Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2021)

I haven’t read it, but I’m going to! It sounds like the drama isn’t a totally faithful adaptation, but I’m still looking forward to trying the manga.

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Over the last few weeks or so I watched 4 movies in the Ring series, all without subtitles: リング, らせん,リング2, and リング0 バースデイ

Ring is great! A classic! It’s restrained and slow-paced in a way that deeply confused me when I first saw it in like, middle school, but now I appreciate a whole lot. It sets up the simple premise - there’s a VHS tape and if you watch it, you’ll die in exactly 1 week - and then just lets the atmosphere breathe and slowly build up in a really effective way, with most of the “action” being like, research and investigative journalism.

In a very weird situation, apparently the sequel, Spiral, was produced and released at exactly the same time as Ring, led by a different director, apparently to capitalize off of the original book versions of both already being successful. So Spiral just does its own thing not knowing yet that the other movie is going to be famous and influential - and comes out looking terrible for the comparison.
Spiral doesn’t have Ring’s restraint and simplicity at all. I honestly get the impression that this is a much more direct adaptation of the novel and suspect in retrospect Ring the book is probably similar to Spiral tonally, because the movie’s full of the kinds of things a successful male horror novelist might over-indulge in in a novel - there’s a ton of time spent on an older man’s sexual relationship with a female student, the ghost Sadako is portrayed as a seductress somehow, instead of a straightforward curse the video tape is presented as a harbinger of some kind of techno virus inexorably taking over the world, there’s a mystical pregnancy and reincarnation angle, previous characters come back as ghosts with mysterious motives, etc.
It’s just kind of a mess. At first I was willing to go along with it as a weird thing but by the end I was very much over it.

Ring 2 ignores Spiral and has the same director and screenwriter as Ring, and maybe it’s the juxtaposition with Spiral, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. With horror sequels, I figure the most you can really expect is like, a relatively consistent aesthetic and level of quality and a plot that makes up for the lack of novelty by just going a bit weirder. And this is pretty much that.
It takes similar developments from Spiral (developing the student from the first movie into a protagonist, characters trying to investigate the video tape’s curse scientifically) but adapts them with the same level of restraint as the first movie (and thankfully avoids all but entirely the creepy romance angle), and generally I thought does a good job matching the tone of the original while doing its own weird thing. The scene where the ghost reenacts the video tape scenes, including the camera cuts in an eerie way, and the climactic pool scene I thought were both very cool.

And finally Ring 0 is an unremarkable prequel - it’s fine, and it’s sort of nice to fill in Sadako the plot device with an actual character… but really, I think the less you know in detail about a spooky video tape the more spooky it is, you know? It’s not really something that needs a full-on backstory.

Comprehension-wise, I think I did okay! Not great, but okay. I didn’t follow all of Spiral’s plot contrivances without looking up a synopsis, and there was a reveal in Ring 2 that I think would have been less shocking to me if I’d followed prior dialogue correctly and not been mistaken about who was alive and who wasn’t at that point, but for the most part I feel like I got the gists at least. Having seen the first movie before (technically twice) certainly helped with that one…

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Last night I finished my drama-watching goal for the year! Once I got to 16, I chose the last four based on how close I was to the end and only watched those so I was able to finish early. Now to focus on my variety show and audiobook goals!

  1. チャンネルはそのまま
    Quality: ★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★

  2. きのう何食べた?
    Quality: ★★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★

  3. 私の家政夫ナギサさん
    Quality: ★★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★½
    Ease of understanding: ★★½

  4. アイムホーム
    Quality: ★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★

チャンネルはそのまま had some good and funny moments but was never as good as I wanted it to be. I really like the lead actress, though the lead actor was just okay. (This actress, Yoshine Kyoko, was also excellent in a drama that was unexpectedly lovely: コタキ兄弟と四苦八苦.) It gets low stars for ease of understanding because there is a lot of fast talking and industry terms (TV).

きのう何食べた was a delight. I can’t wait to come back to it for the SP and eventually the movie. I would say it was generally not difficult to understand, but with the frequent talk about cooking I only had to miss an ingredient or two to get lost in the flow.

私の家政夫ナギサさん was pretty good, if confusing. I thought it was going someplace very different from where it ended up, but I was mostly won over by the end. (It was a struggle going from seeing the main actor as a particularly terrifying serial killer in another drama to, big spoilers for the end, a friendly housekeeper, to a cuddly mother figure, and then all the way to love interest…) I liked a lot of the characters, I love Tabe Mikako a ton and also love Shuri, who played her sister and was wonderful. It depicted some interesting stuff, like unconventional happinesses and unexpected types of relationships, and I found a lot to enjoy in it. It gets low stars for listening comprehension because there is a fair amount of focus on Mei’s work life, which involves pharmaceuticals, doctors, and diseases.

アイムホーム was also pretty good and also confusing. Maybe more confusing! All I knew was Kimura Takuya and Ueto Aya are in it, both of whom I like a lot, and that the main guy sees his wife’s and child’s faces as masks. As it turned out, there was also one of my favorite actresses in it, Mizuno Miki, and some enjoyable human drama stuff. I liked it fairly well from beginning to end, including the last episode, which was kind of bonkers. In terms of listening comprehension, I found the family side of stuff easier to understand, but the stuff in the big company I often lost track of. There were also just a lot of characters, which made it more difficult.

I’ve been lazy about linking to more information, so here is a list of all the dramas I’ve watched this year, in case any of them made someone want to know more. Making the list brought it home to me that I watched a real grab bag of dramas this year (so far)! I like that there is so much to choose from. :black_heart: Now that I’ve finished my 20 dramas, maybe I’ll try a first episode or two from the new season. :grin:

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