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.

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