Archive for January, 2014

This special is the latest installment of the Case Files of Young Kindaichi (金田一少年の事件簿), a drama series based on a manga and anime with more than a decade of history and three other notable actors playing the lead role. This will be the second time Kindaichi is played by Yamada Ryosuke-kun. The first time, the 2013 special, was . . . not so good. The plot was sloppy and incredible, the method of the crime unworkable, and Kindaichi was often goofy at inappropriate times. I think, though, that all of those complaints and more were probably heard by the producers, so hopefully this time we won’t see any of those flaws.

I also look forward to seeing the three leads – Yamada-kun, Arioka Daiki-kun as Saki Ryuji, and Kawaguchi Haruna-san as Nanase Miyuki settling down into their roles. Kawaguchi-san in particular didn’t get much of a chance in the 2013 special, and last year both Yamada-kun and Arioka-kun handled an overabundance of comic relief but were underwhelming when it came to conveying the gravitas of a murder mystery.

It’s taken me a while to get to this special because subtitles have not been forthcoming and, to this point, I still haven’t found any English subtitles. I hope that’s just an internet searching fail on my part. Anyway, what I did have was the YYeTs version with the Japanese subtitles, and since I had some faith that this would be a decent show, I decided to jot down the words I didn’t know and look them up. On the bright side, this drama has introduced me to over three hundred new Japanese phrases, some of which I’ll share with you during the course of this article. The downside is that it took me about the time I usually take to review at least five drama episodes to get through it. Oh, and my Japanese is still horrible. So, was it worth the effort?

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I have to say that seeing Kindaichi pretending that his head had been severed and placed on a desk . . . actually, I didn’t take much away from that. It was the sort of silly thing that often begins a Kindaichi episode. It’s only when people start dying that I want to see a bit more seriousness.

There’s a lot of exposition up-front from Saki and Miyuki. Miyuki is telling Kindaichi’s severed head about the Prison Gate Prep School (獄門予備校 – gokumon yobikou), and Kindaichi is basically making fun of the name of the school by pretending that he’s been beheaded and his head is about to be mounted on a pike in front of the prison (打ち首獄門 – uchikubi gokumon – a standard practice in the Edo period). Miyuki is totally unperturbed and drones on, reading from a pamphlet about how the main school is based in Taiwan and how the past results are excellent. Saki joins in, saying that he attended the previous year, and that the Taiwan school and Japan school have a combined summer boarding house/training camp (合同夏合宿 – goudou natsu gasshuku). Miyuki reads from the pamphlet that the camp guarantees a boost to participant’s test scores (偏差値 – hensachi – literally standard deviation score) or your money back!

If you haven’t already gotten the picture, Miyuki and Saki are plotting to drag Kindaichi to this summer camp because his scores . . . well, they need a boost. I really like Miyuki and Saki in this scene.

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They visit the prep school, but what they find there is much more up Kindaichi’s alley than academics. Outside the building, they discover posters for the summer camp in Malaysia, but inside they hear a girl scream and discover a dead body up the stairs from her.

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The release schedule really picks up going into February, and the floodgates fully open by the 19th. While the most of the top spots are probably going to the obvious names, seeing as how Arashi, AKB48, and other marquee groups are in the mix, there’s going to be plenty of depth to the charts soon. No more of these lingering singles filling up the top 30.

This list has selected single and album releases for the month, not all of them (i.e. releases from groups that I’m interested in tracking or at least recognize). With the sudden explosion of releases to keep track of, I know I must have missed important ones, so please mention the artist and title in a comment and I’ll update the list.

More complete listings are available on merchant websites (I use CD Japan’s list).

February 5th

Hey! Say! Jump – AinoArika/Aisureba Motto Happy Life

Tohoshinki – Hide & Seek/Something

The SECOND from EXILE – The II Age (album)

Itano Tomomi – little

NICO Touches the Walls – NICO Touches the Walls no Best (album)

MISIA – Boku wa Pegasus Kimi wa Polaris

KREVA – Tranquilizer

February 12th

Arashi – Bittersweet

Domoto Tsuyoshi – Shimanippon – Roinochinoi (album)

T.M. Revolution/SCANDAL – Count ZERO/Runners High

SID – hug

Yuzu – Hikare

miwa – Faith


ayaka – number one

Funky Kato – My Voice

FOLKS – NEWTOWN (mini-album)

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The top single for the past week was SEKAI NO OWARI’s “Snow Magic Fantasy”, which managed to grab gold in its first week by selling 100,041 copies. This is easily their strongest single to date.

Below the top spot, all the significant singles in the top 30 were the usual suspects.

Kanjani8’s “Hibiki” took #3 with a respectable 21,424 copies sold to bring its two week total to 227,515.

At #5, “Kamonegikkusu” from NMB48 is back up again, bouncing from #32. It sold 18,964 in its seventeenth week, pushing its total to 494,378.

In its fourth week, Golden Bomber’s “101 Kaime no Noroi” got #11, now with 177,234 copies sold in total.

Taking #13 in its ninth week, Nogizaka46’s “Barrette” finally did it – it moved past the double platinum by selling 5,786 at #13. That got its total to 501,950.

Kanjani8’s “Kokoro no Sora Moyou” is also hanging out. It was at #14 in its eighth week with a total of 235,750.

Fukuda Kouhei-san’s “Nanbu Semishigure” is still here in its sixty-sixth week. Selling 4,762 at #15, its total is now 140,225.

At #18 in its tenth week, “Sansei Kawaii” from SKE48 keeps adding to its total. It reached 561,385 this past week.

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SHARK Ep 01 Review

SHARK is a drama about a five-member band. It’s tough to guess at first glance how they’ll manage to make this interesting, but I do know what I’ll definitely be looking for – at least five well-developed characters.

This drama is in the same time slot as 49 and a continuous string of dramas I’ve reviewed stretching back to Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou. Some of those dramas have been spectacular and others dull, so I’m not coming in with any particular expectations. I do hope for the best, though.

I’ve taken a while to get to this episode both because I’ve been finishing up 49 and also because I was hoping for subtitles. A valiant translator, hakucchan at livejournal, has come to our rescue, so . . . yay! Thank you, hakuchan!

The show opens with a crowd chanting “SHARK! SHARK!” and a guy from Tower Records saying that the amazing thing about SHARK is its vocalist Kitagawa Kazuki (Fujii Ryusei).

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While we might not get much of Fujii-kun in this series for reasons that will soon become apparent, this is already a nice change of speed for him from his part in Miss Pilot last season. There he was the goofy comic relief, but here he’s Mr. Cool.

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This is not the story of how a scrappy band starts out. These guys are already popular and professional, even though they still haven’t signed with a major label. So, on the downside that’s one source of potential struggle removed from the picture. The positive side to that is the issues they face will likely be more subtle and require some good acting from the band members. Of course, just this opening scene does loads for their image.

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49 Ep 11 Review

Here it is, the final episode of 49. Among the dramas I’ve reviewed, I don’t think there’s any that I’ve been more reluctant to see end. For most series, it’s pretty clear they need to wrap things up. Shinryochu was the last one that I thought should have had more episodes to it because too many of its storylines were wrapped up too hastily, but it was so intense and disconcerting that I was nowhere as eager to see that one continue as this one.

Right up front (because I’ll be focusing on the review at the close of the article), I’d like to thank arisu-subs for the wonderful translation effort throughout the series. I don’t acknowledge the subbers often enough – mainly because I’m not sure whether they want me to.

So, the writers have only an hour left to do right by the story of Kagami Dan (Sato Shori) and his father. Can they manage it?

It begins with Dan recording a message to his father – a longer one than his father left him, but just as meaningful in its own way. We find out something quite surprising – that Dan’s father wasn’t the one who died. Dan distinctly remembers his spirit floating away from his body. He realizes that his father left his own body and pulled Dan’s soul back in by force, and that’s how they got merged in Dan’s body.

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The writers have had a lot of tricks up their sleeves along the way, but this one really takes the cake. I’m properly impressed by this twist to things.

I also like how they have the two of them facing each other like this when Dan says he’s afraid that he’s going to be the one who’ll disappear after the forty-nine days are up rather than his father. Very artsy.

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Dan’s father doesn’t know what will happen at the end of the 49 days, either, it turns out, and this is a state of affairs that we should be able to get some serious resolution out of. I noted in the previous episode that we didn’t really know whether Dan was now enjoying life enough so that he wouldn’t contemplate suicide. Well, I think we’re at least going to find that out, and if he still wants to live, that’s a start.

On the less serious side of life, Possessed Dan, Kenta (Yasui Kentaro), and Satoshi (Jinguji Yuta) find Kiryu Tetsuya (Kyan Yutaka) sleeping in his money. He’s really got the whole decadent thing down!

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