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  1. TREI Mini Album Vol. 1 - BORN TREI Mini Album Vol. 1 - BORN TREI
    New group, nostalgic sounds
    March 22, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    It's only March but do you realize that nine K-pop groups have already debuted so far in 2019! A number of strong and talented teams have made their first step to stardom this year, and it's no wonder that everybody's crazily jamming to ITZY's Dalla Dalla, TXT's "Crown" and VERIVERY's "Ring Ring Ring." Among all the debut releases in the first quarter of the year, my personal favorite is TREI's first mini-album Born, especially their lead single "Gravity"! You might notice some familiar faces in TREI as members Jae Jun and Chang Hyun promoted with C-Clown a few years ago and took part in MIXNINE. Along with new member Jun Tae, TREI officially debuted in late February with their first... [read more]
  2. Kuroi Hitsuji  [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Kuroi Hitsuji [Type A] (SINGLE+BLU-RAY) (Japan Version) Keyakizaka46
    Song of the Black Sheep
    February 28, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Keyakizaka46 delivers another powerfully empathetic and dissonant teen anthem in their new single Kuroi Hitsuji. As indicated by the title, this song is for all the "black sheep" out there. In comparison to singles like Garasu wo Ware! and Fukyouwaon, the song's sound is softer and more melodic, but the themes are no less incisive and impactful. Kuroi Hitsuji opens moodily with somber piano chords, and then picks up the tempo in low-pitched verses tightly packed with the suffocating feelings of being that person who doesn't fit in – and doesn't want to. The lyrics offer simple yet specific examples and experiences that connect readily with listeners: taking the long way home to avoid... [read more]
  3. My Secret Terrius (6DVD) (Limited Edition) (MBC TV Drama) (Korea Version) My Secret Terrius (6DVD) (Limited Edition) (MBC TV Drama) (Korea Version) So Ji Sub (Actor) | Jung In Sun (Actor) | Son Ho Joon (Actor) | Lim Se Mi (Actor)
    NIS agent-turned-babysitter
    February 27, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    Following Master's Sun and Oh My Venus, So Ji Sub took on his third romantic comedy series in a row with My Secret Terrius, and won his first ever Grand Prize at the 2018 MBC Drama Awards for his role as the calm and dull Kim Bon. Though the actor looks chic and cool on the outside, he surely has the skills to make you burst into laughter with his comedic timing. The best highlight of the drama is definitely the contrast between Kim Bon as both a former NIS agent and a babysitter in one drama. Of course, he looks charming in action scenes, but at the same time, he is endearing when interacting with the JoonJoon twins! If So Ji Sub is the eye-catching point of My Secret Terrius, then Jung In... [read more]
  4. Dark Figure of Crime (2018) (DVD) (Taiwan Version) Dark Figure of Crime (2018) (DVD) (Taiwan Version) Ju Ji Hoon (Actor) | Kim Yoon Seok (Actor) | Kim Tae Gyun (Director, Writer) | Jin Seon Kyu (Actor)
    Justice for unknown victims
    February 21, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    The actual number of crimes committed is always higher than the official documented figures, because many crimes go unreported or undiscovered. Crime experts call this missing figure of unreported crimes the Dark Figure of Crime. Inspired by a tragic real-life case, Kim Tae Gyun's crime drama brings attention to what this dark figure means: unknown victims for whom justice can never be served. Dark Figure of Crime unfolds as a cat-and-mouse game between a persistent detective portrayed by Kim Yoon Seok and an incarcerated killer played by Ju Ji Hoon. Narcotics detective Kim Hyung Min (Kim Yoon Seok) meets informant Kang Tae Oh (Ju Ji Hoon) for the first time at a restaurant, only to see him... [read more]
  5. Minseo Mini Album Vol. 1 - The Diary of Youth Minseo Mini Album Vol. 1 - The Diary of Youth Minseo
    Sweet spring melodies
    February 15, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    You might not recognize Minseo's name and face, but you've probably heard her voice through some programs or releases – she was one of the Top 8 contestants in Superstar K7, took part in the soundtracks of The Handmaiden and Jugglers, and even covered GFriend's "Rough" on The King of Masked Singer! She also participated in her boss's Weekly Yoon Jong Shin project with "Yes," the reply song to the megahit "Like It." Different from her quirky personality, Minseo owns a pleasant, comforting voice that sounds really charming. Minseo's ambitious debut tetralogy The Diary of Youth finally comes to an end after a year. She sings the romantic duet 2cm (Track 4), the lead single of this album, with... [read more]
  6. Project Gutenberg (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Project Gutenberg (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Aaron Kwok (Actor) | Chow Yun Fat (Actor) | Liu Kai Chi (Actor) | Catherine Chau (Actor)
    Chow Yun Fat's greatest hits
    February 14, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Felix Chong's Project Gutenberg just garnered a ridiculous 17 nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards so there are many nice things that could be said about the film's twisty plot, slick pacing and tight direction. I'd like to focus on the single most important factor that makes the crime thriller a must-watch for Hong Kong film fans (or at least me): Chow Yun Fat. Chow Yun Fat is in peak Chow Yun Fat form in the role of a criminal mastermind behind a counterfeiting operation. His commanding and charismatic performance in the film channels the classic effortless charm that captured a generation of Asian cinema fans and also the dangerous, unreadable duplicity of later roles in films like... [read more]
  7. CLC Mini Album Vol. 8 - No.1 CLC Mini Album Vol. 8 - No.1 CLC
    From CrystaL Clear to girl power
    February 8, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    In 2017, CLC made a switch in their concept to a fierce, edgy girl crush style with "Hobgoblin." Though "Hobgoblin" was a hit among international K-pop fans, sadly, it didn’t bring them a rise to stardom locally. Their next comeback was retro R&B soul track Where are you now?, a song that I personally really love, but they probably should have continued with a powerful concept. Following last year's Black Dress, the girls are finally back with stylish music in new album No.1! "Red lip? No. Earrings? No. High heels? No. Handbag? No." Their synth-bass dance number No starts in quite an impactful way by addressing the theme straight on; don't ever limit them to a certain preconception – they... [read more]
  8. Boku no Koto (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Boku no Koto (SINGLE+DVD) (First Press Limited Edition) (Japan Version) Mrs. GREEN APPLE
    A song for the good days and the bad days
    January 31, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Everyone could use an encouraging song to start out the new year with, and my theme song for this tiring January was Mrs. GREEN APPLE's Boku no Koto. As a support song for Japan's national high school soccer tournament, Boku no Koto naturally carries an inspiring message to cheer on young people, but it's not exactly a cheerily positive song. Instead, the song delivers empathy and reassurance for both the good days and the bad days. Opening quietly with a soothing guitar melody and gentle vocals, Boku no Koto connects with softly self-reflecting lyrics in the first verse: "What's the difference between me and you? / I know that we're all living creatures / But I'm frightened by something."... [read more]
  9. Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version) Little Forest (2018) (DVD) (Korea Version) Kim Tae Ri (Actor) | Ryu Jun Yeol (Actor) | Moon So Ri (Actor) | Jin Ki Joo (Actor)
    A similar yet different Little Forest
    January 29, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Since I really enjoyed the Japanese film adaptation of Igarashi Daisuke's manga Little Forest, I was quite curious about how the 2018 Korean adaptation would turn out, especially with Lim Soon Rye directing and Kim Tae Ri in the leading role. Though the Korean film doesn't bring any new surprises for those already familiar with the manga or the Japanese film, the charming, calming recipe of beautiful nature and scrumptious food holds up well for a second course of cinematic comfort food. Apart from the different setting, Lim's take on the story of a young woman living and cooking in the countryside does strike a subtly different tone that sets it apart from the Japanese version. Shot at a... [read more]
  10. Seventeen Mini Album Vol. 6 - YOU MADE MY DAWN (Random Version) Seventeen Mini Album Vol. 6 - YOU MADE MY DAWN (Random Version) Seventeen
    Seventeen's dawn is hotter than day
    January 24, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    Following You Make My Day in July, Seventeen returns in half a year with another "YMMD" album – You Made My Dawn. Unlike the funky and joyful tunes in the summer album, this new album presents six songs that are more sentimental. If you haven't noticed, the last track of You Make My Day is actually called Our Dawn Is Hotter Than Day, creating a fun correlation between the two records. Seventeen comes back with the urban future R&B title track Home (Track 2) to tell their loved ones to lean on them "cause I'm your home, home, home, home." Every verse starts with a tranquilizing ambience, and then gradually turns to a contrasting powerful sound. The constant change of beats and highs and lows... [read more]
  11. House of The Rising Sons (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) House of The Rising Sons (2018) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version) Jonathan Wong (Actor) | Carlos Chan (Actor) | Tan Yu (Actor) | Sing Lam (Actor)
    Friendship wyns
    January 16, 2019 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    It's hard to muster up much expectation for a biopic about an aged cookie-cutter Hong Kong pop band directed by one of the band members, but House of the Rising Sons turns out to be an appealingly amiable and nostalgic film whose overall niceness actually feels right. Formed by Alan Tam, Kenny Bee, Anthony Chan, Bennett Pang and Danny Yip, The Wynners were arguably Hong Kong's first idol band. The band exploded into popularity in the 70s with feel-good English and Cantonese pop numbers that appealed to a younger generation. By the early 80s, Alan Tam and Kenny Bee had shifted focus to solo careers. However, The Wynners never disbanded. The band has remained intermittently active over the... [read more]
  12. ONEUS Mini Album Vol. 1 - Light Us ONEUS Mini Album Vol. 1 - Light Us ONEUS
    New generation of concept idol
    January 16, 2019 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    Founded by renowned composer Kim Do Hoon, the RBW label is known for launching talented vocal groups like Mamamoo and Vromance. Though RBW's new group ONEUS officially debuted a week ago, they didn't appear out of the blue – the members previously took part in Produce 101 Season 2, MIXNINE and the debut project We Will Debut along with their brother group ONEWE. Among the six members, perhaps the most familiar one would be Keon Hee, who made a name for himself after singing BoA's Amazing Kiss on Produce 101. Hip-hop has been a major part of the Korean music scene over the past few years, and more and more idol groups are digging into the genre. Among the great amount of swaggy music... [read more]
  13. Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Ossan's Love (Blu-ray Box) (Japan Version) Uchida Rio | Tanaka Kei | Yoshida Kotaro | Hayashi Kento
    Men's Love
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There may be plenty of releases in the boys love genre in Japan, but gay romance stories rarely emerge so prominently from the mainstream realm of network television like the way Ossan's Love did this year. The workplace romantic comedy about a 30-something real estate agent who suddenly receives love confessions from two male colleagues – his middle-aged boss and a younger colleague – first appeared on TV Asahi in December 2016 as a one-episode special. The late-night broadcast earned decent response, enough so that TV Asahi brought it back in spring 2018 as a seven-episode series that turned into a surprise hit. Tanaka Kei and Yoshida Kotaro returned to play the hapless protagonist Haruta... [read more]
  14. Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) Oguri Shun | Yoshizawa Ryo | Yagira Yuya | Miura Haruma
    More gags, more Gintama
    November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    In the "Countdown" introduction at the start of the first Gintama, Oguri Shun referred to the film as "the one-time-only Gintama live-action adaptation." But when a manga adaptation makes over three billion yen at the Japanese box office, you can bet there's a sequel coming, and fast! Hence, a mere year later, we have Gintama 2 and even more of the giddy gags, insider jokes and manga-mined stories that made the first film such a crowd-pleasing hit. When I wrote about Gintama last year, I noted that the Shinsengumi were well cast but underused. Well, they take front and center this time! For most of the film's first half, the Yorozuya trio of Sakata Gintoki (Oguri Shun), Shimura Shinpachi... [read more]
  15. The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (2017) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Ishii Yuya (Director, Writer) | Ishibashi Shizuka (Actor) | Ikematsu Sosuke (Actor) | Matsuda Ryuhei (Actor)
    Lonely pulse of the city
    November 28, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    "The moment you love the big city, it's like you've killed yourself." Ishii Yuya's The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is full of pithy and pensive lines drawn from Saihate Tahi's poetry collection, but the above thought, expressed in voiceover by protagonist Mika early in the film, struck me as the most representative of the film. After taking a step backward with the conventional Vancouver Asahi, Ishii returns more to indie sensibilities in this 2017 drama that presents less of a story and more of a loose portrait of love, death and loneliness in the city. The Tokyo Night Sky follows two typical lonely outsiders that you may find in the big city – Mika (Ishibashi... [read more]
  16. The Third Charm OST (2CD) (JTBC TV Drama) The Third Charm OST (2CD) (JTBC TV Drama) Korean TV Series Soundtrack | YONGZOO | Stella Jang | Mad Clown
    Bittersweet love tunes
    November 28, 2018 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    The soundtrack always takes up an important role in a successful Korean drama. A nice and catchy OST definitely helps to boost the popularity of a K-Drama, and those iconic theme songs – for example, Stay With Me, My Destiny, "That Man" and Almost Paradise – remain popular and recognizable even many years later. Starring Seo Kang Joon and Esom, JTBC's romantic comedy series The Third Charm started off with a compelling storyline and good word of mouth that led to a gradual climb in ratings during the first half of the drama. However, the drama eventually ended with mixed reviews from the audience as some found the latter part to be way too melodramatic. Beyond the drama itself, I am totally... [read more]
  17. BTOB Special Album - HOUR MOMENT (HOUR Version) BTOB Special Album - HOUR MOMENT (HOUR Version) BTOB
    Fall for BTOB
    November 15, 2018 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    Since their 2015 hit song "It's Okay," BTOB has been known for autumn ballads in their honey sweet voices and beautiful harmonies. Last year, their "Missing You" took over the music charts when it was released. In October 2018, the song still ranked in the top 100 on digital music charts, and BTOB has become the fifth male idol group to surpass 100 million streams for one song on the Gaon Chart. This November, they return with the special album Hour Moment to give you comfort in these breezy autumn days. Following "Pray (I'll Be Your Man)," "Missing You" and "Only One for Me," Hyun Sik teamed up with producer EDEN again for Hour Moment's title track "Beautiful Pain" (Track 5). The... [read more]
  18. Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (Blu-ray) (US Version) Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (Blu-ray) (US Version) Oshii Mamoru (Director)
    Oshii Dreamin'
    November 9, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    Oshii Mamoru and Urusei Yatsura? It is now almost hard to imagine that Ghost in the Shell director Oshii, the master of cyber punk and artful alienation, first made his name with Urusei Yatsura, a hectic off-color anime series about a lecherous high school student and his turquoise-haired, leopard-bikini-clad alien girlfriend. When Oshii embarked on Beautiful Dreamer, it was his second go at a feature-length Urusei Yatsura film, and he did things a bit differently this time around. While the first film was a competent, fairly faithful extension of the manga, 1984's Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer was an entirely different and beautiful beast. Manga writer Takahashi Rumiko and die-hard... [read more]
  19. fromis_9 Special Single Album - FROM.9 fromis_9 Special Single Album - FROM.9 fromis_9
    National sweethearts-to-be
    October 31, 2018 Picked By Violet See all this editor's picks
    Survival programs have been so popular in Korea over the past three years. If you have watched either Idol School or Produce 48, rookie girl group fromis_9 may sound familiar to you. fromis_9 consists of the top nine winners of Idol School. And a few months ago, member Jang Gyu Ri joined as a trainee contestant of Produce 48. After she got eliminated, she returned to her original group to release the new single album FROM.9. The album's title track Love Bomb (Track 1) is co-written by producer David Amber, who also composed Twice's Heart Shaker, GFRIEND's Love Bug and NCT Dream's La La Love. When I first watched the comeback teaser, I thought the title track was going to be similar to Red... [read more]
  20. Detective Chinatown 2 (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Detective Chinatown 2 (2018) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Wang Bao Qiang (Actor) | Liu Hao Ran (Actor) | Xiao Yang (Actor) | Yuen Wah (Actor)
    The birth of a detective comedy franchise
    October 31, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
    There is no shortage of crime mystery and suspense productions in China, but most with buzz and budget of late are based on novels – and often the same ones. Criminal Minds, Yu Zui and Qin Ming adaptations abound and no Nan Pai San Shu or Tianxia Bachang story is left unturned. In that sense, Chen Sicheng's blockbuster Detective Chinatown film series stands out for being a successful original creation rather than an extension of a pre-existing IP. Following his success with Beijing Love Story, actor-turned-director Chen Sicheng tried his hand at mystery in 2015 with the sophomore directorial effort Detective Chinatown. The film brought together the unlikely detective duo of comedy veteran... [read more]
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