Review: Cat Street [2004]

catstreetManga-ka: Yoko Kamio
Tankoubon: 8
Genre: Shoujo, slice of life
Publisher: Shueisha
Magazine: Margaret

Plot (mangaupdates):

The story centers around Keito Aoyama, a former famous child actor. Due to a childhood incident, she retired from her career early and withdrew from normal society. Now 16, she passes her days in boredom and without purpose. But one day she runs into a stranger who takes her to El Liston–a free school for high school students like herself, who don’t have a place where they belong. Though hesitant at first, Keito decides to enter El Liston and subsequently, she begins a new stage in her life. With the help of her only remaining childhood friend, Taiyou, and her new classmates Rei, Momiji, and Kouichi, Keito slowly finds the courage to open up to others and to accept their support. Will Keito return to acting? Will she find true friends? Love?

I Say…

Yet another good manga with an interesting plot. It’s quite difficult to believe though, that a kid can get traumatized the same way as Aoyama Keiko did, and that any parent will allow it by just letting her be. I think any parent can at least do something to turn things around for their child.

Kamio Youko seem to be fond of the number four, as she created F4 and the Legendary Four, in the case of Cat Street. This manga is indeed a bearer of Yoko Kamio’s trademark: the explicit language; agony among friends liking the same girl and strong-willed heroines who do not know the meaning of giving up.

I also loved the concept of the school El Liston… but again it made me wonder if it can really help heal kids with social issues or only make matters worse for them in case they don’t learn or understand their purpose of existence. Cat Street was positively written though, leaving a message that all wounds heal in time.

Cat Street V1  Cat Street V2  Cat Street V3

Cat Street V4  Cat Street V5  Cat Street V6

Cat Street V7 Cat Street V8

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Review: Hana Yori Dango/Hana Yori Dango Returns [2005/2007]

 

Alternative Title: Boys Before Flowers / Boys Over Flowers
Format: Renzoku, across two seasons
Genre: Romance
Broadcast network: TBS

Cast:

Inoue Mao as Makino Tsukushi
Matsumoto Jun as Domyoji Tsukasa
Oguri Shun as Hanazawa Rui
Matsuda Shota as Nishikado Sojiro
Abe Tsuyoshi as Mimasaka Akira
Nishihara Aki as Matsuoka Yuuki
Kato Natsuki as Okawahara Shigeru
Sada Mayumi as Toudou Shizuka
David Ito as Nishida
Kato Takako as Sengoku Sachiyo
Tomiura Satoshi as Makino Susumu (brother of Tsukushi)
Kobayashi Susumu as Makino Haruo (father of Tsukushi)
Ishino Mako as Makino Chieko (mother of Tsukushi)
Matsushima Nanako as Domyoji Tsubaki (sister of Tsukasa)
Kaga Mariko as Domyoji Kaede (mother of Tsukasa)

Season 1

Episodes: 9
Broadcast period: 2005-Oct-21 to 2005-Dec-16
Theme song: WISH by Arashi
Insert song: Planetarium by Otsuka Ai

Production Credits

Original writing: Kamio Yoko
Screenwriter: Satake Mikio, Fujimoto Yuki, Takahashi Natsuko, Arai Shuuko
Producer: Setoguchi Katsuaki
Director: Ishii Yasuharu, Yamamuro Daisuke, Katayama Osamu
Music: Yamashita Kousuke

Episode Titles

* Ep 01: Declaration of war! The thing which is absolutely more important than money
* Ep 02: The worst first kiss!
* Ep 03: Tears! Good-bye to the person I like
* Ep 04: First time coming home in the morning
* Ep 05: Confession of life-threatening love
* Ep 06: A love triangle of a roller-coaster ride hair-trigger crisis
* Ep 07: Battle F4 dissolution!
* Ep 08: Now the female high school student’s “Top of Japan” decision war
* Ep 09: The greatest last present

Season 2

Screenwriter: Satake Mikio
Producer: Setoguchi Katsuaki, Miki Shinichi
Director: Ishii Yasuharu, Tsuboi Toshio, Takei Atsushi
Music: Yamashita Kousuke

Episode Titles

* Ep 01:
* Ep 02: The strongest rival
* Ep 03: Bye bye, stupid guy
* Ep 04: Perilous Battle
* Ep 05: We like you
* Ep 06: Confession turns Chaotic!!
* Ep 07: Once-in-a-lifetime First Love
* Ep 08: The Love Square is Settled
* Ep 09: Painful Goodbye in the Rain
* Ep 10: Lost Memories
* Ep 11: The World’s Best Proposal Ever

I Say…

Hana Yori Dango has been adapted so many times and this live action is the latest of all. For over 10 years the shoujo manga by Yoko Kamio captured hearts of people not only in Japan but also the farthest corners of Asia and some parts of America. Since the Taiwanese were the first to adapt the manga and bring F4 to life, it’s unavoidable to compare it to Japan’s very own version. The actors, the set and the entire production is being compared by fans everywhere. I am not doing this review to prove which version is better, but I would like to stress on the things that made the HYD J-Dorama different from the renowned and loved Meteor Garden.

Starting from their actors, they have gathered their aces and most popular J-Dorama stars to complete their line up of characters. We all know Matsumoto Jun’s popularity and he’s actually one of Japan’s hottest male actors of today. He bagged an award for playing Sawada Shin on his performance in Gokusen (3rd Television Drama Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor) .Abe Tsuyoshi might be a bit too old to play Mimasaka Akira, but still attracted attention. I found it funny that Matsumoto Jun was chosen to play Domyouji Tsukasa. He’s overqualified for the role, by observation. and physically they could’ve chosen someone taller. It’s not much of a big deal, but I just think he’s too good to play Domyouji. Oguri Shun played it fair, being Hanazawa Rui, as well as Matsuda Shota who did Soujirou. He could pass as a real playboy with that charming smile! Lastly, Inoue Mao, who really impressed me with her acting. She gave a less tough portrayal of Makino Tsukushi, but it was cool that she made her into an emotional heroine for a change. In the anime, Makino is really one tough weed.

How the parts of the story were mixed up is also one of this adaptation’s strong points. There were limited number of episodes and they tried to really make the most out of it. It didn’t ruin the story or made it look like they tried to compress everything in. With that, HYD returned for another round beginning with what was left from the previously successful first season.

With that I can say that this J-Dorama also has an edge over Meteor Garden, with their experienced cast and creative production staff.