Thursday, April 28, 2022

Japanese Fansubber Highlights! - Irozuku Fansubs

The world of Japanese entertainment would be so much smaller without the incredible work of fansubbers!

In this post, I'm highlighting Irozuku Subs

🌸 Website: Irozuku Subs

🌸 Twitter: @irozukusubs

Their work is timely despite a super busy work/life schedule, but they also respect when VIKI takes on a drama. They've actually stopped subbing dramas once VIKI has approved it (like Black Cinderella and Peanut Butter Sandwich), and I respect them for that choice since it shows a deeper appreciation of copyright laws and not wanting to overstep boundaries and also saving their energy for other projects. They even take on smaller, lesser-known, or publicized work which is AWESOME because these are usually the dramas that wouldn't get subbed otherwise.

They offer hardsub downloads for anyone visiting their site, and softsubs to be joined with raw video files to anyone monetarily supporting them on Patreon. Fans can also buy them individual "coffee" which is a really great way to support your favorite fansubbers even if you don't have the funds to support them every month with a Patreon commitment.

Their subbed list of Japanese dramas and movies is extensive and there will be something for everyone, but here are my personal favorites that they've subtitled and for which I am extremely grateful.

Hiru (2022) ONGOING

Hiru is one of the reasons that Irozuku Subs is my literal hero, this PAGE has the complete Season One and this PAGE will have Season Two once the subs are finished (as of this post, episodes 1 and 2 have been subbed).

This drama is about people who leech (the literal translation of hiru) off others by sneaking into their houses and using their belongings while the owners are at work/school/vacation, etc. is pure genius!

The first season follows a young man named Yuki (played by Eiji Akaso) comes home to find someone stabbed in his apartment only to have that person turn on him to the police and literally steal his identity with an official-looking ID and everything. On the run, swept into the world of leeches against his will, Yuki's journey was an interesting and deadly one.

Hiru has death, revenge, and secrets of scary people. It was dark and intriguing, but the first season is not as brilliant as it could have been. They give us a taste of a leech killer named Kara (played by Kentaro Sakaguchi), but the series focuses on Yuki and his problems instead of Kara. The second season stars Kara in the main role, which is already a step up. Not that I have anything against Eiji Akaso, but he doesn't have quite the right amount of mojo to be the lead in a drama like this. Plus, the second season also has Mizuki Itagaki in a secondary role and he's a bit of a newer favorite with me, so I'm excited even though I suspect he's going to be scary and a bit of an antagonist.

Consider yourself warned that we have death, rape, stabbings, hangings, and all sorts of violence in this first season, so definitely in R-rated territory. It's not obscenely graphic (so no nudity), but still, rather disturbing.

Each season has 6 short 25-minute episodes, but they each pack a punch. 

He Won't Kill, She Won't Die (2019)

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for He Won't Kill, She Won't Die.

You've essentially got two teenagers who are both disengaged from life. Nana is so miserable that she's always this close to ending her own life, except that she can't. And then you have Rei, a bitter and resentful young man who's always telling other people to "just go and die already." He imagines murder and she imagines wanting to die, so when he tells her that he'll kill her if she wants, it seems perfect and psychotic. 

Except that neither Rei nor Nana actually wants to kill or die. It's just something to say and to imagine to avoid the hurt and loneliness they both feel.

This movie is literally my heart and soul, and it does rip my heart out and crush it. If you never watch movies with sad endings then this one is not for you, but when you grew up with Shakespeare like I did you're used to tragic endings, and this one is tragic. But it is also an AMAZING story. Shotaro Mamiya is such an outstanding actor and so underappreciated. And Hinako Sakurai, I mean, wow, she's phenomenal! 

I will say that there are 2 other sets of characters in this film, and while they are somewhat valuable, they're not even remotely as engaging as Rei and Nana. It's just that they have to be in the story because of how everything intersects. BUT, He Won't Kill, She Won't Die is outstanding and should be watched by anyone who values stories about mental health, psychology, and melancholy. There will be triggers, so go in expecting them.

Dried Flower: Our Room in July (2021)

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for Dried Flower: Our Room in July.

I'm surprised that I loved this one so much because it really is watching a vibrant and growing relationship slowly wither and decay. That's it in a nutshell. It's a story of two people who can't communicate and so he never really learns what she's really like because she doesn't feel free to tell him. He treats her as a cherished princess, but that behavior actually ends up limiting her goals and dreams as an English to Japanese translator. It's one big misunderstanding after another, and both are completely at fault. It's a cautionary tale, beautifully filmed and performed, and it moved me deeply.

The actors feel fresh and original, which is a nice change of pace. Both were unknown to me, and both gave outstanding performances, making the audience feel every little nuance of the experience. 

It's only 3 episodes long, so watching the entire series is like watching a rather short movie and it's completely worth it. Be prepared for melancholy and hopefully for some lessons learned.

I Will Not Work Overtime, Period! (2019)

also known as Watashi Teiji de Kaerimasu

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for Watashi Teiji de Kaerimasu.

This 10 full-length episode drama series' entire premise is about the toxic guilt-tripping that goes on in Japan (and other Asian countries) if someone does not want to work overtime. Asia is renowned for its inability to step back from work, let's just call a spade a spade. BUT, clearly, some folks in the entertainment industry recognize the trend as a toxic one, and actually made a drama series where the heroine refuses to work overtime. She gets her work done during her regular working hours and leaves on time, before anyone else in her department. She's a hero in my book, and she happens to be played by my favorite Japanese actress, Yuriko Yoshitaka (see my review for Your Eyes Tell where she acted with Ryusei Yokohama), so that's a bonus. We've also got Yuichi Nakamura of KAT-TUN fame playing a secondary character, my first time seeing him act, so that was neat.

Her work ethic AND her self-care end up making her both a target and an inspiration to the people in her department.

The only downside to the drama is the ridiculous love triangle that cropped up. I'm not a fan of that trope in general and it made no sense here. The drama would have been so much stronger without it.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Rewatching Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs in 2022

I rewatch Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs (1970) every year. I suspect it's one of Brooks' lesser known comedies, but it's the only one of his films that I religiously watch because it has the least amount of crude content. Go figure!

The setting is 1927 Russia, a decade after the revolution. It's a satirical look at Russia, featuring three lead male characters whose ultimate goal is tied to greed.

Brooks, Moody, and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Ippolit Vorobyaninov (Ron Moody) is the main "protagonist." He is a member of the deposed Russian aristocracy, a man born into great wealth, a man awash with pride and arrogance in his youth now brought low after his family's wealth was taken from them. His greed is found in the little things. When his mother-in-law is on her deathbed, his first thought is, "that poor woman, that poor woman," followed by "who is going to take care of me?" Empathy coupled with selfishness.

Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Ostep Bender (Frank Langella) is the second "protagonist." He is a communist, but first and foremost, he is about himself. His own security, his own safety, his own wellbeing, is his first and only priority. He has been taking care of himself all his life, and so there is nothing he will not stoop to so that he can continue to live. When his and Vorobyaninov's roads cross on a hunt for a dining room suite that inside one chair hides a fortune in jewels, it is the joining together of two equally selfish men.

Deluise and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Father Fyodor (Dom Deluise) is the "antagonist" if you could call Ostep and Vorobyaninov protagonists. He takes Vorobyaninov's mother-in-law's final confession, learns about the jewels hidden in that dining room suite, and starts out on his own journey to find those chairs. His hunger for wealth is greater than his holy calling and he casts aside his faith.

Enjoy this fun scene from the film, one of my favorites because it showcases Dom Deluise's brilliant comedic talent!

I make them sound nasty because they really are. These are not likable men. They're laugh-so-hard-until-you-cry hilarious, but they're not nice. And you don't want to be them! These 3 lead characters will do ANYTHING to get this wealth. For Vorobyaninov, it's because he wants to be rich AGAIN. For Ostep, it's because he's never been wealthy, and the temptation of possibly having ENOUGH is overwhelming. And for Fyodor, he's done playing the holy game, and wants an OUT. Selfish motives, one and all, and it can be funny to watch selfish people chase a pipe dream.

Langella and Moody in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

It can also be scary.

Because we're seeing this happen right now, with Russia shamelessly chasing something they used to own, but is no longer theirs. They're doing the same old thing. Does it mean I think all Russians are like the men in The Twelve Chairs? No, of course not, but it is ironic that a Russian satirical story published in 1928 that features greedy men chasing vain ambition should still be so relevant in 2022, almost 100 years later. Maybe some things don't change.

The Twelve Chairs is hilarious. It's got so many belly-laughs in it. Even my sister loves it now, which she didn't when I wrote my Frank Langella and Mel Brooks Unite in The Twelve Chairs (1970) post back in 2016. But it was hard to rewatch it this year, in this moment, at this time. Because the concept is funny when it's a satirical comedy of selfish men, but it's not so funny when the man is someone with what feels like infinite power and what he's chasing isn't jewels hidden in an old chair, but an entire sovereign nation.

Brooks and Langella in The Twelve Chairs (1970)

Kudos to Mel Brooks, that marvelous man of Jewish Polish and Ukrainian heritage who created this movie. He also has a bit part to play as Vorobyaninov's old servant, Tikon, a hilarious role for a hilarious man.

Watch The Twelve Chairs. It's pretty clean with just a smidgeon of vulgarity. Now is the time. 

Note: I didn't make the GIFS, some kind person on Tumblr did.

Slava Ukraini