Thursday, June 23, 2022

Retro Family Lesson Time

It's so sad to me when "modern" women decide they're going to make judgement calls on women from the 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. 

Like, on a picture where the husband is sitting in an armchair reading and she's vacuuming. I heard today a comment that he's sexist. WELL, looking at the illustration (which I don't have a copy of unfortunately), it's clearly from the 1940s. Which means he's worked all day and she's a stay-at-home wife and mother. So he's tired and he's resting after being the breadwinner all day and she probably even brought him his newspaper.

The person in the conversation I was privy to paid absolutely no attention to historic context.

Historic context DOES MATTER.

And I seriously disagree with folks thinking that we have the right to judge our ancestors based on our own modern ideals. If I were a stay-at-home wife and my husband had been working hard all day, yeah, I'd want to sit him down in the chair to rest for a bit after his workday. But normal families today usually have to have two incomes unlike the time of our grandparents where his salary was more than enough to provide for the family unit.

Lessons learned here would be to take the era into consideration and not immediately jump to the "oh, he must be sexist" mantra because you do not know the whole story just by looking at a vintage picture of a man reading while his wife vacuums.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

My Japanese Drama Reviews are moving!

Hi, friends! 

It was waaaaaaaaay past time for me to create a new blog for my Japanese obsession. You've all been so patient with me and I love you for it, but I know most of my readers are not interested in dramas from Japan. And that is TOTALLY fine. But I still want to write Japanese entertainment reviews, so making a new blog is the best option. 

You can find my new blog at the following link: Sakura Princess Drama Reviews

My gorgeous Yamapi from Buzzer Beat!

I do plan to leave the drama reviews that I've already written and published on here for a while until I get some traffic over at Sakura Princess and then I might move them. We'll see, but they do tend to get quite a bit of traffic on here so I might just leave them. I haven't decided yet.

But going forward, all of my Asian entertainment reviews will be over on Sakura Princess Drama Reviews.

SO, if you're interested, I hope you'll join me and follow my new blog. Share it with your friends if you know Japanese dramas are their thing. I just love Japan so very, very much, and I'm very excited about creating a new blog just for that platform.

I'm also picking up my F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers episode reviews over on my new blog as well. I do plan to talk Thai Lakorns over there too, at least a little bit. So I'll be moving the episode 1 and 2 reviews at some point and for those interested, when I get around to reviewing episode 3, that will be over on Sakura Princess Drama Reviews.

Wish me success in my new venture. I'm sticking with blogger since I know it well and didn't want to mess with Wordpress. We'll see how that goes!

Monday, June 13, 2022

Book Review: Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews (2020)


Fair as a Star

Victorian Romantics: Book One

by Mimi Matthews

2020

✯✯✯✯✯ 


I've put off reading any of Mimi Matthews' books. It sometimes happens for me that when an author is surrounded by so much hype and enthusiasm, that I end up crushingly disappointed in their work. Thankfully, that is not the case with Fair as a Star.

She handles the topic of melancholy/clinical depression with a delicate and understanding hand. There is no cure for Beryl. There are ways to help treat the symptoms of her melancholy, but there will never be a cure, and it is not her fault that she suffers from melancholy nor is it a cry for attention. It simply is what it is and what she needs most is for someone to be understanding and compassionate during her low periods because they will happen her entire life.

That compassionate approach to clinical depression is what makes Mimi Matthews an absolute winner in my book. As someone who suffers from situational depression and has a family member who has suffered from clinical depression my entire life, I strongly relate to Beryl's story. It's hard to describe what depression feels like but emptiness is a good starting point like there is a vacuum or black hole into which all of the good things have fallen. Ms. Matthews captured that reality very well.

Why I'm rating only 4 stars instead of 5 is because I do feel that a few things were wrapped up too quickly. Like the ease of Beryl and Mark ending up together. Henry doesn't seem a very forgiving sort of person, so I was surprised at how forgiving he was in the end. BUT, I probably do him a discourtesy. He's not a truly unpleasant man but has had to be pragmatic and ruthless in order to save the family farm, as it were. And while I like Mark immensely (he's a curate so of course, I like him), I do wish we'd had a chance to know him in a deeper way.

Beryl is wonderful and I love her hobby of whitework embroidery. I didn't even know that was a thing until this book and now I'm curious. My sister embroiders but I don't think she's ever done whitework.

Overall, an excellent novel with a little bit of a Sense and Sensibility vibe. I've read novels this short before, but unfortunately, the authors tend to chop their story so ruthlessly that there is no heart left. Thankfully, that's not the case here. I've already placed more of Ms. Matthews' books on hold at my library and can hardly wait to give them a try. What I'm truly eager for, though, is the second book in this series.

Monday, June 6, 2022

When an "ISFJ" realizes they're truly an ISFP

Yamapi dancing at a party, which, yeah, of course I had to.

I retook the MBTI test associated with the 16 Personalities website, and here are the incredibly accurate and helpful results.

Okay, so there is nothing weirder than an ISFP spending more than a decade being mistyped as an ISFJ. These two personality types are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I actually thought I was just a crap ISFJ and spent so much time and effort for years trying to get better at being one. Turns out, I'M NOT ONE! I'm an ISFP, better known as the Adventurer, and oh my gosh, friends, it makes so much bloody sense!



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 2 (spoilers)

 


F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 2

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 1.


Thyme starts to realize that not everyone can be bought or placated with money in the place of an apology. It might just be one of his first encounters with real people in real life. Boy, does he live in a silver palace.

The kidnapping scene bothers me because everyone seems to think it's fine and dandy and Thyme looks so sexy when the car door opens (a lot of people's words, not mine). But from Gorya's perspective, and viewers not familiar with the story, it's terrifying. Because we don't know his intent. It could just as easily have been rape and murder. So yes, it's funny that he gives her a car, a makeover, a fancy dress, and enough diamonds to sink the Titanic as a means of NOT saying he's sorry. It's even funnier when she refuses him and kicks him where it hurts. Because he deserved that 100%. But Thyme's behavior is not okay and it bugs me that fans of this franchise just think it's adorbs.

However, Gorya getting lost in that huge house WAS funny. Tu is an amusing sort of actress, so she makes me like the character.

Are teachers this wimpy in real life? I'm guessing yes since this drama was made in 2021 so it's at least somewhat relevant to today's youth. But it's depressing watching a teacher do nothing when her students have written nasty slurs against Gorya on the chalkboard. I can't even . . . Bullying only happens when people do nothing, and that's exactly what is continuing to happen in episode 2.

A Jdrama that I LOVE that deals with a similar cyberbullying chatroom scenario that we encounter in episode 2 is Koko wa Ima kara Rinri desu (or From Now on We Begin Ethics). I've reviewed it HERE and it is a drama well worth your time in watching. Yamada Yuki is phenomenal as the ethics teacher. The drama does something useful and tries to give explanations and advice on how to handle these types of situations instead of just, well, using them for plain old entertainment purposes. Herd mentality is a terrifying thing.

The pressure to like Ren is increasing. The problem being, of course, that in his indifference and his attempts to maintain his own serenity, he does come across as "nice." I don't know if he really is, but the actor, Dew, has excellent chemistry with Tu who plays Gorya. So yes, I see where folks are claiming second lead syndrome. I'm feeling it a bit myself, hence the gif set below. Yes, I made them, enjoy. But I still don't think he's genuinely nice. I think he's apathetic 90% of the time and the 10% that he's not, he's only helping because Gorya is interesting, not because he's emotionally invested. Maybe I'll be proven wrong later on. But he is cute and he's not beating people up with his fists which is why I'm battling liking him.


 


One positive change from the Japanese series is that we FINALLY have members of the F4 wanting to cancel the red card bullying trend. I have to give MJ props for speaking up. I didn't actually think that would happen where one of them might almost admit that maybe giving red cards and letting kids get pulverized was a bad idea. But he doesn't like it and he's outspoken about it which means he is now the member of F4 with the most common sense. Not common sense with girls, but that's a whole other thing. Viewers can tell that MJ and Kavin are not into the red card thing anymore (if they ever were), and at the bullying scene near the end (it's not pretty since I hate seeing girls bullied by boys), even Thyme seems to realize he's making judgement errors that are really hurting people. Not just people, but girls, and he's beginning to understand that it's not an okay thing to do.

Ironically, Ren doesn't seem like he's actually against it. Like, it doesn't seem to turn his stomach the way it does with MJ and Kavin. So that's a little funky. If I were to sort him into a Harry Potter house, I think it might just be Slytherin. Just the vibes I'm getting right now, with his apathy, his obsession with one particular girl (meaning Mira not Gorya), and his roundabout approach to the bullying issue. Don't assume that if Ren is a Slytherin that it makes him bad. I'm a Slytherin myself, and there's just a way that Slytherins view the world that makes me feel like it might fit him. We'll see. He could also be a Ravenclaw or he might have one or the other as a secondary house.

Ironically, there's a good chance that Thyme is a Gryffindor. Probably burned or stripped. All the things. If you're curious where I'm getting these words, it's the Sorting Hat Chats personality typing.

I'm really loving Gorya's courage. She doesn't just give Thyme what he wants, meaning, she doesn't cave in and apologize to him so he can save face. The girl is willing to shave her head to save her friend rather than be pressured into an apology she doesn't feel and knows would be wrong to give. But she's not foolish either, the way the heroine was in Hana Yori Dango, rushing in where fools dare to tread. Gorya knows it's dangerous, but she can't do nothing, even if it means getting hurt.

Mira is also pretty awesome. She's promising and I can see why Ren thinks she's amazing, and clearly Gorya has every reason to admire her as well. She's a tough cookie and she won't just let bullies get away with their behavior. I think she and Thyme should have some words at some point.

Speaking of Thyme, his obsession with Gorya is getting scary. Because it's beginning to affect his friendship with Ren. I mean, have these two ever fought before? EVER?

I like episode 2 better than episode 1, or rather, I may be understanding the flow better. Thailand tends to take stories that other countries have made and give them a more serious bent. They did it with one of my favorites, Let's Fight, Ghost, and they're doing it here. There's a bit more realism of emotion than what I was expecting. The red card scene in this episode really hits home because the viewers can see (like actually tell) that 2 of the F4 guys know what's happening is wrong. BUT, the only one who puts a stop to it is Ren, and only by talking about something completely unrelated to what's happening. So they're not to the point of addressing what's going on and acknowledging it as "wrong" to the entire school, but maybe they're heading in that direction. I don't know, but I'm hopeful.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers: Episode 1 (spoilers)


F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers

Episode 1 

Country: Thailand

Year: 2021 

Read my post about episode 2.

The Boys Over Flowers franchise (or Hana Yori Dango) is my most hated franchise in Asian entertainment.

But I wanted to give F4 Thailand a chance since I've heard that it takes the story in a less toxic direction (although I didn't really see that in episode 1). From what I recall, the basics of the story remain the same, with a bit of modern updating since it's been a long time since the original manga. Like, cell phones exist now, as does social media and all that that insanity entails.

Anyway, let's get started.




Gorya is way out of her depth. Attending a prestigious high school on a scholarship, she's just trying to survive and not make any critical mistakes. Which is hard because the school is run by a group of oligarch elitist boys that everyone lovingly calls F4, because each of them reminds you of a different flower. When Gorya stands up for a friend, she suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of F4, especially the leader, Thyme, a boy with some serious anger management issues. He issues a free-for-all permission to the entire school to put Gorya in their crosshairs if they want (a red letter kind of thing), and she has to decide if fighting to stay at the school is worth the abuse she's receiving.




Bullying and cyberbullying are a main theme here. The bullying isn't sugar-coated or laughed off, so that's a plus. But it is still nasty to watch, especially since the "hero" of the story is the primary bully. There's an eat or be eaten mentality that I don't like, but is also very much a part of the reality we live in. So I'm fighting against a never ending tide.

Gorya's family is a vibrant presence in her life, and she does have a couple of important conversations with them during episode 1, including the gifting of a pair of shoes since her school shoes are so old. Her mother does need to realize that people are allowed to have crappy days and feel weak. It never helps to tell someone "you can't be like this because you've never been like this."

Attempted rape, it's a thing. If that's a trigger for you, be warned. And the F4 group don't treat it nearly seriously enough. But that's probably part of the point. They're elevated to a level where they can't always feel what other people feel anymore.

Speaking of, that's a pretty true statement, and is used as a means of urging empathy towards Thyme and his hot temper. Don't excuse Thyme's behavior, but maybe try to explain it. I'm not sure if I agree with the approach since I know it urges me to empathize with him, when I really don't want to.

Ren, the "nice" member of F4. I'm supposed to like him. Because he saves Gorya a couple of times and he has a cute smile. But I view Ren the same way that I view Lupin in Harry Potter. He's weak and a pushover and even when he does something nice, it's not going to be at the jeopardy of his status. So while I know I'm supposed to like Ren, I just don't want to. Because he's a part of the problem too.




I hate being manipulated. And that's what the creator of Boys Over Flowers wanted to do, manipulate her audience to empathize with the male lead and all of his emotional hang-ups and sorrows. But I'm not somebody to excuse bullying, especially if that bullying puts a girl in so much danger that she could be raped. I'm not cool with that.

Acquaintances have said that there some real heart changes happen to Thyme in F4 Thailand so I'm holding out hope that it's true. I'm supposed to forgive those who trespass against me because I was first forgiven. But I still can't wrap my head around ending up in a relationship with an abusive bully.

So yes, the production quality of F4 Thailand is very high. This surprises some people, but not me since I'm really getting into Thai Lakorns and so far they're brilliant. So I have no complaints about the production quality at all. I just want to see some genuine change and self-reflection happen in Thyme's life. But I suspect it gets worse before it gets better, like so many things.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Japanese Fansubber Highlights! - Irozuku Fansubs


The world of Japanese entertainment would be so much smaller without the incredible work of fansubbers!

In this post, I'm highlighting Irozuku Subs

🌸 Website: Irozuku Subs

🌸 Twitter: @irozukusubs

Their work is timely despite a super busy work/life schedule, but they also respect when VIKI takes on a drama. They've actually stopped subbing dramas once VIKI has approved it (like Black Cinderella and Peanut Butter Sandwich), and I respect them for that choice since it shows a deeper appreciation of copyright laws and not wanting to overstep boundaries and also saving their energy for other projects. They even take on smaller, lesser-known, or publicized work which is AWESOME because these are usually the dramas that wouldn't get subbed otherwise.

They offer hardsub downloads for anyone visiting their site, and softsubs to be joined with raw video files to anyone monetarily supporting them on Patreon. Fans can also buy them individual "coffee" which is a really great way to support your favorite fansubbers even if you don't have the funds to support them every month with a Patreon commitment.

Their subbed list of Japanese dramas and movies is extensive and there will be something for everyone, but here are my personal favorites that they've subtitled and for which I am extremely grateful.

Hiru (2022) ONGOING

Hiru is one of the reasons that Irozuku Subs is my literal hero, this PAGE has the complete Season One and this PAGE will have Season Two once the subs are finished (as of this post, episodes 1 and 2 have been subbed).

This drama is about people who leech (the literal translation of hiru) off others by sneaking into their houses and using their belongings while the owners are at work/school/vacation, etc. is pure genius!

The first season follows a young man named Yuki (played by Eiji Akaso) comes home to find someone stabbed in his apartment only to have that person turn on him to the police and literally steal his identity with an official-looking ID and everything. On the run, swept into the world of leeches against his will, Yuki's journey was an interesting and deadly one.

Hiru has death, revenge, and secrets of scary people. It was dark and intriguing, but the first season is not as brilliant as it could have been. They give us a taste of a leech killer named Kara (played by Kentaro Sakaguchi), but the series focuses on Yuki and his problems instead of Kara. The second season stars Kara in the main role, which is already a step up. Not that I have anything against Eiji Akaso, but he doesn't have quite the right amount of mojo to be the lead in a drama like this. Plus, the second season also has Mizuki Itagaki in a secondary role and he's a bit of a newer favorite with me, so I'm excited even though I suspect he's going to be scary and a bit of an antagonist.

Consider yourself warned that we have death, rape, stabbings, hangings, and all sorts of violence in this first season, so definitely in R-rated territory. It's not obscenely graphic (so no nudity), but still, rather disturbing.

Each season has 6 short 25-minute episodes, but they each pack a punch. 


He Won't Kill, She Won't Die (2019)

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for He Won't Kill, She Won't Die.

You've essentially got two teenagers who are both disengaged from life. Nana is so miserable that she's always this close to ending her own life, except that she can't. And then you have Rei, a bitter and resentful young man who's always telling other people to "just go and die already." He imagines murder and she imagines wanting to die, so when he tells her that he'll kill her if she wants, it seems perfect and psychotic. 

Except that neither Rei nor Nana actually wants to kill or die. It's just something to say and to imagine to avoid the hurt and loneliness they both feel.

This movie is literally my heart and soul, and it does rip my heart out and crush it. If you never watch movies with sad endings then this one is not for you, but when you grew up with Shakespeare like I did you're used to tragic endings, and this one is tragic. But it is also an AMAZING story. Shotaro Mamiya is such an outstanding actor and so underappreciated. And Hinako Sakurai, I mean, wow, she's phenomenal! 

I will say that there are 2 other sets of characters in this film, and while they are somewhat valuable, they're not even remotely as engaging as Rei and Nana. It's just that they have to be in the story because of how everything intersects. BUT, He Won't Kill, She Won't Die is outstanding and should be watched by anyone who values stories about mental health, psychology, and melancholy. There will be triggers, so go in expecting them.

Dried Flower: Our Room in July (2021)

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for Dried Flower: Our Room in July.

I'm surprised that I loved this one so much because it really is watching a vibrant and growing relationship slowly wither and decay. That's it in a nutshell. It's a story of two people who can't communicate and so he never really learns what she's really like because she doesn't feel free to tell him. He treats her as a cherished princess, but that behavior actually ends up limiting her goals and dreams as an English to Japanese translator. It's one big misunderstanding after another, and both are completely at fault. It's a cautionary tale, beautifully filmed and performed, and it moved me deeply.

The actors feel fresh and original, which is a nice change of pace. Both were unknown to me, and both gave outstanding performances, making the audience feel every little nuance of the experience. 

It's only 3 episodes long, so watching the entire series is like watching a rather short movie and it's completely worth it. Be prepared for melancholy and hopefully for some lessons learned.

I Will Not Work Overtime, Period! (2019)

also known as Watashi Teiji de Kaerimasu

Irozuku Subs PAGE with download links for Watashi Teiji de Kaerimasu.

This 10 full-length episode drama series' entire premise is about the toxic guilt-tripping that goes on in Japan (and other Asian countries) if someone does not want to work overtime. Asia is renowned for its inability to step back from work, let's just call a spade a spade. BUT, clearly, some folks in the entertainment industry recognize the trend as a toxic one, and actually made a drama series where the heroine refuses to work overtime. She gets her work done during her regular working hours and leaves on time, before anyone else in her department. She's a hero in my book, and she happens to be played by my favorite Japanese actress, Yuriko Yoshitaka (see my review for Your Eyes Tell where she acted with Ryusei Yokohama), so that's a bonus. We've also got Yuichi Nakamura of KAT-TUN fame playing a secondary character, my first time seeing him act, so that was neat.

Her work ethic AND her self-care end up making her both a target and an inspiration to the people in her department.

The only downside to the drama is the ridiculous love triangle that cropped up. I'm not a fan of that trope in general and it made no sense here. The drama would have been so much stronger without it.