1リットルの涙 a.k.a. A Diary with Tears

30 January 2006
This morning, I received a mysterious mail package without a sender’s name and address. Inside an envelope was a self-made DVD with a beautiful screen image and a Japanese title called 「1リットルの涙」. I realised that it was an 11-episodes Japanese drama series. The series is based on true story of Japanese girl named Kito Aya, who was diagnosed with a strange and incurable disease called "Spinocerebellar degeneration," which causes the deterioration and disappearance of the nerve cells in the brain necessary for the body to function properly. The patient with this disease will eventually be unable to walk, talk or write. Even holding a pen or standing still is impossible. Aya had kept writing a diary of her everyday life since she was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 15. The diary was being published after her death at the age of 25 in order to deliver a simple yet inspiring message of "Just being alive is such a lovely and wonderful thing.

I have just finished watching the first episode. The script is well balanced with serious moments and comical relieves. However, I had a strong feeling that it would get more tragic and serious in the upcoming episodes till the ultimate ending according to the true story. Anyway, it’s interesting to see how the story will evolves. At least, the theme of the story is encouraging. Last but not least, the leading actress (Sawajiri Erika) is not only very cute but also delivers a remarkable performance.

For more information, you could visit the official website of this drama series at Fuji Television.

P.S. Thanks the mysterious sender who sent me this wonderful Japanese drama series. You know who you are.

Happy Chinese New Year

28 January 2006
新年快樂 恭喜發財

Xīnnián kuàilè Gōngxǐ fācái

The celebration will never end in Thailand where every occasions could mark national festival, especially the Chinese New Year as there are a lot of Chinese-Thai families in the kingdom. I wish everyone a good health, wealth and fortune in the year of the Dog. Don’t let it bite you but, instead, let it be a good pet for you. I wish there would be a lot of money in a red envelope of those who are still lucky enough to get a hóng bāo. As for those who had switched a position from a receiver to be a giver of a red packet, let you have a great fortune in return.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Suriyan – Chantra

18 January 2006
No, this is not a name of an ancient Thai drama series, even though the name suggests that it’s likely to be so. In fact, this is the name of a project initiated by Software Industry Promotion Agency of Thailand (SIPA in short) to promote the use of open-source software and Linux-based operating system.

From wiki@Suriyan : Suriyan is a Linux-based "instant server" system for small and medium-sized companies. It consists of a complete operating system, several typical applications, and an easy-to-use integrated configuration interface. The goal of this project, based on Debian GNU/Linux, is to enhance productivity and savings for companies by providing a server platform which supports many common corporate activities.

From wiki@Chantra : Chantra is a collection of high-quality open-source software for Windows, including their documentations and add-ons. It’ll be released as a CDROM about every 6 months. The softwares are chosen to be appropriate for Thai and the descriptions are in Thai. Chantra’s purpose is to help individuals and organizations to start using open-source software and finally move to Linux.

This is a good time to start moving away from a monopoly product from you-know-which company. You could even get a free installation CD of Suriyan and Chantra at SIPA office or download the iso image files from <http://thaiopensource.org/> and distribute them freely.

はだしのゲン a.k.a. Barefoot Gen

13 January 2006

I have just finished reading the first of the ten-volume (Japanese version) of the comic called "Barefoot Gen," which I borrowed from the Japan Foundation Library a week ago. I started reading it to practice my Japanese reading skill. Even though I still don’t have a high Japanese language proficiency to understand all of the content, I could grasp the main idea and information which the writer was trying to convey. The more I read, the more interesting it becomes. Eventually, I couldn’t even put it down. It’s addictive and educational.

Barefoot Gen is written and illustrated by Keiji Nakazawa in 1973. He retold his memories of the Second World War and the destruction of Hiroshima through this comic book. The story is set in Hiroshima, Japan where the writer used to reside at the time of the War. The comic told a story of a seven-year-old boy named Gen who experienced and survived the atomic bomb explosion that led to the end of the War. In this first volume, we saw the live and hardship of Japanese people prior to the bombing. The story ended when the bomb was dropped on 6 August 1945 and Gen suffered the lost of almost all of his family members. We will see the aftermath bombing later in the next volume. I am looking forward to read it soon.

P.S. There are 4 volumes of the English translated version of this comic series released in the States. You can check them out here.

The Promise

4 January 2006
This is a story of the virtue of destiny and the consequence of a promise not being kept. A multi-angle love that leads to self-actualization is well interpreted and is deeply explored in this movie. I won’t write anymore about the plot as it would definitely spoil the rich and enjoyable storyline of the movie. You’ll understand what I meant when you watch the movie by yourself.

Other than the plot, "the Promise" provides audiences with superb cinematic experiences. The movie sees the cinematography at its paragon as being an incomparable masterpiece. Every single scene is unbelievably beautifully shot. The costumes are elegant and exotic, while the sets are breathtakingly eye-popping. The computer graphics in the movie are wonderfully created even though some might seem to be too obvious, it creates a dream-like effect to the movie. As common in every Chinese epic related story, all fighting and battles sequences in this movie are wonderfully coordinated and exciting.

A multi-national ensemble of cast, which consists of Jang Dong-Kun from South Korea, Hiroyuki Sanada from Japan, Cheung Pak-Chi (a.k.a. Cecilia Cheung) and Tse Ting-Fung (a.k.a. Nicholas Tse) from China, delivered first-class performances in this Mandarin-speaking movie. Chen Kaige did a very fine job as both a director and a script-writer in putting everything together perfectly. Although there is a confusion in the timeline of the story, the script is well written. The confusion might occur because there is no English or Thai subtitle provided at the beginning of the story where a couple of lines of Chinese texts are being shown as a story introduction. However, all in all, "the Promise" is undoubtedly the best choice as a candidate for the Best Foreign Film of the up-coming Academy Awards nomination from China. I strongly recommend everyone to watch the movie in the theater as it’s the best place to experience the grand scale of this movie.

PS. Thanks to popcornmag for free movie tickets to the sneak-preview of this movie in Bangkok.

5 Stars out of 5, recommend to all Asian movie fans.