Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Death Note

Title: Death Note
Language: English & Japanese
Genre: Psychological mystery
Episodes: 37

In the beginning, I had a really bad relationship with this series. My friend was obsessed, America was obsessed, and then awful, annoying cosplays were born from it. During the hype, I avoided this series like a plague, but after skimming comments while watching Monster...I was tempted to give this series a second chance.

Light Yagami is an honor student and practically bored with life, until he sees a notebook drop from the sky. When class is over, he investigates the notebook labelled "Death Note" and is skeptical of its power, after reading over the rules on how to use it. Once he goes home, he sees a hostage situation on TV and decides to try out the Death Note on the criminal. Surprisingly, the hostages are free and the criminal suffers a heart attack. Still a bit skeptical of the note's powers, Light tries it again on a man harassing a woman outside a convenient store. Once again, the note takes affect and the enemy gets hit by a car. Light decides to use the note to vanquish evil and become "God" of the new world.

As mentioned before in the Monster review, I questioned whether I would give this series a second chance and surprisingly, I made it through...somehow. The only similarities I noticed between the two was pointing the question of "what is evil?" or "who is the real monster?". Other than that, there's still more similarities between Monster and Trigun, which I may do later if anyone is interested.

Death Note has a very intriguing concept and apparently had a huge impact on the world to the point that some people got in trouble with the law for mimicking it. It is very dark and there's a few mind games for the viewer. So, I enjoyed the story, but it was very frustrating to watch. When an episode ended, I wanted to continue moving on because of pure curiosity, but the way they ended bothered me in a totally different way that Monster did.

The core of my frustrations lie with the characters with a great emphasis on Light and Misa. Light for obvious reasons as he has a major "God" complex that annoyed me instantly from the first episode. Strangely, I heard that I was suppose to sympathize with this character yet I was counting down the episodes until his demise instead. Misa also made me instantly dislike her as well. Her voice and presence were simply annoying and honestly, I was counting down the episodes until she would die off too. Next in line would be Light's followers or believers who were pretty much soulless puppets. I wasn't particularly attached to any characters emotionally like Monster, but there were characters I liked.

I will admit that once a certain turn of events occurred, the story became weak and uninteresting. I had to force myself to continue and find some sort of positive point to keep me in. The end was partially satisfying for me and I kinda understand why this series had such an impact, but it's no where near Monster.

Despite my frustrations and waning interest, I did manage to enjoy the series. I might watch the movies for lulz. It hasn't triggered any interest to read the manga. Nonetheless, I liked it, commend the unique storyline execution, and it wasn't a complete waste of time. If you don't mind a delusional, clever main character in a crazy cat and mouse chase, then this a good series for you.

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: Monster

Title: Monster
Language: English, Japanese, & a little German
Genre: Psychological mystery
Episodes: 74

Kenzo Tenma is the most talked about neurosurgeon in Germany. Originally from Japan, Tenma gained respect from the hospital's director, who is also his future father in law, and peers. With such a great gift brings positive press time, especially after saving a famous opera singer. Unfortunately, a common Turkish man died that same night and Tenma was unaware that he was originally assigned to operate on him. Tenma, being the caring man that he is, felt sad that the patient couldn't be saved after watching Director Heinemann talk to the press about the opera singer and facing the family of the Turkish man at the hospital. He contemplated whether all life was equal while having dinner with his fiancee Eva, which she believed that it wasn't.

With Eva's statement and a fellow doctor's comment about blending in with the rest of his colleagues and about the director using him for his research papers, Tenma has a change of perspective on his own life and decides to break away from the political thinking of Eisler Memorial Hospital by refusing to operate on the mayor of Düsseldorf and stick to his original patient, a young boy by the name of Johan Liebert. Little did he know that this decision would alter his life immensely.

Tenma soon loses his social standing with Director Heinemann as well as his relationship with Eva and is ultimately treated like everyone else. This affects him to a point, but his duties as a great doctor takes higher priority in the midst of disobedience. He tends to Johan and checks on his twin sister Anna Liebert who was brought at the same time. Although, with the consequence of the mayor's death, Director Heinemann and two other doctors take over and selfishly try to make the patients newsworthy material. This decision angers Tenma and we finally see how he truly feels as he speaks to the unconscious Johan. Coincidentally, his words come true and the three men that altered his life unjustly are mysteriously punished with death. At around the same time of the incident, the twins disappear from their rooms and Tenma is immediately suspected of the murders. Luckily, there was a lack of evidence against him.

Nine years later, Tenma is now Chief of Surgery at Eisler Memorial Hospital. The hospital becomes everything he wanted when he started medicine. His next important operation patient is a suspected criminal Adolf Junkers who was hit by a car. Junkers is frozen in a slight catatonic state and only being able to mutter the words "monster", in the beginning. He and Tenma create a doctor-patient bond and Junkers is able to become relaxed around him. One night out, Tenma decides to buy a gift for Junkers, an item he mentioned to the doctor, but discovers that Junkers is gone and the security guard is dead. He rushes out to a construction site to find Junkers pleading for his life and for Tenma not to come any closer to him as a mysterious dark figure aims a gun at Junkers. In the end, the man kills Junkers and reveals himself to Tenma as Johan Liebert, the boy he saved nine years ago. Before Johan walks away from the scene, Tenma learns that Johan was responsible for murdering the director and the other two doctors which leaves Tenma with a guilty conscience. Once again, Tenma is a suspect for the incident and decides to runaway to search for Johan to stop the "monster" he created.

Monster is one of those must see series that everyone praises to be a disturbing yet thought provoking masterpiece. After surviving all 74 episodes, I definitely agree with that statement and have become one of those admirers.

I've read many places that viewers have compared Monster to Death Note, but I can't really comment on that since I haven't watched the series completely and I'm still weighing my decision to do so. While watching the series, I noticed it shared a few great elements that my favorite series Trigun has, such as the storyline structure and a few character relations. For me, this is a great thing because Trigun really holds a special place in my heart. Once an episode ended, I wanted to see more. I was anxious to piece together the mystery of why Johan was so emotionless, but I also found myself asking who the real monsters are in this show. Not only does this question appear in the show several times, but you may find yourself applying this to every day life which makes the series even more powerful and admirable.

There are a lot of characters being introduced throughout the story, but they all play an important role to the main characters' journeys. Whether they stay around for a short or long period of time, they all leave a distinct impression on the viewer. Somehow the characters easily provoke an emotion such as sympathy or hatred without losing the character's depth and personality, which is a hard skill to execute in such a short period of time.

With all this praise, you must wonder what flaws exist in this series. I think my main complaint lies within the ending. It's not a bad one, but you'll see what I mean when you reach it. Perhaps the manga will elaborate on the story more when I get around to it.

Overall, this is an amazing, mature, psychological mystery that goes beyond most series. Both the subbed and dubbed are equally enjoyable. I must warn you that this series will screw with your mind consistently, alter your way of thinking, and lure you into an unconscious addiction.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Promo: Block B

[from left to right] B-BomB, Park Kyung, ZICO, Jae Hyo, P.O, U-Kwon, & Tae Il
|Official Site|

In the beginning of 2011, a well-known rapper by the name of Cho PD was out on a mission to bring seven talented young men together and create wonderful music. By April, the group was revealed as Block B and debuted with their first single, Wanna B. In June, they were part of a mash up show on MTV with rookies B1A4 and soon their first mini album, New Kids on the Block, was released.

At first, I agreed with comments that Block B is like a combination of B2ST and Big Bang, but recently, they're slowly gaining their own image. It's great seeing them wanting to grow as men and performers despite their dislike for doing choreography. They have tons of potential and I hope they continue to grow and become better performers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Last Scandal

Title: Majimak Seukendeul [The Last Scandal of My Life]
Starring: Choi Jin Shil, Jung Joon Ho, Byun Jung Soo, Jung Woong In
Language: Korean
Genre: Romantic comedy
Episodes: 16

Jang Dong Chul and Hong Sun Hee were classmates and first loves, but one day, Sun Hee doesn't show up for a date. Years later, they cross paths, but Dong Chul is now a famous actor by the name of Song Jae Bin and Sun Hee is a housewife and mother. When they reunite under unfortunate circumstances, they're both surprised by each other's appearance and later their personalities.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen many Korean dramas, but this has easily become one of my favorites. I believe I started this around last year and I finally got around to finishing it last week or so. At first, I immediately compared it to Full House as both dramas deal with a jerky celebrity male lead and a stubborn female lead that has to earn her keep through manual labor. Even with that factor and sharing the same genre, they're both different.

Last Scandal became an addicting series. It was full of twists and turns and, of course, dislikable characters that made the generic formula more intriguing. The casting was a great selection and I enjoyed the chemistry between all the characters. The romantic moments weren't overly cheesy and everyone's personalities stayed consistent to the end.

What I really liked about this drama compared to most is that the characters are easy to relate to. I think that the story could translate to America without changing a thing, but I highly discourage a remake of the show in the U.S.. Sorry, guys~

Even though things become predictable, it's still exciting to see things unfold, bend, and crack. For me, my impression of each character from when they first appeared never changed even when the writers threw curve balls at me. I highly recommend to romantic comedy lovers to check out this rollercoaster of a series.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Open For Requests

In my last v-log/post, I announced the results to the latest poll here and it was concluded that I will be taking requests from you guys on what I should review. You can request music, movies, dramas, anime, and topics you might want me to rant/discuss here. You can leave your requests here on this post or send me an email with the subject, "Review Request".

The same goes for reader's questions, instead put "Reader's Question" in the subject line. My email is zetsu_nightmare2.0.9[at]hotmail[dot]com. I'm looking forward to fulfilling your requests!