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  1. DPR Live EP Album - Coming to You Live DPR Live EP Album - Coming to You Live DPR Live
    A rising hip-hop power
    March 27, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    In recent years, many underground rappers have come to light thanks to rap competition shows like Show Me the Money and Unpretty Rapstar. However, Live, also known as DPR Live after his agency Dream Perfect Regime (DPR), takes a different route to start his career. Though he didn't participate in any competitions to raise his popularity, he captures mainstream attention because of his futuristic artistry. Collaborating with A-list R&B and hip-hop musicians like Jay Park, Dean, Crush and Loco, the promising rapper kills it with his debut Coming to You Live. Centering on the themes of drinking, love and sex, this album features a number of sensual tracks with a swirling psychedelic charm.... [read more]
  2. Sadako VS Kayako (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Sadako VS Kayako (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Tamashiro Tina (Actor) | Ando Masanobu (Actor) | Yamamoto Mizuki (Actor) | Shiraishi Koji (Director)
    Horror vs. Comedy
    March 21, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    First teased as an April Fool's joke in 2015, the crossover of the two iconic franchises of J-Horror – Ring and Ju-on: The Grudge – came true in Sadako vs. Kayako. A number of follow-ups, remakes and copycats have been inspired by the two well-known ghost series, but none are as successful as the originals. Poking fun at the overdone rigid storyline, horror master Shiraishi Koji (Grotesque) innovatively creates a battlefield for the two invincible ghosts in his horror/comedy mashup. The story starts with friends Yuri (Yamamoto Mizuki, The Kirishima Thing) and Natsumi (Satsukawa Aimi, Hime-Anole) discovering a dusty video cassette inside a second-hand VHS player. Natsumi watches the entire... [read more]
  3. The Long Excuse (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) The Long Excuse (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Japan Version) Nishikawa Miwa (Director) | Motoki Masahiro | Ikematsu Sosuke | Horiuchi Keiko
    The long process of understanding grief and oneself
    March 20, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Out of all of Nishikawa Miwa's films thus far, The Long Excuse is the hardest to put one's finger on. Unlike the quack physician of Dear Doctor, the con artist couple of Dreams For Sale or the murder trial of Sway, The Long Excuse lacks a clear point of conflict. Instead, the audience is unceremoniously introduced into the opaque emotional world of a pretentious, vaguely unpleasant novelist who loses his wife to an accident, and then doesn't quite know what to do with himself. Even at his wife's funeral, protagonist Sachio's (Motoki Masahiro) first concern is appearance as he makes calculated displays of grief. He, however, realizes acutely that he doesn't actually feel grief – at least not... [read more]
  4. Girls' Generation: Tae Yeon Vol. 1 - My Voice (Fine Version) Girls' Generation: Tae Yeon Vol. 1 - My Voice (Fine Version) Tae Yeon (Girls' Generation)
    A new generation K-pop diva
    March 9, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    In recent years, many K-pop idols have started solo careers but only a few can really stand alone as successful soloists. Stripping away Girls' Generation's dance pop style, Tae Yeon has explored many different genres since her solo debut I. The songstress impresses fans again with her first full-length album My Voice, which features an incredibly wide range of music styles – including not just pop ballad and R&B, but also avant-garde styles like alternative pop, PB R&B and tropical house. The acoustic guitar introduction of the title track Fine (Track 1) creates a similar vibe to I. Crooning in a subdued tone along calm guitar tunes, Tae Yeon perfectly portrays the inner struggle of a... [read more]
  5. The World of Us (DVD) (Korea Version) The World of Us (DVD) (Korea Version) Yoon Ga Eun (Director) | Choi Soo In (Actor) | Seol Hye In (Actor)
    The complex world of children
    March 9, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The World of Us is not the first Korean film to deal with the topic of school bullying. Writer-director Yoon Ga Eun's remarkable debut feature, however, may be the first to bring the audience so naturally and unassumingly close to its young protagonists. The film begins with the everyday activity of picking teams for dodgeball in gym class. The camera rests tenderly on 10-year-old Sun's (Choi Soo In) face as her expression gradually changes from hesitant anticipation to resigned disappointment. Names are called one by one until she is, once again, the last person left. This quietly impactful opening scene – and a similar scene later in the film that echoes it – is simply designed, and yet... [read more]
  6. Chibi Maruko-chan - A Boy From Italy (2016) (Blu-ray Gift Set) (Hong Kong Version) Chibi Maruko-chan - A Boy From Italy (2016) (Blu-ray Gift Set) (Hong Kong Version)
    The real meaning of friendship
    February 28, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    Lacking a fantasy plot with supernatural elements, Chibi Maruko-chan may not be as exciting as other famous manga/anime like Doraemon and Pokemon. However, it successfully strikes a chord with almost everyone because of its down-to-earth story of a nine-year-old schoolgirl. Chibi Maruko-chan represents not just the childhood of the author but also those who don't want to grow up. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the anime, author Sakura Momoko welcomes six foreign exchange friends to Maruko-chan's town in the feature film Chibi Maruko-chan - A Boy From Italy. Andrea, who comes from Italy, stays at Maruko-chan's home and the two soon become friends. Maruko-chan travels with Andrea... [read more]
  7. Inochi ni Fusawashii (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Inochi ni Fusawashii (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) amazarashi
    The Light and Darkness of amazarashi
    February 27, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    amazarashi's songs often sound as epic, evocative and world-encompassing as a fantasy RPG score so the band's latest crossover with Square Enix's action-adventure game NieR: Automata fits like second skin. Frontman Akita Hiromu wrote and composed the theme song Inochi ni Fusawashii ("Deserving of Life") based on game director Taro Yoko's story about combat androids dispatched to a post-apocalyptic Earth to fight machines in a proxy war. Ever the storyteller, Akita interprets the game's world and themes into a highly lyrical and melodic musical journey about lonely souls forging a precious connection and asserting the value of life in a broken world. The story begins over dissonant beats and... [read more]
  8. Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Weeds on Fire (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Liu Kai Chi (Actor) | Tony Wu (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor) | Poon Chan Leung (Actor)
    Solid base hit
    February 27, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    With eight Hong Kong Film Awards nominations including Best Film, Weeds on Fire is a tad over-lauded by local critics eager to celebrate a small Hong Kong drama about the Hong Kong experience. Nevertheless, Weeds on Fire is very much a notable effort in the thinning pool of purely Hong Kong films, especially considering it's from a first-time director. Steve Chan, one of the winners of CreateHK's First Film Feature Initiative in 2013, makes good use of the funding for an assured feature debut that approaches the classic coming-of-age sports drama with palpable energy from a grassroots angle. Weeds on Fire tells the obscure story of Hong Kong's first local youth baseball team and the... [read more]
  9. SUPER FLY (Japan Version) SUPER FLY (Japan Version) EXILE THE SECOND
    Super funky
    February 23, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    EXILE THE SECOND made a strong return last year with a trilogy of singles and the launch of a nationwide arena tour, and it looks like the group is carrying forth the EXILE TRIBE dance music mantle this year as well with the consecutive releases of the single Super Fly and album Born to be Wild. THE SECOND delivers a super infectious and upbeat dance jam in Super Fly. Written and co-composed by Shokichi, the exuberant song has you nodding along in no time with addictive beats and cheeky lyrics in the opening rap verse, but the real fun is in the playful funk arrangement, the brass-underlined bridge and the catchy dance-out chorus. In comparison to their forcefully cool urban EDM tracks,... [read more]
  10. Loveaholic Vol.1 Loveaholic Vol.1 C AllStar (Singer)
    A new approach to an old theme
    February 22, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    C AllStar came to prominence with the romantic and touching ballad "Love Stairs," but the quartet is better known for their socially relevant music style. Before going on hiatus, they launch an unexpected love-themed album for their farewell project Loveaholic featuring five different love stories. In the 90s, many Cantopop songs were covers of Japanese music. Featuring a classical and electric guitar duet, the retro R&B number "Moment of Love" (Track 1) recalls those golden days of Cantopop music. Apart from the melody, the old-school J-pop vibe is also reflected in the brief interlude on piano and saxophone, a common style of music arrangement in the 90s. The romantic mood is well... [read more]
  11. Zion.T - OO Zion.T - OO Zion.T
    A jazzy lO-Ok at Zion.T's world
    February 16, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    From the eccentric and wild Babay to the retro Miss Kim to the moving "Yanghwa Bridge," Zion.T's quirky and offbeat R&B vibe varies from theme to theme. One thing that doesn't change is his simplistic style and addictive rhythms. Since joining YG Entertainment's sub-label The Black Label last year, he has turned to hip-hop and even became a judge on the popular rap competition Show Me the Money 5. Despite concerns that he would go mainstream after signing with his new agency, the singer-songwriter eases the worries by displaying his creative independence in the album OO, a refreshing jazz/hip-hop fusion about his unique worldview. Kicking off with a film rolling sound, the lead-off track... [read more]
  12. Ten Years (2015) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Ten Years (2015) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Liu Kai Chi (Actor) | Nick Yau (Actor) | Leung Kin Ping (Actor) | Ng Siu Hin (Actor)
    Predicting the worst, hoping for the best
    February 10, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    As conflicts between Hong Kong and Mainland China intensify, voices calling for Hong Kong autonomy have escalated in the city. Five young directors envisage the dystopian future of a Beijing-controlled Hong Kong ten years later in the indie omnibus Ten Years, which addresses different social concerns including national security legislation, cultural preservation, marginalization of Cantonese and sovereignty. Directed by Kwok Zune, "Extra" unveils the dark secret behind the legislation of a National Security Law from the perspectives of two unimportant gangsters – an Indian (Peter Chan) and a Mainland immigrant (Courtney Wu Zerisawa) who are paid to launch a false attack to stoke panic and... [read more]
  13. The Monkey King 2 (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) The Monkey King 2 (2016) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Gong Li (Actor) | Aaron Kwok (Actor) | Xiao Shen Yang (Actor) | William Feng (Actor)
    White Bone Demon vs. Monkey King
    February 9, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    It's hard to keep track of all the blockbuster Journey to the West movies coming out lately. In 2016, we had The Monkey King 2 and A Chinese Odyssey Part 3, and the year before that Surprise and Monkey King: Hero is Back. This Chinese New Year, Stephen Chow's Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back and Wang Baoqiang's Journey to the West-inspired Buddies in India opened the same day, while Derek Kwok's The Tales of Wukong will arrive this summer, possibly launching another movie franchise. With so many Monkey Kings flying around, the installment that I'll be measuring newer adaptations against is last year's The Monkey King 2. The first film of Soi Cheang's series, 2014's The Monkey... [read more]
  14. miss A: Suzy Mini Album Vol. 1 - Yes? No? miss A: Suzy Mini Album Vol. 1 - Yes? No? Bae Suzy (miss A)
    An artistic portrayal of love
    January 26, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    Since her touching performance of "Winter Child" in the hit drama Dream High, Suzy has been known for her warm vocals which are rarely shown in miss A's songs. Last year, the singer-actress deviated from her group's chic style and ventured into jazz through the successful duet Dream with EXO's Baek Hyun. Making her solo debut, Suzy strays away from the mainstream even further with her first mini-album Yes? No?, an atmospheric release delving into the inner world of a young woman struggling with love. The title track Yes No Maybe (Track 2) is the only dance number in this ballad-driven album, but it still goes well with the album's hazy theme. The upbeat Britpop song is full of strong... [read more]
  15. Godzilla Resurgence (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (4-Disc Special Edition) (Japan Version) Godzilla Resurgence (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (4-Disc Special Edition) (Japan Version) Hasegawa Hiroki | Anno Hideaki (Director) | Ishihara Satomi | Takenouchi Yutaka
    Monster bureaucracy movie
    January 25, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    When I first learned that Anno Hideaki was directing the new Godzilla, my reaction was to question why he was doing anything other than finishing the long overdue Rebuild of Evangelion series. Now I hope he makes Godzilla films forever. Though Godzilla graced Hollywood screens fairly recently in Gareth Edwards's 2014 feature, Shin Godzilla, or Godzilla Resurgence, is the first Japanese Godzilla film in over a decade. Narratively speaking, Anno's take follows a familiar formula: an unidentified giant creature appears, warnings go unheeded, Tokyo gets trampled, humanity eventually pulls together from the burning fires of destruction to fight the monster. However, before the government can... [read more]
  16. Block B: Park Kyung Mini Album Vol. 1 - Notebook Block B: Park Kyung Mini Album Vol. 1 - Notebook Park Kyung (Block B)
    Mainstream idol, indie vibe
    January 24, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    Over the past two decades, the K-pop scene has been dominated by idol groups, though the early to mid-2000s was the golden era of solo acts with big names like BoA and Rain. Now, we're seeing the gradual emergence of an era of idol soloists–an era in which notable members from idol groups pursue solo careers. As extensions of the groups they belong to, solo idol singers usually follow their groups' concepts. However, Block B's Park Kyung takes a new music route completely different from his group's tough hip-hop style in his solo debut Notebook. Notebook is a love diary recording the different emotions of a romantic relationship. The love tale begins with "Ordinary Love" (Track 1), a smooth... [read more]
  17. If Cats Disappeared from the World (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) If Cats Disappeared from the World (2016) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Satoh Takeru (Actor) | Miyazaki Aoi (Actor) | Okuda Eiji (Actor) | Okuno Eita (Actor)
    If Movies Disappeared from the World
    January 20, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    I'm a simple person: I see cat, I watch. Nagai Akira's If Cats Disappeared from the World, however, is not about cats. Cute kitties – named Cabbage and Lettuce – do appear in the film, but the hypothetical scenario presented in the title serves to broach the not-so-cute topic of death and to reflect on the value of life. Based on Kawamura Genki's best-selling novel, the film gets into the mind of a mild-mannered postman suddenly confronted with news of his impending death. Save for the fact that he's played by Satoh Takeru, the protagonist is a remarkably common and relatable figure, an alone but not necessarily lonely young postman who quietly goes about his work, feeds his cat, watches a... [read more]
  18. I Mini Album Vol. 1 - I Dream I Mini Album Vol. 1 - I Dream i
    A dreamy pop debut
    January 20, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    To appeal to the widest range of audience, Korean entertainment agencies tend to promote idol groups rather than soloists. Members from idol groups or well-known contestants from singing competitions like K-pop Star and Superstar K usually have a better change at solo careers. Solo singers without an already established fandom are hard to launch in Korea unless they are backed by large agencies. However, rising company WM Entertainment, which houses B1A4 and Oh My Girl, confidently introduces its first soloist Cha Yoon Ji with the stage name "I." Though known as the younger sister of B1A4's Baro, I proves that she is able to stand alone as a unique artist not because of her brother's fame,... [read more]
  19. Novoland: The Castle in the Sky (2016) (DVD) (Ep. 1-28) (End) (China Version) Novoland: The Castle in the Sky (2016) (DVD) (Ep. 1-28) (End) (China Version) Guan Xiao Tong (Actor) | Zhang Ruo Yun (Actor) | Liu Chang (Actor) | Chen Ruo Xuan (Actor)
    The rare China costume fantasy with good editing
    January 16, 2017 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Novoland: The Castle in the Sky was roundly ripped by Chinese netizens upon arrival for its acquired-taste aesthetics, like distracting circle lens, and for being yet another lusciously fake-looking period fantasy with archetype characters in a saturated market (it premiered the same week as Ice Fantasy). For those who stick around for a few more episodes, however, the reviews also come around, because Castle in the Sky turns out to be one of the rare examples of the genre that succeeds on tight directing and editing. Set in Novoland (an imaginary ancient China with its own universe and mythology created, shared and developed by different writers), Castle in the Sky focuses on the conflict... [read more]
  20. WJSN (Cosmic Girls) Mini Album Vol.3 - From. WJSN WJSN (Cosmic Girls) Mini Album Vol.3 - From. WJSN WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
    A new cosmic power
    January 13, 2017 Picked By Pisces See all this editor's picks
    Like many other girl groups, Cosmic Girls debuted with a cute concept. However, this common style didn't help them stand out. They soon found a new direction and successfully created their signature cosmic vibe with "Secret" in their second mini-album. Rather than simply following the newly established style, the thirteen-member group gives a fresh sound by blending their typical cuteness and the mature tone of "Secret" for their third mini-album From. WJSN. Kicking off with a refreshing synth opening reminiscent of their debut song MoMoMo, the title number "I Wish" (Track 1) may disappoint those who expect something as amazing as "Secret." However, the beautifully crafted pre-chorus and... [read more]
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