Catching up: Steeleye’s recent picks

I had a lengthy (and perhaps healthy) break from dramas and movies. Upon return, I found myself drawn to a number of them again.  Here are my picks that I haven’t mentioned yet at all. Movies will be covered in another post and I’ll come back to these dramas in separate posts.

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Ashita, Mama ga Inai  (Japan)  –  Big props for unique mood and delivery, like a dark fairy tale.  A story of residents of a certain house..and its eccentric director who has a lot of heart.

  • creative angle, original delivery and mood: dark fairy tale, like a modernized version of something like the little princess or similar, one where mood and setting brought out a certain severity of circumstances and pain that gradually thawed into hope
  • great casting:  Ashida’s character had fascinating maturity and spunk to her, I loved the stories and I loved her bond with the director as well.  Hiroshi-san, the actor who portrayed the director, is quite great at raw emotions, similarly to uchino masaaki. he too had a deeper story, deeper motivations. He and Ashida pretty much shined in all this the most, they had most charisma.
  • characters who are evocative and require some reading between the lines; all characters here had their story,… and…like in an imperfect fairy tale, they had their own endings to follow, not necessarily a classic happy ever after, but endings that carried hope for their future, filled with better days, feelings, companionship, but also scars.

This and dramas like Family’s form or Tonbi or Jin remind me just why I love Japanese dramas. They are able to be meaningful without being wishy washy, they are able to contain emotionality within tight frames, without becoming overly sentimental, but still having that something that hits the right chords. It takes some really fine writing and execution to do that. This drama has that freshness that makes it one of a kind for me.    A memorable drama definitely one of my all time favourite/beloved Japanese dramas if only for the mood and delivery I found very unique as well as for the bonds.

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Memory – from the writer of Mawang, comes another great human story that is an all-around comprehensive tale with a bit of everything it: investigation, redemption, love, side love story, loyal friendship.  A story of a lawyer who reevaluates some things when faced with an illness that cannot be reversed.  It’s a very human story about holding on to memories and letting go, about priorities in life, a memorable drama about memories and losing them…My favorite scenes are about Lawyer Park and his family, particularly his son.   There is LOTS going on and the drama is never boring. It’s s  really memorable drama that has everything, even down to a cute side story office romance but subtle, kind of between the lines thing- the two side characters were really supportive of the main protagonist too. One of the final scenes was very telling about memory…it was literally thrown away, but perhaps there was no need for it anymore… Is it better to forget some things and what is worth remembering? What will be remembered? Also about guilt , shame and taking responsibility for mistakes and crimes. All round great drama with capable cast and good story. ..no histrionics or silly twists, just a human story.

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Family’s Form
– What form the family in this drama has? What is family anyway? This Japanese drama had everything I love about Japanese dramas.  A story of a bachelor whose life is suddenly turned upside down with the arrival of his father, a new neighbour and other tenants that disturb the peace and quiet of his castle and turn its established order upside down!
Nice dialogues, not weepy or oversentimental but still conveying the right feelings. Good role by Katori Shingo, loved Daisuke and his relationship with people. He and Hanako have become an otp.  Daisuke’s a very endearing character , talks a lot, complains a lot but  he’s really very very endearing and when it comes down to it he doesn;t ignore the things that matter. It totally and absolutely hit the spot! Definitely and absolutely my kind of drama. I loved all characters, loved the father-son relationship, a pretty patchwork family here, some fabulous lines – it is very well written, gives something to read between the lines whilst keeping exactly the RIGHT kind of feel.. a great overall feel of the drama! <instantlove favourite.

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Five Enough –  Yours, Mine and Ours, Korean style and it was absolutely delightful.  Focus on two single parents with kids (one widower, one divorced) and there are two arcs: they fall in love, and in part two – they deal with the consequences of the decision to marry and how it affects their family.  I like that drama doesn’t magically make them and their children family but instead shows there has to be acceptance, that the process is slow and includes some trial and error, mistakes, anger, sense of confusion and acceptance and love.  Ahn Jae Wook’s warmth and the female’s lead headstrong capability made this drama for me. I loved it.  It was warm, the leads were great together and had cute family side stories. I loved the entire family ensemble and the pacing of everything; I loved the dynamic between the leads; there was a lot of acceptance and understanding and coming to terms. Warm and very pleasant all the way through, one of my favouyrite Korean family dramas with developments that fell well paced. I wanted to spend time with that lovable patchwork family.  I have a soft spot for AJW- he always brings out warnth in the character he plays, at least in the dramas I’ve seen himin so far- he makes his characters very likeable and reliable.

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Goblin  –   A man sentenced to an eternity of several lifetimes- always left alone by those he loves…and a woman who can save him….except there’s a  bitter catch… Romantic modern and bittersweet fairytale. Goblin has a story and it’s one that satisfies the romantic in me, as well as the lover of fairy tales in me, it has good developments and fleshes out things beyond the love story. Goon Yo was perfect as the Goblin, and the overall fantasy mood was done right. This clearly was a well thought out drama, the thought went into carving the characters and their story It was both nostalgic and lovely. Goblin and Goblin’s bride were delightful, there were some other stories mixed in that added more interest to the story beyond romance. I’m not fond of most Korean fantasy dramas but this satisfied romantic fairy taleness quality I do enjoy.   It is creative and the feelings that are there are done right it’s a modern fairy tale.  There is an aspect of helping various ghosts as well, the backstory of goblin and a few other supporting stories that interconnect and create a compelling fairy tale… I actually love this drama. I also love how it was introduced, very effective first episode!  This one has the right feelings and doesn’t feel stilted. The feelings between the goblin and the goblin bride are palpable and it’s a real red string of fate here, a drama that plays on the concept of soulmate.  I really do love it, it;s quite imaginative. I proclaim this to be the first korean fantasy drama I ever liked or connected with. I love its imaginative character and writing is really up to par this time, especially for the feelings and the struggle of individual character, especially goblin’s  loneliness and plight.  This is a good, pretty imaginative watch, like a fairy tale if that’s your thing.  The bittersweet ending made it more worthwhile- there was a sense of good balance achieved. It was beautiful and magical as a fairy tale. Its writer is a hit or miss with me. DOTS was a sad disaster but she also penned City Hall, that I still like.  This is a lovely fairy tale.

1.pngReply 1988 –  Reply series is a very refreshing series of dramas that builds on nostalgia for the past and weaves cultural elements into the narrative- a very interesting idea for any tv series ever.  I am a big fan of Reply 1994 and its pairing  as well as of the overall concept behind the Reply series that makes it so appealing (referring to the past with its culture, it’s a phenomenal idea) and Reply 1988 is finally the installment that realizes more fully the potential behind this concept.  It is better than other parts in that it significantly reduces the annoyingly stupid husband guess game…and you can;t go wrong with who the husband choice is.  Timing is everything and one of them misses his timing completely. But leaving that aside..the focus in this drama is a lot more on fanily bonds and nostalgia..it;s a beautiful drama, with great ensemble cast, there is a lot of focus on father-son relationships, relationships and friendships between neighbours and on the nostalgia for the street, for the past, for community and closeness. Much more coming of age, much more bonding and developments between everyone,. not just the husband and wife game.  All characters are super lovable and as the viewer, I bonded with all of them a lot and they all get stories and developments. R.1988 achieves what no other Reply has, making it overall the best Reply. The sense of nostalgia is strong, it;s a beautiful family drama.

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Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim  –  a doctor\s fate is tied to at least two younger doctors he takes under his care and supervision. How fate can be ironic, there are some good things to be had in this drama, human story and a story of a mentorship and the central story of Teacher Kim who is connected to everyone else, as such it is his story and how he affected and keeps affecting others. There were several interesting things in this drama that I wish had been more in the focus instead of the romance between young leads.

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I’m not fond of the young cast starring in this drama but I sure love Han Seok Kyu and his romantic character who helps others quietly, in his own ways, stands up for things and shoulders blame and responsibility for a lot of things. He’s strict but he cares. for those under his care.   I did  really enjoy his mentorship with Kand Dong Joo and the little twists that put Kang Dong Joo in tight spots…the drama looped around certain issues to highlight  the growth of characters… The story wastes too much time on empty romance scenes that are not interesting and mean little.. the only time when the romance is given more meaning imho is actually in the Untold Story/ extra special episode. That’s when I went. Ah. I think I know what they were after, but even so, they could have made it stronger in the story.  The story itself has good intentions and touches on at least several issues, such as how a young person such as Kang Fong Joo, angry at the world can easily become tied by the same mechanisms he criticizes? What nakes a good doctor in his case? He and Teacher K<im have a soecial mentorship and those two anchored my interest in the drama…I had little interest in anything else, especially the romance. i needed more focus on  development and growth here. Overall, while I really liked it and its human aspects, overall atmosphere. I still think the drama could have used more development and more charisma from the younger cast, since their acting falls a little flat. Han Seok Kyou was great.

President – with Choi Su Jong – what price do you need to pay for power and dreams? Choi Su Jong learns it in this story that is channeled through the eyes of a young man invited to film him. It focus on the president and his dilemmas and conflicts that are conplicated by certain relationship.  Yu Pd, the character who focalises the storu, is a really likeable and strong young man.  There are some historionics but to me the story had strong enough ideas and developed the character of the Preisdent as Yu PD got to know him and his many sides.

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Tenno no Ryoriban – as they say, great talents mature late and this is one such story. The story of a man who matured late, finding passion late in life..and about sacrifices his family and friends made to help him achieve it…through ups and downs, Tokuzo is led to maturity as well as success.  Phenomenal character-focused story. Sato Takeru’s drama choices tend to be to my liking (Loved Tonbi and Bitter Blood) and this was such a comprehensive story too..i loved the protagonist’s change and growth., his relationship with his lovely brother and overall regard for family.  This drama was a true journey through places, time and milestones  for the protagonist. Very engaging on all counts, memorable characters.   The main protagonist is such a character…it’s a joy to watch.

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Special: Splash Splash Love :  Why rain is nice,  one reason to like rain 🙂 Cute little time travel drama with engaging developments, an enjoyable watch.

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