Freitag, 26. Februar 2016

1 Litre of Tears

1リットルの涙 (1 Litre of Tears, 1 Litre no namida) is a Japanese drama series that aired from October 11th to December 20th 2005 on Fuji TV.

Story: The drama tells the story of Aya Ikeuchi, a young girl at the age of 15 who enters the highschool she wanted to along with her best friend. After tripping often lately, her mother, Shioka Ikeuchi, is worried and takes Aya to see a doctor, Hiroshi Mizuno, who diagnoses her with spinocerebellar degeneration. Though Shioka meets many other doctors as well as the specialist about this disease, the reality that it cannot be cured remains. She didn't tell Aya, but in the meantime the girl is able to figure out what's going on with her body on her own. One day when visitting Dr. Mizuno again, the information she found becomes reality - she won't be able to walk or speak or write and will be bedridden someday. "Why did the disease chose me?" As her everyday activities become more difficult, she even has to leave her friends and can't realize her dream to graduate from Higashikou anymore. But the young woman refuses to give up hope, also because of Haruto Asou whom she met on the day of her entrance exam and though the two of them didn't get along that well at first became a reliable friend.

Cast: Erika Sawajiri does a brilliant job as Aya Ikeuchi. She's fighting for her freedom, her life and in the end for her body to remain hers. Not being able to control her body anymore is a nightmare and I usually felt how thankful she was towards her friends and family but in the same time she was so sorry for being a burden to those around her. Also Ryo Nishikido as Haruto Asou is good in this one. I don't know if I would describe his acting as excellent. Sometimes he seems a little too cold, especially when he's more or less rebelling against his father but the scenes with Haruto and Aya were always nice to watch and I loved their friendship - I won't say love because not even once it is officially stated they are dating - we only know that they like each other. A lot.
My favorite actors in this series were actually Hiroko Yakushimaru and Takanori Jinnai as Aya's parents, Shioka and Mizuo Ikeuchi. Parents fighting for their child, trying to comfort her though they are in pain as well. Especially Aya's father has difficulties accepting the truth about the disease and though he tries to not show that he's in pain sometimes, when Aya's not around, it still comes through. As for Aya's mom, it's almost the same. She's trying hard to be strong in front of her children so they won't worry too much but then again her pain comes through while she's still fighting.
Naohito Fujiki as Hiroshi Mizuno is the doctor caring for Aya and while at first he's the one to accept the fact that he can't cure the disease, Aya becomes someone to make him go forward and work and research much more than before because he wants to cure the young woman.
Riko Narumi as Ako Ikeuchi at first seems like a rebellious teenager who wants attention from her parents because Aya always was the number one in the family. As she didn't seem to care too much at first, she's trying hard to help her sister later and even wants to try and get accepted at Higashikou so she can fulfill her sister's dream. The development of her character is really good and actually something one can understand. Yuma Sanada as Hiroki Ikeuchi has a lot less screentime but I somehow found him to be an interesting character as well. While he was somewhat embarrassed at first when his team mates found out about his sister 'walking strangely' he changed due to something Ako said and was sorry for hurting his precious older sister.

Soundtrack: One song became incredibly popular and I knew it belonged to this drama even before watching it - "Konayuki" by Remioromen! I still love this song a lot, especially the various versions shown in this drama. It's also known to be Aya's and Haruto's theme song.
But honestly one song made me cry. Once. "3月9日 (Sangatsu Kokonoka/ March 9th)", originally performed by Remioromen as well usually appears as a choir version. When watching Ep. 8, the very end of that episode, you might understand why this got me. Thinking about this scene still makes me cry.
Just to complete the soundtrack, there is one ballad track on the OST performed by Korean singer K/ Kang Yoon-sung called "Only human" which actually is the theme song of this drama. Combined with the pictures at the end of each episode it's beautiful but makes me feel sad as well.
After all it's a well-chosen soundtrack in my opinion.

My rating for this series is a definitely strong 9.5/10. I'm not a person who cries often when it comes to series but I admit that there were some episodes (or more endings of episodes) that got me. It's a good and strong series but with a rather slow development, especially in the beginning but it's a melodrama after all and it's not surprising. In the end, it became a lot faster and there were many times when suddenly months or even years passed by. I see why they did that though. Only watching Aya's daily routine in the hospital wouldn't have been interesting - at least not that much.

As for the special from 2007, I think it's worth watching if you enjoyed this drama a lot and want to see some moments again. The special is about two hours long but I'd just guess that roughly half of this are only flashbacks. That's why my rating for the special is only 6.5/10. It's interesting though to see how the family and Haruto dealt with the happenings as well as all those people coming to 'meet' Aya.

Freitag, 19. Februar 2016

Green Fish

초록 물고기 (Green Fish) is a South Korean movie released in 1997 that has become noticed for being a pretty untypical gangster movie.

Story: The story starts with Mak-dong being released from the army. While trying to give back a scarf he caught he starts a fight with some guys in the train but doesn't manage to give back the scarf. That's why he searches for the woman, Mi-ae, the lover of gang boss Bae Tae-gon. Through those events and his feelings for Mi-ae, Mak-dong enters the gang and rises to a high position quickly. But since he has no ambitions, Mak-dong can't answer whenever he's asked about his dream and that just doesn't fit the times of huge social changes and modernization. A simple dream like his, building up a restaurant for his family, doesn't work with the ideals in such a fast changing world which gets him into trouble.

Cast: Han Seok-kyu did actually a good job as Mak-dong. He's actually not a hero as you would see in most gangster movies, he's more like an anti-hero and it's refreshing to see a character with human weaknesses and human emotions in a movie. Shim Hye-jin as Mi-ae kept me shaking my had though, she seemed not only weird but completely drugged most of the time. I feel like the movie could have been a lot better when they left out her completely strange behavior. Moon Sung-geun as Bae Tae-gon did well in this movie though. I feel like his character wasn't too bad of a person actually but was more of a hero than the actual main character.

To be completely honest, it took my group (yes, we had to analyze the movie in a group project) days to find the movie online. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad but then again it's definitely not worth the chaos and the stress. And I don't know if it was because of me watching this movie with four others but we just ended up laughing about some things that were said to be rather tragic. Mission success? Well, no, if it should make you feel bad for the characters and you end up laughing harder than before something's wrong. That's why my rating actually is 6.5/10 which is not entirely bad but not that good either.

Freitag, 12. Februar 2016

Ghost-Seeing Detecitve Cheo Yong

귀신 보는 형사 처용 (Ghost-Seeing Detective Cheo Yong, also known as simply Cheo Yong) is a South Korean drama series that aired from February 9th to April 6th 2014 on OCN.

Story: Detective Yoon Cheo-yong was born with the ability to see ghosts. Seven years ago after the death of his partner he quits the W.S.T and works as an ordinary police officer. However, because of a mysterious case he decides to help the responsible unit and meets Han Na-young, the ghost of a high school girl who's caught in the police station. Together with Detective Ha Sun-woo and with Na-young occasionally helping him by taking over Ha Sun-woo's body.

Cast: Well, the cast was alright I guess. I did enjoy Oh Ji-ho as Yoon Cheo-yong the most. The cold wall around him trying to not lose another person due to his special ability and the danger he always sees because of that is something understandable and I'd argue it's actually human. Though he's not a character one gets to like in the very beginning, I think it's okay.
Oh Ji-eun did a really good job as Ha Sun-woo (and sometimes also Han Na-young when the ghost managed to take over her body) which is quite enjoyable but at first I just thought that she was annoying. To be honest I don't really know why but trying to make Cheo-yong accept her as his partner.. In the very beginning I actually thought Sun-woo as a character was more involved with Cheo-yong's former partner but - at least in the first two or three episodes they managed to lead me into the wrong direction.
Talking about Han Na-young.. I love Jeon Hyo-sung of Secret a lot. She's beautiful and has a nice body and voice and I admire her but I honestly don't know whether her acting sucks or if it's just her character. Many people say Na-young is cute but I just found her to be overly annoying and childish - and not even like a high school student but more like some girl who hasn't graduated from elementary school yet. It might be just me though but I just would've wished for at least a character who is a little more serious.
In the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency we see Yoo Seung-mok as team leader Byun Gook-jin and his character made me wonder if someone even has to work hard to become something like a team leader in the Korean police agency because he seems so stupid as a character. Sadly, that's not the only character I seriously don't understand. Because the same goes for Yeon Je-wook as Detective Lee Jong-hyun. So. Stupid. It seems like he just wants to prove he can do well, too, after Cheo-yong came back and actually the character seems to be some semi-intelligent person one would love to beat up. And also about the third member of the team, Yoo Min-kyu as Park Min-jae I could say the same thing but he has some bonus - he's a lot younger and therefore a lot less experienced than his seniors so I do think it's forgivable that his character isn't the best detective (yet).
Now I need to mention two cameos of characters that are necessary for the story in the background. At first we have Baek Sung-hyun as Jang Tae-suk, Cheo-Yong's former partner. Thanks to this guy I cried a river. Again. It's not like I've never done this before. What I really enjoyed about his character in this drama is in fact that he shows the same ability Oh Ji-eun does - being possessed by a ghost at least for some time. But let me admit that he's freaking sexy in that black trenchcoat with this stone-like gaze. And his character probably wouldn't have been that important if it wasn't for Choi Deok-moon as Yang Soo-hyuk. I don't want to tell you too much about his role in this drama but from a human point of view I just can't see him as an evil spirit. I just can't stop myself from pitying his character in this series a lot.

Soundtrack: Speaking in all honesty the soundtrack isn't bad but definitely not my cup of tea. There were some enjoyable tracks, some nice instrumental pieces, yes, but that's that. About the two songs that appeared in the drama, there was nothing memorable.

Now is this a bad series? 7.5/10 for an OCN series is rather on the worse side of the scale, that's true, especially since I'm a huge fan of OCN Original series. But I did hear from many people this was rather weak. (I had to watch it though just because.. you know.. Baek Sung-hyun.)
Talking about the positive and negative aspects, some cases were good. Especially the one with the ghost of that young girl protecting her brother, I think it's Ep. 7, was touching and had an interesting story, and Ep. 8 just killed me. It was sad but at the same time I was swearing at those guys. You will understand what I'm talking about when watching this. But sadly I had a feeling there were some episodes just added to fill the quota, the stories weren't that good or catchy.
Another point is the atmosphere. I had the feeling the atmosphere was rather light with most of the scenes being shot during the day. As for a drama that should cause something like suspense or a thrill this was rather weak. And of course some overly melodramatic things (which I did enjoy, yes, but don't expect to be in a drama about mystery, crime or suspense) didn't really do any good about this.
And there's one point in logic I don't get. All of the other ghosts seem to remember their story and are trying to help and find their murderers. But then there's Na-young who doesn't even remember her name at first nor what happened to her? Logic?
The end didn't really make sense to me either. I don't know but there's only one question left - why did Sun-woo change like that?! Except for that fact that drama has ended. There are no questions left. But why do they need to air another season of this series? I sometimes really don't understand writers nor OCN.

If you like ghosts and detective series, go for it. Watch it. It has some ups and downs and it's not that bad at the end of the day.
And if you're a fan of Baek Sung-hyun, just like I am, I'd also say watch this. But only if you're really a huge fan of his because he hasn't that much screen time so...

Freitag, 5. Februar 2016

God's Quiz 4

신의 퀴즈 4 (God's Quiz 4) is another season of OCN's popular medical crime series and aired from May 18th to August 3rd 2014.

WARNING - The GIF's at the end of this entry might give you a huge spoiler. If you don't want it to be like that, please just don't look at those files.

Story: Once again the team around Dr. Han Jin-woo tries to solve cases related to rare diseases. But this time, Jin-woo's mother and an "experiment" of hers appear. Those seem to be related to the file of an unsolved case Kang Kyung-hee received from one of her highschool friends, Prosecutor Lee Jae-joon, which also turns out to be connected to a case she couldn't find enough evidence for in the past. When the other members of the medical team find out, they're already in danger, also because of Han Shi-woo's curiousity.

Cast: I need to complain a little bit first. As you might have noticed, yes, I do love Ryu Deok-hwan as Han Jin-woo and I'm happy Yoon Joo-hee is back as Detective Kang Kyung-hee (though I did enjoy the third season a lot as well even if she wasn't there) and also Park Joon-myun is still there as Jo Young-shil but I want Kim Sung-do back! As a character, I loved this researcher and his random cuteness related to adult contents. Another thing I've never thought would happen in a rather serious drama is actually the participation of idols. Don't get me wrong, I like Kim Jae-kyung and admit that Lee Dong-hae is handsome but their acting in this drama seemed kind of awkward to me. As for Jae-kyung, her character Lim Tae-kyung is a former idol. An idol turning into a researcher working in a forensic office? Who thought about that and why did they have to turn both, Han Jin-woo and Han Shi-woo, into fanboys? Speaking of Dong-hae's character Han Shi-woo - we don't really get to know how old he is but since he has been studying medicine he's probably not 20 years old anymore but he behaves like a 5-year old boy from time to time. While it was cute it did ruin the atmosphere.
Another new addition to the cast came with Kang Sung-pil as Detective Nam Ki-yong, Kyung-hee's senior. It took me a few episodes to understand him, and in the end I couldn't help but love his loyalty and the way he's caring for the detectives. And his lisp.. well, it makes him somewhat cute though I can't really explain why.

Soundtrack: Compared to the first season, I feel like this soundtrack focussed more on the ballad part. Which is absolutely okay for a romance drama but I don't remember any stronger music used for any fighting scenes. Sure the instrumentals were alright but not memorable.

So to me, this is the weakest season of God's Quiz with a rating of 7.5/10. While I did enjoy the fact that this was more crime than medical (yay!) as well as the meanings hidden behind some of the cases, especially Ep. 7 "X", (yay!) and the atmosphere overall but especially in the last two episodes (yay!) some plottwists as well as the overall background story were just too obvious after some time (I figured out what's going on in Ep. 7 and Ep. 11 before half of the time had passed). Also, this series doesn't seem to have any connection to the other three seasons as well. Sure, it's the team around Han Jin-woo solving cases but it has a completely different feel so it doesn't feel like... God's Quiz anymore. (Does this even make sense to those who are reading this?!) And the fact that they've been focussing on the relationship between Kyung-hee and Jin-woo as well as some family story makes the change just too obvious.

So if you like romance and crime mixed or if you just enjoyed the other seasons of God's Quiz just give it a try but if you loved the other three seasons don't expect top much, the thrill is missing somehow.

[AND NOW THE SPOILER GIFS, if you don't want to see them...]

This is sad.. it somehow broke my heart but wasn't surprising..