Author Archives: asparkofmoonlight

About asparkofmoonlight

Dreamer | Idealist | Loves Traveling, Reading, Learning New Things, etc. ^_^

“Beauty and the Beast” Live-Action Teaser Trailer

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A very pretty and well-done teaser trailer of the live-action version of one of my favorite Disney movies – Beauty and the Beast!

Looking forward to it, but trying to make sure that I’m not too excited so I can avoid any disappointments. =P The set looks amazing and the phrase, “Be Our Guest”, falls perfectly into place at the end of the teaser trailer.

There was news since last year about the live-action version of the Disney classic and that Emma Watson would be starring as Belle. Not sure how I feel about Emma as Belle, as Emma seems to have a more tough exterior in regards to her facial expressions compared to her character, Belle, who has a more delicate, innocent, and rose-like appearance. I think the main difference between the two is the expression of the eyes. We’ll see how this goes when the time comes, IA.

—Moonlight

“Fly” and “Tomorrow” for an Incomplete Life

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Misaeng aka Incomplete Life.jpg

Misaeng (Incomplete Life) – a must-see K-Drama!

I recently finished watching Misaeng aka Incomplete Life and it is perhaps one of the best slice-of-life Korean dramas that I’ve ever seen! I can’t even begin to explain how well-executed everything about this drama was. The best part is that it was realistic and pulled off incredibly well without any romance in it – a drama that I can connect to (since there isn’t anything romantic in my life either… =P)!

Furthermore, I never thought I would find a drama focused on office life so interesting until I decided to read all the positive comments about Misaeng and finally watch it. It’s a very clever drama that turns the mundane office life into something very thought-provoking and tells us how we’re all incomplete people on a journey to feel complete, be it in our work life or personal life, and not to mention, in our yearning for achieving our dreams. It’s a very inspiring drama and I think regardless of what stage of life one is in, which includes either school or work, everyone can learn a lesson from it. Won’t give away too many details right now, as my main purpose in the post is to reminisce about the drama with some of its lovely soundtracks. The first one is called Fly – a song title that needs no explanation.

The following track is called Tomorrow (in English) and I like the mellow yet hopeful sound of it. It’s probably one of my favorite tracks from the drama.

The lyrics are particularly meaningful, mainly because I also feel like they could slightly relate to my message in this post of mine from two years ago called Urban City Work Life when I had started my first job here in Sydney as a salesperson:

Tomorrow – Han Hee Jung
(English Translated Lyrics)

When everyone is going back
Are they walking with happy steps?
Did they really fulfill their dreams?

Like doing piled up homework
All the promises were written
I already see the bright sun that woke up

Another day has gone
Tomorrow comes again
The world moves busily
Crying at the words of my father who has only looked ahead

The more I count, the more I hurt
My mother’s increasing wrinkles
Even if it’s a little late, she says it’s okay, with a kiss

Another day has gone
Tomorrow comes again
The world moves busily
Crying at the words of my father who has only looked ahead

I cry for a long time again
Making promises
The traces of myself from yesterday
They leave to find my dreams above in the blue sky
I make a promise to the stubborn tomorrow
Every day

(Source: pop!gasa)

There’s word that there will be a Japanese version of Misaeng and that casting has already begun. It’s strange, because when I watched the drama, I pictured Japan and all the salary men/women that I saw when I was there, and that I noticed working into the late hours, such as 10 P.M. or even past midnight when it would be time to sleep for me. Who knew that I would later come across news of a Japanese version in the making? It’s no surprise, though, as this drama focuses on the corporate life of a Korean trading company, and I’ve read that Korean trading companies are modeled after Japanese trading companies.

I’m actually looking forward to the Japanese version, and perhaps, seeing more of the environment that a girl that I bumped into in Kyoto, and that told me that she works for a trading company, is like. We met when one of my friends and I were having trouble figuring out which platform for the Keihan Line at Tofukuji Station we had to be at, as there were two directions and there were no signs listing the place we needed to get off at. I then saw a local girl that passed by, and who looked like she was around our age, and approached her by saying, “Sumimasen,” and then explaining to her where we needed to get to and which platform we should be at. I was hoping that she would be able to understand with my limited Japanese, but surprisingly, she answered back in fluent English. xD She then decided to help my friend and I out throughout our entire journey, as she had to get to the same place as us. She even sat with us on the train, made sure that we got to our exit at the next station, and helped us out with our tickets when we got stuck at the ticket gates! We were touched by her thoughtfulness and helping hand, and felt like we were already friends.

As we traveled together on that short train journey, the girl told me that she worked for a trading a company. At that time, I didn’t think much of it until I watched Misaeng and then read more about trading companies in South Korea and Japan. I learned that a person has to have graduated from one of the best universities and have excellent grades and high qualifications in order to get a job at a trading company, which Misaeng focuses on as well. So that girl’s comment about me when hearing about my past profession and telling me that I must be smart (it was embarrassing to hear that as I don’t think I am, due to sometimes having “lost” moments where I need a few seconds to process something =P)… it really was her that was smart, and that it should have been me telling her that (if only I knew how hard it was to get into a trading company there, I would have!).

Misaeng actually hits home for me (as well as many other people that have worked in the professional field), especially in relation to my previous workplace and how it really demotivated me and also led me to then chasing after my dream of finally being able to do something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child, and that included traveling to Japan during the cherry blossom season and doing what I wanted to do from my heart, which is why I also consider it special. Trying to turn setbacks into opportunities – Misaeng also teaches that everything happens for a reason, some things that we may not be fully understand or have the answers to at first but can see it all come together later on, thus falling into the concept of destiny, which is something that I also believe in.

—Moonlight

McDonald’s Anime Commercial

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McDonald’s has an anime commercial, which sends across the message that it’s looking for part-time workers while illustrating the reasons for joining on board. It’s cute! ^^

This commercial has got me questioning… Why can’t we have commercials like these in Australia? I feel like Australia doesn’t have enough “cute” and needs a dose of it. =P Sure, our commercials have humor in them, but one can’t go wrong with a touch of “cute” that can put a smile on just about any viewer’s face. xD

More Anime Commercials (bonus):

Love the art in some of these! *_*

—Moonlight

“In Japan…” – A Video That Will Inspire You To Be There!

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This is probably one of the best videos of Japan that I’ve seen in a while, as it perfectly captures the diversity of the country. It was uploaded on Vimeo last month, but I only saw it yesterday when it was shared by a Facebook page that I’m following. The editing and filming are amazing! The videos that I took in Japan are so shaky and nowhere near the quality of this video… -_- I think I need lessons in editing and filmography. xD

Vincent Urban, the director of the video, writes:

This film is a collection of audiovisual moments and memories of a 3-week railway journey through Japan in 2015. We were whizzing through the country with the Shinkansen visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto as well as lots of wonderful little places along the way, meeting the most friendly people and experiencing a culture that somehow balances its rich tradition with a very futuristic present.

The makers of this video are lucky to have spent 3 weeks in Japan. I honestly keep thinking about how 2 weeks weren’t enough for Japan and that I need to go back soon, IA! Still glad to have seen most of the major sights, as shown in the video, if not all. #wanderlust

P.S. The guy doing an umbrella trick at 1:33 in the video… I saw him when I was in Harajuku on a weekend. He was performing magic tricks and was good at it! xD

—Moonlight

4 Recommended Japanese Animated Movies to Watch

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A little behind on my main post, but mentioning this for now. I’ve watched four Japanese animated movies ever since I’ve come back from my Japan trip.

I was meaning to watch them before, but only got around to watching them now and perhaps appreciating them a lot more than I probably would have if I watched them before the trip. Maybe it’s because a lot of the locations in the movies are based on real life places in Japan, some of which I got to see in person.

If you haven’t seen any of the following Japanese animated movies, then I recommend them for the plot, the amazing visuals, as well as the moving soundtracks that are on par with some of the soundtracks found in Studio Ghibli’s movies…but be prepared with tissues for all of the  moviesthat have an ending that is mixed with melancholy.

Hotarubi no Mori e/Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light (2011)

Hotarubi no Mori e

Hotaru is rescued by a spirit when she gets lost in a forest as a child. The two become friends, despite the spirit revealing that he will disappear if he is ever touched by a human.

Based on a one-shot manga, this one was sad (also very short – with a run time of 45 minutes)…and I think I felt more sad after hearing the following track called Natsu wo Miteita near the end of the movie, because that’s when it hit me…how you can get very close to someone only to watch them disappear forever, and that too in a sudden moment or within a short time frame. The feels! Definitely worth a watch for anime fans.

On an interesting note, the forest and shrine in this animation is based on a real-life forest and shrine in Takamori-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. I heard that it’s quite magical, but some parts of it were damaged just a tiny bit due to the recent earthquake in Kumamoto. It’s off the beaten path for many tourists.

As for the character Gin, who is the spirit that resides in the forest in the movie,…hearing his name made me think of it sounding similar to the word “jinn”. In Islam, the jinn are referred to as conscious entities in the “spiritual realm”, or the realm of the Unseen, that are made out of smokeless fire and live alongside us in an almost parallel dimension. They have a longer life-span than us and have been around before humans even came to be. They are often mistaken as ghosts by those that aren’t aware of their existence. Jinns are mainly said to hang around in remote areas like places where there are a lot of trees, such as a forest or the woods. I’m sure that every Pakistani has heard of their elders telling them to avoid walking under trees at night because it could attract the attention of a jinn. Superstition, I know… but I’m sure that a lot of people have seen them before, but label them as “ghosts”. It’s forbidden to communicate with jinns, unless it’s a good jinn that initiated the approach.

I particularly found visiting shrines in Japan interesting…because a lot of them were within wooded areas and lots of trees. In Japan, there’s a bit of word about shrines being places where “spirits” reside or some of the shrines being “haunted”. Almost all the shrines that I had visited had big black crows hanging around them, and according to Pakistani superstition, black creatures in an area like that are one of the signs of jinns being around, as jinns can shape-shift into such animals. This is quite well-known among Pakistanis and is usually mentioned when telling one another “spooky” encounters/stories. =P I do believe in jinns. The Unseen or spiritual world is something that people in the past knew about too, including people from some of the earliest civilizations, and shape-shifting “spirits” that appear in the form of animals have been talked about even in Native American beliefs. Almost every country or culture has a story about the Unseen or spiritual world…and a lot of it seems to connect in a way.

5 Centimeters per Second (2007)

5 Centimeters per Second

Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.

I loved the visuals in 5 Centimeters per Second – they were beautiful! The following video contains a couple of scenes from the animated movie as well its main soundtrack called, One More Time, One More Chance. Please note that the quality of the video isn’t HD so it doesn’t capture the real beauty of the animated movie’s visuals, but is still worth watching to get an idea of what it looks like. With that said, the scenes featuring cherry blossoms and the night-lit sky were particularly captivating, and the details of the train stations were spot-on, because that’s exactly how the train stations in Japan look like!

The three interconnected segments of the plot in 5 Centimeters per Second flowed smoothly, with the second segment being my favorite, but I wish there could have been more to the ending where the lead character, Takaki, finally found someone to be happy with (am I giving away too many details?).

The animated movie is realistic in the sense that it shows how sometimes we have to part away from the people we know or care about while growing up or moving onto different stages in life due to factors that we can’t control. It beautifully captures the emotions of those moments.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Something strange has happened to Makoto Konno. Time has suddenly stopped and moved her backwards. With her newly discovered ability to literally leap backwards in time Makoto finds that tests become a piece of cake, embarrassing situations are corrected, and she can have her favorite food anytime she wants. Unfortunately, her carefree time traveling has adverse effects on the people she cares for. With every successful leap Makoto somehow alters the fate of those around her. This wasn’t supposed to happen and as she races back in time to fix everything, she notices that her abilities are not limitless but with every successful jump she’s one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret in her young adult life. —MADMAN

“Time waits for no one” – the motto that basically sums up the plot and theme of this animated movie called The Girl who Leapt Through Time. It may be 10-years-old already, but is still worth watching due to it’s interesting plot with a touch of science-fiction and philosophy. The visuals were appealing and the animated movie had a great soundtrack!

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time made me think of how it would be like to go back in time and alter things around, but at the same time, I think that whatever has happened was meant to happen, and that tempering around with time can have its drawbacks.

The plot in the animated movie also reminds me of the plot in the game, Life is Strange – a recommended episodic video game to play, or watch others play on YouTube like I did (only problem was that I couldn’t make the choices myself). =P Come to think of it, both focus on going back in time to save somebody, or stop from something from occurring, and dealing with the consequences as a result of that action. Hmm, makes me wonder if the creators of Life is Strange were inspired by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

The Garden of Words (2013)

Garden of Words

A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. These two broken pieces come together and heal one another as they learn what it is to walk.

The Garden of Words was visually stunning, and so many of the scenes in it were based on Shinjuku, Tokyo! I was left in awe and thought, “How did the artist do this!? It must have taken hours to make everything look like perfection!” I mainly watched The Garden of Words for its visuals and because it was ranked high on many people’s list of top anime movies, but found myself interested in seeing the story unwrap between the two main characters. There was a touch of suspense and at the same time, a sense of calmness. The following is the main theme of the animated movie called Rain and it feels rather calm to listen to.

I did wish that I had seen the Japanese version of The Garden of Words with English subs rather than the dub version, because I feel like the emotions in the Japanese version are portrayed more accurately.

So this is my list of recommended Japanese animated movies to watch so far. If there are any other Japanese animated movies, apart from Studio Ghibli’s, that are worth seeing, please do let me know!

P.S. A successful blog is one that is updated every week, but I guess that only applies to businesses or those that make money from blogging. As you can see, I don’t blog as much as before. It’s not that I have lost a passion for it, but it’s something that I have to put aside for the time being.

I feel so inspired by travel bloggers, though, but travel blogging falls into content marketing and content marketing has already reached its mature stage. This means that it might not be popular for long unless one knows how to target a niche that hasn’t been targeted yet. Travel blogging still does help travelers get ideas on what to see and do in other countries. It helped me when I traveled to Japan! Since Tokyo 2020 will be coming up, I’m sure that there will be more people wanting to travel Japan, thus creating more opportunities catered towards those travelers.

Having said that, I wish that there was a way to turn a passion into a real job! People that have turned their passion or hobby into a job are lucky! There’s a type of business that I had in mind, but I keep getting told that it might be hard and that it might not work, but it’s something that I know that I would be very passionate about regardless of how many hours need to be put into it! When it comes to something that I’m passionate about, I could spend hours working towards it without feeling that what I’m doing is meaningless. Anyone else ever felt that way before?

—Moonlight

“Precious Love” Remake by TWICE…and Other Ramblings

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I’m a bit behind on a post that I want to publish about my trip (trying to juggle other priorities), so I’m going to post this instead for the time being.

There was a gut feeling in me that I was going to end up liking this song when I first heard it in the 4th teaser for TWICE‘s upcoming MV, Cheer Up, and 2nd Mini Album – Page Two:

The song is called Precious Love and is a remake of a song that was sung in the 90’s by Park Ji-Yoon. I’m not surprised, because it did sound like an old-school song when I first heard it. When today’s singers or bands do remakes of old songs, it’s evident that old songs were really great for their time and still are! xD It also indicates that music back then was much more original. There’s something very raw about the sound of old songs, and maybe it’s because it isn’t tampered as much nor contains a lot of auto-tune.

I couldn’t help but notice that the instrumental version of the song in the teaser for the Cheer Up MV goes very well with the scene containing cherry blossoms. Mina‘s part in the MV (she kind of looks like Suju‘s Sungmin from some angles), which had a similar cherry blossom background as the teaser, was particularly very pretty and so dreamy! It looked like a scene from an anime or manga. Makes me miss Japan. There needs to be a drama with pretty scenes like that.

TWICE Mina in Cheer Up MV.jpg

Mina in TWICE‘s MV for Cheer Up

Although TWICE‘s Cheer Up MV looked nice, the song wasn’t exactly catchy for me when I first heard it, but like SNSD‘s IGAB, after listening to it more than 3 times, it started to sound more catchy. Not as great as their debut song, though. Precious Love still sounds the best to me out of all the songs from TWICE‘s latest mini album.

Even though I’m not into K-Pop as much as before, it’s not hard to really catch up with the more popular groups. TWICE, being from the Big 3 entertainment companies in South Korea, is an interesting group consisting of 9 members like SNSD, but with three different nationalities: Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese. With this mix, it looks like JYP may have a lot of plans in regards to the future of the group and for tapping into different markets with some of the members.

TWICE‘s Japan line is great and seem to have their own charm, so I’m not going to be surprised if some of the members become popular later on in Japan. Furthermore, even though it might be too early to say this, but I feel that TWICE also has a lot of potential to be the “Nation’s No. 1 Girl Group” in South Korea like SNSD.

TWICE for Cheer Up MV

TWICE for Cheer Up MV

As for each of the members of TWICE, I find Sana, Nayeon, and Chayeon really cute, but all of the members look like visuals that it’s hard to really say who’s the prettiest. To me, they all look pretty and talented! xD Seeing these young girls also reminds me of the beauty of youth. I remember reading a comment from an elder lady online saying that almost every young person looks beautiful, but it’s strange how people at that age don’t see it and have low self-esteem because of their looks (maybe it’s because bullies at that age like to put down others based on looks).

I guess when you get older, you start to value youth or see what the beauty of youth means. Looking at my cousins bloom as they pass through their teen-age years, and who are almost graduating from high school soon and turning into beautiful ladies, makes me remember of myself at that age and how I should have cherished that moment more.^^’ When I think about it, it’s amazing seeing my cousins, who were cute little babies that I used to pick up and carry, now grown up into beauties in their late teens. The same goes for my guy cousins. They used to be babies that I was able to pick up and carry, but if you saw them now. LOL. They’re huge compared to me. xD Makes me realize how fast time flies and how short life is.

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Beautiful Kyoto

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Last year, I watched this video by Discover Kyoto out of curiosity, and a couple of months later, I visited most of the places shown in it. Visiting Japan was just an idea on my mind that I was contemplating on whether I should go ahead with last year, and little did I know that it would quickly turn into reality from that point on. All I knew that if I wanted to visit Japan, I would want it to be during the cherry blossom season.

Even though I traveled to Japan with a group, I spent most of my time exploring Kyoto on my own and then meeting up with my group in the evening for dinner just like the lady in the video. Didn’t know that things would turn out the same like that, either! xD

The video shows 12 of the following places in Kyoto for cherry blossom viewing:

  1. 00:22 – Maruyama Park
  2. 00:34 – Philosopher’s Path
  3. 00:58 – Arashiyama (Togetsukyo Bridge & Kotokikichaya Mochi Shop)
  4. 01:09 – Haradani-en Garden
  5. 01:32 – Okazaki Canal
  6. 01:56 – Kamogawa River
  7. 02:08 – Heian Shrine
  8. 02:19 – Taizo-in
  9. 02:30 – Daikaku-ji
  10. 02:42 – Keage Incline
  11. 02:54 – Kiyamachi-dori
  12. 03:06 – Hirano Shrine

The places that I didn’t get the chance to see were Taizo-in and Daikaku-ji, but I’m happy that one of my dreams came true, alhamdulillah. I’m already missing Japan and the beautiful cherry blossoms. I would definitely visit again, if I could, IA!

More importantly, there was something therapeutic about the trip, especially when I would venture out to explore on my own. That feeling isn’t something that I’ve felt while I would venture out in Sydney alone. Maybe it’s because Japan is different (in a good way!), and has a culture that it knows how to merge with the modern. Japan is like a world of its own and there’s a lot to learn from it, but I think I’ll leave that for a separate post, IA! =)

—Moonlight