Comfort Entertainment: Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus

Image of Sailor Uranus and Neptune from ‘Sailor Moon Eternal’ movie. Copyright goes to Toei Company.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Firstly, I want to congratulate Jimin for his new OST and breaking a record! The song is so gorgeous! But today, I’m going to talk about a franchise that I would definitely seem like the type to enjoy but I actually had never watched until a couple weeks ago. Me, the pastel loving anime watcher had never before this point seen anything ‘Sailor Moon’. I know, I know. I’ve been wanting to watch it for years now, but couldn’t really find any place to watch it. It recently came to my attention that a new ‘Sailor Moon’ series as well as a movie came to Netflix. And while the series itself received mixed reviews, the movie was one that most considered to be pretty good. As these two things were my best bet at finally consuming some sort of ‘Sailor Moon’ content, I decided to watch them both. ‘Sailor Moon: Crystal’ I didn’t watch completely. I watched season one and then skipped to season three because people said that it was by far the best and I wasn’t completely sold yet. And season 3 was really where I started to fall in love with this franchise. And it mostly had to do with two important characters who completely stole my heart right off the bat. With that said, I’m just going to get into gushing about my two favorite Sailor Scouts! MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ANYTHING SAILOR MOON BUT ESPECIALLY CRYSTAL AND ETERNAL!

Sailor Neptune:

If I were pressed to choose my favorite Sailor Scout, it would probably be Sailor Neptune. Sailor Neptune is undeniably the most elegant and graceful of all the Sailor Scouts and she’s also undeniably one of the most mysterious. When we’re introduced to her, we know right off the bat that she is a prodigy at many things. Specifically swimming and playing violin. In fact, she’s actually pretty famous for playing the violin despite the fact that she’s a young High School student. In ‘Crystal’ at least, her storyline involves her dropping quite a few hints and warnings to Usagi and Mamoru before they actually fully realize what’s happening. While Haruka seems to take more of a route in messing with Usagi, Michiru takes more joy in messing with Mamoru. Something that I definitely enjoyed watching, especially because of the general role of Tuxedo Mask. While I like him a lot, he tends to save the day more than not and his knowledge and position are never much questioned by other characters because of it. Watching Michiru go toe to toe with him on multiple occasions is one of the things that really made me start considering Neptune as my favorite. Not only that, but I love the deep sea theming for all of Sailor Neptune’s coloring and abilities. I have always been a huge fan of most things nautical themed, and I wasn’t expecting there to be a Sailor Scout that was just short of being a mermaid.

Sailor Uranus:

Sailor Uranus goes consistently by he/him pronouns and she/her pronouns, so I may skip between. Haruka’s gender identity is constantly debated, as she has said that she doesn’t want to be defined by it and doesn’t care what people see her as. Though a lot of people still argue that Sailor Uranus is first and foremost a woman based off of a comment from the author, I think that there’s enough proof for her to be representation if that’s what you believe her to be. Haruka has said herself that she doesn’t care, so I’m not sure why we should argue about it. Haruka and Michiru are still a queer couple no matter how you look at it. But, to each their own! I think Haruka is probably gender fluid, but that’s just my perception. Either way, I don’t think anyone, guy or girl, didn’t have a massive crush on Haruka the first time they saw her. Haruka originally presents as a man, dressing in male uniforms and not caring that he’s being perceived more as a guy. He’s also rich and a famous race-car driver. Haruka and Michiru can afford two private helicopters because of their sponsors. Haruka specifically targets Usagi, and confuses her as well as himself on multiple occasions. While he’s flirty, I don’t think he ever means to take it as far as he does. And even Usagi comments that he’s confused and sad. Still, Haruka is never anything short of charming and I love that he’s the only Sailor Scout to wield a sword. Definitely the most badass on the team.

NOT Cousins:

For those of you who didn’t already know this tidbit of information that I was recently shocked to discover; the original English dub of the original series tried to pass Haruka and Michiru off as cousins. Which is seriously one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. This was even complete with the dub trying to insert the word ‘cousin’ as much as possible into scenes they couldn’t cut that looked embarrassingly suspicious. Including a scene where Michiru was obviously almost kissing Haruka and the English dub instead explained this scene away by having Michiru whisper “cus”. Real subtle (face-palms). Obviously, they are not cousins in any other version. Thankfully, the new English voice actors recently dubbed over the original series; this time the company thankfully took out all the “cousin” stuff and correctly dubbed them as a couple. Because Sailor Neptune and Uranus are a couple canonically. I did go to the original series to watch their origin story, and it was heartbreaking to see Neptune already awoken and pining after Uranus, her long lost partner, but still not wanting Haruka to ruin the life she has by becoming a Sailor Scout. I legitimately cried. But all that aside, this is one of the first examples of an openly queer couple in a children’s show. And I think this fact goes overlooked by too many. When I hear people talk about ‘Sailor Moon’, I have barely ever heard anyone mention that the show contains such important representation. And that’s especially baffling as they were immediately the most interesting characters to me! But they probably aren’t the only queer representation in the show. There’s really strong cases for all of the main characters being bisexual, but especially Usagi. There’s no way that Usagi isn’t, and I’m saying that even with the knowledge that her love interest is male. But this is the only canon queer couple, and that’s immensely important.

I just want more people to talk about Michiru and Haruka. And also their song ‘Eternal Eternity’ from ‘Sailor Moon: Crystal’, which is so much more of a bop than I was expecting it to be. Seriously, that song is so beautiful and gets stuck in my head so much now. Now that I’ve ranted about two of my new favorite characters for awhile, I’m going to get back to being the usual K-Pop chaotic tornado that I am. My sister and I recently got our Dad into ATEEZ (no small feat, I assure you), and I daresay that I have more work to do. But seriously, if you haven’t checked out at least season 3 of ‘Crystal’ of the media I mentioned, do it now! Though I warn you, you may become a ‘Sailor Moon’ fan. Especially a Neptune and Uranus fan. And yes, you can totally blame me for that!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop: Dreamcatcher Solo Songs

Promotional image of Lee Gahyeon, Kim Minji (JiU), Lee Yubin (Dami), Kim Bora (SuA), Lee Siyeon, Han Dong, and Kim Yoohyeon. Copyright goes to Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher Company.

Hey! Hallie here!

My sister touched on this in our last post, but both of us completely missed talking about Dreamcatcher’s most recent album, ‘Apocalypse: Save Us’, when it was released a few weeks ago. And that was a huge misstep on our part because this album is SO GOOD. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to it, or if you haven’t listened to Dreamcatcher at all, I highly recommend checking it out. These girls perfect the pop/rock sound, slightly creepy vibes, and encouraging messages. But today I’m not going to cover all of the songs on the album. Today I’m going to do give my thoughts on all of their individual songs. Because we don’t see enough groups showing off their individuality by releasing individual songs for each member. Dreamcatcher has always impressed me with their good line distribution, but I never expected them to highlight each artist in this way and I’m so happy about it. So without any more blabbering from me, let’s get into it!

“Cherry (Real Miracle)” JiU Solo:

I’m not sure I was completely expecting a cute love song coming from our leader, but it suits her so well! This song is entirely about the happiness felt when you fall in love with someone. From focusing on her crush’s smile to dreaming about a happy life together, this song is full of adorable thoughts on love. And JiU’s voice, as always, is incredible in this. Her voice takes on a sweetness and higher register that matches the pop feel of this song perfectly. But at times, especially in the chorus, you can hear the stronger elements of her voice that make her such a staple in Dreamcatcher songs. I just love how “Cherry (Real Miracle)” reflects the more happy, carefree part of JiU’s personality!

“No Dot” SuA Solo:

SuA is such a badass and this song reflects it perfectly. Seriously, the strength radiating off of SuA in this song is enviable. This is another love song, but it’s more about how she’s both irresistible and completely in control in her relationship. Which is nothing less than what I expected from SuA. “No Dot” is more about the heavy beats and alluring chorus, which demonstrate SuA’s impressive belt and hypnotic voice. I especially love how her rap skills come to play about halfway through the song before seamlessly transitioning to singing once again. This is definitely one of those songs that makes you feel particularly confident while you listen to it and I don’t think SuA would have it any other way.

“Entrancing” Siyeon Solo:

Siyeon is the only one of the girls to have had a solo song on a previous album. Her first song, “Paradise”, was a beautiful song with a bit more of a hard hitting chorus. This one is a bit slower and takes its time to get to the chorus. And the chorus, while still hard hitting, is less about the addictive beats and more about the incredible quality of Siyeon’s voice. And I think it suits her even more than “Paradise” did. This song is absolutely gorgeous. The backing track makes it feel whimsical and wistful. Meanwhile, Siyeon’s voice is gentle and clear, even when the tone changes to something more desperate. It all perfectly fits the message of heartbreak in the lyrics and the earnest emotions that can always be found in Siyeon’s songs.

“Winter” Handong Solo:

“Winter” perfectly follows “Entrancing” on the album as another song that slows down to an easier pace. It’s definitely a lighter song though, which you can hear instantly with the relaxing guitar and bouncy beat. This song also has a somber meaning, which Handong reflects with her light and quiet vocals. The song describes an unexpected reunion with an ex whom she still misses. It also bemoans how her ex can seem so happy when she’s still not over them, which is a very relatable sentiment to anyone who’s run into someone they were once close with. My favorite part of this song though, are the final few lines that are sung in Mandarin! Honestly, a song showcasing Handong wouldn’t have been complete without it.

“For” Yoohyeon Solo:

Yoohyeon completely blew me away with this song. From the beginning few piano notes you can instantly tell this song’s going to be a cute, crooning love song. Then Yoohyeon flexes her English skills by singing the whole thing in English. This is the only entirely English song on the album and Yoohyeon definitely uses that stand-out quality to her advantage. I really love the wholesome lyrics covering her strong feelings for her crush. And the wintery imagery here as well as the fun piano, Yoohyeon’s impressive range, and the inarguable Sinatra vibes the song gives off, makes me think of drinking a warm drink on cold, Christmasy day. All of these comforting vibes can only be expected from the group’s puppy.

“Beauty Full” Dami Solo:

And here we get to my bias so excuse me if I’m insufferable for a few moments. This song instantly grips you with electric guitar, giving away the heavy rock feel to this song. It honestly feels like it could be the opening of an anime. Also, for those who didn’t know Dami could sing or are only familiar with her rapping, here’s your proof that her voice is incredible. Her deep voice lends itself well to an uplifting rock song and when she does slip into rap, it works perfectly with the beat of the song. “Beauty Full” also deviates from the love-based messaging by giving us an anthem about being proud to be yourself even when life is confusing. Dami’s unapologetic love of her weirdness has always inspired me, so I can’t express how much it means to me to hear her express it in a solo song.

“Playground” Gahyeon Solo:

Lastly, we have the youngest member and a very introspective dive into her youth. Once again we’re back to a cuter backing beat with this song, as well as an overall happier feel. The chorus is especially addictive, her impressive range and steady voice making the joy of her childhood feel infectious. I love the way this song addresses her childhood dreams and even references the manhwa characters she used to love, all coming together to emphasize her happiness at feeling as though she is living those dreams. You really can’t help but feel happy for her. Overall this song is incredibly fun with a deep meaning, and Gahyeon’s voice only gets better and better as the years go by.

I loved going through each of these songs and their meanings! The only group I’m super familiar with who does solo songs like this is BTS, and I always adore how much each of their personalities come out during their solo songs. Dreamcatcher dipping their toes into solo songs as well makes me feel like I know the members even better than I did before. I also feel like I can better tell what each of them wants to say as a performer, and that’s always important to me. I really hope Dreamcatcher continues to do solo songs in the future. I love hearing them, and I love hearing the way that artists perspectives on their messages and on themselves changes over the years. The girls really killed it with their solo songs this album and I would love to hear more!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: BTS Comeback and Dreamcatcher First Win

Promotional image of (from left) SuA, Handong, Siyeon, JiU, Gahyeon, Yoohyeon, and Dami. Copyright goes to Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher Company.

Hi! It’s Annie!

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a general K-Pop news post and if there’s any time to get back into it, it’s now. Over the past week countless things have been happening in the K-Pop community, most of them involving amazing news, which have grabbed the public’s attention. In a period of time for the K-Pop community where good news was always marred by the additional news of some member of a group getting Covid, the fact that we’re getting some happy news without that on top of it, is nothing short of amazing. I also very much needed the good news to distract me while I’m sick. Don’t worry, it isn’t Covid. But it’s been enough to keep me down for the past few days, so I really need the new music and the happy announcements to keep me going right now. I’m already practically bursting with excitement from all these announcements, so I’m just going to get right into it!

BTS Comeback:

I was not there in person for Day 4 of BTS’s ‘Permission to Dance’ concert in Las Vegas. The only day I attended in person was Day 1, but I did get the online viewing for Day 4. Having been to one of the concerts in LA, one in Las Vegas, and having watched several of the online streams, I was immediately shocked when a BTS reel of their past music videos started playing after the concert. Though I wasn’t sure if it was a goodbye to the concert or not. Needless to say; no other day of the concert involved this video clip at the end. And then it said ‘We Are Bulletproof’ and showed the date 6. 10. 22. Obviously, my sister, aunt, and I were freaking out from the comfort of the couch. There was a lot of speculation on what it could be; there were a few people speculating it was a world tour or a FESTA announcement. But it was clear to most that this had to be an album announcement, which HYBE confirmed on Weverse not much later! I mean, with this being the end of the ‘Permission to Dance’ concerts, there had to be an album announcement before another tour announcement. And the boys have been teasing new music for months now too! I personally can’t wait for this album to come out and I for sure will cry. I’ve been loosely following BTS since 2017, but I didn’t find the time between my classes to fully get obsessed until 2020. So this is going to be only my second album release as an ARMY! I’m going to be on vacation when it comes out, but I know I’m going to be putting everything on hold until I can listen to that album. I’ll be holed up in my hotel for the entire day, just listening to the songs over and over again and crying. Because of the highlight on the words ‘We Are Bulletproof’, I’m a little suspicious that it may be the title of the album. But there are a lot of theories floating around right now. Mostly, I’m just so incredibly excited! And we know that it’s not the only music we can expect soon from them. Jimin’s first OST for a K-Drama is dropping soon, Namjoon has confirmed a mixtape, Hobi confirmed a mixtape long ago that got temporarily pushed back, a similar thing happened with Tae, and Yoongi has been teasing something. I’m ready for all the new music, we’ll just have to see if my wallet is.

‘PTD’ End:

I know a lot of people were waiting and hoping for more location announcements for ‘PTD’, but if you watched Day 4 you probably know that it isn’t happening. Ticketmaster added more dates on a tab which made some people hope, and I know there are still ARMY in denial over this. I can’t blame them! But I hope that everyone knows that this is to give them time to practice for their new album so that they can tour possibly this year with the new music. That’s what seems to be their current goal. Namjoon even said during Day 4 that ‘PTD’ was never supposed to leave LA and that it was always a special event type of concert more than an actual tour. Though it’s sad to watch it go without other ARMYs getting to see it, I’m hopeful that their new album and probable subsequent tour will more than make up for that.

BTS Military:

I don’t want to talk about this much until the final decision has been reached; but I want to address some things because of the spread of misinformation that happens any time this news comes back to light. This is what we know so far. We know that the current CEO of HYBE made a revised statement saying that the boys are still willing to go but that it looks like things may be changing. We know that some members of HYBE said that they were hoping for a tour and that the military service won’t interfere with that. We also know that members of government have pledged to make a decision by the end of this month. Additionally, a list of possible new exemption rules was released though none of them have been voted on. Most of these included big awards that only BTS has gotten, basically eliminating the possibility of this helping out any K-Pop group that isn’t BTS. No surprise there, though a little sad. However, listening to any one politician on this matter is going to get you nowhere. Because they all have different opinions, which is why they didn’t vote at the end of last year when they were originally supposed to. I’ve seen ARMY rejoice over one politician say that its time to repay BTS for all they have done for South Korea. The very next day I saw a bunch of ARMY despair because a politician from the other side said he fully expected them to go. Of course he said that, because he’s a politician and that’s how he’s voting! None of their individual words are law or tell us anything new. We know that politicians are pretty divided, so of course we’re going to get conflicting statements. Also, don’t listen to the rumors about what BTS might have to do instead of military service if it’s decided that they have to make up for it some other way. All of those are rumors, nothing of that sort has been released to the public at all. All we can do right now is wait until the end of this month, which is very difficult. I’m hopeful though!

Dreamcatcher First Win:

I’m so incredibly happy to be able to talk about one of my favorite groups of all time again, and certainly my favorite girl group of all time. Dreamcatcher is a K-Pop/Rock group that has deserved more recognition for years. I haven’t even been able to post about them as much as I would like, which is an absolute crime. I constantly listen to their music! But one of the marks of Dreamcatcher is that, despite their extensive career, they have never won a first place award. Which makes absolutely no sense! For the most part, them not having received an award yet has a lot to do with the K-Pop community not fully accepting the Rock communities within the genre quite yet. I’m a huge fan of Dreamcatcher as well as NFlying, and both of them have suffered because of this. Finally with the release of their amazing song ‘MAISON’ off of their new album ‘Apocalypse: Save us’, they have gotten the award they deserve. Firstly, go and listen to this album if you haven’t. The album consists of so many ear-worms as well as singular songs for each member that are all fire! I love when an album gives each of their members an opportunity to do a solo! But also, ‘MAISON’ is a song with an amazing message, which is something Dreamcatcher has always done well. This one specifically is about saving the environment, and I guarantee you that you will never hear another song about saving the environment that is so badass. I cried so much when I saw them accepting that award, because they all put so much effort into it and definitely deserve it. I think I speak for many when I say that this should not have been the first time they received an award of this kind. I was baffled when they didn’t win anything for ‘Odd Eye’ or even for ‘BOCA’. And I thought they would for sure win something with ‘BEcause’, which is a song I am absolutely obsessed with. But I’m at least glad that they got a win for this wonderful song! I sincerely hope this opens the way for them to receive many more in the future! And not just them; Dreamcatcher had been garnering attention for guy and girl rock groups alike. I’d love to see more rock groups in general win more awards! They’re paving the way!

I’m hopeful and overall very happy with a lot of this news! I can’t wait for a new BTS album and I am so so happy that my girls finally got the recognition that they deserve. I was absolutely beaming when I saw them trending this morning after I woke up from my medication induced deep slumber. I seriously can’t wait to see more from them and I will be screaming my head off if we get a BTS world tour soon!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Book Adaptations: Movies That Are Equal To (Or Better Than) The Book

Screenshot of Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, and Andre (The Giant) Rene Roussimoff in ‘The Princess Bride’. Copyright goes to Act III Communications, Buttercup Films Ltd, and The Princess Bride Ltd.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this blog talking about book adaptations that I enjoy. There’s a few I’ve dedicated many, many posts to because I’m obsessed (‘Howl’s Moving Castle’). I just really enjoy talking about books I love, and when their movies are just as good, or even better, I can’t resist gushing over them. So this post is dedicated to five of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations just so I can obsess over them. As the title suggests, some of these adaptations I consider just as good as the original content, but some of my opinions are a bit more controversial than that. So here’s you reminder that this is just my opinion and all (respectful) opinions are welcome here. And if you haven’t read or watched any of the titles below, be aware of SPOILERS. Alright, let’s get into this!

‘Howl’s Moving Castle’:

There’s a pretty big debate over whether the book is better than the movie with this one. But, and there’s not really an argument here, the movie has the larger fanbase. Studio Ghibli elevated this book to a level of popularity that only Studio Ghibli can really accomplish. Especially when they animate men in the way they animated Howl. Still, there are really good parts of both the book and the movie. The book has a lot more of a headstrong Sophie and Howl, which leads to some really entertaining interactions between them. Sophie doesn’t take any of Howl’s arrogant behavior, nor does she ever let him intimidate her. Meanwhile, Howl’s heartlessness is shown through his vanity and pretentiousness which are qualities he is at first proud of, and then eventually learns to overcome for Sophie. That said, I really enjoy the movie’s interpretation of a shy, insecure Sophie who breaks out of her shell as her confidence grows. I also do love the way that war becomes a more central part of the storyline, and the most evident representation of Howl’s heartlessness, as a critique of senseless violence. On top of that, the book gets a bit weird in parts when it comes to the revelation of where the missing prince and wizard went off to. Let’s just say, it gets a bit Frankenstein. I definitely prefer the simpler changes to this part of the storyline in the film. Overall, I tend to prefer the film. The animation can’t really be beat and the visual representation of Sophie learning to love and accept herself, as seen by her age lessening as the movie goes on, is extremely powerful. But really, both are popular for a reason.

‘The Princess Bride’:

A while ago I made a post confessing that this book is one of my favorite books, if not my favorite one. It’s a perfect high fantasy fairytale while also managing to be an interesting critique of fantasy tropes and a hilarious joke in its entirety. The book’s popularity however, pales in comparison to the way the movie took off. Some people aren’t even aware that ‘The Princess Bride’ was a book before it was a film. There’s a lot to love in the book that’s missing from the movie. Buttercup and Wesley, as a departure from most high fantasy couples, both have a lot of vanity and sarcasm that make their relationship amusing. The book also explores the backstories of Inigo and Fezzik in much more detail. The focus on Fezzik in this book actually made him my favorite character in ‘The Princess Bride’, especially because of his inner dialogue that reveals his thoughtfulness and kindness. Also, the book has a major joke element the film is missing. Namely, the gimmick that a fake author (S. Morgenstern) wrote ‘The Princess Bride’ and another author (The actual author, William Goldman) is cutting it down to only the good parts while also putting in interludes to his miserable life. Of course, the book is all William Goldman’s and the miserable life he writes for himself is all a fabrication, but the writing in the book has fooled many a reader. That said, the movie is perfection. Many scenes are ripped word for word from the book, a nice side effect of Goldman himself penning the screenplay, and it takes a somewhat less funny, but a much more magical approach to the story. Both versions are so perfect, I really couldn’t say which I like more in this case.

‘Stardust’:

I really like Neil Gaiman, but this is one of the only books I’m putting on this list that I thought was amazing in concept but didn’t quite live up to expectations in execution. I really loved the world building in this book, which is no surprise because Neil Gaiman perfects world building. The world of Faerie feels whimsical and dangerous, from the marketplace to the kingdom of Stormhold. But there’s definitely awkward sex in this book that feels out of place. Both main characters also suffer from a bit of plainness that you don’t often see in Gaiman books, though that might be because the book itself is so short. The movie fixes these problems well. It breathes life into the bumbling but well-meaning Tristran (Or Tristan here) and the confident, argumentative Yvaine. Most importantly, it gives us Robert De Niro in perhaps one of my favorite roles he’s ever taken on. Captain Shakespeare is the queer representation we need more of in fantasy stories, and he barely even makes an appearance in the book. In the movie though, he’s the perfect mentor to Tristan, often teaching him to reject toxic masculinity. He also boasts one of the largest hearts in the movie. It’s hard to walk away from ‘Stardust’ without Captain Shakespeare being your favorite character. But despite the large amount of changes in the film, the main storyline and the overall feel of the book remain intact. The movie’s commitment to the original content, while also changing story elements around to create its own fairytale, proves its brilliance.

The ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy:

This is a bit of a cheat because this is technically three books. But I feel my sentiments towards each book and its adaptation within this trilogy are very similar. The movies capture the main plot and the overall feel of each of Tolkien’s books. And most of what the movies cut out is pretty understandable. For one, while Tolkien is second to none when it comes to world building, sometimes it’s exhausting to spend several chapters having every part of a town described to you. Also, characters like Tom Bombadil, while fun, aren’t necessarily important to the overall plot. I really don’t have any gripes with what Peter Jackson kept out of the movie trilogy. I even appreciate the direct changes he made from the book. The first that comes to mind is his decision to make Arwen the savior of Frodo in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ after he’s attacked by the Nazgul. In the book, the famed elf Glorfindel is responsible for this heroic act. While I adore Glorfindel and his very interesting ties to the Fall of Gondolin, Arwen was a very fascinating character in the books who never got any characterization at all. She barely showed up in any of the books and the largest section dedicated to her is in the very back of ‘The Return of the King’, where she and Aragorn’s romance is explored more than her own characteristics. Given that LOTR is a series that has too few lead female characters, I think it was a perfect decision to bring Arwen to the front and make her the badass we all knew she could be. Overall the LOTR trilogy perfects gorgeous cinematography, excellent story, and fitting deviations from the books.

‘Pride and Prejudice’:

Unlike some of my opinions above, I’m not here to tell you that the 2005 movie is better than the book. This book is one of my favorite pieces of literature of all time and it’s definitely my sister’s favorite book for a reason. The snarky humor radiating off of Elizabeth and Darcy make this book a delightful read. And though it may look long, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of Austen’s more fast paced books. You very rarely go a chapter without being taken to a scandalous party or a romantic trip to the countryside. When Austen does choose to idle in one place for a while, it’s only to give you some juicy gossip that will make you question Elizabeth and Darcy’s feelings for each other. The 2005 movie simplifies a lot of the things that happen in the novel. Some events are merged together to make for a more eventful scene. Some dialogue is modernized to make it easier to understand. But none of it is to the movie’s detriment. The movie always keeps the feel of the book, and much like the LOTR trilogy, never skips out on a plot point. It only cuts out some excess. In the occasions it does change things around, I also generally like the changes. I like that Mr. Bennet takes his time to comfort Mary after embarrassing her at the ball. I like that, instead of Darcy confessing his feelings to Lizzie during an organized walk, we get a more private scene where Darcy walks to her in the early hours of the morning because he couldn’t sleep. Also, the cinematography in this movie is stunning. From the dance scene where everyone disappears except Darcy and Lizzie, to the scandalous behavior at the ball that’s done in only one shot, to the picturesque scenery on the hill, to the female-gaze feeling shot of Darcy’s hand. You really can’t find any fault in the book or the movie.

And that’s it! I really enjoyed taking some time to demonstrate how head-over-heels I am for these books and their movie adaptations. I could watch any of these movies over and over without stopping. And I very much like that, among the movie adaptations I chose, none set out to be 100% accurate to the book. All make changes to the book that slightly alter the story in a way that sets the movie apart. But each movie also sets out to keep the overall plot and feel of the original story to honor its source material. They strike a perfect balance, and I couldn’t love them more for it.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

Comfort Entertainment: Which Members of ‘Free!’ are Actually Dateable?

Image of the characters from ‘Free! Eternal Summer’. Copyright goes to Funimation and Crunchyroll.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I actually really enjoyed writing my last post about ‘Ouran High School Host Club’ and I’ve really been looking into writing something similar. So this anime was one that I definitely watched for a while and was absolutely made for the fan service. While some hoped that the fan service for this particular show would lean more queer, unfortunately this didn’t happen. I have a suspicion it didn’t because it was mainly made to appeal to women, but the fan service did feel a bit like queer bait at times. But because of the purpose of this anime, I thought it was only fitting to address how dateable these characters actually are. Because, even though these characters were made to be attractive, this doesn’t always mean their personalities would make for good boyfriends. In fact, most of the time I would argue that it really really doesn’t. So, let’s just get into it! If you haven’t watched any of the seasons of ‘Free!’ and want to, this is your MAJOR SPOILER warning. Though I do find ‘50% Off’ on Youtube to be superior; it’s absolutely useless to talk about those versions of the characters as boyfriends. Because that would be disastrous.

Haru:

Haru is very dedicated to the water. No, I don’t mean swimming. He likes swimming. But he’s dedicated to the water. He’s very hard working when he wants to be and is a complete perfectionist when it comes to his talents. He doesn’t talk much, but what he has to say always seems to be of some importance. And though he’s brutally honest, he does have a sincere loyalty to his friends. So, does all this make him a great boyfriend? I think you might have noticed that I was really stretching for good qualities here. I don’t think Haru is a bad person, but there’s no point in time where he’s emotionally available to anyone around him. His best friend is Makoto, and even he has a lot of trouble getting through to him on various occasions. Haru’s one great love is the water. Sometimes disturbingly so. I just don’t see Haru ever caring for anyone romantically, I sincerely apologize to the Haru and Rin or Haru and Makoto shippers. I think it would take an enormous amount of work for Haru to even be the friend he should be towards the people in his life, never mind a romantic love interest towards anyone.

Makoto:

From petting adorable cats to helping old women, Makoto has got the nice boy vibes down. Makoto is constantly looking after his friends, making sure Haru gets to school on time, and attempting to dissuade his friends from doing anything dangerous. Definitely the one with anxiety, which I may or may not be able to relate to. Makoto loves swimming, but he’s much less obsessed with it than other members of the team. He’s far more inclined to do something else with his life, such as teach or help the community. He’s far and away the most responsible member of the team. As seen when he saved Rei from the ocean when Rei was attempting to teach himself. But does this mean he’s dateable? Absolutely it does. By far the most dateable member in ‘Free!’, and I would argue that he’s one of the most dateable anime characters I have ever seen. It does help that his dub voice is Johnny Yong Bosch. (Can you tell I’m a fan?) But that aside, Makoto is the absolute opposite of Haru in that he is actually emotionally available. He’s the friend that all of his friends go to for advice, and there are no limits to his loyalty or compassion. Makoto is not only kind, he’s also that golden retriever boyfriend we all want.

Nagisa:

The youngest member and by far the cutest. The one that everyone feels they have to take care of, but somehow Nagisa ends up taking care of them more often. I think it’s very safe to say that Nagisa is the glue that holds the team together. When several of them develop grudges for each other, this never seems to touch Nagisa. He just assumes he’s still friends with all of them and shrugs off the negativity. But does that make him mature enough to be a good boyfriend? I would say yes. I know, I know. I argued that Honey from Ouran was not dateable because he acted too young and Honey is a bit older than Nagisa. But I think there’s an important difference between acting like a toddler and just acting innocent. Nagisa never crosses the border into acting like an actual toddler for me. Could he stand to grow up? Probably. But I think Nagisa’s openness towards people different from him massively outweighs anyone else’s in the group. And I think that shows a maturity that many of the other characters in this anime don’t seem to have.

Rei:

Rei doesn’t come in until ‘Eternal Summer’ and is the last member to join the friend group. And that’s for a very simple reason; he doesn’t actually start out as a swimmer. He’s a member of the track club, and very much focused on that and his studies. Nagisa only sets his mind on the poor guy when the High School has too few swimmers to actually form a swim club. It’s hard to tell for certain why Nagisa focuses on Rei specifically. Though some fans have a few theories. But Rei has to actually learn to swim, and is often frustrated because he strives for so much perfection. He’s responsible with his studies, but does that make him mature enough to be good boyfriend material? Absolutely not. Nope. Rei’s level of perfectionism that he strives for is absolutely insane. And Rei makes it a point to note that he strives for this level of perfection in all facets of his life. Though he doesn’t always push it onto his friends, it’s also reasonable to assume that he would look for this in a romantic partner. Rei is another character who is emotionally unavailable because of that. I seriously couldn’t imagine anyone dating him happily.

Rin:

The last main character in this series and quite possibly the most popular. Rin is that bad-boy anti-hero that everyone loves. While he used to swim on the same team as Nagisa, Haru, and Makoto, he now goes to a completely different school. And you can bet he holds a grudge against Haru for forming a new team without him. Even though Haru arguably had very little to do with the forming of the new team. Rin is the most serious about a career in swimming than everyone else, which is why he decides to go to a High School with an elite swim team. So does his hard work and passion for his career show enough responsibility to make him seem like a good boyfriend? If you didn’t see this coming with what I said about Haru, I would be genuinely surprised. The answer is a definite no. His strong grudge and obsession with his old friend would make him a very unavailable boyfriend. To anyone except maybe Haru. But still, he’s pretty contentious. Rin seems to be more focused on holding his grudge than anything else, because he feels he doesn’t have anything else.

I think what I’ve learned about a lot of these anime shows, is that there are less characters that are actually boyfriend material than you think. Or at least, want to think. What I’m getting at here is just because someone looks attractive, doesn’t mean that they would be at all pleasant to date. I don’t think anything demonstrates this more than fictional characters. But I always have fun going through these characters and actually considering what it would be like to date these fan favorite characters. And sometimes the results of thinking about it, are just hilarious. Maybe this will become more of a series! I really love doing these! But until then, we’ll most likely have a lot more BTS news to share soon. What with the last day of the concert and then the important decision to be made at the end of this month. Let’s hope for good news!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Sci-Fi/Superheroes: Warner Bros. Discovery and DC

Screenshot of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in ‘Wonder Woman’. Copyright goes to DC Comics and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Hey! Hallie here!

Just today we received the huge news that Warner Bros., the huge entertainment company behind the likes of the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Bladerunner’ franchises, was bought out by ‘Discovery’. You know, the company in charge of cool documentaries and addictive HGTV shows. This is definitely news that felt like it came out of nowhere, but by far the most interesting part of this announcement was the newly dubbed Warner Bros. Discovery’s immediate discussions about the DC franchise. Essentially, they want to completely overhaul it and they have a list of goals for this overhaul as well. There’s quite a bit to discuss, and a lot of uncertainty that comes along with it, so I’m just going to get right into this!

New Structure:

This is the main goal that came up amongst the reports of Warner Bros. Discovery’s plans for DC. The new heads of the company feel that one of the major reasons the DC Extended Universe hasn’t been going so well is because of a lack of structure. As a result, they seem to want to restart the franchise. Again. They also appear to be actively searching for a Kevin Feige-like figure to ensure that the franchise feels connected. This announcement is getting some mixed reactions and I can honestly say I feel pretty mixed on this myself. I don’t believe anyone can argue that the DC franchise hasn’t severely suffered from a lack of planning. ‘Batman v Superman’ was the first attempt to connect the first solo films that were part of the DC Extended Universe, and it suffered from terrible writing and shoddily put-together character connections. After that was ‘Justice League’ which, while better than ‘Batman v Superman’, suffered from either mediocre writing or bad writing depending on which version you’re watching. It also struggled with underdeveloped characters as a result of jumping into a team movie with only three of the characters having been previously explored. It really is no wonder that DC decided on a restart recently by recasting Batman and leaving Superman behind, but those decisions continue to make fans confused while they move forward with characters like Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and the Flash. That said, I wouldn’t say the major issue with DC is shoddy planning. DC’s major issue has been tone and poor writing. We know this because DC has found major success in solo films that aren’t connected to each other, such as ‘Wonder Woman’ or ‘Suicide Squad’, because of good writing. In fact, with the new success of ‘Batman’, it feels like DC could really hit their stride putting focus on quality individual character projects. DC already tried the MCU approach. Maybe it’s time to go for something else.

Superman and Joker:

These are the two names that were prominently thrown around once the Warner Bros. Discovery merger happened. Apparently new execs are upset with the way DC was trying to drop Superman entirely. They also want more side-character exploration movies like ‘Joker’. I have very strong, very opposite feelings on both of these subjects. I definitely think that it was a bad idea for DC to try to drop Superman. Superman is one of the most popular superhero characters of all time, and it’s kind of ridiculous to picture a DCEU in any state without the Man of Steel. I did like Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, but I think there’s room to restart if they so choose. They just need a better script than ‘Man of Steel’, which definitely wasn’t the worst the DCEU had to offer, but was pretty bland as far as superhero movies go. There’s a lot they could do with Superman that could prove much more interesting, and I do think he’s a character worth bringing back. As for ‘Joker’, we DO NOT need more movies like it. If they’re talking about character deep-dives alone, I’m on board. I stated above that I think individual character films could be where DC hits its stride. What we don’t need, though, are more movies that glorify serial killers by making them “relatable”. That’s an entire genre of films that needs to go, and supervillains don’t get a pass on that just because they aren’t real. The toxic fanbase that surrounded this movie alone is enough to prove that Hollywood shouldn’t be making more movies like this. I’m just hoping that Warner Bros. Discovery isn’t talking about making more supervillain movies that celebrate the awful things they do just because they were mistreated.

What About the Current DC Projects?:

Currently there’s a lot of uncertainty around the projects that have been planned or are currently active within the DCEU. And there really isn’t a way to tell what this new merger means for them all. But some things seem more likely to stick around than others. For one, ‘Batman’ is a recent release and a huge success. I can’t imagine them shutting down that project so soon, even if they choose new creatives to head the ‘Batman’ projects in the future. Similarly, ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ are both franchises that are wildly popular and could easily stick around. ‘Wonder Woman’ has been solo enough that they can pretend her team-ups never happened, and love her or hate her, I don’t think Gal Gadot will be stepping out of the role of Diana Prince. As for ‘Suicide Squad’, the ‘Peacemaker’ series has been well received and we all know by now that Margot Robbie won’t be stepping down from the role of Harley Quinn. Also, ‘Shazam’ was very well received and hasn’t been tied into anything at all so far, meaning it would be easy to take that film, and all of its planned sequels and spin-offs, and carry it into the new DCEU. That said, other projects are harder to call. ‘The Flash’ might already be dead in the water because of Ezra Miller (Warner Bros. really needs to stop hiring him for their major projects). ‘Aquaman’ might also be seriously effected because of the controversy surrounding Amber Heard. But really, nothing is certain. While there are things that don’t seem likely to change, we still might see a bigger overhaul of the DCEU than any of us expect.

At this point, DC fans are getting really tired. The amount of fans who have recently expressed that they’re experiencing Joker fatigue is not small. In fact, the amount of times the Batman series as a whole has been reimagined is starting to tire out Batman fans. And fans of other DC franchises are likely to follow soon. All of that seems to indicate that DC really doesn’t need another revamp right now. Fans have seen enough revamps of most of the characters to last a lifetime. What DC fans want right now are good scripts and some sort of stability. I think that DC can do that with what they have now if they’re careful about what they plan in the future. But who knows? Maybe Warner Bros. Discovery will surprise us with a really amazing central storyline. Still, I’m more concerned for the DCEU than ever and I think I speak for most fans when I say that all I want at this point, is consistently good content.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

BTS: Concert Etiquette

Promotional concert image of Jin. Copyright goes to BTS and HYBE.

Hi! It’s Annie!

It’s really unfortunate that so many ARMY have to talk about what should be common sense right now. But I’ve made a fan-sign etiquette post in the past, so I feel it’s at least in my wheelhouse to also address concert etiquette. And while this post will be specifically referring to BTS, any of these points could easily be used for any concert. Really, all of this is common sense for any artist and any venue. We all need to remember to respect the people around us, the artists, and all of their safety as well as our own. It is no secret at this point that the concerts in Las Vegas have seen what is quite possibly the worst fan behavior from any BTS concert ever. And while I did see firsthand some of the issues on the first day, the second day was reportedly so much worse. At this rate, who knows what the last two days of this concert will look like with some of the safety measures they may have to take. And I, like many others, wonder if this will mean BTS may not come to Vegas on any future tours. Future tours that may be sooner than we think depending on the release of their new album and the decision about their military service that is reportedly coming sometime this month. So, if fans want them to ever return to Vegas, we all should be careful to follow these pretty obvious rules.

Don’t Throw Things:

My sister covered this a little bit in her post about the concert, but I’m going to go into more detail. Because this is really important and almost deserves a post in itself. At the LA concert someone threw a single flower at Jungkook which he caught. For some reason, this inspired hundreds of fans going to the Las Vegas concert to want their singular moment with the boys. The one flower inspired so many people to be delusional at the concert and put other people, including the boys, in danger in the hopes of getting noticed. Now the moving platforms used for ‘Telepathy’ are being covered in flowers. Flowers that the boys constantly step on and the boys could easily slip on. And for those of you with the hope that the boys would keep your gift; think again. The flowers sit on the moving platforms until the end of the concert, where they get cleaned up and thrown away by staff. There have been a couple of instances of the boys catching bouquets and taking them with them; but this only happens when the boys give that specific fan gestures consenting to the gift. Jungkook on day two even did the opposite, and attempted to gesture to fans to stop throwing things. This was an issue on day one, but it was even more of an issue on day two. This was because fans threw much more than flowers on day two. The boys got giant bouquets and things like headbands and plushies chucked at their heads. Jin and Yoongi were caught on video dodging quite a few. And Hobi got an ARMY bomb chucked at him. He posted a photo of himself after the concert where he appeared to have a bruise on his neck, though we don’t know for sure what it was from. Many fans assumed that the flying lightstick might have been the cause, but I wouldn’t recommend jumping to conclusions. Still, the possibility that it could be due to that, is a little terrifying. I’m going to make this clear. You aren’t an ARMY if you’re willing to sacrifice the safety of the boys for a glance. I would recommend not bringing anything to throw. Even though a couple fans did get consent to throw their gifts; it’s much safer for everyone to assume that you won’t be one of them. Also remember that Jin is in a cast. Throwing anything at him could risk hitting the cast and hurting him even more. Exactly why I say, I don’t consider you an ARMY if you put the boys in danger.

Don’t Crowd:

Speaking of the moving platforms, there’s another major safety concern that may mean we get the moving platforms removed from the rest of the tour and any tour after. People said that this also happened in LA, but I actually didn’t see this in my section when I was at the concert in LA. I did, however, absolutely see it during the concert in Las Vegas. People rushed to the railings or the sides of the floor when the boys were on the moving platforms. This created dangerous crowding, pushing, and could have easily lead to trampling. Not only that, it prevented other fans who were actually following the rules and staying in their seats from seeing them. I followed the rules of the venue and remained in my seat, and though I was closer to the moving platforms this time, I could see them far more clearly in LA when people weren’t crowding. In Vegas, I could barely see them when they were right in front of me. But I wasn’t going to be disrespectful to the boys or any of the other fans by leaving my seat. And I commend any other ARMY who also knew enough not to leave their seat. Please remember that this also could effect fans with mobility issues. Especially because some ARMY even crowded in the section for fans with mobility issues. Which is still a sentence I can’t believe. It’s not what the boys would want, and I guarantee the boys wouldn’t want to have an ARMY moment with someone who’s being disrespectful to the people around them.

Don’t Force Signs:

The other big issue that was reportedly even worse on day two. If you hold your sign over your head during the concert, you’re being disrespectful. This should be common sense. The people behind you have paid just as much money as you did, and blocking their view is never ok. Again, you are ruining the concert for another person for a glance. Do you think the boys would actually be happy about it? If you’re going to hold up your sign, it needs to be at chest level or over the railing if you’re in the front row of a section if the venue allows it. If you are at all blocking the view of someone else, please rethink the way you’re holding your sign. Especially if you’re sitting floor because there’s absolutely no way to see over a sign in that case. I know you want the boys to see your sign, but that is never more important than the experience of the ARMY sitting behind you. Ever. On top of this, it’s always important to bring an appropriate sign. If you wouldn’t show the sign to your entire family, you shouldn’t bring it. I guarantee, it will not be appreciated by any of the boys. Also, if you bring a sign dissing any member you aren’t an ARMY. That’s solo stan behavior. Even if you’re concerned about them, let them have their private lives. It isn’t your business.

I know that Las Vegas pushes the ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ mantra, but ARMY and BTS have worked hard to make the concerts a safe space for everyone. The maturity of ARMY is one of the things that I’m most proud of and one of the things that prove to people who disrespect BTS that their fans are mature by following the example of the boys. The issues that we are having in Vegas not only give us a bad name, but it also reflects badly on BTS themselves. If BTS have to avoid coming back to Las Vegas after this, or if it makes it in the news that they had to stop using the moving platforms for safety reasons, it’s going to make all of us look bad. And we especially don’t need that while such an important decision as their possible military exemption is being made. All of that on top of the terrifying lack of regard for general safety. We all knew that the Las Vegas crowds were going to be crazier than say, in Seoul or LA, but this is still ridiculous. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the boys decided not to go on Vlive after day two, even though they did every day after the concerts in LA. Let’s continue to show others that BTS concerts are safe spaces and that ARMY is respectful! My experience in LA was amazing, and even my Aunt who had been to several concerts admitted that the fans were the nicest and most respectful she had ever seen. Being in Vegas should not nullify this great reputation we have going! Let’s do it for the boys!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

BTS: PTD Las Vegas Day 1

Image from the ‘Permission to Dance’ music video. Copyright goes to BTS and Hybe.

Hey! Hallie here!

Annie and I are back from PTD Las Vegas! We attended Permission to Dance On Stage in LA and talked about it on this blog, so I’m not going to spend a ton of time on exactly what the concert was like overall. If you want to know more about that, I recommend you check that post out! This time I’m going to talk about some of the more specific shenanigans that happened on stage, as well as the other BTS events that occurred exclusively for their Las Vegas run! Before I get into this though, I want to talk to the ARMYS attending days three and four of the concert. Please DO NOT throw anything at the boys. I would think that this would be common sense, but the amount that was thrown at day one of the concert was ridiculous and I’ve seen that day two was even worse. There are videos of pretty much all of the members getting hit with or dodging flowers, bouquets, and stuffed animals aimed directly at their faces. Jin, who is currently in a cast, narrowly missed a headband lobbed at his face and someone threw AN ACTUAL ARMY BOMB at J-Hope. These boys could seriously get hurt. Namjoon already asked ARMYs to stop throwing things. The people who got permission from the members to throw something to them get a pass, but in the future, just don’t bring anything to throw. Also, if you’re rushing barricade or to the front of a first level section to get closer to the boys, feel bad. It’s so rude to everyone around you and creates potentially dangerous crowding. I’m sorry to halt this post to rant about this, but this is putting everyone in potential danger. Anyways, let’s get to the more positive stuff!

PTD Pop Up:

There are a ton of BTS events happening in Vegas right now, but my group got our tickets after the reservations for places like the cafe or the exhibition were already filled. Fortunately for us, the pop-up photo op event at AREA15 takes walk ins. You need to wait in an extra line if you don’t have a reservation, but the line was short and moved quickly. Inside everyone, regardless of whether you have tickets or not, has to wait in another line to get to the entrance to the main areas, but it also moves quickly. The photo ops in this pop-up are extremely interactive. A replica of the dry cleaners from the “Permission to Dance” MV is the first major fixture you run into, and its accurately decorated windows are almost just as fun as the purple interior with familiar balloon-filled dryers. You can get your “Dynamite” fill by taking a picture next to the basketball hoop that Yoongi hangs around, as well as inside the record shop that’s Namjoon’s domain. The record shop was one of my favorite fixtures both because of the “Dynamite” albums lining the walls and the record player sectioned off to the side. Next is the “Butter” section. Far and away my favorite part of this area was the elevator from the MV, which I saw many people dancing in. You can also take a picture with the huge “Butter” sign while globs of butter drip down from the ceiling. They actually move. And finally, the last room is full of screens showcasing the “Butter” music video. This room is awesome for taking pictures next to your bias, because seven of the eight screens inside have each member’s elevator dance break from the MV. And if you’re OT7, the eighth screen has all seven boys together. I’ll keep the other details a secret, but I seriously recommend this pop-up. And if you can get tickets to the exhibition, it’s literally a few steps away so you can do two of the biggest BTS events at once.

BTS Merch:

If you’re keeping track of the things being said about the Las Vegas concert, you already know that the lines for concert merch have been just as insane as they were in LA. People have been standing in crazy lines that stretch down for several blocks at odd hours of the morning in order to get the merch they want. But, as someone who couldn’t get to the concert any earlier than 4:30 in the afternoon, I got the merch I wanted pretty easily. For one, the pop-up I discussed above has a merch booth at the end that had no line when I went. This booth didn’t have any concert merch, but it still had plenty of Las Vegas specific stuff, as well as shirts for “Butter” and “In the Soop” that sold out on Weverse. At the concert lines for merch were still very long. I wound up sitting these lines out and instead hunting down the cafe selling BTS cookies. They had plenty of cookies to spare and I recommend getting one. They’re called ‘Cafe Lola’ and everything my group got was delicious, from the BTS cookies to the strawberry rose lemonade. After the concert my party went on another merch hunt and was directed to the main tent, which had no line at all. Even at the end of the concert, I only saw a few things completely sold out. First, if you’re a Jungkook fan, I don’t think you’ll be able to wait for merch as long as I did. Everything Jungkook specific was sold out. Second, if you want any of the fans or a blanket, you’ll also need to get there early. But there was plenty of other member-specific merch left for all six other members, and most of the tees and sweatshirts were still available. So don’t worry too much about missing your chance! Allegiant stadium seems to be much more organized and also seems to have more in stock.

The Concert:

Ok, I’ve rambled about the other experiences for long enough. Let’s talk about the concert. My group sat in one of the C100s sections. We sat in a similar section last concert, but we were even closer to the stage this time than we were at the last BTS concert we attended. Unfortunately, we had to wait an extra forty minutes to see exactly how close the members would be to us. During a few of the last MVs before the concert started, one of the screens went partially black and they had to stop the concert to take care of it right before the boys’ entrance. But ARMYs were polite and patient. We even practiced our wave! The concert contents didn’t have many surprises if you’ve seen their Seoul performance. We got to see all of their recent English songs, plus some “Be” and a whole lot of their most popular songs they didn’t get to perform live for ARMYs during the pandemic. All of it was mind blowing. I adore every performance of “Black Swan”, and the opportunity to see it closer up than I have before was heart-stopping. I seriously can’t get over the wing effects they do for each member during the opening. I also really appreciated the blow-up statuesque hands that stood behind the boys for “Fake Love”. And shout out to the on-screen effects for Las Vegas! They were much less distracting than the ones used in LA. Similarly, I appreciated how slowly the boys moved around the stadium during “Telepathy” in Las Vegas as opposed to the faster pace in LA. I felt like I had more time to get to see them.

And yeah, seeing the boys again made me insanely happy! The energy radiating off of all the members was electric. Even Jin’s chair couldn’t hide how happy he was to be performing in front of a crowd that could more easily express themselves (Sorry about that Seoul). We got to see Namjoon and Jin doing dorky body rolls, Jungkook lifted his shirt for all the thirsty ARMYs MULTIPLE times, Taehyung already started throwing things being chucked at him back at the audience (As he should), Jimin’s attractive confidence actually left me speechless at parts, and J-Hope and Yoongi were so unbelievably cool every time they rapped that I almost felt like I shouldn’t be in the same room as them. At the end of the concert all of the members expressed how much they love us, which was lovely as usual. But Namjoon brought up the Grammys, which was very interesting. The members seem kind of done with the Grammys at this point, and yeah guys me too. Namjoon told ARMYs that BTS didn’t come to Vegas for the Grammys, they came for ARMY. He also said that the Grammys could be haters if they wanted and that BTS doesn’t need them. My favorite thing he said, though, was that he could talk about his frustrations to his friends in private but he wasn’t going to insult the academy in public because he’s an adult. This was such a good dig to the pompous jerks who’ve been going on podcasts to hate on BTS ever since they lost the Grammy. We all know that the Grammys are dying and that BTS doesn’t need them. Just look at the way Vegas had already dedicated itself to BTS by the time the Grammys rolled in. But Namjoon just confirmed their irrelevance while calling out their childish behavior. I love him so much.

This is where I’m going to end this post. I had such a good time at this concert. I’m already going through post-concert depression again, which is never fun. But none of that diminishes how amazing of a time I had or how much this experience will stay with me for years to come. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be an ARMY. The members of BTS have pulled me out of some really dark times in my life and are constantly encouraging me to challenge my beliefs and to love myself. It means so much to me to take part in Hobi’s call and response at the beginning of each concert because he has been my hope in moments where I needed it most. But beyond BTS, ARMY has been such a warm and welcoming community and I won’t ever be able to repay BTS for introducing me to you guys. I very much hope that BTS goes on tour soon so as many ARMYs as possible get the experience of seeing the boys and this community in person.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: ‘Business Proposal’

Promotional image of (left) Ann Hyoseop and (right) Kim Sejeong. Copyright goes to Kross Pictures, SBS, and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

So lately I’ve been stuck in the middle of my favorite K-Dramas and watching ones that are actually new. After watching a few dramas that I liked but didn’t really love, I was seriously considering just stopping for a while and returning to some old favorites. But I was stopped in my tracks from doing this when Jungkook did a recent Q&A on his Instagram and recommended this drama. And then I had something else that was new to watch. I wasn’t really expecting much other than mild enjoyment from this, especially because the synopsis of the show didn’t sell me right away. I feel like I’ve been spoiled rotten because of shows like ‘Crash Landing On You’, ‘Itaewon Class’, and ‘Vincenzo’. But, only a few episodes in, I was absolutely convinced that this would become one of my favorite current dramas out there. And definitely one of my favorites in the romance genre. This show doesn’t shy away from certain tropes while completely subverting other ones, and I constantly questioned what would happen next and was on edge for the next episode. That’s not to say that there’s a lot of action here; it is mostly just very wholesome. So, I’m going to get into this, but before that here is your MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!

Synopsis: Hari is a fairly ordinary business worker who’s only big connection is her best friend, Youngseo, who comes from a very rich family. Youngseo’s family is determined to marry her off for financial gain, which has prompted her to ask Hari to go on all of her family set up blind dates in her place. Hari is used to acting crazy on these dates to scare off any potential suitors. But things get complicated when the CEO of Hari’s company is set up with her friend, and Hari’s crazy act seems to intrigue him more than drive him way. When he suddenly proposes marriage to who he things is Youngseo; Hari must now hide who she is at work and lie to everyone around her.

The Good:

The Female Lead- Finally! I’ve found another female lead that I absolutely love! I have to say, I was a little discouraged, especially after watching ‘Inheritors’ so recently. But Hari was full of personality, and she didn’t just give up when things got difficult. One of the things I really liked about Hari was how funny she was! I haven’t seen Kim Sejeong in anything before this, but she completely sold me here. Her comedic timing was always on point, she was excellent at conveying emotion without even having to say anything, and she’s just overall likable! It’s difficult not to like her, which works so well for the show because that’s one of the things that gets Hari into the most trouble. As awful as she tries to act, you can still see who she is underneath. I also really liked that the drama made sure to portray Hari as incredibly smart and capable. She’s one of the best workers in her field, so she doesn’t rely on Taemu for his stability. That was also very refreshing to see.

The Male Lead- Taemu was confusing at times, but he’s always adorable. It’s difficult to see what he sees in Hari’s act at first, but eventually you realize that he’s probably more observant than he lets on. Though his immediate need to marry her is still confusing. My favorite parts of Taemu’s character were mostly unspoken however. When Taemu first finds out that Hari has been lying to him, his immediate reaction is that he wants revenge. And watching his silent struggle between his determination for revenge and his want to help her was absolutely amazing. There’s this moment where Hari burns her hand and he panics, and the only reason you know he wants to help her is his widened eyes and a close up on his hand. It was all very ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Matthew Macfayden as Mr. Darcy and I loved every bit of it. It’s just hard not to love this very open and adorably awkward character. He seems reserved at first, but then you realize just how much he wears his heart on his sleeve.

The Second Female Lead- There are two main couples in this drama. There’s the main advertised one and then the secondary, which has so much time devoted to it that it barely feels secondary. And I have to say, I love these two characters just as much as the main ones. Youngseo is the sassy, confident, supportive friend that we all want to have and all want to be. She has the name of her family backing her, but her main goal is to become successful in her field by herself. Something else that was refreshing to see. The women in this drama were really badass! She has this rival, but this drama never does the female rivalry thing for too long. They eventually become semi-friends and it’s more comedic than anything. I absolutely laughed my ass off at “You know I have no chingu!”. Youngseo was more than stubborn, but seeing her flaws made me appreciate the depth of this character.

The Second Male Lead- I think Sunghoon might have been my favorite character in the entire drama. Firstly, it’s hard to get over this adorable and responsible glasses character that’s just trying to do his best. Sunghoon was constantly exasperated by the choices other characters made, because usually he had to clean up the mess, but he was supportive no matter what. Definitely the most loyal friend you could have. The kind of guy who would be by your side in a heartbeat if you need him. I find that the cool and smart glasses character usually is pretty stoic and seems like he doesn’t care. But while Sunghoon can be stoic, you never question how much he cares. He puts his all into every relationship in his life, which is often where he meets the most trouble. I love him. Definitely one of those characters that you feel like would give great hugs. Also, can we talk about the way he took off his glasses to kiss Youngseo?

The Romances- This show was really good at painting every romance as different but just as important. While the main romance is more of an unexpected thing that grows over time, the second romance is one that’s expected by both sides and only doesn’t happen earlier because of a communication issue. And both are treated as just as cute and given just as much time for you to gush over. Taemu wants to hate Hari but finds that he can’t, while Hari wants to avoid Taemu but finds that his presence is something she values. While both Youngseo and Sunghoon like the other but are convinced that the other person doesn’t like them. It’s so different, but it’s all developed brilliantly. When the couples in the show get together, it makes sense. It feels like the right time for them. They don’t try to throw everything off to throw in a random plot twist with either couple. When Taemu’s grandfather doesn’t approve, Hari becomes determined to make him approve instead of just taking it. And when Youngseo’s father calls Sunghoon to try and make him break up with his daughter, Youngseo decides to start her own business away from her family instead of break up. Even when their situations don’t feel natural, the show goes out of its way to make the connection feel natural and strong.

The Friendships- I don’t think I’ve seen more realistic or developed friendships in any other drama. I loved Hari and Youngseo’s friendship possibly the most, because female friendships are often skipped over or just not there at all in many shows both internationally and not. I don’t mean to pick on ‘Inheritors’ again, especially because I did like the show, but that show only seemed to have female rivalries. It was nice to see these characters go through trials together, scream over roaches together, and constantly be there for each other. Not just going to lunches, but also knowing each other’s parents and having sleep overs. Because that’s all stuff I can relate to. On the other hand, the male friendship was also amazing! Especially because the drama went out of its way to show both guys being vulnerable around each other, which is not how male friendships are often portrayed. To me, these portrayals of friendships felt like a step forward.

Trope Subversion: This happened so many times and it was either brilliant or almost parody. There’s a cliff hanger at the end of one episode where Taemu gets into a car accident. The entire series they had been setting up a possible tragedy, as his parents had died in a car accident in the rain and he is afraid of the rain because of this. And in this scene he is shown driving in the rain. But the next episode he has a fractured wrist and not much else and the situation is almost comedically dropped. You know it’s done in parody because throughout the drama, Hari’s parents are watching a very trope-filled drama that parallels what’s actually happening in the drama but it’s all very much more dramatic. So something will happen in that drama, and then the show will instead show a more realistic version. I thought it was both funny and very clever. Another way they did this was by actually improving some tropes. This drama doesn’t have many flashbacks, but when they do it’s always new and interesting information. They did a flashback sequence with the secondary couple, but it was shown from Sunghoon’s perspective when what the audience saw before was shown from Youngseo’s perspective. It made it actually interesting to watch the flashback sequences, which is something I never thought I’d say. This drama purposefully subverts tropes and I honestly hope that more dramas also do this in the future.

The Bad:

Rushing- One of the only elements of this drama that stood out to me as not feeling natural, was how quickly the romances escalated. I mean, Youngseo and Sunghoon went from drunkenly confessing to sleeping together in one night, which was an issue the drama pointed out but also never seemed to really regard as an issue. And then they got engaged after having only dated for a couple months. At least the main couple had more build up, and they did get engaged after the one year gap rather than just a couple months. But they also didn’t see each other for that year, so I still don’t know how to feel about it. For me, I’m ok seeing my favorite couples happily dating at the end of a drama. I don’t need them to be married to feel secure in their ending or to feel like their relationship may lead to marriage.

Year Gap- This was one trope that they didn’t subvert. Though I do have to admit, one of the reasons they used this trope was to subvert the ‘grandfather suddenly dying of a heart attack’ trope. But, I still wasn’t sure why they needed it. Year gaps feel like a lot less time after having been in quarantine for over two years, but I still didn’t see the need for separating the two main characters. Especially because it happened right before the show ended, and they have to end up together at the end, so it felt like it didn’t serve any plot purposes either.

There you go! Seriously not much for me to pick apart with this drama! I would like to thank Jungkook of BTS for the recommendation, because I absolutely loved it. If you’re in the mood to watch a cute romance, this should be on the top of your watch list. Definitely some of the most supportive and wholesome couples I’ve ever seen in anything ever. Today my sister and I will be at the BTS concert in Las Vegas so hopefully we’ll have plenty to talk about when we get back! If you’re going on any of the days, I can’t stress enough how much you need to be safe! As someone who has lived in at least a decent proximity to Vegas all her life, it isn’t the safest place despite what they would have you believe. Be careful of what parts of the Strip you walk at night, especially if you’re alone, be careful about accepting anything from anyone, and also I would highly recommend continuing to wear a mask! Let’s all be safe out there tonight! I still can’t believe I’m seeing them again so soon!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Video Games: ‘Greedfall’ Review

Still of De Sardet from ‘Greedfall’. Copyright goes to Spiders, Focus Entertainment, and Game Source Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Greedfall’ is one of those games that got pretty decent attention for a game made by a smaller developer, but also flew under most people’s radar. I didn’t even realize this game came out in 2019 until about a month ago, and I adore BioWare-style RPGs. Especially ones similar to ‘Dragon Age’ titles. Similar to ‘Dragon Age’, ‘Greedfall’ is a fantasy RPG complete with multiple skill trees, companions with loyalty missions, and choices that change the outcome of the game. There are a few major differences here though, mostly surrounding its emphasis on diplomacy, its important side quests, and its depiction of European colonialism. I’ve seen a lot of people be pretty hard on this game despite the knowledge that it was created by a team of only 30+ people, so I wanted to write my review to give you another perspective. While this game doesn’t have the quality of ‘Dragon Age’, and it is lacking in some departments, it’s still a really good time and if you haven’t played this game I think you should give it a try. But I’ll explain all of that below. Just know moving forward that I’ll keep this review mostly spoiler free and I’ll mark the spoilers throughout. Let’s get into this!

Gameplay:

I’ve said before that gameplay doesn’t concern me nearly as much as the story does in a video game, but horrible gameplay still makes a game feel unplayable so it’s still important to talk about. The gameplay in this game is what ‘Greedfall’ gets trashed for the most. I’ll tell you right now, it isn’t bad. The gameplay consists of unlocking various abilities with your skill tree and selecting them to use in battle. The skills you use most can be assigned to the D-pad for easy access during a fight. To use other skills, or just to list out battle commands for your character, you can pause combat. (You can’t control your companions during a fight, but they don’t go down as easy as companions in other games sometimes do.) Aside from those, you have the general dodge and attack buttons you can spam all you like. There’s also two bars that charge throughout battles, one allowing you to unleash a very useful strong attack, and the other showing you how much magic you can use until you have to wait for the bar to recharge. Really, none of it’s new for an RPG. And to be honest, there aren’t enough skills to make fighting feel unique and satisfying, especially hours into the game. The monotony of it is only increased by the very few enemy types you’ll encounter throughout the game. Some of the bosses even look the same. That said, it isn’t like this gameplay is game breaking. It’s just too simple. Which is definitely not the worst thing I’ve said about a game’s gameplay.

The gameplay of this game doesn’t just revolve around fighting, though. In fact, this game emphasizes that there are many ways to solve your problems and fighting might not always be the best option. ‘Greedfall’ takes your role as a diplomat very seriously and expects you to act accordingly. So if one of your companions suggests that you sneak into the back of a warehouse instead of possibly angering the faction that owns the warehouse by showing up unannounced, maybe you should listen to them. And if you find a disguise to help you blend in with the workers, why not take advantage of that instead? This is the gameplay in ‘Greedfall’ that really makes it shine. Knowing that there are many solutions to each problem and trying to find the one that will anger the least amount of people made missions so much more interesting.

The Story:

I saw some reviewers trash this story for being bland, but I definitely don’t agree with that. In this game you play as De Sardet, a royal from the land of Serene given the job of becoming a Legate and a diplomat over in a newly established settlement in New Serene. De Sardet is sent by their mother to try to discover a cure for a deadly disease called the Melchior, which has completely ravaged all of Serene and is killing their mother. Accompanying them to New Serene is their cousin, Constantin, who has been appointed the new leader and governor of New Serene and who grew up alongside De Sardet as a kind of younger brother. Once De Sardet lands on New Serene they discover a rivalry between their faction (The Congregation of Merchants), the other factions that have moved to the area, and the Natives of the island. These factions are fascinating and make up the bulk of the story. You discover quickly that the Merchant Congregation has earned most of its power by remaining neutral in most conflicts, which makes you the neutral party in the various rivalries you encounter throughout the game. The Bridge Alliance is a faction of scientists that seem interesting at first, but quickly become the most irritating, evil, and unforgivable faction on the island. I feel like the game tries to make each of these factions good and bad in different ways, but the Bridge Alliance just ends up being bad. Next is Theleme, which is the major religious faction on the island. Their religion directly contrasts with the Natives, which leads to some awful decisions, but play your cards right and they actually wind up as more understanding allies. Then there’s the Coin Guard, a mercenary faction of guards that offer protection to all factions and can be more than a little shady. My personal favorite are the Nauts, a very secretive but loyal band of pirates who honor time spent in their faction with facial tattoos.

The final faction, the Natives, are understandably furious at the way the other factions have invaded their land and mistreated them, but they’re also very wise and often much more reasonable than any of the other factions. And this is where we get to the European colonialism influences of this game. This isn’t one of those games that romanticizes this ideology or the time period in which white people were colonizing places they were not welcome and committing atrocities along the way. The clear villains in this game are always the white people trying to take advantage of the Natives while also attempting to strip them of their culture. But also, know that ‘Greedfall’ doesn’t do any of this perfectly. For one, while the Natives appear more like woodland elves in order to tie them to the fantasy lore in the game, that doesn’t disguise the fact that they’re representing a minority group that already sees stories about their trauma enough in the media. Also (SPOILER) De Sardet is revealed to actually be Native by birth about halfway through this game. Which feels like it’s a quick fix to attempt to make the player feel less like they’re intruding by constantly saving the Natives and making decisions for them as part of the choice-based gameplay, but winds up feeling weird when you note that De Sardet still comes from a place of privilege (END SPOILER). In other words, just remember that white people writing an allegory for the mistreatment of a minority group always winds up with major flaws.

The Characters:

There aren’t as many main characters here as there are in most BioWare games, but I do like what we see here. For one, De Sardet feels more like an actual character than a player character like the Inquisitor from ‘Dragon Age:Inquisition’. This is because De Sardet has a clear personality and rich history that influences the rest of the story. De Sardet’s close relationship with their cousin, Constantin, is an emotional force that impacts the entire game. And the way they reminisce about old times with both Constantin and Kurt, who has been their body guard and fight trainer for a long time, gives De Sardet added depth. As for Constantin himself, he’s a bit of a mixed bag. He can be endearing, but his pretentiousness can get annoying. (SPOILER) Especially after he’s diagnosed with the Melchior. The game attempts to tie his less caring and more haughty behavior to the fact that he’s dying and desperate to find a cure, but that doesn’t feel very believable when we saw him act similarly before he became sick. I ultimately found him a less sympathetic villain than intended (END SPOILER). Kurt, on the other hand, is my favorite companion. He’s usually kind and gives out excellent advice, but there are moments in the story where he can seem genuinely dangerous. I didn’t expect that level of complexity from him, but I love it. (SPOILER) The ‘Treason!’ mission, where he can either betray his own people and help you, or attempt to betray you before deciding he can’t do it, gives him one of the most shocking story twists I’ve ever seen from a companion (END SPOILER). Siora is another favorite of mine. I liked her background as a Native princess who wants peace, but I also loved the added knowledge she provided considering most missions involve the Natives in some way. I felt like her point of view was the most invaluable of all the companions.

My opinions of the other three companions is a bit more mixed. Aphra instantly comes off as a badass, but her distant nature doesn’t really help her stand out amongst your companions. Also, her story is mostly rooted in a problem she already solved in the past, namely abandoning the horrifically awful scientist who taught her. So sometimes her missions, which surround her new studies, feel unimportant. Vasco has a more heart-wrenching story that follows his desire to know his birth family because he was given to the Nauts at a young age. But the story is quickly resolved after Vasco meets one family member and sees that he’s a bit of an ass. That said, Vasco’s one of those snarky pirate captains I can never resist. Finally, Petrus is one of those guys you’re instantly suspicious of. He’s an older man who’s known for being a secretive and manipulative politician. I did like that his complicated morals became the backbone for his character growth as his story continued, but his story also revolves around an aspect of De Sardet I don’t like that I listed as a spoiler above. So I won’t get into it, but I do wish his story didn’t involve it. While we’re talking about characters let’s talk about romance! Of your five companions, four are romanceable. Characters playing as feminine De Sardet can romance Kurt, Vasco, and Siora. Characters playing as masculine De Sardet can romance Aphra, Vasco, and Siora. The romance I sprung for was Kurt. Some people dislike this romance because of the fact that Kurt is older than De Sardet and has known them since they were a child, but the game makes clear that Kurt isn’t THAT much older than De Sardet and didn’t decide to get to know them outside of their professional relationship until the events of the game. That was enough to resolve my worries, especially because Kurt is too sweet to resist. But romance scenes are limited to two short sequences, so don’t expect much.

Side Quests:

I don’t see enough people warning new ‘Greedfall’ players about this so here you go: Side quests are MANDATORY in this game. There are a couple side quests you can skip (The ones involving finding a bunch of random letters or finding all the campsites on all of the maps), but all other side quests need to be completed if you want any sort of good ending by the end of your run through. This is because all of the side quests tie to the different factions I explained above, and if you don’t take time to make sure relations with all of these factions are going well, they won’t feel any obligation to help you when things start getting rough at the end of your journey. Some people might hate this aspect of the game, but I found it refreshing. The reason why these side quests are so important is because they actually tell full stories that are worth exploring, which is nice compared to the fetch quests you find in other games.

This was a bit of a longer post but I definitely wanted to talk about as much of this game as possible. There’s genuinely so much to explore and love in this game. It has its flaws, and I did encounter a few glitches, but nothing was game-breaking and all of it was impressive for such a small team. It might not be ground-breaking and the player might not have all the customization capabilities and gameplay elements we’ve all come to expect in RPGs, but I don’t think that diminishes the excellent storytelling here. So if you like games like ‘Dragon Age’, consider this your newest recommendation!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie