Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Overall Drama Review by Grade

I was asked by a commenter on my Playful Kiss Review to organize my posts by grade. Since I don't know how to do that - I've put together this post of all the dramas I've reviewed up until this point and sorted by rating. We start with the best of the best all the way down to my least favorite, adding Japanese/Korean/Tawainese and release date. 

-Hana Yori Dango 1+2 (JDrama 2005/2007)
-Faith (KDrama 2012)
-Shut Up Flower Boy Band (KDrama 2012)
-Playful Kiss (KDrama 2010)
-Mary Stayed Out All Night (KDrama 2010)
-Ikemen Desu Ne (JDrama 2011)
-Coffee Prince (KDrama 2007)

-Lie to Me (KDrama 2011)
-The Devil Beside You (TDrama 2005)
-Meteor Garden (TDrama 2001)

-Heartstrings (KDrama 2011)
-You’re Beautiful (KDrama 2009)
-Paradise Kiss (JMovie 2011)
-It Started with a Kiss 1+2 (TDrama 2005/6)
-Ryusei no Kizuna (JDrama 2008)
-The Moon that Embraces the Sun (KDrama 2012)
-Full House Take 2 (KDrama 2012)
-Last Cinderella (JDrama 2013)

-Gokusen Season 1 (JDrama 2002)
-Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (JDrama 2010)
-Lovely Complex (JMovie 2006)
-Flower Boy Next Door (KDrama 2013)
-Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu (JMovie 2012)

-Sprout (JDrama 2012)
-Liar Game (JDrama 2007/2010)
-Gokusen Season 2 (JDrama 2005)
-Love Shuffle (JDrama 2009)
-Orange Days (JDrama 2004)
-Kimi wa Petto (JDrama 2003)
-To the Beautiful You (KDrama 2012)
-Smile (JDrama 2009)
-Monstar (KDrama 2013)

-Goong (KDrama 2006)
-Mei-chan no Shitsuji (JDrama 2009)
-Gokusen Season 3 (JDrama 2008)
-Kimi Ni Todoke (JMovie 2010)
-Romantic Princess (TDrama 2007)
-Nobuta wo Produce (JDrama 2005)

-Personal Taste (KDrama 2010)

-City Hunter (KDrama 2011)
-Hana Kimi (JDrama 2007)
-Dream High (KDrama 2011)
-Nodame Cantabile (JDrama 2006)
-Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou (JDrama 2012)

-Boys Before Flowers (KDrama 2009)
-Bloody Monday (JDrama 2008)
-Kurosagi (JDrama 2006)
-Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (JDrama 2010)

-Zettai Kareshi (JDrama 2008)

-Secret Garden (KDrama 2010)

-Flower Boy Ramen Shop (KDrama 2011)

Haven't flunked anyone yet :) Let me know what you agree with or what you disagree with. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

JDrama Review: Last Cinderella

The Gist: Hairstylist Toyama Sakura (Shinohara Ryoko) is pushing forty and with a masculine side, has little chance of snagging a guy. That’s the least of her worries when Tachibana Rintaro (Fujiki Naohito), an old rival, takes over her salon when she doesn’t get promoted. Tachibana’s obsessive fan, Ogami Chiyoko (Nanao), can’t stand to have Sakura and Tachibana so close together, so she hires Saeki Hiroto (Miura Haruma) to woo Sakura despite being 15 years her junior. Hiroto eventually gets Sakura to overcome her worry about their age differences when they both find that they’re actually pretty compatible. All of this only serves to counteract Chiyoko’s master plan as Tachibana is now very aware of Sakura’s positive traits and even harbors some jealousy towards Hiroto. Flanked by best friends Miki (Otsuka Nene) and Shima (Iijima Naoko), Sakura has some very complicated decisions to make about her love life, all while Hiroto tries to hide the secret of how they met. 


1.Saeki Hiroto!

Last time we saw heartthrob Miura, I was critiquing his acting limitations in Bloody Monday. I feel somewhat as if I owe him an apology because this show really benefited from his versatility as Hiroto. At first his smarmy, conniving nature had me ready to punch him through the screen, but slowly his actions turned genuine. It’s odd because most shows have a moment where it’s an obvious turning point, whereas Hiroto’s transformation was absolutely gradual, so that I didn’t notice when I really began rooting for him. Hiroto brought about so many sweet moments that I really didn’t expect out of his character and his loyalty both to Sakura and Chiyoko really speaks volumes about the way he treats women. 

2.Let’s Talk about Sex

Really though! What a breath of fresh air to get everything out in the open. I loved the honesty between Sakura and her best friends about their own desires and their love goals. Not only that, we got some gosh darn intimacy between the characters- YAY! This drama read more in line with a Taiwanese than a Japanese as far as affection goes. I’m so proud of it for really pushing the boundaries and just laying it all out there. Not that this drama’s X-rated or anything, but you get a sense of reality of the relationship for people who are a bit more mature than your usual drama fanfare. And you get to see Miura shirtless a fair amount, so there’s always that. 

3. Unpredictable Love Triangle

Some people might fight me on this one, but in the last few episodes I really didn’t know whether we were favoring Tachibana or Hiroto. While they both developed relationships of a sort with Sakura, it seemed that both could have been a good match for her. Normally a story’s structure will let me know who I should be rooting for, but Tachibana and Hiroto probably got equal screen time, which let me be a bit surprised (if not worried!) towards the end about the outcome. Still, I was very satisfied with the wrap up. 


1.Put your hair down!

For someone who works in a trendy salon with stylish best friends, Sakura seems hell bent on being as unattractive as possible. While I understand that part of the story is that Sakura isn’t exactly refined, I don’t get why she can’t style her own hair! Oh my gosh, every scene I was just waiting for Hiroto to rip that clip out of her hair because having it down looks so much nicer. Seriously though, despite her old man personality, you’d think she’d at least get some cute clothes for work, or from her friends. Bad friends. 


So while this character does manage some redemption at the end, she sure is totally insane. The whole plot hinges on her schemes, but the further along it goes, the crueler it seems to Hiroto whom she actually cares a lot about. Then when he’s finally happy, she seems determined to ruin that too. Her attitude towards Tachibana is totally creepy (the pictures in her room, anyone??) and her insecurities are blown way out of proportion. She’s so blessed and yet throws it all away. Still, without our main villain, who Chiyoko pretty much is, there wouldn’t be any tension so we have to love her a bit for that anyway. 


1.Just Get Ahead of It

Oh my gosh. With how far down the road Hiroto was, I can’t believe he didn’t just tell her the truth. Yes, this is a show, so things have to go as dramatic as possible, but I feel as if he was just honest about how things went down, Sakura would understand. People in dramas like this seem just intent to make things as complicated as possible. How hard is it to say “Honestly, the reason I was at that meet up was because Chiyoko asked me to get to know you?” While that would certainly be a little off putting for a minute, it was always going to be better coming from him. 


So… I really didn’t have any expectations for this show. I pretty much just watched it because KDrama’s long episodes/series were starting to bug me and reviewers seemed to like this show best of last year’s picks. Now I can see why. Honestly, I really loved this show. I watched through it very quickly, the pacing was dead on and I was very impressed with Miura’s acting and his chemistry with Ryoko. I’d definitely recommend this show for its fearless attitude towards relationships balanced with moments that just make you go aww. 

Final Grade: A-

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

KDrama Review: Coffee Prince

The Gist: 24 year old Go Eun Chan (Yoon Eun Hye) is often mistaken for a boy with her short hair, baggy clothes, and unpolished personality. This doesn’t bother her, so when a wealthy man, Choi Han Kyul (Gong Yoo), offers her a job as his “boyfriend” to break up his blind dates, she accepts. The breadwinner in her family, Eun Chan begs Han Kyul to give her a job at his new café, Coffee Prince, which his grandmother has left him in charge of. Wanting to hire only young guys to bring in female customers, Han Kyul agrees. She forms a quick bond with the other workers: dopey Hwang Min Yeop (Lee Un), energetic Jin Ha Rim (Kim Dong Wook), and quiet No Sun Ki (Kim Hae Wook). As they slowly figure out Eun Chan’s secret, Han Kyul is left in the dark, making him utterly confused at his inherent attachment to her. 


1.The Chemisty!

Oh snap! The intensity between Eun Chan and Han Kyul is the glue that holds this whole show together. It’s impossible to watch this show and not be moved by the desperation with which these characters want to be together. The strain between them is almost too much to bear and the episode where Han Kyul figures out that Eun Chan is lying to him is nothing short of heartbreaking. Even in the small scenes, a look here, a gesture there, everything about their relationship jumps off the screen. Anyone within a fifty mile radius could tell those two are in love and it really is just a delight to watch. 

2. The Boys

I must admit at first, I was skeptical about the coworkers. Min Yeop’s determined obsession with Eun Chan’s sister, Go Eun Sae (Han Yeh In) had me turned off immediately and he seemed like such an idiot that I was disappointed at his central cast status. That changed quickly though, when you figure out what a kind heart he is and it’s impossible not to like him. Sun Ki had a heart wrenching backstory as he searches for a lost love and even as that becomes difficult, I love the ray of hope they leave for him at the end. Ha Rim goes from lovely to annoying to lovely again as he takes Eun Chan’s betrayal the hardest, but you really root for him as he tries to shed his player ways towards the end. All three end up like big brothers to Eun Chan and it makes every scene in the shop fun. 

3. The Pacing

I could have watched this entire show in one sitting. I forced myself to stop and savor the experience – I mean, you only watch a show the first time once. Nothing about it felt stilted or dragged on, but rather flowed nice enough for hours of marathoning. The writing is tight and the acting is superb, which is the best kind of show. 


1.The Pilot

For a show with such strong, clear direction, the pilot wanders a lot and I wasn’t sure where it was going. Ultimately you learn to love the characters, but oh boy are there a lot of them dumped on you all at once. I think if you’re patient and not trying too hard to sort everything into neat boxes, you’re ok, but I like tight story lines. Honestly, if I was grading this show just on the pilot, I’d give it maybe a C, but once we get the café established, things pick up a lot faster. 



For a show that’s clearly targeted towards girls, this show sure has a lot of moments that made me go ew! Basically anything revolving around the shop’s old owner Hong Gae Sik (Kim Chang Wan) made me flinch. When they went into his house, I thought I was going to pass out! Also, people talking to each other on the toilet or what have you was just excessive to me. I didn’t need it and it detracted from all the good things about this show.

2. Small Things

The devil’s in the details, so they say. Now when there’s just one quirk, I let it go, but CP actually had a lot of little things that made me ponder. First, I marveled at how much free time Han Sung and Yoo Joo had, but as soon as they’re getting serious, suddenly they have no time to spend with each other. It was bizarrely inconsistent. Also, why are all the Coffee Prince employees working all the time? Shouldn’t some people have days off or work separate shifts? And how does Han Kyul manage to always get a front parking spot when his café doesn’t have any extra parking? Where do the customers park? Also, why are all Eun Chan’s shirts so large? It’s not like large shirts are any cheaper and her sister’s clothes fit. Anyway, all of that isn’t really that big a deal, but I found myself questioning things at every turn throughout this show, but just the little things. 


So… Why didn’t I watch this sooner?!! This show’s premise always sounded dumb to me, but it’s really excellent. The romance is sparkling, the acting is superb, the writing is clean, and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy. This show does gender bending right. I might have to shuffle my top 5.

Final Grade: A+