Star Wars: ‘The Bad Batch’ So Far

Screenshot of Hunter, Echo, Omega, and Tech from ‘The Bad Batch’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to The Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve missed reviewing a few episodes from this series because of the weeks I was gone, so now I have quite a bit to talk about. And, to be honest, I think the things I have to say about the three most recent episodes pretty well reflect my feelings about this series overall. So SPOILERS if you haven’t caught up with this series. I’m about to dive into what we’ve seen recently and my biggest issues with the writing in this show.

Episodes 11 and 12:

These episodes were a two parter focusing on the Twi’leks of Ryloth after the Empire decided to focus their attention on the planet. Our main character focus here isn’t any of the members of the Bad Batch, but a young Hera Syndulla. Seeing Hera as a young girl is actually a lot of fun. Her instant inclination to resist what she believes is wrong, even occasionally against her parents wishes, is so reminiscent of the character ‘Rebels’ fans know and love that it’s impossible not to get sucked in by it. It’s also fun to see her early obsession with becoming a pilot and her subsequent attempts at piloting ships without much training. Additionally, I really enjoyed her relationship with Omega. The two meshed really well together and proved, once again, that they are just as competent as the adults around them. But that’s one thing I dislike about the episode, and the series in general, as well. All of the characters keep calling into question Omega and her judgement just because she’s a child. In these episodes this poor treatment is extended to Hera, who the Bad Batch accuse of lying about her parent’s predicament for no other reason than that she’s a kid. What? I’m really tired of these characters having to be retaught the same lessons about how to treat children. The Batch ranges from coddling Omega to blatantly disrespecting her after she constantly proves how capable she is, and apparently they do this to literally every child they come in contact with. It’s frustrating.

Another thing I really enjoyed about these episodes was Clone Captain Howzer. Howzer was such an interesting and complicated character. Despite the fact that he’s working for the Empire, it’s pretty evident early on that he isn’t 100% behind their methods and he genuinely cares for the Syndullas. When Hera manages to escape from the Empire and Crosshair is sent after her, he takes it upon himself to get to her first in the hopes of keeping her safe. And the final part of episode 12 is completely stolen by Howzer as well. Howzer reveals to the Bad Batch that Crosshair is aware of the escape route the Batch have planned to use while rescuing the Syndullas. So he directs them to a more safe route and faces the ambush Crosshair arranged by himself. He then implores all the troopers pointing blasters at him to realize that what they’re doing to the planet Ryloth is wrong. And the troopers agree with him and throw down their weapons. I have no idea what this indicates about the inhibitor chip. Does this mean that the chip can be fought against if it’s forcing you to go too far against your own morals? Does it mean the chip can wear off? That Crosshair could potentially eliminate the effect it has on him by himself? Or is it just bad writing? I can’t say. All I can say is that I really liked Howzer here. More than I’ve liked any of the other clones in this show. Howzer in only two episodes feels deeper and more developed than any of our main characters (Aside from Omega, of course). I desperately want more characterization for Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, and Echo, but we’re nearing the end of this series and we’ve seen nothing. So shout out to Tech I guess for standing out a little bit in episode 12 with some badass flying moments, but I’m still disappointed in this show.

Episode 13:

Aaaaand we’re back to the Cid one-offs. I thought that Omega paying off the Batch’s debt meant they wouldn’t have to hang around Cid much anymore. But this series seems content to stay in the same place for the rest of the episodes. Unfortunately. There isn’t much I liked about this episode to be honest. It was refreshing to see Cid join in during the action sequences, but I also can’t say I like her character enough for this to have amounted to a positive thing for me. The only development we’ve gotten for this character so far is her developing a more positive opinion of Omega. While it’s nice to have someone yell at the Batch for belittling Omega on occasion, that doesn’t make me suddenly love this character. This episode also failed to do anything interesting with any of the characters. In the episode the Bad Batch are tasked with pulling off a spice heist by going through a mine filled with bugs. They complete the task without any character moments to be seen. The closest we get to one is Wrecker screaming in terror while he’s being dangled into a large cave. Omega doesn’t even get much in this episode. She’s prevented from going through with the last part of the heist by the main villains. Which means she has to stay behind again. While she’s stuck as a captive with Roland Durand, the guy who caused the entire mess in the first place by trying to take over Cid’s bar, she demonstrates genuine care and concern for him. But that isn’t anything new for Omega. There wasn’t anything new here at all. Just the same blandness we’ve seen from countless episodes of this show.

The Show:

This show has managed to do so much and so little at the same time. It introduced its first woman clone and gave her a mysterious identity. It brought in Order 66 and even the trauma experienced by Kanan during these events. It saw the Bad Batch being shunned by their peers, betrayed by one of their own, and forced off of their base. It introduced the beginnings of Storm Troopers. It brought in Captain Rex as an incentive to get the inhibitor chips out of the heads of our main characters. It took two episodes to explore Hera’s past. But then it didn’t ever develop its title characters and made them learn the same lessons over and over again, as if their minds were wiped between episodes. Giving the audience new, crazy scenarios for these characters to interact with isn’t enough. The characters themselves have to be interesting. And this show doesn’t spend any time trying to make these characters deep or lovable. I can’t see this changing in any substantial way in the next three episodes. We’re nearing the end of this series and its characters are already its downfall.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: ‘Imitation’ Finale and Series Review

Screenshot of Lee JunYoung as Ryok in ‘Imitation’. Copyright goes to KBS and Kakao Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Sorry for the several ‘Imitation’ posts in one week, but today was the actual finale of ‘Imitation’! Yep, despite my confusion last week it was definitely the final episode that aired today. And it definitely does not look like they were gearing up for a second season after the ending of this show. I already thought that would be pretty impossible considering the schedules of the cast for this show. But after seeing the ending, I don’t think it’s likely we’ll see this cast together again, or at least not in the same way. With that aside, I found that the finale of this show only proved my fears correct. They started out so many plot points and were not able to satisfyingly end any of them. I think it’s pretty obvious that over-all, this series wasn’t my favorite. But let’s just get into the specifics of this finale and how the writers wrapped everything up. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The Good:

The Acting- As always, I have to commend this show for the actors. For a few of the major ones and many of the minor actors, this was their first time in front of the camera in this way. They all did amazingly despite their different levels of experience and everyone only got better as the series went on. I thought it was such a good idea to cast idols as idols for the show, and the choice to do so definitely payed off. I loved watching everyone improve as the show went on and it was clear that everyone put their heart and soul into their performances.

The Wholesomeness- Despite the extreme choppiness that I found in this episode; I loved how wholesome it was to see all the characters together. There were some moments that I found cute expressly because I just wanted to see a few of the characters spend time together for the last episode. Though things were not well-wrapped up, I still liked seeing the characters happy at the end. And, unfortunately, that all has to do with the actors and nothing to do with the writing. The actors are what made the characters lovable in the end.

The Bad:

CEO Wrap Up- In this episode we saw Ryok confront the CEO of Shax’s company a few times and then Shax confronted him all together and that was it. All of the scenes were only a couple minutes long and none of them were impactful. We got some trope-y set up for this mustache twirling villain and then he was taken down very easily. The entire storyline felt like it had very little impact on the story over-all. It was just solved easily towards the beginning of the episode and just never touched on again. At least Ryok got some moments to shine this episode.

Main Romance Wrap Up- For being a show that’s supposed to focus on the main romance, the ending of this show had very little screen time for it. Putting aside the fact that we saw very few scenes of the main two characters bonding in the entire series, this episode only saw them in about two scenes with time to themselves. In the end I didn’t even think I could call their relationship cute because I never even saw much of a relationship to begin with. It surprised me how neglectful this last episode was to the main characters of the entire show. Maha hasn’t really been focused on for a while either, but I at least did come out of the show liking Ryok. Though he still didn’t get enough character moments for me. But that goes for all of the characters.

Side Plot Romance One Wrap Up- For the first time since the most awkward date I’ve ever seen on a K-Drama, we actually got to see Yujin and Hyunji spend time with each other. There were a couple moments, albeit very brief, but they were moments all the same. Hyunji gifted Yujin some product placement and then Yujin met up with Tea Party at the big concert at the end of the show. Except, Yujin hasn’t changed. I thought one of the entire purposes of his character was that he was focusing on Maha too much and neglecting the people around him because he was so obsessed with her. But at the end of this episode he was only talking to and wishing luck to Hyunji while Riah and Maha looked at each other incredulously. So basically his focus has shifted to someone else but he still hasn’t learned his lesson. And Hyunji has been focused on so little that I can’t say she even had much of a character by the end of this. At least they actually got some screen time this episode which is a miracle in itself.

Side Plot Romance Two Wrap Up- What we all wanted to see was Riah and LeeHyun get more screen time and become the cutest couple on the show as they were meant to be. Instead we got a brief scene in this episode where Riah kissed LeeHyun on the cheek and that was about it. It was cute, I’ll give you that. But it felt like basically nothing. If they had more screen time they would have been amazing, but they just never got the time. And so we’re reduced to the bare minimum, just like with every other storyline on this show. I just wanted more from them.

Sparkling Wrap Up- We never saw any of the guys talk out their problems. Everyone was just having fun with HyunOh. Still nothing from any of them. There was really no plot here at all. It just makes me wonder why they wrote in the animosity that HyunOh had for Yujin in the first place. Because it seriously never led to anything.

Shax Wrap Up- We saw them band together to go against that CEO, but we still haven’t had much character development from any of these characters. I just wanted more of Hyuk, was that too much to ask? The leader showed regret for his actions, but that had been focused on so little in the series that sometimes I forgot that was even a plot point. And the estranged member of Shax came back at the very end when he was lifted into a song in the memory of Annie which made me cringe so hard. I wanted to see more of these characters too, but they didn’t get screen time either.

Annie Wrap Up- She receives no real justice. A journalist threatens the CEO with a picture that’s supposed to solve everything, which just left me confused. And she gets a song at the end. As if that’s enough for what the show said happened to her.

The Concert- I’ve been writing in so many of these that the characters or plot line didn’t get screen time. So what was the entire episode then? Well, it was the choppy wrap ups of all of the story lines they continuously left out to dry and then a giant concert at the end where all of the characters performed every song they had ever performed in the show over again. This took up about half of the episode. I’m still baffled by this decision. The point of a final episode is to tie everything up, not create a best hits version of your series. But for all the writers could do about wrapping up storylines, I guess this is just as good as anything else. Because they wrote so many beginnings without middles that endings just wouldn’t have made sense no matter how they had done it.

Useless Plots- You could argue that almost all of the plots in this show were useless. None of them felt like they came to anything. Yujin and HyunOh had an intense rivalry for a while and they never confronted each other. Maha and Ryok had the beginnings of an adorable relationship but they never spent any time together. Annie was revealed to have had horrible crimes committed against her by several different company owners which was solved in a minute long confrontation. The sub-plot romances never had any time to develop beyond showing the audience that they had interest in each other. The brotherly and sisterly bonds of the different groups were never focused on because this show is apparently allergic to side-characters. I still don’t know what the point of La Lima was. The ‘Imitation’ part of this show was dropped a couple episodes in. There was a lot of drama over the fact that Maha and Ryok might be found out as a couple by fans that also never got properly addressed. This show is absolutely full of unfinished plots. I literally just sat there for a moment after this finale and wondered what the point of this show even was.

I don’t like being so negative about shows. I’ve been negative about dramas before, but I’m not sure I ever have been to this extent. And I think part of that is disappointment. I thought the idea of this show was really interesting, I thought the casting was amazing, and many of the actors drew me in from the get-go. As I have said in almost every review post I’ve made for this show, the actors were amazing. They never let me down, it was always the writing. I would have loved to see all of the same actors in a much better version of this show. One that wasn’t so messy, one that narrowed down plots to a few that the writers would actually commit to, and one that gave characters the screen time that they deserved. But instead, the writers started a bunch of different plots and never developed any of them. They just wrote filler and then the beginnings to more plots that would never get solved. What was the point of Ryok beating up HyunOh in that one episode when they had barely even met each other? What was the point of Maha and Ryok breaking up? What was the point of most of this? This is one of the messiest shows I have ever seen in my life and I hate saying it. Because there are so many elements of this show that I want to support and I feel a little bad for posting an honest review because I feel those elements deserve my unwavering support. And they do. But I have to be honest. I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone. Unless you want to see ATEEZ act (and they are amazing in this), or some of your other favorite idols act. There are cute scenes you can look up on YouTube, but I still wouldn’t recommend the entire series. And that isn’t to say that this show never had any good moments, because it did. There were some moments that I thought were cute and had potential. But in the end the show felt like it was written episode by episode with no clear ending in mind. (Very much like the most recent ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.)

Ok, that’s the end of my rant. I am so so sorry for this being so much of a downer. It wasn’t as bad watching this episode as it probably came off! I always love watching ATEEZ do literally anything. But I couldn’t turn a blind eye to everything this show was besides just what ATEEZ did. And even then, there were times where I was frustrated because the boys barely got any screen time. I swear, there will be more positive K-Drama reviews coming up! I just watched two that I absolutely love and I just started another one that I’m already really liking. So there will be positive reviews and recommendations coming up soon if that’s what you’re looking for! I’m really looking forward to writing about something that I just genuinely loved too! But if anything, I can at least say I will probably return to some Yujin and Hyuk scenes on YouTube so that I can see the boys acting again. I at least looked forward to that part every week! Hopefully the members of ATEEZ will act in more projects in the future!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Books: The Difference Between ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ on Disney + and the Book

Screenshot of Seth Carr, Emmy DeOliveira, Marta Kessler, and Mystic Inscho in ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to the Walt Disney Company and Trenton Lee Stewart.

Hey! Hallie here!

Now that we’re on a bit of a hiatus while we wait for the next Marvel shows to come to Disney+, I’ve been looking at what else the streaming service has to offer. And I was very surprised to find an adaptation of one of my go-to books as a kid. That is, of course, the new ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ series releasing episodes every Friday. Before I decided to jump into this one though, I decided to reread the first book both for nostalgia and to get a good feel of the story after years of letting the book collect dust on my shelf. So far the series has stayed pretty close to the events of the first book. But there are several large changes the series made that have definitely surprised me. So before I forget about the details of the book again, lets go through some of the major differences between the series and the book. SPOILERS ahead!

The Adults:

This change is so obvious that the creators of the show were talking about it before the series even came out. In the book, Mr. Benedict, Number Two, Rhonda, and Milligan disappear from the plot almost entirely after the kids are sent off on their top secret mission. The only time we hear from these characters comes in the form of their Morse code messages to the kids while they’re on the island. We don’t even know where they’re hiding out on the mainland or how they have such a good view of the school the kids are attending. They do appear at the end of the book, however, to help the children complete their mission. Still, they’re very much background characters in the book. In the series they’ve all become major characters. We see them struggle to live together in a cabin across from the island, and we also see them struggle with their own guilt over sending the children on such a dangerous mission. We get to see Milligan trying to remember who he is, Number Two struggling with her overprotectiveness, Rhonda attempting to fight back against the Emergency in her own way, and Mr. Benedict grappling with the discovery that his brother is Mr. Curtain. Even Ms. Perumal gets a bigger role. In the book, Mr. Benedict does contact her about Reynie’s whereabouts so she doesn’t wind up frantically looking for him. But in the series Ms. Perumal isn’t given enough information to be put at ease, and she shows extreme intelligence in the way she winds up tracking down Mr. Benedict as a result. I honestly love seeing more of these characters. I count this as an excellent move on the writers part.

Mr. Curtain:

This is another major change the creators addressed. In the book, Mr. Curtain is simply evil. He doesn’t have much more to him than that. He tries to be nice to the children, but he hates kids and it’s obvious to everyone around him. He only warms to Reynie because Reynie uses his massive ego against him. In the series this isn’t the case. Reynie and Sticky find themselves genuinely liking Mr. Curtain at points, despite the fact that they know his true motives. And Mr. Curtain doesn’t seem to hate kids. In fact, Mr. Curtain has a child of his own. Mr. Curtain also seems to have a bit of lessened genius in the series. In the book, Mr. Curtain designs all of his machines himself. He prides himself on his brain and tries not to work with anyone else simply because he finds most other people unintelligent by comparison. In the series, Mr. Curtain has an entire team of scientists designing his machines. He doesn’t look at all like he resents having to work with adults or kids. Overall, the series makes Mr. Curtain appear like more of a normal guy. It makes me wonder how much the last few episodes will reveal about his true personality. Finally, the relationship between Mr. Curtain and Mr. Benedict is very different in the series. In the book, Mr. Benedict doesn’t even know he has a twin brother. The coded phrase “Beware the Gemini” is actually sent from Mr. Benedict to Reynie, not the other way around, to warn Reynie that Mr. Benedict has a twin brother he didn’t know about. In the series, Mr. Benedict knows he has a twin brother and is deeply concerned for him. Which means we’ll likely see a very interesting altercation between these two later in the series.

The Tests:

There are a few small but meaningful changes made throughout the first episode that alter the tests the kids take in order to get into Mr. Benedict’s society. Firstly, there isn’t a scholarship attached to the tests in the book. The ad Mr. Benedict puts out only promises “special opportunities”. Which makes Ms. Perumal appear a bit irresponsible for letting Reynie participate in something so vague. This is a change I definitely feel was necessary. As for changes made to the tests themselves, the first major one is that Kate is allowed to use her bucket in the checkered room without having to retake the test multiple times. In the book, Milligan makes Kate repeat the task several times to see if she is just as capable without her bucket as she is with it. She proves herself by walking across the floor on her hands. The next major change is the appearance of two other children during the last two tests. In the books, only Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance make it far enough to attempt these tasks. The maze task changes the most of all of these tests. As I said before, the extra test taker during this sequence, who somehow does end up solving the maze, isn’t present in the book. Constance is though, and she has a picnic just like the one we see in the show. In the book, the maze is much more difficult. It’s pitch black and far larger than what we see in the series. In fact, it’s so difficult to solve that Mr. Benedict uses it as a means of protecting his house. Of course, all but Constance solve the maze. But, unlike the series, all of the children solve the maze and ring the bell at different times. There’s no extra rule where all the children have to ring the bell together. Simply solving it is enough for Mr. Benedict in the books.

Getting Kicked off the Island:

This is a really interesting addition to the plot that adds a sense of urgency to the series. In the books, there’s never any fear of any of the children being kicked off of the island and brainwashed. Kate and Constance are never even questioned about their struggling grades. In the series, there’s an entire ranking system for the students of the school that nearly gets Kate brainwashed. But she ends up on a tetherball team that buys her safety from this possible outcome. Fortunately.

The Waiting Room:

The waiting room in the series seems to be nothing more than a distressing optical illusion. In the books, however, it’s left mysterious and horrible. All Sticky manages to say about it after the time he spends in the waiting room is that it’s basically like a swamp. It’s muddy, smelly, and there are creatures crawling around in the mud that can’t be seen in the complete darkness the room is in. Obviously complete darkness doesn’t work so well on screen, but I could have gone for something more frightening here.

The Tunnels:

In the books, the children discover early on while they’re snooping around the school that there are various traps on the school grounds that are covered by specific plants. These traps lead to their discovery of the tunnels running underneath them. In the series, Mr. Benedict discovers the tunnels and Constance and Kate have to solve a puzzle in order to enter the tunnels. After this, Constance and Kate explore the tunnels while Reynie and Sticky are busy. Except, this is yet another major change. In the books, only Kate ventures into the tunnels without the rest of the society. Which leads me to my next point.

Constance:

Constance is much more active in the series. In the book, she misses out on various events simply because she’s asleep. Other times it’s because she’s actively ignoring the rest of the society. In the series, Constance does take every chance she can get to insult the other children, but she also actively helps with their mission. She even manages to get her own grades up by simply applying herself, which is something that never occurs to her in the books. I will say I miss her frequent poetry in the series, though. We’ve only gotten one poem from Constance so far, compared to her plethora of insulting poems in the books.

These are the major differences that come to mind so far! We have a few more episodes left until this series is done and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they do with the story. I’m enjoying all of the changes they’ve made up to this point, which is really surprising to me! Except for the waiting room. Hopefully we get a bit of that scariness somewhere else in the series as it keeps going.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: Recent ATEEZ and Monsta X News

Promotional shot of Song Mingi. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

So, there’s a lot that I missed and a lot to talk about when it comes to ATEEZ. And most of it is so wholesome that I may or may not have cried. But, that aside, though I will mostly talk about the wholesome stuff, there is some other news I at least want to touch on briefly in this post. But let me just say, the ATEEZ content that has been coming out recently has made me so incredibly happy. With the world still dealing with the pandemic, I find this to be one of my biggest serotonin boosters throughout the entirely of quarantine. And when ATEEZ returns they always make it big in some way or another. There’s also the fact that we know that they have filmed more stuff that hasn’t even come out yet. On top of all that, some recent news has also come out about Monsta X that I also want to immediately address. While there aren’t as many new releases that I missed here, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some major news. So, now that I have thoroughly geeked out about all of this, let’s get into the actual stuff I missed!

MINGI!!!:

Obviously, the first and most important order of business. On San’s birthday a little while ago, several members of ATEEZ posted on their official Twitter for the event which is very normal. What stuck out, however, was one of the posts was from Mingi. And I think that was our first true sign that Mingi was coming back. We did see that he was at Jeju Island at the same time the rest of the members were there, but I wasn’t entirely convinced we should expect a soon comeback for him at that point. And then a few days ago Jongho did a Vlive where he said to expect good news the following day. And, of course, the day after we got the news from KQ Entertainment that Mingi would be officially rejoining the group. I definitely cried. They did confirm that Mingi has been working with ATEEZ for a while, basically trying to get used to things again and making sure he was healed enough to rejoin. Mingi did a Vlive not long after this where he confirmed that they did film things on Jeju Island that will be coming out soon. This Vlive was also incredibly emotional. ATEEZ has gotten a lot of new fans since ‘Kingdom: Legendary War’ came out. (Because, let’s be honest, their stages slayed.) And those fans aren’t too familiar with Mingi in real time. I became a fan of ATEEZ right before Mingi left, so though I got some of him in real time, I didn’t get much either. Mingi formally introduced himself to the new ATEEZ fans and I would honestly be surprised if someone watched that and didn’t cry. Mingi is amazing and sweet and I’m so glad he’s back. I really can’t wait to get to know him better!

San’s Hiatus:

Even though we have Mingi back, we still aren’t seeing all eight of them together. This is because San was recently diagnosed with Covid 19 and is taking a break for his health and to make sure he doesn’t spread it to any of the other members of ATEEZ. Hopefully he will recover soon and be back sooner than we think, but I can’t help but feel KQ Entertainment is doing ATEEZ a disservice. But this goes beyond KQ. Several companies have all-cleared fansigns and other public events for idols using only barriers and no masking for the idols. This includes ATEEZ. This is not sufficient protection for anyone. And every time an idol ends up with Covid, my first reaction is to go back and look at how many public events their company has been forcing them to do. South Korea is still severely lacking vaccines, and I do not feel comfortable with companies beginning to act as if things are ok again. I want to see them back to their regular activities as much as the next person, but I would prefer for them to stay safe. I hope San gets well soon!

Dreamers:

ATEEZ’s new Japanese single is adorable and definitely a mood booster. The music video adds an entirely different level to it, but even listening to it brings comfort. The song is about ATEEZ being together with their fans and feeling what their fans feel. It promotes this insane amount of connection between them and all of Atinys as well as telling all of us that we aren’t alone. And the song doesn’t feel sad either. It has a fun summer-y vibe to it that just makes you feel happy. And the music video shows all of them playing on the beach and in calming scenarios, just giving you the feel that you are not alone and that having fun again is just around the corner. The behind the scenes photos from the music video only added to the more cute and fresh vibe. So many of the pictures depict the members uncontrollably smiling and laughing on the ocean-side. They either are candid or feel very candid and just looking at them makes you happy. This is definitely one of my favorite songs to come out of quarantine and it gave me so much comfort.

Shownu’s Enlistment:

As of today, Shownu of Monsta X has officially enlisted for his mandatory service. I know we’ll all be sad to see him go. Especially because he will most likely miss Monsta X’s upcoming tour in 2022 and that means we’ll have to wait even longer to see him in person. But he’ll be back before we know it! And Shownu doesn’t seem too upset about having to go, which is definitely more comforting. I just can’t wait for him to come back and hope that he stays safe and healthy until we see him again!

Kiss or Death:

Next week we’re getting new Monsta X music and I still haven’t been able to comprehend it. The Sherlock style outfits and the teaser that came out today only made me more excited. I love the train and vintage feel of this one. I just know this is going to be one of their most memorable MVs! And we know by pictures that Shownu is a part of the song and the music video even though he won’t be able to promote it with the rest of the members. It’ll be nice to see more of Shownu! There’s not much to talk about until the music video releases, but I am so excited for this!

I was originally only going to talk about ATEEZ in this post, but with Shownu leaving today and the teaser for the MV dropping, I figured I might as well just make this a dedicated news post for both groups. I really can’t wait to see the new stuff that both groups will be releasing soon from ATEEZ’s unreleased footage on Jeju Island to Monsta X’s brand new music video. Seriously, I missed so much when I was on vacation. I felt like every day I opened Twitter and there was something new happening. And while that was always a mood booster for me, it definitely means I have a lot more posts lined up than I usually do! With all this stuff coming out I can only hope that I’ll be able to keep up! I have never been more happy to have so much to write about, I seriously can’t wait!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

BTS: “Permission to Dance” and its Response

Screenshot from the “Permission to Dance” MV featuring Jeon Jungkook, Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Kim Taehyung (V), Kim Namjoon (RM), and Park Jimin. Copyright goes to BTS and the Hybe Corporation.

Hey! Hallie here!

One of the major things I was excited to talk about once I returned from vacation was “Permission to Dance”. BTS has been releasing tons of content recently. So much that they’ve become my main source of entertainment for the past few weeks. And that’s even without ‘Run BTS’ episodes! There’s a lot to love about “Permission to Dance” and its music video. But along with diving into these things, I want to talk a bit about the controversy that surrounded this song after it came out. That leaves a lot to cover, so let’s get into this!

The Song:

I’m going to be honest here, “Permission to Dance” isn’t really my thing. I tend to prefer songs that are either more adrenaline pumping or more calming and whimsical. Putting my personal preferences aside though, this song isn’t bad at all! The lyrics have a nice positive message without being necessarily deep, and that’s completely fine! Not every song needs a deep meaning! Ed Sheeran captured a lot of the happiness BTS has been trying to spread recently and I commend him for that. However, if you aren’t an Ed Sheeran fan you might not like this song. He had a big hand in creating it and, if you’re familiar with his work, it’s really evident. But his writing is by no means poor here. It’s a really catchy song that feels very empowering for those who have been going through hard times due to the state of the world right now. Moving past the writing aspect, BTS sings this song really well. There are some crazy notes that Jimin hits that some thought were fake until he performed the song live. Jungkook, as usual, mesmerizes you whenever his part comes up. I also feel that Taehyung and Jin’s richer tones really stand out in this song. And I can’t get over the rap line in this song. Hoseok has given us by far the most singing between the three of them and it’s such a pleasure to hear him brought forward here for a singing part. Namjoon kicks off this song with his voice and I have no idea why he says he can’t sing. His deeper register is so satisfying to hear. As for Yoongi, his part of the song is equally adorable and impressive. I’m not sure if these three are necessarily comfortable with taking up more singing roles in the future, but I know I’ll remain ecstatic every time I get to hear them sing.

The MV:

This music video was so adorable! First off, I want to talk about the choreography. It’s really simple, but it’s so fun to watch that you want to join right in. It feels like it was made for a large amount of people to be able to follow along, and that really goes with the whole message of the song. My favorite part of it is the incorporation of sign language. It’s such a thoughtful addition to the choreo. Moving on, let’s talk about the outfits in this video! I can’t say I expected the Western theming, but it looks really good! The first set of outfits really go for that fringe look. The outfit that stands out most to me here is actually Taehyung’s. While I appreciate the whites and blacks that we see from a lot of the other outfits, the flowy red ensemble on Tae along with the black fringe on his pants gave him some interesting movement and boldness. Halfway through the video they change to the denim outfits. These are also really flattering. I have two standouts here. The first goes to J-Hope simply for pulling off that whole detached jeans look. The shorts with differing leg lengths plus the jean bottom look on the top of his boots could look ridiculous. And yet, Hobi pulls it off. The other stand out, more because I actually love this outfit, belongs to Jin. The incredibly low neck on Jin bias wrecked every ARMY who watched the video. Add in the distressed jeans and the really fun black necklace and I couldn’t look away. Another major thing I enjoyed in this MV was the diversity of everyone in it. There were people of various ages, genders, and races throughout the entire video. The MV was going for a feel of togetherness as we look toward the hopeful end of quarantine and the sheer amount of people we got to see gleefully dancing in this video drove that point home. It’s just a really fun video that puts you in a good mood.

The Controversy:

A lot of people were really supportive of BTS after this release. Who could be upset at all of the positivity they’re spreading? And now that the song is at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, there’s even more proof that ARMY has their back with this release. But there was still a lot of pushback. At first there was some understandable concern from ARMYs. There’s always reason to be concerned about the stupid comments BTS are going to receive from mostly the American media when they release an English song. A lot of the media seems under the impression that every time BTS releases a song in English they’re suddenly going to shift to catering directly to English audiences. All of that is incredibly frustrating for both BTS and ARMYs to deal with. But after this we saw people demanding BTS return to Korean songs and some of their darker concepts. I often prefer their Korean songs because their Korean songs have a more personal touch as a result of being mostly written by the members. But BTS is allowed to branch out. They’re allowed to experiment with English and Japanese and reach out to more audiences. They’re allowed to explore different themes and messages. They can make their own decisions and they choose not to limit themselves. Why should anyone be angry at that? Especially because all of the things they release, no matter what language they’re in, are quality. I said above that “Permission to Dance” isn’t necessarily my taste. But I appreciate the work they put into it and the diversity of their skills. If their newest release isn’t your favorite, go back to the songs that you do like. Don’t demand they only make music that suits you specifically. How does demanding BTS cater to your interests make you any better than the American media?

Those are my thoughts on “Permission to Dance”! I might not return to it as much as their other songs, but I love to see how many people are enjoying this song. It’s giving a lot of people genuine happiness and hope for the future. Plus, another round of really good performances to obsess over. It might not have hit me as hard as “Butter”, but it makes me smile. I love it for that.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: Imitation Episodes 10 and 11

Promotional image of Jeong Yunho from ‘Imitation’. Copyright goes to KBS and Kakao Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Obviously, I’ve been gone for a little while and wow did I miss a lot! Once again, thank you for enjoying the posts that we pre-wrote for a week and I’m sorry about the additional week of silence. But we’re back now and hopefully that won’t happen again for a while. Anyways, one of the things I’ve been the most behind on when it comes to writing is literally anything associated with ATEEZ. So, you can bet that my next couple of posts will probably be related to them. I do love them so much and I hope you do too, so hopefully these will be posts for everyone to enjoy. Of course, the most immediate order of business is that there have been two episodes of ‘Imitation’ that aired while I was gone and the finale is supposedly this week. So, I want to tackle this first. However, I do think by far the most important news was what made me cry on and off for the entirety of yesterday. MINGI IS BACK!!!!! I’m so happy, I can’t even describe these emotions. But my next post will probably be more about that and, of course, their new amazing Japanese single that absolutely brightened my summer. I am listening to ‘Dreamers’ as I type this. It’s such a beautiful song! But enough about my next post, let’s get into the most recent episodes of ‘Imitation’! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

So because I used my usual opening paragraph to talk about ATEEZ, I’m going to do an additional one so that you guys still get my initial views on it before I go into the more in depth review. I will mostly be talking about general things for both of the episodes, but I will say that most of this review will be about episode eleven. Because, for the life of me, I still cannot fathom what the point of episode ten was. Episode ten seemed to be largely a showcase of some of the projects that a few of the characters have been working on. We finally got to see Riah and LeeHyun sing together. That was something at least. But the entire episode format was really odd and there was something very filler-ish about it. I thought that there would be a huge fight between some of the characters at this event considering many people who aren’t getting along right now were invited. But we really didn’t see too much of that, or too much of anything really. Oh and Ryok and Maha got back together. Their break up lasted all of two seconds, so I wasn’t particularly surprised. Episode eleven had some interesting moments, but for me it served as a reminder of what this show could have been and just wasn’t. Now that all that is out of the way-

The Good:

Eunjo and Annie- Coming out of the most recent episode, I noticed that there seemed to be more response to that than any other episode before it. I actually saw the most recent episode a little late, so I saw the response first and was a little confused. Until I watched the episode. A good chunk of this episode is spent on flashbacks developing the former and tragic relationship between Eunjo and Annie. This is the relationship that caused the untimely demise of Annie and Eunjo’s withdrawal from Shax. This episode simply didn’t have enough of them. And the universal consensus after this episode seemed to be that people would have much rather seen a show featuring these two characters as the leads instead of Maha and Ryok. And why wouldn’t you? In the little we saw of them, you could clearly see how deep their feelings for each other were. (Him singing to her was so cute!!) Something that seems to be barely focused on with the main romance despite how much time we get with Ryok and Maha. Not only that, but the show took steps to completely villainize companies and CEO’s who force idols, especially women, to make their way up in companies in disgusting, deplorable, and unforgivable ways. Though I still have major issues with the way this show presents realistic issues and then completely falls back to safety, I have to give them props for addressing this issue.

The Reaction- There is a moment in episode eleven where Maha plays Hyunji and Riah the last voice mail Annie had ever sent Eunjo, basically detailing everything she was put through by the last person who managed them. By the end of this, all the girls are absolutely sobbing. There is no touch ups or pretty crying here. This scene felt incredibly raw and real and you couldn’t help but cry with them.

The Acting- As always, I have to commend the actors for their work. Especially for the intense emotion this last episode demanded.

The Bad:

Realism- Here’s my negative thoughts on the Eunjo and Annie storyline. Firstly, this was the first episode that talked specifically about Annie and what she was going through. We needed that character development a long time ago. On top of that, instead of just devoting this episode to what Annie went through, they decided that they had to have several characters step up and do things in the name of Annie at the end of this episode. And they didn’t do this in the way that they decided to stand up to the men who did what they did to her. They decided to basically keep their group going in her honor and made a huge deal about a place they would perform at for her. As if that was a good tie up to everything that was revealed about her. The only person who seems to be doing anything about the CEOs is Ryok, who is doing it more for Eunjo than Annie. Even though it was Annie who died because she felt she was forced into a corner by these men. It felt like the show completely downplayed Annie’s struggles so that it wouldn’t feel too sad and then also decided that the women in this show couldn’t do anything to help get retribution for the memory of their friend. I guess we’ll all have to leave that up to the men. Because that makes this situation so much better. Every time this show has the opportunity to talk about something real and do something bold, it takes it for a little bit but then takes five steps back in what seems like fear. They need to commit to what they are trying to expose about the K-Pop industry.

Sparkling- Oh, look. They’re here again. It pains me to put them here every single time. Recently, we saw some of the backlash from Sparkling’s company deciding that they may not want Hyunoh as part of the group anymore. Hyunoh stared around an empty room while carrying his packed belongings, reminiscing on all the good times he apparently had with the other members of Sparkling. That was immediately odd. From what the show has been telling us, I definitely thought none of them had ever been on good terms with Hyunoh. I thought that he had been bitter ever since he didn’t make it into Shax, but a couple of random shots in this show prove me wrong I guess. And then despite everything that happened, all of the members of Sparkling, including Yujin, smilingly told him that they would make sure he stays in the team. There was no moment where they even had a talk about what Hyunoh had been doing to Yujin. Nothing. Just a weird scene that was so out of character that it felt like it was from an entirely different show. And that’s it. Nothing else from them. What?

Shax- Still doing nothing. I love these characters but we don’t get nearly enough of them.

La Rima- I put her here because I have honestly no idea where to put her. Her sudden change has made for a really pleasant character to watch. She has some of the most personality on the show. But she still doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere or do anything much. I want to see more purpose from this character, but considering there’s only supposed to be one more episode I don’t think we’re going to get much of that. And there’s also the fact that she’s almost entirely different from the way she was at the beginning of the show.

The Sub-Plot Romances- I desperately want to see more of LeeHyun and Riah but we never get anything from either of them. They are cute on screen together but there’s been no relationship development. And Yujin and Hyunji are even worse. Yujin started off as one of my favorite characters in this show, but now even his subplot romance isn’t getting screen time. Where did all the side characters and sub-plots go? It feels like all of them were just left hanging for no reason. Because it’s not like Ryok and Maha do anything.

The Main Romance- There is still no sense of urgency or deep connection in the main thing that is supposed to be driving this show. It barely feels like they have chemistry anymore. All of the plot lines that focus on their relationship mostly focus on some dramatic thing that happens to the relationship instead of actual development of the relationship itself or even the singular characters. Drama doesn’t necessarily mean development. And that’s a concept this show hasn’t seemed to grasp. There’s nothing wrong with drama but there should be development and bonding written in there too.

So, I’m not a hundred percent sure that the show is ending next week. Most Wikipedia related pages about this show says that it only has twelve episodes. But that could just be a guess? I haven’t heard any official announcements. And it’s possible that they want to gear up for a season two. Though, considering how many actual idols they hired for this season that are in featuring roles, I’m not a hundred percent sure how making a season two would work with their already busy schedules. If I were to make a guess, I would say that a season two isn’t necessarily something that anyone’s counting on. If the next episode is actually the last one, I have no hope for them tying up any plot points. I don’t see how they can at this point. But even if there were more episodes coming, the writing doesn’t give me the confidence to say that they would be able to wrap up any of the plot points anyways. I’ve said this a lot, but at least I got to see ATEEZ acting and Yunho’s adorable smile!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: ‘Loki’ Series Review

Screenshot of Tom Hiddleston as Loki from ‘Loki’ on Disney+. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

And we’re back! Annie and I recently took a two week break in order to go on vacation with our family! The first week was filled with pre-written content and we both absolutely appreciated the love you guys gave those posts while we were away. For the second week, though, we decided to genuinely give ourselves a break and go silent on the blog for a while. But the wait is over! We missed quite a bit while we were gone but I absolutely made sure I kept up with ‘Loki’. I have a lot of thoughts on this series, but before I go into those I want to suggest looking back at my review of episode four if you want some of my full criticisms of this series. I went on a very large rant that explains a lot of my thoughts there and it’s a bit too long to really get into here. That said, let’s get into the last two episodes and my final thoughts on this series as a whole. SPOILERS ahead!

Episode 5:

I’m not going to spend too much time on episode five. Nothing much really happened in this episode, unfortunately. I was really looking forward to it after I saw the after credits scene from episode four. It was one of the only things that kept my interest in that episode. But this episode was filled with quite a few bad decisions. The first was pushing ALL of the Loki variants, aside from Sylvie of course, into this episode. The series had promised an interesting look into the Loki variants. Even the tag line, “What makes a Loki a Loki?”, implied we would see a deep dive into the Loki variants and how they challenged Loki’s identity. But all we got was this episode. Where Boastful Loki, the only non-white Loki being centered, turned on the rest of the Lokis within only a few minutes and sat out the rest of the episode. Where President Loki showed up only so Alligator Loki could bite his hand off. Where Kid Loki revealed he killed Thor and moved on as if he hadn’t said anything. Where all of the other Lokis acted as though a female Loki was a crazy thing despite the sheer amount of Loki variants. It was disappointing and full of problematic moments. Classic Loki shone in this episode, though. His loneliness and the tragedy behind being taken away by the TVA just because he missed Thor actually gave him some depth. He was the only Loki the plot really focused on and he never disappointed. He also proved that Loki is much more powerful than he believes by creating an illusion of the entirety of Asgard as a distraction. I was sad to see the episode end with his death, but with a new season on the way I’m hoping his death was another trick. It would be a shame to lose such an interesting Loki variant.

Episode 6:

What I Liked:

Kang the Conqueror: (Or He Who Remains if you want to be super specific). I’m going to be honest here. I didn’t like this finale much. But this character completely blew me away. Jonathan Majors acted this role so well that it was impossible to look away. He’s obviously a scum bag who sees no problem with playing with the lives of actual individuals. But he’s such a FUN scumbag. He’s just the amount of crazy you’d expect from someone who attempted to control the entire multiverse. He spends most of the episode explaining how the first multiverse war occurred between his variants and how the return of the multiverse will release his variants. Which is a problem because they’re all just as crazy as he is and, according to him, quite a bit more blood thirsty. However, while he warns Loki and Sylvie that killing him will restore the multiverse, he doesn’t seem afraid of his death at all. In fact, he seems exhausted and ready to let go of his responsibilities regardless of what the two choose. He plays the role of an old god well. Tired and insane after years and years of living. His reactions to Loki and Sylvie’s fights during the episode saved many scenes for me. He managed to be hilarious and intimidating at the same time. I can’t wait to see him step into the actual Kang the Conqueror role in future films.

Sylvie: I’m not completely satisfied with how this episode used Sylvie, mainly because her romance with Loki took a lot away from it, but I did like the consistency of her character. The fact that she killed He Who Remains makes a lot of sense. I love that she didn’t change just because of Loki. There wasn’t enough personal growth in her own storyline to indicate that she would change her mind at all, and if she had changed her mind simply because of a forced romance with Loki, it would have made the romance even more condemnable. While a lack of personal growth could be criticized, I’d argue that it would have to be a storyline in season two. This season was tasked with introducing her and her goals and that’s already a large task. The fact that she was remorseful for the decision she made leaves promise for some character growth in season two. I suppose we’ll just have to see what happens in the future.

What I Disliked:

Loki: Loki never completed his journey of self love in this series. And while there is a season two, I can’t help but criticize the fact that his self love journey was completely diverted by his relationship with Sylvie. The last few episodes saw Loki talking about Sylvie and not much else. He constantly talked about how impressive she was and how devoted to her he was. Most of what he did was for her. And that didn’t leave him any room for self reflection. It also completely wiped away some of the Loki traits I love. Such as his mischievous nature and sarcastic sense of humor. Or his incredible mind and ability to come up with insane plans most don’t expect. All of it was gone. Sylvie came up with all the plans and Loki followed her like a puppy. While I love how capable and assertive Sylvie was, that shouldn’t have taken away from Loki’s character at all. All he did with his screen time was seek Sylvie’s attention. If the goal was to get Loki to a point where he could love himself instead of seeking attention to fill that void, the show completely failed. And I can’t forgive it for that. My second large issue here is the way the show made a very obvious move to remove Loki from a lose/lose situation in order to keep him morally unaffected. I hate when any media presents a large moralistic decision to its main character and then uses a cop out to avoid making them actually engage with this decision. I didn’t appreciate the blatancy of this move or the way the show continued to avoid any sort of major character exploration for Loki.

Loki and Sylvie Relationship: I mentioned my review of the fourth episode above for this specific reason. I have so many problems with it. It’s uncomfortable, poorly developed, accomplishes nothing the writer claimed it would accomplish, promotes heteronormativity, and forces a completely unnecessary relationship between its main characters. Hollywood really needs to stop forcing relationships and let men and women just be friends. The idea that men and women can and should be friends is constantly refuted by big companies like this and it’s always incredible regressive. In any case, my more in depth criticism is in my last review and I recommend looking at it there. It was exhausting to write and I don’t really have it in me to dive into it again. The point is, I hate this relationship and I recoiled at the kiss.

Monologuing: The majority of this episode was just He Who Remains explaining what happened between him and his variants. Then sometimes Sylvie or Loki would call him a liar. That’s it. That was most of the episode. I loved the introduction of Kang the Conqueror to the MCU. But this episode was almost entirely a huge monologue for He Who Remains. That’s not great.

My final thoughts on this series? It was my least favorite of all of the Marvel shows. It started out strong but then it slowly stripped away everything I loved about the first few episodes. Loki and Mobius never explored their friendship beyond episode two. Loki’s fun antics and self exploration was pushed aside for Sylvie. The mystery of the Time Keepers was scattered so thinly through the plot that it never felt as strong as it should have. Mobius, who I loved, showed up less and less. Hunter B-15 didn’t end up with the screen time she deserved. The use of the Loki variants was severely lacking compared to what the beginning of the show promised. Loki’s sexuality and gender identity were only explored in throw away lines. It was severe disappointment after disappointment. A lot of it was problematic. Season two may or may not remedy some of these, but that doesn’t absolve season one of its mistakes. My final ranking of the Marvel Disney+ shows? ‘WandaVision’, ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’, and finally ‘Loki’. I’m so sad to put ‘Loki’ last, but its mistakes feel much harsher than those of any of the other shows.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: Monsta X Ray

Set photo of (from left) Chae Hyungwon, Yoo Kihyun, and Sohn Hyunwoo (Shownu). Copyright goes to Monsta X and Starship Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Recently, to pass the time, I’ve been going through Monsta X’s variety show, ‘Monsta X Ray’. There are three seasons of it over the course of a couple years, though none of the seasons have many episodes. While some of the episodes are pretty generic variety show fare (and some of the episodes from a couple years back feature some disrespectful editing and props that the boys had nothing to do with), there were a couple episodes that blew me away with the level of creativity involved. When these episodes were good they were some of the best I had ever seen from a variety show. So, this will contain MINOR SPOILERS for ‘Monsta X Ray’ and will also include my absolute favorite episodes from each season. Because, trust me, these episodes are absolutely worth watching.

Season 1, Episode 2-3:

The second episode of ‘Monsta X Ray’ was pure chaos right off the bat. The boys were told that they would be visiting a historic house and recreating some Korean dishes. The twist was that they would be playing an old Korean family and would draw roles at random. Shownu, appropriately, received the role of the mother-in-law. Minhyuk pulled the role of a daughter-in-law while Kihyun pulled the role of the mother’s biological daughter, but they decided to switch roles last minute which ended up in Minhyuk mercilessly teasing Kihyun for such a mistake. Hyungwon played a daughter-in-law while I.M ended up receiving the role of the foreign Russian daughter-in-law. And then Wonho played a servant while Joohoney, much to his chagrin, wound up with the role of the dog. The boys mercilessly teased each other throughout the entire episode, which made every action they had to participate in extremely funny. In the third episode they all made kimchi after Shownu called his mother in the previous episode to get her recipe. Upon tasting it, Shownu remarked in surprise that it tasted so similar to his mother’s and had to be reminded that they got the recipe from his mother. Oh, Shownu.

Season 1, Episode 5:

I have referenced this episode before because it’s so adorable. In this episode the boys have to volunteer to help out at a daycare and are separated into two groups. Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, and Hyungwon helped with the one year olds while Wonho, Joohoney, and I.M helped with the three year olds. In the room for the three year olds, the three there discovered that they would have to be very energetic. I.M struggled with winning over the kids even though he tried so hard, I felt so bad. Joohoney was an immediate favorite with the kids because of his energy and Wonho was also liked, though the kids found it much more fun to pick on him rather than play with him. The real stand out of this episode was definitely the parts with the one year olds, just because they were so cute. Not that the other kids weren’t, but these were the baby-babies. The energy in this room was much lower. Kihyun ran around like the caring mother he is, trying to take care of most of the kids in there at once. Shownu was viewed as intimidating by the one year olds, and one child even burst into tears at the sight of him, but by the end Shownu became more like a protective presence for the kids. Minhyuk was also well liked because of his energy and was most likely to make the kids laugh. And Hyungwon unexpectedly became attached to a small child who spent much of his time crying. It wasn’t long before everyone discovered that the child would stop crying if Hyungwon was carrying or hugging him but only if it was Hyungwon, and Hyungwon took this very cute responsibility very seriously.

If you want to see more of the guys babysitting, they did partner with TwoTuckGom, the company that made their plushies, to babysit a child pretending to be his plushies come to life human form. This episode was just as adorable as the ‘Monsta X Ray’ one and featured them wearing the respective onesies of their characters, taking the cute lucky kid to an amusement park/zoo, and generally acting like Dads. I don’t know what it is with kids and Hyungwon, but despite the fact that Hyungwon took charge when it came to making the little kid behave, he still considered Hyungwon to be his favorite. He preferred it if Hyungwon was carrying him and ran over to wake up Hyungwon when he fell asleep so that he could read him a story. I.M tried his hardest to be one of the favorites of the kid as well, but it didn’t look like he was succeeding as the the kid didn’t remember his name. Until the very end when he chose I.M as his second favorite which made Changkyun react in such a cute way that you would have to see it to believe it. Another adorable show that I highly recommend, even if it isn’t exactly ‘Monsta X Ray’. And the boys did eventually reunite with kids from the daycare specifically in an episode of something else.

Season 2, Episode 7:

This is a variety show episode that will go down in history. Have you seen many K-pop groups do full on parodies of K-dramas? Definitely not often. And ‘Monsta X’ takes it to an entirely new level with their production value. This parody starred Kihyun as the lead female character in what starts out as a ‘Boys Over Flowers’ parody. Shownu plays the leader of the F4 who is also the main love interest, Joohoney plays the member of the F4 who likes Kihyun too (the character’s name is even JiHoo), I.M plays a member of the F4 and the rich mother of Shownu’s character separately, Minhyuk plays the best friend of Kihyun who has a crush on Joohoney, Wonho plays a member of F4 and a disguise expert/housekeeper for the rich family, and Hyungwon plays the fiancee of Shownu named Dodo and a doctor. While this starts out as a regular ‘Boys Over Flowers’ skit, it quickly changes to become something way crazier. Kihyun’s character falls asleep after realizing she had to work for Shownu’s family and then is woken up by Shownu which results in a falling in love sequence. After they are broken up by his mother (and Dodo), who slaps her in the face with kimchi, she decides to take revenge on the family several years later. She infiltrates the family again with an expert disguise (a drawn on mole) and is recognized bu Shownu who decides to run away with her. Joohoney, in his agony over Kihyun, randomly throws a boomerang that accidentally hits Shownu, preventing him from having children. Kihyun goes blind with the shock of the news, only to wake up where the story all started and to be insulted by Shownu. (What a twist!) The rest of the episode is hilarious behind the scenes footage.

Season 3, Episode 6:

This is yet another hilarious K-drama parody that they did. This one featured I.M in the lead female role, Shownu played the brotherly type character who had a crush on I.M, Wonho played the artsy bad boy who also had a crush on I.M, Minhyuk played the new girl in town who also got caught in between the two boys, Kihyun played Shownu’s best friend who had a crush on Joohoney, Joohoney played I.M’s female best friend who had a crush on Kihyun, and Hyungwon played a doctor (again) and a weird martial arts kid at the High School. In this one it is clear that I.M and Shownu have feelings for each other until I.M meets Wonho. Minhyuk has an immediate crush on Shownu which fades a bit when she sees Wonho. Wonho overhears Kihyun and Joohoney talking about how much I.M likes Shownu and then gets concussed after his despair. He ends up in the hospital with a sudden cancer diagnosis that everyone gets super dramatic over until it suddenly proves to be false, and I.M ends up with Shownu. All the while in the background Kihyun and Joohoney have a super odd sub-plot romance that’s difficult to describe. This one is just as funny as the other one and is full of just as many odd plot twists. And, as always, the rest of the episode is hilarious behind the scenes footage.

Season 3, Episode 7-8:

This is another two parter and the last I will be mentioning of my absolute favorite episodes from this show. In this two parter, the boys play a series of games to figure out who amongst them is their true love. Of course, as there is seven of them, one member was sadly left out. Through these series of games the members choose who to cater to and then become a part of teams. Most people in these episodes wanted their true love to be Changkyun (I.M), showing the group’s undying love for the maknae. They go on dates as well that include fortune telling, roller skating, and other fun activities amongst the games. At the end each member turns around and predicts which member might choose them. And if two members choose each other, they are paired up as true loves by the end of the game. Shownu and Kihyun chose each other, which was adorable as Kihyun was absolutely expecting to be the odd one out. Hyungwon and Joohoney ended up as a couple after doing so many things together. And, lastly, Wonho who was most desperate for the maknae’s love was eventually chosen by their beloved maknae. Minhyuk was left out, but at the end of the day they all love each other equally so he’s never left out of anything! We all love you Minhyuk!

‘Monsta X Ray’ had some duds, but there is absolutely no mistaking the amazing episodes of this show as well. I will never be able to get Hyungwon’s Dodo voice out of my head or the image of Changkyun hitting Kihyun with the kimchi only to apologize profusely afterwards. The show was so wholesome and adorable and definitely worked to make the boys less intimidating despite their image. The babysitting episode really showed how soft all of these boys are. Including the ones who might look a little more intimidating than the others (literally the only ones who aren’t immediately intimidating are Kihyun and Minhyuk and maybe, maybe Joohoney). These boys are all so soft, and it’s hard not to fall in love with them after seeing these episodes. That’s your warning. If you do watch these episodes I promise you that you will start stanning them afterwards. I also promise you that this is not a bad thing.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie


BTS: The Little Things to Love About Each Member of BTS

Screenshot of Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Kim Seokjin (Jin), Kim Taehyung (V), Park Jimin, Kim Namjoon (RM), Jeon Jungkook, and Min Yoongi (Suga) from the ‘Butter’ music video. Copyright goes to Hybe Entertainment and BTS.

Hey! Hallie here!

I love talking about the members of BTS and I haven’t really done a post where I can just gush about them in a while. There’s a lot to love even before you really get to understand who they are. They’re all extremely talented performers. They’re polite and respectful in interviews. They care a lot about the community around them and they’re very vocal about their love for their fans. I feel that the size of their hearts and the general intelligence every member demonstrates is pretty obvious far before you jump down the BTS rabbit hole. But once you do come to know them a bit better, there are several small things about each of them that make them even more lovable. Today I’m going to spend some time talking about my favorite things I’ve noticed about each member. Because some days, it’s nice to just sit down and appreciate how wholesome BTS can be.

Kim Namjoon (RM):

There’s a lot I appreciate about Namjoon. The thought he puts into every lyric of every BTS song he writes is part of what makes BTS who they are. And the way he checks in with all of the members, whether it’s during a performance or an interview, is a testament to how good of a leader he is. But there’s a joy I find in the childlike glee he gets from nature. The way his face lights up when he looks for crabs in the sand is something that makes me instantly happy. He doesn’t eat seafood, which makes his love of crabs even funnier when he attempts to defend them to the members who do like seafood. But his love of nature doesn’t stop at crabs. You can find plenty of wholesome videos of Namjoon interacting with nature. There’s footage of him kissing a sting ray on the head when BTS once went swimming with them for a summer package. He also has plants and succulents that he is very dutiful in taking care of. When the members filmed ‘In The Soup’ during quarantine, he brought his red plum blossom tree along so he could continue taking care of it during the trip. He talks about nature a lot because he finds it calming. But his enthusiastic care for it is what really catches my eye.

Kim Seokjin (Jin):

Jin is sometimes referred to as the youngest member of the group despite being the oldest. All of it because he’s a large goofball both on stage and off. His caring nature can’t be argued, however. He created the series ‘Eat Jin’ to help those who struggled with eating so that they might find themselves able to do so with him. He also loves using his jokes to brighten the mood whenever possible. And this is probably my favorite thing about Jin. I love how Jin always tells more jokes or makes a larger joke out of himself when he sees that it’s making the people around him happy. Like when he tells a bad joke in the middle of shooting an episode of ‘Run BTS’ just to get a laugh. He’s always so conscious of whether or not the other members are having a good time and you can see he actively tries to contribute to their happiness. The biggest example of this is when Jin played up his World Wide Handsome hilarity when the members were somewhat miserable during ‘The Graham Norton Show’. Jimin wasn’t able to perform that night and Jungkook couldn’t dance because he was still recovering from an injury. And somehow Jin managed to make them all laugh by blowing kisses to the camera. That takes a very caring kind of person.

Min Yoongi (Suga):

Yoongi is a force to be reckoned with. He may seem quiet at first, but when he speaks his deep thoughtfulness can’t be argued. His thoughts on mental health and human rights are poured into everything he does. You can’t help but respect him. But I, like many Yoongi fans, love the softness behind all of it. I specifically love how lenient he can be around the Maknae line. There’s a pretty infamous picture of Yoongi sitting with both Jungkook and Tae piled on top of him, looking kind of pleased all things considered. He’s also begrudgingly let Tae carry him on his back during an episode of ‘Run BTS’ in order to complete a limbo task the episode called for. And when they failed and Tae asked if he could do so again, Yoongi agreed despite his initial hesitation. In a more recent episode of ‘Run BTS’, each member was given a task they had to keep secret from the other members. Yoongi was told to meditate without breaking his meditation. When it became clear that he wouldn’t react to anything, the Maknae line took to carrying him around. The smile he was attempting to hold back while this was happening was the best part of the episode. Yoongi likes to jokingly threaten the Maknae line, but in the end, he’s the first to offer help or support.

Jung Hoseok (J-Hope):

There’s too much I love about Hobi. He’s by bias, and beyond that, he’s the light of the entire group. He keeps the energy up in interviews and on set when the other members are exhausted. He actively attempts to bring his excitement and bright attitude to every appearance BTS makes, even when it calls him to speak in a language he isn’t completely confident in yet. However, I also really love how Hobi knows when to be more conscientious, especially as a dance captain. He’s responsible for teaching the members some of their choreography. There’s plenty of footage of him teaching a mini-lesson on location for music video shoots so the other members can feel more confident when they perform the choreo. But he doesn’t ever seem mean. In many of the lessons he keeps the energy light to encourage the members. There’s one specific rehearsal where he’s teaching the ‘Boy With Luv’ choreography that is so giggly and fun, it’s impossible not to want to join in. This and his tendency to check on a member if they’re distressed or discourage goofing off if it gets out of hand, is the reason Namjoon has credited him with being a secondary leader.

Park Jimin:

Jimin is known most for his big heart. Whenever we see behind the scenes footage of a member of BTS struggling with their emotions, Jimin is always right beside them. His sweet voice very much reflects his personality. But Jimin can be equally chaotic, especially when he’s comfortable and in a good mood. And as part of an incredibly chaotic Maknae line, what else did you expect? He once spent an entire episode of ‘Run BTS’ lifting his feet to show off the faces he had drawn on his socks, both to make the other members laugh and also to emphasize his own reactions. He also infamously left a V-Live to go to the bathroom, leaving thousands of fans to wait until he returned to cutely smile at the camera and apologize. His tendency to fall out of chairs is well known now, but who else could have fallen out of a chair during a camping trip and immediately commented on the sky to try to cover his mistake? Similarly, I can’t think of anyone else who would try to race a horse against a bicycle just for the promise of funny pictures. A lot of this can be connected back to his general cuteness. But there’s a chaos behind his adorable actions. Who doesn’t love some adorable chaos?

Kim Taehyung (V):

Tae is one of the members baby ARMYs find intimidating. He isn’t known for talking a ton during interviews, and when an interview is bad you can tell purely because of his facial expressions. On top of that, Tae performs ‘Singularity’. If that sentence isn’t intimidating to you, you haven’t looked up a performance of ‘Singularity’. Past his intimidating side, though, is the baby of BTS. Namjoon once said that when he first met Tae, he knew he was going to be trouble. And Namjoon was right. He’ll pull an adorable face to manipulate the staff into giving him a prize he didn’t win, and the staff, and everyone else, instantly falls for it. Because he’s adorable. Tae will giggle at every compliment. He’ll go from an intense expression to a silly face so fast, he’ll make himself laugh. He’s one of the only people who can pull Namjoon out of leader mode simply by making puppy dog eyes at him. He doesn’t seem like one of the mood makers when you first look at him, but his pure silliness gets the entire group to start dancing in the middle of a concert rehearsal. Tae is unmistakable cute, and though he can use his abilities for evil, such as obvious trickery for his benefit, he also knows that it helps the other members let go and enjoy themselves.

Jeon Jungkook:

Jungkook is the golden Maknae. He’s an excellent singer, a great artist, and just a nice guy. He’s so emotionally intelligent that the other members of BTS have noted that, at times, he acts like the oldest member. But Jungkook, as the youngest, can be a pure menace. As is absolutely expected of him. He once walked up to a spread of ice cream set up for the members of BTS, put as many toppings as he could reach on top of his own ice cream, and mixed it all into an unappetizing pile of mush just to gross out the other members. He also made Namjoon choke while brushing his teeth by telling him that he looked like an egg. Jungkook is known for other, more common instances of mischievousness. Whenever the members are tasked with giving a speech, he always avoids the microphone. He’ll even run from one side of the group to the other simply to avoid being handed the mic. Namjoon has tried to subtly chase him down, but he never succeeds. He also constantly pokes fun at Jin’s age and picks lighthearted fights with him, as the youngest is bound to do with the oldest of the group. One of Jimin’s lives suffered from one of these events, resulting in Jin saying a line I quote often, “Hey, Stob it”. Thanks is owed to Jungkook for giving us all this craziness.

There’s so much more I could have written about here, but I didn’t want to go on for too long. I specifically decided to keep to the traits I love that I didn’t initially expect when I was a baby ARMY. There’s something about the surprise I felt at seeing these different sides to them that sucked me into this fandom further. Because of that, I’m pleased to share them with anyone I can. I hope this post inspired both new ARMYs and veteran ARMYs alike to look up compilations and get sucked in the same way I constantly do. I could never claim to know the members of BTS personally, but what I do know about them brings me joy. I can’t thank them enough for that.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: ‘Boys Over Flowers’ Moments That Aren’t Meant to be Funny

Screenshot of Kim Joon as WooBin in ‘Boys Over Flowers’. Copyright goes to KBS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I did make a fairly recent post once again about ‘Boys Over Flowers’ because of my friend group absolutely loving this show. We call ourselves the F4 now because there are four of us. But, while we mostly like this show un-ironically, this isn’t really a recent show by any means. And that means there are some older cringey things that probably weren’t meant to be funny the first time it aired. And most of these I didn’t even catch the first time I watched it. Or maybe myself and my friend group are just weird (which is probably also true). But now that I’ve actually had the opportunity to talk more with them about this show, we have all found that there are moments in this show that we laugh hysterically at, that probably weren’t meant to be funny. This aided with my recent rewatch has helped me compose a list. This might be more for my entertainment than yours, but I hope you also enjoy this too!

Chef’s Hands:

In the very first episode of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ the show tries incredibly hard to convey the characters of the F4 to the audience. Which actually ends up being a really good introduction over-all and I would say that it pays off. However, one of the things the first episode hopes to get across is the hardcore flirting nature of most of the members of the F4. Specifically I’m talking about YiJung and WooBin here. YiJung is shown to be flirting with a chef who appears to be Swedish in one of these scenes; the caveat here is that they are both speaking in English. I am definitely not one to point out an English mistake in any sort of drama from another country because I’m not sure that it matters too much. But this scene is so ridiculously funny that I have to say something. YiJung tells the chef that he can tell that she’s a chef and when she asks why he explains that it’s because her hands look delicious. Yep. Her hands look delicious. I must have not been paying too much attention the first time I saw this, because I was so caught off guard while watching it with my friends that I almost died from simultaneous laughter and cringing.

Beach Dinner:

A couple episodes into BOF, all of the characters end up going on a vacation to JunPyo’s private island. This already gets off to a bad start with JanDi wearing the awful hamburger dress (it looks like a hamburger with lettuce and tomato). But this is made to be even more awkward when JunPyo plans an ocean-side dinner for two on a private part of the beach. Keep in mind, this is during a point in the show where JanDi has made it pretty clear that she has feelings for JiHoo and she doesn’t want anything to do with JunPyo. About halfway through the meal, JunPyo gets up and starts taking off his shirt while staring down JanDi. I know a lot of people found this scene to be sexy, but the first time I saw this scene I was suddenly struck with the thought that JunPyo doesn’t know how to swim (awkward). It also didn’t help that the look on his face was so funny while he was doing this. Am I a horrible person? Possibly. Sorry!

Childhood Flashbacks:

Again, this might make me a horrible person. But I laugh every single time one of the F4 flashbacks happens, and it’s pretty much entirely because of their hair. JunPyo (who is sometimes referred to as “Becky with the Good Hair” in my house), has had the same perm since he was a little kid. It looks ridiculous. Don’t tell me that’s not funny.

WooBin’s Sudden Mafia Connections:

Ok, I think it’s overall badass that WooBin is part of the mafia. Really, it was one of the only developed character points that he was given to run with, and I think that WooBin deserves the world. He certainly deserves more recognition. But you have to admit that the sudden reveal of it is kind of funny. The major moment that I consider to be the reveal is when JanDi gets lost in Macao and almost gets mugged only to be saved by JiHoo, JunPyo, and WooBin. And while they are all kicking ass, WooBin definitely kicks the most ass. At the end of this the muggers ask WooBin if he is Prince Song to which WooBin replies with a very sassy and punctuated “Yeah”. WooBin’s sass in this scene right after he was revealed to be a mafia member made the reveal even better. Also, can we talk about the implications of WooBin being a part of the mafia? Does he just beat people up? I have so many questions.

JiHoo’s Constant Appearances:

JiHoo always seems to be at the right place at the right time, but sometimes this can be hilariously so. From the balcony at the school, to the gym building, to the small doctor’s office, somehow he’s always there. For example, there’s a scene towards the end of the show where JanDi is helping out her parents by participating in a cleaning job in a massive building. And while we’ve seen JiHoo at this building before, it’s still kind of funny when JiHoo suddenly appears behind JanDi and then raises his eyebrows and points to the music hall when she asks why he’s there. It’s because you’re everywhere JiHoo. It’s a valid question.

JanDi Drowning:

Ok, this one definitely sounds bad. But it’s honestly because of how weird it looks every time it happens. The first time JanDi starts drowning it’s during one of the beach episodes when she suddenly gets a leg cramp. Despite the fact that she’s a competitive swimmer. Let me repeat, she’s a competitive swimmer! It’s also in very shallow water. And she nearly drowns in the other pools that she accidentally falls into as well. All have such shallow water that all she would have to do is stand up. Not only does this look weirdly unrealistic, it also ended up injuring the actress. The last pool that she fell into was so shallow that she hit her head on the bottom. That is much less funny. Just stand up, JanDi! Or maybe the creators should have found a safer more realistic way to shoot these scenes.

“Almost Paradise!”:

What’s not funny is this song getting stuck in your head. Because it will run on repeat for days and days and you won’t be able to think about anything else. What is funny is torturing your friends by screaming “Almost paraadiiissseee!” any time your friend enters the room. This is now a running joke for me and my friends. The song is amazing, but it’s also fun to use it to annoy the people closest to you. Ask J-Hope. He totally agrees with me. And if you don’t believe me look up ‘BTS and Boys Over Flowers’ on YouTube and press the video from six years ago that’s on BTS’s official YouTube account. You won’t regret it.

I swear, I absolutely love ‘Boys Over Flowers’! I like the wholesomeness and lightheartedness of it as well as some of the serious stuff too. I still cry when watching some of the scenes with YiJung and JiHoo in particular. And some of the scenes are very romantic! But I can’t deny that this show is fun to poke fun at sometimes. For me, it just makes it that much more fun to rewatch it and talk about it with my friends.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie