Departures (2008) – Japanese Movie – Review


Departures [Okuribito] is well deserving of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2009) among its other awards. It’s a film about life and death — or more accurately the life in death and viceversa. Any viewer or reviewer will agree, it plays on emotions extremely well and leaves lasting impressions overall. Not controversial, but discussion-worthy and intriguing — Departures portrays the Japanese ceremony of ‘encoffining’ which is often a very private, traditional and taboo subject matter. Departures is a light-hearted yet dramatic film about a serious, real and humane topic. Directed by Yojiro Takita

The story is about a conflicted man, Dai (Masahiro Motoki) who loses his job and livelihood as a cellist when his orchestra is disbanded. He moves back to his hometown with his wife and finds a new job. By advertisement it appeared to be for a travel agency but really its for a mortuary. And the journey begins — in assisting the dead to the afterlife and much more (for Dai & the audience).

Plot summary
Full synopsis



It serves as a dramedy for being half about Dai ‘finding himself’ (cliche I know) and half for the ceremony around death — a calm but strong approach at a story about life & death. Somber but true.

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes // Love HK Film // NY Press (negative) //
Blow reviews: 1 // 2

aparoo says 5/5

You can also see Motoki’s ‘unique’ (and often criticized) style of acting in “The Longest Night in Shanghai“. After seeing both these films, I would agree that his ‘acting’ or ‘style’ is often awkward — but then again that makes it more realistic and human in some sense.

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Aria the Scarlet Ammo [Hidan no Aria] (2011) – Anime


It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and watched an anime, much less enjoyed one. I’m about half way through the series Aria the Scarlet Ammo [Hidan no Aria] and am anticipating how the story will continue to unfold. It’s got great action and elements of a romantic-comedy. The crime and detective angles tie into the overall mystery quite well.

The story (based on a Japanese light novel) is about a group of young students who are training to become “Butei” — basically crime fighting/ solving elite specialized detectives. Kinji teams up with Aria to capture a Butei-killer. There’s plenty of action, guns, girls (and some ecchi).


Theme song:

Viewer reviews


Threads: Light novel // Anime

Stream: KuroAnime // YouTube

aparoo says 4/5, girls + guns ftw

aria cast


Code Blue (2008) – Japanese Drama (J-drama) – Review

code blue season 1

Think of Code Blue as a cross between E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy for its medical dramatics and character (doctor & patient) stories. But in this case the character stories and romantics are not overly dramatic (like in Grey’s). Another comparison would be to Trauma (which I think tried to copy Code Blue) for the plot concept of ‘helicopter doctors’ and medical response.

I thought ‘not overly dramatic’ would be a good thing but maybe it wasn’t dramatic enough — kinda dry honestly. Maybe they went too hard with the whole disciplined & learning angle because on-screen its like some random people are wearing scrubs and doing medical stuff.

Code Blue comparisons to Grey’s Anatomy

“… A medical team is dispatched to the patients on a helicopter to provide medical care in the field as soon as possible. One day, four young physicians are assigned to this latest medical system. The doctors experience traumatic medical situations, deal with personal ambitions, witness the fragility of life, and they grow personally and professionally.”  –Fuji TV

code blue season 2

I did enjoy watching the team of young doctors (flight doctors-in-training) trying to perfect their craft and work together in season 1. Code Blue stars popular Yampai and my favourite Toda Erika. The supporting characters made it a well-rounded medical drama: nurses, pilot, flight doctor (mentors) and of course the patients.  I never got around to watching the SP or 2nd season. Many scenes were shot with a real helicopter so the only cheesy part is the ketchup-water blood.

code blue heli

aparoo says 3/5 for action, human & medical drama

Viewer Rant (not review)

Viewer Reviews
Season 1
Season 2

Season 1 & SP: MySoju // Dramacrazy
Season 2: MySoju // Dramacrazy

If Toda Erika wasn’t in this series I wouldn’t have even finished the first season. Toda Erika pics