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.