7 Lesser-Known DBSK Songs That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

Rising Sun. Hug. Purple Line. Mirotic. Those are only a few well-known songs from legendary k-pop group DBSK. Debuting in late 2003, the “Rising Gods of the East” Hero Jaejoong, U-know Yunho, Micky Yoochun, Xiah Junsu and Choikang Changmin dominated the Asian music charts, holding the World Record in 2008 for most Official Fanclub members and being key figures in the “Hallyu Wave” that introduced k-pop and South Korean culture worldwide. Case in point, in 2005 DBSK was my introduction to the black hole known as k-pop and I don’t think I’ll ever love a k-pop band as much as I loved them.

But teary feelz aside, DBSK was known for their heavenly a cappella skillscool and complex dance routines and flawless lives. But given all their albums of course there’s always been a couple gems besides the title tracks that I could never skip no matter how many years pass. So whether you follow JYJ or the now 2-man DBSK or both, these low-key tunes will be sure to have you practicing your trills and adlibs  and smashing that repeat button like no tomorrow. … And possibly going into an Emoshinki video marathon on YouTube like I did. Sigh, my heart. </3 Anyway behold, my top 7 favorite lesser-known DBSK songs! And these are my picks from when DBSK were five members as I listened to those albums the most.

1. Whatever They Say

Like I mentioned earlier DBSK was known for their heavenly a cappella skills, but that’s because they debuted with the concept of an a cappella group. Whatever They Say is a shining example of their a cappella prowess. Listening to this song is the closest mankind can get to hearing angels sing on earth. No exaggerations. Take a listen for yourself. Do listen closely to my favorite part, Jaejoong’s special high note at 2:43… slay baby, slaaaay!

If for some reason you’re still not convinced, just watch their music video and be amused by the awkward close-ups. Also, those shirts! Fashion in the early 2000’s was a wild time huh? If you want more a cappella check out “Always There”.

2. Stay With Me Tonight

“Stay With Me Tonight” was DBSK’s first foray into the Japanese market. And being newcomers to the world of J-pop they appropriately introduced themselves right off the bat: “Hello, welcome to my world~ we’re TVXQ!” followed by a couple more strings of sweet a cappella before busting out into a lively tune with a splash of guitar. While this song didn’t do stupendously on Japanese charts I’ll always love the easy-listening quality of “Stay With Me Tonight” and how you can hear the group’s ear-pleasing backup throughout the entire strong. DBSK dancing snazzily in those big white suits is pretty great too. You’ll want to learn this song just to sing that soaring chorus with them (like I did); “Stay with me tonight, kono mama tomodachiiiii NARAAAAA!” If you dig “Stay With Me Tonight”, don’t miss their second Japanese single “Somebody To Love” featuring a very similar song structure, big red suits, and more awkward close-ups and snazz-tastic dancing.

3. Million Men

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… is my automatic reaction whenever this song comes up on my iTunes. “Million Men” is the sixth track of DBSK’s first Korean album Tri-Angle. With obvious hip hop and R&B influences it’s a popular track with old-school Cassies who drop everything when this song comes on so they could “BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE” with Junsu (you’ll see what I mean when you listen to it). I really wish they made a music video for this song because the beat is slick, their voices are killer and while it’s not one of those songs I actively look for, when it comes on, AW SHIT SUN!! TURN UP THAT BASS!!!

4. Get Me Some

Behold the third track of DBSK’s third album, “O”-Jung.Ban.Hap.: “Get Me Some”. Yes, it’s what you think it’s about. Yes, they actually say “I wanna get me some of that” in the chorus. Naturally I couldn’t stop laughing when I first heard this song but before I knew it I was unconsciously breaking out singing this whenever I saw a smokin’ hot guy/girl. Protip though, don’t sing it even if that smokin’ hot guy/girl is 5 feet away from you. Trust me, they’ll hear it. (Thanks a lot, DBSK.)

5. Crazy Love

Dig electro sounds? “Crazy Love” is for you! Tucked away in DBSK’s fourth Korean album Mirotic (the last to feature JYJ), the use of autotune in “Crazy Love” is a departure from their roots, but it fits with the changing times of k-pop in 2008 and the chorus brings it back to signature DBSK-style with sweeping harmonies and sweetly sung falsettos. I especially love Yunho’s line around 1:51 which he starts off singing and ends almost rapping. Yunho improved immensely as a singer since debut, even more so in DBSK’s recent songs with him and Changmin, but I think it’s in the Mirotic album where all his hard vocal work is best demonstrated. Not gonna lie, I’ve also got a soft spot for “Crazy Love” since I sang Junsu’s parts in a collaboration for “Crazy Love” back in 2009. It remains one of my favorite collabs today. 🙂

6. Darkness Eyes

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… part 2!

From the moment you press the play button you know you’re in for a rare treat. Hidden away in DBSK’s third Japanese album, “Darkness Eyes” features subdued vocals and a mysterious repetitive piano riff, a far cry from DBSK’s signature power ballads and performance-driven tracks. One of their most unique songs, “Darkness Eyes” will wrap you up in a thick purple fog, rendering you immobile until the song fades, in which the fog dissolves leaving you with goosebumps and an uncanny sense of mystery and uncertainty… and the uncontrollable urge to press replay again and again. I adore this song. I most love the distribution of lines in the chorus; one person doesn’t sing the whole chorus but one sings one line, another sings the next, Yoochun sings the bottom layer, the next two alternate lines and they continue to weave in and out of one another perfectly without overpowering anyone.

The live performance of “Darkness Eyes” during their Japanese tour is utterly mesmerizing as well! That part when they’re floating up and they lean backwards? Ugh, that always gets me… (wipes away single tear)

I also hosted my first singing collaboration with “Darkness Eyes” where I painstakingly pieced together an instrumental based off that same live performance and sang as Jaejoong. Here it is if you’re interested~ But really, what a song! “Darkness Eyes” is my personal favorite lesser-known DBSK song.

7. Tonight

DBSK briefly promoted Tonight but it still definitely deserves a mention in this list. If you were impressed by Whatever They Say, get ready to explode at the epicness known as Tonight. That harmony! Those trills! Those glorious OOHS and AHHs and GROWLS! I remember when I first listened to this song and I was going back to 4:14 and playing that shit over and over again while dragging my hands down my face, eyes brimming with tears of awe and joy. I always viewed this song as the holy grail of k-pop boy band powerhouses (The female equivalent being Big Mama’s “Woman”, in case you’re wondering). Tonight is one of those songs that’s even more impressive performed live. Show me an idol band nowadays that can come remotely close to singing Tonight! … What’s that? You can’t find one? Why not? Oh–because idol bands never cover this song? Hmmm. I wonder why. 😉

There you have it, my Top 7 lesser-known DBSK songs that’ll make you want to bash your head against the wall at the awesomeness! It was quite tough narrowing it down to 7, so in case you didn’t have enough check out “Begin”, “You’re My Miracle”, “One”, and “My Destiny”! “My Destiny” is my jam; I was obsessed with “My Destiny” for months and the imagery in the music video will stick with me for years.

Anyway what’s your favorite lesser-known DBSK track? Tell me in the comments so I won’t be alone getting sad and mentally crying waterfalls thinking about the good ‘ol times! </3 (Just kidding. Sort of.)

♥ Nicole

Woman Crush Wednesday: Tsubasa Honda (本田翼)

Welcome to another Woman Crush Wednesday! Meet your next fav J-drama actress: Tsubasa Honda!honda-great-teacher-onizuka-dorama-2012-honda-tsubasa

I was first introduced to Tsubasa in the J-drama Power Office Girls 4 where she played a disillusioned new white collar worker at Manpan Corporation caught in the middle of the return of a legendary, outspoken employee.

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She’s the type that didn’t stand out that much at first, but the more I watched her the more I was charmed by her girl-next-door, tomboy-ish beauty. In fact Tsubasa entered the industry because she was scouted by seven different people on the same day! I can’t even get my dog to look at me when I call him, talk about being in another league.

Tsubasa first debuted as an exclusive model for Seventeen in 2006, switching to Love Berry in 2007, and from January 2010 and onwards switched again to Non-no as an exclusive model.

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Along with modeling Tsubasa’s also done a few MC gigs, a buttload of commercials and of course, acting! Speaking of commercials check her out in her new Nikon one:

She doesn’t talk much in that one but I really love her simple style, natural look and approachable aura. Indeed, Tsubasa shines the most in action! So here’s a 6-minute compilation video of her other commercials, because she’s actually a huge goofball. Note the series of commercials at 3:00 which explain my love life in a nutshell:

And if THAT wasn’t enough go check out Tsubasa’s dramas and movies! Although she’s still relatively new to acting, from her performances as a creepy yet misunderstood high school girl in GTO (2012) to a goofy young professional starting out in the world in Power Office Girls 4, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the acting world has in store for Tsubasa. If you’re a manga fan don’t miss her in the movie adaptation of Ao Haru RideAnd follow her on Instagram here!

That’s all for this week’s WCW. Got a woman crush of your own? Let me know in dem comments!

♥ Nicole

Mini Review: Deranged (Korean Title: 연가시)

Can’t swim? Need an excuse to opt out of your friends’ upcoming camping trip by the river? Or do you just not like water and the outdoors in general, and need more reason to hate it?! Boy, have I got the movie for you!

Deranged is an award-winning Korean disaster movie released in summer 2012, starring Kim Myung-Min, Moon Jeong-Hee, Kim Dong-Wan, and Lee Ha-Nui. It opened #1 at the South Korean box office, passing the 3 million ticket sales mark by its second weekend of release.
Deranged-mainAnd it’s clear to see why–I enjoy the usual zombie outbreak and epidemic movie like anyone else, but in Deranged the outbreak isn’t contagious. You mostly follow the main character, Jae-Hyuk, an employee at a pharmaceutical company. He used to be a professor but due to investing in some bad stocks via info from his younger brother Jae-Pil, Jae-Hyuk and his family are in debt and barely able to get by. Jae-Pil brother works as a detective to help pay back the debt. Jae-Hyuk’s family has also been eating voraciously, but one day suddenly lose their appetite and just want to drink water. Simultaneously skeletal bodies begin showing up in mass in rivers and large bodies of water all over South Korea. Upon investigation they discover an abnormal variant of parasite has been making its home in people’s bodies… but that’s as much as I’ll say as to not spoil the entire movie. Deranged-0011Jae-Hyuk’s strained relationships with both his brother and his family certainly make an impact with how they deal with the outbreak and movie’s conclusion. Usually I find acting in disaster movies to be cheesy but didn’t think so in this one. Jae-Hyuk goes on a desperate search for the medicine needed to cure his family but fails several times. By the time we get to the scene at the warehouse where Jae-Hyuk is talking to his family over the phone I was crying rivers! Jae-Hyuk’s wife was great as well for how she stayed strong for her kids despite the chaos in the shelter. And Kim Dong-Wan’s performance as Jae-Pil was earnest and convincing. I’m originally a fan of his band, Shinhwa (which was what drew me to watching Deranged in the first place, not gonna lie), so as a fan I was so happy to see myself getting involved in his character and forgetting who he really was, convinced that at that exact moment he was Jae-Pil and not Dong-Wan of Shinhwa.

Deranged-wanniederanged-centerPlot-wise it’s a relatively simple one, as are the motives of the antagonists. I liked that they kept the plot simple as it allowed me to really focus on the highlights of Deranged like the scenes of the masses and their extremely desperate search for water. Shudders! Even the government scenes which are usually the most boring parts of disaster movies for me were engaging as well–not too drawn out, and not too complicated so that the viewers can still maintain their understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes in order to fully empathize with Jae-Hyuk’s predicament and the families in pandemonium. Also, that scene with Jae-Hyuk’s daughter Ye-Ji, at the balcony of their apartment?! I gasped and grabbed my hair, oh my god! Deranged did have quite a few shocking scenes in the way only a good disaster movie would give you goosebumps or make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end without trying too hard or being disturbing just for the sake of being disturbing/the shock factor. But those are nice too. But realism in Deranged‘s case worked well for it, though I can’t say anything to the realism in the parasite variant as I am not a medical professional.

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And while it is a two-hour long movie I never found myself getting bored or wondering when the film would end; in fact the ending came a lot quicker than I expected (that’s what she said? SORRY I HAD TO). I suppose that’s the only thing I really had a problem with? But even then the ending had a tiny, pleasing twist… like a mini cherry on top of a huge, multi-layered birthday cake.

Overall I think Deranged was a great watch, something I’d definitely recommend for a movie night with a bunch of other disaster-lovers (and Shinhwa-lovers!). Do make sure to get a copy with good subtitles though, mine were all right maybe B+ level but even then it’s simple enough to keep up with yet compelling enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Drinking water will never be the same again!

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Drama Corner: Crazy For You & Five Star Tourist

Long time no type! It’s been quite the past few months for me full of self-analysis and discovery. What have I discovered, you ask? Well… that I’m still a complete nerd who loves dramas and foreign music! So here I am back at blogging and to celebrate my glorious (???) return I want to talk about two J-dramas I’ve thoroughly enjoyed between my self-analysis and would recommend to anyone looking for a series to bingewatch or just something nice to watch after a hard day at work.

1. Crazy For You // Japanese Title: 心がポキッとね (Kokoro ga Pokitto ne)
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Crazy For You follows the story of Kojima Haruta, a man rebuilding his life after having a meltdown at his work as a salaryman, abusing his wife and getting a divorce. Now he works at a repair shop, reflecting on his errors and promising never to love again… until he meets the strong-willed Miyako, a girl who falls in a love a little too hard. Haruta also lives in the room beneath his boss, Shin, a kind-hearted but incredibly dense man who tends to pick up things and people who have been ‘thrown away’. For various reasons Miyako gets fired from her job and has to find a place to live… she meets Shin who lets her move in with Haruta, despite his objections. And to top it off, Shin’s new girlfriend moves in with him upstairs… and who else is the new girlfriend but Haruta’s ex-wife, Keiko, who’s renamed herself to Shizuka! How will the four fare in such a set-up?!

Clearly there’s a lot of silliness in Crazy For You. Haruta, Miyako, Shin, and Shizuka all have very extreme, polar opposite personalities so watching their dynamic and how they overcome their past struggles was very interesting to watch. The small side story between the secondary characters is also amusing in itself as they pine for and unconsciously try to ‘imitate’ the drama between the four mains, plus all the love triangles and quadrangles involving them and the secondary characters had me laughing aloud. And the psychiatrist! What a role he plays. There’s a lot of life reflection, what it means to work, to forgive, to accept, and to love. I liked how it also explored different kinds of love besides romantic love too.

If there was one thing I didn’t like, it was Miyako’s character. She got on my nerves a little, being the spoiled, childish type who pouts and whines. While she had her reasons for being like that I personally thought it was a little hard to watch, but if you can get over that I think it’s an enjoyable series overall. If you’re still not convinced, watch it for my favorite Japanese actor, Fujiki Naohito who plays Shin! <333 He’s starred in many popular J-dramas since forever, from Last Cinderella to Hotaru no Hikari to Antique to Proposal Daisakusen. I feel like every time I watch a J-drama he makes an appearance one way or another. He’s great. Really he’s the only reason you should watch this. (Just kidding! I’ve never seen any actor convey anxiety as well as Haruta’s actor :))

2. Five Star Tourist // Japanese Title: 五つ星ツーリスト

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Five Star Tourist aired earlier this year but I think it’ll still make my top J-dramas of 2015 list. It follows Kyoka Takase, an employee at Sunset Tours who was called the “legendary travel master” but a conflict with her boss led her to transfer to an unknown department at Sunset Tour’s Kyoto branch. At the same time new employee Ichiro Satake is given extremely hard-to-please clients by his hellish boss, and after meeting Kyoka and the team at the ‘Central Management Center’ they team up to overcome the odds and provide their clients with their best vacation ever.

As a travel buff this series was a joy to watch. It’s educational: the show provides a lot of info about the various tour stops the clients visit in Kyoto. It’s hilarious: Satake’s incompetency could be frustrating but you end up feeling more sorry for him because of his crazy boss. And surprisingly it’s quite scandalous at times: oh boy, the clients they have to deal with! There’s a family who are on vacation but the husband’s “mistress” is there as well, “spouse-hunting” tours, “break-up” tours. But it’s also full of heart: we go on vacation for various reasons, whether it be to spend more time with our families, just to take a break, to find new love or to move on from an old one. Kyoka is a character with exceptional observational skills who’s able to see what the clients actually want from their vacations, as stubborn as most of them appear. It was fun anticipating and guessing what the little twist at the end was. And I was always anxious waiting for the next episode every week!

However, again, if there was one thing that bothered me… I really wish they eased off the ‘fat’ jokes. It wasn’t a huge running thing that went on every episode but they mentioned it enough to make me roll my eyes. We’ve got plus-sized runway shows and stores and even the actress who plays Kyoka is the cover model for “la farfa”, a lifestyle and fashion magazine exploring the latest fashion larger than a Japanese L size. I’ll acknowledge that the plus-size is nowhere near as accessible as say in the US or UK and being larger is still more frowned upon in Asia, but Five Star Tourist was already excelling in terms of characters, back story, plot, and humor… so poking fun at Kyoka’s size really seemed unnecessary to me. Come on, it’s 2015! … Otherwise, highly recommended! 😛

That’s all for now. Currently I’m watching a couple older dramas that were recently added to Crunchyroll’s library like GTO (2012) and 99 Days with the Superstar. Which dramas are you enjoying lately?

Thanks for reading!

♥ Nicole

Music Monday: Eurovision 2015’s Top 10 Underrated Performances

Instead of covering one artist for Music Monday, this time I’m going to tell you all about the glorious annual song competition known as Eurovision.

Eurovision is an annual TV song competition amongst countries part of the European Broadcasting Union, holding the Guinness World Record for the ‘Longest Running Annual TV Music Competition’ since its inception in 1956. Each country sends one song, and the winning country hosts the competition the following year. Eurovision is the birthplace of the internet’s Epic Sax Guy from Moldova, Romania’s Operatic Dubstep Vampire, Finland’s hard rock monster band, Poland’s butter churning girls and much, much more:

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It’s flashy, it’s glittery, it’s over-the-top and politically-motivated at times, and it’s pretty much the best thing in the world and the event I personally look forward to most every year. Austria was victorious last year, winning with the Bond-style song “Rise Like a Phoenix” by the equally epic and fabulous Conchita Wurst. 27 countries performed in this past Saturday’s Grand Final in Vienna, Austria but the song “Heroes” by Swedish dreamboat Måns Zelmerlöw took first place, beating out Russia at 2nd and Italy (my pick!) at 3rd:

Måns was vocally on point, “Heroes” is upbeat and has a great message and the performance was a visual treat, but there were some other countries this year that didn’t place as well or fell under the radar that I still think deserved much more recognition. So with that here’s my top 10 favorite underrated Eurovision performances from 2015:

1. Georgia // “Warrior” by Nina Sublatti

Georgia’s song was #2 for me, right after Italy! Nina was my favorite female this year. That dark lipstick, those feathers, that black leather, that fog, those eyes crying out metal and grime, and that ominous chorus; my 13-year-old middle school goth self was cheering SO hard for her! Alas she placed 11th this year, and sure we still don’t know what “oximated” means, but Nina was fierce as fuck and she dominated her performance and no one can take that away from me. ♥

2. Czech Republic // Hope Never Dies by Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta

What? I picked a ballad?! Well yes, but the Czech Republic’s ballad was SO good this year! Marta and Václav’s voices went so well together, and suuuure it was dramatic and somewhat corny but that’s what made it awesome, don’t you think? Especially that last chorus? I can’t have been the only one who was holding up her cell phone and waving their arms! (Wait, what? I was the only one?)

I’m so disappointed this didn’t qualify for finals. PLUS THE GUY SOUNDS LIKE THE GUY FROM CREED! Doesn’t he!? He was easily the best male vocal in the competition this year! Plus how Marta was just like SCREW YOU to her heels for some reason and threw it upstage?! … Was that part of the performance? Actually I don’t even care it was epic anyway! UGH such an underrated song! OH AND ALSO– /gets dragged away

3. Israel // Golden Boy by Nadav Guedj

I’ve also come to enjoy, Nadav, and in a competition with an abnormal amount of ballads, Israel certainly brought the party to Eurovision this year! Honestly I don’t have much to say about this song besides that it was ridiculously appealing, their energy was explosive and it was easily the best part of the 1st half of the Grand Final. At least it made Top 10.

4. Montenegro // Adio by Knez

Since I’m a huge language-nerd, I have quite the soft spot for countries that sing in their mother tongue and do traditional-style songs so I was ecstatic when Montenegro revealed their entry. And hearing it live… what a flawless performance from Knez! He sounds even better than the recording, which quite frankly artists rarely are. With a scenic backdrop of the mountains, and how the song builds up at 2:08 before erupting into that sweeping bridge with everyone doing the traditional “Oro” dance at 2:15… I literally shed tears at the beauty of the performance. (I tried so hard to hide them from my friend. I hope she didn’t notice lol.)

Thankfully it seemed like the rest of Europe was also able to appreciate it and it placed 13th overall; a remarkable feat considering it’s so hard for countries that don’t sing in English to advance to the Eurovision finals and Montenegro isn’t a well-known country in the first place. So, well done! Four for you Montenegro, you go Montenegro! (And none for Austria and Germany BYYEEEE [Poor things, their songs were nice.])

5. Estonia // Goodbye to Yesterday by Elina Born & Stig Rästa

Blog, meet my OTP. OTP, meet my blog. Some people found their long glances awkward but I thought they were pretty convincing! Just look at this performance; their chemistry was off the chain! I mean you know what they say, proximity is one of the largest factors when it comes to attraction and with repeated exposure to each other through months of rehearsals it wouldn’t surprise me if Elina and Stig became a couple off stage and– … what? The song? Oh right. Yeah, it was good.

Hehe, but really, Elina’s voice was my favorite out of all the female singers from this year. Her high-pitched and simultaneously husky voice coupled with Stig’s hollow, raw tones… ilus, as they say in Estonian! In the time I’ve been writing this I’ve just pressed the replay button for the 4th time. Really I can listen to this song over and over again, it’s so stupidly catchy. ♥

Sidenote, is there a guy out there who wants to duet with me on this? My YouTube’s over here… message me if you’re interested. 😉

6.  Poland // In The Name Of Love by Monika Kuszyńska

To tell the truth I didn’t like this song at first because I’m not too fond of ballads, and Monika didn’t perform live as well as I’d hoped. HOWEVER, once I read what the song was about, and once that clip of her pre-accident played in the middle of the song… I just… I just got so…! GAH NO THE TEARS ARE COMING! ;;;;

I won’t lie it appealed to me emotionally after that, but now I really appreciate her low voice compared to the others females’ in the competition.

7. Portugal // Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa by Leonor Andrade

Ahh, another country singing in their own language. Portugal also holds a special place in my heart because they consistently send songs in their own language–and as they should, because Portuguese is charming yet confusing yet so musical. Leonor was so badass in her performance and her raspy voice and low register made it memorable for me. However, I do understand why this song didn’t make it to finals, because while it’s nice to listen to while chilling, it could’ve been more dynamic. I am, however, scared for Portugal’s Eurovision future… they haven’t made it to finals in the past couple years and I’m afraid that will discourage them from participating in the years ahead, which is a shame since their entries are always personal favorites of mine. Please don’t give up, Portugal!

8. Spain // Amanecer by Edurne

¡VIVA ESPAÑA! … is what I say, but I’m actually quite upset how low this placed. Edurne is one hell of a singer, she nailed 99.9% of the song, she’s GORGEOUS, she had a classy performance, and yet Spain came in 21st. Twenty first! Out of TWENTY SEVEN!! WITH THIS PERFORMANCE!!! Even the crowd was cheering insanely for her so WTF?? Oh and she turns into a tiger in her music video! (Which is obviously very important!) So really, WTF Europe??? Apparently Spain doesn’t do very well in Eurovision anyway (I don’t know why. Someone explain please.) but this song was grand and Edurne was mind-blowing so really. What. The. Hell. One of the biggest mysteries of Eurovision 2015, this one. Sigh.

9. Albania // I’m Alive by Elhaida Dani 

If it isn’t obvious by now I’m a sucker for strong voices. “I’m Alive” is another belter! Elhaida has a RIDICULOUS voice, really so ridiculous in the best of ways, she won The Voice of Italy for chrissakes!! So I love her emotion in the Grand Final… however in attempting to convey that emotion, I also think she fell short of a real solid vocal delivery. I’m not sure why but she seemed out of breathe from the beginning? Maybe her voice wasn’t in good condition since she was magical in this acoustic version. Regardless, this is still one of my favorites songs from this year. And also don’t forget to check out the Albanian version! I wish she performed that instead. Albanian is such a melodic language, definitely worth a listen.

10. Latvia // Love Injected by Aminata

Again, another song I didn’t care about when it was first revealed, but holy shit Aminata SLAYED live. IMO, she was the best live. She hit every note. Like, every single note. And it was a really unexpected entry from Latvia; a woman of color, a dark song, very experimental, very uncommon of a Eurovision song, but the emotion… that dress!… and the chills at 2:46 during those ‘oh~’s…. does anyone know if Aminata’s album is on iTunes yet? Because good LORD. Sublime entry this year, Latvia!

And there you have it, my Top 10 underrated Eurovision performances! Though, I can’t close this entry without posting a link to my #1 pick of the entire competition: the true winners of the televote and my own heart (GIANLUCA HAVE MY BABIES), Il Volo of Italy performing “Grande Amore”. Listen to that roaring crowd!

Which performances did you love but didn’t do as well as you hoped? Tell me in the comments!

♥ Nicole

Anime Watch: April 29, 2015

Like 90% of the internet, I’m a gigantic fan of Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin. For me it refueled my love for the genre, and whenever I ask other fans how they got into the show, they told me the same thing. Even people who didn’t watch anime hopped on the train because of AoT. Its created a sort of Anime Renaissance reminiscent to how Death Note dominated screens and conventions in 2006.

But while the new generation waits on bated breath for any inkling of news for Season 2, many of us are turning to see if another series can fill the void in the meantime. Though, when we do, we’re greeted with huge lists and things like this…

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Oh God… where do I start??

Literally–what do I even start watching? Was there always this much anime in the world?? And those are only the shows updated in the last 4 days! So if you’re aching for some new anime yet are overwhelmed by the choices, I’ve got your back; twice a month I’ll be listing 3-5 shows I’d recommend and why. So give ’em a shot!

1. My Love Story!!
(俺物語!!
Ore Monogatari!!)

my-love-story Takeo is a large, intimidating guy with an equally big heart and a soft spot for cute girls. When all his crushes end up liking his good-looking best friend Sunakawa, he’s in full on denial-mode when an adorable girl named Yamato whom he rescues from a train groper starts showing interest in him. The tone of the anime is light yet so touching, with every episode seeming to go by in a flash. It’s an unconventional love story that’ll have you pulling your hair at Takeo’s denseness (which doesn’t last too long, don’t worry) and screaming “YEAH YAMATO, GET IT GIRL!” at your computer screen. Best of all this anime is ongoing, so you can tune in every week to follow along and see how Takeo and Yamato’s story plays out.

2. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
(旦那が何を言っているかわからない件
Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken)

12anime08 Has life got you by the balls, gripping you so hard that you can’t even spare 20 minutes to start a new show? Have no fear, for I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is here… for Season 2! Follow office lady/normal person Kaoru and her otaku husband Hajime for 5 minutes every episode as they live their daily lives, their different perspectives and hobbies, exploring both the exciting and not-so-fairytale-like aspects of marital love and companionship. The show’s packed with anime tropes and jokes that’ll elicit the kind of giggles you make when you crack an inside joke with a friend. Bonus: For another fun and bite-sized series try Comical Psychosomatic Medicine, a show that explores mental disorders with a comedic (and slightly perverted) twist.

3. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
(美男高校地球防衛部LOVE!
Binan Kōkō Chikyū Bōei-bu Love!)

b320cf05482edabddc2737bd427acd041420480756_fullLooks like Tadakuni and friends can actually see magical boys in action now! If Sailor MoonCardcaptor Sakura, and Magic Knight Rayearth was your jam, you’d definitely be missing out if you don’t watch Cute High Earth Defense Club Love! With a title that pretty much slapped together 6 of anime’s most-used terms, Cute High Earth is a parody of the genre’s probably most well-known species: magical girls. But what happens when we take those long, flashy transformation sequences, impractical outits, and predictable plotlines and replace the pretty girls with equally pretty but skeptical, almost suspicious high school boys?

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It’s every bit as ridiculous as it looks, and it is glorious. Plus the series finished in March so it’s perfect for a weekend of binge-watching. And finally, if for some reason you aren’t convinced yet, then hear me out here: Cute High Earth is a parody, but it delivers in all the right places–that epic final battle, tho. Goosebumps!

4. Tokyo Ghoul | Tokyo Ghoul √A

tokyo_ghoul_main Looking for something more gut-wrenching like AoT? Try Tokyo Ghoul and follow Kaneki Ken, a university student who gets infatuated with the wrong girl and whose life is then flipped upside down and inside out (literally). Kaneki becomes a slave to the world of ‘ghouls’, mysterious beings that consume humans in order to survive. With heart-wrenching emotional sequences that explore themes like self vs family, friendship, ethic and ambition, and inner strength, you’ll find yourself wrapped up and deeply empathetic to Kaneki’s struggle to overcome the conversation of humans vs ghouls.

Be warned though, as this show is not for the faint of heart visually–but if you can brave the massive amounts of blood and disturbing events, Tokyo Ghoul is definitely worth getting into for its emotional value and really stupendous, absolutely chilling voice acting (Kaneki’s voice actor during those disturbing sequences with Jason… lord, someone give him an Oscar!!). I myself am still in the middle of finishing √A, so if you like what you hear join me and tell me what you think in the comments!

5. Re-Kan!
(レーカン!)

re-kan-coverBrought to you by the studio behind several popular anime such as Yu-Yu-HakushoNaruto, and the above mentioned Tokyo GhoulRe-Kan! is a story about a girl who can see the undead and the bonds she creates with them, talking to perverted cats, and her classmates’ assorted but hilarious reactions to all the forementioned. If you’re into really visual and almost dry humor you’ll totally dig this anime. I lost count of how many times I literally laughed out loud from the first episode, and fortunately it continued into the episodes out so far (since it is ongoing). And since it’s from Studio Pierrot, the art is top-notch and beautiful as well; the soft, almost metallic glean in the characters’ eyes and hair gives them a polished look that I think is very characteristic of anime from 2015. If you like spooky  sh!t like Jessica Chobot does (Hi Jess if you’re reading this!) with a large helping of comedy and a dash of heartwarming tones, I’d really recommend Re-Kan!… but even if you don’t I’d still recommend it!

That’s my 5 anime recommendations for this week! What anime are you currently watching and enjoying? Tell me in the comments, and if you decide to pick up one of my suggestions, don’t hesitate to let me know what you think of them as well.

That is all! Bye!

– Nic

Why ‘Terror in Resonance’ is not as popular as ‘Attack on Titan’

Terror in Resonance / Zankyou no Terorr is an anime I’ve known about since they hyped it like crazy during last year’s Anime Expo but I never got around to watching it ’til this week. And I’ve just finished the last episode 15 minutes ago, and I am still reeling from a massive headache. And I will explain why. And as always with these things:

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I’m gonna spoil the whole damn show, so turn back now while you can if you haven’t watched it already!

The premise of Terror in Resonance is appealing at its core: Nine and Twelve are two teenage boys. They’re known as “Sphinx” after they post a video on the Internet wearing masks and warning of an upcoming bombing in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which happens, and throughout the course of the anime Sphinx gives riddles in their videos to the Japanese police, who must solve them without ‘cheating’ in order to stop the bombs.

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Twelve and Nine.
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Sphinx’s video on anime-YouTube

As viewers, from the beginning we’re asking all kinds of questions: why do the boys call each other numbers? How the hell do two teenage kids know how to make bombs? At first I thought well hey, I guess you can find out anything from the internet nowadays, but the motive, what’s the motive? Naturally they want something, but what’s the point of giving the police a chance to stop the bomb using riddles? And they go out of their way to cause black outs, trip fire alarms and detonate bombs after-hours to ensure there are no casualties.

Of course, this was all revealed to me in the coming episodes, and it was a story more tragic than I could have ever anticipated: Nine and Twelve were part of a top secret project that gathered gifted orphans and were experimented on using a brain function drug accidentally developed by a Japanese pharmaceutical company in the 90’s. Nine and Twelve managed to escape from the institution, but many of them died from the intense experimenting circumstances.

Basically Nine and Twelve want to be caught now so they can reveal The Athena Plan, and to show those behind it just what kind of people their experiments created. In the middle of the show we discover there was another child who survived the institution: Five.

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Dat hair doh.

Five works with the Japanese police to track Sphinx down and based on the way the attacks were executed she already knows it was Nine and Twelve. Her ways are extreme to the lament of the Japanese police, though… and it was in this point in the anime that I actually started to get bored and annoyed.

Five was… Five was just… gah! I won’t lie, her I’m-cooler-than-thou attitude irked me but I figured she just really wanted to catch Twelve and Nine—Nine especially—for her own reasons. As in, I thought she had a really good personal reason. As the show went on and her obsession with catching Nine escalated, saying that she’d be the only one to “have” Nine, I laughed and joked that she just really wanted the D.

But then… apparently she really DID just actually want the D!! After a turn in event Nine turned himself in and was being escorted to a press conference. Five pursued, going to the point of turning cars over and killing the other agent she was working with in order to reach Nine.

And what does she do after getting him, finally? She kissed him. And then she blew herself up in a fire of gasoline.

I mean… what?! WHY! All this build up to catch Nine, and you just kiss him and then blow up in a fire?!! Like, scREW YOU!!!

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Yes, I was annoyed by Five at first, but I honestly wanted to like her. I’m recently rewatching Death Note and like L and Light, I thought Five and Nine would face off in several grand battles of wits. And I understand she’s had a rivalry with him since they were kids, losing at chess to him all the time, and her health was deteriorating anyway and love makes people do crazy things and she’s (literally) insane and blah blah blah, but homegirl had such potential to be a more interesting character. The way she died seemed shallow and like such a cop-out, but I suppose the 11-episode span of the anime limited any further character development that could’ve gone into her. Le sigh. What a waste, really.

At least once she died things started picking up again for me, as odd it is to say that. Another character I haven’t mentioned yet is Lisa, a lonely girl whose troubling home life leads her to Nine and Twelve, an integral person that impacted the way Nine and Twelve operated.

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I’d imagine some fans dislike Lisa for being the ‘rift’ between the two, but I actually loved her and her bravery despite the terrifying situations she fell into. In the end she comes through and just wants to protect her friends. She had her weak times but I felt like she was portrayed as realistically as any girl with a bad situation who was thrown into an even worse one, and she wasn’t just a boring damsel in distress to move the plot along.

As for the ending… oh boy. Sure I spoiled the show but I don’t even want to talk about that ending! I don’t know why I didn’t expect it—what, were they going to live free and careless in this ‘new world’ they created? But alas… that happened. THAT! And it made me cry my eyes out. Especially with Twelve, good God no one should be allowed to touch precious souls like him! UGHHH

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Furthermore the soundtrack is breathtaking, especially the ending song. The singer, Aimer, has one of the most emotional voices I’ve ever heard in modern Japanese singers (besides Gackt ;D). Usually anime music is pretty repetitive and there’s always that one theme attached to it, there was plenty of variety in Zankyou. I loved that English song that played in the beginning of Episode 8. And there was always a somehow romantic-yet-creepy undertone to the music… goosebumps! The music in this show gave the anime a very unique and fresh feel.

All in all, I personally enjoyed the beginning of Zankyou no Terror and understood why it ended the way it did, but I also see why it didn’t reach Attack on Titan status because it could’ve been so much better. I wish they delved more into Nine and Five’s pasts. Cuz what the hell happened to Five when Nine and Twelve were trying to escape the facility? I mean, why was she laughing? Did they ever explain that in the anime, and I just missed it? (If so please tell me.) What the hell’s up with Lisa’s mom? Where’s Lisa living now after all that craziness happened?? How will Tokyo rebuild?!?

They probably wanted to leave all that to the viewer’s imagination, but to me it feels… incomplete. I loved the way the anime explored all the various themes of hope, society, war, and love, but in a technical sense I wish they didn’t leave so much to be left open and to be decided by the viewer. That’s just me, though. I’m sure they were limited creatively by the number of episodes, which again is a shame.

Naturally with that ending it doesn’t seem like there’ll be a second season but I enjoyed the ride, Zankyou no Terror. On the bright side it’s also confirmed that I will indeed be marrying Ishikawa Kaito, the voice actor that played Nine. I mean wow, that voice you know??? Swoon. (Looks like Five’s not the only one who wants the D. AYOOOO)

Anyway, time to erase that ending from my mind and watch something completely different. I heard of an anime about magical boys… “Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!”, I think it’s called? Sounds quality.

That is all! Bye!

– Nic