Saturday, November 17, 2018

Where Stars Land, Part Deux

Decided to do a new post instead of continuing on the old one. Why? I dunno. It's Thursday. Anyway. Just finished episode 6 and finally saw a glimmer of hope for the female lead. It's the first time she wasn't utterly useless.
...
And...had to do some other stuff and have now also watched episode 7 and 8 while I was on the elliptical at the gym.

Kinda wish I had finished writing up what I was going to originally as now my thoughts are a little more evolved. In episode 6 you finally get also get a glimpse at what's up with Soo Yeon and why he's the way he is -- a motorbike accident while he's chasing after his big brother (another stiff dude at the airport that I haven't really liked since his first appearance). And you get this:

Whoop! There it is.
Er...what? He's got a freaking steampunk arm! I dunno what's up with that. I was expecting maybe a robot arm or something, not some odd steampunk thing. So I am intrigued by this in a WTF sort of fashion. It just seems out of left field. And is the dude that fixes his arm also Yeo Reum's father or does he just look a bit like him (...I'm too lazy to go back and locate the scene that shows the dad, so I guess I'll find out later)?

Anyway...episodes 7 and 8...this show really does have a different rhythm to me than a lot of Kdramas that I've watched so far. We see that Soo Yeon, who had been set up to be the rather taciturn, no expression trope of a dude, is interested in Yeo Reum, far before she really has any particular interest in him beyond friendship and curiosity. Even though so much screen time is given to the female lead, I find his story more compelling and interesting.

However, it does fall into the "how many disasters can happen to one person" thing. The last couple of episodes have literally gone from escaped passenger denied entry into country desperately attacks Soo Yeon to Yeo Reum's mother coming in on a flight THAT SAME NIGHT and the engine catches fire, probably from a bird strike.

Statistically, this is utter bollocks. Forbes says:
Of the roughly 87,000 flights per day in the United States, on average only one or two experience significant enough engine problems to cause the pilots to shut down one engine. In all cases today, commercial planes are capable of continuing to fly on one engine over land.
And this from The Telegraph:
When a bird flies, or is sucked into, the engine of a plane, the poor critter usually disintegrates. However, in incidents with larger birds there can be extensive damage to the engine. “Losing one engine is not going to cause an aircraft to crash because they are designed to fly with one engine down,” said Landells.
Assuming that's pretty typical across the world, the chances of all of this happening on this particular flight are so astronomically slim. Anyway. I know. I should suspend disbelief. It just bugs me when shows pack one disaster after another all in a row (and remember, this is a 1/2 hour show). At least give me a montage to show a passing of time. Something.

But, overall, I'm enjoying it. I like Soo Yeon and the growth he's already shown. There's hints of a love triangle developing that I'm not sure about (Yeo Reum's friend who also works at the airport) but, yeah, okay, I guess you gotta thrown in some angst other than what Yeo Reum's bad luck/attitude cause.

Edit: Okay...barrelled on through a number of them and am up to episode 19. Like pretty much every Kdrama I've watched so far, it's got the "oh, look, it's a random coincidence. Really!" thing happening. And, while you kinda feel like a lot has happened in the last ten episodes or so...in some ways, not really much has actually occurred.

I'm not gonna do a play by play because I'm sick. Fever. Chills. Sore throat. Nose I can only breathe out of 1/2 of. Which is also why I'm so much farther along. Can't think to do anything else. Have no energy. Can't breathe at all when I lay down. 

Anyway. I guess I'm overall still liking it. I have quibbles. Mostly, why is the step-brother (half brother?) such a complete wanker? I don't get his motivation? It seems to be "your existence inconveniences me, so I want you gone"? And why are the prosthetic devices such a huge secret? Besides the whole, why would people care if it got out, wouldn't they be a huge medical advancement? Why the secrecy exactly? Not sure I'm buying the reasoning behind all of that, which is kinda hard when so much of the drama/angst is based entirely on him needing to hide it.

But I do like Soo Yeon. And the friend guy. Feel kinda bad for both of them, to be honest.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

A special kind of tired

It's before 10 AM. I am desperate tired. I'm not entirely sure why. I was up a bit late last night but not super late. We'd gone out to dinner with friends we hadn't seen in probably 10 years (or more) and had a bit of wine, but not too much. Up at 6:30. Boy to school. Petrol in the car. Grocery store for dinner. Coffee. But somehow I am the dog end of tired like I haven't slept for two days. And it's chilly out and I want to just curl up in bed.

But there are things to do.

The dog isn't helping. He's over in the corner snoring.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Pushing the button

So. Just finished filling out the paperwork to renounce my citizenship and scanned all the documents and filled out the email and...pushed the button. Sent.

It's a bit surreal.

The mid-term elections were held yesterday in the US and tons of my friends on FB and Twitter are all posting about their I Voted! stickers and the results (good, bad, ugly, etc.).

But, for me, this is the first time that I didn't vote. I knew I was going to fill in all the paperwork and give up my rights. Sure, I could have voted as I'm still a citizen at this point, but it kinda didn't feel right to do it when I knew I was a short timer. Maybe I should have anyway, though my vote would have been in Florida and I honestly don't think it would have made a difference. I know, I know, every vote counts.

But.

I think I thought it would feel weirder pushing the button and sending it off into the ether. But I had my cry about it when I debated it and now it just kinda feels...empty.

Is empty the word? Maybe not. It is what it is.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Where Stars Land

So, it's Halloween and the little dude has a friend over for a playdate. We're off tomorrow to Dublin (a friend is watching the dog). I've finished all of the paperwork for little dude's school stuff. I've done the packing. Made a cottage pie for a family that recently lost the dad at little dude's school. Washed all the clothes. Decorated pumpkins. Answered emails. So I had about 1/2 hour and a bit to waste. Thought I'd watch a Kdrama episode. But Shopping King Louie episodes are an hour long and I didn't quite feel in the mood for 20th Century Boy and Girl again. So...er...I started a third drama. Am I bad? Yes, yes I am.

I think Where Stars Land is an ongoing one, which isn't necessarily what I should have done, but for some reason it appealed to me today and the episodes are only 30 minutes long on Viki. It might be because I saw a clip of the show on Facebook the other day featuring some of the secondary characters and I liked it.

Han Yeo Reum (Chae Soo Bin) is not a model employee. After finally landing her dream job at Incheon airport, she's been transferred to different departments because she's apparently got a temper. The write up says she "is a bubbly new passenger service agent at the airport who is eager to do her best. But her clumsy nature makes her a threat to herself and the passengers." but when watching it, that doesn't really seem like the case. She's not particularly bubbly or clumsy. She was moved on for swearing at customers and roundhouse kicking someone. She's late for her first day of work, even though a friend/brother/someone? calls her to make sure she's awake. Honestly, not sure so far why I should be rooting for her...but hopefully she gets a good character arc. She's the type to always get lost and never ask for help.

On the way to her first day in her new department (Customer Service support of some kind), she has a chance encounter with Lee Soo Yeon (Lee Je Hoon). A magnetic one. No, really, I mean that literally. Like, the compass she wears around her neck gets stuck to his arm. The Viki description says that his dream was to be a pilot but he has poor eyesight and now works in "General Planning" in the same department as Han Yeo Reum. And he has a secret. They're the two romantic leads based on the photos/title page. So far she doesn't like him much but, hey, I don't like her much at this point either.

All we as viewers know about him as of the end of the first episode is that he's a bit of a silent, deadpan type and doesn't have any friends in particular. And now he's been assigned to act as a watchdog/supervisor over Yeo Reum even though he's only worked at the airport for a couple of months, so he's competent, if not well-loved. I do like deadpan guys, especially when they warm up later on, so we'll see. There are hints that his secret might have something to do with super strength, which would be a bit weird, but meh, okay.

I honestly have no particular opinion after watching the first episode. It could turn into something good or it could fizzle. There's not really enough to go on yet to form an opinion. More after I watch some more episodes. I have hopes as the rating is over 9 on Viki. That's usually a good sign.

Edit: Have watched through four now. Hmmmmmm. She's definitely my least fav female lead so far. Really. She's terrible. Bad at her job. Judgemental. Quick to anger/argue. Chip on her shoulder. No obvious reason for her to act the way she does, as we know very little about her past other than that she was a bad student and didn't go to a good university. Seems lazy. Always looking for a shortcut. Doesn't listen. Basically, always does the wrong thing and then gets pissed when it doesn't go her way.

The only reason I'd say I'm still watching it is that a) it doesn't seem to be following a typical Kdrama structure and b) I'm curious about the male lead, though we also know precious little about him as well at this point. Super strength aka Strong Woman Do Bong Soon? Just a metal/bionic arm? Some kind of secret past? Military training? Taciturn but goodhearted. Wants to hide but can't help but help people. He's sort of the antithesis of the girl, which is, I imagine, the point. But, as a viewer, I don't see why you would want to inflict her on him. There doesn't seem to be any benefit in it.

I get the feeling this is one that, if I finish it, it won't be because of the romantic aspect.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Shopping King Louie


So, for whatever reason, I just wasn't in the mood to watch another episode of 20th Century Boy & Girl (though I do think I'll finish it). I wanted something silly after spending a couple of days churning through other people's manuscripts (other than the one I did for my third publisher, a bunch of friends and I decided to kick off a proper crit group rather than just meet/work like we normally do and our first meeting is tomorrow, so I've read through 15K words for them). Anyway, arguably the silliest looking thing on my list (other than the Weightlifting Fairy one) was Shopping King Louie.

And it is, indeed, fairly goofy though, to be fair, a lot of serious stuff has happened in the first episode already. Louie of the title is the sheltered grandson of a wealthy shopping heiress. After losing her husband and child (Louie's parents, when he was young) and receiving a dire prediction that he'd be in danger if he hung around her, Kang Ji Seong (Seo In Guk) aka Louie has been living a super rich lifestyle in France while she is in Seoul. Basically, he shops and stays safe. It's a lonely life. He really doesn't have any friends and has definitely never experienced romance. Instead, he has a butler who has been like a father figure to him. When his grandmother collapses with pneumonia, Louie rushes to be by her side.

He doesn't seem like a bad guy, per se, just that particular type of clueless rich chaebol who doesn't know any better and has never had a chance to grow up. Coincidentally, while watching TV at around the midpoint of the episode, he watches a documentary about a girl from backwoods Korea that is the heroine of the show and is intrigued. You see, he has an eye for things -- in shopping, that means he can immediately pick out the best of the best, the rare, etc. So we know she's the one.

Though, considering what he buys in the shopping spree they show, that means that my taste is definitely not chaebol richy-rich. It was mostly hideously ugly jewelry crusted with diamonds. Ahem. Anyway.

The girl is Go Bok Sil (Nam Ji Hyun), a very sweet young lady who had been living in the middle of nowhere without electricity or anything fancy in order to take of her aging grandmother. Her younger brother had also lived with them but had taken off for Seoul after he got a taste of big town life when his sister had been the subject of that backwoods Korea documentary (which had shown her digging up herbs, etc. -- one sweet note here...in the documentary, she makes a comment about how the one thing she really wishes for is a refrigerator because everything has to be made fresh every day. Louie, watching it, immediately tells his butler to buy a refrigerator and send it to her, though the butler then has to explain they don't even have electricity and it's a documentary, not a charity show--at any rate, I think, at least, it's to show that his character isn't intrinsically a rich asshole).

Right after she finds a large 50 year old rare wild ginseng, she comes home to discover that her grandmother has died. Here's some of the dark I was talking about. So she packs a single bag of stuff + the wild ginseng (which is supposed to be worth up to 5000 won) and heads off to the big city to try and find the only family she has left. Her brother. There's one brief clip of him shown hanging on to the back of a speeding moped.

On the train ride there, Bok Sil offers a rice ball to a granny in the seat across from her. Evil granny pretends to choke on it and sends our naive girl off to get water from the next car. As the train stops, granny apparently steals her bag (i.e. everything she has, except for the wild ginseng tied around her waist) and vamooses. Bok Sil goes to the police once she arrives in Seoul, but they are not super helpful and she doesn't even have a mobile phone for them to contact her on. She's penniless.

As she sits, forlorn, in the train station, wondering what to do, she spots Cha Joong Won (Yoon Sang Hyun). He looks rich. He also has one of those ridiculous pencil thin moustaches that make him look like a teenage boy that just started to be able to grow facial hair and won't shave it off even though it's so sparse it looks more like he's left bits of dirt on his face than anything else. Omo! I'm having a hard time taking him serious as an actor in this. Erm.

We've seen him before, actually. He's a relatively high up dude in the shopping conglomerate owned by Louie's grandmother (oh, look, an unlikely coincidence as two main characters meet!) and is one of those generally correct, but socially asshole-ish guys who shows no particular kindness to anyone. Earlier, we also saw his mother and father delivering food to his fancy apartment and going Oh, woe! He never eats the side dishes I bring him! and her searching his apartment with sweeping laser vision Help me find evidence he's ever brought a woman here! Oh woe! How can he be nearly 40 and with no hope of getting married?!

We also see him on a date in Busan, where he's basically insulting to his blind date his mother set up, saying she's too pretty and looks like a doll. That's where he's coming back from and I suppose it is telling that he sees Bok Sil and thinks who is this swarthy woman? Because she certainly doesn't look like a doll. Not sure that swarthy was the right translation, but she does look healthy and normal and not delicate.

She tells him her sob story and asks him to buy her wild ginseng (ah, now we understand why she was looking for well-dressed people). They argue back and forth about it, him not even sure why (it's not like he was looking to buy some wild ginseng from some random girl), and it winds up with him giving her a fraction of it's worth and saying he'll pay the rest once he gets it appraised. He gives her his phone number as she doesn't have a phone.

At the very end of the episode, we see Bok Sil run over to someone she thinks is her brother from behind, as they are wearing a unique tracksuit (he'd bought a knock off one, whereas Louie had bought the original, most expensive one). It's a dirty, disheveled Louie. If I hadn't read the show description, I'd have no idea what's going on as they drop that on you out of nowhere, but it's because he suffers some kind of accident after getting off his plane (his first time flying by himself!) and has lost his memory.

So, yeah, this is going to be one of those shows with ridiculous coincidences. It's also got the silly sound effects and I think it's gonna be predictable as all hell BUT I was in the mood for something just weirdly silly and not taxing, so I'm okay. I think I've just got to be in the mood to go along with these kinds of shows.

Yeah, dude, I'm horrified too. I can barely look at you.
I do really hope the one guy shaves though. I mean, seriously, is there anyone that finds that attractive? I'm sure he's a lovely man when he doesn't have something crawling across his face and has a better hair cut...though based on a Google image search, he often has it (though better hair often helps). Why, dude? Why? And, finally, an actor who is actually older than me. But, man. Urk.

Will edit once I've watched more (though am not gonna do full on recaps...this post is already kinda long for a show that I think I'm going to like but not love).

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Comic Con

The little dude and I went to Comic Con yesterday. We hadn't been in a few years because we've been out of town or busy but this time we were around -- at least for the Friday session. So we went. It was good to go without the husband, actually, as we could take our time and wander instead of being rushed around and then leaving early (he doesn't do well with crowds and he's not nearly as into the geeky/otaku stuff as we are). Much more relaxing. We had a lot of fun and spent too much money and I think we both wish we could have gone another day (but today we're hosting a D&D game at our house, so that's out anyway).

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I did the last time we went on a Saturday as we didn't see as many amazing costumes, but I did get a few. One guy I really loved -- pretty sure he was doing something from Tokyo Ghoul (which I haven't read/seen but know the basic storyline) but he had the best hair. He looked perfect. If it was a wig, it was a good one. He wasn't the best costume that I saw -- that might have been the guy dressed as Aquaman (though I didn't manage to get a picture of that as he was in a crowd) but I just liked his whole vibe. So I had to ask for a picture when I ran into him the second time. I imagine he was thinking, yeah, okay, old lady. But whatever.

I regret not bringing a wheelie bag to cart around all the stuff we bought. Mostly it was the Bleach manga box set that killed me. They were half price from the publisher and we couldn't resist. It's going to be little dude's November book allowance in one go. But, man, that sucker was heavy. I thought my hand was going to fall off. But they did throw in a My Hero Academia bag, a bracelet, and a poster, so that was a bonus.

We also found DVD sets of all of Nisekoi, which we'd been looking for. Forbidden Planet has season 2, but not season 1 and for a pretty pricey price. We got them for £5/£8 each. Deal! And we found Kamisama Kiss on DVD as well...bit more expensive, but Max really wanted them. But another deal on Bakuman, which I didn't even know was made into an anime. We haven't even read that one yet, but it's been on our list. And, finally, the indulgent purchase that we shouldn't have made...the limited edition Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun set with the anime + the soundtrack. The anime is still on Crunchyroll, so we really didn't need to buy it, BUT it is our fav show of all time. So...

Also met a few TokyoPop authors and bought some manga from them. Hadn't planned on it originally, but one of them was offering chibi portraits for only £5 and little dude really wanted to get one done. It was adorable and well worth it. So we bought some books as well. The books look good. And interesting to me personally as I didn't think TokyoPop was doing a lot anymore. I remember when the Twelve Kingdoms (not manga, but a novelisation) came out in English years ago and what a surprise it was. A violent one, at that. Anyway, will have to look into what they are up to now.

Other than that, randomly found a stall in the Asian section that was selling Korean face masks so YAY! They have a subscription service and I may have to do it...I bought one of their boxes and they threw in a makeup bag and some other stuff. I actually tried one last night and it was good. Am I jumping on a bandwagon? I don't care. I like them.

Anyway. Rambling post. I really enjoyed going to Comic Con with the little dude. Wish I'd thrown together a cosplay for myself, but as we only decided to go on Tuesday, I was happy we were able to throw something together for the little man. We only bought one thing (some glasses). He went as the steampunk version of himself...not a character or anything, but just steampunk in general. He looked awesome, especially considering that it was random bits (literally, we made a bandolier out of the hubby's old leather laptop bag strap). He was so proud of himself.

And I--man, it was just so nice to be surrounded by people who are into the same stuff that I am. Like, you don't feel weird. It's normal there. I miss that in my life. That I could be walking around and see people dressed up as somewhat obscure characters and go, hey! Elias and Chise! And they smile because you're sharing something. When I post photos on Facebook, other mums and friends comment on it about how fun it all looks, but it's from an outsider perspective...like they are viewing it as tourists do...not understanding any of it, but thinking oh, that looks kinda weird but cool...how strange it all is. Whereas I feel at home.

As an example...at one point, while little dude was standing in a crowd trying to win a raffle prize from Crunchyroll, I collapsed onto the ground near some 20-something. Oi, my feet hurt. I'm not even sure what she was dressed as, but she had great blue hair. We had a nice chat. We weren't into the same fandoms as far as I could tell, but we talked about the stuff we'd seen and bought and the costumes and...it was nice. We were speaking the same language. It didn't matter that I'm probably twice her age or that we weren't into exactly the same stuff.

Or when little dude was trying out the new Super Smash Brothers game at a big stand and I got into a gaming discussion about different platforms, etc. with the guy that was supposed to be timing them and the guy was so into talking about it with me that little man wound up getting an extra go. And I'm old school -- I don't really play on console systems. But I can talk about game theory and styles and hold my own.

Anyway, it was a good day. Even if the husband did get annoyed because we didn't get home until nearly 7. It's a pity that the Excel centre is way over in East London and we live in the West. He's a bit of a grumpy bastard when he hasn't had enough sleep. But I wouldn't have cut it short. Little dude had such an awesome day and I didn't want to leave until he was ready to go. Me too.

Our Private Homeroom: Shuya

So...the other free route that they posted in Love 365 was for Shuya (the old childhood friend turned teacher at your school) in Our Private Homeroom.

This is that series that I really didn't think I'd like much based on the setting BUT the MC is actually 18 AND probably the best heroine in any of the Voltage stuff. I like her attitude and her sass. Sigh. I really wish they'd write some older characters with as much...er...character as this one has.

Anyway, to sum up -- you're a student in your last year of high school and your mom has gone off to another country for her job. You stayed behind and were supposed to move into an apartment on your own but through circumstances beyond your control, that falls through and you're literally out on the street with nowhere to go. Shuya, your old childhood friend and new teacher at your school, saves the day by taking you in.

He's a bit controlling and overprotective, but it's from a good place and even your mom agrees that it's okay for you to live with him. As you stay there, you are struck by the two Shuyas: the strict teacher at school who keeps students at arm's length but obviously cares for them, and the overprotective friend you've always known. You soon start experiencing "flutters" when you're around him and can't quite figure out why.

Much of the route is taken up with a male friend of yours from high school named T-something-or-other who obviously (only to the reader and Shuya) likes you. Shuya even somewhat encourages you to date this guy, who is very nice in this route, even though it's obvious (to the reader and the other guy) making him jealous. To be fair, even though I knew it wouldn't happen, I was rooting for the other guy. He makes more sense, he was nice, he was caring, he wasn't an inappropriate choice, and it almost seemed like they had more charisma together than Shuya and the MC. That's partly the fault of having Shuya resist until the very end, I suppose.

The other main stress in the route is that, apparently, Shuya left his last school under a cloud of suspicion about his relationship with a student. Come on, Voltage. Can you not think of any other storylines for your school teacher/student stories? He's not guilty, per se, though his fault lay mainly in not actively discouraging the girl because she was "fragile." Anyway, for me, I was annoyed at this storyline. Really didn't think it was necessary.

 So...it was okay. Shuya's not a bad guy. The route was decent but not amazing. In this scenario, I'd actually thought the childhood friend trope thing would work out better, but I enjoyed Ryota's story more and found that romance more believable.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Forged Wedding

Damn you, Voltage. There I was, after 11:30 at night, about to put my phone down and go to sleep. And then I realised I hadn't yet checked in to Love 365 to get my free daily coins (or the random heart that I can't figure out what to do with). So I sign in and think, heh, I'll check and see if there are any new free routes posted.

Bastards.

I didn't get to sleep until nearly 1.

They had to go and post a free route for one of the ones I've been wanting to read for a long time. Actually, two of my favourite heroines...the one from My Forged Wedding and Our Private Homeroom (the latter being one I was surprised to like). But I'd been waiting on Ren for ages and had almost bought his story a number of times. The biggest thing stopping me was I was afraid he'd turn out like that wet blanket Seiya from When Destiny Comes Knocking. That route had literally made me cancel my Love 365 subscription for a couple months. Burn it with fire. Seriously.

See, I like the silent types so long as they ACTUALLY COMMUNICATE AT SOME POINT.

Okay. I'll stop complaining about Seiya now. Let's talk about Ren.

As in all these routes, you're newly arrived in the big city and your "Uncle" is supposed to help you out in finding a job, etc. All of his friends want help with a favour. You pick Ren to help, maybe because he seems quiet and unthreatening. So, what is this favour? You're supposed to go live with him and pretend to be his fiancé. They really draw out the reveal in this one (I don't really understand the purpose of that, unless it's just to pad the story...realistically (hahaha did I just use that word?) you'd think they'd want to prepare you for your role before you meet the people you have to convince).

Turns out Ren is a prince from a small European country and they want him to come back home. He'd promised he would if he didn't find a fiancé in 10 years. Don't think, honestly, he's ever tried as he's spent all his time researching. He wants to create a new drug and bring industry and prosperity to his people. He's almost at a breakthrough and about to get funding.

I'm going to completely ignore how all of the details about his job really don't make sense. I know too many people in that industry and in research. Anywho...

Daniel, Ren's butler, appears. You have to convince him. Complicating things is that he moves in next door and pops up unexpectedly. Expected hijinks ensue. Things come to a head when the royal family sets up an engagement party in their home country and you both have to attend. By this time, you're both in love but neither have either said it and/or realised it. But the guilt is all-consuming as you continue to lie to people with your heart not in it. In the end, after far too many realllllly long plane trips back and forth, you find each other and confess.

So, okay, the story is both typical and a bit weak in logic and logistics. And towards the end the writing even falls apart a bit and gets really clumsy. BUT I do really like Ren and how he gradually opens up. Love all the reactions from the rest of the guys when he starts acting "in love." He's a sweet, gentle dude and the scene with the kiss on the back of the neck was really nice. The MC is still feisty and loyal. So the lack of sleep was worth it. I may just need a nap later.

---------Below is what I'd previously written up about My Forged Wedding...decided to move it here from the massive Love 365 post so that it would all be in one place...this is definitely one of my more favoured storylines from the app----------

My Forged Wedding

You're looking for a job and you've traveled to whatever big city it is to visit your uncle (who isn't actually your uncle, thank goodness, since he's one of the route options) in hopes of finding work. Instead, you get roped into pretending to be someone's wife...

Things I like in general about this one: the MC is no fainting flower. She drinks sochu and is, at least in the bits I've seen, basically one of the guys in a lot of ways. Even though she gets roped into a weird situation, she's a fairly tough girl.

I started playing this one as the standalone app and it's now been transferred as well. I played Yuta's route in the original. He's a comedian and I have no idea why I picked him as he's honestly the least my type out of all the guys. I don't remember why. He needs you to pretend to be his ball-and-chain for a television show and you have to basically henpeck him on TV. He's pretty funny and sweet and I overall enjoyed his route, but I didn't like how he kind of disappeared towards the end (to create that separation anxiety in the plot, I suppose). And...he's kind of a puppy. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this route to other people, but it wasn't bad.

Then Yamato popped up as a free option once it got moved to Love 365 and I did his route. He's a teacher at an all girl's school and needs you to pretend to be his wife so he doesn't get fired. I enjoyed this one more than Yuta. Yamato's one of those guys that makes fun of you and is very bull-headed, but a softie on the inside. It just takes you a while to get there. My least fav bit is the stuff with the teenage student. The MC wasn't as strong in this route in some ways and caved a bit too much. But it all came together in the end and there's a bit more shmexy to this route than Yuta. Definitely.

This is Takao. He's freaking adorable.
That's not even his kid. He's like a cousin.
When the MC comes in and finds him like this,
she totally joins in the nap. Who wouldn't?
I also used my monthly pass to buy the Takao route. He's a lawyer and needs you to play his fiancé because his ailing grandmother has one last dying wish. Okay, he's my fav so far for this story. He's just so freaking nice. There's not a bad bone in his body. And his family is great too -- especially grandma, who has a ton of tricks up her sleeve. The MC is good in this one too and they both show themselves to be very caring people. Probably one of my fav Voltage routes. Still working my way through Sequel and Wedding Bells as I took some time out to do Sosuke. This is a cleansing route...meaning, even though there's the required minimum angst, you don't ever want to burn anyone with fire. It's nice, romantic, and sexy too.

It's routes like this one that make me not delete the Love 365 app. I'm sure there are people who prefer the "bad boys" and the sarcastically mean tsunderes and yanderes, but I'm not one of those people. I can get treated badly in real life.

I do also want to play through Ren (the Researcher -- no idea why he needs you to be his fake wife) because I actually like the kind of silent types as long as it isn't over done (I'm looking at you, Seiya)). Not sure about the others, a lot of which weren't even mentioned in the prologue, or the uncle character (because that just feels kinda weird).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

20th Century Boy and Girl

Not sure why this one is called 20th Century Boy and Girl when they are all supposed to be in their 30's (and actually are in real life)? But, no matter. Excited to watch something with actors closer to my age.


It's the story of three long-time girl friends, though it is pretty clear that Sa Jin Jin (Han Ye Seul) is the main character. Or maybe I should say four friends, because the main romance interest played by Kim Ji Suk (the one standing in the picture--his character is Gong Ji-Won) was also part of their high school group. At any rate, none of the three ladies ever got married though they are approaching the latter half of their 30's now. Sa Jin Jin is an actress/former Idol and very successful...but she's never dated. Han A-Reum (Ryoo Hyoun-Kyoung) is a flight attendant and Jang Young-Sim (Lee Sang-Hee) is a lawyer looking for a job.

I'm about to start episode 5 -- these are quick episodes at about 30 minutes long -- and so far the main thrust of the story is Sa Jin Jin being thrown into a couple of scandals through no fault of her own. I'm not going to do a re-hash of every bit of it. No time at the moment. Just going to talk about the highlights.

I started this one because it was on a list of 5 K-Drama Leads That Break The Toxic Bad Boy Trope along with Ahn Min Hyuk from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. And since Park Hyung Sik's character in that was the best thing in my week last week, I thought I'd give it a go.

So far I'd say it looks pretty decent. Acting is fine and not overwrought. Plot so far seems pretty straightforward and typical. You know darn well going in that Sa Jin Jin is going to wind up with Gong Ji-Won (and he totally seems worth it, already supporting her but not asking for anything in return). It seems sweet. I do very much like the good friendship between the three female leads -- it's supportive and realistic. I could use some friends like that. Anyone wanna be my new best friend? Heh. Also like that they aren't 20-somethings and, other than Sa Jin Jin's superstar status, seem pretty normal.

At the same time, I wouldn't say that this one has grabbed me so far. Like, I'm not anxious to get on to the next episode. Not that there's been anything wrong with it at all. So we'll see how that goes. More later after a few more episodes. There are 32 total so I've got a long way to go.

Edit -- About to start episode 7. Would've been farther along but have been busy (finished that Reader's Report on the manuscript for my third editor -- very torn on it...some really good elements but also felt the Egyptian worldbuilding a bit lax and the dialogue was anachronistically modern). Anyway...this show...welllllllll...still liking it but it's also got a very slow pace. Not really anything much has happened in the last episodes. Even though Sa Jin Jin and Gong Ji-Won have now run into each other multiple times (living in the same frickin' building) and they both SO obviously have some feelings for each other / memories...she's literally not said more than 5 words to him. Not sentences. Words. And three of those words were her saying his name the first time they ran into each other at the airport when he saved her. So...we'll see. I think (so far) that I like it enough to finish it unless it really goes off the rails as the actors seem good, but it would be nice if something, you know, happens...

Blog-diggity

I've created a monster. Ha, not really. My little dude started a blog yesterday so he can write up his thoughts on gaming, manga, and anime. He's having a lot of fun with it. His grammar is pretty atrocious at times, but he's funny. We'll see if he keeps at it. I think it'll be good for him. It was the first thing he went to this morning...before he even brushed his teeth. Which, yeah. We'll need to work on that...

Updated the about this blog/me page this morning. It seems there's someone(s) who reads this as the not-me pageviews do go up every day by a bit. I'm not sure where they've come from as I don't allow this blog to be indexed. So it makes me curious. I don't mind. I just find it interesting. My blog posts are mostly an explosion of randomness and meandering thoughts. Of course, it could just be weird random bots and not actual people. Hello, bots!

Though, if there is a real person out there, hiya! Feel free to ask questions or whatever. I suppose you could be someone from Reddit, since I have periodically posted links there. Haven't been super active lately though...just been lurking. I need to get back on there. Want to talk about Mitsunari finally being released in Ikemen Sengoku...

Other than that...It's half term break and we kicked it off with a Japan-ish theme by hunting for daifuku in London and consuming entirely too many wagashi and, in my case, matcha. Today we really need to work on little dude's school application stuff. I know it needs to get done but it is kinda soul destroying and tedious. We'd both rather watch anime all day...which reminds me, there's a bunch of anime notes I need to write up. We've watched a few lately I wanted to talk about. Does all isekai have to include too much fan service? Why is that a thing? Why??

Also got a bit of work from my third editor (the same one who wants the graphic novel proposal from me). I'm acting as a reader for her on a manuscript. They've expanded their list and need some help sorting through the slush. I started the manuscript and not sure how I'm feeling about it yet. The core idea seems good but the dialogue is anachronistic and a bit stilted and unsuitable for the setting, so it keeps pulling me out of the story. Also a fair few grammatical mistakes...which aren't necessarily a killer (that's what the copy edit phase is for) but does show a general lack of attention. Reserving judgement for now though as, if the plot/character works, the rest of that is salvageable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Irresistible Mistakes: Toshiaki

Ah, after the last free route on Love 365, I needed this one. I'd actually debated about buying this one before as I'd randomly taken a peek at Toshiaki's POV first chapter and really liked it. I enjoyed the heroine in this one more than in the Shunichiro route (though, to be fair, I thought she was fairly realistic in that route as she'd had such a crush on him for so long).

Let me back up. In Irresistible Mistakes, it all starts off with our erstwhile MC getting stinking drunk at an office outing, sleeping with someone, waking up in a hotel room and then getting the hell out of dodge in embarrassment. She's not sure who she was with. In this route, she has vague memories of someone super gentle and the best lovemaking she's ever experienced in her life. So she's shocked the next day at the office to discover that the man was Toshiaki aka The Devil of the office. He's got a reputation for being incredibly harsh and strict. She doesn't know him well, but she can't quite reconcile that with the gentle touch of the man she slept with.


This is one of those routes where you should read the Dude's POV. Stat.

She winds up (of course) placed on a project with him right after he insists that they act like the night never happened. She slowly comes to know him as a kind, gentle man who may be strict when it comes to work, but is also incredibly supportive to his colleagues. He goes out of his way, actually, even though most people talk about him behind his back.

I liked that she fell in love with him gradually as she learned about his true nature. And, that once she did, she wanted to help him out of the morass of his past because...blech...this is one of those dead girlfriend stories. Yes, the trope that should die a thousand deaths. I don't generally like those BUT I liked Toshiaki and the MC's relationship enough that it worked. 

I like that she was proactive and willing to put herself out there to hopefully win the recalcitrant dude. I like that she is competent and, even if she needs help sometimes, it's just a push in the right direction and not complete handholding.

That said, I took a peek at the overview of the other seasons of Toshiaki and I doubt I'll do any of them because it makes it sound like they keep going back to square one. I don't get why they do that a lot -- have the MC get through to the dude's heart and then things somehow regress and it's gotta be done all over again. I'd rather see things move on than to re-hash things again.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Who am I today?

I was just thinking about how uncomfortable I am in my skin. The skin I'm in (no, I haven't been drinking...though I did buy some Lucky Buddha beer and some sake at Wing Yip today). I almost never take pictures of myself anymore. So I thought I'd take a picture. Here's me today. 21st October 2018. Minimal makeup. The face I make as I sit and think while typing. Wearing a hooded Robin Hood-ish shirt I've had since I was eighteen. In front of the fireplace in my office. Bad lighting. Listening to K-pop, 'cause I'm all about the immersion.


Man, I feel old and ugly but, hey, there I am. 

Also today I am someone who has decided to give up on learning Japanese and I'm working solely on Korean instead. Just made more sense as my fav otome game is in Korean and most of what I've been watching is in Korean too. And hangul looks a bit easier...well...just a little. So I signed up with some website and have done two lessons today. I already know some words but have also figured out that some of them aren't actually pronounced how I thought they were. It's gonna take a lot of work.

I feel guilty that I'm not trying to learn Chinese instead. I only ever learned about three words from my mother and, at this point, I think I actually know more Chinese than she remembers. And all of that was Cantonese...not Mandarin...so it was pretty useless when we went to China. But I almost never watch stuff in Chinese now and there's nothing in particular I want to read in it and all my Chinese relatives live in San Francisco in a time zone so far removed from the UK that we almost never talk. 

And today I am lonely. I think I'm gonna go watch another Kdrama.

Our Two Bedroom Story: Tsumugu Kido

It's been awhile since I read any Voltage stories in Love 365. There hadn't been any free ones that appealed to me lately and I've been busy (you know, bingeing Kdramas). But some new ones came up and I thought, eh, what the heck. I've actually canceled my subscription to the app and have some un-read purchased stories already too...I think I'd been getting frustrated at the varying quality of the stories.

Anyway, this was probably not a good one to jump back in on. In general, Our Two Bedroom Story isn't my fav but it's also not my most hated either. Kind of in the middle. I don't mind forced cohabitation stories as a general rule. There can be some interesting hijinks there and I didn't remember the MC being too bad in this one. Did I do Minato before? I think so. It's been awhile. Probably pre-Love 365.

Nobody's laughing, Kido. You're not funny.
So, you're a journalist working on Chess Monthly or Weekly or whatever. You've also just moved into a house with a guy you don't know through some sort of sketchy connection with your new stepfather. His name is Kido and he's rude, slobby, moneygrubbing/cheap and speaks in a very non-sophisticated Kansai dialect. You get transferred into the Seasonelle magazine -- it's the happening place full of hot, capable dudes. Tsumugu Kido is headhunted and joins in at the same time as you. He's put together and kind of smarmy and you don't trust his smile. He makes bad pun jokes.

The MC is dumb as rocks this time.

Seriously. It takes her approximately forever (more than halfway through the chapters) to figure out that both the dudes named Kido are the SAME FUCKING GUY. Even when there's so much evidence pointing to it that a non-verbal toddler could figure it out. I mean, come on.

And Tsumugu, as one of the other guys points out, is totally tsun-tsun... He's a jerk. No dere. Even towards the end when he finally gives the MC some grudging compliments, he insults her at the same time.

I would have enjoyed this route more if there was one more ending option. Rather than just "good" and "happy" there should be a "you kick his ass and smack that smarmy jerkface smile right off of him" option.

But this MC has a serious mothering/saviour complex. She covers for him to the point that she somehow winds up wrecking her reputation (where the other guys on the team thinks she's picked up some random dude from off the street to sleep with while they are on some company retreat) rather than outing him.

So. Yeah.

Binge-fest

So, I finished Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and wrote up entirely too much on it in some kind of rambling not-quite-a-recap way. I started it on a Tuesday and finished it on Saturday and updated the post, like, ten times or something crazy. I blame it all on Park Hyung Sik.

Bizarrely, you'd think that I must be some kind of TV junkie with as many shows as I've been binge watching lately but I don't normally watch much TV at all. I don't usually ever watch anything during the day and then hubs and I watch 1 or 2 episodes of something a night from Netflix or Amazon Prime after little dude has gone to bed. Not kidding. Usually the TV stays off (or laptop or phone, as the case may be, as I'm watching sometimes on the Viki app).

Kind of scary to think of how many hours I've put into this lately. Before, it would have been books but I've mostly only been reading for research purposes lately. And I've been in the mood for romantic stuff for a while now (hello, otome and now Kdramas...). I did pick up a couple of romance novels, but nothing has grabbed me enough to even finish. I don't often read romances anyway...I have a very low tolerance threshold for throbbing bosoms and heaving manhoods.

My life lacks romance.

And I tend to binge things to distract myself when I am waiting for things to happen. The other shoe to drop. But the agent is due back home now and hopefully, hopefully that means the contract will be finalised and ready to sign soon and then I can shift myself back into "normal" life. I hate waiting. Give me a deadline. I will hit it. I want to get started on this project. Eep.

Meanwhile...eh...what am I going to watch next? Or maybe I should write up something on one of the otome games I'm still playing? I have given up on a few recently.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Little Things

3 Schools now applied for. Appeal forms started. Gym time done. Open afternoon at the school done. Playdate now in progress (not for me, haha). In geekish news, received my Mystic Messenger ring phone stand thing today from Aliexpress or whatever it is called. Silly thing, but it makes me happy. Plus, now I can more easily watch my Kdramas while I'm out...

Am I pathetic? Yes, yes, who cares.

Did have a lovely email this week from a fan in Germany (of my first two books). Always nice to hear, though I'm also always a bit sad when they ask where the third book is. There's never gonna be one. But, that's what happens sometimes, especially with the amount the second book in that series was pirated. If even a 1/3 of those people had bought it instead, there could very well be a third book.

But. Anyway. Nice to hear from someone. I don't get a monstrous amount of fan mail anymore as I haven't had a new book come out in a couple of years, so the trickle that comes in is really nice.

Also, I had chocolate salted caramel cake for lunch. And two lattes. But I did an hour and a half at the gym to make up for it. Which probably really didn't, but, man, I needed some cake. I'm having that general OMFG stressed feeling. Can't seem to shake it.

Still updating the Strong Woman Do Bong Soon post as I'm still watching that.

And worked on the graphic novel proposal. I really want to make two of the characters be Korean / half-Korean. With research, of course, as I'm half-Chinese and I refuse to get cultural stuff wrong. Not sure if it will work yet, but we'll see. I have a solid core of an idea for it anyway. Hope to wrap that up before the end of the month, but may go into next month as half term has now started.

...

Why am I feeling so discombobulated? I don't know. Just am. Sometimes I really wish I had a best friend. That person you can tell anything to. But I don't. I'm not really good at that. Which is, to be honest, why I still keep this blog. How long have I been writing this now, off and on? It's just for me, but sometimes, that's all there is. I mean, not that I don't have friends. I do. I just don't have friends I can tell random weirdness to. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jang Hyuk withdrawal and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Righty-o. So I decided to go back to Korean dramas because the two Japanese ones I just tried were...meh. (Plus the one I tried previously that I've forgotten the name of and only managed to watch two episodes of). Still waiting on my agent to get back from his holiday...he was due back Wednesday but there was some issue so he's stuck in some tropical foreign country until this weekend. So nothing going on as far as on the work front, other that the reading/research I'm still doing. Also working on little dude's school stuff and getting the paperwork ready to give up our US citizenship (eep). Kinda tired of filling out forms and doing filing though. So...

I wanted to watch something funny and thought another Jang Hyuk drama would be good. But the two I'd really love to watch, Fated to Love You and Bad Papa, aren't available in my region. Can't even buy the DVDs. Annoying. I watched one episode of Fated to Love You on YouTube but I don't like watching stuff that way (crappy quality and dubious legality). So...

I started Strong Woman Do Bong Soon because it was the funniest looking one on my follow list on Viki.


Only watched one episode so far -- at the gym...I'm encouraging myself to go by making it Kdrama time on the elliptical -- and it's pretty frickin' funny. Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young) comes from a family of freakishly strong women going back generations. But the tricky thing is that it comes with a curse. If any one of them mis-uses their strength for non-noble purposes, they lose it. It happened to her mom (who's a piece of work). Bong Soon is nearing thirty and has held on to her strength so far though she tries not to use it for a variety of reasons. Her twin brother does not have it. He's studying to be a doctor and seems to be doted on by the family while Bong Soon has had to make do working a variety of not-so-great jobs.

What she wants to do is be a game developer and create a character like herself. One day, while out rambling around, she comes across some gangsters beating up a bus driver in front of a bunch of kids. She tries to stay out of it and just report it to the police, but when more gangsters come out and gang up on her, she winds up taking them out. It's pretty funny. She also happens to be seen by Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik) who was passing by. Coincidentally (I'm going to forgive this, maybe, depending on how it pans out) it seems that he was once saved by her super strength while on a runaway bus, not that he realises it was her yet. He is the CEO of the company that she wants to work for and he winds up hiring her as his bodyguard because he has been receiving threats. She wants to wrangle that into an opportunity to become a developer. He is intrigued by her.

There's also her old high school crush, In Guk Doo (Ji Soo), who is a policeman. It seems there are murders/kidnappers going around in her neighbourhood. Obviously it's the classic love triangle. If I had to guess, she'll probably wind up with the CEO guy but, hey, who knows. They're both adorable. I don't even care.

The humour is really good so far and just what I needed. Here, in fact, is Ahn Mik Hyuk's assistant after engaging in a game of chicken with Do Bong Soon, right before he hits the wall:

The face of a man who sincerely regrets his life choices.
Will update after I've watched some more. I think I'll enjoy this one.

Edit: Episode 2: It's all gone a bit darker (murder! kidnapping! crazy dude in a rubber mask ala Silence of the Lambs-ish in a creepy dark basement with mysterious dripping noises) than I had anticipated and it kind of clashes with the bubbly cutesy-ness of the rest BUT still thinking this one will be good fun. Park Hyung Sik is absolutely ridiculously adorable to the point of he's too perfect to be a normal human. The leads are very funny together and I'm even more convinced now that he'll be the end dude. Cop friend Guk Doo (Gook? I've seen it both ways, so not sure which is right) is also a keeper. Can't wait to see when they turn that corner and Bong Soon is into his character because I think it'll be cringeworthy sweet.

Edit (episodes 3 & 4): the hubster went to bed early as he's still got jet lag so I got to watch two more episodes of Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. It's so ridiculous but I'm enjoying it. I really like the chemistry between Park Bo Young and Park Hyung Sik (also known as Hyungshik apparently from the group he was in...do all these dudes start out in Idol bands??). Too cute. Seriously. Just want to eat him up. Does that sound all cougar-y? I don't mean it that way. Not really. Just so totally adorable. That smile. Both of them, actually.

The Cuteness. It blinds.
There are news articles claiming he had a crush on his co-star. Welp, they should totally get married and have ridiculously cute kids to carry on the Kdrama tradition for the next generation. I mean, really. Usually the bio photo for all of these actors looks WAY better than they do on the show but this guy is just too handsome in every scene. I can actually picture him (when he was younger) being a perfect Oscar from my third book (especially when he's trying to act gay--did I mention that? He and his secretary have led Bong Soon to think that he's gay but he's obviously not...not sure why they did that, though assuming it is for a) to get her to be his bodyguard and not feel threatened (? this girl? threatened? haha) and b) the ridiculous jokes they get out of it for the show, mostly from Bong Soon's mom, who wants her to marry him and doesn't care that he's supposed to be gay--he's got money and he's handsome...why ask for anything else? no one is perfect. Kudus to the show though for not making the gay thing be something bad or the butt of jokes...am I making sense? It's a joke, but it's not a joke because he's gay. I'm not making sense. Eh, doesn't matter, I know what I mean).

The dark bits are getting a bit more balanced out with the light, fluffy bits, but there's definitely some darkness coming. The second girl has been kidnapped. The teasers point to Do Bong Soon's friend being threatened next. Bit of development with Ahn's family drama situation too, though not sure who Im Won Hee (who was the evil chef in Wok of Love) is playing yet, though it's someone who knows who Ahn is. He's a gangster this time, but hard to say who's side he's on, other than that he's the boss of the group of guys Bong Soon beat up in the very beginning.

Seriously, so loving this one so far. It's quirky. I love quirky. I write quirky. This is so me. I don't often laugh out loud at shows, but I have a few times with this one. It reminds me of the physical comedy in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. And I love Bong Soon's ringtone so much that I went and found it online and made it my ringtone on my phone. Now I just need someone to call me. But not now...now I need to go to bed.

Edit: through episode 7 now. Ahn's family drama has played out and it was, as I suspected the one brother that he actually loved and thought loved him (it was kinda obvious as they hadn't really provided enough screen time or background on either of the other "evil" brothers to have it be one of them). But, of course, it wrecks poor Ahn Min Hyuk. But, it seems that all of that has been wrapped up, which leaves the remaining "problems" for the remaining episodes to be a) the kidnapper/murderer, b) Im Won Hee playing the gangster boss Bael Tak (spelling? didn't bother going back to check it) and all the gangsters wanting revenge on Do Bong Soon, c) resolving the love triangle between Bong Soon, Min Hyuk, and Gook Doo, and d) some character development for Do Bong Soon...she's going to have to come to some kind of acceptance with her super strength. For this story to work as a whole, she has to not be in the same state of mind she was at the start. Oh, and that reveal to Ahn that Bong Soon was the girl that saved him way back when on the bus. Honestly, they really didn't need to shoehorn that plot in at all. It's not necessary. There's just something about Korean dramas where they like to have that whole "fated" love story thing. I don't think it adds anything to this one, especially as they've teased it along and now Bong Soon knows but he doesn't (though I suppose they could be using it as a method for her to think of him in a different way? eh, I dunno, that's a stretch).

Eh...and you know how I was saying earlier that I was okay with how they were handling the gay thing? That took a bit of a turn. Ahn did reveal to the shareholders that he's NOT gay and that didn't particularly bother me (it was going to have to happen to clear up rumours but also because they are heading into the part of the story where he's going to have to come clean to Bong Soon if he wants to develop a relationship with her and it obvious he does). BUT the writer(s) also played another even more ridiculous joke with it where Bong Soon and Ahn have captured two gangsters and she puts them on her blanket (the one her mom "enchanted" with a love spell) so they aren't uncomfortable. And when they wake up, they're in love. It's taken the joke a step too far. The only thing holding me back from being really pissed about it is that, at least, when everyone sees the two gangster dudes suddenly all lovey-dovey (even their fellow gangsters later on in the hospital), they at least aren't grossed out. Just confused. But still, it's like the writers were like, hey, let's carry this joke on for a while longer, hahaha, isn't this funny...to the point that, yeah, no, it's not funny any more.

There have been some nice moments in the last couple of episodes though -- Bong Soon cheering up a depressed Ahn by taking him to an amusement park, him trying to teach her to control her strength (including a shmexy boxing/grappling session), a scene between the three generations of Do women (granny is great), and a nice moment between Do Bong Soon's dad and Ahn. And, yeah, any time Park Hyung Shik smiles. Dude just has the best smile.

The character development arc stuff that I do really like is that, even though Bong Soon has loved Gook Doo for so long, she's also never let him see the real her. Whereas Ahn has known who she really is from the beginning. It's a nice dichotomy and the writers have exploited that well.

The kidnapper/murderer storyline is progressing slowly. Almost too slowly. But it seems that's the one they are drawing out to add tension to the end game, so, yeah, okay. Still enjoying it overall. Very few missteps and I'll forgive the two Parks just about anything, I think.

Edit, about to start episode 12. Hmmmmm. I'm trying to organise my thoughts on this. On the one hand, I am so enjoying any scene that includes Do Bong Soon and Ahn Min Hyuk. Seriously. Could practically just sit and watch them make starry eyes at each for a solid hour. I ship it. I do.

But, at the same time, the serial kidnapper/murderer thing is really kind of dragging. It's almost like this is two shows and they aren't even related -- super cute romance vs. dark crime drama. It bounces back and forth, but one thread gets discarded for another and then picked up again. And the drama-y police procedural bit...well...the bad guy is literally running circles around them and it's so bad it's to the point the viewer is like FFS, can the cops catch a clue? Any clue? They even know who the bad guy is at this point and he's still completely running circles around them. It's frustrating, but not in a "sustaining the plot" kind of way. Just plain frustrating.

So it's kinda weird. The show feels both way too long and way too short. The fact that it works at all I have to put down purely on the two leads. At this point (episode 12 out of 16), I'm usually either feeling like a) oh no, there's not enough episodes left!! or b) FFS when will this end? and in this case, I'm feeling both in equal measures.

Things that have, at least, been resolved...Ahn Min Hyuk now realises that it was Do Bong Soon who saved him on that bus years ago and she realises that the painting in his closet is of her. But...as I suspected...it doesn't really matter to the story. Not sure why they bothered with it.

In Gook Doo finally took the step forwards to confess to Do Bong Soon, but he was too late. Knew that was going to happen, though I do feel bad for him. He literally can't catch a break in any part of his life.

And Ahn Min Hyuk fully confessed (rather than dropping any more hints) and Do Bong Soon, thankfully, didn't fret for too long over the decision between him and In Gook Doo. Glad that they didn't draw that out for ages as they very well could have. After all, she'd loved In Gook Doo for so long, but as she says, one-sided love does have an expiration date.

Edit, about to start episode 13. Hmmmmm. This really is two (three?) shows smushed together.

There's all the stuff about the high school wanna-be thugs that call Do Bong Soon "noona" and Baek Tak (the gangster leader), which is completely removed from all the other storylines at this point. I've only not fast forwarded through it because I'm wondering if they are going to tie it back in. But it feels like they've just stuck it in for comedic effect...but it's...er...not effective at this point. It's just wearisome. And they've added in some pseudo not-Indian guru mishmash of a character. I don't get the point. None of it progresses the story. It feels like filler. Any of my editors would have been, like, time for some cutting!

Then there's the evil kidnapper dude plot, all dark and gritty. Finally the police catch a tiny bit of a clue (Gook Doo figures out the hidden camera in the station). But it really isn't a satisfying story because the bad guy has been SO far ahead of the good guys every step of the way. And I don't want to be victim blaming but he's just kidnapped Bong Soon's friend as she was out WALKING ALONE AT NIGHT and I'm like, WTF girl, you've been targeted TWICE already + been told the real culprit hasn't been found so WTH are you doing? And she had headphones in AND didn't even attempt to push the emergency alert bracelet she was wearing. I get that they're doing this to up the stakes in the last episodes but it's frustratingly stupid. I mean, jesus. Normal woman walking alone at night take more precautions than this girl.

And the romance. Which is great. Seriously. Really appreciate the evenness of the progression of the relationship and how Min Hyuk is always (somewhat) patiently waiting for Bong Soon to catch up to his feelings. Strong imagery with their beach visit and the drawing of the imperfect heart, the kiss on the forehead in the empty conference room. He even took a kabedon and turned it into something that wasn't a power play. Nicely done, Park Hyung Sik.

So I should be probably at about 50% enjoyment level for this one, but it's more like 90% purely because of the romance.

Though I get the feeling I'm about to get pissed off. They've been teasing since nearly the beginning that Bong Soon will loose her super strength at some point. The fact that her mom and another ancestress lost it (one by fighting on the wrong side, her mom by shaking down people for money). Conversations about it. Her asking her grandma if powers can be regained once lost. Now Min Hyuk has had a prophetic dream (really, writers? really??) with a helpless Bong Soon being attacked. And the evil bad guy, pretending to be her friend on the phone, getting that tidbit of information out of her, that she can lose her power if she attacks someone innocent.

It's not so much that I think they are going to make her lose her powers at some point now but that I get the feeling it will wind up with Min Hyuk running in to save the day. Why have a show about a powerful female character and then take that away from her so that she can be the damsel in distress? It was a nice little moment when Min Hyuk asks Bong Soon about her game design and she explains that the main (girl) character is trying to save a lonely prince. I mean, come on, writers. You've been (mostly) consistent with flipping that shit on it's head and now it looks like you're going to go back to the standard trope. I sincerely hope not, but I fear it.

And also...I imagine the bad guy is going to make her attack someone innocent by having someone else wear his mask or something and trick her. I dunno. But why would that work with the "gods" or whatever higher power it is that's given her this power? Tricks shouldn't do it. The people who, in the past, lost their power knew what they were doing when they did bad.

Anyway. We'll see. Maybe they won't go there.

Edit: Nah, yeah, they went there. Basically, to sum up this episode: angst, angst, tears, noble-idiot-trope "I can't be with you because you'll be in danger", more angst. When Bong Soon goes to meet evil dude, he has trapped her friend under a descending elevator at some building site. She saves her friend, throws the elevator (that she thinks is holding him) away. Innocent bystander disguised as bad guy rolls out of elevator. Of course. I knew they were gonna do it, but it still pisses me off. Actually, most of this episode pissed me off. They went the typical drama route instead of doing anything interesting. And Min Hyuk and Gook Doo come running in to save the day.  Again, don't think it should count as harming an innocent when she was tricked. The guy was harmed BECAUSE of the evil dude, who'd already even beaten him to a pulp. So it feels like a trick from the writers to get Bong Soon to be forced to deal with being "normal." Don't like it. Don't like the typical thing either where she feels she has to do things on her own because she "might hurt someone." I really detest that and so many shows/books/movies do that. WHY?? Honestly, it's not even realistic. It's just forced angst-y separation.

Three more episodes to go. Hope they fix it in some kind of reasonable fashion. I'll still be pissed about this one though. And the teasers for the next show make it appear that something might happen to Min Hyuk. FFS.

Also, enough with Bong Soon's mom beating up her long suffering husband. It wasn't funny the first time and it hasn't been funny throughout the show. I wish they'd quit with that. I don't even get the feeling that they'll try to redeem her in the end.

Edit...went to lunch, came back. The more I think about it, the more it doesn't work for me. If she could lose her super strength in this situation then she should have lost it earlier. Take when she broke Secretary Gong's tailbone playing "chicken" -- she went into that KNOWING that she might hurt him (and even suggested he wear a helmet) and DID actually hurt him. She could have refused to play. If anything, she was MORE culpable in that situation than in the one in which she did lose her powers. Writer-nim -- this was a cop out and it ticks me off.

Edit...about to start the next episode. The dudes have been playing Terraria all day, freeing me up to finish this show. Thanks, guys. Heh.

So...this isn't a recap as it's just my thoughts, so I'm not gonna cover it all. Bong Soon gets her strength back after evil dude comes to Ainsoft (Ahn's company building), straps a bomb to her and locks her up. I liked that she got it back because Min Hyuk wouldn't leave her no matter how much she begged and she basically prayed to be able to save him. It was a nice touch and fits in well with the re-occurring themes in the show. Still don't think she should have lost her powers that way in the first place, but yadda yadda. Really strong acting from both leads, so well done them.

The next to last episode, when they FINALLY capture evil dude is good because it firmly places Bong Soon in charge of her fate BUT accepting help from both of the men that love her. And that they don't try to stop her -- they just insist she not go in alone. That works for me and it's a strong character arc for all three of them.

They also finally gave some kind of point to the gangsters and the young punks, though not nearly enough of one to justify the amount of screen time we had to sit through watching them. No point AT ALL to the weird fake monk dude or Baek Tak's poetry, though...at least not as far as I could tell. Or the doppleganger idiot twins (gangster no-teeth and Team Lead Oh). Why did I have to watch that?

Bong Soon's dad did finally stand up to her mom and her mom is at least seeing some consequences to him running off and leaving her alone. Don't think it's going to be enough, honestly, as I'm sure he'll be back in the last episode and I sincerely doubt she'll really have changed her ways.

Do absolutely love when Min Hyuk turns into a puddle of goo. Seriously. Just once in my life I'd like someone to look at me the way he looks at Bong Soon. I know it's not gonna happen, but I can dream.

So...on to the last episode...

Ah, it did lovely Min Min.
Welp. Finished it. I have complicated feelings about this one. On the one hand, the things I loved, I really loved...which, to be honest, was mostly the love story (and even the somewhat triangular shape of it with Gook Doo...the tragedy of first loves, man...I was almost wondering if they'd fob him off on the best friend but I'm thankful they didn't...she shouldn't be a next best prize). Totally adore Park Hyung Sik. Someone should just put together a highlight reel of his best moments and I would watch the hell out of that. I think he and Park Seo Joon are my current favs (though I really do want to see more of Jang Hyuk, if I can find anything else I can legally watch).

But...the so-so stuff...

  •  The mom. They tried to wrap up the spousal abuse thing as playing it off that she never "actually hit him" and he just tripped and got the black eye from a sewing machine. Nah. Come on. They show her whacking him all through the show. I know they were playing it off as if it was supposed to be funny, but it really wasn't. Her feeding him a lettuce wrap at the end doesn't make up for how she's treated him the entire show.
  • After making a big deal out of Ahn Min Hyuk's family problems -- dad giving him a marriage ultimatum, him pretending (at the time) Bong Soon was his fiancé, the stuff with the brothers, the taking over of his dad's company...they basically didn't do anything with that after the mid-point of the show. Got too busy with random gangster-thug-monk idiocy. They don't even show up to his wedding (which, on the one hand, is fine as they were all crap). 
  • The "how she lost her power" thing just really, really doesn't work for me. It doesn't seem to fit the mythology of the show or even the previous things that happened in the show. Lazy. The how she got it back, however, does work really well.
  • Boss Baek Tak, the swindling monk, and the high school punks...WAY too much screen time for very little payoff and little to no story progression. 
  • The pacing. If it hadn't been for Park Hyung Sik's sheer adorableness, I probably would have given up somewhere in the muddle that was the middle. 
But the thing that has actually annoyed me the most is at the very end and part of the "fan service" so I'm sure I'm meant to like it and giggle about it. So, they get married (yay!). Cut to omo! mom praying to Buddha that Bong Soon have a son so that lovely son-in-law can sleep well. Cut to hospital. Wail of a baby being born. Cut to poor Min Min looking desperate as he talks to Secretary Gong, who is wondering what's so bad about twin girls? Cue Boss Tak providing two gangsters as nurse maids. They get beat up by little wickle baby fists as they try to feed the wee little babies. They run. Min Hyuk takes one to the eye too, calls Bong Soon who is out busy saving the world one heavy thing at a time and now, apparently, able to leap off of tall buildings with a single bound. What do I do? he wails after she berates him with "Didn't I tell you not to call me when I'm working?" And that's it. WTF. Seriously. W. T. Everloving. F. Go home, Bong Soon. Don't be a bitch like your mom. Take care of your family. 

I know, I know, it's just supposed to be funny. Haha. I take story and character seriously, O show writer(s) and this does not work for me at all and it finishes off a lovely romance with a cheap laugh instead of a nice awww. I am angry about this beyond all reasonableness somehow because Ahn Min Hyuk was such a lovely ridiculously perfect swoonworthy character.

Still...am I glad I watched it? Yes. Would I watch it again? Not in it's entirety but I would totally go back and watch the good Bong Bong and Min Min moments. Was it what I expected? No, not really. I went into it thinking it was going to be mostly fluffy and funny and, while it definitely had that, the dark bits were really quite fucking dark. (See that? Totally just used a full on "F" word there).

Maybe I would LURVE things more if I didn't think about the structure of them. But I'm never able to NOT do that. Sometimes I wish I could.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Stressedy Stressed

Bit UGH and BLERGH at the moment. The little dude didn't do as well on his school placement exam as we had hoped (or expected, based on his past scores). Don't know if it was due to the fever he had that day -- when he came home with it I was, like, oh no -- or if he just wasn't prepared or he messed up filling out the sheet or what. But whatever it was, it didn't go as expected. So that means he can't get into either of the schools we were hoping for unless we can appeal. Meeting with his current headmaster on Wednesday to find out if asking for the appeal/selection review is even reasonable based on his score. Not really sure how it all works.

In the meantime, we'd put off applying to other schools (i.e. the ones we'd have to continue paying for rather than the excellent free grammar we were hoping for) until we got the results. But now we've got to get on it. So I've spent most of today researching schools and filling in applications and paying registration fees. The free state schools just don't look like viable options...the only ones rated outstanding are the all girls ones. All of the mixed and boys ones are, at best, rated good. And some of the ones that look good are really just too far away from our current city. Cost-wise, about what we're paying now per term but that'll go up as he gets older. There is a hope that he could get into the grammar at age 13 too, so I guess I have to look into that too.

It's all so different from how I grew up where you just went to whatever the local school was and it was weird if someone was at a private/paid for school and even more bizarre if they were boarding. But that stuff is common over here in the UK. Some of the schools you literally have to put your name down at birth. We've already missed a deadline for one -- and why they put their deadline well before the date you receive your exam score !! That's just evil -- though we're now on some kind of waiting list for that.

And I feel bad for the little dude too. I know he expected to pass. He's putting on a good face but I can tell it has been a blow to him. His previous results were well over what he needed to get. So I'm hoping that the headmaster will think an appeal would be successful, though we've still got to have all of our backup plans in place in case there's no hope.

But...just...ugh.

I shouldn't complain. We're doing okay. But it is a struggle sometimes to pay these massive school fees. It's more than I paid for university and he's just 10. Getting into a grammar would have saved us from that. But you want the best for your kid. At least there's some things coming up that will help with that, but sometimes it goes very slow...

And I am very angsty waiting for my agent to get back from his holiday so that some things can get a move on...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fukuyadou Honpo


So, I went from giving up on the Happy Marriage show on Prime to Fukuyadou Honpo: Kyoto Love Story instead. It's the story of three sisters (but mainly focused on the middle sister, shown in the middle of the picture). Their family owns a 450 year old Japanese sweets shop and the eldest sister was supposed to be the 18th generation to take it over, but instead she is getting married to an outsider that she barely knows and has never dated (but it's the first decision she's ever made on her own). So, the middle sister, who is actually the one who loved the shop but had been literally kicked out of the kitchen by their domineering mother, is told to marry Ken (the dude in blue) and take over now. The shy younger sister is experiencing the pangs of new love.

About to start episode 6 now (they're short; just 30 minutes each and it's a rainy Sunday and the dudes are gaming together, the smell of veggie soup simmering away in the kitchen).

Complicating the story is that Arare (the middle sis) has actually always liked Ken, but stifled that when she learned he was supposed to marry her older sister. It seems he likes her too and never wanted to marry her sister, but they are both stubborn. I get the feeling it's going to take them forever to actually confess to each other.

And, for the older sister, her first crush never thought he had a chance with her (because of the store), but now that he's learned she is marrying out of it, he asks her to marry him instead. She seems to be passing on that, as she felt she made up her mind, but now some geisha girl turns up that seems to have a thing for her husband-to-be. Obviously that doesn't work out, though, as the picture above doesn't picture first love dude at all. So you know he's got no chance. For me, I don't really understand either of them. It's not an arranged marriage or anything, so why did he ask her and why did she say yes? They barely know each other.

Things I don't like: the mother. That's the big thing. She really doesn't make much sense. I get her sense of duty and loyalty, but from the flashbacks you can see that middle daughter was the only one who ever had an interest in the shop. So why was she such a bitch from the get go? And when middle daughter does come to tell her that, hey, yeah, I'll take over the shop even though I ran away (sort of) when you first demanded it, then the mother is like, uh, no, I'll close it before I let you take it over. WTF? But then, says, okay, you can do it, when middle daughter grovels a bit. I get where they are going with it, tradition, sacrifice, loyalty, yada yada but mostly she just feels like a bitchy bitch to me who has always put the shop ahead of her actual family.

It's...okay. I thought Kdramas were a bit bad for holding still shots for slightly too long but I was wrong. Nothing compared to this. Everything is very slow. And that's not necessarily a bad thing but it's, well, it's a thing. It's slow. Everything about it is slow. The acting is okay, but nothing amazing. A weird thing that is bothering me is the main girl's giant sticky-out ears. I feel mean saying that. I do. But, seriously, every time her hair is up they are so out there that it becomes the elephant in the room. It's fine with her hair down and she's pretty and everything but...yeah, I'm mean. It's my blog and I don't even let search engines index it and pretty much no one reads this but me, so there. Ears. I'm telling you, ears. I can't un-see them.

Ears.
Anyway, I think I will finish this one but I don't think I'll love it. Will edit at the end for a wrap up. One thing I am liking, however, is the actual sweets and the making of them and the tea ceremony and stuff like that. I always find that interesting. That and the Kyoto scenery. There's a manga that this is based on as well, but I haven't read it. If there were lots in the manga about the sweets side of things, maybe I'll read it. I dunno. Maybe the pace wouldn't feel as slow in the manga. Anywho, in general I'd have to say the recent Kdramas I have watched are kicking the Jdrama's butts. No wonder they call it the Korean Wave.

Edit: about to start episode 8. I'm not understanding these characters. At all.

Arare finally confesses to Ken that she's always loved him. His response is, oh that was just a slip of the tongue and he leaves. WTF?

Hina (oldest sister) finally confronts Hinoyama (sort of) about the other girl. He says basically nothing. She leaves. Goes home and tells her sister that she's still going to marry him. WTF?

I'm supposed to root for these couples? Why? I don't know what's up with Ken but that's pretty cold, man. As for the older sister, this is a dude that you barely know + there's obviously something going on with another woman and he won't tell you anything and you're still going to marry him? Why? I see no reason. It doesn't seem like she particularly loves him. They barely seem comfortable in the scenes they have together. The mother had even said she'd be happier if the daughter married the first love guy. I can't see any reason at all for her to marry him. But obviously that's one of the end results  of the show. I can't see any reason whatsoever to root for that outcome.

The little sister and her dude are, honestly, the only "couple" that make much sense and that poor boy has just had to move to another city across the country because his parents got a divorce.

WTF am I watching this? I know, I know, the whole thing with these romantic dramas is to introduce problems. That's the second part of the three act process (first part: intro-ing the characters and their possible problems, second: throwing roadblocks, third: resolving the issues/happily ever after). But it also has to make sense for the characters. I think they can probably resolve middle sister's dilemma with Ken in a reasonable way, though it's kinda hard to buy it so far. But the oldest sister? Not getting it at all. Literally no one is telling her she should marry him.

I'm finding this one more annoying than not and I'm not sure the payoff is going to be worth it.

Edit again: ok...like, literally a few seconds into the 8th episode and Hina goes through with the ceremony with Hinoyama. They are now alone in their house. He goes to kiss her. She tells him not to touch her. And that she isn't going to register the marriage.

Seriously WTF is going on? How does this make any sense at all? At this point, I think I'm watching it to see if the writer can come up with a plausible reason for her actions.

Edit: Finished the 8th episode and this show is really pissing me off. The things most of these people do don't make any sense at all. At least Arare is up front about her feelings and confesses again, though Ken has now completely rejected her (though, based on the Amazon summaries, they are a couple by episode 10, so dunno HTF that works or why). Hinoyama obviously harbours a flame for the geisha girl. Even though it seems they will somehow wind up together, I see absolutely no reason to root for that. He shouldn't have married Hina. Hina shouldn't have married him. They are both stupid and I want to smack them. At least she has asked him about the other girl, but he won't answer at all.

There are four more episodes. Do I subject myself to it? I actually went searching for a recap site but no one has done a recap of the episodes. GRRRR. I do not like these people.

Edit, 9th episode: I fast forwarded through some bits because this effing show is slow. They even MOVE in slow motion. It's like acting through water. Ken confronts Hinoyma and says what everything should be thinking:


Other blah blah stuff happens. People cry. Finally at the end, he tells Arare he has always loved her. His reason for rejecting her up until now was, quite frankly, idiotic and made no sense. Something about how he wasn't sure he had the right to love her when the mom has already said you're to marry her, she's said she loves you, and everyone thinks the store would shut down without you. So GTFO Ken, you idiot.

Last Edit. Finished it but only by use of judicious fast forwarding. There was the separation. The angst. The I'll give you up because I think that's what you want but I won't let you say anything first because that would make things resolve more quickly and happily and we want to draw this out until the bitter end. The reconciliation. All in slow motion. Am I glad I watched this one? No, not really. I was more annoyed than entertained. I did enjoy all the bits about wagashi and tea ceremony stuff and ikebana, but it could have used more of that. The Ken actor guy had a good smile. The Arare girl's ears still bug me. The mother redeemed herself at the end. The only character I could say that I liked from start to finish was the token old sage dude.


Seriously. I'd have rather watched an entire show worth of Sei imparting wisdom and smiling knowingly at all the youthful hijinks.

I think I'm back to Kdramas after this. I imagine that being on a Jdrama set is something like this:

Scene: male lead faces female lead, approximately 10 feet apart aka a million miles away.

Female: (says something imploringly, single tear dripping down her face. camera one tracks it.)

Director: Okay, yes, now hold that, yes, just like that. Now stare soulfully at each other, hold it, hold it...keep holding it...camera 2, pan slowly to the left...

Male: (shifts slightly, continues staring into eyes)

Female: (blinks slowly)

Director: keep holding, don't breathe, don't breathe, okay, now breathe but SLOWLY now shift imperceptibly towards each other, okay, perfect, perfect, camera one, close up please...

...10 minutes later...And cut! That's a wrap!

Both actors collapse onto the ground because their muscles have frozen up.