Jan 29, 2011

How Magic is Made

Once in a while a strong urge to watch Spirited Away swells up in me. Yesterday, as I was browsing through Youtube, by chance or destiny (or maybe the two are the same), I stumbled upon a video called "The Making of Spirited Away." For a hour, I was once again captured by the movie's magic, but this time, the process of its completion captivated me.

The staff fights against time and quality every second. Miyazaki must communicate his visions across barriers of generation and experience gaps. The drawing and storyboard making process is tense. Each picture, each cut is given such attention. Every movement is real and has meaning. Every scene is a splash of powerful, flowing lines and color. Then, the sounds must be added. Before watching this video, I did not imagine how much time and effort it takes to add sound effects to the pictures. The soundtrack was created in a grand auditorium surrounded by over sixty microphones and a full orchestra. The voice actors must rely on their voices alone to give life to the characters. Each footstep, each door, each object must be given its own sound. The chaos of a busy kitchen, the festivity of a party, the clang-ings during the clean-up, the different splashes of water in each scene of the bath house. Magic didn't generate spontaneously. The thoughts of each member of the staff, the years of living, seeing, hearing each person had all contributed to the breath-taking film. I, along with viewers worldwide who were touched by this film, am forever grateful to everyone involved in the film for having shown me a miracle.

May 29, 2010

Congratulations Seniors!!

The graduating class of 2010 finally threw their graduation caps on May 28, 2010. Congratulations seniors!!

For their graduation ceremony, the high school combined orchestra (both band both string orchestras) played the processional. Before the seniors entered, we played a fanfare. Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance was the processional. After the ceremony, we played Giuseppe Verdi's Triumphant March from Aida as the recessional.

What happened?

The fanfare and processional went fine, I think. There may have been some tempo inconsistencies, but overall, we played well. However, during the recessional, a slight miscalculation threw the performance off. We timed the recessional to last about three minutes and twenty seconds. The actual recessional took much less. The seniors were all gone when we were still in the middle of our piece. Some instruments stopped playing, and the recessional was never finished. Luckily, the seniors took the audience together with them, so not many people actually cared about the orchestra in the background. But I still regret not being able to complete the piece.

May 28, 2010

あらしのよるに Arashi no Yoru Ni

Arashi no Yoru ni, or One Stormy Night, is a story book by Yuichi Kimura and Yuichi Kimura (illustrations). Following its success, many sequels came out and the first book was also made into a movie.

I saw the movie adaptation of One Stormy Night. I would first like to ask you.

Can a wolf and a sheep become friends?

In this story, the wolf and sheep packs have traditionally been at odds with one another. One hunts the other, this is not uncommon. However, one sheep named Mei meets a mystery character named Gabu one stormy night. Gabu is a wolf. Mei, not knowing that Gabu is a wolf befriends him. The two decide to meet again and their own pass code that helps identify one another is, "one stormy night." Gabu, however, as smelled Mei and knowing that she is a sheep, befriends her with the intention of eating her later one when they meet.

Gabu does not eat Mei. Instead, the two of them become true friends. So when the wolf pack comes to chase Mei, Gabu and Mei run away together. However, Gabu gets very hungry and Mei is willing to sacrifice herself to Gabu so that he can survive. What will happen?

Arashi no Yoru ni is a very moving story about the beautiful friendship between two living animals whom nature has created as enemies.

May 27, 2010

Animal Farm, The Musical

A few days ago, our English class made a musical based on George Orwell's Animal Farm by compiling songs that we thought matched some of the story's main events. This was done by me.

Can you hear which song refers to which event?

List of songs used:

- " Peter and the Wolf" – Prokofiev
- " Hardships of the Grassroots" – MC Sniper
- " Change" – Gloomy 30s
- " New Direction" – Sugar Ray
- " Symphony No.35 in D Major, Haffner, mvt. 1" – Mozart
- " Polonaise in A, Op.40/1, Military" – Chopin
- " Night on Bald Mountain" – Mussorgsky
- " Symphony N0. 25" – Mozart
- " Requiem, Dies Irae" – Mozart
- " Concerto No.2, Allegro appassionato" – Waltom
- " Money" – Pink Floyd
- " The Great Gig in the Sky" – Pink Floyd
- " Symphony No. 7" – Beethoven
- " Lacrimosa" – Kalafina
- " The Bells of Notre Dame (Reprise)" - from Walt Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame

May 19, 2010

Ghibli Animation OST Part 4 - Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke, or Mononoke Hime, is a 1997 Studio Ghibli animation film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. I remember watching it long ago, but I do not really remember what happened. Looking back on the film now, I think it is safe to say that Princess Mononoke is one of Hayao Miyazaki's best films. It is not as recent as Ponyo on a Cliff or as famous as Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, but I think that Mononoke Hime definitely puts Ponyo on a Cliff behind. Whereas Ponyo on a Cliff is more appropriate for a younger audience, Mononoke Hime is definitely not a simple children's animation movie. It's master artwork (mostly done by hand) and clear and powerful theme touches people of all audiences. In fact, I think I would be able to appreciate the movie much more if I were to see it now. I plan to re-watch all of Hayao Miyazaki's films over the summer, starting with Princess Mononoke. Not only does the movie contain an incredible depth, it demonstrates a high standard of completion. This does not leave out the auditory aspects of the film.

The first video is the main theme from Princess Mononoke, The Legend of Ashitaka. The second video is the theme with lyrics (by Hayao Miyazaki) to Joe Hisaishi's music in Japanese. Yoshikazu Mera performed it. The last movie is the same theme, but in English, performed by Sasha Lazard.

Mononoke Hime

Lyrics by Hayao Miyazaki
Music by Joe Hisaishi


Haritsumeta Yumi no Furueru Tsuru yo
Tsuki no Hikari ni Zawameku Omae no Kokoro

Togisumasareta Yaiba no Utsukushi
Sono Kissaki ni Yoku Nita Sonata no Yokogao

Kanashimi to Ikari ni Hisomu Makoto no Kokoro wo
Shiru wa Mori no Sei
Mononoke Tachi dake
Mononoke Tachi dake

English Translation (by Deborah Goldsmith and Ryoko Toyama)

The trembling string of a taut bow
Your Heart is unsettled by the Moonlight

The beauty of a sharp blade
Thy profile, very much like its edge

Thy true heart hides behind the sorrow and anger
The spirits of the forest know it
Only the Mononoke
Only the Mononoke

Thanks!! Lyrics from: http://www.nausicaa.net/wiki/Princess_Mononoke_(song)

In the moonlight I felt your heart
quiver like a bow string's pulse
in the moon's pale light
you looked at me
Nobody knows your heart
when the sun has gone I see you
beautiful and haunting but cold
like the blade of a knife so sharp so smooth
nobody knows your heart

All of your sorrow, grief and pain
locked away in the forest of the night
Your secret heart belongs to the world
of the things that sigh in the dark
of the things that cry in the dark.

May 18, 2010

Ghibli Animation OST Part 3 - Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle is another Hayao Miyazaki film based on the book of the same name. However, the book and the movie are a bit different. The theme song from the movie is also very famous. It is called The Merry-Go-Round of Life. I really like this song. It fits the movie well and it has a very calming effect. When put together with the pictures, the feeling that you get is indescribable. I must say, the chemistry between Miyazaki's film and Joe Hisaishi's music is indescribable.

I noticed that the ending themes of most of Hayao Miyazaki's films have a very unique style when looking at the voices of the singers. Some people say that they sound too "old granny-ish." However, I find the voices very soothing and homely. The ending theme for Howl's Moving Castle is called The Promise of the World, or Sekai no Yakusoku (世界の約束).

Japanese Lyrics (Romanji)

Namida no oku ni yuragu hohoemi wa
Toki no hajime kara no sekai no yakusoku

Ima wa hitori demo futari no kinou kara
Kyou wa umarekirameku
Hajimete atta hi no youni

Omoide no uchi ni anata wa inai
Soyokaze to natte hoho ni furetekuru

Komorebi no gogo no wakare no ato mo
Keshite owaranai sekai no yakusoku

Ima wa hitori demo ashita wa kagirinai
Anata ga oshiete kureta
Yoru ni hisomu yasashisa

Omoide no uchi ni anata wa inai
Seseragi no uta ni kono sora no iro ni
Hana no kaori ni itsumademo ikite

Translated English Lyrics

Beyond these tears, my flickering smile
holds the promise of love from the beginning of time.
Even though I'm along now, with our yesterdays this day is born aglow
like the first time we spoke.

Somehow I lost you among all my memories.
You brush past my face softly as the breeze.

Though we slipped apart like sunlight through the leaves,
the promise of love will live on eternally.
Even though I'm alone now, my tomorrows are boundless
like the kindness you showed me hidden in the night.

Somehow I lost you among all my memories.
In a brook's gentle song, in the depth of the sky,
in a scent of a flower, you will live on eternally.

This is the actual ending scene of Howl's Moving Castle.

May 17, 2010

Ghibli Animation OST Part 2 - Spirited Away

Spirited Away is one of Hayao Miyazaki's most renowned works. First, I attached the opening theme, called One Summer's Day (あの夏へ Ano Natsu e). Then, I attached the ending theme, Always With Me (いつも何度でも Itsu mo Nando demo).

Japanese Lyrics (Kanji)

作曲・歌/木村 弓

呼んでいる 胸のどこか奥で
いつも心踊る 夢を見たい

悲しみは 数えきれないけれど
その向こうできっと あなたに会える

繰り返すあやまちの そのたびひとは
ただ青い空の 青さを知る
果てしなく 道は続いて見えるけれど
この両手は 光を抱ける

さよならのときの 静かな胸
ゼロになるからだが 耳をすませる

生きている不思議 死んでいく不思議
花も風も街も みんなおなじ


呼んでいる 胸のどこか奥で
いつも何度でも 夢を描こう

悲しみの数を 言い尽くすより
同じくちびるで そっとうたおう

閉じていく思い出の そのなかにいつも
忘れたくない ささやきを聞く
こなごなに砕かれた 鏡の上にも
新しい景色が 映される

はじまりの朝の 静かな窓
ゼロになるからだ 充たされてゆけ

海の彼方には もう探さない
輝くものは いつもここに
わたしのなかに 見つけられたから

Japanese Lyrics (Romanji)

Yondeiru Mune no Dokoka Okude
Itsumo Kokoro Odoru Yume wo Mitai

Kanashimi wa Kazoekirenai kedo
Sono Mukou de Kitto Anata ni Aeru

Kurikaesu Ayamachi no Sonotabi Hito wa
Tada Aoi Sora no Aosa wo Shiru
Hateshinaku Michi wa Tsuzuite Mieru keredo
Kono Ryoute wa Hikari wo Dakeru

Sayonara no Toki no Shizukana Mune
Zero ni Naru Karada ga Mimi wo Sumaseru

Ikiteiru Fushigi Sinde Iku Fusigi
Hana mo Kaze mo Machi mo Minna Onaji

Yondeiru Mune no Dokoka Oku de
Itsumo Nando demo Yume wo Egakou

Kanashimi no Kazu wo Iitsukusu yori
Onaji Kuchibiru de Sotto Utaou

Tojiteiku Omoide no Sono Naka ni Itsumo
Wasure takunai Sasayaki wo Kiku
Konagona ni Kudakareta Kagami no Ue nimo
Atarashii Keshiki ga Utsusareru

Hajimari no Asa Shizuka na Mado
Zero ni Naru Karada Mitasarete Yuke

Umi no Kanata niwa Mou Sagasanai
Kagayaku Mono wa Itsumo Koko ni
Watashi no Naka ni Mitsukerareta Kara
Japanese Lyrics (English Translation)

Somewhere, a voice calls, in the depths of my heart
May I always be dreaming, the dreams that move my heart

So many tears of sadness, uncountable through and through
I know on the other side of them I'll find you

Everytime we fall down to the ground we look up to the blue sky above
We wake to it's blueness, as for the first time

Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight
I can with these two arms embrace the light

As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel
My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real

The wonder of living, the wonder of dying
The wind, town, and flowers, we all dance one unity

Somewhere a voice calls in the depths of my heart
keep dreaming your dreams, don't ever let them part

Why speak of all your sadness or of life's painfull woes
Instead let the same lips sing a gentle song for you

The whispering voice, we never want to forget,
in each passing memory always there to guide you

When a miror has been broken, shattered pieces scattered on the ground
Glimpses of new life, reflected all around

Window of beginning, stillness, new light of the dawn
Let my silent, empty body be filled and reborn

No need to search outside, nor sail across the sea
Cause here shining inside me, it's right here inside me

I've found a brightness, it's always with me

May 16, 2010

Ghibli Animation OST Part 1 - Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Studio Ghibli has released many of my favorite movies. The soundtrack incorporated into these movies is also phenomenal. I have yet to hear a melody that does not dazzle me, lyrics that do not make me smile. This week, I would like to upload some famous songs that play a big part in Ghibli's movies.

Part One -- The Castle in the Sky

Today I'll post the ending song of Laputa: The Castle in the Sky

Song: 君をのせて Kimi wo Nosete (Carrying You)
Composed by Joe Hisaishi (<-- incredible composer)
Performed by Inoue Azumi

Japanese Lyrics (Kanji)

あの くのは
あのどれかひとつに がいるから
さあ でかけよう ひときれのパン
ナイフ ランプ かばんにつめこんで
さんがくれた あのまなざし
はまわる をかくして
はまわる をのせて
いつかきっとう ぼくらをのせて

さんがくれた あのまなざし
はまわる をかくして
はまわる をのせて
いつかきっとう ぼくらをのせて

Japanese Lyrics (Romanji)

ano chiheisen kagayaku no wa
doko ka ni kimi o kakushite iru kara
taku-san no hi ga
natsukashii no wa
ano dore ka hitotsu ni
kimi ga iru kara

saa dekake you
hitokire no PAN
NAIFU, RANPU kaban ni tsume konde
do-san ga nokoshita atsui omoi
ka-san ga kureta ano manazashi

chikyuu wa mawaru kimi o kakushite
kagayaku hitomi kirameku tomoshibi
chikyuu wa mawaru kimi o nosete
itsuka kitto deau
bokura o nosete

do-san ga nokoshita atsui omoi
ka-san ga kureta ano manazashi
chikyuu wa mawaru kimi o kakushite
kagayaku hitomi kirameku tomoshibi
chikyuu wa mawaru kimi o nosete
itsuka kitto deau
bokura o nosete

English Translation (Warning: The translation may contain some inconsistencies with the original Japanese lyrics.)

The horizon shines because it is hiding you somewhere.
I long for the many lights because you are there in one of them.
So, let's leave.
A piece of bread, knife, and lamp stuffed in a bag.

My father gave me his passionate heart, my mother gave me her eyes.
The earth turns, hiding you.
Shining eyes, twinkling lights.
The earth turns, carrying you.
Carrying the both of us, who will meet someday.

My father gave me his passionate heart, my mother gave me her eyes.
The earth turns, hiding you.
Shining eyes, twinkling lights.
The earth turns, carrying you.
Carrying the both of us, who will meet someday.

May 15, 2010

Forever Young

When songs are remade, a very interesting effect happens. The people of the generation of the original song say, "Oh is that the one by _____?" The people who heard the new version say, "No. What are you talking about? Who is _____?" I actually like to know if a song is a re-make if it is. I also like to compare the two versions. As some of you may know, I like to look through old CDs once in a while. One day, I discovered an Alphaville album. Knowing nothing about them, I chose "Forever Young" as my favorite song in the album. Later, I learned that it also covered by many artists. While I was humming the song, someone told me that Jay-Z remade the song t00. Interesting...

Which one do you like better?

I tend to like Alphaville's style better compared to Jay-Z's style of music, so I give a vote for Alphaville. However, I have heard many people say that they like Jay-Z's version better. It does sound more modern. I used to not be able to understand why artists would cover songs. However, listening to different versions taught me that different people can take one song and interpret it in very different ways. Remaking certain songs also help bring old songs to the ears of another generation. After all, we don't want certain incredible songs to be lost in time.

May 14, 2010

Ponyo on a Cliff - Why I liked it

Ponyo on a Cliff may seem like a cheesy, children's animated film. Actually, this movie is actually more for children compared to Hayao Miyazaki's other works. However, there are aspects of the movie that make it truly enjoyable for everyone. In addition, there are messages we must not take lightly.

First of all, I really enjoyed the pictures. Hayao Miyazaki's artwork is always creative, new, and simply breathtaking. Watching the film makes me happy and relaxed. His expression of everyday objects is truly spectacular. For example, the waves of the ocean have a life and shape of their own. The way they move and act heightens the idea of nature being a spectacular entity of its own. In addition, Ponyo's mother is portrayed as a loving, beautiful, understanding, goddess of the sea, flexible and moving with its own force. I think that Hayao Miyazaki wanted the portray the idea of a "mother" in such a powerful way.

Sosuke's mother, Lisa, is also a very interesting character. She is loving and she is very open-minded. She encourages Sosuke's love of the sea and does not care when he brings a random fish from the sea to take to school. In addition, when Ponyo appears before her as a young girl, Lisa believes Sosuke when he says that Ponyo the fish has turned into a girl. She then brings both the children into her home, takes care of them, and tells them that although such queer occurrences are exciting, everyone must be calm. I know that if I brought home a friend and told my mother that she was a fish, my mom would just say, "Hello, come in and play for a while" without believing a single word. Although this is the normal reaction of most people, who really knows what happens in the world? Sometimes I like to believe in magic too because there is much much more to the world than I will ever know.

There are also some things that we must learn from this movie. In the movie, Ponyo falls in danger because of the trash that covers the ocean floor. Also, it is suggested that Ponyo's father was originally a human who did everything in his power to live in the sea because he was disgusted by what human beings were doing to nature. He also wants to create a world in which life forms may explode again in the ocean. He describes it as a second "Cambrian Explosion." However, he was mistaken in thinking that all humans evil. Lisa and Sosuke are not. They are able to accept Ponyo even though she was a fish because they loved Ponyo for just being Ponyo and they were also willing to open their minds and hearts to others.

Sosuke is also a very kind boy. He is polite to the villagers, he knows how to help his mother and others in the neighborhood, he knows how to love indiscriminately. I wish more children could grow up like him with such wonderful parents and happy environments.

What I also like about Hayao Miyazaki's films are that the heros may be women, animals, grandmas, children, or anyone else for that matter. He shows that such things do not inhibit us from being strong, brave, and loving. In addition, all these characters are able to be explorers and go on adventures of their own.

May 9, 2010

Ponyo on a Cliff

Ponyo on a Cliff is a story about accepting people for who they really are inside, rather than what they appear to be.
The story starts out with Brunhilde, a small red fish, going to the shore. She was traveling underwater with her magician father and fellow fish sisters. However, she wanted to see more of the human world and ended up swimming too close to shore. Her body got stuck in a bottle thrown away into the see. A young boy called Sosuke frees Brunhilde and takes her out of the ocean with him in a green bucket. On shore, Sosuke gives Brunhilde the name Ponyo and the two become best friends. Sosuke also promises Ponyo that he will protect her. However, when Ponyo's father realizes that Ponyo is gone, he sends great waves to bring her back, believing that Ponyo has been abducted by humans with evil intentions. Ponyo ends up being taken away from Sosuke.
Ponyo and Sosuke both want to be with each other. By using magic and with the help of her sisters, Ponyo transforms into a young girl and returns to the shore to find Sosuke. Upon finding Sosuke, she is able to stay in Sosuke's house. Both Sosuke and Sosuke's mother, Lisa, recognize Ponyo even in her human form. As the night approaches, the waves start flooding the land. Lisa, who works at a senior home, goes there to see if everything is okay.
Meanwhile, Ponyo's father realizes that Ponyo's transformation has disrupted the balance of the world and now, everyone in it is in danger. He seeks Ponyo's mother, a goddess of the sea, for help. Her mother leaves the question of whether or not Ponyo can stay human in the hands of the two young children, Sosuke and Ponyo.

May 5, 2010

Ponyo on a Cliff - Ghibli v.s. Disney

Ponyo on a Cliff is a Japanese animation film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, one of my favorite directors. It was released by Studio Ghibli, one of the most renowned animation studios. In North America, it was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Overall, the movie was received well from audiences all around the world.

Music is crucial to Hayao Miyazaki's films. Joe Hisaishi is a very famous composer and he has worked with Hayao Miyazaki before. For this film, he wrote the score for the theme song which was then performed by Fujioka Fujimaki and Nozomi Ohashi. The English pop version was recorded by Frankie Jonas and Noah Cyrus. Since Japanese is difficult to translate without destroying the appropriate connotation, creating the newly translated and remixed version is in itself an accomplishment. However, I didn't feel that the English version was even remotely up to par. The Japanese original, though childish, was very cute and catchy. It also seemed very appropriate for the film. The English version, on the other hand, was filled with Auto-tune (or maybe the singer's voice was extremely nasally, or both) and the initial feeling of the song was destroyed. The lyrics sounded foolish too. Simply put, I wasn't satisfied in the least. I hope next time, the original receives a bit more respect. Actually, I can't say that the Japanese version is perfect, but my dislike for the English version and its choice of performers heavily outweighs any negative feelings I had for the Japanese version.

This is the original Japanese version of the theme song.

This is the rather disappointing English version.

May 3, 2010

SG Wannabe & Simon and Garfunkel

SG Wannabe is a Korean male singing group composed of three vocalists. Generally, their musical skills are recognized by many people. However, today, I wanted to point out something a bit different. Did you know that the SG of SG Wannabe represents Simon and Garfunkel? Yes, SG Wannabe is actually Simon and Garfunkel Wannabe. When I first heard this, I was very surprised because SG Wannabe and Simon and Garfunkel's singing styles are very different. While Simon and Garfunkel's music is very soft, with delicate harmonies, SG Wannabe has a slightly "thicker" sound. They tend to "shout" a little more. I couldn't see how SG Wannabe was SG Wannabe when they are not like SG or trying to be like them in any way.
I was listening to the radio when I heard a song by SG Wannabe. It was called "I Love You." Suddenly, I heard a melody with definite reference to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer." It was impossible to miss. Suddenly, I saw the connection between SG Wannabe and Simon and Garfunkel. SG Wannabe must have borrowed the theme for their music.
Although it was the same theme, the mood the two songs gave our were completely different. I do not mean to say that one is better than the other. The style is simply different.
My favorite version is the one by Simon and Garfunkel. In my opinion, SG Wannabe K-pop-ized "The Boxer" too much.
Below are both Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and SG Wannabe's "I Love You." Do you hear what I hear? Which version do you prefer?

FYI: The lyrics have different meanings and it isn't the entire song that's similar, just the chorus. Still, it's pretty interesting.

You might want to pay close attention to 1:35.

As a bonus, here is SG Wannabe's version of "The Boxer" during one of their performances. The sound and singing quality is not what I would have liked, but it's worth trying out.

May 2, 2010

Kimi ni Todoke Review

My friend and I live near by. Between our houses lies a very small book room. Here you can borrow books or just sit down in the corner and read a few books. I borrowed comic books from here once in a while. So did my friend.

A few days ago, I was bored. You know those days when you have a lot of things to do, but you don't want to do anything other than roll around, watch a movie, grab a snack, or the like. I suddenly remembered that my friend told me that she read a good manga from that book room. It was called Kimi ni Todoke. I found that manga on the internet and started reading it.

Honestly, I didn't like it in the beginning. It was a very typical Japanese manga. There is a shy girl and a popular guy. The events that happen are very typical of events that ALWAYS happen in other Japanese or Korean manga. However, as I didn't feel like doing anything else, I kept reading (sort of like how you can watch tv for hours even when nothing interesting is on).
As a kept reading, the story became a bit better. After a while, you get closer to the characters and can enjoy various happenings more. That's what happened. I caught myself laughing, smiling, and getting annoyed at some parts. Because this series is not completed yet, I ended up reading up until the last uploaded episode.

What I liked about the manga: It wasn't too complicated and good for easy-reading for times when you want hear a entertaining story, but don't want to think too much. The drawings were also pretty enough. Each character had a look that matched their character and didn't look too awkward.

What I didn't like: The story was very obvious, predictable, cliche. The story kept dragging on and on. It took over 40 chapters for the main characters to finally realize their feelings for one another. Dragging things out can drive the audience nuts.

I don't believe reading comic books is a waste of time. Anything that you read, anything that you see and think seem to come in handy sometime in the end. However, I could have spent my time more wisely and done something more productive. I had fun though and I think it is very important to have a fun and happy life.

Apr 29, 2010

Kimi ni Todoke - Storyline

Kimi ni Todoke starts out with Sawako Kuronuma's school life. She is always alone; her school mates fear her and believe that she can curse others with her eyes. These rumors usually arise due to Sawako's "scary" appearance. She is called "Sadako" because she looks like the character with the respective name from the Japanese horror movie, The Ring. However, Sawako has no such powers and is actually a typical and gentle teenage girl. She highly respects fellow classmate, Shota Kazehaya. Shota is a very cheerful, sociable, and popular guy. Sawako first met him at the beginning of her high school years when he asked her directions to get to the school with a "brilliant smile." Since then, Sawako has always wanted to be more like Shota.

Shota Kazehaya has also been noticing Sawako. When the two sit next to each other, Shota starts talking to Sawako and encourages her try her best to open up to people. With Shota's constant support and Sawako's own bravery and effort, she starts to make new friends. She has always had an awkward smile, but learns to smile from her heart. In addition, Sawako learns how to stand up for her friends and herself against rumors. Always feared by others, Sawako earns their respect when people realize how good she is at teaching others and soon, fellow classmates come to her study sessions for extra help.


In addition, Sawako and Shota very slowly start to realize that their mutual respect and friendship may be a little stronger than they thought!

Apr 22, 2010

3D or not 3D???

Ever since the release of the movie Avatar, popularity for 3 dimensional movies has sky rocketed. In Korea, many 3D and 4D movie theaters were made specially for Avatar. There was a lot of money to be made.
Unfortunately, with the end of April, cinemas in Korea have stopped playing Avatar. I missed the chance to see the "phenomenal visuals." However, I have seen Alice in Wonderland in 3D. I was very disappointed.
First of all, the movie changed the original story by Lewis Carroll; the movie was very boring. Just when it seemed as if something was actually happening, the movie ended. Also, I did not like the actress who portrayed Alice. Twiddle dee and twiddle dum looked scary.
Although I didn't like the story, the pictures were indeed wonderful. However, watching it 3D destroyed the experience. The glasses were tinted like shades, so everything looked a lot darker. It was like watching wonderland with very dark sunglasses. In addition, Alice in Wonderland was filmed to be released in 2D. When released, they made changes to show it in 3D in some places. Therefore, something didn't seem right. The pictures did not look as nice as they would have without the glasses, the 3D effect did not help enhance the images, but rather was distracting. Watching a movie in 3D was not a very pleasant experience.

Apr 12, 2010

Simon and Garfunkel

I don't know what it is about music before my time that attracts me so much, but I also really like Simon and Garfunkel's music. It just really showed me the meaning of "timeless," unlike some digitally created sounds that come and go without a trace, like air, temporary, without substance, and obvious (just personal opinions because there is a time and place for everything). Without passion and truth, music is nothing.

A few years ago, I was rummaging through my father's CD cabinet when I stumbled upon a CD called The Best of S and G. It looked familiar, but did not ring a bell. And what do you do with a CD if you don't hear it? So I stuck the CD in the living room stereo and listened. The music was soft, bubbly, and pastel pink.

I especially liked how "The Boxer" sounded.

Although you have probably heard it a lot here and there (it's pretty famous, I learned after looking up a little about Simon and Garfunkel), here you go. Enjoy!

X Japan - Kurenai (Crimson)

Last time, I uploaded a ballad by X Japan. This time, I thought I'd upload something a bit more up-beat. I really like listening to rock ballads, but sometimes powerful speed metal really attracts me. The speed, energy, passion, thrill, and indescribable chemistry of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals coming together (keyboards too) to create such a powerful sound simply blows me away. Loud and crazy, but beautiful and with its own charm. Unfortunately, many people around me do not share my passion for rock so I am spilling it out here. We are X!!!

This is X Japan's "Kurenai" (Crimson), from their album, Blue Blood. An earlier version of "Kurenai" is also available in their 1988 debut album, Vanishing Vision.

This is the live performance of X Japan's Kurenai during their December 1, 1997 "The Last Live" concert. The concert was called "The Last Live" because it was going to be their last concert before their breakup. Although X Japan grouped up again, this concert really was a "last live" with their guitarist hide. Hideto Matsumoto, or "hide" as he was called, passed away an year later in May of 1998. Leaving that aside, isn't the energy of the concert just amazing? If I wasn't two years old in 1997 and in Hong Kong, I would have wanted to go to this concert.

If I were to talk about the history and legacy of X Japan, it would be endless so I'll leave it for another time. Enjoy!

Kurenai - Music Video

I could not look back, you'd gone away from me I felt my heart ache I was afraid of following you When I had looked at the shadows on the wall I started running into the night to find the truth in me 嵐吹くこの街がお前を抱く 吹き拔ける風にさえ目を閉じる お前は走りだす何かに追われるよう 俺が見えないのかすぐそばにいるのに

人波に消えて行く記億の吐息 愛のない一人舞台もう耐えきれない All of you in my memory is still shining in my heart
紅に染まったこの俺を 慰める奴はもういない もう二度と屆かないこの思い 閉ざされた愛に向かい 叫びつづける Crying in deep red

Lyrics (Romanized)

I could not look back,
you'd gone away from me
I felt my heart ache
I was afraid of following you
When I had looked at
the shadows on the wall
I started running into the night
to find the truth in me

arashi fuku kono machi ga omae wo daku
fukinukeru kaze ni sae me wo tojiru

omae wa hashiridasu nanika ni owareru you
ore ga mienai no ka sugu soba ni iru no ni

hitonami ni kiete yuku kioku no toiki
ai no nai hitori butai mou taekirenai
All of you in my memory is
still shining in my heart
sure chigau kokoro wa afureru namida nure

kurenai ni somatta kono ore wo
nagusameru yatsu wa mou inai

mou nido to todokanai kono omoi
tozasareta ai ni mukai
sakebi tsuzukeru

omae wa hashiridasu nanika ni owareru you
ore ga mienai no ka sugu soba ni iru no ni

kurenai ni somatta kono ore wo
nagusameru yatsu wa mou inai

mou nido to todokanai kono omoi
tozasareta ai ni mukai
sakebi tsuzukeru

kurenai ni somatta kono ore wo
nagusameru yatsu wa mou inai

Crying in deep red

from lyricsdepot.com


I couldn't look back, you'd gone away from me. I felt my heartaches, I was afraid of following you. When I had looked at, the shadows on the wall ... I started running into the night, to find the truth in me.

A storm is blowing through the streets as I hold you in my arms. A violent wind begins to blow, blinding me. You're running from something that has been stalking you. But can't you see that I'm alone? You're a common, disappearing memory. Unloved, alone on the stage I can't hold back.

As of you in my memory is still shining in my heart. Passing by me, soaking me with flowing tears. I'm lying here in deep red to comfort my pain. I will never again give out these memories that keep love away from me. As I continue to shout, you're running from something that has been stalking you, but can't you see that I'm alone?

I'm lying here in deep red to comfort my pain. I will never again give out these memories that ... keep love away from me. As I continue to shout ... I'm lying here in deep red to comfort my pain.

Oh cry in deep red...

from songmeanings.net

Kim Tae Won's Hot Chocolate Commercial

Kim Tae Won is the leader and guitarist of the Korean rock band, "Boohwal." Long ago, he was famous for his charisma and unapproachable air. Recently, Kim Tae Won started coming out more and more on television shows. At first, I did not understand this because I had thought him to be the last person who would go on air without his guitar. However, he said that he wanted to make Korean rock more approachable to more people. Then it made a bit more sense. Anyway, with his thin frame, long hair, and sunglasses, Kim Tae Won started losing his charismatic image on television (he still has his rocker stuff going on on stage). He earned a new nickname, Kim Hal-mae (Hal-mae means Granny, in Korean), because of the way he looked.

Anyway, a commercial came out that sent me to the ground, laughing. This is the commercial for Mitte, a hot chocolate line.

This is what's happening.

A group of young boys come to a ski resort and see a person with long hair in a pink ski uniform. One guy approaches "her" with a cup of hot chocolate. As it turns out, this person was actually Kim Tae Won. On the ski slope, Kim Tae Won says, "Ah~ You should have come with a girl friend."
Then, the commercial ends with, "When the wind blows cold, hot chocolate Mitte."

Apr 9, 2010

Boohwal - 25th Anniversary

Although the Korean music industry appears to be dominated by commercial K-pop idol singers, there is a lot more beneath the surface. Independent and underground, the Korean rock industry is quite interesting too. Of these rock bands, one of them is called "Boohwal." They were first formed in the 80's when a heavy metal boom around Korea started producing major rock bands. After their 2nd album, their popularity rocketed. "Boohwal" means resurrection in Korea and is one of the few rock bands to have lasting popularity until today. They went through many ups and downs and had quite a few change of vocals, but their signature rock ballads have never ceased to soothe the audience with both great music and showmanship.

Recently, for their 25th anniversary, they released their 12th album, titled Retrospect and it came out in two parts. The first part came out late 2009 and recently, their released the second part of the album. Before going deeply into this rock band, I wanted to introduce to you the title songs for Retrospect I and II.

Album name
25th Anniversary: Retrospect
Title Song: 생각이나 (I Thought)

Album name
25th Anniversary: Retrospect II
Title Song: 사랑이란 건 (Something That I Love)

Apr 4, 2010

Goong 22 - Summary

Previously on Goong

Chae Kyung and Shin got divorced because of Yuul's plan to make his mark on the royal family. However, this was all done secretly without Shin knowing it. When the fact that Yuul caused the crown prince's divorce is revealed to the King and Shin, the balance tips. The King starts making plans of his own, Shin breaks off his engagement with his childhood sweet heart, and Chae Kyung's state of mind falls into chaos after learning that Yuul endangered Shin. Even so, Chae Kyung intends to go abroad with Yuul to stop him from destroying the Korean monarchy and Shin's place in it. In addition, now that everything is out, Yuul has nothing to lose. What will he do?

Goong Volume 22

Chae Kyung, before going far away with Yuul, asks Shin to run away for the day. The two run to the royal summer house (which belongs to Chae Kyung because Shin gave it to her as a "last gift" just before the divorce).
Meanwhile, back at the palace, Yuul, believing that Chae Kyung permanently ran away with Shin mess up Yuul's plans and show how insignificant he and his feelings are, starts to gather opposing forces to the current monarchy. Do we see a coup d'etat??? In addition, Yuul's mother is planning an "accident" for Shin. However, we also see some allies. Shin's father, decides to finally step up and take action to protect the Korean monarchy and his son. In addition, Miru, the daughter of a powerful family who likes Yuul and wants to get married to him, also helps out Shin and Chae Kyung by convincing her rich father to go and help out with whatever the King (Shin's father) is doing. Why would she do this when she likes Yuul? Because she knows that Yuul likes Chae Kyung and putting Chae Kyung and Shin together will leave Yuul free.
Back at the summer house, Shin proposes again to Chae Kyung, but Chae Kyung, stunned and confused is unable to answer. However, it is evident that the two are still in love with one another. That afternoon, Chae Kyung decides to return to Yuul. Shin intended to let her go if that was her final wish. However, Shin received orders from his father to keep her with Shin. (Go figure!) The king is waiting for Yuul to make a move so that he can officially step in, but if Chae Kyung returns, Yuul's coarse of action may change. Chae Kyung desperately tries to run away by hitchhiking, calling a cab, etc. All are futile attempts. Shin is intent on keeping her by his side. In the end, Chae Kyung tries to go out through the second floor balcony. Just before she jumps, Shin runs into the scene and pulls her off the ledge into his arms.

Well that was how the 22nd novel came to an end. I know, a cliff hanger huh? It's driving me crazy. Now I have to wait again for the next novel to come out. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the short synopsis of Goong. There were some very funny scenes, pictures, and lines in the comic. I really recommend watching Goong.