Saturday, 31 May 2014

Great Korean songs with hardly any views on YouTube

Well, I’ve been rushed off my feet this month. I’ve been making a short film for once, instead of writing about them (you can see a teaser for it here) and it’s taken up a lot of time and energy.

Anyway, with the news that Psy’s song Gangnam Style has hit 2 billion views on YouTube, I decided to write a quick post about Korean songs that I adore, but that have got barely any attention at all.

First up is Lee Geun Jung with this video, posted on April 2012 and it has only 365 views so far. It’s a quiet acoustic ballad. It’s only three minutes long, and just as you think it’s reaching a crescendo, it drifts back into melancholy at the end.

In October 2012, this video by Park So Yun was posted and, to date, it’s had just 115 views. Fly High is an upbeat number, with exactly the kind of chorus you’d expect a song called “Fly High” to have. Don't know why I can't embed it, but never mind. Click on the link! It's worth it.

Next is from February of this year. Han Chae Yoon’s song is a delicate tune that skips along with a smile in its heart. It’s charming childlike qualities have picked up 617 views to date, though.

The last one is a bit of a cheat, since it’s only been up for two months. But in that time, it’s only got ten views. It’s from Nine9 (lead singer with the quite excellent Dear Cloud) and it’s a typically uplifting piece of stadium pop.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Currently watching: River’s Edge Okawabata Tanteisha

This new series could be described as a less anarchic Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi. It’s got a similar run-down look, there’s a weird mystery to be solved each week, and it’s got some decent music in the soundtrack.

But while Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi has a slacker, don't-care attitude, River’s Edge is moer arty and is shot better. The lighting and photography are great and it also has a slower pace (perhaps to give the viewer time to appreciate how nice it looks).

Like a lot of things this season, it stars Odagiri Joe as the detective who works at the agency that’s run by the nameless “Director” (played by Ishibashi Renji) and Megumi, the secretary, (Koizumi Maya). Episode one had them trying to trace a restaurant owner from the 1960s, hopefully this series will avoid the usual crime cases. There was also something about the detective having precognitive dreams. We’ll see how that develops during the rest of the series.

I enjoyed it a lot. It’s late-night slot meant the program was able to avoid the flat style and same old faces that prime time dramas suffer from. It’s stylish, engaging and, since I’m a fan of Odagiri Joe, it’s got everything I need.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Just watched: Real

Real is a film released in 2013 starring Ayase Haruka and Satou Takeru as two lovers: Atsumi and Koichi. Atsumi is in a coma after a failed suicide attempt, and Koichi is using a new method to send himself into her thoughts in order to talk to her, and try to discover why she tried to kill herself.

It all looks great. The fictional world of the comatose Atsumi is nicely realised. Sometimes solid, sometimes indistinct, and the other people who “live” in her world are convincingly false and somewhat unnerving.

Supporting actors include Nakatani Miki and Odagiri Joe. Mind you, almost everything I see these days seems to have Odagiri Joe in it. It’s not a deliberate choice, honest.

The story, though, is a bit of a strain. The twist halfway through is easy enough to predict, and the film even puts in a few things to prompt you in case you can’t see it coming. But even so, once the story has changed, the viewer is expected to forget what happened before.

And the ending, too, isn’t terribly well thought out. Having spent all that time creating such a convincingly weird world, the final scenes are a bit of a change in style. So this film, while being great for the eyes, is not so great for the brain. Worth a look, though.

Currently watching: Gokuaku Ganbo

My initial excitement about the new season of Japanese dramas has waned somewhat (mostly due to Smoking Gun, a police drama so bland that I can see no reason for its existence) but it has been re-animated recently by Gokuaku Ganbo.

This drama stars Ono Machiko as the plucky but unlucky girlfriend of a hopeless boyfriend who runs up a huge debt and then runs away, leaving her to deal with the Yakuza types who want their money back.

It's a comedy, but the style ranges from comic-drama to cartoonish Yakuza stereotypes. But once you get used to that, it's not really a problem. And the cast is great. Supporting Ono Machiko is Naka Riisa, Odagiri Joe and also the writer of Amachan, Kudo Kankuro in his first acting role in some years.

The storyline seems pretty solid too. Certainly, it offers up enough opportunities for all kinds of adventures. And the subtitles from Crunchyroll are very good. I applied for a job a subber there and if this was the standard they got, then I'm not surprised I didn't get the job.