Category Archives: tv

Summer TV Consumption

There’s a new Bringing the Drama post on Big over at Manga Bookshelf. It is too bad the writing for the series took a turn for the worse. I never thought I’d give up on a Hong Sisters’ drama halfway through, but that is pretty much what happened. Instead, I am watching A Gentleman’s Dignity and enjoying that a bunch. It manages to combine humor with some compelling if somewhat predictable soap opera in the way that all good Korean dramas do. The story centers around a group of 4 older men, which is a little different from a more typical show.

When two fairy tale themed shows started last fall I think I watched just one episode of Grimm and didn’t even try Once Upon a Time. But I recently watched the whole first season of One Upon a Time when I was under the weather, and I found myself enjoying the Disney-inflected modern day characters with their weird collective case of amnesia. The structure of the show flashes between slightly non-traditional fairy tales (Snow White is a bandit in the woods) and present day Maine, where the characters are trapped with no memory of who they used to be.

I’ve tried the first few episodes of Covert Affairs too, and it seems like a less angsty version of Alias, without the wacky Italian mysticism. I will probably continue watching that.

The Dramas I Have Watched

I thought I’d do a roundup post listing the Korean and Japanese dramas I’ve watched and am currently watching because it would help me remember which series I’ve finished and what I need to get back to. I started out watching only dramas that were adaptations of manga series, just because it amused me that manga series will often get live action adaptations of 12 or 22 episodes. I started branching out by watching original series as well.

Currently Watching

City Hunter – This doesn’t resemble the City Hunter manga very much, but I am finding it very amusing. The first episode is all somewhat melodramatic prelude, so I recommend watching the first two episodes at least if you are giving this a try. The Korean version of City Hunter is a boy who is snatched from his mother as an infant and raised by his adoptive father in the middle of the Thai drug Triangle. This gives him the perfect background to get a doctoral degree from MIT and come back to Korea as a superspy who wears fashionable blazers. The love interest in this story is a female bodyguard, so she has some nice short action sequences. City Hunter is on Hulu and Netflix Watch Instantly.

Heartstrings – This features the female lead and male second lead from You’re Beautiful. They are school rivals as he plays rock music but she is devoted to traditional Korean music. These actors had great chemistry in their previous series, so I was looking forward to this. I’ve only watched the first 3 episodes or so, but there appears to be a love rectangle forming that will result in plenty of tears. On Dramafever.

Favorites

You’re Beautiful – This was the series that caused me to finally break out of the habit of watching only manga adaptation dramas. A young girl in training to become a nun is abruptly told she has to masquerade as her twin brother and join a boy band. There are great elements of surreal humor in the fantasy sequences, and the actors are all very appealing. Most of the time I only watch a series once, but I’ve watched this two times. I am always amused that Korean high fashion for boy bands seems to involve articles of clothing usually worn by 60 year old women (shawls and cowl neck sweaters) On Hulu

My Princess – This has the most adorable lead actors ever, balanced out by the most annoying female villain. An indifferent but peppy student nurses a crush on her professor but finds her life changing when it is revealed that she’s the long lost heir of the Korean monarchy. Most dramas feature Cinderella stories to some degree, but this one goes all the way as she moves into a palace and starts taking princess lessons. It is so cute! On Hulu and Netflix Watch Instantly.

Boys Over Flowers – I love the fact that Boys Over Flowers has been adapted to television in so many countries. I’ve watched a bit of Meteor Garden and all of the Japanese series, but this adaptation is my favorite mainly because Lee Min Ho is such a great Tsukasa. On Dramafever and Netflix Watch Instantly.

Kimi Wa Petto – Japanese drama version of the great josei manga, which was released in America as Tramps Like Us by Tokyopop. An older career woman takes in a younger man that she finds abandoned in the street outside her house.

Series I’ve finished watching

My Lovely Sam Soon- This is a very Bridget Jonesish story about a woman who is dumped by her horrible fiance only to start to reinvent herself as a pastry chef. The restaurant owner is younger than her, rich, and arrogant. There are plenty of comedic moments and fantasy sequences that liven up the story. On Hulu

Coffee Prince- I am always a fan of media that involve girls cross-dressing as men. A hard-working poor girl gets a job in a “men only” cafe, so she pretends to be a boy in order to get a steady income. Cue plenty of gender identity confusion as her older, rich, arrogant boss becomes attracted to her. On Hulu.

Personal Taste – Handsome architect moves in with quirky furniture designer, pretending to be gay in order to get him to accept her as a roommate. On Dramafever.

Greatest Love- A washed-up pop singer becomes involved with an extremely arrogant Korean actor. This is from the Hong sisters who created You’re Beautiful. It is a little less wacky than You’re Beautiful, but still a cute show business story, and it is nice that it features a slightly older couple. On Dramafever.

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry – Sort of like Sex in the City (but not as annoying) this show centers around the dating tribulations of 3 thirty-something women. On Hulu.

Dal Ja’s Spring – Best fantasy sequences ever, with references to Kill Bill and Wonder Woman. Older career woman takes up with younger man, complications ensue.

Mars – Taiwanese version of the Fuyumi Soryo manga. Angst abounds as a good girl artist falls for a bad boy motorcycle racer.

Partially Watched:
Iris – Korean spies and plenty of angst! For those of you that love the recent GI Joe live action movie, the male lead in Iris played Storm Shadow. On Hulu.

Secret Garden – I was spoiled for the ending of this series, and I haven’t finished it. But the episodes I watched were fun because the storyline involves some Freaky Friday body switching between a tomboyish stuntwoman and an effete executive. On Hulu.

Princess Hours – This is the drama adaptation of Goong, one of my favorite manhwa. It takes place in an alternate universe where the Korean monarchy has persisted to the present time. The art direction of this show is fabulous, with elaborate palace interiors and costuming. On Crunchyroll.

If you have any suggestions for dramas I should try watching next, let me know!

Boys Over Flowers Drama

So I’ve been in the grips of a horrible cold for the past couple weeks, and thus have had more time to watch TV on my laptop since I’ve been up late at night coughing too much to sleep. I was happy to discover Dramafever, a site that has legal streaming Korean drama TV shows. We really are living in a great time for geeks, what with Crunchyroll and other free streaming anime sites available and now streaming dramas. I tend to restrict my drama viewing to just shows that are adaptations of manga. I’m not sure why I find manga live action adaptations so fascinating. I think that since the best a fan of American comic books can hope for is a movie that doesn’t suck too much, the idea of a season long adaptation of a series is something rare. Meanwhile, manga series get adaptations all over Asia.

I never really got into the Taiwanese version of the story, Meteor Garden. I thought it was hilarious that the actors in that series formed a boy band based on their F4 characters though. I liked the Japanese Boys Over Flowers, but it is hard to suspend one’s disbelief when the lead male role is miscast. Matsumoto Jun is ok and all, but he’s so tiny. Doumyouji is supposed to be physically threatening, but it is hard to think of Doumyouji in the Japanese drama as being threatening. It always seemed like the lead actress would be able to snap Matsumoto like a twin if she’d felt like it.

I’m really enjoying the Korean version of the story. I think I’m only up to around episode 6, but there seems to be slightly less cheesiness and mugging in the acting department, and the Korean actor playing Doumyouji is sufficiently physically imposing that it is believable when he looms. So if you have enjoyed the manga version of Boys Over Flowers, I encourage you to try out the drama!

Otomen Drama

I’m always a little intrigued when I hear about one of the manga series that I follow being made into a live action TV show.Otomen is going to be adapted for television, starting in August. So far there’s not much on the web other than various short announcements. One of the reasons why I’m interested in this drama is my hope there are some scenes in Japanese yarn or craft stores since the hero of the series loves cute things and the domestic arts.

This also reminds me that I need to track down some of the Antique Bakery live action adaptations.

UNCLE

If I am the only person in the house, feeding the twins becomes a bit of a marathon session what with the nursing, supplemental bottles of formula, and cleaning up the occasional poop explosion. So it is extra nice when there’s something good on TV like a Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie marathon. The Spy in the Green Hat features Jack Palance as the bad guy and Janet Leigh as his psychotic knife-throwing sidekick. It has some amusing scenes like Ilya Kuryakin foiling some crooks by throwing a pineapple at them, and Napoleon Solo being faced with a shotgun wedding to a girl from a mafia family. It is also a good thing to watch when you’re cooped up with two kids.