Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring Break J-Dramas: Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files

This is Day 5 in a series. You might want to start at the introduction.

Alright, let's end this week on a strong note. The first J-drama that I watched knowing that I would like it was Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files (gosh that's a long name...). By the time that it was added to Crunchyroll's catalog, I had become pretty familiar with how J-dramas worked, and what type of show I wanted to watch. I saw the description for Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia, and I was immediately hooked. I knew that this was the one. It would probably be my favourite of all the J-dramas covered this week if it wasn't for how open the ending is, as well as the incredible strength of the Galileo movies. It still could be my favourite, if a second season is ever made.

The show has one of the oddest premises that I've ever seen. Not odd as in crazy, but odd as in unexpected. Goura Daisuki is a man who is unable to read books. He's not illiterate; he just can't read books because they make him sick when he tries. One day, when trying to sell some of his grandma's old books, he goes to an antiquarian bookshop to get them appraised. The owner, Shinokawa Shioriko, notices something strange about one of the books: it was supposedly signed by the author, but the signature is inconsistent with standard practice. As they investigate why this happened, secrets are revealed, and the mystery is eventually solved. Daisuki decides that he enjoys spending time at the shop, even if he can't read, and starts helping out there. As the series progresses, more books arrive with more mysteries to be solved.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spring Break J-Dramas: Liar Game

This is Day 4 in a series. You might want to start at the introduction.

Well, yesterday was the best of the week, so naturally today it's time for the worst. After finishing Galileo, I really wanted to watch another mystery focused J-drama, so I picked the one from Crunchyroll's catalog that looked the most like it fit that bill: Liar Game. I did a bit of research on it, and saw that some people had made some comparisons to Death Note, so I figured "what could go wrong?" and dove in. I did say that it's the worst of the week (and it is), but it's not really a bad show. Well, it kind of is, but only because it's so very over the top cheesy, in every possible way. Writing, acting, costumes, everything. But that also makes it a lot of fun to watch.

Liar Game is about a "stupidly honest" girl, Kanzaki Nao, who gets sucked into a "game" run by bored wealthy people that ends up destroying the lives of most of the participants, who are forced to play against their will (similar to CH:OS:EN, but without the murder). The game that is played is different each round (officiated by a masked man on a television screen, like in Saw), but they are all based around the idea of making money. Every player starts out with a certain amount of money (usually ~$1 million) which they are required to repay at the end of the game. Any money they win from other players that puts them over their initial amount can be kept at the end, so every game is designed to have some players deep in debt by the end, which is where the danger lies.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Spring Break J-Dramas: Galileo

This is Day 3 in a series. You might want to start at the introduction.

Alright, this is the big one. Objectively, this show is probably the best of the five I'll be covering, but it also happens to be my favourite. GTO was just winding down its second season, so I started looking around for a new J-drama to watch, just in time to see Galileo Season 1 get added to Crunchyroll. I didn't really know much about it aside from Crunchyroll's paragraph description, but it seemed interesting enough. There aren't really any anime that are police procedurals (like CSI or NCIS), so I was intrigued to see Japan's take on the genre.

Galileo is a police procedural that shares similarities with American shows like Monk and Bones. The series is named after Yukawa Manabu; or at least his university nickname. He is now a genius physics professor, who has been roped into helping his old university friend, now a police detective, solve exceptionally difficult cases where the impossible appears to have occurred (such as teleportation). Utsumi Kaoru is a brand new detective assigned to take the place of Yukawa's friend, and they begin working cases together. It's a fairly conventional setup for a show of this genre; the show's strength comes from its consistency.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Spring Break J-Dramas: GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka

This is Day 2 in a series. You might want to start at the introduction.

After watching Mischievous Kiss, I didn't end up watching any more J-dramas for several months. I was busy with school, and just trying to keep up with the various anime series that I was watching simulcasted. But then summertime rolled around, and I came up with the brilliant idea to marathon all of Bleach. It's not very good for very long stretches at a time (*cough* Bount arc *cough*), and I decided one day that I needed a change of pace. Crunchyroll had just started airing the second season of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, so it caught my eye, and I started watching from the beginning. And thank goodness I did; it's way better than Bleach (though I did finish that too).

What happens when you take a former thug, and make him the head teacher of a class of troubled high school students? Good things, apparently. That's the basic premise of GTO. Eikichi Onizuka was in a biker gang during his younger days, and is kind of a scary guy. Then one day circumstances conspire such that he ends up hired by the director of a school to teach the worst class of students they have. Wacky shenanigans and heartwarming life lessons follow soon after.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Spring Break J-Dramas: Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo

This is Day 1 in a series. You might want to start at the introduction.

You may not be aware, but it turns out that I watch quite a bit of anime. And if you want to watch legal streaming anime, you're going to end up at Crunchyroll eventually, as I did. I'm not fully sure what the exact circumstances were, but one day in Fall 2013 I was probably really bored, and decided that I'd click on the "Drama" tab on Crunchyroll. That happened to be when Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo was airing, and Crunchyroll had somehow managed to get the simulcast rights for it, so they were promoting it fairly heavily. I thought "Eh, why not?" and checked it out, thus sealing my fate.

I have to say, Mischievous Kiss is a pretty great J-drama to start with. It can be really cheesy at times, in the best possible way, which is something that I've found is often the case with these dramas. There's a lot of overacting and hamming it up, and the costume design is glorious (though not the most insane of the J-dramas I'll be covering). It's fairly typical for a J-drama comedy, so if you watch it and end up enjoying it, you'll definitely like what else is out there. To clarify my previous statement, a J-drama does not mean that a show is necessarily dramatic; it just means that it is live action.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Spring Break 2015: J-Dramas

Well hello there! It's been a while, hasn't it? To be perfectly honest, I've been working on a post for quite a while, but just haven't been able to get my motivation up enough to finish it, so it's just kind of sitting there. But don't worry! It's Spring Break, so you know what that means: 5 posts over the next 5 days! I think that I shouldn't have any problems with posting this year, so I should get the full 5 out, hopefully on time. No promises, but that's the goal.

In previous years, I've covered video games, anime, and movies. So what's the topic this year? Television, in the form of J-Dramas! Yay! As a side note, this isn't actually the topic that I failed to cover last year and said I'd cover this year (or sooner). I still haven't finished the "research" for that one, and the earliest I'll be able to do so now seems to be this Fall, so don't expect it anytime soon. I also keep changing my plans for it, which hasn't helped it get done. Back to this year, for anyone who isn't familiar with what a J-drama is, it stands for "Japanese Drama," and refers to live action television shows produced in Japan. You may have heard of K-dramas, which are the equivalent for shows made in South Korea. I've seen a few of those too, but not as many, and I figured that I would focus on J-dramas this time around. It's actually kind of odd that I've seen more J-dramas, since there are so many more K-dramas available. South Korea has been very good about exporting their dramas to North America, but Japan has only started making it possible in recent years, and mostly through Crunchyroll, which is where I first bumped into them. Anime has had a very large presence for a while now, but dramas are just starting to really come onto the scene.

I guess if I had to explain what I enjoy about J-dramas, one of my major points would be the same as why I like anime: most shows (at least, most available here) don't run forever. Unlike American shows like CSI or Supernatural, all of the J-dramas that I've seen or heard about are tightly plotted shows that run for a season or two (sometimes nearly a decade apart) before ultimately resolving. On American tv, the goal for almost every show is to keep on the air for as long as possible, and just continue to pump out episodes each season until the show is finally canceled. All the J-dramas that I've seen take a different approach, where they try to tell a story (usually adapted from something), and once the story is over, the show is too. If you know me, you know that I love the plot being the focus, so these are right up my alley.

I'll be focusing on one J-drama each day this week. The order that I cover them will be more or less the order that I watched them in, not that it matters. I won't actually be covering the very first J-drama that I watched, which was the live action Death Note movies. I did really like them (I even think they had a better ending than the anime), but I decided not to cover them because they're movies and I wanted to cover tv shows, and also because it's been a while since I watched them, so my memory is kind of hazy anyways. I hope you enjoy this topic and maybe even find a show that you want to watch.

Full Series

Intro: J-Dramas
Day 3: Galileo
Day 4: Liar Game