K-Pop: A K-Pop Valentine’s Day

Photoshoot image of Kim Namjoon. Copyright goes to BTS and HYBE Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I am a single Pringle and, though things are clearing up, I spent most of my Valentine’s Day inside due to Covid and wallowing in my singleness. Today is technically SAD (Singles Awareness Day), but I usually do most of my celebrating on Valentine’s Day by dressing up just for myself and eating a lot of chocolate. Of course, my Valentine’s Day has never been the same since I became a K-Pop stan. Instead of just passing by the topic altogether, I now joke that my Valentine this year is Kim Namjoon and continue on. I actually did quite a few things this Valentine’s Day that made it a pretty good day to me and most of it had to do with the comfort for me that is K-Pop. So I’m going to go through some of my favorite K-Pop things to do on Valentine’s Day with some other things thrown in. And my reaction to some news that we got yesterday as well! So this was my day yesterday! The general Valentine’s Day of a K-Pop stan.

Yunho and ATEEZ:

I’m going to start with this because I woke up to this yesterday and this is much less self care. Starting yesterday, a giant argument started regarding Yunho of ATEEZ that only gained more fuel today and has continued. Definitely not my favorite. This was because after the concert, many Yunho fans were complimenting Yunho on how great of a dancer he is and calling him the main dancer of the group; basically complimenting him on being one of the best fourth generation main dancers. Why would this start an argument? I have no idea. But it kind of did. Many other ATEEZ fans were saying that they shouldn’t be calling Yunho the main dancer because there isn’t actually an official dancer line for the group and saying that the other members should also be complimented. I think they were somehow thinking that this was solo stan behavior? It wasn’t. Yunho fans came back saying that Yunho often gets pushed into the background and that he leads all the dance practices, which makes him the main dancer. Also supporting him by sharing quotes from past interviews where he expressed frustration with being underestimated because people don’t think people as tall as he is can be good dancers. A main dancer standing at the height of 6’2” is not usual, but he’s one of the best dancers I’ve seen nonetheless. Yunho is one of the most under represented of the group and they have all said that he leads all of their dance practices. We even got recent footage of him leading a “Rocky” dance practice. He deserves this recognition, and pointing out the skills of individual members isn’t solo stan behavior. It only is if you’re pointing out the skills of one member to negate those of another. That’s not what was happening here. But I suppose seeing one of these arguments is natural for a stan on Valentine’s Day because something like this happens practically every day in some fandom or other.

More Covid:

This is also unfortunately kind of daily news right now. In the past couple days both San of ATEEZ and Taehyung of BTS have tested positive. They’re all vaccinated so none of them are getting any really bad sickness, thankfully. I just hope that we see the end of idols (and everyone else) getting Covid soon.

K-Dramas:

While not exactly K-Pop related, depending on the drama, I did watch some of my favorite compilations of my favorite K-Drama couples. I started a new K-Drama as well, though I ended up putting it down today because it was moving too slowly to keep my attention right now. I’m not going to say what it was, and it won’t really matter because I won’t review it anyways. But I always have my favorites to return to! For example, ‘Crash Landing on You’ has one of my favorite couples in it of all time with Jeonghyeok and Seri, and the couple is getting married in real life now! Congratulations to them! My favorite scene with them is probably still the scene where he takes one step across enemy lines just to kiss her. It makes me melt every time. Other K-Dramas that I highly recommend for the cute couples are ‘Vincenzo’, ‘Boys Over Flowers’, ‘Her Private Life’, and ‘Lovestruck in the City’. Those are probably my all-time favorites. ‘Vincenzo’ is surprisingly full of adorable couple moments despite the more action packed nature of the show. I should clarify that for ‘Boys Over Flowers’, I am definitely talking about Yi Jung and Ga Eul and not Jun Pyo and Jan Di. I actually made an entire post about why I like them best if you’re curious, but in short I think their story was more well rounded. ‘Her Private Life’ has such an understanding couple in it and it was made for K-Pop fans. (It also has one of my favorite first kiss scenes in a K-Drama.) ‘Lovestruck in the City’ is a lot more emotionally charged (A LOT more), but it is totally worth it if you’re prepared to cry. Though with that one I mainly mean the main couple, because the others go through some specific problems. It makes more sense when you watch it. But I really couldn’t think of many things to do, better than spending Valentine’s Day watching K-Dramas! It’s a good way to wallow.

BTS:

Now this is how I spent my evening and was definitely the highlight of my day. When my sister and I went to pick up dinner, the place we went to was playing an entire BTS playlist. We were definitely jamming out in the restaurant. How could you not? On top of that, Weverse just released old ‘Bon Voyage’ seasons and a bunch of concerts again. So my sister and I spent the night watching ‘Fifth Muster: Magic Shop’. This is one of my favorite BTS concerts of all time. Seriously, if I could go back in time to see one concert it would probably be this one. There’s something so warm and comforting about the ‘Magic Shop’ idea and this concert really established the magic of BTS. They create a community where everyone feels safe, heard, and understood. You can’t help but feel your worries slip away in the Magic Shop. And watching a BTS concert has to be one of my ultimate forms of self care. I still want to go back to a concert of theirs very badly and sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve already been to one. But I do miss the boys a lot. This concert also really makes me want to see ‘Pied Piper’, ‘Dimple’, and ‘Intro: School Luv Affair’ live sometime. But I’m going to be honest, I am more than happy with each and every song that they sing live. So really as long as I’m there, I’ll be happy with absolutely anything. In order to commemorate how I spent my Valentine’s Day, I did take a picture of my Tiny Tan Namjoon in front of the screen I was watching the concert on. Just so I know that this year I did spend the day with Kim Namjoon as my Valentine in a funny way. Gotta say, the company was superb.

I am absolutely certain that I am not the only person who spent their Valentine’s Day this way. I have no regrets and I don’t think any stan who spent it in any way that’s similar have any either. This is part of stanning! Like I said, you really can’t beat the company when you know you have the support and backing of some of your favorite people out there who you also unconditionally support. I had a lot of lighthearted fun this year, and I hope all of you beautiful people did too! Here’s to another Valentine’s Day as a K-Pop stan! Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Marvel: Let’s Talk Wanda Maximoff

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

With the Super Bowl airing today we were gifted with a lot of Marvel trailers and footage. The biggest standout for me was the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” trailer. There are so many huge things this trailer revealed, some which I’m very excited about (Professor X is back???) and some that I’m very concerned about (The multiverse has never looked so confusing). Wanda Maximoff stole my attention through it all, though. Of course she did. She’s currently my favorite character in the MCU and the amount of Marvel fans who are the same has been exponentially rising since ‘WandaVision’. But the controversy around the character has risen too. Many women have been outright attacked for liking Wanda because of her complicated morality. Some have even gone as far as to say that the MCU has failed entirely to make her likable as they seemingly inch towards a more villainous story for her. I, obviously, disagree. So let’s discuss this character and why so many women are rallying around a line she was given in the newest ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer.

Wanda Maximoff So Far:

This character, and her fan reaction, has been interesting to track over the years. She was introduced alongside her brother Pietro in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. She spent most of the film almost attached to Pietro, starting out as a misguided anti-Stark villain and ending the film having been recruited to the Avengers. Many argue that she didn’t have enough personality here, but given that the movie was one of Joss Whedon’s, I’m glad it was so jam packed that he didn’t have time to ruin her character. That said, I feel Elizabeth Olsen did allow some personality to come through. She was stubborn but unsure, naive but extremely intelligent, and very compassionate. Her immediate interest in Vision despite the trepidation everyone else approached him with betrayed her large heart, as did her slowly developing father/daughter relationship with Clint Barton. The movie ended with our first hint to her power, caused by the death of Pietro, to set up the character. Moving on from this she appeared in ‘Civil War’, a film that solidified her personality and developed her relationship with Vision. The film highlighted her serious power right from the off by having her accidentally blow up part of a building. Though she hadn’t intended to blow up this building, and the move resulted in less casualties than it would have had she done nothing, Tony felt she was dangerous and imprisoned her. Her break out ended in more Wanda fan hate for really no reason at all. From what I gathered, some fans appeared to be angry at Wanda for fighting back against Vision to escape when Vision had, only moments earlier, been wiping the floor with Clint Barton. It wasn’t like she had much of a choice. However, overall Wanda saw more fans from this movie because of her fleshed out personality and because of the interest in the developing romance between her and Vision.

Next were the appearances in ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’. In the former we got to see her die. But not before she had to destroy Vision, whom she was now in a relationship with, because only she had the ability to match the mind stone’s power. And then she had to watch Thanos rewind time to destroy Vision all over again. Fun. In ‘Endgame’ she avenged Vision by almost singlehandedly destroying Thanos in yet another display of immense power. Her grief over Vision lead right into ‘WandaVision’, a project that I firmly believe is one of the best character pieces Marvel has ever done. Here we got a good mix of Wanda’s sense of humor, compassion, and dangerous grief. Wanda’s entire storyline throughout the MCU has been marred by judgement and pain, so it wasn’t a big ask of the audience to believe that Wanda would reality shift an entire town and brainwash the people inside just to bring Vision back. But it was an accident despite her protectiveness of the home she created, and if that wasn’t enough, Monica’s sympathy for Wanda ensured that the audience understood exactly why Wanda was doing what she was doing. After it all she even let Vision and her boys go for the sake of those she had hurt, though her possession of the Darkhold proved she hadn’t given up the life she created. And really, who can blame her? A lot of the more recent negative opinions over Wanda have stemmed from her treatment of the townspeople she was controlling, but not only does the show make clear that Wanda isn’t completely aware of what she’s done to them, it’s similar to what Druig of ‘The Eternals’ does without facing any of the repercussions Wanda does. I clearly feel the criticisms of her in this regard are unfair.

What I’m Concerned About:

You’ll notice that despite all of the foreshadowing in past appearances that imply Wanda is capable of becoming dark and powerful, she’s never actually gone bad. Wanda’s always had a very strong conscience that’s allowed her to become more aware of herself and put a stop to behaviors that are destructive. Some people have mistaken ‘WandaVision’ for the beginning of Wanda’s villain arc. If Wanda goes full villain in ‘Multiverse of Madness’, that will be the start of her villain arc. Wanda defeated Agatha Harkness and put aside her feelings so she could fix her mistakes at the end of ‘WandaVision’. That’s not villain behavior. Which means ‘Multiverse of Madness’ has the task of making Wanda’s turn to the dark as smooth and as character accurate as possible. Wanda’s clearly been through a lot of devastating moments throughout the MCU’s run. She also hasn’t really had anyone to lean on this whole time except for Vision, who she’s lost three times at this point. I mean, look at her comforting herself in the ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer. She clearly feels alone and it’s not like Clint showed up to Westview. There’s already a very good backbone for Wanda turning her back on the world in favor of trying to get at least two seconds of happiness. But, once again, she’s never gone evil and her conscience has never gone away. I’m concerned that ‘Multiverse of Madness’ will just wipe away the kindness we’ve seen from her in favor of diving headfirst into her villain story. I’m afraid they’re going to focus only on Wanda’s possession of the Darkhold and avoid mentioning that she made amends with Monica and let Vision fade away. We can’t erase Wanda’s goodness to get to the badness.

What I’m Excited About:

For one, seeing the Scarlet Witch in all of her glory is absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see her fight against what appears to be Captain Marvel. I can’t wait to see how far her illusions can go. And I can’t wait to see her take some of her confidence back. Wanda has an amazing line in the trailer that mentions the scrutiny she gets for breaking the rules that Stephen Strange doesn’t get when he does the same. All of the women who’ve been standing behind Wanda while fans hurl insults at her for Westview feel that in our souls. Because villainous characters, and even heroes who have done morally ambiguous things, get a pass if they’re a guy. Meanwhile, I’ve seen countless women being needlessly attacked for backing female characters who have done similar things. I want to see Wanda take on these criticisms herself. I want to see her decide, as she mentioned in ‘Civil War’, that others opinions of her don’t matter. I want to see her kick ass and prove that she’s complicated and powerful. Both an immense ally and an immense foe. At this point, it would be kind of cathartic to see her destroy some things, even with me being cautious about the way they write her villain arc. Also, I don’t know when White Vision’s going to show up next, but the unfinished business she has with him is one of the most interesting loose threads in the MCU right now. Her role in the newest ‘Doctor Strange’ film is only one of her future appearances to look forward to.

The ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer and TV spot gave me a lot to think about. As a pretty vocal skeptic of the multiverse storylines we’ve seen take over the MCU, I’m kind of terrified by the sheer amount of craziness we’re being promised in ‘Doctor Strange’. But more than any of that, I just want them to do right by Wanda. She’s one of the best characters in the MCU and I want to see her get even more interesting as time goes on.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: ‘So Not Worth It’ Review

Screenshot of (from left) Joakim Sorensen, Terris Brown, Han Hyunmin, Choi Youngjae, and Minnie. Copyright goes to Mystic Story and Netflix.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I’m completely back into wanting to watch some wholesome lighthearted entertainment where I can just turn my brain off for a while. This is definitely one of those shows. This drama marks the comeback of the Korean sitcom, which is a medium of television that they haven’t really been making anything in for the past ten years. It’s kind of easy to see why. Most sitcoms have aged out nearly everywhere, with most shows either going for a more dramatic feel or not wanting the laugh track to interfere with the way a joke lands. I’ll admit that I usually feel a little thrown off whenever I see something recent that includes a laugh track. But what really brought this show into the limelight was the immense amount of diversity. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it at first, because when it first came out there were a lot of mixed reviews. This seems to be one of those shows where you either love it or you hate it. And I actually really liked it for what it is! So with that, I’m just going to get into this one.

Synopsis: This Netflix original is about a group of eight friends living in a foreign dorm at a university in Seoul. Sewan is a Korean native who is the RA of the dorm, she is very poor and often gets spare cash by having students pay her for looking the other way when they accidentally break a rule. Jamie is a Korean American student who hides the fact that his mother is a famous US actress. Sam is a Korean Australian who is the son of a rich food chain mogul. Minnie is a Thai student who is absolutely obsessed with K-Dramas and clubbing. Hyunmin is a half Nigerian half Korean student who was born and raised in South Korea, but needs to secretly stay in the foreign dorm because of his long commute. Carson is an American student who is known for being tough and world weary despite her age. Hans is a Swedish student who is a stickler for the rules. Terris is a Tribagonian student who, in the process of serial dating women, begins to figure out who he is. Together they form a tight knit college friend group who navigate the trials of life and love together.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!!!

The Good:

Sewan- I find that too often in sitcoms there will be a female character that’s written with the express purpose of being relatable, so she’s often not as fun and such a blank slate that she isn’t really relatable. They don’t do this here. Though she’s one of the most focused on characters, she had her own quirks and personality that makes her stand out just as much as all of the other characters. She’s known for swindling people out of their money, and this is used for comedy, but they also give her a relatable reason to back it up. Her mother is in constant debt and the debt collectors will sometimes even resort to finding Sewan at school instead of her mother in order to get the money back. She’s flawed and funny rather than being “normal” and perfect. I really appreciated that from the most focused on female character!

Jamie- He has to be one of the most adorable romantic leads I’ve ever seen. He’s known for being helpful, innocent, and smart but also often too naive. When he starts dating Sewan he has to convince her that he even likes her. Later, when American press realize that he’s going to the university in Seoul, he is insistent on telling the press that he is very devoted to his girlfriend despite the better option being to deny his love life at the time. He’s very sweet, sometimes to his own detriment, but he’s also one of the most comforting characters in the show. He’s seriously so cute.

Sam- Though he’s not focused on often, you always need that one friend in the group that constantly annoys everyone else lovingly. He’s the mischievous one who is most prone to getting in trouble and when he shows how devoted he is, it’s always sweetly, surprisingly. He’s also played by Choi Youngjae of Got7! Though I’m not super familiar with them, he was such a great actor and I was surprised to learn that he didn’t do acting more regularly. So many idols in South Korea are also absolutely excellent actors!

Minnie- She was one of my favorite characters. Firstly, her favorite K-Drama that she mentions most often is ‘Crash Landing On You’, which is one of my favorite K-Dramas of all time. I absolutely loved the constant callbacks! Her more carefree and lighthearted nature was a great foil for some of the more angsty scenes and she was so endearing it was difficult to not like her. I also want her wardrobe. Minnie is also an idol, this time from G-Idle. And she actually uses her real name for this, as most of the actors do. There are only a few exceptions. She is a very good actress!

Hyunmin- Though he’s commonly mistaken for a foreigner, this drama aims to tackle a different identity. He’s Korean born and raised. Which is a huge step considering portraying Black Koreans is still not very common. He spends most of the drama attempting to be reliable and failing because he relies so much on his friends. And while the drama doesn’t get fully into the problem it aims to tackle, he is one of the most comedic characters in the show and very fun to watch because of that.

Carson- She might have been my favorite character, and I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Carson is tough and known for being able to handle herself in any situation. This is brought up in an awful turn of events when her boyfriend of several years, who she moved to South Korea for, cheats on her. In her finding this out she realizes that the relationship had been over for some time, but this doesn’t stop her from punching him in the face for the way he treated her. She later gives several of her friends advice and even helps Terris in the most influential part of the season for him. I also want to say that I am so glad they didn’t make the American woman a huge partier. I see that trope quite a lot, and I’m glad that it wasn’t here.

Terris- He doesn’t get too much for the first part of the season. His friends call him a Casanova due to his penchant for serial dating. But he never really seems happy in it, and his friends take note of his happiness diminishing the more he dates. Eventually Carson is set up with a guy Terris knows and finds out from this guy that he loves another person, which is a relief to Carson who isn’t ready to start dating after such a long term relationship. Carson discovers that this man loves Terris, and the reason for Terris’s stagnant dating life is because he has realized that he loves this man back. This is such an adorable turn in the last couple episodes. I hope we see more of it and Terris in a second season.

Sewan and Jamie- This is the major relationship in the show and I wasn’t sure I bought it at first. But after they got together it seemed only natural to me. They both understood each other in a way that it made their characters just click so effortlessly. Though they bickered a bit, it wasn’t the foundation of their relationship. They felt realistic. I think everyone aspires to be in a relationship this understanding.

Women and Men- This is one of the only shows I have ever seen in general where the way women talk about men is pretty realistic. Specifically Sewan, Minnie, and Carson talk often about how stupid men are and lament liking them. But they also talk about wanting boyfriends in the same conversation, which is painfully accurate. They easily call out their male friends for dictating what women want to do with their own bodies or constantly bringing up ex-boyfriends in judgment. This was also dealt with very naturally instead of having to stop the storyline in order to point out that they were doing this to begin with. The show never patted themselves on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Wholesome- In general, this drama is very wholesome. While it isn’t one with very deep storylines, it’s the kind of lighthearted show you’d definitely want to watch at the end of a long day at work. I appreciate it for just aiming to be about the general camaraderie of a friend group.

The Bad:

Hans- This was the only character from the eight friends that I wasn’t sold on by the end. For the most part it often feels like his friends don’t even like him. He often gets them into trouble because he reports everything they do, he gets sued for stubbornly not understanding the laws in South Korea and bullying a business because of a mistake he made himself, and he constantly threatens to reveal that Hyunmin is secretly living in the dorms. While he isn’t the one who eventually gives away Hyunmin’s secret, all of his friends believe him capable of it and avoid him for the last couple episodes because they think he did do it. His brand of comedy was also not very funny to me. Speaking of which…

Sense of Humor- I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve found that some K-Dramas I’ve watched that had a focus on comedy used some pretty infantile comedy. There are quite a few fart and poop jokes in this. Not enough for it to be too distracting, but definitely enough to be noticeable. Especially with the character of Sam, which sometimes made me appreciate him less. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have this sense of humor. But it’s odd that this is a young adult series with jokes like that to me. But it could just be personal preference.

Minnie and Sam- I know that it’s very common to put the constantly bickering friends together, but Minnie and Sam just didn’t work. And it also didn’t seem like the show thought they worked either. Sam was either too forgiving or too uptight about what Minnie did, and Minnie often didn’t care about Sam at all. In fact, at the end of this season it’s actually left up in the air whether or not Minnie is cheating on Sam. It appears that she was kissing another guy. So far, I’m just hoping this couple isn’t endgame.

Laugh Track- So, I know this is a staple of any sitcom, but the laugh track didn’t work. It wasn’t used consistently, to the point where sometimes I would be genuinely surprised to hear faint laughter in the background. It would take me a couple seconds to remember the sitcom thing and I would watch the screen with a furrowed brow and a thousand questions about it. Like why sometimes it could clearly be heard while sometimes it was barely there, almost like the writers were afraid that the joke wouldn’t be that funny. Anyways, I don’t think they needed it. I think laugh tracks are being used less everywhere for a reason.

Overall, I really liked this show! It wasn’t the most profound thing I’ve ever watched, but I really needed a pick-me-up and this was definitely that. The camaraderie on the show also felt so familiar and comforting. This is definitely a show I would return to if only to turn it on in the background to make everything feel more comforting. It had that feel of eating comfort food. If you’re also looking for a pick-me-up, I would highly recommend this drama. If you want to get into something serious and well thought out, maybe skip this for now. But definitely come back to it. Because I think we could all use a drama like this every once in a while. I, for one, will be waiting for the next season to come out and hope that it feels as light and fun as this season did. Now I have to go back to absolutely reeling from the fact that ATEEZ will be spending an extended amount of time less than two hours from where I live.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Star Wars: The Problem With ‘The Book of Boba Fett’

Screenshot of Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand and Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett in ‘The Book of Boba Fett’. Copyright goes to Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘The Book of Boba Fett’ has officially ended its first season. Unlike ‘The Mandalorian’, it hasn’t received wide praise. Actually, most people have mixed feelings about this series. I’ve seen more bad reviews than good, but overall I’ve seen mostly confused reviews from fans who appreciated parts of this series but not all of it. And let’s be honest, the parts of this series most of us appreciated were the callbacks to ‘The Mandalorian’. I personally felt like this series gave us a whole lot of nothing and the last few episodes didn’t really prove to me that the story was overall worthwhile. I don’t think ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ was awful, but it certainly wasn’t good and there are definitely a few aspects of the series that dragged it down. But before I go any further I’m going to put a major SPOILER warning here. To talk about my thoughts on this series I need to dive into details, so if you haven’t watched all the way through it, come back later.

Boba Fett:

Let’s talk about the main character himself. He wasn’t much of a main character, was he? The hero of the last few episodes seemed to be Din Djarin, or Mando. It genuinely felt like the writers decided to downgrade Boba to a secondary character halfway through the series. He didn’t even show up in one episode in favor of giving Mando the episode to shine. And even in the last episode that wasn’t really rectified. Boba took control of the forces fighting back against the Pykes, but he left partway through the battle to get his pet Rancor. Meaning we spent a bunch of time with Boba offscreen yet again while we focused on Mando reuniting with Grogu. And did any of us really care that he was gone? Well, for my part, no. The first few episodes of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ didn’t sell me on the character in the least bit. The narrative switched between flashbacks and the current timeline with no connection between them. In one story the Tusken Raiders took up all of the personality and intrigue. In the other, Boba proved himself to be an incompetent Daimyo with conflicting ideas. Seriously, all he did was get injured so Fennec Shand and the kids he later hired could prove their skill, fall into political traps because he never took Fennec Shand’s advice to prove himself to the city, and float in a bacta tank. I appreciated his desire to rule with honesty and kindness, but those traits conflict with the idea of, you know, being a crime lord. And when he finally does something that gains the respect of the townspeople, namely saving them from the Pykes, he voices irritation at his new job. So why did we have an entire series leading up to this point in that case?

Mistreated Side Characters:

We had so many side characters in this series and almost none of them were good. Fennec Shand was the sole non-‘Mandalorian’ side character that was good. But the treatment of her character was contradictory. Shand was portrayed as both the voice of reason and the reckless sidekick Boba had to reign in. On the one hand, Fennec was appreciated by Boba for pointing out when he was being made a fool of as well as for giving him advice. On the other, Boba would brush her ideas off as too violent and uncaring. I was so confused by this contradiction that I had no idea what the show was trying to say when it revealed that she single-handedly wiped out the leaders of the Spice Runners at the end of the finale. Was her murder spree harsh and coldblooded, or a sign that she was changing her ways because she hadn’t cared about the spice trade before? I still have no idea. All I know is that Fennec Shand was right about the lack of progress Boba was making the majority of the time. She likely would have made more progress as Daimyo with Boba at her side rather than vice versa. As for the other side characters, who really cares? The kids Boba hired were given no personality. The Wookie that sided with Boba didn’t have any either. Even Cad Bane, a beloved villain from the animated series, felt bland. He was clearly brought in because the show had no formidable villain for fans to care about without him, but he only showed up for a few scenes before Boba killed him off. The rivalry between them wasn’t even built up. The show relied on the fact that Bane killed the Raiders Boba had grown attached to in order to build tension, but the Raiders were killed offscreen. Tell me why I should care about that event if the writers didn’t care enough about it to show anything aside from one scene of Boba looking vaguely sad?

Mandalorian Season 2.5:

I’m pretty sure this is what we all just watched instead of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’. Boba Fett showed up once in the span of two episodes in favor of focusing on catching up with Mando and Grogu. To be honest, it was kind of nice. I liked seeing the repercussions of Mando taking his helmet off as well as the start of his journey with the Darksaber. I liked catching up with Grogu and Luke (Although I still dislike both Ahsoka and Luke’s strange insistence to keep to the Jedi Order rules when both actively rebelled against these rules beforehand). I liked seeing Grogu and Mando reunite. I even liked seeing the return of Peli and all her droids. But what does any of that have to do with Boba Fett? I have no clue. I felt like halfway through the series they decided to drop the Boba Fett storyline in order to wrap up some loose ends from ‘The Mandalorian’ so they wouldn’t have to spend time doing so at the beginning of season three. But really, all of the things they included would have taken up maybe one episode at most. So it still didn’t feel necessary here.

‘The Book of Boba Fett’ could have used more Boba Fett. It could also have used a more cohesive story and a more developed supporting cast. But what we got instead was disjointed, sometimes boring, and apparently incapable of standing on its own if Mando’s involvement is any indication. I liked certain aspects of this show. It hyped me up for season three of ‘The Mandalorian’ and I could definitely do with more Fennec Shand. But I don’t think those were goals a series about Boba Fett set out to accomplish. Somehow I feel like Boba Fett is just as bland of a character as he was before this series started. Back when he hardly had any lines at all throughout the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. I’m definitely disappointed. Here’s to ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ being better!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

International Dramas: ‘The Beauty Inside’ Review

Screenshot image of (left) Lee Minki and (right) Seo Hyunjin. Copyright goes to JTBC.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I hit another break in my usual K-Drama watching, simply because I was so overwhelmed with the choices and had absolutely no idea what to watch next. And, rather obviously, all of my attention has recently been stolen by ATEEZ. Completely. I still don’t know how I focused so long on this drama and I can guarantee that there were a lot of ATEEZ videos in between episodes. Anyways, the entire reason why I decided to watch this drama was because it was recently put on Netflix due to its popularity and an ATEEZ fan that I follow recommended it. So I had to check it out. Also because it is near Valentine’s Day and around the usual time that I wallow in my singleness every year. Admittedly, I am a little tired of the rich love interest meets the other rich love interest storylines. It’s really hard to relate to because it feels like with so many of these dramas out, they are neglecting the majority of fans who are obviously not rich. I’ll talk more about that later. But this drama was also really surprising to me in many ways. It tackled situations and thoughts about love that most don’t. I actually do recommend it, but I’ll get into my more specific thoughts now. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Synopsis: Han Segye is a famous actress with a fairly bad reputation as she is known for running away and writing week long breaks into her film contracts. Nobody knows that for a week every month, her face changes and she lives the life of an entirely different person. Seo Dojae is the CEO of an airline company who seeks out Han Segye, who had modeled in a commercial for his company, after a breach of contract. He has face blindness disorder after he was involved in an accident ten years prior and recognizes people only by their clothes and mannerisms. What happens when she changes her face and he still recognizes her?

The Good:

Han Segye- It isn’t often that I like the main female character in a drama. I don’t know why that is, but it’s happened for me a lot that I just can’t get behind the thought processes of the main female character. Mostly because I often feel that her personality is sacrificed for the sake of focusing on the romance and the ideal boyfriend. I’m happy to report that this doesn’t happen here. This drama is actually very very good at making strong female characters, and they don’t care how their female characters might look by doing it. Another reason why Han Segye has the bad reputation that she does is because she often stands up to men who act creepily towards herself or other women and she also often stands up to interviewers who cross lines with their questions. She is never apologetic about it and never regrets having her reputation. She stands up completely for others, and her primary objective in the drama is to help. I especially loved when she turned into a teenage boy and helped a girl who was being bullied by a guy who supposedly said he liked her. It was so sweet! That doesn’t mean I’m entirely happy with her character, but for the most part I really liked her.

Seo Dojae- His life is unmistakably difficult, and the drama doesn’t shy away from this. It doesn’t act like he lives exactly like everyone else with his disorder, but it also doesn’t act like he can’t function because of it. He often accidentally insults people that it is necessary for him to do business with because he can’t recognize them. He also finds himself depressed after he falls in love with Segye and can’t recognize her face. The drama also doesn’t hesitate to show him talking with a therapist and actually improving after he develops depression because of his accident. He is such a sweet main character and it’s difficult to not fall in love with him because of how attentive he is. His concern is always the farthest away from himself, sometimes even to an unhealthy degree. But his sweetness is difficult to get over.

The Romance- This drama makes a lot of points about unconditional love, and some of them are extremely needed and bold. Seo Dojae loves Segye because it is her no matter how she looks. And Segye must come to terms with the fact that he’ll probably never know her true face. They don’t let either of these things get between them (for the most part). Most importantly, I loved how this drama went more deeply into what love should be than most dramas do. It talked about how your significant other should feel like home to you, and that’s a concept that I found to be very touching. Most dramas don’t do this much deep thinking into relationships and I really appreciated it.

The Secondary Romance- I almost liked this romance more than the main one. This took place between Ryu Eunho, one of Segye’s best friends, and Kang Sara, Dojae’s sister. Sara begins the drama attempting to either take over or overrule her brother’s say in the company, not wanting to be looked down on just because she’s a woman. Eunho feels called to be a Priest, devoting his life to God and forbidding himself from marriage. And with them this drama makes a point that I’ve actually talked about recently. Sometimes your dreams don’t have to be staked in your career. Both of them, in the process of falling in love with each other, realize that they don’t really want what they’re pursuing as much as they want whatever it is they have. And they both sacrifice for the other. She learns to respect his religion despite not being religious herself, and she dismisses her want to overthrow anyone. He turns his back on his career path. They were so cute and I just couldn’t get enough of them.

The Friend Group- Segye, Eunho, and Woomi were so close and you could feel it. When Segye’s mother dies, they’re there for her. When she changes her face, they already know. They constantly spend time together at Segye’s house to discuss their lives. This drama acknowledges that a romance is not going to be your only relationship in your life, and makes sure to show the strong bonds of friendship as well.

Mental Health- They don’t shy away from talking about how dealing with certain things in your life can lead to poor mental health and how it can always be overcome. As I said before, they present going to therapy in a very good light and they also discuss the importance of unconditional love in those situations. There’s an understanding every character has for each other, even when they don’t quite understand fully.

The Bad:

Episode 14- This was the only episode of this drama I disliked, but I can say honestly that I very much disliked it. Han Segye, quite suddenly and for no reason, decides that her problems are far worse than Dojae’s and that he can’t possibly understand her. She then decides that she’s going to quit her entire life and go and live somewhere secluded for the rest of her life. This leaves Dojae reeling because she’s one of the only people he can recognize well and leads him to plunge into poor mental health. Making her act rather selfish. She only comes back when Dojae has had a very risky surgery ensuring that his disorder is cured. This goes against so much of what the drama had been teaching up to this point and I thought it was so out of place. It made Han Segye feel like she didn’t actually consider his issues and it really did feel like it came out of nowhere. I’m glad it didn’t last long at least.

Rich- As I was saying before, the main characters both being A-List rich people is not relatable. Not even a little bit. There’s an implication with all of these dramas that you can’t find love unless you’re extremely famous and successful. I resent this thinking so much and don’t think it should be shown as much as it is. I hope to see far more dramas at least involving one person who isn’t famous and rich.

Threats- There’s an antagonist in this show, a rival actress, who attempts to out Segye’s secret after finding it out herself. At this, Segye actually threatens said actress with murder, saying that if she murdered her with a different face than no one would ever know. The rival actress loses her career and becomes paranoid as she constantly thinks that anyone could be Segye coming to fulfill her promise. What? In a show like ‘Vincenzo’ this would have felt normal. But she’s not a mafia character. She’s supposed to be a kind character. Threats of murder are never ok in any capacity, and the fact that it was used here felt like it wasn’t completely thought through.

The Car Accident- Woomi, who is also Segye’s manager, blames herself for the rival actress discovering Segye’s secret. Especially because she kind of got tricked into revealing it. So in order to protect her secret at a pivotal time, she purposely gets into a car accident. Not only is this not properly addressed, but there aren’t really a lot of consequences for it. The show almost makes this action seem noble, and it really shouldn’t be seen that way. This action is not only dangerous, but also kind of disturbing. It should be treated that way.

Cure- I always have an issue with dramas that establish a well known disorder and then cure it at the end. I didn’t as much mind the implication at the end that Segye would stop changing faces, because at least her disorder is fictional. Dojae’s disorder isn’t fictional and often isn’t curable. It’s hard to get over the fact that the reason why he could probably afford the rare surgery in the first place is because he’s rich. It would have been much more powerful to show him learning to live happily with his disorder. That’s still a happy ending.

Overall, I really liked this drama. Specifically the way it talks about love in general. It could use some upgrading though and it does suffer from throwing a wrench in the drama rather than focusing as much on the couple as a couple. It isn’t my favorite drama that I’ve watched. I’ve certainly seen more wholesome dramas with better well-rounded characters. But it is cute nonetheless and I enjoyed watching it. Particularly for the messages they successfully get across. It’s pretty cute!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop: Things I Love About Both ATEEZ and BTS

Promotional images of (top) Jeon Jungkook, Kim Taehyung (V), Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi (Suga), Park Jimin, and Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), and (bottom) Kim Hongjoong, Kang Yeosang, Choi San, Park Seonghwa, Song Mingi, Jeong Yunho, Jung Wooyoung, and Choi Jongho. Copyright goes to BTS, Hybe Entertainment, ATEEZ, and KQ Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I decided a few months ago that I was going to focus less on fan wars and unnecessary drama within the K-Pop community on this page. I don’t like to focus on negativity here and most of the time, the problem is simply that fans are acting childish and repulsive. Undignified name-calling gets thrown around, idols get dragged through the mud without reason, and fanbases compete over which one of them is more toxic while simultaneously demonstrating toxic behavior. It happens too often in every fan community and it isn’t worth anyone’s time. So, as an ATINY and ARMY who has no interest at all in joining in on the conversation that happened earlier today, here are some of the things that I love about both groups!

BTS:

Songs- BTS is versatile when it comes to the songs they’ve released. From the more pop sound of “Dynamite” to the heavy beats of “No More Dream” to the gorgeous and slow “Mikrokosmos”. There are even songs that highlight only the rap line, like “UGH!”, or only the vocal line, like “House of Cards”. And that doesn’t even cover all of the solo songs the members have filled albums with. No matter what mood you’re in, there’s always something to listen to from BTS’s discography. And on top of that, their song lyrics are deep and meaningful. The song “Zero O’Clock” is about struggling with depression but finding hope in the next day that comes. The song “IDOL” criticizes the industry for trying to put BTS in a box while encouraging everyone to love themselves and be proud of themselves. I’ve cried at the messages in multiple BTS songs and I’ve found new perspectives about the world in them as well. Their music means so much to so many people and it isn’t hard to see why.

Performances- We could talk all day about the amazing performances each member of BTS puts on onstage. The choreography BTS does is satisfying and fits really well with each song. “Black Swan” has a more pretty, contemporary look that conveys the desperation of the song while the choreography for “Dionysus” is more energetic and exciting. Each member perfects the choreography, and when it comes to dancing, Jimin, J-Hope, and Jungkook have also brought multiple solo pieces to the table. Jungkook does this least of the three, but his charisma and fluid movements complete each performance. Meanwhile Jimin has taken my breath away with his contemporary dances and J-Hope has blown me away with his precise hip-hop influenced solos. As for the others, Jin is effortlessly funny in every appearance he makes, Taehyung is the king of intense facial expressions and the raised eyebrow, Yoongi is incredibly intimidating every time he begins to rap, and Namjoon commands the stage in a way unique completely to him. There isn’t a way to walk away from a BTS performance feeling disappointed.

Members- All of the members of BTS are so lovable and so talented, it’s extremely difficult to pick a bias. Namjoon, the very fitting leader, speaks openly about his struggles with mental health and the ways that his time with nature has influenced him. If that wasn’t enough, his writing is responsible for many of the meaningful themes in BTS songs. Jin is the oldest but youngest member of BTS. His sense of humor is just as immense as his good looks and everyone could learn a lot from the positive way in which he lives his life. Yoongi is yet another member who’s open about his mental health. He’s unapologetic about discussing depression in his songs and encouraging others to embrace their imperfections. J-Hope is sunshine personified. He’s honest about not always feeling positive but still makes it his mission to bring hope to the other members and fans. Jimin is a sweet soul who never hesitates to lend a hand to those in need of help. Despite his own struggles, he’s always more worried about those around him. Taehyung is an old soul who appreciates his self-growth immensely. He always looks to improve himself but never seeks to change who he truly is. Lastly, Jungkook is the youngest and least experienced. But he embraces that and finds wisdom in speaking about how strange his youth has been within the industry. There’s so much to learn from all seven members.

ATEEZ:

Songs- ATEEZ is the reigning champion when it comes to hype songs. Their songs have heavy beats and motivate listeners within the first few seconds. You can’t tell me that songs like “Wonderland” or “Fireworks (The One)” don’t make you want to kick ass the minute they start. I don’t think I’ve ever danced more at a concert than I did when I went to see ATEEZ. But ATEEZ doesn’t just do amazing hype songs. They also do sweet love songs that display a more sultry side to them, like “Deja Vu” and “Desire”. And beyond that they have songs with deep meanings that are meant to inspire. “Good Lil Boy” covers fighting back against a world that seems difficult by finding self-confidence and enjoying each moment. Meanwhile, “Turbulence” tackles the feeling of being lost or lacking a direction in a society that tells you that your worth comes from deciding what you want to do with your life. So many ATEEZ songs remain close to my heart, “Turbulence” being one of those songs that came around at just the right moment for me. ATEEZ knows how to relate to their audience just as much as they know how to motivate them.

Performance- ATEEZ choreography is some of the most difficult in K-Pop. Each song is high energy with some incredibly intense movements and even impressive stunts. You just have to look at a performance of “Wonderland” to see how insane their choreography can be. But beyond that, each member brings a high amount of charisma to performances. Hongjoong is called the king of facial expressions among fans for both capturing the meaning of each song in every expression and turning into “demon Hongjoong” to amp up the intensity. Seonghwa also is known for going “demon” as well as for shifting from sweet and shy to confident and sexy within seconds. Yunho is the dance captain and proves it with his perfect, powerful movements. Yeosang is known not just for his statuesque physique but also for his grace onstage. San is so good at dancing, despite not having a dancing background, that the company has made him center for multiple dance breaks since debut. Mingi, shirtless or not, radiates power whenever he begins to rap. Wooyoung’s chemistry with every member he dances with is unmatched even considering how close the group is. Finally, Jongho only needs to open his mouth for audiences to suddenly understand why fans call him one of the best vocalists of all time. ATEEZ brings the term “entertainment” up to new heights with every performance.

Members- To some eight members seems like too much, but all eight members of ATEEZ are so incredible that not one of them falls into the background. Hongjoong is yet another leader who contributes to writing a lot of ATEEZ’s meaningful lyrics. The thoughtfulness he uses when both interacting with fans and looking after his members is heart achingly sweet and far too rare. Seonghwa is a very nurturing member as the oldest of the group. But beyond that, he’s been open about his struggles with his self image and helping others through the same issues he’s had. Yunho is a puppy dog in a human body. Not only does he aim to keep everyone laughing and happy, but he also aims to be a solid supporter of those who seek happiness from him. Yeosang is surprising in the way that he’s quick witted and snarky. But his sudden kindness and love for the fans is just as pleasantly surprising as his humor. San is incessantly helpful to all who need him. His sweetness makes it hard for him to say no but just as hard for him to turn his back on fans and friends who are struggling. Mingi is well known for using humor to light up a room. But he’s also been open about his mental health and encouraged taking time for oneself. Wooyoung loves being the annoying younger brother. He’s all too lovable but his quiet compassion makes him even more so. Lastly, Jongho’s perseverance is enviable. His ability to encourage others through difficult times is admirable. I can’t speak enough about how grateful I am for these boys.

Though I’ve been an ARMY for longer and I talk about BTS more often in general, ATEEZ has made a giant impact on my life as well. They both have come into my life at moments where I really needed encouragement. They both have changed my mental health, and my views in general, for the better. I wouldn’t trade the joy either group brought me for the world. And I don’t see why I should turn my back on either one simply because a few people decided to display toxic behavior on the internet, where toxic behavior is always prevalent. ATEEZ has an immense respect for BTS and BTS has a similar respect for ATEEZ. I don’t see either group wanting discourse like this. So instead, let’s celebrate both of them and everything they’ve done for ARMY and ATINY.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

K-Pop: ATEEZ Realizations

Concert promotional image featuring (from left) Jeong Yunho, Park Seonghwa, Choi San, Kang Yeosang, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Choi Jongho, and Song Mingi. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Obviously the ATEEZ concert was a few days ago which we have a full overview on already if you haven’t checked that out yet! But I wanted to talk about some of the things that I personally experienced at the concert and the way that some of my opinions changed after that. Because the concert really gave me an entirely new perspective on ATEEZ, which I find is usually the case after you finally see a group live in concert. And this was one of my favorite concerts that I’ve ever been to. They were all so happy to be there and so happy that Atiny was there and I miss them so much already! I sincerely hope that I’m able to see them in concert when they come back around this year! But I have such a greater appreciation for some things that I’m probably going to return to even more often than I did before after all of that. And there are just some general observations I had at the concert that I want to share. So, I’m just going to get into it!

‘Imitation’:

The more I’ve watched of recent ATEEZ variety show appearances, the more I’ve heard them mention ‘Imitation’. And the way they do it is absolutely my favorite. Because they have absolutely no qualms in making fun of it. Yeosang is constantly teasing San over how few lines he has, Hongjoong is always mixing up which character San played and which one Seonghwa played, and at the concert they yelled “Finally now, it’s my time” at Yunho which caused them all to burst out into laughter. Not only was I really happy in the moment that I understood all of these references, I liked that they were all making fun of it in their own ways too. Like how little screen time some of them had or how many people poked fun at “Diamond”. Yunho and Seonghwa even danced to it at the concert! If you’ve read my reviews for ‘Imitation’, you probably know that it wasn’t my favorite, completely on the account of the writing being a bit all over the place. But I think I probably took the show too seriously. Though the writing for the show wasn’t great, it was still a cute show that had a happy ending. It almost makes me want to go back and watch it. I stand by my thoughts that there were a lot of things that didn’t make any sense at all, but that doesn’t necessarily have to make it unenjoyable.

“Still Here”:

I’ve always loved this song, and recently it became something of a comfort song for me. The song itself talks about how ATEEZ is always there for us and always will be, and Yunho takes so much of the chorus that I was blown away the first time I heard it. And hearing it live was very emotional for me. It made me love the song more, but it also gave a new meaning to the song. It’s one of many from the concert that now I’ll probably cry when I hear, like “Star 1117” and “Turbulence”. But I think this one stuck out to me because I’ve been listening to it so nonstop. So while my opinion on the song is still that it’s amazing, it is now also so much more emotional for me.

ATEEZ and LA:

I don’t think it fully hit me how much Los Angeles means to ATEEZ until they started talking about it during the concert. Yunho talked about how they had started their journey in LA as KQ Fellaz and what being back meant to them. Hongjoong even introduced us to the new KQ trainees, though Atiny remained loudly loyal to ATEEZ. But the emotion they all had over being back in LA was insane to see. Yunho started crying at the end of the show which made me absolutely sob. Just thinking about how this is where they viewed their career to have started blew me away and I hadn’t really thought about it that way before this point. Not only that, but it has actually become a hot topic in South Korea how much popularity ATEEZ experiences in the US and the UK. For some reason, that I will never be able to understand, ATEEZ isn’t as popular in South Korea. Netizens discussed their popularity overseas after it became known that ATEEZ was going to stay in LA for longer than people expected to market themselves. I don’t know how much longer they’re staying here, but their music is some of the best and most relatable I’ve heard. They deserve to be just as popular everywhere.

ATEEZ Choreography:

I seriously have no idea how these men survived until the end of the show. This was the most intense choreography I have ever seen live in my entire history of concert-watching. They performed a good amount of their discography and only a couple of their songs didn’t feature intense choreography. A lot of their songs are also hype songs with strong beats, so the entire audience was dancing. I was tired by the end of it from just dancing where I was standing. I think we all take for granted just how much these men do and just how much they put into all of their performances. They barely looked tired at the end of the show, which was absolutely insane to me. They perfected that choreography, and even Jongho gave it his all even though he was injured. The fact that they even performed “To the Beat” shocked me, but the choreography for it, especially at the end, was more than I ever expected. Going to an ATEEZ concert is exhausting in the absolute best way.

“Fix On”, “Jongho”, and “Captain”:

Ok, so I found out pretty early on in the concert that none of them really take themselves seriously. When Mingi tried to be serious he would just end up giggling, especially after we all started chanting “Fix On” when he started speaking to us. Hongjoong also got flustered when we chanted “Captain”. But nobody got as flustered as Jongho when we chanted his name in support for him because of his injury. What I’m really trying to say here, is that all of these boys are just as down to earth in real life as they seem to be. They all got flustered at the fan reaction to them at some point or another, and seeing them all giggle and smile at the chanting is something I’ll carry with me forever. Seriously, these boys are so sweet.

I love these boys and after seeing them in person I love them even more. With the announcement that they’re coming back this year, I’m already planning to see them again. I seriously hope that I can see them again. And I will definitely cry that time too, because I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing them in person. Seeing them gives you such an appreciation for what they do and how much work they put into everything. And it also makes your voice disappear the day after.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

K-Pop: ATEEZ Concert

Live appearance of Jeong Yunho, Park Seonghwa, Choi San, Kang Yeosang, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Choi Jongho, and Song Mingi. Copyright goes to KQ Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

Despite being anxious about the concert because of the current pandemic situation, my sister and I decided to be as careful as possible while attending day two of ATEEZ’s concert in LA! This concert was amazing. The members gave every single song their all, kept up the energy for all of their difficult choreography throughout, and spoke to Atiny for so long that the concert ran long. It was incredible to not only see the members perform live, but also to see them goof off and enjoy being in front of Atiny. I expected this concert to be great, but it really exceeded my expectations. There were even surprises throughout that I didn’t expect, one of them being a switch of bias wrecker for me because Yeosang’s stage presence blew me away. I’m going to arrange this post a bit differently because there was so much audience interaction that I feel it deserves its own section. So let’s get into it!

Performance:

As usual, the concert started immediately on time because of the music video showings leading up to the beginning of the concert. The music videos were fun, especially “The Real” which was the last song to play before the opening song and which received the light dimming treatment. Then eight silhouettes appeared on the curtain and curtain rise brought our opening song “WONDERLAND (Symphony No.9)”. This song was one of the ones I was looking forward to seeing the most and it was an epic start to the concert. Hongjoong nailed the opening, Jongho hit his crazy note change live, Seonghwa came out with a sword, and all of the members brought serious energy and skill to the choreography. I was expecting them to go into another song immediately afterwards, but here they gave them their first moment to speak with us. There were quite a few more stops for audience check-ins than I’m used to, and I really loved it. But I’ll get into that later. Afterwards they started “Pirate King”, an essential song for an ATEEZ concert that Hongjoong led with grace. “Say My Name” came afterwards. The last part of the song, where the beat picks up and the fire effects start, rightfully made Atiny lose their minds. “Treasure” and “Precious” are songs that are connected and, because of that, were performed back to back. This duo marked two of my favorite performances we saw all night. It’s so satisfying to see the beginning of “Treasure” start with Hongjoong kneeling on the floor with his eyes covered, only for “Precious” to end the same way as though time has been reversed. “Treasure” was also the first time that night that we saw demon Hongjoong come out in a major way and I screamed louder than I thought possible. Plus, the choreography for both of these songs is absolutely mesmerizing, particularly when Mingi took the forefront and brought up the energy to a new level. And props to Yunho for leading all these songs as their amazing dance leader. He did an incredible job.

After this we had a break, and then the silhouette effect was used again, which is always an epic entrance, to lead into “Utopia”. “Utopia” is definitely a really hype song and it brought all of the energy immediately back up after the break. Next was “Better”, a lovely song with an amazing message, and given the slower pace I wasn’t really expecting much choreo. But there was great choreo to go along with it. In fact, this was about the song where I realized San was being pulled forward during dances a lot and I absolutely think he deserves it. We also got a really cute moment where Mingi made Hongjoong jump to retrieve his mic before his verse could start. He was kind enough to kneel while giving it back. Continuing with the slower song trend, “Still Here” was next, a song that is emotional to many Atiny who have waited to see ATEEZ through quarantine. Yunho kissed Mingi’s hand during this song and everyone in the audience completely melted. “Wave” came next, which brought the energy back up and gave us some adorable Yeosang and Jongho moments. Then we were blessed with “Inception”. This was about where I realized Yeosang was slowly creeping into my bias wrecker position. The song begins with all of the members wearing masquerade masks to highlight the dreamlike theming of the song. Yeosang leads the intro dance in this mask and he basically hypnotized me with his grace. This man is seriously so beautiful. How do you follow up a performance like that? With “Deja Vu” of course! “Deja Vu” is one of my favorite ATEEZ songs and seeing it live solidified that. All of the members were feeling the choreography so much that you couldn’t help but get pulled into the song.

“Take Me Home” was another one of my favorite performances of the night, which surprised me. The entire song they played around with partitions for each member, hiding them while they moved on and off the stage at different times and ending the performance with a cool disappearing effect. “Desire” came next, which was a very pleasant surprise. San does so well during concepts like this and Mingi, as always, ups the intensity in an extremely satisfying way at the end. Speaking of intensity, I danced so much during “HALA HALA” that I felt like my light-tiny arm was going to fall off. You can’t sleep on songs like “HALA HALA”. “Answer”s choreography always gets me and the members delivered everything I expected from it and more. And then we got an epic Wooyoung and San dance break. I haven’t talked a ton about Wooyoung so far, but here I just want to say that his dancing was on point the entire night and his on-stage chemistry with San made multiple performances feel complete. This dance break was no different. It also set the mood for “Fireworks (I’m The One)”, another one of my favorite songs. Jongho once again showed off why he’s one of the best vocalists in K-Pop during this song and I love him for it. “Good Lil Boy” was another song I didn’t expect, but this song has another great message. It was nice to hear it live. The song went right into “The Leaders”, which was a mashup I didn’t expect but went crazy over. Next was “THANXX”, “To the Beat”, and “Rocky” all right after one another. This series of songs was insane to hear back to back simply because of the amount of energy ATEEZ maintained through all three. And yes, Mingi was shirtless during the dance break and we all screamed. After this we went into “The Real” which I had been waiting for all night and which didn’t disappoint. Mingi and Yeosang killed the dance break in this one as well.

The last few songs were the closing and emotional set. “Eternal Sunshine gave us all a moment of happiness while the closing of the concert was incoming, as did “Dancing Like Butterfly Wings”, both of which had more of a relaxed and audience-centered feel to them. If you want to see “Dancing Like Butterfly Wings”, the members filmed themselves during that performance, so if you couldn’t make it, check out their YouTube! “Star 117” was emotional to both ATEEZ and Atiny. This in particular was the song where there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire arena. But “Turbulence” was incredibly emotional too. Especially because Jongho came back on stage for this one after having to take a bit of a break. If you’ve heard about day one of the LA concert, you probably know that Jongho hurt himself about halfway through the concert and had to take several breaks throughout. He was still obviously injured on this day, but he gave every performance his all and hardly ever left the stage. Seeing him come back for “Turbulence” was emotional all on its own. I’m so thankful to Jongho for all the work he put into the concert and I hope he’s resting well.

Audience Interaction:

So many things happened during this concert that I couldn’t possibly remember them all. However, I do want to highlight some of my favorite moments. Firstly, we chanted for multiple members during the concert, but never so loud as the moments where Hongjoong asked us to cheer for Jongho. Hongjoong was very worried for Jongho through the concert but he was pleased to hear how loudly we cheered for him and even more pleased to see how flustered it made Jongho. Also, Seonghwa and Yunho gave us a completely unprompted performance of “La La Land”. Yunho’s laughter throughout brightened the entire room. Also, can we talk about the equally unprompted workout session Yunho and Yeosang started? Random, but way too impressive. At some point during the show Mingi encouraged the audience to applaud Hongjoong’s good looks so, on his command, we cheered until Hongjoong took his jacket off. He blushed quite a bit and told us not to like sexy things too much. I respect it, Hongjoong. I’d also like to point out a moment that was both very sad and very hilarious at the same time, where Hongjoong asked us all to cheer for the new set of KQ Fellas attending the concert. He made the mistake of hinting that they might be better than ATEEZ, which Atiny loudly disagreed with. It kind of undermined Hongjoong’s attempts at getting us to cheer for the new members, but we cheered for them afterwards and Hongjoong laughed about it. Hongjoong also thanked Atiny for teaching him to use “father” instead of “daddy”. Good job Atiny. When all of this was over, though, the members thanked us all for being their stars while they were going through difficult times and Hongjoong encouraged all of us to keep going when things get hard. I can’t wait to see them when they return. And they will return! Hongjoong confirmed that they’ll be back this year! Look out for that Atiny!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

BTS: Namjoon Quotes

Photoshoot image of Kim Namjoon. Copyright goes to HYBE Entertainment and BTS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

There’s a lot I could talk about and a lot I’m not sure if I should talk about right now. For one, Hallie and I are going to the ATEEZ concert tomorrow. I made a previous post about how nervous I am for that during this current spike, and I hope that everyone is able to stay as safe as possible. There’s also the release of the new ‘Legend of Vox Machina’ television show. But, though I had plans to cover that initially, I don’t think I will be anymore. My opinion watching it is that I felt it didn’t have any of the charm or development of the original, so I won’t be watching enough of it to actually review it. So, because my initial ideas have already been covered or thrown out the window, I wanted to take some time to talk about something that is actually calming for me. Especially because I’m far more freaked out about tomorrow than I probably should be. And what always calms me down, is my ultimate bias, Kim Namjoon. A lot of the time because of the amazing wisdom that comes from him. He even recently went on Weverse for hours to give struggling ARMYs advice. This man has my whole heart. So I’m going to go through some of his quotes that have most helped me.

“Life is not speed, but direction. Expectations never end.”:

I think people often view Namjoon as more wise figure than actual human person. And I think his responses on Weverse most recently proved that he is an actual human person who happens to be wise. He not only gave advice, but also connected with ARMY over having similar flaws to what they described. He talked about how he often felt as though he doesn’t finish many projects and he can’t focus, but then he also turned around and gave out advice like this. An ARMY described how she often felt as though all of her peers were surpassing her, and Namjoon noted that everyone will always have expectations about you, but that you only live life on your own time. It’s a comforting notion for everyone who’s stuck inside right now and feels like they can’t really go anywhere in their lives. I am definitely one of those people.

“I think to be born means pain, it’s just that sometimes one may overcome that pain and turn it to joy.”:

This is another quote from his recent stint on Weverse. This one comes off dark in the beginning, but I think this is the most comforting thing he said for me. Because he’s not saying that pain is all life is or most of what life is. Instead, he’s pointing out that none of us are alone. It is perfectly natural to struggle through things sometimes and feel pain in your life. In fact, this is how he stated that pain is not all there is. He goes on to say that everyone finding their own directions and being able to share that with other people is one of those forms of joy. It was a long comment that was a lot of him musing about life, but it was a long comment that proved that we all have more shared experiences than we think we do.

“But still, this day will end when the second hand and the minute hand overlap, the world holds its breath for a very brief moment.”:

Literally all of ‘Zero O’Clock’ is amazing for every reason. The song itself talks about bad days, especially bad mental health days, and how each new day is an opportunity for something good. Or at least something better. It even talks about blaming yourself for your feelings and feeling like everyone is living life faster or better than you are. A lot of the things Namjoon continues to talk about when talking to people on Weverse. Jimin even talked about how much he connected with the song and how it felt like a comfort to him too. The song is gorgeously written and one of the closest you’ll find to actually talking about mental health in a relatable and comforting way through music. And Namjoon writes about it because he’s gone through difficult times with his mental health himself. And the song also includes the lyrics; “and you’re going to be happy”. Which is nothing short of lovely.

“I think there’s no need to live your life based on the standards of others. Everyone says “dream big”, but I don’t think you have to live so fiercely like that all the time.”:

This is something I’ve really taken to heart recently. There’s this idea that you have to have a big career dream and you have to achieve it in order to be successful. But that’s often not the way we are. Who ever said that our dreams have to be based off of our careers? Some people have dreams that are more based in things like travel, or family, or even hobbies. You don’t need to have a big fanciful career for everyone to see in order to be successful. And that’s what Namjoon is saying here. Just because society doesn’t view your dreams as their definition of “big” doesn’t make them any less important. And if you don’t know what your dream is quite yet, that’s ok too. We all aren’t born with a dream in our heads that we have to see to completion. We live and we learn and we develop based off of that. What society usually views as dreams more often than not places unreasonable expectations on young people. Remember that even those things that you think are little, are just as much dreams as BTS wanting to become world famous. It’s based on your perspective. Not anyone else’s.

“Happiness is not something you achieve. You can still feel happy through the process of achieving something.”:

This is another thing that I love because it tears down societal expectations and definitions. It seems as though quite a lot of people have fallen into the trap of thinking they will be happy in the future when they have ticked off all of the things on their list that they feel they need to be happy. I will admit, there have been times where I’ve caught myself thinking this way. But this form of thinking causes you to miss everything important and eventually not be happy once you’ve ticked off all of those things. Because, once again, you’ve missed the point. Will those things make you happier? That’s quite possible. But what will make you really happy are things that are more involved in the journey of getting there. Like the people you meet or the things you learn about yourself. Happiness is not a far-off goal. We treat it too many times like it is. It is a state of being that you can find in anything. It just takes some work to retrain your brain to stop thinking of happiness as something you have to achieve.

“There are many sad days. But rather than sad days, we hope to have better days. That’s what makes us live. That’s what makes us dream. That’s what drives us to desire for something.”:

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that my mental health in quarantine hasn’t been the greatest. And honestly, this is kind of where Hobi starts coming in. What Namjoon is saying here is what J-Hope has based his entire brand off of. The idea that we all need hope and that hope is far more important than we give it credit for. It’s what gets us through the sad days. This is why it’s so touching when Hobi refers to ARMY as his hope in turn. Because we all help each other dream and aspire for better days when we’re at our worst.

“No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, your gender identity, just speak yourself.”:

This one is passed around a lot and I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up in a past post myself. This was important not just because of the message, but also because this was BTS indisputably supporting several causes at once. They fully came out in support for the LGBTQIA+ community and several others with this statement. It also encourages their main message, which is to love yourself and find your own voice. I think most people have heard this by now, but I don’t think we should ever underestimate just how much reach this quote had and just how much it accomplished.

“The fans don’t hurt me, I hurt myself.”:

I only include this, because I need to talk about just how protective Namjoon is over ARMY. It’s built up over time, where Namjoon in many interviews subverted any questions that suggested that ARMY were crazy fans. Lately this has built up to him prompting people like James Corden to apologize to ARMY on air and him boldly and matter-of-factly stating that they get all of their votes through real people and that there are no bots involved. Namjoon will never not stand up to others on our behalf, and I fall in love with him just a little more every time he does it.

“In Korean, the word ‘future’ is made up of two parts. The first part means ‘not’, and the second means ‘to come’. In that sense, ‘future’ means something that will not come. This is to say: The future is now, and our now is us living our future.”:

I like this one, because especially now we can all get stuck in looking to the future and feeling miserable that we aren’t there yet. Worrying about the future can distract us from paying attention to what’s so great about what we’re experiencing now. For example, though I’m really not happy that I’m stuck inside, my family has been even closer than we’ve ever been before. You can have hope that you’ll do all the things you dream of doing, but don’t let that stop you from paying attention and living your life now.

Namjoon is now my bias, so I had to do a new post for him because of this change. But he’s also such a comfort to me because of many of these quotes. I’m forever grateful that the entire rap line have all talked about their experiences with anxiety and depression. Them being able to talk about their experiences is what I imagine is majorly helping many ARMY right now who are struggling with their own mental health due to the state of the world. I know I certainly have found comfort in their words. I think everyone could do to listen to some of the things that Namjoon says. But also, remember to think of Namjoon as a human being even if you do find comfort in his words. Namjoon has often found himself placed on a pedestal, and has opened up about how that can be difficult for him. So listen to his words, but also remember that he’s gotten to these conclusions by having the experiences that we all do. And that’s what’s important. That we all learn that we’re more alike than different. Personally, I’m really excited that I recently was able to nab a pair of his jogger pants. Thank you Weverse for restocking! But other than that, knowing that Namjoon also has had his issues with anxiety will help me through tomorrow. And him sharing his own experiences felt like a warm hug that made me sob at the concert. I hope that BTS tours again this year so that I’ll be able to experience a Namjoon ending ment again. Though hopefully Covid is back under control by then so I won’t freak out about going to that concert.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

Studio Ghibli: What We Know About Ghibli Park

Screenshot of Sophie and Markl from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Copyright goes to Studio Ghibli.

Hey! Hallie here!

For those who don’t know, Studio Ghibli has been teasing the opening of a new theme park for a while now. As of yesterday, we finally got an opening date! It is now officially opening later this year on November first. If you’re wondering how you could have missed the news about a Ghibli theme park when it’s already opening this year, don’t feel bad. We haven’t gotten very many updates on this project and the secrecy has made pretty much everyone surprised that we’re getting this park so soon. However, what we do have gives us a good enough picture of the theme and purpose of this park. So here’s everything we know so far!

Location:

This park is being built inside Aichi Expo Memorial Park in Aichi Prefecture, located between major tourist locations Tokyo and Kyoto. The park is full of gorgeous things to see that will stay intact even with the theme park moving in. The Expo Museum is a permanent fixture that showcases the robots and nature-based projects that were shown at the 2005 expo. There’s a traditional Japanese Garden complete with a tea shop where you can pay to take part in a tea ceremony. Flower Square is surrounded by flowers and houses a restaurant for guests to enjoy. There’s also a children’s area dedicated to interacting with nature and a Ferris wheel where you can see it all from above! While we don’t know what kinds of attractions we’ll see in the Ghibli park, we do know that the park won’t be the only thing worth exploring in that area! One of the areas of the theme park, Dondoko Forest, has already been partially open to the public as another staple of Aichi Expo Memorial Park. That’s because the already existing house of Satsuki and Mei from ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is going to become part of the new theme park. The house is entirely screen accurate, from the water pump outside, to acorns scattered in dark locations, to the bus stop a few paces away. The clothes the characters own can be found inside the house along with all of Tatsuo’s (Mei and Satsuki’s father’s) books and archeology materials. Their bike even sits outside! I can’t wait to see the house surrounded by a completely immersive environment!

The Themed Areas:

Three out of five of the themed areas in this theme park will open starting November first. The first is the above mentioned Dondoko Forest, an area based on ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. No other attractions have been confirmed for this location other that the replica house that already exists and a few nature paths, but we can expect more to be added to the location. The next is the entrance of the park, Springtime of Youth Hill. This area is set to have buildings and details inspired by ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, ‘Castle in the Sky’, and ‘Whisper of the Heart’. The observation tower serving as the entrance to the park is being described as steampunk, which definitely aligns with ‘Castle in the Sky’ and some of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. There will also be a replica of the antique shop from ‘Whisper of the Heart’ for fans of that film and ‘The Cat Returns’. Finally, the largest area that will be opening in November is Ghibli’s Giant Warehouse. Much like theme parks we’ve seen in places like Abu Dahbi, this area will be entirely indoors despite housing large structures. Among those structures is an area based on ‘Spirited Away’, a Totoro themed children’s play area, various exhibition rooms including a small theatre, and reportedly the Air Destroyer Goliath from ‘Castle in the Sky’. The two locations that will come later, supposedly next year, are Princess Mononoke Village and Witch Valley. The first will be a replica of Irontown, or Tatara-ba, complete with statues of the mystical and terrifying creatures in the film including the corrupted boar god Lord Okkoto. The second is a mix of ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ attractions, among those being Howl’s castle and Kiki’s childhood home.

Park Purpose:

For a theme park we’re seeing a lot of replicas of locations from the movies and not a lot of rides, right? Well, that’s because the focus of this park isn’t rides. While we don’t know as of yet whether or not rides will be completely absent from this theme park, we do know that there will not be very many if there are. The point here is to showcase the many gorgeous worlds Studio Ghibli has brought to life while reveling in the nature surrounding it all. This park won’t be tearing down any trees. The point of each location is to coexist with the nature around it, which is not surprising if you’ve seen movies like ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ where environmentalism is at the forefront. Hayao Miyazaki is passionate about caring for nature and avoiding unneeded structures that are made purely for human entertainment and money, so a giant rollercoaster is not something you’re going to see here. But if you’re like me and you just like exploring immersive environments, that won’t be a concern at all.

That’s what we know about the park so far! I can’t wait to see what it’ll be like when it opens. I’ve been planning my dream trip to Japan for years now, and this park opening is only increasing my desire to visit the country and all of the Ghibli exhibits I’ve had my eye on for so long. Hopefully everything will be much safer once Ghibli Park opens so no one is at risk of danger while exploring the gorgeous scenery they have planned.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie