Monday, June 1, 2015

For The Love of J

It's been a while since I've updated but this time I'm not here to post a review of something. I'm here to actually talk about celebrity crushes. Obviously, having celebrity crushes is nothing new and I have a lot of them over the years but I just realized that the celebrities that I admire the most have something in common. They are all of course good looking and talented but they have another thing in common - their names (either first, second or last names) start with the letter J. It's an amusing coincidence and it's not like I have a preference with the letter J or something - it just turned out like that. 

Below is the list of my celebrity crushes over the years. It's arranged with the person that I like the most on top. (warning: pics and GIF heavy post)


For those who don't know, Jun is the 1/5 of the Japanese pop idol group Arashi. I first got to know him when his drama, Gokusen, aired in the local channel back in 2006. I was on my summer break during my first year in college and I watched that show everyday. I was so in love with him. Haha. Also, because of him, I became an Arashi fan and the rest is history.


He played Logan Echolls in the TV drama Veronica Mars and he is the half of my so-called "OTP to end all OTPs and Ship of all Ships" which is LoVe (Logan and Veronica). Jason is a really talented actor and he is also a lovable person in real life (based on his interviews, fan accounts and accounts of other people in the industry). I need him back on TV. 

(South Korean)

First saw him the amazing sitcom Nonstop 2 and that was way back in 2001. I love that show so much and I used to wake up at 5am just to watch the repeat broadcast. I can't forget his pairing with Square-Face (that's what they call her in the show). They were so funny. Jo In Sung is my second longest celebrity crush. 


Dao Ming Si from Meteor Garden and a member of the defunct F4. You can say that F4 is my very first idol group and after all these times, I still love them. Jerry is my favorite.

5. (tie) JIMMY LIN

Arashi fans always mention Nino as forever 17. In my Taiwanese fandom, they call this guy as Jimmy "forever young" Lin. I first saw him in Amazing Twins but the show that made me a fan was My Lucky Star. Jimmy is a singer, actor, a successful businessman, photographer and a professional race car driver. He is amazing!


He's the one that inspired this post. I knew Bradley from a few episodes of Merlin that I caught in the local cable channel back when it was still airing. He recently guest starred in iZombie and I realized, I missed him. I downloaded all 5 seasons of Merlin and started watching from the start. Now, I'm so in love with the show and I'm just a bit sad that I didn't watch it when it was airing. Bradley is so good in this series and I love his interactions and bromance with Colin Morgan who plays Merlin. I also found a new OTP with Arthur and Guinevere. 

*perfect smile is PERFECT*


It could be the year 1998 or 1999 when Piolo joined the cast of Esperanza as Brian and I first saw him. I know there are a lot of rumors surrounding him but whatever, he is still Papa P to me. Haha. He is my longest celebrity crush. 


My dear Matthew Crawley. You broke my heart when you died. And I still can't forgive you for ruining the MatthewxMary OTP. I love him in The Guest and I'm excited to see him as Beast in Beauty and the Beast.

*He looks so different! But still hot!*

A cute coincidence isn't it? I think the only celebrity crush that I have that doesn't have J in his name is Keanu Charles Reeves. =)

*pics and GIFs from Google and Tumblr, others credited on image

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Orange Marmalade

“We have feelings too, believe it or not. 
Just like you people, we also fall in love and get hurt.”

This will be my first webtoon review! I just got into webtoons last year and at first I was not used to its reading format since I’m more of a manga fan. Webtoon is basically manhwa style webcomic and the first webtoon that I’ve read was Cheese in the Trap but the one that got me really obsessed was Noblesse. Both series are still ongoing. I found CitT boring in the first few chapters but when I got back to it after Noblesse went on a break, I fell in love with it too.

Anyway, I just finished this series an hour ago and I’m writing this while everything is still quite fresh in my mind. 

The protagonist in this story is Baek Ma Ri, a teenage vampire trying to live a normal student life. The story is set in the modern world but it is a world where vampires are known to co-exist with humans. They’re known to no longer drink human blood but still people are afraid of them and think of them as monsters. If the humans feel uncomfortable with vampires in their community, they can easily report and have them banished from the place. The vampires in this world are treated like an oppressed race. So most vampires keep their identity a secret and Ma Ri is also the same. 

Unfortunately, she had an unprecedented encounter with the most popular guy in school - Jung Jae Min - and that’s when her life gets even more complicated. It is a romance story through and through but this one had the male lead falling in love first. 

The art is beautiful and I appreciate that most webtoons are in color so it’s like watching/reading anime. If we used the Japanese manga classification, this is a shoujo manga complete with bishoujos and bishounens. The color definitely adds impact and it makes the scene more alive. The author sometimes also use chibi (small) versions of the characters and they are absolutely cute too.


The story isn’t overly complicated. The premise is intriguing but the storytelling is quite simple in its execution. There are some predictable tropes and overly used scenarios. It comes across as shallow sometimes. The main characters’ pasts were discussed but it felt lacking somehow. The last few chapters felt rushed. It turned dark one chapter and then turned fluffy the next. The ending was a bit vague and it left quite a number of questions but it ended on a good and happy note. I would consider it perfect though if it ended like that because a sequel is in the works.

However, even a simple story can impart a message. Anti-bullying and anti-discrimination are Orange Marmalade’s. The scenes showing those left a bigger impact on me than the romantic scenes. But the romantic scenes are cute too.

I like it. Although Jae Min made me uncomfortable at times, it was a cute and romantic read that also gives a small pinch to the heart. 

PS. Apparently, there will be a drama adaptation of this webtoon. 
PS2. This is one of my favorite lines. 

FOOD as son in law! Hahahaha.

*Pics screengrabbed from the scanlated version

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hollywood Sturrr: Letters from Iwo Jima's Ninomiya

Last night, I spent the evening re-watching Letters From Iwo Jima, the 2006 companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers. These two are Clint Eastwood's films about the Japanese-American war that happened in the volcanic island of Iwo Jima. While Flags tells the side of the Americans in the war, Iwo Jima tells the story of the war from the Japanese perspective.

I haven't seen Flags of Our Fathers as war movies are not my usual fare. But they also say that if you're just gonna watch one, watch Iwo Jima, as it is the better film. After watching the movie, it is a no-brainer that tears (and so much tears) had been shed. I do cry easily but I can't imagine how you can't cry after that movie. 

As the somewhat obsessive person that I am, after the movie, I spent until around half past 2AM reading various articles about the film. I read reviews and interviews but mostly, I was looking for what these critics think of Nino in the movie. 

Ninomiya Kazunari played the part of private Saigo, a baker who was drafted against his wishes. He has a wife and an infant daughter and all he wants is to return to his family. Nino said of his character, “I play an ordinary baker who is thrown into a situation that forces him to lose his humanity in order to survive.... The war is so cruel that it leaves nothing behind, and the scars of war can never fade.” Together with Ken Watanabe's Lt. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, their characters were at the center of the film. 

Nino is an unknown face in the West but over here in the East, he is a popular star, a large part of it due to him being a member of Japan's idol group, Arashi. (But back in 2006-2007, Arashi was just starting to be really popular). Even if I wasn't into war films, I definitely would eventually watch this film, all because of Nino. All because I'm a huge Arashi fan. 

I have read some interviews and background of the casting process for this movie. Apparently, aside from Watanabe which Eastwood handpicked to play Kuribayashi (he was impressed with his work in Memoirs of a Geisha and The Last Samurai), all the other casts were chosen through audition. As Eastwood was understandably unfamiliar with most of the people who auditioned, he - together with the late Phyllis Huffman - just looked at the films and audition tapes. He said, "Acting is acting. When it’s good, it’s good, even if you don’t understand the language that’s being spoken."

From J&A, the management had Nino audition for the role of Shimizu (which eventually went to Ryo Kase) and they had another one submitted for the role of Saigo (I’ve read that it was supposed to be Kimura Takuya but as I found no other articles supporting that, it’ll only be considered a rumor. Although it’s not entirely unbelievable since KimuTaku was the first popular “actor” from J&A). However, Eastwood wasn't settled on his Saigo yet and had Nino try and read for the part. That's when Iwo Jima got their Saigo. Not bad for someone who even until during audition hadn't heard of Clint Eastwood before and only went so he could impress his friends by telling them he met the director.

Nino was amazing in this film. Representing the everyman, he portrayed really well the struggle of an ordinary individual thrust in war. It was a performance indeed deserving of an award. And I wasn't the only one who thought that. Most of the reviews that mentioned him thought he was great too, with only one review (that I found) saying he was "slightly disappointing" - though I fail to see how they could say he was disappointing. 

Obviously, a lot of people became curious as to who was this "wisp of a 23 year old" (his age back then, he’s now 31) with a "deeply human face” and acting skills that are so impressive. And imagine their surprise when they found out that he's a member of a "boyband." A movie reviewer who was so impressed by him and then learning that he’s from a pop boyband said, “Can you imagine Justin Timberlake giving such a raw, heartfelt performance?” (Or I guess, if going by the times, hmm, Harry Styles?)

During the press conference in Paris, someone asked him, "How do you feel today: rather cool and professional or a little nervous?” And Nino responded with, “Well, I am rather well known in Japan but for some time recently I have been abroad (promoting Iwo Jima) in front of those who don’t know me and I am not used to this, which I find bizarre.” That answer was so Nino and I laughed a bit when I read that. However, I do wonder how the audience and the press took that answer.

Another article about Nino that I came across with was from The Guardian, and one line caught my eye. It was at the part where the article talked about what’s next for Nino after Iwo Jima and it mentioned the Arashi movie Kiiroi Namida and the drama, Haikei, Chichiue-sama but it also mentioned Nino “also sifting through plenty of new offers from the US.” Well, I was not surprised to hear that but I did wonder what happened to those offers. Why didn’t he make another Hollywood movie after Iwo Jima despite the numerous offers? I found the answer in a magazine preview for an August 2014 episode of Nino-san translated by zero-monday-arashi on tumblr. Apparently, he turned them ALL down. Why? 

"When I went to Hollywood to film, we had to record many episodes of our regular shows in advance, and only the four of them could promote our new single…
If I have to weigh Arashi and Hollywood on a scale, I will definitely choose Arashi."

Can I cry now? That was totally selfless of Nino and it shows how he values the group.

When I set out to write this long blahblah post about Nino after re-watching Letters from Iwo Jima I never expected it will end with another evidence that there’s no one who love Arashi more than Arashi themselves.

Nino may never make another Hollywood movie again, (which personally, I think is a shame because that kind of acting talent deserves to be seen by a lot more people) but even if Letters from Iwo Jima was his first and last, atleast it’s one heck of a film.

(screengrabbed from the 2014.04.19 ep
 of Arashi ni Shiyagare with the casts of Amazing Spiderman 2 
as guests)

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