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  • Last Online: Apr 22, 2018
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: American living in South Korea
  • Total Edits: 0
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  • Join Date: December 21, 2015

Odessa Jones

American living in South Korea

Odessa Jones

American living in South Korea
Completed
Long Time No See
5 people found this review helpful
Mar 18, 2018
5 of 5 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 10
For a mini-drama that was less than 90 minutes, this one offered plenty of heart-wringing moments. The story managed to combine romance and gangsters in a way that went beyond yaoi manga cliches. The actors are inexperienced, but they are so sincere that they touch your heart. The script is well-written and the characters are fleshed out. There are huge plot holes, but they didn't bother me much. Unlike many BL narratives, this story gives us heroes who know they like men. They have a believable and touching love-at-first-sight (with a bizarre twist) story.

There's also some good social commentary squeezed into this short drama. It's significant that the biggest conflict between Ji Soo and his gang-boss "father" is more about his homosexuality than his loyalty. The two heroes have very different experiences of being gay--Ji Soo has been bullied and humiliated for it, while Gitae has a loving sister who understood and accepted his sexuality when he was still in high school. Ji Soo's experience is far more common than Gitae's in Korea today. But that just made Gitae and his sister even more likable. Homophobia is so rife here in Korea that we really need some hopeful stories like this.

The usual web-drama caveats apply: the editing is hard to follow, the first episode is confusing, and of course, I wish it was longer. But I don't care. It's so amazing to find a Korean boys' love drama that's this good--plus it doesn't end in tragedy! And it's worth noting that the emotional aspects of the story are never confusing. While the extrinsic plot about the gangsters is sometimes unclear, the director and actors make sure we always know how the characters are feeling about their relationship. And that's what matters most.

I still have a billion questions: how the hell did Gitae get into this business in the first place? Why doesn't his sister know? How did Black Leopard and Black Rose find out the guys betrayed them and why didn't anyone think ahead about any of this? Why did-- Oh, never mind. Just be warned, it's that kind of story. But it's got a lot to offer: a plot that avoids many of the common BL cliches, a script where characters talk their problems out, some well-choreographed fight scenes, likable characters, cute actors and the sweetest, yet most hilarious, original sex scene I may have ever seen on screen. All that makes this a 9/10 despite the plot holes.

P.S. I liked it so much I paid money to download it from Vimeo. Show your support to filmmakers if you can afford to! I hope this studio can make further projects.

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Completed
Senior Secret Love: Puppy Honey
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 25, 2018
6 of 6 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
Whenever I start watching a Thai rom com, I get a smile on my face because I know it's going to be fluffy, innocent and sweet. This one delivers as promised. Lots of cute stars acting awkward and accidentally falling into romance. Puppy Honey is 100% predictable and angst-free. I started watching because I was curious about Rome and Pick's storyline (BL), but I also enjoyed the female lead and her romance with the puppyish Porsche. Rome and Pick's story doesn't develop very far, but I love how straightforward Rome is and how goofy Pick can be. It's a pretty forgettable show, ultimately, but I'm still curious for season 2. Edit: The reviews on season 2 are very mixed, so I'm not sure if I'll watch it! But if I do, I'll review it here.

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Completed
HIStory2: Right or Wrong
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 12, 2018
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
One big thing had me worried when I started watching this show: it's about a professor/student relationship. Would I be able to get past the fact that I think this kind of relationship is unethical? But this show was so well-written that it won me over anyway.

This show does some awesome things that no other BL drama has attempted. Shi is a single dad with a seven-year-old daughter (played by a child actress who has just the right mix of sweetness and sass). This is a drama about divorce, falling in love when you have a child, and finding the right person to make a new family. A drama about a big, rarely explored topic: gay fatherhood.

This drama doesn't let us forget that it was made a few months after Taiwan's highest court ruled to make gay marriage legal. So ultimately, this is way more ambitious than another boys' love story--this is a drama trying to figure out gay families. And the closing images are so sweet and optimistic you will want to see happy gay families everywhere.

Also very cool: the biggest conflict between these two characters feels really true-to-life. It's about Fei's insecurities because of the bullying he endured as a gay kid in high school. If Shi is sometimes too pushy, Fei is sometimes too ashamed of himself--and this makes them a great pair.

These two characters were complicated, and I didn't agree with all their decisions. And like so many dramas, the first episodes have some choppy editing that's a little confusing. But this story was so interesting I want everyone to watch it so we can discuss it together!

P.S. I saw another reviewer complain about the kissing, but I thought it was pretty good. I mean, no one will ever be as convincing as Max and Tul in Together with Me, but I didn't have any complaints.

P.P.S. I'm rewatching it a second time and I keep thinking of more things I want to add to this review. It's that kind of show. It's sweet and beautiful and inspiring and totally awesome. Really.

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Completed
Seven Days: Monday - Thursday
3 people found this review helpful
Mar 3, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I sometimes dislike the movie adaptations of BL manga (see my review of Doushitemo Furetakunai). But I loved this one so much. Why? The original manga had a good story but uninteresting, standard-issue artwork. The movie took the best parts of the dialogue and combined them with elegant, beautiful visuals that brought out the themes. The result was so hypnotic I had to watch it twice in two days (together with part 2, Friday-Sunday).

The only minor weakness here is that I wish the two parts were presented as one continuous movie. The ending of part 1 is great, though, and both parts are equally strong. I'll write more about pt 2 in a review for Friday-Sunday.

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Completed
Junjou
2 people found this review helpful
Mar 8, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 4.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 3.5
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 3.0
The original manga is okay, not amazing, but not bad. The movie version didn't hold my interest, unfortunately.

My disappointment could be partly due to the fact that I didn't find the stars attractive. But maybe worse, they also didn't have much chemistry. Chemistry can make up for a low budget and a weak script, but with no chemistry it's hard to keep watching.

As in the manga, the characters have really stereotypical seme/uke personalities. The seme is typically emotionally restrained and domineering. Maybe with a better actor and more chemistry, I could have overlooked his major personality defects. But instead I just ended the movie finding him really annoying.

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Completed
Seven Days: Friday - Sunday
2 people found this review helpful
Mar 3, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
As I said in my review for part 1 (Monday-Thursday), I wish the budget and production logistics had allowed putting both parts into one movie. But when you watch these two parts together, they are hypnotic and beautiful. This movie is an enjoyable romance that I think any film buff could enjoy--it's definitely not just for BL fan girls. These characters are young (10 and 12th grade in American terms) and the movie gives us a picture of how stressful it is to deal with adult emotions for the first time.

Seven Days is shonen ai (not yaoi), with an intense focus on the characters' emotions (and no sex). This will make it seem very slow to some viewers. In fact, I know some people will hate the long silences, the long lingering shots of people thinking. It's artistic and elegant. Not humorous or action-packed.

But other viewers will love how closely this movie gets into the characters' heads. Usually when movies use voice-over, it seems like a lazy way of story-telling. Just because the manga has characters telling us their thoughts doesn't mean a movie should drone on and on with voice-over. But it works here, perhaps because the characters present such restrained public faces. Hearing their thoughts, we can understand their doubts and misconceptions perfectly.

Or perhaps the whole movie works because the characters are three-dimensional and well-acted.

Or because the theme of knowing someone's appearance versus knowing their inner depths is so compelling? Or because the music is simple but builds slowly so you want to keep watching to the end of the scene?

I don't know, I just know that I couldn't stop watching.

I've talked a lot about what's in the characters' heads, but this drama also has passionate moments. The kissing scene on Saturday suggests the physical attraction between these two guys. Although BL stories can be notoriously oblivious to the realities of gay identity and "coming out"--and this is not a story about coming out, rather about falling in love--the actors body language makes this a plausible story of queer love. It's not one of those "I love girls but I love you more" stories that haunt BL manga. Overall, a great romance!

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Completed
Addicted Heroin
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 28, 2018
15 of 15 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.5
If you've read as much BL manga as I have, you know that a big cliche of the genre is noncon, i.e., the romanticization of sexual assault between partners. I was disappointed to find it in Addicted, which is otherwise a great slice-of-life romance. For Americans raised on a very different set of sexual customs, these scenes of apparent non-con will be surprising or disturbing. I say "apparent" non-con, because I know that in some Asian cultures female partners are expected to put on a show of resistance to sex. This is a seriously problematic custom, and caused endless confusion for an American man I know when he was dating in Japan. But it's how I explain to myself the occasional "assault" scenes in "Addicted." I strongly believe that No means No, but I also get the sense these guys have never heard that.

The low budget, simple settings and slightly eccentric pacing give this show the feeling of real life. The characterizations are top-notch. Much of the tension comes from just how stubborn both of the main characters are. That they're able to rely on each other anyway is sweet, and makes them an interesting and memorable BL pairing. But the writer also portrayed a great father-son relationship and gave a humorous insight into the differences between China's poor and nouveau riche. The music is also good, and I often don't notice music. (The "It's Okay That's Love" shout-out in one of the musical selections made me very happy.)

The greatest flaw in this series is also the thing that makes it most interesting: the censorship of many scenes and the fact that China banned gay content before the series could be finished. The romance never feels fully developed because censors eliminated not only sex but kissing. The end result is a show where the guys talk about sex frankly (okay, Guo Bai talks about it, gotta love that cheeky bugger), but we never even see an affectionate kiss between them. And the story ends abruptly with a cliffhanger and a ton of emotional issues unresolved between the guys.

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Completed
Together With Me: The Series
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 25, 2018
13 of 13 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
As a long-time reader of BL stories, and a long-time watcher of K-dramas, it was natural I would eventually discover Thai BL dramas. But this one, the first I watched, blew me away. None of the others I've seen since live up to it. (Though I do give Love Sick credit for coming closest.)

A few things distinguish it:

1. A plot focused almost entirely on gay romance. Most of the side-plots are also connected to the topic of gay romance. The straight romance side
plot about Korn's sister is the only slow bit but luckily the show doesn't spend too much time on it.

2. The extremely hot chemistry between the lead actors--who are themselves, it should be mentioned, extremely hot.

3. Another reviewer mentioned this, but it bears repeating: this series doesn't mess around with the BL cliche of "I'm not gay, I just love you." Though this series doesn't spend any time parsing  identities, there are some characters who it appears would describe themselves comfortably as gay and bisexual. This feels like a step into the twenty-first century. It also makes it easier to believe that these guys will stay together.

4. No messing around with BL cliches about semes and ukes. There are too many of these cliches to list, but the important thing is that Korn and Knock take turns pursuing and being pursued, acting tough and acting needy. And the guy on bottom wasn't necessarily who I expected.

5. The absurdity of the plot with the scheming girlfriend is balanced by the emotional weight that the guys bring to these roles. They really give a convincing impersonation of people falling in love. People discovering a connection that goes deeper than just really, really hot sex.

6. Yihwa is an awesome character as the female friend who ships these two and wants them to get together. She stands in for every BL fangirl ever.

7. I love Lazy Subber's subtitles for this show so much that I've sent her fan mail. How else would I learn about the dirty sexual implications of the Thai word for smoking a cigarette?

8. Also unusual--but in a scary way--is the subplot about Farm. This story was a nod to the dangerous side of a sexual coming of age story, but the resolution was rushed. I badly want another season so we can see Farm get over his trauma and find a nice guy.

Conclusion: A show I will never forget. Also an accessible, cliche-free gateway to Asian boys' love narratives for newbies from other cultures.

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Completed
Love Sick: The Series Season 2
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 25, 2018
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 10
Following up my glowing review for season 1...

Story: Season 2 is when I gave up following the side stories. Too many confusing, uninteresting side characters. But Noh and Phun's story is 10/10. Season 2 takes time to go in depth as the boys figure out whether they have enough courage to commit to each other.

They both hate to let people down, and find it really difficult to contemplate breaking up with their girlfriends and defending their relationship to friends and family. But they can't escape the fact that they're really, really into each other. Even when they're on a beach vacation with their girlfriends.

Sometimes romance stories rely on weird contrived conflicts, but not this one. Even Noh and Phun's most stupid disagreements and misunderstandings make sense because of their underlying fear--the simple teenage fear of liking someone more than they like you, and the more difficult fear of being gay.

Acting: The actor who plays Phun started to grow on me in this season. Maybe he was acquiring acting skills on the job. And Captain, who plays Noh, seems to have visibly grown older by the end of the series. Both these guys just have so much sincerity and charisma, more than making up for their inexperience as actors.

They have solid chemistry on screen. Perhaps it's chemistry that comes mostly from great writing, editing and directing--these two don't have to do any intimate sex scenes like in a show like Together with Me, which would be a real test--but within this context they're completely convincing. Whether they're joking around, or Holding Hands Significantly, it's clear they want to be together. They make this show special.

Music: I still don't notice music one way or another, and don't count music in my evaluation.

Rewatch Value: I've already rewatched large portions of Phun/Noh's story, and I'll watch again when I need cheering up. The three-dimensional characters are likeable and sincere, and their relationship is refreshingly free of weird plot twists. It's easy to sympathize with their troubles and cheer for them when they find tender moments together (and they have a lot). I love a boys' love story that doesn't have too much angst--this fills the bill.

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Completed
Love Sick: The Series
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 25, 2018
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 10
I can't believe how few reviews there are for this distinctive show. If you focus on Noh and Phun's story, this is one of the best-written, most-likeable BL series out there.

Story: The first episode was disorganized and confusing. So many minor characters appear and disappear. Some of them will reappear several episodes later and you have no idea who they are. Throughout the series, it was hard to understand the secondary plot-lines. The only benefit of the side plots is they  help us understand the world Noh and Phun live in, a world of really rich, privileged teenagers, who don't have a lot of parental supervision. These high schoolers spend a lot of time partying and drinking--and there's even a teenage girl who lives with her boyfriend.

But forget the side-plots: Noh and Phun's relationship is the entire reason for watching, re-watching, and forever adoring this show. It's a really sweet boys' love story. It starts with a weird contrivance, but the show doesn't rely on plot devices. It quickly becomes a character-driven story about two boys coming of age. The story is told in a relatively naturalistic way (for Asian TV), and feels believable. The end of the first season did annoy me, but the second season redeemed the show, and now I can rewatch the first season with pleasure.

Acting: As far as I can gather, all the actors and actresses in this show were pretty inexperienced when they were discovered in open casting calls. None of them were familiar faces and none of them expected to be stars. Their inexperience actually makes their performances really endearing. The actor playing Noh was 17 when they filmed season 1, and he looks very young. This isn't one of those series where the high school characters are played unconvincingly by 30-year-olds. And this isn't a BL show where the guys are beefcake hunks in their twenties (like Together with Me). These guys have one foot in childhood and one in adulthood, and that just makes me care about them more as a viewer.

Lots of credit goes to the director for taking these novice actors and helping them portray a variety of emotions. The actor playing Phun doesn't always convince me, but Noh--whose eyes we see the story through--is never anything less than fascinating. He makes me remember how scary it was to be 17 and dealing with teenage emotions.

Music: I don't remember anything distinctive about the music, probably because I don't care about the music in a show (unless it's super annoying).

Rewatch Value: I can't rewatch the side stories, but I'll definitely rewatch the BL edit focused on Noh and Phun. Their relationship is really well-written, especially in later episodes once they realize their attraction to each other. They react to their feelings in ways that match their personalities; and they alternately pursue and retreat from each other in totally believable ways. I particularly like that Love Sick avoids the manga cliche plotline of a smartass seme pursuing an innocent uke. Both these guys take turns being smartass and innocent. It doesn't take too many episodes for both of them to recognize their feelings, even if they aren't sure what to do.  And season 1 sets the stage for a fantastic season 2.

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Completed
Sotus: The Series
6 people found this review helpful
Feb 28, 2018
15 of 15 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 5.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
I know many people love this series, but I found the plotline concerning the hazing to go on for too long. I think I just disapprove of hazing too much to enjoy this story. The main actors are cute, but their characters could be better developed. It was hard for me to tell if Arthit was really interested or not, so his confession didn't feel fully earned. If you're okay with the institution of hazing and can enjoy that storyline, then you'll like this, otherwise, perhaps watch one of its many imitators that don't focus on hazing (like Two Moons).
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Completed
Sotus S: The Series
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 16, 2018
13 of 13 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
I'm coming from a different point of view than the other reviewers so far: I didn't like the first SOTUS series (because of the amount of time spent on hazing, it's right there in the title!). But a friend convinced me to check the sequel out, because it focuses on the workplace environment. And they were right. I enjoyed this installment more. The characters make more sense to me now, perhaps because the actors are experienced in these roles. I can understand the small conflicts that they have in trying to maintain a relationship. The most important story line is about coming out to people at work, and it was nice to see a BL drama address real world issues like that (though the denouement is more fairy tale than realistic).

SOTUS S is a good series for people who want their BL to be PG-rated, innocent and sweet. Though there's less conflict in this season than in the first season, the characters are arguably more likable. I got bored by some of the workplace stuff in early episodes, but later episodes had good pacing. Not one that I'll rewatch, but it was worth my time once.

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Completed
Red Balloon
1 people found this review helpful
Apr 21, 2018
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
Perfect.

This is the rare BL story that takes place in a realistic world--complete with homophobic classmates, teachers and parents--yet still manages to provide some hope and sweetness for our young lovers, Chen and Wan. The depictions of homophobia are upsetting, so brace yourself. The secondary story line, about a gay boy who tries to commit suicide after repeated bullying, is a reminder that it's dangerous simply to be gay in many situations. And it gives us context for understanding Chen's attempt to hide his sexuality--to virtually hide his entire personality. The actor who plays Chen is so low-key he's sometimes guilty of underacting. But this fits with Chen's restrained, introverted, cautious personality. This emotional restraint is the opposite of Wan's enthusiasm and eagerness.

It's great to see a BL story where the characters are the same age and have such complementary personalities. Too many romances are based around power imbalances or personalities that bring out the worst in each other. (HIStory: Obsessed and HIStory: Right or Wrong, I'm looking at you.)

The format (eight 12-minute episodes) could have been a weakness, but "Red Balloon" does better with its short run-time than other web dramas. The first episode is slightly confusing, because we meet the characters in the present before the main story shifts to events in 2003. A few scenes would benefit from more length or detail, especially when secondary characters are first introduced. But that's all I can come up with for critiques.

The best thing about "Red Balloon" is that the frame story, which shows Chen and Wan as adults, asks us to think beyond a simple romance of star-crossed lovers and consider the cost homophobia exacts from families. LGBTQ individuals are often portrayed as threats to the traditional family. But in "Red Balloon" the greatest threat to families is the homophobia that forces people into sexless heterosexual marriages. "Red Balloon" came out in the year that Taiwan passed legislation that will allow gay marriage to become a reality. In that context it makes a good argument that gay marriage laws make for stronger families. (Stay around after the credits of the final episode for one final scene about Chen's ex that reiterates this point.)

Icing on the cake: the soundtrack. It uses some indie songs with beautiful melodies. They contribute to the emotions even for people like me who don't understand the Chinese lyrics.

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Completed
2 Moons The Series
1 people found this review helpful
Mar 8, 2018
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 5.5
What happens if you remove all conflict from a drama and leave only the really cute bits? You get this very cute show. An alternate title could be "conversations between hot men," because that's pretty much all that happens.

But don't let that discourage you! I was looking for something fluffy and this fit the bill perfectly. I smiled and giggled my way through every episode (though I got bored in the episode with the pageant, which seemed to last longer than an actual pageant).

This plot lacks the tension of SOTUS, which it's often compared to. But I disapproved of SOTUS's enthusiasm for hazing too much and couldn't really enjoy it. Two Moons didn't have anything to object to. It was nice that the heroes were both basically interested in each other from the beginning (though there's some of that stupid BL "I'm only gay for you" nonsense).

If you're looking for more tension, the secondary couple have more conflict--and more flirting. And they are very, very cute. As are the tertiary couple, come to think of it... okay, this university is entirely populated by hot gay guys.

Best thing about this series is that it focused closely on these likable main characters so I never felt like there were throw-away scenes. The show would probably have higher rewatch value if there was a bit more plot and tension, but I still enjoyed the heck out of this show. As undemanding and fluffy as they come, if that's what you're looking for.

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Completed
Formula 17
1 people found this review helpful
Mar 3, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 6.5
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 6.0
A light, fluffy gay rom com from Taiwan. Gay romantic comedies are so few and far between that it's worth putting up with the low budget here, just to get a different perspective on romance.

The editing isn't great, so the narrative wanders a bit. We don't spend as much time with the central couple as I would have liked. But the characters are likeable and don't fall into any BL cliches. In fact, although this is an Asian story about men falling in love with men, it isn't "boys' love." It's a story by gay men about their lives, or at least the fluffy, funny parts of their lives. It has a happy ending that makes sense emotionally. And a few scenes are so funny that they make the whole movie worthwhile (the scene where our hero gets his crush's business card is rom com gold).

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