Here’s an interesting article that came out of BusinessWeek. It gives a brief overview Korean comics, or Manhwa. Both manga and manhwa are pop culture phenomenon that are hitting the US. A good example of its spread is at our local Borders bookstore in Carmel Mountain where manga and graphic novels now have an aisle and some encap racks dedicated vs. the shelf or two of presence 2 – 3 years ago.
Forget Manga. Here’s Manhwa
I read manhwa in print and the web from Tokyo Pop, Ice Kunion, and Netcomics. I agree in comparison to manga and American comics, the artistic styleof manhwa is more painterly. “100% Perfect Girl”, “Can’t Lose You”, “Full House”, “King of Hell”, and “Couple” are some of the Manhwa I am reading or have read. There are also some very good romantic comedy movies out of Korea recently like “200 lb of Beauty”, “Seducing Mr. Perfect”, and “100 Days with Mr. Arrogant.” Check them out :)!
What do I have 500-GB of? Well, let me start by saying that I gave up on TV about 4-yrs ago, so if you ask me about “Lost”, “Heros”, or “American Idol”, I can guarantee you that beyond the name of the shows, I have no idea what you are talking about. The only TV I watch is the “Jon Stewart Show”, “The Cobert Report”, the occasional documentary on one of the many Discoveries channels, and “Best Week Ever” (my one TV guilty pleasure). I don’t download American movies because, in addition to being illegal, my husband and I love the big screen experience and nasty theater nachos. As for music I like to have the CD, so if I do download music, it’s rare, and I use iTunes because it’s reasonably priced. What I download is anime and dramas from other countries that haven’t been licensed in the US yet. There’s a whole world of fansubbing out there that provides these shows over the Internet.
What am I watching now that some of you may enjoy:
- Space Operas — Those of you with fond memories of “Robotech” and “Star Blazers” will like two shows that are running in Japan now called “Towards the Terra” and “Heroic Age”. Both are stories set in the futures, where humans scattered throughout the galaxy are in a race to find and reclaim the human home planet Earth. “Toward the Terra” was just licensed so it is no longer being fansubbed, so you will have to wait for the DVD’s to hit the US unless you can understand Japanese. This show is excellent due to great characters, fast paced action, gripping drama, and important characters actually die. I continue to watch this show which strains my very feeble Japanese skills to the limit (about 50% comprehension). “Heroic Age” has not been licensed yet so go and get it! It’s everything a space opera anime should be — humans with psychic powers, epic space battles, exploding planets, gundams, and god-like people who turn into giant robot like creatures.
- Action — “Darker than Black” is still going and it’s still very good. This is a show set in a future in which some catastrophe has hit the Earth and blotted out the natural sky. As a result people with special abilities called “contractors” arise. The contractors basically uses their abilities as “contractors,” in the assassin sense of the word, for various organizations, none of which we are ever sure are up to any good. “Darker than Black” is the story of one such contractor who is one heck of a scary bad-ass. Is he good, is he evil, does it really matter?
Additionally, here’s a list of past series I have watched that you may enjoy (some of these series are very kid friendly). Many of this are available on DVD and if you have Netflix you can most likely find them available for rental.
Space Operas —
- “Crest of Stars” series — 3 seasons of it. The first and second seasons are the best. The 3rd season was so-so. Overall this is the love story of a Terran boy and the princess of a race of people created by human (The Ahb) set in the backdrop of an epic space war between humans and the Ahb empire. The English voice acting of this is horrible, so listen in the original language and use the subtitles.
- “Uchi no Stellvia” — I don’t know the English title. This one is older kid friendly. It’s the story of some kids who are sent into space to train for battle at space station Stellvia. It starts out pretty innocuously, but get very tense and exciting during the second half the story. It’s one of those series that appears to be about something cute, but then turns deadly serious. My husband loved this one
- “Outlaw Star” — please don’t watch this on the Cartoon Network because the voice acting is awful.
- “Trigun” — this is a combination Western/Space opera. It too starts out innocuously, but then goes very, very wrong. My husband and I watched all 24-episodes back to back during a weekend. It’s that good. So if you decide to rent this, get then all at the episodes at the same time if you can, put on some comfortable jammies, and surround yourself with some beverages and junk food because you aren’t leaving the sofa for a good 10-hrs.
- “Martian Successor Nadesico” — this is a space gundam anime. It’s pretty funny
- “Full Metal Panic” — This is a gundam, submarine, action, romance anime and is about the misadventures of Chidori and the war crazy Sasuke. This is an anime series that my husband and I have watched repeatedly. The 1st and the 3rd seasons are mostly drama and action. The 2nd season is a slapstick comedy and a very funny one at that. This is probably my favorite action anime series.
- “Black Lagoon” — This is not kid friendly at all. It is the story of a salary man who after being abandoned on a business trip for dead, decides to join up with his modern day pirate captors. Some of the episodes are a bit squeemish, so it’s not for everyone, but if you like to watch shows and movies about the violent gritty criminal underworld (Sopanos and Scareface), then this is the show for you. The main character, Rock, is definitely one of the most interesting and conflicted characters I’ve ever encountered in any medium.
- “Full Metal Alchemist” — Again do not watch this on the Cartoon Network because the voice acting is terrible and it’s probably been butchered to make it more palable for American children. The real story is an action filled tragedy that gets more tragic as the story progresses. There are some funny moments, but when the tragedy hits it pretty intense, starting even at the first scene. The hardships Ed faces are not pretty and the question I kept asking myself is whether the suit of armor is really his brother Al or is Ed just a darned good alchemist. This one made me cry at points.
- “Nodame Cantabile” — This was made into and anime and a live action show and both versions are good. This show is older kid friendly. Nodame Cantabile is the story of the bizarre relationship between the talented but eccentric piano student Nodame and the perfectionist airplane phobic conducting student Chiaki. There are lots of fun side characters in the story and great music throughout.
- “Goong” — This is a live action drama that imagines what would happen if Korea still had a royal family. This is soap opera at it’s most addictive, so be careful. Besides being highly entertaining, a lot of cultural aspects of Korea are on display including architecture and traditional clothing. This is a beautiful show to experience.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, if you haven’t done so, I encourage you to explore entertainment from outside of your country. There’s lots of different things out there to broaden your experience of the world without having to travel and all of it is made available to you via the Internet. Who knows, if you do get into it, you may become like me, and have a half teragig of data management problems. I’m always interested in new shows, so if there are others out there exploring TV shows from different parts of the world, please give me recommendations.