K-Variety Reco: Stray Kids (스트레이 키즈) and Mix & Match

Such handsome bois up and down XD

Okay, totally different from what I usually do. Perhaps my recommendations of variety shows till now have been for laughs and lifting bad mood up. And I usually do not review two programs together either.

But this time I decided on these two because they have very similar formats and both programs are very inspiring. I personally do not like survival shows. Apart from showing idol lives and their hard work, they’re just full of tears. And big productions at the level of Produce 101 end up being plagued with issues like evil editing and stuff.

Well I did recommend Idol Producer to my readers a while back. But that was again because it was funny and inspiring at the same time. I did end up not finishing 2nd season of Idol Producer. Anyway, through these two programs, I will probably try to introduce to people two of the iconic boy groups that I love wholeheartedly: Stray Kids and iKon.

Now, Mix & Match is a 2014 9 episode reality show where the Team B from a previous survivals show, WIN: Who is next, are pitted against each other to see who’s up to par to form a new YG group. Stray Kids is, similarly, a 2017 show of 10 episodes where these YG trainees compete against as a team and against each other to determine who is good enough to debut.

Mix & Match Bobby
This precious kid OMG!

It seems that the leaders in both the groups had already trained and formed a team with the other members. So, their bond was good to begin with. Add to that the stress of possibility to lose some of your teammates you have trained with for years, I guess it’s their recipe for a successful survival program?

It was so sad to see the people who initially left, but audience digs friendship and stuff including me, so well, it teared up me too and I prayed hard for people to return back too. Was it successful is something you’ll have to find out through the programs. The missions these guys went through were kind of similar as well.

The differences between the two would be addition of three new members in Mix & Match to already 6 member Team B. Three of the original 6 were fixed to debut at the beginning of the show and remaining three had to fight with the new three members for their places.

Stray Kids did not have any additions because it was a team formed by the leader Bang Chan on his own. From the premise and further interviews from JYP, it seems that JYP did not have any hand in putting the guys together since the beginning. Bang Chan did it all on his own and hence, it was crucial for JYP to see their teamwork and chemistry and determine if they’re worth putting his time and money in.

I don’t think it’s from the survival show though :rummaging the brain hard:

People would ask me what’s good in a bunch of kids fighting to debut as an idol group? My answer is, one I see them working hard till like 5 am and then to attend school at 7 am and so they’re going without sleeping for so long just to achieve their dreams. I cannot forego my sleep no matter what circumstances and these guys are putting in so much hardwork, of course I am damn inspired. Not that I endorse the lifestyle these guys follow, it’s just too unhealthy. But if they’re happy, I am happy too.

Second is, you actually see them achieving their dream, at least most of them. Plus these guys produce such good songs for 15-20 years old, based on their dreams, their hardships in life. That’s talent right there. Don’t you relate with them? Ah, there are people out there going through similar things like normal us and they’re giving their best to change that. I should do it too. No, I can do it too.

That’s inspiration right there. To think bunch of kids would help me in my down time and help me get up and rise and shine.

Conclusion: I highly recommend these two series, because they’re short; you get to learn a lot about SK’s idol industry and idol lives; they’re inspiring, at least to me; there is quite a lot of entertainment and emotions and last but not least, there is a bunch of unexplored and unreleased but amazing music there.

Final feelings: ୧☉□☉୨

Watch here: Mix & Match; Stray Kids

Personal front: Finally a weekend where I am not going out. Unfortunately, I got so addicted to my friends in past two weekends that there is a major missing happening here. I did not meet them this frequently when we were in college together, but I actually traveled 5 hours one way to meet them, that too consecutive weekends. Wow, I am surprised at myself, wouldn’t have imagined doing that 2 years ago.

It’s funny how people around you change you. People, I know you are not reading this, so I can write it peacefully, but I am missing you guys too much, like ‘I wish I could fly and meet you guys right now’ missing.

Anyway, I don’t have much to write about here. I guess I’ll be writing about my friends for next month or so coz no other topic to discuss. Lol. I’ll stop boring you guys with my friends’ details. But they’re the best group I have found till now. I might have said this for more people before and that might have been true till then. But these guys are gold of a different level. Anyway, peace.

Today’s song: Another Stray Kids song? This song talks about their aspirations and how they’re in hell doing the survival show and their training period in general but now they only have one way to go, up. IN first two listens, the music makes you a bit tipsy for some reason but it’s still interesting and grows on you very easily.

I guess I’ll post one more from iKon. This was done while they were doing WIN: Who is next, but it’s a really inspiring one too. I still cry when I read the lyrics. Their performance was legendary at that time though. Linking both performance and studio version, coz the feels are best in the live version:

Disclaimer: None of the pics and videos belong to me. They belong to their respective owners. Thank you for letting me borrow them.

Webnovel Reco: Zi Xinyu’s Short Stories

Hello everyone,

I am suddenly running out of webnovels to review, because I haven’t finished many yet, lol. This week, I bring you some short stories I stumbled upon yesterday while traveling. This will again be a short post because I am out with the same friends again as last week.

So, these are 5 short stories from an author called Zi Xinyu and translated by timebun on volare novels. Three of them deal with life after death and reincarnation. All five of them are set in different time and background and they are disconnected from each other.

You also get to dive into Chinese folklore and beliefs a bit. Especially what happens once a human being dies. I wouldn’t delve into each one individually because they are just that, short stories. I will end up giving away the spoilers very easily.

But they’re so realistic, that you can totally relate to the characters. The stories are very well set, and you don’t feel lost while reading them. You don’t feel like you need to know any background about the characters to really understand the plots. I really want to appreciate the writing style of the author here. Simple and clear.

The best part however is, how touching the stories are. I really cannot describe the emotions but one or two of them made me cry, others made me ponder over life. It’s so intriguing how Zi Xinyu has weaved these plots on the simple aspects of life. Uhh… I think I am praising them too highly here but I think anyone can give them a try and see for yourself.

Conclusion: Just 5 chapters, 5 mins reading each. Perfect to read while traveling in a bus or maybe just wanting to take a break. Highly recommended. However, be warned that if you’re already down in life, you might not handle them well. They’re sad for sure.

Final feelings: (。•́︿•̀。)
These feelings reflect how I feel after reading the stories but not the stories themselves. I am quite glad I got to read them.

Read here: Read on Volare for free.

Personal front: I am back to NJ to my friends. One of my friends is getting married and since these are last bachelor days of his, I want to spend as much time as our own group as I can. Anyway, congratulations to my bro and sis-in-law. I hope I’ll be here when my sis-in-law arrives here in US.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed my two weekends with my friends. Sometimes I regret the missed love and friendship in these 24 years when I didn’t know them and the 1.5 years here during MS when I wasn’t as close to them as I am now. Regrets about that? Yes. Regrets about CMU or US or MS? No. I always say that only because of these relationships I have formed here.

Anyway, too much sentimental talks. I guess, I’ll take a break here. The stories above were already making me sad, now I am more sad. Congrats to my bro again.

Also, I am sorry about the short reviews recently. Have been busy and exhausted a bit. Will start right length as soon as I settle back down, which should be starting next week I guess.

Today’s song: Another Stray Kids song. This has been my life line for some time now. The only thing inspiring me these days. Plus that abs flashing, OMG (❤ω❤)

Disclaimer: The pics above belong to the author and volare novels. The song belongs to JYP Ent and Stray Kids.

Anime Reco: Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness (闘牌伝説アカギ 闇に舞い降りた天才)

Akagi

Long ass title, took half of my screen. Anyway, I thought really hard about what anime to review this time. I wanted to do something other than slice of life and youkai and ghosts and spirits. While racking my brain, I realized you can take everything out of me but slice of life.

I actually had to look at my MAL list to see if there was something else. And I found this. This anime is something I have been trying to make people watch. The manga is by same author as that of famous gambling manga called Kaiji. Unfortunately, while a lot of people know about Kaiji, very few people know Akagi.

Akagi is about our OP thirteen year old protagonist who doesn’t even fear death if he can get better bet out of it. The anime starts with a small fry called Nangou losing huge sums of monies at a mahjong parlor to the mafia. Of course, he wants to get back his money at least, but he keeps losing. Enters Akagi, running away from police who’re after him in another gambling case. In the last ditch effort, Nangou gives his turn to Akagi and realizes that he has found a genius who’s going to become a legend in the game of gambling.

He doesn’t look like 13 years old but whatever

I wouldn’t want to compare this anime with Kaiji but since both are written by the same person, I can’t help it. For the anime, there is no that weird “zawa zawa” sound in the back as in Kaiji. And the anime ends in one season with 26 episodes.

Animation will definitely put some people off. It took me some time to adjust with the characters and animation. Those exaggeratedly pointed chins are not my cup of tea. But cannot complain coz the mangaka makes all their characters like that.

Also, the anime is old (2005-2006), so the video quality you might find right now might not be as good. And, it is intense. Also, note that it’s rated R – 17+. There is quite some profanity and violence in there.

If you can move past all this, there lies a gem. As I said, the lead is just too OP, unafraid in the face of death. He would gamble even his life away just for kicks. Of course, I don’t endorse gambling myself.

Do not fear, Akagi is here

But I did get so much confidence in myself for some reason after watching the anime. I think I should watch it again. You realize that absolute confidence in yourself (not empty narcissism just to be clear) makes other people falter before you. And I love these types of anime for that. One outs is another one but that’s for some later post.

Oh, the OSTs. Well, the OP’s mellow tone doesn’t really suit the anime but the lyrics are so philosophical and suit the anime well. Oh the irony in one sentence. The ED is definitely better.

You’ll also get to learn the real mahjong. Not the tile matching game we play on our PCs, but the one you see old ladies playing in K and C dramas.

Conclusion: This anime is definitely not for kids. Watch at your own risk. But enjoyment and plot and suspense and thrill and everything else is 100 out of 100. The ending is very satisfying too.

Final Feelings: ¡¡¡( •̀ ᴗ •́ )و!!!

Watch here: Crunchyroll / Youtube (Full 26 eps run)

Personal Front: I am sorry guys, I am out on this weekend and couldn’t really prepare much. So, if you spot some mistake or grammatical error, please do not fret (and leave me here all alone TT_TT).

Anyway, I am happy that I am going out with my friends, but I am pretty sure the weather is not going to favor us much. I would definitely like to use this chance to collect myself. And work harder after I come back. I hope things work out for me.

Oh btw, did I tell you guys this? I received my t-shirts and hoodie from the company? I did say I would do a separate post but doesn’t look like it. Anyway, they’re just company’s t-shirts and not anime merchandise. That was disappointing. On the other hand, they’re so soft and comfortable OMG. I am glad to get them after all. Definitely high quality stuff.

Today’s song: OP from the anime

Disclaimer: All videos and pics belong to their respective owners. None of them belong to me.

Webtoon Reco: My Letter (연의 편지)

Your letter ch 2

O.M.G. Like how can one person write such a wholesome and most importantly complete story in just 10 chapters? And a while back I was talking about a good story line in less than 50 chapters.

You read that right. Just 10 chapters. Not novel chapters but webtoon chapters. This week I bring you guys a story which would make your hearts full. It started publishing back in Feb. I think I started reading this webtoon in March, but never realized that it would finish so soon, and I miss it. I truly miss it. Another Wednesday webtoon came to an end. And it had such an impeccable timing too. I can recommend it to my readers this week.

The webtoon, written by Cho Hyeon A tells the story of a girl called Sori. Kind and caring, Sori stands up for a girl being bullied in her middle school and becomes a victim herself while her friend transfers away. Ultimately Sori has to transfer from her middle school as well and she finds herself traumatized from her past experience and hence, a bit difficult to interact with people in new school.

Your letter ch 1
I don’t know how many times I have asked that question to myself till date. It’s so relateable…

Afraid that she might face similar situation again, she decides to keep to herself. And then she finds a letter under her desk in the class. This results in a treasure hunt where the guy who previously used to sit in Sori’s seat, takes her on an amazing discovery of magical places and new friends.

Apart from its pros of great art and amazing plot line, that you usually might find in my recommendations, this webtoon has an unusual charm to it. It takes you on a ride of nostalgia of your school days where you might or might not have formed great relationships, not with just classmates but people around, may be gardener or janitor. Also, the special corners in your school you might have shared only with very precious friends.

Your letter ch 3
Special friendships and special places 😌

Of course it raises the ever rampant issue of bullying. And I certainly am a fan of media that raise social issues or inspires one. So, it gets more points for that.

Regarding the art, the use of only 2-3 colors in each panel gives it a unique flavor in my opinion. It’s like finding happiness in really dull life/moments. And so, for me personally, the colors represent the dullness while the plot drives towards a happy ending. It gives the webtoon a dark vibe and fits really well with the overall theme of the webtoon.

As for cons, I don’t have any. It could have gone all wrong given that it’s just 10 eps but its delivery is just fantastic. By the time you even start to try to find any flaws, it gets over. It certainly gives Ghibli Studio productions like feeling. And it’s not even a 15 mins read, so I don’t think anyone reading this has anything to lose. Below is the official trailer from webtoons.com

Conclusion: It’s a really heartwarming story and while it’s a shame that it ended so soon, it doesn’t feel that bad. It was a nice ending and the webtoon truly deserves the rating it has on webtoons.com. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s just so precious that my heart warms up just thinking about it. I guess I’ll go read it again.

Final feelings: (づ ◕‿◕ )づ

Read here: Your letter on webtoons for free

Personal front: This is the first time I have finished writing the whole post before personal section, since I started it. I was perhaps dreading writing it? But right now I am going through really bad phase of my life. Without delving into much details though, I just hope it passes soon.

Anyway, a friend of mine earlier this week introduced me to two new boy groups called The Boyz and Stray Kids and OMG, I am finished. They’re such precious boys. I have officially become a noona fan (although I would be a noona fan to iKon too ;-; ).

I guess they would be my solace for now as Infinite and SuJu were in 2015? Or Exo were in 2017? Wow, I see a pattern here, odd numbered years. Hmm, that’s sad. Anyway, I’ll leave it at that.

Today’s song: Being a new fan I guess it will be songs from these two groups for a long long time. I am not going to lament on lack of songs to post now lol. Below is the song from Stray Kids which I have been listening non stop for some time now, on loop. Also, shout out to my friend who introduced me to these groups. It’s actually so much fun having fellow k-pop lovers.

Disclaimer: All the pics above are property of webtoons.com and Cho Hyeon A. Nothing here belongs to me. Today’s song is the property of JYP Ent.

K-drama Review: Terius Behind Me (내 뒤에 테리우스)

Terius behind me.

Hello everyone, how are you guys doing? Apparently, this was going to be my last post for 2018 but as usual, it didn’t happen. Do remember that this is a review and not a recommendation. I personally feel like I wasted too much time watching this drama. And I don’t want my readers to go through the same, even after the star studded cast.

This drama is a prime example of over-hyped actors in the drama and a haphazardly put bland plot. If you read the synopsis on the drama websites, you come across the words NIS agent, conspiracy, murder and a widowed female lead whose husband is the part of this whole conspiracy. Fans of criminal dramas like me are hooked.

But then you get 2 annoying kids who if they were my kids I would slap the shit out of them to make them understand how troublesome they are are the cause of each and every trouble in the whole drama. Basically, the whole plot rests on the fact that the two brats cannot control themselves.

The troublemakers and plot drivers

I envy them for having such a lovely mother though, they still cannot understand her plight. Some people would bash me over expecting too much from 5 and 7 year olds but trust me, you would get annoyed just watching them, imagine dealing with them in real life, ugh.

Anyway, this is a story about an NIS agent called Kim Bon (So Ji Sub) who was falsely accused of murdering a spy from North Korea, despite them being lovers. He is still being chased by some of the NIS agents so he’s gone undercover, trying to find real murderer behind his past lover. Go Ae Rin (Jung In Sun) is a normal housewife whose husband works for some big conglomerate and is killed when he witnesses a murder of some congressman happening.

That’s probably the most romantic moment in the drama?

Through fateful meetings and help of her extra nosy neighbors, Go Ae Rin realizes that her husband was actually part of a conspiracy. She also happens to start working for the same set of people who murdered her husband, coincidentally of course. Then she gets involved with actual NIS and helps Kim Bon clear his name and catch the murderers who are just a small part of a bigger chain involving all the bigshots from the government. They solve the mystery and fall in love too.

The synopsis looks pretty normal. But as I stated in the beginning, this story is just a bunch of loopholes and you end up pulling at your hair in frustration. (Another frustration filled update will be coming soon with The Golden Eyes).

Okay…

The only good thing about the drama is the acting of main leads. So Ji Sub is a veteran. This was my first drama with Jung In Sun and I really liked her acting. The villain was good too and the most comedic part of the drama. But other characters were so frustrating, especially Kim Bon’s friend in NIS.

I hate it when scriptwriters take us normal people as fools when it comes to criminal dramas. But they should understand that we viewers have so much material at our dispense, that although we obviously can’t be experts, it’s easy for us to point out flaws. I would give them though, it was hard to figure real villain out. The focus kept shifting from one person to other. But by mid of the series, that also became really obvious, so, yeah.

Me as the story progressed

Comedy was okayish too. The awkward Kim Bon with the kids was hilarious. I remember the OSTs to be good. Revisited and I actually like almost all of them.

I can’t really think of anything. Quite disappointed I was. The plot was so bad that it trumps everything. I don’t know why it’s rated so high mydramalist and other websites.

Conclusion: Watch it at your own risk. If you want something which you could watch without putting too much brain into it, and just pass time, you might give it a try. I personally would give it a 4/10. 16 eps and I was just wondering when it was going to end.

Final Feelings: (;⌣̀_⌣́)

Watch here: Couldn’t find any official release. So, here, unofficial one on dramacools

Personal Front: I went to look at an apartment today and it was really disappointing. I think I shouldn’t look at houses at all. I gotta find a new place for me as soon as I can.

In other news, the golden eyes is coming to an end and I absolutely hate the fact that Zhang Yixing would choose such a poorly written script. Or, perhaps, given that how close his character in the drama is to his life philosophy, he just chose the drama for that? That would be such a sad thing.

Also, as I mentioned in my last post that I won a few merch from this company’s prediction game. One of them was a manga portrait done by a professional artist. So, here I present my manga portrait. It would also be the first time revealing myself here lol, at least in part.

Yours truly

Today’s song: I really liked this one OST from this drama:

Disclaimer: The pics and videos belong to their respective owners. I do not own anything.

Webnovel Reco: Rebirth of Malicious Empress of Military Lineage (重生之将门毒后)

Rebirth of Malicious Empress
Picture Credits: Novel Updates

Ahhhh!!! I finally broke the streak, didn’t I? Unfortunately, I hadn’t even decided on what novel to review and hadn’t started writing the post in advance. Damn last week was busy. I don’t have another completed novel in my library of webnovels (actually I have one but I am really hesitant to review it for now). So, today I will write about a novel which is almost ending and will be done by the end of the year if the translation pace keeps up.

Since we’re nearing the end for this particular novel, and spoilers do predict a happy ending, I will go ahead and review “Rebirth of Malicious Empress of Military Lineage” being translated by zazajunnie from ChubbyCheeks Translations.

Written by Qian Shan Cha Ke the novel runs for 230 chapters and some short stories. Currently 221 chapters have been translated. I started following the novel when only 150 or so chapters had been released. Wow, it has been some time. But there was no looking back. It’s hands down one of the best reincarnation stories I have read till now.

The novel is the story of a girl called Shen Miao whose whole family has been serving their country as prominent military generals. Both her parents and her brother lead their own armies and have brought many wins to the country. Shen Miao, being foolishly in love with the youngest prince of the country, chases after him, marries him and becomes empress of the nation only to destroy her family by her own hands, including her own children, the crown prince and princess. She is disposed off by her husband, the emperor and his favorite concubine and Shen Miao reincarnates into the body of her own 14 year old self, with all her memories intact from the past life.

She vows to take revenge on everyone who led to the demise of her family in her past life. Along the way, she ends up helping people who suffered the same fate as her own family. Son of another general of same status as her family in the same kingdom, Xie Jing Xing, starts taking interest in her and becomes the male lead of the novel.

Pretty cliche, right? Not really. There is a reason why I call this novel fantastic read. One, it’s short. Less than 300 chapters and a captivating plot? Sign me up! Since there are such few number of chapters, the novel is devoid of any fillers. Each and every step Shen Miao takes, leads to her resolving something from her past.

Two, a strong female lead. It is not a story where the female lead is sitting around being helped by her male lead behind the scenes. She does get help from him, knowingly or unknowingly but she devises her own schemes and execute them by her aides most of the time.

Three, it’s a fast paced story. It is not like the story drags on and on. Well, I did say there are no fillers. But also, once there is an end to some character, they are uprooted with the family, not to be mentioned again in most of the cases, unless they’re important characters. So, you don’t have to keep revisiting characters from previous arcs again and again.

Fourth, the translations are consistent. Well, it’s less than 15 chapters left, so it might not matter some 15 weeks from now. But zaza is really consistent with her pace, Mon and Thu are the set days but if she crosses a particular amount of donation for the week, she releases additional chapters on Fri and Sat.

Fifth, the novel actually explains the mechanism of rebirth. It’s not just like before dying she made a vow and heavens granted her wish and reincarnated her and that’s it. The author spends full 3-4 chapters on how Shen Miao came back to her 14 year self, what changed and what remained the same, which I really liked. The rebirth novels that I have read till now are so focused on revenge that they don’t delve deeper into this stuff at all. Here you really get to look into what happened in Shen Miao’s original timeline after she died, which is pretty cool.

The only caveat I would add is the translation itself. The translation, is not bad in any sense, but it’s kind of hard at first. You might even think if it’s just machine translation. Trust me I have read machine translated raws for this novel and they don not make sense at all. So, I really appreciate zaza to translate it how she’s doing it. To be honest though, the translations might not be for beginners though. There is a lot of paraphrasing and grammar is all over the place. So, just give it a try and see if you can get accustomed to it. Once you are, you won’t be able to stop, trust me.

Another thing I can say I didn’t find much intriguing is the second part of the novel. I cannot write about this thing without giving huge spoilers, but I am finding Shen Miao’s life after revenge a bit boring. It is just last 30 chapters or so, and I do want a closure. But I am just not feeling it right now. I’ll stick to it anyway because it’s near the end. BUT, this can also be one of the positive points. Usually in rebirth stories, once the revenge is over, the authors rush through the ending and finish the story in one chapter saying male and female lead lived happily after. Not here!

Also, one caution. It’s a fan translation, so it might be that in the future, zaza would need to take down her translations should the author demand so or if it’s picked up by any official translation websites like Qidian. But for now, enjoy at the link below.

Favorite Quote:

“Good people always blame themselves and bad people always blame others. But it is the bad people that live better off than the good people. If one can let one be happier a little, then what is there to be sad about being resentful of others?”

Shen Miao

Conclusion: It is a meticulous story of revenge done right, one step at a time. And I highly recommend it.

Final feelings: ♡( ◡‿◡ )

Read here: Rebirth of Malicious Empress at ChubbyCheeks

Personal Front: I am so sorry for missing the Saturday posting day this week to my readers. It’s just that I have a new project at my work and I have to learn a lot of stuff which I already don’t know. That’s been taking up quite a bit of my time. Also, apartment hunting. I hope I can finally move out of my current apartment after 3 years of staying here.

Anyway, I have got something to advertise a bit. There is this company trying to put out an event where you predict the rankings of the current seasonal anime series and if you score top points, you win free prizes. I have won twice and am getting the stuff I won pretty soon (I hope at least). So, you guys can participate as well. I will do a separate post with pictures as and when I get the free merchandise. Here is the link if you want to participate: Crystal Ball from BlockPunk

This is the same company which I mentioned in my last post, stating that I got to talk to their founders and all. Try your luck out! Good luck!!

Today’s Song: Let’s go with ever popular BlackPink’s recent comeback

What’s up? – Mar 2019 edition

Damn, it’s been three months already but it still feels weird to be writing “2019” as the year.

March 2019 happens to be a month with 5 Saturdays, so it’s time for a full personal post. One of my dearest readers asked me to elaborate on my observation on influence of peers vs. parents on us and I think I’ll start from there.

It’s actually nothing much and it’s not an absolute conclusion since sample size is very small. Just that, according to yours truly, we tend to listen more to people whom we identify more with. In case of family, it might be siblings more than parents (as happens in my family), in case of friends, it might be 2 years senior more than 10 years senior.

I hadn’t really thought about it much initially, since people tend to tell me time and again how I behave like a parent in general (can’t help it, I have grown up with a lot of kids younger than me apart from my own younger sibling). But the incident 3 weeks back compelled me to look at it from a different perspective and I realized, people do listen to me, they just happen to be my immediate juniors.

Perhaps, because they think that I have gone through/ am going through similar situations as them. More junior people have their immediate seniors to identify with and guide them, I shouldn’t have meddled too much since the beginning. Without going in further details though, I think I learnt an important life lesson.

In other news, I got to talk to founder of a company in anime space 2 weeks back and it was an absolutely delightful experience. Although I consume so much east Asian media, I don’t really get to interact with people from that space (regretfully) apart from fellow watchers of course .

Finally, as an user of a small platform, I got to give my feedback to them about their website and anime in general, so it was great. And I could finally rant that slice of life is so underappreciated as a genre that anime like My Roommate is a Cat would never rank in top 10 for seasonal rankings.

I also got to talk a bit about the piracy issues in India. Trust me people, Indians are ready to buy manga and anime, it’s just out of reach for them right now. It’s obviously easier to buy figurines directly from Japan because no translation or anything is required and there is no margin involved for Indian merchants. Just a small shipping fee and you’re done.

Manga and light novels on the other hand, need to be translated. I don’t really know if English versions are sourced from US or somewhere else, but the prices in India obviously include the transportation costs and profit margins for an Indian seller apart from its original cost. Hence, they seem a bit overpriced to us in general.

I have seen a rise in people actually buying manga. But since they’re so readily available online, and translated to latest chapters even, vs. translated manga volumes being at least 2 volumes behind the Japanese version, people obviously prefer reading them online.

With this, I was doing some calculations and realized, following anime and manga, legally, is a pretty expensive hobby, especially in a country like India. For different series, you gotta subscribe to different services: Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu etc. And then to buy merchandise is another big expense. Thank God for public libraries in US which have some stock of manga at least, if not everything.

I guess March has been a month for many realizations for me. Hmm…. I should write all these down some where.

The last thing to say today is, I started Doctor Prisoner and OMG, I am so hooked. Although I have been hyping the series up for all my k-drama watching friends, I just hope it stays on the course it is now and doesn’t disappoint like other k-dramas which started out strong but went downhill really fast.

Anyway guys, have a happy weekend and hope people in northern hemisphere are enjoying the spring. Bidding goodbye to March….

Edit: Ugh, I was trying to close my post at such a good note. Anyway, was scheduling it for tomorrow but it got published right away for some reason. Enjoy the post one day early. XD

Today’s song: Taeyeon released a new song and although I loved it and MV is super pretty, I couldn’t really listen to it more than 4 times in a loop. But still:

Anime Reco: Natsume Yuujinchou (夏目友人帳)

Natsume Yuujinchou 1

I thought really hard what anime I should review this week. I even went to my myanimelist account to see if I should give preference to any of the anime I have watched previously and rated highly.

Then I was thinking of recommending “My Roommate is a Cat” airing this season. But as much as I would love to review that one, I usually don’t like reviewing on-going series, just in case I might have to change my rating. *Cough* The Golden Eyes *Cough*

Natsume Yuujinchou, by far, is one of the best anime I have ever watched. I eagerly wait for its new seasons and movies every year. (Thank God people actually pick it up for making next seasons rather than just letting it be (Skip Beat, I see you). I guess, it’s rather popular in Japan.

Everyone needs magic in their lives, and this one is the magic which can melt away all your worries and disappointments of the day and make you count your blessings in life. All you need is a hot chocolate, your warm bed and your laptop with this anime playing. What you’re going to read further is a rather long plot followed by a rave review, but it’s worth it, trust me.

Natsume Yuujinchou 2
Ah, the floof and the love and the happiness ❤

So, the anime is about this orphan boi Natsume Takashi who has power to see ayakashi and youkai (Japanese spirits and demons). He inherited it from his grandmother, Reiko Takashi. First season lays down his background and tells how he has to move from relatives to relatives because of his weird behavior as a kid. He would tell his foster families that there was an additional person in the house or would daze off into the space, much to the frustration of people around him. They would call him weird or creepy and sometimes, even question his sanity.

Finally, Natsume settles down with Fujiwara family who’re a childless couple and treat Natsume as his own. Initially, Natsume is distant from them, just in case they come to know of his ability and shun him as in the past. But he comes to realize that he truly cares for them and is hiding his abilities because he doesn’t want the youkai to hurt them.

Natsume Yuujinchou  3
Although, everything in this anime is lou, his foster family especially is all the feels

He inherits a powerful tool to control youkai called Book of Friends from his grandmother Reiko. Reiko was a lonely soul, ostracized by humans because of her ability, and hence, sought solace with youkai. She would challenge them in some kind of game and being powerful, ask them to give her their names on losing the game, thus obtaining absolute power over them.

Now Natsume takes upon him to return these names, because it’s a dangerous artifact, if it falls into the hands of any dangerous youkai or human alike. He has the aid of extremely powerful youkai called Madara (named as Nyanko-sensei by Natsume) who has promise from Natsume that he will get the book once Natsume dies.

Natsume Yuujinchou 4
Returning the names.

The story revolves around Natsume’s interaction with humans and youkai, him trying to find a balance between helping youkai and letting them be destroyed by humans since he had a rough childhood because of them. In the end, he realizes that he cannot really choose one and there are both good and bad youkai as well as humans.

Oh man, that plot took up so much space. And the anime spans 6 seasons and a few specials and movies as well. While it seems an arduous task to follow this anime, trust me, as soon as you get into it, you’ll experience the ultimate peace. From the OSTs to the soft coloring in the animation, everything is just mellow and peaceful and happy and just, life. The OSTs have been one of my favorite playlists and I listen to it whenever I am feeling down.

Natsume Yuujinchou 5
These two guys are friendship goals!!

Ah, I am melting away just thinking about it. But anyway, I only have praises for this anime. People whom I have recommended this anime had two extremely opposite reaction, either they really like it and felt really good after watching it, just like me, or they just couldn’t get into it. Some said it was too long, some said it couldn’t compare to Mushishi and hence, they dropped it.

I’ll urge everyone who wants to drop it or already has dropped it, to just give the whole first season try. If that doesn’t work, you really don’t have appreciation for slice of life anime T_T. Also, character development is too strong in this one. Not only Natsume evolves as the anime progresses, the characters around him do too, both humans and youkai. And their bonds too. At the end of the season, if you see all the youkai friends of Natsume gathered around him, you cannot help but cheer for him, and yourself for some reason lol.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6
Nyanko-Sensei who claims that he’s not a cat…

The only con I can think about it is the anime being too slow for some people. But that’s also the beauty of the anime. It’s made to make the audience slow down and reflect on life. That’s what slice of life is all about and this anime is the very definition of the genre.

Conclusion: As you can see from the review, I love the anime. There was a time I was watching it at least monthly to get through the tough times. Nyanko sensei is the most adorable character out there and you’ll fall in love with the oldie. The fur ball is also the comic element, so it’s not all serious or light-hearted. Don’t let the enormous number of seasons deter you. They all contain 13 episodes each, so it’s not that long. This marvelous piece of work needs more attention!

Final feelings: (o˘◡˘o)

Watch here: Crunchy roll has all the seasons. Start with first three here: Watch on Crunchyroll.

Personal front: I am late again today but I finally got my learner’s permit. Went to the same place. Good thing I went coz I was eyeing visiting this Payless Shoesource store. Sad that they’re closing down since I loved their collection. I went ahead and bought 4 pairs today. Guess I splurged too much but no regrets. I wanted to do my due, bidding goodbye to the chain. If I find some store not closing soon enough, I might buy more.

Anyway, time to learn driving soon and get that driver’s license. Been too long now.

In other news, I finally got a new module to work on at my company and have to start working with Arduino. Sounds exciting and I am waiting for my kit to arrive so that I can get into circuit building and stuff. I don’t have anything else to talk about tbh.

Since next Saturday is 5th Saturday of the month, it will be a full personal post. If you guys have any questions, comment below or send them to easasianlover@gmail.com. See you guys next week!

Today’s Song: Since this is Natsume Yuujinchou we’re talking about, time to post some cute OSTs. You will also get a feel of this anime through them:

Webtoon Reco: My Boo (투명한 동거)

My Boo 1

This week, I am recommending another short-sweet-love and slice of life webtoon from South Korea. It’s been very very long since I finished any manga/ manhwa/ manhua tbh.

I might review Barakamon when its last volume comes out late July. But otherwise, I’ll have to really dig out all the manga I have finished and probably read them again to review. I might actually do that someday but right now life is hectic and I will, perhaps, continue reviewing ongoing webtoons.

Webtoons are the craze these days anyway. Not only Naver’s original webtoons.com have it, but apps like Tapas and Tappy Toon have ever increasing collection. Not to mention, the Chinese webnovels being converted to colored webtoons have taken over the world by storm as well. People who’re already paying to read novels are now also engrossed in their respective webtoons, pouring in more money. *Cough Cough* Qidian is getting richer by the day… *Cough*

My Boo is the love story of a human girl and a ghost guy. When love transcends the boundary of dead and alive, that’s when you get My Boo. It’s not a new concept and I am following another webtoon these days on a similar theme called Ghost Wife.

My Boo 2
I ship ❤

Anyway, the protagonist of this story is a girl names Yuri So who can see the ghosts for some reason. She has had traumatic past with them and tries to avoid them as much as she can. She finds it hard to maintain a balance between her powers and her urge to help when she sees one in distress.

She works as a freelance translator and moves into a new house whose previous owner was our ghost, Jun Ko. He died in the house and is stuck there for past 3 years. First Yuri avoids him and outright rejects him just to not involve herself with him. But slowly she starts understanding him and herself and they become housemates in real sense, ultimately falling in love for each other.

My Boo  3
My Boo 4
I love the dialogue delivery too. Peaceful yet powerful.

What I like the most about this webtoon is how maturely it’s been written. Each chapter starts with a glimpse from Yuri’s past, especially her traumatic experience after which she decided not to involve herself with the ghosts.

It also gives the POV of both Yuri and Jun and how their feelings change for each other. With just 47 episodes, the story is fleshed out so well, I can just feel all the feels again. The emotions in this webtoon are so real and so relate-able, I just can’t. I ended up binge reading it again.

As I said, you can just feel it all with just two characters. Like the whole 47 chapters is majorly with just two characters. OMG, I have whole new level of respect for the author Jeongseo. How can they make something so good with just two characters? You can feel Jun’s helplessness when he can’t save Yuri from falling from stairs or when he can’t drive her to hospital like her ‘human’ friends or when he can’t touch her or when he can’t hold her.

My Boo 5
I feel so helpless just reading this one dialogue, dammit!

Same for Yuri, she can’t save him. She can’t bring him back. She can’t help falling for him either. But fate has something else for them. Their interaction is so fluffy, so awkward initially and turning into sweet moments later. Anyway, I’ll warn beforehand, this webtoon has a bittersweet ending, one which would make you cry and smile at the same time.

And the next best thing about the webtoon is art. Realistic, simple, cute and just amazing. I wish I could draw like that. There is also a 3-D effect about it. The author has real understanding of angles and perspective. Since Jun can pass through objects, most of the scenes need to be presented from unusual angles and I personally feel that Jeongseo-nim has done an excellent job regarding that.

I don’t really have anything negative to talk about. I loved the webtoon to the core.

Conclusion: Giving this like 110/10, highly highly recommended from me. It’s max 2 hours read and is so very engrossing. It has a rating of 9.77 at webtoons.com!!! So, it’s just not me lol. Also, forgot to mention earlier, it also has cute cats. Now I want a boo of my own.

Final feelings: (❤ω❤)

Read here: My Boo on Webtoon for free

Personal Front: I had a very rude awakening this week. So, I was telling some juniors of mine how since they’re in college, they should not be wasting time like how I did and they really have golden opportunity right now and of course I was rambling on and on. It’s actually become a habit to be lecturing those people because I thought I cared and didn’t want them to repeat the mistakes I did but well. And one of them really opened my eyes.

So, if I, as a person who’s like perhaps 6 years senior to those kids, tell them stuff like this, I am acting like their parents and lecturing but if another person who’s just 1-2 years senior to them says exact same thing, they listen. I realized two things then and there: the power of peers vs. anyone else and plight of parents.

We listen to our peers because we think that they relate more to us and understand us better while blaming our parents for generation gap yada yada. I do admit that parents’ way of telling us about adulting might not be the nicest and their advice might not really be suitable for the current economy and circumstances and times etc., but we can always mold their advice to suit ourselves. I guess I would be paying more attention to my parents’ teachings and try to understand them more from now on. Thanks for the valuable lesson whoever the person was.

In other news, I might have to update my last review for the Golden Eyes because the plot went downhill way too fast. After 18th episode, I am so frustrated but I cannot drop it because I have seen further trailers and they’re yet to tell the secret behind the power. Aarrghh, such decisions in life, I tell ya!

Today’s Song: I don’t remember if I have posted this song before but I am back to listening to this song since I have been watching Lay’s drama:

C-Drama Review: The Golden Eyes (黄金瞳)

Edit: Updated the review to rant about it. The earlier review was till ep 12 and I really liked the concept till then, although there were flaws. 50 eps later, I am so disappointed that I can’t even bring myself to watch the finale. But I have read enough spoilers to know what happens and hence can complete this review. Also, note that I have changed it from reco to review unfortunately.

Updated Review

Okay people, results are in and the verdict is that this drama sucks. From plot being all over the place to less to no character development, I am just honestly so sad for this drama. It had great potential. At this point of time, I can’t even say if it had an excess of episodes and they stretched the story quite a bit or if there were too few episodes that they could’ve done better if they gave time to each character. I am just speechless at the bad quality of plot.

For plot, please read the original review below.

As I have said in some later post, I hate it when the scriptwriters think of the audience as fools. In this story, anything and everything happens. One moment the MC is acting so foolish that the truth is laying before him but he refuses to believe it, the other moment, he becomes so intelligent that most villainous person cannot escape his schemes.

The villains in this story are so torn between their feelings for MC (our typical kindest guy you’ll ever see) and their greed that they cannot really choose a side till the end. One can argue that it’s the actual human nature but in the end you have to choose a side. And till the end, you just cannot make out what’s gonna happen with whom.

My Google search terms tell me that there is a novel for this series and I would really like to read it to know if the drama did justice to the novel or not. If they did, then I am sorry to say, but please choose better plots to convert to drama.

Anyway, as I said, I am quite disappointed by the fact that Zhang Yixing would choose such a lacking script. If he did it just because the MC follows the same life philosophy as him, then I am sorry, gonna stay away from his other dramas from now. I personally think the producers of this drama were trying to ride the wave of popularity of media related to tomb raiding. And they probably succeeded because a lot of reviews I read on Viki really appreciate the drama.

Heck it doesn’t even look like tomb raiding because you cannot find a single cobweb in the tombs shown in this drama. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE? Those tombs are supposed to be laying there for thousands of years. If you can show blood sucking creatures there, how come the paths to the tombs are without any spiders even? Common sense?

I really appreciate adaptations of Daomu Biji series (The Mystic Nine, The Lost Tomb and The Tomb at the Sea) for this. They at least took care of such details, even if their graphics were lacking. The Tomb at the Sea is doing great in that aspect as well. Although that is another series I need to rant about.

But seriously, my rating fell from 7/10 to -100/10. Please do not watch if you cannot bear plot holes. Oh wait, this plot in itself is a hole, a black hole of frustration.

Actually, you know what, the whole premise itself is something that I don’t understand. The rich heiress sent thieves in a pawnshop to steal a worthless piece of jade. This is the first episode. The jade breaks and injures our MC giving him the golden eyes. If the girl was so rich, she could’ve just bought it. Why send thieves. OMG, what a realization!!

So, in the end, only good thing about the series remains the identity of actual villain. You just won’t ever imagine that they were the people behind whole drama in MC’s life. Anyway, I’ll directly skip to last episode maybe and watch it at 4x speed just for myself, that I actually finished the series lol. Read for the plot and everything else below. I’ve edited my conclusion and final feelings section as well. And I would really like to apologize to people who read my earlier review and started the series already.

Original Review

I was trying to refrain from posting the review before the drama was fully released. B-but I just could not stop myself. As I said in my last post, my two tomb raiding posts are popular as ever. And I have been on lookout for similar kind of dramas and novels. And I am sure my readers are dying to find similar stuff as well.

Unfortunately, there is so much dearth of entertainment media like this. So, although this drama is still being subbed, putting my trust in Zhang Yixing’s fans, I decided to review this drama. Let’s begin.

I watched the trailer for the golden eyes in another C-drama I was watching last year. Well, it’s the combination of Zhang Yixing and oriental mystery, so why not.

Except that I completely forgot about it till now and stumbled across it again 4 days back. As expected, I finished 7 eps released in 2 days and have been following the releases since then. And of course, thoroughly enjoyed the marathon. However, the drama comes with its usual annoyances.

The drama follows Zhuang Rui (Zhang Yixing), a simple and naive worker at a pawnshop, who has a degree in history and archaeology from Peking University. One day, some people broke into his employer’s shop and tried to steal an antique piece in shape of the eye made out of jade stone. By accident, the piece shatters and injures Zhuang Rui’s eyes, only to gift him with the golden eyes, eyes that can see through everything.

He ends up using his newly found power to do antique and jade business, archaeologically exploring tombs and learning about stuff along the way and meeting all sorts of people; people, who seem friends but might not really be and vice versa as well.

Those pretty ❤

He also gets to know about his long lost family it seems. Apparently, there should exist a dragon clan where two people also possess the same pair of eyes, but they haven’t been introduced till 11th episode, so I cannot say. (Edit: no dragon clan till 50th episode, sorry.)

Now, the plus points. I really enjoy Zhang Yixing’s acting (not a new thing, I guess my readers must have become accustomed to it by now). The story has been okay so far, slow to develop but the mystery is still there and the characters are developing slowly but at a good pace.

Graphics have been great despite it being an iQiyi drama. And music is absolutely fantastic, background music goes so well with the situations and some of the trot songs used are such honey to the ears.

And I also like the subtle comedy the drama puts in between which doesn’t look too forced given how serious some situations can become when the main villain and the protagonist interact. Oh yeah, this drama also has a lot of face slapping. Since our Zhuang Rui sees it all, he doesn’t give any face to the cheaters in the business.

But, as I said, the drama is not devoid of its flaws as C-dramas usually all have. First is some of the poorly written characters, especially females. There is this policewoman who is always on Zhuang Rui’s case for some reason. I see this character becoming the main love interest of Zhuang Rui in future.

But for now, the character is absolutely trash. The lady, despite being a policewoman has absolutely no skills of a detective. It seems to be a character there just for the sake of it. I hope they give her some more substance otherwise she’ll just remain as an annoying b**** despite having such a great potential.

The other female character, Bing Bing, she’s supposed to be heir to some very rich person, but she doesn’t exude that charm or elegance of a rich heiress at all. All she does is give orders to this one underling and just overall, trying to avoid the villain guy who’s set to make her his girlfriend. Like please give her something else to do, eh?

Same with all the professor characters. They’re not annoying but might use some more development. Since I am writing the review based on 12 episodes out of 56, I do hope my wish comes true. And that they properly finish the story this time rather than hanging us audience with the hopes of a second season that would never happen. I will make sure to update this review once the drama finishes.

Conclusion: Changing from original highly recommended to don’t watch it for your sanity. It might satiate people still struggling with withdrawal symptoms from The Mystic Nine and The Lost Tomb (I do hope they sub the sequel in Lao Jiu Men series, The Tomb of The Sea soon). But this drama pales in comparison to other two (and I really did not like The Lost Tomb that much either, trust me).

You would only like it if you can ignore the plot and just wanna look at Zhang Yixing’s acting in the main role, supposedly action. I personally felt like it was a waste of time to invest myself in this drama. Do comment how you would rate it.

Final feelings: (◣_◢)

Watch here: The Golden Eyes on Viki

Personal Front: I am running late with the schedule again! Actually, I went for getting my driving learner’s permit today, and it being a weekend, there was just too much crowd at the center. And I didn’t even get it because I still don’t have my new authorization card. Ugh, life is tough in another country. And I really wanted my learner’s permit today so I could practice driving and get my license by the end of the month TT_TT

Anyway, since I and my friend went too early in the morning, I came back and slept for like 4 hours. I could have prepared my post in advance, but last few days have been really hectic somehow. It’s the tax season in US and so it’s been more busy. Gathering all the documents, ensuring everything is in correct order and then sending them away is not easy after all. I hope all my US readers get huge tax refunds.

I don’t think I have anything really exciting to tell other than I almost got my learner’s driving license but just at the last stage, I could not. See you guys next week then!

Today’s song: I got one from the drama and really really love it: