[kpop] SHINee popped up in post-apocalyptic manhwa, Lessa

I am happily reading a new manhwa, Lessa, about a demon-hunter Rano who is trying to find his sister. On his mission, he comes across Lessa, someone who has the same sharpened teeth as demons, but does not possess their horns.

To my surprise, in the first few pages of this manhwa, Rano dreams about Lessa, only to be woken up by a SHINee alarm, to the tune of Sherlock. 

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Totally not expecting that! The last time I saw a kpop reference in manga was in Kuragehime, where Kuranosuke wears a BIGBANG t-shirt.

Just a bit about Lessa it can be categorized as shounen, seinen, supernatural. The art is passable, but I especially like how the character Lessa is drawn, which is the main shallow reason why I persist in reading this manhwa. The storyline is not bad, but can be quite unsatisfying because there is still a lot unexplained at this point. If you are rather impatient, do not begin reading Lessa until spring, where there will be many more chapters to sate your impatience.

[kpop] best rookie groups 2012

This very biased selection is based on quality of members–mostly dance and singing, but looks are considered as well, debut track(s), and live performances.

EXO was easily the most anticipated group to debut this year. Though not of epic proportions, their tracks are slickly produced and the groups are well-balanced with many talented individuals in each. At any rate, their debut was more solid than f(x), Super Junior, and even, SNSD. If SM plays their cards right, 2013 could be a very large year for EXO.

NU-EST played their cards extremely well, despite holding a few weak cards. A well-written debut song, one of the first to capitalize on the ‘new’ europop invasion, and including one very intriguing member, Ren. Dancing and lives are unspectacular though, and the shock of a pretty face will not last forever.

Regarding true singing talent, Lunafly and Busker Busker, in this respect, are both promising.

I hesitate to include BAP, but I see way too many BAP fans around me to think of them as a minor rookie group. They did have a nice, unified concept in debut; but alas, their track to me was stuck in the 2005, way too brassy and heavy, trying out a 2PM concept that barely fit.

A.cian‘s whole debut album is a beautifully crafted imitation of europop. That’s about it. Due to the constantly changing nature of kpop, I doubt they will release a europop album like this next time– if there is a next time.

Like A.cian, Cross Gene delivered an amazingly crafted imitation of europop for their debut. The facts that they have Japanese, Chinese, and Korean members and released simultaneously in Japanese and Korean are very nice bonuses. Another great bonus? Their live singing is A-OK (but please hire another choreographer).

Rounding out the last of the europop imitators, we have A-JAX. Someone fetch them a new stylist.

[handwritten/kpop] thoughts on SHINee disbandment.

First let me dispel any rumors that come of this post– SHINee is NOT disbanding. Yet, given the track record SM has with disbandment and my being a huge SHINee fan, this topic is fascinating to think about. Please note that everything I wrote or drew is for poking fun and making light, not to be mean or offensive.

I recently found my original legal notepad version, which I intended to scan. However, I also recently received an iPad 3, so I decided to try writing out the post on a beautiful notebook app I downloaded, Paper. Warning: my handwriting is atrocious, because the iPad, its apps, and accompanying styli, still suck tremendously for handwritten notes.

[lifestyle] I don’t get the obsession behind banana milk

Apparently, banana milk has been around Korea since the 1970s, and has enjoyed enduring popularity to today– even Lee Minho and SNSD have done commercials for banana milk and SHINee macros are all plastered with references to banana milk.

SNSD promoting Binggrae banana milk.

So, as I spied this particular brand of banana milk, Binggrae, in the refrigerated section of a supermarket in Shanghai, I decided to try one for once. However, I was totally unimpressed. Coming from a Western taste palate, it did not taste like a true banana at all. Bananas naturally are not terribly sweet, but Korean banana milk is terribly sweet, in the style of candy. In other words, blech. Though it did not leave an unpleasant aftertaste, while I was drinking it, I could not stop thinking I was drinking liquid candy and thinking how terribly unhealthy that would be. The milk base was rather thin, as well. If you have ever tasted Vita Soy soymilk, the consistency of Binggrae is a bit like that, except a tad weaker.

Despite this disappointment in banana milk, I do rather like the Korean aloe drinks and 2% Apple, a fruit flavored water (other flavors include: peach, lemon, grape, and pomegranate). Have you tried any Korean drinks? What were your impressions?

[lifestyle] pro tips: how to look Korean even if you aren’t Korean

(1) Look at least vaguely Asian. Sorry, I know this precludes a lot of people, but if you are Asian(-looking), then people will have a much higher chance of perceiving you as Korean; you just probably come from a far-away province with funny genetics.
(2) Have pale to lightly tan skin. If you are tan, forget about it. They can so tell you do not use BB cream religiously.
(3) Wear bold glasses. The bigger, the more hipstery, the better.

While in China, I have gotten a lot of questions about my ethnicity. I always am mistaken as Korean or perhaps Japanese. Here’s how the conversation goes:

Michelle: “Why did you think I’m Korean?”
Person: “It’s your glasses.”
Michelle: B(

[kpop] Michelle reacts to Kids React to K-Pop

TheFineBros is a comedy channel on YouTube, and their most watched segments are “Kids React To…” and yesterday, it was revealed to be kpop.

They watched SNSD’s “Gee“, Super Junior’s “Bonamona“, and 2NE1′s “I AM THE BEST“. Right from the get-go, this video attracted haters, and I have got to say, some of it was sort of justified.

Some comments made by the kids that especially struck me:

#1: I can’t understand this. Why do people listen to it if they can’t understand it?

It’s like watching subtitled movies, eating Mexican food, listening to Bach. You may not understand the language, you may not know how to cook Mexican, you may have no idea what the heck a semidemiquaver is, but you can enjoy it nonetheless.

#2: What is up with my generation?! How can people listen to such horrible music?!

This was just mainly one kid. He was so effusive and exaggerated about asserting what crap kpop is, and how he hates his generation. Fine, rag on the music being crap, but not on people of your generation! They like what they like, you hate what you hate. Fair?

#3: omg they’re just imitating Pussycat Dolls! … (think for a minute) Lady Gaga!

Eye-roll. I feel like nowadays when anybody ever does anything crazy, it is always compared to Lady Gaga or is imitating Lady Gaga. I remember reading some YouTube comments for Dev’s “In the Dark“– amazing track, by the way– and comment after comment was like, “She’s crazy. Like Lady Gaga!” Probably you can pull out any popular electropop nowadays and you will see some “Reminds me of Lady Gaga” out there. Though I think Lady Gaga is an inspiration, I think it is a little early for her to be influencing performers that have already been performing for much longer or around same time frame as she has. Plus, everyone wants to be different– that’s their selling point. What you don’t get with Gaga is what you do get with 2NE1, with Dev, etc. Rather than just seeing something nutty and labelling it as Gaga-esque, you need to consider if the nutty is in Gaga-style. I think most of us can agree that 2NE1-nutty is not Gaga-nutty.

#4: “What language are they singing in?” — “Chinese.” “Japanese.” (a billion years later) “Korean!”

I recognize the fact that none of them are East Asian and thus may not have much exposure to Korean. Chinese is increasingly taught in more schools in the United States, China is seen increasingly as an antagonistic rival to the US and garnering more media coverage, and Japanese has long enjoyed a cult status in Hollywood, like Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls, Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill” and lots of popular dubbed anime like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z. To be honest, I did not learn what Korean BBQ was until my senior year of high school (!).

Nonetheless, I sort of hit my head on the keyboard when so many of the kids failed to identify that it was Korean.

Now reclining in my Throne as Queen of Pretension, I have to say, those older kids were being pretty pretentious. They were trying to make very strong judgments from mal-formed opinions.

However, I only said that the anger directed toward this video is “sort of” justified.

Because look, they’re kids.

still have a soft spot for Mr. Frodo ^^

They’re airheads, but they’re children. I remember that age I was an airhead too. I loved Lord of the Rings and started calling everyone names from Lord of the Rings. I thought Daniel Radcliffe was the coolest boy on the planet because he played Harry Potter, even though he wasn’t good-looking or anything. I fawned over my battle prowess in Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and petted myself as the strongest trainer there was even though the time I spent with a GameBoy was negligible. I thought George W. Bush should win the 2000 election. Heck, I even thought Bush should win the 2004 election, because John Kerry came across as creepy to me. I even wrote a stellar essay on why George Bush should win– which got me an A for the semester. But did I really know anything in-depth about the issues? About the war? About tax programs? Not at all. I just thought Kerry was a good-for-nothing-flip-flopper. Unless you are a prodigy, which very few of us are, it is really hard for us to absorb so much information at young ages and actually know how to process and understand it. So a lot of what we ‘understand’ as young children are just sound-bites like “flip-flopper” and half-formed opinions we regurgitate from our parents or custodians.

Second, they’re American kids. Especially for the Caucasians who probably do not speak a second language at home, they will probably never need to know any other language other than English for their entire lives. As diverse as America is, our language is extremely insular, due to the fact that English is the lingua franca or common language of the modern world today. One can pretty much get by in the industrialized world just knowing English.

Of course, I am not saying that these traits should be encouraged– because airheads don’t contribute much to the economy, it is personally enriching to know other languages– but we should all recognize that as preteens, we were all once know-it-all airheads and allow a little more leeway for these children when criticizing things like this video. We should not be “Imma stab you with a fork” but rather, putting it in simple and gentle terms why they are mistaken in their views.

I also am skeptical that if they were raised in a more culturally-aware environment they would turn out to be great global children-citizens, because children will be children, and so children will be airheads about some things or the other. They might not say something like All Asians Look Alike again but they might say something else just as politically incorrect. No one is born with a politically-correct compass within them; it is something we learn as we grow.

Though the video was exasperating for those aforementioned comments, a good half of them said they would listen to kpop again, and they said it looked very “future-y”. Taken in good humor, it was genuinely funny and entertaining to watch. Also, don’t tell me that none of y’all haven’t ever had a moment where you’re watching kpop and thinking, “what in the world are they doing?!”

Jaejoong the alien. I still don't like this hairstyle of his.. !

I guess some people had beef with the fact that some kids looked down on Korean artists for not creating their own music. America prides itself on originality, and I believe it does hold true in much more cases compared to kpop. Gaga, Britney, Beyonce, Katy, they all hold much more singing and producing credits than do BoA, Hyori, Rain, Se7en. So even if  the American stars’ contributions were negligible, the US perpetuates a (facade of) self-production culture that South Korea does not perpetuate.

In the end, I renounce all claims to judge their opinions, for I can also remember my phase when I had a vendetta against Asian pop stars. My mother always used to read the entertainment sections in Chinese newspapers and while she read them I would prance around her, pointing at grainy pictures printed in the paper, saying that these Asian people had weird hair and their fashion sense belonged to aliens. Nowadays, I’m just like, “Hey look, Jaejoong is in the news.”

[persona] at 2011′s close, it is time to reflect on new man crushes

26 dicembre 2011 note: sorry for the apparent blurriness of each photo. I changed layouts and the new ‘size’ is 584px instead of 600px, which is what the image sizes originally were. Please click on the images to have unblurry viewing! I apologize again!

They are all very manly, or at least, not flower boys. I admit, there was a time when I thought Jonghyun was very handsome. I wonder if this represents a shift in taste as I am growing older, but yet, I still think of all of these ‘manly’ man crushes as irrepressibly cute, however tough they may seem. I also grew to like Ryeowook from Super Junior quite a bit as the cute eternal maknae, though I cannot count him as a man crush because watching him flash his abs was just too disturbing for me. Just too disturbing.

I also think I have a taste for emo men. Won Bin and Alexander Skarsgard played quite emo characters, Daichi is a relative introvert compared to other performers and Lee Minho, well, he is just really good-looking. If Lee Minho ever played an emo character I think I might cry.

2012, I’m ready for whatever idealized men you throw at me! It better be a lot of white men, because I am statistically more likely to marry a Caucasian than say, a tall, slender Korean man with perpetually perfect hair. So please prepare me to be just a statistic, thank you very much.

Merry Christmas!