without thinking about recording deals, the painter paints without thinking of selling paintings or holding exhibitions and the author gets nowhere near completing his novel etc. Such poverty according to me is unrealistic but since the protagonists are not enterprising and cannot think of business, it is only obvious that they remain poor. The movie is rather pessimistic.

Aiba Masaki falls in love with Kashii Yu but later falls out of it. Ninomiya's ex girlfriend marries another man, the waitress Sho had a crush on marries someone in her home town. Most of the time, the protagonists live in poverty, trying to freeload on each other. However, their friendship is quite deep and they never blame each other. They decide to get serious in the middle of the movie but in the end, they give up on their dreams. Sho's favourite french novelist's saying- 'Life never deceives man. Life has never deceived man.' appears many times in the movie. Matsumoto Jun is a part timer who helps these four artists occassionally. He appears rarely in the movie.

Spoilers- In the end, they end up going their seperate ways after Ninomiya's mother dies and the others write him a touching letter. Shinkasen arrives in Japan and Olympics is hosted. A year later, they have a meeting in the 'ship' (a cafe). Sakurai Sho becomes a door to door salesman, Ohno Satoshi becomes a club manager in Alaska, Aiba Masaki becomes a construction worker and Nonomiya is the only one who follows his dream and continues to create manga he likes. The series was quite pessimistic. It is hard to believe that none of them succeeded especially after the writer shows their dedication to their craft.

Overall, a very realistic/pessimistic movie. Fans of Honey and clover might like it. It is rather oldish and viewers might find it hard to relate to a 1963 movie. Shinji Nagashima's works are based on the hard life of mangakas. He was Osamu Tezuka's assistant at one time. The movie is sleep inducing (boring) and very slow moving. The ending just put me off. Next time I hope Arashi acts in something better which does justice to their acting skills.

Characters- 4/5
Acting-3.4/5
Script- 3.5/5
Story- 3.6/5
Overall-3.7/5

Pros

Realistic Characters
Unique story
Theme

Cons

Ending
Boring/hard to relate to
Slow paced
Matsumoto Jun had very little role
No good songs
Pessimistic

Drama Review- Yukan Club

Yukan Club is a popular shoujo manga and one of the best selling shoujos. It has not been liscenced but a drama adaptation was made. An anime was also created.
I started reading the manga but the illustrations are bad and all the chapters have not been scanned. Therefore, I decided to watch the drama.
The drama stars Kat tun's Akanishi Jin and Taguchi Junnosuke. Actresses Minami and Kashii Yu also act in the drama. Popular model Emi Suzuki of chinese origin acted in the drama too. It had around 12% ratings. Not too high. Akanishi Jin, Kashii Yu and Junnosuke Taguchi won awards for their performance in the drama.

The drama is about the life of six elites- son of the chief police inspector (Akanishi Jin), daughter of a single jewellery designer mother (Emi Suzuki), son of a hospital owner (Yokoyama Yu), daughtr of the Kenbishi corporarion's owner (Minami), son of the Swedish ambassador (Taguchi Junnosuke) and daughter of a popular artist and tea ceremony queen (Kashii Yu) who form a club to solve mysteries in the free time called Yukan Club (Leisure club).

Compared to dumb rich people like Tsukasa of HYD, these six are pretty smart. They solve complicated mysteries for killing time and sometimes to help people. Each have their own strenghts, weaknesses and motives.

The series incorporates supernatural elements with ghosts appearing in two episodes of the 10 episode drama. There is very little romance in the series and it is shallow. It is mainly a mystery series. The idea of six rich elites solving mysteries was unique. The mysteries are more of thrillers since they don't require much logic. Each character has a unique personality that somehow fits into mystery solving.

The mysteries are more realistic and do not seem to be cooked up just for the sake of the detectives solving them (unlike mystery mangas like Case closed, Kindaichi and Poirot). They are common issues like corruption, kidnapping, gambling etc. which are seen in society.

The members of the club with exception of one or two are generally bad at studying. They are the student council because they are popular in school. They have a private room with the sign 'Yukan Club' outside the door. The school somewhat looks like Trick heart castle from Atashinchi no danshi. The settings and backdrops were very beautiful and like Atashinchi no danshi. I think both dramas were shot in the same studio.

The script was decent and most characters acted well except Emi Suzuki who was stiff. The supporting characters were just as strong as the main characters. Chief inspector Tokimune and Kenbishi chairman Mansaku and his wife were among the most amusing side characters. The mysteries with the exception of the last one were not very serious and were there just to pass time.

Kat tun recorded the song 'Keep the faith' for the drama which became a #1 hit. The song plays only during the ending or some important scene. The series has a lot of comedy. It is light hearted.

Overall, a good drama for teens to watch. Good for light entertainment otherwise but nothing memorable. The series never gets serious. I want to read the manga. I hope it is liscenced soon. The story is a break from monotonous detectives, private eyes, love dramas and soap operas.

Acting- 4.3/5
Cast-3.2/5
Story-4.4/5
Backgrounds-4.4/5
Characters- 4.5/5
Overall-4.2/5

Pros

Acting
Unique Story
Characters
Backgrounds

Cons

Nothing memorable
The theme song didn't fit well
Some actors were stiff
Worse than the manga (from what I heard)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Japanese Movie review- Swing Girls



Set in present-day Japan, Swing Girls is the story of girls who meet and are deeply fascinated by jazz. The heroine is a very typical Japanese teenager. Her character is suggestive of the hidden problem of today children. She lacks any special interests or motivation and dislikes making any effort. But when she discovers jazz, she discovers something she can be absorbed in and begins to transform herself. At first, she is not able to even make a noise. But she and her friends practice and come to be able to play their instruments. They slowly come to be fond of jazz and take part in a music competition.

Swing Girls was quite popular in Japan when it was released. It stars Juri Ueno, Kanjiya Shiori, Hiraoka Yuta, Motokariya Yuika and Yukari Toyoshima.

When I started watching the movie, I was immediately hooked to it. The goofy personalities of the characters is lovable. The way everything goes wrong in the beginning when the girls go to deliver lunches to the brass band is also hilarious. But the real fun starts after that, when they practice for the brass band. One of them blows bubbles with the trumpet instead of playing it! Through practice and hard work, they start showing some promise, but when the band returns, they have to give up. Undettered, Juri Uueno decides that she will make her own jazz Big Band.

The best thing about this movie was the comedy. You can't watch this movie without laughing all the time. The humour was what I loved the most about this movie and what kept me watching. The actors don't act too well which was one weak point. I have seen better from Juri Ueno in Nodame Cantabille. The actor (Hiraoka Yuta) seems too lost throughout the movie. I guess it is because this movie was a very early work of many of these artists and they have become better now.



The jazz instrumentals that they play in the end are quite nice and I love their body language which makes jazz seem more interesting. Their interpretation of jazz as loud and cheerful opposed to slow and melancholy shows the energy of youth.

Overall a great movie to watch and well worth its popularity.

Ratting

Characters-4
Acting-3
Cast-3.5
Direction-4
Script-4.7
Plot-4.3

Overall-4.2

Pros- Humour
Interesting characters

Cons- Poor acting

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Review Carnival will no longer feature reviews on anime and games. It was getting too overwhelming to review so many things. The blog will now review books, manga, j dramas/movies and j pop only. Though  know that some of you will be disappointed, it was necessary to do this. Review Carnival now is more focused than before and I think that is  a good thing. Author interviews and free ebook giveaways will still be featured. The games and animes already reviewed will not be deleted and can be found in the archives.

Thank you for your time and support.

Bestcritic

Monday, November 1, 2010

Movie Review- G@me

G@me is a 2003 thriller film starring Yukie Nakama and Naohito Fujiki as the protagonists. The movie received generally positive feedback. It was based on a thriller novel by Keigo Higashino.

The story revolves around the kidnapping of Yukie Nakama who is the daughter of Katsuragi, the famous vice president of Mikado beer. Naohito Fujiki is an employee in an advertising firm who is given the responsibility of designing a promotion plan for a new variety of beer produced by Mikado. Katsuragi coldly disapproves of his plan. To take revenge, Naohito plans to kidnap his daughter whom he sees sneaking out of the house that night. Yukie Nakama plays along because she wants the money.

The film is categorised as thriller and lives up to it. There are a lot of romantic elements in the story. There are several sub plots woven into the movie and it always has some shocking relevation to make. The whole kidnapping and sub plots are treated as games.
Just when the movie seems to be coming to an end, another shocking fact is revealed. However, due to Naohito Fujiki's stoic acting, nothing makes an impact. Yukie Nakama acts well for the role but this is not one of her great projects. The story (plot) is good. Katsuragi is clearly the best actor because he acts like he should.

The romance seems a little fake especially at the beginning. Yukie Nakama looks good, as always. I am a fan of Yukie Nakama and I saw the movie because she is acting in it. The movie is not very long (around 112 min.). The plot is what keeps the movie going. Still, the impact of twists and turns was minimised.

Another problem was the greatest problem faced by japanese movies- ambiguous ending. These kinds of endings work well for horror not for romance. Just when everything seems to be right, the ending suddenly takes a turn for the worse and Naohito Fujiki says 'game over'. It really annoyed me to see a stupid end like this to their romance. The romance is an important element of the storyline.

Overall, this movie was nothign great or even good. Okay for light entertainment but nothing more. The cast is what made this movie sell.

Acting- 3.9/5
Story-4.2/5
Music- 3/5
Characters- 4/5
Overall-3.5/5