Favorite Japanese Film of 2010: Bandage

Let me say truly that I spend less time watching Japanese films and most of my time watching Japanese dramas, so I want to be up front and say this decision is based on a limited viewing of the many many films released this year. Nevertheless I feel Bandage, a film that came out early in the year, deserves this title. While contenders certainly appeared, Bandage held its own to come out as my favorite Japanese film for 2010.

Bandage is as much a character based film as it is a time capsule into Japan in the 90’s. Following the rise of X-Japan, Luna Sea, and many other Visual Kei acts in the late 80’s, many young Japanese hopefuls began to learn music instruments and form their own rock bands. Bandage is a tale of such hopefuls, as the audience follows along with the fictional indie group LANDS, the lead singer Natsu (Akanishi Jin), and Asuka (Kii Kitano), a complicated friend of the band.

Bandage balanced the sensibilities of a coming of age story with the heavy emotions of an underdog tale. While set in the 90’s, this tale could easily have taken place in 2010. While Akanishi Jin grew on the drama circuit, he truly comes to life with both his music and his acting in Bandage. Kii Kitano, quite a young actress herself, also proves herself to be an actress to watch out for in the future. Together with fine characters, delightful acting, awesome music, and a compelling story Bandage represents the best for me in Japanese film making for 2010.

Sanjo-chan’s “Top 10 K-Pop Songs of 2010”

2010 has been an exciting year for Korean Music with the debut of new artists, old artists returning to the music scene, and controversies within the entertainment industry. Despite the bad times, these are the good times as we celebrate the Top 10 K-Pop Songs of 2010 compiled by yours truly, Sanjo-chan! This year, I have found new artists to embrace for years to come thanks to fellow BBAMAJAM members and K-Pop aficionados, Kym and Erica. Being a follower of K-Pop since 2004, I am already infected with the K-Pop virus… but it is quickly spreading to others with no known cure other than listening to these songs everyday as directed. After listening to these songs, I am sure that you will fall victim of the “Korean Wave”.

#10: 2NE1 – Try to Copy Me

2NE1‘s comeback after their debut and “Fire” and with Big Bang for the “Lollipop” single is “Try to Copy Me”. To tell the truth, I am not a huge fan of 2NE1 despite them being dubbed the “Female Big Bang”, but this one stays in your head whether you like them or not.

#9: CN Blue – I’m a Loner

A new band on the K-Pop scene. CN Blue‘s style of music isn’t really pop, but more Pop Rock oriented. The entire Rock genre does not get a lot of attention in Korea, with the exception of Seo Taiji and Jaurim, but is treated more as an underground movement. The lead singer of CN Blue, Jung Yong Hwa, rose to stardom in the 2009 K-drama, You’re Beautiful.

#8: KARA – Lupin

Another notable song of the year from veteran girl group, KARA, is “Lupin”. After their debut in 2007, they still have a plenty of steam, despite the fact their style has changed slightly from their debut song, “If U Wanna”.

#7: Epik High – Run

Epik High is an excellent example of what Hip Hop should be in the 21st Century if other artists didn’t rely on Auto Tune to break into the industry and talk about random things that don’t make sense. 2010 has been a bit turbulent for Epik High: with claims made by anti-fans of EH leader Tablo of him not graduating from Stanford University, and Mithra Jin enlisting in the army, soon to leave Tablo behind. 2010 saw the release of “Epilogue”, the first album without DJ Tukutz who left for the military in 2009.

#6: Rain – Love Song

Rain returns for the first time since his “Rainism” album in 2008 and from his entry into Hollywood with Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin with his mini-album: “Back to the Basic”. It is back to basics with “Love Song”, a signature Rain track.

#5: Miss A – Bad Girl, Good Girl

“Bad Girl, Good Girl” from JYP Entertainment rookie group Miss A was awarded the Song of the Year at the Mnet Asian Media Awards, and it deserved it. Like with the songs (that are on this list, anyway) that came out this year, this is the song that sticks in your mind for a long time.

#4: The Boss (D-NA) – Admiring Boy

“Admiring Boy” is the debut single of Dae Guk Nam Ah, or “The Boss”. After promoting their impending debut with introductions of the members a month prior to their debut, fans welcomed them into the world of K-Pop. It is said that this song sounds like an earlier song from TVXQ, and that the group themselves is a 2010s incarnation of the aforementioned group, but they have a lot of work to do before becoming the next “wave” group.

#3: SHINee – Lucifer

The “Lucifer” track from SHINee is their comeback hit of the year after their Ring Ding Dong promotions from 2009, The Year of Us a year ago. SHINee never disappoints their fans with their catchy songs: “Pretty Cutie (Replay)”, “Love Like Oxygen”, “Amigo”, and “Juliette” are to name a few.

#2: Girls’ Generation (SNSD) – Oh!

“Oh!” from Girls Generation is from their second album of the same title, their first album in 2010. After the success of “Gee” in 2009, it was a matter of time before another viral hit from the 9-member group struck the Mnet charts world.

And the number one K-Pop song for 2010 is… *drumroll please!*

#1: Beast (B2ST) – Shock

After hearing about this group from fellow BBAMAJAM member and K-Pop fan Kym, “Shock” is on my most played songs list on my iPod. It is impossible not to get the lyrics “Everyday I Shock (Shock!), Every night I Shock (Shock!)” out of your head. Shock is not the only catchy song from their growing discography, but their 2009 debut single “Bad Girl” is just as addicting. B2ST is so awesome that they’re Zippy’s favorite Asian artist of 2010!

Honorable Mention: DJ DOC – I’m That Kind of Person

There’s only room for 10 songs on this list, but there is one I really wanted to include. As an honorable mention, I choose DJ DOC‘s “I’m that Kind of Person”. Listening to their earlier songs (dating back to the mid 90s), they remind me of what Epik High would have sounded like back then: this continues the trend. This song appears on their album, “Elegant”, the first in several years.

Thanks for reading! Have a Happy New Year!

Zippy Lately (December 27 – January 2, 2011)

1. 2011 Hopes

While the future is of course uneasy to predict with any degree of certainty, I still have some thoughts, and hopes, on what I would like to see for 2011. I’ll merely cite a few, and to simply this I’ll just jot a couple notes by category.

Anime

– Little less moe

– Bevy of parody shows

– Miyazaki in US Theatres

– Continuation of anime streaming

– Less vampires

Music

More Asian Artists on US Tours

More Asian Artists on US iTunes

– Fewer cover albums from JP artists

2. GD & T.O.P.

Very rarely would I picture a super group forming within an already popular group; however, the treatment and coverage of G-Dragon and T.O.P.’s new sub-unit, formed out of their main group BIGBANG, suggests they are becoming something larger than they might have ever imagined. Both artists have dabbled with their own solo releases before, but it seems the power duo may just be too much for Korea to handle.  AllKPop.com is already reporting that 200,000 copies of their debut release as a team have been pre-ordered (as of Dec. 22nd), and I don’t see that number slowing down anytime soon. As a fan of G-Dragon, who I feel is one of the most talented artists in the K-Pop scene, I’m excited for the presumed success awaiting this album. I just hope it lives up to the hype!

3. Christmas Goodies

I have enjoyed my Christmas gifts every year that I can remember, and this year was certainly no different. My family scoured my Amazon.com wishlist and provided me with several awesome books, Battle Royale (Novel), Japan After Japan, and more. My friends and roommates ran with my newly found love of Vocaloids, specifically Hatsune Miku, and gave me 2 wallscrolls, a chibi-figure, and a phone trinket all featuring her. Between those two groups, and the assorted other gifts from other friends and family members, I have to say again thanks to all of them. I hope as well that they enjoyed their gifts from me as much as I enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, their gifts.