Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts tagged “asuka masamune

Buzzer Beat Ep 9

The cliffhanger ending in Episode 8 left me seriously unhappy, mostly because I didn’t like Naoki’s wishy-washiness (please, none of that namby-pamby “I can’t make up my mind between my first love and this one” nonsense for me) and how it looked like he was actually going to tell Natsuki something like, “I can’t forget you too…” but fortunately the scriptwriters for Buzzer Beat must think along the same lines as me, because Episode 9 was rescued by Naoki’s steadfastness!

The beginning of the episode replays the end of 8 (of course) and continues with Naoki pulling out of Natsuki’s grip (yes! there is a scriptwriter who knows what they’re doing!) and then asking her, “What’s wrong? I still have an appointment with a friend tonight, so I have to go. What’s wrong?” so of course Natsuki does her whole pseudo-innocent-pained face and shakes her head and tells him, “Nothing’s wrong. Just go.” and she leaves with his umbrella.

Natsuki leaves with Naoki's umbrella...and...there's a part where he muses thinking, "At that moment, I couldn't think of Riko's smile. All I could see was Natsuki's vulnerable back." .........NO, Naoki, seriously, NO.

Natsuki leaves with Naoki's umbrella...and...there's a part later in the gym where he muses, "At that moment, I couldn't think of Riko's smile. All I could see was Natsuki's vulnerable back." .........NO, Naoki, seriously, NO.Get OVER the girl already!

So Naoki then makes his way to Riko in the rain (and the poor girl is still waiting! …talk about dedication.) and it turns out Riko’s not leaving for her old home that night after all, since she wanted so desperately to see Naoki. (Cute moments here where he’s drying off in her home and realises she was holding on to the plastic bag with the terribly made French toast, and he teases her by picking it up and refusing to return it to her. Very Cute Naoki!)

Naoki eating Riko's French Toast. ...silence. "Looks like I have to teach you from scratch." Riko is dismayed and Naoki laughs, saying, "I'm joking! It's good, really."

Naoki eating Riko's French Toast. ...silence. "Looks like I have to teach you from scratch." Riko is dismayed and Naoki laughs, saying, "I'm joking! It's good, really."

…Up until this moment, I thought to myself, Oh good, Naoki’s being steadfast, and Riko managed to hold on and wait for him, so it wasn’t going to be one of those dramatic “Oh I missed you by half a second” moments – although I admit to snorting at the dramatic irony of Riko telling Naoki, “I was afraid you weren’t going to show up, because you would meet someone else you liked on the way and realise you don’t like me that much, after all.” and all Naoki says is, “Sorry I made you worry.” But, since this is a shoujo drama, and the bad person must, after all, be bad, Natsuki ends up calling Riko and telling her, “Is Naoki meeting up with you? He said he was meeting a friend. [Okay, first arrow here already. Like, friend. Huh. Right.] I’m really sorry he was late. I was caught in the rain and didn’t have an umbrella so he ran up to me and insisted on giving me his umbrella. If he was late, it’s all my fault and I apologise so please don’t blame him.” Oooooh the bitch! Second arrow, and she draws blood! Although technically, she isn’t lying, so it’s also partially Naoki’s fault for not telling Riko anything. Instead he told her practice ended late and now she finds out it’s not true! Riko walks out and tells Naoki it’s better if he heads home for a hot shower so that his health isn’t compromised since he was running in the rain, and Naoki leaves reluctantly.

So, my predictions (they’re going to break up! ..or at least have a fight) looked like they were, more or less, about to come true, but to a certain extent, it was less heartrending than I thought it was going to be, since Naoki’s moments of “wavering” were short-lived, and he was very honest about who and what he was thinking about – one of my favourite things in any person.

Back to what happened: On one hand, Riko heads home and enjoys being with her family (and eating apparently, since she put on 1.5kg – a girl after my own heart!); on the other, Mai and Shuji (yay!) finally tell Utsunomiya Toru (who is played by Nagai Masaru) that they are dating (originally Mai was interested in Toru, and it seemed Toru was about to return her interest but nooo he tells her he’s actually been in love for a long time with another girl, but she has a boyfriend and it’s about time that he gives up – NOW, I GIVE YOU THREE GUESSES AS TO WHO THE GIRL IS!!!!! ….GIVE UP!? It’s Natsuki! Definitely Natsuki!!! Ahem. Watch and finnnnddd outttt).

They look so cute together! Mai tells Toru: "Without me, you'd get along fine, whereas Shuji..." and exchanges a glance with Shuji, which is classic I tell you.

They look so cute together! Mai tells Toru: "Without me, you'd get along fine, whereas Shuji..." and exchanges a glance with Shuji, which is classic I tell you, and then she even goes on to ask,"So from now, will you please also take care of Shuji?"...best thing? Toru says, "Yes!" LOL. Oh, and Mai asked him curiously, "So...you are...towards Coach...?" and Toru shakes his head frantically and falls back in laughter HAHA

Ahem you can see why I guessed what I guessed. Natsuki's pouring her heart to Toru, telling him she wishes Naoki wouldn't succeed so he would beg her to come back, and there Toru is, just lapping it up. Ugh. Please, buster. Get a move on or move out.

Ahem you can see why I guessed what I guessed. Natsuki's pouring her heart to Toru, telling him she wishes Naoki wouldn't succeed so he would beg her to come back, and there Toru is, just lapping it up. Ugh. Please, buster. Get a move on or move out.

At Riko’s old home, her mother tells her, “Your father and I think it’s about time that you give up your violin. It’s been two years since you’ve graduated but you haven’t been able to find a proper job. Please. Your father’s retiring next year. Will you move back home here before it’s too late? You’ll be able to get a job here easily. Please.” and Riko looks at her parents, nods dutifully and replies, “I’ll think about it.” before taking a gulp of water (or whatever liquid it is she has in her cup, for all I know it could just be alcohol which, I think, is what she needs). Riko heads back to (I assume it is) Tokyo and heads for the bookstore where she looks for Mai so that the two can go off and have an awesome buddy dinner together (oh, I love friends). At the bookstore however, she meets Natsuki, who, while casually browsing some books on a shelf, asks, “How’s Coach? Oh. Don’t tell me. You’re cheating on him, aren’t you?” At Riko’s gasp, Natsuki swings around and says, “With Naoki, right?” She then goes on to belittle their relationship by telling Riko, “Did you know he has an ankle injury and refuses to go for surgery? You don’t, right? It’s the important things he doesn’t tell you. You’re not important to him. All you have going for you is the fact that the both of you lick each other’s wounds, and make each other feel better. He doesn’t have to feel inferior when he’s in your company.” (OOOooohhhh, I have no words to describe this woman, but man, I have to give the scriptwriter a prize. Great speech.) Riko is taken aback and at first tries to defend herself, and asks Natsuki, “What is the purpose of you telling me this?” Natsuki: “I don’t like people like you, who only talk about your dreams and don’t live up to reality.”

ep9e

Mai then arrives at the scene, and becomes all outraged on Riko’s behalf, “Why don’t you tell Naoki this yourself? Why did you come here to look for Riko and tell her all these?” Natsuki: “I will.” Mai becomes even more furious, but then Riko interrupts: “I think you may be right, but I can’t forgive you for not believing in Naoki’s dream.” and all Natsuki does is smile at her and go, “You’re…so gentle. So kind. Isn’t that great?” … OHHHhhhhhhh.

Fortunately, Mai steps in and tells Natsuki: "I think you're pathetic." Natsuki: "Me?" Mai: "How could a person like you understand anything when all you do is build upon other people's miseries?" and then pulls Riko away before MORE damage is done...unfortunately...damage has already been done...

Fortunately, Mai steps in and tells Natsuki: "I think you're pathetic." Natsuki: "Me?" Mai: "How could a person like you understand anything when all you do is build upon other people's miseries?" and then pulls Riko away before MORE damage is done...unfortunately...damage has already been done...

(I discover in this episode that Mai is the epitome of what a good girl friend is meant to be, and salute Shihori for being able to pull it all off so naturally)

That night, Shuji comes back home and tells Mai (and unintentionally, Riko) that Naoki and Yoyogi fought in the dressing room over Natsuki, which of course, just makes Riko feel worse. Mai, being Mai, immediately shoves Shuji into the cupboard and tells him not to come out until she finishes dinner (oh, Mai!…excuse the pun) and becomes all awkward as Riko stares at her phone morosely when Naoki sends her a text message telling her he can’t come see her tonight.

Naoki and Yoyogi going at it in the dressing room, with Naoki yelling at Yoyogi to apologise to Natsuki (later he tells Toru that the reason he wanted Yoyogi to apologise to her is because he realised how much he had depended on Natsuki during their relationship, and how much he had learnt from her, and that was why he was angry when Yoyogi did not seem to appreciate her the same way he used to)

Naoki and Yoyogi going at it in the dressing room, with Naoki yelling at Yoyogi to apologise to Natsuki (later he tells Toru that the reason he wanted Yoyogi to apologise to her is because he realised how much he had depended on Natsuki during their relationship, and how much he had learnt from her, and that was why he was angry when Yoyogi did not seem to appreciate her the same way he used to)

In the morning, Riko hears the sounds of a dribbling basketball, pulls open her window and peers out to find Naoki standing, waiting for her in their usual basketball court.

She goes down to see him, and when they meet, he said, “Sorry I couldn’t see you last night. I was talking to Toru.” …which is, I think, the last straw for Riko. She turns around and tells him, “Why do you gloss it over like that?” Naoki: “What do you mean?” Riko: “Why do you gloss it over like that?” Naoki: “Eh?” Riko: “That night when it was raining…it was Natsuki you were with. Yesterday, you got into a fight, because of Natsuki. I know it all. All your lies. Why did you lie?” Naoki: “I didn’t mean to lie. I just didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.” (Yeah, dude, that’s what they all say)

dhahsd

Riko: "You...care about Natsuki more than me, don't you? Why? Didn't she cheat on you?" Naoki: "What are you saying?" Riko: "She cheated on you and treated you like a fool, simply because of your kind nature." Naoki: "Why do you keep speaking bad of her?" Riko: "Isn't that the truth?" Naoki: "Riko, you don't know anything about Natsuki and I. ... Sorry. I don't want to speak of such things with Riko." Riko: "Is that so? ...With me, all you need is for us to lick each other's wounds? Because, being with me, you don't have to feel inferior, you don't have to think, so you're happy?" and Riko walks away. (See, you can tell the poison Natsuki injected in Riko is spreading. Ugh. Jealousy. The things it makes us do. Women. Sometimes, we're just plain stupid.)

As she walks away, Naoki calls out to her, "What's wrong?" Riko turns: "I am always looking at you. During that rainy night, in the bright morning light, at home when I'm playing the violin, I'm always, always thinking of you but you...Why can't you ever see me, Naoki?" and this time she walks away for real. STUPID BOY DIDN'T CHASE AFTER HER - obviously you don't understand women very well!

As she walks away, Naoki calls out to her, "What's wrong?" Riko turns: "I am always looking at you. During that rainy night, in the bright morning light, at home when I'm playing the violin, I'm always, always thinking of you but you...Why can't you ever see me, Naoki?" and this time she walks away for real. STUPID BOY DIDN'T CHASE AFTER HER - obviously you don't understand women very well!

While Riko waits for a phone call from Naoki (that never happens), she lets Mai know that she’s thinking of going home for good and giving up the violin. Mai’s woebegone expression was terribly heartwarming. (Meanwhile poor Riko doesn’t realise that the customer who critiqued her so seriously at her last performance in the lounge and caused her to lose her job is now searching for her because he actually didn’t mean to make her lose her job; rather he wanted her to improve i.e. so I get the vibe that it means he thinks she’s a talent and wants to make her perform to her full potential)

After Naoki's practice, Natsuki waylays him and passes him some official work documents, but also tells him, "...I think I can't forget you..." to which Naoki (finally!!) replies, "Natsuki. I already have someone important in my heart. I'm grateful to you, because I went through a lot with you, both happy and sad. But now, I need to walk my own way." and he leaves, and cycles to Riko's place.

After Naoki's practice, Natsuki waylays him and passes him some official work documents, but also tells him, "...I think I can't forget you..." to which Naoki (finally!!) replies, "Natsuki. I already have someone important in my heart. I'm grateful to you, because I went through a lot with you, both happy and sad. But now, I need to walk my own way." and he leaves, and cycles to Riko's place.

And just when you thought it was going to be all over...? NO! Coach Kanzaki comes knocking on Riko's door! Riko tells him, "Unfortunately, the person I like is Naoki." Coach Kanzaki: "Ahh... so the two of you got closer while I was away. Well. Okay. Congratulations. You must be in bliss, because Naoki treats you very well." and Riko starts tearing up while she wears a smile that threatens to turn inside out at any moment. "Yes, he treats me well. He's very kind to me. I'm happy. I think I mean something to him. But...I don't have any idea what he's thinking." and she completely breaks down. ...and OF COURSE, Coach Kanzaki wraps her in his embrace and she doesn't quite know how to deal with it all!

And just when you thought it was going to be all over...? NO! Coach Kanzaki comes knocking on Riko's door! Riko tells him, "Unfortunately, the person I like is Naoki." Coach Kanzaki: "Ahh... so the two of you got closer while I was away. Well. Okay. Congratulations. You must be in bliss, because Naoki treats you very well."

and Riko starts tearing up while she wears a smile that threatens to turn inside out at any moment. "Yes, he treats me well. He's very kind to me. I'm happy. I think I mean something to him. But...I don't have any idea what he's thinking." and she completely breaks down. ...and OF COURSE, Coach Kanzaki wraps her in his embrace and she doesn't quite know how to deal with it all!...seriously, the girl needs to stop getting herself into awkward situations with Kanzaki man...

and Riko starts tearing up while she wears a smile that threatens to turn inside out at any moment. "Yes, he treats me well. He's very kind to me. I'm happy. I think I mean something to him. But...I don't have any idea what he's thinking." and she completely breaks down. ...and OF COURSE, Coach Kanzaki wraps her in his embrace and she doesn't quite know how to deal with it all!...seriously, the girl needs to stop getting herself into awkward situations with Kanzaki man...

...and in the meantime, Naoki's on the way to Riko's place with a sunflower. ....that is just damn GG...

...and in the meantime, Naoki's on the way to Riko's place with a sunflower. ....which is just damn GG...

Teaser for Episode 10 (which is, by the way, the last episode, if you are able to read Chinese or Japanese) shows: both Riko and Naoki in formal suits saying “Goodbye” in Japanese, Riko doing lots of running, Naoki going into surgery while Natsuki looks on…

and I wonder how they will end it off, seeing as how they only have about 45 mins to wrap up the love …quadrangle! I had mixed feelings about this episode, and unfortunately, not enough Mai & Shuji moments to sustain me, although I squeal whenever they appear simply because they’re so funny. The loyalty here is good and at least Naoki, surprisingly, didn’t really waver when Natsuki re-confessed to him (and I thought they would make him but fortunately Bacchus appears to be on my side at least). Like I said, I can’t stand being wishy-washy and namby-pamby, so Naoki was resurrected in my good graces (which he had fallen from at the end of Ep 8 and in the beginning of 9). I’m rather skeptical at what will happen with the Kanzaki and Riko hugging scene (will Naoki see it and think Riko’s cheating on him??? Replay of Natsuki?? Will Kanzaki try forcing a kiss??? Is the goodbye scene they show them saying goodbye to each other forever???) …and so the questions go…but so far, I’ve really enjoyed it, and the scriptwriters I think have done a really good job in making me not hate the drama (I usually tend to drop dramas when I hit a particular scene or episode I don’t like i.e. Kami no Shizuku even though I absolutely adore Kame) so I’m looking forward to how they will wrap it all up.

What do you think?


Otomen 4

I was half asleep during Japanese class today, mostly because I was so tired from coming home so late last night, and also because I was up doing Japanese homework, which kind of defeated the purpose of me going to class when I was completely not paying attention to the teacher I suppose. In any case, thought I’d quickly post my thoughts on Otomen 4 before I forget (and before the next episode comes out! Otherwise I’ll be scrambling to keep up as usual).

If you thought the 4th episode would be filled with more potential lovey-dovey scenes between Ryo and Asuka, you’d be wrong. The script actually decides to progress on a different front, which made it both more interesting (plot-wise) and yet, of course, less interesting (romance-wise).

The beginning of the episode is filled with easy throwaway moments (thank goodness they’ve stopped with the mother and father introduction! I thought I was going to have to kill the scriptwriters, but no, thankfully they got the hint!) where we see Asuka helping Juta mend his uniform (and Juta once again teases him about being an Otomen), and Hajime officially arriving in the school uniform and walking around with Asuka’s mother (who, did I mention, was the chairman of the school? No? Nevermind, must have been one of the unimportant things that slipped my mind, like anything to do with the mother.) as she tries to figure out what drew Hajime to transfer to this school.

Everything officially kicks off when Yamato (the puppy-dog junior that keeps following Asuka around) runs into class desperately and begs Asuka and Juta for help. Turns out his uncle operates a shop by the sea, and needs him to find some young strapping men to help out in the store. Both Asuka and Juta hesitate, but Ryo, who is standing nearby, of course flashes her usual brilliant grin and is all like, “Anything I can do to help!” and with Ryo as an incentive, Asuka of course jumps in the fray as well, and brings along the rest of the kendo club, including Hajime (who originally thought the trip was meant to be a training camp! lols, Hajime is just as fail as Asuka).

The boys (and girls) of the Kendo club arrive at this dodgy looking storefront

The boys (and girls) of the Kendo club arrive at this dodgy looking storefront

Obviously they started out with different plans for being at the beach!! LOLs at their gear (which they will not be able to use!)

Obviously they started out with different plans for being at the beach!! LOLs at their gear (which they will not be able to use!)

They are then greeted enthusiastically by Yamato’s uncle, and given a rousing welcome. He tells them, “I’m really glad Yamato managed to find so many strapping young men! Now, if you don’t mind, would you like to get to work?” …and just when you think they are about to be put to menial tasks such as serving customers and running around the shop like mad dogs…

...Yamato: "Er, Uncle, what's this?" Uncle: "The summer play for the beach of course!! Thank goodness you managed to find so many boys for me." ...Everyone else...I think wanted to kill Yamato right there and then!

...Yamato: "Er, Uncle, what's this?" Uncle: "The summer play for the beach of course!! Thank goodness you managed to find so many boys for me." ...Everyone else...I think wanted to kill Yamato right there and then!

The most embarrassing thing wasn’t that they all had to dress up in these pseudo-Power Rangers-cum-Captain Planet outfits (the outfits are Power Rangers like, but the script has something to do with protecting the planet, so… there you go…) but who was going to be directing them. The Uncle-From-Whereonearthdidtheyfindhim?? then pats someone on the back and introduces…

The Director from Hell...he may look like a kid, but man, he can cuss like any good old soldier! In fact he terrified all of them! (Even Asuka and Hajime!)

The Director from Hell...he may look like a kid, but man, he can cuss like any good old soldier! In fact he terrified all of them! (Even Asuka and Hajime!)

In the midst of all this drama, Asuka worries about Hajime. He wants Hajime to stop treating him as a rival; instead he hopes to be friends with Hajime, and one night, while he sees Hajime practising, he can’t help but go up and tell him, “There’s a loophole in your kendo.” (Unfortunately he is overhead by Juta’s sister, who mistook what he said as, “I like you.” since in Japanese, “loophole” and “like” sound very similar! This leads to many hilarious moments with Juta as you will see). Asuka and Hajime have several alone bonding scenes in this episode (some of you may find that boring, but it does help character development, so live with it s’okay?)

Their bonding scene at the beach (just imagine...wind blowing in their faces and all that...)

Their bonding scene at the beach (just imagine...wind blowing in their faces and all that...)

So, to make it all worse (or better, depending on your POV), apparently there’s going to be a fashion show held at the beach, with 2 celebrities in the design world helming the show: a fashion designer and a make-up designer respectively! (Asuka wanted to go the minute he heard they were performing but obviously can’t because he has his image to protect lols). However, in the next scene we see the assistants reporting to the producer telling him the models and the designers were going to be late and might not make it to the show after all! In desperation, the producer sends out someone to find a replacement model, and who else would he pick but…

...if you guessed Ryo...YOU ARE RIGHT! Unfortunately, the assistants obviously have no sense of fashion OR makeup since they dressed her up so horrendously. The producer's face when he saw this was ingenius!

...if you guessed Ryo...YOU ARE RIGHT! Unfortunately, the assistants obviously have no sense of fashion OR makeup since they dressed her up so horrendously. The producer's face when he saw this was ingenius!

Naturally, here, both Asuka and Hajime are present (they do not explain this and I think to myself, Ah the beauty of the suspension of disbelief we are meant to practise in dramas!) and as usual, Asuka is unable to stop himself from stepping out to help Ryo. He starts to do a complete makeover for the dress, and when he finishes, he looks at Hajime and tells him, “There are things I give up for Kendo too. No one is ever perfect.” and then Hajime seems to finish an internal struggle with himself and looks at the horrible makeup Ryo is still wearing and goes, “Summer accent? Cake, foundation, concealer…Come, let me transform you into a beautiful butterfly with these hands.” (Upon hearing that, Juta and his sister who also happen to be at all the important scenes it seems, are relieved. Juta nudges his sister and goes, “Asuka’s not gay…he and Hajime just have an understanding of what it’s like to be in a similar position!” referring to how Hajime, too, appears to be an Otomen)

Asuka looks all happy with his sewing

Asuka looks all happy with his sewing

Hajime actually looks really serious as he applies foundation onto Ryo's skin (he calls her skin flawless and said it would take makeup easily while brushing her skin - is it just me or is that just KIND OF EERIE??)

Hajime actually looks really serious as he applies foundation onto Ryo's skin (he calls her skin flawless and said it would take makeup easily while brushing her skin - is it just me or is that just KIND OF EERIE??)

Ryo is transformed! (Thank goodness. Otherwise I would have had to shoot someone for putting her in a dress like that)

Ryo is transformed! (Thank goodness. Otherwise I would have had to shoot someone for putting her in a dress like that)

The boys are then actually presented onstage in lieu of the missing designers together with Ryo as they explain their design concepts for the dress and makeup. LOL when they appeared in their Power Ranger suits I just died laughing because obviously they didn't want their real identities uncovered still...

The boys are then actually presented onstage in lieu of the missing designers together with Ryo as they explain their design concepts for the dress and makeup. LOL when they appeared in their Power Ranger suits I just died laughing because obviously they didn't want their real identities uncovered still...

To end it all off, the boys share a moment of bonding over their "Otomen"-ness and the episode ends.

To end it all off, the boys share a moment of bonding over their "Otomen"-ness and the episode ends.

Although this episode had less Juta moments, it was still funny, especially during the Power Ranger moments (the Kid Director From Hell was probably the best bit in the entire episode; man, do I want to grow up to be like that!) It looks like the show is taking a more serious slant – they’re showing an awful lot of boys liking feminine things already (like that boy in school in the flower club! and Asuka! and now Hajime! …and Juta, as much as I love him, has gotta be a girly boy because he draws shoujo manga. Really.) so I suppose they’re trying to live up to the name of “Otomen”. I do hope they don’t end up trying too hard and killing the show. I really like it just the way it is right now; it’s great comic relief if nothing else.


Otomen Episodes 2 + 3

I have been rather tied down at work recently, which means less time for watching dramas and less time for doing everything basically, including my favorite reading mangas, watching animes, and of course, blogging about such things.

In an effort to reach Episode 4 faster, I thought it might be quite funky if I compressed summaries of Otomen episodes 2 & 3 together, and so here goes:

Episode 2 kicked off with Ryo quite comically stepping on a banana peel (when just 5 secs ago, Juta tells Yamato no one will fall for such a silly old trick) and then falling…right into the arms of Asuka (cue: female sigh). She then looks at him and asks him to do her a favour – which then sees us all looking at Asuka in the cutest pink apron ever! (Just before this, they accidentally meet Ryo’s father who seems like a bear, and throws the boys out of the house because Asuka was holding the pink apron when the father’s ideals are Be A Man thus explaining Ryo’s expertise with martial arts and her fascination with and inability to do any of the feminine arts)

So it turns out that the “favour” Ryo is asking for is having Asuka help her out for one day at a child care centre she volunteers at, since one of the usual volunteers can’t make it that day. Asuka, of course, agrees. While they are bonding over the children, Ryo tells Asuka that she is hoping to make something for her father on her father’s upcoming birthday, and Asuka gives her the usual encouraging, “Ganbatte!” (Oh, Japanese and their ganbattes, and Koreans and their hwa-tighting!)

Asuka, Ryo, Kid's Dad and Kid sitting at the child care centre eating Asuka's deliciously-made pancakes. (Man, those pancakes are GIRLY)

Asuka, Ryo, Kid's Dad and Kid sitting at the child care centre eating Asuka's deliciously-made pancakes. (Man, those pancakes are GIRLY)

Asuka's (annoying) Mother who tries to test to see if Asuka will fall for her trap (in showing his love for feminine things including shoujo manga, sweets and the such)...Idiot woman, as though Asuka wouldn't have been able to tell!

Asuka's (annoying) Mother who tries to test to see if Asuka will fall for her trap (in showing his love for feminine things including shoujo manga, sweets and the such)...Idiot woman, as though Asuka wouldn't have been able to tell!

…So it turns out that Ryo’s father has been employed as the Kendo coach for their school, which leads to several moments of comedy as he makes the boys run around the school 200 times, and basically trains them until they are on the verge of death! In the midst of all this Spartan training, Asuka makes up his mind to help Ryo change her father’s mind about her cooking (basically her father forbids her to do anything feminine like cooking or cleaning thus explaining her lack of ability to do thereof) and he does this by…challenging the man to a kendo showdown. Yes, I know, I love the way the scriptwriters’ minds work. It’s a tough competition, (I mean, the father was hired as the coach for a reason after all), so Asuka decides to throw his all in one gamble, and he uses his secret technique, which to basically put down his sword to invite the opponent in for an attack, and when the opponent uses that, he brings his sword back up in a flash and wins – which is exactly what happens! Ryo’s father, who knows a man when he sees one, pulls off his equipment, looks at Asuka and tells him, “I take back what I said earlier. You are a real man.” and the two men shake hands. (In the meantime, it means Ryo’s father owes Asuka a debt since Asuka said, “If I win, you will owe me a debt.”)

The man-to-man buddy handshake (good lighting by the way)

The man-to-man buddy handshake (good lighting by the way)

Asuka helping Ryo out in the kitchen for her father's birthday

Asuka helping Ryo out in the kitchen for her father's birthday

Asuka also tells Ryo, “You said earlier I was cute and you wanted to protect me. But I think that Ryo is sweet, and I want to protect you too. Let me help you.” and so he helps her out with preparing her father’s birthday meal. He also helped to clean up the house such that when Ryo’s father returned home, Ryo’s father noticed straight off how unusual the house looked. When he saw that Ryo had prepared a meal for him, he was going to refuse to eat it when Asuka calls in his debt and says, “This is the debt I wish you to repay, by eating the hand-made meal that Ryo has made for you.” Ryo’s father had no choice but to live up to manly ideals and pay up his debt by digging into the meal that Ryo made, and he is astonished by how the meal tastes so much like the ones Ryo’s mother used to make before she passed away.

Asuka scooping rice for Ryo's father - and in him, Ryo's father sees the image of Ryo's mother!!!! (Like, how NOT!)

Asuka scooping rice for Ryo's father - and in him, Ryo's father sees the image of Ryo's mother!!!! (Like, how NOT!)

Ryo's father telling Ryo, "When will you get Asuka to marry into our family?" (treating Ryo like the boy and Asuka like the daughter-in-law!!) which is how major classically FAIL

Ryo's father telling Ryo, "When will you get Asuka to marry into our family?" (treating Ryo like the boy and Asuka like the daughter-in-law!!) which is how major classically FAIL

It all ends happily as Ryo’s father and Ryo wave Asuka off into the night (it is raining thus explaining the umbrellas, although why they always decide to make it rain in dramas I have no idea) and there is a classic moment of hilarity as Ryo’s father turns to Ryo and tells her, “He will make a good daughter-in-law. Ryo, you must get Asuka to marry into our family!” ……

End of Episode 2. Episode 3, to me, is a bit of a filler episode, as it revolves around a ghost story in school, Asuka’s grandfather’s story, and Juta’s failness, so I think I shall make it shorter than Ep 2…so here goes:

It all kicks off with one of the kendo boys meeting a “ghost” in the school, and aging overnight. The kendo boys are also holding an overnight camp in the school, and the story of the “ghost” that the boy had met comes to light: apparently the legend goes that 100 years back a school girl fell in love with a boy but their love was forbidden. The girl became pregnant, but the boy decided to dump her when that happened. So she called the boy to the school one night and as she was standing by the window, and it was raining (again, with the rain!), when the boy arrived in the classroom and she turned to face him, he was horrified by the massive amounts of blood on her hands, and she said, “If there’s no baby, there’s no problem right? Let’s stay together.” and she pushes him off and jumps out the window. The kendo boys are complete wusses and they inch closer and closer together in the circle as the tale ends.

Kendo boys shifting closer together (although, no joke, I think I would too. These Japanese ghost stories are too much, man!)

Kendo boys shifting closer together (although, no joke, I think I would too. These Japanese ghost stories are too much, man!)

…So it turns out that Hajime (you remember him from the first episode right?) has also joined the Kendo club of the school (he transferred schools!!) and states clearly that the reason he is here is to “just to join the kendo club and beat Asuka.” He looks upon Asuka as a rival, but Asuka clearly wishes they could be friends instead.

Hajime: "To beat Asuka." Asuka: puppy dog face = super funny & cute

Hajime: "To beat Asuka." Asuka: puppy dog face = super funny & cute

Asuka - looks to his left. Ghost clutching him. Asuka - sweatdrop!!

Asuka - looks to his left. Ghost clutching him. Asuka - sweatdrop!!

During practice, Asuka finally sees the girl ghost face to face (every time she appears, he gets a buzzing in his ears), and can’t continue practising. Another kendo boy also sees the girl ghost in the toilet, and ages overnight. Asuka and Ryo are determined to catch the ghost to stop it from frightening the other kendo members, and embark that night with a torchlight. They see a female in a white dress on the coridor coming closer in a creepy belly crawl and Asuka tells Ryo to run with the torch while he holds steady with the kendo sword (and as he says that he’s all trembling and such, so cute). But Ryo, being Ryo, runs forth and aims a good kick in the belly at the “ghost” –

who just turns out to be Juta!! Juta pretended to be the ghost in order to scare the both of them in the hopes they would clutch each other and reveal their true feelings (to no avail of course).

Juta "The Ghost"!

Juta "The Ghost"!

But just when they think it’s all over…turns out, there really is a ghost and she possessed Ryo in order to get close to Asuka because Asuka resembled her lover, who was actually Asuka’s great grandfather. The spirit however, actually means no harm, and both she and Asuka actually sit down to have a friendly chat (with tea served by Juta!) as she apologises for scaring him. The legend, of course, is total bull and nowhere close to the real story, other than she and Asuka’s great grandfather were really in love, and that her father didn’t approve. That night, they were meant to elope (no she wasn’t pregnant, there no baby) and Asuka’s great grandfather didn’t turn up, but the girl’s father came instead and tried to make her to go home, but she wouldn’t. In her struggles, she came up against the open windowsill and fell backwards out the window, thus dying. She couldn’t leave the world without figuring out why Asuka’s great grandfather never turned up, and wonders whether he really loved her. Asuka then remembers seeing this grave stone marker that his great grandfather erected, according to his mother, for a girl he once loved. He then asks the ghost her name, and brings her out to the stone marker. When she realises that Asuka’s great grandfather had really loved her, she was comforted and decided to leave for good. Before she goes, she advises Asuka, “You like this girl, don’t you? (points to herself ie Ryo) Well you’d better confess to her before you regret it! Don’t be like me…” and then she leaves.

The episode ends when Asuka tries to date Ryo out to watch a ghost movie and it seems as though he would succeed – when Yamato and the rest of the kendo boys turn up and happily invite themselves along to watch the movie!! Alas, will Asuka ever succeed in telling Ryo he wants to go out with her and will their love ever come to fruition?!

….Well, it is a shoujo drama, so my odds are on yes but the fun is in seeing how it all comes together, don’t you think? Okay, next up is Ep 4 in another post, and I’ll probably write a bit about Buzzer Beater too…


Otomen

Otomen (Screen Capture)

Otomen, aka オトメン(乙男), is based off a romantic comedy manga by Aya Kanno, and just began airing as a drama recently, with only 4 episodes (both raw and subbed) to its name.

Although not a fan of the usual shoujo manga or anime, or yea even drama, in an epic moment of boredom, I decided to have a shot at this drama, and found to my surprise that it surpassed my expectations of the usual shoujo drama – probably because the gender-bender here is unlike other gender-bender shoujo mangas where the protagonist(s) are trying to hide their “real” gender (cue: Hanazakari no Kimitachi e).

Instead, here, the two main protagonists are more or less comfortable with their genders, except that Masamune Asuka (played by Okada Masaki) has a charmingly soft spot for all things feminine, whether this be cooking, sewing, shoujo manga, sweets or indeed stuffed toys. His counterpart, Miyakozuka Ryo (played by Kaho), on the other hand, is excruciatingly helpless at all things feminine – but can take down 5 men in the space of minutes.

Asuka

Asuka (who looks kinda gorgeous in that light, and with his chin oh-so-slightly tilted towards the sun)

Ryo

Ryo (who has a luscious purple kimono that I am in deep lust over, not to mention that paper umbrella)

The beginning of the drama was rather off-putting – it begins with Asuka’s reminiscence of his father, who did not “tease” him about liking stuffed animals and other “girly” things, but told him to “follow his heart”. Although seemingly selfless, his father then proceeded to admit to both Asuka and his mother that he, too, was going to follow his heart and become a woman – whereupon Asuka’s mother (the poor woman) let out a shriek and fainted dead away. She was then carted into the hospital with the usual hullabaloo and Asuka trailing behind begging her not to leave him behind. A doctor appears (by magic!) in the hallway just when it looks like she’s not going to make it (I rather she didn’t, actually) and right there in the hallway pulls out that iron-thingamajig that doctors use to restart the heart (really, now, the hallway, where is he getting all this electricity from?) and….the introduction then finishes off showing a young Asuka packing away all his feminine loves in a box as he bids them farewell and mournfully tells the audience, “Since that day, I have promised….”

Despite my desperate wishes for the mother to have disappeared for good, it seems as though unfortunately, she is here to stay for good, as you will see in the upcoming Episode 1. I was thinking of writing an Episode Guide for the whole drama but was getting a bit lazy typing just the 5 minute introduction, so may put it off for a while yet. Will give a bit more detail about Episode 1, however, which is where Asuka and Ryo meet – in the usual boy-meets-girl kind of way.

Asuka grew up proficient in “manly” arts such as kendo (he is in fact the school’s reigning champion), since he wants to be moulded in the likeness of what his mother believes in (such is the power of upbringing!) and it all kicks off at a kendo tournament where Asuka’s proficiency is revealed in a series of fights where he goes on to win all of them (without a break. Seriously).

After his win, as he leaves the tournament doujo, he sees his junior, Ariake Yamato, a cute little puppy thing, being pinned against the wall by several bullies who are trying to extort him for money.

Yamato with his puppy dog face, and the 3 bullies (I think Yamato's kinda good looking, in a very effeminate way)

Yamato with his puppy dog face, and the 3 bullies (I think Yamato's kinda good looking, in a very effeminate way)

Just as he is about to go to Yamato’s rescue, Ryo turns up yelling at the bullies to leave Yamato alone (their exchange here is rather brilliant but I shalln’t spoil all surprises). Of course, to no surprise, the bullies aren’t happy that Ryo, who looks just like the typical Japanese girl, has interrupted their lovely money-making scheme and just when it looks like they are about make mincemeat out of her, Asuka strolls up and asks them, “So…what’s going on here?” Awed by his awesome kendo prowess (….really) the bullies turn tail and escape, and Ryo turns to Asuka with a sweet smile and thanks him prettily for saving her (and Yamato, who eventually becomes the sidekick in all of these events). Typical, right?

…So, it turns out that Ryo is a transfer student in Asuka’s class (yet another stereotypically shoujo thing to do!) and Tachibana Juta, Asuka’s classmate, finds out by accident (actually, he trailed Asuka in the hopes of finding some material for the manga he is secretly publishing; apparently he’s a new mangaka) that Asuka is an Otomen (it’s a supposed bilingual pun: “otome” is “young lady” or “mistress” in Japanese + men in English). Seeing that Asuka is falling for Ryo, Juta decides to nudge the both of them along and use them as inspiration for his manga.

There are some absolutely hilarious running gags here, such as how both Ryo and Asuka are apparently completely clueless to the fact that Juta has been spying on the both of them – on the occasions that Juta trips over something and viewers wait with baited breath for them to find him, Juta desperately lets out a, “I am a cat!”…and the both of them go, “Ah…a cat…” ……I fell over laughing; the expression on Juta’s face as he hears them is absolutely priceless.(Sorry this only happens in Episode 2 or 3 I forget which, but something to definitely look out for!)

Juta trips, makes a noise, Asuka opens the window, Juta clutches his fists and goes, "Nyyyya" and Asuka goes, "...Cat, huh." ...Juta's face = PRICELESS (Asuka, you major fail you dork)

Juta trips, makes a noise, Asuka opens the window, Juta clutches his fists and goes, "Nyyyya" and Asuka goes, "...Cat, huh." ...Juta's face = PRICELESS (Asuka, you major fail you dork)

Obviously he thinks they’re retarded (I can’t think he’s too far off the truth) but nonetheless their cluelessness makes them great material (since they’re obviously never going to find out that he’s really following them around and nudging them on to great progress).

The bullies are then seen together with yet another kendo aficionado, Tonomine Hajime, who acts as Asuka’s foil and apparent rival in kendo (apparently they have some back history together which no one is revealing now, and since I haven’t read the manga I’m all being kept in suspense here help!).

Bullies & Hajime

Bullies & Hajime

Together with the bullies, he decides to “finish” things with Asuka, which then leads to the scene where the bullies arrive in school, Hajime in tow, and head straight for the kendo club. On the way they managed to threaten 2 senior members of the kendo club into telling them where the doujo was, while Yamato who originally thought his kendo seniors would hold up, then runs off to inform Asuka that the doujo is in trouble. In the meantime, the kendo seniors accidentally send Ryo a text message to meet at the doujo, only realising afterwards that the number they had sent the message to was not Asuka (whom they had originally intended to message). The bullies completely trash the doujo just as Asuka arrives, followed by Ryo. Asuka tells Yamato to close the doors of the doujo and not let anyone in.

Just as Hajime and him are really going at it with their kendo swords, Asuka is attacked from behind with a kick from Bully 1 (I don’t recall his name, and don’t care to recall it either) and lands belly-up in a rather miserable looking position on the floor. Just as he is tugged up for a good old beating by Bully 1, there is a flash of movement and as Hajime looks up, he sees Ryo running across the doujo to Bully 1 and landing a kick to his side that lays him out flat as a fish. With her other leg, she lands a jack-kick to Hajime’s nose, which means he goes comatose as well. The other bullies rush her, but with a few well-timed punches, she manages to knock them all out in a matter of seconds.

Juta, who was watching the whole scene from one of the sliding windows at the bottom of the doujo, just goes, “…EHHHHH????” when he sees Ryo, whom he had thought was just a cute transfer student, bringing down the 5 guys. The disbelieving expression on his face just absolutely made my day. (Juta is quickly becoming my favourite character in this drama!).

Juta's jaw-dropping scenes are just AWESOME (again, Asuka, you major fail dude, you let the girl save your butt!)

Juta's jaw-dropping scenes are just AWESOME (again, Asuka, you major fail dude, you let the girl save your butt!)

Then Ryo turns to Asuka, who also has this “what-just-happened???” look on his face, and tells him, “Asuka-san is so cute, I just want to protect you.”

End of Episode 1.

Episodes 2 and 3 are just as funny, although I’m learning it’s best to skip the introductions as the mother is beginning to grate on my nerves. I haven’t seen Episode 4 yet, but am looking forward to a promising 40 minutes since Juta has already begun prodding Asuka to confess to Ryo, who as yet remains completely clueless to the fact that Asuka likes her! (By the way, Asuka has managed to sew, and bake a cake in the first episode with Ryo, and he looks uber cute with his pink apron on, so that, if nothing else, is incentive to watch the drama).

I leave you all with tentalising screen captures of the ending song of the drama (please excuse the low-res, I’m really not good enough with technology to fiddle with such things):

Being chased by random samurai brandishing swords (although, WHY, I will never understand!)

Being chased by random samurai brandishing swords (although, WHY, I will never understand!)

Close up as they exchange meaningful looks (like, shall we kick their butts or make a run for it?)

Close up as they exchange meaningful looks (like, shall we kick their butts or make a run for it?)

Storyline: 3.5/5

Acting: 3.5/5

Recommended: Watch for the comedy, and please leave your brains behind. It’s called suspension of disbelief!

The drama airs every Saturday (up until Ep 9 whereupon they are switching to Tuesdays for some odd reason – don’t ask me to fathom the minds of the Japanese entertainment industry when I can barely understand the Taiwanese or Korean ones myself), but unfortunately I only get my Chinese subtitles on Tuesday, so stay tuned for more updates and the such.