Friday, October 16, 2009

The Asian Invasion

I may have missed the boat (no pun intended) on the whole Korean Wave thing but I've always found it interesting. On this side of the world we occasionally get a peppering of Asian actors (Ken Watanabe, John Cho, Chow Yun Fat) or the mixed brood of celebs (Keanu Reeves, Moon Bloodgood, Lindsay Price). But only recently have I delved further and found some interesting tidbits.

Like all countries, they all have their shiny beautiful people in over the top dramas (American can't throw stones.. hello Baywatch, Grey's Anatomy, Melrose Place). Have no fear however! Seething beneath the plastic wrappings are a growing number of worthwhile stories begging to be watched. Oldboy, a potent tale of rage, 1st shop of the Coffee Prince, a Shakespearean cross dressing comedy of lies (above), and riding the Twilight wave, the up and coming vampire film Thirst are among a few shining stars.

Manga (comic) translations continue to be a common source of storytelling in Asia. For the past decade the west have picked up the habit of translating paper pictures to celluloid. Persepolis, A History of Violence, Batman, and American Splendor are among the best adaptations to date.

Anime is a commonly misunderstood genre that has typically been associated with the perverse underground yearnings of Japan. Prejudice against the medium is finally fading with the momentum of popular kids shows like Avatar the Last Airbender (which is actually animated in Korea) and quality films like Spirited Away.

Want to watch something off the beaten track?
Check these out: Mushi-shi, Samurai Champloo, FLCL, The girl who leapt through time, Graveyard of the Fireflies, Hunter x Hunter, 5 cm per second, Tekkon Kinkreet and My Neighbor Totoro.

It's not just us obsessed with youth pop culture

Try an Asian television show or movie?