Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Ringu 0

Starring: Yukie Nakama, Kumiko Asou, & Tanabe Seiichi
Directed by: Norio Tsuruta
Language: Japanese
Rating: unrated
Running Time: 95 minutes

In addition to my research and comparison, I finally completed the Japanese anthology with Ringu 0. The manga shares the same name and I think Birthday is the name of the novel. This chapter covers the backstory of Sadako and how all this came about.

If you've been keeping up with the original storyline then you know that Sadako was not a child when she died and she was part of a theater troupe. We start our story with this theater group preparing for a performance. Some of the women find Sadako strange and blame all bad occurrences on her. She later takes the lead due to an accident with the original actress and develops feelings for a certain guy, Toyama.

While seemingly showing us Sadako's struggle to fit in and be close to Toyama, the movie unveils her unusual family situation. Her loving mother who shared similar supernatural powers, her father who exploited them for it while masking it with love and care, and the secret records exposing nearly everything Sadako went through.

Not only do we learn these unfortunate things, but we learn that Sadako wasn't really an evil person as portrayed in Ringu and so on. We also go an explanation of why she's a little girl or younger woman among other things. Every little question about Sadako is mostly answered in the prequel. You can sympathize with the way Sadako is in present day and a bit of her mother's issues.

I'm not completely sure if the U.S. will ever use this in the future remake installments, but honestly I'd rather them not make a mess of such a great story like they are with their upcoming Ring 3D. Nonetheless, I found the movie intriguing and informative. It portrayed her as a normal human being feeling awkward about her ESP, family problems, and emotions toward the opposite sex.

If you're interested in this franchise, then Ringu 0 should be added to your watch list to complete the story.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Comparison: Akunin - book vs. movie

In a previous post I did a quick review on Shuichi Yoshida's novel, Villian. It was a really great story with memorable characters and an interesting twist. When I learned there was a movie, I jumped on it immediately.

Yoshino Ishibashi is a seemingly average young woman just wanting to live her own life away from her small hometown and worrisome parents. She works for an insurance company and stays at the company's dorm. She has two close friends that share a slightly deceitful and envious relationship. She appears to be happy, but she reveals to a friend that she's been trying out dating sites and meeting guys, even though she's dating a rich guy named Keigo Masuo that they met at a bar.

One night out, after the girls eat out, Yoshino separates from her friends to meet up with Keigo, but she's really meeting a guy from the site named Yuichi Shimizu. This isn't the first time they've met and apparently she manipulates him (and other men she met previously) to give her money after spending time with them. Upon meeting up with this guy, she spots Keigo and decides to ditch her meeting with Yuichi to be with him.

The next day, Yoshino's body is found below the side of a road and the police began investigating who is the killer (or perhaps I should say "villain").

Akunin (or Villain, in English) is a murder mystery drama that plays with the viewer's emotions and makes you question the surroundings.

Shuichi Yoshida does an amazing job of pulling you into the story and luring you to choose sides. It brings up many questions for you to solve that makes the novel more enjoyable. Who is the villain? Who do I believe? Is it wrong for me to feel a certain way toward this character?

Of course, the novel gives off more detail and provokes more emotional acknowledgement for the reader, but the movie holds true to creating a relationship tie between the characters and the viewers. I can honestly say I still felt the same about each character in the movie as I did in the book.

I have very few complaints about either medium. When reading the novel, there are sections that are first person testimonies and commentary. I remember a couple of them I couldn't decipher who was speaking, but found it interesting to include at all. As for the movie, I wish they explained Yuichi's grandparents' situation and relationship a little more and Yoshino's friends' reaction toward her death. I also think they could've said more about Keigo and his friend, Kento. Lastly, they could've executed Yuichi's relationship with Mistuyo a little better. I think they portrayed Yuichi a little more emotionless or unstable than he really is in some ways.

Overall, both are worth taking time for, but if you enjoy a more descriptive view point then I highly recommend the book.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rant: Japan vs. South Korea

While I was out to attend A-Kon, a co-worker of mine sent me a BBC News article. Unfortunately, I couldn't read it...but! she showed it to me when I returned to work. The article discussed "the dark side of Korean pop". I know I've said it a million times that I'm not a kpop fan, but I did know majority of the stuff that was going on in the article thanks to a friend who knows a thing or two about the Korean music industry.

I'll sum up what the article covered. The Korean music industry is a fairly weak one and artists/groups don't profit from them very well. They have to deal with the hardships of "slave contracts", working intense schedules and cutting off connections to living a normal life for little pay. With these factors against them, some artists branch off to make profit in Japan or fight the industry. In short, the Korean music industry fails hardcore and Japan is where it's at.

A couple days after I read this article, it was reposted on a LiveJournal community and Asian pop fans, specifically Japanese and Korean pop, butted heads once again. It wasn't too crazy compared to other communities, but I still find it silly to see fans tell kpop artists to go back to their own country. The silly part is most of them don't even live in Japan. Honestly, I'm waiting for kpop fans to say the same thing to jpop ones. It's still a very hypocritical statement.

Although, I have my own complaints about the kpop industry, but there's a good chance I'm not going to express my opinion on here any time soon. But I think this article not only reveals the dark side of the kpop industry, it's also showing the dark side of both fandoms through their nonsensical comments toward it. I'm really happy this article exists, although watching the video is painful, but it reveals some things that kpop (and jpop) fans don't know about the industry and the reasoning behind they always visit Japan.

I'm sure some already knew about their contract problems through stories like DBSK and KARA, but something that the article didn't mention was how the industry stretches the truth on the groups' success in Japan. Now I'm pretty sure acts like SNSD, KARA, and Big Bang are actually living up to the announcement of success, but newer groups that are hardly popular in the homeland of Korea need to cut the bs of selling out shows and whatnot in Japan.

I still have research to do on how the jpop industry functions, but I know it's far from perfect as well, like the jrock industry. They have their contract issues and whatnot, but I like how things are a little looser there. I suppose I'm a bit bias toward Japan, but at least I have valid reasons and I definitely won't be protesting that kpop needs to leave Japan. Everyone wants to make a living doing something they love and maybe leave a mark on this world.

JPop fans need to accept the music industry and the trend, kpop fans need to stop being delusional, and the kpop industry needs to fix itself or start strengthening other genres for more results.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Live: A-Kon 22

A-Kon 22
[2010.06.10] Sheraton Hotel in Dallas, TX
featuring: Blood Stain Child & D

Babel Entertainment's Shion cam

Blood Stain Child
Sophia: vocals
Ryu: guitar
G.S.R: guitar
Ryo: bass/vocal
Aki: keyboard/programming
GAMI: drums

Blood Stain Child was up first and I apologize as I don't remember the songs they played because I'm still a new fan of theirs. They had a lot of energy on stage and I thought their music was better live than it was on CD, although I only heard one album on my iTunes and it was with their previous vocalist. Sophia did a lot of MCing in English as she's fluent (and from Greece). She occasionally told us the story/meaning behind some of the songs they performed before performing them. They took a little time to introduce the band members. There was band leader and lead guitarist Ryu, that I seriously thought was a girl in the beginning. Silly me for thinking that in the world of jrock, but I didn't know much about them in the first place. She moved onto Ryu's younger brother, bassist, and secondary vocalist Ryo who is quite the opposite in looks compared to lolita Ryu. He tried his best at speaking English to us with Sophia's assistance. He didn't give up and I thought it was cute for such a harsh looking man. Next was the handsome, host-like guitarist G.S.R who said a few simple words in English. She introduced their keyboardist and programmer Aki, but he said he didn't speak, and she moved onto drummer GAMI who someone yelled that he was sexy. He laughed and played it off like a cutie.

Asagi: vocals
Ruiza: guitar
Hide-Zou: guitar
Tsunehito: bass
Hiroki: drums

Once BSC's set was over, the crowd got really excited, not because of just the anticipation of D performing, but because the boys were setting up their own equipment and looking mighty flawless doing it. They made a dramatic opening with "Der König der Dunkelheit" which made me and everyone else super excited. The energy was high and I felt lost in the music. Asagi's MCs were cute...mostly because they were in Engrish, but I could understand him 98% of the time, which is good. He also had a chance to introduce the members, which was pretty nice. They had great chemistry with each other on stage and moved around a lot. Tsunehito looked a little less creepy, but he still has fishy eyes. Hide-Zou seemed to have somewhat of a wall up and kinda had a stoic expression, but still showed power, passion, and energy. Ruiza was just adorable and fun. Hiroki was handsome and gave in everything he had behind the drums and was not afraid to be comfortable during their encore with his top open. Asagi practically owned and commanded the stage like this was his second home. A couple of the songs seemed neverending and I was a little worried for Asagi's voice doing all that growling and whatnot, but he kept going and the guys kept jumping around the stage. Asagi taught us how to do "Night Ship 'D'" with the flags which was fun. I was surprised they played some of their older songs that I knew more than their newer stuff like "Sleeper" and "Yami yori kurai doukoku no acapella to bara yori akai jounetsu no aria". Also was happy they did "Yami no Kuni no Alice"! The grand finale of their set was their performance of "Ouka Saki Some ni Keri". Not only was the song just as amazing live, but Asagi changed into his kimono for it. He came out with a parasol, opened it up at the intro, and pink sakura petals fell on him. He took out his gold fan and started dancing occasionally during the song. During the guitar solo, I believe, he took out some more petals and fanned them out into the audience. It was beauitful, high energy, and everything. My memories a little fuzzy, but I think they might've done another song. When it was over, it didn't seem like they wanted to leave the stage as they kept returning and tossing things into the audience.

D's setlist minus the encore [borrowed from cool LJ user =X]

The crowd [and myself] at the live