Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quick Movie Reviews

...I'm back!

The Scribbler (2014, USA) | Rating: 1/5

Katie Cassidy is probably best known for her time on Supernatural and Arrow. She's generally better on those shows than in this low budget scifi graphic novel adaptation. Suki has recently been released from treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder and placed in a halfway house with other former mental patients. There is one male patient among all the females living in the halfway house. Of course, all the ones he's slept with are turning up dead. Does Suki have something to do with this? This film takes itself too seriously especially with the dialogue. Much of it is far too heavy handed along with the general premise. At one point, I was fairly sure that the director and writer had simply pieced together things they thought would be neat to add in.

Another Me (2013, UK/Spain) | Rating: 2/5

Game of Thrones fans will recognize Sophie Turner from her role as Sansa Stark. Another Me is based on the novel by Catherine MacPhail. Fay is a stressed teen dealing with her father's illness, her mother's affair and the usual teen drama. It's not long before she begins to think she's being stalked by a doppelganger.  Rather than really developing the characters, it seemed as if the director was more concerned with trying to set up the next scene. Most of which were very ineffective. I found myself quite a bit bored through this one although I predicted what the twist would be. Overall, I felt as if the genre was a little off on this one. It wasn't quite horror or suspense, yet it wasn't set up as proper drama either.

Burying the Ex (2014, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

The trailer on this one gives away pretty much everything. Max has a girlfriend he thinks is amazing...until they move in together. He decides he wants to break up with his now overbearing girlfriend, only to have her die in a freak accident.  Eventually, he begins to move on with a girl more suited to him. The premise wasn't terrible. A geeky horror fan in a dark romcom with two attractive women could have been quite good in the right hands. The problem was that the characters were mostly unlikable. If you're looking for a movie about a zombie girlfriend, give Life After Beth a try instead.

Apartment 1303 3D (2012, USA/Canada) | Rating: 1/5

Save yourself some time and check out the original Japanese release instead of the Hollywood remake. Better yet, pick up Kei Oishi's novel instead. Janet moves out of her family home to live in the first apartment that she finds. When something terrible happens to her, Janet's sister decides to investigate by moving in. The acting was simply terrible with far too many cheesy jump scares. Hollywood can't seem to grasp that they need to stop remaking Asian horror. The originals are always better.

Grave Encounters (2011, Canada) | Rating: 2/5

What is there to say about a film about a fictional reality tv show? As a parody of reality ghost hunting shows, the film features a crew of ghost hunters going into a potentially haunted location to film a new episode of their show. Of course, this is a found footage film. What else could it be? The character development was biggest problem for me aside from all the jump scares (which were far from frightening). These are people who are supposed to be seasoned investigators. However, they don't react like I would have expected. Where is the excitement that something paranormal is happening? Where is the creeping sense of dread when they realize they've gotten in over their heads? The ending wasn't surprising at all when it set up the potential for sequels.

If you like what you read, drop me a comment or an email to let me know your thoughts. You can reach me at mstr.chisato[at]gmail[dot]com. I'm available if you'd like to request a review of music, movies or anime.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Quick Movie Review

Crimson Peak (2015, USA) | Rating: 4/5

Does anyone else get excited when Guillermo del Toro is directing something new? Well, I was pretty excited for this movie, especially with Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, and Jessica Chastain being part of the main cast. Seeing this movie in theaters was an experience! The visuals were breathtaking and the acting was engaging. The storyline was both frustrating, enjoyable, and tries to do something different with certain cliches. Whether you want to consider this movie a feminist piece or not along with Mad Max: Fury Road, I did enjoy that the main focus revolved around the female characters and change the conventions of sexually explicit scenes. Most likely, I'll rewatch this visual treat again and take in anything I might've missed in this gothic romance.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Having seen the first movie, I felt obligated to check out the sequel was...okay...I guess. I did enjoy Pitch Perfect and thought it was entertaining and funny at times. This one had some great music moments, but, like most sequels, were too heavy handed in the good points of the first movie. The jokes were kinda lame and fell in the same category as current day Adam Sandler bathroom humor. Similiar to the first, I wasn't too fond of Rebel Wilson's character and she was more annoying in this follow up. Some of the plotlines were ignored or carelessly concluded. In fact, I didn't really like how the big competition ended and don't worry, I won't spoil it. Don't feel guilty if you skip out on this sequel, you're not missing too much and if you decide to watch it, skip to the a Capella battle scene. It's probably the best part of the whole movie.

Poltergeist (2015, USA) | Rating: 1.5/5

Within the same year, I watched the original Poltergeist and decided to watch this unnecessary remake...or should I say reimagining. Honestly, directors need to stop reimagining horror classics when they really don't need them, but I regress. This movie doesn't really add much to the original. For the most part, everything is exactly the same with a few updates in the graphics and dialogue, making it more modern day. They do explain the purpose of the family moving a little better than the original, but for the most part there's just jump scares and some not so convincing CGI effects. Hopefully, the newer generation decides to check out the original and forget that this one exists.

The Gallows (2015, USA) | Rating: 1/5

Another horror movie I expected to be bad, especially when the commercials try to convince us that Charlie will be just as iconic as Freddy Krueger, Jason, and Michael Meyers. heh Honestly, I don't know how a killer chasing a bunch of dumb teens with a noose is threatening, but whatever. I mostly watched this for laughs and I did get a couple. Everything you would expect from a modern day horror exists here: characters you don't care about, slightly faulty urban legend, and a anti-climax resolution. Oh, and don't forget that it's obnoxiously shot as found footage. I haven't heard anyone talk about this film and I'm glad that it didn't leave much of an impression on the genre. File this away with As Above, So Below and The Lazarus Effect for forgettable horror movies of the 2010s!

San Andreas (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

It's been a while since we've had a disaster movie and I'm sure there's a reason for it as the interest for it mostly died in the 90s and early 2000s. While this movie received mixed reviews, I decided to give it a glance as my mother said she enjoyed it quite a bit. Me on the other hand found myself bored, surprisingly. The first 15-20 minutes got me excited and I enjoyed how it opened up, but after that, the story became predictable and bland. I tried to keep my focus on the action in front me, but ended up thinking of movies like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow and how engaging those were. None of the actors were bad as I really enjoyed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's character, but the story just didn't hook me the same way it did my mom.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Personal Journal, Vol. 1 - Cliz

Personal Journal, Vol. 1 - Cliz
(Genre: Rap/Hip Hop)

Cliz is a local artist out of Florida on the rise. He's a rapper who will tell you upfront about how he didn't like rap earlier in life, as told in the "Dumb'd Down" interlude. He recalls that after his move to Florida he was introduced to Lil' Wayne (in his prime) and that changed his opinion. That moved him and his friends to try their hand at the artform and thus, Cliz was born. His love of wordplay has led him to start opening for bigger acts along the likes of Machine Gun Kelly & Caskey. He appeals to those who love the banging beats and clever wordplay, yet with this current project, it gets personal.

Relating to your audience is one of the most important things an artist can focus on when creating a project. That is made an apparent goal from his album's title, "Personal Journal". I can say without a doubt that it has been achieved thoroughly. Cliz managed to give you many aspects of himself from track to track, all while mixing in a few wordplay laden songs. Topics can range from his hip hop origin story & making music to help his listeners to money controlling politics & the time we spend just trying to get by. This all flows smoothly together with the help of skits, poetry, and clips that make the journey cohesive.

Cliz's style has a very mainstream appeal like Mac Miller with southern rap production, excluding two tracks "Another Day in the Lab" and "One Day". He also sings a good amount of choruses and occasionally parts of verses, which is the only thing that is inconsistent in quality. At times, his tone and pitch can be noticeably worse than his lyrical ability. Cliz is very good at relating his thoughts in interesting ways whether straightforward or through clever analogies. This making him a pretty easy listen for casual listeners and hip hop heads alike as his personality is present in each bar.

I can highly recommend this project to anyone who enjoys hip hop about life and rap itself. My favorites would have to include "No More", the album's triumphant closing track with Cliz's passionate delivery and confident defiance. "Another Day in the Lab" has a chill boom bap approach with his dedication to making meaningful music as the main topic. The production throughout the project makes it easy to bounce to as the energy is never lost. In summary, it's an enjoyable album that will be a good one to throw on when you're looking for some substance from a hip hop underdog.
You'll leave remembering his message: May Nothing Stop You!

For more on Cliz, I advise you check out:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Scream TV Series Season 1

Title: Scream TV Series Season 1
Starring: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna
Language: English
Genre: Crime, Horror, Mystery
Episodes: 10

When I heard there was going to be a Scream television show on MTV, I was in disbelief and I kinda got it confused with the advertisements for Fox's Scream Queens. Once I deciphered the two television series were separate projects, I wasn't that enthusiastic about it as the franchise was a revival for the horror genre in the 90's. Nonetheless, I checked it out with little expectation and made a first impression video for the premiere.

After a cyber-bullying incident results in a brutal murder, the shocking violence stirs up memories of a killing spree from the past that has haunted some, intrigued others and maybe just inspired a new killer. A group of teens - with two old friends struggling to reconnect at its heart - become lovers, enemies, suspects, targets and victims of an assassin who's out for blood. [source: IMDb]

Much like a few other horror related things I wanted to spam throughout October, it's a bit saddening that the summary I copied and pasted had to be a quick reminder of what happened in this series. Honestly, while I quickly thought over the events that occurred, I almost mixed it up with the partial premise of Unfriended and a bit of Scream Queens, which are both things in queue to be reviewed. Getting back on track, if you've watched my first impression, you might notice that I wasn't particularly happy about the first episode and for the most part, my feelings stayed the same. As per usual, I want to talk about the positive points...which really wasn't much. Despite having a similar name to the Wes Craven film, the show has no connections to the movie whatsoever. It has a whole different set of characters placed in a completely new setting with a change to the villain's mask. The change of Ghostface's mask might've upset some initially, but I didn't find it problematic at all. In fact, it helped further distance itself from its predecessor, which I'll elaborate a little later. Some episodes proved to be quite interesting once the characters became more involved with the investigation and there's a tiny bit of tension when you know the killer is lurking around the corner and whatnot. A couple or so of the kills are alright and the final final scene of the series made me both frustrated, a little confused, and intrigued.

Now for the negative points...which is quite a lot. First problem I had were the characters. Most of them were either unlikeable, forgettable, or plain old unnecessary to the story. There might've been a couple characters I did somewhat care about or even like like Audrey and Riley, but for the most part, I simply didn't care what happened to them, including the main character Emma. Sadly, this series suffered the same character problems as present day horror movies. Scream was a movie that every fan remembers the characters and enjoying their existence. I don't see these characters being in the remembered names of Cindy, Gale, Billy, and Deputy Dewey. Maybe because my friends and I grew up in the nineties, but I don't see too many people talking about these characters and I'm not optimistic that that'll change. Second problem is the killer. I...I just didn't have as much fun with this villain as I did with the original Ghostface. There was a bit of campyness to his character, but also a sense of intimidation as well. He shared some joy and scariness that A Nightmare on Elm Streets' Freddy Krueger had. This one lacks all the fun and fear. The series' killer simply falls flat with many recent horror movie villains. Also the reveal is very underwhelming. Third and most major problem with the series is the story. Oh. My. God. This story was so dull. At moments, it would try to incorporate certain scenes from the original source material, like the very first episode, but most of these recreations didn't leave much emotional impact. For the most part, the story focused more on the teen romance drama of who slept with who than the actual murder mystery. Who cares if this character is gay? Who cares if Emma can't decide on which guy she wants to be with? I can't tell either of them part most of the time! It's just stupid and a waste of time. Focus on the horror at hand! This is why the predecessor was so successful. They know they have big shoes to fill, but they're hardly putting any effort into doing that.

Obviously, Scream TV Series was far from enjoyable for me. I'm glad I had The Whispers, even though that show wasn't completely perfect, and HUMANS to fall back on, but at least it was engaging. Whether you compare this show to the movie or not, it's still not very well executed. The story is frustrating and loses focus on the murder mystery with high school drama, the characters are either unlikeable or useless, and the killer is not that fun or threatening. Unfortunately, MTV will be airing its second season of the show on April 20, 2016. Most likely, I'll be checking it out for improvements and hopefully continuation of the slight cliffhanger ending of the first season, but I have low expectations of it ever being good.

Rating: 1.5/5

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Malibu - Anderson .Paak

Malibu - Anderson .Paak
(Genre: R&B/Neo-Soul)

Anderson .Paak, has been an artist I've had my eye on for a while, so I'm glad to finally give him a proper review and recommendation to the world. Paak, formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy, is a recording artist who has been creating a buzz for a while with his soulful vocals, occasional raps, and the varying soundscapes he produces. He began to really garner attention after his album, Venice, that precedes this 2016 release. Venice increased his internet buzz through his musings with women to the backdrop of the Venice lifestyle: beaches, cruising the streets, & drug induced parties. This eventually led to a collaborative EP with producer Knxwledge and their breakout single, Suede. The hit got an A&R's attention which prompted an invitation for Paak to contribute to what became Dr. Dre's Compton soundtrack last year. With that exposure, Paak was now set to work with even more big names on this follow up album, Malibu.

Now armed with a more honed approach to creating his vision, the city of Malibu is the backdrop of his second album as Anderson .Paak. You can clearly hear his influences from funk, R&B, hip hop, soul, and even a little rock. Everything cohesively transition between each other as demonstrated through Venice, but with a wider range of topics. It begins with songs like "The Bird", "The Waters (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)", & "The Season/Carry Me" that give you a grasp on who he is despite his troubled upbringing. Then enter some of the dancable love songs like "Put Me Thru" and "Am I Wrong (feat. ScHoolboy Q)". After which you can get hip hop relationship tracks such as "Without You (feat. Rapsody)" & "Room in Here (feat. The Game & Sonyae Elise)". You can't leave without a few bedroom songs of the likes of "Water Fall (Interluuube)" and "Silicon Valley". The project then ends in an uplifting fashion with "Celebrate" and "The Dreamer (feat. Talib Kweli)".

Anyone who currently enjoys Neo-Soul and current R&B should be able to turn this on and never skip a track. Paak has seemed to master having a soulful approach with thoughtful lyrics that can also slyly turn into dirty talk that you'll unknowingly jam to regardless. None of the features ever pull you away from the experience as they all just add a little extra color to whichever song they fit into snugly. The production from Paak work well between some other respected names, such as 9th Wonder, DJ Khalil, Madlib, & Hi-Tek. I highly recommend this journey as he continues to rise in his music career.

To start off my personal favorites, "The Waters" is cool since Paak approaches it in a sing-rap style as he confidently talks about his rise in the industry. The singles, "Room in Here" & "Come Down", are also standouts. The former being an easy head-bobbing, wooing joint with an infectious melody and a smooth verse from The Game, who also used Paak's talents on his double disc album last year. Then "Come Down" is so funky with a vocal performance reminiscent of James Brown and you just can't help but dance to it. Finally, "Silicon Valley" became one of those few sex songs that I can't resist. Its classic, respectful slow jam delivery mixed with it's eventual upfront intention charmed me. Plus, this song also has a switch up in the third verse that describes the amusing exchange between himself and his lady before the act. Honestly, there's not a single track that I would remove from the album. This definitely is a project that is worth a listen and a purchase if you like it as much as I did.

For more on Anderson .Paak, I advise watching these:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

ATTENTION! Writers Wanted

It's finally that time!

Yes, Muddy Cult is looking for 1-2 new writers to contribute to the site. If you have an interest in western and/or Asian pop culture and you have a passion for writing, then this might be the home for you!

What I'm Looking For...
- Passion and knowledge in western and/or Asian pop culture (i.e. television, film, music, anime, etc.)
- An objective and critical eye when analyzing and reviewing pop culture subjects
- Competence and consistency in writing
- Open mindedness
- Ability to work with others

If you're interested...
Please submit this application to zetsu_nightmare2.0.9[at]hotmail[dot]com with the subject "Muddy Cult Application".

What are you interested in writing about?
Do you have prior experience writing?
A sample of your writing
Why are you interested in writing for Muddy Cult?

Deadline: Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 11:59 pm CST

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"ProMeTheUs" by Yankie feat. Dok2, Juvie Train, Double K, Rap Monster, Topbob, & Don Mills
Yankie had a pretty good year last year, musically. I enjoyed majority of the music videos he put out and this is one of them. I enjoyed the collaborations among all these unique rappers, most of them I'm fans of. The video and sound really reminds me of 90s hip-hop, more specifically WuTang Clan for some reason. It also reminds me of a Linkin Park song from their album Reanimation. The visual content is definitely trippy and most likely won't make a bit of sense, but it's hard to look away, especially when the flow is so addicting and the beat is entrancing.

Look! A nugu group from 2014! Yeah, I ran into this video in the suggestions of YouTube and I'm happy I gave them a chance. Sure, the video is low budget, but it doesn't deflect the potential and enjoyment of this group. The video mostly focuses on the theatrical choreography, reminiscent of a more successful group VIXX. It's well synced and effective to the mood of the song, I just wish the camera work was more in their favor of showing that off. What's really interesting about this song is the vocal layering and delivery. Sure, the vocals aren't mindblowing, but their raw talent reminds of H.O.T's more serious songs. There's passion there and I hope we see more from these group in the future.

"Forever" by Tiger JK feat. Yoonmirae
Whenever Korea's hip-hop royalty collaborate together, you already know it's going to be fiery masterpiece and this is no exception. Songs like this prove how much range both artists have, especially Tiger JK. He could do hard hitting songs and songs that just hit your heart hard and this is definitely one of those songs. The melody and chorus give a sense of pain and desperation that really makes you think while swaying along to the beat. The video also delivers that gut wrenching feeling effectively as well and I'm glad they went this direction. Definitely give this a couple or so listens and viewings, especially with subtitles.

"Afterglow" by FAKY
This is a jpop girl group I feel needs more recognition and maybe one day I'll dedicate a promo post for them, but for now, let's talk about this comeback song. After a minor line-up change and a cover collaboration with FEMM, they released this PV and it's different than what I would expect from them. It's a challenge to do first person point of view videos, but I think this video was very effective in showing that obsessive fan that puts a group over her relationship. Perhaps this could be a public service announcement for extreme idol lovers. The song is a slightly upbeat R&B song and vocals are just heavenly. Listening to this song and seeing these young ladies together again makes me excited for new upcoming material.

"DANCE WITH ME NOW!" by E-girls
I'm now convinced that every E-girls song that includes the word "dance" is instantly amazing. Ever since my introduction to this group through "RYDEEN ~Dance All Night~", I've been hyped up to see these three girl groups come together and set fire to the dance floor. I seriously think kpop girl groups should take notes on their tight and energetic choreography, because I've never see this sort of naturally passionate movements before and range either. The song is just as upbeat and fun as watching the choreography.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hi, I'm BlipMasta5

Greetings and salutations, Muddy Cult! Let me start off by saying that I'm honored to bring some content to this blog that you'll hopefully enjoy. Before I provide that, though, I find it would be best to introduce myself so you'll have an idea where my perspective will come from. Without further ado, here's the breakdown of BlipMasta5.

Growing up in a musical family, music obviously became my first love. At a very young age, I was trained to sing and play piano. I would learn songs from musicals, church hymns, and pop hits. Plus being a 90's baby, I grew up on many Top 40 songs at the time from N'SYNC & Red Hot Chili Peppers to Missy Elliott & Usher. Being in school and church choirs gave me an appreciation for classical, jazz, and contemporary gospel music. Through the exposure of Toonami, I got introduced to electronica as well as music from overseas by way of anime openings and endings. Therefore by my older teens, my taste in music has become very broad with an attraction to lyrical content and musical composition.

I also was raised in an environment where my cousins, siblings, and I were allowed to create our own parodies, award shows, and short films. That resulted in me growing an interest in the art of storytelling and how to entertain. Shows like Fresh Prince & CSI had me enjoying comedic and dramatic stories. Then, that spread to movies ranging from Napoleon Dynamite to Inception. I also must again mention Toonami along with Adult Swim which got me into anime, starting off with DragonBall Z & Cowboy Bebop. My palette here again is pretty broad including action, comedy, drama, musicals, & thrillers.

So what does this mean for you readers? Well, what I'd like to contribute to this blog is what I'm currently enjoying. On the music side, I would most likely cover hip hop, pop, and R&B from mainstream and underground artists. When it comes to shows and movies, I will frequently talk about anime & movies from new and old. This will all be brought via Fair Shake Reviews. You ask, "But BM5, what's that!?" What's implied by the title; I will give an objective review of the content, yet give you my personal opinion for your insight and invite discussion. Outside of the reviews, if warranted, I may post rants, analyses, or answer questions.

Once again, I must reiterate my appreciation for this opportunity to share my thoughts here: Thank you, Miko and those reading this. I will try my best to give you interesting articles and content to look forward to. Also if you want to connect to any other creative efforts I make, you can follow me on the internet pretty much everywhere. Those links will be down below before my list of current favorites. Until next time, I must sign off with Much Luv, Peace: Threes!

My Anime List

Here's some of what I like in a nutshell...
Brail, Kendrick Lamar, Tori Kelly, Yoko Kanno. Linkin Park
Memoirs of a Geisha, The Number 23, Drumline, The Terminal, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzamiya
Trigun, Monster, Shuffle, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Durarara!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Most Shocking/Disappointing/WTF Asian Music Moments of 2015

A band I heavily got into in 2015 has been consistently pleasing to the ears, so far. When I heard the laughter and amused shock over their cover of Taylor Swift's "We are Never Getting Back Together", I was immediately interested in hearing it. I suppose this cover somewhat doesn't fit this list, but it was hard to pass it up. I enjoyed it a little more than the original. Not sure if it's because of its sheer ridiculousness or because it's actually good. Nonetheless, this heavy rock cover now exists in visual kei history.

Taguchi Junnosuke Withdraws From KAT-TUN
The last time I talked about KAT-TUN at any length is probably 2013's list when Koki Tanaka was booted out of the group. Last year, Junnosuke made his official statement to fans that he would be withdrawing from the group, leaving half of the members. I believe the group is going to continue making music, etc., but honestly, after Koki left I really think the group should disband and stick to their solo activities.

Daichi Miura gets married on New Year's
Japan's Little Soul Prince tied the knot at the beginning of 2015 and I was both surprised and very happy about the news. Perhaps the marriage was inspiration for Daichi's new upbeat material for his latest album, FEVER. Nonetheless, I hope him and his wife's relationship continue to blossom and that the media doesn't intrude. I'm also looking forward to more music in the coming year. Congratulations, Daichi Miura!

Rania Returns with 3 New Members
Rania was a group that caused a bit of controversy with their Teddy Riley produced "Dr. Feel Good" and while they did release a couple more singles before disappearing, I started to believe that the group had one of those silent disbandments like most kpop rookies. After much training and polishing, the girls returned with three new members and one of them stirred up excitement. While I wish I was part of this excitement and not the near tail end of news fizzle, Alex became the first African American in a kpop group. As exciting as that news was, fans were disappointed to see (or in this case, not see) her in their comeback video, "Demonstrate". Her rap is featured and later there was an edit that included Alex and an explanation for her lack of appearance that involved some work visa issues. Hopefully, we'll see more of Alex with Rania as well as an album in the near future.

Eli's Marriage and Pregnancy Announcement
Kpop's best kept secret or terrible lie is for you to decide. U-KISS is a group that South Korea constantly sleeps on, but international fans adore. As a group, they haven't done too much and Eli's probably one of my least favorite members, so I don't follow any of his social media. So, from my perspective, this was a bit of a surprise, but to fans, they seemed to have already speculated that Eli tied the knot. Now, we know that he's expecting his first child. News like this makes me happy and even happier that I didn't see fuming fans complaining about it. Congratulations, Eli!

Intetsu Retires from Music
Former bassist of Ayabie (and AYABIE and any other variations of spelling of the same band) announced his retirement from music. These sorts of announcements happen from time to time and they're very understandable, especially if you know how difficult the jrock/visual kei industry is. Anybody remember An Cafe's blonde guitarist Bou? I'm still very curious the fate of what is left of AYABIE, but I want to believe that the band has disappeared considering there's only one member left. Nonetheless, I wish Intetsu luck in life and a wonderful 2016!

Tasty vs. Woollim
It doesn't seem like label disputes are coming to an end anytime soon, which is both a good and bad thing. Good, because artists are speaking up about their futures and well being as well as bringing awareness to fans on unfair conditions in the industry. Bad, because these things shouldn't happen in the first place! Being a fan of the Tasty twins, I was happy to hear that they didn't break up, but were unfortunately dealing with some disagreements with Woollim, which was around the same time as former Exo-M's Tao was being vague about his status as a member. It seems like Chinese kpop idols are having the hardest time trying to make a living in the industry and it's quite sad. Although, I'm sure they will keep their word of continuing to make music and be successful elsewhere.

Miyavi on The Ellen Show
Remember when Angelina Jolie casted Miyavi for her movie? Well, I thought it was pretty good and I think people should definitely check it out, but this entry is about a specific promotion that Miyavi did. Sure, he did some promotions in other outlets like most movie stars, but this was one of those great moments that make you hope non-American Asians get treated better than Psy did. Not only did he talk about his experiances with "Angie", but he also performed which was quite enjoyable. This was definitely a moment I felt proud to be a Miyavi fan and I hope he gets more opportunities like this in the future.

Nugu Faves Disband
Yeah, I actually know the term for not so popular kpop groups and it's sad that disbandment news isn't as out there as jrock, or even jpop, groups. Some announcements were a surprise, and even a disappointment, for me like Wonder Boyz, Tiny-G, SPEED, and C-Clown. Some announcements I didn't care too much about like Bob Girls, F-Dolls, and Jewelry. And others I wasn't too surprised over and either felt sadness or nothing at all like EvoL and GLAM. Nonetheless, some of these groups or specific members I would love to see them continue in the music industry. Usually the saying goes, "Gone, but not forgotten", but I'm sure majority of kpop fans will forget these groups as soon as they finish reading this entry.

BABYMETAL Win GQ Men of the Year 2015 in Japan
Whether you agree or disagree, but I believe BABYMETAL is one of the most amazing groups that have come out of Japan recently along with FEMM. I've gotten a handful of friends into the group and it's exciting when they release new material or venture outside of Japan. Seeing this piece of news was something I couldn't pass up and I hope my fellow BABYMETAL friends get as much of a laugh over it as I did. Somehow these three young girls won GQ Men of the Year in Japan. I guess there's no barrier that these girls can't break.

JRock & Visual Kei Favorites Disband
I admit some of these bands probably deserve their own disbandment entry for their sheer contributions to the visual kei world, but it's easier to combine some of my personal favorites into this entry. ViViD was a band I was surprised how quickly they moved onto a major label, while being under PS Company. Of course, not being as big of a cash cow as the GazettE or even Alice Nine., ViViD slowly faded in the background of their senpais and bowed out the limelight last year. ZORO, significantly lesser known, was forced to evolve their sound after losing about half of its members. I enjoyed the evolution and experimentation of this duo, so once the releases began to slow down, I was not surprised that disbandment was an inevitable end for them. Amber Gris had a similar fate, when I noticed their releases dwindling to nothing. Lycaon and Moran had a rough history with losing members either through musical differences or natural causes, but somehow managed to keep pushing forward with new member additions and a change of sound. Out of these visual kei bands mentioned, I think their disbandment hurt the most for me. In my eyes, their music was reaching to its peak and now the journey is over. Last band I want to mention by name is DAZZLE VISION. It's unfortunate that I never got a chance to see them live in the U.S., but I'm thankful for the 12 years of intense music they've shared with us. I know there are other various visual kei and jrock bands out there that have announced their unfortunate disbandment and I wish all of them the best in whatever they decide to pursue in the coming year.

Last Minute Reunion Tours
Despite being in America, I still get excited when my favorite bands reunite for a couple lives or even a tour. Sure, some bands announced their reunion lives earlier in 2015 like Fatima, SKULL, and the god and death stars, but it's the last minute ones that really took me aback. Dio - distraught overlord announced a reunion tour for Europe, which made my heart skip a beat, even though I won't be attending. Simply the thought of these five talented men coming together one more time on stage makes me happy. Another little band by L'eprica plan to return this year. Oh yeah, and Versailles came back for Kamijo's 20th Anniversary...or something.

Se7en Leaves YG Entertainment
After serving his military time, Papa YG reached out to the now free R&B singer SE7EN and presented a renewal contract. Unfortunately (and possibly fortunately), that contract did not get signed. I know SE7EN had a rough 2014 with his massage scandal and his relationship with his long term girlfriend, but it was sad knowing that new music would not be coming out in 2015. From what I read, I can totally understand the decision, whether the factor of YG simply not having time for him because of iKON, WINNER, and whatever else b.s. new projects he has coming soon, but I still hope SE7EN finds a label home and resume his rivalry position with Rain. One can only dream~

CL's Solo Efforts
2014 was not a very good year for 2NE1 and for most of 2015, it was stressful for Blackjacks as well. YG continued to tease big plans and many people hoped for the resurrection of 2NE1 in the form of new music, but alas we received news of leader CL embarking her debut in the U.S. Most were disappointed by the news and others were...concerned and for very good reason. I have my own personal history when it comes to CL that will most likely be shared at a more appropriate time, but in short, I enjoyed "Baddest Female" and "MTBD". Being compared to Iggy Azalea and making lazy/questionable material such as "Dr. Pepper" and "Hello Bitches" doesn't bring good feelings. While the two songs may be occasional guilty pleasures, for the most part, it's not a good representation of kpop or CL's talent. More importantly, the fate of 2NE1 this year is up in the air and perhaps YG will have more time for them while Big Bang serves their military time.

Westerners Notice Keith Ape's "It G Ma"
As much quality music that Asia has to offer, mainstream America always picks either the "bizarre" or cringeworthy. Whether I like them or not, BABYMETAL, Psy's "Gangnam Style", Crayon Pop's "Bar Bar Bar", and even Ylvis's "Fox Song (What Does the Fox Say?)" [despite not being Asian related)] I would prefer them over the travesty that is Keith Ape's "It G Ma". For the longest time, I avoided the song, only hearing seconds of it and coming close to it with a sample of OG Maco's equally cringeworthy "U Guessed It" and Untouchable's goofy "Crayon". It wasn't until my brother pulled it up and I witnessed all 5 minutes and 45 seconds of trainwreckage. While it had some hilarious quotables throughout, it was a song I didn't want representing the khip-hop genre...despite the trend going in the direction of more trap sounds. In the end, I hope 2015 is the end of Keith Ape's monkeying around, because he's truly a joke to the genre and there's way better talent out there.

Dir en grey Keeps Busy
In 2014, I mentioned that frontman Kyo was keeping busy with his art, social media, and his side project sukekiyo. Now Die has put together his own side band as well by the name of DECAYS. Whether you like them or not, their music (at least "SECRET MODE") was definitely not what I expected from Die, let alone him doing vocals. Shinya also modeled in California for h.NAOTO and Toshiya and Kaoru have either put together their own fashion line or participated in some modeling. It's nice to see the guys keeping themselves busy with side projects, but I also hope that they're getting some rest in between before the next Dir en grey album.

Black Gene Suspend Activities
After hearing the announcement of Megamasso's 1 year hibernation, which is really unrelated unless you roleplay with me, it was interesting hearing Ryouhei's lolita pal Rame and crew announce their suspension of activities. The whole news was kinda confusing in its wording as a friend and I were trying to decipher whether this was a hiatus or a disbandment. More interesting is vocalist ICE has signed to UNION ENTERTAINMENT for a side project. In the end, I'm hoping the band is simply taking a break in activities in hopes of coming back as a bigger and better band.

Exo-M's Tao & f(x)'s Sulli Withdraw From SM Entertainment
So, 2014 was the departure of Exo-M's Kris and Luhan and SNSD's Jessica from SM Entertainment and the beginning of a little game of Battle Royale for Exo. Most of you know that I love Exo-M and I had my prediction about the group as whole since the start; I just wish it hadn't gotten this bad. My worries started to grow when Tao began to dwindle from activities...and his health was deteriorating. Eventually, Tao threw in the towel and my heart greatly sunk. With only half of the Exo-M members left, it's hard for me to get excited about new music as I'm not to fond of Exo-K's musical chemistry. Honestly, I'm not too excited about this supposed U.S. tour they're having this year. As for Sulli, I'm not too surprised that she left and I think some of f(x)'s fans felt the same. I know there's a few jokes floating around about her decision involving her current beau Dynamic Duo's Choiza. Whether her relationship is related or not is unknown, but it's also possible that her health may be a possibility. Of course, no one will know the real reason unless they're directly involved. Nonetheless, I was happy that f(x) continued as a foursome and gave us "4 Walls".

VAMPS Tour with Apocalyptica & Sixx:A.M.
As someone who has been into the jrock scene for a decade, I've learned to accept that Hyde would never come to Texas. So, when it was announced that VAMPS would be joining Apocalyptica and Sixx: A.M., I thought there was a typo or something. That moment when senpai notices your state. Anyway, I was surprised to see so many VAMPS fans in Houston to show their support and it seemed like non-fans enjoyed themselves as well. At some point, I will post my concert report here, but in short, my friend and I really enjoyed ourselves and I really hope that Hyde recognizes that Texas does need some attention from him and his bands.

MBLAQ Comes Back as 3
In 2014's list I mentioned the departure of Lee Joon and Cheon Doong (Thunder) from the group as well as a discontinuation of the group's musical career. I was surprised, along with fans, to find the group releasing a music video as a trio. It was a little depressing not seeing the group whole and there's even speculation that the song is about "Lee Joon betraying them". I think it was somewhat confirmed that the departure was inspiration for the break-up song, which hurt my heart a little more. I guess this is how DBSK fans felt when they split. Nonetheless, it seems that Joon is continuing his modelling and acting career. I'm sure Thunder is doing well...I don't really follow him as much. In the end, I hope all the members, former and current, follow their dreams and find success in 2016.

Wonder Girls, Brown Eyed Girls, & Big Bang Make a Comeback
Just a reminder that this is a real comeback. 2015 was a great year for old favorites to make their appearance, especially when they're futures were so uncertain. 2013 put Wonder Girls on hiatus as two of the members decided to part ways to pursue other interests and many fans were unsure of disbandment. Surprisingly, some members returned to the group and released an amazing retro, band-centric album that I'm looking forward to reviewing here. Brown Eyed Girls and Big Bang have been busy with solo material, which is all well and good, but it seemed like such a long stretch for a group effort, especially Big Bang. Brown Eyed Girls did not disappoint with a release of a mixture of mature, sexy, and fun music videos and Big Bang going all out with back to back releases leading to a hopeful album with their MADE single series. I'm looking forward to the future of these groups, especially with some of the changes implemented in their sound and that that Big Bang album actually comes into fruition.

B.A.P Continue With TS Entertainment
2014 brought a lot of contract disputes in kpop and B.A.P was part of that list as well as rumors of other TSE artists taking legal actions with the label. After the news was posted, there wasn't much detail to follow up the group's silence. Suddenly, teasers for an upcoming mini-album was posted and some kind of news was put up. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's confused about the whole situation, but I suppose it's nice that we have the boys back with new material.

TGM Events Fail to Highlight BTS
Sadly, I wasn't able to post my own complaints about kpop lives before this event occurred, but I'm still planning on posting my own grievances when it comes to kpop tours in the U.S. BTS's Highlight tour with TGM Events and Community 54 was actually a show I was thinking about attending, but sold out after I waited too long. Of course, I'll go into more details about my perspective on the whole ordeal and more later, after I tweak my original post. Most people, whether you're A.R.M.Y or not, know about the tragedy that was the Highlight Tour: sold out show in Atlanta, fans getting locked out, V.I.Ps being treated like regular tickets,...oh, and leader Rap Monster receiving a death threat over something he said. Clearly, this brief summary of what happened doesn't cover half of what happened, but I hope this teaches fans to be more cautious, other promoters to learn from TGM's mistakes, and that it doesn't hurt kpop groups from traveling to the U.S.

ADAMS' Shota Passes Away
During a performance in Poland, Shota passed out on stage and was immediately rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke and passed away after hours of struggle. It was very shocking news to hear, especially after promoting the duo and adamently listening to their music. Every tour made me hopeful for a U.S. debut, but alas we lost a truly talented and passionate musician. More detailed news on Shota's passing can be found on Shattered Tranquility and a heartfelt message was posted by Shota's wife. My thoughts and prayers to Shota's family, friends, and fans. May his music live on!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Movies Watched in 2016

Starting date: January 1, 2016
Finishing date: December 30, 2016

1. Trainwreck (2015, USA)
2. Amnesiac (2015, USA)
3. Cooties (2015, USA)
4. The Hateful Eight (2015, USA)
5. Home Alone (1990, USA)
6. The Perfect Guy (2015, USA)
7. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015, USA)
8. Black Coal, Thin Ice [Bai ri yan huo] (2014, China)
9. The Target [Pyojeok] (2014, South Korea)
10. Goodnight Mommy [Ich seh ich seh] (2014, Austria)
11. War Room (2015, USA)
12. Knock Knock (2015, USA)
13. A Hard Day [Kkeut-kka-ji-gan-da] (2014, South Korea)
14. The Boy (2016, USA)
15. Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015, USA)
16. The Final Girls (2015, USA)
17. Amy (2015, USA)
18. He Named Me Malala (2015, USA)
19. Minions (2015, USA)
20. We Are Still Here (2015, USA)
21. Zero Tolerance (2015, Thailand)
22. Air (2015, USA)
23. Deadpool (2016, USA)
24. Chi-raq (2015, USA)
25. 28 Days Later (2002, UK)
26. Stonewall (2015, USA)
27. Jem and the Holograms (2015, USA)
28. Sinister 2 (2015, USA)
29. Clueless (1995, USA)
30. Zombie Fight Club (2014, Taiwan)
31. Visions (2015, USA)
32. Freaks of Nature (2015, USA)
33. Zootopia (2016, USA)
34. Pixels (2015, USA)
35. A Girl Like Her (2015, USA)
36. Zoolander (2001, USA)
37. Jumanji (1995, USA)
38. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016, USA)
39. Robot & Frank (2012, USA)
40. Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016, USA)
41. The Jungle Book (2016, USA)
42. Captain America: Civil War (2016, USA)
43. Sisters (2015, USA)
44. Dark Web (2016, USA)
45. Crimson Peak (2015, USA)
46. 28 Weeks Later (2007, UK)
47. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007, USA)
48. Krampus (2015, USA)
49. Gremlins (1984, USA)
50. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016, USA)
51. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, USA)
52. The Crow (1994, USA)
53. The Conjuring 2 (2016, USA)
54. The Purge: Election Year (2016, USA)
55. The Witch (2015, USA)
56. The Other Side of the Door (2016, USA)
57. The Crow: City of Angels (1996, USA)
58. The Crow: Salvation (2000, USA)
59. The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005, USA)
60. The Legend of Tarzan (2016, USA)
61. Zoolander 2 (2016, USA)
62. Allegiant (2016, USA)
63. Cube Zero (2004, USA)
64. Star Trek Beyond (2016, USA)
65. The Wind Rises [Kaze tachinu] (2013, Japan)
66. I Spit on Your Grave (1978, USA)
67. I Spit on Your Grave (2010, USA)
68. Lights Out (2016, USA)
69. Kill Your Friends (2015, UK)
70. I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013, USA)
71. Ratter (2016, USA)
72. Suicide Squad (2016, USA)
73. Green Room (2015, USA)
74. Estranged (2015, UK)
75. Manson's Lost Girls (2016, USA)
76. N.W.A & Eazy-E: Kings of Compton (2015, USA)
77. Don't Breathe (2016, USA)
78. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016, USA)
79. When Marnie Was There (2014, Japan)
80. The Intouchables (2011, France)
81. Now You See Me 2 (2016, USA)
82. God's Not Dead 2 (2016, USA)
83. Equals (2016, USA)
84. Sociopathia (2015, USA)
85. Benny & Joon (1993, USA)
86. April and the Extraordinary World (2016, USA)
87. The Shallows (2016, USA)
88. High-Rise (2015, UK)
89. Holding the Man (2015, Australia)
90. It (1990, USA)
91. The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016, USA)
92. Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016, USA)
93. All Hallows' Eve (2013, USA)
94. All Hallows' Eve 2 (2015, USA)
95. The Man in 3B (2015, USA)
96. The Neon Demon (2016, USA)
97. Thinner (1996, USA)
98. Emelie (2016, USA)
99. The Darkness (2016, USA)
100. The Ones Below (2015, UK)
101. Swiss Army Man (2016, USA)
102. Nerve (2016, USA)
103. Into the Forest (2015, Canada)
104. Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016, USA)
105. Ghostbusters (2016, USA)
106. Independence Day: Resurgence (2016, USA)
107. Doctor Strange (2016, USA)
108. Moana (2016, USA)
109. Batman vs. Robin (2015, USA)
110. Finding Dory (2016, USA)
111. The World of Kanako (2014, Japan)
112. Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010, Canada)
113. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, USA)
114. Housebound (2014, New Zealand)
115. Dark Angel: The Ascent (1994, Romania)
116. Morgan (2016, USA)
117. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, USA)

V-log: New Year's Resolutions (of sorts)