25 January 2018

Anime I'm Watching & Loving!

Good morning, Honk

It's a new year so time for some new anime recommendations! Honestly I feel like I'm never going to catch up on the latest seasons because last season alone several of my favourite anime released another season and of course there were all new ones I was interested in as well as older anime series that have been recommended to me I still needed to watch, so at this point it feels like even if I watched one series a week I'd still never put a dent in that watchlist! But the good thing is I won't be short of new series to introduce to you all this year so I hope you enjoy these and the ones to come....

Kageyama Shigeo (a.k.a. "Mob") is a 8th grader with powerful psychic abilities. Mob keeps his abilities suppressed due to the negative attention he receives and if he lets his emotions reach a level of 100% he experiences dire consequences. Mob is surrounded by unusual spirits and strange organisations that want to utilise his powers but all he wants is to make friends and live a normal life. The opening of this anime is so colourful and crazy and I really enjoyed the overall animation style as it resembled some of the older artwork I used to enjoy seeing in manga.  Mob Psycho 100 also has the same author as One Punch Man and there are a few similarities in the protagonists not only with looks but their immense powers which they both don't really enjoy as they want to enjoy a simple life. I enjoyed the characters a lot in this anime especially the spirits, so it's definitely one to add to your watchlist.

Fukuzou Moguro is a travelling salesman who deals in things that give his customers their heart's desire, Moguro's customers are often lonely and he asks for no money in return only wanting to fill that emptiness in their hearts and see their satisfaction but things are not always what they seem and often the customers are left with terrible repercussions, especially if they break the rules of his deals. I love an anime that questions human nature and this anime reminded me a bit of Hell Girl in the way it was structured as you often see the customers falling prey to their own desires, but unlike Hell Girl this was a more humorous, light-hearted take on the subject. The animation style reminded me of ones I watched in my childhood and this may be because it comes from Doremon's co-creator Motoo Abiko which I found an interesting fact. Some of the stories had a clear moral to them while as others left me a bit confused and wondering why these people were being punished but this may have been a cultural thing as I know Japan has a lot of rules/etiquette I'm not familiar with and they're pretty strict about them. I also found Moguro maybe a bit too manipulative and pushy towards the customers at times which made me question if the customers are really the ones at fault or not? But either way the anime provokes some interesting thoughts and discussions.

Kousei Arima excelled at piano until the trauma of his mother's sudden death took away his ability to play. Kousei leads a monotonous life until he meets an unconventional violinist named Kaori Miyazono who encourages him to play and live again. I've heard a lot about this anime and I actually watched the live action movie first but the movie was a bit disappointing to say the least so I wasn't sure if I'd actually like the anime or not but thankfully I gave it a go and I loved it! The animation and the music is just so beautiful and even though I kind of knew what was coming there was so much more emotion and nostalgia put into in the anime compared to the movie that I couldn't help but shed a few tears.

地獄少女 宵伽
I mentioned Hell Girl earlier and to my delight found that they recently released a 4th series YEY!! So this series pretty much follows the exact same formula of the past 3 seasons but I do enjoy the episodic nature of seeing different people's stories, their struggles, the thirst for revenge, and the eventual consequences. Hell Girl is a lot more darker and heavier than The Laughing Salesman and more on par with a series like Death Parade, which you NEED to watch! If you've been following Hell Girl for a while though you might get a little bored of the repetitive nature because this series doesn't really add anything new or exciting to Hell Girl/Enma Ai's overall story, in fact compared to other characters she probably gets the least screentime and after over a decade since the first series was aired and 8 years since the last one you kinda want to see something a little new or different. Overall though I did enjoy the series, the stories were quite interesting albeit nothing new and it was nice to have Hell Girl back for another and possibly last season. I definitely recommend you checking out the previous seasons of Hell Girl if you've not seen them already as it's one of my all time favourite supernatural anime series.

Neo Yokio follows Kaz Kaan an upper class resident of "The Greatest City in the World" as he struggles to balance his decadent, fashionable lifestyle with his demon hunting duties. So... I wanted to mention this series as it's a bit of an interesting one with it being co-produced between Japanese anime studios, Studio Deen/Production I.G and Ezra Koenig that premiered on Netflix and is voiced by some pretty well known western celebrities! I'm not sure if there's ever been an actual  "American anime" before and I was intrigued to see what it was like and honestly I don't know what to say as I'm kinda divided. I suppose I would describe it as Japanese style with a very Americanised storyline and while it looks like an "old skool" anime the story line and characters are like something from Gossip Girl. I think with it being only 6 episodes it was hard to really get a feel for it and I think because I recognised so many of the voice actors it was a bit distracting although I did enjoy the fact that they were so similar to their characters, Kaz Kaan voiced by Jaden Smith and the famous fashion blogger voiced by Tavi Gevinson to name a couple. I think when it comes to anime what I enjoy the most is the deepness and the metaphors but with this one it was just completely vapid and shallow which was pretty much a reflection of the world of Kaz Kaan and maybe that's the whole point. It was quite humorous though, I did enjoy the satire and it also gave some nods out to other popular anime series but my favourite thing about the series was the Mecha butler Charles who was voiced by Jude Law which I feel like was a perfect match. I'm just not quite sure if it worked or not but I will say check it out if your intrigued as it's a super easy watch and let me know what you think about it in the comments.

What Anime have you been watching lately?
Love & Waffles

18 January 2018

Asian Dramas I'm Watching & Loving!

Street drama

Welcome to a brand new year of Asian dramas! I'm kicking off the new year sharing a few of my favourite dramas from the past few months and as much as I tried to expand out of my Korean drama bubble it sucked me right back in (there's just so many good ones!) but I did find an absolute gem of a drama from China so I will definitely be looking into watching more Chinese stuff in the future. Be sure to leave me your recommendations for the next edition in the comments and if you've watched any of these be let me know what your thoughts are below.

수요일 오후3시30분
Sun Eun-woo is dumped by her boyfriend on Wednesday 3:30pm a time that is said women are at there ugliest, she meets up with her childhood friend Yoon Jae-won who agrees to help her get her ex-boyfriend back by taking her on dates every Wednesday at 3:30pm and creating a fake "lovestagram". This is such a sweet mini-drama that I came across because of Hong-bin who's a member of one of my fave KPop groups VIXX, I've watched him in a drama before but this one I enjoyed a lot more because he was just the sweetest little bean, I would love a friend like him! Ok so the storyline isn't anything special and you know exactly what's going to happen but it was such a sweet enjoyable watch and I think I'm an even bigger fan of Hong-bin after this, seriously where can I get me a Hong-bin?

The U-Prince series has now finished airing in Thailand and I'm a little sad because I really enjoyed it, there's a total of 12 mini-series and I've already talked about some of my previous favourites but here's a couple more. The Extroverted Humanist: Pinyin is an introvert who prefers to spend time alone, she's anxious and doesn't have a lot of friends (she's me basically!) when Kiryu who's outgoing, talkative, and basically the complete opposite to her decides to befriend her she finds him overwhelming at first but then they begin to fall for each other. There's some pretty harsh moments in this (as with all Thai dramas) but I guess I liked this one because I related to it, being an anxious, shy, introvert I gravitate towards those type of characters as I can empathise and understand them more. The Crazy Artist: Mel B (yes I know lol!) is a science geek who is dumped by her boyfriend who says they're too similar, Hippie, a musician, witnesses the break up and tries to comfort Mel B then asks her if he can have the Beatles T-shirt she is wearing, Mel B agrees on the basis that he dates her for 5 days as an experiment so she can see what it's like to date someone the complete opposite to her and see if her ex was right. This drama started off pretty damn cheesy at first but then it hit me right in the feels, in fact I think it's my second favourite U-Prince after T-Rex so if you don't want to watch all 12 mini series (even though they're only 4 episodes each) definitely go for The Crazy Artist and The Lovely Geologist.

I mentioned this anime in my previous post and found out they made a live version of it which aired at the same time as the anime so I thought I would see how it compares. Surprisingly it's almost shot for shot identical to the anime I mean they even recreated the opening! The sexual content has possibly been tamed but I was quite surprised to see how far they took it as it's unusual to see so much kissing in a JDrama let alone sex. Although it's very faithful to the anime I would recommend the anime over the live version as some of the beauty was lost making it feel almost as if it was "fan made" rather than TV produced. I mentioned in my post about Japanese Dramas that the overall cinematography seems low quality compared to other Asian dramas and I think this is why it didn't seem as aesthetically pleasing which led to some of the mood being lost but the acting was pretty good aside from a certain "princess" who I kinda wish they'd left out. It was interesting to watch though and I wonder if in the future they will simulcast more anime series along side live versions?

This series follows the war between the Ice Tribe and the Fire Tribe as they fight for power, peace and revenge over the loved ones they've lost in battle. It's very epic fantasy Game of Thrones meets Lord of the Rings with all the magic, mythical beings, tribes and journeying between realms to form alliances to fight in the war and restore the Ice Wall, yes there's a giant mythical wall of ice in this to! Firstly this series is 62 episodes long so that's a big commitment and it took me a couple of months to actually get through the whole series but I really enjoyed it! It's the first time I've watched a Chinese drama like this and the costumes, weapons and settings are so beautiful and well done although I will admit the special effects can be a bit low budget at times I mean there was a moment where I could clearly see someone running with a sheep plushie but I things like the Ice Lion I will forgive because it's an Ice Lion and that's so cool! The fight scenes of course are done very well being a Chinese drama, I always was a fan of martial arts movies so it was great to see some of these techniques used in this drama amongst the traditional sword fights. The cast are beautiful and it's well acted, I loved how each different tribe had a distinct look to them and I after watching this I definitely had the urge to do some cosplay! And yes fellow Kpop fans that is indeed Victoria from F(x) you see up there, she has quite a major role and was one of my favourite characters so it's worth checking out if you're curious to see her acting skills. After watching this I will definitely be checking out some more Chinese dramas, if fact I think they made a follow up to this series based in the modern human world so I may have to check that out as even after 62 episodes I still wanted more!

하백의 신부
So Ah, a psychiatrist who owns her own practice but on the verge of losing it because of debt. Her family is cursed to serve the gods, however So Ah is a realist who doesn't believe in the supernatural, So when she meets Habaek, a man who claims to be the legendary water god that has come to Earth to find a magical stone which will grant him immense power and expects her to be his servant, she believes him only to be delusional. I think the supernatural romance genre is my favourite of all Korean dramas, I love learning about different culture's stories and also seeing the juxtapositions between the old worldly legends and how relevant they are in the modern world. I also enjoy the humour these series always have with the gods adjusting to life on Earth and dealing humanity. I loved Nam Joo-Hyuk in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo but he was so different in the role of Habaek that I hardly recognised him, that being said he played the part of the narcissistic commanding god quite well. I wouldn't rate this one as high as Goblin or Legend of the Blue Sea as it almost seems a little rushed in comparison and I wished they had shown a little more background in the other world but overall I did enjoy it and I can't wait to see what legendary gods we see in the next drama.

What dramas have you been watching?
Love & Cookies

10 January 2018

Vegan Pad Prik Gaeng (ผัดพริกแกงเจ)

Pad Prik Gaeng (Vegan)

Since moving to Thailand I've hardly cooked partly because I don't have a proper kitchen in my apartment and partly because it's just so easy and cheap to eat out most of the time here, but this year I have vowed to make more of an effort to cook for myself and focus on my health. This dish is a simple yet flavourful curry stir-fry that is super simple, quick to make and a favourite amongst Thai people so I hope you enjoy it.

Pad Prik Gaeng (Vegan)

  • 50g Thai red curry paste*
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 Cup chopped green beans
  • 1 Block of diced tofu
  • 1/4 Cup pea aubergine (optional)
*If you want to make it vegan make sure the red curry paste doesn't contain shrimp paste

 Add the curry paste and half the kaffir lime leaves to a wok on medium heat and cook for a few minutes until fragrant

♥ Add water, green beans and pea aubergine to the wok, you want the vegetables to be cooked but still have a slight crunch to them.

♥ Add the Tofu and soy sauce to the wok and cook until most of the moisture has been cooked off, if you find it's too spicy then add more soy sauce.

♥ Remove the dish from the wok and sprinkle the rest of the kaffir lime leaves on top as garnish.

♥ Serve with rice and enjoy!

Good Luck

04 January 2018

The Lama Temple (Yonghe) - Beijing - China

Yonghe Lama Temple

When I travel abroad I'm always interested to see different places of worship as they can be quite peaceful and beautiful. I remember briefly visiting Yonghe seven years ago but not having much time to explore as we arrived near to closing time, so as my mum is a Buddhist I thought it would be an interesting place to take her so she could see what a temple in China is like compared to the ones we visit in Thailand.

Yonghe Lama Temple

The temple was extremely busy on the day we visited, there were cars lining up down the road waiting to get in and the halls of worship were so full of people it was a struggle to get through. I like to visit temples as an escape so I can meditate and enjoy a little peace but it was pretty much impossible to find any sort of peace at The Lama Temple that day, the smell of incense smoke, which I normally find calming, was so strong that day it was choking.

Yonghe Lama Temple

One of the things you must see is the 26 meter tall Maitreya Buddha which is not only impressive because of its huge size but because of the fact it was carved from a single piece of Tibetan white sandalwood, and because of its vast size it took over three years to ship to Beijing. It's one of the temples most prize possessions and once you see it you'll know exactly why, it's an absolutely beautiful sight and it's amazing to think of all the hard work and love that was put into creating it.

Yonghe Lama Temple

Despite the crowds it was a really beautiful day and definitely a place I would recommend you visit if you're in Beijing, the area surrounding the temple is great to visit to as there are many souvenir shops and restaurants as well as a Confucius Temple which I would love to visit if I ever go back to Beijing.

What places do you like to visit when you travel abroad?
Love & Incense