Music Review: Monsta X’s The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter

Genre: K-pop, hip hop, dance-pop, trap

Rating: 4/5

I know, after my usual “weekly” postings, this is a bit of a surge of posts from me now, isn’t it? Part of the reason that I’m doing this is to make up for the weeks that I missed, and another huge reason for it is to show support for a group that I’ve become ridiculously fond of over the past few months. Or since about a year ago? Ah, time flies.

It’s not often that I develop an attachment to music artists. Not since highschool, anyway. Normally, I only end up in love with specific songs, and hardly ever show any interest beyond the song itself. Yet I couldn’t do the same for Monsta X.

The first time they crossed my screen was when YouTube was on Autoplay and suddenly started playing “Trespass“. I don’t know what it was about the single that drew me in. Fast-paced, energetic and attitude-driven, it has exactly all of the things that I look for in a song- but those aren’t usually enough for me to take a particular interest in a band. At this point in time, I can only conclude that it was their dance choreography that ultimately had me hooked. The fact that they’re good-looking certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Then there was the amount of views the video had. It had maybe 9 or 10 million views?? Far below what I would expect from a band of that calibre, so that was another factor that piqued my curiosity. Naturally, I started searching for more of their songs to listen to.

Fast forward to the present, and they’ve finally released their first studio album.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed that this album doesn’t have that same edge and attitude that I love so much. The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter has more of a pop flavour to it (specifically, the dance variety), but that is not necessarily a bad thing! Once I got over my little moment of mourning, I started to really enjoy the album.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter consists of a collection of ten songs, all of which are incredibly well-made; especially “Ready or Not”, “Beautiful”, “Oi” and “Calm Down”. This is something that earns a gold star in my book, because more often than not, artists tend to have a hit or two in an album and the rest of the songs can best be described as fillers.

But here, Monsta X starts off strong with “Ready or Not”, the boys stealing the show with its high tempo, catchy chorus and bold sound. And it doesn’t stop there either.

If there is anything that I can say about this album is that it manages to maintain its energy even during slower numbers- which I can honestly say is a Godsend for a person like myself, who is allergic to anything slow. Really, rapper Jooheon deserves all of the kudos for injecting punches of energy where needed, as does I.M., whose lazier, cooler style complements Jooheon’s sharp, swift, swagger-worthy one. Starship really knew what it was doing when it picked these two as Monsta X’s rappers; they’re a package deal, and I can’t imagine a more complementary duo for the band.

Along with its rappers, The Clan Pt. 2.5: The Final Chapter‘s crown jewels include its powerful, headbopping music reminiscent to those being played in clubs and addictive chorus lines. The vocalists shouldn’t be forgotten either, as they provide a nice, softer contrast to Jooheon and I.M’s more masculine sound.

The only comment that I can make about this album, criticism-wise, is that while it is enjoyable, I don’t feel like it has a super strong hit that would make anyone sit up and go “Oh yes, that band! I know that band!” None whatsoever, but I do believe they are getting there. Monsta X has to find their own strong, distinctive sound and I’m confident they’ll then perfectly cement their name in the music industry.

Still, all in all a wonderful album with its largest fault being having only ten songs. Ah, man, really? Don’t leave us starving, boys.

Guess I’ll just have to wait for the next album then.

[EXTRA] What’s in the album box

A stack of gorgeous photographs featuring the boys looking their best, two picture cards, two Monsta X stickers, what I assume is a “thank you” note (pardon my lack of Korean. Ha), a lyric booklet.

And now, here’s the part where I show my support. Granted, it’s a bit last minute, but I’m currently on vacation and I just got wind of it. So yeah.

Show the boys support by voting for them here!

MCountDown (Voting period: 17.06.23 14:00 ~ 17.06.26 09:00 (KST))

MWave Music Chart (Voting period: June 2, 2017 to June 27, 24:00 (KST))

Monbebe out.

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Anime Review: Your Name

Genre: Supernatural, Romance

Rating: 8-8.5/10. I can’t decide because dang it, I want more

Hailed as the movie to beat Miyazaki’s famed “Spirited Away” in 2016, “Your Name” immediately impresses with its beautiful use of colours in its animation. There are few anime that can leave me in awe over its aesthetic artistry; this is one of them. You know that shit is good when you can tell the amount of love and hard work was put into the art from a single glance.

Moving away from that, the story itself is definitely worthy of appreciation. Largely removed from the usual tropes we see in anime today, this is a movie that will entertain both younger and older fans of the genre. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

“Your Name” is centered around two protagonists; a bored girl named Mitsuha who lives in the countryside, and a boy named Taki who lives in Tokyo. It begins with a confusing start, as “Mitsuha” behaves in a way everyone can tell is odd, but this is soon explained as we are told about the body switch phenomenon. This is something that takes Mitsuha and Taki awhile to figure out, as they quickly forget about each other, like dreams, but they can tell the experiences are real thanks to the people around them.

Funnily enough, despite her initial shock and horror, becoming a handsome boy who lives in Tokyo was actually poor Mitsuha’s wish. She just couldn’t take the quietness of country life!

Unfortunately for her, these body switch experiences are not permanent, as they happen repeatedly and seemingly at random throughout the movie. Still, Taki and Mitsuha manage to create a bond despite not meeting each other. A wonderfully done part of the storytelling, as it feels sincere and exists without cliches.

The hilarity that happens each time they switch makes it all the better!

Honestly speaking, I’d love to go on and on about the movie -how could I not?- but for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I will refrain from doing so.

Really, it is something that needs to be watched on your own for better understanding.

In essence, “Your Name” is a story that is filled with friendship, sacrifice and romance- with bits of Japanese culture thrown into the mix. You’ll be given an insight into old Japanese traditions and rituals such as the making of kuchikamizake, which is a type of rice-based of alcohol produced by the main female lead. The famed red string of fate makes a few appearances as well!

With the presence of symbolism and certain plot lines, “Your Name”  is a film that makes you think about it even after it is over- which is another thing I love about it. It is no way a heavy thinker, but it does do the trick. Those who are fascinated by Japanese culture will certainly be happy with this.

That said, I do wish that there was more to be told in terms of Mitsuha and Taki’s relationship. It feels like the movie could have benefited a bit more if we were given more “interactions” between the two; just so we can root a lot harder for the pair than we already do. The lack of time the producers had is really obvious.

All in all, this is another anime I’m adding to my list of recommendations. It exceeded my expectations, and yes, it is comparable to Miyazaki’s works.

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Anime Review: Erased

Genre: Fantasy, mystery, thriller

Rating: 10/10 with lovely animation to boot

After the slew of disappointing anime after disappointing anime, my interest in this particular brand of animation started to dwindle for awhile there. So much that I went for months without watching one, with even a year in between viewings.

A bit sad, considering how large a part anime has had in my life. I was so obsessed I used to draw my favourite characters, even bought those little official figurines to put on display in my room.

Thankfully, Erased has restored my faith in this genre.

Which, in turn, led me to kicking myself for letting the DVD gather dust on my shelf. It’s so rare to find a series, and I mean this in the broadest way possible, from books to live action tv to anime, that is good from start to finish.

Because that is precisely what Erased is. With only 12 episodes under its belt, those who can’t stand long ongoing anime can let out a sigh of relief. It is a nicely sized anime that makes good use of its time. No fillers. No prolonged monologuing. You can easily finish this over the weekend, or within a day if you’re determined to complete it in one sitting.

But before we get on to the rest of the review, here is a quick summary of what it is all about:

Erased follows the story of Satoru Fujinuma, who possesses a unique ability called “Revival”. With Revival, he is able to travel back in time before a life-threatening incident, allowing him to prevent it from happening. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant, Satoru panics and transports himself back in time by 18 years whilst he’s cornered by the police- which means he has to relive his life as an 11 year old. Here, he quickly figures out that if he hopes to prevent his mother’s death, he must first prevent the deaths of two of his classmates, and of one girl from a nearby school.

Now, bear in mind that this review is based on the point of view of someone who has only watched the anime. There may be certain manga-exclusive details I’m unaware of.

Anyways.

The show starts off simply enough, with the introduction of Satoru who is a struggling manga artist working as a part-time pizza delivery man. At first glance, he gives off the classic cold, stoic vibe that is immensely popular in anime. Think Uchiha Sasuke (Naruto) and Ishida Uryuu (Bleach). However, Erased proceeds to show that Satoru is much more flexible as a character, as in he is able to warm up more easily to others. The lad can certainly be quite emotive, which is a useful tool for nudging the story along.

And not to mention essential too, to grant a well-balanced tone to Erased. One that maintains an appropriate level of sobriety whilst remembering to bring in dashes of good cheer and heartwarming moments, so as not to overwhelm the audience. Definitely a plus in my book, because it makes it easier to consume in one go.

As a murder mystery, the identity of the villain is obvious almost immediately. However, the thrill of Erased lies not in figuring out the antagonist’s identity, but in his and Satoru’s metaphorical game of chess. Even with the advantage of knowing future events, Satoru struggles to outsmart the faceless killer, mind reeling as he desperately tries all he can to save his friends.

But take heed. If what you’re looking for is a villain with a deep, tragic background, you’re definitely not going to find it here. There is no sympathy meant for him, because sometimes, as I believe this is how Erased wants us to take it, people are born infected with psychopathy. It’s simply a matter of whether or not they decide to take the right path.

Definitely a refreshing take, as this breaks away from yet another popular trope found in anime. Erased has a knack of doing that; introducing ideas that seem predictable, before proving you wrong. If it is not that, it seems to know exactly what you’re wondering about before providing you with the answer right then and there. It’s something that it does, right from the beginning till the end. It’s almost uncanny, but it’s also one of the things I love about it.

I won’t delve into the meatier parts of Erased -gotta leave you something to watch, right?- so I’ll touch on one last point.

If there is anything about this series that nags at me a little, it would have to be the existence of Satoru’s ability. In the anime at least, it seems that this is exclusive to Satoru only, which I normally wouldn’t take issue with if not for the fact that everything else seems immensely… normal. No one else exhibits supernatural abilities, nor is there an indication of there being such a thing aside from Satoru and his Revival. I’m more than accustomed to seeing supernatural powers in anime, but those are always in settings that establish it as the norm or at least acknowledge its existence.

This makes Erased stick out a little, but not enough for me to complain about it. After all, the creators have done an amazing job with the time they were given, and explaining that ability further would require more episodes they do not have. We’ll just have to take it for what it is: that Satoru is unique.

All in all though, a wonderful series, especially for older anime fans who want something that goes beyond the common tropes found in anime. This is definitely going on my Must Watch Anime List.

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