CC – Good Morning Call (2016)

‘Hate to Love or Love to Hate?’

With a title like Good Morning Call it is quite hard to gage just what you are in for when it comes to this Japanese drama tv-show, nor are you able to predict both the levels of awe and frustration you feel while you watch. Take what you know western drama shows to be like, and then, forget it completely. To put it lightly, JDramas completely flip the concept of the ‘western’ drama tv-show, and then some. This being the first Japanese drama, or ‘JDrama’, I’ve watched, whatever expectations I had – if any – were definitely blown away in a whirlwind of screaming girls, borderline ridiculous facial expressions, and a protagonist pair which I honestly hated to love. Setting this aside, Good Morning Call (2016) brings you a selection of fascinating characters in a situation which seems to go from bad, to worse, to unbelievable…with a side of solid humour, but hey, that is this part of the genre.

Meet Nao (Fukuhara Haruka), high school girl, just moved out of home to live closer to her new school, and hopelessly in love with one of the ‘top three’ Uehara (Shiraishi Shun’ya) – the ‘top three’, we soon discover, are the three most popular and handsome guys in the school, one for each year. Uehara has just moved out in order to live alone, away from his older brother and his fiancé. It is here that things start getting crazy: one rental agreement fraud, a suspiciously smug looking elderly realestate agent, and a reluctant decision made by two almost strangers later…Uehara and Nao are living together. This turn of events leads way to not only the slowest burning love story between two teenagers, but also to the introduction to a character who makes you question why Nao likes him at all. It doesn’t take long though before Nao finds herself almost hating her new housemate, and you finding yourself wanting the secondary love interests to ‘get the girl’, even though you know there is no way they will.

After finding at watching some other JDramas as well, (one, Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (2013) is very similar in premise), it is easy to see this plot line as a popular trope. This is understandably so, you can’t help but get sucked into the series of endless mistakes being made by Nao in her persute or Uehara, or even get on board with the cycle of rejection her childhood friend Daichi (Sakurada Dôri) endures at the hands of his unrequited love for Nao. It is here you realise you beginning to not really like Uehara at all, as the main love interest he is surprisingly standoffish, quick tempered, and in some cases just plain rude, redeemed only – in the eyes of Nao – by his handsome face and popularity. Daichi, on the other hand, is doting, kind, and for one he actually likes her. So while you know that Uehara will always have Nao’s attention, you can’t help but sympathise with Daichi, and even after just one episode, you can tell this will be a somewhat frustrating show to watch.

Yet, somehow, you still want to know more…

After just one episode with a love sick female lead, and an almost unlikeable love interest you can see there is still a certain charm to the show which you don’t see in ‘western’ drama shows, and it is this which draws you in. You’d expect the main character to be likeable, tolerable even, but Nao – though sweet and good intentioned – is completely oblivious to the feelings of those around her in her persuit of Uehara, and you find yourself endlessly frustrated by her antics. Uehara on the other hand isn’t much better, as a love interest he is almost unreachable, and increasingly more rude as time goes on, even if it is provoked by Nao’s occasional stupidity. It is here you find yourself completely invested in the fate of the side characters: Daichi and his love for Nao, her two similarly clueless best friends, and the guy who works at the Ramen Café. Not many shows could manage to hold an audience with such a frustratingly unlikeable main pair, yet Good Morning Call (2016) has cleverly collated humour, charm, loveable side characters, and the pull of such a ridiculous premise to keep you watching.

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CC – Better Call Saul: ‘Uno’

img_0940‘An Origin Story for the Origin Story’

The silence is agonising; broken only by the ticking of the courtroom clock, the shuffling of papers, and the impatient click of a pen. It’s easy to tell they’re waiting for someone, by the time over a minute has passed, you feel like you’ve been waiting just as long as they have. An officer of the court finally leaves the courtroom to collect the mysterious ‘someone’, it is only now that a voice breaks the silence saying this:

Think back…your brain…it’s just not all there yet. Uhh…if we were all held responsible when we were nineteen- I remember what it was like to be a kid. Think back.” – James ‘Jimmy’ McGill

As with the both introductions of James ‘Jimmy’ McGill/Saul Goodman at the beginning of this pilot episode of Better Call Saul (2015), the first thing you become familiar with in terms of his character is his voice. The first, through the unseen ‘Better Call Saul’ commercials which introduce a character with a very big presence, a stark contrast to that of the Saul we see on screen. The second, is paired with the shadow of the speaker, Jimmy McGill on the wall of the bathroom, arms outstretched in an almost exuberant gesture. From those two quite similar introductions you get to see both the Jimmy McGill of the present, and the future embodiment of that same man, Saul Goodman. This choice in scene sequence for the first ten minutes of the show not only sets up the bold character for this series but also instils curiosity within the viewer. Leaving them with a sense of wanting to know more about how this character manages to end up in such a state that his old work advertisements would bring him to tears.

As a pilot episode, ‘Uno’ sets up a trajectory which both the plot, and main character will follow for the remainder of the series. It sets up the tone, theme and motive of both major and minor characters for the rest of the series with ease while not completely giving away the main plot. As events seemingly go from bad to worse, climaxing at the end of the episode as Jimmy has a gun held to his face and is steered inside a stranger’s house, you can easily tell just how this show simply won’t be just another criminal law show, whether you know the origins of this show or not. It isn’t just Jimmy as a main character though who makes this pilot episode so rich in terms of storytelling. The choices made by writer and director Vince Gilligan in terms of the overall design of the episode, take a much more ‘show rather than tell’ technique which, interestingly, is quite far apart from the direct storytelling methods used by our criminal lawyer protagonist in his day to day life. This not only enables for small scenes to tell a much larger story than that which could be said in words, but also in this way highlights both the benefits and constrictions narrative can have on the message one is trying to get across. In terms of Better Call Saul (2015), as a criminal defence lawyer Jimmy becomes a story teller, trying to convince the jury of his clients’ innocence or even in the act of trying to pick up more clients.

It is here that it is easy to see the importance of the connection between the introduction of Jimmy first in voice then in face, and that of his profession as a criminal defence lawyer. It is all in the story which Jimmy tells each time he takes on a client which determines his livelihood. As the episode progresses and you see just how much his work means to him versus how much he is actually getting back from it, you begin to sympathise with this character. So, whether you get caught up in the strong, and almost cliff hanger styled ending or the carefully compiled humour in the show, it will always come back to the complexity and strength of character of Jimmy McGill to keep you interested. This is a clever technique as Jimmy originated as a well-loved minor character in Breaking Bad (2008), the show which Better Call Saul (2015) is the spinoff of. As without Jimmy, there would be no Better Call Saul (2015) at all.

TV Review: Doctor Who ‘Thin Ice’

Hello!

This weeks Doctor Who episode brought us to Regency London where something is lurking under the frozen Thames, and worse, it’s feeding on the locals! This foe brings out a very different side to Bill as she discoveres more about the Doctor and his past. Overall, though lacking excitement in the plot, this was a thought provoking episode…

Read more of my thoughts on last week’s episode of Doctor Who ‘Thin Ice’ here, you can let me know what you thought aswell!

I hope you have a great week!
Anna 🙂

TV Review: Doctor Who ‘The Pilot’

Hello!

So recently I joined the RMITV ‘In Review’ writing team, and as a part of that I will be reviewing each episode of Doctor Who Series 10 as they air and posting it to their blog. Though I can’t post the review here, I though it wouldn’t hurt to do a spot of ‘shameless promotion’ of some more of my writing!

“Well, most people when they don’t understand something, they frown. You…smile.”
~ The Doctor

So, Doctor Who is back for Series 10, and it’s not just back…it is back! And terrifyingly so!

The first thing I should say about this episode, is that it was bloody scary. There is no other way to put it. It has been quite a while since an episode has really given me the shivers, and sitting in that cinema tonight was no exception…

Anywho, click the link here to go have a read!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter or long weekend for those who don’t celebrate it! 🙂