Sunday, June 29, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
First Impressions: Nobunaga no Chef
Ken (Tamamori Yuta) a modern day chef, suddenly finds himself in 1568, the volatile period in Japan's history when Oda Nobunaga was working towards the unification of Japan. As if that's not problematic enough, he has lost his personal memories. While he retains his cooking skills and knowledge of history, he doesn't know who he is, or how he slipped back in time.
Nobunaga no Chef is based on the ongoing manga written by Nishimura Mitsuru and illustrated by Kajikawa Takuro which began publication in 2011. Though the drama plot follows the same path, its divergent in the details, presumeably to include more action and intrigue right from the start, and to expand the role of the female lead. While the manga's story has more integrity, the live action is still entertaining, so I try not to compare the two too much.
Ken is thrown right into the thick of things as Oda Nobunaga (Oikawa Mitsuhiro) defeats a horde of soldiers in the street around him. The action throughout the episode is done well and Oikawa is very believable as the ruthless and autocratic Oda.
Ken gains help from the swordsmith, Natsu, who is masquerading as a man being that she lives alone. I'm not a big fan of Shida Mirai. She plays Natsu exactly as she played a high schooler in 2010's Hammer Session. I understand that she's not supposed to have any feminine charm in this role, but while her overly exaggerated facial expressions and silliness could work for an annoying teen girl, the same is not appropriate for a swordsmith in the Warring States period.
Though the events that led to Oda's retainment of Ken in the drama are not as natural as those that occured in the manga, the story is still believable knowing Oda's love of innovation would make him curious about Ken's wondrous cuisine.
Ken realizes that his life is in danger and he must fight using his cooking skills. The situations he finds himself in are inconceivable to his modern mind, but he stands by his convictions.
The food porn portion of the drama is underwhelming. I was hoping for more interesting preparations filmed at romantic angles, but this can be overlooked...
That doesn't mean Ken has carte blanche, though. Being in close proximity to those in power brings danger from all directions. Tamamori Yuta expresses Ken's maturity well as he rises to meet each challenge and struggles to regain his memories.
Visually, the sets and establishing shots do ensconse the audience into the past authentically. I was hoping for a more epic feel similar to Jin, another time travel drama, but it seems that Nobunaga no Chef has a lower budget with their limited locations. Nevertheless, it is still visually pleasing.
While it's best not to compare the storyline details of the manga and the live drama, if you have read the manga, it's fun to see how certain scenes are brought into motion. If you've been meaning to read the manga, I'd suggest waiting until after you've seen the drama since the manga is the more serious of the two.
The best thing about time travel dramas is getting to glimpse history and perhaps the fictional way our hero may have influenced events. Episode one features the meeting of Oda and the Portugese missionary, Luis Frois, who gifted him with a bottle of konpeito while seeking permission to spread Christianity in Japan.
Other prominent figures that are established in the first episode are Kinoshita Tokichiro Hideyoshi (Goro) whom Oda refers to as Saru, and Akechi Mitsuhide (Inagaki Goro), one of Oda's vassals who later rebelled and brought upon his death. I'd suggest reading about them briefly. Brushing up on the history of the time may be spoilerish, but enhances the entertainment value overall. Stop rolling your eyes, Batzy-chan!
Ultimately, Nobunaga no Chef's entertainment value outweighs its faults and gives us two Johnny's boys as a bonus. It aired from January to March of 2013 and brought in a decent Kanto average rating of 10.8. On 10 July 2014, a two hour special will air in which Ken regains part of his memories and finds a way back to the present.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Review:// Bride of the Century
At the heart of this drama is a 100 year curse that claims the life of the first bride of each first son of the Choi family. Of course the Choi family is extremely affluent, as they run Taeyang Corporation, the largest conglomerate in South Korea.
We start in the past with servants gossiping about the curse that will soon claim their master's new bride. Meanwhile in the newlyweds' chamber, Yang Jin Sung plays a bride, who presumably will have a connection with a one of her modern day counterparts.
Our villains come in the form of mother/daughter team Ma Jae Ran (Shin Eun Jung) and Jang Yi Kyung. After discovering Na Doo Rim who looks exactly like Yi Kyung, they devise a plan to beat the curse and save their company in the process. The two women are a perfect pair; cold and ruthless with flickers of humanity. Dim flickers.
Doo Rim is thrown into a world that she doesn't really fit into, between the iceberg, Choi Kang Joo, and his suspicious assistant, Lee Roo Mi. Second Leading Lady? Yes indeed. Jang Ah Young plays the cold and poised daughter of decent pedigree, and who has an earnest heart, in a way that evokes both resentment and sympathy.
The chemistry between Kang Joo and Doo Rim is the best thing about this series. Doo Rim's mistakes and bright bumbling personality get under Kang Joo's skin which Lee Hong Ki expresses in such a gratifying way. His exasperation, wrinkled brow, looks of disgust and fits of frustration are all steps on a familiar path that we all know and relish; kdrama love!
The funniest kiss I've ever seen in a Korean drama, or any drama for that matter, is received by Kang Joo, whose sound effects are not to be missed.
Jang Yi Hyun (Sung Hyuk) is our sweet and protective Second Leading Man. Though the situation may be a little on the weird side, you have to love a man who really only cares about the person on the inside, ignoring everything else.
Yang Jin Sung played both the good and evil archetype so well, it's hard to believe this is her first leading lady role in a drama. I really saw her as two different people, despising Yi Kyung and adoring Doo Rim. The different makeup styles had a part in it, but Jin Sung has a separate aura and look in her eyes for each character that is undeniable.
Getting back to the curse, the supernatural element of the story is portrayed with lighting and wind. Nothing fancy, but it does set the tone satisfactorily without detracting from the story. The spirit attached to the family provides mystery and suspense which gives rise to more questions. However, it all makes sense in the end.
As a bonus, we have eye candy in Jung Hae In who plays Choi Kang Joo's idol brother, Kang In. He is a bit like Doo Rim with a positive attitude and indomitable spirit. While our leads give us plenty of comic relief, Hae In provides breath-of-fresh-air relief. Hopefully his part will be bigger in The Three Musketeers which starts filming next month.
The cast is well rounded with subplots that are tended to, and come to fulfilling conclusions. Together with a ballad rich soundtrack, beautiful locations and soft focus photography, Bride of the Century is a decidedly romantic drama with a heavy dose of intrigue.
Monday, June 9, 2014
First Impressions:// Border
Although BORDER is listed as a mystery/suspense, it's more of a supernatural crime drama. It's dark with offbeat characters that stir your interest. The first episode seemed rather simple, but I gave it another shot and was glad I did. Though episodic, it seems that the cases will be varied, and there are a couple questions that I suspect will string us along until the end.
Ishikawa Ango (Oguri Shun) is a competent and ambitious detective with a serious personality. He has no personal life due to his career, and possibly his cold demeaner. The series starts with him hanging between life and death after being shot in the head.
Ishikawa recovers and gets back to work, but is surprised to find that he can see and communicate with the case's dead victims. The ghosts don't have a special appearance and it feels a bit like The Sixth Sense where ghosts appear as normal people.
Ishikawa's unpersonable disposition is further emphasized, contrasting with detective Tachibana's (Aoki Munetaka) boisterous character.
Akai (Furuta Arata) is a mysterious underworld figure who does favors for a price, and is surprised when Ishikawa approaches him. Whether they have some significant connection is yet to be seen.
A bit of comic relief is subtle and comes from quirky characters that Ishikawa interacts stonefaced with. His silent prolonged stare does, though, speak volumes, and you can't help but feel affection for him.
I was surprised at the outfits in the autopsy room and I wondered if they really wear those clear plastic getups in Japan. Although the police work doesn't always feel authentic, it does follow a logical progression and moves the story along smoothly.
After the first episode, I was afraid that Ishikawa would just go around being helped by ghosts, and his main challenge would be to find evidence to support what he already knew. However after watching episode two, I am reassured that the ghosts will be varied and can complicate matters.
Overall, my first impression of BORDER is that it's a low-key series with a bit of eccentricity to make things interesting, and definitely worth a try.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
SAT:// Kim Young Ok
|I don't know who made this, but it's brilliant!|
Young Ok's nickname is Bockenem Grandma, which as this article points out, sounds like Eminem. She has the verbal power to live up to the name too, as you can see from the Old Miss Diary clip below.
And here in Robot Taekwon V, her verbal assault defeats the villain:
Unfortunately there isn't much information available (at least not online that I can find) on Young Ok's early works, and scant photos. I wish all the hamonis would have their own websites where we could see photos from their youth and early performances! She started acting in her 20's and I would love to watch her as a young woman. However her current performances more than satisfy, so I can't complain too much.
Here is a sampling of Young Ok's grandchildren. She's played halmoni to an illustrious bunch!
In 2011, Young Ok won the Lifetime Achievement Award for Protect the Boss at the SBS Drama Awards. Her co-stars were on hand for picture taking.
2011 SBS Drama Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award (Protect the Boss)
2009 MBC Drama Awards, Golden Acting Award - Soap Opera (Assorted Gems)
2005 KBS Entertainment Awards Lifetime Achievement
Award (Old Miss Diary)
1993 KBS Drama Awards Best Actress
1992 The 28th Baek Sang Arts Awards - TV Segment
1979 15th Baeksang Arts Awards - Television
Young Ok shared her wedding photo on KBS2's broadcast of Mom in the fall of 2013. Close-up please!
On SBS's February 16, 2012 broadcast of Good Morning, Young Ok talked about reuniting with her brother in North Korea on August 15, 2000. She hasn't seen him since and doesn't know if he's alive and well.
DramaWiki, AsianWiki and even the Korean Wiki weren't complete in listing Young Ok's work, so I've cobbled them together and added what I knew was missing. There could be more.
Make a Wish (MBC, 2014)
Beyond the Clouds (KBS2, 2014)
Bride of the Century (TV Chosun, 2014)
Yeon Woo's Summer (KBS2, 2013)
Ruby Ring (KBS2, 2013)
Oh Ja Ryong is Coming (MBC, 2012)
My Love, Madame Butterfly (SBS, 2012)
Haeundae Lovers (KBS2, 2012)
Standby (MBC, 2012) cameo
Love, My Love (KBS2, 2012)
K-POP - The Ultimate Audition (Channel A, 2012)
Brain (KBS, 2011)
Saving Madame Go Bong Shil (TV Chosun, 2011)
Just Like Today (MBC, 2011)
Protect the Boss (SBS, 2011)
Love Manmanse (MBC, 2011)
The Women of Our Home (KBS1, 2011)
Paradise Ranch (SBS, 2011)
All My Love (MBC, 2010)
Gloria (MBC, 2010)
Chuno (KBS2, 2010)
God of Study (KBS2, 2010)
Assorted Gems (MBC, 2009)
Everybody Cha Cha Cha (KBS1, 2009)
Children of Heaven (SBS, 2009)
Partner (KBS2, 2009) cameo
Boys Before Flowers (KBS2, 2009)
Glory of Youth (KBS1, 2009)
Family's Honor (SBS, 2008)
Strongest Chil Woo (KBS2, 2008)
Aster Liar (MBC, 2008)
New Heart (MBC, 2007)
I Hate You, But It's Fine (KBS1, 2007)
Fly High (SBS, 2007)
The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (MBC, 2007)
Crazy For You (SBS, 2007)
Dal Ja's Spring (KBS2, 2007)
Miracle (MBC, 2006)
Snow Flower (SBS, 2006)
My Life's Special (MBC, 2006)
Let's Get Married (MBC, 2005)
Hold My Hand (KBS2, 2005)
The Bizarre Bunch (KBS1, 2005)
Land (SBS, 2004)
Old Miss Diary (KBS2, 2004)
Tropical Nights in December (MBC, 2004) cameo
More Beautiful Than a Flower (KBS2, 2004)
Pearl Necklace (KBS2, 2003)
Bodyguard (KBS2, 2003)
Yellow Handkerchief (KBS1, 2003)
Trio (MBC, 2002)
The Maengs' Golden Era (MBC, 2002)
Solitude (KBS2, 2002)
Since We Met (MBC, 2002)
Successful Story of a Bright Girl (SBS, 2002)
Splendid Days (SBS, 2001)
Father and Sons (SBS, 2001)
Her House (MBC, 2001)
Morning Without Parting (SBS, 2001)
Aunt (MBC, 2000)
Wang Rung's Land (SBS, 2000)
Oh! Happy Day (KBS2, 1999)
Magic Castle (KBS2, 1999)
Beautiful Secrets (KBS2, 1999)
You and My Song (KBS2, 1998)
Please Find Your Dad (KBS2, 1998)
I Do Not Know About Anyone Love (MBC, 1998)
Gift Bird (MBC, 1998)
Bride's Room (KBS2, 1997)
Beautiful Sin (SBS, 1997)
The Reason I Live (MBC, 1997)
Golden Feather (MBC, 1997)
Bujayuchin (SBS, 1997)
The Scent of Winter (KBS, 1996)
The Most Beautiful Farewell (MBC, 1996)
Until We Can Love (KBS2, 1996)
Start Another (KBS2, 1995)
Road (KBS2 1995)
Matchbox Girl (SBS, 1994)
Buddha Table on theh Street (MBC, 1994)
Mr Byeong Gu Sunndalsora okju Mr Yang (MBC, 1993)
Chapter Torah (SBS, 1993)
Third Republic (MBC, 1993)
Is To Live (SBS, 1993)
Wild Chrysanthemum (KBS2, 1993)
Old and Childhood (KBS1, 1993)
Old Geumjandi (KBS2, 1991)
My Mother (MBC, 1990)
The Women (MBC, 1990)
Armband (MBC, 1989)
Carousel (KBS2, 1989)
Flowering Nest (KBS2, 1989)
Wang Rung Family (KBS2, 1989)
Last Idol (MBC, 1988)
Teacher, My Teacher (MBC, 1988)
Forget Lee Tomorrow (MBC, 1988)
Love and Ambition (MBC, 1986)
Gaetmaeul (MBC, 1985)
Saeahssi, (MBC, 1981)
Happiness Sale (MBC, 1978)
Spring Snow (2012)
Le Grand Chef - Kimchi War (2009)
Our School E.T. (2008)
Public Enemy Returns (2008)
Big Bang (2007)
Soo (2006) cameo
Old Miss Diary (2006)
Spring Breeze (2003)
White Valentine (1999)
Recessed Baemi Love (1990)
Rainy Day Watercolor (1989)
Arm Chef (1987)
Be Afraid of the Night, Two Women (1986)
Spoiled Mistress (1968)
Passing Clouds (1959)
Open the Genuine Door (1958)
Go To Sorrow (1957)
Solar Boy Esteban (1987)
Alice Paul (1977)
Robot Taekwon V (1976)
Mazinger Z (1975)
Young Ok is known for being a master of insults, but she's also nuturing to her young co-stars and patient when they make NGs. She seems to be a lovable rascal both on-screen and off.
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