LostWinds is a game adapted for Apple touch devices and was featured a while ago. I decided to give it a try since the icon is very cute and the description does sound appealing. The story is centered around our main character, Toku, after meeting a trapped wind spirit and his journey to restore peace. LostWinds is not an RPG, but it is a rather cute and engaging adventure story.
I really enjoyed the plot of LostWinds, the different flying mechanims, as well as the background sceneries and music. What I enjoyed most was having Toku fly on the water and make the water trickle over his head, glistening in the bright sunshine. Movements of the water, grass, trees, flowers, rocks, fire, and so on using the wind by simply swiping my finger made me feel like I was in control of something wordly. Althought it was somewhat frustrating to figure out where I was supposed to go next and to master the control functions, it was a lot of fun exploring the different hills and caves along with their mysteries. My attention was completely captured from beginning to end. But the story was too short and so, I don’t think this is a game I would play again and again.
What state of life can be so blest,
As love that warms the gentle brest;
Two souls in one: the same desire
To grant the bliss, and to require?
If in this heaven a hell we find,
Tis all from thee
Thou tyrant, tyrant of the mind.
All other ills, though sharp they prove,
Serve to refine and perfect love:
In absence, or unkind disdaine,
Sweet hope relieves the lovers paine:
But, oh, no cure but death we find
To sett us free
Thou tyrant, tyrant of the mind.
False in thy glass all objects are,
Some sett too near, and some too far;
Thou art the fire of endless night,
The fire that burns, and gives no light.
All torments of the damn’d we find
In only thee,
Thou tyrant, tyrant of the mind.
In “JIN 2” (Episode 7)
Jin: What can be called happiness in a life is when at long last, you grasp your dream. I wonder if even I won’t be granted that dream?
Saki: Nokaze-san’s dream has come true, has it not? It may be while Sensei is trying to change history for people of the future, history may be adding your life to those changes. However, if it could be said that your wish for a different future is for Nokaze-san and the people of this era to have strong wills, then this is no longer a history that needs to be changed. But just an ordinary history, is it not?
Jin: What do you mean?
Saki: Nokaze-san most likely knows… That Sensei comes from the future; that the person you desired may be one of her own descendants. That is why even at the risk of her life, she wants to give birth. Of course, you could also say she wishes for the child of her adored Lelong-san. However, it is not only for that. In the next world, does this not mean Nokaze-san will try and encounter Sensei once again? To go to the extent of crushing her wished-for dream, I would like to believe that Heaven is not so cruel.
Jin: There is a legend that says the person who catches the bride’s bouquet will be the next one to find happiness…
In “JIN 2” (Episode 6)
After meeting up with Ryoma-san again and learning about his smuggling of weapons, Jin felt that something had changed; that Ryoma-san was no longer the lighthearted and carefree man Jin once knew. Ryoma-san’s words had a darkness to them that disturbed and disappointed Jin. In his confrontation with Ryoma-san, Jin reminded Ryoma-san that his ideal could be achieved in many other ways than war; that whichever side soldiers were on, they were still all people of this country; that “violence will only beget violence”. These words rang a bell in Ryoma-san’s heart, yet he left begrudgingly due to his prideful self.
Back at the Western medical school in Nagasaki, Tanaka-san (famous engineer and inventor) approached Jin to thank him for his time lecturing at the school. And the conversation brought hope and a hint of enlightenment to Jin.
Jin: You can make anything, can’t you?
Tanaka: Whatever I create, the reaction is the same.
Jin: The same?
Tanaka: When people see my mechanical doll, they burst into laughter. When my inexhaustible light shines, they burst into delight. Seeing those faces is all that’s taken to get me this far.
Jin: You’ve had a wonderful life, haven’t you? I’m envious.
Tanaka: My son and grandson were both killed…
Tanaka: My son was an engineer, who together with a Soga soldier went to Nagasaki to buy a warship. That soldier slashed both him and my grandson.
Jin: Why would he do that?
Tanaka: I don’t know. That soldier too, had studied abroad and was with the enlightenment faction, so their wills should have been the same. But one day, suddenly, it became like that.
Jin: How could such… Such a heartbreaking thing have happened?
Tanaka: In the whirlpool of this era, I think he became consumed by it.
Jin: The whirlpool of this era?
Tanaka: Today’s ally may be tomorrow’s enemy. And then it reverses. Inside it, as it spins around and around, you can become confused about the place you’re standing at. You can lose track of what it was you were aiming for.
Jin: My friend right now… Is caught up in that whirlpool. I wasn’t able to pull him out of it.
Tanaka: Both of you being swallowed up by the whirlpool would be senseless. Shouldn’t your friend become a signpost for what you shouldn’t become, Sensei? From within even the darkness of the whirlpool, you can become a blinding light so that they don’t lose sight of their destination. Sensei, you can be just like that inexhaustible light.
Poetry of Otagaki Rengetsu
If I, too, could somehow
Open the lotus blossom
Within my own heart
And color it pure white
How happy I would be…
Coming and going
Without beginning or end
Like ever changing
The heart of things.
A single line of
From the incense stick
Trails off without a trace
One’s heart, as well?
How I hope to pass away
While gazing at a full moon
In a cloudless sky
That shines over lotus flowers
In full bloom.
In “JIN 2” (Episode 5)
Jin: Brandishing around my own feelings, I couldn’t properly diagnose the patient. I was caught up in trying to give them longer lives.
Saki: Is the purpose why Sensei was sent here not to just save the lives of individuals?
Jin: What do you mean?
Saki: Could it be you have a much bigger purpose that goes beyond the world of each individual’s life? Though I cannot say what it may be.
Jin: Beyond the world of life…
In their attempt to save Kichijuurou-san and resolve his relationship with Yokichi-chan, Jin found something more to life.
Jin: A momentarily longer life, yet it may even be he couldn’t have had a longer life. There is even the possibility his life was shortened by doing this. However, at this moment, there is meaning to life which can’t be told by its length. It could be said that allowing an individual to leave behind a shining moment is what makes medical care meaningful. Like a performance passed down through generations, that is what lies beyond the world of life. The power to make corrections to history, I too want to pass that down.
I like ancient costume dramas, particularly those of the wuxia and fantasy genres. No doubt I watch more of them than modern dramas. Personally, I find that they occasionally offer more than just narrative entertainment and thematic or moral value. An effort is put forth to add a touch of artistic, beautiful presentation to them that rarely exists in TVB modern dramas. This care for visual aesthetics is especially evident in Ghost Writer as far as setting and emphazising the mystical atmosphere or current events. It is the main element that kept me reeling with the show, and the image above is specifically what inspired me to think twice about the presentation of Ghost and ask what the crew and camera were perhaps seeking to do.
As with many TVB dramas, I can count the major locations with one hand and Ghost is no different. Leaving out the various mountains, rivers, and forests, notable places in Ghost are the Po’s home, the factory/shop, Ko’s home/restaurant, Ling Wu’s abode, and liaozhai. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on the Ling Wu’s “Peach Blossom Grove” because it stands out the most to me.
I don’t know about you, but the first time Siu Tsui (Fala Chen) took Pu Song Ling (Steven Ma) to her home in episode 13, I was insanely mesmerized. Not that I haven’t seen a gorgeous setup before, but it’s because this place ignited a feeling of nostalgia. It reminded me of past TVB productions where the same little edifice can be an entirely different world. Now, I’m not sure if the crew went out of their way to build this new location. But they had apparently put a lot of energy into its design, decoration, and lighting.
The Ling Wu’s home lies inside a forest protected by magic, allowing for the innocent grandfather and child fox to exclude themselves from the fearful human world outside and beyond. In the beginning, “Peach Blossom Grove” was a place of calmness, meditation, and healing. It was a divine paradise. However, once the jealousy, greed, despairs, sorrows and many more emotions of mankind entered and filled this quiet paradise, “Peach Blossom Grove” became a sad, sad place where loved ones were separated, innocent beings were injured, and lives were lost. Through these occurrences ands the growth of our characters, “Peach Blossom Grove” witnessed everything, changing its ethereal cloudiness and shadows to match that which we (the audience) may be feeling.
When done well, the background aesthetics of a scene can enhance the mood, solidify the scene, and bring you into the imagined world. And sometimes, there is a lot more to what we see. Little things like flowers, food, candles, jewelries can have hidden messages or emphasize possible implications the producer desires be made.
I’m not saying that I’m okay with a plotless yet gorgeous show. If a show can use its “eye candies” to support the plot, then more power to it. As in the image above, it alone is not enough to explain what Pu Song Ling may be feeling or thinking. Without the context of the story, we wouldn’t know that Pu Song Ling is in a serene piece of mind because he had been through rougher times and thus, cherishes what he has now. It would also be difficult to understand that Pu Song Ling chose this way of life, this dark world along with the spirits and away from the humans, because he had been utterly wounded and despaired. It’s not that Pu Song Ling has given up on humanity, but he chose not to be a part of it. For him, peace and happiness reside in the dark and mythical rather than the colorful and chaotic world. Along this line, his emotions are supported by the scenery. The cloudiness and the moon contrasts with the darkness of his residence, perhaps indicating that Pu Song Ling is a man who deserted the world of man for his own paradise. Is Pu Song Ling living a reality? Or a dream?
In “JIN 2” (Episode 3)
Jin asked Saki for a moment to speak with her. The two settled on the hilltop watching over the city of Edo, under the sky of an illuminating sunset.
Saki: You had an opportunity to return to the future?
Jin: When I was nearly killed… Well, it might have been just an illusion though. But, at the time, I… I thought that I didn’t want to go back. About not being able to see Miki anymore and not being able to see Saki-san anymore, I thought long and hard about that. Ah… Even if I feel I don’t want to return, it may be I could be returned someday. So I don’t know if I’m the sort of man who can ask you this, Saki-san, though could you and I be together?
Upon hearing such words, words that she had probably longed for since meeting him, Saki was confused.
Saki: It is a beautiful sunset, is it not? Such beauty, what makes it so?
While looking far into the distance, Saki remembered words that Nokaze-san had said to her earlier that day, “Sensei and thee… be happy. Please promise me.” The event and conversation with Nokaze-san had trembled Saki’s heart, and it trembled more so now that she was suddenly approached with what she had been longing for yet was unsure of, because she never thought it would be possible. A moment of silence passed between the two while Saki gathered her emotions. Slowly, Saki answered.
Saki: I decline. My happiness is not by being together with Sensei. My happiness is to bequeath Jinyu-do to the future ages. When I consider that Sensei would one day return to his world, it makes me feel miserable. When I ask my heart for the reason why, it is because when Sensei does return to the future, I would not be there… In that case, I feel it would be best if things were left as is. I… We… Every day we live here with Sensei may be be fleeting.
Jin: I don’t know if I may go back.
Saki: No. You will surely return. The truth is, that is not the most important thing to me. Not knowing when you may disappear someday, I guess I do not have the courage to live a life like that. Having been only filial, I believe the least I can do is make my mother and brother happy by obediently finding a partner in marriage. Even so, I will be, as before… Sensei’s student and will do as much as I possibly can for you. From here on as well, please work with me! Well then, as I must prepare for dinner, I will go first…
Saki quickly rushed off, leaving Jin nothing more than her shadow, the setting sun, and time to reflect.
Jin: Saki-san is an adult, far more than I’ve always thought. But even if I was rejected, all of them were thinking for my happiness. Those feelings are not lies. In that case, the one thing I can do is live each moment with all of my might, and with my own will, I will change this era’s tomorrow.
Watched “Lie To Me” (Episode 16)
A decent and predictable ending for a poorly crafted romantic comedy. The beginning of the drama was a fun and laughable ride that eventually got tiring and irritating with repetitive scenarios and “gimmicks”. The main couple has a lot of chemistry and the acting was commendable, making certain moments in the drama lovable and memorable. But the love triangles were unnecessary and secondary characters became nothing more than plot devices. The last few episodes were scattered and seemed like the writer had no idea what to do but trial-and-error, except an airing drama is not really a trial! The attempt to insert as many scenes of the main couple near the end in order to save the drama didn’t make it complete. The resolution was convoluted and not sound. Happy yes, but not deep and understandable. Indeed, good acting cannot save poor writing. What a waste for great actors!
“Nothing, ere they fade away,
The little lines of yesterday.”
LIFE’S ”little lines;” how short, how faint,
How fast they fade away;
Its highest hopes, its brightest joys,
Are compassed, in a day.
Youth’s bright, and mild, and morning light,
Its sunshine, and its showers,
Its hopes and fears, its loves and tears,
Its heedless, happy hours;
And manhood’s high and brightened noon,
Its honours, dangers, cares,
The parents’ pains, the parents’ joys,
The parents’ anxious prayers;
Fade in old age’s evening gray,
The twilight of the mind;
Then sink, in death’s long, dreamless night,
And leave no trace, behind.
Yet, though so changing, and so brief,
Our life’s eventful page,
It has its charms, for every grief,
Its joys, for every age.
In youth’s, in manhood’s, golden hours,
Loves, friendships, strew the way
With April’s earliest, sweetest flowers,
And all the bloom of May;
And when old age, with wintry hand,
Has frosted o’er, the head,
Virtue’s fair fruits, survive the blast,
When all beside, are fled;
And faith, with pure, unwavering eye,
Can pierce the gathered gloom;
And smile upon the spoiler’s rage,
And live, beyond the tomb.
Be ours, then, virtue’s deathless charm,
And faith’s untiring flight;
Then shall we rise, from death’s dark sleep,
To worlds of cloudless light.
Rev. George Washington Doane, D.D., LL.D.
Watched “Can’t Buy Me Love” (Episode 10)
LOL. So ridiculous and stupid and utter facepalm material that it’s funny. Everyone is so OTT and sometimes even OOC whenever they’re together. They also lack “heart” (not really trying to act or trying way too hard) that the few sweet moments are overshadowed. The clapping is annoying. The rapping is excessive and nonsensical. The gold is blinding. The comedy is… how to explain… not slapstick and not mindless or asinine… more like it’s tiresome and blatantly aggressive?
Despite the terrible plot devices and idiocy, I think the dialogue deserves some praise. The rhyming is a fun listen and the 4-character idioms are often clever. The references to and jabs at other shows like Beyond the Realm of Conscience, Rosy Business, and certain TVB cliches are certainly great.
Watched “Chinese Paladin 3” (Episodes 32-37)
Finished. Glad I wasn’t spoiled beforehand about the most touching, gruesome death in the show and thus, cried buckets of tears. The character did not deserve to die! He was the most innocent, pure, loyal person in the entire show. If Jing Tian (Hu Ge) had to save anyone, it should have been him! I don’t know, maybe I’m just a really mean person, but Jing Tian shouldn’t have sacrificed most of his lifespan to save strangers’ lives without being able to save the family and friends he loves most. Sure, those background people running around are innocent but they aren’t worthy either. They only think about themselves during hardship and famine, and complain, blame, complain, blame. Let them die. (Okay, yeah. I’ll never become a saint.)
As for the ending between Jing Tian and Xue Jian (Yang Mi), it’s bittersweet. They’ll know to treasure their time together. But having caught the clip of the game’s Xue Jian ending, I prefer it. Then again, I didn’t really like the romance between Jing Tian & Xue Jian anyway. There wasn’t enough focus on them, especially when Xue Jian didn’t do anything significant. I mean, she wasn’t even a helping factor when Jing Tian was in his lowest emotional state. She faded into the background after her trip to Heaven and learning of her origin. I thought that was the best phase for her character, but the script failed to grow her character into a memorable one. Even at the end, she didn’t mature or become any more insightful and considerate. The writers really failed Yang Mi, who gave such an adorable performance that made it hard to dislike her character. However, Yang Mi did fantastic as Xi Yao, the total opposite of Xue Jian and my favorite character. Her chemistry with Hu Ge also worked magic!
Contrary to why I dislike the romance between Jing Tian & Xue Jian, Chang Qing (Wallace Huo) and Zi Xuan’s (Tang Yan) romantic story is way too draggy. They get together, misunderstanding occurs; angst, break up, make up, rehash. If not for the actors’ excellent portrayals, I would have screwed it and fast forward. However, I love their ending. The final break up scene is perfect and really sent the message that “sometimes, to love is to let go”.
I definitely like the friendship between Jing Tian and Chang Qing more than any of the romances in the show.
Overall, a fairly enjoyable fantasy-driven adventure with lots of (maybe a little too much) creativity. Great cinematography, decent CGI, above average action sequences, okay characters, awesome cast, and acceptable storyline. (Whoa. Almost wrote a review here. Sorry for rambling.)
Watched “When Lanes Merge” (Episodes 1-2)
I picked up When Lanes Merge because the theme song by Ryan Lau caught my ears. Lame reason to rush head first into a TVB series, I know. But I don’t regret it because Lanes is great. The script is tight (with some exceptions I will attack another time). It’s not trailing at snail pace. And what do you know? There is realism. There is cause and effect! Not everything is about fate and destiny and coincidence and weak or indecisive people, and nothing passes by without consequences. Human action is purposeful and Lanes does a heartfelt job showing that. I think Lanes is a much, much improved version of A Journey Called Life (also written by Ga Wai Nam), by about 120 miles per hour, and it has nothing to do with the female cast.
Now, let’s talk about the best part of our first episode and the hook that’s holding my neck tight, pulling me toward future episodes to see how our father and son duo deal with the terrible crash that will haunt them forever …
I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched a TVB car accident. Nevertheless, they definitely went out of their way to make this car crash leave an impression. It was powerful. I knew it was coming. Turbo (Raymond Wong) was drunk and STILL drinking while speeding. I wanted so much to stop the inevitable. I wanted so much to slap the guy and wake him up. I kept shaking my head and fist at him. Then, I saw his neighbor Fat (Kwok Fung) on the sidewalk. I knew it was coming. Fat started to cross the road. Turbo approached the same intersection. Turbo noticed Fat and slammed on his brakes. It was coming! No, Turbo twirled his steering wheel and BAM! He smashed into another car and they both go flying upside down. It did come. The driver died. Turbo became a murderer.
While the accident was awesomely filmed, the aftermath was truly heartfelt. I think TVB will benefit from promoting Raymond Wong. No doubt he is not extremely popular but the guy has a well of acting talent, and his chemistry in Lanes with Kent Cheng is undeniable. The two of them really anchor the show. The emotions they displayed were raw. Raymond had a hint of regret in his eyes but the stubbornness of Turbo remained in his firm face. He clearly wanted to say that he was sorry and that he hated himself but those phrases were meaningless at that time. Kent had disappointment all over his face, wondering why Turbo didn’t listen to him or why he didn’t teach his son better. There was also a speckle of concern. Words were completely unnecessary, but I could feel that they were trying to reach one another and I wanted so much to help them rewind. (Possible in dramas but not real life, mind you.)
From there, their lives got worse and worse. I like how everyone involved don’t forget the accident and it just continues to pop back into their everyday interactions and relationships—not only that between Taxi Gor (Kent) and Turbo, but also between them and the neighbors. I could only ask, “How could you ever pay back for ruining someone’s life?” Seriously, how? You can’t, right? It’s impossible to revert an effect that has already been caused. You can only do your best to support the victims and assist them in moving on, but it’s not easy to stomach the blatantly, rightfully painful accusations. And no matter what you do, you will always be guilty.
Jail was not hard for Turbo. Life is.