Musings from a Little Planet [the Revival Edition]

Aaaand we’re back!

April was a pretty good month in terms of blog posts here at Aerou! And it looks like May may be able to keep it up – I’ve been scheduling in posts here and there. I forgot how much I enjoyed writing posts on the blog until I started it again; I’m not really good at speaking up, and so having this here for me to rant and ramble is really liberating in a way? I’ve been blogging on and off for almost six years now and I don’t think I can see myself fully quitting anytime soon, even if I disappear/go on breaks here and there. It’s just. Really nice. Wah. >//<

the month that was april

  • I read some books outside of the ones I had to read for school or work! One of them was a re-read of an English YA novel, and the other was a Chinese book I’ve heard great things about. I had this one scene from Aimee Carter’s Goddess Interrupted in my head for the longest time for some reason, and so when I saw it at the library in my hour break between classes, I couldn’t resist picking it up for another read. The series has never been my favorite by any shot, but it was really nostalgic? And then the other book was 微微一笑很倾城! My Chinese sucks so I actually started this a while back, but only finished it this month. There were some parts I had to assume the meaning of with my knowledge of Japanese kanji, but I really enjoyed the story! I liked the relationships between the characters, the concept was really cute, and the respect with the way Xiao Nai treated Wei Wei was everything >//<
  • My roommate introduced me to stroopwafels and they’re amazing but also kinda expensive for my broke ass. She gave me a box and now I’m carefully rationing out the waffles so that it lasts me until the end of the school year hehe.
  • I also finished my first batch of midterms! Being on the quarter system means every season is midterm season T_T But at least my first ones are done! And I managed to score well on them, so I’m really happy; hopefully, I’ll be able to carry this over to the next ones, and keep it up throughout the remainder of the school year as well ^^
  • Skincare updates! Last time, I mentioned starting the Innisfree green tea cleanser oil – I did, and it was woooonderful. It smelled really nice and cleaned makeup off really well, and I really liked their green tea toner as well. I went back fully intending to repurchase Innisfree’s toner, but then noticed that Etude’s Wonder Pore toner was having a sale, so I caved… I’ll be back with a report on that soon! I did repurchase Innisfree’s cleanser oil, though I tried out the apple seed one this time, which a friend highly recommended. If it’s anything like the green tea, I’ll love it for sure^^ I also kind of allowed myself to go on a little bit of a makeup/skincare shopping spree and indulged in their whitening sleeping mask as well, with mixed feelings about the results…? The smell is really nice, and it applies really nicely. However, I don’t really see any results? I also broke out a bit two weeks after introducing it to my skincare routine. Honestly, the timing of the breakout makes the cause a little uncertain, but I will be a little more cautious with it from now on. I don’t think I’ll repurchase, but I do fully intend on using up the jar. It was pretty pricey, after all^^;;
  • Honestly, my life isn’t interesting enough for a whole section of my monthly wrap-ups to be dedicated to it ahah.

april on the blog

  • I started a new feature, Channel Aerou, for all the dramas and shows I watch! The first post on this feature showcases some really nice police/detective-related dramas I enjoyed, as well as a couple others^^
  • Vicious by V. E. Schwab was the inspiration for my latest study!
  • I posted another Channel Aerou post! This one showcases, among others, Ode to Joy – which you definitely should go watch if you haven’t already. It definitely has its place amongst my all-time favorite Chinese dramas^^
  • Time for another graveyard post roundup! From top ten posts to cooking videos, here’s another list of posts I started but never finished.

the status update corner

In the karaoke booth: TT (TWICE)
On the nightstand: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The app that never closes: Twitter
And, the show: 微微一笑很倾城
Current worry: Chem is… chem.
Looking forward to: Summer 😀

The Graveyard Posts (Part 2/??)

Welcome to the post of post ideas I’ve started but never finished, part 2/??? Some posts I may eventually pick up at a later date – sometime farrrr off into the future – but most I probably never will, and so have immortalized right here (read also: the post where I abuse bullet points and completely butcher grammar because. well.)

That Time I Was Going to Do Something Related to All the Cooking Videos I Save on Facebook

  • The kitchen-less, dorm-room life hasn’t stopped me from saving seventy bajillion cooking videos on Facebook, so I figured I should do something with it!
  • I thought a post linking a book to a cooking video for a dish that was somehow representative of or reminiscent of that book would be a cute idea
  • or maybe a series of posts?
  • but then I went to actually write the post, and then got sucked into the black hole that is searching for the perfect cooking video
  • so then I thought I’d pick a book first!
  • but then I also got sucked into that endless spiral
  • the result: more saved cooking videos and more books on my TBR, but no post
  • (oops)
  • (guys I am weak to food and books)
  • (for the sake of time, this idea has been put on indefinite hiatus)

That Post I Was Going to Write on Drinks to Accompany Your Anime Marathon

  • A post on a drink you should have while binge-watching anime shows!
  • So I had hot chocolate for Amaama to Inazuma because it’s warm and sweet and the anime’s also this wonderful ball of heart-warmingly cute, tooth-rottingly fluffy slice-of-life story
  • Green Tea for either Natsume Yuujinchou or Tamako Market
  • why not both
  • //cue me remembering that I basically only drink green tea//
  • My list of non-alcoholic drinks is woefully short
  • My list of alcoholic drinks is also woefully short
  • My drinking history hasn’t adequately prepared me for a post like this

And Then: Top Ten Tuesday, the Lightning Round

  • Top Ten Books I Liked More/Less Than I Thought I Would
    • Under more, Pride and Prejudice, Unraveling, Stealing Parker, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Vicious. Under less: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Something like Normal, Slide, Article 5, School Spirits.
  • Ten Books I’ve Added To My To-Be-Read List Lately
    • Whichwood; The Language of Thorns; Jane, Unlimited; Duels and Deception; Stir Me Up; Faking It; 100 Hours; Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions; Living Dead Girl; Mask of Shadows.
  • Top Ten Best Books of 2016
    • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; Team Human; Break; Ask Again Later; East; The Fault in Our Stars; Fateful
  • I realized the last one probably meant best books published in 2016, not read
  • I also realized that I haven’t really read any recently published books in over a year
  • I also also realized that I haven’t read that many books in the past year or so
  • Top Ten Tuesday’s that meme I always want to join in on, but realize that I’m no longer caught up enough with the bookish world and community to really do so
  • which makes me really sad, because books and book blogging used to literally be my life, and practically my home away from home
  • it’s my goal to carve out enough time to catch up on all the books I want to read (summer 2017, I’m looking at you!)

Channel Aerou #2 (Doctors, Ode to Joy, Heartstrings, The Lost Tomb)

I’m still trying to figure out how this corner’s going to work… I like the four-to-a-post groupings, so I know I want to keep that – I used to write up book reviews that practically doubled as essays because I tend to be quite rambly in my posts, but then somewhere along the way I think I started to almost set that length as an expectation for myself and lost steam as well as the motivation to write those posts. Then I was also thinking of including a little “next up” part at the end, but I’m more of a mood watcher? I’ll often find a Japanese drama if I want something I can watch in the background while I do something else; I’ll put on a Chinese drama if my multitasking requires a little less thought; I’ll watch a Korean drama if I know I’ll be able to sit down and read the subtitles. But anyhow. Post number two: incoming!^^

닥터스・Doctors

I didn’t notice until I was setting this post up, but I’ve been watching a lot of Park Shin Hye dramas lately! I actually didn’t really like this one at the beginning. The first two or three episodes take place when the characters are still in high school, and I found everything to be really frustrating and petty, so I almost stopped, but then the show time-skipped to when they’ve all grown up and graduated, and I found that things really picked up from there. I like how slow and easy the romance was, without entire episodes dedicated to relationship drama and revenge. It felt a lot more real that way. There’s a lot of intrigues that kept up interest and, though it seemed to end a little too simple at times, and though it was a little ridiculous to see that much makeup and flashy jewelry and all those sky-high heels worn by doctors in a medical center, I think the drama as a whole was really fun to watch. I liked how Yoo Hye Jung’s character was done: how she could be both caring and strong and ambitious and considerate at the same time. The supporting characters were also really enjoyable to follow; my favorites were Jung Yoon Do and Kim Soo Chul – Moon Ji In’s character was also super cute^^ The only character I didn’t really like was Lee Sung Kyung’s character, which is a shame because I really like her as an actress. I don’t like how long they dragged her character’s arc for, only to have it end so simply and abruptly, as well as how simpering, powerless, and incapable they made her. (What kind of a doctor will wear that much metal to a scanning machine, though? Seriously.)

歡樂頌・Ode to Joy

Shit, I related way too much to way too many scenes in this one. I tend to be wary of longer dramas because I find that the plot tends to drag a lot in the middle, and then again toward the end, but I didn’t have this problem with 歡樂頌! It’s easy to watch, and the plot flows smoothly. The chemistry between the characters was really well crafted and executed, too. Guan Ju Er resonated with me the most; An Di deserves nothing but goodness and fluff and I wish I could pluck her out of her story and set her in some fluffy slice-of-life show where everything is happy and wonderful always; Fan Sheng Mei’s scenes were always the most interesting for me, and I found myself rooting for her the whole way through; Qu Xiao Xiao annoyed me during the first half of the drama, but got better in the last part; I never quite got to the same point with Qiu Ying Ying, whose character grated me the wrong way throughout the entire thing, though it had nothing to do with the way she was written, but rather the fact that I was never really good with her type of character in real life either, and I can appreciate the presence of someone like that and her part in the show; Zhao Qi Ping had a couple cringey scenes, and to be honest I’d probably hate him if he was played by any other actor, but he’s played by Wang Kai, so I am Very Confused; Wei Wei drew a resounding “NO” from me and we’ll just leave it at that; I actually found Bao Yi Fan pretty interesting, and I hope to see more of him in the second season; Tan Zong Ming! Is! The! Real! MVP! In short: this drama didn’t come without its problems, but I really really enjoyed it just the same! I think I marathoned the entire thing in two days? And I’m still way too emotionally invested in it. I can’t wait for season two!

넌 내게 반했어・Heartstrings

I started this because I’d seen You’re Beautiful and shipped Park Shin-Hye’s character with Jung Yong-Hwa’s. When that fell through, I found out that the two’s characters got together in Heartstrings, and so here we are^^ I thought this was pretty good? It’s really light, a little cheesy, cliche, but easy and fun to watch. The cast fits together nicely – I really enjoyed watching the scenes with Kim Suk Hyun and Jung Yun Soo. And Han Hee Joo! I wasn’t a huge fan of her at the beginning, but as her character arc progressed, she was bumbling and cowardly and awkward, but the progress she makes later in the drama really redeemed her character for me. Plus the CNBLUE songs were really nice! Jung Yong Hwa has such a nice voice ;__; TL;DR: the official plot sums everything up nicely, and there’s really nothing much else to say, really; it wasn’t amazing, nor was it terrible. It was an okay drama.

盗墓笔记・The Lost Tomb

It’s a little hard to write a reaction to 盗墓笔记 because it’s so short – I didn’t know until after I’d finished all twelve episodes that the whole thing was actually designed as an eight-season show, with only the first season aired as of right now. Because it’s planned to pan for so long, a lot of the first season is just set-up, and there are a lot more questions than there are answers. I will say that I found the excavation scenes and explanations really interesting, though, and I liked where the first half of the season was going! The whole thing kind of came to a lull toward the last few episodes after they came out of the tombs, though, and the graphics were pretty disappointing. I wasn’t disappointed to the extent of quitting mid-season, but it did make me reconsider watching season two, which I haven’t started yet. Some parts are super fascinating, and I do like the actors, but there’s just so many meh parts of the drama, and so many other interesting shows I’ve yet to watch… Hm…

Vicious: A Study

Winter quarter’s come and gone, and now’s probably an apt time to accept that I probably won’t be able to get to my design new year’s resolution – at least not until the summer, once school lets out. I wish I had time for all the things I like doing but university’s determined to take every little piece of my life and. Augh. What can you do.

I did get some breathing time after exams and during syllabus week, so I tried my hand at another study! I had some really nice textures saved on my laptop, and I wanted to try to combine them and play with the colors a little so it came out all bloody and textured to resemble veins and arteries. I also fiddled with fonts to get one that reflected the strength and weight I was trying to portray throughout the rest of the piece. The result’s really quite simple-looking, but I don’t know; I kind of like it^^

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

As usual, feel free to click on the images to view them in a larger size. This time, my inspiration came from V. E. Schwab’s Vicious – which I highly recommend! It was the book that brought me out of one of my bigger reading slumps a few years ago. I used to adamantly only read romance books, and if I remember right I think I’d initially picked Vicious up thinking it was going to be maybe a subtle romance like the author’s debut YA novel was, which I’d really enjoyed. Turns out it didn’t have any romance at all, but it was wonderfully dark and suspenseful, and the kind of novel that really toes at the line between good and evil – the kind of novel I discovered I really enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend giving Vicious a go if it seems even remotely interesting to you, even if you didn’t like the author’s YA series. Or, maybe, especially if you didn’t like any of the author’s YA series? I enjoyed her debut book, but couldn’t get past the first few pages of The Archived. But I found that save for her writing style, Vicious is really unlike any of her earlier books. So that was a really convoluted and rambly explanation, but tldr; do consider giving Vicious a try!

Channel Aerou #1 (Cinderella and Four Knights, Voice, When a Snail Falls in Love, Dear Sister)

I decided to set up a little corner of this blog for all the dramas and movies I watch! I binge-watched a lot over break, and then I snuck in a couple episodes here and there during the school year… *coughs* But. Anyhow. Yep^^

신데렐라와 네 명의 기사・Cinderella and Four Knights

I’m a sucker for these cheesy romance dramas >///< In the right mood, I think they're actually super relaxing because you don't have to think too much to get swept up in all the drama. I wasn't a huge fan of any of the male leads - they were really very cookie-cutter and their acting was plastic - but I liked Lee Jung-Shin as Kang Seo-Woo! ... too bad hardly any of my favorite characters actually graduate from their status as less-significant secondary characters ><;; And I thought Park So-Dam was really cute! She really worked her role, and I'd love to see her in another show soon!

보이스・Voice

Damn, I really liked this one! It started out a little slow, and Moo Jin-Hyuk is definitely the kind of character that you need some time to warm up to, but once the drama starts going it really starts going. The acting is so good, and I love the way the plot panned out, with all those seemingly unrelated events at the beginning snowballing into this one sticky conclusion. I think the rating was upped mid-season for some of the gorier crime scenes – I did fast-forward through some parts because I’m admittedly on the more squeamish side. But I liked it! It was unpredictable; it was different; the directing and the visual effects and the audio were all on point to create this wonderfully intense atmosphere and wow. I wasn’t terribly wowed at the beginning so I wasn’t expecting too much, but I’m really happily surprised.

如果蝸牛有愛情・When a Snail Falls in Love

Literally, all you need to know about this is that Wang Kai is in it and he’s Wang Kai so. _(:3 」∠)_. Every time he smiles in this I think I lose a few years off my life? /cries/ And I think this is one of my favorite Wang Zi Wen roles – and that she and Wang Kai worked really nicely in this! I also watched 歡樂頌 – and I’ll have more to say about 歡樂頌 in a later post – but I think their atmosphere was so much nicer here. The episodes are pretty intense, but it’s rather short, and the ending feels really rushed. I think that was my biggest qualm – the pacing was really ambling and easy in the first half, and then suddenly shot forward in the last few episodes. It isn’t too hard to follow, and I thought it was still really enjoyable, but it could’ve definitely been paced a lot better. I loved the relationships between the officers, especially Yao Meng’s character, so I was really disappointed to see her shoved aside in the latter episodes. There was so much they could’ve done with her character arc, but they chose to ignore it instead. So, all in all, the ending was a letdown, but overall, it was really interesting, I loved the characters and the casting choices, and the drawings were super cute.

ディア・シスター・Dear Sister

Okay so straight up I watched this for 岩ちゃん but then I also discovered Ishihara Satomi and I’m just. Very happy. I was pretty skeptical about the plot at the beginning, but then it turned out to be a really heartwarming one about familial bonds, and I’m really glad I stuck with it. I think it’s super underrated, actually. I love how the story panned out, and I think the actors’ character executions were almost spot-on. It was really nice because there wasn’t really one “villain” character, demonized for the sake of the plot. Instead, the story was carried forward because of a cumulation of the results of the characters’ individual choices, which made it all the more easy to understand and empathize with them, as well as to cheer them on. A nice side effect of this too, then, is that the neatly wrapped-up ending makes you feel all warm and happy inside. So in summary: started for 岩ちゃん, stayed for the story and the emotional investment. I’d definitely recommend watching!

Musings from a Little Planet [the Spring Break Edition]

spring break SPRING BREAK!

So I didn’t get to post that much – read: at all – over the past two months, due to the soul-sucking black hole that is university, and I didn’t really deviate from my dorm-school-cafeteria route either, so there isn’t much by the way of pictures to show in this roundup… but I did treat myself to some skincare products, drama binges, and food adventures during spring break, so here’s a little bit of that! Also, over break I wrote up a couple roundup-type posts on some of the dramas and books I got to catch up on over break and scheduled them so they’ll post over the span of the next little while; please look forward to that was well!

the month that was march

  • Two words: spring break! I basically just lazed around for the last week – slept in until noon, ate food, caught up on a bunch of music and shows and books I haven’t had time for since summer. You know. The works. It was the best I’ve felt in a while, but because of that, I’m a little scared for April; I hope spring quarter won’t hit me too hard.
  • My skin’s been terrible recently, so after a pretty successful round of midterms, I decided to treat myself by trying out some new toners and cleansing oils! Back in Japan, I’d been trying out some products by 肌ラボ, and I brought their toner and skin milk with me to university. I have combination-type skin, and while I really like their toner, I didn’t like how their skin milk sat on my skin? Even if you spread it thinly, it feels like there’s this cloggy, gloopy layer on your face, but it’s also simultaneously watery?? I’m pretty close to finishing the bottle, thankfully. I also tried Missha’s Perfect BB Deep Cleansing Oil first, which, while it definitely does a great job of cleaning off makeup, has a really off-putting smell? Also, it really stings if it gets into your eyes – really, really stings. After that, though, I got Innisfree’s Balancing Cleansing Oil from their green tea line, and I’m loving it so far – it has a gentle smell, it does a great job of gently cleaning, and it doesn’t dry out my skin. I’d definitely recommend it over Missha’s.
    • UPDATE: The Innisfree Cleansing Oil works really well with waterproof mascara also! It’s really gentle on the eyes. I’m really happy with it^^
  • I saw La La Land early March! But, ah, I didn’t really enjoy it? I thought the color choices were really dreamy, the costumes looked really fun, the ending was really satisfying, and Emma Stone’s never had a bad movie. My favorite part was probably the soundtrack – especially City of Stars. But also, on the other hand, the movie was twice as long as it had to be – what was the exploding galaxy dance thing in the middle? – and. Ryan Gosling. It was not his movie. Granted, this is the only one of his movies I’ve seen, and maybe it was just an off-movie for him. But I was so confused? Because his singing was really impressive! I was really impressed by his dancing too! But then he opened his mouth to act! And I! Just!
  • ?????
  • ????????
  • Needless to say, he did not make the movie for me. Rather, he kind of broke it for me (shout out to John Legend for doing his best to rescue all those Ryan Gosling scenes).
  • I also watched the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast over my winter break! It was super nice because the theater I went to had this really yummy chocolate popcorn. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really like popcorn by itself – none of the standard salt and pepper or butter or cheese stuff – but I like it coated in caramel or chocolate. So that was nice! I had mixed feelings about the movie, though? First things first, the costumes were absolutely gorgeous! I was in the costumes crew of my school’s theater program all throughout middle and high school, and costumes make up a huge part of the experience for me, and Beauty and the Beast didn’t disappoint. Far from it, actually. What I wouldn’t do to be on the costumes team for this movie *-* As for the movie… it was okay? There was so much hype and notice about all these changes and inclusions being made to the movie so that it was more empowering! More feminist! More inclusive! But then you get to the actual movie and it’s rather lackluster? They’re all blink-and-they’re-gone changes, barely-there, and even harder to catch. For example, all that about Belle inventing the washing machine so she could teach a girl to read? It’s sloppily put together, and I feel hurts rather than helps the issue by demonizing an idea. And a core idea that I think is actually quite valuable – that beauty is only skin-deep – was completely trashed by the fact that the beast is actually quite handsome? They dolled him up even before the ballroom scene, all flowing mane and large, shining eyes. So. Yeah. And then there are the musical numbers. The ridiculous levels of autotune on Emma Watson’s voice made me cringe every time, but I thought the rest of the cast was really well put together. The introductory “Belle” was my favorite – I love how it all came together^^

the status update corner

In the karaoke booth: 幸福的終點 (曾婕Joey.Z)
On the nightstand: 椿町ロンリープラネット by やまもり三香
The app that never closes: EnStars
And, the show: 琅琊榜
Current worry: the three letters of despair: g-p-a
Looking forward to: …is it too early to start looking forward to summer?^^;;

Musings from a Little Planet [New Year, and Me]

And before you know it…

The first month of the year has already come and gone! I’ve decided to revamp MfaLP a little – the two-column layout wasn’t really working and looked pretty hard on the eyes, so I’m reverting back to recapping my month in the form of sub-headings, pictures, and lists.

The month that was January

  • I actually flew back for school super early in the month, and honestly my life’s been almost entirely eat sleep study after that, but since I didn’t do a December wrap-up, I included pictures of some of the things I ate when I went home for winter break in the little collage below. I miss Japan so much ;___;
  • I bought books! There aren’t quite enough to do an entire post on them, but I got five titles just before school started! Three manga tankoubons, one novel whose synopsis hit super close to home for me, and a super interesting-sounding anthology. Anthologies aren’t usually my thing, but I skimmed through the first story and loved it, so we’ll see how this one goes^^  I got 椿町ロンリープラネット volumes five and six because [insert soundless screaming here] and also anything Yamamori Mika makes is an insta-buy for me. The other tankoubon is called 同居人はひざ、時々、頭のうえ。and the illustrations were way too cute to pass up. The kitty *o*
  • I also plucked up the courage to ask my math and Chem professors for recommendation letters this month and [insert more soundless screaming but for an entirely different reason]. Thankfully they both said yes, but I think I’m still shaking someone hold me asdfghjkl.
  • Also, I think just as a person currently in the US, January was a pretty terrifying time. I tend not to write or tweet things about politics yet – especially on twitter, because I don’t really think I’m up to that point in my English studies where I can properly articulate my thoughts in only 140 words, so most of my feed turns out to be Japanese, with a shitton of English political retweets, if anyone was wondering why that was the case – but. Fuck. It happened. And this month’s been an exercise in a lot of things I never dreamed would happen when I decided to study in the US. I really wanted to say more on this but I can’t seem to find the words, and I know if the situation’s like this for me, in one of the most liberal places in the US, I can’t imagine how the climate’s gotten for others. Just please know that you are wanted; you are loved; you are important. You are stardust and thousands of years of evolution and progress and you belong in this world. So keep your head up.

January On The Blog

The Status Update Corner

In the karaoke booth: すきなうた (yui × 鎖那)
On the nightstand: 椿町ロンリープラネット by やまもり三香
The app that never closes: EnStars
And, the show: Project Runway
Current worry: politcs.
Looking forward to: spring break!