Apr 27

Space Battleship Yamato (Film Review)

Space Battleship Yamato (film)
Review by Jen Wang


The live-action adaption of the classic anime, Space Battleship Yamato, has all the potential to be an epic space opera.  A malevolent alien species called Gamilas threatens the existence of humanity, which decides to bank its chances on a Hail Mary mission carried out by the oddball crew of the Yamato.  There’s cool special effects, tense action scenes, moments of tragedy and humor, and even a dash of romance.  The promise the film shows in the beginning, however, ends up petering out into clichés and heavy-handed melodrama.

Takuya Kimura plays the perfectly-coiffed reluctant hero, Susumu Kodai.   His lonely life is turned upside down by a bizarre accident.  Despite having no love for the military, he re-enlists to help out Yamato‘s crew, most of whom welcome him with open arms and a few drinks.  Only Yuki Mori (Meisa Kuroki), the young ace pilot with a mean right hook, treats him coldly.  There’s no explanation for the familiarity and her grudge until Mori sits down with Kodai’s friend, Daisuke Shima (Naoto Ogata), in a very contrived scene.


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Mar 20

Rurouni Kenshin – Kyoto Inferno (trailer)


Takeru Sato stars in this year’s sequel to the 2012 live-action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin.

Mar 17

UTB Los Angeles premieres record-setting Japanese drama Hanzawa Naoki


Los Angeles television station UTB 18.2 has announced the start of two new drama series in Spring 2014.

Hanzawa Naoki stars Masato Sakai (who previously starred in UTB’s crime drama Joker) as a loan officer forced to take the blame for a bad loan approved by his superiors. Hanzawa decides to recover the money himself and vows “double payback” on those who betrayed him. The multiple award-winning drama received consistently high ratings in Japan in 2013, and the final episode achieved a 42.2% audience share in the Kanto area, the highest figure for a drama in the Heisei Era.

Hanzawa Naoki begins broadcast for free in the Southern California area with English subtitles on April 6.
More information and broadcast schedule:


Long-running police detective series Aibou (Partners) returns to UTB for its twelfth season, starring Yutaka Mizutani and Hiroki Narimiya. The series has won multiple awards in past seasons for writing, directing, and acting, including awards for its two lead stars.

Aibou 12 begins broadcast for free in the Southern California area with English subtitles on March 27.
More information and broadcast schedule:

For updates and more information about UTB 18.2′s free, 24-hour Japanese programs:
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Mar 17

Rookies – Episode 5 (Review)

Episode 5

Review by David Cirone


The first practice game begins, giving the Nikogaku team a chance to show the results of all their hard work. The boys still lament Shinjo’s (Yuu Shirota) absence, and their excitement to get started makes them a bit too hyped up to control their tempers. They fight among themselves, and come dangerously close to showing the opposing team their former violent ways. Kawato’s (Ryuta Sato) positivity keeps them in line, even though he’s fumbling his way through his first official coaching game by giving obvious signals from the sidelines.

Aniya’s (Hayato Ichihara) fastball proves deadly to the visiting team, but he overdoes it and Kawato has to rotate pitchers mid-game, democratically starting in alphabetical order. Aniya’s got a bad attitude anyway, keeping his distance from the team and trying to handle every play by himself. When his teammates challenge him, he reveals that he made a secret deal with the school’s principal to dissolve the team if they can’t win this first practice game.



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Feb 17

UTB Los Angeles premieres new dramas Strategist Kanbe and My Little Nightmare


NHK historical Taiga drama Gunshi Kanbe (English broadcast title: Strategist Kanbe) stars Junichi Okada as a gifted strategist from Himeji who supported the famous leader Hideyoshi Toyotomi with his eloquence and brilliant military strategies during Japan’s Age of Civil Wars. Okada, a member of the Japanese pop group V6, has won acting awards in Japan for his work in the drama series SP and Tiger & Dragon. Okada is joined in the series by award-wining actress and singer Miki Nakatani (Ringu, Jin, Densha Otoko).

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