Thursday, January 23, 2014

[K-Drama Review] Reply/Answer Me 1997 (2012)

Reply 1997 (aka Answer Me 1997) needs to be added to your Planning to Watch list, if it's not already on your Completed or Currently Watching lists, because . . . 


But if that's not a good enough for you, here are 30 more reasons why that will surely convince you:
  1. The story that keeps you guessing: I loved the storyline. The screenwriters did an amazing job of creating a story full of such nostalgia about the 90's, life as a high school senior, first loves, friendships, family, following your dreams, and being happy. It immediately made me think of my own high school days, even though I was born in 1991, and so only 6 in 1997. That's what's so great about this drama, anyone can relate to it. The feelings were authentic and believable.
  2. Seo In-guk as Yoon Yoon-jae: I absolutely adored the many facets of Seo In-guk's character. Angry Yoon-jae, pouty Yoon-jae, shy Yoon-jae, jealous Yoon-jae, sweet Yoon-jae . . . I loved them all!
  3. Jung Eun-ji as Sung Shi-won: Shi-won, Shi-won, Shi-won. This girl wass a total crock-pot and I loved her. She's as crazy as they come, but so much fun. And her relationship with her friends, especially with her childhood friend, Yoon-jae, was a joy to watch. I was also awed, even impressed by her extreme fangirling. You go, girl!
  4. Hoya as Kang Joon-hee: He was so adorable. And he's character was unique and well-played. He was sweet, conscientious, and very intuitive.
  5. Mo Yoo-jung: She was adorable and I loved her with Hak-chan.
  6. Do Hak-chan: Hahaha. Man, he's character was absolutely great. How can you not loved a huge pervert who also happens to be shy around girls?
  7. Bang Sung-jae: Or a loud-mouth who speaks as if he's running on six Energizer batteries.
  8. Yoon Tae-wong: Yoon-jae's brother, who annoyed me for most of the series, but then redeemed himself at the very end.
  9. Shi-won parents: If I could find a way to ditch my own parents and take Shi-won's, I wouldn't give it a second thought. They provided great moments of comic relief.
  10. The most passionate confession of feels you'll ever likely see: It was honest, raw, and beautiful to see.
  11. The cutest, fluffiest puppy ever: So damn fluffy. But then the poor thing disappears! Completely forgortten. Bad scriptwriters, bad.
  12. The amazing, never-play-the-same-song-twice soundtrack: Omg! The soundtrack was pretty dang impressive! Each song was perfectly suited to the scene, whether serious, funny, or loving. And there was such a variety of songs played!
  13. The laughs, giggles, guffaws, and chuckles: This drama is seriously funny. Like Hahahaha, LOL, ROFLMAO kind of funny. Yet, it's heartwarming and emotionally in a few places as well.
  14. The _onata: Gonna watch to understand, but it holds sweet, significant meaning for our lead couple.
  15. The 1st kiss: Hilarious! And surprising.
  16. The 2nd kiss: Yes. Sigh... So perfect.
  17. The 3rd, 4th, 5th . . . (oh who's counting, let's just enjoy 'em) kisses
  18. Extreme Fangirls in their natural states: I watched these scenes with my jaw hitting the keyboard most of the time. Who knew fangirls could be so terrifying?
  19. Domestic abuse (kind of): While not funny in real life, the characters showed love and affection in unique ways.
  20. The granny who lives on the other side of Korea and needed a bulb change: Just smile-worthy.
  21. The super catchy song/beat that introduced each episode:
  22. An instance where a Kdrama character actually DOESN'T remove the battery to ignore a call: I was actually shocked! A viki-commenter actually pointed it out.
  23. Mr. Comic Relief Goat: Hahaha, I'm sure you'll love this as much I did.
  24. Mr. Comic Relief Sheep: This too.
  25. Brothers competing for lurve: Man, so many conflicting feelings. For both viewers and the brothers.
  26. Refreshingly blunt honesty: All of the characters in this series are refreshingly blunt with one another. It showed viewers authentic interactions between friends and family, as well as provided comic relief.
  27. Writer f***king with viewers up until the VERY end: They just wouldn't quit. Even when you were fairly sure how things were going to end up, they made you doubt just the littlest bit.
  28. Most hilarious fighting couple scenes: Yes, these were actually kind of amazing. I was both in awe and laughing hysterically.
  29. The 90's were awesome and the struggle was real: Amen.
  30. The most perfectly satisfying ending!

You should be properly convinced, now off with you. Go watch. Here's a link for you: REPLY 1997.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

[Kdrama Review] Master's Sun (2013)

Yes. A million times YES. This is me. After finishing the last episode of Master's Sun. This 2013 drama is hands down one of the best series I have had the exquisite pleasure of watching in a while. The Hong Sisters have written a masterpiece. Let's discuss, shall we?

(MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS, though I try my best to limit it as much as I can!)

The Basics:

Title: Master's Sun
Year: 2013
Episodes: 17
Network: SBS
Genre: Romance, Horror
Lead Actors: So Ji Sub, Gong Hyo Jin, Seo In-guk, and Kim Yoo-ri

The Story:

Tae Gong-shil (played by Gong Hyo Jin of Pasta and The Greatest Love) is a sweet, pretty woman who happens to see ghosts. One dark and stormy night, she meets the CEO of Kingdom (mall/department store and hotel conglomerate, the stingy, greedy Joo Joong-won (played by So Ji Sub). And the fun begins as she quickly draws him into her world of chasing ghosts and solving mysteries. Remember, my review of Spellbound? And how impressed I was at the horror-romance genre? That's what first attracted me to Master's Sun and I was NOT disappointed. The series beautiful blends the supernatural elements of the story line with that of the romance. The Hong Sisters do not hold back in the writing of this series. I was completely impressed at the subtly dropped hints, at the sophisticated overlapping of several story-lines.

The Characters:

It's rare to find a series in which all of the main characters are likable, but Master's Sun is just that series. The lead couple, Gong-shil and Joong-won, are really great. Their characters were authentic and endearing. Gong-shil was adorable and puppy-like with no sense of boundaries or embarrassment when it came to Joong-won. That is until she begins crushing on him! Also, Gong-shil's giving nature and her conversations/reactions to the ghosts were just too cute. Joon-won starts off as a selfish, but still lovable, jerk whose only concern is how much money something or something can make him. However, that quickly changes when he meets Gong-shil and begins joining her in the ghost-busting! What I enjoyed and what impressed me the most about Master's Sun is the depth of the character development. Gong-shil and Joong-won both change drastically over the course of the series to become well-rounded characters.

Most of the supporting characters were nearly as round as the leading characters and served as fodder for comic relief and a great sotry. Secretary Kim was my absolute favorite character after the leads. It's the first time I've seen a secretary play such a lighthearted role, one in which a secretary actually cares for his boss. What made Secretary Kim even more endearing was how obviously he rooted for Gong-shil and Joong-won since the beginning and the way he subtly pushed them together by manipulating Joong-won. 

Kang Woo. Oh Kang Woo. As the head of security at Kingdom and Gong-shil's neighbor, Kang Woo gave me serious second-lead syndrome. In the end, I managed to resist succumbing completely, but it was hard. Kang Woo was sweet and gentle and attractive and protective. He was perfect, except he wasn't Joong-woo and he was keeping secrets! However, he remained a very good support and friend to Gong-shil (and without him, we couldn't have enjoyed a jealous Joong-won). Also, his eventual relationship with Yi-Ryeong was really cute to watch. Speaking of Yi-Ryeong, I found her pretty annoying at first, but as a kdrama villain, she kind of failed. She was just too cute while she was crushing on Kang Woo! And plus, the real villain appears and can we say PLOT TWIST!

Smaller Supporting Characters:

Gong-shil's sister and her talkative boo who's also a member of the Kingdom security team, Joong-won's silly uncle, and the little kids at Gong-shil apartment building were all great sources of hilarity. 

Additionally, the dialogue between all of the characters is pure gold and is what I love most about the Hong Sisters' writing style: always the most perfect one-liners ever.

The Romance/Chemistry:

The chemistry between Gong-shil and Joong-won was off the charts. I've seen that there is some upset among fans that the two of them didn't win the best couple award at the SBS Drama Awards. While I haven't Heirs (though I plan to) to make an informed decision about the best couple, Gong-shil and Joong-won had a beautiful relationship on Master's Sun. They were cute and playful; they were sweet and loving; they were angry and upset. When they get together completely at the end of the series, it's done in a way that is perfectly naturally for the two of them. I think because the two characters were portrayed so naturally, their relationship was also portrayed naturally, making it 100% believable.

The Pacing:

The pacing of the story and episodes was extremely well done. Not ONCE did I fast forward or even feel anything other than completely engaged and captivated. Things moved quickly when they needed to and slowed down where appropriate. Really amazing writing here.

The Soundtrack:

Pretty good. While I'm not running out to buy the OST, the music/lyrics fit the scenes and moods of the drama perfectly.

The Ending:

A perfect series with a perfect end. As I approached episode 17, I had a gut-wrenching fear that this amazing drama would be completely ruined by a rushed or illogical or otherwise unsatisfactory ending. However, I'm happy to say that I had nothing at all to worry about. Not only did the ending make perfect sense, but it was perfectly suited to the characters and mood of the entire series. The ending left viewers with plenty of warm, fuzzy feelings and a huge smile on our faces. I couldn't stop smiling, chuckling, and shaking my head for about an hour after finishing the series.

Final Verdict:

Watch. this. series. NOW! The end.

With that "GGUH JYUH!" *accompanied by hand wave in front of face*,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Thoughts: Boys Before Friends (American Version of Boys Over Flowers)

Despite horrid reviews and wails of disappointment across the internet, I decided to give the much anticipated (whether eagerly or warily) American version of the ever-popular Boys Over Flowers.

To begin, I want to say that this series has some real potential and I'll be looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Yes, it's obvious that this was low-budget. Yes, the acting isn't that great. Yes, the camera angles and clarity of shots could use some work. Yes, the difference in volume between characters' lines and the music made it difficult to listen to. Yes, there is a lot of inconsistency (I mean, Zoey shows up at the school 6 months later in the same outfit that she auditioned in? C'mon!)

I could deal with all of that because I went in with those expectations. I can and do, however, appreciate some of the changes made from the original story to try and cater to an American audience. I like that Zoey is a bit fiercer than the original Makino/Jan Di. I also think giving Zoey a support system in the form of the Z3 has potential for an interesting story. Setting it at an arty school and making Zoey a dancer also has the potential to be quite interesting. However, I do not think grad school is the right setting. Even undergrad might have been pushing it. The original Boys Over Flowers storyline worked with the characters as high school students because the pranks and the actions of the characters will seem vastly childish otherwise. Having recently graduated from college. I know DAMN WELL, I am NOT risking my scholarship to play stupid games with some idiotic, rich boys! Lastly, I'm not sure about the title. I don't think I quite like the message being sent: boys before your friends? I don't think so!

The ending was exciting and full of enough tension that I will definitely be watching the next episode. Though, I've heard the actor for Zoey will be changing and that this first episode will be refilmed. In any case, I will keep following the series, despite the disappointment in the quality of the final product for the potential that I see within. Let's hope that potential is achieved.

Give it a try yourself here:

[KMovie Review] Hotaru no Hikari The Movie: It's Only a Little Light in My Life

*First Review of the 2014! Whoop, whoop!*

I watched this last night, unplanned. (Yup, it was a wild New Year's Eve for me. Well, they do say end the year as you plan to live the next one.)

I was updating my list on and learned of the movie continuation of the Japanese drama series Hotaru no Hikari. I had enjoyed both seasons a few years ago and was excited about this movie that takes place after the events of the second season.

About Hotaru no Hikari The Movie: It's Only a Little Light in My Life

As I say above, the movie continues after the 2nd season of Hotau no Hikari. Hotaru and Boss are newly married and still their lovable selves. However, now they are considering a honeymoon in Rome, Italy. Hotaru exhibits her typical Dead Fish Woman act and would prefer to lounge around the house eating snacks than to travel. However, boss (coincidentally) has a business trip in Rome and Hotaru (believing that it's his dream to reenact a movie that takes place in Rome) decides to accompany him. Their trip is then filled with misunderstandings, odd happenings, the meeting of a kindred Dead Fish Woman, the mafia, a wedding, crossdressing, and drugs. Yeah, I know.

My Feeling About the Film After Watching

Overall, the movie is nothing special. It wasn't bad, but not great either. It had a lot of what I liked about the series--Hotaru's eccentric, but strangely endearing behavior. Watching, I found Hotaru childishness kind of annoying, rather than cute. Then again, sometimes it kind of was cute, especially when her hubby involuntarily found himself playing along. The storyline wasn't too bad. Interesting, but not particularly compelling until the end when we're finally given vital backstory. At first, I disliked Rio because I didn't understand her actions, but disliking a character for 5/6 of a movie is too long and I found it hard for my opinion of her to change, despite eventually feeling sympathy for her character. The ending, however was actually pretty cute and typical of Hotaru and her Boss. In the end, I'm glad I watched it in order to have Hotaru's story completed as I had always been curious after season two about how she and Boss would live. The movie, It's Only a Little Light in My Life, gave that to me in a fairly satisfactory manner.