And Now I Have WiFi

Thanks to my brother who’s home from Japan, for the summer, the gadgets in our house (my computer included) didn’t just (finally) work the way they’re supposed to, but I had a pretty eventful week/weekend as well. So, this will probably be a long post. ๐Ÿ˜›

Short background: My brother works for a Japanese Company, so that’s (Japan) where he’s been living for the past year or so. He gets to come back home sometimes, but it’s usually just for a week, which is why a lot of stuff happens within the week he’s around.

(Note: It’s the same case with my sister who’s currently living in New Zealand, and gets to visit us only once or twice a year, and also only for a short period of time.)

Let’s start at the beginning then, shall we?

Nintendo DS Lite

My brother bought me one from Japan! ๐Ÿ™‚ (This has a somewhat funny background story on it, click here to find out.) He already installed the Japanese-English Dictionary I wanted (Wahoo! I actually have a denshi jishou (้›ปๅญ่พžๆ›ธ)! I’ve always wanted one of these.) and some other cool games (e.g. Elite Beat Agents). ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m really enjoying myself, even if the games are still few. One problem though: I said before that I didn’t want to buy any game consoles because I wanted to spend my free time reading books (because that’s the way to improve one’s writing!), but weh, I guess my geeky side got the better of me. Besides (and yes, this is my excuse, which I consider to be valid) it’s not just a game console, it’s a dictionary, too! It’s educational! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The best part really, is the fact that it’s the Crimson & Black Model, which I just really really love! ๐Ÿ˜€ Mostly because I love red and black, but also because I don’t see many DS Lites that are of that color here in the Philippines. That does pose a bit of a problem though–I can’t find a nice case for it! All the ones I see are light blue, silver or pink. ๐Ÿ˜ I can’t find any red ones, and I really really want one right away because I’m afraid it’ll have scratch marks on it (and I hate scratch marks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ). I know, I can always choose a black cover, or a white one, but… but… Black and white are boring. I want red! XD

Summer Outing #2

Me and My Family (sans sister) at the Patapat Bridge, Ilocos Norte

This summer, my mom wanted to go see the Blue Lagoon (in Maira-Ira, near Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte), so she booked us some rooms in Fort Ilocandia Hotel in Laoag City. We were there from April 30 until May 3, and it was great! ๐Ÿ˜€

What I like most about taking trips/vacations with my parents is that they can plan a really balanced vacation–what I mean is, they plan the itinerary such that there’s enough time to see the sights, and relax, I mean, really relax, as in, the type of relaxation that borders on boredom. Hehehe. No, seriously, what we did was to stay at the hotel for the entire first day that we were there. We did nothing but sit at the cafe, and stare at the beach. ๐Ÿ™‚ And then on the next day, we hired a van to take us to the Blue Lagoon and some other famous tourist spots in the area (e.g. Bangui Windmills, Patapat Bridge, etc.). By the 3rd day, we again, had nothing planned but the flight back to Manila later in the evening, so we were able to rest from the tiring trip of the day before, and do whatever else we wanted to do again, i.e. swim in the beach/pool of the resort, order more room service, etc.

It was a really fun trip, never mind that it wasn’t exactly a new and exotic place (We went to Ilocos in 2000 too.), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with repeating going to a place anyway, especially when your main objective is to relax. ๐Ÿ˜€


Party! Party!

My aunt, nephew and brother, tossing around a balloon outside our house.
(I’m somewhere in the background, eating cake. Ahehe.)

Although my mom and brother’s birthday’s been long past, we celebrated it anyway yesterday (because that’s just how we are–we celebrated New Year on January 15 this year even, because we were in Japan on January 1), by having our relatives visit our house for dinner.

No, I didn’t help that much with the preparation, but I was the one who bought the gifts for my nephews (It’s their birthdays too–there’s 2 of ’em), and the dessert (Braso de Mercedes galore!).

The food was great (as always–my aunts love to cook), and it was actually quite fun. Don’t tell my relatives, but I like it better when we’re the ones who host the get-togethers, because 1) there’s a bigger chance that the relatives I don’t like won’t be there, and 2) if there are people who I don’t like who come, my room where I can hide out in is nearby :P.

It’s kind of funny how my brother was really the “life of the party”, though. Everyone wanted to talk to him, and they asked him about a variety of stuff too–his life in Japan, his work, his new hobby of photography, his experience in the Tokyo marathon, his recent snowboarding injury, etc. I mean, it’s supposed to be natural since he is the birthday celebrant (and a “balikabayan” at that), but I can’t help but remember that when my sister was home last January and we were also celebrating her birthday (this time, it was an advance celebration because her birthday is technically during February), our relatives didn’t ask her that many questions. Sure, they asked her how she likes New Zealand, but other than that and a couple basic of questions about work, the only other thing they asked about was if she had a boyfriend already.

Personally, I think it’s unfair, and I’m beginning to think that maybe people have double-standards about migration too. Of course it could be that it’s only applicable to my family (although I’ve observed this from some other families as well), but it seems that if a single woman migrates to another country, people assume that she’s there to find herself a husband. But if a single man goes to another country, they think he’s there for fun, or for work.

Then again, it could also be that because my brother’s always been more friendly than my sister, maybe my relatives just feel more comfortable asking my brother about various things. I really don’t know since I’m their sibling, and since I get to talk to them more often than our other relatives, I don’t ask so many questions myself.

(Note: I do like something other than the food whenever our family has get-togethers though, when we sing Happy Birthday, we’re always in tune! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hooray for not having anyone tone-deaf in the family! Hehehe. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Back to the Routine

What I hate most about vacations really, is how it’s so hard to go back to the routine you had before you took your vacation. I go back to work tomorrow (technically later but I haven’t slept yet, so it’s still tomorrow to me), and as excited as I am to see my officemates again and find out what’s happened in the days that I was gone, I can’t help but think that I’d still prefer a nice lazy day to a busy work day any day. (This is a sign that I’m getting tired, I just used the word “day” 3 times in the same sentence.)

One thing I do like about my old routine though, is that I’ll get to watch J-Dramas again! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I’m aware that this isn’t work-related, but I don’t really like watching TV during vacations because to me, TV is the way to unwind after a hard day at work. If I’m watching TV while I’m on vacation, then instead of feeling like it’s a vacation, I’d feel more like I’m just killing time ’til I have to go to work again the next day.

I’ve just finished watching Dragon Zakura, actually. (I finished it just when my cousins arrived at our house for the birthday party. Okay, no, that’s a lie. They got here before I finished it, but I didn’t leave my room until the last episode finished. Yeah, I’m a lousy host. XP) I might post something about it later on. In case you’re curious, the next drama in line is Orange Days. Another old one, but it’s also another one that I’ve had many friends recommend to me, so… I do feel a bit sad that it’s not a Yamapi drama, but it does star Tsumabaki Satoshi–another face I miss, so it shouldn’t be too bad. ๐Ÿ™‚

Just in case though, here’s something that’ll help me remember Yamapi, and it’s quite timely for us in the Philippines, too. ๐Ÿ˜€

Summer Time by NewS

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Torn Between…

When I think about it, it’s all Tamaki Hiroshi’s fault. I mean, why doesn’t he make more dramas/movies?! After Waterboys, it was a long time before I ever saw him again. 3 years to be exact (Waterboys is actually a 2001 movie, but I didn’t see it until 2004). Of course, this could partly be attributed to my having dropped out of the Japanese/Asian entertainment fandom (or the world, actually :P) due to my lack of a computer (Yes, I’m going to mention this in all my entries. I’m that frustrated. Hehehe.), but after having researched more about him and finding out that Nodame Cantabile is really the only major thing he’s done for the past few years, I’m thinking that it’s really his fault.

Or it could be Yamapi’s (Yamashita Tomohisa) fault, for being virtually everywhere. I mean, when I first saw him in a J-drama (Proposal Daisakusen), I thought he was just an actor. But after just one Google search, I find out he’s also (not just a member) the leader of NEWS (Japanese music/idol group aka “boyband” to you Westerners/Westernized). Not to mention that Proposal Daisakusen is already his nth drama.

So really, its both their faults, for both being uniquely irresistible. And I use the word “uniquely” because I’m having the same problems with them as I do with J-dramas — I can’t choose which one I like best! They’re too different! (But in a really good way.)

Still, I’ll try to compare them just to see what the final verdict will be, even if it’s going to be really difficult to rate them. I think this is just like that ice cream and pizza dilemma*. -_- (*You’ll have to ask my sister about this one.)

ON BEING “SINGERS”

Yes, I put “quotation marks” there intentionally because admittedly, both of them are not the best examples of people who have this talent. Still, they’re not completely hopeless. Both can usually sing in tune, however from listening to their music, I have to say that Tamaki Hiroshi’s solo ballads can get quite boring (and somewhat redundant), whereas NEWS is endlessly entertaining with their variety of songs, and Yamapi is successfully able to stand out while still complimenting the other members. ๐Ÿ˜€

Verdict: Yamashita Tomohisa

ON ACTING

On the surface, it’s Yamapi who’s done more projects and has become more popular in the acting world, with several dramas (and countless advertisements) under his belt. However I believe in “quality over quantity”, which is why I have to say that as an actor, Tamaki Hiroshi is the better man.

Yamapi’s roles, despite already having so many, are still mostly the same — he’s either the cool stoic guy, or the crazy weird one. At times, he pulls it off, but mostly he just looks as if he’s just banking on his cuteness (not that this is a bad thing ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) to make the scene he’s in work. He’s always just looking cool (even when he’s not supposed to be, like in Nobuta wo Produce), I haven’t so far seen him really get into character and lose himself in it. No matter what role he plays, he still looks like the same Yamapi who also sings and dances in the NEWS MVs to me.

Whereas Tamaki Hiroshi, with the variety of roles he’s played, I think, has proven that he’s not just a pretty face. He was my favorite in Waterboys for being the loud, outgoing somewhat-pigheaded jock. But amazingly, despite that role making an impact, he manages to make you forget that that was him, when you watch him as the cool, talented, albeit snobbish (and somewhat elitist and vain) music school prince, Chiaki Shinichi (I love this name) in Nodame Cantabile. And then, just when you’ve fallen in love with him in that role and wish he’ll play it forever, the moment you see Tada, Kimi o Aishiteru, you’ll suddenly come to a stop and be endeared with the image of him as a shy, quiet and withdrawn artist (photographer). All the roles are uniquely Tamaki Hiroshi, but still very different with each other, it’s like you can fall in love with him over and over but it’ll be different every time.

So, the verdict is: Tamaki Hiroshi

AS A MODEL / OVERALL STYLE

It’s actually only Tamaki Hiroshi who has “model” written on his profile (at least in Wikipedia), but as Yamapi’s done so many advertisements and modeling jobs (just check out all the magazine scans of him), I guess you can say that they’re both models. And they’re both pretty good at it, I guess, being good-looking and all, however as Tamaki Hiroshi’s the taller one (by 5cm), and has the better build (At least to me, I’m aware that not all of you will share this opinion), plus he’s done runway stuff (or maybe I’m just not too informed. Has Yamapi done runway modeling?), so…

Verdict: Tamaki Hiroshi (Note: I also like his style better. Yamapi’s cool, but sometimes the clothes he wears are out of this world! ๐Ÿ˜› I like Tamaki Hiroshi’s more conventional one (though I’m aware that he has his share of crazy outfits, too). Oh, and also plus points to him for being able to pull off several hairstyles–he had an afro, and was bald in Waterboys, had that cool windblown hair in Nodame Cantabile, and down-to-earth boring haircut in Tada, Kimi o Aishiteru. Yamapi’s hair has been the same in most of the dramas and MVs I’ve seen him in.)

IT’S WRITTEN IN THE STARS

What I mean is…

Tamaki Hiroshi – January 14, 1980 – Capricorn
Yamashita Tomohisa – April 9, 1985 – Aries (Note: He has the same birthday as my Mom)

Okay, at this point, you might say I’m biased if I say Tamaki Hiroshi again, but I can’t help it! I’m a Virgo, and the stars say that I’m most compatible with fellow Earth signs, which include Taurus and Capricorn. Fire signs such as Leo, Sagittarius and Aries are bad for me, the stars say. And, Tamaki Hiroshi is older than I am (although I’m only ahead of Yamapi by 7 months), which I consider to be a good thing.

Verdict: Tamaki Hiroshi

WHAT’S IN A NAME

So for those of you don’t know, I have a name fetish. What’s that you ask? Well, that’s just like a foot fetish, except, it’s with names.

Between ๅฑฑไธ‹ๆ™บไน… (Yamashita Tomohisa) and ็Ž‰ๆœจๅฎ (Tamaki Hiroshi), I like the kanji of Yamashita Tomohisa better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tamaki Hiroshi just seems too simple and common. Besides, Yamashita Tomohisa is a lot more fun to say, and “Yamapi” is a really cute nickname. XD

Verdict: Yamashita Tomohisa

QUIRKS

I like it when guys are quirky. What I mean is, I think it’s cute when they show their funny/playful/clumsy side. And I daresay that both of them are really fun to watch! Tamaki Hiroshi can really pull off that I’m-originally-a-manga-character-expression whenever he screws up his face in Nodame Cantabile. It’s so funny! But, on and off camera, it seems that Yamapi is the one who’s more animated. I mean, he acts cool most of the time, but there are times where he just says stupid things and does funny gestures you can’t get enough of. I definitely will never get tired of that “Yay!” he says in the middle of NEWS songs, and “Nobuta Powaa!!” and “Hallelujah Chance!!” are show-stoppers.

Verdict: Yamashita Tomohisa

FINAL VERDICT: It’s a TIE!

I swear, I really didn’t mean for this to happen! But they both got 3 points out of 6. Okay, I guess it wasn’t a very good idea to have an even number for the categories, but I can’t think of anything else! Can you? Okay, I’ll think of something else to compare them on, but for the moment, I guess I love them both the equal amount! ๐Ÿ˜€ Hehehe.

I’m So Late, I Know

I’m entering the J-drama fans scene late, as I’ve only had my own computer for a month (Wow! It’s been a month! (Actually a month and 2 days)). And I don’t really want to watch the new dramas anyway, because waiting for episodes is just ๐Ÿ˜ . I mean, it’s really hard for me. I’d much rather do all the waiting now, and then watch it in a marathon a few months from now. I don’t care too much about being updated anyway, since I only really have a few friends I can talk to about this stuff. So yeah, haha I’m really just doing this for me. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, I think writing a review would also be pretty useless since most of the people have seen the dramas anyway and have formed their opinions about it, so this is really mostly just a reaction.

NOBUTA WO PRODUCE

So after discovering Yamapi on Proposal Daisakusen (Yes, I saw that before I saw this one. See, I told you I’m watching these things late and so not in the order they came out :P), I began mentioning his name like crazy, and whenever I did, people kept recommending this drama to me. And that’s why it’s my first ever torrent-downloaded drama. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m quite proud of myself, honestly. Because the torrent world is so weird, isn’t it? There’s so much stuff you have to know about codec and others. And then the Asian drama torrent world is even weirder, because there are soft-subs and hard-subs issues involved. Anyway, I managed to figure it all out (I think) from reading pages and pages of text -_- so I was able to watch this drama uninterrupted.

And after that somewhat crazy (and useless (I don’t need to justify why I watch dramas! XD Wala lang, gusto ko lang mag-share)) background, here’s what I think:

[BTW, you have to have already seen the drama (or don’t mind knowing spoilers) to read this, because I might mention some spoilers along the way.]

(L-R) Shuji, Akira, Nobuta

The beginning was actually a bit dragging. I didn’t want to admit it at first because the 3 main characters– Shuji (Kamenashi Kazuya), Akira (Yamashita Tomohisa), and Nobuta (Horikita Maki) are all so cool. (Okay, I didn’t really want to use the word “cool”, but there’s no other translation for kakkoi ๐Ÿ˜ฅ ) But really, because the first episode is mostly just expository, there isn’t too much story in it, or too many events happening. Although it wasn’t that boring, because I still watched all of it. Besides, the ending line “We didn’t know then that we would eventually come up against the most evil of all.” was enough to keep me interested until the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

The series picks up around the middle of Episode 2, when Nobuta goes to school in her own clothes. It’s the first time you’ll see Horikita Maki’s entire face, and the first time the 3 main characters really look like friends. After that, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable drama that you’ll stay up until the wee hours of the morning just to see what happens next.

What I like most about this drama is how it was able to use such a simple theme– friendship, and use it in a not so simple way. Unlike when they tackle friendship in some other shows (Mojacko, for instance. Although in fairness to that anime, it was really made for kids.) and it makes the characters seem corny and too sentimental, in this drama it was really nice how they showed how people can do things for other people and not get too mushy about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

The only thing I don’t like were the weird unexplained scenes that didn’t seem all that relevant. I’m talking about the last 2 episodes, because those really have some weird stuff going on. @_@

First, the way they ended the issue with Kasumi (Hiiragi Rumi) was really weird–they all had the same dream wherein she leaps to her death, okay. That can be unexplained. Sometimes weird things like that just happen. But why did there have to be a mark on the ground floor of their school that seemed like a person did jump? They didn’t say whether another student did commit suicide or not. And I think that if it was going to be that open-ended just to make things more mysterious, I think the part where the four of them had similar dreams is mysterious enough.

Secondly, the ending was really bad. I mean, I could forgive Lovers in Paris for its weird ending, since it just sort of suddenly implied that it was all a dream. But for this drama, I think the ending may have ruined the whole thing. What was the point of having Shuji move to a different place if Akira was still going to be there anyway? I’d thought that the internal struggle of Shuji was that although he was so cool on the outside, in reality he didn’t know who he really was. And I’d thought that the point of “producing Nobuta” was for him to know himself better, and eventually find himself, so that he can “become a good adult”. So, having Akira beside with him in the new school wouldn’t accomplish that at all. Plus, having only Akira with him and not Nobuta as well made it even worse.

Okay, if the point was so Nobuta could be more independent, then fine. Shuji having moved was a good way to show that they were really able to help Nobuta come out of her shell and handle herself. But having Akira move to where Shuji was just showed that it was only Nobuta who’s able to handle herself, and the two boys still needed each other to go through life, which is just so wrong. Was Nobuta really the only character that had to develop?

The ending scene where Shuji and Akira are playing at the beach and Akira thinks, “We can live this life together, wherever we are.” is just, well, for me, it just sent Shuji’s character right from the beginning of the drama where he didn’t know anything yet. I mean, yes, it’s good to have your friends with you, but if the point was really that they could still be friends “wherever they are” then wouldn’t it had been better if they just had a mini-reunion or something, instead of having one of them follow the other to the the same school? Not to mention that it’s a bit weird to have just 2 of the main characters at the ending scene. As much as I love Yamapi and Kazuya-san, I don’t think any drama deserves to have a weird ending just for fan service or whatever. Really, it was disappointing.

Oh well, save for that ending, the drama isn’t all that bad. In fact I really really liked it, until that part where Shuji saw Akira in the same classroom in his new school. So, again, I’m going to do a little editing in my head and convince myself that that was just an outtake. The real ending was when Shuji said “The next Kiritani Shuji, no matter what happens, will not fall.

And then he goes into the classroom of his new school, and then the screen fades into white. (While I was watching it, I honestly thought that this was really what was going to happen. I furrowed my eyebrows when the line “Please take your seats.” was said by the teacher, and when Shuji went inside the classroom and introduced himself, I felt that something was really wrong.)

With that new ending in mind, now, I think this drama is really really nice. ๐Ÿ˜€ Nobuta Powaa!! XD