Double Feature: Your Name. (2016) & The Guardian Brothers (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time, we are looking at two foreign animated films. The first is one that was previously reviewed as a part of the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon and originally posted over at my co-host Drew’s Movie Reviews’s blog for Your Name. The second is a Chinese animated film by Light Chaser Animation Studios called The Guardian Brothers (on Netflix, but called Little Door Gods everywhere else), which is their debut movie from the studio before getting to one of my favorite movies of 2019, White Snake (review).

Your Name. (2016)

your name

Director (and writer): Makoto Shinkai

Voice Cast (English ver.):  Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase, Laura Post, Glynis Ellis, Catie Harvey, Scott Williams

Two strangers find themselves linked in a bizarre way. When a connection forms, will distance be the only thing to keep them apart? – IMDB

There’s no doubt that when we think of Japanese animated films, Studio Ghibli is the first one that gets the most recognition. Yet in the sea of Japanese anime, there’s a lot of smaller films with a lot of great ideas that are starting to appear on the international film market and Your Name is one that definitely had a lot of recognition when it was released. Adapted from director Makoto Shinkai’s novel of the same name which was published only one month prior to the film’s premiere, Your Name stands out because of all its elements being done very well: story full of reveals and twists, emotional moments, music score and of course, its rich animation.  

Your Name has incredibly rich animation. Each scene has a lot of intricate details. Whether its setting up how the sunlight beams through a scene or how the night sky and the comet and lights contrast in its night scenes, every scene is set up to look beautifully authentic, especially in its outdoors nature scene that almost looks like a realistic snapshot full of colors, instead of an animation. Paired with its music score by Radwimps which runs fittingly throughout all the scenes, especially during the montage moments between the two main leads and the little things that happen to go through time quickly, it adds so much to each scene and tone. 

The story here written by the director Makoto Shinkai is based on his own novel which makes it even more of a personal offering and easier to portray the film the way that he wants. Your Name carries a rather complex story packed with swapping bodies, time elements and a few surprises along the way. Its execution is possibly the most important element put to the test in order to make each of its reveals timed perfectly to make it have the most impact and Shinkai does it so masterfully that it manages to make each one unpredictable and pulls the story into another direction and packing in a lot of emotions and tugging some heartstrings as this is at the centre of it all, a love story by the end. At the same time, props to Shinkai who also starts off the story in a light and fun way of introducing these two characters, Taki and Mitsuha with their different backgrounds, locations and genders who learn to discover each other physically and emotionally, adding a lot of charm and humor. At the same time, every supporting character also has its own purpose in propelling the story forward and making sure that some conversations help explain the odd predicament that they find themselves in. 

Overall, Your Name is an outstanding animated film. While I only managed to listen to the English version and would have preferred to see the original Japanese version with English subtitles instead, the story doesn’t lose anything because it has some unique ideas and excels in so many elements that put together, it becomes a memorable movie experience. Yet again proving that 2010s brings forward an eye-opening offering of international films and expands into some unique ideas outside of the big American studios like Disney and Pixar offerings. 

The Guardian Brothers (小门神 , 2016)

  The Guardian Brothers

Directors: Gary Wang & Paulette Victor-Lifton

Voice Cast (Eng. Version): Dan Fogler, Edward Norton, Bella Thorne, Nicole Kidman, Mel Brooks, Meryl Streep, Steve French, Cristina Pucelli

There’s a crisis in the Chinese Spirit World — humans don’t believe in gods anymore! A Door God, facing unemployment, ventures into the human world to prove his worth, leading to unexpected encounters and transformations for humans and spirits alike. – IMDB

Much like its recent film offering, Light Chaser Animation Studios creates stories that play with certain Chinese beliefs, traditions as well as stories. In this one, it uses the belief of spiritual guardians  just like how American movies would use Santa Claus and the loss in belief, affect the future in the human world and pulling the two worlds together. At the same time, it also surrounds the story during Chinese New Year and a familiar tale of a creature called Nian that is the origins of why many Chinese New Year traditions are now used like firecrackers and such. Light Chaser Studios, using these source material, creates a rather fun story which is very much fittingly a fantasy comedy and has equal doses of both, while still managing to add some family drama in between of a mother and daughter relationship and carrying on their family restaurant against the more popular commercial restaurant.

The English version of The Guardian Brothers is packed with a great cast. Right off the bat, Meryl Streep has a unique voice that I’ve always loved and she does a stellar job as the narrator which carries the story really well. The brothers are voiced by Dan Fogler and Edward Norton who fittingly also has one who is more funny and the other much more serious respectively. While Bella Thorne definitely does show up in a lot of different movies more and more and her voicing the role of a little girl, Rain really has its own fun. I talked about her roles a little when I reviewed Midnight Sun (review) and yet again, it is wonderful to see her take on something other than the norm and further breaks her out of this acting box that she was stuck in for a while. Of course, it does help that Nicole Kidman is casted to voice her mother. Of course, I can’t leave this without talking about the villain or just the evil corporate businessman voiced by Mel Brooks, which really is present but more as hurdles and gets whats coming to him as with most animated films aimed towards children (maybe not too young as some darker elements here and there) do to emphasize the importance of being good.

If there was anything to criticize for this one, it might be just the pacing and at times the execution feels like the story jumps around a little too much that pads out what could be a fairly straight forward story. However, the animation is really colorful and imaginative. It manages to grab a good color palette suitable to the atmosphere and what is going on. Its a nice offering and one that is incredibly suitable for Chinese New Year (which was actually when I first watched it not knowing that it was a Chinese New Year movie).

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these animated films?

Music Obsessions – March 2020

Welcome to March 2020! Its time to do a monthly roundup of music that’s been on my playlist! Its been quite a mixed bag and some of it is from various phases I’ve gone through and shows I’ve been watching and whatnot.

Just Let It Be – Dimash

A few years ago, I heard Dimash’s first performance on I am a Singer 2017 snippet and it was awesome! He sang this French song called S.O.S. Although there were pronunciation issues, his voice is amazing because of its range and control. I hadn’t realized that he had released music since then but then I found this song and its just awesome. Its nice to see him break out of his classic music and head into something that brings both this classical skills to something a little fast-paced and modern.

Amazing [Find Yourself Ending Theme] – 林世民 Shimin Lin

I just finished Find Yourself this past week and TV binge is coming up soon. A little backlog this year so it’ll happen soon. The ending theme for Find Yourself was unusually an English song, albeit a little language issues in the lyrics but the rhythm and the singing is pretty soothing. Because of that, then it played during the series, it actually matched a lot of the scenes well and this one kind of really grew on me over the process of watching the 40 episodes.

皮囊 Pi Nang – 蕭敬騰 Jam Hsiao

I can’t believe that I haven’t shared songs from Jam Hsiao sooner. This Taiwanese singer actually came to fame around the time that I had fallen out of Chinese music so he’s somewhat of a newer discovery. Jam Hsiao is part of The Singer 2020 this year and he has a killer voice with a wonderful grasp on the falsetto and higher pitches plus he likes fast, quirky and more hard rock style plus adding on his performances, it all works really well. This song is amazing. Honestly, it seems like a fun one to just sing to your heart’s content (even if its not going to be easy to sing).

《爸爸去哪儿》第五季主题曲MV
Dad Where Are We Going 5 Theme Song

I went back the past month to check out Season 5 of Dad Where Are We Going because of my recent wrapping up of Ashes of Love and my new obsession with the actor Alan Deng. In this reality show where celebrity dads take their young children on various trips to challenge and build their bond, Deng Lun takes on the trial dad where he takes care of a little girl who seems to have some social media fame. Its just incredibly cute and heartwarming to watch. This theme song is so cute that I can’t help to listen to it non-stop. Plus, almost all of these dads were celebrities that I grew up with: Jordan Chan (from Young and Dangerous series), Will Liu (Taiwanese singer where I went through a phase of loving his album), Wu Chun (from ex-Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit).

等爱 -[“海棠经雨胭脂透”片尾曲MV] – 邓伦 & 阿兰

Well, I did say that I’ve been looking up Alan Deng’s stuff so while I haven’t went on to other TV series yet but I did find that he has a talent for singing and this song for last year’s series Blossom in Heart is a beautiful duet that he does. It has some more harmonizing moments with the female singer Ah Lan, who I also do like her music. I’m still debating whether to watch this series since it seems to hit a few things I don’t like about TV series from the snippets here so we’ll see. However, this song has been playing on repeat! Love it!

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
Its been a pretty solid month for music discoveries!
I actually had to make some decisions to not overload!

What have you been listening to?

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon Kick-Off: The Wandering Earth (流浪地球, 2019)

Welcome to the official kick-off of this year’s ultimate decades blogathon hosted by myself and Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews, Ultimate 2010s Blogathon! As we wave goodbye to the 2010s, its the best time to talk about the movies that defined it. Whether its a favorite or one that shows off  an element that represented the decade, both movie choices are good. With a lot of movies to choose from between 2010 to 2019, there are endless possibility.

Kicking off the first two days is myself and my fantastic co-host, Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Starting this off on day 1 as I take a look at one of the biggest trends and changes in the movie landscape is the power of the rise of streaming services opening up a variety of movies, giving a platform for distribution and creation of independent and international titles that may otherwise have remained unknown or less accessible.

The Wandering Earth (流浪地球, 2019)

The Wandering Earth

Director (and co-writer): Frant Gwo

Cast: Jing Wu, Chuxiao Qu, Guangjie Li, Man-Tat Ng, Jin Mai Jaho, Mike Kai Sui, Hongchen Li, Jingjing Qu, Yichi Zhang

As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind. – IMDB

Loosely adapted from a novella of the same name by Li Cixin, The Wandering Earth is not only China’s third highest grossing film of all time but also the third highest non-English film of all time. Taking a change in landscape from the normal Chinese New Year movie release, The Wandering Earth is set on Chinese New Year but isn’t the normal happy movie but rather a high budget science fiction film.

wandering earth 2

Set in a future where the sun has become a threat to Earth, the world has united into the United Earth Government and collectively has initiated The Wandering Earth Project, installing Earth Engines across the surface of the planet to propel Earth out of the Solar System 4.2 light years away to the Alpha Centauri to preserve human civilization. However, as they cross Jupiter, the gravitational pull of the bigger planet takes control of Earth and causes a possible collision while causing other side effects. As teams travel with their Lighter Cores to reignite the failed Earth Engines, the dangers that await them are numerous with the unexpected changes in the environment.

wandering earth

This premise alone of creating a future where Earth is being pushed in movement out of the solar system is unique to say the least and one that has so much room for exploration. The story uses its environment to its full potential as it shows off right from the get-go how the world has changed from its inhabitants living in various underground cities that have everything that you’d have when the world lived above ground to the current frozen above ground and its operations. The visuals of these are done with grandeur, showing off the technological advances in both this film but also in showing off slick cinematography and CGI used in the current Chinese filmmaking landscape which is pretty much  on par with the Hollywood blockbuster films at least delivers the same feeling, especially as the film’s story starts stepping into the dangerous elements.

wandering earth

The story is two-fold. On one hand, it takes place with the father and Chinese astronaut Liu Peiqiang (Jing Wu) who left at the initiation of the Wandering Earth Project 17 years ago and now is on the last day before retiring back to Earth but now is stuck on the space station. On the ground, his son, now a young man Liu Qi (Chuxiao Qu), decides to take his grandfather’s driving access card to show his sister, DuoDuo (Jin Miao Jaho) the world above ground, unknowing getting caught up in the mess as they get caught along with their grandfather (Man-Tat Ng) in the midst of the Earth crumbling as the side effects of crossing through Jupiter and as they try to escape, get commissioned to help transport the rescue mission lead by Wang Lei (Guangjie Li).

Wandering Earth

The story here, while isn’t quite as fresh as its premise, managing to add some little comedic moments through some goofy elements and characters and adding in the expected Chinese drama, in this case, mostly within the family drama with the main characters as well as the hardships and loss of hope through the rescue mission and its possibility of failure. However, where the film shines is in its emphasis on keeping on track with the action and giving this movie in its science fiction a certain level of disaster film quality as well that keeps the film propelling forward. The movie runs for over 2 hours and while some of the slower dramatic moments might drag out a little, the film does focus heavily on the concept of being united and keeps itself focused on these everyday realistic characters but never let them be heroes but rather to let them fight for mankind’s survival together. There’s something so precious and touching about this story as it works up to its endgame and reveals a little more about the state of the United Earth Government and adds in the internationalism with the different languages and authorities working together that makes this future feel hopeful and even utopic.

wandering earth 5

The Wandering Earth might not be the best film of the decade (although it definitely is pretty close to at least the Top 20 for myself), but it does achieve a lot and defines a lot of the 2010s. While I would have loved to pick a movie that was also created by Netflix (or some other studio), the global distribution rights for Netflix shows off the change in landscape and how international films are more visible especially as they manage to reach platforms globally and become more accessible especially in the Chinese film market which has its many restrictions and is less openly advertised than other Asian films. As the world moves closer together, these channels give a chance to have access to more international films and especially, those that are as significant as The Wandering Earth with all the success its had in its own country. Its definitely worth a watch to see how far and competent Chinese film are especially great with one that is pretty much a sci-fi blockbuster.


You can check out the full archive of Ultimate 2010s blogathon posts as they go up, updated daily HERE.

Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out my co-host’s kick-off movie review!

TV Binge: All I Want For Love Is You (满满喜欢你, 2019)

All I Want For Love Is You (满满喜欢你, 2019)

all i want for love is you

Cast: Yu Han Liu, Zhao Hua Lu, Yin Jun Liu, Zhi Xun Xie, Yan Qing Sun, Xin Yu Han

A story full of laughs follows sanda fighter Gu Xiao Man and school genius Zuo An as they chase after love. Graduation is fast approaching for 3rd year high school student Gu Xiao Man. Unlike your average school girl, she is a sanda fighter who wins medals at the sport but not in class. Because she wants to continue to be schoolmates with her idol Zuo An, she decides to give the same effort to academics as she does to sanda. Her hard work combined with Zuo An’s efforts to be her personal teacher pays off and they get into the same university. There’s nothing sweeter than to have your crush crushing on you and their story continues on. – MyDramaList

Where to Watch with English subtitles

QUOTE/SCENE

STORY

All I Want For Love Is You is a simple love story. It starts off with neighbors where Gu Xiaoman likes her neighbor Zuo An. However, he is such a genius and she’s really just good at her martial arts that she feels like she will never be able to get his attention until one day, she accidentally rips his track pants and from then on, she catches his attention. Despite his cool exterior, he finds different ways to help her out to get to spend more time with her. However, they never truly find the timing or the courage to tell each other.

All I Want For Love Is You

All this is fairly similar plot line for these youth romance that runs from high school to university romance and following their dreams. There’s a lot of unrealistic things that happen here. That usually isn’t a problem since TV series are meant to have that magic to them that resolves issues making it hopeful and happy for the viewers as well. The story here has a good deal of fluff and it does also have some light-hearted moments. However, it does also have a lot of drama in order to create misunderstandings. There is two rivals, one who likes the girl and one who likes the guy, the former one is a lot more fun to watch than the latter.

The unique element done here that adds some fun comedic elements is that Gu Xiaoman dreams up these ancient China scenes where she plays this martial arts female hero and its all the fantasies that she has as she falls in love and then the misunderstandings which propel further into certain situations. Its a fun little mix-up to the story and gives this series a little more charm.

The story actually is fairly harmless and does a decent job at being an okay dose of light fluffy drama. The only issue that I can’t quite decide is a good or bad thing is how it decides to throw in some additional issues as the ending 2 episodes to give it a dramatic twist, which felt a little too contrived but at the same time, if that scene didn’t exist, the main female lead wouldn’t have been able to show her best acting skills throughout the entire series with a lot of depth. As of now, I’m still debating that point.

LENGTH/PACING

All I Want For Love Is You

Episodes: 32

Running at 32 episodes, there’s shouldn’t be pacing problems and yet, All I Want For Love Is You has that issue. One of the main issues is that the chase takes too long. The couple only get together after 80% of the series is done, which is absolutely crazy as it gets a little tiring and frustrating to watch them dance around their obvious feelings for each other and then go through various misunderstandings created by third parties. There is a good bit of stuff happening to these two main characters, whether its to do with school or friends or new acquaintances or love rivals and so on so forth. The question is whether its interesting enough to keep it fun. This series is aimed towards the youthful genre and usually its meant to more light and fluffy and yet this one seems to have a lot of drama and misunderstandings, making it a tad overdoing it at times. This series could easily have cut a few episodes to make a little more tight-knitted and paced better.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

All I Want For Love Is You is essentially a first love story and in many cases, finding their true love as their first love. With that said, this lies heavily not only on how the story sets up different plot points but also chemistry. Because this is a shorter series, there are less characters and pairings to look at.

Gu Xiaoman & Zuo An

all i want for love is you 3

The main couple here is Gu Xiaoman, played by Zhao Hua Lu and Zuo An played by Yu Han Lu. These two do have quite a good chemistry. Their acting skills are decent and their characters are structured to be more distant with Xiaoman being more shy but brave and Zuo An, the cooler introvert loner. Both their characters have their insecurities and their burdens which has time to develop and together, they change each other for the better. They just take  a little too long to actually get together. It builds up some good moments and they do have a decent chemistry. There’s an awkwardness between them and their first love reenactment that actually does work pretty well and the main development in character in terms of opening up definitely is in Zuo An who definitely is rather smart and sly to catch her in the most unexpected moment.

ChiYao La & Zhan Yue

all i want for love is you 5

The couple that starts off from dislike is the norm in most series. This time, its used for the secondary couple who actually are both best friends of Gu Xiaoman. These two are definitely the ones who break up the tension sometimes in the situation as they both have this silliness to them. Especially when they bicker. There are some pretty fun moments with these two. Although secondary male lead Zhan Yue, played by Yin Jun Liu, starts off as interested in childhood friend Gu Xiaoman and takes a slightly ambitious turn, the roles takes a nice turn with the help of the secondary female lead Chi Yao La, played by Yan Qing Sun. Just like the main couple, they spend most of the series as frenemies and as their friendship grows and their care for their best friend, they find motivation in each other to help each other reach their dreams together.

Love Interests: Sun Anning and Shen Chen Yang

all i want for love is you 4

Both Gu Xiaoman and Zuo An have their hurdles in their getting together. Gu Xiaoman as mentioned before starts off in high school with Zhan Yue liking her and trying to stop her from being with Zuo An (along with all the other girls who liked the school genius). However, the one who definitely made a bigger impact is Shen Chen Yang, a rather eccentric character as he has a pig as his pet but of course, also has a little deeper to his story as he hopelessly falls in love with Gu Xiaoman and of course is all quite unrequited because Gu Xiaoman only ever likes one person. He acts like the childish, attention grabbing sort of guy and a bit of a clown but has quite the character that creates an impression.

On the other hand, Zuo An’s childhood friend Sun Anning, played by Xin Yu Han, is a girl that likes him a lot and expects to be with him. Her story becomes a manipulative story of the usual variety where she acts a certain way but under that elegant and friendly exterior isn’t really what you’d expect. You can say that she does a good job because her character is very annoying and something of a mean girl with her two little minions at her side in some shots but then, she was just slightly frustrating to watch.

OVERALL

All I Want For Love Is You is a harmless series. It doesn’t do a whole lot to make itself stand out as the story itself isn’t unique enough. Its cast is young and they do decent in the chemistry department with what they have but as much as these characters are rather fluffy and lighthearted and its quite the romantic comedy style, they do add in a few dramatic twists to give it some substance. Its a fairly average viewing experience but one that will fulfill that quick dose of cute youthful romantic comedy story. It just seems to run around the chase a little too much for its own good, creating more drama than is needed and puffs itself up more than necessary. Still, they do manage some nice moments but in the long run, its not something that really is one to revisit.

Trailer
(because I can’t find any music videos)

Music Obsessions – February 2020

Welcome to February 2020! Its time for the Music Obsessions to kick off this month! I usually take February as a love song expose of sorts but somehow this time, this time is a bit of a mix. The starting and ending song are more up-beat but nothing related to love however, the middle stuff is all about love stories as they are all theme from movies or TV shows. Let’s take a look!

Daydreamer 白日夢想家 – Vision Wei 魏晨

If there’s anything that I love from discovering the amazing Who’s The Murderer, its how it adds in so many great celebrity investigators and the best one that I’ve found is Vision Wei who is great in the variety show but at the same time, it gave me the motivation to look up his music and so far, this one is absolutely fave. Its upbeat and fun and the video isn’t is done really well. Its one that makes me all happy and a great way to kick off this Music Obsessions.

A Kind Of Sorrow 有一種悲傷 – A-Lin

I haven’t seen the actual movie, More Than Blue that this song is for. I am hoping to watch it at some point as it looks really good. A-Lin is a phenomenal singer with great vocals. Her voice is just exceptional and emotional. I love listening to her music and this one is no different.

天地無霜 (Ashes of Love Main Theme) – Andy Yang 楊紫 & Allen Deng 鄧倫

I’ve already expressed my obsession with Ashes of Love. This TV series really is amazing. I’m working on the TV binge but at the same time, the main theme is this wonderful duet from the main leads who are not actual singers but actually do a great job. Its captivating whenever this song appears in the series as well. At the same time, there is a solo version for just Allen Deng which is equally great. Allen Deng is my biggest discovery from the show and I’ve been finding traces of his musical talent and not just his acting talent. For fun, here is the solo version:

Don’t Cry 不哭 – Rocket Girls 101 Sunnee 火箭少女101 楊芸晴

I’m not a huge fan of Rocket Girls 101 in general. They have some okay songs but I can’t say that I’m completely behind their music but individually, some of the members are very good as they branch off to do their own things. My fave vocalist in the group does go to Sunnee who is unique in herself and as I look up more of her music after watching her participating in Masked Singer China, its definitely had some great finds. My fave goes out to this promotional song for the movie version of Cry Me A Sad River. I haven’t seen the movie but the TV series was one of my top series of 2019.

Blah Blah & WYTB – NEXT (Zhejiang New Year’s 2020 Gala Performance)

Ending it off on a high note, I wanted to open with NEXT as its more upbeat. I might have shared WYTB and maybe a snippet of Blah Blah before but Blah Blah is one of my favorite songs from this group. I think Yuehua Entertainment really found gold with putting this group together as a part of them definitely have the idol stars. Of course, it helps that they got a great gig with having a reality show for Mango TV called Master in the House that shared a bit of who each of them are and their aspirations, giving each of them a chance to learn from some great musicians and celebrities in the music industry. They are all very well-rounded and I can see great things in the future for them. They are only like 1.5 years since the creation of the group so still lots of time to get even better.

That’s it for this Music Obsessions!
What have you been listening to?

Battle of Ingredients #16: New Year’s Eve Hotpot

Welcome to Battle of Ingredients hosted by myself and Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road. As usual, we had our New Year’s Eve shindig. Just like last year, we decided to have a chinese fondue aka Hotpot. There’s not a whole lot of new things to share this time but its procedure to share a little of what we’ve been doing, even if its just sharing with you hotpot which is a really fun time to spend with friends and family, cooking and catching up.

Drinks

Val Caudalies

Kicking off the New Year’s Eve, our friends brought us Val Caudalies to try. The first was an ice wine of sorts which was pretty decent. It had lovely sweet notes that pleased everyone’s taste buds. The second was a vermouth which we tried to drink on its own and did taste pretty good but mostly mixed with soda (CocaCola, Ginger Ale) and then ended up trying some simple syrups that I had inherited from one of my friends when she moved (see below).

wp-1578493067585.jpg

The Hotpot & Table of Food

Hotpot

Here’s the table spread of all the food (except two things which we opened afterwards).

Phoebe took care of vegetables and such:

  • Nappa Cabbage
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Watercress
  • Coriander
  • 3 types of mushrooms: Enoki, Oyster, Shimeji
  • Winter Melon
  • Tofu

I took care of the meat and other things:

  • Udon Noodles
  • Marinated Sliced Chicken Thighs (garlic, ginger, salt)
  • Store-bought sliced beef
  • Homemade pork dumplings (Filling: Minced pork, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper)
  • Store-bought fish pancakes, cuttlefish balls, beef balls (not shown above)

Hotpot

With all that, we were ready for a feast! Hotpot is pretty much the concept of fondue so we all through things in gradually. We have a two sided pot. One side started out with boiled hot water and the other was with chicken broth diluted with water. Water is the key element here and needs to always have some extra boiled water on hand to fill it up whenever needed to keep things going. We did it in phases of tossing a ton of stuff we wanted in and then covering it until it boiled, eating all of it and then on to the next round, so on so forth. It was a pretty decent system and gave us time to sit down to chat and mix drinks and whatever in between waiting.

Dessert

So I’m not going to lie that at this point, I didn’t remember to take pictures as food coma was kind of in the midst of all this. My mom joined our little shindig and brought us a banana cake (which saved me from some baking), which I forgot to take a picture of because for me, its a normal thing.

Aside from bringing alcohol, my friend also brought an apple crumble which I also forgot to take a picture of.

One of the fun little things is that Phoebe found a little Japanese gummy making set for her little one to do under adult supervision and here were the results:

wp-1578258509261.jpg

Some of us had a taste of it but I’m not sure it actually tasted that good. It was more of a fun little experience as a group rather than it being really meant to be eaten as I think the main consensus was the texture wasn’t too good and it was really sweet. Phoebe can weigh in on it in the comments as I believe she did taste it.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
It was a great way to ring in 2020 as we ended the evening as usual with more chatting and video games.

What’s Up 2019: Week 51

 

Tranquil Dreams (4)

Welcome to the second last What’s Up for 2019! Man, this year has gone by fast. As with any year-end, its always busy. So with that said, this one is a bit slow on all fronts but I am working out some fun things for 2020 so its all in almost last minute planning mode plus work has been wrapping up the year-end crazy and before holiday rush as well so its kind of lowered the energy and time a little.

READING

legends of the exiles

Currently reading: Legends of the Exiles

I am still working on wrapping up this book as its one of the final commitments of 2019 that I haven’t finished yet for this year. Currently sitting at almost the 20% point, its a much longer book than I expected it to be. I may have stumbled into a category that I was trying to avoid but I have lived up to avoiding it in 2019 for the most part so I guess a final book that touches on that genre is okay. I am going to take some time to read on the few days off so look forward to this review before the end of the year. I’m pretty confident that I will finish it.

PLAYING

This week has been mostly mobile gaming and watching streams of other people playing games: Dead By Daylight and Bloodborne mostly and even caught a stream midway of Donut County which has gotten me interested in checking out the entire game so hence why not seeing the whole thing was a good thing. Mobile gaming wise, I’ve been playing a lot of Alto’s Odyssey until it decided to not work on my phone anymore so I’m playing some word games like CodyCross and back to Color Piece Out. I will talk about all this in the next Mobile Games Roundup to wrap up the last 2 months of mobile gaming.

WATCHING

michelle wolf joke show

  • Super Monsters Save Christmas (2019, Review)
  • My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever (2018, Review)
  • Ronny Chieng: Asian Comedian Destroys America! (2019)
  • Michelle Wolf: Joke Show (2019)
  • Christmas Evil (1980, Review)
  • All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018, Review)

Hmm…so holiday viewing hasn’t really been as outstanding this year as I’d like. Surprisingly, I was in the mood for some stand-up comedy Netflix specials and checked out Ronny Chieng which I can’t say is my type of humor. I get his humor because I know the whole language thing but his style didn’t really give me a laugh more like a small chuckle. What did land really welll is Michelle Wolf’s Joke  Show! That was a total blast! It was a ton of fun and had some solid jokes from start to finish. Its very  her style and still works really well.

BINGING

viva la romance 1

viva la romance 2

  • Viva La Romance (Season 1, 2018)
  • Viva La Romance (Season 2, 2019)

Currently binging: The Brightest Star in the Sky, Who’s the Murderer 5, Viva La Romance 3

I simultaneously decided to watch the Viva La Romance all three seasons at the same time and then slowly it fell off the map due to other things. I decided to go back to finish it all up. First with Viva La Romance, where it all started and how the original show’s first version was with some really nice Chinese celebrities, one of which is the wife of Jordan Chan, Cherie Ying who I love them both as a couple so that was a ton of fun. The first season was a lot of fun because the couples themselves together and individually had so much contrast to their personalities that it worked well. Season 2 was a lot of fun also because now there’s Anita Yuen who I really liked back in the 90s and I like her husband Chilam Cheung as well and it also had the first time Ziyi Zhang joined a variety show and its a side of her that was very new and I really liked that part.

As for ongoing stuff, The Brightest Star in the Sky has only a few more episodes before it finishes (as it has finished as this post goes up). I love the series so much and will work on working on some of my favorite series of 2019 since I’ve really pushed those TV binges back. Either way, the other two are variety/reality shows and currently ongoing and Who’s the Murderer 5 is the one that I’m current on whereas now that I’m done Viva 1 & 2, I will be continuing the Season 3. That’s really it for this week’s recap.

Its Christmas Eve so Happy Christmas Eve to everyone!
Have a great time with family if you celebrate Christmas!
I will have a fun little post tomorrow for Christmas day..lighthearted, short and fun! Its why this was boosted a day earlier than usual.