Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow (2019) – Movie Review

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Love Live! Sunshine!! Movie” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight I went with my friend Mikey to watch Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow at the local Alamo theater. I mentioned in a previous post that I was watching the first season of this anime in preparation for tonight’s movie, and I am so glad I did, otherwise I would be super-lost!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Yohane” Austin, 2019

The story starts with the girls moving to a new high school since their previous one was shut down, and it looks like they will have to use their “school idol” charm to win over the other students. But then the plot takes a wacky turn and the girls all end up in Italy. Although it was a weird direction for the story to go, it was a really fun setting and gave my favorite of the group, Yohane/Yoshiko, plenty of screentime, so I was happy with that aspect of it. 😄

The plot was not very cohesive, the songs and performances were great. You can tell the animators took a lot of care during these sequences as the dance moves are really well-done and realistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if they motion-captured real dancers for all the dance sequences in the movie (and the tv anime for that matter). They looked amazing!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/100 sec, ISO400
“Love Live! Sunshine!! Movie” Austin, 2019

I often go to special screenings of anime with my friend, and we enjoy seeing what the audience is like. For Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow, the crowd was small but more passionate than the ones at regular anime films. Some people wore Love Live!! t-shirts, others brought in backpacks full of stuffed toy characters, and one girl was wearing what looked like an idol-inspired outfit. And during one of the last songs, the people next to us broke out their glow-sticks. It was fun, and now I’m a Love Live! fan. Time to catch up on Season 2 and also the original series. 😊

As of this writing, Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow is showing for two more nights, so if you have a chance to see it, why not? It’s a lot of fun, even if you don’t know the characters!

またね~

The Farewell and Being Mixed-Race Asian

Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.95mm, f/1.8, 1/120 sec, ISO194
“The Farewell” Austin, 2019

I went to see The Farewell today. Loved it. Seeing a movie from a Chinese-American perspective was interesting personally because it’s something that I can relate to, although not fully since I’m a generation or two removed from any family connection with China. However, I know a fair bit about Chinese culture so the movie felt special and the situations were familiar. Come to think of it, Billi is somewhat removed from China as well and is the same generation as my Mom, whose parents emigrated from China.

Billi is 100% Chinese-American (both parents are from China), but I’m mixed-race Asian-American, which is why I couldn’t more closely relate to her. On one hand, I’m a bit envious that Billi can identify as Chinese. On the other hand, as a mixed-race Asian-American, I am proud of my mixed heritage since I can identify with Japanese culture, Chinese culture, and to a lesser extent, Hawaiian culture. But I am not able to be 100% committed to one, and that is somewhat unsatisfying. It makes identity complicated. Hanging out with Chinese-American, Japanese-American, or Korean-American friends growing up, I felt like a mutt (albeit with a bit of pride) inside. My last name meant that people (at least other Asians) saw me as Japanese-American even though I am over 60% Chinese. I’m also 6% English, but honestly, I’ve never identified with that part of my heritage. Why not? Well, I’ll have to think about that… Anyways, it’s complicated!

Back to the movie, the character Aiko was one of the most intriguing for me. To most viewers, her role was kind of throw-away, but I kept thinking about her and Hao Hao and their future kids (if in fact they are getting married) since they will be mixed Chinese-Japanese like me. What will their lives be like in Japan? What will their family visits back to China be like? How much Chinese culture will they be taught while living in Japan? What kind of discrimination will they face there?

Aiko’s situation was actually the most palpable to me. I’ve been in similar situations where I was at my girlfriend’s family gatherings in Hong Kong, and could only smile and be polite. And of course in Japan to a lesser extent, I have to do the same. So when Aiko is at the dinner table and banquet, I could feel her awkwardness! I also know how isolated and lonely you can feel when in that kind of situation for days on end. Gambatte, Aiko!

I was also thinking about POC representation in Western movies – with so many different kinds of mixed-race Asians in the world… would it be possible to depict the cultural complexities for each combination? Is it worth it? Too niche? Or must mixed-race Asians pick and choose where to find their on-screen representation? I wonder what Awkwafina‘s thoughts are about it since she is Chinese- and Korean-American… 🤔

The Farewell has given me plenty to think about. But if I didn’t mention it earlier, go see The Farewell. It’s a great film! 👍

I Watched Two Anime: Fireworks and A Silent Voice

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/125 sec, ISO2000
“Anime Nite” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

I recently visited my local library to renew my card and decided to browse the DVDs to see if there was anything good. I was in luck because I found a couple of movies that I have wanted to watch!

Fireworks / 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? has the same producer of the amazing Your Name which I loved, so I had high expectations for it. Unfortunately, the story was confusing and not very interesting. The animation was excellent, however, so it wasn’t difficult to keep watching. The little scenes of life around the sea-town were absolutely gorgeous. It was a shame though that the time-travel aspect was too difficult to follow otherwise it could have been great.

My rating for Fireworks: 6.5/10

On the other hand, A Silent Voice / 映画 聲の形 was excellent, with a compelling storyline, interesting characters with complex relationships and several thought-provoking messages. The animation was also good, although not as crisp or vibrant as Fireworks. But the film held my attention throughout the entire movie and I would love to see a sequel that continued the characters’ story arcs. I wonder if something is in the works…

My rating for A Silent Voice: 8.5/10

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

CharmBBQ Korean Fried Chicken

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/75 sec, ISO3200
“Korean Fried Chicken” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

A new fried chicken restaurant opened up recently so we decided to give it a try. CharmBBQ Korean Fried Chicken is the real-deal and is the sister store to Charm Korean BBQ, which we enjoyed.

Upon entering the restaurant, you can tell this is authentic due to the large shochu ad with lifesize Korean model. LoL. I breathed a small sigh of relief when I saw that. Also, the restaurant has multiple TVs set up on all walls, showing sports, news, and K-Pop. Something for everybody! 😆 I actually switched seats with Koa so I could face the TV that was showing a mega-concert with Twice. Woohoo!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“K-Pop” Austin, 2019

Anyway, onto the food. They serve bone-in chicken, boneless tenders, and many other Korean appetizers and dinners including hotpot. If you order the chicken, you can choose from a variety of sauces. We chose half habañero and half traditional Korean sauce. They were both tasty! I was surprised at the number of items on the menu – we’ll definitely be back again to try some more dishes.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO320
“Charm Chicken” Austin, 2019

Charm BBQ Chicken also has a large variety of drinks (there’s a huge bar) including pitchers of beer. I had the beer/shochu combo drink which was pretty good! Next time, though, a regular beer will be my order. Seems like a good place to enjoy a pitcher of beer with friends, have some spicy chicken, and watch a ballgame. I love the restaurant’s slogan: Beer+Chicken=Truth. haha ☺

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/100 sec, ISO640
“Beer+Chicken=Truth” Austin, 2019

Although we like Korean fried chicken, we all agreed that Japanese karaage is superior, but for a change of pace, Korean fried chicken at Charm BBQ Korean Fried Chicken is yummy.

I hope you had a good day!

またね~

When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead / に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしています (2018) – Movie Review

The latest movie I watched was When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead / に帰ると妻が必ず死んだふりをしています, a movie based on a manga that was inspired by a question posed on Yahoo! Japan. The story revolves around a young married couple, and how their relationship evolves after the wife, Chie (Nana Eikura 榮倉奈々), starts to “play dead” whenever her husband, Jun (Ken Yasuda 安田顕), returns from work. It’s a really strange premise but definitely captured my interest.

************* SPOILER ALERT **************

The first prank death was surprising (if you don’t know the backstory at all), but turns out to be kind of funny, although I really felt for Jun who was understandably panicked. The subsequent prank deaths were increasingly silly, hilarious, inventive, and clever. Those are funny scenes, but they have Jun wondering what Chie’s intentions truly are. Is she dissatisfied with their marriage? Has he done something wrong?

Over the course of the movie, several marital themes are explored, but not too deeply, and the tone of the movie is kept very light. The serious themes of infertility, separation, and divorce were played out by Jun’s coworker and his wife, and even though the couple decided to end their marriage, they showed growth and maturity… and maybe this is a lesson the writers were trying to teach us?

Chie and Jun’s relationship becomes stronger during reflection and also because of the illness of Chie’s father. It’s during a visit to Chie’s childhood home that Jun gets a clearer glimpse into Chie’s childhood and gains a greater understanding of her. But the mystery of why Chie would fake her own death every day remained unsolved until the very end. Unfortunately for the viewing audience, when Jun reveals to her that he knows why she did it and is explaining the reason, there’s a strong wind and we don’t get to hear his words. I think it was meant to be funny that the audience doesn’t find out, but to me, it was just frustrating. I got the feeling that the writers really didn’t have an explanation either, and it was just a cop-out. But perhaps that’s true to the mystery of the original story. At any rate, it was an unsatisfying ending to a story that had seemingly been advancing towards a good conclusion.

I have to mention one major point that I didn’t like about the movie. There were several scenes where the music didn’t match the mood of the story at all. In fact a few times, I was wondering if I had left Spotify going, or a browser tab was open that was playing music. The generic rock and roll background songs were inappropriate and cheesy, and I kept thinking how much better a scene would have been if there was instead just silence in the background. I admit to wondering if the director’s teenage kid begged to have his band be in the film…

Anyway, if you can ignore the terrible ending and horrible musical overlays, then you are left with a fun, lighthearted movie, with some marital wisdom tidbits thrown in. The performances from all the actors were excellent, especially Nana Eikura, who was quirky and charming. Ken Yasuda played the straight man while also subtly letting us in onto his frustration. In summary, When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to Be Dead is a watchable movie, worth your time.

My rating: 7/10

またね~