This will likely be pretty short since I have to sleep really soon and also because I’m planning to write up something a little more coherent and detailed over at Dinoseoul (crossing my fingers and toes I go through with it), but I just wanted to jot down some thoughts on Mnet’s first original drama Monstar since I literally just finished the first episode like 15 minutes ago.
Basically… I LOVE IT. Like I want to scream into the sky, that’s how much I love it. There’s not one thing about it, it’s… everything. So just to give a quick overview on the plot, it’s basically about a bunch of flawed characters who find their way towards one another and through music and friendship, they heal themselves and come to terms with their past. …Which is totally the kinda thing I eat up with a spoon. We’re only at the first episode and already it’s got my heart. It’s kinda what I wanted Heartstrings to be and I think vibe-wise, it’s a little more along the lines of What’s Up? except perhaps less dark. Musical dramas are my kryptonite, I swear.
We’ve got BEAST‘s Junhyung as our lead guy with mummy issues… He’s in an idol group and I guess he also attends high school when his schedule permits, which… isn’t all that often. But he gets into some trouble and ends up having to halt his idol career for a bit and go back to school on a more permanent basis to show the public that he’s changing for the better with his new image as a reformed bad boy/model student. I’m not sure if Junhyung’s done any acting before this but I have to say he’s pretty convincing in this role and he’s generally quite likeable. I don’t sense any awkwardness that often comes with idols acting for the first time and are still settling into their roles. Admittedly, it’s not a particularly difficult role to play since it’s kinda inline with his image as a real life idol but I’m sure there’ll be more scenes further down the road that’ll really test his abilities as an actor.
As for our female lead, Min Seyi, I’ve never seen Ha Yeon Soo in anything but she’s freaking adorable like a real life doll. Her face is so tiny and she’s got this beautiful thick wavy hair and wow I love how her character’s kinda spunky yet serious at the same time, I don’t even know how to explain it. I just know I kinda love her. I’m always so happy when we’re presented with a K-drama heroine that’s actually feisty and whose someone you’d actually root for. When you really think about it, when it comes to K-dramas, there aren’t actually that many female leads I can say that I love wholeheartedly because somehow, they always end up becoming too clingy or too whiney or too shallow or too shrill and they’re never developed as well as the male leads for some reason.
And then we have what seems to be our second male lead in Kang Ha Neul and babeeee lemme love you~~~ He is so fine, I just- I knew he was attractive in To the Beautiful You but we didn’t get as much of him there as I’d like so I’m really looking forward to more screentime from him. I guess that makes me superficial but I’m not all that different from all those girls who tune in just to see their Junhyung oppa~ I like how his character Seon Woo is developing nicely in the span of one episode even though so far, he seems like a pretty stoic character. I’m intrigued by his friendship with the bully boy (whose smug face I so badly want to slap) as well as his interest in Seyi and I really can’t wait to see how that friendship develops. Second lead syndrome, here I come.
But if I had to pick a moment, the thing that really sold me to the show was towards the end when the jerkwad class bully was laughing at the nerdy boy he’s always picking on and making him sing in class to entertain everyone and for his own sick amusement. It’s heart-wrenching when the boy started crying as he sang and it was almost painful to watch and everyone’s on their toes to see what would happen next… and when Seyi actually started singing with him after firmly refusing to when the bully asked her to, and there was so much power and so much defiance in her tone, I knew I was a goner. Such a powerful moment – I was really holding my breath. And to top it all off, Junhyung’s character ends the episode by waltzing in and declaring, “Min Seyi, let’s be deskmates.” Ugh, hook, line and sinker, bye.
Sorry if half of this doesn’t make sense, but it’s really worth a watch, I promise (watch the drama here!!!)! I’m just hoping the rest of the 11 episodes live up to the expectations I’ve set after this.
I didn’t have the time to post a proper goodbye entry before I left for Perth since I had a ton of things to get done but right now it’s day 5 in Western Australia and I’m really really enjoying this getaway from the blazing Singapore sun. Okay, I’ll admit it’s a little cold here and I pretty much have to live in my thick fleece-lined jacket every single day, but the family time we have together is always good.
I’ll probably get some blog entries up about my time here since I have a huuuuuge amount of pictures (first trip with my D3200 yay!) but for now, here’s a picture of me with an alpaca from today! They’re so friendly and fluffy U_U
A few other things I may blog about in more detail if I get round to it (which is…..90% not gonna happen tbh, knowing me):
- The photoshoot for WKWSCIFOC ’13 was a success I’d say! I do kinda still regret committing to such a huge project, because why on earth did I think it was a good idea to sign on as head programmer when I’m such a commitment-phobe??? But I’m still hoping it’s a success and that I don’t totally screw up Day 1′s activities (the freshies are so gonna hate me…).
- LUNAFLY‘s concert last week was such a good experience and it completely surpassed my expectations and I just… Teo… Definitely the best 50 bucks I’ve spent in awhile.
- VIXX is coming back!!!!! I managed to watch the ‘hyde’ MV teaser on my phone since I got one of those prepaid card things that allows me 500mb of data usage and I’m glad they didn’t suddenly go cute with this comeback (even if ‘Rock Ur Body’ is my fav era 5ever). I think since a lot of people were first introduced to VIXX as the Vampire-dols, they probably need to stay in a darker concept for a little while longer before they slowly ease us into a brighter image. But I’m convinced they can do anything and I’d still think it’s genius though, because that’s just how far gone I am…
- EXO IS COMING BACK!!!!! This one deserves all caps because it’s only been what, a million years or so??? And I’ve only heard about 100239483 versions of ‘MAMA’? Anyway, I have to say, the concept pictures are super adorable and I’m really enjoying the whole yearbook idea, but since it’s pretty likely their title track is ‘Wolf’ or ‘Let Out the Beast’ or basically something a little edgier, I’m just rolling my eyes at SM because what would it take for them to tease us with pictures that are actually remotely related to the comeback track? XOXO
- #B1A41STWIN: I’m soooooo happy to see the B1A4 boys get their first music show win! They were the first k-pop group I’ve ever met in real life and even though I lost interest in them along the way, they’ve definitely won me over again with ‘이게 무슨 일이야’ because the entire mini album is just full of gems, I love it so so much I can’t even words. It’s dreamy and a little whimsical and just all round perfect. And to see the boys break down onstage like that, you can just tell how much the win meant to them. Such a deserving win, truly. I’ll patiently wait for the days the few groups I stan get their first win like that too so I can stand by and watch like a proud mother… u_u
Anyway, I’ll be heading back to Perth tomorrow and it’s gonna be a looooong drive back but I’m sure we’ll spend our last two days in Australia well. I’ll finally be meeting up with Rachel for a bit and I’m also looking forward to getting back to more stable Internet >.< See you tomorrow, Rachel! <3
EXAMS ARE OVER!!!!!! Which means I can finally get back to what I’ve been doing before studying and all-nighters at Starbucks took over my life — nothing. Or rather, catch up on TV shows and dramas, K-pop, spend time on Tumblr, as well as get back into the writing groove for Dinoseoul.
Today not only marked the day of my last paper but also the day B.A.P took LA by storm during their Live on Earth concert. My Twitter feed was filled with live updates and stream after stream of fancams and I think I must have downloaded at least 50 fancams, some of which are really decent. Of course, I wasn’t there since I’m stuck all the way on the wrong side of the world (please will someone release the ticketing details for LOE SG already T_T)… I haven’t watched most of the fancams yet, except for a really good ‘One Shot’ one that I swear to god almost made me tear up in public because ~first ever~ live OT6 performance. I’ve also watched the special stages and I’ll admit I have BangHim’s ‘Sexy Clap’ performance on repeat because… well look.
Yongguk‘s got mooooves and Himchan… I don’t know what he was doing patting his crotch and wiggling his butt in the middle of the song but, I’ll take it. DaeJae’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ was sadly boring and was totally the wrong choice for Daehyun‘s voice and suited Youngjae‘s so so much better. And then you have maknae line doing the dougie (which wasn’t terribly exciting since they did it in Seoul too) but then the music cuts off and Jongup falls dramatically to the floor AND THEN the school bell from ‘Never Give Up’ plays and everyone’s screaming because holy crap are we getting Moon & Zelo for this??????? Jongup’s totally working the red hair. Come to think of it, red seems to be a k-pop hair trend that can’t really go wrong. Hmm.
Wasn’t it the cutest?! They have so much chemistry onstage and they’re pretty much BFFs in real life and I love the dance break and their high five exchange during the ‘clap your hands’ part towards the end. I-just ugh Moon & Zelo sub-unit please, TS.
I have to say that US-BABYs are totally awesome and quick with their fancams though. With LOE Seoul, it took a few days before fancams started being released properly and even so, they were all at most 1-minute cuts but here, so many of them are in full and 1080p. So, so thankful. I’ll definitely try and return the favour, that is, if LOE SG goes according to plan (FML). Sometimes I want to cry because I love B.A.P so much… and then I think to myself, “Justine, just what are you doing with your life?”
And then I feel thankful that at least I have people who will always love me unconditionally – no matter what happens. It’s a little late since Parent’s Day in Korea literally just passed (it’s on 8 May) but sometimes it’ll strike me randomly, just how grateful I am to have my mum and dad in my life so I just wanted to write a little something to express that.
Since young, family has always been the most important thing in my life and growing up, what with peer pressure and puberty, I’m really glad that I never grew apart from them and that we still manage daily homecooked meals as best as we can as well as frequent family holidays/gatherings. And my mum made kimchi friend rice for the first time (in honour of me, she says lol) for dinner today to celebrate the end of my exams and it was so good!
Perhaps its the hellish exam period that’s made me realise this more than ever, but my parents really are so supportive. Like my mum forwent going to the gym this morning just so she could come home on time and make sure I woke up and wouldn’t miss my paper (since I was late the week before when she did go). Or how my dad would ask every single time whether my paper went okay and I’d snap back that it was terrible ~as usual~ and he’d be all understanding. It’s the little things like these that make me look back and feel so loved. And they deal with my shit every single day and so, I’m just really glad for them. I love you both so much!!!
This doesn’t seem like it’s part of the flower boy series even though I think it’s supposed to be, but tvN’s Dating Agency: Cyrano is gearing up for a premiere soon on May 27 and from the looks of it, it’s probably going on my to-watch list. The cast doesn’t excite me at all since I’ve never seen the leads in anything though I know Lee Jong Hyuk (A Gentleman’s Dignity) is pretty well-liked from those who’ve watched him and as for Sooyoung… I don’t know. Apparently her acting is the most promising out of all the SNSD members who’ve ventured into acting but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Even though I really like Uhm Tae Woong, Lee Min Jung, Park Shin Hye and Daniel Choi, the movie version (of which the series will be an adaptation of) bored me to tears with few actual laugh out loud moments and an unengaging plot. The dating agency premise has so much potential though so it’s disappointing that the movie was a dud. With 16 episodes, I’m really hoping that they’ll change it up and judging from the character descriptions, it does sound quite different which makes me quite excited.
Since Sooyoung was supposed to play Park Shin Hye’s character, I was surprised to learn that they’ve bumped her up to leading lady status, which really does indicate that they’re gonna do this adaptation differently. And how cute is it that Jo Yoon Woo (Flower Boy Ramen Shop) will play a theater geek who designs the costumes for the dating agency?
For those who don’t know, these characters are part of a dating agency and as for what they do… I guess you can say it’s kinda similar to the movie Hitch actually. They’ll contruct elaborate scenarios (sometimes going undercover and playing different characters) that’ll allow the guy/girl to have opportunities to meet and talk to their crush, as well as dole out advice based on what they’ve uncovered from all their investigations. I’m really hoping this drama will be more fun!
Check out the teasers below:
If it weren’t obvious to everyone, I’ve been on a VIXX bender ever since I got into them in March and with Plan V Diary coming to an end earlier in the week, I was doubtful when I’d be able to get my next fix. But it seems like I won’t have to wait long since the release of their (first ever!!!!!) mini album will coincide with the day of their first year anniversary party on May 20. *throws confetti* It seemed like not long ago since they ended ‘On and On’ promotions but I guess they’re going the B.A.P route with the whole never stop promoting/don’t ever give anyone the chance to forget them thing. I’m not complaining…much. I’m really eager to see how they’ll top the vampire concept but since I’m a fan of all their singles so far, I’m not counting on the boys to disappoint.
In related news, BTOB ended their recent Show Champion ’2nd Confession’ performance with the ending pose from ‘On and On’. Ah, when fandoms collide…
Two more things: (1) I’m so glad Himchan finally took off his bandage!!! I’ve seen it on him for so long, I’ve really gotten used to that thing being wrapped around his right hand. But now that it’s off and with the news of him finally taking part in B.A.P activities starting with B.A.P Live on Earth Pacific, my OT6 has reunited as one and I couldn’t be happier.
And (2) Eat Your Kimchi‘s interview with uBEAT (+ Kevin) was the absolute cutest. It’s the kind of thing we could only dream of doing… *single tear* Eli cracked me up the most, especially with him trying to portray himself as some serious composer and talking about his “rapping style” LMAO. But seriously though, these boys are sooooo personable, I just want to give them the world. *squishes*
Brian Joo’s ‘Let this Die’ was released a little over a year ago, and I only found out about this MV two months back because half of VIXX cameoed in it. I guess it makes sense since artistes often make use of their own company’s trainees to star in their MVs, especially if they’re set to debut soon. Hongbin wasn’t in this one but he does make a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in the English version (you can’t miss that dimple anywhere), which honestly isn’t as good so I won’t link it. I feel bad fangirling over the extras in the MV but broody Leo at the bar, I just- and N‘s kissing scene just makes me roll my eyes because this is the same guy who freaked out when his lips touched Crayon Pop‘s Ellin during a variety show. Leader, please~
But with that said, wrist-grabbing scenes always make me uncomfortable, like a way for the guy to assert control over the girl, and claim his “property”. Seoulbeats did a short article on this here which pretty much echoes my sentiments. And don’t even get me started on the slapping…
I watched the MV again today and it occurred to me just how similar it is to Zia‘s ‘For A Year‘ (which came out in December) with the whole use of physical alter-egos to represent the different facets of the same guy – just that here, we see that he does in fact have a mental disorder of some sort. ‘For A Year’ was much more poignant in the way it was executed though and the dark colour palette fit the mood a lot better. And I liked that they chose not to include scenes of singing, because when you cut to an empty room with him/her belting into the camera and breaking the fourth wall, it just takes you out of the story that’s unfolding. But anyway, the point of this post is…….VIXX. That is all.
I’m in looooooove, you guys. This drama adaptation is pure perfection and I love it so, so much. I’ve never been one for mangas or Japanese dramas in general, but I do pick up the occasional dorama here and there. What I like most about doramas is that they’re so much more compact then K-dramas so we cut out all the fillers and get straight. to. the. point. But because of its length, this also means less OTP time and less time for the two leads to believably get attracted to each other, get together, have cute moments together, etc. We’re five episodes into Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in TOKYO and while I (not so) patiently wait for May 10 to get my next dose, I thought I’d do a quick impressions post on how I feel about the drama so far.
When it comes to Itazura na Kiss, we all know it’s an adaptation that’s been done to death – with it’s original manga material, followed by a 1996 Japanese adaptation, then two seasons of the Taiwanese It Started with A Kiss (also the most popular version to date), an anime version and most recently, Playful Kiss starring Korea’s Kim Hyun Joong (ahh ol’ dead eyes) and Jung So Min (love her). I’ve only ever watched Playful Kiss as well as clips from It Started with A Kiss so I guess I’d say I’m pretty familiar with this particular story.
For those who don’t know, it’s essentially about this girl, Kotoko (Miki Honoka), who’s fallen for this rather cold-hearted guy, Naoki (Furukawa Yuki), who’s highly intelligent and doesn’t care for trivialities like love and social relationships and any fun at all, for that matter. He’s sort of that bored, indifferent guy who’s tough to shake but somehow has hordes of girls after him. The drama starts with Kotoko plucking up the courage to hand a confession letter to Naoki, only to immediately be blown off. While she vows to get over him, her family’s new house ends up getting hit by a fallen meteor rock (lol right) and after seeing the news, Kotoko’s father’s best friend from school calls him up and invites the father-daughter pair to their house to stay and of course, this is also where Kotoko finds out that the friend’s son is none other than the Naoki she is trying to get over.
I’m mostly making comparisons with Playful Kiss since that’s the only one I’ve watched in full, but right from the start, you can notice a big difference in the way the characters are portrayed. First of all, what’s always annoyed me about Playful Kiss was that Oh Ha Ni, she’s… well, kinda dumb, and her entire existence revolved around Baek Seung Jo, which just pisses off the inner feminist in me. She had literally no mind of her own and all her decisions in life were based on him. Jung So Min definitely acted her heart out and has this insane likeability factor that thankfully made a potentially grating and annoying character almost endearing.
But when watching this 2013 Japanese remake, I just find myself going “OH MY GOD SHE’S SO CUTE” all the time because this Kotoko is the cutest ever. I love how she’s feisty and doesn’t hesitate to fight back and would actually shout at Naoki when he’s being a jerk and her facial expressions are so adorable and funny without going overboard. And best of all, she’s not dumb per se, but just happens to kinda suck in her studies, and she has so much heart. I can definitely see why guys would be attracted to her and why two end up fighting over her. Needless to say, I infinitely prefer this portrayal of Kotoko because it’s more palatable and realistic. Plus, Miki Honoka is absolutely winning in this role. I can’t believe she’s only 16!
And oh my god don’t even get me started on Baek Seung Jo. Like as if the role wasn’t standoffish and robotic enough, you get one of the worst idols-turned-actors to portray him. I get that he’s supposed to be sort of a jerk, but he was so mean to the point that I really couldn’t see how anyone could even find him attractive and it’s really hard to watch a drama where you can’t understand how the two leads could possibly end up together.
What makes this Naoki work so much for me is the glimpses of humanity that always come through right from the start and Furukawa Yuki is a much more natural actor so he’s able to lend a little more heart to this role and goddamn whenever the guy smiles, my heart dies a little. And when he spoke his English lines perfectly… Apparently, the actor himself is also really smart and is fluent in both English and Japanese since he lived abroad in Canada and the States for over a decade or something to that effect. Like, hot damn, how perfect can you get?
Finally, we have our second male lead… Ikezawa Kinnosuke. I enjoyed Lee Tae Sung‘s version well enough but Yamada Yuki is absolutely killing it as the bumbling sweetheart. His facial expressions and his reactions are comic gold without it veering into the slapstick territory and he has that vulnerability about him that makes my heart go out to him. While I liked Bong Joon Gu in the Korean adaptation, I was never really invested in his relationship with Ha Ni as it was always so, so one-sided, so when he got clingy towards the end, it got a little hard to watch. Here, while Kotoko isn’t attracted to Kinnosuke, they do have a sweet friendship where she’d go out of her way to comfort him and they actually have heartfelt conversations together. It’s really nice to see.
The supporting characters aren’t anything to shout about though they’re likeable enough. I always love the mum because she’s the biggest Kotoko/Naoki shipper ever and the dads are also really cute to watch. I do like the family dynamics but I think it’s something that’s usually done quite well in previous adaptations as well, if I’m not wrong. Also, I’m a little doubtful about the introduction of the meddling second female lead, only because Lee Shi Young played the role so well, I’m not sure if this one could beat that version for me.
I know some people may be uncomfortable with the real life age gap between our leads (they’re 10 years apart), but personally, I don’t really have that big a problem with it since it is acting and as long as onscreen they can believably play their parts and look their character’s age and display some chemistry, I’m fine. And they really are pretty cute together and I don’t know about you, but I definitely bought the kiss in Episode 5 and may or may not have replayed it a couple of times. Besides, Furukawa Yuki has such a babyface he can pass off for much younger than his 25 years. The thing I like most about the relationship between Kotoko and Naoki here is that I already feel emotionally connected so early on and I can also clearly see how and why they’re drawn to each other. Some moments that were especially memorable were all the ones where she was teasing him about his baby photos of him dressed as a girl, their shouting match at the dinner table, the scene where she was running away and he found her and handed her a warm coffee can, as well as when she tried to cook him a meal and he ended up having to cook for her instead. So cute.
And since we got our first major OTP interaction at the end of Episode 5, I’m really looking forward to the romance stepping up a notch. What I didn’t like in Playful Kiss was that though there were hints of jealousy from Seung Jo, those moments were always few and far between and there never felt like there was a proper rival for Ha Ni’s heart and Seung Jo was well aware of that. It was always Ha Ni who was constantly worried, constantly questioning herself if she was good enough and it got quite frustrating after the umpteenth time.
Here, there are already clear moments of jealousy from Naoki which I always savour, because serves you right for not telling her you like her when you so clearly do. And he does have something to be jealous about because Kotoko and Kinnosuke are always hanging out together and they’re pretty close. Kinnosuke isn’t shy about his affections, and he’s the sort who’ll give it his all. I like that while Kotoko is friendly, she also makes it clear to him that she doesn’t feel the same way so all the cards are laid out and it’s up to Kinnosuke to decide whether he still wants to pursue her anyway (which of course, he does). And it’s not like she’s leading him on, because they are friends in the first place.
A scene I’m really looking forward to is the big confession rain scene between Kotoko and Naoki, and since I enjoyed the one in Playful Kiss a lot more than I should, I’m really hoping the one here delivers too. I have high hopes. Other than that, I would definitely recommend this drama to anyone who likes a good, cute fluffy story with super likeable lead characters who can actually act their way out of a paperbag. You can watch it here.
Here’s a lovely FMV that sets my shipper heart on fire. Is it May 10 already?! /flails/
(Photo credits: Facebook)