Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Remembering Haruma Miura

Remembering Haruma Miura

 It's almost time.

Looking back, it's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since Haruma Miura's passing on July 18th, 2020.

Only 3 celebrity suicides have ever affected me in a deeply personal way: Jonathan Brandis, Robin Williams, and Haruma Miura. And Pete Duel too, I suppose, although his death happened long before I was born.

But for Haruma Miura, it still doesn't seem quite real.

He was just barely 30-years-old.

I'm sure Covid must have had something to do with it. It's messed so hugely with everybody. I know what it's like to have someone I personally know (a neighbor) commit suicide during this time. It's surreal and impossible, but also something you wake up to every day realizing that it did actually happen, whether I want to forget it did or not. I'm sure Miura-san's family and friends are still grieving his loss. Just as my neighbor's family will always be grieving his.

So in memory of Haruma Miura, I will be reviewing some of his dramas and movies in the month of July.

He was a lovely personality with a beautiful smile and apparently a deeply hurting heart. He deserves to be remembered.

If you are a fan of Haruma Miura, you can always leave a flower on his Find a Grave. 🌸

June 2021: Currently Watching in Jdramaland!

I don't usually plan out my drama watching, and it usually shows that I don't. But it's something I've decided to more diligent about planning out, so all 3 of these dramas are ones that were either already on my list or are ones that I have been faithfully watching since May, since not all of them are completely subbed yet. So here we go, get ready for my thoughts on Love Kome no Okite: Kojirase Joshi to Toshishita Danshi, Black Cinderella, and Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru.

Love Kome no Okite: Kojirase Joshi to Toshishita Danshi
or (Love Comedy's Rule: Kojirase Girls and Younger Boys)

This is a new 2021 drama that just finished airing and is currently my least favorite of the Jdramas that I'm watching.

Ruri-san (Chiaki Kuriyama) is the quintessential perfect woman. She is elegant, gracious, put-together, and spot-on in her job as a team manager for the manga company where she works. In her private life, she's a mess who wears sweatpants, doesn't clean up after herself so her little brother cleans her apartment weekly, and she reads scads and scads of shojo manga. She has no interest in romance. This is of course, exactly why romance gets thrown her way in the shape of Ryo Mamiya (Yuta Koseki), a subordinate in her office and several years younger. He's been wistfully loving her in that annoying "unrequited love" way for 2 years now, but finally works up enough courage to pursue her. Only he does it by asking her to be his relationship coach because he claims to be terrible at it. Because Ruri-san has a reputation as the "perfect woman" to maintain, she agrees to his request, and naturally, falling in love with him is the result.

I loved this drama through episode 5. It was cute since he was clearly trying to woo her, and she was clueless, and I just thought they were adorable.

Then Mamiya-kun started giving me creepy vibes. I disagree with pre-marital sex on principle anyway, but I've enjoyed many a movie/book/drama that features it because not everyone shares my principles. But I do feel like it's not asking too much to ask Mamiya to put on the brakes! I mean, he's been in love with Ruri-san for 2 years with all the yearnings that go along with it. She's only had romantic feelings for him for what, a week? As soon as he began pushing her for sex, he threw me off the series completely. She even told him she was a novice and wanted to take it slow, but nope, he's having none of it. And I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure that first-time sex for a thirty-something virgin would hurt like hell, so they just totally glossed over that reality. The drama just makes me feel icky at this point. I only have 2 episodes left (waiting on the fansubber) so I'll finish it, but the shine is off the rose, as it were.

To be fair, up to episode 10, it is not super-content heavy. They cut scenes when they should, so the actual "moment"  isn't filmed. Just a bit of modest foreplay at the end of episode 9 and the morning after at the beginning of episode 10. Content-wise it's probably a PG-rating. It's not much, but it's something.

My overall star rating for Love Kome no Okite: Kojirase Joshi to Toshishita Danshi is probably a 2. Despite its prettiness, and it is very, very pretty and stylish to look at, I just can't get past the issues I have with Mamiya.

If you feel like watching it, Blitz Fansub has done a terrific job and deserves kudos for their work. It's not their fault that I don't like it, and even though I don't like it, you might love it.

Next on the list is Black Cinderella, a drama that's interesting but will probably end up being very stereotypical.

Black Cinderella

Another 2021 Jdrama that just finished airing, and I'm currently on the fence about it.

Manaha Kamiya (Riko) has always dreamed of being a beauty pageant contestant, ever since she was a small child, and saw the Miss Seiran high school beauty contest and met the winner. In other words, she's dreams of sparkling! In the first episode, her dream might come true, but an accident results in a large scar marring her cheek. Now she has to figure out who she is apart from that scar. Throw in the two boys in her life, the prince of the school Keigo Tachibana (Fuju Kamio) and the local weirdo Sora Shimamura (Mizuki Itagaki), and the stage is set for drama.

I'm really starting to dislike these types of high school dramas, especially when they're all about the love triangles and love rivals and all that craziness. I also don't like narcissistic male leads, so I'm afraid Keigo is out for me, even though he is the main male lead. I would never choose him and I would never wish him on any girl. He has a sweet disposition, yes, but his attitude of "love me, look at me" rubs me the wrong way.

This is why I'm on the Team Sora boat, all the way, and is also what is known as second lead syndrome (SLS). I rarely suffer from it, but I am with Black Cinderella.

The Sora fans will undoubtedly sink, but if the creators of Black Cinderella didn't want us loving Sora then they shouldn't have made him a Japanese version of Jughead Jones from Riverdale. 

That's enough for any woman to choose Sora over Keigo. And they shouldn't have cast the gorgeous and charismatic Mizuki Itagaki. I like authentic male leads who tell the truth and aren't hung up on looks. Sora's fabulous, no one can convince me otherwise, so I'm frustrated because I'm anticipating the quintessential high school drama ending where Manaha and Keigo are together.

Now, yes, Black Cinderella has finished airing. BUT, the fansubber has only subbed the first 4 episodes. I never watch episodes ahead since I only understand, what, 5% of what's being said without the aid of subtitles. So currently it's a waiting game. I totally understand scheduling conflicts and real life, so I'm more than willing to wait.

Where I'm sitting now, my personal star rating for Black Cinderella is probably a 3. The ending will decide all.

If you want to watch it, which I do recommend, then IrozukuSubs is the place to go. They are a terrific fansubber and I am absolutely loving their work on Black Cinderella. I've watched a few others dramas they've subbed and been very impressed.

2022 Update: Viki picked up Black Cinderella, so Irozuku only subbed 4 of the episodes. To watch the complete series with English subtitles (or a large variety of languages, really), go to THIS PAGE on Viki.

NOW, on to Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru, the 2018 Jdrama that I am watching and absolutely 100% head-over-heels in love with!

Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru

JAN 2022 UPDATE: I have watched Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru through twice now, LOVE it, and you can find my official review here!

Kazuki Aikawa (Issei Takahashi) is brand new to his role as a university lecturer on animal behavior. Nothing he does is aligned with what anyone else does. He lives his life completely immersed in his love of nature and wildlife (including creepy crawlies), and loves asking and answering philosophical questions. His eccentricity is extreme, and he rarely lets people in for any sort of intimate relationship, but slowly his students begin appreciating his teaching ability in how he stretches them and actually makes learning fun. With Aikawa Sensei, every day has a little something unexpected.

I don't know if my tastes are changing or what, but I LOVE Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. I'm 6 episodes in and it would take a major disaster for it to get less than the full 5 stars from me.

This drama is just so delightfully different on so many levels. It was actually on my to-watch list for July, but I got excited and started it early and I'm so glad that I did since it's just what I need right now. I can relate to Aikawa in some remarkable ways. He stops and looks up at the sky! He would prefer to be wandering through the forest than at a desk! He notices the flowers that blossom and the little animals that scurry past! He pays attention to nature and he's teaching his students to do the same, to not just keep looking down at the same old thing, but to look at the world around them. He walks to the beat of his own drum, and if you know anything about Japan, you know that makes him pretty weird. He's brilliant!

Issei Takahashi has got to be one of the wackiest Japanese actors in terms of his career. If you've ever seen Kill Bill, you've apparently seen him. I haven't seen that franchise, so I couldn't say. He has pretty much done it all, and my first intro to him was in One Pound Gospel with Kazuya Kamenashi where he played one of the boxers in the gym. I was impressed with him then and I am triple-time impressed with him now. He's not one of those actors, though, where I would watch every single thing he does. Because when I say he's done it ALL, I mean it. I will be very intentional about what I choose to watch of Takahashi-san's work. BUT, he absolutely has taken this delightful and quirky male lead that is Kazuki Aikawa and made him his own in all the best and most amazing ways.

I'm not anticipating any romance in Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. If it happens at all, it will be very subtle. It's just not something that's on his radar. Like I said, he's an eccentric, and he has so many other things to do. His life is full and he doesn't need or want romantic love. Not even with the female dentist that his housekeeper keeps trying to shove him towards.

The fansubber is SuG on D-Addicts. This was their first subbing project and I must say, they did a terrific job! If you're into Asian dramas at all then I'm sure you already have your resources on how to join soft-subs with the mp4 downloads of the raw video. Or you have your resources of where to find hard-subbed dramas. Just know that if you're looking for something a little different with lots and lots of heart, look no further than Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. It's totally worth every second spent.

A Good Night's Sleep and a New Type of Lunch Prep!

Good morning (from me and Yamapi)!

For the first time in months, I didn't take any sleeping aid last night.

While it might not have been the deepest night's sleep, I actually woke up right at the time my alarm went off and I feel fairly rested today, which is a bit surprising. I rarely feel rested so it's just possible that the sleep aid doesn't actually help. It might make me more tired than I would be normally, which is crazy.

You know those plans you have to do something useful but never get around to doing it?

I've been intending to pack my lunches for work for (well) years now. I know that laziness is ingrained in me at this point when it comes to certain things (but not everything, thank goodness). Lunch just happens to be one of those things. It's so much easier to buy it than make it.

On my work breaks and in the evening yesterday, I actually made items for a bento. Everyone probably knows what that means, but just in case, bento essentially means lunchbox in Japanese. Only they do it differently than we do, at least, those who prefer more of a traditional bento to a westernized one.

Homemade sandwiches are one of my least favorite things and I love Japanese food so I figured I would drag out my Effortless Bento cookbook and try my hand at making some dishes. The going through the book happened on Monday and the picking up of the groceries and prepping the meals happened yesterday. I already had the bento boxes from years and years ago. I am thinking about buying some slightly bigger ones, but we'll see.

I'm surprised. It didn't take nearly as long to make the meals as I thought it would since I made 3 protein dishes and a couple of veggie sides. So now we have 6 days' worth of lunches prepped for both me and my sister. It's sort of hilarious since my sister wasn't actually anticipating me making her a bento so that surprised her. We'll see how she likes it! She likes Japanese food too since, as you can imagine, we do eat it several times a month. But we'll see how she likes it for lunch. If she wants to try something else next week, we'll absolutely do that. But I'm pretty happy that she took the bento to work today.

I hope your week is going well! What do you pack for lunch usually?

Monday, June 21, 2021

Re-reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876) by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Golden Press edition

Illustrated by Polly Bolian

I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for the Classics Club, and you can find my Classics Club list HERE.

I took a week's vacation with my family at the end of May, right before Memorial Day. We headed into the Colorado Rockies for a camping trip and I intentionally brought The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with me. I read it countless times as a child and a teenager, but it had been many, many years since I'd last picked it up. I still have my original copy, very careworn at this point, and published before adding forewords and afterwords penned by the so-and-sos and whos-who of the literary world became the trend.

It seemed just the ideal reading choice for a stream-side campsite surrounded by woods, and it was indeed so.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Yuki Yamada is outstanding in "Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu" (2021)

Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (From Now On We Begin Ethics)

Country: Japan

Year: 2021

Episodes: 8 episodes, 30 minutes each

Genre: Psychological, School, Drama

Starring: Yuki Yamada, Mizuki Kayashima, Yuto Ikeda

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment.

Actor Yuki Yamada snagged my attention as the second male lead in Itazura na Kiss, but I never expected a profound role from him. Certainly nothing life-shattering. 

Color me wrong.

The 2021 Japanese drama series Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (or From Now on We Begin Ethics) is an outstanding psychological experiment.

My Blogging Life

I know that I've been awol these last couple of months.

Most people probably figure out who they are when they're in their teens or early twenties. Not so with me. All of my interests, or a large majority of them, were influenced by others. A couple of those interests are probably genuine, but I don't actually know that for sure anymore. Except for my love of Japan, Stephen King, and psychological dramas. That's all me.

I also know that I got tired. Tired of trying to keep up with the trends, tired of wondering if I should keep my blog to a single topic like the entire world recommends, and tired of wondering what that topic should even be. Books? Classic Hollywood? Japan? England? When I really just want to write about what I want to write about when I want to write it and those posts will range over a variety of topics and themes.

So there will be no common theme for this blog other than its being me. That's what I've settled on. I write to get my thoughts and emotions out, not for any real greater purpose. It's a way of purifying my spirit and giving me an outlet. I'm not an influencer and I have no intention of ever becoming one. If I ever write something profound, it will be almost entirely by accident.

But my readers should know one thing and it's that my love of Japanese culture is here to stay. I won't apologize for it, and I won't stop writing about their entertainment, but I do understand if Japan isn't your thing. Don't feel obligated to reply to those posts. It's fine.

I will write about more than Japan, however, so feel free to interact with me on those posts instead. I'm still participating in The Classics Club so there will be those posts. I don't anticipate many classic Hollywood posts going forward since there are so many dedicated blogs to that topic. Unless I'm ever inspired by an unusual film. And no more actual book review posts unless it's for a topic that I'm strongly attached to, like fantasy books or (like I said) the classics.

There will be more introspective posts going forward. Introspection is something I find helpful so when I ponder something that might potentially be of use to others, then I'll share it. In my opinion faith and introspection go hand in hand and as I continue to learn more about myself and my walk with Jesus, I'm sure some nuggets of thought will present themselves as shareable.

Oh, and my Femnista writing days are over. It was time to move on.

Know that my faith in Jesus is still established and entirely genuine and authentic. He is my Lord and Savior and without Him, I am truly nothing. Lying at the bottom of a cliff and raising up my hands to Him is how I spend a great deal of my life. And the grace of God always lifts me back up. Because being a Christian means falling and relying on His strength to get back up and keep moving forward. The Christian faith is not for strong, self-confident people who never need any help. It is for those who cannot save themselves. That is me.

Enjoy this music from Bob Carlisle, one of my favorite Christian performing artists, and a real testimony to the Christian walk.