Marvel: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 5

Screenshot of (left) Anthony Mackie as Sam and (right) Sebastian Stan as Bucky from ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ episode five on Disney+. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Disney.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Here we are, back with the second to last episode of this series. The big build up everyone was expecting to the finale of this show. So imagine my surprise when I went onto Twitter this morning and found that the show was not trending at all. Not even on the entertainment page. After watching the episode I can definitely see why. This episode had its uses, but was no finale episode and was probably needed towards the beginning of the series rather than now. This also destroyed all my hopes for liking this series as a whole. I think I’ve introduced this enough, so let’s just get into it. As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!!

The Super Soldier Serum:

I know I usually talk about characters and not things, but this needed an entire section for itself. I’ve had small problems with the usage of the super soldier serum throughout this show; mostly having to do with the fact that it’s a shot kind of like a vaccine. This was something I dismissed though, because it’s been over seventy years since Steve got the serum and that’s a lot of time for science and medicine to advance. But then we got the conversation with Sam and Carl Lumbly’s character in this episode. He states that he, and the other men who were experimented on with the super soldier serum not long after Steve got it, were told that they were getting a tetanus shot when they were injected with the serum. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall Steve being put in this large machine where he was injected with several vials of the serum and then blasted with radiation until his transformation was complete. Yes, science and medicine would have been able to change drastically in seventy years, but definitely not in one or two. I understand what they were trying to do with this character, but this is just one of the many examples of how bad the consistency in this show is.

Sam:

We needed this episode to be the second or third episode in this series and that is specifically for the character of Sam Wilson. I feel like this episode finally gave Sam at least a little of what he deserves. We finally got back to the storyline with him and his family, he was finally able to fully explain his decision to give up the shield, and we actually got to see him come to terms with the situation and begin to train. All of these things that I just mentioned are things that we would have ideally gotten from Sam long ago. This is actually stuff I would have wanted more developed and maybe even gotten to see throughout the entire series. Sam was funny, kind, and incredibly important in this episode. This is the Sam I was looking forward to seeing when this series was announced. But with one episode left, I just wish we would have gotten more of it. And his relationship with his sister because his sister is one of my favorite characters on the show for the short time she has had.

Bucky:

Another successful episode for the character of Bucky. This episode involved a very adorable scene of Bucky waking up and seeing Sam’s nephews playing with the shield. The smile on his face while watching this happen was so precious! I still can’t get over that scene. Though this episode didn’t focus too much on Bucky, he was constantly there as support for Sam. And Sam was also there as support for him. This episode actually focused on creating a bond between them, which is another thing that should have happened in this series a long time ago. Watching them banter is by far my favorite part of this series and it has happened too little. Sam advised Bucky to help people for the sake of helping people and acknowledged that he shouldn’t have handed the shield to the government, Bucky apologized for not considering Sam’s feelings about the shield in the first place and assured Sam that this wasn’t entirely his fault, and they just had a nice deep discussion. Finally. Bucky also spent some of the episode flirting with Sam’s sister and forgetting that his metal arm existed. On the other hand, we also finally got to see Bucky beat the snot out of John Walker and hand Zemo over to the Dora Milaje. Both of which were also great character moments.

John Walker:

Why do I care about this character? We saw him get beaten up again, but by Sam and Bucky this time, which is always a cathartic experience. He tore Sam’s wings, but he’s really no match for Bucky who’s actually experienced with super soldier abilities. He then spent the rest of the episode dramatically screaming to anyone who would listen that he is Captain America even as he got the title stripped from him. I think most of us would argue that he never was. And then at the very end he made his own DIY Captain America shield that’s definitely not made out of vibranium so I’m not sure how much that’s supposed to help. I have no idea what they’re gearing him up to do, but I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to care about this character as a villain or otherwise. I’m just hoping that they don’t try to pull him into the MCU after this, but I have a feeling that I’m going to be disappointed.

Sharon Carter:

Why do I even bother anymore? She was in one short scene of this entire episode that seemingly confirmed that she was the Power Broker like we have all been suspecting. But, I hate to say it, this reveal doesn’t do anything to help her character. Giving her a new title does not change the fact that she’s been barely focused on and has gotten pretty much no character development. Sam’s sister Sarah is a much better female character and has even gotten more in the series at this point. And Sarah is also barely in this series, so that’s saying something. This show has almost no focused female characters. Why even use Sharon for marketing if you aren’t going to actually use her in the show?

The Flag Smashers:

Again, pretty much nothing. Almost hilariously nothing. I still have no idea what their goals are or even what they’re about. The main villain is female but all of her backstory has been told so far through short scenes of entirely unnaturally spoken exposition. She hasn’t really gotten character development either. And this episode she complained about how no one ever treats them like human beings, referring to the fact that John Walker killed her friend even though they have had no problems with civilian casualties before. She then (gasp, big reveal) brought in a an extremely small inconsequential villain that Steve Rogers beat up at the very beginning of a Captain America movie before and declared war. These are some of the most confusing and useless Marvel villains I have ever seen.

Zemo:

Bucky handed him over to the Dora Milaje and Zemo did the incredibly decent thing of helping Bucky atone for his past through him. That was just a really nice move. Surprisingly, I kind of hope we see more of him in the future.

And that’s it! This episode felt like a mix of filler and scenes that we should have gotten a long time ago of Sam as a character and Sam and Bucky bonding. All of this is weird considering there’s only one episode left. But, with one episode left, I can confidently say that this isn’t really a series worth watching. Maybe look up some Sam and Bucky scenes later, but if you’re on the fence my advice would be to not waste your time. I could have done without watching this entire series. But I guess we’ll see if the ending is good. I have a lot of doubts considering that it will focus on the villains, all of which have been my least favorite part of this series. This show wasn’t written well, guys. At all. I keep waiting for it to get better and it doesn’t. Sam and Bucky both deserve so much better.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Understanding Taehyung

Shot of Kim Taehyung (V) from a promotional photoshoot. Copyright goes to BTS and the HYBE Corporation.

Hey! Hallie here!

Anyone who’s stuck with this blog for a while knows that my bias in BTS is J-Hope. I’ve talked about him pretty often and I love him a lot. But Taehyung is my bias wrecker. His personality tends to draw me in. But coming into BTS as ARMY, it took me the longest to warm to Taehyung. He was quiet and sometimes standoffish in interviews, he seemed childish at times, and many ARMYs spoke about how immature he had been in years past. I couldn’t really seem to get a handle on his personality. Now that I’m much deeper into ARMY, I find him to be the most relatable member in BTS. I don’t know him personally, and I’m certainly not saying I truly understand him because that isn’t possible for someone who has never met him, but I find I can connect to a lot of the things he says and does. For the people who are also struggling to wrap their heads around Taehyung, here’s what I discovered about him over time.

Interviews:

I’m going to start by talking about interviews because these are what I watched first in an attempt to get to know the members a bit better. If you’re from the US, like myself, and are using mostly American interviews to try to get to know them, it’s important to be aware of how bad some American interviewers are. They can be really invasive and insensitive to Korean culture. Earlier in their career, when Namjoon was the only English speaker, Namjoon was able to filter out more offensive questions or statements to keep things light. Now that the other members understand quite a bit of English, this isn’t really the case anymore. And Taehyung is one of the people who becomes the most protective and annoyed when these questions come up. Sometimes he’ll shut down and refrain from speaking. Which is actually a very professional response to rude comments. Other times he’ll add in a sarcastic jab or a sideways glance. But he’s never rude. He’s always pleasant and attentive, regardless of the nature of the interview. In more respectful interviews, like those in Korea, he’s almost adorably pleasant especially when the subject of ARMY is brought up. Taehyung knows he deserves a level of respect. It’s why he stays off of WeVerse when something comes up in his personal life or jokes with fans about how strange it is that so many of them want to marry him without knowing him. It’s admirable of him to know how BTS should be treated and to prioritize it the way he does without bringing any self-centeredness into it.

Childishness?:

I’m not talking about immaturity here. I’ll talk about that in a second. I’m talking more about his sudden goofiness. Taehyung will switch between stoic to adorably hilarious without any notice whatsoever. When I first saw it, I mistook it for childishness. Like he was hiding his more goofy nature behind a stoic facade that he was always ready to drop at a moments notice. My thoughts about this were furthered when I heard him described as “innocent” by Jimin in a few interviews. I can say now that Tae isn’t faking stoicism and his innocence has nothing to do with his goofiness. Tae is very open about his emotions. More than most people. Namjoon has even talked about how his openness threw him off at first. When Tae’s upset it’s clear, just as when he’s delighted or when he’s tired. It’s cool to see how in touch he is with his emotions even though he’s talked about how he feels like he isn’t in touch with them enough. While I can’t exactly pinpoint what Jimin was talking about when he described Tae as “innocent”, I can echo Tae in his assessment of himself. He views himself as a curious person who is still trying to figure out more about himself and the world. The way that he chooses to embrace himself in order to learn more about himself is something I wish I was capable of.

Immaturity?:

A lot of baby ARMYs hear about how immature Taehyung was in the past. Taehyung has written a song about how much he’s grown up over the years, “Inner Child”, and Tae and Jungkook had a conversation in ‘In the Soop’ where Tae tried to bridge a gap between them that he felt occurred when Tae became more mature. Watching ‘Bon Voyage’ showcases just how much he’s grown. He went from wandering off on his own while the staff specifically attempted to prevent him from doing so, to ensuring his adventures were enjoyable for all parties involved. In early seasons he would try his best to get out of doing chores whereas he later decided to completely take over dish washing because he felt bad that he couldn’t cook. And, as you can see, these are all small signs of immaturity. He wasn’t self absorbed or rude, but he was a bit of a troublemaker. He’s been generously open about his journey growing up, especially in the Korean music industry, and it’s entirely relatable. His youth has been very public because of his profession, but he’s promoted the importance of change through that and it’s pretty incredible.

And that’s it! I love talking about Tae because he’s such a unique personality in the music industry. He’s genuine without ever being self-absorbed. He’s open about his journey but knows what situations call for privacy. In a group with Namjoon and Yoongi, it can be easy to miss how intelligent the other members are. But all of them have their own lessons to teach and unexpected wise words. It’s just another reason why I love BTS.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

C-Dramas: Is ‘Meteor Garden’ Better Than ‘Boys Over Flowers’?

Screenshot from ‘Meteor Garden’ (2018) of (left) Dylan Wang as Dao Ming Si and (right) Shen Yue as Dong Shancai. Copyright goes to Hunan Television and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I just finished binging this series in four days. If that’s not a testament to how little I have to do right now during quarantine, I really don’t know what is. But I was thoroughly intrigued by this series after my recent rewatch of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ because of how many people were saying that this series was better. Now, I’m not saying that I disliked ‘Boys Over Flowers’. I don’t really think I particularly liked or disliked that series. It was a pretty cute watch but there were also a lot of storylines and character arcs that weren’t written that well in my opinion. ‘Meteor Garden’ is an adaptation of the same manga, so it’s difficult to look up ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and not see people comparing the two. What really made me want to watch it was the seemingly universal opinion that the main romance was better here; even from people who preferred ‘Boys Over Flowers’. So after watching all forty nine episodes of this, I want to actually compare the two and see which one I actually found to be better. My opinion on this in particular changed towards the end of watching this series, so I’m not exactly sure what the result will be yet. Let’s see, I guess! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.

The Main Plot/Romance:

I’ve talked in depth about my view of the main relationship in ‘Boys Over Flowers’. It wasn’t believable and, to me at least, it sometimes bordered on creepy. Especially towards the beginning. When I saw that people were saying that ‘Meteor Garden’ modernizes the story in some much needed ways, I was hoping that this would mean some of the creepiness would be taken out of it. Thankfully, I was correct! (With the main relationship at least, but I’ll get more into that later.) Dao Ming Si is thoroughly dislikable in the beginning, but his actions are (for the most part) redeemable. At least more than Jun Pyo anyways. He never kidnaps anyone and this show also takes the relentless bullying out. Sure Si insults people sometimes but he doesn’t throw many tantrums, send other people to beat up people he doesn’t like, bully people to the point that they decide to jump off of a building, or ask anyone to lick his shoes at any point. In fact, F4 aren’t bullies in this show. They’re just popular and a little bratty and I liked that much better. The red card is for people who challenge them to poker. The attempt to forcibly kiss the main character is still here unfortunately, but whenever this character does something wrong he automatically shows remorse for his actions. That’s more than I can say about Jun Pyo. It’s much clearer that the relationship between him and Shancai is end game here. The love triangle isn’t given as much time and definitely doesn’t continue until the end of the show. She barely ever goes back and forth between the idea of the two guys, she chooses pretty early on. Certain elements of the plot are actually changed around so that this couple actually only breaks up a couple of times throughout the series. They aren’t as on again off again. And this time they actually look like they enjoy each other’s presence when they’re together! Wow! Another thing I really liked about this couple was that the show lasted long enough for the audience to see how they actually operated as a couple. There was a moment in the show where Shancai’s friend was heartbroken, so Shancai called Si so that they could take her friend to karaoke to cheer her up. Watching them sit in the back of that karaoke booth practically falling asleep on each other while still trying to support her friend was adorable. It was the type of couple content that most romance based shows view as unneeded, but I like seeing that stuff just as much as I like seeing them fall in love. I also need to talk about how much better the kissing was in this show. Yes, the scene where Jun Pyo gets out of the car to kiss Jan Di on the side of the street is romantic. But I much prefer when it actually looks like the female character wants to kiss her love interest. ‘Meteor Garden’ definitely has the superior couple.

Side Characters:

I have to admit, ‘Boys Over Flowers’ did this better for the most part. Ji-Hoo definitely gets more character development compared to Lei. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Lei to the point where I’m not sure I could choose between him and Ji-Hoo. Though he didn’t get as much character development, he was given an amazing sense of humor and his relationship with the other members of F4 seemed so much stronger. Lei’s quiet sarcasm never failed to make me laugh and I always looked forward to the scenes with him in it. He was almost like a perfect mix between Ji-Hoo and Yi-Jung. But Ji-Hoo got all that development about the death of his parents and his relationship with his grandfather, all of which are not present here. Actually, most of the side characters in ‘Boys Over Flowers’ get much better development even though it’s a shorter show than ‘Meteor Garden’. The larger character arc with Yi Jung, for example, is hinted at before it starts, lasts over several episodes, and is explored in depth. We get to see his acts of kindness before his character arc even starts and when the show actually does jump on that storyline, it’s something that we’ve all been waiting for. ‘Meteor Garden’ introduces character arcs for the side characters quickly, tells as little of their story as possible, and then moves to something different. This happened in all storylines that weren’t the main one except for one sub-plot romance that felt very disconnected. I also want to say that this show spent less time developing F4 as a friend group as a whole. Sure Lei and Si are much closer in ‘Meteor Garden’, but you don’t get any scenes like the masked hide and seek game from ‘Boys Over Flowers’.

Sub-Plot Romance(s):

If there’s one thing that ‘Boys Over Flowers’ did better, it’s the sub-plot romance. ‘Meteor Garden’ actually has two sub-plot romances involving the two members of F4 that aren’t as focused on. Except, with one of them, the side-plot romance becomes a story that isn’t about the member of F4 at all. His love interest even ends up with a different person. Considering that the characters in this storyline besides him are not directly connected to the main characters or the main plot, it starts feeling like you’re watching an entirely different show. Every time they give screen time to this plot, it feels like a waste. They could be giving that much needed time to characters that the audience actually care about. We have no idea who these people even are. I just wanted to get past them and return to the main plot whenever they were on screen. The sub-plot romance that is the equivalent of Yi Jung and Ga Eul was nothing short of disappointing. It felt like whenever they were on screen the show was trying to just get through this as fast as possible so they could get to a different part of the show. Neither character is very developed or likable. Xiaoyou changes various parts of her personality for Ximen’s benefit even though the show uses the main couple to teach that this is not something you should do. The show even makes some pretty awful statements about sex. (Don’t worry, the show ages up all the characters so that they’re in college instead of high school.) Xiaoyou believes that Ximen will want her to have sex with him, because he is a playboy, and decides that if you really want to be with someone you should be prepared to do whatever they want. I’m sorry, excuse me???? Earlier in this show Shancai tells Si that she wants their relationship to be equal which means she needs to make decisions for herself sometimes. Is this the same show? They teach some pretty good lessons for their young audience through the main couple and then for some reason go back on that the minute the sub-plot romance comes on screen. It’s like they were purposefully trying to make this couple unhealthy. I knew I was going to be biased because I like Yi Jung and Ga Eul so much, but this was extremely bad in comparison.

The Ending:

I you do decide to watch ‘Meteor Garden’, I would recommend skipping the last three or four episodes. The ending to this show was awful. I thought I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending of ‘Boys Over Flowers’, simply because I’m not a huge fan of amnesia plot lines and I didn’t really like Jun Pyo and Jan Di together. But in comparison, that ending looks fantastic. Towards the end of this series it really feels like they ran out of story and the show should just end, and then you realize that there are still a few episodes left. In these episodes they shoehorn in a storyline where Si’s Mom decides to try and separate them for a final time and they both decide that if they can’t be together they would rather starve. I am never a fan of plot lines like this, I think these kinds of plots are usually added dramatically without actually putting care into handling the situation. When his Mom finally relents, the characters are both so weak that they pass out and then a series of really weird events happen that have made audiences question whether or not the end of this series really happened. After some filler stuff, the main character winds up at a weird version of her wedding where there’s a really disturbing dance that Si’s sister does (My Netflix account thought the dance was just as bad as I did apparently because it crashed part way through), and then guests suddenly appear and they get married. This is followed by a “honeymoon” that can only be described as a long advertisement. These scenes are nothing but product placement. Some people think the ending for this show was a dream the main character had, others think that the characters died and this is the afterlife, others think that the show has done crazy enough things for this to be a real ending. I’m not quite sure what to think other than I wish these episodes weren’t in the series. It felt like they were only there to fill an episode count and I would have much rather ended the series with the two characters planning their wedding. That’s where I’m going to pretend the ending was anyways. At least Jun Pyo getting his memories back from Jan-Di falling in the water was kind of cute.

The Music:

I just had to add this in here. ‘Boys Over Flowers’ all the way. ‘Making a Lover’ is such a good song and I got so tired of hearing the same two songs over and over in ‘Meteor Garden’.

Though I gave more points here to ‘Boys Over Flowers’, I definitely wouldn’t say that it’s the better show. Especially because ‘Meteor Garden’ has a much better main romance and has a more cohesive plot. If you would have told me that the events of ‘Meteor Garden’ are in a completely different order before I watched this series, I would have been extremely skeptical. But somehow it makes the story make more sense. Seriously, this couple was so cute and I would definitely rewatch certain episodes of this show. But there were several things about this show that also weren’t as good. I guess choosing between these two shows is a matter of what you’re looking for. If you want nostalgia, something pretty cheesy, and some great supporting characters watch ‘Boys Over Flowers’. But if you’re watching for a good romance, go for ‘Meteor Garden’ all the way. Just…maybe skip those last few episodes. Either way you go, I actually found both shows to be cute and worthwhile despite some of my problems with them. There’s also plenty of travel in both if you’re looking for escapism right now, because I know I am!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: “Dynamite” Hit 1 Billion on Youtube!

Screenshot of Jeon Jungkook, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Kim Taehyung, Kim Namjoon, Park Jimin, and Jung Hoseok in the music video for “Dynamite”. Copyright goes to BTS and the HYBE Corporation.

Hey! Hallie here!

BTS is constantly breaking records. From individual mixtapes hitting unseen highs for Korean artists, to new songs topping the charts immediately after release, there’s always some sort of congratulatory hashtag trending on Twitter. To many people, the constant onslaught of BTS’s successes has become background noise. But BTS deserves the high praise no matter how many times they start trending on Twitter. A Korean group dominating worldwide, including in markets that still have major issues honoring non-white and non-English-speaking artists, is insane. Even putting that aside, “Dynamite” hitting the 1 billion mark is one of the biggest record-breaking acts to celebrate right now. And it’s not just because the song is catchy.

The Grammys:

ARMYs know that the Grammys was, as usual, absolutely awful to BTS. They nominated them for only one Grammy after all the records they broke, announced the winner of the Grammy in a pre-show rather than during the actual awards, and still shoved BTS’s performance until the end of the show in an attempt to profit off of the views ARMY would give them. All of that and BTS didn’t win despite the fact that they were clearly the best suited to win the award. When all of this happened, the majority of ARMYs decided to turn their attention to something far more productive than trolling the winners of the Grammy BTS was up for. Instead, in order to demonstrate how well loved and appreciated BTS and “Dynamite” are, ARMYs decided to get “Dynamite” to 1 billion views on Youtube. The music video was already in the 900 millions, but there was still a long road to getting the video to the 1 billion mark, especially with the strange discrepancies in Youtube’s view counting. And here we are, less than a month after the Grammys aired. This milestone proves to the industry and those willing to brush off BTS that they can’t be ignored. Even without winning a highly controversial award that has somehow received the reputation of being a sign that an artist has “made it” in the music industry, BTS is more popular than ever. Their exceptional singing and dancing has earned them such a large fan base that the Grammys are irrelevant. There’s a reason the Grammys attempted to use BTS for the views of their fanbase.

ARMYs:

This isn’t just a major accomplishment for BTS. It’s a major accomplishment for their fanbase. The love that ARMYs show for BTS is immense and ARMYs mobilize quickly. ARMYs have mobilized for excellent causes, like BLM. And similarly, ARMYs mobilized to get “Dynamite” to 1 billion to critique the racist industry that takes BTS for granted because they’re Korean. Obviously ARMYs have proven time and time again that they shouldn’t be messed with, but this feat specifically says a few important things about the fanbase. One is that this fanbase does not only consist of young girls. The sheer amount of people that consider themselves ARMYs and participated in the road to 1 billion far exceeds the amount that can just be brushed off as teen girls. The other is that women have created one of the biggest and most active fanbases of all time. Because yes, ARMYs shouldn’t be written off as just a group of teen girls because there are plenty of people of various different identities who enjoy BTS’s music. But the fanbase is still largely made up of women, and these women are now well-known for being far too powerful to push around. Just as BTS has shown they can’t be ignored, ARMYs have done the same.

The Downside:

Despite all the amazing reasons why we should be celebrating “Dynamite” right now, it’s important to stay cautious. “Dynamite” has received worldwide acclaim, but why this song? BTS has released hundreds of songs, many that are considered far more masterful than “Dynamite”, but this is the one that has seen the most attention. Why not something like “Black Swan”? It’s because the song is in English. This song was written by a team of writers in order to appeal to American and English-speaking audiences. The members of BTS usually have a large hand in writing and creating their songs, but this song was (mostly) an exception. So not only is it their only English song to date, it also was devoid of their writing and general themes. It’s a cute song, but it’s clear that there are other songs in their arsenal that should have been more popular than this. They simply aren’t popular because those songs are in Korean. BTS themselves are aware of this fact, often joking to talk show hosts that suggested they release another English song that the talk show host should write the lyrics for them. When creating the ‘BE’ album the members of BTS even rewrote songs they had initially written in English to ensure all the songs on the album were in Korean. They don’t want to give up singing in their native tongue, and they shouldn’t have to. BTS should be appreciated for their Korean songs just as much, if not more, than for their English ones. While getting “Dynamite” up to 1 billion views is nice, it’s just a small step in the huge goal to make sure BTS is acknowledged for their major accomplishments regardless of their nationality or the language they speak.

I don’t want to leave this post on a downer. “Dynamite” hit 1 billion views! We should be celebrating! All of the ARMYs who took time out of their schedules to watch “Dynamite” multiple times should be proud of themselves. And even if you couldn’t, just watching the video once or listening to the song on any streaming service is worth giving yourself a pat on the back. Any kind of support adds majorly to the amount of voices aiding BTS in the journey to eliminate racism from the music industry. It’s definitely a cause worth celebrating.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: The Best Romance in ‘Boys Over Flowers’

Screenshot of (left) Kim So-Eun as Chu Ga Eul and (right) Kim Bum as So Yi Jung in ‘Boys Over Flowers’. Copyright goes to KBS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I promised another post about my recent re-watch of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and here it is! I wasn’t originally planning to separate the two posts, but this one had to be pushed back because of a previous ongoing series of posts. Sorry! Trust me, I would have rather posted about this. In my previous post about ‘Boys Over Flowers’, I talked about the main love triangle and what I though of each romance plus each character individually. But my favorite romance from this show had nothing to do with the love triangle. The sub-plot romance surpassed it by a long shot. Seriously, it was so much better and so insanely cute. This was possibly my favorite part of the entire series. But, once again, I have a lot of thoughts about why this couple worked and the main couple didn’t, so let’s get into it!

Ga Eul:

Ever the voice of reason. When Jan Di is freaking out or blaming people that she shouldn’t, Ga Eul is right there to give her advice. I loved her character right from the start because of her ability to stand up for herself and others as well as how intelligent she was, especially compared to a few other characters in the show. In one of the first scenes with Ga Eul and Yi Jung, he basically tells her to warn Jan Di not to get involved with Jun Pyo. Ga Eul is having none of this, tells him off, and then leaves. It was such a cathartic scene. In situations where Jan Di won’t stand up for herself, Ga Eul always will. When Yi Jung takes Ga Eul on a “date” during a time where he is very emotionally unstable, she throws a drink in his face when he’s a jerk to her. Ga Eul felt like one of the only characters in the show who was never willing to compromise her morals. Several people called her a “good girl” throughout this series, and she never disputed it or changed herself even though this is always used with a negative connotation against her. While Jan Di was constantly getting saved throughout the show, it was nice to see a female character who could take care of herself. (Jun-Pyo’s sister was pretty great too though.) I do wish we would have seen more of her family life and gotten some more character development that focused completely on her. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much of that. The series is, understandably, more focused on Jan Di and the F4.

Yi Jung:

Yi Jung was a character that I wasn’t sure I was going to like at the beginning. Towards the beginning of the show it was very clear that the narrative was doing a lot for the two members of F4 who were a part of the main love triangle and pretty much nothing at all for the other two members. Then Yi Jung started getting more stuff, like his one on one talks with Ji-Hoo when he and Jan-Di were competing against Jun-Pyo to see if they would have to leave the school. Slowly we got more character development from him. Such as him visiting his father at work and warning a woman his father was seeing that his father had no plans to commit to her. His quiet acts of kindness made him one of the most intriguing characters in the show. On my first watch of this I was pretty scared that they were going to leave it at that, but then they did a fully developed character arc for him that involved exploring his depression due to his past, his parents, and his responsibilities. It almost felt like this is what they were trying to do with Jun-Pyo, but on a smaller scale and this time it actually worked. Unlike Jun-Pyo, we saw Yi Jung’s softer more respectful side come out throughout the series and Yi Jung actually showed remorse for his actions. There are a couple things that Yi Jung did that were absolutely horrible during his character arc. Such as treating Ga Eul in the way that he did at the dinner with his father and harassing a woman at the bar when he was absolutely wasted. But, all things considered, they made his actions understandable and eventually redeemable. (I will admit, there are several things about this show that didn’t necessarily age well.) But he really did feel like what Jun-Pyo’s character could have been if the writing had been better.

The Chemistry:

It’s really interesting when this romance first starts out because you can tell that both characters are interested in each other, but are very wary of each other at the same time. Yi Jung has a reputation among women, which is never a good thing at all. Ga Eul is understandably skeptical of him because of this. But he’s equally afraid of her because the failure of his parents marriage, the nature of his father, and his past experiences have made him afraid of commitment. There’s an interesting moment with his father where their conversation reveals to the audience that Yi Jung’s playboy persona came about because of his frustration with his father and his hope that his father might see what he was encouraging his son to become and feel remorse. Of course, his father couldn’t care less. This paired with the fact that his former girlfriend, that he still isn’t over, decided to start a relationship with his brother behind his back, makes him extremely skeptical of anything involving relationships. He rejects Ga Eul because she believes in a soulmate and he doesn’t want to disappoint her because he’s past believing in romance at all. The best part of this? Ga Eul isn’t there to fix him. Sure, she helps him back on his feet, but she also makes sure that he knows that changing is something he’ll have to do himself. She can’t do that for him. By the end of the series he still isn’t quite ready for a relationship, but this is something the show acknowledges. Instead of asking Ga Eul out, he informs her that he’ll be leaving for four years and that he will look for her when he comes back, but he isn’t expecting her to wait for him. Of course, Ga Eul believes in soulmates and waits for him, but I think it was a really responsible thing for the writers to make sure the characters waited until they both were ready. Not only is this couple both responsible and supportive of each other, they’re also so cute. She learns pottery for him and he gets back at a cheating boyfriend for her. It’s just so cute seeing this relationship grow without either character sacrificing parts of themselves for the other person.

I think I’ve gushed about this couple enough for now, but I still can’t get over them. Every time they came on screen I started smiling like an idiot. I’ve heard that a lot of people prefer this couple to the main one and I have no questions as to why that is. Right now I’m watching the 2018 ‘Meteor Garden’, which is a Chinese drama based on the same source material as ‘Boys Over Flowers’ so this will not be my last post about this show. As soon as I’m finished with that series I’ll at least have one post comparing the two. I think I might already know which show I prefer, but I’m not finished yet so I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Video Games: Why You Should Play ‘Hades’

Art of Zagreus from ‘Hades’. Copyright goes to Supergiant Games.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Hades’ seems to be the game everyone has been talking about recently. Especially since the game was released for the Nintendo Switch. But this game has also chased many gamers away. After all, roguelike games are frustrating by nature. Roguelike games rely on the player having to start from the beginning when they die. No saving after you beat a boss. No being able to leave an area behind. If you lose to the final boss (and you will) you have to face all of the other bosses you’ve defeated before you get a retry. And even after you beat the final boss, the game encourages you to do so again, multiple times, in order to fully complete the story. So why is it getting so much attention? This was my first roguelike game and I recently beat the final boss for the first time after many, many, tries. Here’s why the game kept pulling me in without making me want to chuck my Switch through a wall.

Story and Characters: This game has a surprisingly in-depth story, with various subplots to explore as you play as well. All of these plots are heavily character driven. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades and Persephone, who has recently discovered that his father lied to him about who his mother is. With the knowledge that his mother is Persephone, and that she has mysteriously decided to reside solely aboveground, Zagreus decides to escape the underworld so that he can meet his mother. Zagreus is a fun character on his own but, having grown up in the underworld, he’s developed strong relationships with multiple famous figures from mythology. For example, his tutor and father-figure Achilles, his mother-figure Nyx, and even Cerberus, his childhood dog. Each character can be found within the House of Hades, which is the base you return to after you die. The only way to get to know these characters to the fullest extent is to constantly speak to them every time you return to the house, and even gift them with supplies you collect during each escape attempt. Doing so will unlock side quests and meaningful interactions with the characters. They also come in and out, so you never know who you’ll be able to see and who will be missing each time you return to the house. Not only that, but some characters will randomly appear while you’re out attempting to escape the underworld, and these characters are just as important. They often connect to characters inside the House of Hades, meaning it will take multiple escape attempts to correspond between the two characters. This is especially rewarding in cases like Achilles and Patroclus, who have been separated for a long time. There’s always something new to discover amongst the characters. Even amongst the Greek gods, who will offer you help during each run. And on top of all that, the character art is gorgeous. There’s nothing not to like!

Variety:

The worry a lot of people have when it comes to roguelike games, is that it will feel like you started from the beginning each time you make another attempt at getting through the game. This isn’t true for ‘Hades’. Firstly, the gods that aid you during each escape attempt are different. So you might be greeted by Athena at the beginning of one run who will offer you a choice between defensive abilities. However, on the next run, Ares might greet you with some much more violent options to add to your arsenal. The areas you traverse through also change each escape attempt. You’ll enter different rooms in different orders, and the game will even allow you to choose which rooms you enter based on which reward you want. For example, if you’re in need of health you can choose a room that offers health, but if you want some coin to pay for more abilities to help you through the run, you can choose a room that offers you coin. Even before you start a new escape attempt the House of Hades will give you options to shake things up. Early on you’ll be given access to a mirror in your room. Go up to it, and the mirror will offer you various permanent upgrades to your character to ensure you’re stronger each time you decide to fight your way out of the underground. You’ll also unlock an entire arsenal of weapons to choose from as you play, all of which have permanent upgrades you can unlock. Sometimes a weapon will have a dark mist covering it, indicating it will offer more power for the next escape attempt if you choose to wield it. No two escape attempts are the same and there’s so much to unlock and upgrade that you can’t get bored.

Production: This game was highlighted by various gamers for one very important reason. The production of the game lacked crunch time. Often times when a large company announces a release date for a new game, it is far too soon. This leads to companies encouraging employees to work long hours with very little sleep in order to make the deadline, or crunch time. As always, when production is rushed and employees are sleep-deprived, the finished product isn’t anywhere near as good as it could be. It’s certainly not worth practically abusing employees over. Games like ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ were heavily criticized for using these methods to meet a deadline. ‘Hades’ avoided this entirely. The game was created gradually, with no definite release date. As a result, the game is amazing, it has plenty of quality content to keep gamers coming back, and employees were able to maintain their physical and mental health. With crunch time becoming the norm in big video game companies, it’s important to praise the games that were made without the added stress.

Obviously, I think ‘Hades’ is an extremely lovable game. As a Greek mythology fan, I appreciate all of the references in the game. But you don’t have to know mythology to appreciate the amazing character writing and the investing story. This game can be frustrating, as all games are. But it offers up so much that it isn’t monotonous. It’s definitely one of my favorite games I’ve played recently and I’d highly recommend it.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Marvel: Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4

Screenshot of (left) Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson and (right) Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes from ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’. Copyright goes to Marvel Entertainment and Disney Studios.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I was going to continue my posts about ‘Boys Over Flowers’, but for some reason I completely forgot that there would be a new episode of this show! So, I will continue my ‘Boys Over Flowers’ rants in my next post and instead take a small break to actually discuss this episode. Because there were a lot of things in this episode that confirmed some things for me and other things that completely shocked me. But, as we are already more than half way through and there are only two episodes left, I think I actually have a pretty good idea of what I think of this show as a whole. If you’ve read my past posts you probably know what I’m going to say about the series, but let’s get into it anyways! As always, SPOILERS ahead!

Sam Wilson:

As always, Sam Wilson kind of received the short end of the stick. And that was with them actually giving him more to do this episode. If you want more proof that he was short changed, just look at how all the main characters were trending on Twitter after the latest episode except him. Sam barely seems to be part of the main plot until maybe this episode and even that feels up in the air. Sam had no connections to any of the villains whatsoever and that kind of included Zemo. The bad blood there is generally more between Zemo and Bucky. But in the most recent episode they decided to connect Sam with the head of the Flag Smashers by having him try to talk her down because of their similar experiences with the government and racism. It’s still too early to tell whether or not this connection will still even stand after the horrific events of this episode, but it was at least something for Sam. It’s really the only substantial thing we’ve gotten for him since the very beginning of the show.

Bucky Barnes:

Another episode that absolutely hit it out of the park for Bucky Barnes. I may think that this show is failing in most aspects, but one thing that they consistently get right is Bucky. We started this episode out with a flashback to Bucky being healed from his brain washing in Wakanda. This scene was insanely emotional. Ayo, the lead member of the Dora Milaje excepting Okoye, walked around Bucky saying the Russian words that would turn him into the Winter Solider after promising him that she wouldn’t let him hurt anyone while Bucky waited in obvious agony. After he didn’t turn, Ayo proclaimed him free and we saw Bucky’s sobs of anguish turn into sobs of happiness and relief. It was the most emotional scene we’ve ever gotten for Bucky. It was really nice to see Bucky’s relationship with the Dora Milaje and to hear him being called ‘White Wolf’ again. But my favorite Bucky moment from this episode was by far when the Dora Milaje were beating up John Walker and from the side lines he yelled “Looking strong John!”. I laughed my ass off.

Zemo:

Zemo really didn’t have too much to do in this episode, but I absolutely love how consistent he is as a character. There was a brief moment after he shot Karli where he looked at the super soldier serum and I was very afraid that the writers were going to do the dramatic thing and have him take it. I was so relieved and had so much more respect for the character when he stuck to his morals, however misguided they may be, and started crushing all the vials. Considering since the last time we saw him we received an hour long loop of him dancing (which was actually improvised), I really can’t wait to see what else we get from Zemo. For having such low expectations of this character because of how little he was needed in ‘Civil War’, I’m pleasantly surprised that he’s becoming one of the best characters on the show.

Sharon Carter:

Where? She was in one scene in this episode. And yes, I’m still mad. All of the merchandising for this show promised the audience a focused on female character. That is not what we are getting in the least. Yes, I am aware of the theory that Sharon is actually the Power Broker. Even if this theory is true and Sharon becomes one of the major villains, it still wouldn’t make her character much better. Because a sudden reveal won’t change the amount of screen time she’s been getting for the majority of this series and it also wouldn’t change the amount of character development she’s gotten so far. Which is close to none.

The Dora Milaje:

They were barely in this episode, but at least they kicked ass when they were here. I just wish Ayo would have been a main character throughout this entire series. She’s a badass and I absolutely love every minute that she’s on screen. Sadly, I have a feeling we aren’t going to get too much more of them.

Karli and the Flag Smashers:

What are they here for again? I know that they want refugees and the lower classes to have rights and acquire their homes back. But I don’t get what any of their goals are. I have no idea what they think blowing things up will help. I have no idea why they’re doing anything in this show. And they tried to make Karli sympathetic in this episode, but that completely went out the window the minute she threatened Sarah and her children. I don’t know what purpose they serve as villains, I have no idea why they do anything, and I’m not sure what their end goal is that makes them such a threat. Who are the villains in this show and why? Somebody tell me, because I certainly don’t know.

John Walker:

We have to talk about John Walker because he was pretty much the main focus of this episode. We all knew that John Walker is a character who is very much meant to be hated. This is something that’s pretty obvious to all of us now. In this episode he went completely insane. And part of it makes me wonder if we were supposed to sympathize with his character, because if that was their intention at any point it definitely didn’t work. We see John Walker get beaten up by the Dora Milaje and then say “they weren’t even super soldiers” in a scene that made me feel like we were supposed to sympathize with him but just kind of made me laugh instead. Really, I still hadn’t gotten over Bucky’s “Looking strong John!”. John picks up the only super soldier serum that hadn’t been crushed by Zemo and we know he’s going to use it. In a separate fight against Karli he injects himself with it (it’s absolutely insane how easy being injected with the super soldier serum has become for no reason at all) and then his friend dies. His friend that received so little character development I can’t remember his name. Seriously, can we take a moment to acknowledge that Marvel gave John Walker a token Black friend who they then killed off to further the white man’s plot line? Because I don’t think I’m getting over that any time soon. In a fury, John Walker corners the member of the Flag Smashers that said he was a Captain America fan and kills him in cold blood with Cap’s shield. He decapitates a guy with Cap’s shield. And then we see the shield covered in blood. That’s why everything special about Steve didn’t come out of a bottle, Tony. That’s why you don’t ever give the government Cap’s shield, Sam. Though this scene was powerful, with two episodes left I still have no idea where they’re going with this. Is he the main villain now? Are they going to be putting him in other things? Because personally, I’m not interested in seeing this character again.

It’s probably obvious, but I’m already calling it. This show is a bust. It’s one of my least favorite things I’ve seen come out of Marvel recently and I have no idea how it even fits in with the rest of the MCU. It feels like an idea they came up with last minute and just threw together. I wish I had more positive things to say, but even when the show seems to get better it’s still not all that good. For loving ‘WandaVision’ so much, this is a giant disappointment. At least they’re doing well with Bucky, but both Sam Wilson and female representation in Marvel deserve better.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: Controversial Loki Opinions

Screenshot of Tom Hiddleston as Loki in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Disney.

Hey! Hallie here!

Loki has been one of my favorite fictional characters for a long time. Anyone who knew me in high school or college knew how much I loved this character. I’m certainly not the only one. One of the major causes of Loki’s constant presence in the MCU is his giant fanbase. But, throughout his on-screen history, there have been various controversial subjects that fans have debated concerning the trickster god. Many fans are divided on which parts of his story were best or what makes the most sense for the future of Loki. So, with his show just around the corner, here are my most controversial Loki opinions.

Loki in ‘Avengers’ is a frustrating mess:

Loki’s first two films focused primarily on making him a fully-fledged villain. ‘Thor’, his first movie, did so by giving him understandable motives and a sympathetic backstory. The movie went through the steps of showing Loki’s friendship with Thor, his discovery of his adoption, his betrayal of Asgard, and his ego taking over his better judgement. Throughout the movie we saw him completely fall apart, and though he wasn’t exactly a completely moral person beforehand, we still felt for him as he fell from grace. The ‘Avengers’ forgot all of his motives. It stripped him of his humanity and relatable features. He was nothing more than a generic Marvel villain. The only remnant of Loki left was his love of presentation. While that was fun to watch, it did nothing for his character. This strange blip in his personality led many Loki fans to speculate about why he might be acting this way. Many believed Loki was being influenced by the Mind Stone, as Loki had done to others throughout the film. Without much fanfare, Marvel decided this was a good excuse for the lack of character progression Loki experienced in the movie and made it canon.

However, making this theory canon erased all of Loki’s autonomy in the movie. Now it’s as if it isn’t really Loki that we see in ‘Avengers’. On top of all that, the ‘Avengers’ film did give us a scene that implied Thanos’ involvement in Loki’s actions, but it was so short and so irrelevant to the rest of the plot that most people forgot about it. The scene I’m talking about is Loki’s flashback to being blasted on the side of the face while The Other, a follower of Thanos, is threatening him. The scene implies that Loki was threatened, and even tortured, into doing what he did. If Marvel had expanded on this scene instead of confirming the fan theory, Loki’s autonomy would have stayed in tact. Well, more in tact. So, summed up, Loki was stripped of his personality in ‘Avengers’ and Marvel confirmed a fan theory that further strips him of his personality in the film. I’m obviously not a fan of this development. In any case, I feel ‘Avengers’ is the worst movie for Loki’s character.

‘Thor: The Dark World’ saved Loki:

So I’ve already expressed how frustrated I am by his appearance in ‘Avengers’. Because of that, I have to give major credit to the film Loki appeared in immediately afterwards for setting him on a completely different path. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ is considered one of the MCU’s worst. But I don’t hate it. The movie is very flawed in many ways, but Loki is amazing in it. We actually get to see some of his reasoning for siding with Thanos in the previous movie through the trial he endures at the movie’s opening. We also get to see him mourn Frigga, repair his relationship with Thor, and nearly sacrifice himself for Jane even though he knows nothing about her. He’s also hilarious. The scene where he turns into Steve is probably the best in the entire movie and his bickering with Thor immediately endears the audience to him. All of this without getting rid of his moralistic issues. He’s still a morally-gray trickster god, but his humanity and relatability come back in full force and are even multiplied. This movie, more than any other, created the Loki we know and love today.

Loki’s death in ‘Infinity War’ is awful:

I’ve talked about this on this blog before, but it’s been awhile so I’ll say it again. Loki’s death made no sense. Coming at Thanos with a knife? Getting anywhere close enough for Thanos to be able to grab him? No. That isn’t what Loki does. He fights at a range if he’s in over his head because he cares about his survival. He’s not the type to sacrifice himself, at least not before all his resources have been exhausted. Loki has pulled off way more elaborate ruses than a brief illusion and he never would attack Thanos with just a knife. Also, the fact that Thanos said “No resurrections this time” to the audience as if he has also been watching all of the MCU’s films and knows Loki’s story arc, is so over-the-top and ridiculous that I actually rolled my eyes.

So that’s it! Notice how I didn’t mention ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ here? It’s because I have nothing to say. It’s perfect. Loki is perfect in that movie. But anyways, Loki’s been doing pretty well since ‘The Dark World’, so I hope the Disney+ show doesn’t break the streak. It looks as if it’ll be amazing. Only time will tell if there will be more controversy to discuss once it starts being released.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop and K-Dramas: Boys Over Flowers- Ji-Hoo or Jun-Pyo

Photo of (left) Kim Hyun-Joong and (right) Lee Min-Ho from ‘Boys Over Flowers’. Copyright goes to KBS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

A while ago I made a post about ‘Boys Over Flowers’ and there are so many things I want to talk about in more detail. Mostly because I hadn’t recently watched the show when I last wrote about it and I just finished with a rewatch. I stand by most of what I said in my original review of the series, but watching this series again has been so frustrating mostly because of my feelings on the Ji-Hoo-Jan-Di-Jun-Pyo love triangle. So, instead of the small sections I dedicated to this love triangle from last time, I figured that it really was (and still is) something so debated that it deserves its own post. There are SPOILERS ahead. So if you haven’t watched this show yet, I recommend you do that. It’s definitely not my favorite show I’ve ever seen, it frustrated me a lot, but it’s cute and it is also quite possibly the most popular K-Drama of all time. I would recommend watching it purely for that reason alone, especially if you’re starting to get more into Korean media. Let’s get into it!

Jan-Di:

I think it’s best if we actually start out with the center of the triangle and the main character of the series herself. Jan-Di starts out as a very strong character in the first couple episodes, but the show really really wants her to be saved by one of the love interests at least once per episode. This results in her character becoming weaker as the series goes on and her standing up for herself less and less. But this isn’t the only way her character becomes less likable because of the show’s several twists and turns. As is normal with most love triangles in the series, Jan-Di can’t decide between Ji-Hoo and Jun-Pyo, but this often manifests itself in a way that seems very selfish for her character. She continuously leads them both on because of her indecision. She is constantly going between both of them to the point where she ends up dating both of them at one point or another. And the show makes it clear that, even as she’s dating one of them, she isn’t actually certain about her decision. This despite the fact that she agreed to date one of them. This goes on until the very end of the show. There’s a point in this show where she’s dating Ji-Hoo and doesn’t inform him that she moved into a new apartment or that Jun-Pyo (who is her ex boyfriend at this point) moved in next to her. He is incredibly kind when he finds out this information by accident (because she certainly wasn’t going to tell him), but you almost wish he would do something to show that he’s hurt. She’s also a terrible communicator. When she makes a decision about the relationship she’s in, she barely ever tells her partner about it. She doesn’t tell Ji-Hoo when she’s decided finally that she loved Jun-Pyo even though they were technically dating at the time. She doesn’t tell Ji-Hoo when she makes various decisions to interfere with his past relationships throughout the show. And she also doesn’t tell Jun-Pyo when his Mother is messing with her. She consistently doesn’t take into account anyone’s feelings in her relationships but her own, she makes several unwarranted assumptions, and she’s an awful communicator. I’m so sorry, but the more I watched of this series the more I wasn’t sure I could like her.

Jun-Pyo:

If it is even possible, Jun-Pyo is even worse at relationships than Jan-Di. Jun-Pyo begins this relationship in such a toxic manner that I was shocked it kept going at all. Jun-Pyo goes after Jan-Di the minute he has feelings for her, regardless of what her feelings for him are. He knows that she has feelings for Ji-Hoo and, to put it simply, he really doesn’t care. He even tries to forcibly kiss her, knowing that she doesn’t want it. She fights against him the entire time. This situation of her not liking him results in him deciding to try to bribe her. In order to do this he has his staff kidnap her and take her to his house. Not only that, but when they first start dating it’s because Jun-Pyo announces to the school that she’s his girlfriend without asking her about it first. This part is really odd because Jan-Di is fighting him up to that point, but she doesn’t dispute the fact that they’re dating. Even though she and Ji-Hoo have started having feelings for each other. Throughout their relationship they fight often and often look like they don’t enjoy being around each other. He is prone to throwing childlike tantrums and throwing things when he doesn’t get his way and he often crosses boundaries in a way that makes her visibly uncomfortable. Before they really start dating, he often invades her personal space and he continues to do things like this throughout their relationship. It just feels like they don’t have respect for each other. And he doesn’t have respect for Ji-Hoo either. He is determined to make Jan-Di fall in love with him again after she’s dating Ji-Hoo. It is very clear that, just like Jan-Di, most of the decisions he makes in his relationship are for him and not necessarily for them as a couple. But I do have to say, Jan-Di often views Jun-Pyo as his position rather than as himself, so it’s not like he deserves all the blame for what happens in their relationship. He always seems more sincere about the relationship and she always looks disgusted when she’s with him. But he is a walking red flag. Seriously, he ticks off so many of the toxic boyfriend boxes.

Ji-Hoo:

This poor man. I can’t tell you how many times I said that throughout this series. Ji-Hoo deserves so much better when it comes to literally everything. Half of the series he was carrying the relationship between Jan-Di and Jun-Pyo on his back despite his feelings for Jan-Di. He has a massive dedication for wanting the people he loves to be happy, and he received some pretty untrustworthy friends as a result. Except for the other other two members of the F4. Half the time we see F4 bonding, such as the hide and seek game in Macau, Jun-Pyo isn’t there. Just like he’s not there for his friend and constantly ignores the fact that Ji-Hoo obviously has feelings for Jan-Di on, not one, but multiple occasions. For example, when Ji-Hoo and Jan-Di obviously have feelings for each other before he claims that she’s his girlfriend. Or later in the series when he moves in next to her to try and win her back even though she’s actively dating Ji-Hoo. But Ji-Hoo is constantly supportive of the two of them no matter what they do to him. Whenever Jun-Pyo makes a mess and breaks Jan-Di’s heart, he’s always there to put the pieces back together. Sure, Jun-Pyo saved her in several dramatic situations, but I don’t think he was ever there for her when she truly needed emotional support. That was all Ji-Hoo. And neither of them ever consider his feelings no matter what he does for them. When Jan-Di first actually goes on a date with him, she still has feelings for Jun-Pyo. She justifies her feelings to herself by constantly bringing up Ji-Hoo’s ex throughout the date, absolutely convinced that he must still be in love with her despite him telling her that he’d rather not talk about his ex girlfriend. She also manipulates him into taking in his estranged Grandfather by making him think that he’ll be offering her a place to stay instead. Ji-Hoo has been abandoned all his life and those he loves most do nothing but abandon him this entire series. For Jan-Di he’s the fall back boy that she likes when she can’t have Jun-Pyo. This poor boy deserves so much better. He is one of the best characters in this show and definitely the kindest. This show does nothing but break him down and make you wish he had people in his life who cared about him more.

So, all this is to say that I don’t like either couple. Jun-Pyo and Jan-Di don’t work because she’s constantly thinking about Ji-Hoo when she’s with him and doesn’t seem interested. He’s always breaking her boundaries and acting like a brat. But a relationship with Ji-Hoo wouldn’t work either, even though he’s the obviously superior choice. Just like with Jun-Pyo, she can’t stop thinking about the other love interest when she’s with him as well. She also doesn’t respect him or his privacy and breaks personal barriers with him that she shouldn’t have. Not to mention all of the times she led him on just to reject him because Jun-Pyo suddenly wants her back now. I think that it’s pretty obvious that I ended the show not liking Jan-Di or Jun-Pyo much, but actually really liking the character of Ji-Hoo. This doesn’t mean that I completely disliked the show though. There were several cute moments with every character and a specific couple that I really really like, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for my next post.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Video Games: Top 10 ‘Animal Crossing’ Animal Species

Screenshot from ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’. Copyright goes to Nintendo.

Hey! Hallie here!

A few days ago I decided to rank all of the species of villager in ‘Animal Crossing’. All of them. I went through most of the categories but, to keep the post from getting too long, I decided to save my top ten for a post all on their own! So here’s my personal favorite villager species, and some of my favorite villagers from each category!

10. Squirrels. There’s a lot of really nicely designed squirrels and a lot of variety too. Surprisingly, this crew has some of the most colorful offerings in all of ‘Animal Crossing’. Sylvana has a beautiful brown and white design, meanwhile Mint is, as her name suggests, various shades of green. There’s even a purple squirrel villager. Most of them are pretty adorable as well. I’d say my only issue here is that the squirrels with buck teeth tend to be less adorable, and it’s not because of their teeth. Hazel’s unibrow does far more to ruin her appearance than her teeth do. A stand out villager in this category is Marshal, a snooty but stylish white squirrel. He’s a bit reminiscent of Draco Malfoy.

9. Cats. I mentioned in my last post that one of the reasons I didn’t care as much for rabbits was their particular resemblance to humans. Instead of appearing like rabbits, most of the designs are strangely human-like. Cats have similar characteristics, but without forgetting that they’re supposed to resemble cats. Cats are generally pretty cute and their appearances do make it clear that they are cats, even with a more human-like design. The only villager that seems like less of a cat and more of a human is Felicity, but, otherwise, there are characters like the gorgeous Olivia and the new heart-throb Raymond whose human-like appearances don’t make them any less adorable. Of course, you have the creepier characters like Moe with his buckteeth or Monique with her crazy makeup, but this species is pretty solid overall. The standout here is Raymond. Who can resist those glasses?

8. Elephants. Elephants are some of the most adorable larger-species villagers. Elephants in general are pretty lovable, but with designs like Tia, who actually looks like a large teapot, it’s hard not to like them. The only big issues with this category are Axel and his creepy smile, and Eloise, who doesn’t have any visual problems at all. Eloise is a pretty adorable shade of yellow, but she’s also known for being one of the rudest villagers in the entire game. My stand out for this category is Margie. The carnival elephant look is adorable on her and her blue eyes are stunning.

7. Eagles. To be honest, I haven’t met an eagle I haven’t liked. There are some that are quite plain, like Apollo, who looks like nothing more than a normal Eagle. But with colors like the greens on Frank or the tropical colors on Keaton, Apollo is definitely an outlier. I wish I could put this group higher, but there are so many other species that I love that I can’t possibly move them up. A stand out for this category is Amelia, who’s gorgeous red face has captured my attention since I started playing ‘Animal Crossing’ games.

6. Horses. I really love the horses in ‘Animal Crossing’. There’s a large variety, and even the cranky ones are approachable. There are even villagers that take the horse criteria more lightly. Like Julian, the blue unicorn. Like the eagles, there are plain ones among this group. Buck comes to mind. But the other villagers in this category make up for his faults. This group’s standout is Savannah, the most adorable zebra ever. Have you seen those blue eyes?

5. Octopi. There’s a lot of love circulating for the octopi and I can’t help but agree with all the praise. They’re definitely the most uniquely designed villagers. With only three villagers in this category, you can’t help but feel you’ve come across something special when you encounter one. They don’t necessarily have “adorable” features. Zucker is a bit derpy with his blunt haircut and freckles, meanwhile Octavion is one of the angriest looking villagers I’ve ever seen. But even then you can’t help but admire how unique their designs are. The stand out of this group is Marina, whose pink design and love of pastels make her the only truly adorable member of this category.

4. Tigers. Tigers have been some of my favorite animals ever since I was a kid, and the ‘Animal Crossing’ villagers in this category succeed in making them just as adorable as I wanted them to be. They have proper snouts, unlike the lions, and their designs are genuinely cool. My issue with these is that they stick a bit too closely to the regular tiger colors, especially with the male villagers. Both Rowan and Leonardo are normal orange shades. Still, a classic design is a classic. The standout of this group is Bianca. Her white fur and blue eyes have been a favorite combo of mine for a long time.

3. Deer. The deer villagers really came out of nowhere for me. I didn’t expect to like them as much as I do. Deer have some of the most gorgeous designs in the entire game, which is not what I was expecting. You also have a variety of animals under this criteria. Like Zell, the gazelle, or Erik, the moose. There’s something genuinely beautiful about their design while still remaining cute. My stand out here is Fauna. I’ve complained about plainer looks before, but Fauna’s classic deer look only highlights how well these villagers work for this game.

2. Wolves. I was fighting against putting wolves up so high. They’re definitely fan favorites, but there are so many other great designs in this game that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find them as praiseworthy as others have. I was very wrong. The more I look at these designs, the more I like them. Wolves, much like deer, have a strange grace to them that make them both gorgeous and adorable. But there’s plenty of variety here as well. There’s Dobie, an elderly wolf, Skye, a winter wolf, and even a badass businesswoman named Vivian. Most of the characters in this category are fan favorites for their chill personalities and cool designs. The stand out for this species is Audie, who has grown in popularity for her sunny behavior and sunnier appearance.

1.Goats. This might be a more controversial opinion. I don’t see a lot of people putting goats at the top of their lists. But frankly, I love them. I’ve talked about a mix between a beautiful animal design and a cute design, but I don’t think any group strikes that balance better than the goats do. Their eyes are big and their heads are adorably big, but their general shape makes them more graceful than most. Each one looks exactly like a goat, but even among the small group of villagers there are several designs to admire. The most plain one is Billy, who is the perfect elderly goat and a far cry from being boring. I have two highlights for this category. There’s Sherb, the blue goat who wears a wintery sweater and an intoxicating smile, and Chèvre, who has the shiniest blue eyes (Once again, white fur, blue eyes) in the entire series and cute freckles to match.

That’s it! I’ll repeat that all of this is personal opinion, but I had a lot of fun ranking these characters! Some of this list definitely didn’t end up how I expected it to. I appreciate that writing this gave me the chance to admire villagers I had never seen before. It’s almost unfair. There are too many villagers on my wish list now for it to be possible to obtain them all.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie