Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Allkpop, that wacky newsletter of all things Korean pop outdid itself today with an article about, let’s call it, panda snobbery. Celebrity panda Fu Bao was recently transferred back to China from South Korea, amidst much publicity. I know, it’s just a panda, but let’s face it, pandas are the rock stars of the animal world. Now the question has turned to a mating partner for Fu Bao, who is a female panda. Thus, the headline on this that caught my attention was, ‘”It’s like pairing a princess with a beggar” Knetizens are discontent with Fu Bao’s future mating partner’. That and the picture above pretty much says it all. Other comments were, “He looks like a beggar”, and “It looks like we’re sending Fu Princess to marry some old man”, and two from the other side, which sum this up, “Wow, people are criticizing animal’s faces too now? People are crazy” and “So the unbelievable Korean ‘beauty standards’ have been extended to animals, too?”. This is so bizarre I can’t help but think this whole thing is a stitch up on the part of the staff and writer, Sophie-Ha. Just making things up to garner more clicks. If it’s real, then yes, some people are ‘crazy’. But, gotta admit, it’s funny. For the record, all pandas are beautiful, including that ‘little’ fella, who probably just needs a good bath.

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Another wacky article was one about Aespa’s Karina, who shared her first photos since her ‘controversial’ relationship with actor Lee Jae Wook ended. This time the point of controversy was the t-shirt she was wearing, which had ‘send nudes’ written on it. Some ‘knetizens’ speculated it was another case of a Kpop idol not knowing the meaning of the English words on their clothing (pretty much a sub-genre of Kpop reporting), while others pointed out Karina’s English was pretty good so she would definitely know what it said. One poster suggested it actually said ‘Send Dudes’, which I wish was true, because it would make sense and would be kinda cool, considering Karina’s situation (they would be lining up!). Summing up, I guess I’ll sort of reiterate what I said about the panda: it’s just a t-shirt, but she’s a pop star of the Kpop world. I love Aespa (almost as much as Twice – big claim), and am seriously considering getting tickets for their concert out here later in the year.

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Made some necessary pop culture purchases during my lunch at work today (the library is next to a shopping mall). They were blurays and dvds of animes Konosuba the Movie, By the Grace of the Gods season two, and Yashahime season two. This was at JB HiFi, and I almost grabbed a copy of Goldfrapp‘s Felt Mountain on delicious gold-coloured vinyl with gatefold sleeve. Droolsome, and I was sorely tempted, but I already have 2 cd versions and, yeah, it was expensive, so I could not justify. Anyway, it was quite a stash. I didn’t know Grace of the Gods had a season two, and the Yashahime was a complete season edition, which works out much cheaper than the two separate half seasons they pushed on us for the season one editions. I can’t express how happy the thought of having these makes me, but just thought I’d share.

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When I got home my first viewing choice was the By the Grace of the Gods season two bluray. This is what’s called an Iyashikei genre show. Let’s go to the Google definition for a good look at this fabulous word because it sums it up beautifully: ‘Iyashikei (癒し系) is Japanese for “healing”, a term used for anime and manga created with the specific purpose of having a healing or soothing effect on the audience. Works of this kind often involve alternative realities with little to no conflict, emphasizing nature and the little delights in life.’ Isn’t that yummy? Doesn’t it make you just want to watch something like that? I like this genre of shows because they are so damned anti-Hollywood. They don’t require an antagonist to stuff things up for everyone, and there’s very little outside conflict in them. The main conflict is usually internal, as it is for the main character in Grace, a young boy called Ryoma. Following the classic Isekai trope, Ryoma starts as a middle aged salaryman working a thankless job who dies in his sleep and is ‘reborn’ on a new world as a young boy. Thanks to the ‘Gods’ of the show’s title, he is also given great magic abilities and he uses these to tame pliant creatures known as ‘slimes’. Various characters, who are all wonderfully kind and helpful, befriend him and he eventually makes a good life by establishing a popular laundry service, using his talented slimes to clean people’s clothes. Sounds boring, I know, but if you’re attuned to the iyashikei experience, it’s very beautiful and restful. Ryoma is a warm-hearted and winning lad, who impresses everyone with his secret 21st Century knowledge (one of the few internal conflicts he faces – keeping his real identity from them). One of the joys of the show is seeing a character like Ryoma, whose previous life had been so miserable, get a second chance to live a life he truly deserved and where he can fulfil his potential. The female characters he meets are all super-cute (there’s even a catgirl, yay!), and the soundtrack is wonderful. I really enjoyed the first season, but I have to say, so far, season two is proving somewhat repetitive and lacking in story inspiration. We’ll see how it goes.

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