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.

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