Monthly Archives: September 2010

More Sungkyunkwan Goodness

Still not getting any search for Sungkyunkwan Scandal, so I’m gonna continue plugging the drama, hee hee hee. That’s obviously just an excuse to post all these pretty nices! Gifs were taken from Rxgoodleaf from soompi.

Song Joongki’s character complimenting the uhm..majorness of Park Minyoung’s penis, thus earning her the nickname Daemul, which can translate to Big Thing. Also, Song Joongki’s character’s nickname in the drama is Yeorim, which refers to girls’ pubic hair, illustrating his status as a certified skirt chaser. Kekeke, don’t you just love how blantant these guys are?

Yoo Ah-in’s character, Crazy horse aka Georoh aka Moon Jaeshin has a strange psychological reaction toward women. In the presence of women, he would start hiccupping non stop. The normally fierce and intense rebel is almost undefeatable with great skills in martial arts, archery, and general trouble making. But sweet little females are his horrors and weakness! Here, as he became more aware of Yoonhee’s true nature, his body also couldn’t help but assume their usual response!

Knowing this little habit about Moon Jaeshin, the ever curious all knowing Goo Yongha asks him how he ‘survived’ the night after sleeping in the same room with Park Minyoung’s Yoonhee. Although, in my opinion, that’s just half of his excuse to grope hottie Moon, lol.

And last, but not least, the budding romance! I really like this couple. I like how supportive they both are for each other. Their friendship and trust is strong and I believe that will make for an unbreakable foundation later in their life. Be it in romance or just in general relationship. That’s why I root so much for this couple. They’re one to look out for. This gif is courtesy of salasala also from soompi.

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Sungkyunkwan Scandal Fangirl Spazz

Is currently my favourite drama!! Seriously, people, WATCH THIS RIGHT FREAKING NOW!

When I heard of this drama a few months ago, I only had misgivings. Touted as DBSK’s Micky Yoochun’s debut drama, I was ready to wave it off. Crossdressing, school romcom, supposed F4 of Joseon Times, poor female meets richy rich. As you go down the list, the drama seems to incorporate so many mainstream cliches. Plus, there’s also the Micky Yoochun part. Because you know, idols turned actors are not a pretty sight, usually. Especially with Yoochun playing such center character, this drama was bound to be a mess. Or so I thought.

True, the premise sounds really cliche-tastic on paper, but the detailed and subtle execution totally makes up for it. Sungkyunkwan Scandal strikes a chord for being well paced, fresh, and very exciting. It has managed to shun away the possible cliches the drama might be infected with. I love the straight forward, no nonsense approach with regards to the whole ‘girl in a guy school’ thing. It’s like the drama is telling us “Yes, yes, there’s a girl in a guy school, get over it. We need to delve deeper.” And that’s what they’ve been doing.

They delve deeper into personalities, giving each character a wide variety of tendencies and behaviours, which make them complex and so very human. All the important characters have such distinctive voices, also supported with fantastic acting, and that makes them very compelling for us viewers. They all have their own agenda, and in the process of achieving said agenda, these characters collide with each other, and consequently, motives do as well. With so many exciting characters, a one hour episode is jam packed with thrill. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re all SUCH eye candies ranging from different age level (from the rugged hottie Yoo Ah-in to the wise professor Ahn Naesang, from evil Jeon Taesoo to mysterious Kim Gabsoo).

I really appreciate the drama for…being more. Perhaps it was because of my initial thought that Sungkyunkwan Scandal would’ve been a total bubble gum superficial youth drama that it exceed my expectation. But really,  Sungkyunkwan Scandal surprises me for being thoughtful and profound. There’s something bigger than pure school/campus drama, or cinderella romance. The drama touches on political ideology, gender equality, rotten bureaucracy, hierarchical seniority, etc. And so far, I like what I see. Their view is idealistic and youthful, much like the drama itself. And I wonder how are all these stuff going to come together and how they will be solved. Or not solved.

This week marks the third week of its run with 6 episodes. Ratings have yet to reach double digits, and it’s such a travesty. People are missing such a gem here.

If you’re still thinking, this will make you run to watch Sungkyunkwan Scandal:

*credit: lilcrash*

Current Events, part 3

Finally watched the first two episodes of Playful Kiss. The first episode was pretty rough, in my opinion. Although the second episode was better, to my relief. The computer graphic looked kinda cheap, and I was surprised at how many of them in one episode. It was a little eyebrow-raising, given Hwang In Roi’s track record of capturing beautiful, and natural canvas in his dramas.  Yet, he even used a man made set for Oh Hani’s dad’s restaurant. Plus there were quite a bit of imaginary sequence, and I don’t think it was necessary to have all of those packed in one episode. On the bright side, I LOVE the scoring. It’s bright, fun, but creative.

With regards of acting, you can see that Kim Hyunjoong is still the biggest liability. He has improved and I gotta admit that in some scenes, he is okay, but the gaps between his acting and the rest of the actors’ are painfully obvious. He’s got posture problems and his eyes, no matter how he squints and glares, remain blank. At least now his facial expressions and his pronounciations are more natural and expressive. This is my theory only, but instead of the cool guy characters, he should be given a happy go lucky role, where he gets to be more active and unsubtle. I just think that would’ve been more interesting, a change of image for sure.

Jung Somin and Lee Taesung are fantastic. Lee Taesung must be having a ball, playing a character where the word ‘overacting’ would never apply. He’s hilarious and adorable. I think Jung Somin is quite literally carrying the drama. She is cute in her own right, very very charming. And I like that she gives a strong vibe to her character.

Playful Kiss’s start could’ve been better. I guess it’s designed to be one of those addictive rom coms. But to be honest, I don’t feel that rush. The excitement you feel after watching the last episode of the week, wishing that next week would come faster. It was fun, it was fine, but I wasn’t immediately hooked.

I’m starting to drag my feet to watch My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and it’s only the mid point. It’s just that despite the mystical back story, the whole gumiho business, all the inherent setups just seem familiar to me and it’s getting a little tiring to watch so many recycled stuff. There’s the sly bitch who used to be the object of main man’s affection. There are also the main man’s usual bouts of denial moments, brought by the ‘falling in love’ symptoms. There is a painful painful oh so painful past event that will contribute to the huge drama looming in the future, the drama which I’m SURE would be the source of a few uber depressing, woebegone episodes. I feel like I can predict the drama now, week by week.

The all too familiar patterns and the general weariness with those prevent me from connecting deeper with My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. For example, My Girl and Fantasy Couple felt really personal to me because I really took to the storylines (despite how forced some of them can be), the characters, etc. Even the ones I didn’t quite as fancy like You’re Beautiful and Delightful Girl Chunhyang, in my memory, they still stood out among many other dramas I’ve watched. What I’m trying to say is that My Girlfriend is a Gumiho veering towards the ‘forgettable dramas’ path.

The good thing is that the Miho is different than other girls. She’s honest and forthcoming about her feelings, having none of the normal human emotional perceptions yet. So this might help steering the drama away from typical conflictsthat can arise. Plus, the comedy still works. I don’t think the drama is as laugh out loud funny as other Hong Sisters’ dramas, but a couple of times per episode I do still get a kick out of the humour, so that’s a good thing.

The SBS variety show Heroes continues to highlight my Sundays. I heard of rumours that the show is gonna be canceled soon and I’m dreading that. I hope that’s so not true. I’m growing to really like each and every member. At first Seo Inyoung rubbed me the wrong way, but after a while, she’s back to the Inyoung I like, We Got Married era. I thought T-ara’s Jiyeon was useless in the first episode, but now, despite the fact that she barely talks, she’s one of the most stood out members. She is quirky and quite adorable. The more I see, the more these members are making connections to the viewers. I’m glad that I was proven wrong for waving off some members just based on the first episode.

When the show first aired, I was concerned about the number of members on the show. 12 just seems so many, what’s the rest of them gonna do? But I think they’re finding the middle ground. A certain member will be a highlight this week, others would be next week. Though I think problems would really rise as we’re already seeing several members in constant spotlight week to week, thanks to their colourful on screen personalities, while others are chirping in the background. People like Kara’s Nicole, sometimes I forget she’s there.

I hope that Heroes doesn’t bank on its members only. They’ve got great human resources, but I’m already finding a certain elements and jokes of the show to be hammered in. The supposed Gahee/Inyoung feud have been going on since episode 1 and if the producers don’t rest on it, it’s gonna get tiring soon. Meat stealing has also become a frequent thing, I notice. Get your creative juices on, writers!!

Taiwanese: It Started With a Kiss

Derived from a Japanese Manga in the early 90s, the story was first televised in Japan with Itazura Na Kiss in 1996. Taiwan followed suit with their own adaptations called It Started With a Kiss in 2005. The Taiwanese version got so famous all over Asia which propelled a sequel in 2007 called They Kissed Again. The Manga itself was never finished because the author passed away, and I never read the original comic either, so I’m guessing that in all these adaptations, the producers took liberties with their perceived endings.

Now, why suddenly watch It Started With a Kiss? Simply as a preparation for the upcoming Kim Hyunjoong/Jung Somin drama, Playful Kiss. Which is, needless to say, the Korean adaptation. Now the series have effectively been produced by the 3 big drama producing countries, I wanted to have some sort of point of contrast and comparison when watching Playful Kiss. I remember watching the original dorama and couldn’t survive the first hour. They only had 9 episodes so everything was supposed to move fast, but man, by the second episode I canned it.

So I decided to try It Started With a Kiss instead, out of recommendations from friends. The drama stars Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng as the main boy and girl.

The story, in a nutshell, is about a girl liking a boy, chasing after him, and making him her bitch man. The girl is absent-minded, annoying, and stubborn. But she’s also kind hearted and sincere. The guy she likes is a genius who is constantly the top of his class. He is intelligent and HOTTTT, but curt and reclusive. She ends up living in his house and for the remainder of the drama would continue to prove her love by either a)chasing after him or b)preventing other females to be around him.

Now, I don’t know what happens in the manga or in the previous dorama, but I believe the story depicted in the drama is up there with the Twilight series, in terms of how harmful it is to young girls, in fact even more so. Going into the drama, I had no idea that the story would be such a blow to modern feminism. It’s high time we retreat from stories about a girl idolizing a boy, putting him one step above her. It’s so chauvinistic and the drama seems to do all of it unrepentantly.

The foundation of the story, the bottom line, is that a girl’s life is revolved around one boy. That, in itself, is a dangerous notion, one I don’t want to entertain and certainly wouldn’t want my future daughters entertain either. Furthermore, the way she follows him with all her might, deflecting any potential females and creating troubles, makes it seem okay for girls to do that to boys as long as she loves him. Which male wants to be stalked by a girl day and night just because she likes him? So, if a guy stalks a girl it’s creepy, but if a girl stalks a guy it’s called caring?? Geez, a restraining order is so due.

But the most disturbing point is the fact that the drama justifies girls being treated the way Zhi Shu (boy) treats Xiang Qin (girl). At least in the Twilight series, the boy actually reciprocates the feelings and EXPRESSES them clearly. But It Started With a Kiss took it to another level. Not only does this girl devotes her life to a boy, she also does so to a boy who treats her like shit! No man should get away for constantly putting down a girl, treating her anyway he wants. Just like the girl thinks it’s okay to stalk the boy because she loves him, the boy thinks it’s okay to ignore the girl because deep down he also loves her. Are we supposed to see these dynamics as cute? BAH!

On a technical level, ISWAK is unnecessarily long. It follows the main character from high school till college and seems to aim for the ‘slice of life’ style. No particular plot, just a bunch of storylines mushed up together to span over 4 years or so. There is no apparent antagonist that keeps the couple from being together, so we have to wait 30 episodes for these two kids to get it right because getting the main couple together is pretty much the sole point of the drama.

Secondary characters are also rendered almost useless. They are one dimentional and exists merely as plot devices. A couple of the characters show potential to be more, but in the end, after they serve their purposes they just slowly disappear. One character that I truly like, however, is Yu Shu, Zhi Shu’s little brother. Unlike the other characters, he has always been there in the background, monitoring, taking notes, but ultimately speaks up when something is not to his fancy. Plus, he’s chubby and grumpy. Lethal combination for a cute kid.

The two redeeming points of ISWAK are the acting and the chemistry between Arel Lin and Joe Cheng. Luckily, I found these elements to be the strongest and they help me powering through to the finale. Ariel Lin really embodies the love fool Xiang Qin, seemingly so natural and at ease in her character’s skin. There are overacting problems at times, but she has a full bottle of charm at her disposal. Xiang Qin annoys you for her trouble making schemes, yet you also admire her kind heart. Despite the many times I get pissed off at Xiang Qin, through out the drama, I continue to love her, and a big part of this goes for Ariel Lin for portraying Xiang Qin so well. Her emotional scenes are great and her funny scenes are really funny.

The same goes for Joe Cheng. Zhi Shu is expressionless, but he is not blank (IMO, this will be Kim Hyunjoong’s biggest shortcoming). He is rude to some people, yet affectionate to others. He thinks A, but does B. He is introvert, but not socially awkward. This is precisely how Joe Cheng hit home run. What I love about Cheng is that he turns this easily cliche-tastic character into someone who feels more real. I say more because all the character qualifications are just straight out of fantasy, but I thought Cheng was able to humanize Zhi Shu more. Plus, he’s got this eternal childlike pout that is just so endearing. When he’s not spouting insults, that is.

It’s not rare to find on screen couples with good chemistry. One of the main reasons two actors are chosen as a couple must be that they look and feel good on screen. But an on screen couple with awefuckingsome chemistry, you don’t come by very often. The last on screen couple that I thought was pretty fantastic was Lee Minjung and Jung Kyungho in Smile You, the drama was bust but damn, they just….clicked together.

And the same goes with Lin and Cheng here. Considering it almost literally took 30 episodes to get their characters to finally end up together, something strong should be holding the magic. I’m sure with any other couple, you would just throw your hand in the air and announce defeat. And this something, it wasn’t anything in particular really, but they just fit. The pairing just feels effortless and natural. I was reading something online that apparently Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng are considered one of the best on screen couples in Taiwan. Hell, I SO can see that. A few episodes into the drama, I just started to randomly look them up in Youtube, a sure sign that they’ve got me hooked at least if not on the drama itself, but on the couple. And in this case, it is enough motivation to finish the drama.

Ultimately, I would rate It Started With a Kiss a barely passable drama. The subject theme itself is already mired with fundemental flaws, and the execution doesn’t help either. If they cut 10 episodes, it would’ve been better. They don’t need so many secondary characters, but should’ve dug deeper into the more important ones. But in the end, I refrained from tearing my hairs out because I’m already losing hair as it is the main leads can charm the hell out of It Started With a Kiss.

Anyways, I’m signing out to watch Playful Kiss episode 1. Exciteeeddd!