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.

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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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