Warrior BDS vs. Naruto

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Can I just say that I have discovered two series that mirror each other quite interestingly? They are the perfect examples of the following popular literary tropes:

  1. The immature, talented male lead.

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aruto is pretty famous so I won’t explain long. He is hot-headed, hates to lose, considered a troublemaker, and doesn’t think too much before leaping into action. Same can be said for Baek Dong-soo, titular protagonist of the Kdrama Warrior Baek Dong-soo. He dreams of being the strongest swordsman in Korea, but that goal seems pretty far off when he’s too busy messing around or bragging about his own skills. Still, they both carry a tragic family backstory, and have experienced their fair share of loneliness and pain, and they are willing to work hard for the sake of accomplishing their dreams.

2. The mature, not-quite-as-talented-but-still-strong rival and antagonist.

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he actual fan favorites (lol). Sasuke has twice the number of fangirls as Naruto, probably. Woon has the same concept – the cool, collected, mature guy whose martial arts skills initially surpass those of the actual male lead of the series. These guys have a clear path set out for them (Sasuke – revenge. Woon – become the heavenly leader of the assassin clan or something like that), and are willing to kill others and betray their friends in order to achieve it. They also have long, straight black hair and seem to favor darker colored outfits.

3. The cool teacher that everyone loves and respects (bonus points because both of them are handicapped – Kakashi is “missing” an eye, and Master Swordsman is missing his left arm).

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hese men are from the last generation – the remnants of those that are long dead and buried. They carry the history of their dead comrades on their shoulders, and look out for the young ones in their own awkward, spartan, but caring way. Considered extremely skilled in what they do (which is fighting), they contribute to the male lead’s character growth in many ways.

4. The character growth of the male lead.

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fter going through some serious crap (*ahem* I mean, troubles), Naruto and Dong-soo show remarkable growth in both their martial arts and in their level of maturity. They struggle with the moralities of right and wrong, learn about their destinies, and become strong for the sake of protecting the people around them. Wow, that sounds cheesy. But that’s literally what they do, and this is arguably the best part of the series. Watching the bratty little kid grow into a hero. It’s greatly satisfying, even if you get a little sad that you won’t really get to see all the hilarious scenes of Naruto or Dong-soo being an idiot and getting into trouble.

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So yeah! The parallels were too obvious not to share.

Image credits to soompi.com, dramabeans, wikipedia, naruto.gamehop.com, comicvine, naruto.wikia, and Google images.

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S is for Slaps

For almost 2 decades now, Korean dramas have been on a Hallyu boom. Korea has been crazy about it for a pretty long time now; Americans are starting to discover this whole new TV genre. These shows are relatively short (comparing to 10 trillion seasons of Lost or the ever-behind seasons of Game of Thrones) and tend to follow a similar pattern.

Boy meets girl.

Boy/girl falls in love with girl/boy.

But there’s an obstacle. Usually at least 5. Often involving (but not limited to): health issues, social class, wealth, cranky parents/in-laws, family problems, personal grudges, mistaken identities, love triangles/rectangles/pentagons, or general personality and/or compatibility issues.

In any case, unless the drama defines itself as a sad, tragic love story, the main couple gets together and everyone is happy. Yay.

My friends recently showed me a video that had come on the radar recently – a scene from a Korean drama in which a man gets vehemently slapped on the face by a middle-aged woman. Her weapon of choice is a head of kimchi cabbage…you can watch this 15 second scene here.

That is some powerful kimchi slapping right there. It got me thinking.

How unrealistic are these K-dramas, really?

I think at the most basic level, scenes like this prove that Korean dramas represent quite a misrepresentation of society at large. Koreans do not go around slapping men with bright-red pickled cabbage. Even if the dude deserves it.

In fact, we probably don’t go around slapping people as often as these dramas suggest. I think it’s safe to say that every single drama – every single romantic comedy K-drama – includes a slapping scene. Why!? What inspires the idea that in a highly emotional state, a woman will just up and slap the face of the person standing in front of them?

Sure, it probably happens occasionally, but not at every drop of the hat. Not every time a guy dumps a girl (or vice versa). Not every time a girl loses out in a love triangle. Getting physical represents a violation of social propriety which most people are not willing to cross – you gotta be really pissed to do that. I personally have never seen anyone around me get slapped. Though my experience doesn’t quite speak for the whole, I like to think it makes a fair apology for mankind.

We have a bit more self-control over our bodily limbs than TV dramas give us credit for.

What other K-drama cliches and tropes can you accuse of being larger-than-life?

P.S. I really like Korean dramas. This is not a hate post, just an observation.


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I is for “Interesting”

Someone once pointed out to me that the word “interesting” has quickly become obsolete in the everyday English conversation. In other words, it means nothing. This really should not be.

“Hey, guys! Guess what? So today I went to the mall and there was this super big sale going on at this one store and I got 3 shirts and 1 pair of jeans but I’m not sure if I should have also gotten a jacket which was 30% off…”

“Wow, that’s great!”

“Yeah, and while I was shopping, there were some really cute crewnecks, but those weren’t on sale for some reason. I was really bummed out!”

“That’s interesting.”

“I know, right? And then in the next aisle…”

You are bored with this conversation. I am bored with this conversation. The one saying “that’s interesting” is probably bored too. It’s easy to tell. Although when we say something is “interesting” it literally means – “this thing is of interest to me; it is worth considering” – we don’t really mean to say that. A better translation is: “oh, that’s nice. I don’t really care, but I’ll interject this phrase to keep you talking.”

Of course, there are times when the speaker really does take interest in the subject. I’m not disqualifying that possibility. But more often than not, “interesting” manifests as a default exclamation for the uninterested listener.

A sad story indeed, when the conversation between people descends into such apathy and boredom. The relationship formed between people is precious and valuable, and the time spent with someone you know deserves to be treasured as a one-of-a-kind, unique experience. It’s kind of like how people like to travel to new place to see new stuff and learn new things; each person carries a distinct set of experiences and traits to be explored. God created all men equal, and unique, and special – everyone has something interesting to bring to the table.

I have been called by God to love others as He loved me. So has every other believer. At the most basic, human level, this should look like a friendly and encouraging conversation.

Listening to my friend, or that stranger who suddenly wants to talk to me in the McDonald’s line, may be one of the many ways I can demonstrate Christ’s love for His people – “I’m interesting in what you have to say, because, like me, you are also one who was made to be loved by God.” If I approach every small talk and meetup in this way, who knows how far the influence of Christ’s love will reach.


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5 Reasons I prefer Tea (over coffee)

  1. Unlike alcohol or coffee, Tea has zero or negligible amounts of caffeine and other unhealthy substances. They do say that one or two cups of coffee or wine is OK as long as you aren’t addicted or anything, but the fact remains that addiction or dependence is a possibility with these other drinks. Tea? No addictive substances. If there is, it’s extremely diluted. I can drink 4 cups of Tea and still fall asleep no problem.
  2. It smells good. Seriously, I drink it more for the aroma than the taste. Otherwise it would be too bitter to be worth sipping for an entire half-an-hour.
  3. Easy on the stomach. I can drink it in the morning on an empty stomach and be just fine, whereas coffee often gives my morning stomach acids a bit too much to work with.
  4. It’s easier to wash out of my pots and mugs than hot chocolate, coffee, or other hot drinks.
  5. I get to have a huge tea leaf collection in my cupboards, and feel sophisticated whenever I stare at it.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of being able to buy cute mugs and tea strainers.

A Summer of Studying

I’ve done nothing but study this summer for the LSAT.

Everyone goes on and on about the difficultly of this test, the importance of it in law school applications (ONLY THIS AND YOUR GPA MATTERS, YO), the general usefulness of studying your brains out in the months leading up to it. There’s a small, but consistent headache that follows me around these days, not so much because of the pressure of studying, but by the act of studying itself.

Solving problem after problem of logical reasoning is not exactly a relaxing activity.

But at least I’m not stressed out. It’s actually quite scary, how calm I am. I think I can get at least an above-decent score. I would venture to guess my reality gauge isn’t quite comprehending the enormity of the LSAT. But then again, my reality gauge has never been quite at its 100%. Everything that happens to me, it takes a while to digest that it’s real.

Ever have that feeling? Where you witness what is happening to you as if it were a movie or a scene in a book?

That’s me, all the time.

And as I study in the libraries for hours and hours on end, even the reality of this moment fades away into a surreal feeling, as if I’m simply reading a line in a novel that goes something like this:

“She opened her book and began to solve the problems on the page. Hours went by this way; lunch came and went, and she was still studying.”

The reality of it is, literally, hours and hours, but it takes less than 10 seconds to read and understand that line before moving on.

That’s how it feels. When will reality hit?

Rambles on Disney Pt.1

First off, may I just say, Disney has been my childhood, my fantasy, my inspiration on many occasions, and a joyous part of my life. Children grow old, people can bash, but Disney will always be something special for me.

Even if it is a multi-billionaire franchise. Even if it does leech money off every parent in the world by hiking up Disneyland’s entry pass price every 2 years. Even then, Disney films and stories forever rest in a special place in my heart.

With my stance on Walt Disney’s legacy made clear, I shall proceed.

I’ve had many bits of thoughts and inklings of Disney over the years, but they only began solidifying into more critical observations once I hit college. After all, when you’re young, you merely watch the movie, not really getting the reference to Greek mythology in Hercules but thinking that Pegasus is pretty cool (and you want a flying horse too. Mommy please?).

And admittedly, Disney movies don’t seem to hold much philosophical content. As they rightly shouldn’t – let little children enjoy movies about princesses for a while! Before they learn that princesses don’t actually exist in real life (at least, not the fairy tale kind. I hear there’s still some princesses surviving over in England and Lithuania, but meh). I mean, I’m sure I once believed that I could become a princess too. Didn’t really want to do it…sounded pretty boring, actually, but my kindergarten mind thought it existed on the job market for girls.

But there are some things to learn from Disney: whether it is truths on life or what you should never ever ever EVER teach your kids. Disney movies have a lot on both ends of the spectrum, and I believe that sometimes seeing an extreme example of both the good and the bad things in life can serve as a great medium for hunkering down and teaching children something useful to live by. Don’t bash on Cinderella’s magical transformation too much . . . sure, it won’t ever happen to a real girl, but at least this movie gives adults an opportunity to teach their kids to approach life realistically. When else would you have the chance to teach her that fairy godmothers don’t exist?

So really, Disney movies are good for children to watch.

And not just children; parents definitely benefit from the existence of these movies. Sure, Christmas and Birthday gifts just got a lot more expensive, but think of all the hours you can get your child to sit still and watch a Disney movie on the big screen. Or of all the Disney villains you can conjure up as you threaten the 2-year-olds to go to bed.

These films have something for everyone, in a very literal sense.

To top it off, there’s no real harm in watching these movies. Excessive viewership may become a problem, yes, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a case where a girl became so disillusioned by Aurora that she rejected every boy that wasn’t Prince Phillip. I don’t think there’s any girl that doesn’t eventually outgrow their fantasy that a prince on a white horse will come sweeping her off her feet out of the midst of 7 dwarves. We grow up, we grow out of fantasies, but Disney gives us a thoughtful and memorable time to look back on. It’s accessible too – megashare any Disney classic for 100 minutes of “Aww, I remember that!” or “Wait, I actually liked this movie?” or “I DON’T REMEMBER THAT HAPPENING.”

(For example, re-watch the scene in Cinderella where the animal critters sing “Cinderelly song” while making her dress. Pay attention to the parts where the birds are tying the ribbons onto the dress. Wait for it . . . watch them defy ALL laws of gravity, physics, science, and bow-tying logic.)

All very fun.

And one final note: read the original fairy tales. It will give you a new appreciation of Disney like no other critique or positive Rotten Tomatoes review can. The amount of joy and childlike wonder that was added to make Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid G-rated movies fit for a child audience is quite ridiculous. Let’s all give props to Disney for making these wonderful (gory, racist, incestuous, violent, highly sensational) fairy tales into films fit for children.

My laptop is my friend and my enemy

There it is. My laptop.

HP, Windows 7, intel Pentium blah blah blah (the specifics don’t interest me, sorry).

It sits on my desk, its black screen flipped open, and I see my conflicted expression reflected back at me. Should I turn it on? Or go read a book?

10 seconds later, that flat piece of machinery is humming to life.

Instances like this happen every day; I can’t remember the last day I went without turning on my laptop. It’s never been off for more than 24 hours, unless I’m out of town (in which case, I use a computer in the nearest library). There are e-mails to check, Facebook updates to catch up on, Tweets to retweet, and things I need to Google. I need Microsoft Word for my essay, Powerpoint 2007 for my next class presentation. I need to play some music while I take a break on iTunes, and pause that song while I browse through some Youtube videos.

Seriously, how did people survive without these things 10 years ago?

I barely remember a time (long, long ago) when it was standard for every family household to have 1 computer. A desktop computer. Now, you’re waaaaay behind the times if you’re over the age of 7 and you don’t have your own Apple Mac. I mean, come on. We can’t seem to get anything done without these things to help us out.

Yet, way back when, people got along just fine without them. The difference between the 90’s and now is simply how pervasive laptops have become. When nobody had them, nobody needed them. Yeah, sure, the rich kid down the block might have a hi-tech portable computer (that, in hindsight, is the size of 2 chemistry textbooks stacked together), but since he was the only one, he’d be the odd one out. Every other guy just played baseball outdoors. But now that most of the 1st-world country’s citizens own one, it’s hard to get by without joining the crowd. It’s become a bandwagon trend, and you’ll get left behind pretty quickly if you don’t set up a Facebook account to keep up with what’s happening on the status page. Professors and employers expect you to own one, and they expect you to carry it around and get work done with it.

So yes, laptops have invaded every level of our society, simply by becoming a necessity to almost every single person out there. This device makes it impossible to function normally without it, and shapes me into a human being that is constantly dependent on it. I need it for information, for work, for school, for socializing . . . heck, even this blog post is being done on my laptop.

But laptops are also undeniably our helpers, our assistants, our convenient tools . . . and they definitely make life a lot easier. The world is smaller with Internet Explorer (or Google Chrome), and jobs are easier with a Microsoft package.

Yet I sometimes wonder, if one day I decided to throw my laptop out the window, as I am often tempted to do, what would happen? If every single laptop shut down and never came back alive, would we survive?

Yes, we would. Humans are creatures that can adapt marvelously. We’d get along just fine without a bright digital screen blaring at us from its altar on the desk. We’d probably revert back to good old notebooks and pencils.

But of course, it’s all speculation. Laptops are here to stay. Do we really have a choice in whether or not these things will become essential in our lives? Especially because they already have.