Thursday, 26 December 2013

10 Amazing Years With 동방신기

I've been thinking how I should start and write this blog post. How can I possibly compress in one single entry all the memories of the past ten years? Be it a trial or an achievement, everything that happened makes up for TVXQ and where they stand in the KPOP world.

The boys and the fans have went through some crazy shit. Heck, we've been dubbed as the craziest and most obsessive fandom. The group has some of the wildest (glue poisoning from anti-fans! sasaengs!) and biggest controversies (breakup! hiatus!) in the industry. But it has been ten years since they made their debut, and we're still going strong. And frankly, we have more extremely high moments than lows. There's no stopping TVXQ, and there's no stopping us, fans, from supporting them and seeing them through.

I was excited and nervous for today because it's not just TVXQ's 10th year anniversary, but it also reminds me how I've been a fan for a decade. So excuse me if this post gets a little emotional, because there's no holding back in the emotion when it comes to my boys. I wept a little last night while spamming on Twitter, because it's overwhelming to look back at the roller coaster-like 10 years of my life with them. I'm no longer as obsessive as my 14-year-old self but I still love them with all my heart. I no longer save every picture, vote in every poll, panic at every controversy, and get butt hurt for every criticism thrown at them. But I can still be pretty rabid when it comes to them. I can get overly emotional at times.

It all started with Hug, of course. Wearing cute high uniforms and being obviously nervous, they started their careers as artists who aren't just pure visuals but exuding with talent as well. They started the new era of idol groups that continue to grow even now.

JaeJoong, YooChun, and JunSu may be performing under a different group name now, but it's still the anniversary of their debut. I've always been confused where I stand in this whole debacle, but I can't deny my love for these three after all these years. They're still JYJ from 東方神起 for me. I am an OT5 in the sense that I love the 5, even though I've long accepted that only two people perform under the name of DBSK now. The magic they created with their music is undeniable. Their ballad, a capellas, and SMPs are what made me the fangirl that I am right now. I can't settle for any less.

No words can express how thankful I am. I was just a kid when I first met them, and I'm now a working adult. I grew up with them, and I can't imagine them occupying a smaller space in my heart. Or even imagine any other group replacing them. A part of who I am as a person, and not just as a fan, was greatly influenced of all the life lessons I acquired from being a TVXQ fan. Because I don't just learn from them as artists, but also as individuals with really amazing virtues.

They were the ones who got me through high school, when I wanted to quit school and when no one believed in my passion (writing!). They were the ones who cheered me up in college when I was stressed from all the schoolwork. They are the ones who give me strength when I'm tired of working. They're the constant reminder that hard work pays off. And everytime they mention Cassiopeia, I have this delusion that they're directly talking  to me. I know that when they say Cassiopeia, they mean each and every fan.
"We still have parts that are lacking but when we see Cassiopeia and others who love us, cheer for us we gain a lot of strength."

- ChangMin (October 14, 2006)
But today, I specially thank YunHo and ChangMin for continuing the name of TVXQ. When they made their comeback as a duo, they gave Cassies everywhere so much hope. They had bigger shoes to fill and a bigger space to occupy. They carried so much weight in their shoulders, but they carried it so well for us. Thank you for making me so proud everytime you stand on stage.

CassPH said it well. YH and CM made TVXQ our home, where fans and JYJ alike can come back anytime. I'm actually one of the returning fans. (I came back when they came back.) It was only made possible because YH and CM made the decision to stay and to come back as the kings. They had so much to prove, and they also proved every criticism wrong. So thank you. Thank you for being our rock in this sometimes displeasing and chaotic fandom.

Cassiopeia is still a mess, but today, we all stand together to celebrate a milestone. We have reached ten years, and I have no reason to doubt that we can reach a decade or so more. You're only starting, and for the next few years, I believe that you guys will continue to grow as artists and masters of your craft. You may branch out in acting and variety, and rest assured Cassiopeia will be 100% behind you.

Cassiopeia, like for the past ten years, will travel this road with you. Just like how you've been protecting us and making us happy for the past decade, we will stay by your side, through all ups and downs. If the past ten years isn't enough proof that we can, then I don't know what is.

Thank you, 동방신기.

From the bottom of my fangirl heart, 사랑해요~ ♥(✿ฺ´∀`✿ฺ)ノ

YunHo and ChangMin are TVXQ. 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

For the past ten years, my Christmas isn't complete without an Asian pop idol singing me some holiday tunes. This year, it's Tohoshinki's Very Merry Christmas that's making this season really merry.

I just finished eating Christmas Eve dinner with the family and opening all the gifts. Though I've been celebrating for over a week now (that's how we spend Christmas in the Philippines!), I still have a few more parties and dinners to attend. Hee. I do not want to look at the weighing scale after all these.

I do hope you're having a really nice holiday. Christmas Eve is always a quiet celebration in my family since there are only four of us. But it's always a nice one. And Christmas Day is FUN FUN FUN.

Have a merry Christmas, my dear readers. I just want you to know that I count you all as blessings. Every comment makes me happy, be it an agreement or a criticism. And if there are silent readers (I'll never know haha), I'm also very grateful to you. :)

Let's spread the holiday cheer around! ☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆

Of course, I can't let this post end without DBSK's Magic Castle!
It's the first of their many Christmas singles.
It has been 9 years since Magic Castle,
so pardon the awkward styling. Hee.



Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Heirs (2013)

The Heirs (상속자들) was the most anticipated drama of 2013. It's also the most overrated. With a star-studded cast and the screenwriter of hits like Secret Garden and A Gentleman's Dignity, it's expected that this drama will garner all the media attention. I will try to make this rant as positive as possible, but this drama disappointed in so many incredible ways.

The story revolves around Cha EunSang (Park ShinHye) who's tired of juggling part-time jobs. She wants to escape her poor life with her mute mother by going to the US to live with her sister. Once arriving in LA, EunSang's surprised to learn that her sister's life isn't so peachy either. After running into some trouble with the police, she meets Kim Tan (Lee MinHo), a Korean teen exiled to live away from home. Even with the short time they spend together, the two find solace and good company in each other. Once meeting again in Korea, they realize that society has more to say about their relationship.

This series was pegged to be the Korean Gossip Girl. It's said to focus on high school students who are inheritors in their own rights. They're basically the generation that will South Korea's economy in the coming years. It sounds interesting enough, because I wanted to see them prove how they'll try to be on top of their games.

I had high hopes that it will not be just another Boys Over Flowers. I've been told that I shouldn't expect too much. But alas, I was disappointed even when my expectations were already low.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Monday Cutie: Lee MinHo (이민호)

Lee MinHo (이민호)
DOB: June 22, 1987
Known for: Boys Over Flowers,
City Hunter, Heirs

I thought long and hard before considering Lee MinHo for my Monday Cutie. Not because he's not cute (because he definitely is!), but because there are a million good photos of him out there. How in the world can I just pick 15-20 pics?!?

Lee MinHo is THE Asian superstar. He's the actor that has become a household name in Asian countries. My mother who can't remember names of actors knows his name. That's enough proof for me that Lee MinHo is indeed popular. Haha. He only appears in one drama every year, then spends the remaining months going from one country to another having photoshoots, fan events, and fan signings. He spends a great deal of time signing endorsement deals, too. Well, if I have a product to promote, I think his face is the perfect one to print on the packaging. Ehehe. But one drama a year is NOT. ENOUGH.

I had a hard time accepting he's plastic, but I have learned to accept him for who he is. I mean, his before photos aren't so bad either! And it's his smile and his eyes that I love the most. Those are definitely NOT fake.  I still love him to bits!

It's in Boys Over Flowers that I first saw him, and that's when I first declared him as the most good-looking Korean actor ever! I think it's the same for most Lee MinHo fans. But it's actually in City Hunter that I declared him to be my BIAAAAAAS (until SungJoon pushed him aside, that is). But I still love Lee MinHo. I mean, I could not have possibly finished Heirs if it wasn't for him! That drama's a train wreck but Lee MinHo is freakin' hot in every scene.

Here's my attempt to compress his handsomeness (is that a word? no? well, it is now!) in one single post.

During his baby days hihi

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Hotarubi no Mori e (2011)

One summer day, the child Hotaru gets lost in a forest known for its mystery and is said to be filled with youkais. In the middle of her crying, a mask-wearing boy named Gin appears and guides her get out of the forest. He lives in the forest and describes himself as not exactly a youkai, but he's not a human either. He has a body held by magic and will obliterate when it makes physical contact with a human. Despite the danger of being friends, Hotaru goes back to the forest everyday every summer to visit Gin.

It's hard to describe Hotarubi no Mori e because the character starts out with a brother-younger sister relationship then slowly shifts to one that's romantic. Hotaru realizes that she seems to grow older every passing year while the mythical Gin seems to age much, much slower than humans. As their age inches closes, Hotaru starts to feel the need to see and touch Gin even during other seasons.

This movie has its flaws but I cannot help but love it still. Summer is often depicted in animation bursting with color and energy. But there's tranquility in this movie that's only made possible with the narrative the story follows.

I seem to like stories where the characters aren't allowed to make physical. It's emphasized in this film how young Hotaru will happily run towards Gin with open arms, and Gin will return this enthusiasm by hitting Hotaru's forehead with a stick. As they grow older, Hotaru ends up wanting to touch Gin due to the feelings stirring in her. This time, Gin wants the same thing.

Beautiful and oftentimes melancholic, there's warmth in the quiet moments in the film. There are funny moments, but it's mostly the subtle actions and the transition of time that make it such an engaging watch. The ethereal tones and underlying emotional ones build the layers in the relationship of the two. It's not just the lack of physical contact that hinders them, but the three seasons they don't see each other and one being human and another mythical don't help either.

However, it's the conclusion that disappointed me, even depressed me. The entire time they know each other, the question of taking that one step of reaching out to touch each other hangs in the air. But it's just sad that the choice is taken out of their hands. It also saddens me that Hotaru isn't given the time to grieve, or if she did, it happened on screen. Gin is not just Hotaru's first love. He's her most cherished fried, too. I need to see the emotional toll the conclusion had on Hotaru, but I only got snippets of it.

Their story feels a tad too short, and it made me want more.

Hotarubi no Mori e is a pretty good adaptation of the manga (which I read after watching the movie!) since it follows the story thoroughly. Some scenes are stretched but not much has been added. I don't think I've seen a more faithful adaptation to be honest.

The film is a little less than an hour long, but it's enough to make Hotaru and Gin a really easy pair to love.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Thursday Readings: Of Korean Kinship, Feminism, and KPOP Fandom Politics

December is always the busiest time of the year, but even before the new year starts I want to try something new. So this is an additional series in this blog, but I'm not yet sure if I'll do this weekly. But it's definitely something that I'll do to catch up with my readers and to also share some of the things I enjoyed reading.
As a consumer of anything Asian, I delight in reading feature articles that look deeper into it. They say that one shouldn't read too much into a drama and just watch for enjoyment's sake. But there's also the fun in analyzing it and looking past the obvious.

My list mostly composes of articles relating to Korean pop culture, and hopefully in the next Thursday Readings I can include more articles about other pop cultures. :)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monday Cutie: Shun Oguri (小栗旬)

Shun Oguri (小栗旬)
DOB: December 26, 1982
Known for: Hana Yori Dango,
Crows Zero, Rich Man Poor Woman

I've been busy last month so I didn't get to post as many Monday Cuties as I planned. So for December, I'm coming back with a vengeance by starting with my favorite Japanese actor ever!

Shun Oguri is probably one of the most popular actors in Asia, having starred in some prominent dramas and movies over the years. He's best known as Hanazawa Rui in Hana Yori Dango. I shipped Makino x Rui so much that I even made a fanvid for them back in 2006. I uploaded it on Youtube and it got removed due to copyright issues. LOL. But it was in Gokusen that I first liked Shun. Hihi. He's basically my first Japanese crush because it's also my first J-drama~ I've liked other actors of course, but he's the only one that has been consistently on my radar.

I'm pretty sure that his popularity will be even more explosive next year since he's cast as Lupin III! I'm just hoping that it'll be shown in cinemas worldwide just like what they did with Rurouni Kenshin! Also, it's rumored that they'll be shooting in the Philippines, so my friend and I are already planning to stalk him. Mehehehe.

I think what makes him such a big presence in Japan's entertainment industry is the fact that he already has so many iconic roles. I mean, he's Hanazawa Rui for goodness' sake. He's also Izumi Sano in Hana Kimi, Genji Takiya in Crows Zero. Heck, he's also Detective Conan! There's even a character in Doraemon that's based off of him. And now, he's going to be Lupin. You can't beat that.

He has such an extensive cinematography, and I haven't even watched half of it yet. But I'll get down to it ASAP. For the meantime, here's a pic spam, because who doesn't like a pic spam?

The role that made me love him so. Huhu.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Why I'm Loving Answer Me 1994

I usually don't blog mid-series, but Answer Me 1994 is an exception. I knew I would like the series, but I didn't expect that I would love it this much.

There were many doubts from fans before the drama even started. It's the second installment of tvN's Answer Me series. Answer Me 1997 left such a mark that it became last year's most talked about series. People are afraid that 1994 won't live up to its predecessor and it will be just a complete rip-off. But two episodes in, I could already feel like I'll love Answer Me 1994 more.

It's not one with flaws. There are times when I feel like an episode is too long. But if there's one thing this drama knows how to do well, it knows perfectly well how to pull on the heartstrings. It probably has different effects on the viewers, but it resonates with me in so many ways. The characters are 20- year-old students in the series and they're just starting college. I was 19 going on 20 when I graduated from college, but I still felt like I went through the same thing as them.

It was around episode 7 when I realized how in love I am with the show. It's one thing to love a drama, but to fall in love along with the character is not something that happens often. The writing is just so well-written that every scene feels so thought of. There's also a theme in every episode so I just want to applaud the coherence of the series.

I think what makes me love this series so much is that it takes inspiration from real life and make everyday situation something magical, poignant, special. I'm also glad that I took Korean classes this year because it makes me understand the culture a little better. I'm still far from fully understanding, of course. But in episode 10, they made a big deal about the new year. They age a year older every new year and not on their birthdays, so the way Chilbong fussed about midnight suddenly made perfect sense.

We still have 9 episodes left in the series and I'm positive that the writers will sustain its awesomeness until the very end. Besides, I think that even when it gets messy and doesn't give me the ending I want, I'd still consider it as one of the best dramas this year.

Also, you can probably tell who I'm rooting for as husband. ;)

Monday, 11 November 2013

[MOVIE] The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Have you ever fallen in love so passionately with a movie?  I have, and it's exactly what happened to me with this movie.

The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki is nothing like I expected, but in a really good way. I was completely thrown off track from the first twenty minutes alone. It starts with a heartwarming story of a college student Hana who falls in love with a boy in her class. It turns out that the boy, who's unnamed all throughout the film, is not enrolled in school. He just enjoys listening to the lectures. That's the start of their innocent and simple love story. One night, the boy reveals to Hana his big secret: he's actually a wolf.

Werewolves or wolves falling in love with human has been used and abused in mainstream media, but The Wolf Children takes on a different approach. The love story is merely a catalyst of the often heart-breaking but incredibly inspiring story of Hana and how she raised her wolf children. From start to finish, I only have mad respect for this woman.

All by herself, Hana tries to raise her two wolf children Yuki and Ame who are complete opposites. While Yuki is energetic and boisterous, Ame is quiet and highly introverted. The two may be different but they go through the same crucial difficulties growing up. Having caused much ruckus in their Tokyo apartment, Hana is forced to move to the countryside. And thus the start of the warm story of growth and acceptance of the two children.

What I particularly love about this drama is how we're given a very strong female hero in the character of Hana. She's normal in every sense of the way, but one challenge after another is thrown at her. Obviously, there are times that she seems desperate but her love for her children is the one thing that pulls her through any kind of difficulty. She's not portrayed as overly positive but instead characterized realistically with flaws and weaknesses that it's impossible not to root for her.

The Wolf Children is directed by the amazing Mamoru Hosoda, so it's only expected for this movie to be incredibly well-drawn. This movie is highly compared to Ghibli movies, but I think people should stop doing that. Even though they pointed out how this movie pays ode to some of Miyazaki Hayao's greatest works,  it's an entirely unique and different film. What sets this movie apart from other Ghibli flicks is how there's actually real conflict! Suparnatural dilemmas that still feel very real. The characters face conflict that they have to resolve in their own or in the company of the people who care for them the most. I often feel like some of the Ghibli films I watch have no obvious conflict, and it's okay because I love Ghibli flicks. But The Wolf Children takes a different route from the usual tracks followed by Ghibli flicks.

This movie spans a couple of years, from the time the parents meet till the time the children are all grown up. With such a long span of years to cover, it feels impossible to do it in a cohesive manner, but Mamoru Hosoda expertly does it. There's one particular narrative in the movie where it's shown the school years in the life of Yuki and Ame. It's shown flawlessly in a montage. It doesn't have a narration nor a voice over, but they expertly convey the events and the stories that transpired over the years.

I can't pinpoint why I honest to goodness love this story. I'm pretty sure that it's partly because it makes me so darn happy. Maybe it's also because it shows how a happy ending actually means differently from person to person. It can also be because it delivers a story that can tug at your heartstrings from the first five minutes alone. Not all movies can do that. Maybe it's also because I have this silly and melancholic smile on my face once the credits started rolling. It's rare for me to feel happy and satisfied by the end of the movie.

It has been a few days since I watched movie, so it has already sunk in. I've absorbed what I have to absorb, and yet, I still feel insatiably happy whenever a cute scene flashes in my mind. I either get a bit depressed or warm or gleeful whenever I remember a particular scene.

Maybe why I love The Wolf Children is because it's a movie that stays with me. And it's not always that a movie keeps me company even when I'm already done watching it.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Monday Cutie: So JiSub (소지섭)

So JiSub (소지섭))
DOB: November 4, 1977
Known forMemories of Bali,
I'm Sorry I Love You, Master's Sun

You probably saw this coming. Or not. So JiSub is one of the actors I really like. He's not ground-breaking as an actor but I really like most of his movies and dramas. My love for him increased for his Joo JoongWon role in Master's Sun. To top it all off, he's insanely good-looking. Sure, he has a few misses when it comes to hairstyle (*cough*ahjusshi*cough), but he's just good in any hairstyle, really. He pulls of the bedhead really well, too.

So basically, in this post I'll be using up all my positive adjectives just trying to describe this man.

It's difficult to make this post because I ended up just ogling at his photos. I find myself so immersed in staring to start writing. He's been around pretty long and already has an extensive list of photo shoots and endorsements. He has calendars and even his own magazine! So of the hundreds of his good photos out there, how can I choose just a few?

But I tried, I really did. So let's start with his photoshoot with High Cut. You can never go wrong with High Cut. When I like an artist/actor, I look for their High Cut photo shoot because there's a 100% guarantee that it'll be good.

See? The photo (and the first one, too) is so simple.
But it's just perfect. Or maybe it's SJS who's perfect.

He also released a magazine SONICe and for some reason,
I can't find that many photos from the magazine! :(

Sunday, 3 November 2013

[Drama] Master's Sun (2013)

Master's Sun is the first 2013 drama that I loved from start to finish. This year, I have liked many dramas from the start, but it's only this one that sustained my love till the very end. I was hesitant to watch this series, but I'm so glad I did.

I usually like dramas by the Hong sisters, but Big was such a disappointment I was so scared for Master's Sun. I liked Big at first but ended up getting mad and frustrated the further I got into the story. Good thing that didn't happen for Master's Sun. For this drama, I started with little expectations and came out with so much love for it. Definitely the first drama, and only one so far, that I completely embraced this year.

Tae GongShil (Gong HyoJin) was a normal girl, an achiever in the standard world. But after waking up after three years of being in a coma, she can suddenly see ghosts. She starts to live a life of seclusion to avoid awkward situations in the workplace where ghosts nags at her. Without knowing it, she starts living like a ghost, too. It was a lucky night when she meets Joo JoongWon (So JiSub), the CEO of the Kingdom empire.  She learns that ghosts disappear whenever she makes physical contact with the CEO, and it was the start of a really weird and entertaining relationship.

Master's Sun isn't perfect, but it sure delivers. Every week, I look forward to the development of our two leads. They lead a very platonic relationship at first. There's a sense of necessity in the way they interact. They set clear boundaries that neither should cross. While GongShil is definitely the one that needs more from JoongWon, she still manages to be someone JoongWon can depend on. There's a co-dependency in the two. They eventually learn to use by themselves the strengths they discovered through the course of their relationship.

What I absolutely love about Master's Sun is how we actually see the two falling in love. We get to see why they end up loving each other. The audience isn't treated like idiots who just accept that falling in love is possible in that situation. In Master's Sun, we actually see their relationship progress, grow. It isn't something that happens in an instant. It's not something that happens one-sidedly. It happens at the same time, maybe not in the same degree, but it happens in both of them. What these two have is so beautiful, something that I rarely see in dramas.

There are so many things going on in this series. There's the horror part since the GongShil can see ghosts. There's the mystery of JoongWon's past in which no one really knows what truly happened in the kidnapping more than a decade ago.  There's comedy all thanks to our winner tandem. There's also everything else. Surprisingly, it doesn't feel too much. There's a bit of everything to keep it interesting, but the drama certainly knows where it's going. The suspense is kept until the very end, though I still feel like the the antagonist isn't played very well.

Usually when dramas have an extension, I brace myself for the worst. Master's Sun jumps through hurdles and makes sure than an extension will do nothing but good for the narrative of the story. Yes, there may be loose ends, but they definitely tidied up the arc of our main couple.

I wasn't a fan of Gong HyoJin before watching this show, but her portrayal of GongShil is so heartfelt, so real, that I ended up rooting for her every step of the way. She definitely is the star of this drama. She's not just Joo JoongWon's taeyang, but the entire show as well. This is probably my favorite So JiSub drama. I'm so used to him just brooding and sulking in a corner. Seeing him in a comic role is quite refreshing! He manages to be so serious but irresistibly endearing at the same time. In his minute body movements, I see his struggles, his pains, and his joys as Joo JoongWon. I was a fan before the show, but I'm definitely a bigger fan now!

Our second leads ended up being adorable, too. Seo InGook plays Kang Candy (I forgot his name in the series!!!) who's GongShil's neighbor and the head of security in JoongWon's mall. There were some questions left unanswered in his role but I am glad that he didn't really pose any disturbances in the development of our lead's romance. If anything, he even plays quite a crucial role in ensuring that the two get together. Also, he glows in this drama.

Master's Sun re-ignited my belief in the Hong Sisters. I am once again looking forward to what they have to offer in the small-screen. Master's Sun sets the bar pretty high when it comes to warmth and character development. We see depth in GongShil and JoongWon, wherein in most dramas we only see  one character who grows throughout the series. So much have been thrown in the way of these two. That's why they certainly deserve such a good series finale.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

[Anime] Another (2012)

Another is the first horror anime I've watched, and with the rate I devoured it, I'm sure it won't be the last. It's a spine-tingling, fear-inducing kind of anime that will keep you glued to the screen from start to finish. With just 12 episodes, it's a pretty easy watch, but every episode is packed with excitement and mystery.

Koukichi Sakakibara moves to Yomiyama from Tokyo. Being a transfer student is hard enough, but he doesn't expect the rumor surrounding the class he enters. A curse that started 26 years ago surrounds the Class 3-3 of Yomiyama Middle School, and Sakakibara finds himself in the middle of it when he frequently ends up in the company of the aloof Mei Misaki, the girl whom nobody in class seems to notice.

I haven't read the manga so my opinion of this is entirely based on the execution of the anime. It'll be difficult to write a decent review without spilling anything, but I'll try. I appreciate not knowing anything about it so I watched with no expectation and without a single spoiler. It's what kept me at the edge of my seat every episode.

So if I'd end up spilling anything or if you do not want to know a single secret, then stop reading now. But before that, let me say that this is one of the best anime I have watched. The 12-episode length is just enough for a compelling and comprehensive story, but the narrative is tight enough to leave no room for fillers. It has such a strong opening, so it basically left a pretty good impression on me. From the first five minutes alone, I knew I'd be in for a very engaging watch.

The characters are no-nonsense, and I love how we are given characters who actually think, who actually deserve such a complex mystery. They don't let themselves just become a puppet of the curse's trajectory, but they try really hard to come out alive from such cruel fate.

There are clues scattered all throughout the anime, but the viewers are kept guessing until the end. Or maybe I'm just incredibly dense? But really though, you may think you know what's going to happen next but there are twists in every turn. Every episode offers something new to think about. I also love how the truth is given in increments and not just in one take.

Another thing I love about this anime is how it's not just out to scare you (but that's good, too!) but it will also make you wonder. There aren't ghosts here, but the terror of what's waiting for them and who's going to live or die are enough to keep it terrifying. The situation of the students may seem to be pretty dire at times, but the ending is gratifying. The students are at least given a fighting chance. There are no questions nor mystery left uncovered. It's pretty thorough.

There's an incredible mix of horror and mystery in Another, and I hope to watch more like it soon. It's scary enough to give me nightmares. It actually took me two tries before I could get through the first episode. For the second try, I made sure to watch it on broad daylight in the company of other people.

It's Halloween today, and my only wish is I that won't be alone tonight.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tohoshinki's Tone Tour

I finally got to watch Tohoshinki's Tone concert last night! I first saw snippets of it during one of CassPH's gatherings, and I'd been wanting to watch the entire thing. I'm a happy banana and I want to watch it again and again and again! I've been listening to their Toho songs all day, actually.

There are many words to describe YunHo and ChangMin and one of them is earnest. You can see it in every dance, feel it in every song they sing. You can sense how earnest they are every time they step onstage. With every punch in the air and every note belt out. It's a delight to watch the two because you know how much they enjoy what they do. It's just amazing to see them achieve so much, and still appreciate all the good things, no matter how little, happening to them. Their performances are always heartfelt.

I still get a bit emotional everytime they sing an old song, any song that's originally sung by 5. But I accept it now. I now accept that Tohoshinki are YunHo and ChangMin. DBSK are YunHo and ChangMin. It's okay, I love them still. Maybe even more.

I love the new Tohoshinki and I love their new songs. Frankly, I love how we see so much growth from them. They show more range in singing now. Because it's just two of them who have to fill up the stage, they learn to compensate. Singing Rising Sun with just two people is no joke, okay! My sister wonders how I manage to stay as a big fan from the start till now. I don't know, too. But I'm glad I do.

My chances of watching a Tohoshinki concert in Japan is close to zero, and that's okay. I can settle with just watching them on my laptop screen. Or a smart TV if I'd ever get rich enough. I can just always buy the concert DVD that I'm still quite far from finished collecting. But I'll get there, I'll make sure of that. I just can't wait to get my hands on the Time Tour DVD!

I have a lot of feelings when it comes to talking about these two. I get a bit sad when I realize that I only have one friend who actually gets what I'm talking about. Though I've been in this fandom for almost ten years (I grew up with them!), I didn't really make lasting online friendships with other fans. So basically, I'd love to have more online (and real life!) Cassie friends! Hehe.

/le sigh

I love these two so much I don't know how to end this post without sounding too sappy. So I'll just end it here because it gets a tad dramatic. Good night folks. :)


Monday, 21 October 2013

Monday Cutie: Bang Sung Joon (방성준)

Sung Joon (방성준)
Real Name: Bang SungJoon
DOB: July 10, 1990
Height: 187cm
Known for: Shut Up Flower Boyband
& Can We Get Married?

For my first Monday Cutie, I dedicate it to my favorite South Korean actor Sung Joon! He's known for his lead role in the TvN drama Shut Up! Flower Boy Band. But these days, he's more known as that guy Suzy is rumored to be dating. I swear I'm not bitter. Well, guess what! He's not just that guy. He's Bang Freaking SungJoon and he has me wholly captivated since the first episode of SUFBB. Hee. In a way, he'll always be JiHyuk to me.

It's silly how I immediately liked him so so so much in the first drama that I saw him in. He came and knocked down my already established list of favorite Korean actors. He now reigns supreme in my heart, and the second is actually very far from toppling him over. Anyway.

In my biased opinion, he's an undervalued actor having been given the role of Gon in the recent Gu Family Book. He has proven himself capable as an actor not just in SUFBB but also in White Christmas where he plays the genius ChiHoon. I have yet to watch his movies because I can't find a freaking copy!!!!!!

I can't pinpoint what I exactly like about SungJoon, but one thing's for sure: I am physically attracted. He doesn't look like the typical Korean superstar. He doesn't have a long, straight nose and perfect teeth. He's not muscular neither is he pale white. His skin doesn't look like a baby's, and that makes me even more attracted to this gorgeous boy. He actually looks very normal, but he has this charm. You know what I mean?

Look, he can pull off a hideous perm! He actually looks very good in it. I think his experience as a model gives him an edge. He can wear anything and sport any hairstyle and own it! I think I should have just written a top ten list of why I like him?? I don't know. Anyway, I prepared a pic spam for you guys  because he's lovely. It's under the cut because wow so many.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Title: The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim

One night, the boyfriend showed me a clip of The Raid, the one where they have hand-to-hand combat on the stairs. I cringed as the perfectly choreographed action scene finishes with one snapped neck after another. For someone who's easily freaked out by overly gory scenes, I didn't think I could watch this one.

But I just did, I'm glad to say that this is one of the most engaging action movies I have scene.

If you're looking for a complex plot, a sophisticated character development or even witty dialogues, then The Raid: Redemption is not for you. But if you're looking for a full length action-packed movie with not a single boring second, then this one's for you. You'd think it will get repetitive but I swear, there's just something new in every scene.

A squad of policemen raids an apartment complex that's supposedly the headquarters of the most ruthless gang in the country. The head of the operation emphasized on how many have tried to infiltrate the apartment complex, but all have failed. Rama (Iko Uwais) is the rookie who's skeptical about the goal of the mission. He's also thought to be a baggage, but ended up doing some of the most fantastical action sequences in the movie.

I have no idea how to comment on an action movie like The Raid. Though I enjoy watching action movies, I think this is the first one (except for the Chinese action flicks, of course) I've watched that employs more hand-to-hand combat than gun fights. And to that, I think The Raid wins. It's well-paced, so despite the lack of an apparent plot, you'll be fully absorbed in the movie.

This is a breath of fresh air in a genre that seems to focus more on explosions and special effects. The honest to goodness action scenes in The Raid feels so raw that I was the one cringing in every punch and kick. Throw in some machete and knife action, and you're left with nothing but an adrenaline-pumping two-hour-long movie. I felt incredibly sorry for my heart.

Iko Uwais is also the real deal since he did all his stunts and also the action choreographer of the movie!!!! Don't be fooled by his baby face, seriously.

The Raid: Redemption is my first Indonesian movie. It gave me a pretty good impression of the Indonesian cinema, so I'm pretty sure it won't be the last.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Heirs Starts Tonight!!!

Why, hello to this 14-minute trailer of Heirs that starts tonight! I didn't watch it entirely because it already felt like the entire episode! I'm not a fan of spoilers. But do watch it if you want, I saw a topless Lee Minho at around 3:15. Heehee.

First impressions first (ignore the redundancy!):
  • I expected a more boisterous Heirs, when it comes to tone and music anyway. Kim Eun-Sook, the writer, is also the one behind Secret Garden and A Gentleman's Dignity. If you've watched either, then you know the writer seems to like obnoxious male lead. Lee MinHo in Heirs seems to be different, which I like! I like bad boys in dramas, but I like softies, too.
  • Apparently, many people don't like Park ShinHye when she's crying, but I don't mind. I love how her character isn't squeaky clean like many female characters. She's not that much of a Candy, too!
That's it. I didn't watch further to see the other second leads. Haha.

It's not just Lee MinHo, though. I just watched episode 166 of Running man, and Choi JinHyuk is so kyot! I didn't expect it?! But seriously, he's so cute in the episode, it'll be hard for me to see him as the evil older brother. Ahuhuhu. Also, Woo Bin, saranghe~

I know that many people are getting turned off by the tons of teasers coming out every day. But I'm not, obviously.

So yeah, that's it! I'm excited! I hope the number of exclamation points is enough to prove how excited I am!!!!!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Hormones: The Confusing Teens (2013)

Title: Hormones: The Confusing Teens
Network: GMM ONE TV
  • Pachara Chirathivat as Win
  • Ungsumalin Sirapatsakmetha as Kwan
  • Suthatta Udomsilp as Toei
  • Juthawut Pattarakhumphol as Phu
  • Sirachuch Chienthawon as Mhog
  • Gun Chunhawat as Tar
  • Sananthachat Thanapatpisal as Dao
  • Thanapob Leeratanakajorn as Pai
  • Supassara Thanachart as Sprite

Hormones: The Confusing Teens is my first lakorn, and it's a pretty good introduction to Thai dramas. It's not perfect, of course it isn't. I end up not caring for half of the characters and caring too much for the other half. But overall, it's a pretty good teen series.

Hormones is pegged to be the drama counterpart of the movie of the same name, but in no way are the stories similar. The only thing the two have in common are the hormonal teens who end up getting in trouble for their hormonal tendencies. Every episode is titled after different hormones. But I know nothing about that so I'll skip the part where I'm supposed to say how the episode titles are apt for the corresponding episodes. Anyway.

The drama follows the lives of a couple of students in one high school. We have the heartthrob, the rebel, the model student, the girl-next-door, etc. We pretty much have every stereotype there is. The thing is, you won't really who you'll be rooting for. From the very first episode, Hormones didn't hold back in discussing issues every teenager deals with one way or another.

It's not too long that the story dragged on, or too short to feel rushed. It's just long enough to flesh out the characters and to discover their flaws and insecurities. Romance and libido have definitely taken center stage, but friendship also plays a huge part on how the story rolls out. Maybe I just haven't watched enough teen dramas, but Hormones made me keep guessing what's going to happen next. It seems to start with the stereotypes and ended up with some rather refreshing resolutions.

I am pleasantly surprised how Hormones doesn't seem to care much about censorship. It openly tackles pre-marital sex, pregnancy, smoking, cheating, and pretty much every other liberated issues media censorship loves to uhm, censor. It's a lot braver than any other Asian drama I have watched. For a teen show, it's pretty brave to tackle issues that normal dramas probably won't even open up. Or maybe I'm just not familiar with the Thai media.

Though I generally like Hormones, I don't understand why its central character Win, played by Peach Pachara, has no substance at all. He plays some part in all the lives of each main characters, but he's the one that's least fleshed out. He is the most flawed, but we don't really see dimensions in his role. I was expecting something more form him but we were given so little. For someone who has the most parts, Win's character is pretty one-dimensional.

There's a lot to be desired with the main cast's acting. But I assume that it's the first time for some of them, or maybe they just don't have that much experience yet. Punpun Udomsilp, who plays Toei, is the star of this series for me, but of course, that's just probably my bias talking. And just so you know, my favorite pairing have to be Toei and Tar, and also Pai and Sprite. But I won't spill anything on how the pairings ended up!

Just think of Hormones as a more subdued Asian version of UK's Skins. But in some way, it's a lot more than that. After all, it may actually be the first time that an Asian teen drama has tackled taboo topics out in the open. Hormones isn't perfect, but it's a pretty good start to bring to light some of the actual things teens go through. I'm pretty sure I'll also be watching season 2.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Fall Dramas: The Heirs, Reply 1994, Basketball

I'm only watching one drama now (Master's Sun), but come October I'd probably be sleeping just an hour a day. Seriously though.

There are three fall dramas I'm excited for in varying degrees! Though more Kdramas means a happier me, I also don't have the time to watch them all. But for the sake of my Korean drama-loving heart, I will make time for them!



It has a much longer title (The One Who Wants To Wear The Crown, Bear The Crown) but I'll stick to the short one. It stars Lee MinHo in his first drama for this year, and starring opposite him is Park ShinHye, a.k.a. the luckiest Korean actress ever. Really though, just look at her list of co-stars and you just want to be her! And now she's teaming up with Lee MinHo. Ugh, so lucky.

I have many reasons to watch this drama but mostly because Lee MinHo! Apparently, the screenwriter wrote the role specifically for him. So I'm hoping for great things. I'm hoping for a role that will once again put Lee MinHo at the top of the ladder! I know Faith didn't do that well when it comes to ratings. I want this drama to succeed for obviously biased reasons.

Other reasons for watching this include Woo Bin. Heehee. There are tons of other fresh, young actors and actresses in this drama and I.CANNOT.WAIT. From the title itself, it's about young, rich kids and their plight. Just like what a reader from Dramabeans sad, a Korean version of Gossip Girl. That sounds exciting!

What irks me though is that Park ShinHye plays an ordinary girl. For once, I just want the lead character to be the Queen Bee, the ruler of the school, the jjang, the bitch if you may. I want her to be the richest among the characters. I want the girl to be as cunning as the other players. But alas, this is just like Boys Over Flowers. Well, hopefully not!

My friend said I shouldn't raise my expectations but it's Lee MinHo! I can't help but be excited.


REPLY 1994

The prequel to the much-loved drama last year is finally here, and it looks promising.

Reply 1994 is set three years prior to Reply 1997 (quick math lol), but it's set in a different town and deals with different characters. It's a different world altogether, but it's helmed by the same people who brought Reply 1997 to the mainstream public. I have high hopes.

It stars Go Ara in a boyish and cutesy role. It's so different from the pretty and feminine Go Ara I usually see! I have no idea how she acts but I won't judge too quickly. Starring opposite her is Yoo YeonSeok (Gu Family Book, A Werewolf Boy). He looks so cute in the poster, whereas I'm not really a big fan. Hmm.
Reply 1994
Unlike in Reply 1997 where they focused on the start of KPOP in Korea, Reply 1994 will focus on another trend during that time: basketball. So it'll be a sports drama, but I'm pretty sure that it will just serve as one of the main themes.

TvN has been delivering one quality drama after another so I don't think it's too much to believe that this one will be good as well. I have no super crush in this drama, and if you know me, you'll know that I only watch dramas in which I like the actors. Haha. But I'll still watch this. 

I seriously cannot wait.



Another basketball drama. And yes it's set on a different time period. And yes it's also form TvN. It sounds a bit buffling on how they can premiere two basketball-period dramas at the same time, but hey, fans like me are still itching to watch.

Set during the time from the Japanese occupation in Korea leading to the division of the two Koreas, basketball will serve as the ray of hope for our lead characters. It will be lead by Do JiHan, a new face in the land of the oppar.

What I love about TvN or cable dramas in general is how it gives chance to new actors and actresses to be the lead in dramas. Basketball will have a bunch of new faces, and it's interesting because it gives cable dramas a raw quality into it. And you see characters as characters alone and not as the actors who play them or the characters they used to play. I'm not sure if I'm making sense?

Anyway, it will be aired the same time as Reply 1994! I'm not sure how that will work. I hope audience will not get confused.


I'm not sure if I can watch it all while it's still airing, but I'm pretty sure that I'll watch all of it eventually. I work during the day and this week, I started my Korean language class, too. I wonder if I'll still have time for dramas. But hey, I had time for dramas when I was doing my thesis for college! So I'm pretty sure I'll still have time for my oppar.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Korean Film Festival 2013

Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines once again brings Korean cinema to the Filipino public. The Korean Film Festival 2013 features six movies namely A Werewolf Boy, Masquerade, Sunny, Green Days, Deranged, and Dancing Queen. It will be held in SM Megamall on Sept 18-22, SM Iloilo on Sept 26-29, SM Cebu on Oct 3-6 and SM Lanang in Davao on Oct 10-13.


Sept 18
19:00 A Werewolf Boy

Sept 19
16:30 Masquerade
19:35 Dancing Queen

Sept 20
16:30 Green Days
19:10 Deranged

Sept 21
13:00 Green Day
15:30 Dancing Queen
18:25 Sunny

Sept 22
13:00 A Werewolf Boy
15:55 Sunny
18:50 Masquerade


Sept 26
19:00 Sunny

Sept 27
17:10 Dancing Queen
20:00 Green Days

Sept 28
14:20 Green Days
17:10 Dancing Queen
20:00 Deranged

Sept 29
14:20 A Werewolf Boy
17:10 Sunny
20:00 Masquerade


Oct 03
19:00 A Werewolf Boy

Oct 04
18:30 Deranged
21:00 Sunny

Oct 05
16:00 Green Days
18:30 Masquerade
21:00 A Werewolf Boy

Oct 06
16:00 Green Days
18:30 Dancing Queen
21:00 Deranged


Oct 10
19:00 Masquerade

Oct 11
18:00 Deranged
20:30 Green Days 

Oct 12
15.25 Green Days
17:45 Dancing Queen
20:30 A Werewolf Boy

Oct 13
15:00 Deranged
17:45 Sunny
20:30 Masquerade

I highly recommend Sunny because it's one of my all-time favorite movies! Masquerade, A Werewolf Boy, and Dancing Queen are good, too. I plan to watch Deranged this friday so hopefully that'll push through. :)

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