(I wrote this statement on November 22nd, the day after my grandpa passed away. It's written as if I were giving a eulogy to an audience of loved ones, but I actually wrote it just for myself, to help myself begin processing the loss. After being affirmed by the handful of people with whom I shared this statement privately, I'm using my 31st birthday today as an occasion to share my sentiments about Grandpa publicly.)
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Monday, October 23, 2023
- Unicorn ni Notte') enjoyed a peaceful and cushy life with her little sister Yuzu, their mother Satsuki, and their prestigious doctor father. Together they lived in a fancy house on the grounds of the hospital that had been directed by members of the Mitarai family (Doctor Dad's side) for generations. Then one day, their home suddenly burned down. Believing the fire was her fault, Satsuki had a breakdown and was hospitalized with long-term amnesia for years to follow. And within no time Doctor Dad divorced Satsuki, severed ties with her and their daughters, and replaced his family with Satsuki's less-well-off best friend Makiko (Suzuki Kyoka from 'Kyouen NG'), and Makiko's sons (who were Anzu and Yuzu's classmates before the fire).
- Thirteen years later, a now-grown Anzu (whose last name is now Murata instead of Mitarai) infiltrates her former home under an alias, having been hired by Makiko to be the new housekeeper. Makiko had been copying Satsuki and coveting her life for their entire friendship, and Anzu never forgot the sight of Makiko among the crowd of onlookers, smiling and laughing with exuberant relief as the house burned. So now Anzu is determined to expose Makiko for committing arson and for being a fraud. (Makiko is now a hugely successful lifestyle influencer/media personality who hides the fact that she can't cook and doesn't clean.)
- Unfortunately, Anzu gets clocked and subsequently blackmailed by Makiko's elder son Kiichi, a hikikomori with a violent streak who seldom leaves his room, and who makes money by proliferating misinformation (especially celebrity-bashing rage articles) online. But with the help of her sister, their friend and neighbor who lets Anzu use her name as an alias, and a woman who knew Makiko during her blogging era (when her fraudulent activities first began), Anzu might just succeed at taking Makiko down after all.
- One day, well-established art curator Toko happens upon Arisu while Arisu is crouched on the sidewalk with stomach pains, near the women's health clinic that's run by Toko's OB/GYN and best friend Kaoru (Matsumoto Wakana from 'Angel Flight' and 'Fukushuu no Miboujin'). After their respective appointments, Arisu and Toko commiserate over Arisu's pregnancy and Toko's fertility issues. They part ways, but it turns out Toko is the corporate rep overseeing the art cafe that Arisu just started working at part-time.
- Admittedly-nosy Toko continues advising and encouraging Arisu, and after seeing Arisu's apartment, insists that Arisu move in with her so Arisu can have a more stable environment to balance her studies and her approaching motherhood. Arisu's community grows to also include her dad, Toko's mom who visits from Kanazawa, and Yuma (a dancer and classmate of Arisu's who defends her from being shamed at school, and who also happens to be the son of the art company CEO who's technically both Toko and Arisu's boss). As affection grows between Arisu and Yuma, Toko also finds unexpected romance with Kase, an art delivery driver who got himself transferred to Tokyo to be closer to her after she drunkenly kissed him back in her hometown of Kanazawa.
So I give it up to you, I hope that's okay
There's nothing I can do, not much I can change
I give it up to you, I surrender
Let me first say that the view from Yohei's balcony is gorgeous! You can kind of tell this town is in the middle of nowhere, but it's surrounded by these lush green mountains and this painting-esque sky that make you want to go there anyway. Which is fitting, because reading the film's synopsis told me that this entire film was shot in Onomichi, a small port city that I've wanted to visit for years! (Long story, I applied for a job there many moons ago, didn't get the job, but did remain drawn to the place and its name for some reason. In fact, I still occasionally look up #Onomichi on Instagram just to see what's going on and what people are eating there. But I digress.) 'Sayonara Konbanwa' could stand to be 15 minutes shorter, but the actors (especially the ghost girl) really had me invested. The shots of various Onomichi locations, the mystery of how the girl died (we never find out), and the uncertainty over whether she'll ever depart from the apartment (she does!), were worth the lingersome pace for me.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
"Adèle felt for the first time that mix of fear and longing, disgust and arousal. That dirty desire to know what was happening behind the doors of those seedy hotels, in the dim depths of those back alleys, in the seats of the Atlas Cinema, in the back rooms of sex shops whose pink and blue signs pierced the twilight. Never since that evening—not in the arms of men, nor during the walks she took years later on the same boulevard—has she ever rediscovered that magical feeling of actually touching the vile and the obscene, the heart of bourgeois perversion and human wretchedness" (61-62)."Then she decides that it's not worth living while fighting against such a desperate desire, such an absolute need. That she would have to be insane or utterly stupid to inflict this deprivation on herself, to watch herself suffering and hope that it lasts as long as possible" (92)."In the depths of her amnesia there exists the reassuring sensation of having existed a thousand times through the desires of others. And when, years later, she happens to bump into a man who tells her in a deep and slightly shaky voice: 'It took me quite a while to get over you,' she draws an immense satisfaction from this. As if all of it has not been in vain. As if, in spite of her best intentions, some sort of meaning is somehow mixed up in this eternal repetition... She wanted them to burn for her, wanted them to love her to the point of losing everything, even though she has never lost anything" (121-122)."A wave of calm surges through her. She has the feeling that she is cut off from the world, that she is experiencing a moment of grace. She rediscovers the pleasure she used to feel as a teenager, when she would dance for hours, sometimes alone on the dance floor. Innocent and beautiful. She never felt any embarrassment then. Never worried about the danger. She gave herself over completely to what she was doing, on the cusp of a future that she imagined glorious, higher, greater, more exhilarating" (209-210).
"He let out another airy chuckle. Joy's lips twitched for a moment. And like clockwork, there was the sweet, bright scent. Was this the scent of her pleasure? Her happiness?Fuck, Malachi had been wrong. If her bloodthirst tasted divine, then it was nothing on her happiness. He wanted to cause her to form that scent again—and again and again and again, just because" (38)."'Sweet, murderous Joy,' Malachi husked, his wings flaring, wanting to wrap around them both, like he could shelter them from the world. 'You are exquisite.'" (45)."And so what? He suddenly thought, almost viciously. So what if Joy was using him? So what if he couldn't have her after this? So what if he never saw her again? Was he going to pretend he didn't want her now, just because their contract would soon come to an end?" (72)."Malachi was hit suddenly by the force of her beauty. The glow of the moonlight, along with the slowly morphing colours of the flowers around them turned her into a living, breathing painting. She looked like something ethereal—like a Sovereign—like if he reached out to try and touch her, she'd disappear, burst into a shower of sparks" (130).
Friday, July 21, 2023
Back again to talk J-dramas! Truth be told I would've had this review out weeks ago; at first I only found one J-drama that stuck with me this time around, so I also watched a couple Japanese films to beef up the rest of the review. But then, I happened to see someone post about 'Rikon Shiyou Yo' in a Facebook group that I'm in, saying it was legitimately funny, touching, and probably the best J-drama she's ever seen (because it's the first one that's ever held her attention all the way through). So I figured, Alright, bet. I set aside time to watch that show as a last-minute addition, and now I'm here, ready to get to reviewing!
(I don't think she'll ever read this, but thanks for the spirited recommendation, D.T.!)
エンジェルフライト 国際霊柩送還士 (Angel Flight: Kokusai Reikyuu Soukanshi/Angel Flight: International Casket Repatriators) - Apple TV Plus/2023
- In almost every episode, Rinko and Nami are dispatched to a different country to retrieve bodies. Along with repatriation, Angel Hearse's work includes preparing the bodies for burial and helping the deceased's loved ones understand the circumstances surrounding their death. (Not in a forensic way, but in a "This is why your loved one went to this country, what being in this country meant to them, and how they were living" way.)
- The Angel Hearse team (and the show itself) repeatedly asserts the need for every dead person to have a proper burial, regardless of how tenuous their relationship was with their loved ones, because at least then those loved ones won't regret not saying goodbye. Meanwhile, Rinko is estranged from her abrasive and ailing mother while also being her caretaker, and Nami refuses to believe that her fiancé (who was lost at sea in Cuba eight years ago) is truly dead.
- Tokyo Dokushin Danshin' and 'Fruits Takuhaibin') is a beloved TV and commercial actress. Taishi (Matsuzaka Tori from Her Love Boils Bathwater) is a spoiled politician, representing Ehime, who holds the same seat in the National Diet that his family has held for generations. Taishi doesn't care about his job despite being groomed for it, and he relies on Yui's popularity to keep him in the public's good graces.
- Outwardly they're the perfect couple, but behind closed doors they ice each other out, and have been estranged since Taishi cheated on Yui with a newscaster named Sakurako (Oda Lisa, 'Company: Gyakuten no Swan') three years ago. Taishi secretly rekindles his affair with Sakurako, and after Taishi and Yui agree that it's been time for them to divorce, Yui starts having her own affair with a sculptor and frequenter of pachinko parlors. Yui and Taishi also each find divorce lawyers, who, of course, are bitter law school exes.
- But Yui is wary of the penalty fees she might incur if divorcing sullies her wifely image enough to be considered a breach of her many commercial contracts. And ultimately, when a special election is called and Taishi has to campaign against an aggressive new opponent, the couple agrees to play nice and delay their divorce until after the election is over. Can Taishi get his head out of his behind enough to maintain his Diet seat and potentially win Yui back? Can Yui get the divorce she desperately wants so she can finally move on with her life? What happens when Yui comes up pregnant? Are Yui and Taishi truly over? (Spoiler: Yes. They are. The show stays true to its title.)
Most of all, I love how grown this show is. Yui's mother has seven children by multiple baby daddies, and she's consistently unashamed because she had the children she wanted to have without letting any one man overstay his welcome. Yui and Taishi do each other dirty during their marriage, but in the end they manage to be co-parents who are still somewhat in love with each other, would still let each other hit, but won't go that far because they're better off as friends. Taishi uses Sakurako as his sexual plaything (while she uses him to boost her media career, and then her political career), but in the end they're colleagues at the Diet who don't need to interact because they can leave each other in the past with no hard feelings. Yui similarly uses Kyoji as an outlet and claims to be madly in love with him only to discard him for Taishi during the special election, but in the end Kyoji and Taishi are allies, with Kyoji helping him win his Diet seat back after losing it. Taishi and his opponent Soda become fierce political rivals, and Taishi eventually gets Soda ousted from office by leaking his kickback corruption to the press on the low, but in the end Soda and his wife don't hesitate to give Taishi free sweets and beverages from their bakery when they spot him having a public dad-in-distress moment with his and Yui's son.
Like I mentioned earlier, 'Rikon Shiyou Yo' stays true to its title: despite the will-they-won't they moments that the show teases us with,
Yui and Taishi don't get back together because they truly don't need to
be together anymore. And the show has a happy ending because this couple, and everyone else around them, learns to grow and move on.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
"She was a baby again; she realized how much she must have enjoyed being one. She seemed to remember, feeling the diapers on her bottom, that when she was a baby people were always kissing her. Um, she thought. Happy... When was the last time someone had stood outside the toilet waiting for her? Kate asked herself... She liked it. Oh, she thought to herself, I am someone who enjoys being pampered! Usually, raising her children, she'd received no such pampering, though always giving it to others. She had forgotten her own need" (70)."It was clear to Kate, sitting across the room from Missy, that she had every intention of being healed, but lacked the courage to let it happen. Her body grew as tight as a ripe tomato, and every orifice seemed closed: eyes, mouth, ears. She crossed her legs and became rigid. Nothing is coming into me, she seemed to say, and nothing is going out" (153)."It is hard to believe, but there is something inside of you, no matter how sick and fed up with your sickness you are, that does not want you to heal. It will actually fight you. Sometimes I think of it as a small boy... He is there having a good time at your expense and if you get well he worries there will be nothing left to do. No games to pay with your sick body, no games to play with your mind... He will have to be negotiated, just like you would talk to a lawyer. If I am well, you must tell him, there will actually be lots more for you to do. More games for you to play, because we will be much stronger. If we are much stronger, we can go more places. We can have more fun. He is an odd little boy, this part of yourself that wants to control you while you are sick. And sometimes we are all charmed by him" (153-54)."The land does not like being sold. It haunts me... It is offended by my disrespect. It wasn't meant to be bought and sold, you know. It was meant to be loved and sung to; it was meant to be appreciated for its wonderfulness. And admired. Shared, yes. Bought and sold and abandoned over and over, no" (176).
"The moment I met you, I knew you were special... because of the light that shines from your heart and your soul. I promise to nurture that light. To protect that light. To love that light. It is what makes you special and I want to spend the rest of my life shining with you" (56)."Please, mom... I can only defend myself against one imaginary person at a time. Why don't we stick to my invisible husband before moving on to the yet-to-be-born children?" (109)."...but there were times when not only was arrogance necessary, it was critical to getting what you wanted out of life. 'Arrogance is overconfidence, audaciousness, boldness, daring and having pride in what you do. I find it impossible to believe that you didn't have some of those traits to break through that glass ceiling... A woman? A black woman? You must have had daggers coming at you form several angles... Without a healthy does of arrogance, you'd be stuck somewhere in middle management, trying to break into six figures and wondering when you were going to get a break. Now, I'm not saying you use all of that to put somebody else down or destroy others, but you do use it to pull yourself up'" (179)."I want more than moments, Caryn. More than memories" (237).