Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yanawaraba

video

A favorite of mine. :) Love their voices.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm (maybe) moving!

I've been posting on Wordpress for awhile now under a different name and title. I'm trying it out to see if I like Blogger or Wordpress better. For now, this blog will probably die off, but will remain a portal for randomness whenever I find interesting tid-bits. If you read this blog and are interested (even if you never comment) follow along. I've already posted a few new reviews. :)




Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How it all started. Part II -

As a young woman, I fell victim to the most common anime-fan (otaku, if I may) cliche's: Hello Kitty, Kerropi, and other Sanrio characters now adorned my school supplies and and I spent time searching for places to buy them. Indeed, I found a small store very close by that sold a variety of character goods and to my delight, they sold CD's as well. A few anime soundtracks (it's where I picked up my Cowboy Bebop complete collection CD set!) were always available, but also a section of cd's with cute Asian boys and girls all smiling and dancing across the brightly colored covers. I experimented and bought a few that simply LOOKED good. I ended up buying Lee Jung-Hyun's Magic to Go To My Star, BoA's ID; Peace B, and Baby V.O.X.'s Why. Thus, my true introduction to Asian pop music was launched. From there, I began to expand my fan base and buy other albums to experiment with and see if I liked the music and it's grown to gigantic proportions today. I have so many artists that I listen on a regular basis it takes several hard drives to contain them. I remember buying the Lee Jung-Hyun album most, probably because of the distinct packaging। I was a little creeped out by the doll, and a bit taken aback by the sound of the album too. Her voice was so high, and I really don't think I was expecting such a techno-heavy album after the bubblegum pop of BoA and Baby V.O.X. For the longest time I didn't really know what she looked like, because none of her early albums didn't have pictures, and I guess I didn't think to look up Lee Jung-Hyun on the internet. There was no Google image search at that time, and it was just something I didn't know how to do. I quietly enjoyed my Korean and Japanese pop. I also started to find some common Japanese artists too, Koda Kumi, Utada Hikaru, Maaya Sakamoto and others who were somehow related to the anime industry.
In order to get to where I am now, there was a step that I had to take and it came about the time I was leaving my first college to move to Florida. I was still quite obsessed with anime, but I was beginning to get my toes wet in the waters of Asian cinema. It was a good thing that ADV and other anime distributors were putting out a few Japanese and Korean movies here and there, because with out easy access I might not have discovered the whole new world I did. Princess Blade was one of the first live-action Japanese movies I remember actually sitting down and watching. Then came the miracle of Netflix. If you live far away from any really good Asian communities it is hard to find places to get or watch Asian movies. I joined Netflix in order to save money, up until that point I had been buying everything that I wanted to watch out of necessity. No one else I knew was really that into the same things as me, so it wasn't possilbe to borrow anything. Netflix opened up a giant door for me and allowed me to easily expand my repertoire of movies. I started out renting The Returner, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro. It was a great action movie starring Anne Suzuki. I liked her
too, so I added the only other movie she was in to my queue: Moon Child. And to my Gackt-obsessed delight it was the only movie HE was in too. I won't describe the process of each movie, it would be obnoxiously long and boring. But, this is how I tend to find new artists (musicians & actors.) I like someone, watch a lot of their work, and then find someone else in one of their movies that interests me and watch their work and the process repeats over and over again. The lucky thing for me is that I love music as much as I love movies. So, when I find a double or triple threat it's very exciting and usually leads to a larger discovery. (Double threats are singers/actors and triple threats are singers/actors/dancers - not everyone can dance. ::cough::Gackt::cough::) I find it interesting however, that I will still be drawn to the same actor or actress without knowing it. I am currently watching a series called Room of King, starring a new favorite of mine; Mizushima Hiro. All I really knew about it while downloading the fan-sub was that he was in it. I watched the first episode and lo and behold, Anne Suzuki shows up. It's not uncommon, but it still seems odd that I should gravitate towards the same people without knowing it.

A couple of years ago, I discovered IRC and that there were scanlators; people who scan Japanese, Korean and Chinese manga raws and then work tirelessly and for free to translate and create English language versions for fans. I have since left the IRC world, but it lead me in a new direction through a friend I met there. He suggested that I watch a movie called Bride and Prejudice. Bride and Prejudice is a culturally different take on Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, created by a Desi director from London. While not an actual Bollywood movie, it was my first
introduction to Indian related cinema and my first time seeing the beautiful Aishwarya Rai. I immediately loved the colorful traditional outfits, the catchy and fun bangara music. Immediately following this I rented Monsoon Wedding and decidedly loved that movie too. ((It is odd that at this time my mp3 player picked the Punjabi Wedding Song from the B&P soundtrack to play out of over 7500 songs on it...))Sadly, at the time I was very caught up in a Chinese movie kick and left Bollywood hanging. I think that my introduction to Indian culture through Gurinder Chadha's films Bride & Prejudice and Bend It Like Beckham was essential. If, perhaps I had chosen another path into Bollywood and just watched something random, I might not have liked it or understood anything. As it stands today, I'm sure that I don't quite understand a lot of what is going on in the films, but that will take time. I have surely addapted to and learned about Korean, Japanese and Chinese culture by watching more and more of their movies and television shows, it is easy to assume that I will learn just as much about India and all it has to offer if I watch more of their entertainment too.

Looking back, it's been a very kinetic experience, one thing leads to another and then to another snowballing into a giant ball of actors, singers, movies, and music that I adore and wouldn't trade for anything. I am fortunate enough to have the drive and passion to follow all that I do and I just hope to share that passion with anyone who will listen (or read as the case may be here.) Today I am an international person, no longer simply "white," as my friend says - I'm just as much Asian as she is. I think that if other people in the world could be half as open-minded as I am, then we would be a lot better of. If you got this far - thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments or questions here or on any other posts!
Thanks:
JenAnime. (A name that I use in many places online, it should change to JenAsian now probably, but it still suits me.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

How it all started. Part I (In case you were wondering.)

and even if you weren't I'm going to tell you.

I have been thinking about my interest in Asian culture a lot lately and thought I might take a few minutes to jot down the story of my growing and insatiable thirst for knowledge in all things Asian.
It all started in about 8th grade, when I discovered Pokemon. Ahhh...I remember scheduling my life around Pokemon. I would make sure that I made it home in time to catch the afternon episodes and if I was going to miss it, I set the VCR to tape it. Some days I even paused the tapes and drew the characters while they were frozen on screen. I researched them on the Internet and eventually learned that my favorite show was called an "Anime." I temporarily became obsessed. I still have drawings from those days tucked away in an old sketch book. This was my first taste of true Asian culture, even if it was watered down and Americanized.
Fast forward a few years and to my Junior year of high-school, while still struggling with teenage angst, establishing self-worth and figuring out what to do with my future I became mildly obsessed with anime and borrowed as much as possible from my friends and even friends of my older brother. The next thing I acutely remember about anime was going to visit my brother on his college campus and seeing posters and post-cards advertising the release of
Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime as I now refer to most of the time.) He told me that it was an anime and that it was one of the first to really be promoted in the United States. He said his friend Bryan was more into it butt he thought it was pretty cool himself. My first few experiences with anime also included series such as Martian Successor Nadesico, Dual!, Photon: Idiot Adventures, Trigun, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and my favorite even to this day: Cowboy Bebop. I was so into my new world, that I bought chopsticks, and sat down to many a piping bowl of Ramen noodles while staring at my small bedroom television watching Nadesico and the like. I started an anime journal. Where I would write the lyrics to songs, small reviews and episode summaries to my favorites. I loved the karaoke subtitles of the opening and closing credit songs. I started to try and find the songs online and would spend hours on end, into the early morning looking for them.

I continued this way into my first year of college, where I was lucky enough to go to Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Not only did they have an anime club, once a year they had a workshop called Schoolgirls and Mobilesuts where you could EARN CREDITS FOR WATCHING ANIME!!!! Oh man, was I excited. I think it was the highest grade I got while at that school actually. MCAD was able to get in contact with Disney that year and talked them into giving us a subtitled copy of Spirited Away for our own private screening just before it's official release in theaters around the United States. I remember sitting in the Minneapolis Institute for Art theater wondering how I had arrived there, and just being thrilled to be a part of something so wonderful. I was also blessed to have been able to listen to Susan Napier speak as well. As author of Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke, Napier was able to give thought provoking insite into the literal and deeper side of anime that I hadn't really opened up to before. (It is now a revised version taking the reader through the time in Hayao Miyazaki's career up to How's Moving Castle) I began to practically inhale manga at this time. I read everything I could get my hands on, from Sailor Moon to Battle Royale. I still have my old favorites and regularly read many new titles. I think the local book stores and comic shops ran out of manga because of me. I currently own over 1,000 graphic novels, although I'm liquidating my collection to less than half that (It's hard to move them all!) On the outskirts of my vision there were starting to be other things other than just Japanese anime and manga. I realized that several of the titles I was reading had non-Japanese names and the style of art were slightly different as well. At the time, Demon Diary was one of my favorites and I was somewhat surprised to find out that it was actually a "mangwha;" Korean in origin, unlike the majority of my other books. So, another one of my great loves was finding it's way into my life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Singer, Dancer, Actor. . .Designer?

Rain has spread himself out to many corners of the entertainment world and is now going to expand it with a design company headed by himself. He is going to be one of the creative heads of the line called Six to Five. The first of many designs is being auctioned off to benefit a campaign against breast cancer. The winning bid will receive this:
,
What an interesting shirt, it definitely looks like it's something he would wear, so I suppose that is the idea behind having one's own line of clothing - is it not?

Taiwanese Drama Review: Fated to Love You (命中注定我愛你)


Starring:
Chen Qiao En (
陳喬恩) as Chen Xin Yi Ethan Ruan (阮經天) as Ji Cun Xi Baron Chen (陳楚河) as Dylan/Dai Jian Ren
Bianca Bai (白歆惠) as Shi Anna

Tan Ai Zhen (譚艾珍) as Ji Wang Zhen Zhu (Nini)






Chen Xin Yi i
s the most common name in China. It's also the name of our heroine for this series. Boorish, dumpy and ready to please, Xin Yi thinks only of others and takes nothing for herself. In a failed attempt to capture the attention and love of her boyfriend she mistakingly goes into the wrong room with a different man and they end up making love and only realizing they were with the wrong partner after all is said and done. Ji Cun Xi is the man she stumbled into bed with and they immediately have some chemistry, but neither one is aware of it at first. After a few weeks Xin Yi comes to find that she is pregnant. Through coincidence and happenstance Ji Cun Xi finds out and his grandmother and Xin Yi's family coerce them both into marriage. Ji Cun Xi is happily in a relationship with a ballerina however and swears to keep his relationship with Anna despite his marriage and the child on the way. With so much against them, it is hard to imagine how they can really be fated to love eathother.


After painstakingly searching and downloading the subtitled version of this drama I was not disapointed. I had a feeling that they weren't going to disappoint me when there were such high ratings (the highest ever in Taiwan!) for this show and people I already liked were in it. (Chen Qiao En and Tan Ai Zhen) I am also now a fan of Baron Chen and Etha
n Ruan as well. They were both very charming and I loved them very much in this series. If you are looking for a serious drama, this is not it. I found it to be overly silly at times, but as I've learned over the years about my taste - I just love some cheese! The story line was very steady until episode 11 when there was a major dramatic event and the story shifted completely (to a different city even!) The main characters were able to grow and change, but still have a lot of their original charm, and I think that was hard for the actors. The crew even packed up and headed to Shanghai for filming, with is original, since they usually stick around Taiwan for most of the dramas I can find. I was really quite impressed by some of the scenes as well. I can't pick an absolute favorite part, but the most memorable one was episode 11 and this scene:

Usually for Asian drama's they tend to look really fake and unbelievable, I think they did a great job here. The idea of a "sticky note girl" is also interesting. I wonder how many women are such type of person, who tends to try and please everyone else first and not ever think of themselves. I bet the general population of China was able to identify with Chen Xin Yi because she is dutiful and never steps out of bounds. I find myself being that person at times, but I would never put up with what she does from Ji Cun Xi.

Ethan Ruan was a newcomer for me, and he really proved himself in this series. I always beleived him as Ji Cun Xi, whether he was angry, sad, or just being silly I w
as completely drawn him by his expressions and his ability to portray each emotion with honesty.

Baron Chen wasn't as new, I had seen him in Kung-Fu Dunk, but he was not that memorable for me since I didn't even recognize him! But, here in Fated to Love You, I often found myself unsure of who I should cheer for, Ji Chun Xi or Dylan. He has a great smile and a kind of goofy charm that I adored.
(Baron Chen looking positvely vulnerable - hao ke-aiyo!)
Qiao En was delightful. I can tell that she has matured since Prince Turns to Frog. I remember one of the behind the scenes from this series and she started to cry happily because the director told her their ratings and she was told by Ethan that she successfully made her comeback. If this is any indicatino Qiao En is going to stay on top for awhile.

And what can I say about Tan Ai Zhen? She is a lovely woman who gets to play the meddling NiNi that we all love. I hated her silly wig though, that was one of the things that drove me crazy about the show, it was obvious she had on a wig, but no one noticed and it never changed. (Here she is in her natural state - very charming.)
If you can stand some real silliness (Qiao En dancing around in a giant chicken suit, or Ethan pretending to be hurt by gangsters and getting shoved into a giant barrel and rolling down a hill.) in order to get to a great story, I highly recommend this series if you can find it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's a sweep!


Slumdog Millionaire swept the Golden Globes tonight! I was so excited and a little proud (for the country of India and all that it meant for their culture.) while I was watching. I also loved that King Khan introduced the clip for Slumdog Millionaire. It was a lot of fun and I giggled like a school girl. They won each of their nominations, Best Motion Picture- Drama, Best Original Score, Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Screenplay. I think my favorite part was when Anil jumped up and cheered, it was funny. Congratulations!
Sorry I didn't have a better picture! I don't have a way to capture from my tv to my computer. :(

Friday, January 2, 2009

Japanese Drama Review: Anmitsu Hime (Special #1)


Starring: Inoue Mao as Anmitsu Hime
Koide Keisuke as Sembe
Yuki Imai as Amagurino Suke "Am
aguri"
Masaki Kyomoto as Kitsubanu Ryu
Morisako Ei as Ohagi-chan

This manga-turned-drama-special is about a young princess in a made up land of Japan that laments her status and the necessity fo
r an arranged marriage. She decides to "escape" out into the streets and explore live and find love. Along the way she meets a group of street kids who help her see the real world and to understand that life isn't just black and white.

I adored this "special." They only ran an hour and half "made for tv movie" of Anmitsu Hime, but it was a very fun and charming show. I have been a fan of Inoue Mao for a long time, so she was what really drew me into the show. Her actin
g is getting better and better and this role of a "tomboy princess" suited her just fine. I also liked Koide Keisuke in his role as Sembe. I saw him before in Nodame Cantabile and he was hilarious, it was nice to see him in a more serious role. In general this is a comedy and I had a lot of laughs watching it. The names of the characters alone (Anmitsu Hime means "Syrup covered bean jam princess") were enough to send me into a fit of giggles. It's hard to keep a straight face when the characters are named after different foods - kind of like Sorcerer Hunters where the main character is named Carrot. The silliest of shows can sometimes become my favorites. I think that Yuki Imai and Ei Morisato stole the show though. They were charming and amazing as their respective roles. I think that acting at such a young age is amazing and to do it well is quite a challenge. I guess I am a sucker for a pretty man as well because I loved Masaki Kyomoto's character of the playboy "secret guardian." I hope that you can find the time to watch this short gem that SARS-fansubs has distributed kindly. You can always find great things at their website.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Xin Nian Kuai Le!


Happy New Year to everyone! My New Year's Eve was quiet and enjoyable. I received a few lovely gifts that will bring me good luck in 2009. I hope that you all have had a great start to this year and that you have many blessings. So, here is to a new year filled with gossip, random tid-bits, lovely movies, fun music and random oddities from all over Asia. May you enjoy each and every day that you are given.