About Me

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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Plain Badassery That Is Keizoku 2: SPEC Part 1 (WARNING: MAJOR PIMPAGE)

I started SPEC a while ago and after nearly having a heart attack at the end of the 1st episode due to the sudden but awesome change in genres, I've been probably talking to my screen more than actual people. Then came "paper" season and I had to put it off. I kept putting off because I knew I'd need at least half a day to soak in the last two episodes.

I've touted SPEC before as epic. It has become beyond epic; it's just been promoted to my top ten films/shows. You know, there's a reason most of that list is occupied by foreign shows and that is because unlike American shows that milk their cash cow for all their worth, everyone else in the world knows that sometimes less is more. Japanese dramas and UK shows seem to know this best. Their nightly television caps at maximum 12 episodes and for jdramas, that's it. Forever. Sometimes, but rarely, there are two seasons and when there are most of the time, the show has been revamped with a new set, a new kind of spin and a brand new cast - sort of like Skins except the maximum seasons I've seen any Japanese drama is 3. Obviously, the reason for bringing back any show would be to milk it and the ones that do come back in Japan are usually guaranteed to have the same consistency in ratings and therefore the same consistency in raking in the dough.

Korean dramas usually last longer but having a second season is even rarer there. In fact the only show I can remember coming back for a second one is IRIS, which introduced a whole new genre into the Korean system of sageuks (period pieces), trendies (rom-coms) and melodramas (basically soap operas). IRIS even spawned a spinoff called ATHENA which aired last winter but did miserably in ratings and plotwise as it went on so about that second season, I wouldn't even hedge my bets this time.

My point is that the shorter the show, usually the better the quality. Especially when the show comes from Japan where writers are given 10 episodes to fascinate a viewer into buying DVDs and collectibles and miscellaneous merchandise. Clearly this doesn't always work but not only does this mean that the writers have to actually focus on developing characters and engaging plots, the actors also have to actively find ways to interpret a character whose background and motives may not have enough time to be aired. I'm not saying anything to the American (Hollywood) system of running their shows and their gifted actors, but it seems to me that there are a lot of chances for these actors and writers to be lazy but more often than not - in my experience - the pressure and the limited time actually makes them work better.

Coming back to SPEC, I think it's a show that could teach writers/actors/ producers anywhere that literally everything is up in the air when it comes to creating something. (I admit, I admit) I've never seen LOST but I did watch LOST in 3 minutes by Alex Day and it's really hard to believe that they were able to successfully stretch that plot into six seasons. When compared to all the praise that has gone into LOST for the symbolism in all of its glory, SPEC seems to make it pale in comparison. I think SPEC was able to bring up enough questions and unsolved yet strangely solved mysteries in just 10 episodes to rival what LOST was able to in six freaking SEASONS.

If you don't believe me then just go look up the forums, the blogs and the livejournals (coughdarkeyedwolfcough) and marvel at the huge amount of debate over the mystery of just the main character. OK, wait, don't do that. You'll definitely be spoiled of the outright shock you get part way into the show. I mean, I was so freaking pissed when I was reading comments of the first episode and someone spoiled it. It is just that good - I didn't even believe it at first. Seriously, the cliffhangers/shockers start at the end of the first episode and they don't ever stop coming! As a word of advice, don't start watching this four hours before your intended bedtime because you will just end staying up and up and up.

SPEC, despite the comparison to LOST, is more like Sherlock Holmes meets Fringe (that comparison made by the lovely ladies over at MustHaveSubs) and yet it still manages to be utterly and completely original. Where else would you get the usually prettified Erika Toda stomping around in her makeup-less-and-yet-a-thousand-times-gorgeous-ness, arm in a perpetual sling, breath reeking from garlicky Japanese dumpings (gyouza!) and rolling around her purse suitcase and making faces at no one and yet everyone?! Breath. Her character, Saya Toma, is a detective with an IQ of 201 and believes that everyone is capable of ESP-ish powers they call SPECs.

Toma also happens to be so quirky that she sometimes borders onto the land of weird. She never brushes her hair (or changes her clothes) leading her constantly look like a nun - which is just plain wicked because how many actresses do you know can look hot in clothes that remind you of why working in a church can be terrible. Then there's the faces. Oh, God, the faces alone should be reason enough for anyone to check it out. Oh and the absolute pure yesness of the OTP that is Toma and Sebumi (Kase Ryo).

How many shows do you see the male lead hitting the female lead? They're so bloody violent that it just screams unresolved sexual tension. Which is one of the only flaws of several of my favorite Japanese dramas but ones I can live with, leaving them to the imagination. And before you freak out over this case of abuse, if you watch the show, you'd be able to tell that Sebumi doesn't view Toma at all as a woman when they first meet and that is completely understandable. He transfers into Toma's department Unsolved Cases after being displaced from SIT (think SWAT) and indirectly blamed for the mysterious shooting of a comrade. Then Toma goes all up in his face with her garlicky breath and absentmindness and pretty much expresses her disappointment in him being so normal despite being involved in the "strange case" which put his subordinate in a coma. Excuse me while I break out the champagne. I can't remember the last time I met such a freakishly awesome female character before. She's just ... augh.

Rounding out the trio is the chief of Unsolved Cases (he also appeared in the original case and hasn't really aged in 10+ years. That's an award-winning achievement right there.) Nonomura. He's having an affair with one of the (... interns? I never really got what she was doing. OK, let's settle for) servant/secretary/guard. Anyway, Nonomura, this old guy, is having an affair with this twenty-something year old, Miyabi, and basically is the second funniest thing when not discounting the Toma-Sebumi pairing. He has this picture of Miyabi posted above his desk - like right above his desk and pretty much spends his day controlling his diabetes and talking to her - immediately sliding off his wedding ring whenever Miyabi comes up to the office to announce the next guest. (May I add that what he does in the end just about broke my heart into a million pieces?) When placed beside Erika Toda and Kase Ryo's characters and stellar performances, it's undeniable that he'd be outshined but for a short moment, I definitely say that Ryu stole the show.

To be honest though, this show was pretty much dominated by actors who knew what they were doing. Never do you get the feeling that "Oh, wow, she's so great at acting!" because you never see it and it doesn't hit you till it's all over and you're like whoa. Whoa because some of the things they've just done and said are beyond you're understanding. Whoa because what just happened and your character's reactions to it made you feel like they just rammed a stake through your soul. Whoa because you're still reeling from the fact Toma or Sebumi or some other fantastic character just blew your mind.

I've been a fan of Erika Toda ever since I watched her in Death Note and then Liar Game and then all the lesser roles (though I'm not sure about her newest one ...) and at one point, I started watching the second season of Liar Game and Toda's character came on and I felt uncomfortable. Because for a second, I actually thought I was watching SPEC and that was just Toma in disguise. Of course, after the acting began, Toda swept me away and I focused on the show itself. That's how good she was in SPEC. Internet bloggers and talkers have all been saying that it's her best performance to date and I enthusiastically agree.

Let's not forget about Ryo of course. I didn't like his look at all when I first saw him being interrogated but within about two seconds of the show, I was hooked by him, by Toda, by them all. I also have to mention the young actor who came out of nowhere to play another great character, Ninomae Juichi, the time-stopping teenage boy whose part time job is killing off people who are stupid enough to give away evidence of SPEC holders to people who haven't been allowed to know. It also doesn't hurt that he's the cutest, most innocent looking serial killer to grace the screen since Kristin Dunst. Annnnnd he didn't end up being the terrible cliches that killing children loathe to be. Most of the typical-crazy-cartoon villian stuff that unfortunately populate many Japanese dramas only happens at the end and for a very brief moment and one that is pretty much a clue to a piece of the mystery. So kudos for the writer to turn into a plot piece while having her kicks!

It speaks volumes to say that I did not at any point or time fast-forward. I was glued to the screen like the hat to the uncle in Matilda and if this show is available with English subtitles on DVD, I'm ordering it faster than you can say "a new Old Spice commercial!"

Part 2 to follow

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Crows Zero (WATCHING)

I watched Monga and loved it. This is supposed to be the Japanese version; based on a bestselling manga called CROWS which ran from 1990 to 1998 that spawned to other sequels and essentially became the bible for the Japanese deliquent or yankee, this should be a riot.

Return of Iljimae

I've actually already started this show but I ended up stopping it because . . . now that I think about, I don't remember. Well, my recent phase of 2NE1 obsession has led me to discover that Park Sandara stars also in this show. So it's on my list!


Song Joon Ki. Acting like one of the girls. Cutest thing on the show. Main lead actress=short hair and petite. First meeting with main lead actor=walks out of an elevator and ignores him. All listed above=win. (Once again thanks to darkeyedwolf)

Tokujo Kabachi

Horikita Maki as a former delinquint WHO SMOKES. If you didn't get that the first time this is the girl who played Nobuta and Mizuki smoking and acting like she's IT. I was sold the moment this told me.


Because apparently Anami Yuki can destroy everyone with the mere power of her glare. And her team includes Toda Erika pre-SPEC days, acting like Toma Saya's younger sister, a well-connected, gay yakuza obsessed with designer clothes, a weird boyish new guy and an old man who was once a fine cop but now forgets his backpack and sees butterflies and rainbows at any place and time. Pure Win.

The Mentalist Season 3 (WATCHING)

Off to catch Van Pelt

I'm an idiot and completely forgot about this after the last school year started + even more irresponsible Jane + (mild spoiler) less of Kristina Frye (I hated that woman with more of a passion than Jane did and not just because she got in the way of our OTP)


God, I loved this show. It should be a standard for all children's shows. (That and Arthur)

Original Sailor Moon (WATCHING)

I've been meaning to watch this after I recently read this post by a blogger about how the North American distributor butchered the show. I already knew (after watching the fourth season) that it was a lot more mature than the distributors had made them to be but rated for older teens? I have to see if they really accomplished that. (It's sad also that the butchered version is still a thousand times better than anything on children's TV now.)

True Blood Season 4


Premiering June 26! This show may be bashed by some but adored by others but no one can deny the absolute awesomeness of this guilty pleasure!

The Game of Thrones

Heard spectacular things about it ... and then some. Then again, they did say it was Lord of the Rings - without special effects and you know, acting can compensate for that, right? Right?

White Collar Season 2

I love Matt Bomer. Not just a pretty face; Traveler was amazing before they canceled. Tim DeKay was the reason why I tuned into the first season before I knew about Bomer.

That all said, I've yet to even finish my other rounds. I need to organize my priorities. As usual. Sigh.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In My Mailbox

In my Mailbox is hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren.

This is my first Mailbox. I realized the last 354th time that I had been following Kristy for a while but I had never even actually followed her. That's the second time this has happened. My scatterbrained-ness amazes even me sometimes.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed
to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

To be honest, I'm not looking forward to reading this. I've been working my way towards it for so long that my expectations are sky high. Especially with bloggers raving about it and then
others defaming it. Reasons not to read other people's reviews on hyped books. I hate it thinking about how on Earth the author of my favorite blog liked a certain book that I hated while I'm being disappointed by said book. It makes the reading experience torturous and unpleasant. All I'm saying is that I pray it doesn't disappoint.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing, victims of so-called "Gobblers", and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

This is a re-read so anything I say now will probably decrease the amount of things I have to say in my review because I seem to say less about the better books I gather. But I can say: wow.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really areand where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Like Liar I have heard some very good things about this. However I read an excerpt from Enclave (which I am dying to read) and there are some details that are similar between the two. In fact I got their synopsises mixed up more than once when I was describing it to a friend of mine.

Eromenos by Melanie McDonald
Eros and Thanatos converge in this story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity, Antinous.

In this coming-of-age novel set in second century Rome, the Greek youth Antinous of Bithynia recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, the fourteenth Roman emperor. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian's political marriage, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on the earth.

This version of the story of the emperor and his beloved ephebe envisions the life of the youth who after death achieved apotheosis as a pagan god whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years, and gives voice to Antinous, whose image still appears in museums around the world.

This one I signed up for because of 1. The gorgeous cover and 2. because I love Ancient anything and this has a few reviews saying its worth the read but mind that only a few. I'm going on this as naked as a skinny-dipping preteen. Fingers Crossed!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jane Flare

Jane Eyre broke my heart.

This film took all my expectations, smashed them to pieces on the ground and gleefully ran around stomping on them while drinking from a bottle of port. I loved this movie. From the indescribably beautiful cinematography to the thoughtful direction and camera shots and even the way that the actors cried it was so massively Jane Eyre that it took me a while to be able to process my thoughts and put them down on paper - er, well, screen.

I've heard some people commenting on the fact that this film takes over its recent predecessor from 2006 in the light and airy department. It does, I admit, but the director plays with that color. As the film transitions from Jane's time at the manor to her childhood and even to the present teaching schoolchildren, there's an obvious lack of color, a grayish tone to even Jane herself. Her outfits even blend into her skin tone and her hair.

As you should know, Jane's misfortune starts at a young age, where she loses her parents to fever and is forced to move in with her aunt who detests her. After struggling to fit in with her cousins (played by Becoming Human's delightful Chris Roberts) and eventually giving up, Jane's aunt sends her away to reform school or finishing school where Jane makes friends finally only to lose her only one to illness. Cue tears. The child actors were as brilliant as their older counterparts. Eventually, Jane has to grow up and leave the school to be a governess in a distant, cold manor where there are banshees howling at night and fires being set in early morning.

Meeting Rochester is like for Jane, meeting her other fervent and impassioned self. In fact the only time we ever see her truly display emotion after losing her one and only friend is when she sits down and talks with him. Mia Wasikowska (of Alice in Wonderland and The Kids Are All Right) plays Jane with a subdued element of herself that many actress lack today. If it weren't for the clear fact that this film was about Jane Eyre, Wasikowska's character might have all but faded into the background. Despite being beautiful, she was able to play Jane plain which is a lot more than just allowing a less prettier actress devote herself to making Jane the central part of the film.

It's been said that Michael Fassbender (of Inglorious Basterds and 300) makes Rochester seem a lot less romance-character and a lot more abusive-husband material. I think, however, that that is Rochester. He never does outright say that he's a nice, gentlemanly person and it's even hinted that he knows he's not as he flirts around with other women and dangles the fact over Jane's head to make her submit to their attraction. Rochester is a tortured character and, in fact, a lot more real than the other two essential 19th century novels, Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights.

He begs for forgiveness because he knows he's wrong and to Fassbender's credit, he doesn't make Rochester seem like he's a good person at all. Fassbender's Rochester is intense and sly and only a step away from actually jumping Jane Eyre's bones, excuse my language. I've always thought that the essential three are actually not stories of love at all but stories of the malcontent of both the women and the men in their time. Rochester in the end has his payment for trying to marry another women while still married and it almost has him at peace, as if he's been waiting for some kind of punishment, like it's his fault that his wife is insane. He's the most damaged, flawed and yet still real male character I have ever seen.

Despite being damaged and flawed, Rochester still seems to be cut from the same cloth as most domestic abusers are and I hoped that the film would commit blasphemy and actually not let Jane Eyre marry at all. That she would return to the manor and greet Rochester with friendship. The book's ending is understandable. Although Jane was a proto-feminist, she still lived in the nineteenth century as did her author but the film would have been elevated if this Jane, this twenty-first century one, eventually moved. She had riches, status and land, all of which Rochester had lost and, yes, I understand that it was moving that Jane would still marry him but still ...
It's obvious by now that the film didn't go the way that most avid Bronteholics would have liked them to but I think that this is the best adaption of Charlotte Bronte's work yet. The others relied on the love story to provide most of the rapture of the spectators, forgetting that there are critics or even people who have never read Jane Eyre before seeing it. In fact, I'm sure many dates have gone to see this movie and although the essence of the book is still there, it seems like the majority would have enjoyed the film otherwise.

There is a sinister quality to the film that lent itself from the original Gothic novel, playing on the light sometimes unnoticeable music in the background and carefully fading away the richness of color when there was a certain emotion at play. Some might have said that the whole storm meet-and-leave factor was a little cliche but it was self-explainable to me. Grayness is what Jane feels like before she meets Rochester and after she has to leave; as if he's the one who sparks her passion and without it, she's gray, empty. She smiles but she's not really there.

In case you haven't noticed, I loved the film as a separate piece of art to the novel and whether or not you like Jane Eyre, I think the breathtaking cinematography is a reason to save yourself some grief from arguing with your girlfriend or wife and just go along with it. I mean, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell - just look at the rest of the casting. At least it has amazing acting right?


(And the child actor who plays Adele is the cutest thing since baby snowflakes.)

Word of the Day:

- chess move made to play for time

THE joker, THE joker

Who doesn't love a drama that's willing to start it off with their hero wetting his pants? Oh, and that that hero is also the main inspector. Then there's the tigress of ambition and gettin-the-job-done in small model form called Miyagi Asuka who tells off guys chatting her up solely on her looks and throws them unashamedly when they start puking?

Oh, God, I think I'm in love.

In a nutshell, Date is what Toma would be if her parents were murdered in front of her and she was forced to kill said murderer at the age of seveneightnine because he wouldn't shut up about their deaths being her fault. (Actually, I think Toma would be a lot more scary and a lot less quirky if that happened.) One thing about this actor is that he honestly has from the very moment he did that angelic I'm-so-useless dumb look thing, his character chilled me to the bone. When Date's interrogating someone, I honestly am like "HOW DO YOU SIT THERE WITHOUT PEEING YOUR PANTS THE WAY HE'S LOOKING AT YOU?" It's like he's an innocent cat assessing the bird who thinks he's too high up to be caught. He wants to get them down. To help them of course but he thinks they can do it themselves. Then they start chriping about how untouchable they are and when they actually get away, that's when Date's here-we-go-again look comes up. I love serial killers/psychopaths and Date has just been put on my growing list.

Someone asked what would happen if Toma and Date met: and I never want to know. Their smiles are equally creepy and so are their investigative skills (although Toma does have an unfair edge what with her paper-divination thing going on there). But honestly I wouldn't know. I'd be cheering for Toma though because I'd take a quirky psychopath over a saintly one any day.

Of course, Date's just the first in our threesome of crazy, quirky, ballsy and downright wicked psychos on this show. Our female psycho, Miyagi, is a BAMF who sometimes does get on my nerves with her recklessness but damn she doesn't take no for an answer. The scene where she intimidates Date into paying attention by smashing the window, at the end of episode one where she curses in a guy's bathroom and the one at the beginning of episode two where she tackled a guy to the ground and nearly arrested him culminated into my now throbbing girl crush.

Talking about the guy who crushes on Miyagi and gives her helpful creepy hints and smiles at her in his own skeevy way, let me introduce our last sociopath: Kudo. If not for his drool-worthiness looks and yeah-I-know-what-you're-looking-at charisma, I'm pretty sure I would have been like "WHOA, Show, WHOA. Creepiness factor just blasted through the roof right there!" But because he can smile and be skeevy, cunning, hilarious and creepy-sweet/helpful, I have to concede that he doesn't reach that mark. Well, hasn't yet.

I just want to know HOW DID THE OFFICERS GET THEIR DEGREES? I get that it's to make Date look much more observant despite the whole I'm-a-little-dense schtick but do they not teach how to look at details in Japanese police academy? Speaking of details, the only thing that's disappointing about the drama is the mysteries. OK so it's not SPEC in terms of WTFness yet but I was hoping for something that would make me think a little more instead of how they did it. American shows are bad enough with their thinly constructed plotlines, scattered red herrings and handful of deus ex machinas. I want a show whose mysteries can compete with Sherlock and just surprise me at every term.

But in any case just after 3 episodes JOKER is setting up to be a rollercoster ride of guns, tranquilizers and the occasional stabbing with a mild dosing of sleeping drugs. I'm off to rot my brain, children!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


baccano!: Baccano! is an action-packed murder mystery of the 1930s in America which involves a pair of insane -yet highly succesful- serial robbers, civil war in the mafia, blood-thirsty cults dressed in white, immortals from the 1700s, and above all, alchemists. Whether taking place in the gold mines of California or the mafia-infested New York, aboard the haunted Flying Pussyfoot in 1932 or a lonely ship at sea in 1711, this fast-paced series links countless characters and a myriad of plots simultaneously under the single name of Baccano, an Italian word meaning "ruckus". Presented in no particular order, nevertheless chronologically, Baccano! leaves the viewers to put this story together themselves.

an anime - I think. The art looks scrumptious and that about does it for me. Oh and it's apparently done to anime what Pulp Fiction did to movies. So now, I HAVE to see it. The problem is deciding whether to get hooked on the first episode or already finish the run of amazing JOKER I've started and spent about two hours lying in bed last night thinking about.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: When 17-year-old Makoto Konno gains the ability to, quite literally, "leap" backwards through time, she immediately sets about improving her grades and preventing personal mishaps. However, she soon realises that changing the past isn't as simple as it seems, and eventually, will have to rely on her new powers to shape the future of her and her friends.
I'll probably watch mainly because of the spellbinding things I've heard of the soundtrack. And in case you didn't know MUSIC=LIFE.

Lost Girl: Lost Girl focuses on the gorgeous and charismatic Bo, a supernatural being called a succubus who feeds on the energy of humans, sometimes with fatal results. Refusing to embrace her supernatural clan and its rigid hierarchy, Bo is a renegade who takes up the fight for the underdog while searching for the truth about her own mysterious origins.
a CANADIAN SHOW ON SHOWCASE. Scripted in Canada with Canadian actors and filmed in Canada. Let me just squeal over this for a while because I only recently found out about this. But I am so there.

The Myth: A 2000 year-old artifact transported Yi Xiao Chuan and Gao Yao from the year 2010 to the Qin dynasty. They traveled the ancient kingdom trying to find their way back to the modern day, or at least die trying. Back in 2010, their family, Yi Da Chuan and Gao Lan, were piecing together clues from ancient artifacts that could help bring them back while avoiding attacks from mysterious masked men.
a try maybe, my last attempt to watching cdramas didn't last very long. I thought the audio and the voices were too shrilly) but I've heard it being compared the legendary LEGEND and that's enough of a comparison for me to watch. Then again it is 50 EPISODES LONG and I've never been able to dedicate myself to those long period sageuks/family dramas/melodramas (shudder I couldn't watch the episodes of Secret Garden where Ra Im was in a coma it was just too much).

JOKER: Date Kazuyoshi (Sakai) is a detective on the Kanagawa prefectural police force. During the day, he is known as a "Buddha" for his gentle personality, pouring all of his energy into resolving each case. At night, however, he transforms into a cruel punisher as his gentleness gives way to his anger towards the criminals. The series poses questions about what justice and evil truly are.
which honestly sounds EPIC (hopefully as EPIC as SPEC 2 was - I haven't even finished it, I'm still trying to process its sheer amazingfulness)

Princess Tutu: 13-year-old ballet student Ahiru is clumsy, good-hearted and sweet... and has a big secret. The mysterious Drosselmayer morphed a young duck into a girl to give her a mission: help a Prince to get the parts of his heart back. With that in mind, she morphs into Princess Tutu, whose magical dances ease the pain and purifies the bad feelings.
I know, I know. But after spending literal hours on Tumblr I tumbled (ha ha) upon this screencap of this cosplaying girl called Kraehe who looked Portman's Black Swan done right. I obviously Googled this Kraehe girl and came across this Pokerface AMV and holy Doritos, my mind right there and then was blown.

The Devil: When Homicide Detective Kang Oh Soo hit a dead end in his investigation of two seemly unrelated murders, except for the Tarot cards left behind at both crime scenes, he sought help from Seo Hae In, a woman with Token-object reading ability. She revealed that the killers were different in each murder, but the victims were chosen for their connection to a death of a high school boy. Later, the cases proved to have one more thing in common: the suspects have the same defense attorney, Oh Seung Ha.

Seung Ha's defense for his clients severely shaken Oh Soo’s conviction to catch the Tarot Card mastermind. Oh Soo was reminded that years ago he had killed a high school classmate in a fight. He was acquitted of all charges and began his life anew. Now, someone has came back to revenge the boy’s wrongful death by killing those who got him off

because of Joon Ji Hoon and my absolute LOVE of him for starring in and basically being Antique Bakery (Then perhaps after The Naked Kitchen? Yes, The Naked Kitchen. It's a Korean movie what do you expect?). Also because someone I can't remember was compared to Kim Kang Woo's character from Story of A Man and that was one of the most chilling, raw, just incredible portrayals of a psychopath I have seen since Hannibal Lecter.

Lie To Me: Gong Ah Jung, a level 5 Ministry of Culture official, gets entangled in a web of lies when she mistakenly lies that she's married to Hyun Ki Moon, an nobel hotel manager from an affluent family. Their relationship is further complicated when Ki Moon's ex-fiancée and a close friend of his brother's, Oh Yoon Joo, reappears in his life.
Because of Yoon Eun Hye. And maybe Kang Ji Hwan with his impeccable suits and the acting ability to re-invent the Darcy rich guy trope kdramers are afflicted with (like, say the fantastic Hyun Bin?)

Goodbye Miss Ripley: Two men fall in love with a woman whose life is a complicated web of lies, propelled by her greedy desires that stem from an unfortunate childhood.
I'm going to watch this partly because of Yoochun. OK mostly. And also because I'm dying to see Lee Da Hee in a crazy, whacked out role again especially in a story that covered newspapers in South Korea not so long ago. And also said drama above and this one are pretty close in terms of bare storyline. It'll be interesting to see if the writers accidentally mesh together because cliches are unfortunately ridden in kdramas.

Buzzer Beat: Kamiya Naoki is a young player from a professional basketball team. But due to his relatively smaller size and his tendency to crack under pressure, he is unable to show his true skills on the court. Meanwhile, Shirakawa Riko is a cheerful, strong-spirited music college graduate aiming to become a professional violinist. One day, Riko finds Naoki's lost cell phone on a bus, and their meeting begins a friendship that eventually turns into love. However, Naoki was already considering marriage with his current girlfriend. And it doesn't help matters that Naoki's coach has fallen in love at first sight with Riko!
Because of darkeyedwolf's belief that if Natsuki, a secondary character, became the frontrunner of this show - it would be renamed Cinderella Unni. And we all know how much of an awesomely twisted dark and even though sometimes slow just plain wicked that show was.

The to-be-watched ones I'm not sure about are City Hunter and Best Love.

City Hunter: It's based on Hojo Skaski's City Hunter manga and plays on a Soeul troubleshooter who will only accept cases from gorgeous girls.
OK, I mean, the appeal of Lee Minho and his pretty face and nice hair this time around and a potential cute white boy sidekick (seen in the stills), I'm tempted but I read the manga and seeing the stills and the actors and the description it's just what? Why is this even being called City Hunter anymore? Then you have the adorable Park Min Young and the fact that in the manga the MC was a lecherous guy with a heart of gold - but still all-around a lecher who went through more girls then cases sometimes, using said heart of gold. Who wouldn't want to see Lee Minho playing him?
Best Love: It introduces Dokko Jin (Cha Seung-won) as a nationally beloved star, who’s got a different face behind the scenes, and Gu Ae-jung (Gong Hyo-jin) as the revival star, as in, girl determined to revive her public image, despite having zero popularity. She’s a former idol star who was in a 90s pop group with Yoo Inna‘s character. Through a variety game show, they're put together to act in a fake marriage (not unlike WGM).
Then there's the Hong sisters. I wasn't swept up by My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho last summer until after it was over and then it was like heart palpitations every five seconds from the cutest main leads since You're Beautiful and when I was finished I needed like two hours to go through all that drama and heart-tuggingness before I could calm down. And OK I watched only the first few episodes of Athena for Cha Seung-won and his dark we-both-know-just-how-damn-hot-I-am looks to everyone including the audience. (No words on Athena. Just - none.) So maybe I'll check it out but I'm pretty sure I'll get into it if it's a Hong sisters drama. They're just plain full of win.

So that's about it for watching films/dramas on my computer. There will be another TBW up for films released here and in theaters (XMENJAMESMCAVOYXMENXMEN) but until then, I'm off to finish JOKER! Then hit off the Myth? Maybe?

Happy Easter!

(Demon's Covenant review + Jane Eyre soon)

The Replacementx2

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

I was engrossed from the first page. Finally a story of fairies were there not actually pretty, nice or "dark". Where changelings don't grow to be beautiful and feminine so the hero can fall in love with them. In this story, the replacements are something so dark and twisted that sometimes they're afraid of themselves. I would be too if I realized the person I replaced was killed by having their baby throat torn out. I was gleeful from that first mention and the description of a fairy having skin so bright it looked like a burn freshly healed and a ring of vicious scar around their neck, like the story of that girl and her ribbon.

I've missed these fairies (or whatever they're supposed to be called - it wasn't exactly clear in the book). The kind that would lure you over with the sound of their voice then eat your face while you smile encouragingly. I loved Mackie and all his "I'm dying. WTF? I'm dying!" and his pale hair and creepy quietness and his sister whom I think would be actually be a little bit more cuter together if it wasn't for the fact that they, you know, grew up together. I loved how the good guys were actually bad guys too and the whole convoluted concept of the give-and-take that these supernatural entities live on.

It was just all around excellent. Like Wicked Lovely's little brother who is actually ten times more seducing and ten times as dark. I read it in the morning despite the blurb (which half made me suspicious at first) and will now proceed in curling up in my bed with only my lamp on to read the chills right out of me.

All in all=☆☆☆☆☆

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Friday, April 22, 2011


In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.*

There is absolutely no doubt that this book is not only well-written but written with its theme, its subject matter in mind. Each sentence has the same ethereal feel as the Wood Ash wanders in whenever she's feeling lonely - its one coping mechanism that although might not be wholly original, one that is evocative from Lo's excellent prose. It also stands out from the myriad of mechanisms that is used in the YA trope that is so rampant it is now called the Disappearing Parent.

The book cover, unlike its hardcover counterpart, matches the sometimes dark undercurrent in the book. The other one might have appealed younger audiences but it was a little too deceptive of the themes for my liking. I want to add that it wasn't until I was a third way through the book that I realized that the cover had a girl lying in fetal position and not - as I had thought - a crumpled piece of paper. Well, I thought, that makes much more sense.

The world itself is a place I would love to live in. The descriptions of the Wood, Rook Hill, the Royal City and the riverside are so lush and lilting that I sometimes felt overwhelmed with the amount. Not in a bad way of course but for a second I had to stop, taking it all in and then continue. Like a heady rush of wine. Another good thing about Lo's prose is that unlike her fellow retold-fairytale authors, she never once faltered. She kept her voice distinct, formal and sometimes otherworldly right to the end.

Unfortunately, I did not like Ash. There was that, at first, niggling feeling when I read about how Ash's real name was Aisling and this was already uncomfortably close to the main character in Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. Maybe it's just a personal thing but as the novel went on, I disliked Ash more and more. What Ana said at one point was right - Ash did sometimes have this view that she was better than everyone else. The narration did not help. The only time she slipped out of this was when she was with Sidhean or Kaisa, but that was only because 1. she knew that Sidhean viewed her as his equal despite the differences in race and 2. Kaisa held her as an equal as well. I'm not sure whether I can say anything about what happens after you lose both your parents and you're forced to work as a servant to your stepfamily but even when Clara treated Ash nicely, she still snubbed her. I mean, what? Why would you do that to someone who treats you nice? And even with Gwen, Ash somehow drew her as stupid compared to her with her dreams of marrying a man. I understand that she's ahead of her time but the way she argued with her, or thought about Gwen got under my skin.

I think I had the impression that Ash was a little bit of a Mary Sue. The disappearing parent trope, the two amazingly awesome love interests whom anyone else would love vying for her attention, the miserable life she complained of despite the fact that she could have made it better and the attention of the prince. OK, so this is a retelling of Cinderella but actually, it's not. This is the same Disneyified tale that I've seen replayed so many times - right down to the blue gown. Why not make Kaisa the actual Prince? (Though I loved her role.) There was no point other than more conflict with her stepmother to have the Prince even exist with such importance. The last straw was when Ash was hit by her stepmother. There was something incredibly personal about that moment that made me close to the book for a second and think. Ash does need to stand up to her stepmother but not that way. Especially when she knew what would happen. Ash is characterized as being quiet, someone who loves fairytales and her mother yet she's so angry. I never quite got who she was angry towards or why. She just was.

Maybe I'm just biased. Maybe it's because I loved Sidhean and Kaisa more than the actual protagonist. Sidhean's role in this book confused me at times. I knew he was cursed to love her - why do publishing companies insist on giving stuff away? - but he seemed to appear at the beginning for chapters and chapters and then just disappear until Ash needed him. That was irritating. Although I loved Kaisa, I really didn't understand the whole point of Sidhean if he served to be just a sort of Godmother and make Ash familiar enough with the Wood to bump into the King's Huntress. There was so much more potential to be placed in him. I never also quite got the relation between him and Ash's mother. Before he appeared, no one mentioned Sidhean or Ash's mother's connection to fairies. He just seemed a little ... used.

Then there's Kaisa. Beautiful, strong, complicated, wicked, badass Kaisa. I'm crushing on her. I really am. She can ride a horse, pull of guy's clothes, do that think most YA heroes do to girls when the air's all hot and she's still a girl. She can pull off that strong but vulnerable vibe that most heroines in paranormal or even contemporary can't. OK, now I'm pretty sure I'm in love with her. Love with fictional characters. Sigh.

The problems I had with the book don't outweigh the good though and I can definitely say that I will read Lo's next book, Huntress, but more in hope that Ash does not appear even towards the end. Kaisa is my favorite and I hope that her playful, sometimes serious and engaging personality isn't a byproduct of what she went through beforehand. But I might enjoy watching her mature. Wow. For some reason, I had read the name of Kaede in the synopsis of the book as Kaisa. That makes everything much more clearer as after more thought, the prequel involving Kaisa didn't make much sense. In any case, I'll still be picking up Lo's next book with much more gleeful anticipation.

All in all=☆☆☆☆

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Fairy Touch

A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging — literally belonging — to another world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to childbearing age.
From a writer of unparalleled imagination and emotional insight, three stories about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.*

My first foray into the fantastical writing of Laini Taylor and her husband's incredible illustrations was Dreamdark, another story of fairies - although this one completely limited to fairies and their djinn masters without a human in sight. Taylor's Dreamdark fairies were either roguish or majestic and noble and they are nothing when it comes to the fair folk Taylor dreamed up for her three short stories.

(This is also my first time reviewing or even reading a collection of short stories by the same author.)

Goblin Fruit: I loved this one so much the tips of my feet still tingle when I think about it. This story also has the best, in my opinion, prologue of all stories. There's just something about it that gives you that fairytalesque vibe. It's a cautionary tale and one that leaves the best to your imagination. I've gotten to hate the tweaked fairytales of the late along with their upcoming films (Not talking in context but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Just ... what?). Taylor on the other hand doesn't disappoint and she gleefully never does, talking in her own hands what a true fairytale should emit in regards to chills, thrills and sighs of longing. Everyone has that kind of want inside of them and Taylor shows just how far it can really take you. How envy can waste your life away. I love, love, love it and I don't have much to say about things that I love except wow!

I think she has done so well in her representation of Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market that it comes to par with that in Sarah Rees Brennan's series. And that is a huge accomplishment if I may say so myself. Goblin Fruit is also the shorter of the three unfortunately but - like a lesson Americans could learn from UK television - sometimes less is more.

Spicy Little Curses Such as These: I think I'm in love with Anamique. She's one of the strongest, inspirational, female protagonists I've encountered yet. And she doesn't even speak! But Ana sings and with Taylor's awesomely crazy prose skills, the notes just lift themselves off of the page. What I wouldn't give for this kind of talent! It's a little sad when I think of the fact that where books that rhyme with Crawlin have prequels and sequels by the year coming out and Laini Taylor and her fantastic pink hair and mad writing skills only have a total of four books currently out. Yep, that's right: four.

In any case, this second tale of Taylor can actually be a cautionary tale for all paranormal writers out there: I love you is something that shouldn't be used like a dirty washcloth to sweep all those dirty bits under the table. Meaning those words should be treasured. Nowadays unfortunately it's gone with teenagers as well who pass those words around from girl to boy to boy to girl. Maybe this isn't an intentional moral but I find that be careful of what you say is a strong message which is heralded by even stronger and awesomer carrier. I mean, come on, not only does she leave the guardian of Fire speechless but she becomes a successful ambassador to Hell? Hell yeah!

Hatchling: I think this one threw me for the most loops out of them all. The background story to this however made up for the smaller ones in the others. Taylor does it again weaving a history so rich and painful that it seems almost real. The fairies here are called Druj or demons and I think I felt tears when I read Mihai's tale. There's something so achingly beautiful to the idea of stitching together a soul, of going through pain and wear and tear to gain a few more memories of something you can never really gain back. Out of all three stories, I think this is the one that I feel is the most realized. When I was reading Hatchling, it felt like the story was going on and on - like a full novel and it was only when I was finished that I remembered that this story had been less than a hundred pages. I've had that experience before but with a short story? Never.

My heart was racing when I put the book down. I kind of want to go back, erase my memory and relive reading that all over again it was that wonderful of a time. I should probably also mention that I positively adore Jim di Bartolo's illustrations in Dreamdark they were exquisite and here, they were downright magical. This duo goes better than ranch dressing and cheddar cheese! I've rarely seen illustrations that match the words, the prose itself so well. I'm in awe again. This will take a while to be shaken out of.

All in all=☆☆☆☆☆

(I've been reviewing such awesomely, wicked books lately and all I want is more! Who cares if my rating system is getting abused?)

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Hear ye, hear ye!

I am on a roll!

OK so I've put aside the upcoming Jane Eyre post for reading and reviewing but for the most part, it's because I've been reading so ridiculously good books. I just finished Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor which has to be a collection of the best stories on fairies I have ever read, let alone that they're four times smaller than your average book store one. I'm working on Ash which just makes me drool with envy on Lo's incredible prose-writing skills. Once I'm done that I have two more books to add to my large list:

Now these books are on the opposite side of the book spectrum in my mind. I had actual fury burning inside me when I realized I had finished The Demon's Lexicon. I couldn't believe it. If I had not been reading the electronic version I would've flung the book against the wall in blind rage then spent the night cuddling with it apologetically, re-reading every word. Ahem. On Crusade, I've heard some bad things and some good things mixed in together. One: That Holder's created an original world and the potential for original characters and two: that it's just that. She had the potential but didn't make it. But I'm a sucker for originality in this world lacking of creativity so I'm walling myself against the crushing disappointment that has led me against reading uberpopular "original" paranormal books.

Along with these books I am going to brave this long holiday with the other five I have on my list. Strangely, the ones I have so far finished are all fairytales or stories with a dash of fey thrown in. Or maybe not because I have been itching to read these!

Also I have been addicted to this song. I think iTunes has it wrong because I am so positive that the play count is above 50.

I'm wishing you all a Happy Easter and if you don't celebrate it, just go out and party like it's Christmas holiday. Cause we all know how long this one lasts.