Currently Watching in CDramaland!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hilarious in the Extreme: Watching Miss Crow with Mr. Lizard (2021)

36 episode series on VIKI (click here to watch)

Seen episodes 1-12.

The series is new so not all episodes are released yet.

πŸ’— Watch the trailer with English subs below! πŸ’—

Allen Ren and Fair Xing (from Put Your Head on My Shoulder fame) are the leads, and Chloe Zhao (villainous VP role in The Brightest Star in the Sky) plays Fair Xing's best friend (a super refreshing change for her since I've only seen her play a you-know-what).

Due to being a victim in a horrendous car wreck when he was in his early twenties, architectural designer Gu Chuan (Allen Ren) undergoes an experimental heart surgery that replaces his own heart with a mechanical heart that is only supposed to last around 10 years. Ten years into the future, not only is he living on borrowed time, but he can't drink alcohol, can't really exercise since it elevates his pulse, and, you guessed it, romantic intimacy is out.

While he's living his calm, boring, borrowed time life, Jiang Xiao Ning (Fair Ching) comes on board at his company as his PA and driver. And she brings with her a bright, positive breath of fresh air. What's more, even if his pulse is elevated due to agitation, when he touches her, he doesn't give her an electric shock the way he normally does if he touches anyone or anything when he's in that condition (I'm hoping he wears rubber-soled shoes).

So, what we have here is a romantic comedy in a business setting with a science fiction twist! 

I'm only 12 episodes in, but I am LOVING this series so far. 

This will be a slow-burn romance, I can tell already, and that's perfectly fine with me. There have been a ton of belly laughs so far due to the antics of everybody, including the supporting cast, and I'm just really excited to see where Miss Crow with Mr. Lizard goes.

Warning: For anyone who might be triggered, there are a few scenes of attempted sexual assault and sexual coercion (not from any of the main male characters) and it is not graphic, but it is scary. The ML shines quite a bit though and I appreciate that both the FL and the SFL are made of pretty tough stuff.

Wild Adventures with Z. Tao: Watching Hot Blooded Youth (2019)

58 episode series (Fully subbed) from 2019 on VIKI (click here to watch)

Seen episodes 1-22.

πŸ’— Watch the trailer with English subs below! πŸ’—

My knowledge of Chinese history is absolutely zilch. So I have no clue how accurate Hot Blooded Youth. I also realize that it will be prejudiced a certain way, so, yeah, that's expected.

I do know that Hot Blooded Youth involves the Shanghai International Settlement as it was in what appears to be either the late 1920s or the early 1930s. So we have foreigners (in this case the French and the British) who are given an obscene amount of privileges running around and causing chaos in Shanghai, rather like America's extension of the diplomatic immunity olive branch. As I see it.

Then we have our hero character, Wu Qian (Huang Zi Tao), wreaking another kind of havoc. He's the Dickensian type of Dodger character, the Jack Kelly from Newsies, the street rat named Aladdin, or the Thomas from The Maze Runner. He's the crazy kid with the bloated ego and enough charm to woo the tusks off an elephant. All of this explains why I love him and why I've become a dedicated Z. Tao fan in the last 6 months. He plays the obnoxious, charming, snarky type of male hero that I like.

Wu Qian is a street rat, or as he calls himself, king of the slums. He rules over one particular street in Shanghai and takes care of all its inhabitants. But circumstances throw him in the path of He Hong Yi (Sophie Zhang), a dedicated member of a revolutionary group. Together they take on a crazy challenge that could either kill them or win them a fortune. Throw in Wu Qian's oldest and best friend Wei Cheng Feng (Liu Yu Ning) and you have a complete set, made even odder because Cheng Feng is a temporary police officer which should put him completely at odds with his BFF.

The series is dynamite to watch. I've never watched anything from China set in the 1920s or 1930s and I gotta say that they worked at it with the women's clothing. Not the FL since she's unconventional in her clothing choices, but all of the other gals (or even molls since a lot of them are involved with gangsters) are dressed in very accurate 1930s clothing, hair, makeup, the works. It's awesome.

The first couple of episodes are campier than the rest. The filming style is a bit like Guy Ritchie, especially the openers which change based on what "chapter" of the story you're in. You finish one chapter and it leads into another one. Like, where I am right now, Wu Qian has been falsely imprisoned in a maximum-security prison. One of his enemies wanted a pet of his rescued from the prison and he also happens to hate Wu Qian so he kidnapped him and plopped him in there as a replacement. It's amazing what money can buy.

If you have time and are at all fascinated with the 1920s or 1930s then you will probably love this series. If you're expecting romance, this isn't your drama. It may get romantic since there is a zing between Wu Qian and He Hong Yi, I don't know, but that's not the main plot point. It's also possible that everyone may die at the end. I won't know until I get there, and it is slow-going since watching this show is a marathon, not a sprint. But for me Hot Blooded Youth is like potato chips, one episode is never enough.

Warning: Definitely a PG13 or TV14 rating for violence. Especially once Wu Qian makes it to prison. You would have really thought Z. Tao was being tortured by the reactions he gave. I actually cried a time or two. I don't like watching anyone being tortured. But miraculously, like Jack Bauer from 24, Wu Qian heals pretty quickly. πŸ˜‰

In other news, Happy Birthday to Z. Tao! I'm a day late, probably 2 with the time difference, but I wish you absolutely the best as you turn 28, and I am so sorry for the loss of your father that has made this birthday more painful than it probably should have been. Praying for you, Baby Panda. πŸ’—

Li Ge Yang as the Male Lead: Watching Always Have, Always Will (2021)

24 (30 minute) episode series available with English subs on Amazon Prime with a subscription (click here to watch). Or it's also available on YouTube if you search.

Seen episodes 1-7.

πŸ’— Watch the trailer with English subs below! πŸ’—

I usually don't go for the shorter episode series, but do make a few exceptions, like in this case, for Li Ge Yang! If you don't know how much I love him, read my review for The Love Equations where he plays a nerdy second male lead (I was afraid playing the SML would be his fate forever). And the FL played by Dawn Chen is silly but cute.

Always Have, Always Will is your typical college romance story between a cold guy Luo Yan and a warm girl Fang Li. They were enemies ( ? ) in high school, from her perspective, and she's fuming that he's at the university. Not only that but during a round of something that looks like spin the bottle but not quite, he has to kiss a girl of his choosing and he picks her. She's mortified and determined to enact revenge!

It's not a super original theme, and I'm not usually a fan of the colder ML syndrome, but Li Ge Yang could probably play almost any character and make me like him. The characters are rather silly and I wish the subtitles on Amazon Prime were better since I think that would clear up some confusion. Crossing my fingers that VIKI will take the series on as a project someday. Li Ge Yang is growing in popularity and he's got several ML roles lined up in the future, but this is his first male lead role ever so I'm cheering him on.

There are some unfortunate bullying tactics at use in Always Have, Always Will, but I expected that going in with the enemies-to-lovers theme. I'm excited for the moment when they can acknowledge that they like each other and not be at war. I mean, I can tell the characters are attracted to each other, but they're just a little ridiculous when it comes to showing it. His jealousy isn't very pretty and he gets snide and arrogant pretty quick, one of the least attractive attributes in a man, IMO.

But Always Have, Always Will is fun and overall pretty bubbly and just a fluffy watch. Nothing too serious going on so a nice break from reality.
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Chinese Drama Review: The Love Equations (2020)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

  • Drama: The Love Equations 
  • Country: China 
  • Year: 2020 
  • Genre: Slow-Burn Romance, College, Friendship 
  • Starring: Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, Li Ge Yang 
  • My Rating: 9 ★s 
  • Romantic complications arise when forensic science student Zhao Fan Zhou (Simon Gong) falls hard for the adorable Zhou Xiao (Reyi Liu), a literature student in the same university. Zhou Xiao loves all things detective-themed, even down to creating a detective club for the university. At first, her relationship with Zhao Fan Zhou is all about his majoring in forensic science, since she's writing an online novel from the perspective of a forensic scientist, but soon he wins over her heart. Their feelings blossom into a full-fledged relationship much to the annoyance of two friends, Zhao Fan Zhou's arrogant childhood friend Jia Yi Chun (Zhu Yun Hui) who has always crushed hard on him, and Zhou Xiao's childhood friend, Cai Ya Si (Li Ge Yang), who has equally been in love with Zhou Xiao for about as long as he can remember.

    While their relationship seems to thrive for a long time since they are such a well-matched pair, eventually health concerns for Zhao Fan Zhou's mother (bipolar disorder) and his fear that he might develop symptoms as he ages, interferes in their relationship. Helped along a little bit by the underhanded conniving of Jia Yi Chun. Are Zhao Fan Zhou and Zhou Xiao meant to be? Or should they go their separate ways and find love in different places?

    The Love Equations is both a frustrating and wonderful drama.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I attribute much of its success to the performance of Simon Gong as Zhao Fan Zhou. In the Japanese realm, the character's what is known as more of a tsundere, meaning he's pretty cold at first but emotionally warms up when you get to know him. Simon is the oldest of the main actors, having been about 27 when they filmed the series, and he's clearly familiar with romance and love and how to emote all of that through his eyes. He makes a difficult character like Zhao Fan Zhou very approachable and likable. The end of the series, particularly episodes 23, 24, and 25 are painful in that the leads have been driven apart, made even more painful because of Simon Gong's stellar performance. He made me cry!

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    Reyi Liu as Zhou Xiao is the typical cutesy, clueless female lead that the Chinese college dramas seem to be so in love with. I like the character and I don't like her at the same time. She does tend a bit on the annoying side sometimes, but once she and Zhao Fan Zhou are actually in a relationship, I really started to like her. She grew into herself, and the actors have dynamic chemistry. Overall, Reyi Liu brought a passionate bubbliness to the role that was necessary. So long as you don't binge-watch the series, you'll continue liking her up through the end. 

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I have to praise Li Ge Yang. He's more of a newcomer, sort of, and this is a support role for him like most of his work through 2020. But he makes Cai Ya Si such a lovable, adorkable nerd. He's so playful and goofy! If I were in my early twenties and had my choice of male characters in The Love Equations, I would have chosen Cai Ya Si, hands' down. I adore nerds and he's absolutely my type, plus he can wear yellow, one of my favorite colors, and I absolutely cannot! His loyalty to Zhou Xiao, especially when she's emotionally hurting, is beautiful. On a total side note, Li Ge Yang is like a Chinese version of Kento Yamazaki, which I think is pretty high praise. He's got the same vibe. I would have given anything for him to be a male lead in this series and get his own girl, rather than be the doomed alternate love interest for the female lead. Fortunately, Li Ge Yang has quite a few upcoming dramas in his line-up where he's playing the male lead, so I'm excited for that. I probably will never see him play a nerd again, so sad, but it'll be interesting to see how he approaches different character personalities.

    One of the unique aspects of The Love Equations is that it tackles the topic of mental health, a bit of a taboo subject in many cultures. Zhao Fan Zhou's mother is a woman paralyzed with untreated bipolar disorder, at least until they finally get her into the hospital after a correct diagnosis. His home life was unpleasant growing up, and the character suffered a lot of emotional trauma and unwillingness to connect with others because his mother had been undiagnosed for so long resulting in the strife between his parents. So he has to work through a lot of that stress and angst while his mother receives treatment.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    I do feel that the series has far too many support characters. Like Zhou Xiao's college roommates/friends who you see and then don't see, and you're involved in their love lives and then you're not. It would have pared the series down if there hadn't been so many different characters. I think there are something like 5 or 6 other characters that weren't strictly necessary. If they'd been chopped, then the series might have fit more into the 24 episode range.

    Speaking of, since this is a Chinese drama, yes, we have 27 full-length episodes, rather than the 10 or so that most Japanese dramas dish out. It's refreshing because it does give the characters time to grow, but it also gives time for all of those tropes to fully flesh out, like the evil girl from Zhao Fan Zhou's childhood. I say evil because it's true. I'm surprised she doesn't stab Zhao Fan Zhou through the heart with her "if I can't have him, nobody can" mentality. I pity the actress Zhu Yun Hui since this is her first role and I'm pretty much conditioned to hate any character she plays going forward. This female character is the nastiest jealous love rival I've ever seen, by far.

    A review and praise for the 2020 college Chinese drama "The Love Equations" starring Simon Gong, Reyi Liu, and Li Ge Yang.

    But jealous love rivals aside, The Love Equations is well worth the watch. It's a slow-burn romance, like most of the Chinese dramas that I've seen, so it just takes time to develop. Let it. Zhao Fan Zhou and Zhou Xiao are precious and even though they suffer waaaaaaay more than necessary, there is a happily-ever-after.

    I encourage watching the show on VIKI since it's a legal streaming service and the subtitles are terrific. You might need a subscription, but I have one for $4.99 a month which is barely a drop in the bucket. And if you already watch Asian dramas, then you're probably already subscribed to VIKI anyway.

    If you do watch The Love Equations, tell me what you think of the show. And tell me what you think of Li Ge Yang!

    Enjoy this sweet MV from Youtube.

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    Classics Club: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

    Friday, April 23, 2021

    Read for The Classics Club. You can find my reading list HERE

    Fahrenheit 451 . . . the temperature at which books burn. 

    I seem to drag Fahrenheit 451 out of the old bookshelf every 7 years or so for a re-read, forgetting many of the book's details in the years in-between. The story always surprises and terrifies me, even more so with this particular re-read due to the current infestation of "cancel culture" and self-imposed "censorship" in my society.

    And before anyone asks what I mean by censorship, know that I am NOT in favor of letting sex and violence run wild in the streets (and on our screens). Ironically, sex and violence seem to be the only thing NOT censored anymore. I don't mean permitting and encouraging and praising every kind of depravity. I hope and pray that there is still moral decency left in mankind, although it's dwindling fast. And it will dwindle faster if the brakes aren't applied quick.

    No, when I say that I hate censorship, I mean that I hate when only one side of an argument is allowed to be presented. Freedom and liberty is the ability, no, the permission given, to present both sides of an argument or a theory. Where the pros and cons to a topic are given equal talking time without having one side shouted or "canceled" out of existence by the opponent. The canceling what we don't want to hear or throwing modern "morality" in the faces of historic authors/public figures is what I hate the most. You like spitting on your ancestors and their mistakes with your hypocrisy and judgment? Wait 100 or 200 years into the future and see how you like your descendants spitting on you because you weren't clairvoyant enough to suit them.

    Off the soapbox and on to the book.

    Dystopian stories are almost NEVER happy ones.

    Doesn't that strike you as odd? 

    They're always tragedies where the world has gone insane due to one group's mismanagement or increase in political power that always strikes down freedom of thought, speech, religion, etc. Our poor fireman, Guy Montag, can't even remember where he met his wife, at least, not until the end of the book. He gets up at night, goes to work, drives with the other firemen to wherever an individual has been reported to own books, burns their home down, and returns to the firehouse to wait for another report. He goes home, wondering if his wife will have overdosed on sleep aids again and need her stomach pumped, then lies in his bed, separate from his wife's, and listens to the not so silent stillness that is broken by the seashells in her ears constantly pumping in data, data, data to her overstimulated mind.

    And the books, always the books. Before he even knew it, he'd snatched a couple, and then more, and more besides until there's a tidy little hoard in the heating vent just waiting to catch him up. There's Clarice the girl next door who still looks up and around at the world and whose family still sits on their front porch laughing and conversing. She wakes him up, this 17-year-old kid, and once Montag is awake there is no returning, not even at the command of his fire captain, Beatty, or the desperate pleas of his wife, Mildred. He has one old professor, Faber, on his side at the end of all things.

    The war begins, Montag against Beatty, a desperate flight for his life, a real war that wipes out towns, and the promise that maybe someday the world can return to a place of respect where history and stories aren't rewritten just because they're inconvenient or might hurt somebody's feelings.

    The book itself is not a quick read for me, despite being less than 200 pages. 

    I spent maybe 3 weeks reading it, 10 or so pages snatched here and there, until I finally blazed through the final 30 pages, including the afterword and the coda. If you've never picked up a copy with those letters to the general idiotic public and publishing houses, then you should find one. They're worth reading because Bradbury literally didn't give a damn about censorship or that he might offend somebody. He was who he was and he wrote what he wrote, and anybody who didn't like it can go write their own stories instead of trying to mess with his. Or they can go boil their heads, he definitely gave that impression too.

    Everyone should read this book. I don't care if you like it or not. Fahrenheit 451 is a book that MUST be read.

    "Frightening in its implications . . . Mr. Bradbury's account of this insane world, which bears many alarming resemblances to our own, is fascinating."  - The New York Times

    Favorite Quotes from Fahrenheit 451

    "You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn." - Faber, Fahrenheit 451

    "Remember that the Captain belongs to the most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom, the solid unmoving cattle of the majority. Oh God, the terrible tyranny of the majority." - Faber, Fahrenheit 451

    "There was a silly damn bird called a phoenix back before Christ, every few hundred years he built a pyre and burn himself up. He must have been first cousin to Man. But every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've got one damn thing the phoenix never had. We know the damn silly thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, someday we'll stop making the goddamn funeral pyres and jumping in the middle of them. We pick up a few more people that remember every generation." - Granger, Fahrenheit 451

    "Someday we'll remember so much that we'll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up." - Granger, Fahrenheit 451
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    My Least Favorite Part of being a My Drama List member

    Thursday, March 25, 2021

    My Drama List is like IMDB, only it's a fairly complete listing of Asian dramas down through the years encompassing multiple cultures and countries.

    In theory, My Drama List has useful knowledge for the following reasons:

    1. It provides user reviews, some of them quite cohesive and helpful.
    2. It provides links for where the dramas can be viewed with English subtitles.
    3. It lists the actors, genres, and tags so if the viewer loves a drama, they can easily find others with the same theme or even the same actor.

    In practice, My Drama List could use a few changes:

    1. There's distinct favoritism for South Korean entertainment over any other entertainment as represented by the sheer influx of articles, reviews, videos, and fans to that effect. It's unfortunately very one-sided, even their YouTube channel that only lists K-drama entertainment.
    2. Continuing on with the South Korean favoritism, a South Korean drama that's pretty and well-filmed and well-cast will receive at least an 8.5 or 8.9 rating overall on MDL. A Japanese drama that meets the same criteria will rarely get over a 7.5 or a 7.9 rating. In my experience from checking people's watchlists, people who primarily watch K-dramas are going to rate dramas from other countries lower than necessary, particularly Japan.
    3. There is also a Comments section on each of the dramas/movies pages. Instead of using this portion of the website to uplift and inspire one another, it is usually used for minor complaints such as hating the actor's hair, voice, clothes, relationships, etc., or complaining about the overall storyline. Cringey is a very popular term used for anything that a viewer dislikes in a drama and many people in the Comments section use it frequently.
    Is there a solution to the problem?

    First, get rid of the Comments section. It is being used as a means of bullying and belittling and should not be tolerated. If people want to have conversations, they can IM one another based on actual reviews that are being left, not a two-sentence whine-fest. At least give users the option to opt-out of seeing Comments. I can't be the only one who wishes for that.

    I have nothing against the K-drama fanbase. But it's time that MDL took a more active approach to market entertainment from the other countries. K-drama related articles, polls, videos, conversations, reviews, etc. shouldn't be the only thing I see when I open the main page. And the YouTube channel is super disheartening if you love anything other than K-dramas.

    In other words, guys, let's be nicer to each other and try to balance out the fanbase a little bit and give fans of other countries a voice. And also cut down on the nasty that crops up in the Comments section. It gets really, really old, to the point where I wish there was an alternative source. But there isn't, so for now, MDL is what I'm stuck with.

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    Kazuya Kamenashi's new 2021 Japanese drama, Red Eyes!

    Thursday, March 18, 2021

    I am SO in love with Kame's new show, Red Eyes!

    It's airing right now, only 2 episodes to go and it is AMAZING!

    You know that vibe from classic suspense shows like 24, Person of Interest, or Criminal Minds? That's what we've got going on here, even a little bit of The Mentalist in that there's a Red John type of character.

    Kame plays Kyosuke Fushimi, a former police detective who left the force when his girlfriend was murdered 3 years prior to the events of the show. Working as a PI on infidelity cases, Fushimi is approached to join a unique division of the police force called KSBC that works solely off information and data collected from 5 million surveillance cameras placed through a specific prefecture. He brings his highly trained team of 3 ex-cons with him to join this specialized police force group. But it doesn't take long for KSBC to be under attack by an individual/individuals unknown who target the loved ones of the members. Fushimi discovers that his girlfriend was the first victim related to this group of people and his crazed desperation for revenge kicks into high gear.

    I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating.

    Kamenashi is incredible. There is an unfortunate stigma against idol actors, claims that they're not talented performers, etc. Technically they're living on borrowed time since the male idols age out of the industry around the 35-40 year-old mark. But Kamenashi is a damn good actor and I pray that this is not his fate. He's 35 now and I do NOT want to see his career end because he's suddenly considered too old. Maybe his boy band will disband, okay, that's understandable, but the dude needs to continue acting. I'm happy to keep watching his dramas until he's old enough to play the grandfather figure. I'm serious. He's so good at it!

    His charisma, his energy, his athleticism are all incredibly alluring. He's such a physical actor, and Red Eyes showcases the fighting skills that I've seen Kame use so many times before. You have the team who works inside the command center, the geeks and nerds if you will, manning the computers and the surveillance camera footage. And you have Kamenashi as the feet on the ground chasing down the bad guys and kicking butt. 

    I love suspense and thrillers, I do. There's that instinctive breath-holding moment when you're just not sure if something is going to work out or not, and you're terrified. There's a lot of that happening here. Such an adrenaline rush.

    It could literally all fall apart and everybody dies at the end of the show, but I don't actually care at this moment. Red Eyes is amazing and I love it.

    Sorry, guys, no English subs for the trailer, but it gives you a rough sketch of the first episode.

    There are 2 episodes left in the series to air (10 in total), and all 8 of the aired episodes are fully subtitled by Mia-Maw Fansubs! If you want to watch the hardsubbed episodes of Red Eyes (meaning the subs are already merged into the episodes), you can request access to her member's only section and then go to THIS PAGE for the episodes. Her subs are super high quality and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future. She apparently subtitled another of Kame's series called Strawberry Night Saga that I haven't watched yet, so that's exciting.

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    Japan Drama Review: Five (2017)

    Wednesday, March 10, 2021



    Country: Japan

    Year: 2017

    Episodes: 8 episodes, 25 minutes each

    Genre: School, Romance, Friendship, Reverse Harem

    Starring: Nana Asakawa, Ryuji Sato, Koudai Matsuoka, Mario Kuroba, Yukito Nishii, Takuya Negishi

    My Rating★★

    Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment.

    When you delve into Dramaland you quickly discover that there are good dramas and bad dramas. Five is so bad that it's funny and wormed its bizarre little way into my heart just a little bit. Not enough to ever rewatch it, but still.

    My Story Synopsis for Five

    When Hina Aso joins her new high school, she is put in an all-boys A-Class (these are the smartest kids in school). The only friends she makes are the 5 most popular boys in the school, Toshi, Takui, Jun, Nao, and Kojiro. Get it! Yes, the name of the series makes sense now! *eye roll* Naturally, this makes her an enemy of all the girls in the school, as well as, for some unknown reason, the student council who seems to thrive on trying to take their A-Class students down a peg or two and disperse them into the other classes. Add to that Hina's feelings about Toshi and Takui's feelings about Hina and we have a glorious love triangle, one of many.

    My Thoughts on Five

    This drama starts out ridiculous and ends ridiculous. 

    The Acting and The Story

    It's overdone, over-dramatized, over-acted, pretty much any over you can think of. The entire series is a collection of stereotypes thrust together. You've got the playboy with the heart of gold, the intellectual, the kendo (sports) enthusiast, the best friend, and the gay boy (although the jury's still out on that one). To say nothing of Toshi's best friends from childhood who are both in love with him (a girl AND a boy). Because that happens so often. The stereotypes are remarkably weird. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge also had stereotypes but they were less, shall we say, PRONOUNCED than in Five. There was more to work with, even though it had its absurd moments too. Hopefully, I'll actually review YNSH at some point since it's one of my favorite dramas and it's sort of a crime that I haven't written about it yet.

    Five is also awash with popular Japanese tropes, like love triangles/squares/quadrangles, etc. There's the bullying girls in the school, the bullying boys in the school, the good girl falls in love with the bad boy trope (although he's a straight-A student so how is he a delinquent other than his bleached hair?). There's even the "hero and heroine get locked together in the school basement overnight" trope. His fear of the dark was somewhat original. As is her bizarre personality change when she drinks coffee. That was just weird. Caffeine doesn't do that. There's the sports festival, although it's not the traditional kind usually seen so that was different. There's even a crossdresser. And of course, the biggie, the reverse harem, meaning one girl and many boys in love with her. 

    The Screenplay

    I'm sorry, folks, but the episode screenplays are just not good.

    There's a problem with the dramas under 30 minutes in length per episode. These are usually of lesser quality than the ones in the 45 - 60 minute an episode timeframe. Five proves that point. It's a lesser drama created from a lesser manga. Thankfully, it's not one of the more content-heavy mangas turned dramas since that's a whole other issue that's been cropping up in the last 5 years or so. Overall, Five is definitely a B Grade drama, possibly even a C Grade since I almost feel like labeling it B Grade is doing a disservice to B Grade dramas. It feels like they're running out of decent material so they work with the manga leftovers.

    Objectionable Content

    Planned rape that doesn't get off the ground, highly stylized fistfights, a couple of Japanese no-touchy non-kisses that they disguised pretty well with clever camera angles, minor swearing, a girl presenting herself as male for unknown reasons considering she's actually in love with her male childhood friend who's definitely straight (that was pretty weird since there was a near kiss involving another girl), and of course, the bizarre idealized reverse harem in the first place. It's an easy trope to get wrong, and Five gets it weirdly wrong. There's also potential triggering for any bullying victims.

    All the Feels

    At least we have Hina. She's fairly sweet but has tougher skin than I expected. I like her and I kind of like her and Toshi together. She doesn't let herself get pushed around and she stands up for herself and her friends. It's not always the guys leaping to the rescue, which amazes me. But whereas My Little Monster (CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW) did the weird boy vibe so well with Suda Masaki as the male lead, Five just doesn't quite get there. Ryuji Sato tries, but the character is just a little too stereotypical reformed bad boy (again, not sure how a straight-A student is a bad boy) so there isn't much he could do. I give all the lead actors kudos. They all exhibited enthusiasm, but the story is just too absurd for words. I laughed a bit and by the end was somewhat invested, but I did an awful lot of eye-rolling. I'm amazed I watched the whole thing.

    If you're new to Japanese dramas, Five probably isn't the place to start. It's too absurd for newbies, and almost too absurd for me. I do sort of wish there'd been a 2nd season since that would have helped wrap things up, but oh well. That's another issue with the under-30-minutes series; there's rarely a follow-up season when one is needed.

    Where can I watch Five?

    If you want to watch it with English subtitles you can try this page at DramaCool. That is if you actually want to even try it and have 3 hours or so spare for a drama that's probably not really worth your time.

    WARNING: There are offensive ads on DramaCool. I have an ad blocker (Kaspersky) that I use when on DramaCool so I don't see them. Go read my reasons why I think you need an adblocker before viewing content on DramaCool.
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    #justiceforgina - Supporting conservative actress Gina Carano after her firing from Lucasfilm

    Wednesday, March 3, 2021

    I've been pretty much disenchanted with the world at large since the mid-February unjust discriminatory firing of Gina Carano from the Star Wars series The Mandalorian by Emporer Palpatine a.k.a. Kathleen Kennedy.

    I'm pissed that Disney hasn't done a damn thing about it even though the top shareholders are supposedly furious at KK's handling of Gina's firing. Who lets social media tell someone they've been let go? Really KK, really?

    Does that mean the top Disney shareholders think Carano should be reinstated? Not necessarily. It just means they're pissed that so many fans are pissed because a lot of us are. Lucasfilm listened to the wrong "woke" crowd and now that "woke" crowd has moved on to the newest fresh meat, leaving the actual fans snapping and snarling at a franchise we used to love but that's been utterly destroyed because KK allowed her leftist political leanings to affect how she manages Lucasfilm. Unacceptable.

    Have you gone on the Star Wars YouTube Channel? Do it for chuckles. 

    The number of downvotes on any new content they're publishing is incredibly validating to me, as is the lack of any positive comments on the videos. Lucasfilm and KK currently deserve everything the fans are throwing at them. Star Wars is an institution that existed long before Disney took it over. They need to start listening to the people who actually love the franchise and would come back if it was treated with respect.

    There are actually some of us who loved Gina Carano as Cara Dune in The Mandalorian and know it's discrimination for her to be fired over making a point about how fascism works. A lot more of us than I realized. It was refreshing to have a woman not scrawny as a toothpick in a strong, leading female role. And for the actress, Gina Carano, to actually be a conservative? WOW! That's a humongous shocker and was equally refreshing because it meant that maybe people could be hired based on their merit and not because of whose back they scratched.

    What a crock, Disney. So much for your "we love strong women" vibe. Only if they go along with your agenda do you love strong women. As soon as they start to think for themselves, they're gone. I would love for an apology to Gina Carano and an offer to rehire. I'm not holding my breath, but it's what I hope for.

    And if they won't rehire Gina, well, I just want Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni to take charge of Lucasfilm. That's all. They get Star Wars. They get the fans. They get and respect the rich history of Star Wars legends. It's what made The Mandalorian so good.

    The toxicity that is Kathleen Kennedy has to go.

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