Doctor X street promotion ads

Ryoko Yonekura’s medical drama Doctor X got lots of love on Tokyo streets and train station during its premiere week on October 2012.


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Bloody Monday – Episode 4 (Review)

Episode 4

Review by David Cirone

Maya double-crosses Hoshou, shooting her in the arm. “Now you can go back to being a spy,” she leers before making her getaway. Hoshou leaves Falcon next to Kano’s body and speeds back to THIRD-i.

As she bandages her wounded arm, we get a flashback of Hoshou’s past. Her brother was a government special agent, and was framed for crimes against Japan. Unable to prove his innocence, he took his own life, giving Hoshou a new, singular purpose: revenge.

Saori makes a noble sacrifice

Arriving at THIRD-i, she hooks up bomb full of Bloody X virus to the agency’s ventilation system, setting the timer to give her enough room to escape the building. Kirishima’s fiancee Saori works as support staff at THIRD-i, and she goes down to the basement to find out why the A/C isn’t working right.

Falcon’s sister Haruka is in the hospital for her dialysis treatment, and since Falcon’s a no-show, his newspaper club buddies show up to keep her company. Haruka’s worried about her brother, and asks Aoi to call THIRD-i. Aoi calls Hoshou, innocently asking about Falcon’s whereabouts during his sister’s time of need. Hoshou says she’ll be right there.

Kirishima and THIRD-i under attack

At THIRD-i, Saori discovers the bomb and calls Kirishima. He implores her to get out as fast as she can, but the timer’s gone down to the final seconds. She shuts down the ventilation system, saving THIRD-i but sealing herself in with the bomb as it releases the gas.

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Ace Attorney (live-action) (Review)

Ace Attorney
Review by Jen Wang


Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban in Japanese) takes place in the “near future”, in which people have anime hair and punny names. Courtrooms employ holographic technology that looks like it came from Stark Industries, and cases must be settled in three days in a reality TV-like format. Phoenix Wright (Hiroki Narimiya) is a rookie defense attorney who finds himself entangled in two big cases. The first deals with the murder of his mentor while the second has him defending Miles Edgeworth (Saitoh Takumi), a prosecutor whose ruthless tactics have won him admiration but not a lot of allies.

The plot tries to accomplish a lot, maybe a little too much. Although the minor events are connected to the main plot, some of the side scenes, as funny as they were, took away from the sense of urgency that the new trial system should bring. Wright’s personal growth also isn’t very evident, but he does gain more confident as a litigator by the end. The more interesting development is Edgeworth who suddenly finds himself on the other side of the courtroom. The false accusation and hidden truths from his past have him reevaluating his methods.

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JOKER – Episode 1 (Review)

JOKER Yurusarezaru Sosakan
Episode 1

Review by David Cirone

Police detective Kazuyoshi Date (Masato Sakai) exacts vengeance for murder.

Kanagawa police detective Kazuyoshi Date (Masato Sakai)’s bumbling, meek demeanor keeps him under the radar, but he’s hiding a dark side. Using his police connections, he tracks down killers who escape the law and deals secret, bloody justice.

In the opening episode, Date and new assistant inspector Asuka Miyagi (Ken Watanabe’s actress daughter, Anne) work to decipher the clues surrounding the murder of a young child. The suspect taunts Date and Miyagi with the lack of evidence, and it appears he’s going to get away with it after all.

Detective Date (Masato Sakai) ponders the need for justice.

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Doctor X – Episode 1 (Review)

Doctor X ~ Gekai Daimon Michiko
Episode 1

Review by David Cirone

Surgeon Michiko Daimon (Ryoko Yonekura) breaks from the pack in Doctor X.

The opening shot of of Doctor X shows Ryoko Yonekura as the detached, haunted surgeon Michiko Daimon standing beside a desolated seaside clinic. The solitary whistle might recall a bit of Spaghetti Western Clint Eastwood, and that’s no accident. Just like the Man-With-No-Name, Daimon says little and works alone, and she carries a rather large chip on her shoulder.

There’s a crisis in a top university medical hospital. Long hours and hospital politics have caused a flood of surgeon resignations, forcing hospital administrators to turn to “freelancers”. Daimon’s agency claims she can do the work of 3 doctors, but she has her own rules: she doesn’t socialize, she doesn’t do anything that doesn’t require a medical license, and she doesn’t work a minute of overtime.

Right from the get-go, Daimon openly challenges the hospital director Kubo’s outdated methods (he’s so proud of his reputation, he even has his own name-brand equipment), and later dives in to a botched surgery to save the patient from the incompetence of the surgical staff. She’s a clear-cut rebel, and she struts in to work in high boots, refusing to step aside in the hallway for her superiors.

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DOG x POLICE: The K-9 Force (Review)

DOG x POLICE: The K-9 Force
Review by David Cirone


DOG x POLICE delivers heroic dogs and warm-fuzzy dog-human relationships — that’s no surprise, and you can guess what’s coming from the film’s poster starring Hayato Ichihara. The secret weapon here are the new-born puppies just minutes into the film. How can you resist?

Beat patrolman Hayakawa (played by Rookies star Hayato Ichihara) breaks protocol and goes on a solo chase after a bombing suspect. The felon turns out to be just a lowly drug dealer who’s scared of police, but their struggle blocks the way of a vet who’s racing to deliver some puppies. Hayakawa helps him along, and the delivery is successful for three young pups, but a fourth albino puppy seems to emerge stillborn. Hayakawa isn’t the kind to give up easily, and he revives the young puppy.

Hayato Ichihara in DOG x POLICE: The K-9 Force

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From Me to You (Review)

From Me to You
Review by Jen Wang


In a way From Me to You, known in Japan as Kimi ni Todoke, is a typical popular guy-meets-shy girl story. Sawako Kuwanuma (Mikako Tabe) grew up with the misfortune of looking like Sadako from The Ring. She is actually a sweet young girl, but her social anxiety gives her a dour appearance. Her classmates ostracize her until the beginning of her first year in high school when she meets Shota Kazehaya (Haruma Miura), a guy is liked by all his classmates.

However, the movie is a lot deeper than most shoujo manga adaptations. Much of the movie is about how appearances are deceiving, and even Sawako learns not to misjudge her friends. Sawako’s on-screen metamorphosis is gradual; she doesn’t need a makeover to show off her inner beauty. There’s a lovely moment when the wind blows her hair out of her face and she’s smiling. The audience sees what Kazehaya has seen since day one.

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Yae no Sakura – Trailer (video)

Yae no Sakura (trailers)

NHK’s Taiga Drama Yae no Sakura, starring Haruka Ayase

NHK website for Yae no Sakura