Sunday, January 23, 2022

Yokohama Ryusei and Yoshitaka Yuriko star in the charming age-gap Jdrama Your Eyes Tell (2020)

Your Eyes Tell

Country: Japan

Year: 2020

Length: 120 minutes

Genre: Romance, Melodrama, Life, Sports, Age Gap

Starring: Ryusei Yokohama, Yuriko Yoshitaka

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment. 

Many thanks to RJGMan56 Subs for the fansubs! It's because of folks like this person that we're able to watch quality Japanese content with subtitles! You can either stream or download with English subs from their website, go to THIS PAGE!

Former kick-boxer Rui Shinozaki (Ryusei Yokohama) just wants to live his life peacefully, working a job as a night guard for a parking lot complex. He has no real ambition other than to take each day as it comes. Orphaned from a young age, raised by nuns, a kick-boxer as a profession, and then ultimately an enforcer for a local gang, Rui is tired, run-down, hopeless, and guilt-ridden all at the age of 24.

Akari Kashiwagi (Yuriko Yoshitaka), a blind women in her early thirties, always enjoyed "watching" dramas with the previous night guard and she didn't realize that the position had changed hands to Rui so is nervous and embarrassed when she comes to the guard house one night for her regular drama watching schedule. Rui doesn't quite know what to make of her, but his protective instincts kick in and before either of them fully realize what's happening, they are in a friendship that then blossoms into something more. Akari believes Rui to be older than herself based on his Chinese birth year, little imagining that he's actually about 10 years younger. Rui convinces her that their age gap doesn't matter at all since they have each given the other something to not only live for, but passionately pursue. Rui steps up his game, returns to kick-boxing to earn an income for them, moves in with her, helps Akari start a pottery business, and everything seems to be going so smoothly until his past as an enforcer catches up with him, threatening their happy future.

Your Eyes Tell have a lot of great things going for it.

First, there's the Dickensian storytelling style. You know what I mean, the method of bringing seemingly unconnected people together in surprising family or historical ties. That method is used here, and very successfully. Rui and Akari shouldn't be connected, but they are because the world is a lot smaller than we think it is and because fate or destiny, or whatever you wish to call providence, has a way of reuniting people when they didn't even know they'd ever had a connection in the first place.

Second, Ryusei Yokohama. I've been on the fence about this young actor since I first saw him last year. I wasn't sure if he was a good actor or not, since sometimes his roles work and sometimes they just don't, at least for me. But he is undeniably golden as Antonio Shinozaki Rui. This is the first time that I can say without a doubt that he is clearly talented. This is the first role where I felt his soul in the performance, and I hope he continues to do higher-caliber stories. He's only twenty-five years old, so he still has time to find his way, but he is a very promising young actor, and he clearly invested in this role, both physically for the kickboxing element and emotionally.

Third, the delightful Yuriko Yoshitaka as Akari. This woman is a gem. She has this vibrant liveliness about her performance that just caught me so unaware. So many facial expressions, so much passion, and such authenticity to her performance as this beautiful blind heroine. I suspect she is a big part of the reason why Ryusei's performance was also so outstanding; they just meshed so well. This is only the second drama I've seen with Yuriko, but it will not be my last. And because she's the right age, I am holding out intense hope that someday she and Kazuya Kamenashi (and maybe even Tomohisa Yamashita) might just perform together in a drama. I want to see her perform with both of them because she's an actress who can absolutely hold her own and give Kamenashi especially a run for his money.

Finally, the age-gap aspect. I love age-gap stories so long as both individuals are adults. And, I'm usually entertained by the younger man/older woman trope. I've seen it done poorly and I've seen it done well, and in Your Eyes Tell, it is done very, very well. There's a chemistry between them that is the best I've seen Ryusei have, actually, with a female costar. Sometimes he comes off a bit stiff, probably because the character is written that way, but not so here. Considering they're not really even supposed to lock eyes since Akari is supposed to be blind, so much is still said in how they look at one another or towards one another. The name of the movie Your Eyes Tell is very apt for how crucial the eyes are to making this relationship work. So my little age-gap-loving heart was very happy with this one.

Content-wise, there are some intense scenes, probably a PG13 or TV14 rating. Someone drenches himself in gasoline, lights himself on fire, and throws himself out a window. That's pretty scary stuff. A car crash happens. There's a scene of attempted sexual assault that will be very triggering. Akari is almost hit by a reckless driver. There are many kickboxing scenes with quite a bit of blood. A person is hit by a car and then stabbed twice. Sensual content is limited. Rui and Akari share a few kisses and they are clearly intimate, but it is in such a peaceful, gentle sort of way as if they are each one side of the same coin. It's that red string of fate thing, tying them together. No nudity or sex scenes.

Rui spends a great deal of the movie trying to atone for his past. He was in a Catholic orphanage as a child growing up and still has a strong affinity for the faith, and deep respect for one particular nun who helped raise him. His other name, Antonio, is his baptismal name. I appreciated the religious aspects of Your Eyes Tell. There's such a powerful message of despair, hope, and forgiveness sprinkled throughout the story, it's deeply moving.

It's impossible to capture in this review just how completely I love Your Eyes Tell. While I know it does have a few small plot holes in it, that's nothing compared with the profound beauty of the story. I have several favorite Japanese movies now, and Your Eyes Tell is definitely high up on the list, especially when I need something that will move me to tears at the end. It is just that good.

And yes, Your Eyes Tell is an adaptation of the Korean movie Always and BTS did the theme song, so there is that as well. I don't watch Korean entertainment so far, but I have heard Always is very good.

Enjoy this charming music video by Justinn on YouTube! Stop watching 3 minutes into the music video or you'll get some serious spoilers for the twists in the movie! Up until then, though, you're good to go because everything you'll see is what I put in the movie synopsis.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Takahashi Issei excels as the quirky male lead in the Jdrama We Are Made of Miracles (2018)

Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru

Country: Japan

Year: 2018

Episodes: 10 episodes, 46 minutes each

Genre: Animals, Life, School, Eccentric Male Lead

Starring: Issei Takahashi, Nana Eikura, Jun Kaname, Honoka Yahagi

My Rating

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment.  

Subtitles download is available through the fansubber SuG on the D-Addicts forum and you can find the raw video files on JRaws. I'm not giving links, but you can find them if you just do a search by the site names online. 😘 

Kazuki Aikawa's (Issei Takahashi) path chases after the beauty and the mystery of the world around him. As an animal behavior professor who also specializes in fieldwork and is likely on the autism spectrum, Aikawa is almost always late to his class, constantly forgets to take attendance, and takes his students on unauthorized fieldwork excursions. But his love and knowledge of his chosen field spread to his students like a sweet perfume. One particular group of four students, Aoyama (Honoka Yahagi of Itazura no Kiss fame), Shinjo (Daigo Nishihata), Ozaki (Kana Kita), and Suda (Ryohei Hirota), find their lives forever changed for having met Aikawa. To say nothing of Koichi-kun (Waku Kawaguchi) a little boy who happens to meet Aikawa at the dentist and finds a kindred spirit in a man 4 times his age, but who still has the heart of a child.

Dentist Ikumi Mizumoto Sensei (Nana Eikura) has no idea what to make of Aikawa, her latest dental patient. Especially when he compares her to the rabbit in the old Tortoise and the Hare story, but his interpretation of the story has the rabbit running only to look down on the tortoise. So she begins a journey of self-discovery and re-evaluation of her dreams and goals. Before her steps fiercely pointed only one way but now, by degrees, she's turning to follow Aikawa along his path. As Aikawa continues learning to be himself more and more, walking to the beat of his own drum, his light shines brightly, radiating new energy into the lives of all those that his own life touches.

Issei Takahashi is my new hero in  Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru.

While I don't always walk to my own beat, I do it enough to know that it can be scary to be different. I mean, even my interest in Japan comes across as strange to some folk, but that doesn't keep me from having pictures of my favorite J-pop bands in my work cubicle or bobbing along to their music while I'm working. People are unique. We are not fashioned from the same mold. And we should not be forced to conform to a societal standard that tries to determine what is and is not acceptable in personalities. And as much as I love Japan, it is a nation of conformity. Aikawa shares his society's values to an extent, but that's where I believe conformity should end. Personalities and interests and hobbies should never be looked down on or demeaned or condemned because they're different from the norm. So long as nobody is being harmed and no laws are being broken, people should be able to be who they are freely, but that is just not the case, and that's why Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru is SUCH an important drama, praising the individual who dares to be different rather than someone obsessed with doing what society expects.

The performances, oh my goodness, the performances!

Issei Takahashi has never really been on my radar. I remember that he amused me in One Pound Gospel with Kazuya Kamenashi, but when I tried watching Kishibe Rohan wa Ugokanai yikes, man, that is a really weird drama. I just could not even get past that first episode, it was so bizarre. But some friends on My Drama List recommended a couple of his other dramas to try since I was sincere in asking, and, here we are, with me being 100% in love with Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. Takahashi-san has proven one thing to me. He is a deeply gifted actor with a talent for nuanced expressions. And while I don't believe I will love another of his dramas like I do this one, that's enough for me. He blew me out of the water with his performance and I am eternally grateful. And yes, I do believe I also fell for the smile. Tsundere characters are always so popular in Japanese dramas, that I love it when I find a warmer male lead who smiles ALL THE TIME.

The rest of the cast, while not as marvelous, do mesh perfectly with Takahashi-san, and that's really what counts in the end. Take Nana Eukura-san. I don't always like the character of Ikumi, but I love and respect Eukura-san's performance. She and Takahashi-san have the right type of chemistry for the relationship of their characters. My favorite of the other actors is actually Keiko Toda-san, the wonderful actress who plays Aikawa's housekeeper. I adore her. She's delightful and fun and she and Takahashi-san just went at it with the quips and comebacks. Gotta love it when chemistry just works. I have to mention Honoko Yahagi since she's here and I know her presence might bring in some viewers. She's cute, she's chasing after Aikawa which annoys the heck out of me because it's the student/teacher trope, and, well, that's about all I can say. I don't seek out any of her work since Itazura no Kiss annoys me so much, so I'm not that fond of her character here. Still, if you like her, she does have quite a few scenes and does well in them.

The program itself has excellent, snappy dialogue. Aikawa is a clever man and his mind works in different and amazing ways so he's always thinking and his conversational responses are always so unique and unpredictable. It's just got some supremely brilliant writing, both serious and comedic, so I tip my hat to Atsuko Hashibe-san, an amazing screenplay writer who deserves all of the credit.

Unfortunately, there are ZERO music videos for Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru. If I made music videos then I would absolutely make one, but I don't, so I can't. It just breaks my heart because this drama so seriously deserves to be immortalized in a music video. Sometimes, the world is just cruel.

But here's the ending theme song by Super Beaver. It's an awesome song for an awesome drama and really captures the overall vibe of the series. And you can go to this My Drama List page to watch the trailer, unfortunately without subtitles, which sucks. ARGH!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Just discovered Japanese Rock band SUPER BEAVER

One of my absolute favorite Japanese dramas is Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru (also known simply as Miracles or We are Made of Miracles). I literally had a spiritually transformative experience watching this drama, I'm not even kidding! Apart from the amazing story that absolutely captured my heart, hope, and imagination, the music of this drama is also hands' down, some of my favorite. The end theme is Yokan by the rock band Super Beaver, and OH MY GOSH, I am in love with them!

Enjoy their official music video above. 

Quick question, their lead singer, is he emo? I know there's a difference between emo and goth, but I'm honestly not sure what the difference is, but I know he has got to be one of them. And I adore him. He never hesitates when singing, just belts it out, my favorite type of singer! Love this song and am now in LOVE with Super Beaver!

I already loved the song, but I fell deeper in love after watching them sing it. Here are the ROUGHLY translated by Google translation of the lyrics, which also explains why I love this song, so much of the message resonates with me, particularly feeling emotions without a name and I'm going to see you because most of the time I'm not sure what I'm feeling, and everyone wants to be seen and loved for who they are without having to prove or excuse that their personality has a right to exist.

No matter what happened

I can’t be anyone

Then I want to like it as much as I want

Let’s go meet

Feeling emotions without a name

You don’t need a name that someone will give you

For those who have a premonition For those who are absorbed in heart

There is no right answer, life is free

For those who have a premonition Now for those who want to meet

It’s as if no one else’s eyes were there

Feeling emotions without a name

No matter what happened

No matter what you do

If so, I want to share both sadness and joy

I’m going to see you

For those who have a premonition For those who have a premonition

For those who have a premonition For those who have a premonition

Feeling emotions without a name

There is no need for meaning to force

For those who have a happy feeling

There is no right answer, life is free

For those who have a premonition Now for those who want to meet

It’s as if no one else’s eyes were there

Feeling emotions without a name

Impressed with no name, so that you can properly love the meaning you have noticed in your emotions

Lyrics SUPER BEAVER – 予感 歌詞

Friday, January 7, 2022

Rest in Peace, Sir Sidney Poitier


My dad first introduced me to Sidney Poitier when I was about 16-years-old. We watched Lilies of the Field and I have loved Sir Sidney Poitier's work ever since.

The world has lost such an incredible trailblazer. 

I highly recommend watching his films if you haven't already done so, and here are some of my personal recommendations:

A Patch of Blue (1965) - I can't fully articulate how this movie makes me feel, but it is my favorite of his movies. It explores biracial romantic relationships in 1965 and is absolutely brilliant. There is that blasted open-ended ending that the 1960s loved to use, but the viewer is left with a hope that everything will work out in the end. It was the 1960s, so who knows if that's true or not, but that was always my dream for the couple in this film. Watch A Patch of Blue, be amazed by it, fall in love with it. Here's my review for A Patch of Blue that I wrote back in 2013.

Lilies of the Field  (1963) - The first of Sidney Poitier's movies I ever saw and is my second favorite of his films. He plays Homer, a black handyman who helps a group of German nuns rebuild their chapel. Yep, that's it, the story in a nutshell, but it's so very, very much more than that, and Sidney won the well-earned Academy Award for Best Actor, the first time the award was given to a black man. 

In the Heat of the Night (1967) - I saw this one only once, primarily because I spent the whole movie in profound fear for Virgil Tibbs' life. It is brilliant and I believe everyone should watch it at least once. I need to rewatch it this month. The thing that scares me, even more, is that they had to film the majority of this movie in the north because once when Sidney Poitier visited Mississippi he was almost murdered by Ku Klux Klansmen. I can't even . . . 

Little Nikita (1988) - Another movie I was introduced to by my Dad. This one also stars River Phoenix and deals with a soviet sleeper family hidden deep undercover in the US. It's intense, but somewhat lighter fare since it doesn't really have the same racial tension due to it being 1988 instead of the 1960s. A terrific performance by both stars, and one of the reasons why I also love River Phoenix. It's heartbreaking realizing that both of these magnificent actors are gone.

My prayers for comfort go out to Sir Sidney Poitier's family and friends during this time. May we remember to celebrate the life he lived and the good, good work that he did.