Manga Spot – Behind the Scenes
So I picked up the first volumes of this as it told me it was the new series from the creator of Ourun Host Club a series I enjyed muchly. I am glad I did as this is a rather fun slice of life series.
Set in University our protagonist is a nuerotic boy with and epic guilt complex (score a point for being someone I can totally relate to) who wants to blend in the background and wallow in self pity. But alas through a random encounter he ends up involved with the Behind the Scenes club. This club work tirelessly to support the Uni’s 3 films clubs by being not only the make up and proops providors but also sets, costumes and lighting. They do everything in their power to get the job down supporting the directors and actors from “behind the scenes”.
This first volumes sets up the back story and setting very nicely and introduces our characters. The characters are all likable with distinct personakity traits and quirks. I wouldn’t be lying if I wasn’t already seeing slash pairing potential between our two main male leads but I also see set up for romance with some of the other female characters.
I really enjoyed reading this it was upbeat and funny. Also as a film student I enjoyed all the references to film and what goes on past the director and actors. This series has potential to be a lot of fun. I liked the character designs and the art is nice too.
All round it has my interest so I look forward to how it will continue and lerning more about the characters and their relationships to each other.
I had the chance to see the UK premier of a new film from China staring Daniel Wu and Kevin Spacey at the 2012 Terracotta film festival. I have to say didn’t know exactly what to think I knew it was a comedy of sorts and I thought probably a buddy movie but it surprised me with being a bit more than these things. The plot follows Li (Daniel Wu) a trouble young man having problems at home as well as at work and after a failed suicide attempt befriends his eccentric neighbour Chuck (Kevin Spacey). The two soon become friends with Chuck bringing out Li’s more outgoing side allowing him to have the confidence to do more things and to really live. But things are not as they seems and Li soon learns that his problems come back to haunt him and his lines of reality begin to blur. It’s not hard to guess that some of the people he is meeting and hanging out with are not really there and that he is in fact hallucinating and has to choose whether to continue hanging out with these figments or face the reality of his life and the problems he is hiding.
This film is a mix of brilliant comedy, touching tale of friendship, a drama and just pure moments of surrealism. It makes you laugh and cry which all the best films do, you really feel for Li so sucked into his world of crazy you yourself forget that he stated the movie trying to kill himself and have no idea why he would do that. His friendship with Chuck is fun and they play off each other so nicely with chuck bringing out the confident person with Li. The best scenes of this film defiantly Li and Chuck forming a vigilante crime fighting team complete with costumes driving round the city looking for crime and uncovering illegal tofu rings. But it’s not just silly crime fighting Li’s with is an investigative journalist and Li decided to bring to justice people she try to expose but didn’t have enough evidence to bring to the police. In a twist we find out that Li’s wife lost their baby after she took supplements from a company that skipped putting folic acid in them and therefore causing the children to not develop. Li in his new superhero guise is able to confront the head of the company and get proof to the papers and the police. It’s actually a touching moment when you realise what Li is fighting for and that he has suffered trauma in his past but he is facing it. What makes scenes funny is the fact that once you know Chuck is a figment he starts turning up in all sorts of situations that he shouldn’t be, behind Li’s boss when she’s telling him off pretending to smack her arse and Li has to keep a straight face.
Knowing chuck is a figment was a twist easy to spot from the beginning as the looks people give him when he’s talking to Chuck in public places and soon they come to an agreement of when the best time to acknowledge Chuck is and when he has to behave. It also comes in handy when trying to intimidate criminals; no one is going to mess with the crazy guy who keeps asking his imaginary friend to rough you up. There are also moments of surrealism such as a hair clip that starts barking at Li showing that he is getting a bit too into the imaginary world he is hiding in and that he is losing touch of reality.
Apart from being a very funny and touching film it is also filmed very well with beautiful cinematography of romantic flashbacks and ideals. The superhero scenes are filmed as is they really are vigilantes with show motion walking, standing on buildings and even the background explosion. And yet even with dramatic scenes like this it juxtapositions it with dramatic scenes showing the distant and troubled relationship of this married couple not facing the tragedy of losing a child together but just living separate lives and the loneliness they are imposing themselves to. You have comedic scenes with witty dialogues and situation comedy and then you have the harsh reality seeping in invading Li’s joyful and fun fantasy world. All these themes mix and blend leading to Li finally realising how bad his grasp on reality is and that he has to face the fact that his world are blurring. Once the worlds have blurred so far he realises he’s in danger of losing touch completely and decides it’s time to start facing his reality. He does in fact face his demon and his tragedy, realising he needs to talk to his wife, face the problems at work and start living more honestly.
This film really is a brilliant film just full of fun and joy and a definite must see!!!!!
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I have to admit that I’m not a romantic, I stay away from anything in the straight romance genre it just isn’t my thing so I’m not sure what brought me to this anime. As one that usually rejects the heterosexual monogamous couple, preferring her slash or straight out gay characters or dark romances between other worldly being or relatives and generally doesn’t like lead female characters as they never have anything in common with me and just never act as I would also being female this was a series out of my normal watching pool. And I have to say I am so glad I drifted from me stereotypical watching as I discovered a highly enjoyable little gem of a series. The stories centres around Kyoko a 16 year old girl who has quit school to travel with her prince charming as he lives out his life’s ambition of being a famous idol. While Sho Fuwa gets his big break and begins his climb up the fame ladder, Kyoko does everything in her power to support him, working multiple jobs to afford the apartment they share while making sure he is fed and supported. Kyoko being a simple and plain girl thinks nothing of the sacrifice she has made to her life if it will bring ease and comfort to Sho and she can spend time with the love of her life, her Prince Sho. We are told a fairly romantic tale at the start of the series about how all girls are beautiful and hide a goddess with them; girls just need a prince to unlock their hidden potential from a chest they have stored in their hearts. Well Sho has the key to Kyoko’s chest and unlocks the girl inside. Kyoko over hears Sho telling his manager how he only keeps Kyoko around to act as his maid and servant, that she is a plain and boring girl with no sex appeal that is only a stepping stone in his climb to stardom.Kyoko’s heart is broken and released is a spirit of such hatred and betrayal it transform our little duped Kyoko.
This is why after one episode I realised I was going to love this series. Kyoko’s inner girl is quite simply mental instead of falling into despair she becomes angry and decides to get revenge. She decides that the only way to get back at Sho is to follow him into fame and become such a shinning star she becomes more famous and is more loved than he is. Kyoko gets a new make over and sets out on journey. Kyoko has her issues from the start she seems quite bi-polar and a little scary at times. Kyoko is a hard working, honest and determined girl. She has guts and doesn’t back down but underneath this is a level of dignity and respect for her work and talent and the strength to put 100% into all she does takes her far but whenever she is reminded of Sho its like a switch is flipped and she turns into a angry monster with uncontrollable rage and a passion for destruction that scares all those around her. It’s the scary stalking crazy persona that gets her foot in the door of show bizz but it’s her hard working and determined personality that keeps her there and helps her grow. It soon turns out that under all that crazy and ambition for revenge is true talent. Kyoko does in fact have potential and while it’s unrefined she is a natural actor with true talent. What I also like about Kyoko is that her physical change isn’t too dramatic, by cutting her hair, dyeing it and getting some new clothes she doesn’t automatically become a beautiful woman. She is still a little simple and plain looking compared to the other stars around her but its when she performs and is truly made up that she becomes beautiful. Its an honest portrayal of idol beauty, clothes, make up and wigs can change a persons exterior but Kyoko’s talent and hard work can shine through this as well as her mental and angry turns which always add for great comic relief.
The other aspect of the series is the introduction of male actor and top of his game idol, Ren Tsuruga. He and Kyoko start of on the wrong foot and their relationship is plagued by misunderstandings. Ren initially takes a dislike to Kyoko because he hates the reason for her choice of career. He takes acting very seriously and is very passionate about his work. He loves acting and hates the idea of it being used for something such as revenge. But as he gets closer to Kyoko he begins to see her true potential though they have a rocky friendship he try’s to give her advice and nurture her talent. Ren also has his own interesting development as its Kyoko that unknowingly helps him plug a hole in his acting and makes him realise about his true emotions. Of course this is the beginning of a romance but as Kyoko is still on her own journey the series doesn’t focus too much on the romance which is why it makes me want these two to get together even more. Ren and Kyoko make a great pair and they are slowly, by building their relationship are also growing as individuals. Kyoko although firmly denouncing love does find something she loves and that’s acting, whether or not she and Ren will find the same doesn’t matter for the moment because Kyoko is doing something I admire, finding herself and how far her passion and ambition can take her. Not losing herself in relationships and the need for a boyfriend and romance she can truly grow as a person and see her strength and they way she inspires those around her, which is a beautiful and fun thing to watch.