Saturday, February 23, 2008

Goong (Princess Hours)

Goong (Princess Hours), adapted from a manhwa of similar name by Park So-Hee, is set in an alternate 21 century where there is still a royal family in Korea, and revolves around the lives of the Crown Prince, Lee Shin, and his new bride , Chae-Kyeong.

The story begins when Lee Shin’s father’s health being very weak and due to this very grim prospect, the royal family hurries to get Lee Shin married. However, Shin already has a girlfriend whom he proposed to, and was rejected. So Shin ends up marrying Chae-Kyeong and their story begins…. Despite feeling nothing for Chae-kyeong initially, love eventually blossoms between them. more>>

This show has it's sweet moments. A must watch if you're a romantic at heart, I guess. although only towards the end of the series are the sweet moments. On the whole it was a good watch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mop Girl

The story revolves around Hasegawa Momoko, who due to an accident was given some special ability – the ability to go back in time to save people from death. Her dormant special ability manifested itself when she blundered on her dream job as a wedding coordinator. As a result, she was transferred to a special cleaning department – doing undertaking jobs: funeral ceremonies, handling dead bodies and cleaning up blood pool of death crime scenes. Although she is a hardworking individual, she is naïve and can get clumsy at times, adding to the comical relief for the series. She also has an obsession with muscles, lots of it.

On her first day of work in the new department, that special ability that hidden inside her was awakened - able to travel back in time (usually the day before the death occurs) when she comes in contact with items belonging to the deceased. As a result, she is able to somehow change the future of those people, saving them in the process.

Although the show is entertaining and comical at times, it gets repetitive after the first 3 episodes. She encounters dead person, gets to know more about them, comes into contact with the deceased items and gets thrown back in time to save them from imminent death. The déjà vu thing gets tiring after a while, but still a good watch if you want to pass time.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Episode 1 (Nodame Cantabile)

Nodame Cantabile > Episode 1

The beginning of the episode we get a flashback of Shinichi Chiaki in Praha, Prague. Here it shows how a younger version Chiaki was inspired to be a conductor when he saw a conductor named Sebastiano Viera performing inside Dvorak Hall. In the next scene, a grown out Chiaki in a dark gloomy room lamenting that he’s stuck in Japan, and wondering when would he ever get to visit the conductor Viera in Prague.

After lamenting, Chiaki goes back into flashback mode and we get to know that as a child, being the son of a famous pianist, he was privileged enough to attend musical performances all over the world. This was when he first encountered Sebastiano Viera and was in awe, he wanted to grow up to be a conductor just like Sebastiano Viera. However, as Chiaki’s mother has divorced his father he was forced to move back to Japan with her. Before he went back to Japan, he told the Maestro to accept him as a pupil when he grew up and was able to come back to Prague.

Fast-forward to the present time, Chiaki is attending Momogaoka College of Music and, as he is one of the talented students’, has become the school’s idol adored by almost all the students of the school (especially females). Chiaki, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered with the attention he receives as he does not have regard for people in general; having a superior complex. He even gets jealous of a guy called Hayakawa Yukio, who receives a scholarship to study abroad.
As Chiaki is walking to his class for the day, we got to met Nodame. There are two girls talking about Chiaki and deciding to have lunch before they continue. Just as they are about to start their lunch (they bring packed lunches to school), it turns out that one of the lunchboxes was eaten clean. Here we see the back view of a very full Nodame running away, with her friend yelling at her in the background.

During Chiaki’s piano lesson, as he was frustrated that Hayakawa Yukio has the opportunity to study abroad, starts to play the piano faster than the tempo and in the process angering his teacher. Chiaki immediately gets smacked with a paper fan and subsequently gets scolded by said teacher. The teacher reminds Chiaki that he was selected to participate in Maradona Piano Contest in December, and the teacher was not impressed when he discovered Chiaki’s Conductor's score sheet as he couldn’t play the piece before very well. In retaliation, Chiaki tells his teacher that he's fed up of hearing "Forte" repetitively and sick the lack of originality of students playing.

Upon hearing his remark, the teacher becomes upset and informs Chiaki not to come to his lesson anymore; another student would be replacing Chiaki in the contest. The teacher storms out of the room leaving Chiaki muttering to himself that it was always his dream to become a conductor. While thinking about this and walking out of the school, he suddenly hears someone playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata, pathétique.

Initially he assumed that the playing was sloppy and the tempo was messy, however upon further listening Chiaki became impressed by the player because the pianist did not make a mistake although the tempo was irregular. Captivated by the sound, he runs to the direction of the music hoping to catch a glimpse of the one playing. He manages to locate the room, but before he was able to open the door to take a look at the person, he gets interrupted by a girl called Saiko. She instantly asks him if he got kicked out of Eto-sensei's class, suggests that Chiaki apologise to Eto-sensei - a famous teacher in the college – mentioning that she thinks he's fortunate to be selected in the student competition and that he should not throw away the opportunity. Chiaki, however is unaffected by her words as he interest does not lie with the piano. When Saiko suggests that he switch to the Conducting course, he retorts that he all he wants for a teacher is Sebastiano Viera.

Upon hearing his reply, Saiko is incensed and tells Chiaki that since he wants Sebastiano Viera for a teacher he should stop wasting his time and just go aboard to study. This is where we learn why Chiaki is unable to leave Japan: he has a phobia of flying; he starts to hyperventilate, hallucinating images of an airplane crashing.

Chiaki ponders if he should just quit music altogether since he will not be satisfied unless he can perform in Europe, wondering if the company Saiko's parents set up will accept him. Saiko is disgusted to see Chiaki sounding like a loser. Chiaki tries to stop her when she tries to leave, and in retaliation, Saiko informs him that he had lost the right to stop her when they broke up and to top it off, she hates losers. A drunken Chiaki eventually makes his way back to his apartment but ends up sleeping in the hallway instead. This is where the female protagonist, Megumi "Nodame" Noda, sees and instantly falls head over heels for him. When she blows into Chiaki's ear, Chiaki feels as if he's in an open field enjoying the cool breeze with Beethoven's Sonata playing in the background. Chiaki opens his eyes and finds himself amongst junks in a room other than his own; with a girl playing an improvised Cantabile.

Chiaki's beautiful illusion comes to an abrupt end when he accidentally hits an empty can of coffee and a mess of flies get unleashed. In the meanwhile, Nodame finally remembers that the guy she brought into her room is her upper classman, Chiaki. She than gives Chiaki a creepy grin and asks him if he remembers what happened last night. Chiaki freaks out to hear and runs out of the room. He comes to the realization that he's still in his apartment block but was in the room next door. He becomes disgusted when he notices dust and spider webs on his shirt and dashes to his bathroom. When he realizes that he lost his belt, he starts to freak out when he remembers that Nodame asked him if he remembered what happened the night before. He immediately takes a shower in a desperate attempt to get rid of the bad memories, all the while he screaming that he doesn't remember.

Proceeding on to the next day, Chiaki is horrified when Nodame shows up with his belt. He pretends not to know her and fakes ignorance that the belt belongs to him. When Nodame continues to follow him, Chiaki has no choice but to throw the belt away in an attempt to divert Nodame’s attention, causing her to chase after it. Nodame's friend refuses to believe that she picked Chiaki up last night, but Nodame insists that Chiaki was the one who asked her to help him. During this time, Chiaki finds out that his teacher has been changed from Eto Kozo to Tanioka Hajime. He is more than shocked when he finds out that Nodame will be sharing the same teacher as him.

On to the next scene inside an auditorium: Eto-sensei brings a reporter to an orchestra rehearsal and informs her that Momogaoka Music Academy has an elite orchestra comprising of the most talented students. However, before the reporter can listen to the rehearsal, the Chairwoman complains about how everything always sounds the same. In the meanwhile, Chiaki is asked to play a two-piano Sonata with Nodame by Tanioka-sensei.

Chiaki initially tries to refuse saying that he can't play with someone as messy as Nodame, nevertheless Tanioka tells Chiaki that even if he is unable to, he should at least just try advising his underclassman. Chiaki finally relents when he sees the song they are about to play, Mozart Sonata Duet, demanding Nodame to get the song right. After only 2 sections, Nodame is already making mistakes and seems to be playing the song in a chaotic manner. This causes Chiaki to hurl the piano sheets at her. Chiaki soon realises the problem, Nodame is not looking at the music sheets (she has her eyes closed throughout). Nodame replies that she's just enjoying the song. Tanioka-sensei explains that Nodame has a good ear and not used to play a piano using the music sheets, often learning by listening to a song.

Tanioka-sensei thinks they should just take it easy but Chiaki disagrees, wanting to conclude the lesson within 3 days. After practice, Chiaki meets Saiko again and is surprised when she seems to be waving at him. It turns out that she was waving at the scholarship student, Hayakawa Yukio, and he become upset. In order to calm himself down, Chiaki goes to his balcony to enjoy the view.

Upon reaching the balcony, he smells an unpleasant odor emitting from Nodame's apartment next door. In his curisousity, he takes a peek at her balcony, and is horrified to see piles of rubbish bags piled. There’s even a disgusting purple liquid oozing out of her apartment, making its slow descend to his balcony....along with swarms of ants. Chiaki immediately goes over and rings Nodame's doorbell, wanting to reprimand her. In her attempt to answer the door, Nodame opens the door violently, hitting him right in the face. Nodame assumes that Chiaki has come for his belt but he actually wants to clean up her room.

Chiaki starts getting rid of Nodame’s stuff, starting with the things that he assumes she doesn't need, but Nodame keeps protesting that she needs wants to keep everything and its precious to her. He then proceeds to clean up her room; he finds a pot containing some black sludge inside of it. Nodame claims that it was actually cream stew.... made one year ago. Over the next few hours Chiaki find more gross objects (e.g.mushroom growing on her laundry). It takes a while before Nodame’s room is cleaned and tidy. At the end of it, Chiaki wonders out loud why he is doing this in the first place.

To express her gratitude to Chiaki for his help, Nodame decides to cook him a charcoal like fish she claims to be 'Salted horse mackerel with mayo’. Chiaki decides to whip up a hard-to-pronounce pasta dish for both of them, as he is afraid of getting food poisoning. Nodame praises Chiaki's cooking skill, igniting his ego, and he promises her that next time he'll cook tastier foods for her.

We then get introduced to one of the supporting characters, Ryuutarou. Ryuutarou complains that his father didn't wake him up, thinking that he was late for school. However, it turns out that he still has enough time to make his way to the academy. As a result, Ryuutarou has a slight conversation a man, a foreigner, who praised his father's cooking. (His father owns a Chinese restaurant) Ryuutarou ends up giving the old man a tour of his academy and in the process somehow manages to lose track of the guy. We get shown that the old man has been taking pictures of several seemingly untalented students in the academy. This old man soon becomes the talk of the academy and they start to wonder if he's stalking Chiaki. A guy comments that stalking Chiaki would something Masumi(another supporting character who behaves a little femininely) would do. As soon as he finished his sentence, a guy with a big afro hair materializes and strangles him, insisting he's not a stalker and that he has been looking at 'Chiaki-sama' for the past 4 years, nothing more.

Speaking of Chiaki, he arrives for practice and notices a history book on Mozart's two piano Sonata. This composition apparently was created by Mozart with the intention to be performed with a friend's gifted daughter. Chiaki thinks that that Tanioka-sensei is being harsh for forcing him and Nodame to accomplish something so difficult. He even admits that it would be a challenge to accomplish within 3 day, a timeframe he set himself.

Chiaki finds out later on in the day that the scholarship student will actually study at Gerharm Academy, the institution where Viera will be. Later on that night, Nodame meets the strange old man and finds out that he comes from Germany and is in a foreign land all by hiself. Nodame decides to take him to Chiaki's house. Upon seeing Nodame bringing a stranger she just met on the street to his house, Chiaki is livid. And when she says that his name is Milch Holstein, Chiaki is angered even further because the name sounds “fake”.

The old man sees Chiaki's photo frame of a picture with Viera and asks Chiaki if he knows Viera. Chiaki is angered to see the old man touching his precious picture. This is when the old man realises that Chiaki does not want him around, so he tries to get Nodame out of Chiaki's apartment, conning her about a good Sushi restaurant near the hotel he's staying. Chiaki feels that the old man is a pervert and attempts to get Nodame away from him by asking her to practice in his room that night. The old man, retaliates by telling Nodame that he has something more fun to teach her inside his beautiful fluffy bed. Unwilling to be outdone, Chiaki informs Nodame that his room also has fluffy bed. Upon hearing this, Nodame instantly latches onto Chiaki's arm, much to the dismay of the old man. Chiaki uses this opportunity to kick the guy out of his room. When he returns to his room, Chiaki sees Nodame already in her pyjamas on his bed, asking him to have her.

Chiaki is annoyed uponing seeing this and orders Nodame to go back, Nodame tries to bargain saying she will practice properly as long as he doesn't kick her out. Chiaki loses his enthusiasm and doesn't care either way. He tells Nodame that he will tell Tanioka-sensei that he can no longer teacher her. An upset Nodame leaves Chiaki's room. The next day, Chiaki hears messily played piano tunes from Nodame’s room and decides to visit her.

When he enters Nodame's room, he is shocked to see it returning to the messy state that it was in previously. Nodame appearance does not help either as she apologises for the noise, saying that she still can't play the song well. Upon hearing this, Chiaki tells her that if she can't learn from score, then he wants her to learn by using her ear. He then proceeds to play the song and asks her to listen carefully.

Although Nodame improves, he still gets frustrated at her little mistakes. However, he remembers how Eto-sensei treated him and promises himself that he will never do likewise with treat Nodame, determined to move away from Eto-sensei’s footsteps. Nodame eventually manages to perfect the song but Chiaki is still not happy.... because her hair has not been washed in the last 3 days! Chiaki takes it upon himself to personally wash Nodame's hair and blow-dry it. In the process he muses to himself why he’s doing such a thing. He gets the feeling and imagines himself to be a dog groomer, with Nodame being the dog. On the other hand, Nodame is enjoying herself and has an imagination that she’s being served like a queen on a holiday. He mentions that he feels like a dog groomer and strangely enough Nodame is not offended and even asks him what kind of a dog is she. Chiaki thinks that Nodame is weird and in a way reminds him of Viera-sensei.

On the day both of them are to perform in front of Tanioka-sensei approaches, Chiaki notices Nodame trying hard to memorise the score and tells her she can play the song anyway she likes for that day. They begin to play in unison but Chiaki anticipates to the problem will come soon bwhen Nodame goes off into her own world when he told her she could play as she liked. Although Chiaki is bothered by Nodame's style, he remembers what Viera-sensei once told him that it is more important to create a performance that captivate people, and he adjusts to her style; complimenting as they play along.

When the performance ends, Tanioka-sensei praises Chiaki for being able to break 'the wall' and Chiaki realises that he was paired with Nodame not only to teach her but to learn as well. As Chiaki walks back with Nodame, she tells him that seeing his back makes her heart beat faster, murmuring to herself if she's in love with him. Chiaki is shocked and tries to stop Nodame from kissing him, reminding her that although her style was ok for that performance, it would never be allowed in a contest. Nodame replies that she has no interest in entering a contest and that her aspiration is to become a kindergarten teacher.

Through this encounter, Chiaki realises that there are more things he can accomplish and so he decides to change his course of study. Simultaneously, news travels rapidly that a world famous conductor, Franz Strezemann, will be coming to campus. Ryuutarou fails to understand the hype that Strezemann will teach the conducting division. While Chiaki, on the other hand, is glad as he just applied to study conducting. He and Ryuutarou follow the rest of the students to the teachers’ room and are surprised to see the perverted old man they encountered to be the famous Maestro mentioned.

Strezemann informs the teacher that he wants to form a new student orchestra using students that he selected. He then proceeds to show them the photos of these students; however he accidentally shows them some naughty photos instead. Eventually Strezemann manages to show them photos of the students that he selected (the ones which he took previously when Ryuutarou lost him on campus) - Masumi, a new female character, Ryuutarou, and Nodame. Chiaki, is dismayed to see this and decides contemplates about his change of study.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Romantic Princess

Raised by middle classed parents, Mai always had a dream of living in a castle like a princess. As her family isn’t that well-off since her father lost his job, Mai has been working extremely hard at various part-time jobs to support her family and herself. But who would have guessed that Mai’s dream would one day come true: it turns out that she was adopted; her biological grandfather is the head of a prestigious aristocratic family.

After many years of searching for his long-lost granddaughter, he finally finds her – Mai. And so the life as heiress begins for Mai – classes on etiquette, meeting new people and enemies. Although everyday is filled with excitement, Mai realizes that everything is different from how she originally thought it would be. Join her on her journey as she explores the life of an heiress and the hardships she has to overcome.

A good fun watch to pass your day with. it did get kind of tacky towards the end, but if you're able to tolerate certain parts of the show, it's pretty entertaining watch.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

It Started with a Kiss

Xiang Qin always had a crush on the school’s top student, Jiang Zhi Shu - a genius with an IQ of 200 who is cold and distant, and in the top class. It doesn't help that she's one of the school's worst student academically and in the last class. When she finally musters up the courage to confess to him, in the process managing to somehow land in a very embarrassing situation, he rejects her in front of the whole student body in the most humiliating manner.

Shortly after her confession, her house is destroyed by an earthquake and this forces her and her father to take refuge with her father’s own ex-schoolmate. This ex-schoolmate of her father’s turns out to be the father of Jiang Zhi Shu, which shocks her to no end.

Will the close proximity give her a second chance to win Zhi Shu's heart, or will her love for him end under his cold words? What happens when there is competition for his heart? Join Xiang Qin as she embarks on her adventure to win Zhi Shu’s heart.

Adapted from the manga, it almost follows the storyline which it's own changes of course. On the whole the story is engaging and funny. It was especially sweet towards the end. A typical and hilarious ending awaits you at the end. It's one of those shows that brighten up your day abit and let it go by faster.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Witch Yoo Hee

Ma Yoo Hee has a reputation of being a ‘witch’ as she only a wears black and has a ruthless character with low tolerance for nonsense. She works as a director of her father’s advertising company and is pretty well-off. Due to her personality, she has gone through countless of housekeepers; to the extent that the company providing the housekeepers blacklists her.

In a somewhat desperate attempt to hire a housekeeper, she encounters into Chae Moo Ryong, an ex-medical student aspiring to be a chef. He collides with her car, and as a way to pay his debt for damaging her car, he agrees to become her housekeeper and personal love affairs coach.

Join them in their adventure Moo Ryong gives Yoo Hee a makeover, and they encounter interesting perilous situations together. Two guys even fall for Yoo Hee after her make over - her old friend, Johnny Kruger and her first love, Joon Ha. Despite the fact that Moo Ryong already has a girlfriend he finds himself falling for Yoo Hee, and Yoo Hee starts to become a more humane and likable person as a result of her interaction with Moo Ryong.

The storyline was ok, though there were times when the characters and reactions were a little too surreal. If you can look past all that, it's not too bad.

Attention Please

Having lost her mother at a young age and due to being raised by her three brothers, Misaki Yoko is a slightly tomboyish girl who is stubborn and straight-forward. Due to her upbringing, she prefers the company of boys over girls, resulting in her not really having a feminine side. She starts a band with 4 guy friends, becoming the band’s lead singer.As time passes by, she develops feelings for one of her friends, Tsukasa. However, one day Tsukasa has to leave town and subsequently the band as well, as he found a banking job in Tokyo. Tsukasa's impending departure is the catalyst for the band getting dissolved.

On the day of Tsukasa departure, although Yoko is unable to tell Tsukasa how she feels about him and is feeling upset, she puts a strong front and joins the rest to see Tsukasa off at the airport. When a group of air stewardesses pass by, the guys get excited and Yoko is clueless why they react that way. She reminds them that even she could wear the uniform, but the guys just laugh it away, not taking her seriously. That’s when Tsukasa comments that he wonders how she would look like in that uniform. This one phrase from Tsukasa inspires Yoko to work as an air stewardess.

And so she embarks on her adventure to attain her goal, meeting new friends and enemies, getting into sticky situations and was even on the verge of giving up her dream to be an air stewardess. Along the way, her reasons for doing so shifts to something more realistic and practical, and she starts to mature – developing into a better individual suited to be an air stewardess.

A pretty engaging story about the ups and downs of life, and the maturing of a character, with a tinge of funny, sweet and sad moments as well.