Hey everyone and welcome back to the second part of the Asia Reviewer Maniac Awards 2013! This part will be focusing on the remaining areas that aren’t related to Kpop, which includes dramas and music from other countries, such as Japan. Hope ya’ll enjoy! For those who wanna check out part 1, click on the link below to go and see:
Asia Reviewer Maniac Awards Part 1
Once again, this list in simply based on my own personal opinion and what I have discovered over the past year. Hopefully next year (by the time this is posted up, it will be this year…EEEEKKKKK!) I will venture out more and discover more fantastic content to share with you all! Sooooo let’s do this! (By the way, clearly this list is less lengthy than the last part, and I do apologise for that! I’m just very passionate about K-pop, ya know?) K-dramas
Favourite Drama of the Year: Master’s Sun
I didn’t end up watching a lot of K-dramas (or dramas overall) this year, but the ones that I ended up watching, were by far ones that I really enjoyed and loved, and will probably continue to love forever! In particular, my most favourite drama this year, hands-down, goes to Master’s Sun simply because it has been one of the most enjoyable rides that I’ve been on in such a long time. It was everything from an interesting plot, to a great OST, to finally lovable eye-candy (Joo Won and Kang Woo?? Mmmmmmm~) Definitely the actors/actresses chemistry in the drama made the whole drama more worthwhile and simply fantastic to watch. I made a review (spoiler free!) a little while back which I will link down below if any of ya’ll are interested in checking out.
Other honourable mentions: School 2013, That Winter The Wind Blows,The Heirs
These three dramas are pretty much the only other dramas I watched this year. Plenty more dramas were found out, but I only ended up reading the recaps for them such as “Cheongdamdong Alice” and “Flower Boys Next Door” since my time this year was a little constraint.
School 2013 was a great drama that I started watching from the end of last year (hence the lack of a review for it). From there, I discovered the talent of Daniel Choi, and the beautiful bromance between Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin. I had already known about Woo Bin through watching his debut drama “White Christmas” back in 2011 but Jong Suk was someone I hadn’t noticed before (I know everyone, come at me with your spears and arrows…) I remembered him from “Secret Garden”, but he was literally someone in the background in that one, despite his interactions with Oska. In this drama, he definitely made a name for himself, hence his big role in “I Hear Your Voice” later on in the year (which I must see since I’ve heard that it is the next best noona romance since Lee Minho’s “Personal Taste”) So yeah, an enjoyable watch I’d say ^^
That Winter The Wind Blows was my only melodrama I watched this year, and it has been the most recent one I’ve watched ever since “Cinderella’s Sister” (or “The Moon that Embraces the Sun” if that counts as one too) which was a hardcore melodrama (the tears I shed for them…urggggh~) It was a nice break from the continuous rom-com I watched consecutively from the previous year but geez, that angst…boy, that was really hard to take at times, and it also reminded me of the utmost hate I have for melos…no wonder I put them aside >< Anyway, the acting in the drama was great, and the plot (despite some rough plot holes) was quite solid. Check out my review for the drama in the link below to understand what I thought about the whole drama in more detail:
The Heirs wasn’t initially a drama that I had followed from start to finish. However, I had kept my eye on it for quite some time. After exams were done and dusted, I went straight ahead and sped-ran through the first 10 episodes in two days. Yep, 10 eps in 2 days. That is what I call determination yo! But, what I found at first was a total mess and a disappointment. With such a great cast at hand, how could failure have been a possibility? HOW?!
The answer…pacing and plot became as opposite as water and oil are. Honestly, the first half was a total struggle to get through. Both aspects of the drama just couldn’t get together and do something. But, my mind just said “You’re already halfway Hyunnie, no point to back out now”. And so, I kept going, and eventually ended up becoming a different being by the end of it all. Somehow, the story came to a conclusion anddddd it wasn’t as bad as it started out being. I discovered that this drama was more like a journey to follow down numerous paths with a gigantic cast of great, potential talents. So, the drama wasn’t the best drama that I’ve seen, but it’s quite alright. Read my several reviews/recaps on the drama and certain episodes below. I didn’t write one for every episode, but I mostly wrote for the last couple since I felt that it was necessary ^^
Initial impressions on the drama
Favourite Movie of the Year: Secretly, Greatly
I’m planning to do a lengthy review for this movie but I’ve been postponing it ever since. Don’t ask me why cause…I don’t really know >< But yeah, I won’t go into much detail about it since I want to leave it for that review! This movie is fantastic in terms of the cast. Kim Soo Hyun, Park Ki Woong AND Lee Hyun Woo as the main cast?! Honestly, is there much more that needs to be said? I think not. Sure, the plot could have been thought out a little bit more, but the cast truthfully sprinkles fairy dust over it and blinds us to think of nothing else but the cast themselves. Definitely an enjoyable watch, and it’s review will be posted up very soon (hopefully!)
Other honourable mentions: A Werewolf Boy, The Grand Heist, The Tower
I know, I know. Two out of the three were released last year. BUT, if you’re like me who lives in a country where such movies have to be released on DVDs and then downloaded off the net in order to be seen, it doesn’t really matter when they were in the cinema. All I know is that I watched these movies in 2013, and that’s how I feel about that >< But, since these movies were in fact released in 2012, I won’t be including them as the best 2013 movie (because honestly, if this were a review for last year, A Werewolf Boy would get 1st place hands-down!)
A Werewolf Boy was a movie that initially seemed like a gift to most Running Man fans (Ep. 25 for those who wanna check it out) but, in actual fact, turned out to be something EVEN BETTER! This film is by far THE BEST MOVIE OF 2012! But, I want to leave it all in a proper review of the movie because it truthfully deserves one…so yeah, I don’t really want to spoil anything here. All you have to know is that it was the third highest-grossing domestic film of 2012, if that doesn’t convince you enough of the awesomeness of this film 🙂 Check it out for yourselves!
The Grand Heist was a fantastic ball of fun, ready to burst. I watched the film with my family, which made the experience all the worthwhile. It is a family-friendly movie, with a huge cast that not only entertains, but also allows you to feel as if you are part of the joyride as well. Sure, the plot became kind-of unimportant until the end of the film, but with such an extravagant cast including Cha Tae-Hyun, Oh Ji-Ho, Min Hyo-rin and plenty more who are both loveable and funny to watch.
The Tower was a different scene from the previous two. A more serious and realistic story plot was employed for the film, which successfully set up a ride of a lifetime (also, what is with the current life/death disaster films trend recently?) You follow numerous relationships involved in the disaster from the beginning to the end, and unconsciously begin to build a bond with all of them. With the realistic setting and backdrop, you can’t help but feel worried and concerned with each step that they take. The cast was great and honestly, the film turned out to be much better than expected 😀
Favourite Artist of the Year: EGOIST
Yep. EGOIST. A fictional band who turned out to be an actual legit band has been my most recent addiction. It is just something about the lead vocalist’s voice; a refreshing and unique sort of voice which seems to suit various genres of music. In particular, “All Alone With You” has been my fav out of the huge bunch of songs I downloaded, though almost all of their songs come close. Check out the PV below for the song; it is absolutely to die for 😛
Other honourable mentions (aka discoveries): Hanatan & Pokota, Nagi Yanagi, Yamai
All three artists have only been quite recent discoveries of mine in the last couple of months however, these artists are all fantastically brilliant and wonderful to listen to. So despite the short amount of time I have had with them, it was enough to understand that I will probably be listening to all of their songs for a long time to come.
Hanatan & Pokota are two match-made in heaven vocals, and are by far my most favourite male/female duet of all time. Both vocals by themselves are great; there is no doubt about that, but when they get together and create covers of other songs ohhhhhhh these feels guys, these feels!!! My favourite one is “Perfect Crime” which is an old classic of theirs, and my most recent love is for their cover of “Ghost”, which reminds us that their voices, despite their differences, somehow just…work. Thank you for your existence, you beautiful people! The PVs for both songs are below ;3
Nagi Yanagi was discovered not too long after Hanatan & Pokota in the very heart of Youtube. Searching for any new interesting animes to watch in the coming future, I cam across the PV below, which has now become a song that I must listen to either while I’m winding down before sleeping, or while I’m typing up blog posts such as this one. She is very talented, and I have two full albums of hers that are all just as awesome. Both videos below are the same one, just that the first one has no subs while the next one does 🙂
Yamai also uses anime in her PVs (geez, I’ve just realised that all of my J-pop music have anime PVs 0.0”). The one song in particular that made me discover her is this one called “Last Song”, which is absolutely beautiful and flawless. Her voice seems to linger, and causes you to almost reflect the emotions that she conveys through song. It is truly wonderful, and her other songs do pretty much the same thing as well! Check her out!
J-doramas (haha see what I did there??)
Favourite Drama of the Year: …
Yes, my answer is an ellipsis since what I ended up watching this year were dramas that weren’t from 2013…they were from a LONG TIME AGO!! So, this is just going to be a section where I share with you all what I actually ended up watching this year, though all of them are bloody fantastic. These three dramas include Ryūsei no Kizuna, Ikemen desu ne, Boku to Star 99 Nichi
Ryūsei no Kizuna, if it were released this year, would have been my favourite drama without much thought. Two reasons – one, it features Ryo Nishikido as one of the main leads (a.k.a my husband ;3) and two, the entire drama is jam-packed with pure awesomeness from start to finish. The drama does not fail to capture their audience right from the start, as you try to uncover the pure mystery between the three siblings and their backstory. The plot is intriguing, and three siblings within the drama have the best interactions. You can’t even imagine them three NOT being related, if that doesn’t give you an idea of how good their chemistry is with each other. If I feel like it, I’ll rewatch the drama and possibly make a review on it 😉
Ikemen desu ne is the Japanese version/interpretation of “You’re Beautiful”, the South Korean drama that took over Asia by a storm back in ’09. It follows the original quite closely, so fans of the original will probably enjoy this as well. Of course, since this is a Jap drama, not everything in the original could be fitted in, based on differences in terms of culture and location. Despite that, it was still a joy to watch, and truly took me back to the original which I haven’t watched in years. Apparently, there is also a Taiwanese version now, so I’ll probably check that out too. In my opinion, the Japanese Go Mi Nam did a better job in portraying a much more boyish image (in comparison to Park Shin Hye’s Go Mi Nam), but in a more tomboy image rather than a outgoing in-your-face boy look which I do like since it is, after all, a girl who is forced to dress and act as her twin brother. So, this is a pretty good drama for those who want to follow down memory lane once again for their missed love for “You’re Beautiful” so long, long ago *sigh*
Boku to Star 99 Nichi is a really fun and spontaneous drama that I came across around late last year. Seeing that the beautiful and gorgeous Kim Tae Hee was in it, I just wanted to check it out since I believed that she had a cameo in it (cause that is really quite rare, to actually see a Korean actor/actress in a J-dorama) But, who would have thought that she is featured in the drama from start to finish, with her actually speaking pretty fluent Japanese? I didn’t see that coming; I honestly thought that she cameoed in the drama! The drama really drew you in from the beginning, with the multifaceted male lead, and of course the flawless and pretty much perfect female lead. I initially watched the drama for Tae Hee, but eventually I ended up discovering the wonderful talent of Nishijima Hidetoshi as well, and started to focus on him more out of the two. A great Japanese rom-com to watch when feeling down 🙂
Favourite Artist of the Year: Super Junior-M
Is it a crime to be listening to an album that was released at the start of the year, literally? “Break Down” the album is still being played consistently on my iPod up until now! Every song in there is precious and reminds me how far they have come as a group from when Hangeng was still around. The song “Break Down” is still being played repeatedly on my iPod, and other songs from the album such as “Tunnel” and “A-oh!” are really nice songs to listen to on-the-go. I haven’t been following the C-pop movements as much this year, but I have taken initiative and subscribed to a couple of C-pop Youtube channels, so that there is more chance for me to see and notice more songs in the upcoming future! Super Junior-M, hwaiting!!! ❤
Other honourable mentions: Show Luo
Show Luo has always been an artist that I’ve followed for years, whether it is through his Taiwanese variety show “100% Entertainment”, or through his Taiwanese dramas, such as “Hi My Sweetheart” (God I loved that drama…hehe I still chuckle when I remember him in his bob-head haircut) Likewise, I follow his music, as the style of music he produces is really modern and seems ‘in-the-zone’ if ya get what I mean. His recent song “愛投羅網 (Fantasy)” is pretty cool, and the MV itself features Ga-In as a cameo. Check out the MV below to see the whole thing ^^
Favourite Movie of the Year: CZ12
Despite the movie being released at the very end of 2012, I’m still counting this movie as a 2013 movie since the majority of the time spent in the cinemas is probably in 2013. Also, I watched it this year as well! The film is fantastic for those who misses the ‘old-school’ Jackie Chan, who had a whole script filled with witty remarks and pompous attitudes about himself (which I’ve totally missed) It was really nice to see Jackie acting like a much more intelligent character rather than the silly, goofy person who can do a couple of martial arts moves here and there. No, this returned to the badass, hardcore and witty Jackie we all knew and love, regardless of the lack of action some people complained about. So, what if it isn’t as many action moves that he used to have? Don’t forget that this man is approaching the sixth decade of his life; give the man a break please? I loved it, regardless of the lack of action this movie had!
Other honourable mentions: Journey to the West (2013 version), American Dreams in China, Out of Inferno
Journey to the West (2013) was a slapstick version of the original story Journey to the West, which takes a spin on the whole idea that Tang Sanzang is a pure and innocent human being, searching for his Nirvana. It is a nice take on the whole idea, and the film also features a load of famous and well-known Chinese actors, such as Shu Qi and Show Luo. Since the movie is directed by Stephen Chow, who is best known for directing the huge action film Kung Fu Hustle, it is no surprise that this film is action-packed and filled with hilarious moments from start to finish. Amy person who desires to see action martial arts films and don’t mind reading subtitles, this is the film for you!
American Dreams in China is perhaps the most mind-blowing film of the year for me, since it features my three most favourite Chinese actors of all time AS THE MAIN LEADS!!! Yep, Huang Xiao Ming, Deng Chao and Tong Da Wei are the three main leads, who are acting as three poor but great friends who end up becoming filthy rich by building an English-language cram school business. It isn’t your typical rags to riches story, as it really focuses more on the relationship between the three friends, who end up becoming more like close brothers towards the end of the film. It may seem like an undercover propaganda story at times, (no surprise since the screenwriters were written by people from BeiJing while the director is from Hong Kong) however I feel that the actors themselves brings the film across, despite us kind-of losing track of what the story was actually about half-way. Either way, it was really nice to see them three all work together on the same project – they are really close in ago, so they acted even more naturally as if they have been friends for 30 odd years.
Out of Inferno goes back to that whole rant I kinda made before about the whole ‘disaster’ film trend that has been going on everywhere recently. I can’t really say that this genre has been around only over the last couple of months, but I feel that I’ve been seeing them much more frequently now than ever (does 2012 have anything to do with this??) Like “The Tower”, Out of Inferno deals with the whole ‘oh-my-god save me from this burning building’ scenario which isn’t something new, however the action and constant threat from being burnt to a crisp didn’t allow anyone to have a rest! It’s a pretty good movie for those who want a break from watching too many comedy/romantic movies.
Favourite anime of the year: Shiki
Yes, this anime wasn’t made this year however, I had only discovered it after being recommended to watch it by my favourite Youtuber/Youtube gamer “Cryaotic”. After discovering that he used the Shiki OST quite often in his “Cry Reads”, I went on to discover exactly which anime it was that used such awesome music.
Shiki was an absolute delight to watch, simply because it was such a unique and intriguing take on the generic ‘vampire/zombie’ theories. Shiki translates from Japanese to “Corpse Demon”, which as you can guess, links together similar concepts between what is a vampire, and what is a zombie. It kept me on my toes at all times, and never ceased to surprise me as each episode progressed forward. The anime may be a bit too gory and graphic for some people but aside from that it is in fact a great watch on so many levels. Anyone who is interested in mystery, supernatural or horror anime genres should definitely check this anime out!
Other honourable mentions: Psycho-Pass, Sukitte Ii na yo
Psycho-Pass was an anime that I had finished watching not too long ago. After postponing it for quite some time (almost a year roughly) I finally had the chance to watch it, and it was worth the wait. I did a full length review on the first and second half of the anime, which will be linked below if you want to check it out. It is a pretty awesome dystopian anime, and I really like the way they took on a genre that is usually quite difficult to express properly.
Sukitte Ii na yo or ‘Say I Love You’ in Japanese, is a cute and adorable anime adapted from one of my favourite mangas. Though the manga hasn’t finished yet, the anime adaptation is pretty solid despite the fact that my brain kept screaming “YOU CAN’T END IT THERE GUYS~” Honestly, animes are hardly able to knock out the original manga usually but it was quite nice to see the pictures come to life on screen instead. The little specials after each episode were really adorable additions that differed itself from the actual manga. But in the end, the story didn’t change much,which captured the true cuteness of the two lovebirds >//<
Favourite manga of the year (or for the last couple of years): Skip Beat
Yep, I believe not much needs to be said about this, since this manga is still the best rom-com manga of all time (in my opinion at least) For those who haven’t heard of this manga (I ask you…how?! lol) I most definitely recommend you check it out because it isn’t just a book having pretty pictures etc, but the story plot and character development is ABSOLUTELY SUPER SPECIAL AWESOME!!! Yes, it is a shoujo manga, but guys come on, reading one manga won’t kill ya, honest!
Favourite book of the year: Forbidden
Okay, my top non-Asian book of the year has got to be Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. I did a review about it a couple of months ago, and a fellow blogger named 1000addictions (who here on WordPress does some amazing book reviews!) agreed with me when she said that it left her in a total mess both inside and out…and that is probably the only way to express this.
That you will be guaranteed to be left in a train wreck both inside and out after you finish reading this book. EVERYONE MUST READ THIS! Period, no arguments. Check out the review I wrote to find out more about what the crap I’m talking about ><
Other honourable mentions: Shades of Earth, The Hunger Games Trilogy, After
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis was also another book that I had been anticipating to read for some time, since I had followed the trilogy from start to finish ever since 2011 when I discovered the first book, “Across the Universe”. Again, it is a dystopian-setting book, and Beth Revis does a wonderful job in expressing in detail how it would have felt like to live in space while venturing forward to a destination unknown. It was sad to see the series finally move on, as I felt as well when I finished reading the final pages. God, these feels man! I wrote a review for this book also; highly recommended for those who love their dystopian/romance/fantasy texts :3
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins…need I say more? It really is a fantastic trilogy, and I do feel that the movie(s) have done the books a great deal of justice, despite them cutting out a bit here and there (can’t blame them though – they only have roughly 2 hours to work with here) Sure it may be a teen fiction, and the first book seems, truthfully, related to “Battle Royale” in many more ways than one however, as the trilogy progresses the story progresses to become something of its own that deals with just more than slaying kids here and there. Trust me on this – this is better than Twilight could ever be.
There, I said it. Come at me bro, come at me!
After by Morris Gleitzman is one of four books in a series called “Once”, which has been a series of books that I have grown up reading and loving, so much so that I convinced my little sister to read them too, which she also agrees is an amazing series. Some of you may not know who Morris Gleitzman is, but he is an amazing Australian author, who writes mainly children and young adult books. I ended up reading this book after my little sister looked up at school and realised that it was published last year without my knowledge. The other books in the series go in the order: “Once”, “Then”, “Now” and “After”, but apparently this recent book is about the events between the 2nd and 3rd book.
This series is about a Jewish boy named Felix who is living during the events of World War II in Poland. Each books describes his continuous journey to survive in this messy part of our history, which is both inspiring and heartfelt. The unique thing about these books is that for everything title of each book, each chapter begins with the title word. I.e, for the book “After”, each chapter begins with the word ‘after’. Pretty cool huh? Anyone who has a brief knowledge about this time period should definitely check this series out. Sure, it is a young adult series however, I feel that this series in particular has no boundaries in relation as to who or when should someone read this. This has been on of my most remembered childhood series, and I hope that I am able to share this series with my own children once I have them.
Non Asian Music
Favourite non-Asian music of the year: Tasty Network
Lucky last! And what a great way to finish this epic list than what music I have been listening to apart from my Asian music playlists.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, has been this YouTube channel: Tasty Network
Tasty Network is a YouTube channel that shares all of the latest and great electronic music from some the biggest and upcoming artists of the world. Some of my favourites have got to be any song that involves Savant, Krewella and Popeska though there are definitely plenty more on the channel for you to discover. So, if you are into the whole electronic music wave, please consider checking out this channel because honestly, their music is pretty dope! A proud tastebud forever!
And there you go FINALLY!!! My Asia Reviewer Maniac Awards 2014 Part 2 is finally complete! I hope you enjoyed checking out what I loved in 2013, and I hope that you will join me to find out what 2014 has in store for us all! Thank you so much for sticking around guys; I know that this post has been delayed for quite some time, but I hope you all enjoyed it, despite the wait and ridiculous length >< Thank you so much readers ❤
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~