Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Galileo drama review

In "Galileo," Fukuyama Masaharu plays a genius physicist and university associate professor, Yukawa Manabu, who solves difficult mysteries. Affectionately known as Tantei Galileo ("Detective Galileo"), Yukawa is brilliant, an all-round sportsman, tall and handsome but eccentric. Yukawa's partner is a rookie cop, Utsumi Kaoru (Shibasaki Kou), a hot-blooded woman with a strong sense of justice.-- jade_frost (from Dramawiki)

Fukyama Masaharu was my main motivation behind seeing this drama. I first found out about this drama through the song Kiss shite by KOH+ (which is a temporary unit formed by Kou Shibasaki and Fukuyama Masaharu). That song is really a misfit for this drama, by the way. It is a cheerful, cutesy electropop song while this drama is hardcore mystery and thriller.

The mysteries are tied to seemingly supernatural and impossible things. The solutions to the problems are always ingenious. Fukuyama Masaharu's acting is perfect. You can almost believe that he is really a cold physics professor. I have coopied the following table from dramawiki. It shows what phenomenon the mystery is related to in the brackets and also the viewership rating.

Episode Title Subtitle Ratings
Ratings (Kansai) Ratings (Nationwide)
01 Burns Weirdo Genius Scientist 24.7 22.8 ??.?
02 Floats (Astral Projection) The Mystery of the OL Murdere and the Flying Boy! 22.1 23.8 ??.?
03 Rattles (Poltergeist) A Missing Husband and the Dark House Cursed by a Ghost! 21.3 21.7 ??.?
04 Rots (Necrosis) Dangerous Seduction of the Handsome Prodigal Killer 23.6 24.8 ??.?
05 Strangles (Asphyxia) The Mystery of the Fireball and the Perfect Closed-room Murder 22.9 24.0 ??.?
06 Dreams (Fantasy) Future Love and a Long Night Together 21.4 21.5 ??.?
07 Predicts (Premonition) The Beautiful Wife's Favorite Murder Device of Horror 21.9 21.3 ??.?
08 Sees (Spiritual Sight) The Ghost who Notified Her Sister of the Murder 19.9 20.4 ??.?
09 Bursts (Explosion), Part 1 Serial Murders Set Up by the Devil 21.7 22.3 ??.?
10 Bursts (Explosion), Part 2 KISS Me on Christmas Eve! 19.6 21.9 ??.?
Average -- -- 22.0 22.4 ??

I have long been looking for anime, manga and drama with smart mysteries, like detective conan or Kindaichi case files. I even watched Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato De and Kimi wa Hanin Ja nai yo ne? but they fell short of my expectations. For fans of mystery, Galileo is a treat. It doesn't have too much humour though. There is a bit of romantic tension (or maybe I imagined it) between Manabu and Kaoru, but rest assured, it leads nowhere.

My only criticism was that this drama was a bit too one-tracked. Every minute in the episode was devoted to the mystery. No flashbacks on mysterious pasts of the main characters (though Kaoru lies about hers), no romance and no comedic relief. There weren't even any goofy supporting characters. The episodes follow a set pattern.

Overall, this is an enjoyable drama for those who enjoy scientific mysteries and interesting characters.

Good acting
Script is intelligent
No filler episodes

No romance, flashbacks or comedy to make the drama 'lighter'

Drama review Mukodono 2003

Yuichiro Sakuraba is an ultra-famous rock star in Japan. His latest commerical, featuring a kiss scene has become a regular fixation on the screens across the nation. He is an idol and has legions of female fans squaling over him. However, he decides to get married. In the japanese idol world, marriage is not a simple thing. If he gets married, that means his female fans will regard him as 'taken', thus reducing his popularity. So, his manager decides that the marrriage will remain a secret. (synopsis written by me as I couldn't find any good one on the internet)

The family he has married into consists of his wife and her four sisters and old father. Each sister is different from the other and interesting. Below is a pic of the 'family' including Yuichiro. I will explain who is who.

At the left is Yuichiro's father-in-law, who is a gynaecologist who practices in his house. He is also a super cook who can cook almost everything.

Next (second from left) is Toko. She is actually an adopted sister and not Mamoru-san (the father-in-law)'s real daughter. She is 40 and works as a police detective.

At the extreme right is Akira, a high school girl. She is the youngest of the sisters.

Next to her is Kitae, who is an air hostess.

Next to Kitae (third from right) is Nishie, who is Kitae's twin sister (though they look nothing like twins). She is a paediatric doctor at a hospital. Next to her is Minami, Yuichiro's wife played by Sakai Noriko. Minami is a librarian.

Each episode is dedicated to a sister but Toko has 2 and other female characters such as Yuichiro's manager Sujiyama san, co-actress Hikari and mother have one. Although I initially expected Mukodono to be a comedy-type drama, it is actually a very emotional drama. I ended up crying in every episode. But it is not sad, rather it is very touching and explains the importance of friendship and family.

Nishie (played by Ryoko Shinohara) was my favorite sister because of her no-nonsense personality and deep emotional past. I also liked Toko (the detective) and her episodes were the best. She has an energetic and upbeat personality and is really optimistic for someone her age.

This drama is easy to like. It is emotional without being intense. I am sure you will fall in love with each one of the sisters. They are all so lovable. There were no filler episodes. If you are someone who is tired of being emotionally involved in a drama, just to see the characters die in the end, this will be a welcome change as this drama has a happy ending.

Characters are enjoyable
Good acting
Unique genre (family) with a strong script
Noriko Sakai looks really good!

Nagase Tomoya's acting is a really overdone
He doesn't look very good in the drama, either, at least for most of the part.
First two episodes are boring

Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake drama review

A touching love story about a girl Kano Masaki (Fukada) who contracted HIV after selling her body in order to earn money for the concert of a famous composer Ishikawa Keigo (Kaneshiro). After the concert, Keigo saw Masaki chasing after his van. She was drenched, and thus Keigo took her to his apartment, where they spent the night.

Kyoko Fukada was only 17 when she did this role, so physically, she fits into the character's role. Her performance is quite good, especially in the end, but she seems a bit whiny and overacts in the the beginning. Kaneshiro's acting is much better. I also felt that he was a perfect fit for the role of a reclusive superstar.

Like all Japanese romance dramas, this one will make you cry from beginning to end. Also, (maybe this is a spolier), the end is tragic, as expected of a drama like this. But really, any j-drama fan would never good into a drama like this expecting a happy ending. The very first line of the synopsis states that she contracts AIDS, so expecting her to live would be unrealistic.

The drama potrays the struggles faced by those with AIDS. They are rejected and feared by everyone and end up being alone. The romance was also well done, though initially the drama focused more on Masaki's problems after contracting AIDS. It creates trouble for her family and she starts feeling like she is a burden on everyone.

The gradual acceptance and help offered by those around her is the highlight of this drama. This drama will make you think about AIDS differently and be sympathetic towards those with diseases.

The songs used in this drama are really beautiful, especially the opening (I for You by LUNA SEA). The opening captures the essence of the drama in the best possible way.  In The Sky by Shizuka Kudo is also very good.

Touching, a total tearjerker
Acting is realistic

Some situations are quite cliched
Too sad

NOTE- Pictures were taken from Google image search and do not belong to me.

Book review- 1 Piece of Advice by Patricia J. Moser and Barbara Kathleen Moser

1 piece of advice is a book about exceptional women The authors interview these women and find out the most important '1 piece of advice' they would like to give other women.

The authors began writing to exceptional women throughout the world. They didn't know any of these women personally - just by reputation. In their correspondence the authors asked them for the 1 Piece of Advice™ which these stellar role-models felt would inspire women to turn their dreams into realities. The response was amazing.
1 Piece of Advice
And there are so many outstanding women! The authors considered themselves to be relatively knowledgeable about women leaders and were astounded by the roles women are playing across the globe today. So the question is "what attitude has gotten them to achieve this level of success?"

The women whose 1 Piece of Advice™ the authors sought, come from different countries, diverse backgrounds and each has achieved atypical success in their chosen career path. The 1 Piece of Advice™ is placed in context by the contributors' profiles.

The simplicity and truth that speaks from the pages of experience of these women is profound. By understanding the challenges they faced and overcame, we too will learn. After reading this book, you will never be the same. You will consider the possibilities from a different vantage point and transform your dreams into reality. (From website)

This book is actually more of an autobiographical book than self-help. The book follows a set pattern. First an official biography of each woman is given followed by the 'one piece of advice' they would like to give the readers. Though some of these accounts were interesting, others looked like they had been copied and pasted from that person's website- it was formal and non-engaging, like reading ten pages of wikipedia at a stretch.

I feel that there should have been more detailed information on the struggles and challenges faced by these women rather than their accomplishments. The book is not motivational in nature, but rather intended as a way to get to know about many high-achieving women in various fields.

This is a good book if you want to know about successful women in various fields and are looking for a little information on them. Otherwise, the amount of information about each woman in very sparse. The books includes women from all fields and of all nationalities.

Layout of the book is good
Women in diverse occupations and from different countries are included

Lacks a 'personal' touch, sounds like an encyclopedia

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Manga review- Zodiac P.I. by Natsumi Ando

The main character of the series is 13-year-old Lili Hoshizawa (星沢リリ Hoshizawa Lili), who uses horoscopes and astrology to solve crimes, accompanied and assisted by her male childhood friend Hiromi after he returns from ten years spent in America for college. Lili uses the Star Ring to tell fortunes and, at times, to transform into the disguise of "Detective Spica", in which no one recognizes her, except Hiro (such transformations are a common staple of Magical Girl manga). The ring was left to Lili by her mother, who used it previously to transform into Detective Spica; one of Lili's long-term goals is to discover what happened to her missing mother. Using this ring, Lili has to try to solve many cases including the first published one, about Chihiro, a murdered girl in her class.

Her other cases take her around to different places from a piano school, to a fortune telling TV studio, to a wedding. She solves cases with Hiromi's help.

To solve crimes, she will figure out the birth date of the victims and then their signs such as Leo, Virgo, etc. Next, using the power of the ring, she will call upon the spirit of that person's sign. Then she'll ask for the horoscope of the victim on a specific date that is connected to the crime. Along with the horoscope, the spirit will give her a clue so she can solve the crime.

Lili Hoshizawa is an aries, by the way and has the typical traits of the sign. She is impulsive, enthusiastic and always in search of action. Her friend Oikawa, who is her partner in crime solving, is a super genius with a degree in criminal psycology from USA (he's only 13). However, a degree is forensic science would have been more appropriate as he did not seem to have a very good hold on psycology. He helps Lili solve cases with his reasoning powers and logical ability.

Their pairing is quite interesting and it turns out that they were childhood friends ten years ago before Oikawa moved to the US. Lili and Oikawa's relationship progresses well throughout the story and is a source of amusement and tension.

The 'mysteries' or 'cases' are rather amateur, unlike a lot of detective manga like Detective conan or Detective school Q, the focus is not on solving the crime using logical deductions, clues and complex reasoning but rather using a star ring with twelve zodiac sign spirits. This story is more like a 'magical girl' manga with mystery elements. Don't go in expecting mind-bending cases.

It is quite short, but enjoyable. Though not a dark mystery like Arisa (also by the same author), it is very lighthearted and comic, though it gets a bit serious near the end.


Illustrations are beautiful
Characters are funny and interesting

Cases are not very challenging (this cannot really be a con, because the story is supposed to be a light, magical girl type manga with mystery elements. However, when I started reading it, I was looking for a detective/thriller manga like detective conan, so it was a bit of a surprise)
It is quite short. I would have liked to see more of the spirits and Lili

Note- Images have been taken from various sources using google image search and do not belong to me.

NOTE- The english version is currently out of print as a result of the closure of Tokyopop in USA

Play Ball graphic novel review

I usually don't review graphic novels other than manga, but I am willing to review Play Ball by Oni Press. Its' writers  are DeFilippis and Christina Weir  and Artist is Jackie Lewis It is also black and white, however doesn't really have manga-like illustrations nor is it read from right to left.

Most girls, when they get to a new school, just want to fit in. But Dashiell Brody isn't like most girls. A natural at softball, Dashiell discovers her new school has a championship level baseball team, and Dashiell wants to play ball. One girl's quest to play the national pastime with the boys will turn her family, her school, and her state upside down.

Initially, the story is interesting as Dashiell struggles to get on the team because she is a girl. The character of Dashiell is interesting and well developed. She is very dedicated towards the sport. But I felt that the secondary characters were not very interesting and unnecessary high school romance and politics killed the fun and made it seem like a normal high school story. There wasn't the usual excitement of reading a sports related story.

It is very short and easy to read, though. You won't get bored and stop reading halfway but once you are finished, it doesn't stay on your mind. It is easily forgettable. I feel that if more challenges had been introduced which would improve Dashiell's sporting abilities, it would have been better. She starts out perfect and remains perfect at the game, so readers are unable to see her hard work and progress in baseball. All her problems were related to her being a girl, which got repetitive after a while.

I did not really enjoy the art because characters were not well proportioned. Dashiell's sister's hands were especially funny.


It is short
Interesting main lead

Graphics could have been better.