Tag Archives: anime

5 Reasons To Love Cardcaptor Sakura

18 Oct

For the past three weeks, I’ve been binge watching an old Japanese anime from my childhood: Cardcaptor Sakura. This year marks Cardcaptor Sakura‘s 20th year anniversary, and it looks like CLAMP has added a new arc to the Cardcaptor Sakura series to celebrate: The Clear Card Arc. There is also an anime project in the works. ❤ I did happen to read the first five chapters of the new arc. So far…Regrettably…I’m once again addicted. XD

Recently, I got wind that Cardcaptor Sakura had also been re-dubbed by Animax. As an anime fan, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to watch it up.

A little bit of nostalgia and a little bit of a fascination with mysteries and wonders in the world brought me into Cardcaptor Sakura in the first place. Re-watching it again, no matter how bad the dub sounds, how bad I have to focus to read subtitles, or how poor my Japanese skills are, I can’t help but want to watch and read the whole thing over and over again.

carcaptors-sakura-anime

No matter how many times I’ve watched this anime, I never get bored or tired of it. I couldn’t put my finger on it for the longest time. Why can’t I ever get tired of this anime? What about this anime draws me in every time?

Sure, there are plenty of great Shoujo animes out there. I’ve watched my share. But this one always seems to capture my heart every time I watch it. I usually consider myself tomboyish…But this anime brings out my “girlish” side (?). It’s just so darn sweet and cute. ❤

With that being said, I gathered 5 things I love about this anime and I would like to share them with you, readers, and maybe you might find you like these things about the anime too! For all of you newcomers to Cardcaptor Sakura, I recommend you give this manga/anime a try.

1 .Love Has No Definition

In the Cardcaptor Sakura universe, and fans know this, love isn’t clearly defined, isn’t one-dimensional, and it evolves. Truly, CLAMP, the writers of the source material, had no qualms with inculcating relationships that defy the traditional. In many respects, it was ahead of its time (since it did come out in the 1990s).

For instance, there is one couple in the series that consist of two teenage boys (though technically one isn’t human, but whatever). However you take their relationship, the material doesn’t hesitate to express that these two individuals love one another the most. They don’t turn this into something perverted or unaccepted. It seems to flow naturally in the story, is accepted, and is very romantic. It still carried a level of innocence that is not common with this kind of relationship. All of the relationships could be taken any way according to the reader. There are relationships between family that are highlighted to be stronger than relationships between lovers within this story. However you want to see love and romance, this story has a lot to offer.

Other relationships expressed in the story are still not considered acceptable. However, I applaud CLAMP’s bold approach to the romance genre and their ability to look outside of the box. Even with their canon romance, throughout everything, it was anything but boring.

I usually hate the romance genre. In anime especially, the love interest is usually super obvious and is developed long before the story takes off. It makes the following episodes boring. But I am completely obsessed with this story’s romance story.

2. Everything is Mysterious

I love anything mysterious and unexpected. Cardcaptor Sakura is full of magic and mystery. There was always a suspicious new character being introduced, always a mysterious card lying around, and the story behind most all of the characters are very peculiar and interesting. All of the characters could have their own spin-off series and it would be interesting. Though there was a lot of information left out, it didn’t stop the characters from growing,learning, and changing.

3. The Characters Are Layered And Evolve

Adding on from the last point, the characters are very individual, unique, and evolve. Even the characters one would think is the most stereotypical has something different happen to them that changes the character’s whole perspective on life, thus changing the reader’s opinion of them. The main character is an example of that. One would think that everyone would be in love with the main character. Isn’t that how it is in most Shoujo (directed to girls) anime? But not in this one. Though sure, everybody likes her, this character is not immune to heartbreak. And her idea of a love interest…certainly not someone people would initially think of as “love interest” material. In most shoujo anime, the main love interest is a handsome, tsundere/cheerful guy, who is usually older than the lead character. While this anime starts typically, it evolves into something entirely different…

All characters have strengths and weaknesses, annoying traits and charms. I can’t really say I hate any characters in the story.

4. The Music

This is particularly a point about the anime. The music is mystical and soothing at the same time. The scores are epic.

5. CLAMP-The Creators

What isn’t cool about an all female manga group? I’d say that’s pretty empowering. The four businesswomen who came together to make this project have managed to create a “stamp” for all of their creations. In many of their stories, there is always an element of mystery and intrigue. However, the most notably intriguing part of their animation is how similar all of their characters look. Many times, references are made regarding the similarities throughout most of their other anime and manga work. It almost seems like all of their characters are a part of one big universe and are all connected somehow.

There are four ways to get into the Cardcaptor Sakura story if you’re an English speaker: the translated manga, the Japanese anime subbed, the Nelvana dubbed version, and the Animax dubbed Version…

There are typically two arcs: The Clow Card arc and the Sakura Card arc. But, in the anime, they are covered by 3 seasons with 70 episodes in total. With the new Clear Card arc, there may be more. There are also two movies for the anime series.

The manga is the original source material. NONE of the animes are super close to the original story in the manga, not even the Japanese anime, aside from certain key events and characters. In the anime adaptations, there were many new scenes, extra cards collected, and new characters that weren’t in the manga. At the same time, the animes equally left out other interesting scenes you can only find in the manga. Still, the animes added all the main characters and the most important card scenes.

The Japanese anime was the first adaptation of the manga. You can watch this version with subtitles now.

The Nelvana dub changed the feeling and tone from the original Japanese anime. The cast sounded more “American” (with popular American names and customs replacing Japanese names and customs) and there are hardly any Japanese undertones. Many scenes were edited and chopped up, the opening and ending songs were changed, and the title was changed to Cardcaptors. Season 3 never aired on tv in some countries, so it may all be new to some Cardcaptors fans. They can be found online and in DVD sets. This anime was meant to appeal more to boys as well as girls. I enjoy the dubbing and music on this version. It feels more natural to me (and less cutesy 😉 ). It may be because I’m American and I started with this version. XD

The Animax version was meant to be the direct dub of the original Japanese anime. It does a decent job, but some parts aren’t completely dubbed, for whatever reason…

My advice is to read and watch whichever suits your fancy. I’ve found charms in all versions. ❤

Fans can also look forward to a new chapter in the story! I’m both excited and exasperated. I do love this anime and used to want to know what happened next. But I’m afraid that the anime will outwear its beautiful simplicity. I really liked where the manga and anime ended and I’m afraid things may be ruined or may turn sour with more added to the story. One thing that has ruined other anime and manga was having too many episodes and volumes. Everything must find an ending. I feel that this anime will be more of a gem where it’s at. At the same time, I wasn’t satisfied not seeing the rest. So maybe just one more arc would be fine…

I’ll tell you this…I don’t want to wait two more years before the anime is released. I hope the manga and anime are released simultaneously. I’m too excited! XD

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Have you watched this anime before? Do you agree with my reasons? If you love this story, what are your reasons for loving Cardcaptor Sakura? Do you plan to watch and have any more questions? I’m open to any discussions.

cardcaptor-sakura

Advertisements

Drama Fever: Introduction + Hana Kimi/To the Beautiful You #dramafever

8 Apr

Introduction 

*You can skip the introduction if you don’t want to read all of this.*

Many of you might think that I am a bit of a Weeaboo, a Koreaboo, and a bit of a Sinophile. I understand that these people are not looked upon very kindly by the public. These people are considered those guilty of “cultural appropriation”. Basically, people look at them as individuals who “think” they are Asian, but are not. :/ To some people, my obsession over Korean entertainment, my personal critical reviews of other cultural art and perspectives, may seem offensive.

Sure, I love J-pop, K-pop, and some C-pop. I even watch dramas from many Asian countries. I do own two Chinese-style dresses and a Chinese-style modern top. I enjoy cosplay of my favorite characters from my favorite video game Kingdom Hearts. I hope to learn at least one Asian language in my life-time or visit an Asian country. I am fascinated by Japanese and Chinese history. I’m new to Korean history and more familiar with their modern pop culture.

Hallyu Wave

But this actually goes for any culture. I enjoy music and shows from France, New Zealand, Tanzania, Peru, Turkey, and many other countries. I am fascinated with Turkey and it’s Topkapi Palace. You can literally say…I LOVE THE WORLD. ❤

If you want my honest opinion, I am not racist. I am an African American who doesn’t think my culture is superior to another person’s. And I don’t get offended when people want to adapt a part of my culture. I actually feel flattered. I see culture as something universal, not something “owned” or “exclusive”, like I’m in some snobbish exclusive club. Cultures have and always will change. Women in many countries have adapted American styles of dress, like wearing jeans and skirts, using westernized mobile phone devices, and other westernized products. You can say these people are trying to be American, but some of these items make life more convenient for others. It does not offend me to see a Korean girl wearing a pair of jeans…It does not offend me to see a girl wearing hip-hop clothing…

But of course, other people will not see it my way.

I treat all entertainment as if they are all the same. I treat it all as if it came from the same country. I am a firm believer in cross-cultural fertilization.  I believe people are the same everywhere; no matter what culture, each person is their OWN individual. There are things that I like and dislike about all cultures, including my own, but I do not think one culture is superior to another. We all have faults…

So why am I saying all of this? Well, because I’m about to go on a looooonggg spill about some Asian dramas I’ve been watching. I don’t want to offend anyone if my remarks seem harsh, judgmental, or a bit blunt. I really have nothing negative to say, but I may say some things that these cultures may find inappropriate.

I love Asian entertainment, but I don’t know everything about Asia. I was born and raised a black American. I do not know the ins and outs of each culture. All I know are people, and people are various. I also know myself, and for the sake of this blog, that’s all I can be.

I used to be one of those uber-obsessed people. At one time, I even wanted to live in Asia. I used to look at Asia as a Utopia, a way for me to escape my weirdness in school, my feelings of being an outcast, and of not really fitting into my complete African American community very well. I was always open-minded, but constantly tormented for being different. Asia seemed like a place I could escape all of my troubles. It seemed like a place that would accept me. First off, it was on the other side of the Earth from where I lived. Second, there was a certain innocence and purity within the cultures that made me happy.

But sooner or later, as I became an adult, I actually met people who lived in my favorite Asian countries and learned that, again, people are people, where ever you go. There are mean people everywhere; there is no escaping that. And I learned that there are social rules and laws in Asian cultures that would not be ideal for me. But I met some really nice friends from other countries, too. Particularly in Korea, I met a friend that told me her brother was going to be drafted soon. My friendship with her taught me the most about Korea. I no longer see Asian countries as Utopias, but real places that REAL people live in.

Still, it would be fun to take a trip and visit some of my friends, eat foreign foods, and get lost in a new city within a new country… (to add, really learn a new language fluently).

I’m a little nervous about actually visiting Asian countries though. For starters, I like to feel like I can be myself. My friend (and other bloggers) have stressed the importance of manners in Asian countries. I have a bad feeling I will screw up and make the people around me hate me…Unless, someone is forgiving. Of course, going to a new country, you can’t completely be yourself. You have to consider the social etiquette of the land. This is very frustrating for me…and nerve-wrecking. I am not good at remembering things. I know I will forget something..

I am also afraid to share my interests in Asian entertainment and fashion. I don’t want the people there to think I’m making fun of them. I want to have something in common and I like what I like. Maybe that’s American of me? :/ I don’t want them to think I’m stereo-typing…

Anyway…

I will be watching many dramas from around the world for the next two months. Mostly, I’ll be watching Asian dramas and discussing them with my readers.

The Hana Kimi Adaptations

Last week, I became really sick with a fever. I could hardly get out of bed for two days. So, I was stuck at home. Being bored at home, I caught another kind of fever. This time it was a good fever. I got “drama fever”. That’s right. I became addicted to dramas.

I tapped into my Netflix and got whatever movies I could get. I also became addicted to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dramas.

The latest dramas that caught my interest were the many adaptations of Hana Kimi. Hana Kimi (or Hanazakari no Kimitachi e) is a popular Japanese manga series. It was adapted into drama first by Taiwan, then by Japan twice, and then Korea.

hana kimi

Hana Kimi focuses on the story of a young American female (Ashiya Mizuki) who admires a high-jumping athlete (Sano Izumi) that she happens to spot on TV. Somehow, his jumping inspires her to want to meet him in person. She’s determined to see him high-jump. So, she signs herself up to the all-boys’ school her idol attends and pretends to be a boy. She somehow becomes her idol’s roommate, which greatly affects their relationship throughout the story. He’s not the easiest to live with…But eventually, she melts his cold exterior.

She’s not good at acting like a boy, and is considered a ditz with a cheerful personality (not uncommon in anime and manga series). This is why it was so easy for the school physician to notice right off that she was a girl. The physician becomes a good friend of the lead character, and shows a supportive role in helping her keep her secret. There are many others who discover her secret throughout. She’s not good at hiding her feelings, especially when she likes someone. She’s impulsive and easily angered by remarks made toward the people she cares about.

Along her journey as a boy, she meets some new friends. The first friend she becomes acquainted with is an extroverted soccer champion (Shuichi Nakatsu). He eventually starts to develop feelings for the lead girl, which leads to him questioning his sexuality (because she is disguised as a boy). He gets her adjusted to school and introduces her to some of his friends. He becomes a love rival throughout the story.

The school is divided by three dorms. Mizuki, the lead girl, is a part of Dorm 2. Many of her closest friends reside in the same Dormitory.

I happened to watch all of the adaptations. I didn’t watch in any particular order. I watched according to whatever series I found out about first. Though all were adaptations, of course, they were not all alike. Each story had something charming that maybe another story did not have. Some stories stayed more true to the manga than others.

Guidelines:

The genre of this series is romantic/comedy. I am very skeptical of the romantic genre when it comes to manga or dramas. For starters, I’m not a romantic person. I think it’s mushy and to watch it makes me want to puke. It’s very hard for me to get into a romantic story, and when I do, it’s hard to keep my interest. BUT what really turns me off about the romantic genre stories are the following things:

1) Love triangles-I really, really dislike love triangles, especially when it’s involving the main character. I get it. They are supposed to make the story interesting. But for me, all they do is confuse me and make me change my mind about a romantic situation. As someone who is deeply compassionate, I always side with the underdog lover in these “triangles”, and more often than not, that “underdog” is not the main love interest. There are very few stories that turn out the way I want them to. Often, I feel dissatisfied with romantic stories. This was my problem with Twilight…Love triangles do not suit my mentality.

This is especially so if the main love interest is a douche with a bunch of other girls crawling all over him, while the “nice person” or the humble person is finishing last. These kinds of triangles irk me.

I also have a problem with love interests who are unimportant to the overall story. It’s irksome when they outshine someone who is actually important to the development of the story (Ran vs Haibara from Detective Conan would be an example). When a rival character is more important to the story, the development between the main character and the love rival will be even more interesting.

There are only a few distinct ways I can accept a love triangle.

First, I can accept a love triangle if the love rival receives a more interesting love interest than the main character. And this rarely happens.

I can also accept a love triangle if the love rival is completely idiotic, with poorly developed feelings, and a shallow outlook. For instance, all of the love rivals in Ranma ½ were complete fools with mostly bad intentions. This made Ranma and Akane such a well-developed pair, even if they were rather predictable.

I can accept a douche love rival if his story is well-developed and/or his change is so drastic it affects the events in the story. Hana Yori Dango is an example.

My favorite romance story is Cardcaptor Sakura’s Sakura and Syaoran. No romantic story has been able to top it in my book. The manga had hardly any love triangles. But everything turned out unexpected in the end. I never thought the main character would receive the sullen, raggly, uncool  Syaoran as a lover.

Peach Girl also impressed upon me.

2) I dislike a boring, predictable relationship-I don’t like those stories where you already know who will be the love interest in the end. I don’t like when characters fall in love “at first sight”. I don’t like smooth betrothals that turn out peachy in the end (unless the two really hate each other at first). I don’t like when love is predictable. Even though in real life, a predictable kind of love is a beautiful thing, it is not really entertaining in a show.

I also dislike boring or uninteresting partners. If one of those love interests are boring, dull, or too cool, I’m bored. I like people that the audience would least expect to be the love interest.

I don’t hate beautiful/handsome people, but if they have no personality beyond good looks, I do not approve of it. It’s not enough to throw a love rival in there. That doesn’t make a RELATIONSHIP interesting, that makes a story more interesting. But if the love rival is not around, and the relationship seems less interesting than when the rival was around, I can’t enjoy it.

People say a person is entitled to like who they like, but this is a story. It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it or watch it. It doesn’t mean I won’t have preferences.

Unfortunately, Hana Kimi had many elements that irritated me. It had love triangles, so of course I sided with the underdog as usual. The main love interest was a cool, dull, douche…The exact types I dislike. The main romance story was predictable. The main relationship was boring to me and I found myself skipping all of the scenes that overdid their relationship.

But the story itself was interesting…

The thing that makes me a little iffy is the motivation. A girl, traveling all the way to a foreign country, for some complete stranger that she saw on television high-jumping….And she thinks she’s in love now? And this romance actually works? Despite the fact that she was trying to deceive him by lying and pretending to be a boy? What kind of relationship begins with deception? She’s basically a stalker fan, and rather than being sweet and endearing, it’s a little creepy and frightening that someone would even try this. Don’t try this at home, kids. The best part about dreaming about an idol is never knowing who they really are and keeping the dream alive. Trust me. Not every idol is going to turn out as receptive as Izumi Sano. In fact, most won’t, especially if you try to deceive them.

The Japanese versions do a better job in explaining away this obsession, but the other adaptations, especially the Taiwanese version, do not.

Anyway…

This article is a review of the adaptations I’ve watched.

*The Following Review May Contain Spoilers*

To the Beautiful You (Korean Version 2012)

hana kimi to the beautiful you (1)

This was the first one I watched. Being a fan of f(x), I wanted to watch Sulli act in this drama series. I was introduced to the Hana Kimi series through this drama.

Of all the adaptations, I felt this movie version was the most different from the original story. In many ways, the differences made it better, but in other ways, the differences made the story worse.

First, the story mostly focuses on the athletic Dorm 2 and hardly gives the other dorms any attention or development. Second, many characters that were supposed to be friends of the main character were omitted or combined with other characters. Third, many personalities and relationships were changed. Because this was the first one I watched, I didn’t realize how different it was from the original. But without knowing the original, it wasn’t hard to figure that something was missing…

The setting was ritzier than the other adaptations. The dining area showed wealth and the dorms actually looked up-scale. The dorm room Jae-Hee stays in has two beds. One has a winding staircase leading to almost another room. It’s a more advanced bunk-bed of sorts. The bathrooms even look bigger in the Korean version compared to the other adaptations. It was quite an elite-looking school.

Pros: The story was so engaging. I would say the Korean story was more entertaining than the others. There were serious and dramatic moments that made me want to know what was going to happen next. The Korean version was also a bit more realistic in presenting its school and dormitory than the other adaptations. Jae-Hee was required to bring transfer papers in order to enroll in the school. The other adaptations did not go into detail how the girls were able to enroll in the schools without transfer papers…The Korean version didn’t have the sense of exaggeration that the other versions had. This version was also more modern.

Goo Jae-Hee (Korea’s Ashiya Mizuki) is very cute and lovable. She was so cute that it was believable when random people would find out her identity and when random guys would fall in love with her.

She was careless, but not quite as dumb as some of the other girls in other adaptations (though she was still dumb). There was one scene, a dangerous scene, where she was caught in a car with a stranger. This girl had enough sense to notify someone by phone and was strong enough to fight for her life.

This version, out of all the other versions, focused the most on the romantic story.

I was also happy that f(x) songs were sprinkled throughout the show. F(x) are my baes. I was happy to see Sulli in her glorious lead moment.

Cons: They can stick Shinee’s Minho (Kang Tae-Joon) and f(x)’s Sulli (Jae-hee) in the same room. They can throw in little scenes with Minho taking off his shirt. They can try to over-emphasize the relationship between the two supposed love interests with random scenes of them falling on top of each other every chance they get…And I still did not think they belonged together. I tried my best to be team Minsul…and I just couldn’t hang.

First, of all the love interests in other adaptations, Tae-Joon was a complete butthole. Cha Eun-gyeol (played by Lee Hyun-woo), the supposed love rival, was the main character’s first friend. He was kind to the main character. He helped her feel welcome. When Tae-joon was acting like a jerk and making Jae-hee cry, who was there? Eun-gyeol was there. When Tae-joon left Jae-hee under the stars to run back to the city, who was there with Jae-hee? Eun-gyeol was there.

Eun-gyeol also struggled the most with his feelings, thinking he was gay, and really considering his feelings seriously. I was so impressed with him that moment he found the courage to admit that he loved Jae-hee (thinking she’s a boy), even risking his reputation, considering how homophobic some people can be. He said, “Girl or Guy, I love her”. I felt this character TRULY loved the main character from the inside. In my opinion, he was the strongest character in the series.

And yet, I feel like the lead girl just stomped all over his heart. Even when she gave him a chance, she rudely contacted Tae-Joon while on a date with him. I understand you don’t love him, but don’t agree to go on a date and then contact another man. That’s not even a friendly thing to do. I honestly lost all respect for this character after that. I felt that she was caught up in the glory of being around her idol, but it just didn’t feel like true love to me. It felt like an infatuation with an ideal dream…But not real.

To me, Tae-Joon only started to like her AFTER he found out she was a girl and after he found out that she was there for him. To me, he only loved the attention. Everything else sounded like BS. Eun-gyeol saw what was special about her from the very beginning.

The manga can try and pull that “he was just attracted to her femininity” crap when it comes to Shuichi Nakatsu. I don’t buy it in the Korean adaptation. I, in fact, think Tae-joon (Korea’s Izumi Sano) was just attracted to her because she was a girl and loved having the attention. But I did not think he had the same chemistry with the lead girl as Eun-gyeol.

For this reason, I did not like the main love story. They spent way too much time developing the love rival’s moments with the lead girl. That really prevented me from connecting with the main love story.

Another thing that was really distracting to me was the fact that there truly was nothing boyish about Jae-hee. She, in fact, never even tried to act like a boy. Aside from being super tall, unlike the other adaptations, and having a short hair cut, her personality was just too feminine. I’m surprised that people throughout the story couldn’t even figure it out. I feel that the director should’ve made sure that Sulli (the actress) tried to act more masculine. The Japanese and Taiwanese version recognized this a little more.

I suppose boyish girls are so rare in Korea, girls can get away with being a boy as long as they just dress like one…

And they didn’t even do a good job of developing a motivation for the lead girl. Her reasons for going to an all-boys’ school was even more suspicious than the others. They tried to say she had heard that Tae-joon stopped high-jumping because of an injury and that she just wanted to see him high-jump. But it was clear she was trying to persuade the boy to fall in love with her. Her intentions were really unclear throughout the whole show. I dislike a woman who is not direct with her feelings, especially when she uses deception to win someone over rather than being honest. It’s not fair to anyone and I just couldn’t support a relationship that was developed from that. It is annoying.

The final thing I disliked about this version was the fact that most of the main characters from the manga, some of my favorite characters, were completely omitted. Many of my least favorite characters were added, such as the lead girl’s “first love”. Remember I said I disliked love triangles? Well, I dislike love squares even more…

I disliked the fact that some characters that were considered gay in the manga were either changed or had poor, unhappy endings in the Korean version. I guess it just shows their conservatism.

Overall, this was one of my least favorite adaptations and not because it was a bad series. In fact, the series itself was probably told the best in this adaptation. I just hated the ending and how they changed the characters. I left feeling a little unsatisfied.  First, they pulled a Pretty in Pink on me when it came to Jae-Hee and Eun-gyeol.  Then, the ending failed to show the main character’s connection with the school like the other versions did. She solely seemed interested in Tae-Joon and showed hardly any development between other students. Thus, in the end, she didn’t feel like she belonged there. She just left with poor feelings and never even graduated with the other students. I didn’t feel her connection with the other cast members, so I wondered why they were even in the story.

Characters of mention:

Eun-gyeolIt’s hard to miss him. He’s lively, friendly, and active. He’s also handsome. His struggle with his feelings makes him an interesting character to look out for and really makes the story worth watching. I feel he transforms the most throughout the series, even changing his hair.

Director JangDespite the fact that she was never in the original story, I felt her presence held weight. To me, she almost seemed like a second mother to Tae-Joon. She’s his manager, and manages many sports affairs. She is a reflection of idol life in Korea.

Seol Ha-naA girl who begins as an aggressive pursuer of Tae-Joon’s, she seems a little annoying at first. But as the series progresses, she shows remarkable intelligence and strength. She’s definitely a character that is memorable.

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (Japanese version 2007)

hana kimi to the beautiful you (2)

The Japanese version is pretty close to the manga, but many things were changed here, too. Many characters and events were omitted, but no personalities were changed. The Japanese version was more exaggerated and comical in the acting style. Most Japanese dramas are like this, especially if there are comical characters in the series.

The setting seemed to be in an old, rustic western style school. It was surrounded by gardens and statues reflecting a calm spirit surrounding the school. The dorms weren’t extremely big and the main character slept in a loft of sorts. Compared to the Korean version, it had more natural surroundings.

The classrooms are ridiculously large for a high school…

Shun Oguri plays in this drama as Sano Izumi…He usually plays “cool, handsome” roles. I remember him from the dramas Detective Conan and Boys Over Flowers.

Pros: I liked that the story actually developed the relationship between the main character and the other students. The cast is large in this series, and yet, each character had a life of their own. At first, I couldn’t see any character being developed in-depth because of the large cast. But I realized that was the lovable part about the Japanese adaptation. The characters were shallow, but they were fun and lively. Eventually, I began to see Mizuki (the main character) as a part of the school. She formed a close relationship with many of the characters, not just Izumi Sano and Shuichi Nakatsu. I liked that she eventually wanted to stay for more than just Sano. She grew to love all of the friends she’d made at the school. The strong bond the cast felt shined in the series, and it made the ending a tear-jerker.

I liked how supportive the school was in the end.

And who couldn’t like the scene where the school broke out as cheerleaders and began dancing to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”. XD Completely worth it.

Cons: There are very few cons for me. The thing that I felt was bittersweet was the relationship between Izumi Sano and Ashiya Mizuki. Again, there were moments where I just couldn’t ship him together with Mizuki. Nakatsu also interfered with my interest in this love story but not as bad as in the Korean version.

Both Nakatsu and Sano started off as jerks. Really, all the boys were a bit rowdy when Mizuki first came to the school. So, either one was fine with me.

Still, in the end, I hated the Nakatsu was the one hurt. He had the hardest time expressing his feelings. The difference is he found out she was a girl much sooner than the character in the Korean version.

The girl they tried to pin Nakatsu with (I guess so a rejection wouldn’t feel as bad with the audience) was dull and showed no chemistry with him, but at least a girl showed interest in him. Even in the special episode, she continued to give him chocolates and express her love. Poor Eun-gyeol in the Korean version got a girl who hadn’t seen him in years, which made for an awkward relationship that hardly developed.

The characters were a bit shallow and one-dimensional. Some characters were pointless. I would have liked some characters to be developed more, especially in Dorm 3.

There were also some pretty offensive things sprinkled without. I understand one scene was trying to put on an act, but the use of” black face” cloak in order to pretend to be a black person, along with disheveled Afros (they could have at least combed it), was just offensive.

But there was one scene where they actually had a real African American man named Bob.

And why does Japan always portray foreigners from America, especially White Americans, as having blonde hair? In the special episode, Mizuki’s foreign friend is seen sporting blonde hair. Basically, she’s supposed to be half Japanese and half White. But most mixed children still carry the dominant genes…

The actress looked like a Japanese girl with a wig on…

Overall, I enjoyed this version and would watch it again.

Characters of mention:

Namba Minami-They cast a very handsome man to play him. He is in fact one of the best looking characters. His affinity for women is one thing, but the fact that he has a strong serious side and surprisingly protects the main character and his fellow dorm mates like a big brother throughout the series makes him a character worth mentioning.

Kayashima Taiki-The man who can see spirits and detect auras. Pay attention to him. He knows a lot more than he lets on.

Sekime Kyogo-He seems like a quiet presence, but his presence is also powerful. In this drama, he was actually Mizuki’s first REAL friend. While the other dorm members were going crazy trying to recruit her to their dorm activities, or teasing her and treating her as insignificant, Sekime calmly listened to her woes and introduced her to what the school had to offer. She, in fact, found out what dorm Sano was in through him. Throughout the series, he also showed himself to be a supportive friend of Sano’s.

Nakao Senri-Probably the only completely openly gay character in this adaptation. His feelings for Namba Minami motivate his character. At first, he was the main character’s rival because he saw her as a threat to his reputation as the school “idol” (since he considers himself cute and adorable). But there was one moment in the series where he and Mizuki really bonded and connected. I really enjoyed that scene.

Dean Kitahama-A scary presence in the story. Though his moment was brief, he left an impression on my mind. His anger with what happened in his past really made me interested in him as a character. He isn’t initially likable and misunderstood.

Principal Tsubaki-She was never really a character in the original manga, but she should have been. I noticed one thing about all of these adaptations…We never met the principal of these schools. Isn’t that strange? Well, colleges don’t really have principals, so the Taiwanese version is excused.

Hanazakarino Kimitachihe (Taiwanese Version 2006)

hana kimi taiwan

Of all the adaptations, this was probably the most comical (rather than exaggerated silliness). I felt that this version reflected the manga better than the Korean version. Well, it was the first adaptation. But there were differences from the manga as well.

First off, this version did not take place in high school but in college. Most of the students were 19 years old and older. Basically, they’re all adults.

Second, this adaptation also focused mainly on Dorm 2.

Despite the fact that all of the characters are older, they actually act much younger than those in the other adaptations.

The setting is just like any normal college. Each dorm has a bunk bed and a bathroom. The rooms are very small. It is implied that the school is on a strict budget. Nan makes it clear that the food is not too tasty and that the students have to shower early because the hot water turns off at a certain time.

Pros: Ella Chen was the perfect girl to be cast as the lead female character. She did well in portraying the ditzy character while still maintaining a “boyishness”. Really, she actually looked like a boy. Ella Chen is from the girl group S.H.E. and she is known for her androgynous looks. It’s not surprising she was given this role. I was really satisfied with her portrayal and felt that she conveyed the strongest personality of all the girls cast for the lead role.

What kills me is that almost everyone in this version can almost guess she’s a girl more than in the other adaptations, but she looks the most like a boy than the other girls! Oh, the irony. If she wasn’t such a twat, I would’ve never guessed she was a girl.

While in this role, Lu Rui Xi was portrayed as an energetic, but impulsive girl. That was handled well in this adaptation. She was a little feisty in this role, but didn’t know how to pick and choose her battles well. She had the second greatest personality in this series (next to Xiu Yi).

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this show. They didn’t really add every character from the manga, but they did put in the most important characters. I felt the lead girl developed a strong relationship with her fellow dorm members.

Jin Xiu Yi provided a lot of color to the story and made it extra enjoyable.

What I liked most about the story was the fact that Jin Xiu Yi was treated with better dignity than the other love rivals. Sure, he was in love with Rui Xi. But, of course, we knew she was not interested in him. In fact, she seemed rather annoyed by him. I’m glad they found him an even better love interest, one that made his relationship even better than the main love story. I would really like a separate story regarding Xiu Yi and his love interest.

However, Taiwan did the best of all the adaptations in developing the main love story. I really liked the sensible and perceptive Zuo Yi Quan (Izumi Sano). He wasn’t really a jerk, he was just quiet and to himself. He was a bit of a nerd who liked to read. And his tattoo on his right arm was just everything. ❤ He wasn’t arrogantly jealous like Tae-joon who really didn’t care about Eun-gyeol’s feelings. Quan was more perceptive and helpful.

Cons: The ending was bittersweet. There really isn’t anything I dislike about this version, but I wish it had ended a little different. It really left a cliff-hanger. Now, I want to see more. XD

Though I liked Ella Chen’s portrayal of the main character and felt she acted the most like the manga character, that is just it. She was really annoying in the manga. So, she was really annoying in this adaptation. She really had little clue how to act like a boy and play off the fact that she liked Quan. She also didn’t know how to pick and choose her battles carefully, so she wound up in situations she couldn’t even fight off. And who was the first person she screamed annoyingly for when she got herself in stupid situations? Quan.

I also wish Xiu Yi’s feelings had been taken seriously, but in the end, it all worked out.

I also want to point out that there were quite a few holes in the story and some scenes were just too forced or not explained. For instance, there was one scene in episode 6 where the main character is caught in a situation with a stranger and so must flee for her life. Of course, Quan, being Mr. Loverboy, saves her. He tries to carry her back home, but loses his footing. They end up isolated from others, far away from home, for hours, and the main character develops an illness. Now, by this time, all of the characters have shown that they have cell phones. Instead of using his cell phone or Riu Xi’s, he calls “Help!” over and over again. Not once did he look in his pocket to see if he had his cell phone or look in her pocket to see if she had hers. And okay, say he forgot his phone and maybe she did, too. Why wasn’t that explained? To me, it felt that the scene was put in there to build upon the romance between Quan and Rui Xi, but it was constructed poorly. It was confusing because clearly they both had cell phones…Therefore, it just didn’t feel natural. Maybe Quan wanted to get lost with her, but if he really cared about her, wouldn’t he want her to get home so she can get better? And maybe there was no signal…But these are guesses. It should have been explained.

To add, Xi Yi has a cell phone. While he was sitting at the house, waiting and worrying, why didn’t he call Rui Xi to see where she was? Why did no one suggest to call the missing teens by cell phone? They thought about calling the police but no one thought to call Quan or Rui Xi? It was simply unbelievable.

Just like it was unbelievable that no one went through Rui Xi’s school files. How was she able to enroll in the school? Who helped her forge papers and create a new identity? This was also not explained in the Japanese version.

But overall, the characters were entertaining and everyone lived happily ever after in the end. So what can I say, this version was my favorite. 😉 The story itself was over-comical, but it lifted my spirits.

Characters of Mention:

Lu Rui Xi-She was honestly a girl with a lot of personality. It is hard to forget her. Of all the girls, she showed the strongest individuality and made me fall in love with her. She wasn’t just a cute and pretty face. She was never sober and depressing. And unlike the other girls, she was the most honest with her intentions. They didn’t come up with some lame excuse for her. On the flip side, that also means her intentions were not pure. XD

Zuo Yi Quan-A hot body with a tattoo is one thing, but intelligence, practicality, and sensibility are whipped cream, sprinkles, with a cherry on top.

Jin Xiu Yi-Charming, lovable, and also with a big personality, he was bound to be a favorite of mine. This character comes across energetic and brave, but we also see moments where he is sensitive, caring, and supportive. I also admired his courage when he came out as “gay” (though not really). Watching him in action is very entertaining. He’s also handsome and has a sexy voice.

Mei Tian-Long-haired and sexy, this man is gay and proud. I’m very happy they did not try to change him. He wasn’t stereo-typically gay either. He is handsome, smart, and knows his craft. He was also a good guardian for the main character and got her out of many sticky situations. His portrayal was very interesting.

Da Shu-The man who can see spirits. He is really cute. I’m surprised no one pointed out how cute he was. He was not considered for the school pageant and I kept thinking…Man, he would look good in a dress.

Julia-Rui Xi’s feisty American friend. She is no stereotype. She is part Chinese and speaks fluent Chinese but also speaks English. In fact, she speaks in English often throughout her time in Taiwan. Of all the adaptations, this was the only one that developed Julia as a character. I like her voice.

Shen Le-Initially an irritating butthole who reveals more to him than expected.

Yang Yang-Of all the adaptations of Senri Nakao, he is the perfect depiction of cute. The other guys in other adaptations believed they were cute, but umm…No. This guy is really cute. He’s quite sweet, but has a vindictive side to him.

Wu Wan Juan-A sports journalist who focuses on Quan’s success as a high jumper. She wrote under the pen name “KK” and is actually where the lead character got all of her information. She has an interesting but pretty face. Despite her eagerness to get the scoop, she revealed a moral side.

Yuan Qiu Ye-A mysterious and yet strange photographer. He is quite perceptive and talented. He fascinates me.

Wang Tian Si-Leader of Dormitory 1, he seems mostly like a meat-head character, but he is a character who fights fairly and takes responsibility. I can honestly say I respect him.

Man, there are so many characters that I loved in this adaptation.

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (Japanese version 2011)

hana kimi to the beautiful you (1)

So Japan decided it would be a good idea to remake Hana Kimi for a modern audience.  But the only thing more modern about this version was the cast and setting. For 2011, it wasn’t over-emphasized with new technology, which was surprising. I didn’t understand why this new version was even made.

But since it was…I gave it a try.

This version was similar to the original, though not as exaggerated and more dramatic.

Someone decided that an Akb48 member should be cast as the lead. That proved interesting.

The setting was just like the original: An old, western-style school with old dormitories. Each dormitory has two beds and a loft of sorts. The difference between this version and the original is that the school was even more worn-down and falling apart. Literally. The plumbing was screwed, students were falling through the floor, and it needed a paint job badly. Still, the students love the school. I’m not sure if the school improved, but apparently the students continued to stay there, despite its flaws.

Pros: Ashiya Mizuki’s role was less annoying than the others. Maybe because she just couldn’t get away with acting dumb like the other girls in other adaptations. With the other girls, it felt that their selfish actions were handled too delicately (I mean a girl sneaks in a school to meet her idol, deceives everyone, and tosses feelings aside for her own selfish feelings…for a guy she hardly knows? And hardly recognizes the dangers? Unbelievable). But in this version, much sooner than the others, she recognized when it was time for her to take her leave more than once. And really, it made her character a little more tolerable (I really despise the ditzy female characters in anime, but especially when she gets away with everything).

Unlike the other girls, she actually met this guy before and had a decent conversation with him. She actually formed a friendship prior to the story. It wasn’t too unbelievable when she wanted to meet him again.

I also liked how well she connected with the rest of the cast, which was just like the original version. They didn’t take that away from the story like the Korean version did.

All of the characters were just as lively and colorful as in the original, and many were better interpretations of the characters.

Though this was 2011, it had a timeless, classic feel that I appreciated.

Cons: This version did a very poor job of developing the relationship between Ashiya Mizaki and Sano Izumi. I thought the Korean version was bad. This one beat the Korean version as having the least developed romance of all the adaptations. And the Korean version wasn’t even poorly developed, just not as developed as the friendship. At least in the Korean version Tae-Joon made many efforts to express his interest in the main character. Sano Izumi never expressed any sort of interest whatsoever besides him yelling at her out of jealousy or anger. He never bought her anything. He never even kissed her properly. There were hardly any romantic moments between them. Most of the times, he made the lead character sad. But oh no. She’ll put up with anything. She’s a martyr. She’s humble and submissive. Somehow, some way, she can just tell that his feelings are sincere (though he never makes clear these “imaginary feelings”). Whenever he gets mad at her, she likes to blame herself because she seems to think his feelings matter more than her own.

Shuichi Nakatsu hit it on the nail many times. Their feelings were TOO reserved. So reserved, in fact, I felt she had an abuse syndrome of some sort. The guy was nothing but mean to her. He never supported her at all. All she did was support him. It just didn’t even feel worth it to me. It felt dull.

And here she has a man, Nakatsu, who is willing to make her happy. She has a man beside her who cries when she cries and laughs when she laughs. And yet, she falls in love with Mr. Reserved and Mr. Shallow. And I know a girl can’t help her feelings, but isn’t she an example of why so many girls end up heart-broken and deceived? Because they blindly go after men that are not good for them, that harm them emotionally. This is another case of the “nice guy finishing last”. Looking at this story, I believe the saying is true. She was in love with a bad boy, a mean guy, the guy she couldn’t have, the idol that all the girls wanted, the complicated one. Not the guy who was determined to protect her, oh no. How dumb can she be?

Still, it didn’t make it any better that Nakatsu never received a proper love interest. I think the original girl that dated him was cute but dull. Nakatsu has such a large personality. He needs someone who makes things more interesting, not someone who dries him up.

Speaking of Nakatsu, I felt this guy received way too much air-time. I mean, he was in every scene. He almost seemed more important than Sano Izumi. He also carried strong leadership abilities…There are hints that these abilities led him to being a part of the “Sakura Committee”. He was always the one motivating everyone and trying to get everyone to smile. And who did that for him? No one. But at least the main character recognized her selfishness, unlike in the other versions.

Another thing that possibly contributed to a poor development of the main love story was the lack of time. In the beginning, everything seemed rushed. The main character’s connection with the school happened fast. Nakatsu’s confession occurred too soon. But unfortunately, Sano and Ashiya’s relationship didn’t happen fast enough. This could be because there were only 11 episodes. Still, it made the story a bit bland and superficial. I couldn’t connect with this version as well as the others, though I still teared up at the end (more than I can say about the Korean version).

What ultimately disturbed me was how they brought back ONE cast member from the old series from Hibari 4. I was happy to see her, but she seemed out of place in a sea of new faces. I placed her with the old cast. Her chemistry with them was so strong; I couldn’t understand why she was even put in this version.

Characters of Mention:

Nakatsu: His energetic personality shines in any version, but in this version, he had an even stronger presence. His leadership abilities were made evident in this adaptation.

Namba-Sempai-As dormitory leader, he always catches my attention in the Japanese adaptations. Even when unexpected things are thrown his way, he keeps a cool head and looks over the dorm like a big brother.

Taiki Kayashima-He’s always interesting, but in this version of the adaptation he was more than just a weirdo. He was the voice of reason and wisdom. He gave many of the characters advice almost like an adult figure. His abilities to see spirits and read the auras of people had more of a purpose in this adaptation and I’m glad they made him more useful. He took the place of Dr. Hokuto Umeda in many instances, who often usually gave the main character advice in other adaptations.

Nakao Senri-Much cuter than usual…In fact, he could also pass for a girl. He was just as short as the main character, so she had no need to feel awkward in that regard. He had striking dimples that made him noticeable.

Kyogo Sekime-He was more than just a friend in this version. He was someone with his own trials and challenges as well as victories. He was also one of the only people Sano Izumi actually smiled at. He hardly smiled at Ashiya Mizuki.

Hanayashiki Hibari-Guess who is back to reprise her role as St. Blossom’s fierce leader? Yes, the same actress from the 2007 version is playing this role, too!

Kishinosato Juri-A delicate flower, a graceful presence, but a vindictive heart. Very complex.

Watanabe Ikkei –I was wondering who cooked the food for all the students. This was the only version that developed the chef as a character.

Itsuki Sakura-One of the headmistresses of the school. She’s a strange woman. Really, really strange. Somehow, though, she sees the potential of her students.

So that’s my spin on the many adaptations based on the Hana Kimi manga series! Have any of you readers watched? If you have, tell me your favorite drama or moments? What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know!

15 of the Most Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever In Music History

22 Dec

girl band

There have been dozens of music groups formed around the world, and there will continue to be music groups out there for centuries to come. Each new act brings in a new wave of interest, and music groups bring us more than one entertainer at a time.  The early heart of the USA began with bands and groups. With the rise of interest in bands, the U.K. made it a phenomenon. Just recently, Japan and Korea have brought that phenomenon to the modern age.

Read my article on Hallyu.

Girl groups tend to be of particular interest, as mostly women dominate the music industry today. Since the 1910’s, the days of vaudeville, females have always managed to grab attention to themselves in catchy musical numbers. Groups were the easiest way to do this, as harmonizing in sync was always a challenge. Those who did it right easily impressed an audience. Of course, in most female groups, a heavy amount of emphasis is usually put on a group’s physical appearance. There’s nothing more attractive than a ton of women with beauty and talent, right?

girl group

And yet, ever so briefly, one female group would rise out of the ashes like a phoenix. A group that just didn’t seem to fit into the box designed for them. Those are the women that are making it on my list as 11 of the Most Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever in Music History.

This article is not about fame particularly. Fame is a general description. Fame could mean anything. Many female groups out in the world might be bigger than the ones I’m covering in this article. But “power” to me does not equal record sales alone. “Power” comes in the form of the differences one has made or how one has contributed to the industry. I can tell you right now that many of the most popular girl groups in the world, from the USA to Japan, have all been extremely famous for none other than their good looks. There are three things that usually define girl groups:

1) Enhanced good looks and trendy clothes

2) Melodious, seductive vocals designed to draw in physical attention

3) Relate-easy music that is missing a “personal” touch or any real depth

While all of these traits are not bad, many of them are cheap selling tools and don’t necessarily make a group…Well, unique. Isn’t it better to have high record sales and unique traits?

This is not to say anyone I’m listing is ugly, can’t sing, or doesn’t have music that people relate to. But the groups I’m listing have so much more. I want to give them the shine they deserve. The groups I’m listing are hard to imitate as a result of what they have done for our music industry. With just good looks and melodious voices, it’s easy to make carbon copies in a matter of minutes. In fact, groups have been that classic since the vaudeville days. I’m reviewing those girls that just didn’t fit that standard, capish?

The following list will cover these genres: Rock and Roll, Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, New Jack Swing, Rap, Dance, Electronic, Heavy Metal, Rock, Punk Rock, Pop Urban, and Country.

This list is in order from the first group to the last group to debut. It’s hard to rank these groups because they are so unique.

1) Goldie and the Gingerbreads

goldie and the gingerbreads

With a name like “Goldie and the Gingerbreads”, you wouldn’t think this group made much of a difference. But they did. Goldie and the Gingerbreads may not be anything special today (or maybe they are), but at the time they arrived on the scene, there were no girls in the Rock and Roll scene. Female bands never attracted a large audience neither were they ever signed to a major label before this group. Yes, the four to five ladies of this band were the first to be signed to a major label. They were the first to break into a genre that was mostly dominated by men. If that doesn’t make them powerfully unique, I don’t know what does.

Even to this day, Rock and Roll is a genre that is notorious for its male artists. But for all of you who don’t know, these women stood out among all the other women who were mostly soloists and sang mostly Pop music, Showtunes, and Soul. They were the first women to be visually seen on live television with instruments in their hands. These women were not dolled-up like the Supremes, but they shined because they took a chance on a genre most women wouldn’t have even dared to try.

They weren’t million-dollar sell-outs. I don’t think the world was truly ready for a female Rock and Roll group at the time. But you rock-band girls can thank these leading ladies for their unique contribution.

The 1960’s was a time when women were really starting to make an impact on the music industry, and the era is considered the Golden Age for female artists.

**********************************************************************************************

2) Fanny

Fanny

Fanny is recognized as pioneering the female band identity and “sound”. It’s a sound that has traveled down even to modern bands like Paramore and The Dirty Youth. They were the first female band to release an album on a major record label. Just like Goldie and the Gingerbreads, these ladies paved the way for future female bands. The difference is that they helped female Rock stars gain the respect they deserved in an era where female Rock bands hardly got any attention or respect. Even David Bowie was a huge fan of their work. These women were the first to be considered full-fledged rockers. Before this group, women hardly played their own instruments, and when they did, they hardly played very well. This group played just as well as all of the other male rock bands.

This band carried controversy wherever they went. Even their name carried controversy, as many people thought of it as a sexual term, though the group insisted it meant to reflect the “female spirit”. This group was also outspoken and hard in vocal sound, which was so unlike the “lady-like” women of the era. Because of their unique traits, these women were said to have conquered even “male chauvinists” charts.

Two of the four members were from the Philippines, so they were probably one of the first major female Asian rock stars in American history. Two members of the four were also some of the only female artists of the time to openly express themselves as lesbian and bi-sexual. They were thus thought of as a “Lesbian” band. This also made them very unique. One heterosexual member stated that even though two members weren’t lesbians, “men didn’t know how to take them” at the time, and many lesbians were attracted to the band.

This group of women were really some of the first ladies to openly express their sexual desires in general. Their song “Butter Boy” was banned from some radio stations because most stations thought the song was “too explicit”. We can definitely say this group had the unique power that no other group showed in the early 1970’s. This group showed that they were more than pretty faces with melodious, sweet voices. They were a power machine ready to chart new territory.

*********************************************************************************************************

3) The Pointer Sisters

The Pointer Sisters, moved from duo, to trio, to quartet, were the first black group ever to create a Grammy-Award winning Country song. Many Country lovers may know of their song “Fairytale”. Even to this day, many consider this song a Country classic.

Now, they were by no means a Country group. That’s what made this win such a random experience. It was surprising that a R&B and Soul group would break through the industry with one Country song. I think it was the unique way this Country song was sang. They combined the “soul” of the group with the authenticity of Country music, giving Country music the “soul” many artists have adapted today. This Country song ended up being their first Grammy win ever!

The Pointer Sisters were lovers of Country music, and were country girls at heart, even if that was not their main genre.

They made themselves known as a group that was willing to try many diverse genres and styles, which was considered unusual for black group artists at the time. They tried Soul, Funk, and Bebop, but also Rock and Electronic!

This set them apart from other African American groups, and helped pave the way for African Americans to try more diverse styles of music. For all of you African American Country stars, you can thank their contribution to the Country world. The world may have been closed-minded when it came to four African American girls singing Country, but at least they stole a Grammy for that Country song. I couldn’t ignore this group and saw fit to add them as one of the most powerfully unique girl groups ever in music history.

********************************************************************************************************

4) The Runaways

the-runaways-xx-the-runaways-band-27467906-1024-768

If you don’t know The Runaways, you don’t know Rock. The Runaways were said to be the first hard-edged, female Heavy Metal band to ever step into the music scene. Sure, Fanny gave us pure Rock. But The Runaways gave us the edge and the female Rock image. When it came to music charts in the USA, sadly, this group did not do any more than the other two bands, but they became a phenomenon in Japan.

This group is widely known for their unusual Rock song “Cherry Bomb”. It has the catchy hook “ch-ch-ch-ch Cherry Bomb”. This song made them stand out on stages throughout the USA. They did not have the usual image for women. They gave wild performances on stage that were similar to their male counterparts, and they wore the raciest outfits. That was something hardly done in this era in time. They were not standard, that’s for sure. They didn’t portray themselves with the “flawless, feminine” images handed to so many women during the “Disco Era”. Their music lyrics were bold. They didn’t mind being called “Bad Girls”. There is no question about it. They had to make this list of powerfully unique girl groups.

*****************************************************************************************************

5) Salt-N-Pepa

salt-n-pepa-510f00199631f

Salt-N-Pepa is a notorious female Rap group that became popular at a time when men dominated the Rap and Hip-Hop scene. In fact, they were one of the first female Rap groups. Salt-N-Pepa influenced the female image in Hip-Hop culture and Rap culture. Anyone into Rap knows Salt-N-Pepa. Many female rappers and Hip-Hop artists to this day are still heavily influenced by the Ladies of Rap, including the notorious TLC and Lil’ Kim. Even Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea get their sexy image from Salt-N-Pepa. Without Salt-N-Pepa, there would be no sexy female Rap songs.

Many feminists disliked Rap and Hip-Hop because many of the lyrics were sexist and many of the music videos objectified women’s bodies. But when Salt-N-Pepa came on the scene, they gave women a new perspective about Rap and Hip-hop. And they gave women and Hip-Hop a new image.

Salt-N-Pepa was no different from the men in Hip-Hop…But that’s why they were so unique. Salt-N-Pepa turned the tables around on men. Salt-N-Pepa were not afraid to wear sexier-looking clothing and were not afraid to talk about sex and men. This took away the “innocent, conservative” image so many modern women were portrayed as having at the time. They were not shy of men, that’s for certain. Thus, Salt-N-Pepa stood out as bold, confrontational women that were worthy of respect in the Hip-Hop community.

They were also one of the few Rap groups that had a female DJ. Even today, most DJs are male. They certainly proved that women could hang with the boys. This makes them perfect for the list of Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever in Music History.

****************************************************************************************************

6) Dixie Chicks

Dixie-Chicks-dixie-chicks-29831858-1024-768

Very few Country bands get recognized as it is, let alone, female bands. But Dixie Chicks are a name worth mentioning, and they are probably the only female group that gives a respectful nod to the Country music scene. In fact, they are considered the top-selling female band of all time, selling more than 30 million albums around the world! They are also currently the biggest selling Country group in the modern world. They have won 13 Grammy Awards. They are still the only Country band to have two certified RIAA diamond albums one after the other. This is a far leap from the bands before them. You can honestly see that they have made people notice female Country bands.

What made the Dixie Chicks so unique? Well, they came out at a time when the only female bands gaining popularity were either cute, lively girls jumping around in leotards and pigtails or were hardcore women trying to make their name in the Heavy Metal scene.

The Dixie Chicks were originally a Bluegrass genre group. And they used to dress up as cowgirls in their performances. They were certainly a bold, quirky girl group then. Well, someone decided they needed an image change. They were transformed into the Dixie Chicks we know today.

The Dixie Chicks were one of the few successful group acts of the modern age to write and co-write their own music. Many of their song lyrics brought a lot of controversy to their generally conservative fan base. Two such songs, “Sin Wagon” and “Good-bye Earl”, were both controversial.  “Sin Wagon” openly talked about sex. The song popularized the phrase “mattress dancing”. “Good-bye Earl” was a song about the premeditated murder of an abusive husband. Many radio stations removed this band from their playlists as a result. These girls’ bold words didn’t just stop there.

After 9/11/2001, the world was very sensitive when it came to the words “terrorism” and “war”. In 2003, President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. One of the Dixie Chicks members boldly announced at a performance in the U.K. how much she disagreed with America going to war with Iraq. She expressed her disappointment with Bush, and even said she was “ashamed he came from Texas”. Many Americans may not have liked what she had to say at the time, but you have to admit, that was pretty gutsy of her to boldly announce an unpopular opinion.

And it’s all of these traits that make them one of the most powerfully unique female groups ever in history.

*******************************************************************************************

7) TLC

TLC

TLC, to this day, is the best-selling American female group of all time, and the second most successful girl group in the world. They were the first female group to be certified RIAA diamond. They have sold more than 65 million albums worldwide. They have had TEN Top 10 singles, four multi-platinum albums, five Grammys, and many other honors. They have recently had a critically acclaimed direct-to-tv movie based on their success, where two of the members had a hand in the movie direction. You may know this group as the opening vocalists for the Nickelodeon TV Network’s  1990’s sketch-comedy show All That. They’ve even managed to pick up some Nickelodeon blimps along the way.

Now that you know their awards, let’s get down to what made this group so unique.

They were really the first of their kind. Their sound is timeless and define what modern music is today. They were the first females to take a Hip-Hop image and apply that image, normally seen on female rappers, to the New Jack Swing and R&B genre. They spread Hip-Hop to all genres outside of Rap. They exuded all of the sass of Rap, but also the class of R&B.

TLC were tomboyish, unlike the other girls of the era. In fact, they popularized the “tomboy image” most of us know: The cropped tops, the baggy jeans, and the wild hairstyles. They were certainly not afraid to be different.

Best of all, their music. TLC did not pull punches when it came to the messages they spread in their music. They weren’t like Salt-N-Pepa, who talked about how much they loved men and sex. They weren’t like En Vogue or any former pop girl groups, who brought a sweet, seductive imagery to love and break-ups. They talked about real-life situations that most people were afraid to discuss. They didn’t care about using profanity, either. TLC was “playful” lyrically, but “empowering”. The most striking part of this group was the rapper, Left-Eye. She was notorious for her unique raps. That gave their music a personal stamp, and set them apart from other girl groups in the R&B and New Jack Swing genres. Most vocal girl groups did not have a rapper in them until TLC.

TLC never concealed their weaknesses from the public. Many times, they conveyed their weaknesses in their music. But they never made excuses for their weaknesses. TLC encouraged being better and doing better, and unlike most female groups, they talked about social issues that really mattered. “Waterfalls” was one song that comes to mind. The song criticized drug dealing and unsafe sex. It also had a Rap segment that revealed Left-Eye’s own battle with alcoholism. Their music always had a personal touch that made them reach out and touch their fans in ways no group before or after them has.

This group even highlighted the idea that some women DON’T feel pretty in the pop song “Unpretty”, and they were probably the first group to ever make a song like that.

And hey, they knew how to call a “Silly Ho” out when she was acting like one.

These girls also stood out with their colorful music videos and outrageous style, which was not usual among female R&B groups.

TLC was such a big sensation, they were the only female group in the 1990’s that had a member start her own production company! In fact, how many women are even doing that today?

Their success only came to a halt after the untimely death of Left-Eye. If that had not occurred, this group would still be bumping the charts to this day.

TLC set the stage for many Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop female groups and solo artists who came after them, such as Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child. They even inspired a J-pop group, Speed, and a K-pop group, 2ne1, all the way across the globe! TLC pushed racial boundaries, appealing to all kinds of cultures and backgrounds. You shouldn’t even wonder why these leading ladies made it on the “Most Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever in Music History” list.

****************************************************************************************************

8) Bikini Kill

bikini kill

Known as the Pioneers of the “Riot Grrrl” Movement in the 1990’s, an underground feminist hardcore punk movement, Bikini Kill was considered the most radical feminist group of them all in the 1990’s. With their fiery performances, hard-core imagery, and in-your-face lyrics, this group stood out in a sea of Rock stars in the 1990’s. This group was not even completely female. 3 of 4 members were female. They had a MALE feminist in their group as well, who was the lead guitarist. And yes, there is such a thing as a male feminist!

Even though they had a male, I still think this group should be considered, considering over half of the members were female. In fact, I think because they had one male, that makes their group even more interesting! One male…In a group with female radicals? No wonder they stood out!

This group didn’t only support feminists, but they were also highly against racism and spoke out against “White Supremacy”, despite the fact that they were an all-white band. This band was against injustices of every kind.

This group pulled no punches. Their music is harsh and hardcore. Even the titles are a little offensive to some, so I apologize if I offend anyone reading this article…They definitely melted away any stereotypes left of women, and they were not afraid of what anyone said about it. They have the sound that flipped right over into the 21st Century into modern-day punk rock groups, especially with songs like “Rebel Girl”.

They weren’t as big as they could’ve been. It was partially by choice. Bikini Kill shunned major labels and the mainstream Rock press. So, you can already tell they were pretty controversial. They are the description of “bad girl”.

This band worked with one of the members of The Runaways! So their sound was inspired by one of the Queens of Rock. It’s no wonder they are just as powerful as the ladies that started it all. Yet, Bikini Kill makes their own impact on the industry, and they continue to stand out in a sea of mainstream carbon copies.

****************************************************************************************************

9) Spice Girls

spice-girls-main

The group that made “Girl Power” happen, taught us to “Spice Up Our Life”, and became the icons of the “Cool Britannia” wave, I introduce to you the Spice Girls, the reigning Queens of the Pop Group industry. Spice Girls is the most successful female group of all time. They are still the best-selling female group of all time. They are the biggest British group since the Beatles. They have sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.

These figures do not include their huge marketing profits. Actually, their global grosses estimate up to $800 million a year in US dollars!

The Spice Girls have broken many records, started many trends (such as the Jack Union dress Geri Halliwell wore), and have pushed international boundaries. Even their Reunion Tour in 2007 was a success!

What made this group unique? Question is, What didn’t make this group unique? This group was unique in all the ways you can describe unique. If you set this group in a pile of group artists, it would not be hard to spot them. Trust me, I did this.

The Spice Girls were originally designed to appeal to young girls. Shocking, right? There were five girls that were marketed as having five distinct personalities so that each consumer could relate to at least one of the girls. The Spice Girls pulled off a sense of individuality and diversity that most groups fail to pull off. Not one member out-shined the other, as a result. This became a strong group in the industry.

Through this diversity, the group introduced the idea that women are diverse creatures. Before the Spice Girls, many women in Pop groups were portrayed as one-dimensional. In this group, we had your girly “Posh” Spice, but we also had your “Sporty” Spice, too. There were enough representations to please every kind of woman, and thus the Spice Girls was also appealing to an older female crowd as well.

These distinct personality traits were specified with matching attire. Melanie C (Sporty Spice) wore sporty outfits, mostly cropped tops, sweat pants, and sneakers. Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) mostly wore baby-doll dresses and her hair in pigtails. These are just examples of the outrageous fashion statements made to create perfectly distinct images.

Their lively, upbeat personalities brought the already infectious music to life. Their music was really unusual when you get down to it. “Wannabe” was the Spice Girls’ break-out song. The song was anything but normal, and it made this group stand out from the very beginning. From the music video down to the lyrics, the Spice Girls conveyed a free-spirited, youthful nature that was often missing in women of the 1990’s and before the 1990’s…Until these women stepped on the scene, of course.

Another part of the group that was unique was their racial diversity. Particularly, they were the only  female group in the 1990’s to include a woman of color in a majority-white group. It showed that two races could play and sing along in harmony. The Spice Girls emphasized friendship and loyalty among women, and including a woman of color made this message stronger. It made the group even more popular around the world.

Unlike most artists, the Spice Girls showed a love for the media-driven industry and they had fun with fame. These girls were all confident and extroverted.

The Spice Girls had multiple talents that made each member stand out. Melanie C could perform a smooth back flip, as you might have seen in the video “Wannabe”. Melanie B was a pretty good rapper who added her Rap stamp whenever she could. Others, like Emma, could sing very well.

The Spice Girls were open-minded women who did not fit the mold of the usual Pop group. But their bold take on Pop culture is something that made the unconventional girl group stand out. Many groups from all around the world tried to imitate them. Many failed to live up to the same height of fame as the Spice Girls. They are just, well, too unique.

You should have known they would make this list. They are definitely five of the most powerfully unique women in the world.

*************************************************************************************************

10) SPEED

speed

SPEED is the most successful girl group in all of Asia. They have sold more than 20 million copies in just three years. They were the only female artists in Japan to achieve the Dome Tour. They were introduced as the younger sisters of the Queen of “Hip-pop”, Namie-Amuro. Over the last two decades, J-pop music had become a global phenomenon. Due to the rise in interest in Japanese animation, Japanese Pop and Japanese Rock music became of interest, and eventually became a sensation all on their own. Japan is currently the second-biggest music empire in the world. The “group culture” traveled over to Asia in the mid 1990s. As a result, group artists have become the biggest trend in Asia throughout the current 21st Century.

SPEED was one of the groups to come out of the popular J-pop craze. But there was always something different about SPEED in comparison to other girl groups in J-pop. SPEED brought Hip-Hop and R&B to the J-pop group scene. They intertwined hip-hop with pop, popularizing Hip-Hop style in Japan and used more “solemn” expressions on their album covers in comparison to other J-pop female groups, displaying an “attitude” not commonly associated with Japanese girls. Their huge contribution to J-pop is the reason many people call them the “Japanese Spice Girls”.

However, their main inspiration was TLC, so you can probably already guess what kind of image they portrayed. Unlike the girlier Morning Musume and other groups like Morning Musume, SPEED presented a more confident, tomboyish image. In fact, though they performed upbeat songs, they didn’t over-emphasize their cute traits, unlike the other female artists in Japan. These girls expressed themselves in ways that gave Japanese girls, and Asian girls, a fresh empowering image. In some music videos, they even mirrored boy groups from the 1970’s and early ’80s (with the suits and microphones).

They also didn’t fall into the number of female J-Rock groups sprouting in Japan.

At the time, it was uncommon to hear Japanese girls rapping. Today, it’s probably nothing special, but back then, it was very different. They introduced a new style to the Japanese Pop world.

This is also one of the first girl groups to disband and come right back together like glue. In 2008, the members came back together after disbanding in 2000, and vowed to stay together and grow old together. They demonstrated a group loyalty that is uncommon in the “group industry”.

Their fresh, urban image and their undying loyalty is why I added them to this list of Most Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever in Music History.

**************************************************************************************************

11) t.A.T.u

Tatu

t.A.T.u is a Russian duo that sang within the Pop and Rock genres. Their music is multilingual, and they have recorded many songs in both Russian and English. t.A.T.u has sold over 15 million records for both their Russian and English albums, and has had one of the “best selling albums by a girl group”. They are considered the most successful Russian act in the world. They are one of the most successful female acts of the early decade. They were the first group ever to be awarded the IFPI Europe platinum award “for the same album in two different languages”.

The group garnered much attention with the song/single  “Ya Soshla S Uma“, which is “All The Things She Said” in English. Music journalists and critics praised the song, and it is considered one of the best songs of the early Y2K era. The video to the song garnered even more attention and controversy. In the video, it showed two girls in school uniforms kissing one another. At the time, it was something unusual, even in the Y2K era, and it was even more scandalous in Russia. The song focuses on a young girl being tormented by society for being in love with another girl. At the time, there were very few songs that focused on outright lesbianism, and there were very few songs like it that garnered the same success. The video received a lot of harsh criticism from the public. Many even considered the video a promoter of “pedophilia”.

This was not their last controversial video. Many videos that followed carried intense messages. In fact, all of t.A.T.u’s videos were bold and daring.

Despite their success, many adults did not deem their “image” appropriate for children.

Their name is an abbreviated form of another Russian word that means “This girl loves that girl.”

t.A.T.u shocked the world in other ways. NBS advised the duo to stay away from “kissing” or commenting on the Iraq War in one of their performances. The girls mocked NBC by wearing songs that said “Khuy Voyne!” across the front, which translates as “F*** the War!” During a break in their performance, they also decided to kiss, blocking their faces with their hands.

Many other controversies followed the group, but one thing was certain: this group definitely was one of the greatest stamps on the pop world. With the controversial image of a Rock star, the group redefined Pop music, and brought a more “rebel girl” energy to the genre. They produced one of the first Pop songs that focused on “lesbian love”. Though the girls have openly stated they are not actual lesbians, their presentation left a unique impact on the music industry.

Yet, even with all of the scandals, their debut album, 200 Po Vstrechnoy, became certified Gold by RIAJ in Japan and still sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide. The album, also named 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane in English, reached the top 10 spots in many Western countries.

Their powerful impact on the Pop world is why they made it on this list.

**********************************************************************************************************

12) Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re

tsu shi ma me re

As mentioned before, Japanese music has influenced the world. Japanese animation brought attention to many artists in the nation.

Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re is an eclectic J-Rock band. They have garnered attention in the USA through Texas’s SXSW and from performing at Anime Conventions. They are known for their unusual sound. It’s really hard to call them “Rock”, as they are known for their blend of many different genres within one song.

They are sort of punk Rock with some influences of Noise and Pop. Yes, “Noise” is labeled as one of their genres; it’s not meant to be a joke. They combine their sweet vocals with guitar riffs and drums. They have been described as deliberately “ironic”. One example of this irony is “Tea Time Ska”.

Their name even hints at this genre blend. Their name blends the family name of the bassist, the name of guitarist, and the name of the drummer. “Mamire” also means “mixed up” in Japanese, giving a nod to their unusual mix.

This group is also known for their strange lyrics. They have been labeled as “quirky” and “idiosyncratic”. They mostly talk about death, food, and sex, sometimes blending all three within one song! Their biggest irony is their sweet vocals hiding their dark messages. One song that reflects this is the song “No Miso Shortcake” where the listener is invited to eat the brain of the singer. Another song, “Kamaboco (Fish Cakes)”, have all the girls playing the role of food ingredients in a pot, with one ingredient being left out of the pot. “American Hamburger” focuses on a girl who is fat and loves to eat, but is “still beautiful”.

Many of their strongest songs express the inevitability of death.

Their songs about sex carry a unique image, which separates them from the other more “innocent” J-pop/Rock groups that exist in Japan. They are certainly not afraid to talk about a man’s genitals. They even often talk about the consequences of teenage sex and the hard reality of teen pregnancy, such as in the song translated as “Pregnant Fantasy”, which is also the title of one of their albums.

Their strong music style and strange story-telling make them a compelling group that is worthy to be on this list.

***********************************************************************************************************

13) Hang on the Box

hang on the box

Hang on the Box, shortened to HOTB, is a Rock band that formed in Beijing. This band stood out in Beijing because they were so unlike all of the female artists existing in China. China is known as a conservative country by most foreigners, but these ladies put their own stamp on the nation. They have stepped out of the “feminine” roles usually placed upon women in the nation. Honestly, Rock itself is still an underground genre in China, among males and females.

Hang on the Box is the kind of band that sings about sex and relationship issues in a straight-forward way, also often described as “politically forward”. You probably wouldn’t find too many females recording or performing the songs they do without getting banned. Heck, you probably wouldn’t see too many notable Chinese girls in a Rock band! Because of their bold impression, they were the first Chinese Rock band to appear on the cover of Newsweek’s magazine.

Hang on the Box has been known to talk bluntly about their resentment regarding the Chinese music industry in their songs. They often talk about the “cuddly pop idols”, who are deemed “nice” and “suitable”, and their distaste with such “ordinary” girls. They have stated, “The nice girls don’t play rock, so we don’t need more nice girls.”

The band singer/songwriter has often stated her opinions on the Chinese industry itself. She has insinuated that she deems the Chinese music industry “inferior” to the Japanese industry, mentioning, “The Japanese work hard and keep improving on their music careers, that’s what I admire a lot. In China, people are still conservative.” The band also greatly admires the Western industry, and hopes to tour in Europe. The band has stated, “We feel we don’t suit in Asia”. Despite efforts by the government to snuff the band out, the band continues to make music and tour.

Their music has been described as “cheerful and hilarious, deadly serious, and personally political”. Though they speak fluent Chinese, they prefer to speak English. They are not a band that is afraid to use profanity, which is highly unusual among women in China. They could really be described as one of China’s strongest feminist bands.

This group packs a punch in the Chinese music industry and breaks all stereotypes about China. They are definitely one of the most powerful female music groups in the world.

*******************************************************************************************************

14) 2ne1

2ne1__come_back_home_3_by_awesmatasticaly_cool-d7d318k

K-pop group 2ne1 is considered a “top-tier” group in Korea, selling 27 million digital downloads in 2012 alone! This group is not just a household name in Korea, but are also well-known and respected among their many global fans in the K-pop community. Their fans call themselves “Black Jacks”. They were YG Entertainment’s break-out group and are considered the second most popular K-pop female group in the world.

What drew people to 2ne1 was their fluency in English. Many of the members have studied in western countries and were able to communicate with western audiences through mainstream western sounds and flawless English, something most westerners were not used to hearing from eastern nations.

Since the Hallyu wave, mentioned above, K-pop has taken over the “group music scene”. “Gangnam Style”, by rapper and entertainer Psy, also made K-pop an even bigger phenomenon.

2ne1 stepped on the scene before Psy became a sensation. In fact, when 2ne1 stepped on the scene, many girls were following the “cute, aegyo” trend started by SM Entertainment’s Girls’ Generation. All of the girl groups were competing with one another to be the next to produce an even better image of “innocence”, something some people felt was missing in the music industry in western countries.

Then 2ne1 burst on the scene. 2ne1 represents the “21st Century” and a “new evolution” of K-pop music. 2ne1 was not “sweet and girlish”. From debut, 2ne1 portrayed themselves as Rap/Hip-Hop idols, which made them more compared to fellow YG boy group Big Bang than to any female group out at the time. These women did not wear the girly school uniforms or the sweet “melon-drop” outfits, neither did they sing with “lighter-than-normal” vocal pitches or with “puckered lips” to emphasize their cuteness. While all of the other girls dressed like twins, 2ne1 was known for their strong individuality. While the other girl groups sang with light, melodious vocals, 2ne1 had powerful vocals. Eventually, 2ne1 grew to express more feminine qualities, but they kept a mature, sleek edge about them. As a result, 2ne1 helped the world take female K-pop groups seriously.

2ne1 showed confidence, edge, and a unique identity. 2ne1 wore bold, bright fashions. They often tapped into even edgier styles by trying Gothic and even Cyberpunk looks. This group brought “swagger” to the modern-day K-pop industry.

This group is also not afraid to use profanity in their music, which is literally unheard of among most female groups in Korea. This group emphasizes “female empowerment” and “standing out, no matter what anyone says”. 2ne1 is one of the groups that have the most creative freedom, and have had more of a “hand” in their music than most other groups. 2ne1’s lyrics have the depth that most K-pop songs are missing. One such song that expresses the depth that other girls are missing is “Come Back Home”. The video reveals a darker side to Korean life that most foreigners may not even be aware of. In the video, the male lead seems to be addicted to a drug. It appears to cause trouble with his girlfriend, played by member Dara. This kind of imagery is hardly seen in most female K-pop videos, trust me. It brings out a burning truth that most people would rather ignore in favor of the innocent bliss found in other videos. The overall video captures people living in a virtual cyber world. It really is a deep video.

In another video, 2ne1 combines a “Gothic” style with R&B, two styles usually not combined.

2ne1 changed any misconceptions foreigners had of Asian girls.

2ne1 gives it hard to K-pop. Is it any surprise that two of their inspirations are two of the most powerful leading ladies, the Spice Girls and TLC?

For those of you who weren’t aware of their huge influence on the Pop world, now you know. 2ne1 was definitely going to make my list of the Most Powerfully Unique Girl Groups Ever in Music History.

*********************************************************************************************

15) f(x)

fx-red-light-group

“Powerhouse” label SM entertainment (known as the biggest Korean label in Korea) introduced f(x), the multinational, quirky, unconventional group in 2009. f(x) is an extremely popular K-pop group that debuted just months after 2ne1, and their popularity has seen significant growth in 2014, being labeled as “Hipsters” by American Fuse TV Channel. They are known for having one of the highest number of sales for their physical album copies in Korea, a feat that is challenging in the “digital world”. Music critics usually praise the quirky group for their bold contemporary sounds. Like 2ne1, they were also different from the other “twin-like” groups. Instead of debuting with a cute song, f(x) debuted with the song “Lachata”, a Funk-Pop song, and with a retro-boyish image. Since then, however, f(x) has tried everything…

f(x) is known for their distinct characteristics and strong individuality, similar to the Spice Girls. The only difference is that f(x) doesn’t have to try too hard to be distinct. One member of their group particularly stands out the most: The androgynous member, Amber Liu. f(x) is the most widely known Pop group in the world to have an androgynous member. Sure, there are many groups that try a more “boyish” look as a theme, but this member’s main style is “comfortable” and “boyish”, even in her everyday life! She is often compared to China’s S.H.E. member Ella Chen. Unlike Ella, however, Amber does not often act “girlish”. Tomboyish girls are rare in Korea, let alone, the ones that actually dress more similar to the boys. Amber Liu’s boyish charms stole the hearts of many Korean and global fans, something no one predicted would happen. Some K-pop fans even think she is more handsome than some males in K-pop boy groups! This gave the impression on the K-pop world that f(x) was a group that wouldn’t fit into the “cookie-cutter” K-pop industry, where women were mostly designed to appeal to the eyes of men.

Another similar trait f(x) has to the Spice Girls are their multitude of talents. In fact, f(x) has an even longer list of talents than anyone on this list! Some play guitar, piano, the drums, dance, sing, ice skate, act, and can perform acrobatic flips, to name a few. Victoria is seen performing her famous, flawless flips onstage and in the MV “Chu”. When f(x) debuted, they were advertised as “Asia’s Best Female Dance Group”, emphasizing that this group would have strong choreography. They received a lot of praise for their complicated dances.

The biggest trait that makes f(x) stand out in Korea is the fact that over half of the members are…Well, not Korean! Amber Liu is Taiwanese-American, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, USA. Krystal Jung is Korean-American, born in San Francisco, California, USA, though she has lived in Korea mostly her whole life. Victoria Song was born and raised in China. The two other Korean ladies, Luna and Sulli, are not even from the same city! With this mixture, there were many language and cultural barriers the group had to overcome. f(x) was one of the first well-known female multinational groups in the world.

This strong multinational reputation was made even stronger when Victoria, the Chinese member, was placed as the leader of the group!

At one time, the girls had a hard time communicating with one another. Krystal spoke both English and Korean, so she helped Amber understand the other two Korean girls and helped the Korean girls understand Amber. Amber spoke a little Chinese so she communicated with Victoria. Still, two of the girls struggled to adjust to a completely new country. It was especially overwhelming for the leader, Victoria, who was expected to speak on behalf of her group, but wasn’t as fluent in Korean as other members. Yet, f(x) overcame this obstacle. They managed to convey a “chemistry” that would usually be challenging in a multilingual group. This makes f(x) appealing to many nations outside of Korea, as they have three completely different national influences, and are least likely to be biased or prejudiced when it comes to foreigners.

Even their debut song, “LaChata”, reflects their international influence.  The title of the song is in reference to the Portuguese word “Chata”, which translates as “boring”.

f(x) is known as a group that changes styles all the time. They are known as a group that “never follows the trends”. I would rather say they are a group that steps into new styles comfortably and with ease, even when they are following the trends. They are unique most of the time without even trying.  Mostly, they are not as deliberate as other unique groups. f(x), their name, is a mathematical function. If you insert a number in place of the variable “x”, it can become anything. f(x) is the kind of group fans always expect the unexpected from. f(x) changes their image every comeback. They are known for their eclectic sense of style and their “experimental, boundary-pushing” sound.

Their music is anything but normal. They are, in fact, avant-garde, which makes them stand out not only in Korea, but among groups around the world. And not just with sound, but lyrics. f(x) is known for their strange metaphors, like in the song “Rum Pum Pum Pum”. The song compares first love to a growing wisdom tooth.

What really helps f(x)’s album sales are their creative album covers. The cover of their 2013 album, Pink Tape, drew attention to itself because it was designed to look exactly like a pink VHS tape. From front to back, the boxed cover could easily be mistaken for a 1990’s VHS, and many people bought the album just for decoration.

f(x) is also known for sounding more like the boys than the girls, and have been compared to “brother” group Shinee in sound.

f(x) really made a statement when they underwent another transformation for the song “Red Light”. f(x) was known for their colorful MVs and quirky fashions. The “Red Light” video showed the girls as fierce, dark, and sassy. They were noted as not following the “feminine, sexy” girl group trend that has been emerging in Korea. They had a distinct military-style, and started many fashion trends with their MV and teaser photos, such as the bowler hats, the eye-patches, and the “one-eyed” make-up. The video itself was controversial. It was meant to be a social-conscious song with a deeper meaning “other than love”, as member Luna pointed out. Between burning books, ringing phones, two-colored-eyed cats, and strange mannequins, the video garnered much attention, gaining 2 million views on Youtube within two days! It is possibly one of the most unique pop songs in the world. The strange chorus transition also made it stand out, as it gave f(x) that unique quirk they are known for. To add, the song received controversy when KBS, a broadcasting station in Korea, deemed the song unsuitable for broadcast because the song used the word “Caterpillar”, which was in reference to an American diesel-fueled organization of the same name, also abbreviated to CAT.

f(x) is also a group that is known for having a little more creative freedom than the other girl groups, especially when it comes to style and music. There are just certain things f(x) can pull off and get away with that other female K-pop groups can’t.

f(x) certainly knows how to keep their fans on their toes, and it is this “element of surprise” that helps them make it on this list of 15 of the Most Powerfully Unique Groups Ever in History.

******************************************************************************************************

So, that’s all folks. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the list. Do you agree with the list? Are there any other powerful groups in the world that you feel should be added to this list? I will be updating as I discover more unique groups. Were there any artists you were introduced to because of this article? Please share your opinions in the comments’ section below.

7 Animated Movies That Almost Seem Like Disney Movies + 7 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

13 Dec

In the 1990’s, Disney experienced a Renaissance of sorts. Most people know of this. It was Disney’s greatest age. Disney gained popularity once again after a Dark Age during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid brought Disney back on their game.

During Disney’s Renaissance, there were other animation studios that tried to imitate Disney’s musical movies, due to Disney’s success. Some of the studios failed, some studios actually succeeded in making movies as great as Disney.

This article is to share with you 7 movies that were just as good as Disney’s movies, and almost could’ve been Disney movies, but weren’t.

1) Cats Don’t Dance

With stronger animation than most movies of it’s day, it could remind someone of movies like The Goofy Movie or Oliver and Company. The movie’s focus is on an animal and how he paves his way to stardom. Randy Newman contributed to some of the film’s music. Name sound familiar? He was in charge of the music in The Princess and the Frog. This style of music really makes the movie feel like a Disney film. Of course, it’s missing the strong story elements that Disney had, but the music and characters were just as lovable as any Disney movie.

2) Thumbelina

This sweet story about a female heroine the size of a thumb always brings us back to Disney, who is often known for their heroines. The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen. Sound familiar? He was the same writer that wrote The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. Most people know The Snow Queen‘s loose adaptation, Frozen. Hans’s name was even used for one of Frozen‘s characters! It’s no surprise that this movie reminds people of a Disney movie. With all the interesting characters and Thumbelina’s long voyage from home, we begin to wonder if Disney had some hand in the story. Well, technically they did. Don Bluth, the director of the movie, once worked for Disney. He left Disney during Disney’s “Dark Age”, and started his own rival company. He had quite a few successes, many of which will end up on this list.

3) The Iron Giant

This story takes place in 1957 during the Cold War. I think the story carries a deep past and an interesting message. The critics have looked favorably on the film. But it isn’t Disney. This is a movie you would not want to miss. Unlike some of the other movies on this list, it had no Disney animators, directors, or song-writers influencing it’s direction. It reminds me of Disney without even trying to be like Disney. I still think this is one of the greatest animated movies of the 1990’s.

4) Balto

Balto is actually based off of a true story and actually holds a deep past. The story creates Balto into the animated hero he deserves to be. In 1925 Alaska, a diphtheria outbreak threatened the children in the area of Nome. This brave dog is expected to carry antitoxins from one part of Alaska to another, meeting dangerous weather and circumstances along the way. I learned about the intensity of this outbreak through this movie. Man, was I shocked to find this wasn’t a Disney movie. It should’ve been. Well, Steven Spielberg was in charge of the movie and he was known for his great story-telling. This movie was underrated, but very well-developed and touching.

5) An American Tail

Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth both had a hand in this film, so it was inevitable that it would be confused for a Disney film. This movie taught me the hardships that people endured trying to come into the United States. This movie was definitely an engaging story. This was a movie I always watched over and over. But it didn’t have to be a Disney movie in order to be good.

6) The Prince of Egypt

Based off of the Biblical story about Moses, the animation and musical scores in this movie made it powerful enough to compete with Disney’s movies. It always reminded me of The Huntchback of Notre Dame because of the religious elements involved. The story was very powerful and I seriously thought I had Disney pegged on this one. Nope. I was wrong.

7) Anastasia

Though I’ve always known this was a Fox movie, because the beginning didn’t have Tinkerbell or Mickey Mouse like so many Disney movies had in the 90’s, I know many people who confuse her for a Disney Princess. She’s a spunky, lost princess. She sings epic musical Broadway-style numbers. She wears pretty ball gowns and her love interest is an orphan. The main villain has supernatural abilities, a musical score all his own, and is deadly. What isn’t Disney about this movie? The fact that it doesn’t carry a Disney logo. This is one of the greatest animated films in the history of animated films. It is loosely based off of the real Duchess Anastasia. I can honestly watch this movie until times get better.

So, you people should check these movies out. No, they are not Disney movies. But if you love animated films, get the nostalgia jones, or just want to try something new, give them all a watch one day.

6 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

Well, talking about animated films has brought me back to Disney films. I recently started watching some old Disney movies. Now that I’m older, I can catch some of the “suggestive” jokes I couldn’t really grasp as a child. But I’m also starting to realize how hot certain characters are. Some characters were even deliberately made to be sexy by Disney! I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but I’ve acquired a list anyway.

1) Prince Naveen 

He speaks French, he’s a prince, and he’s romantic. What isn’t sexy about that? Only a man this charming and handsome could woo the focused Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. What makes it better is that he speaks French, duh! Didn’t I say that? 😛 French is a romantic language, and thus, a sexy language. His accent also adds charm to him, as well as his ability to let go and just have fun. And hey, he’s pretty handsome…When he’s not a frog…

2) Megara

Megara, Nut Meg, was the “femme fatale” character from Hercules who worked with the Lord of the Underworld, Hades. She is an anti-hero of sorts, so her moral and ethics are not the strongest, but she turns into a good girl eventually. Of course, as a servant of Hades, she’s expected to coerce and seduce Hercules into giving away his secrets, particularly his weaknesses for Hades’ evil plans. And she does it so well, she oozes hotness. Just the way she says, “Bye, Bye Wonderboy” can send shivers down the spine. “Femme Fatale” says hot to me.

3) Flynn Rider

He was never meant to be sexy, but he just is. He oozes bad-boy charm and is the handsomest “prince” to date. He is probably one of the few well-developed male characters in a princess movie created by Disney. Though he’s a bad boy, he is also sweet and cute. Every girl’s dream.

4) Princess Jasmine

Princess Jasmine, from the movie Aladdin, is the only Disney Princess with an hour-glass curvy body and a skimpy wardrobe. And man can she work her bod! The best part is that Jasmine is strong, beautiful, and smart! She’s very sharp. That makes her even sexier. But Jasmine knew how to turn on her seductive powers whenever it was convenient, which shows she was very aware of how attractive she was.

5) Esmeralda

Esmeralda is a gypsy street-performer who does what she can to survive in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is quite the under-dog, the outcast, and has a deep spiritual side to her. But when she gets in front of an eager crowd, she knows how to draw a man’s eyes to her. In fact, she made the Archdeacon, Frollo, so mad with lust, he burned down all of Paris just to find her! If anyone has a strong sexy power, it’s her. And all she had to do was pole dance. Well, she kind of flirted with the crowd, too. But just about every man in the story was in love with her and super jealous of Phoebus, who was the only man that actually won her heart. She has an “exotic beauty” aura about her. And boy, does she look good in red. This movie is a little too deep for kids, now that I think about it…

6) Jack Sparrow

Pirates of the Caribbean is Disney’s most successful live-action film, and it is geared towards a 13+ crowd. Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) is a charismatic pirate who creates most of the comedy and seduction the movie provides. He is edgy, but definitely full of charisma. He persuades and seduces everyone throughout the whole movie, man or woman! He convinced Will Turner to join his crew. He happened to wheedle himself out of danger just with his charm. And he’s slick as ice. Does it help that he is also handsome? It was made clear that he has had many women in his lifetime, and he can’t always remember each of their names! Even Elizabeth Swann had a taste of his smexy lips in one of the sequels…Before she turned on him…What woman, of any generation, would think he is anything but sexy? He’s probably not the best for a long-term mate, but he’s certainly a gem for those who want to have a good time.

7) Jessica Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit introduced us to Disney’s (and animation’s) most racy character, Jessica Rabbit. Jessica Rabbit is now considered a “sex icon”, producing erotic responses from many males the world over. There are so many perverted sketches of her online, it’s pretty evident she is an ideal. Her infamous line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” reveals it all. This “femme fatale” character is hot and a bit naughty, and we, the audience, like it. Just like Esmeralda, she sings and dances for the feasting eyes of men. But let’s just say she’s a little more interactive…And there’s just something about her that just feels a little more deliberate.

This “bad” girl has a body that is so bodacious. Her breasts are so large, she keeps everything she needs in them! Is she really a Disney character? XD

This “fiery red” chick spells hot all over.

Leave me a comment and share some of your favorite animated stories!

GN’s Top 20 Favorite Far East Asian Artists: 20 Countdown

6 Nov

94555370

As most of you readers probably know, GN loves foreign music. I love music from around the world. I listen to music from France, Turkey, Russia, Tanzania, Brazil, Spain, and many other countries around the world. But my favorite countries rest in Asia. Yes, GN is a big-time fan of Asian music.

As a Black/African American, most would look at me and wonder what made me love music from other lands and nations so much. I only speak English fluently. My parents never raised me to like foreign music. Well, not directly.

When I was younger, my parents would always take me to Mexican Food restaurants. I grew up eating Mexican food because they liked it. And you know what kind of music I would hear playing? Spanish music. After getting songs stuck in my head, I began to enjoy the music. I began listening to the music on my “alarm clock radio”…something only us ’90s kids would understand…

It was then that I began to like music spoken in a language that was different from my own. I never let language stop me from liking music.

Later, when I was around age 10, I acquired a love for anime. Cartoon Network’s Toonami block introduced me to so many animes, but it also introduced me to RPG video games. One of those video games was Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts had a commercial that played repetitively on every channel. The commercial had a very catchy song linked to it. (Many of you have probably heard this story before, if you’ve been following my blog.) That song was my favorite for months. It had a mesmerizing sound and beautiful vocals. But I never knew who sang the song. Finally, when I bought the game, I looked at the back of the booklet that came with the game and found out who it was. Now, I’m not going to give who it was away because that singer is going to be on my list. But I just wanted to share a brief summary of how I got hooked on foreign music, and how Asian music became a favorite of mine.

Even though I knew about that artist, I always thought the person was an underground American artist because the artist spoke excellent English. Little did I know she was a famous singer overseas! I didn’t really realize other countries had their “own” music (I know, it was very ignorant of me).

At the time, I was also a Bratz fan. Bratz came out with a song that was only released in Asia. At the time, I had to have everything Bratz. So, I did some research on this song, and found out about another famous Asian star. It was then that it dawned on me: There are other great singers out in the world that AREN’T American. My mind and my options were opened. Since then, I’ve been a fan of Asian music.

This all happened in 2003.

Now, I like tons of Asian artists. I’ve acquired a love of many different kinds. Over the years, I’ve gotten into artists from other continents, too.

So, now that you’ve been updated with my history, it’s time for me to share with you all some Asian artists I just can’t get enough of. I love all Asian music naturally, but these 20 artists really pop out to me. On this list, I will do a countdown, starting from #20!

20. Jo Kwon

I was introduced to this sexy K-pop star through f(x) Amber’s instagram. She was right about him. He’s super sexy. Not only is he sexy, but he does sexy in a unique way. Jo Kwon really impressed me with his performance, “Animal”. He is an artist that I consider “ground-breaking” in Korea and around the world. He proved that men can strut in platform heels and still look good doing it! I honestly can only respect him as he highlights his own beauty. Ever since that performance, I have been wanting more from him. He’s a rare gem in a boxed world.

Debut 2008

19. Zard

I was first introduced to this J-rock band when watching the Detective Conan anime. One of Zard’s songs was the 4th Opening theme. But it was the 22nd Opening theme that made me follow this band full-throttle. Whenever I think of Japanese music, this band is always one of the first that come to my mind. Their music is energetic, but what made them even more special was their lead vocalist. There are very few female rockers in the world, and she was one-in-a-million. Unfortunately, she has passed away. 😦 But their music is still amazing.

Debut 1991

18. BtoB

I first learned of K-pop boy group BtoB this year on We Got Married Global. I heard about their song “Beep Beep”, but the song that really sparked my interest was “Wow”. Teddy Riley raved about this group’s New Jack Swing style, which is what made me check out that song. The fact that BtoB successfully tried New Jack Swing was impressive enough, but they also are really charming young men who love music. Sungjae has become a favorite of mine, as he seems to really love music. I’ve been watching him on KBS’s A Song for You. He never ceases to entertain me. BtoB is a K-pop group with one American member.

Debut 2012

17. 2ne1

I was introduced to this K-pop group on a BoA fan message board site. BoA was compared to the YG entertainment group. At first I was offended, but I still gave them a shot. When I heard the song “I  Love You”, I immediately knew there was something different about them. They were so different from all the other groups. They didn’t do the “cute” thing. But they also sounded so…AMERICAN. They kind of reminded me of Rihanna in many ways. I was addicted to that song for a long time. They always struck me as more mature than the other girl groups. It wasn’t until later that I saw more edgy, fun sides to them. Their performances were always unique. They never danced silly or cute dances. They used profanity in their performances. They dressed risque and pointed with swag at their viewers with their long, sharp nails. While this tough edge made them a more “alpha, dominant” female group, it never took away from the sex appeal or girlishness. They had a charm all their own. I couldn’t resist getting their latest album, Crush.

Debut 2009

16. Gackt

Gackt has always been one of my favorite J-rock stars. I was introduced to him while passing through Japanese music websites. Final Fantasy deepened my interest in him. His unique image and sound make him universal. Something about his androgynous looks makes me mesmerized. And his image is in far contrast to his music, which is very masculine in nature. I love every moment.

Debut 1999

15. Mai Kuraki

This J-pop star takes the #15 spot for me. She is an amazing vocalist. She used to remind me of Utada Hikaru back in the day. My sibling first introduced me to the J-pop star through the song “Perfect Crime” and I loved that song. But I first gained extreme interest in her after her song “Revive” appeared on the Detective Conan anime. She definitely has some epic and addictive songs.

Debut 1999

14. School Food Punishment

This Electronic J-rock band caught my ears with the song “Sky Step”. My sibling also introduced me to this band. Their fast transitions mid-tempo makes their music easy to recognize. There isn’t one song I hate from this band and I can listen to them over and over again without losing interest. Their genre is also considered Post Rock. Unfortunately, this band disbanded in 2012. 😦 But their music is still hypnotizing and addictive.

Debut 2004

13. Keiko Lee

This Japanese Blues/Jazz artist is one of my favorites. I first heard her music on the anime Requiem from the Darkness. She sang both the opening and ending songs. I swear, when I first heard her voice, I couldn’t believe a woman like her was singing. Her style is similar to Billie Holiday. She has quite a bass. Her bass adds a haunting shade on everything she sings. Her music can be alluring, seductive, and mysterious all at once. You should hear her cover of “We Will Rock You”. It’s most definitely a unique spin on that song. Check it out when you have time. It’s bone-chilling. The best part for me is that all of her music is in English, my native language.

Debut 1995

12. Show Luo

This Mandopop star captured my heart with his amazing performances. Originally part of two different boy bands, he struck out on his own after several of his members left for military service. Most people probably know him from his cover of High School Musical 2‘s “Bet On it”. But I know him from the song “Zhen Ming Tian Zi” featuring female pop sensation Jolin Tsai. His music is catchy and his performance value is high. If you are in the C-pop neighborhood, you should definitely check him out. And for all you ladies, you’ll have plenty of I-Candy.

Debut 1996

11. Super Junior (Including Suju-M)

I’ve known about K-pop boy band sensation Super Junior ever since I’d visited the SM Entertainment main website back during their debut. What stood out to me was the number of members they had. I also liked their boy-next-door appeal. The song I remember listening to often is “Sexy, Free, and Single”. Even though I knew about them for years, I wasn’t a fan until last year. It was Super Junior-M’s member Henry that helped my interest in the group increase. I saw Henry play the guitar for “Someday at Christmas (Happy Holidays)”, saw him play the piano for “Trap”, the violin for “Fantastic, and I just wondered, “What CAN’T he do?” I felt this was a reflection on the group. They must be some really talented men. The song that I first gave a chance was “Swing”. Ever since, I’ve followed them closely. Their upbeat and catchy music keeps me dancing for days.

I became an even greater fan of the original Super Junior after seeing Kangin on KBS’s A Song For You. He’s funny and also very experienced with music.

Debut 2005

TOP TEN

10. Got7

Recently, I’ve become a huge fan of this K-pop group. I was first introduced to Got7 on We Got Married Global. I usually hate boy bands. But the three members on that show (Jackson, Mark, and Bam Bam) made me fall in love with this group. Jackson, Bam Bam, and Mark are three of Got7’s international members. Got7 is a multi-national group, which always sparks my interest for various reasons. This makes them well-rounded. Their music style is mostly hip-hop, which gives them some edge. I love their hard but boy-next-door appeal. These are gentlemen who display honesty and frankness. There is something very real about this group. This group seem like normal boys that anyone can relate to. But what’s most impressive are their acrobatic skills onstage. It’s hard not to be amazed by this boy band. The music is attractive, the members are attractive, and the performance value is high. Once I had a taste of this group, there was no turning back. They continue to impress me. The first song I heard was their debut song “Girls Girls Girls”.

Debut 2014

9. Shinee

This K-pop boy band was the talk of the town during their debut. They were, in fact, the second Korean boy band I had ever listened to (after TVXQ). I was first introduced to them through SM Entertainment’s main website. I learned more about them through fan-made AMVs on Youtube. From the song, “Lucifer” to “Ring Ding Dong”, I couldn’t get this group out of my head for weeks on end. Their unique sense of style, colorful personalities, and strong unity kept me interested in this group for a long time. And I’m still a major follower. My interest in this group has increased after watching them on variety shows and seeing their performances of “Everybody”. They are just so unique, and yet, underrated in comparison to SM Entertainment’s other artists. They brought in a new age wave of Kpop.

Debut 2008

8. Crystal Kay

Crystal Kay was one of the first J-pop artists I became interested in. Basically, she’s a veteran. What really struck me about her was her dark skin. Just like me, she was African American, but unlike me, she spoke fluent Japanese. I thought it was the most impressive thing and very inspirational. Crystal Kay is part Korean as well, though she doesn’t speak any Korean! Some of her inspirations include Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Speed, and my personal favorite, Namie Amuro. This girl has amazing vocals and an international appeal. The first song I heard from her was actually M-flo’s “Reewind!” featuring Crystal Kay from the “M-flo Loves __” collection. But I was so obsessed with that song for a year, I quickly became a Crystal Kay fan. And she just had her first U.S. debut! So exciting! Check out her performance of “Girlfriend” with BoA Kwon. Not only is her music amazing, but she has a soulful and bubbly personality that oozes charm.

Debut 1999

7. Ayumi Hamasaki

What J-pop fan doesn’t know about Ayumi Hamasaki? Ayumi Hamasaki is the most unique pop singer in Japan. She has the foundation of a pop singer, but the performance value of a rock star! Ayumi Hamasaki is one of the few artists in the world who has creative control of her music. She fought for that right. She is widely known for her constant change in image. What I loved about her music is the edgy rock sounds she mixes with pop music. The first thing I heard from her was her album I Am…Yes, I heard the whole album. I was on a website back in 2003 called J-fan.net. They used to have a collection of Japanese artists. I happened to stumble upon Ayumi Hamasaki. I remembered the name from Inuyasha, which I watched occasionally. When I heard this album, I was taken aback. It was so amazing. Ever since, I’ve gotten every album after. Ayumi is never boring. Ayumi made “Poker Face” a thing even before Lady Gaga. Check her out if you haven’t already.

Debut 1998

6. Kristine Sa

Vietnamese Canadian singer Kristine Sa stole my heart, mind, and ears with her vocals. Her music is amazing. She is widely known in the anime community, but is still relatively underrated. Her music is addictive. I seriously have every song she ever released. Ever since I accidentally stumbled upon her website, and heard the song “Consequence”, I was sold. I also managed to have a long conversation with the star. She was really friendly.

Debut 2002

5. Jade Villalon/Valerie/Sweetbox

There are many reasons the Filipino J-pop star is among my Top 5. The girl can sing, but in her music, her personality and attitude burst forth. Jade Villalon’s music is clever and full of her wit. And I just love her face. Something about her baby face. I was first introduced to her on a blog I used to visit a long time ago. I do not remember the name of that blog, but I would like to thank them for introducing me to the artist. THANK YOU, WHEREVER YOU ARE! The first song I ever heard from her was “Liberty”, which was released during her Sweetbox days. That song was deep for me. The lyrics stood out to me. Many know her from the Final Fantasy song “1000 Words”. I seem to like those Final Fantasy songs…

Debut 1999

4. Namie Amuro

I first stumbled upon this J-pop diva on http://hmv.co.jp. I was eager to find new J-pop artists. Namie Amuro stuck out to me because her music was steeped in Hip-Hop at the time. I just loved her voice. She was sexy and her performances grabbed my attention immediately. At the time, it was different to see a J-pop artist steep their music in hip-hop, especially females. And I always loved her tattoo and “lucky” belt that she wore. She just had a bad-ass image. I’ve never missed a single album of Namie Amuro’s. The first song I ever heard from her was from her album Style called “Namie’s Style”. Once I heard that epic hip-hop number, I had to have that album…and every album that came after. Namie Amuro has changed her style frequently. She also sings Dance Pop and Electronic Pop. I really just can’t forget about this edgy diva. And no matter how old she gets, she just looks younger and younger!

Debut 1995

3. f(x)

Oh yes. If you have been reading my blog, this should come as no surprise to you. What may be surprising is that they are only number 3 on my list! The quirky, unconventional all-girl K-pop group consumed my life last February with their album Pink Tape and slayed me this summer with Red Light. But I’ve known about f(x) since 2012’s “Electric shock”. I was introduced to f(x) through another K-pop star’s message board and decided to give them a shot. I was introduced to them the same day as 2ne1 from the same fan board. At first, I only planned to listen to the song once. But that song would not get out of my head! Later, I had done an article on androgynous fashion, which brought me in contact with f(x)’s Amber Liu and her story. My fascination with the group grew. I am now a huge fan! I believe this group has what it takes to be an international phenomenon. The diversity and individuality burst through. Their image is very unique and their music is spiced with variety. They are well-rounded for all age groups and all musical ears. To add, their lovable personalities allow you to fall in love with them. This multi-national group exceeds all language barriers. There’s so much I can say about this group. It’s even hard to really have a bias in this group. What I like about them is that they are girls who are just as entertaining as the boys.

Debut 2009

2. BoA

BoA Kwon…was technically the first Asian pop star I was introduced to. She was the first artist that I was introduced to as “foreign”. I was introduced to BoA through a Bratz song called “Show Me What You Got”. The Bratz single was only released in Japan. A Bratz fan shared it on a popular Bratz Yahoo group. It was then that I realized there were other artists in the world outside of my own country, the USA. BoA is also the reason I have been introduced to so many other artists! After finding BoA on her Japanese website, I realized she was under the label Avexnet. After trying to find her album, I stumbled upon HMV’s main website, which led me to Namie Amuro and Crystal Kay. I found Ayumi Hamasaki while trying to listen to BoA’s album Valenti. I would always visit the SM Entertainment official website to keep up with the latest BoA Korean releases, and that’s how I was introduced to Shinee and Super Junior. Through BoA’s fan board, http://www.boajjang.com, I was introduced to 2ne1 and f(x). So it was really BoA that broadened my J-pop and K-pop experiences. Really, she is the reason I became interested in World music in general. I was so amazed that she was a pop star in a foreign country, I wanted to search for other artists in different lands. And this is all thanks to the Bratz dolls. 😉

BoA has always kept my interest with epic dance moves and hypnotizing music. This girl can REALLY dance. She is purely a musical genius at this point. It only makes sense that she would be #2 in my life. BoA is one of the best female performers in the world. I really saw this in the “The Face” tour. My first full-out BoA song was “Double”, and I first heard it directly on it’s Japanese release date, October 22, 2003 at 15:30.

Debut 2000

1. Utada

Yes, my #1 favorite Asian artist is Utada Hikaru. This J-pop star was my FIRST Asian artist. She was the first singer from Asia that I’ve ever loved. And at the time, I didn’t even know she was a J-pop star! I was introduced to her through the Kingdom Hearts commercial. Her song was the exact thing that drew me to the game in the first place! I loved her song “Simple and Clean”, and the remix got me dancing every day. That song was stuck in my head for months until I broke down and bought the game. What a clever selling tactic, and it worked on my young, impressionable mind. When I found out who sang the song, I became a huge fan of that one song for YEARS. Later, I found out she was a huge J-pop star. Out of all of the artists on this list, she is the only artist I have seen live.  I attended her “In the Flesh” Tour. This is the artist I would jump planes to see. Many artists I’ve liked later have either reminded me of her or have been affiliated with her, like Kristina Sa and Jade Villalon. She set the stage. Her impressive vocals, musical experience, and unique concepts always struck me. My whole family enjoys her music, so it’s the glue that ties us together. Utada is an experimental artist who speaks two languages. This is why her albums have such wide-ranged appeal.

Debut 1998

So that’s my full list! Share with me your list!

My sister also shared with me her list, if anyone is interested in knowing about new artists.

BoA’s Japanese and Korean Comeback: BoA “Double” Challenge

12 Sep

avck-79215.jpg

In case you couldn’t tell, this month is BoA month in honor of BoA’s first Japanese comeback in FOUR years and her Korean album in THREE years! So, this article is to spread the word!

Her Japanese album was released September 3, 2014 titled, Who’s Back?.

Her Korean album, Kiss My Lips, was released May 12, 2015.

Own it, it’s awesome!

For today, I have a challenge for BoA fans and readers.

BoA has debuted in THREE countries: Korea (2000), Japan (2001), and the USA (2008). She has around 94 music videos and still counting!

Between her Korean music videos and her Japanese videos, BoA has brought over some of her Korean stuff into the Japanese nation. Many times, she has done music videos TWICE for both countries. She translated many of her Korean songs in Japanese.

She did the same thing in America (She translated Girls on Top, her Korean hit, in English).

The music videos between Korea and Japan may look like identical twins, but just like identical twins, there are differences.

The inspiration behind the title comes from a BoA song called “Double”. In the video, she has two mirror versions of herself as she dances.

My challenge for you readers: Can you find the differences?

Ready? Begin!

BoA Double

First, we’ll start with the inspiration behind the title: “Double”. Released in 2003.

Korean Mv

AND

Japanese Pv

I notice there are a lot of differences in editing. Can you spot any differences?

The Shadow

Next, we’ll do The Shadow. Shadow always reminds me of “Double”. BoA has three versions of herself that meet each other at one point. There is an emphasis of BoA mirroring herself, much like in “Double”. Released in 2012.

Korean MV

or

Japanese PV

http://www.jpopsuki.tv/video/BoA—The-Shadow-%2528Japanese-Version%2529/e88dc86aa9b209013b0bf12b81b5bf13 <—-Click

Can you spot the differences? Japan has a dreamier feeling, while I feel Korea’s shows BoA’s tougher and sexier side.

BoA Shine We Are

Released in 2003.

It’s even harder to find the differences in these music videos. But they exist! Can you find them?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

Rock With You

Released in 2004.

These are VERY identical. Can you spot the differences? I did! There are very few, but they exist.

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

Valenti

Released in 2002.

The differences become very obvious here. Can you spot them?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

Jewel Song

Released in 2003.

Something this beautiful can hide hidden surprises, including differences. Can you find them?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

Destiny (Miracle)/Kiseki

Released in 2002.

So many lovely scenes. BoA wears the same outfits, and sings the songs pretty similar, but there are still differences. Can you find them?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

Meri Churi

Released in 2004.

A Beautiful Christmas ballad, but with different angles. Can you find them all?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Pv

http://serviceapi.nmv.naver.com/flash/convertIframeTag.nhn?vid=347039E7C5A88762B06C6F850D20745D59CD&outKey=V125b85e0bd7ecd99f54e4d2849af75299176e91baa587952a2494d2849af75299176&width=720&height=438

Everlasting

Released in 2006.

You never notice certain things in a music video until you see its twin! What differences can you spot?

Korean Mv

or

Japanese Mv

I hope you enjoyed the BoA “Double” challenge! It was a lot of fun for me!

Leave me a comment and let me know one difference you found in at least one music video!

And don’t forget to get BoA’s albums on sale now!

http://www.yesasia.com

VIZ Media Stops DCTP Translations and Scans of the Manga Detective Conan

24 Jul

So I go on DCTP.ws to get my dosage of Detective Conan to find this:

dctp

VIZ Media sent a notice to DCTP, The Detective Conan Translation Project,  an online message board for Detective Conan fans, telling them to stop scans and translations because apparently VIZ owns the “rights” to Detective Conan. DCTP was known as a website that translated the Detective Conan manga, and at one time anime, for English-speakers, since most English-speakers had no manga complement as decent as the Japanese version. DCTP drew in fans from around the world. The team was very dedicated to their job of translating, even though many had other things to do. They were greatly appreciated. The same outrageous thing happened when SOPA and PIPA cracked down on pirating movies and shows on the internet, and so DCTP had to cease their translations of the Detective Conan animes. I was alright with that as longs as I was able to read the manga. And there wasn’t an English anime airing on my t.v. And I certainly don’t want that trash, Case Closed, ever airing on Cartoon Network again. In fact, there was never a good English anime complement to the Japanese version. DCTP’s manga scans helped that. But then VIZ just had to drop the bomb.

Here’s my thing. Why now, of all times? DCTP has been around for YEARS, and they choose now to say something? VIZ Media, if you own the rights, why haven’t you been doing your job of translating the manga at the same pace as the Japanese version? I am sure DCTP wouldn’t have translated the manga had there actually BEEN some decent mangas for them to read in ENGLISH! DCTP did a better job of releasing the English scans in a timely fashion, nearly matching the timing of the Japanese manga, and they weren’t even getting paid! VIZ Media is SLOW and PATHETIC.

I don’t speak Japanese, and I don’t READ Japanese. I appreciated a website that provided a decent, well-translated manga. VIZ Media is GARBAGE. They do not know how to make good dubbed material. They translate the mangas they want to translate, and if it doesn’t give them the satisfactory number of sales they want, they will cease translation altogether. That was a perk I will sorely miss from DCTP. They were loyal, hard-working fans that would never stop translating because they enjoyed reading Detective Conan themselves and made a hobby of sharing it with other international fans.

VIZ Media never cared about manga and anime fans. All they care about is making money from anime geeks. They hope to make a profit from this. But sadly, they won’t. You know why? Because their translations are 10 years behind JAPAN’S! Over half of the English audience is 10 years ahead of VIZ Media in the story. By the time VIZ Media chokes up the most up-to-date file, English-speaking fans will more than likely just give up on the series altogether. And by that time, Japan’s version will probably be OVER! DCTP was up-to-date. VIZ Media fails as a company altogether. I understand VIZ is a company and has to make money to eat, but they don’t put the same effort behind Detective Conan that DCTP did, and that’s the truth.

Another crappy addition to VIZ Media’s version is the SCREWED title, Case Closed. Why couldn’t you have used the ORIGINAL title, Detective Conan, VIZ Media? I understand that there’s a show that already has rights to the name “Conan”. But couldn’t you have called it Detective Kudou instead? Let’s also add the fact that Ran’s name is RACHEL and Shinichi’s name is JIMMY! Why those changes? Oh, why! Why is my worst nightmare coming true! Most of the cast’s names have been changed to sound more “American”, and it’s horrifying. The Detective Boys are the “Junior Detective League”, Mouri Kogorou is RICHARD MOORE, Ai Haibara is VI GRAYTHORN (WTF?) and Heiji is Harley Hartwell! Oh, just shoot me! Shoot me now!

I might not be buying or reading another Detective Conan manga until File 84 comes out in English. And when will that be? Another FOUR YEARS? This is the most disappointing news I’ve received! And when I do get it, I won’t be reading about Shinichi Kudo. Oh no. I will be reading about Jimmy Kudo! ARGH! The agony! I can’t even cringe my way through that!

I’m also reflecting on all of the Japanese cultural moments that were so eloquently translated by DCTP. VIZ Media just loves to take Japanese tradition and culture, and STOMP America all over it! They butcher over half of their mangas to make it more “understandable” for international audiences, and it just usually ends up a pile of train-wreck! They never translate the volume almost EXACTLY like the Japanese manga, and certainly not the way DCTP did. VIZ translates, omits, and re-writes everything! They are likely to change a popular Japanese board game into checkers! WHY! Please tell me this isn’t so! I knew this was coming one day, but I guess I wasn’t as prepared as I thought for this day. I count it as a lost in my manga world.

For people around the world who don’t have to deal with VIZ, you are fortunate.

I think this is probably the worst news I’ve heard this month…

No, wait. f(x)’s schedule for this week and next week have been wiped clean. Today is not my day…

Case_Closed_Volume_36

Not Case Closed! Anything but Case Closed! NO!

Video

Attack On Titan, Airing Every Saturday on Toonami!

4 May

To read more weekly updates and reviews, check out the Animejournal Menu above!

Video

Myazaki’s Final Project: The Wind Rises

24 Feb

It’s so sad! This is the final film of Myazaki!

Myazaki was a genius at making Japanese animated films with his detailed characters, whimsical stories, and enchanting animation.

Myazaki’s first animated film to reach the US was Princess Mononoke. My first exposure to the director was through the movie Spirited Away.

That movie captivated my heart. I will truly miss his art. It was greatly appreciated and respected both in the US and overseas.

His final project is entitled The Wind Rises. It is focusing on a young man who dreams of flying. His one issue is his eyesight, which prevents him from doing so. But he discovers that he has a gift for building planes.

As he works on his creations, the world plunges into many eras: The earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, and even World War II.

His plane innovation brings the aviation world into the future.

So, you know what this means, right?

Yes, a review is coming soon!

This will be coming to theaters this weekend so check it out!

I personally love movies that focus on history, though Myazaki is a master even when his movies take an adventurous and fantastical side…

Post Animejournal Responses here!

30 Dec

If you happen to keep up with my animejournal reviews at the top of the page under “Animejournal”, then you probably have realized that at that website, there isn’t a comment section. I’m sure some people would like to comment on my anime reviews. So, I’m making this section specifically for anime review comments!

%d bloggers like this: