Mannequin Five Spring Date SP!

I want everybody out there to hear that I’m tremendously spending too much time watching ARASHI’s MANNEQUIN FIVE! Haha. Seriously though, I’ve been really into the show because I wanted to see how stylish these boys are when it comes to clothing by themselves – if they really do it by themselves; or on the other hand, how much they need help from a fashion police. But then again, I’m not really that big on fashion and I usually go by the common sense.

Anyway, let’s start with their first special for MFive, with the theme of Best Spring Date Outfit. There’s no spring from where I come from, but the weather can be chilly sometimes – well, on really very rare occasions – and as I’ve said I’m going to use common sense, so no one gets butthurt or something.

Sakurai Sho Mannequin Five Spring Date

I’m going to start with Sakurai Sho-san. I honestly like the simplicity of his outfit. It’s something that I would like to see on a guy I’m with. Except that this outfit with look better on non-hi-cut sneakers. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t know when hi-cuts will work best, so better play safe and wear it with long pants (I know I do, but that’s because I’m short). Maybe if he’s wearing shorter pants, it will look better? I don’t know, I’m honestly not too sure (if so, why the hell am I writing this again?!). Also, I like the general image that it’s effortlessly done – like he purposefully wore something that’s atop his dresser, but managed to look good in it. But then again, he’s Sakurai Sho, he’s ARASHI, there’s only a few number of people who’d disagree on a proud level. (I’m honestly taking that statement back later on so watch out for it.)

Aiba Masaki Mannequin five Spring Date

Second, Aiba Masaki-san’s coordination! I love his double-shirt style, like seriously. The pattern, the design, and the color matched really well. Well, I honestly love his whole outfit, I can even forgive the female section pants and the shouting red shoes (because I love red in everything). I was disappointed that this came only fourth. Now like in any other dissection, I would like to point out that if it’s not Aiba wearing this, it might not just work. LOL my ‘giving-in-to-Aiba’s-fashion-sense-syndrome’. But honestly, it really depends on the person on how to pull an outfit off.

Ninomiya Kazunari Mannequin Five Spring Date

Third is Ninomiya Kazunari-san’s turn on the hot seat. I have to say that I hate that over-sized trench coat on him. It makes him look shorter than he already is! And the slouchy jeans, seriously makes him look like he’s all over the place! I like the color combination, though. The orange scarf and belt are fresh to look at; correct me if I’m wrong, but the pants are kind of a pastel blue? I like that it’s that shade because it sort of tones down the bright orange. He has a vest and white dress shirt underneath that hideous coat, mind you. All in all, this is an okay outfit, but really, Nino, loose the coat.

Ohno Satoshi Mannequin Five Spring Date

Fourth is Riida, Ohno Satoshi-san. I will disregard the fact that he actually bought off what’s on a mannequin. But really, I don’t have much to say about this outfit except it really looks cool. It’s safe, too. I’m not surprised a lot of people liked this outfit. However, maybe he could have chosen a pair of jeans that aren’t acid washed? You know, those traditional denims? And the fold at the hem is a turn off. I’ve recently thought that folding pants outward makes one look short – somewhere in the lines off, why the heck did you buy a pair of pants longer than you; or your waist/hips is not proportioned to your lower torso’s length, or something like that. (I have honestly made quite a few trips to the tailor the past few months to get my pants cut, because yes, my hips/waist is not proportioned to the length of my lower torso.) Now, back to Riida, the fish at the pocket was really cute! People have been fooled by that heart-shaped tail, but it was really nice of him to incorporate his favorite hobby in his outfit. It screams, “I’m OHNO AND I LOVE FISHING!” even if he didn’t exactly coordinated that himself.

Matsumoto Jun Mannequin Five Spring Date

The last one will be for Matsumoto Jun. I’m not going to lie, but really, if he were my boyfriend, and we’ll be out on a date, I’ll tell him to go back and change the moment I land my eyes on him. End of discussion. No, but seriously, I was wondering where all that talk about Jun being a GREAT dresser came from. I’m beginning to doubt his fashion instincts, sadly. But maybe he tried too hard? His attack didn’t work out though. He wore a number of better outfits while he was in the three-hour shopping spree! So you see, even if he is a member of ARASHI, the outfit really doesn’t work!

Anyway, this discussion has come to an end. And putting the results aside, I’d like to also rank them according to my taste.

1.)    Sakurai Sho

2.)    Aiba Masaki

3.)    Ohno Satoshi

4.)    Ninomiya Kazunari

5.)    Matsumoto Jun

Looking at that list, I really feel sorry for Jun. He’s my ichiban in ARASHI and yet that didn’t help his coordination. And Nino’s too, even if he is my niban, it didn’t work as well. Oh well.


Looking into MAOU: Review

credit: dramawiki

Okay, I know I still haven’t done that review for SMILE, Kimi wa Petto, Ryusei no Kizuna, and the Endless Love Series. But this dorama was such a show stopper, I had to eventually write in my review. Before Nino and Karina’s dorama starts, and Shun and Mao’s.

Alright, to start with, let me remind everyone that 1.) I’m no pro at doing reviews; and 2.) beware of spoilers. If you hate spoilers like me, please go read other stuff on this page. It will definitely kill the suspense this drama boasts of.

Moving on, let me start with the acting of the cast. I’m actually not surprised that Ohno Satoshi got a Best Actor Award for his role as Naruse Ryou/Manaka Tomoo. His crying scenes were brilliant, and the intense glare very passionate. I am at a loss for words for Ikuta Toma, though. His role here is a breath of fresh air, and I’m glad he has taken on such a mature and manly role. He is also a good actor, but I can’t really put myself on saying that this is one of his best performances. There seems to be lacking in his acting, and I can’t put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not blaming his character in the story, because Naoto has that special complex that is not easily pulled off. On the other hand, I think anyone will be confused with the real Ohno Satoshi after watching this dorama. He has taken ‘Riida’ on a complete U-turn.

There is also something that irks me about Kobayashi Ryoko and her Shiori. She played her role well, but similar to Toma, I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong with her acting. It’s the first time I’ve seen her, so I really don’t know if she did better here or not. The person who took home the Best Supporting Actor award, Tanaka Kei was surprising. I’ve only seen him in Taiyou no Uta, and his performance here was an absolute jump from his previous one. After all, playing someone who hides something like an affair is a hard task. I give him props for his overall acting.

I don’t have much to say about the other characters though. Half the cast died anyway, and their screen time was not enough for me to dissect if they were good or not. But some were quite overboard.

Now the story. I loved the fact that I was kept glued on my seat waiting for the next episode to finish the download. Call me twisted, but I was more excited on who will die next and how. The way Naruse sort of executed the first three victims was brilliant. Kumada’s death fell under a justified self-defense, Yosuke’s death as well. Ikihata’s was more complicated and required more than circumstances to happen. Setting up the warehouse was important of course. Locking all other possible ways out, luck was on Naruse’s side when he fell to his death. While all circumstances point to Naruse, hard evidence is non-existent. Starting with Souda’s death though, it’s as if the victims have taken into their hands their own deaths.

Up to the very last minute though, I kept on thinking what will happen in the end. Before I watched the last episode of Maou, I was watching an episode from Gokusen I. it was pointed out that revenge will never really end unless one party stops it. in Maou’s case, unless someone dies, there can never be an end. I was lost by the fact that Manaka Tomoo wanted his life to end, and bring pain and suffering to Serizawa Naoto along with it. This is a fresh form of revenge for me, and I appreciated the way the plot was molded into something like that. Both of them dying were actually better than having one die because of the other. It’s a safe conclusion, I guess.

With regard to the music, I simply adore the insert songs. I’ve always taken a liking on Gregorian chants, and the way those sheets were used in most of the climactic scenes was priceless. It also gave more solid connection to Satan that Naruse is likened to in the beginning of every episode. Arashi’s truth is also nice to listen to as it’s both intense and suspense combined in one song.

The problems I had with this dorama however were quite a surprise. I don’t think Christian faith believes in tarot cards but it seemed tarot cards play an important role in Shiori’s life. Also, Shiori and Naruse exchanged a lot of deep conversations, which I actually lost track making sense of, it’s frustrating. Also, there’s the gap between the deaths of the second and third victim. I felt that I was waiting for forever before a next person is dead – but this might just be me and my twisted appreciation for deaths in suspense dramas.

Overall, I will rate this drama an 8.5 out of ten. Recommended for Ohno and Ikuta Toma fans, suspense dramas, legal themes, and OhMiya.

Letters from Iwo Jima: Taking a look at Nino

I watched Letters from Iwo Jima last week. I thought that I should make a review of the film. But, 1) it’s a war film, I don’t think I can do one for it, and 2) it’s based on history, of which I only know the story from my country’s point of view. If I’m going to write a review for it, I should keep in mind facts more than the emotions in it (although I might write one just because of the exemplary acting of the cast).

Anyway, while I was looking up Nino again online, I stumbled on this article. I thought people might want to read about it, because it gives Nino too much praise. Not that I’m complaining, of course. I learned more about him through this article.

The story is written on this actor’s face
Kazunari Ninomiya, 23, expands an already long resume as the `Iwo Jima’ soldier on whose visage war’s toll is etched.
January 28, 2007|Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer


credit: google

Tokyo — KAZUNARI Ninomiya’s face is unblemished, almost fragile, a porcelain slate of innocence onto which director Clint Eastwood projects the emotional toll of war in “Letters From Iwo Jima.” Ninomiya plays Saigo, an apolitical baker conscripted into the doomed defense of the island, fighting not for the generals or the emperor but only to survive and return to his wife and infant daughter. Through his eyes we see battle, its cynicism, fear, the hatreds and pity. An unknown actor to American audiences, his face was perfect for Eastwood’s Everyman.

But in Japan, Ninomiya is a mega-star, a face you can’t avoid. This wisp of a 23-year-old has been in the business since he was 14. Big screen and small. Theater. A singer and dancer in Arashi (Storm), one of Japan’s most popular male idol bands (and the Japanese love their idol bands). Ninomiya does TV commercials. He does radio shows, and he’s a regular presence in Japan’s mass-selling fan magazines. Even his voice is in demand, heard as one of the leading characters in the feature-length anime “Tekkon Kinkreet.” The kid likes to work.

“It’s different from wanting to be a star — I’ve always wanted to create something, I want to share the joy of creation with others,” Ninomiya said between appearances last month for the Tokyo premiere of “Letters,” which remains at the top of the Japanese box office weeks after release. The first screenings had left several young women in the audience in tears, though it was hard to tell whether they were crying over Saigo’s story or from excitement when Ninomiya appeared on stage to take a bow with his costars after the credits.

Cute? Well, yes.


credit: google

CREATIVITY doesn’t usually come high on the list of skills needed to succeed in Japanese pop culture, where cuteness is prized above all. Ninomiya is a product of the artist management company Johnny & Associates, founded in 1963 by California-born Johnny Kitagawa, which has produced the cutest of the cute in the boy idol industry.

With his stable of talent — talento as it is known here — Johnny’s exerts extraordinary power over Japanese entertainment. Kitagawa’s formulaically engineered idol bands, beginning with the Four Leaves in 1968 and continuing today with the omnipresent SMAP and a steady stream of other squeal-inducers like Arashi, don’t just sing. Selected from thousands of auditioning teens, the idols are trained to dance, act and handle themselves on TV as part of Kitagawa’s grooming for stardom. He uses established stars to leverage TV exposure for newcomers, a grip over the celebrity-thirsty networks that is commercially successful but also suggests that Johnny’s is more factory than talent incubator.

Yet many here argue that Ninomiya is different from most of the cookie-cutter cuties of the idol world. He acted before he sang, debuting on stage rather than TV, in a production of “Stand by Me” at age 14. He had the River Phoenix role.

“Nino stood out early,” says Julie Fujishima, a vice president at Johnny’s. “He came to us to become a talento, but it was obvious he had a talent for acting.” Fujishima says Ninomiya’s breakthrough came in a TV drama called “Amagigoe” that aired on New Year’s Day 1998. “He was very special, very good, and it got everyone’s attention.”

More TV dramas followed (TV tends to create bigger stars among Japanese fans than the movies do). And in 1999, Ninomiya became one of the five young stars selected by Johnny’s to join Arashi, a J-pop troupe that made its singing and dancing debut on a cruise ship off Hawaii before it had a record out.

“I always liked singing,” Ninomiya says. “When I was in the car with my family we’d always play music. I liked American bands, and I went to a Bon Jovi concert when they came to Tokyo Dome. Also Backstreet Boys. When I go to concerts by Japanese musicians, I tend to study them. But American musicians entertain me.”

A string of Arashi hits predictably followed, though the relentlessly bland J-pop is not really about the music but about the look. It was Jun Matsumoto, with his ripped abs, who emerged as the band’s biggest heartthrob, its Davy Jones, to use a Monkees analogy.

Arashi members have all cultivated different personalities for their fans, and Ninomiya is known as the “actor” in the group. He made his first movie in 2002, a supporting role in a drama called “Pikanchi, Life Is Hard, but Happy.” He continued to find theater roles, playing the James Dean role of Jim Stark in a two-month run of “Rebel Without a Cause” in 2005.

And this month, he starts a TV series called “Dear Father,” in which he plays an apprentice chef working for a tough Tokyo master. He laughs when asked if he can cook. “No,” he says as he emerges from the set’s kitchen during a break in the shooting, his hands wet from washing dishes. “But the work is fun.”

“There’s a real personality to his acting,” says Rieko Miyamoto, the show’s director. “He can act with his mouth and his eyes.” So Ninomiya was an obvious candidate when Eastwood sent out a casting call to Japanese actors for “Letters From Iwo Jima.” In addition to his talent, the studio calculated that Ninomiya’s J-pop aura might drag a younger crowd to the box office, a tactic that has paid off to some degree, though Warner Bros. exit figures still show that the bulk of the movie’s Japanese audience is in its late 30s to early 50s.

Audition tapes were sent across the Pacific to the late Phyllis Huffman, the casting director who had been a longtime Eastwood collaborator. Johnny’s had another of its stars in mind for the Saigo role and Ninomiya was originally cast as Private Shimizu, the idealistic military policeman sent to Iwo Jima as punishment for showing mercy toward civilians. But Eastwood had not settled on his Saigo, and the director asked Ninomiya to read again for that part.

A personal connection


credit: google

LIKE most young Japanese, Ninomiya had only a sketchy idea about the events at Iwo Jima in early 1945. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he at least knew where the tiny volcanic island is located because he has a map of Japan on the wall of his bathroom at home “and when I sit down, Iwo Jima is right in front of my eyes.”

He went into the role the way Japanese soldiers went to battle: unsure of the fate that awaited them, suppressing their emotions. Japanese directors like to exaggerate emotions, he says, cranking up the tears and the music. “They make movies with greater and greater emotion, and it’s not realistic,” Ninomiya says. “So if you make a movie [like ‘Letters’] that is based on reality, some people will find it uninteresting. They will say I should have cried more in certain scenes.”

Ninomiya shed his tears after the film was in the can. His grandfather had been a soldier sent off to fight Japan’s imperial wars. And he told his grandson about his war: stationed in the occupied Korean peninsula, taken prisoner by Soviet troops, incarcerated in Siberia.

Then the grandson, having played a suffering soldier facing slaughter in a hopeless cause, found himself one night watching another war drama on Japanese TV.

“I couldn’t stop crying,” he says. “I cried, because it was my grandfather’s story.”

I know now that both Nino and I have grandpas that were soldiers in WW2. I basically know how he feels as I also feel the same way whenever my Grandpa will tell stories about the war.