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…
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!
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.
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 ☺
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.
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 friend and I went to a special showing (only two nights here!) of Okko’s Inn, a Japanese anime directed by Kitaro Kosaka (formerly of Studio Ghibli). The film was awesome! Both my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
********* SPOILER ALERT *********
I had a special interest in the animation and character style, but the story itself blew me away. It was funny, sad, smart, uplifting, and engaging. I especially loved when the character Matsuki would pull out quotes from historical figures. Hilarious! 😆
There were so many elements of the film that I found interesting: the onsen town setting, kaiseki food, the supernatural, and traditional rituals. And the animation was so well-done. The scene where Okko slips on the tatami was great! If you’ve ever felt how slick a tatami mat can be, you’ll know what I mean. It was captured perfectly.
I also liked the fact that there were no overt antagonists in the story. I was expecting Okko’s grandmother or Matsuki to play that role. Although Matsuki started as a rival, she had noble intentions and wasn’t inherently nasty. The lack of any enemies reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbor Totoro in that respect. I really appreciate stories like that, especially if they can keep you engaged.
I enjoyed Okko’s Inn even more than some Ghibli movies, like Ponyo, Kaguya, and Arrietty. When I left the theater after seeing those, I felt that I had watched good movies but wasn’t overly excited, but after Okko’s Inn ended, I was pretty stoked, and thought that I’ll definitely need to own the Blu-ray version!
If you didn’t see Okko’s Inn during the special engagement, look for it on video later. It’ll be well worth your time.
Tonight the boys and I went to a newly opened ramen restaurant that’s located near our house. EurAsia Ramen offers several different types of ramen, poké bowls, and sushi rolls. By looking at the website, I suspected that the restaurant wasn’t Japanese-owned so I wasn’t expecting a typical Japanese ramen experience, but I’m open-minded and willing to give a new restaurant a chance.
I decided on the Signature EurAsia Black Tonkotsu Ramen, while Koa got the Miso Ramen, and Bay tried the California Poké. The portions were a little on the small size for the price. I’d expect to pay about US $8.00 for the amount we received, but it wasn’t too unreasonable.
On to the important part, which is taste. I rate the ramen I had a 5 out of 10. It wasn’t bad, but not great. The flavor of the broth was a little bland, and the noodles were very thin. The noodles in Koa’s Miso ramen were thicker and eggier… not sure why. There was a good amount of charsiu pork in the bowl, which was nice, however, it had a generic “hammy” taste, almost like a spiral ham you might eat at Easter or Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Bay’s poké bowl was unimpressive, with the main ingredient “snow crab mix” being just a lot of surimi. Not great.
Of course, I want local restauranteurs to succeed, and I think EurAsia Ramen might do ok because the dishes are “good enough” for those who may not be as particular about ramen as I am, but I don’t think I’ll be back. There are simply better ramen offerings in Austin, such as Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Daruma Ramen.