TV Series Review: Skip Beat!

Starring: Ivy Chen, Choi Siwon, Lee Donghae

Genre: Romance/Humour

Rating: 8/10

There are very few romance-oriented films and tv series that I can say that I’m very fond of, and even less so for -pardon this unintentionally snobbish tone- Asian ones. This is mostly due to the fact that I was brought up watching, reading and listening to English materials. That, coupled with my distaste for the romance genre, and you have a woman who lacks familiarity with Asian live-action entertainment.

There is just something off-putting about films that depict two people who declare that they’ve found The One after five minutes of knowing each other, and follow it up with a declaration of undying love barely a week later. And for what? The amount of time they spent together can hardly justify one partner giving up their (for example) life and career for a person they’ve spent a few fleeting conversations and smiles with. Is there something especially extraordinary about this person? I’d really like to know.

It’s just incredibly unrealistic to me.

So here we have Skip Beat!, the Taiwanese live-action adaptation of one of my two favourite shoujo mangas of all time. Needless to say when I saw the DVD in stores, I was torn. I wasn’t familiar with the quality of Asian dramas and I certainly didn’t want to shell out $$$ for something I might not like.

But then it was Skip Beat!.

And then there was Choi Siwon and not to mention, Lee Donghae, members of the legendary kpop group, Super Junior.

The fact that they, especially Siwon, were in it sealed the deal for me.

Memories of my highschool years flooding my mind, I snatched the DVD right up and I have absolutely no regrets about it ever since.

What’s it like?

Given that this is the Taiwanese version of Yoshiki Nakamura’s beloved Skip Beat!, there are several differences to be expected. For example, because the entire storyline is Taiwan-centric, the language spoken is Taiwanese, the Japanese names of the characters are changed to Taiwanese versions and the country this takes place in is Taiwan. You get my drift.

While this might be a deal-breaker for some -and I certainly hope not!- it isn’t for me, because the plot of Skip Beat! is something that can be recreated into many different versions and it’d still be watchable. Amazing, even. I’d happily watch an American version of Skip Beat! if they ever make one. Indian, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, British- of course, Japanese. I’m a Skip Beat! junkie.

That, and the strong, stellar plot is just that flexible.

So onto the review.

Skip Beat! centers around the life of Gong Xi (Original: Mogami Kyoko), a 16 year old girl who soon discovers that her childhood friend and love interest, Bu Po Shang/Shang Jieyong (Original: Fuwa Sho/Fuwa Shotaro), has been using her as his maid and source of income while trying to make a name for himself as a singer in Taiwan. Furious and heartbroken, she vows to exact revenge by one day beating him in show business. That oughta do it!

But just how will she achieve this?

Turns out that this drab, plain girl has what it takes to make it in this unforgiving world, thanks to her staunch determination and unexpected talent in acting. Not that Shang’s rival, Dun He Lian (Original: Tsuruga Ren), is going to make this easy for her. What the heck is his problem?

What’s there to like? And not to?

For those who are worried, the live-action version stays extremely faithful to the original plot, save for a few very minor creative liberties. However, once you get over these liberties and aforementioned differences, you’ll find yourself enjoying the series.

For instance, I was a bit surprised that they did not change Siwon’s look to match that of Ren’s in the manga, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel he is made for the role. From his appearance, to the way he “speaks” (you’ll find out the reason for this in a bit, haha), to his behaviour, Choi Siwon is basically the living, breathing version of Tsuruga Ren Dun He Lian. His delivery as the gentlemanly Mr Lian has just the right amount of strict dignity and gentility that the character is known for.

So much that I wouldn’t trade him for any other actor to play Lian.

The same can be said about Gong Xi and Bu Po Shang (though his appearance is pretty spot on, in my opinion). In fact, Skip Beat!‘s crowning glory has to be its main actress and actors. Their chemistry and acting skills effectively brought the characters to life, and that is saying something because finding someone to act as Gong Xi can’t be easy.

Energetic and full of hatred, the cheerful, normally kind-hearted Gong Xi might be a tall order to ask of someone to portray, especially in an entirely lovable sense. Yet Ivy Chen manages this seamlessly, and certainly not without hilarity thrown into the mix! Her performance makes her more than worthy of this hefty role, and her interactions with her co-stars a delight. Her bond with Shang is tense and heartbreaking, and her ties with Lian full of humorous, and at times exasperating ups and downs.

But is there anything to dislike about the series? There are, though none of the faults are so terrible that they render it unwatchable.

The dubbing issue with Siwon, for one. When I realised that his entire dialogue was dubbed, I laughed. Goodness, there were parts where the dub did not match when he spoke. Why insist on hiring him when he can’t speak the language? Honestly, I was more amused than anything else because despite this flaw, he more than makes up for this with his acting. He remained the ever enigmatic Lian in my eyes.

Then there is the matter of the special effects. This aspect of the series is mediocre at best, and terrible at its very worst. Thankfully, Skip Beat! doesn’t take itself too seriously and therefore doesn’t fall flat on its face whenever these effects pop up.

See, these mistakes are forgivable- it’s the last one that really hurts.

This is because the series ends with a cliffhanger, with no season two in sight. That’s right.

The live-action drama remains without a conclusion, yet for all the frustration this causes when I think of it, I’m glad to have watched it all the same. This is coming many years late, but Skip Beat! deserves a watch and a second season.

Thank you, guys, for bringing my favourite glacial slow shoujo manga to life.

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.

Beauty Review: The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil


If you’re anything like me, you definitely know the struggle of having oily, acne-prone skin. The irritation of having to take extra care of my complexion and having to forgo make-up because let’s face it, it’s not worth the sudden pimple flares that follow right after. It’s fine once in awhile, but that aside, I stay far away.

And as though to add on to my list of grievances, skincare products that I choose tend to be on the more expensive side because I almost always react terribly to anything cheap. Even now. Seriously, I thought things were supposed to get better now that I’m an adult!

Thankfully enough, I managed to get my old, acne-riddled complexion under control by opting for Jurlique’s skincare range, then adopting the Korean beauty routine. Aside from the occasional pimple due to the monthlies, it was blissfully clear for years. Alas, my hard work was dashed when I decided to take fish oil pills for health reasons.

Instant flare up!! That, along with stress (and I suspect, possibly, a skincare product change) just made things worse.


So I decided to look for a new spot treatment. It had been awhile since I needed one, so I was unfortunately out of touch with that part of the beauty world.

Not too long after starting up Google, did I come across recommendations for The Body Shop’s tea tree range. Most specifically, the mask and the oil.

I bought both, but for today, I’ll be reviewing the oil.

Let me just say this: it is amazing.

What is it?

Just like the name says, The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil (RM42 for 10ml; RM69 for 20ml) comes in the form of oil. Diluted, to ensure safe usage.

For those of you who are often plagued by breakouts, the idea of turning to tea tree products for help isn’t unfamiliar to you. Unless of course, you’ve been severely neglecting your skin, then in which case, God help you.

But I digress. This potion in a bottle is the best spot treatment I’ve tried so far, so much that I was in for a pleasant surprise after leaving it on overnight. The horrible pustules that had been haunting me SHRUNK so much in size, I couldn’t believe it! I’ve tried spot treatments before, but none produced results like this has. It managed to shrink existing pimples, and eradicate the ones that were about to surface. Amazing stuff.

There is a reason why it’s hailed as a cult classic. With one bottle sold every 8 seconds, it must have a growing league of loyal, happy customers.

What is it like?

As stated before, it is an oil. It’s not on the viscous side, so I always tap it on the back of my hand for easier application. I use my fingers to dab it on the offending area.

Absorption takes quite some time, but rest assured that it does not leave behind any strange residue. Which I have to say makes it perfect for wearing underneath your make up.

That aside, the oil’s most prominent feature is its strong tea tree smell which lingers before taking ages to fade. Scented products usually bother me, but for the benefits this gives me, it’s not an issue.


The packaging of this has to be one of the most inconvenient out of all the bottles lining my dressing table. Aesthetically speaking, the Tea Tree Oil bottle offers a simple, clean appearance that is easy on the eyes, and its small size makes it highly convenient to carry around without a fuss.

Adding on, its push-then-screw cap makes sure no spillage occurs while the bottle is jostled around in your handbag. However, it does bring inconvenience in any other situation as it can be a pain to open.

Dispensing the oil is annoying as well, because it is difficult to control the amount you pour out. With the way it is designed, you can easily end up with either too little or too much product on your hand.

End result

Clearer skin in a short span of time. Pimples disappear with just a few applications.

It can be a bit drying if applied in excess. Otherwise, it’s perfect.

Where can I find it?

The Body Shop.


  • Product rating: 5/5
  • Packaging rating: 2/5

Until I can find something better, I’m going to continue buying this for the foreseeable future. Love it.


Aqua/Water/Eau (Solvent), Alcohol Denat. (Solvent), Polysorbate 60 (Surfactant), Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil/Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil (Natural Additive), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Leptospermum Petersonii Oil (Fragrance Ingredient), Tocopherol (Antioxidant).

Beauty Review: Muji’s Mild Oil Cleansing

If you’ve ever heard of Muji, chances are you’re familiar with the wide range of products this no-brand company has to offer- from nifty stationery to minimalist clothes to all manner of sizes in way of containers, Muji is a definite haven for shoppers out there. And best of all? Everything’s tagged with reasonable prices! What a steal. But what about its less known beauty section?

It’s reasonably priced for sure, but is it good?

Here, we’re about to dive into my findings on this hidden gem from Muji: Mild Oil Cleansing 400ml. Priced at a hard-to-beat RM59.90, this beaut bests my previous cleansing oil buy, Philosophy’s Purity Cleansing Oil 174ml, by a solid RM45.10 and more than double the volume! I admit I experienced a bit of buyer’s remorse right after stumbling over this Muji giant, because I had just bought the Philosophy bottle less than an hour ago that day. Laughs. I could have saved so much!



Of course, being the weak-willed person that I am, I purchased the Muji cleansing oil not too long after. What is self-control?

So imagine my elation when I finally finished off my Philosophy cleansing oil. I was quick to give this Muji version a try, and I was not disappointed.

My first impression of this product is that the oil is just the tiniest teeniest bit thick in viscosity, which concerned me a little. As in, do I need to use more to see it work? It performed without a problem though, as it was able to remove dirt and make-up from my skin with just one pump. That said, it does leave a hint of residue behind, which can be easily fixed with a foam cleanser.

Here are before and after shots for a glimpse on how well it works on melting away my foundation, eyeliner and mascara:

Products from left to right: Benefit’s Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation, The Body Shop’s Liquid Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara.

Honestly speaking, it works just as well as a pricier cleansing oil would, but if there is one thing that bothers me about this product, it has to be the smell.

Bluntly speaking, it smells like cooking oil. So much that it feels like I’m rubbing essence of fried noodles all over my face. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to stay on my skin for long, or else I wouldn’t tolerate it.

That, and I started seeing results overtime; my skin is clearer, smoother and brighter than it used to be.

The pros outweigh this tiny con, I say. For the price and benefits, I’m willing to buy this again without a second thought.


Encased in Muji’s signature minimalist-style packaging, this product is pleasing to the eye. Really, it was partially the reason why I was immediately drawn to it in the first place, curiosity aside.

This bottle is not all about looks, though. It comes with a pump, which not only means a tinier likelihood for spillage, but that you’re able to control the amount of product used more easily. Great, huh?

It also comes with a tiny clip to clamp underneath the pump for travel purposes. This will help prevent spillage while you have the bottle neatly tucked in your luggage.

Where can I find it?



  • Product rating: 4.5/5
  • Packaging rating: 5/5

Encouraged by the results, I’m definitely going to scavenge Muji’s beauty section again for another hidden gem.


Hydrogenated polyisobutene, peg-7 glyceryl cocoate, ethyl oleate, sorbitan oleate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, simmondsia chinensia (jojoba) seed oil, helianthus annuus (hybrid sunflower) oil, dpg orange (citrus aurantium dulsis) flower water, water, bg, tocopherol, prunus, persica, peach leaf extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) juice, glycerin, propylparaben, butylparaben.

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.


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.