Movies: Your Name

Your Name is a Japanese animation film by Makoto Shinkai (same director as 5 Centimeters Per Second), and it is the best movie of 2016.

Many people compare this film to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, a man who created some of the best Japanese animation films of all time (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Princess Mononoke just to name a few famous titles). In fact, Your Name passed Princess Mononoke this year at the Japanese Box Office1. So far, I’ve watched it twice in the span of two months, and I still love it. The first time I ever watched it, it blew my mind.

Continue reading

Movies: Kubo and the Two Strings

* Spoilers alert.

Kubo and the Two Strings is about a boy named Kubo who has the power to manipulate paper as he pleases. His left eye was stolen by his grandfather, the Moon King, when he was a baby and he lives in solitude with his ill mother, who also has magical powers. Kubo is not allowed to go out at night because his aunts/grandfather will steal his other eye, but we all know the night he stays out is the night this story begins.

Kubo and the Two Strings has beautiful animation fitting for its setting in Japan and has cool stop-motion scenes as well. Being a movie made for children, it had a basic and semi-predictable plot but it still incorporated great storytelling elements, which is one of the themes this movie focuses on.

If you must blink do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear no matter how unusual it may seem.

Continue reading

TV: Reply 1988

Reply 1988 (2015) tells the story of five families living on Ssangmun-dong street and it is the best Korean drama I have ever watched in my life. Ever.

Reply 1988 is the third installment of tvN’s Reply series, where viewers are transported back in time to 1997, 1994, and 1988 in South Korea. The format of the drama switches between present time and the past, with the finale revealing who the female protagonist’s husband is. Each series focuses on adolescence, as well as large cultural shifts during these times such as the rise of K-pop and the Korean Basketball League, technological advancements, fashion, entertainment and advertisements, and civil laws. Specifically, Reply 1988 shines light into a time and place when communities were close-knit and family was the most important. Out of all three series, Reply 1988 is by far the most touching and heart-warming one, and I bawled in every single episode.

Continue reading

TV: Producer

I recently finished Producer (2015), a Korean drama about the variety department at the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS). It follows the hilarious life of Seung-chan, a clumsy intern for the show, 1 Day 2 Nights (a real Korean TV show), as he learns what it means to be a producer (PD) for a variety show. Other main characters include Joon-mo, the head PD for 1D2N,  Ye-jin, the head PD for Music Bank (also a real Korean TV show where singers and idols perform live), and Cindy, a top idol.

Producer is unique because it is filmed in a mockumentary style, making it a Korean version of The Office. It is so different from the other Korean dramas I have seen and I love how it incorporates cameos from real celebrities and current event references to shine light into a culture that I find absolutely fascinating – the Korean entertainment industry.

The three most interesting things from Producer were the unique characters, the concept of staying on top, and public masks.

Continue reading

Movies: Inside Out

I enjoyed Pixar’s Inside Out a lot more than I thought I would. It was cute and quirky how Disney incorporated a “theme-park” setting inside Riley’s brain such as HQ, the mazes of long-term memory, the train of thought, etc. Complicated cognitive processes are transformed into clever representations such as imagination land, dream productions, the secret vault (deleted scene), and more.

Disney has a knack for entertaining children and adults alike. I’m not sure if it’s because I deal with many parents at my part-time, but I can definitely see how Inside Out can become an effective parenting tool to help teach kids the role of emotions and how our actions result from them.

The 3 themes I enjoyed the most from Inside Out were growing up, emotional pressure, and changes.

Continue reading

Movies: Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

I finally watched Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast! It was out in December but I just had no time to watch it between finishing my co-op and going back to a full-time student. As usual, the animation in the movie was gorgeous. Disney never disappoints me with their great art and scenes.

I loved it just like how I love all of the Disney Fairies movies. In this spin-off, Fawn the animal fairy becomes the star. Fawn is known for her compassion and always ends up in trouble when she tries to help big dangerous animals. She meets a mysterious “beast” who she names “Gruff”. The scout fairies want to capture Gruff because they see him as a danger after they find an old legend that says the NeverBeast will bring thunderstorms to destroy Pixie Hollows. Fawn tries to protect Gruff while secretly doubting whether she is right about the goodness she sees in him.

They don’t see what I see.

Continue reading

TV: Dad, Where Are You Going?

Dad, Where Are You Going? is a South Korean reality show where celebrity dads go on trips with their kids. Most of the trips are to rural villages or campsites, with the odd international trip. I first started watching it when it debuted in 2013. Since then, I watched for 2 years and I recently finished the last episode of season 2. The last episode had me bawling like a baby.

Aside from my personal preference to Korean television, I love kids. I work with kids and I find there is something very fulfilling and fun in watching them grow. When season 1 ended, I was amazed at how much the kids had matured and I couldn’t believe that I, a girl on the other side of the globe, had watched them for an entire year (yes, I felt a little weird). At the end of season 2, I was very touched by how the fathers had matured.

Dad, Where Are You Going? explores the identity of fathers and their relationships with their children. It gently prompts viewers to question: What is a father? What is a “good” father? Why are children afraid of their fathers more than their mothers? What can we do to change that?

Continue reading

Movies: Big Hero 6

I adore Big Hero 6 (2014). I am a die-hard Disney fanatic and animation is probably my favorite movie genre.

Big Hero 6 has overtaken Frozen (and maybe even Secret of the Wings) in my list of favorite Disney animation films. From the very beginning, I was blown away by the amount of work and how beautiful the graphics and animations were. In my mind, it even beat 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007).

San Fransokyo

I love the concept of San Fransokyo and I wish it were real! The city was a beautiful blend of western and eastern culture. Some of the awesome things that were incorporated into San Fransokyo were:

Continue reading… (spoilers!)