October 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
July 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
Don’t you just hate it when you’re on a date with the boy you like when suddenly a pair of mysterious hands emerge from a nearby puddle, grab you and pull you way back into late Bronze Age Hattusa so that you can be used as a blood sacrifice by the Dowager Queen in order to secure her son’s place as future King of the Hittite Empire? I know, it’s truly a day ruiner, which is what our protagonist Yuri Suzuki quickly learns at the beginning of Red River, a shojo manga by Chie Shinohara which ran from 1995 to 2002. Though overwhelmed at first, Yuri quickly adapts to her surroundings as she tries to evade the Queen’s evil clutches, falls in love with the crown prince and becomes a symbol of hope for the people of Hattusa. You know, normal teenage stuff.
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May 21, 2014 § 1 Comment
I recently just graduated on Saturday, May 17th, 2014. The past four years at college have really been something. I’ve completed my studies in the English major, with a concentration in Professional Writing, from the help of numerous professors who are dedicated to what they do and to their students. Not only that, but I’ve made many great friends with whom I have made tons of fond memories.
Three days since it’s been the graduation, and as I applied my face tonight with acne medication I looked at my reflection and thought of hurting myself. This is not a cry for help, but to deeply self-reflect as a person. I remember first having acne when I was in the third grade, but they weren’t so bad. The severity of it started perhaps after my trip to Jamaica in 2011; acne started to break out badly on my cheeks, and with the help of some medicine they receded, but dark marks and vague scarring remained. I always had this insecurity because people will always look at your face before anything else, and because of that I feel conscious when people stare. But I don’t like that get in the way of me being a good person.
So what did I think of doing when I looked at my reflection tonight? Cutting my face, that’s what. I imagined it like a horror movie in which the protagonist just start cutting up her face, so that the pain that is held inside will be released. A part of me wanted to cry for thinking that because I shouldn’t let people get to me. I don’t know how many people have offered me different products to get rid of acne, and while I appreciate people’s kindness to help, but it can get a bit much when everyone tries to help at once.
Luckily, I am smarter than to do that because I don’t want to deal with my parents’ disappointment. Also, thinking of the hospital bill just gives me chills because the cost of surgery, and it would be a waste. Life will always let people down, but that’s no reason to give up and do something that is a small cut to our insecurity, something that will always scar our soul deep inside.
Writing about this has helped me feel better because it is a practice of self-expression, self-reflection as a writer and person. Sometimes things really do get tough for me, and it’s hard for me to talk to someone and let things go, but writing is an art form in which I can take my time to patiently reflect on what I think and feel.
July 21, 2013 § 4 Comments
…and enough is enough. It’s high time for shoujo characters, particularly the heroines, to get their eyesight back.
For the second round of MOB, I want to discuss the blindness shoujo heroines go through when they’re in love. It’s painful to read, as a young woman who loves her independence, about young girls who are at a time in their life when they really take notice of boys, and vice versa. It’s normal, and there’s nothing wrong with checking out boys. (I do it all the time and have no shame in saying so.) What’s unbearable is when the female characters un-/sub-consciously lose themselves in the desire of winning/keeping the person of their affections, or after the relationship is established, everything is rainbows and butterflies – the heroes can do no wrong in their eyes and nothing else matters. It’s like once the blinders are on, the heroines cease to have an identity outside of that love.
The two examples I will talk about are Nakamura Yoshi’s Skip Beat and Aihara Miki’s Hot Gimmick. (Note: I am very limited in my manga reading, so a few manga titles will be re-used often in my posts.)
Let’s examine what love does to our two heroines: (*SPOILERS ALERT*)
You know, I was cheering ecstatically when Kyoko realized that it was no use sitting around moping about the betrayal Sho did to her. She went out and got a makeover, which I said “Good for you, honey.” It felt satisfying to see a heroine who realizes that the man is not worth her time crying for (even if her desire for revenge against him left much to be desired because her journey of self-growth/love and progress as an actress revolved around Sho and revenge, which tasted bitter in my mouth).
Almost 200 chapters later, Kyoko shows us a part of her and Sho’s past from her POV of what it was like to be the closest female friend who had a huge unrequited crush on her childhood friend/popular guy. Any girl can relate to this kind of situation when you want your crush to see you as more than a friend, maid, or the worst yet, sister. So, to get a glimpse into their relationship reveals a lot of the kind of person Kyoko was. While I felt sympathetic for her plight of seeing the guy she clearly was head over heels for, that quickly vanishes once I realized she continued to be by his side, smiling as if nothing happened, like her feelings don’t matter after witnessing him kiss another girl. I understand her mother wasn’t a loving person (meaning no other emotions were shown other than disappointment), expecting perfections and nothing less, so I shouldn’t be too hard on Kyoko for continuing to be positive and smiling like the world didn’t just crumbled under her feet (because in some people’s crazy minds emotions=weakness). But she saw clearly for herself the kind of person Sho was – an immature playboy. So what blows my mind is how blind she is to the love she has for him. The thing that didn’t break the rose-colored glasses was seeing him kiss someone else; it was when he outright told his manager that he just used her as a maid. Oh Kyoko, I don’t know how to deal with you sometimes.
While I understand that it wasn’t her place to be outright angry or jealous on the outside with Sho because it seemed like Kyoko realized that Sho didn’t see her as anything more than a friend and she didn’t want to ruin that friendship over a typical high-school unrequited romance incident of which I’m sure she has seen more than once, but damn it. It’s not okay to keep those feelings bottled up, Kyoko. It’s okay to release that anger and jealousy. So what if your friendship with Sho is demolished? Maybe you care, but do you think that it would matter to him, the guy who could easily use you as a maid without any regard to your feelings for him? It’s better to face those feelings (and your unrequited love for him) than run away, thinking that everything is fine and dandy, only for the resentment to be manifested into an uglier demon of emotions that will keep you restless (see this for reference). Put your foot down and take a stand for yourself that you are nobody’s maid; you are Kyoko Mogami, your feelings matter just as much as anybody else. Sho’s request for Kyoko to come with him to Tokyo in furthering his singing career made her think she was special (I’ll say that everyone is special), but no one is all that special to put your life on hold for someone else’s life, damn it. Think of how far Kyoko could have gone with her life had Sho not selfishly thought only of himself and his big ego. It’s sad to watch her get a late start in doing what she wants with her life, but it’s better late than never I suppose.
If asked who is the weakest heroines I’ve ever read about, Hatsumi would win hands down. No questions about it. This girl is the representation of those with blinders on when it comes to love. I don’t understand how she can’t say no to her jerk of a boyfriend. Not to be misunderstood, but Ryoki was not her boyfriend yet on the page example shown above. This happened in the first chapter of the series. You know I clapped for Hatsumi not standing there obediently and letting a bullying and narcissistic guy grope her; she actually pushed him away and scolded him for being the big
genius idiot that we all know he is. It is never okay to simply touch someone inappropriately just because you think you are all that, Ryoki. So good for Hatsumi!
Yet, how did we end up here? Twenty-eight chapters later and Hatsumi begins to have feelings for the idiot, an insulting name he himself keeps calling her. You know Hatsumi, just because Azusa turned out to be a selfish bastard as well, whatwith his friends trying to film themselves raping you, you don’t owe jack to Ryoki for saving your butt. Actually, let me rephrase that. Yes, you can be grateful, say your thank you and be on your way. You don’t stop there and form a relationship with one of your bullies. The saving of Hatsumi from being filmed raped happened in chapter 11. It’s one thing to show gratitude to your savior, but it’s another thing if you see that one time rescue from the white knight in shining armor as the single, greatest deed that can override his undesirable flaws. How do you stay with a guy who belittle you at every chance he gets? Which is why Hatsumi wears the biggest rose-colored glasses of them all. Time and time again, she is treated like the pathetic pushover she is. I wanted her to see what Ryoki was doing to her; he was manipulating and taking control of the relationship. Perhaps she is content with being the follower to Ryoki’s leadership, but this is not a romance of the “opposites attract” kind. It’s of a master and slave that fulfills some people’s wildest fantasies of having some sort of control in their life. Ryoki and Hatsumi’s relationship was not based on equal partnership; it was based on domination and keeping the
slave girlfriend in line.
A final thought I have regarding the two heroines: they thought they could be the one, the good girl who tames the bad boy, but their supposed love and acceptance of the boys blinded them in seeing how they were being used. Luckily Kyoko saw Sho for his true colors and distanced herself from him as far as possible; albeit the purpose of her revenge is him. As for Hatsumi, we don’t see how their relationship work out after the series ended, but I hope she takes notice of how she’s treated and actually do something about it. I only wish the best for her because she has one clingy and easily jealous boyfriend on her hands.
Which heroine(s) on your manga list has the disease of being blinded from love? What would you say to her (or them) if you got the chance?
July 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
At one time or another there will be someone who helps you out of his/her own kind heart. But that one moment of kindness for which you are grateful for is not love.
I have read manga and short stories in which one character “falls in love” with the one who helps them because of that particular moment. It’s great that you see the goodness in that person, but I doubt they will hold on to that memory forever.
In my personal experience, I have had acts of kindness given to me by friends and strangers and vice versa. There is one particular act of kindness that I will never forget.
It was in either junior or senior year of high school when a guy (I’ll call him ‘A’) helped me out by getting a heavy box from the top of the lockers’ shelf. I used to have a crush on his best friend (I’ll call him ‘B’), but alas it was just a crush and the guy had a girlfriend at the time. The two boys have been friends since childhood; I met the crush before his friend. The three of us had one class together throughout the four years of high school.
The reason I hold that particular memory dear is because it made me see ‘A’ in a new light. (Not that I didn’t see his kindness before, but when that kindness is directed towards you it’s different.)
I was taking a ceramics class that year when it happened. The day had come for me to take home one of the heavy works I made in class. It was safely placed in a box filled with crumpled newspapers, which meant it was too big to fit into the locker I shared with my best friend. I couldn’t carry the box for the rest of the day since it was not light-weighted. So I decided to put the box on top of the lockers’ shelf, which was no easy task since I was scared the ceramic piece might drop out of the box and onto to my head.
When I had time between classes, I went to the locker to get the box down because the hallways are always hectic when the bell rings of the school day being over. What I wasn’t betting on was how hard it was to get the thing down; I had forgotten how heavy it was. So while all of my five-feet self (*sigh* being short sucks sometimes) tiptoed to slowly pull the box inch by inch, a pair of arms reached up behind me and lifted the box down. I realized it was ‘A’ when I took the box away from him. I guess you could say I was a little flustered by it all, but I managed to say a “thank you” to the guy, who coolly just strutted away without a glance back.
From then on, I began to take notice of him – seeing how he interacted with other people. I started to like how he smiled and goofed off with his friends; even though I thought it was ridiculous of me to go from ‘B’ to him.
At some point, I asked myself what kind of feelings I had for the guy. Was it love? Was it admiration? Was it appreciation? I think it was more of the two latter because I reasoned that being grateful for his help doesn’t equal to being in love with him. He helped out of the goodness of his own heart; he didn’t do it because I was special or anything. An act of kindness is just that: an act of kindness.
I don’t know if he remembers it, but for me it will always be special because he was helpful that day when I was too short to reach and lift the box down safely.
Thank you, ‘A.’
July 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
At some point when I am feeling nostalgic, I will do a recap of each volume and weighs in my thoughts on it. Thank you starsamaria for the great review.
There are many spoilers in this review, so please read with caution!
One of my favorite types of shojo series tell stories about girls who get sucked into other worlds. From Fushigi Yugi to Red River, these stories combine action, drama, fantasy, and romance into multilayered epics that are hard to forget. One of the more popular series of this type is decidely less known here in the U.S: Kanata Kara, also known as From Far Away. Noriko Tachiki is a 14-year-old girl who is transported to another world after a terrorist bombing. She immediately is discovered by Izark, a handsome man who possesses extreme physical strength, which he uses to fight monsters that are about to attack Noriko. Inevitably, he becomes the young girl’s protector. Noriko, who can’t speak or understand the language of the world and stands out like a sore thumb because of her clothing, finds herself helpless, slowly becoming more competent over the course of…
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July 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
HAN HYO JOO and JUNG WOO SUNG, who are currently promoting their Korean thriller, “Cold Eyes,” in a monochromatic photoshooot.
These pictures simply were breathtakingly beautiful and edgy when I first saw them in Seoulbeats’ “For Your Viewing Pleasure: Summer Blackout.” The author of the article Fannie only disclosed the first and second photos. I went on a Google search of the pairing’s photoshoot because I couldn’t stop thinking of how much chemistry was oozing out of the second photo even if they weren’t looking at each other. As I looked at the images provided by Google, I found the third one and needed to enlarge it because I was on a high to see the sexual tension between these two. There is something tender and dominating going on in the last photo (which is my favorite out of the bunch) that wasn’t there when Hyo Joo and Woo Sung guested on Running Man episodes 151 and 152. They had little interactions on the show because they were on opposite teams and based on the promoting pictures of their film there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between them. Until now. Thank the photographer on knowing how to get that chemistry out of the two and make it a great photoshoot.