Bloody Monday- A Review

•June 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Season One(2008) and Season Two(2010), Broadcast Network TBS

Bloody Monday

When I first stumbled across this J-Drama on DA’s DramaWiki, the synopsis interested me quite a lot with it’s brain+action setting. However for a long time it lay forgotten on the bookmarks pages. I got back to it only recently and boy am I glad that I did! This show was almost everything I had hoped for with a dash of more.

The basic premise is this: Takagi Fujimaru(Miura Haruma) is a high school student who is also a genius hacker- Falcon- unbeknownst to many. Certain members of Japan’s Public Safety Special Third unit, code name THIRD-i, however, are aware of his abilities courtesy of his previous arrest records for hacking into the Third-i itself where his father, Takagi Ryonosuke(Tanaka Tetsushi) is a member.

DeathNote’s premise comes to mind.  But the similarity ends here. Raito is a bored borderline to absolute psychopath who ends up getting both his father and his sister killed. Fujimaru on the other hand is generally a good son albeit at ideological odds with his father’s negligent behavior towards home in favour of work. He is also a devoted (be ready to go kyaa~) brother to the cute Haruka-chan(Kawashima Umika).

Fujimaru-Haruka- The Takagi Siblings
Sakura-Toya, anyone?

(Also, while BM is good, DN is insanely awesome and any comparison to DN would be unfair to the show)

The first season deals with a biological terrorist attack involving a deadly virus Bloody X and the second season deals with a nuclear weapon threat.

The Good

The cast is entirely brilliant with little exception. The actors are convincing and at ease with their characters. The police and the security force behave realistically and are not given to emo melodrama like some shows(read American TV-shows with weepy cops- Debra, Beckett, Booth et al). At a 11+9 episode pace, the show is crisp and not given to long melodramatic subplots of unrealistic relationships between random characters. The character interactions are true to life- subtle but touching.  Fujimaru and Haruka’s sibling banter is natural, utterly cute and something that most people can relate to. Sato Takeru as Fujimaru’s best friend(or more? *wink wink*) Otoya Kujo (and later a brilliant nuclear engg. student) is an amazing actor as ever and their on-screen friendship is a cute reminder of their off-screen superfriendship.

Fujimaru & Otoya- friendship, eh?

Seto-kun and Miura-chan…friendship…eh, EH?
My yaoi-afflicted mind keeps running a uke/seme debate. >_<

On the topic of acting, it was only mid-way through the first episode that I realized I had seen Miura somewhere before. By the end of the episode I was fairly certain about where I had seen him, only I had to look it up becasue I was in denial. Yes, for those who have had the eh..misfortune(*desperately looking for a stronger word*) to watch Koizora, that’s “Captain Peroxide”  from the angst ridden movie. From initial shock my feelings grew to abundant respect- Koizora wasn’t a terrible movie just for the bizarro plot; it was the generously aided by the atrocious acting. Far from being realistic, the characters bordered on loud theatrical mannerisms(remember the blackboard scene and the incessant outbursts of hormonal rage?) Frankly, it was painful to watch- and sometimes, inappropriately funny.

Bleach Blues- maybe he’s angsty because acting eludes him?

In contrast, Miura-kun’s acting in Bloody Monday is not just easy and realistic but also completely role appropriate. Talk about evolution!

On the subject of technical nuances, while I’m the farthest thing from a hacker with only basic knowledge of random computer programs, and therefore can not in any way attest to the authenticity of the hacking methods shown employed, the execution is not (as is often possible in TV-shows) a botched attempt. Every hacking detail is dealt convincingly and Miura manages to look like he knows what he’s doing. Similarly other technical aspects and dialogues seem well-researched- the national threat doesn’t seem childish and is detailed and terrifying enough to put you on the edge. Kudos to both the writing staff and the actors.

The suspense: Is like the cardiograph reading of an a mid level runner after a semi-vigorous round of practice. It goes up and down and keeps you guessing and 5/10 times you’ll be wrong with the first assumption. But that’s what makes the show all the more gripping. The suspense factor is not much forced or overly outrageous- it follows Aristotle’s dramatic rule of causal reasoning.

My favorite characters:

Clockwise from Left: Asada Aoi, Anzai Mako/K, Kujo Otoya and Takagi Fujimaru/Falcon

Besides Fujimaru, Otoya and Haruka, Fujii Mina as Fujimaru’s and Otoya’s classmate and friend Asada Aoi is a welcome source of warm fuzziness and light moments. -SPOILER ALERT- And tragically heartbreaking in season two.

Kano Ikuma

Matsushige Yutaka as Kanou-san, a member of the Third-i, is hands down the best actor and despite his brazen looks, has a certain endearing charm about him.

Minami Kaoru *drools*

Ashina Sei as Minami Kaoru is stunningly beautiful and stoically captivating- which is admittedly a bit unrealistic for a cop, but who wants real when unreal is such an eye-candy?

Orihara Maya

Without giving away the plot, Kichise Michiko as Orihara Maya is  undeniably the best of the group of terrorists. What makes me fall head over heels for her even more is the faint resemblance to Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop- mercenary, individualistic and gorgeous with a stellar sense of fashion down to the way the character grows and develops in the course of the show.

Kanzaki Jun

Narimiya Hirkoi as J delivers a decent performance and while he isn’t by far my favorite- gets points for improvement. At the very least his acting here is endlessly better as compared to his lack of motor control in the sorry excuse for a movie- The Last Quartet, which not just killed Yazawa Ai’s well-written/drawn manga but also walked all over it’s grave with the lame acting (Hyde might be a decent singer, but his acting skills are, ahem- absconding).

The Soundtrack: By Flumpool, S1- Hikari no Hashi/ S2- Zanzou- is lyrics-appropriate and addictive and well timed in the duration of the show. All in all it adds to the poignancy of a scene instead of drowning it out. Recommended!!

Warning(With vague Spoilers)

The show can get dramatically intense and heartrendingly tragic at times. What’s one of the good things about the show is also one of the painful things- it’s realistic at the basic level. And in reality people die. The show does not deny it- not everyone can be saved, however innocent. Bad guys do get away. On the bright side, unlike shows that build on angst and self-torture, Bloody Monday, like most Japanese shows, is not about the death and mayhem. It’s about hope and continuity of life(damn, I sound like my classics teacher).

Even in the worst of circumstances, it is not easy to wish death upon people. Polic officers are good shots, but they flinch when they shoot. They don’t act like babies about it, but sometimes, they do cry. And a high school kid can not pull the trigger on his friend even if she ruined his family. That’s just life.

THE BAD

Everything said, the show is not without plot-holes and absurdities.

Glitches: SPOILER ALERT

S1:

Why’re the police/Third-i people so darn incompetent and ever-dependent on the brains of a 16-year old kid? I mean, how was Japan surviving without Fujimaru? Ah well, as long as I can drool at his unblemished face and the godly teen-smile….off-topic alert!! (-__-)

Did the virus hit Hide first because he was not very pretty? Or was it because it knew Anzai was K and therefore should not be killed before the season finale? o_O

How did Orihara manage to put the virus on her lips and go around kissing people to death without swallowing some herself? Ninja training much?

Why didn’t Takagi-senior just tell Takagi-junior about what he was upto? Why so hush-hush, man?

Alright, major confusion here: If J knew who K was- and there’s no evidence to the contrary, how come Takagi senior was dragging Anzai around in handcuffs and had her locked up in a car just outside of where he was meeting J? Odd. @_@

OOC(Out Of Character) dumbness: If Takagi senior knew that Anzai was K and was going to shoot her anyway why make a ceremony out of it and haul her ass to a church to do it?

Why would Fujimaru NOT kill Anzaki after she just killed his dad?

So, finally J, the ruthless terrorist, just randomly decided to not let Japan blow up because it pissed him off that his little sister had one-upped him. Way to go, brat.

S2:

Unless it was a symbolic imagery, why was Anzai living in an elaborate lunatic mansion with creepers surrounding it, playing Othello with herself? Does Japan actually have fancy white lockups for crazy people? I’d want to live there. (o.o)

If J was pretending the whole time, was the bit-character security guy in on it? If not, how come his revolver had no bullets in it? Hopefully that’s not a general statement on the condition of ammunition for security.

Why didn’t Hibiki just tell Fujimaru the truth about the Professor and herself instead of acting all cryptic and beating him up? Poor kid, he should get free self-defense classes. Or learn to use the laptop as a weapon- literally.

Does no one report attempted rape in Japan? This yaoi-manga fashion seems more and more realistic. Kirishima walks in and sees Kurano all disheveled and looks away like he had just walked in on two people making out. (Random parallel: Both central villains in the two seasons- K and Kurano, ah! they’re the same alphabets too, hmm… anyway, so both of them get molested by weird men wearing specs, and both of them are “Sensei”. Creepy connection?) :P

Not a glitch but: Kano-san gets electrocuted in the Orihara fashion- they treat a confirmed terrorist and a possible traitor(a member, still) equally. I SO don’t wanna get caught doing illegal stuff in Japan. >__>

So, what’s with the “Orihara Maya” name-mystery? Geez, clear it up before you end the show!! Another reason for a third season.

And finally, why the hell would Fujimaru want the crazed lunatic Kurono Risa to live after she’s thoughtlessly and pointlessly killed off one of his best friends? And even if she lived then, doesn’t she qualify for a capital punishment? o.O

Why has J gone all wishy-washy, and what’s with the bogus “kubo” conclusion? S1 he didn’t even like Anzai, from what I could tell. He left her to get killed. Now he suddenly grows a brother complex? :/

Ah mou..!

The Ugly

Some of the bad can be classified as ugly, I guess, but I’m too tired to sort that out.

So, finally?

Bloody Monday is fast-paced, action packed with a wide range of characters- gunslingers, hackers, and genius evil masterminds, patriotic cops- all packed into one show which is at the same time also a human-drama. There are certain issues owing perhaps to the fact that none of the creators would be as intelligent as Fujimaru. :P But the bad and the ugly can be otherwise explained(explanations are welcome, I’m too dang tired to cook anything up) or overlooked in favor of decent acting and crazy good looks swarming the screen. :D

In any case if you’re a fan of J-Dramas, good acting and a fairly logical compact plot, this show should make it to your list. As a Bonus it offers  two of the prettiest and fairly talented faces of Japan and an equally good (and pretty) cast of supporting actors.

Grade

Plot: 8
Acting: 9
Technicality/Details/Plot Intricacies: 7
Cinematography: 9
Realism: 8.5
Wardrobe: 9
Entertainment Value: 8
Cuteness Factor: 10 :D

Overall: 8.5

*Hoping for a third season and ordering the manga*

*miura haruma and sato takeru wallpaper & video rampage*

Till the next show!

Idiopathic, from the Latin meaning we’re idiots…

•April 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

I quote Huge Ego, Sorry way out of context, yes. However, it’s the best word I could think of to define- and let me be prepared for a heavy bounty on my dead head for this- women. Yea, I know the drill- exponentially larger number of grey cells, women succeeding everywhere, higher earnings, world progressing- blah blah blah blah. It’s not about science vs. arts, it’s not about who earns more, it’s the simple things that give away the simple fact that women, in general, are just a notch- if only just a notch- away from possessing that spectacular quality of dabbling which guys have. Some call them jacks of all trades- well, ain’t that the first step?

Ok, if there be any readers to this I can almost hear the wheezee of their collective brains going- Where’s all this coming from? If there be women among those readers, I hear curses- Damn misogynist! Honestly, I’m not. Plus it’d be kinda weird to call a woman misogynist, wouldn’t it? And I’m certainly not self-loathing. One the contrary, I’m actually unrelentingly narcissistic. But I digress.

So here’s where I’m coming from- being a rabid anime fan, one of the first things I did on getting an android phone was to look for anime apps- songs, wallpapers- anything at all. (The other first thing was getting a subscription to House quotes which I now shamelessly, and often inappropriately, throw around).

Anyhow, after a bit of general poking around, I thought I’d search for specific anime. All my seinen and shounen favourites looked for; some downloaded, some not. When it came to some of the shoujo anime that I watch/ have watched/ know about- the search returned hardly any apps, if at all they did. Surprise surprise! The reason’s an easy guess regardless of vehement denial on the part of many.

Here’s the rough algorithm:
Observation 1. Shoujo anime, target audience- Chicks. Boys don’t watch these-mostly.
Observation 2. Apps- large number of them for popular “guy” anime. Scarce or none for popular “girl” anime.

Basic Assumptions- 1.You can only make an app about something you at least have an inkling about. 2. Since a large number of audience for shounen/seinen anime is male, it is more probable that the app developers for such anime are guys.

Conclusion- Guys watch anime, like it, decide to make an app- sometimes earn off it. Girls watch anime, giggle, move on or try to find themselves an anime-style boyfriend.

Now, I know this is harsh and the people under consideration is merely a certain number of “otakus”. However, is there really not a general trait here? Statistically how many girls could fix their own cars/bikes/computers? And it is hardly about brains at this point- though that might have SOMETHING to do with it- app developing isn’t even restricted to programming anymore- stupid software are available for uh, the less gifted? :-/

I’ve been told girls are just different or not interested–but come now, that’s just a lame argument. If you can use it, shouldn’t at least some part of the population be inclined to make it? All things in perspective- it’s a mystery why women take offence to being called less intelligent or technological idiots, to more specific. Especially when they take a great amount of joy berating 21st century guys who can’t cook or clean up. Equality is weird these days…and I think I’m digressing again. Oh well.

P.S- Yes, yes, counter-argument to personal attacks is available- If you know so much why don’t YOU make an app? I’m working on something. So there- not all women blither. Some women dabble- but only some. And that was precisely my point.

Discoloured Corners

•January 22, 2012 • 2 Comments

Smoke into the winter air.

Swirl, by swirl, by ashes, Disappear.

Bottles of Empty Liquid,

The broken man has cried it all out.

The broken man damaging the corner,

Of a room smelling foul.

Wondering why he can no longer wonder.

Fakes a sob to cry.

Take away: the gaps, the awkward pauses,

In his silence.

A mad din of empty chaos,

Beats down his window.

Silent laughter- shaking him, breaking him, down.

Like the convulsive sobs of the Sunday clown.

Public servants- him and me.

I break down windows,

He sets them free.

Yesterday, he died.

Ugly man in the center, crying, dying;

Hoping to disappear.

Broken man in the corner- broken, violated;

Guilty for fear.

I look in through the windows,

That we set free.

I sigh- damaged man. I let him be.

The blood on my hands from the windows have dried.

Chapped, like the paint on the face of the Sunday clown.

He smiles, paint cracks.

I smile- empty bottles look up.

A crack, a smash- a riddle of noises.

The damaged man- a broken man- looks on.

The world has resumed.

I look in- through the windows that we set free,

Last night.

Taped back- the window, the night.

The sun shines through them.

Damaged man- pulls out a mask- unbroken, crackless.

He puts on his suit with a dab of cologne,

Puts on a smile and leaves.

Travel Wise

•January 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Check out MGH- MyGuestHouse. Their blog offers some of the most insightful solutions to budget travelling your way through the most exquisite locations within India.

http://www.myguesthouse.net/blog/this-christmas-step-out/

Anime Convention India

•September 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Sweet. No wait for it…sweet disaster!  Our very own Anime-con in India, Noida.

If someone hated the very idea of anime and manga and detested every otaku in the world, if he couldn’t stand for a second the thought of a anime-con- that person could not have done a better job with it. There you have it; yes- in a nutshell- shall we say, it sucked? Accuse me of colloquialism all you want, but that right there- smack in the middle of Noida(I guess?) inside the Marwah Studios, was no anime convention, my friends. That was a sham. A bad gimmick. A shame.

With hopes of (as they had so-promised) actions figures, manga , posters, anime goodies and what-nots, to splurge on I reached there(I gloss over the existence of the friend who I persuaded to come with me, so that she doesn’t have to share in the shame of having been there) to find- what? Harry potter anime (yeah, what the hell is that?!) posters adorning the walls. And then some Final Fantasy, some FMA, some Naruto. Okay- so far, so good. And what else? Empty entry gate- a few lost souls scattered around looking, well, lost. Further in- a shabby looking stall-ish thing which “ai cafe” hand-chalk-written on it. Huh. Menu, you say? 5 things- yeah- 5 real, authentic Japanese…no wait. No. Not authentic Japanese. Sushi- with lame excuses for ingredients(California/Mixed pickle choice- so I’m not accused of being biased and hiding info). Bento, served on a tray. Yea, a friggin’ Styrofoam TRAY! Pankora(er, pakora you mean?) fish fry- which was, uh, just fish fry(with BBQ sauce- how very Japanese indeed). Mineral water. And green tea. There you have it. Anime-con menu.

note: Gracious amounts of side dish had been served- a cabbage field trip, sir. And they ran out of sushi by the evening. Wow. @_@

Beyond the sordid food affair, there was, well, more disappointment. After frantically searching for the “Manga Lounge” we were directed to a large-ish room, with 3 tables of random stacks of manga. No full volumes of any manga. Most stuff? Picked up from the Japanese Embassy- and in well, Japanese. Sure these people get the point of a convention?

Manag lounge, really?

And yes, my earlier hopes of splurging- all dashed. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, for sale. Zilch. No manga, no posters, no nothing. A Tokio-ga display of cool otaku artifacts- yes. For sale? No. They asked the people there, willing to pay- willing to pay double even, I’d guess, to go home and order online. Maybe we could also get some spare brains for them while we’re at it. And yes, the site’s got no product listings; it looks poorly constructed and barely running. Yay. :-|

What am I missing? Not much I’d guess, since there was nothing much to miss. Ah..no. But of course, the movie screenings. CALF short films from 1:30-3:30. Then “Time-Traveller- Live Action”—which, never happened. Endless waiting from 3:30 to 4 to 4:30 and still only more short films. And no one had any clue why the schedule was going haywire. Ah well…we’d come this far into anime-hell, expectations were in the gutter already.

So anyway, after a lot of “back and forth”-ing from the lounge to the movie hall and back to the lounge, I decided that Icould have- infact, I do have, everyday- a better “anime-con” at home, with my own personal anime stock. And what about the other folks there, you ask? Huge disappointed uproar? Well—you see, 20 people can’t cause much of an uproar, however disappointed they are. There was a gaming lounge I believe, but I refrain from commenting since I never ventured there. Given the conditions, I’m hardly to blame.

This then, is our Indian anime-con story, folks. Be sure to give it a try next time- maybe a better number of people will do the trick.

Er,wait… next time?? o.O

some real touch- a hommono nihon-jin

A single barred window?

•September 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“If you had a choice- an only choice- what would it rather be? Locked in a room with no access to or knowledge of the world outside, or in a room with a single barred window?”, She asked me recently and I thought, what sort of a question is that? Or is it even one? Wouldn’t we all rather have no window at all, than to look  at a world that we might have had but never will?  No. I’d rather be incapacitated and blind than be just incapacitated.

But as we are now, what is this world but a room with a barred window? What more do we have now than ourselves and false fragments of hope? We cling to it- like dirt to soap, like soap to water. We repel it- like oil to water. It’s a struggle, but we’re always just stuck. An inch that side, an inch to this- but look on and you’ll see that we can not move. Monsters; us. The few of us, the many of us. Monsters in cages. Pitiful, sad. But are we even that? In cages or worse? Monsters in cages at first; addicted to cages now. Set us free, what does it matter? We can no longer hunt. No longer, like she said “even endure the intensity, the fire- of a free existence. The unbound air would sear our lungs.”

All this- all the facts, the truth- burns before our eyes, and we refuse to see it. Why?  What madness is it, that would have us cling to lies? This rabid, insatiable thirst for something more..just something. Even if it isn’t mine. Even it is beyond me. Just the knowledge is enough..even the pain it brings is welcome. Even if it is a lie.

So yes, we’d all choose ignorance over painful realization in a debate. We’d all say- blind us, if you’ll shut us off. Take away our senses, we couldn’t bear to live- cut off- in a world where we could still see the sky. Lock us up, if you will, but take away that cursed window.

But outside of conversations- everyday- we long to know, we kill to see- all that we can never have. All things said, aren’t we all, in reality, so very loyal to that single barred window?

Ellipses…

•July 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There’s something about them- undignified, yet so alluring. They just happen to be around, when you run out of yourself. Always there…wonder why I need them so…

 
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