kutsuwamushi: (strike a pose)


Ever since Eun Chan's father died, she's been taking care of her younger sister and her mother. Her outward appearance is so unfeminine that she's usually mistaken for guy. Han Kyul is a rich son given a project: Clean up this coffee shop and make it profitable. He ends up hiring Eun Chan, and OMG AM I GAY romance happens.

I had reservations going in. Hell no, I didn't expect something progressive. In the end, most of it turned out as I expected, but there were some parts that pleasantly surprised me.

THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW

Spoilers )

To sum up: Coffee Prince has problems, but it's cute. And it's only about five episodes too long, rather than about thirty episodes too long, like most k-dramas.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
On Thursday, I turned in a paper and several assignments, and immediately collapsed into a brainless puddle of laziness. I decided to watch some dramas.

Freeze

Why I didn't like it. )



Jeon Woochi



So after that letdown, I decided to watch something I already knew I liked: the cute, if a little chaotic, movie "Jeon Woochi".

Woochi is a wizard's apprentice living in the Joseon era. Cocky and selfish, he wants to find two mysterious artifacts that will turn him into the greatest wizard who has ever lived. However, this quest gets sidetracked when he ends up entangled in a fight between demons who want to open up the gate to hell, and a trio of Taoist gods. Woochi ends up being transported to 21st century, where the fight continues.

This is one of those movies that it's fun to waste a couple of hours on. It really could have been a mini-series--the story has so much room for expansion--but to be honest, I kind of like the final scene, even though it felt sort of abrupt. It has good production values and there are no characters that I really disliked, although Woochi's companion Chorangyi (a dog in human form) might annoy some.

I recommend this one if you're looking for a bit of fluff. You can download it from the jdramas community on LJ here.

(I should write fanfic.)
kutsuwamushi: (they see me rollin')

Nothing out of the ordinary. Look at all these boring monochrome people.

Durarara is a story about a place, speciifcally the creator's semi-fantastic version of Ikebukuro. A headless motorcyclist haunts the streets, the mysterious "Dollars" gang is rumored to exist but no one knows who its members are, foreigners and runaways disappear, a debt collector so strong that he can throw vending machines has an intense personal vendetta against a knife-wielding and cruel practical joker...

And there's more.

The format is a little strange at first. We see something happening from one point of view, and then later, from another, showing how these events--even if they appear unconnected at first--are part of a larger plot. Each episode has had its own viewpoint character. The first episode begins when a boy from a small town arrives in Ikebukuro for school and is introduced to the city by his best friend, who has already been living there awhile.

So far I'm really enjoying it. It has a large cast, and I like all of them so far. It does come off as a little bit trendy, but it's unusual trendy, and very entertaining, which makes it forgivable.

Thank you, [personal profile] herongale, for reccing it!
kutsuwamushi: (they see me rollin')


According to Wikipedia:
Ishikawa Goemon (石川 五衛門 or 石川 五右衛門?, 1558-1594) was a legendary bandit hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor. He is notable for being boiled alive after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A large iron kettle-shaped bathtub is now called a Goemon-buro ("Goemon bath").
This movie is loosely, loosely based on that story--to begin with, this Goemon doesn't get boiled alive, although he does try to assassinate Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

This movie has almost nothing to do with actual history. If you mentioned research to the writers, I'm sure they would have blinked at you as if you were a madwoman.

If I had to describe their approach, it would be something like: "Take one part fantasy Japan, one part video game cut scenes, and one part visual kei. Stir well. Season with popular storytelling tropes such as tragic orphans, maniacally evil rulers, and star-crossed relationships." But that almost makes sense, while the actual movie raises an endless series of questions of "why did they do that?"

(The usual answer must be because it looked cool. This is why Oda Nobunaga wears European plate armor and why the McGuffin that Goemon accidentally steals is decorated in Egyptian hieroglyphs and is called Pandora's box.)

Much of the storyline is revealed through flashbacks, making it even more confusing. By the time that I had finally pieced it together (note: that did not mean it made sense), it had turned rather dark, in that tragic now-it's-suicide-revenge-fantasy way, and the main female character had become even more pointlessly helpless.

Final verdict: Quite silly. There's no point to watching unless you like the style of pretty, or are a fan of action scenes that are set in a world with video-game physics.

Music Time!

Fly, Fly My Sadness - Angelite and Huun-Huur-Tu

Angelite is an offshoot of the famous Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a Bulgarian women's choir. Huun-Huur-Tu is a renowned Tuvan folk group. Combine the two and you get something gorgeously haunting and perfect for a cold, lonely day outside.
kutsuwamushi: (don't make me come back there)
I finished The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party -- what a title.

I didn't know what to expect, because by the time I picked it up I had forgotten why I had put it on my list to begin with, but by the time I finished it, I was very impressed. I went to Barnes & Noble the next day to pick up the sequel.

The story begins with the boy Octavian, who is growing up in a house where everyone but he and his mother are given numbers instead of names. It's the years immediately prior to the Revolutionary War, in New England. The house is the Novanglian College of Lucidity, a collection of intellectuals who are interested in all of the aspects of science.

I'm not sure how much I can say without ruining some of the impact, so consider the rest of this post to contain spoilers.

Spoiler cut. )I was surprised when the man at Barnes & Noble helped me find the sequel in the teen fiction section. The themes are difficult. Not that I think that makes them unsuitable for teens; quite the opposite, really. The questions it raises about the early history of the United States are worth raising, and most teens won't get that elsewhere.

This is definitely on my recommended list, and I don't even like historical fiction much.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)

Take that, Edward Cullen.

There seem to be two animated versions of Hellsing. I thought I would try this one, because I couldn't remember if it sucked or not, and because someone on Netflix said it was the version truer to the manga.

So far it has been mostly pulled from the manga, just slightly rearranged. It loses something in the transition, though. The animation shortcuts make it drastically less creepy, and attempts to emulate the style of the manga fall flat. I'm not sure if the visual style of Hellsing is suited to animation, but a decent attempt would require a bigger budget. And more imagination.

That and condensing the storyline made it even more stupid. We have two things: clumsy exposition, and violence. The manga is completely ridiculous, but it has something that makes it entertaining all the same. Style, a bit of a story... Not so much this anime.

I think I'll remove the rest of this from my Netflix queue unless someone says, "no, wait, it gets better!"



MEANWHILE, IN THE SPACE CRAVAT ANIME, A LOT HAS HAPPENED.

When I last watched, the Tytanian dukes were embarrassing themselves by losing important battles to various types of riffraff: pirates, doctors of philosophy, men with no cravats. Fan Hyulick, a member of he latter category, had been particularly annoying, and so Tytania was after him.

Alses, Duke Zarlish's horrible little brother - from now own referred to as "the squid" - captured the woman in stupid pants and decided to use her as bait.

It backfired, because he sucks.


Fan Hyulick rescues the plot device. Kind of.

The rest of this post contains spoilers. )
kutsuwamushi: (don't make me come back there)

We collect taxes in the form of hair care products.

Tytania is about a clan (named Tytania) that's so successful in war and shooting toddlers out of cannons that it controls the space empire that it nominally serves. Ever since the first clan lord, named Neville, they have never been defeated. They're feared and hated throughout the universe, but everyone who stands up to them is ruthlessly crushed under a very snazzy boot heel.

The current clan lord has four potential successors, each with their own fashion foibles:

Cut for a hot mess. )
kutsuwamushi: (Default)

Aryoung is hot. Ki-Chul and his gang of idiots are idiots.

This isn't a sequel and none of the female characters are married. But the titular character is a gangster, so we have two out of three.

Aryoung, the daughter of a powerful Hong Kong boss, goes into hiding in South Korea when a gang war makes her a target. Ki-Chul, a thuggish and bumbling South Korean gangster, is told that he has to take care of this "guest." The relationship gets off to a rocky start, and meanwhile, the Chinese underworld is still searching for Aryoung.

It's a formulaic movie and it's hard to believe that Aryoung would be interested in Ki-Chul, who is an idiot and not even a quarter as badass as she is.

What makes it decent popcorn is that it's occasionally pretty funny, especially when it comes to the the communication difficulties.

Because Aryoung doesn't speak Korean and Ki-Chul doesn't speak Chinese, Ki-Chul hires a young woman to be their translator. The woman is at first terrified when she finds out that she's been conscripted by gangsters, and translates everything nasty that Aryoung says into something nice. Later, swept up by vicarious badassitude, she translates everything nice that Aryoung says into something nasty.

Also: Aryoung is hot.

(I'm using the name spellings and translated title that was used in the subtitled version I watched. It also goes by "Jopog Manura 3" and "Gangster Wife 3".)
kutsuwamushi: (don't make me come back there)
I'm working through my "easy reading" list, and am on Dead Until Dark, the first book in Sookie Stackhouse series. The premise is pretty basic: Sookie Stackhouse, small-town waitress with the special ability to hear others' thoughts, gets tangled up with vampires and other creatures in Yet Another Supernatural Romance.

In subject matter and general intent, it's very similar to the Anita Blake novels, but Sookie isn't quite as annoying as Anita (yet). She's uninteresting and shallow, but at least she doesn't make a lot of noise about how haaaaaard it is to be badass oh life is soooo haaaaaaaaaaard why are all these hot men wanting to sleeeeep with me god it suuuuucks ewwww gay people-

Anyway.

The first book matches up pretty closely to the first season of the HBO series, but there were some changes. My thoughts below the cut. Because you don't need to know.

Read more... )I know that the books go on forever, and Sookie keeps racking up suitors--like Anita Blake, again, but I hope that I don't get irritated by that too soon. All in all, it was entertaining and much less objectionable than the Dresden Files book.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
I'm currently reading the first book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Most of what I've heard about it is the same: It's good paranormal-detective fun, but the first book is pretty bad. It gets better as the series progresses.

I don't mind the prose. It's not good, but it's not obtrusively bad either; it sort of fades into the background most of the time and only jumps out to go "BLARRRHGH" at you when there is a clumsy info-dump. I'm not far enough along to really judge the plot.

What does stand out is the sexism.

Harry Dresden, the protagonist, is a self-proclaimed "old fashioned" man. For example, he holds doors open for women--not something I would blame him for, but he continues to do it even after they tell him that they don't appreciate it.

In his own words, "men ought to treat women like something other than just shorter, weaker men with breasts." Women should be treated differently, regardless of their feelings on the matter. And this is portrayed as if it makes Dresden more noble.

I'm alright with flawed protagonists--in fact, I love them, but when it seems like those flaws are reflections of the author's prejudices, I'm uncomfortable. I don't like it when an author's racism, sexism, or other -ism is showing. I could accept that this was Harry Dresden's problem, not Jim Butcher's, if not for how sexism suffuses the portrayal of women in the book, which can't always be explained away as being due to Dresden's point of view.

And then it gets worse. )

So, Harry Dresden's old-fashioned values:

Women should be treated differently than men regardless of their opinions about it. Women are more hateful than men, and more subtle than men. It's unexpected if an attractive one has a traditionally male job. They love romance novels land chocolate, and what they're looking for in a man is money. Using a mind-altering substance to get a woman to fall in love with (read: sleep with) is bad because it makes you look desperate.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)

Winry is hot.

So I didn't like the first two episodes very much. I thought that there are too many important plot points crammed haphazardly into too short a time frame.

Now I'm up to episode six and I'm starting to like it more.

The storytelling flows better, although it's still moving at a very fast pace. Things are revealed in episode six of Brotherhood that are kept until episode sixteen in the original anime. It has all been streamlined: filler cut, story condensed. This isn't universally bad, but I feel like I'm not really being given time to become attached to the characters before Important Plot happens.

I'm appreciating the updated animation, especially during fight scenes.

Although...

I feel like I'm being pandered to. The increased emphasis on the painful parts of the plot--how they're telegraphed in advance, how there's no time to rest between blows--it's as if the creators are proclaiming "THIS R SERIOUS ANIME" in a very loud voice. The original was better balanced.

I've been watching the original and the new one concurrently, which makes the differences stand out even more.

Episode seven is in the download queue. I'm really looking forward to when Brotherhood substantially diverges, which it hasn't yet.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
Instead of working on my homework, I took a long, hot bath, and finished The Lions of Al-Rassan.

The story takes place in a very thinly disguised version of medieval Spain. The Asharite kingdoms, which have ruled for centuries, are crumbling, and the Jaddite kingdoms to the North are mobilizing to reconquer the penninsula. The three main characters represent the faiths/cultures that are caught up in this conflict: Ammar ibn Khairan is an Asharite warrior and poet; Rodrigo Belmonte is a Jaddite mercenary; Jehane is a Kindath doctor.I think there are spoilers here. But nothing major. )
kutsuwamushi: (can has yaoi?)
It took so little time for me to give up on the Antique Bakery anime. One minute and eleven seconds, to be exact.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the original manga, it's a charming series about four men who work in a pastry shop in Japan: the owner, who mysteriously detests sweet food; the homosexual pastry chef who has a mile-long trail of broken hearts behind him; the apprentice, a former boxer who had to quit boxing due to injury; and finally, the owner's manservant, who works as a waiter because he isn't good at anything else.

It's written by Yoshinaga Fumi, who turns almost everything into gold with her delicate touch.

The first thing that I noticed about the anime is that the art is bad. On top of it being strikingly bad, it doesn't bear any resemblance to Yoshinaga's style at all. It took me a moment to realize that the guy having a nightmare-slash flashback on the couch is supposed to be one of the main characters.

When I realized that it was Tachibana on the couch, reliving his most painful memory, at one minute and eleven seconds in -- that was when I gave up. I knew that they had missed the point. I could image the writers going, "Hey, these emotional conflicts are too subtle and nuanced. What we really need is some more melodrama and some tiny violins!"

I kept watching a little while longer to see just how bad it could be. There was nothing as horrible as the beginning, but even the scenes that were copied directly from the manga seemed off. There are a lot of reasons why I thought they were off, but it's late, and what it boils down to is that even in its best moments the anime is only a pale imitation of the manga; it adds nothing worthwhile to the experience of the story.

In summary: Tiny violins are too crunchy and do not go good with cake.

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