I’ve got the scoop on some terrific new shows for you to watch if you’re feeling bored or uninspired, so check ’em out!
I came across Handa-kun on my new Funimation subscription quite by accident. And trust me, it was a happy accident. I can usually be found on my couch the night a new episode comes out cackling gleefully at Handa’s unfortunate daily life.
Handa-kun is actually a prequel to another anime that I recently discovered, Barakamon. (Barakamon will get its own write-up shortly.) However, you don’t need to have seen Barakamon at all to enjoy Handa-kun.
The anime basically revolves around a high school student named Handa who is super socially awkward but is frequently misunderstood and ends up becoming the most popular kid in school with a celebrity-like status (even with his own fan club, the Handa Force!) He, however, has absolutely no idea that this is happening and is stuck in his own little world as he struggles to communicate or just scrape by in school with anyone talking to him, when in reality all the girls want to ask him out and all the boys want to be his friend but are too scared to approach him!
Yes, this show is completely ridiculous. But it’s SO funny. Poor Handa. He never gets in on the jokes at all!
I don’t watch a ton of mecha anime. It’s just not my top pick as a genre. That being said, Kuromukuro is honestly one of the best anime shows I have seen in a while, and I spend most of my nights and weekends watching anime so that’s saying something.
Kuromukuro is the story of a untalented, unmotivated teen girl named Yukina whose life completely changes one day when she goes to see her mother at work to return a lost mobile phone. Mechas known as “ogres” (thought only to be legend previously) start attacking out of nowhere, and a mysterious artifact in the laboratory where the girl’s mother works suddenly reveals a person stuck inside it, who uses a mecha to fight the ogres! The person is a samurai about Yukina’s age who has been trapped in the cube for the last 450 years. They discover that both the samurai, Kennosuke, as well as Yukina have special abilities to pilot the mecha, Kuromukuro, but that’s only the beginning.
The series is really fun. The characters are fun to watch, the plot is fun to unravel, and the writing is so funny sometimes. Watching Kennosuke try to adjust to the modern world is really trippy. The animation and music feel good, too. It takes aspects that I appreciate from great mecha series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Eureka Seven, just to name a couple, but doesn’t copy them at all. You can feel some inspiration drawn but Kuromukuro is distinctly its own world and own story.
I really like this one. It’s currently at 13 episodes and there’s another batch of 13 coming…sometime.
I just picked this one up recently with pretty low expectations but I’m so hooked. I am seriously in love with this drama. W is a really unusual Korean drama. It goes off the deep end with the fantasy theme and succeeds in ways I never thought possible.
The show revolves around a young female doctor, Oh Yeon Joo, at a hospital in Korea. Her father is a famous graphic novel author, known for a crime/action series he writes called “W”. One day, her father disappears and when she goes to investigate, she is somehow pulled into the world of the graphic novel where she becomes a character and must advance the plot! “W” revolves around a young wealthy Olympic athlete named Kang Chul who seeks to bring justice to the world after his family was tragically found murdered and he was wrongfully imprisoned for the crime. He becomes the CEO of a multi-million dollar broadcasting company set on finding truth and shedding light on unsolved crimes. Yeon Joo finds herself traveling back and forth between the worlds at random to help Kang Chul as her father tries to unsuccessfully kill him over and over again– he wants to end the series of books, but the character finds a way to thwart death every time! But as she becomes more entangled in Kang Chul’s world, she finds it harder and harder to keep the big secret about what his world really is from him.
This series sounded really weird to me but it’s very well done! I think the writing, directing, and acting all came together perfectly to create this crazy world that you drop right into. It’s truly compelling. At first Kang Chul just seemed like this sort of larger than life Ken doll but quickly showed there’s more to him than meets the eye, and Yeon Joo is easy to empathize with. This show is still running but I am consuming it as fast as I can.
I’ve seen The Heirs twice now. It’s not a new show, but it is popular because it pairs two extremely famous Korean stars together in a romance and people seem to really like the show. I didn’t care much for it on the first viewing, but my husband thought we should give it a second chance because it’s so hyped so I tried it again.
The story revolves around Park Shin Hye (who is pretty much “the actress who plays the girl next door” in this genre) as Cha Eun Sang, just an ordinary girl from a blue collar family. Through a variety of circumstances she ends up getting romantically involved in the life of wealthy heir to a large company named Kim Tan (played by Lee Min Ho, who is pretty much “that actor who plays wealthy heir characters”.) They end up going to the same school and Eun Sang finds herself getting in way over her head as she becomes entangled in the lives of several troubled youths in the elite upper class out to destroy her.
This drama was a yawn for me on the first viewing for a few reasons: the plot is really formulaic, the actors are completely typecast (as alluded to above), some of the writing is kind of inconsistent with characterization and it was a downer with all the crap that Eun Sang has to go through for a guy that she didn’t really like that much until he just kept showing up in her life. Lee Min Ho gives a likeable performance and some of the supporting cast were good, but overall this is one of the last things on my list to watch on a rainy day.
However. I had a revelation during this second viewing. One of the major supporting characters, Choi Young Do (played by Kim Woo Bin) actually goes through quite a bit over the course of the show and I had been so busy with feeling dragged down by Eun Sang the first time through that I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed Young Do’s character progression. He’s a petty bully at the beginning of the series, beating up and threatening scholarship students so badly that they have to transfer. But he changes. He spends all his time curious about Eun Sang and whether or not she’s really nouveau riche, and when he finds out she’s a scholarship student he just feels bad for her and wants to keep her circumstances secret to protect her (much to his, and everyone’s surprise.) When she shirks him, he tries to do nice things like take her out to lunch, show up at her home to meet her just to say “hi” and find out if she is okay, and even buys out the whole coffee shop she works at for a couple of hours just so he can spend time with her. And when Eun Sang officially turns him down after he confesses, he moves on. Not only does he find his first love and have the maturity to move on, he also resolves some difficult family situations and becomes a more complete man. Gosh, that’s so awesome, right? I have to give Kim Woo Bin major props for acting the heck out of the bad boy role but also showing a sensitive side. He really gave life to what could have been a very two-dimensional character.
So, if I view Heirs through the lens of Young Do instead of Eun Sang and Kim Tan, I like it a whole lot. <3
That’s all for now, but I have a lot of juicy new shows on the backburner so I’ll tell you all about them next time!
Kuromukuro is available on Netflix, Handa-kun I found on Funimation, and W and The Heirs are available on Hulu.