Review: Osen (2008)

Manga credit:

I can’t remember how I found out about Osen but I knew I had to give it a shot after checking out the manga that it was adapted from. Written by Kikuchi Shota and serialized in the Japanese men’s magazine Evening, Osen is a manga about food (or more specifically, traditional Japanese cuisine) and a fond tribute to the vanishing artistic traditions of the country. Most of the story takes place in Isshouan, a venerated traditional Japanese restaurant located in the town of Kasagi-no-yado near Tokyo. It’s one of those places that rely not so much on media publicity but the loyal patronage of regulars and “those in the know”.

As you can imagine of a restaurant of this calibre, the food served at Isshouan is of the pornographic, superlative-inducing variety. However its main star is really its foxy proprietress Osen, an unabashed sake-loving hedonist who can often be seen enjoying a long soak in the bath or lounging around in a semi-perpetual state of undress.

Don’t be fooled by her come hither pouts though. There’s a reason everyone, from the restaurant’s patrons to the town’s villagers, fawns over her and that’s because Osen has skills no one can touch (of course the fact that she’s a total babe probably has something to do with it as well.) As the okami of Isshouan, her knowledge of food and culinary techniques is unparalleled but being a master chef isn’t her only call to adulation. She’s also a master potter, gardener and sake maker – a living embodiment of the artisan trades that once flourished in Old Japan, if you will – as well as one helluva okami.

This is the de-facto response everyone has when they meet Osen.

Nothing fazes Osen, not even the sudden arrival of a sumo wrestler and his entourage, and every time you see her diffusing a crisis with her skillz (or plain common sense), you can’t help but wonder: ‘Why has no one made this woman mayor of Tokyo yet?”

It goes without saying that I think the manga is definitely worth checking out (only the first two chapters of Volume 1 have been translated into English though) but what about the drama?  (more…)

Totally Random Review: L’appartement (1996)

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Romane Bohringer, Monica Bellucci, Jean-Phillipe Ecoffey

Director: Giles Mimouni

Some movies stay with you long after the credits have stopped rolling, making you wonder what would have happened if things had turned out differently. Such is the case with L’appartement (or The Apartment). (more…)

Review: The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry (2010)

The cast: Park Jin Hee, Wang Bit Na, Uhm Ji Won, Kim Bum, Choi Chul Ho, Lee Pil Mo and a bunch of other people

In the grand scheme of Korean (well, actually most Asian) dramas, few things are worse than being a single woman in her thirties. Married to a cheating husband? Saddled with the Mother-in-Law from Hell™? Well, look on the bright side—at least you’re not an unmarried career woman.


Review: Anego a.k.a A Tale of Futility (2005)

The Cast: Shinohara Ryoko, Akanishi Jin, Tomosaka Rie and a bunch of other people

32-year old OL Noda Naoko (Shinohara Ryoko) needs a man. (Okay, so which woman in a Japanese drama doesn’t?) Actually, she needs to marry one soon; her biological clock is ticking, her eggs are drowning themselves in alcohol and she’s hit the pay ceiling after working for the same company for ten years. Enter three men of varying degrees of attractiveness and desirability, namely, the fresh meat recruit (Akanishi Jin), the suave married CEO and some geezer she meets at an omiai. (more…)

Review: Gokusen 2 (2005)

Yankumi: If only you guys spent half as much time studying as you did on your hair...

The cast: Nakama Yukie, Namase Katsuhisa, Akanishi Jin, Kamenashi Kazuya, Mokomichi Hayashi et al

Let me start by saying that I *heart* Gokusen. I have the manga, I’ve watched all the episodes in the first drama series at least three times and I’ve even tried my hand at writing some truly awful fan fiction. All things considered, I really wanted to like the second live-action installment even though Sawada (Matsumoto Jun) wasn’t in it. (more…)