This year I’ve started having a lot more “screentime” due to the fact that I have a Moviepass (which is awesome!), but I am also trying to watch more dorama, anime, and other Japanese TV. Actually, almost all the tv I watch is on TV Japan since I am a Japanophile, and I love some of the documentary and travel programs.
Anyways, here’s what on my watch list at the moment:
Segodon (Taiga) – Really good historical drama. I like most of the actors in it, plus my celebrity crush Kitagawa Keiko has a part.
I just finished up watching the Japanese drama Anone あのね (2018). The 10-episode series was excellent! It’s one of those doramas that I could watch all the way through in one sitting if I had the time. However, I did watch in three sittings, so that was maybe the equivalent of three long movies? I don’t know, but it was so good that I kept wanting more. If only I didn’t have to get up early in the mornings. 😀
***** SPOILERS FOLLOW *****
Anone is a slow-paced and contemplative story, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on. On the contrary, there are plenty of plot twists and revelations. You realize early on that each character has a lot of baggage, but they all have goodness in their hearts, some more open about it than others. And that’s part of what kept me interested. What will we learn next about this character’s past, and how does it affect the decisions that drive the plot?
Speaking of plot, there’s one main thread involving counterfeit money, and while that is interesting, I found myself most wanting to know how characters’ interpersonal relationships would unfold. The relationship between Harika and Hikoboshi-kun was the primary romance and had the highest emotional weight. However, a close second was the relationship between Aoba-san and Mochimoto. I liked this relationship because it involved two middle-aged characters who enter their relationship knowing it will be short-lived. So, it was great to see the two romance plotlines, one involving young adults, and one with older adults, develop in tandem.
But wow, episode 9 was super-emotional. The hospital scene where Harika rejects Hikoboshi was so incredibly sad. Harika lying to Hikoboshi with her voice, while denying her lies by shaking her head was an amazing bit of storytelling. One of my favorites scenes ever.
Also in episode 9, the relationship between Aoba and Mochimoto reaches its resolution in another emotional scene. But this one is handled in a more mature and practical way owing to the fact that the characters have more years and experience behind them. It was special in its own way.
Both scenes were based on self-sacrifice, but whereas the hospital scene was filled with youthful innocence and idealism, the scene with Aoba and Mochimoto was one of practicality. Both were amazing to watch and I am feeling emotional again just thinking about them. 😭
From this review so far, you might think this is a dark and sad tale, but there are a lot of funny scenes as well. I found myself laughing out lot several times. Aoba and Mochimoto’s interactions from the very first scene were clever and silly.
Speaking of that opening scene, I was wondering why it involved characters that I thought (from previews) weren’t going to be important. But they were charming and engaging and I was happy that they stayed an integral part of the show. When their story quickly took a turn towards the criminal, I was disappointed. However, that didn’t last long since you could tell that they were honest people who just got dealt a bad hand.
And so it was with most of the other characters as well. Good hearts put in bad situations, through no fault of their own.
I have to mention the “ghost” element of the story. At first, when the ghost appeared, I was afraid that Anone あのね had “jumped the shark”. Thankfully, that element became plausible, interesting, and added a ton of depth to Aoba’s character. It’s amazing how screenwriter Sakamoto Yuji could add so much color to these characters in only 10 episodes. I feel like even the Asadoras, which last half a year, don’t do that very often.
Of course, such interesting characters can lose their impact if the actors portraying them aren’t believable. I’m happy that Anone’s cast was great. I admit my Nihongo is basic at best, but I felt that there was a high level of realism each actor brought to their characters. Hirose Suzu 広瀬 すず was fun to watch, and she had the most emotional scene as I mentioned before. I’ve only seen the 19-year-old actress in Anone あのね and Umimachi Diary, but she’s really good!
The other veteran actors were solid as expected, especially Kobayashi Satomi 小林 聡美 (Aoba) and Tanaka Yūko 田中 裕子 (Anone). I never once thought that the characters were unbelievable or unrealistic.
Last, but definitely not least, is the soundtrack. It’s wonderful. The theme song is intimate and moody, and reminiscent of the best tunes from the Legend of Zelda. There are a bunch of other great songs from the drama as well, I think it would be a great soundtrack to add to your collection.
It was a looong week for me at work. So busy and lots of things on the horizon. But it’s good and I am thankful that I have a career (graphic design and branding) that is interesting and I enjoy.
But after this week, I was looking forward to a night of relaxation, and so poured a glass of wine, put on a Japanese drama, and watched all five episodes.
Coffee-ya no Hitobito / 珈琲屋の人々 is a story of an ex-con who runs a small coffee shop in Tokyo, and the relationship that develops between him and the widow of the man he killed. It sounds like a bizarro plot and circumstance, but the way the circumstances are developed is such that it is not such a stretch. Anyways, besides the main plot, there are other characters from the same shopping street who have their own intertwined stories. It’s a good human dorama, but I was thinking there would be more emotional moments. I’d rate it as “Somewhat recommended”. 😌
After that, I did a little doodling using the Wacom tablet and Krita, which was fun but difficult. I can definitely see that it’s something I want to do more of.
Well, this morning was a busy one, in which I (with the help of a friend) figured out how to get the new ISP service to work concurrently with our existing television service. Basically, it involved putting the new router on its own cable circuit and keeping it separate from the television. So, we are up and running with a super-fast and strong connection! Yay!
With that solved, I took Bay to Jerry’s Artarama to buy a new brush and palette knife. The store was having a big sale, so I took advantage and bought a new tube of watercolor for myself. The new Pthalo Green rounds out my palette, which you can see in the photo at the top of this post. I think it will be useful to create dark shadows in trees. 🌳
On the way home, we stopped by Fry’s to buy a USB Wi-fi adapter, then stopped at the hardware store to pick up a flapper to fix the toilet, and finally returned home to finish setting up the network. And fix the toilet. 😀
And to finish the day, I had a glass of wine and watched a couple more episodes of Tsubaki Stationery Store. I really like it.
This evening was filled with tasty treats. Actually, just two but they were excellent. First, Mariko surprised me with the Yebisu beer which she had brought back in her suitcase all the way from Japan. So cold and refreshing! ❤️🍺
Next up, we made a big pot of gumbo for dinner. Mariko did most of the work, while I just literally stirred the pot. And of course, I am on dish duty, which I am happy to do! It’s a small price to pay for getting to eat like a king. 😊
After dinner, I watched a couple of Japanese tv shows. The first was “Kaettekita Ie Uru Onna / 帰ってきた家売るオンナ”, which is a 1.5 hour special follow-up to the 2016 series, “Iie Uru Onna / 家売るオンナ”. I really enjoyed the original series (Kitagawa Keiko is a favorite of mine) so was happy to see the continuation of the story. There wasn’t anything groundbreaking… was just like a long episode. But it was fun nonetheless.
And I just started watching “Tsubaki Stationery Store / ツバキ文具店”. It’s about a young woman who takes over the family store after her grandmother’s death. The main business of the shop is ghostwriting letters for people. I’m only one episode in, but so far it’s very interesting. Can’t wait to watch the rest of the series.
One thing I love about the new asadora ひよっこ is the opening sequence. Along with the 60’s-style pop song, there are really cool miniature toys and scenery with the feeling of the era. But the really neat thing is, the scenery is made up of everyday objects from the 60’s. For instance, the people watching the olympic torch sit on typewriters instead of bleachers, there is a person fishing over a waterfall that is actually a washing machine, and so on. When I first saw the opening, I thought that it reminded me of one of my favorite Instagrammers, Tanaka Tatsuya… I wondered, did NHK get the idea from him? Well, according to his Instagram page, Tanaka is the creator of the opening sequence! How cool is that?!
こんばんは。Ugh… Mondays! I woke up feeling not-so-great and decided to work from home, which was great because I could keep the room dark (easy on my eyes) and the temperature warm (the office is always so cold). And I got a ton of work done! By the end of the day, I was feeling a lot better, and I’ll get some good rest tonight and hopefully be 100% tomorrow. I’m planning on sleeping as soundly as the cat in the photo above. 🐱
This evening I finally finished the final two episodes of Tokyo Tarareba Musume (東京タラレバ娘). I was pretty disappointed with how the story went, or rather I should say that the story seemed to just go around in circles. People breaking up, getting back together, breaking up… over and over. It seemed like it would never end! I really enjoyed the first few episodes, but man, it went downhill in the last few episodes. 😞
In other dorama news, the new asadora Hiyokko (ひよっこ) is in its second or third week, and I just finished watching week 1. It seems like it will be pretty good! I like all the actors in it so far, and the setting of the story is really interesting: Tokyo in the 1960s. Actually, it is split (so far) between the Japanese countryside in Ibaraki prefecture and the capital, but that time period is really fun. I think the fashion of the time was pretty cool. We’ll see how the story progresses, but as you might know, asadoras last for half a year, so it’s a long haul. 😅
Okay, it’s now time to sleep. Have a good Tuesday. (I am planning on having a great one!)