Journals, Miscellaneous

Kwarentina: 1st month of Staying at home

It’s pretty humbling to be living at the same time as a global historical event. This pandemic will surely go down as one of the important events in modern history, having impacted a majority of the population worldwide. As the experts and the ones in power are doing their best to crack down on the invisible enemy, the majority of the population is asked to contribute in a simple way: STAY AT HOME to prevent the spread of the virus.

Everyone is affected by this community quarantine differently. It has been more than 3 weeks of staying at home at the time of this writing and I am privileged to still be functioning normally. I have to render work from home, but that means a steady pacycheck in this crisis, for which I am thankful for. It’s been a slow adjustment process, and I miss the daily movement of my once-active lifestyle. In the meantime, I have been coping by just consuming a lot of content. Here are a few things that have kept me sane in recent days:

Youtube

Ethan Becker

Ethan Becker is an artist/animator that insults you into becoming a better artist. He can be a bit intimidating at first, but if you can stick with his balls to the wall style of teaching you will surely come out of it with a lot of lessons learned. He won’t hold your hand through the process of drawing, instead, he will beat you with his stylus into failing good and failing better. This is not to say that his videos are strict, he produces entertaining content and I’ve watched all of his videos at least once, and some of them I still keep coming back to every now and then.

Keep in mind that Ethan works professionally as an animator, and so his viewpoints and content are geared more towards those who are looking to produce the same output or general style as him. It’s not content that’s geared for all types of artists, but the fundamentals are there and I’m sure everyone will learn something new. And even if you’re goal isn’t making the same work as him, the way he presents his content is still very funny and worth the watch. I’d liken him to an “Art Pewdiepie.” If you wanna get drawing tips and be entertained, Ethan is your guy.

Penguinz0 

Charlie or Moist Cr1tikal is a streamer/gamer and one of the most interesting people in Youtube. If you are familiar with Pewdiepie’s segment, Pew News, then Charlie’s channel is like that but on the daily. I don’t watch his gaming streams, but I am very entertained with his other videos where he just talks to the camera and shares his opinions on current events and interesting news he’s heard. He is insanely funny with his takes and insights, aside from being well-informed on the topic. His vocabulary is wide as it is hilarious and he doesn’t care if he’s offensive or not. Charlie will tell things as he believes them, and he makes a great point every time.

Aside from his commentary on current events, he also shares stories from his life that are extremely funny. He is honest, unashamed, and really a genuine person on Youtube. He’s a friend you wish you had. Honestly, I just autoplay his videos in the background while doing my work and his soothing voice will make everything bearable.

VideoGameDunkey

Dunkey is my favorite video game reviewer. Just watch one of his videos and you will understand why. His voice, delivery, and content are one of a kind. He makes stupid games interesting and interesting games stupid. Just like the other entries in the category, he is honest and bares his opinions in the open. You can pretty much be a channel about anything and as long as you are funny and honest, I will watch you. This is another channel to binge-watch because Dunkey makes videos quick and even the old ones are gold.

Manga

 

20th Century Boys – 21st Century Boys

Naoki Urasawa has hit it out of the park once again. I’ve already read and reviewed previous works of this manga legend and he continues to impress me with another intense mystery story. Pluto and Monster are great, but I have to say that this series comes out on top. I’m sure there have already been a lot of reviews about this series, and they will go deeper in ways I never could. I just have to say that this is one of the best manga stories told. Truly a must-read. The story of how a young group of friends try to stop one of their old classmates from destroying the world might seem simple enough, but with Urasawa’s hands, it turns into a masterpiece that will keep you on the edge of your seat with every chapter. I should know, because I couldn’t put this manga down until I finished all of it.

Urasawa is truly a manga prodigy. Wonderful artwork blended with gripping storytelling. It’s amazing that he continues to produce quality work with every project. I am already looking forward to the next series of his that I will consume, but 20th Century Boys is already at the top of my pedestal.

Beastars

Unlike the previous series, Beastars is still ongoing and updated weekly. This might turn off potential readers, but don’t worry, with 160+ chapters already released, it can be binged for a bit of time before getting caught up. Plus, the series is not the kind where the ending is the most important part. I’ve already been singing praises for Beastars for a while in other social media, but that’s because it is really that good.

Beastars can be brushed off as just a furry, slice of life manga. It is a furry, slice of life manga, but it is also much more than that. It tackles humanistic themes like discrimination, sex, and nature vs nurture, and many more. There is action, suspense, and lots of comedy in this series. The world-building is top notch with explanations for even the most mundane of things in this animal society. It is Zootopia’s bigger, better, and wilder older sibling and despite the animals being the main cast, it can be relatable at some times. It’s the story of Legosi, a gray wolf, who has to contend with his being born a carnivore and all the perks and burdens that it entails. He must navigate his feelings and his society while at the same time tackle his feelings for a snow rabbit named Haru. Hilarity and lots of feels ensue.

Try a couple of chapters to know if it’s right for you. There is also an anime out on Netflix, with a second season in the works. Beastars has won multiple awards, and the mangaka, Itagaki Paru, is the daughter of Itagaki Keisuke, mangaka of Baki the Grappler.

Games

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is probably the best game to play during quarantine time if you need some peace and quiet. There’s nothing more relatable for a 9-to-5 office worker like me to just drop everything and move into the country and take up farming. And that is precisely the fantasy you play as the main character of Stardew Valley. This game borrows heavily from the classic farm simulator Harvest Moon and adds so much more content to it. The game allows you to just unwind and do the mundane chores of keeping a farm. Since there isn’t really a story-driven endgame, you can potentially play this game forever.

I know this isn’t for everyone, but for those looking for a fun RPG game without the heavy graphical demands of the current AAA games, this is the game for you. This is also for those that want to play something similar to Animal Crossing but don’t have a Switch. Either way, this is such a good game. Would you believe that this game was made by just one person? That in itself was such a feat to accomplish and this game is definitely an indie hit that will go down in gaming history.

Movies

The Host

With the spectacular and well-deserved success of Parasite, I found myself returning to Korean movies. I scoured through Bong Joon-ho’s wiki page as well as social media for more recommendations. The Host is one of Joon-Ho’s earlier movies also starring Song Kang-ho. They had already worked together in Memories of Murder which was also a must-see movie. I swear, everything these two touch turns into movie gold.

However, The Host is a bit different as it is a creature feature and not something that is grounded in reality. Here, a monster in the river of Seoul terrorizes a family and they try to kill it to get back their daughter who was taken from them. Despite the aged graphics, the story is still solid and the suspense is delivered in effective doses. It’s a bit of a step down after watching Parasite, but if you love seeing a unique take on a monster flick, this is a good movie to watch.

A Taxi Driver

Another movie staring Song Kang-ho but this time without Bong Joon-ho. This is a historical film that was based on real events. Watching this and considering the current political climate, I find myself relating to the themes very well. Basically, Song Kang-ho plays a taxi driver who gets caught inside a locked down city where the government is at war with the city’s protesters. There, he must stay alive and come face to face with his values as a person and what it means to be a Korean citizen.

This was honestly hard to watch because of the stressful and raw scenes portrayed. I may just be overly sensitive, but watching this movie just reminded me more of the harsh realities that people around the world are facing. The presence of oppression, the fight against it, and the actions of the privileged outsiders are all portrayed in this movie. This is an important movie because it reminds us how once we are awakened to the harsh reality of things, it is already a sin to turn away.

Thirst

Yes, another movie with Song Kang-ho. Why is this guy in so many good movies? But credit where credit is due, this movie was directed by the brilliant mind behind Oldboy, Park Chan-wook. This story also delves into the realm of fantasy because it tells the story of a priest that turns into a vampire. The movie shows his experiences with all the temptation that come with being a vampire, namely sex and the thirst for blood. This is a really weird horror movie with some twisted humor included.

There’s really nothing groundbreaking with the movie, but I enjoyed watching it. It has a handful of mature scenes and nudity, but they are done in such a raw way that it doesn’t feel like its too much. Plus this movie introduced me to the very beautiful Kim Ok-vin who does an amazing job in her role. If you like corny vampire movies, then this is definitely a step up in the right direction.

The Villainess

Right after finishing Thirst, I immediately looked up Kim Ok-vin and found out that she has made a recent movie about being a female assassin. And so, here we are. The Villainess is an action-thriller that uses all of the common tropes of an assassin’s backstory. There is the Black Widow-esque factory for raising young female assassins. There is some sort of trickery with our lead actress not knowing which organization to trust. There is the need to kill someone important to her. There is the doing of sex work to pull off an assassination. There is nothing really new, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is not enjoyable. Of course, I might have just been invested so much in Kim Ok-vin, but I enjoyed following along the plot of the movie.

The action sequences are amazing and there are some shots in the film that are simply cool. You can tell what the director had in mind for the symbolism and storytelling.  The opening sequence is a POV of Ok-vin killing a hallway of gangsters so that’s a nice touch. Aside from that, there is also a car chase, motorcycle chase, and many more. Although it’s not on par with John Wick or The Raid, you can see the heart put into the movie by the cast and crew. If you want to see another take on the female assassin story or want more of something like Atomic Blonde, take a look at this.


And those are pretty much the things I’ve consumed for the past few weeks. It’s not much, but it’s honest work. Of course, with the quarantine still ongoing and with reports of it even getting extended, I still have a lot of time to consume more. So depending on how the future plays out, I might post more of this as a series.

If you’ve read everything, thanks for powering through. If you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, stay safe, stay inside, and let’s survive this.

Wash your hands!

-jgzn

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