Thursday, December 29, 2011
Kaseifu No Mita is a drama about a strange housekeeper named Mita Akari. She is beautiful, intelligent, and does her job exceptionally well, but something about her is amiss. She is distant, doesn't smile, and doesn't open herself up about private matters particularly about her past. One day she is assigned to care for the Asuda family; a dysfunctional bunch who can't seem to get out of each other's ways especially since the father is unconfident in dealing with family issues and the mother recently passed away. But soon, they become intrigued by Mita's work ethic and gradually attach themselves to her presence while she desperately tries not to involve herself in their personal lives.
Recommendation: I find myself quite lucky that I found this series because I really had no intention of watching it. I was intrigued after looking over some ratings for the dramas in the fall season and found out that Kaseifu No Mita was getting huge ratings. I had to see what the fuss was all about and I wasn't disappointed. I actually watched the first 7 episodes consecutively (with a few bathroom breaks in between) and had to stop only because it was 3 am in the morning. I haven't had that experience in quite awhile. Matsushima Nanako plays a robotic housekeeper, Mita very well. I would say if Mary Poppins or Mrs. Doubtfire had a dark side, it would be Mita Akari. I really enjoyed the screenplay and/or the way the actors improvised in many scenes. Usually in group scenes there would be one actor speaking and the rest would just look on without moving, which does happen in this drama, but the kids tend to improvise well and are really great. Honda Miyu who plays Kii was adorable and the father played by Hasegawa Hiroki was funny. I really thought Aibu Saki was really good too playing a boneheaded sister in-law. As in most dramas there are extreme situations and you will find a lot here, but the story is quite fascinating and I was caught off guard. I would have to say this is somewhat of a dark comedy, but it provides valuable lessons about family relationships. There is a mystery that deepens after each episode and I couldn't believe the last episode had a rating around 40! I wholeheartedly recommend this series and if I was asked to watch this drama again, I would definitely say, "shochi shimashita."
Character Development: 1.0
Emotional Factor: 1.0
5.0 Out Of 5.0 Crowns
Friday, December 23, 2011
Nankyoku Tairiku is about three Japanese Antarctic expeditions that occurred after World War 2 or during "post-war era" Japan. During this period, Japan was in the process of rebuilding itself, but there was still a lingering mixture of bitterness and failure within the country. In the winter of 1957, Japan was one of many nations to take part in the International Geophysical Year which was an international scientific research project. After a few setbacks, the country backed up the expedition and with the help of 19 Sakhalin huskies, a group of explorers set off on the ice-breaker Soya to head towards Antarctica. What awaited them was a brutal yet inspiring journey into a land that was barely touched by man.
Recommendation: This drama was based on a famous true story about two dogs, Taro and Jiro who survived in Antarctica for about a year after the crew of the first expedition left all the dogs behind due to harsh weather conditions. I remember watching Nankyoku Monogatari which was a movie about the same story with my parents when I was young and it was a very sad movie. I am one who usually skips these types of dramas, but I wanted to see more of the background behind the expedition which the drama provides.
In any case, the show itself was good and the first episode especially drew me in, but after a few episodes, it kind of slowed down and I was a bit disappointed with the acting and directing. Excluding Kimura and the dogs, everyone just seemed to play robotic roles. I generally like Sakai Masato, but jeez, he had this constipated look in all his scenes! The acting for the most part felt forced and I thought even for a 10 episode series, it felt a bit stretched. Still, it was nice to retell a story about a country in dire need of inspiration and if you want to understand more about the expeditions this is a drama for you.
Character Development: 0.5
Emotional Factor: 1.0
3.5 Out Of 5.0 Crowns