Wednesday, February 29, 2012

V-log: Jin x Meisa, Black History Month, Fan Wars, & Updates

I added annotations yet again for you guys and I will probably be using the system until someone complains about it. I totally forgot to elaborate on the 12012/Dir en grey fan war in the video, but I mentioned a little bit about in the description. Remember to subscribe and share!

+ Part 2: Black History with KPop & Muddy Cult Updates

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Promo: SPICA

[from left to right] Kim Boa, Park Narae, Park Joo Hyun, Yang Jiwon, & Kim Bo Hyung

Joining LOEN Entertainment and having some guidance by the iconic Lee Hyori, five talented females were brought together to form SPICA. Some of them were not a stranger to the kpop world. Park Joo Hyun was featured in a song, Kim Boa contributed to rookie group Infinite's vocal growth, Yang Jiwon was a former member of T-ara and Five Girls, and Kim Bo Hyung was a 2NE1 trainee. These experiences helped these girls build a fairly strong foundation for what's to come in the future. They debuted with "Potently" in January with their senior Lee Hyori featured in the music video. They also made a few appearances on radio programs showing off their strong vocal talent.

I first ran into this quintet while skimming EatYourKimchi's kpop chart and saw the music video for "Potently". Eventually after seeing the thumbnail so many times, I caved in and watched it. I do not regret my decision either. Sure, the girls weren't in the video at all, but I thought it was a somewhat good decision to hide their identities. It was a different approach of introducing these polished rookies to the world. You can easily engross yourself with the emotion and depth of the lyrics and delivery without being distracted by learning names or finding a bias, like most viewers would do. Perhaps Hyori benefited from this move as well. When I saw the teaser for "Russian Roulette", I was excited and I normally don't get attached so quickly to kpop groups upon debut. Once the full video was released, I was pleased, despite the predictable storyline. It was nice seeing these beautiful faces behind the equally beautiful voices. They're not your aegyo girl group with sexy dance moves, they simply deliver charming yet humble personalities and vocal talent that more than half of kpop females would kill for.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"「凶夢伝染」フルバージョン" by Ali Project
I bet a lot of you didn't know I like Ali Project. I don't keep up with their music and PVs as much as I would like to, but they are definitely talented with portraying long lasting impressions. From their music to the astounding visuals, they will keep your interest in some shape or form. This song is very beautiful and full of perfection and the visuals meet the high standards that I have witnessed from each release. I'd like to thank my friend who showed me this PV and renewing my love for Ali Project.

"Justice" by Matenrou Opera
From "Otoshiana no Soko wa Konna Sekai" to "Justice", this band is just getting more and more mindblowing by the release. I'm really excited to hear their first major album. They have definitely grown as not only handsome young men, but extremely talented musicians taking smart risks with their music. This is a little heavier than I'm used to with them, but they still manage to combine their elegant touch to it that makes them stand out from the rest.

"Calvary" by Angelo
I wasn't all that impressed with "FEATHER", but I figured with the addition of Giru (ex-Vidoll) and Karyu (ex-D'espairsRay) they were still trying to fit the right pieces together to sound more cohesive. "Calvary" definitely shows that the new additions were a plus! I really love the instrumentation and Kirito's vocals sound more confident than "FEATHER". Everything is pretty solid and I'm glad to see that fans are pleased with the outcome. Hopefully, there will be less complaints about the band members since a certain guitarist joined. Keep the peace, guys, or get out~

"Touch" by miss A
Are you expecting Big Bang's "Blue" here? Well, too bad, miss A won my vote for comeback MVs. I won't go into detail of what I thought of "Blue", because this is miss A's moment. This lovely mix of elegance and goth is a great change for miss A breaking out of that Wonder Girls mold for a moment. It's somewhat catchy, but invokes a subtle longing emotion through the vocals with a haunting electro-pop track that sets the tone. The visuals are stunning and the girls look beautiful as always, but more so they look very mature.

"Bulletproof" by eAeon
No, I didn't discover this from EatYourKimchi's newest segment promoting k-indies groups/bands, it just happened to be in the related section of whatever I was watching. I honestly don't remember what it was, but it's definitely something that they would pick and I understand why. This is absolutely breathtaking! It's mellow, melancholy, and deep. I'm sure you guys know I love depth! It's nice to see this level of talent and emotion in South Korea. The vocals are soft and touching and the visuals are something my eyes have never had the pleasure of experiencing. Looking forward to exploring more of this group's music in the near future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

V-log: Asian Entertainment Wrap-Up & Jenny Hyun Rant

Sorry for the delay. This was recorded on Monday, by the way, so I'm clearly aware that Big Bang's music video has been released by now. I was trying something new with the annotations to make viewing easier so you can skip around, if need be. Please, don't forget to subscribe to my channel for more videos!

+ Wrap-Up Part 2
+ Jenny Hyun Rant

Quick Music Review

Rin -the end of corruption world- - Independent "MAZE" (2011, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Fall..., From the End..., Silent To My Pain, World In Flames

I was so surprised that Rin was releasing an album, since Phantasmagoria failed to do that until they disbanded. Anyway, the album opens up with a haunting track called "Cold Sabbath". Looking at the time, you would think it's a regular song, but it's simply an intro with minimal, but dramatic vocals and drumming. "Fall..." continues that Victorianesque sound with pounding instrumentals and screams. It's a little reminiscent of Phantasmagoria's energy, but perhaps a little more refined darkness to the song. "Replicant Blue" takes a totally different direction with small little elements of piano and synths. It sounds too generic for Rin, in my opinion. "A.Hitlor." is a little heavier with some shouts sprinkled throughout the song. It's very energetic and still different than the usual sound of the band. "From the End..." brings back that haunting church feeling with choir-like vocal echoes and bell chimes in the intro, then the real rock sound bursts through. This is how Rin is suppose to sound like. "The ins and outs" keeps the energy high, but kinda blurs the sounds from the previous track which is a little annoying. "Silent To My Pain" was one of the few tracks I would repeat. It has a beautiful, classic piano intro and that signature Rin/Phantasmagoria sound that's still fresh and upbeat. Despite it being 6 minutes long, I still feel bouncy and lost in the amazing guitar and bass structure as Riku flows through this little lyrical rollercoaster. "Royal Pain" goes for a more dramatic approach that has a different kind of intensity than the previous track. "Metamorphose" has a dance-like feeling to the instrumental track, but still has a strong bassline to it. When this single was released, I was a little iffy about the sound and I don't think I listened to this song that much then. "As If Forever Exists." is a slower track that features some decent instrumentals and emotional vocals. "Continuation of dream" experiments with jazz lounge sounds and rock music fused together. It's a little odd for Rin to being trying out this sound the way they did, but it's not too terrible. "Mind confusion" continues this experimental instrumentation with a slightly more mainstream sound with a sprinkle of synths in the background. "Flowers Bloom" gradually shifts back to the sound I'm more familiar with from Rin. It's a little dancy and uptempo, but not too odd as "Metamorphose". "World In Flames" ends the album with some drama and wonderful acoustic blended works and bells. It's different from the norm, but somehow it works well for the band and most importantly Riku's vocals. Overall, the album wasn't that bad and they definitely took some risks from being another Phantasmagoria.

Vanness Wu - C'est La V (2011, Taiwan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 說愛就愛, Is This All, Do It, Knockin'

Lately, I've been very impressed with Vanness's music and the "Intro" displays how excited you should be when you start up this album. Forgive me for not having these titles translated, by the way. "說愛就愛" starts up the dance vibe that Vanness is venturing in. Sure, it's the mainstream right now, but it works for him without sounding like he's completely selling out. "Is This All" features Ryan Tedder and a great mixture of R&B and symphonics. This was a great promotional choice for this album. It has a lot of dramatics and emotion to it. "Do It" features Vic Zhou and mixes Vanness's hip-hop sound with electro-pop. It sounds a little odd, but you can't help but surrender to the beat of this track, especially around the chorus. "命定" mixes electronic sounds and piano for a slow R&B track that Vanness is very skilled at. "有你在" slows the tempo of the album down a little more for a ballad sound featuring violin, chimes, and piano. "只要她快樂" keeps the slow pace, but picks up just a couple steps with piano, acoustic guitar, and a strong R&B dance sound. "愛的手榴彈" picks it up even more with an increasing dance sound that is rather simple, but works well with the vocals. "愛沒走" goes back a few steps with an Asian drama-esque ballad sound with violins, strong drums, and piano underlinings. "哎呀" is a sweet acoustic track of love. It took me awhile to like this song, but the music video is so endearing you can't help but let your heart melt to it. "透.明.愛" jumps back into the electro-pop thing with a slightly prominent bass and a powerful chorus. "Knockin'" brings this album to an end with some dramatic music featuring some piano and intense bass. It's a classic Vanness R&B sound with a new twist that has a very catchy chorus. The album had too many slow, ballad songs to me as I enjoy the more R&B and upbeat sounds from Vanness, but it didn't make me dislike the album.

-OZ- - Souga (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: Reverse, Ecdysis

This band is slowly approaching flawless status with lynch. and deathgaze and I'm really happy with this growth from this j-indies band. I wasn't that blown away from the PV, but "Reverse" is an amazing, energetic song that features everything I love about this band: strong musical presentation and powerful vocals. This song has tons of energy and I hope I get to hear this one live this year. "Unseal" features a seemingly new guitar approach for the band and I really like it, but the vocals following it will take some getting used to. The song isn't bad, just different than the usual. "Ecdysis" has some very prominent bass and dramatic musical arrangement that I can easily lose myself in as well as compliment the band on their growth. This is a new side that I don't get to experience much with them and I love that they're sharing this on Souga.

Sunny Hill - MIDNIGHT CIRCUS (2011, South Korea) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: 꼭두각시, Midnight Circus

I know this single is old, since now we have "The Grasshopper Song" and all, but I'm always in a delay with my music reviews. Anyway, "Girl With A Accordion (Intro)" brings us into this almost circus themed single with lots of fun energy and, of course, accordion sounds. "Puppetry", I believe that's what it translates to, drops the energy down to a somber, beautiful sound. When I first listened to this, I was falling further in love with this group, since I was new at the time. It has some beautiful instrumentals and flawless vocal talent from each member. "Midnight Circus" was my second taste of this group via YouTube. It's more uptempo than the previous song and has a fun, circus atmosphere surrounding it that had a very fitting music video. "Let's Talk About" has more of a fun sound to it that's kinda poppy, but mature with some acoustic work and quick lyrical flow. To close out this single is a preview of their deeply emotion filled song "Pray" and an instrumental version of "Midnight Circus".

Lollipop F - DANCE (2011, Taiwan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Dance, LolliPARTY, 近距離, Magic

I believe I posted this group's music video on one of my recommendation posts and I'm still fairly new to them, but I like what I've heard so far. "Dance" is responsible for exploring these boys. It has a fun electro-pop sound to it that makes you want to, indeed, dance. "戰利品" is less high energy, but still maintains an electro-pop feel with a little R&B in the vocals to go with the melody. It's calming, but keeps your attention at the same time. "重新愛" adds a little more R&B and maybe a romantic feeling to the delivery, although I could be wrong. "LolliPARTY" brings back the fun that "Dance" had, but not as fast paced. It's still a good song. "近距離" retreats back to an electro-R&B sound with some musical emphasis here and there. "Liar" opens up with some weak harmonization and a couple off notes that reminds me of those parody American boy bands. "不再親愛" brings in the guitars and puts the vocals in the front of the music. It's an interesting approach and it keeps my attention for sure. "沒有為什麼" goes with a soft rock sound that could be pulled from a Maroon5 song. For some reason "Magic" pulls me back into loving these guys again. It's a little more powerful and falls into what kpop is doing now, but it doesn't bore me. "Yo Yo" closed the album with a generic electro-pop sound that tries to be as energetic and catchy as "Dance" and "LolliPARTY", but it becomes a little annoying in places. For someone who doesn't listen to this genre much, aside from Vanness Wu (and now G.E.M), this isn't that bad and I think I'll occasionally keep tabs on these guys.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Know Your Name" by Jay Park feat. Dok2
When I saw the teaser to this video, I wasn't all that excited about it. It sounded too generic for me...for Jay Park! But once it was released, I had to listen to it at least twice a day. The song is very catchy and still keeps that subtle Jay cockiness. The choreography is pretty amazing and the video is very simple. Although, I could've lived without the multiple Jays that just remind me of Miyavi. Best part of the video, aside from Dok2 being apart of it: Mauika Hicks! Yes, there's a sista in the vid and she turns it out! Thank you so much, Jay, for bringing some color into the kpop world.

"Bad Girls" by M.I.A
After watching the catastrophe that is Madonna's "Gimme All Your Love", I came upon M.I.A's latest solo video and I was immediately hooked. She still has that odd rap structure that only suits her and the video is all sorts of amazing. Can we say Fast and the Furious in the desert? From Jay Park to M.I.A, there's so much swag going on here and I'm loving how this song is gracing my speakers with a nice bang. Keep being a bad girl, M.I.A!

"Mystery" by B2ST
Old song is old, but the video is new. I don't get what the purpose of making a new video to a song from the debut era, but it's kinda cute. I guess it's a little Valentine's present to the fans. I thought it was interesting and, yet again, cute. It features a finger boarder and the members being themselves as they sing this old goodie from their beginnings. Another fun little part is the breakdancing. I wonder who the owner of the hand is.

"No Hands (Waka Flocka Cover)" by Neon Hitch
I randomly decided to browse through my recommendations on and I checked out a few artists from the list. Neon Hitch was part of the list and I must say, I think she gained a new fan. I wasn't familiar with the original sound of the song, until I decided to sample it after I watched this cover a couple times and even if I wasn't bias, I would still say this cover is way better than the original. I wish the video was a little longer because it has a very interesting concept (and there's also that whole Big Sean saying about "ass" *coughs* >>;). I think the Europeans are definitely up to something in the talent department. Keep it up!

"Unchained" by Spin Aqua
For some reason, I felt like listening to some Spin Aqua and I thought I should see if they had any PVs when they were together. Indeed they do as you can see. I totally forgot K.A.Z was the other half this duo and I love the man (also forgot he's part of Oblivion Dust too =X). This song is very powerful and has some great emotional vocals from the young Anna. The PV matches the mood of the song very well and it's simple between its cuts of the duo and the storyline. Nice to reminiscence a little. Also, does anyone else thing K.A.Z looks older in this PV than the VAMPS PVs?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Crush!2 -90's best hit cover songs-

Various Artists - Crush!2 -90's best hit cover songs- (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Mizerable, Yurameki, Shiroi yami, Rocket Dive

Looks like they decided to make a sequel to this classic 90's compilation. Did they comply with my wishes from the first review? No, but it's okay, there's always a third album, right? This time around I didn't go back to compare the original with the covers that I wasn't familiar with, so please forgive me for that.

Ayabie's Aoi opens the album up with a familiar Gackt classic by the name of "Mizerable". I wasn't sure how well Aoi would do with this song, since I kinda have an attachment to it, but he did a pretty good job with it. The music arrangement accommodated with his voice and he pulled it off without sounding amateurish. Next is Annie's Black cover of SOPHIA's "Gokigen tori ~crawler is crazy~". I'm actually familiar with the band doing the cover's music, but SOPHIA...not so much. For all I know, the song is pretty upbeat and it sounds alright. Nothing extravagant, but good enough for Annie's Black, a band I hardly listen to but enjoy. ADAPTER's cover of CASCADE's "FLOWERS OF ROMANCE" is the next track and it's very electronic based. I'm not sure if this is ADAPTER's original sound or how CASCADE's original sounds like this. It's alright, but I don't like the distorted vocals in it. I was surprised to see another Dir en grey cover included in this second compilation. I was even more surprised that R-shitei (R-15) was covering "Yurameki". Honestly, this was a good choice for the band as MAMO's vocals are very similar to Kyo's vocals during his GAUZE era. They didn't change too much with the music like Merry did in the previous album, which is a little saddening, but nonetheless, this was a very good cover of an old Dir en grey song that I love. I believe I mentioned I'm never very familiar with LUNA SEA songs, but I do enjoy the band. So, it was interesting seeing amber gris covering "SHINE", since I'm somewhat familiar with what both bands sound like and they're a little different. The vocals and music sound pretty much on point and the band preserved the essence of LUNA SEA without losing a little taste of their sound in the cover. -OZ- is next with Rouage's "Shiroi yami". It definitely sounds like a 90's visual kei song and nothing like an rough -OZ- sound, which is interesting to hear that they're capable of such control. I commend them on that. Two bands I'm not familiar with at all, but it's GUILD's cover of SIAM SHADE's "Gureisharu LOVE". It's pretty light-hearted and fun with some great guitar work and strong basslines. I was surprised and pleased that Chemical Pictures had a part in this album, unfortunately I have never heard of THE YELLOW MONKEY's "JAM". Despite that, the music was simplistic and beautiful and TenTen's voice was quite lovely with his own little flair. I could never get into ZUCK, but this is their cover of Kawamura Ryuuichi's "BEAT". It's a slower song than the previous track, but the vocals don't sound too awful which is always a plus. Not a BUCK-TICK fan, but I enjoy a couple songs by them. This time around is 9GOATS BLACK OUT covering "SPEED", which I think suits them in some odd way. Maybe it's the vocals or something, but it's nice to hear them do something more upbeat than their original mellow sound that could either be beautiful or boring. Never could get into T.M. Revolution, but I think I like a couple of his songs. Anyway, vNEU covered the fun upbeat "HOT LIMIT". It's very electronic based and simplified which I didn't really like that much, especially compared to the original and HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR's cover of it. I love Pierrot, but I don't particularly like Hanashounen Baddies, but I was willing to listen their cover of "Kumo no ito". They managed not to butcher the song too much either. The vocals were on point, attempting that Kirito flair, and the musical arrangement stayed the same. Next up is HERO's cover of GLAY's "Yuuwaku". Not a fan of either. The vocals are a little annoying and whiny in this upbeat tune, so I'll just move along to the next track. Now for another couple bands I'm not familiar with which is Blu-BiLLioN covering La'cryma Christi's "Mirai Kuro". The music is pretty, but the vocals are just as bad as HERO's which makes it unbearable to listen to in some places. Megamasso's hide cover of "Rocket Dive" was my first taste of this album and I saw the complaints that some hide fans had, but honestly, I thought this was a good fit for them. Inzargi did well with the vocals and the music is still energetic and captured the energy hide had when he performed it. Moran closes out this compilation with one of my favorite Malice Mizer songs, "Illuminati". I like the musical direction they went with this song which was more of a rock sound than their Victorianesque signature that Malice Mizer is known for. I thought it was a very good cover, even though I was a little skeptical how this would turn out. I'm glad I was reminded not to worry about Moran, because they produce good work.

Overall, I thought this was another good compilation and I'm crossing my fingers for another. Maybe just a full on cover album that isn't just 90s visual kei. It would be interesting to hear Loki doing a deadman cover or ALDIOUS performing a SHOW-YA song.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Bad City" by Lolita23q
Have I mentioned how proud I am of this band's growth over the years? They are just getting more and more impressive and I hope I get to see them soon. This is a simple little PV, but it highlights each aspect of the band in the most positive light. Even more so, you can tell these guys have a great chemistry between each other. When was the last time you saw a jrock band having this much fun in a PV?

"Warrior" by B.A.P
You probably didn't know, but before this group's debut I had some small issues with them. Being an all blonde group was the least of my worries since most of the time I don't bother trying to learn names. It was my feelings toward Bang Yong Guk being part of a group and not a solo artist, but seeing the results of their little alien union, I'm not too against it anymore. They have an interesting chemistry between them off the stage and I think this is a great punch to the kpop industry. I think this is more hip-hop than Big Bang claimed to be in the beginning. I believe Bang will be a great leader and perhaps Zelo should leave the speed rapping to Outsider if he can't pull it off live.

"DIRTY" by Miryo
This was on my list of things I was looking forward to and when I saw the teasers, I was spazzing out all of the place. When the video was released I was a little confused, but not completely disappointed. I enjoyed the dark humor concept and the sound was definitely unexpected. Of course, I didn't know what sound would've came from the badass Miryo. I got a chance to skim her solo works and I can't wait to listen to them fully when I get a chance. Please enjoy the playful, dark jokes of this video. It's really good!

"Nanrina" by Block B
From "Freeze!" to "Tell Them", this is a great step for the boys from the block. The song is ridiculously catchy to the point I'm humming it in the morning while I brush my teeth. Yes, I want to go crazy with you guys so much! I believe their competition is the newcomers B.A.P. I think they're definitely neck and neck here, so I hope they keep growing in this direction and that Zico occasionally does an ego check on himself so the group can prosper.

"Wuchi Die Ying" by S.P.Y
Sassy, cute, and sexy are hard things to pull off, but having great vocal talent and impressive choreography is even harder to come by with those other elements. I went back to watch one of their other videos and this was definitely an improvement. I love the direction they're going and this song is pretty catchy. The video is also pretty intriguing from the switch between the girls dancing and their interaction with their male counterpart. Good eye candy there~

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rant: Gamers vs. Hollywood

After debating whether to review Tekken and caving into the idea, I figured I should rant about video games being turned into movies. Now I must admit that not all video game movies are terrible, but majority of them have yet to satisfy gamers when they are brought to the big screen. In this post, I will discuss a few video game movies I have seen and my opinions about them.

As a child gamer, I remember seeing Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Bros. on TV. From skimming opinions on YouTube, they range from terrible to entertained. Now I haven't seen either of these movies in years, but I can clearly remembered being entertained by both movies. I've seen Super Mario Bros. several times on the Disney Channel, I believe, and I remember how ridiculous the movie was. Looking back on it now in my mind and through these opinion videos about it, I honestly don't think the makers of the movie were taking it seriously in the first place and because of me having that mindset reflecting back on it, I still enjoy this movie and would re-watch it in a heartbeat along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As for the Mortal Kombat movies, I really don't remember how those went other than the sequel had more characters in it. But I don't think I had many complaints about it either.

Moving forward to some more recent video game adaptations with the Resident Evil series. Now I must admit I'm not familiar with the game at all. I've never played a single game from the choice. It just doesn't interest me, so I guess this shall be a bit one sided. I'm sure there might be some inaccuracies in the series, but as a movie lover I thought the movies were pretty enjoyable with my minimal knowledge. Although, I think I could've lived without Resident Evil: Afterlife. I'm happy I didn't see that in pointless 3D. Even more pointless is their decision to make another movie and possibly reviving some deceased characters. I kinda expected this to happen, but all the ideas I've heard about this new addition doesn't sound good at all. If I see it, I'll just wait until it comes out on DVD and I can check it out at the library.

Silent Hill, on the other hand, I am more familiar with. I love the story between the first and third game, since the movie based itself on those two. My best friend and I were excited when we heard the news that they would be making a movie. We even planned on cosplaying in the theater when it came out. It took a couple years or so, but I was able to see it in the theater twice as well as purchase the DVD upon release. In the beginning, I really loved it, but upon re-watching at home, I realized how many flaws were present. I commend them on doing a way better job with sticking to the story than Tekken, but they also share a similar problem of mixing games together when it wasn't necessary. Sure, Pyramid Head is a badass character, but he's pretty much irrelevant to the present characters and he's in Silent Hill 2. With all the cramming, I'm curious how the sequel will pan out. But yet again, it's another movie I would love to remake for the better of the die hard SH fans out there. I wonder if non-fans were confused by the storyline.

Skirting away from the horror genre to another title I was exciting about seeing is Tomb Raider. In short, this is the first series I obsessed over. I thought Lara Croft was the baddest chick ever and I still do to this day. I still get excited seeing amazing cosplays of her, so clearly I still love the series and I'm so excited about the makeover for PS3. Anyway, when it was announced that Angelina Jolie was playing the role of Lara, I was pleased with their choice and I was ready to see this epic adventure on the big screen. Since I haven't seen this movie in quite some time (like years), I remember being content, but also frustrated with some the actions portrayed by Ms. Croft. I think it declined even more in the sequel. I vaguely remember there being some backstory errors and the fact she had a love interest bothered me. No, this is no homoerotic attraction toward a 3D character; this is a "why do attractive heroes always have to have a love interest in movies!?". Can't they be badass and independent and just laugh off those who fond over them. I guess James Bond is the closest to that.

After ripping apart live action adaptations in my Tekken review and be somewhat unhappy with Silent Hill, one might think that perhaps being animated might be better. Well, from what I've seen from others' comments it might not work out that well. I am not a Final Fantasy fan at all, but I've seen Advent Children a billion times...mostly because some of my friends are die-hard FF fanatics. Even though I never want to see this movie for at least another five years, I thought it was pretty decent, but it seems like another animated FF movie wasn't as good. Let me remind you that there is a laughable Tekken movie that is animated. Lastly, I've seen Galarians: Rion a few times on MTV2 enough to go out and buy the sequel for PlayStation 2 and the DVD. I thought it was a very intriguing movie and seemed to resemble the game pretty close, but I honestly haven't gotten that far in the game.

So, what's my complaint on creating movies based off video games? For one, I think the project's group should consider what gamers think while they're piecing together the movie first, then worry about the movie goers that are unfamiliar with the story. If you cater to the gamers first, then it'll send a positive message for other movie goers to go see it. Obviously, accuracy is important, but, using Tekken as a reference, you don't have to go into extreme detail with costumes sometimes. Sometimes you have to alter things a little, but the important thing is to keep character traits and backstories on the same page at least. Like the Mortal Kombat re-envisioned trailer I keep praising, they seemingly keep the character traits of the characters, but set them in a totally new environment that makes it intriguing.

Hopefully, one day, there will be more successful transitions from video games to movie theater (and vice versa). Until then, I hope Hollywood deeply considers putting gamers first when they try their hands at recreating popular series, because it would definitely increase sales.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Tekken

Starring: Jon Foo, Kelly Overton, & Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Directed by: Dwight H. Little
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 92 minutes

I swore time and time again when this movie was released that I would never ever watch it. It was during my winter break that I decided to watch this movie on G4's segment called "Movies That Don't Suck", which confused me greatly from all the comments I heard. Since there was nothing else on, I caved in and watched it.

In the year 2039, the world has been altered to corporations controlling certain countries. The most evil and powerful corporation is Tekken ran by Heihachi Mishima and his son Kazuya Mishima. But that's not the focus of this story. Oh, no~ We follow a young man by the name of Jin Kazama who delivers contraband in the slums of Anvil. When he finds his mother Jun killed by the Tekken Corporation, he declares vengeance and joins Tekken's King of Iron Fist Tournament, after obtaining a Tekken ID to enter.

As you can see, I was not quite enthused with this project. I wasn't excited about it in pre-production either. When I heard rumors of a live action movie coming out, I had mixed feelings about it. Depending who was in charge of the project, it could be really good or really bad. Then when I saw the possible trailer for it, after seeing a glorious Mortal Kombat concept, I was in denial that this movie existed. I was honestly hoping and praying that this project would be scrapped. Unfortunately, this movie exists. So, I will review it with two different mindsets: one as a Tekken fan and the other as a movie fan.

I won't go into my history with the game, so I'll keep this brief. I'm very attached to this game to the point that I remember the storyline almost to a T and I even cosplayed one of the characters! Anyway, like most movies that are based off franchises there were tons of inaccuracies. Let me list some of these inaccuracies and, fyi, this might be a bit of a spoiler for those unfamiliar with the franchise. First of all, there's no such thing as Tekken City or a Tekken Corporation. The major corporation of the game is Tekken Force (or Zaibatsu). Also, Heihachi and Kazuya never worked together. They hate each other and that's what makes the story interesting. Jin isn't a contraband runner and he's not in love with Christie Monteiro either. Nor is he dating this random Kara chick that doesn't even exist in the game. Heihachi and Kazuya are not responsible for Jun's death either. Her death is still unclear, but the game vaguely said that Ogre was responsible for her death and that's what fuels Jin to enter the tournament in the first place. Also, Kazuya is no every day pimp that they portray him to be. Nina and Anna do not work for him either. They actually dislike each other as well. The JACKS in the movie are suited guards, but in the game series they are robots. To end this long list of inaccuracies, Heihachi doesn't know that Kazuya and Jin are related in the movie!

Aside from the bajillion inaccuracies, there were just too many characters crammed into one movie. They should've stuck with one game or storyline and went from there instead of pulling random characters from different games that have no purpose other than to create fight scenes.

Alright, pushing aside my gamer mindset, this movie was still bad. The acting wasn't believable and there was just too much going on. If I didn't know these characters were in different games, I still would've thought there was no purpose for having all these people in there aside for the fights. I couldn't attach myself to any of the characters whether it be positive or negative, they just seemed weak and cartoonish.

You're probably wondering if there were any positives to this movie. Well, they didn't completely white wash the cast, which would be difficult to do since the game is very multicultural. Even with that tidbit, they didn't really match the whole multicultural thing either. The costumes were accurate, but seeing them in a live action movie and not a convention or something made the actors look ridiculous. The fight scenes were shot pretty well, despite them being mostly pointless, but whatever.

I guess it's obvious I really disliked this movie no matter what. Doesn't help that I watched Tekken: Blood Vengeance either. Sad to say, but I'd rather re-watch Tekken: The Motion Picture; at least that was entertaining and close to the video game. I really feel sorry for all those people who wasted money seeing this and for the game developer who chooses to ignore its existence. I don't blame him at all. While watching this abomination of a movie, I took some mental notes on what not to do when I have a decent budget to remake it. With that, I highly recommend you to avoid this's just bad.

Rating: 1.5/5

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: After.Life

Starring: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long
Directed by: Agnieszka Wójtowicz-Vosloo
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 104 minutes

I heard about this movie a few years ago on G4's Attack of the Show on a movie review segment. If I remember correctly, it didn't get a good review, but it still sounded interesting. During winter break, I was able to pick this up at the library and bring it back to the dorm to watch on the weekend.

Anna Taylor is an unhappy middle school teacher. She has a selfish mother and her complex (and sometimes indifferent, cold) feelings toward her boyfriend Paul make their relationship rocky. One day, after school, Anna attends a funeral for her former decease music teacher. The atmosphere is quite solemn, but something strikes Anna during the viewing that she quickly shakes off. Later, she meets Paul at a restaurant and he has a surprise for her. The dinner starts off promising until Paul's ambiguous talk upsets Anna. Paul tries to calm her down as she storms off to her car and drives away from him quickly. Clearly distraught from the misunderstand, Anna cries and the weather resembles her furious tears. She reaches for her cellphone to make a call and suddenly, she wakes in the morgue to a familiar face. It's the mortician Eliot that she saw at the funeral earlier. Confused by her surroundings, she asks Eliot where she is and what she is doing there. Eliot calmly answers that she is dead and he is there to help her cross over.

Judging by the title, viewers can easily guess that this movie is about what happens after you die. We follow Anna's struggle throughout the movie with her acceptance that she has passed on. On the other side, Paul is also struggling accepting this fact as well. Although, that sounds a bit boring put in those words, but there's plenty of twists and turns in this film. Anna comes to a couple realizations that she still loves Paul and she wants to fix things with her life. The dead also assure her that she is not ready to cross over either.

Christina Ricci did a decent job portraying Anna. Although her character was a bit frustrating between the cold feelings toward Paul and her fights with Eliot, I still wanted her to have her happy ending and fight harder. Justin Long was also pretty decent on his portrayal of Anna's boyfriend Paul. His emotions and actions were believable and I felt sorry for him a lot of the time. Eliot, played by Liam Neeson, had a nice subtle dark shadow about his character that made me curious through the whole movie. Beatrice, Anna's mother, could've had a bigger part to show the impact on Anna's character. Sure, she showed up in the important parts, but she didn't stand out too much like Paul and Eliot.

So, the story was enjoyable for the most part, but predictable at times. There were some nice shots in there as well that I got to admire, but the beauty quickly disappeared when the camera shifted. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but it was nice having those moments. There was also one scene dealing with Anna and Paul in a bathroom that I could've lived without. It seemed like it was trying too hard to reach in the horror area of the story. I don't know if it was just me having this problem, but I thought the audio levels were a bit frustrating in certain areas. I also felt they could've elaborated a little more on Jack, one of Anna's students. Not too much that it overshadows the main story, but enough for viewers to get attached to him emotionally.

In the end, the director had all the greatest intentions for this movie and I commend her for thinking up this intriguing concept, but I wish it wasn't so predictable. I will also give her points for all the subtle hints along the way as well. The movie wasn't terrible nor a waste of time, so I won't discourage anyone from seeing it.

Rating: 2.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How To Fix the Entertainment Industry

I hope you, my precious cult followers, read the previous post concerning the entertainment downfall, because this is my solution to fix the industry's problems.

I was searching hard for a couple days to re-find this video from JUMPOFF and I'm so glad I can use it for this post. So, please, take the time to check it out, because I think what Serius Jones had to say can be said for the industry as a whole and not just rap and hip-hop music.

What Serius said throughout the video is pretty much my mentality on purchasing CDs since they became the big thing over cassettes and downloading was a mere toddler. I didn't have a job, I was just a kid. Occasionally, I would get an allowance or simply saved all my birthday and Christmas money to buy what I wanted. As I grew older, my guidelines for what music to buy steadily had a more concrete criteria that hasn't changed much now.

1. The artist/group has to be reliable as in I trust that what they make is going to be amazing because their previous works have been great.
2. If said artist/group is reliable that means I feel connected to them in some way.
3. If there's a strong connection and their promotion efforts through music videos and live performances (back in the day when MTV and BET were good music sources) are mostly positive, then I would buy their album.
or 4. If I have sampled their work online and I like at least half or more than half of the tracks, then I would buy their album.

Watching that video proved to me that people still have standards when it comes to music and this can be applied to movies as well. If the movie doesn't have a positive impact on me, especially a strong one, then I'm not going to bother buying a hard copy.

I say, if you want to decrease piracy, then I believe the industry should go back and resume making more quality material that is worth buying. Like Serius said, he's not going to waste his money on an album that only has 2-3 passable tracks that you can hear anytime in a club or on the radio. I'm on the same boat. If I'm not enjoying more than half of the promotional tracks or whatever, then I'll just get the tracks I do like and not bother with the full album. This logic works very well for me as a jrock fan too as they're even more of investment than American CDs, meaning the price is more. At the moment, I'm an unemployed, college student that has student loans to look forward to in the future, so that $40 or whatever better go to the most epic album ever~

People might think that's a cheap way of thinking, but seriously...would you spend your hard earned money on Lady Gaga's Born This Way? What about anything Soulja Boy or his crew has produced? Would you spend money on him? In my eyes, they're both two extremes in the industry. Lately, I feel Lady Gaga has been trying too hard and Soulja Boy and the gang don't try at all. All their fame and fortune has been coming from endorsement deals and publicity lately. Think about Adele's success this past year. I'm not a big fan of hers, but I can admit that she is quality music and that is why she had positive sells for her album. Why do you think Japan has a strong CD market?

As for movies, an industry I'm going to try to get into in the future, I can honestly say that my theater visits have decreased over time. It has nothing to do with the ridiculous ticket prices either. Honestly, I can say that I've been quite lucky in that area. Before I moved to university, tickets where I lived were about $4.50 matinee and $2 extra after 6. If you drive an extra 15 minutes or so, it's $1.75 less. Quite a deal, right? But I know other places are way more, like when I visit my family out of state it's like $7. So, my reason for my declining interest to attend movies in the theater are the movies itself. Everything is a remake of something old or overseas, is a carbon copy of the generic movies that are already out, or terrible horror movies. Even more annoying are those pointless 3D movies that are only created to make extra money.

In the year 2012, there's probably one, maybe two, movies I'm really looking forward to seeing in theaters and that's it. Everything else will be ignored or I'll rent it when it comes out on DVD; another reason I reach out to overseas for my movie needs. Now not every movie has been crap, there have been a few gems out there, but they're few and far between.

Sure, technology is evolving and it's part of the reason that the industry is failing, but perhaps the industry should look at itself as well instead of placing all the blame on the fans. We deserve quality as consumers and we want to be entertained to the fullest so we can support the work we see or hear. From all my years of living, I've remembered that music and movies are a work of art and should be viewed and treated as such. When the makers hurriedly make these works just to make a quick buck, then we'll just as quickly dismiss and forget it. But when they take the time and effort, then everyone wins.

Friday, February 3, 2012

V-log: Monthly Maintenance Mehaps

V-log: Planet EXO & SM Entertainment

Reader's Question: Hard Copies vs. Digital Downloads

With all these "exciting" interwebz war and ACTA entering the ring, my drive from my previous posts concerning PS Company and jrock merchandising keeps me on the path to cover another reader's question: "Are digital releases taking the place of buying real CDs?"

Ever since the birth of Napster, downloading has been a window to obtain songs without a price. Now in the year 2012, downloading, whether legal or illegal, has increased and thus the music industry has continued to suffer for it. Some companies and artists follow the changing times and go along with the trend of downloads, which saves them a little money from making too many hard copies. So, does that mean that CDs are becoming obsolete to digital downloads? Honestly, I think there's still people like myself that still exist and would rather have a hard copy in their hands.

You're probably thinking, after reading handfuls of music posts, that Miko is so old school. Maybe she needs to get with the times and start supporting the rise of digital downloads. Well, four iPods later and I still love my CDs. I like flipping through the pages, showing my friends these musicians I enjoy, and checking out the lyrics and such. Is that so wrong? Computers crash, relatives delete your stuff, and various other things could happen at any moment, but a CD is usually your back-up if such things happen, right? Unless you're super old school and you own a floppy disc.

May I ask you a question? What's the last CD you purchased? And, if you can, why did you purchase it as oppose to downloading it? For me, the last CD I bought was Daichi Miura's D.M.. It's an amazing album and after hearing it once through, I immediately bought it. I wanted to support because he's a great artist and he's a bit underappreciated. As for non-Asian musicians, I believe my last CD purchase was The Birthday Massacre's Pins and Needles. I know it's an old album, but when I first saw them live I didn't have enough money to buy both their album and Aural Vampire' the venue's ATM was broken.

So, what was the point of that? Well, I just wanted to remind you that musicians still make hard copies. If they truly believed that CDs would be extinct, then they wouldn't put the money to produce them; releases would go straight to digital download. I also must point out that they still sell vinyls too! Anyway, forgive me for bringing up Asian music, but Japan and South Korea put a lot of effort into their packages. Therefore reinforces my point that CDs aren't going any where for a while at least. I know South Korea is a little more successful with their digital downloadables, but they have yet to ditch the CD market. Perhaps this is one reason fans don't pay for downloads for Asian music. The packaging and perks are worth having something tangible. Unfortunately, the U.S. is struggling to figure out what do with the marketing: transition to downloads or stick with hard copies or perhaps figure out a way to balance both mediums.

Artists and labels want to get paid and I totally understand that. Teaming up with legitimate businesses like Amazon and iTunes is a good start for those who want to download, but I've noticed that prices on iTunes have increased for certain tracks. Even with these options, American artists and labels are still struggling and I think that's partially why all these silly bills have come to the table.

I think LinzerDinzer summed up the situation best in her latest video rant.

Now the question is, how can we fix the U.S. music market or the entertainment industry as a whole? Stay tune for the follow up post!

If there's something you want me to answer, check out this post on how you can submit questions.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"Dear My Suite..." by Aoi & Ryouhei incl. Ayabie Megamasso
Ever since the reunion and release of Monochrome, I've been on board with this amazing duo of cuteness and talent. My friend showed me their latest PV and I must say, I like this way more than "Monochrome". This makes me extra pumped for their first album release. The melody is very Aoi-solo work, but it has that Ryouhei edge that he has added to the beginning of Ayabie and Megamasso's songs. The PV is a little dark and doesn't have much "wow" to it, but the song more than makes up for it.

"L'oiseau Bleu" by Moran
I was about to add Megamasso's latest PV to this list, but the previous PV above led me to Moran's latest. OMG! I love it so much. I saw there were a few complaints in the comment section of YouTube about all these "blue bird" songs (namely D and SCREW's recent versions of "L'oiseau Bleu"). It would be unfair to compare them all to each other because they all have different sounds and tempos. If I did, I honestly would choose this one. It's fun, upbeat, and refreshing from their last PV featuring their new member, ex-Sugar guitarist, Sizna. Aside from the song being ridiculously awesome and catchy, the PV is visually stunning. It shows lots of beauty and loads of fun energy from the members.

"Lay Down" by Koda Kumi
Ever since the leak, Kumi fans have been crazy with these slew of PV overload. I don't blame them, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on with this album. So, I'm wondering, did the director or whoever get the inspiration for this video from Colette Carr? I'm not mad, I think it's interesting that Kumi picked up this image and direction for one of her songs. I'm glad she's taking some risks with her music and style as usual. Anyway, this is a cool club banger and it has loads of sexy attitude in it, even though her English isn't perfect.

"Romance" by Satsuki
Same friend that showed me the first PV, showed me this one. It's nice to see Satsuki solo without Kisaki in the background. It's not a negative comment, I promise. Anyway, I think this is better than his last PV. Good energy and visuals, plus Satsuki is the cutest angel bear ever especially with glasses! Ahem~ The song is your typical Satsuki solo sound, but there's definitely some growth since the time I saw him live in 2009. I'm so proud of him. I hope his next CD release is more memorable as well.

"LOVE&HATE" by Clazzi feat. Lee Seung Yeol & MYK
I actually had a hard time narrowing it down to these five, which means I can use my leftovers for the next set of recs. So, Clazzi's album was on my list of things I was looking forward to and this video makes me more anxious to listen to it. It has a familiar "western" sound that mixes Clazzi's music skills, club, and rap all together into one catchy, unique tune that could be enjoyed worldwide. The video is darker than his collaboration with 2AM's Seulong, but it's still visually stunning beyond belief for something from South Korea.