To the people who don’t understand the “hype” around BTS and their success in America,

People are obsessed with the idea of an underdog succeeding – that’s just the way it’s always been. Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen – they all started out on Youtube, and now they are household names. They were talent under our noses, and they deserved their spotlight. So, when they finally had the light on them, their fans knew that this was how things were supposed to be.

However, people aren’t just obsessed with the successful underdog – they’re obsessed with the pride that comes with being with the underdog from the very beginning. When I say “obsessed,” this is in no means an insult. The pride that comes with stumbling upon a group so talented but unknown is like striking gold and wondering why people still can’t see it shine, so when the public eye finally sees that gold glimmer, we feel like we’re still holding it in our hands, knowing that “finally, they see what I always saw.”

BTS has been around for longer than most people know, especially people in America who just recently saw the American Music Awards.

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Back when their concept was dark, hip-hop sans the bright colors, ARMY was a young, adolescent group, supporting their idols through social media step by step until one day, BTS won their first award for their song “I Need U.” I can remember the release of the music video and keeping it on repeat. I wanted BTS to have those views; we all wanted them to finally have that win. From that first win, it only got better from there. All of Asia knew of BTS, and more of the world knew about BTS. Of course, that pride was still there. Some of us were able to say, “I saw you when you were in the dark, doing your best to find the light.”

This is the reality – there is no hype. The fans we saw screaming the BTS fan chant at the AMAs did not spring out of the wood works. They were always there. Even those of us who aren’t as vocal anymore; we knew that this group deserved so much more than they had been given.

The reality of loving KPOP and being involved with the Hallyu scene is that not all groups succeed. There is proof of this in the past year with the use of shows like Produce101 and The Unit which was used to help “failed” idol groups have their time to shine. There is talent everywhere, but not everyone succeeds on the first try. Of the 40 groups who enter the public eye, only a handful actually make it to where they want to be.

For those people you come across who say BTS isn’t talented – that they lip sync – they can’t dance – they’re just pretty boys at the big boy playground and they don’t know what they’re doing…

This is what we need you to understand.

BTS did not come out of nowhere. They’ve always been here. They’ve always been doing exactly what you saw them do the other night at the AMAs. This performance was nothing new – in fact, any BTS fan can say they’ve seen DNA performed a million times over exactly the way they performed it for America. If an artist dances like that, they must be lip syncing, right? Idols in Asia train for this – they train to perform exactly like you saw BTS perform. What you saw wasn’t just “a BTS thing,” this is what idols do. This is not something handed to anyone – you say that groups like this are placed together and have no passion for music. What we say, as people who saw them at their lowest, is that if you have no passion for music, no drive to succeed at doing something you love, no talent to deserve this fame,

Why would you keep trying for years and years even though you still might not make it? Why would you take every chance you could if you didn’t love music with every fiber of your body? Why would you practice through the night, never knowing if anyone would hear your voice if you didn’t have passion?

This is what the idols who we have been supporting through the dark do every single day until they succeed.

You don’t understand the hype around BTS, @PerezHilton? Haven’t you helped musicians rise to the top because you saw their potential when no one else did?

I remember when BTS released I Need U, waiting for that award to finally touch their fingertips. At the same time, another group had released new music, and BTS was pushed to the side because they weren’t important enough. So while I ran back to the friends I had who loved this group like I did, even the rest of the KPOP public eye turned away because this group was still that clump of stone with no shine. Fast forward to when Dope was released, and suddenly, wow, everyone loves BTS? Not two weeks later, BTS was all I saw. The exact same people who told me they didn’t care about this group are posting BTS videos and acting like they’re the ones who just struck gold even though ARMY had been holding it in our hands, trying to prove that we were holding treasure.

This is the “hype.”

The hype is that this “global phenomenon” is nothing new to us. The hype is that we had been holding a spotlight over this group all these years, and finally, the light is shining on them naturally without our help.

The BTS that you’ve just now discovered is the BTS we’ve been trying to show you.

Thank you for finally seeing them.

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The Timelessness of Wong Fu Productions

Lately, I’ve been going through an odd phase in what music I listen to.

It started out as the rediscovering of my love for the band Day6 as they reminded me of the music I used to listen to before I got into Hallyu. As I listened to the lyrics, learned of the background behind the music, and really listened to what I was hearing did I start to think about why and how I connected this music more than I did to others. This somehow led to opening up an old library of my music – artists like Kina Grannis, David Choi, and AJ Rafael – but not the new things. It was all the old music, the stuff I lived off in high school. These songs built up the soundtrack of my junior year in high school.

I grew up listening to a number of different things – ranging from whatever my parents listened to all the way to the music I discovered myself, love songs with meanings I understood but not really? Living in the age of angsty love songs was not entirely relatable when you’re a freshman in high school sans first kiss, sans first relationship, sans any exposure to what love and romance really is outside of movies and books.

However, there was something else I grew up with, but this was something that continued to grow with me as the scene evolved as I grew up yet it somehow maintained a sense of reliability in that I will always understand what they’re talking about.

I first stumbled across what was to become Wong Fu Productions when my dad presented me with a video called “Yellow Fever.” It was satirical. It was funny. It was relatable? It was something hilarious to watch with my dad, and it was honestly one of the first really amazing examples of Asian American produced media that I was able to enjoy. From there, I eventually learned of their other videos, who they were, etc. And again, from there, I was able to learn some new things about how life worked. Around the time their video “Strangers Again” was released, I was in my second relationship. Around that time, this video was relatable but only certain aspects. Then came my first college relationship – well, the tail end of it. Again, it was more than relatable and moreover relevant to how I felt. The stages of a relationship and how it was a continuous cycle – it was all true. How could they have made this more relevant to my life? Only it wasn’t just to my life; it was relevant to everyone who watched, and that was why it was so popular. Fast forward to the end my first love, and suddenly, this video pops up again out of the blue and it’s relevant.

Again.

Again? And again and again and again – this video was always there to remind me that, hey, I’m not alone in this. These stages of romance aren’t unusual. Everyone goes through these things.

So, here I am in 2017, watching “When It Counts” almost five years later. I remember waiting for these episodes to be released, and now here I am yet again. I also remember one year while in Los Angeles, I saw Wes Chan, one of the main faces of Wong Fu, standing across the venue, and I was so in awe I couldn’t bring myself to move.

I was reminded of how influential Wong Fu truly was even at the most random time. I took the bus up to New York, a six hour drive with no sleep until I finally got to the venue with tickets to see Day6 live. Jae Park, the band’s vocalist brought up the story of how he started his journey to really wanting to be a musician, and he brought up his encounter with Phil of Wong Fu.

I was in an audience of younger girls, so I had to wonder if they’d had the same memories of Wong Fu that I did. But when Jae said that the words he’d received that day at a meet and greet were what pushed him forward, it reopened my eyes to how continuously influential Wong Fu was.

What did the presence of Wong Fu in my life do for me?

I wanted to create.

I wanted to be influential.

I wanted to use my passion – writing – to make people feel a certain way, think different things, and believe that they weren’t alone.

I wanted to be somebody beyond what everyone assumed I would be.

Whether it’s 2011 – 2015 – 2017, I’ll still be watching Wong Fu videos when I need them the most. It could be when I have (yet another) platonic crush that will never be anything more or it could be when I’m starting to fall in love again.

They’ll always be there.

**

Keep in touch with your author on Instagram @ai.lumi!

And stay tuned for a special Day6 fan project coming up on our LumiScript!

LumiLens: We Broke Up Review

Korean dramas have been taking over the Asian entertainment business by storm for the past couple of years. From their beautiful and talented actors to the complex plot line, these shows have captured the attention of millions around the world. Although there are amazing shows out there today, some viewers might think that it might take too much time to watch each episode. However, there is a new type of drama has found its place in the limelight. “Web dramas” are shows that are much shorter, estimating to be about five to fifteen minutes per episode, compared to the long and heavily detailed 45 minute dramas. Even though web dramas are much shorter in length, they are still able to tell their stories beautifully and capture the hearts of their viewers. These shows are perfect for those who want to watch a show but do not want to invest too much time in them.

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Produced by YG Entertainment’s model management company, YG KPLUS, “We Broke Up” is a web drama about a couple that recently split. Former 2NE1 member, Sandara Park, and Kang Seungyoon of WINNER take the lead roles of Noh Woori and Ji Wonyoung, respectively, in this melodrama.

Woori, a college student, meets Wonyoung, the lead singer of his band at one of his small gigs. Their relationship moves quickly and soon begin living together. Due to various problems, they decide to break up. However, they remain to live together under the same roof until their housing contracts end. To keep each other out of their lives, they try to distance themselves and go as far as to make a list of strict rules to not bother each other at home. However, Woori becomes concerned when Wonyoung suggests to not interfere in each other’s love life, thinking that he’s started dating other people already. As the two begin their lives apart, they meet new people, which causes tension between the two.

You might think that this 10 episode series will be depressing and filled with lots of tears and heartbreak, but it isn’t. Each episode is actually quite comedic because of the petty, yet silly, actions Woori and Wonyoung do towards each other. Despite the crazy antics they get into, there are times where they’ll reflect on their past relationship. The longing Woori and Seungyoon have for each other feels so real. You could feel your heartstrings being pulled whenever our star couple missed each other. For those who have experienced a breakup, you might begin to reminisce the feeling of breakups and the longing you may had for your ex-significant other. Throughout the series, the directors really capture the residual feelings one experiences post-breakup. Little things such as Woori worrying if Wonyoung ate yet or Wonyoung wondering why Woori hasn’t come home yet, really tugs at your heart, making you wish that they have a chance to get back together at the end of the series.

The biggest takeaway from this drama was to cherish your relationship!

The experience outweighs the outcome. Be fond of the memories you made with that special someone. If you do find yourself at the end of a relationship, don’t worry. You will feel sad and upset. You will wonder how you’ll continue with the most important person in your life, gone. You will ask yourself when you’ll stop missing them.

It’s okay to feel sad and cry.

Give yourself time to heal.

It’ll be okay.

You will be okay.

I really enjoyed watching “We Broke Up.” The storyline was well thought out and the actors were able to tell the story seamlessly. Those who have experienced a breakup would enjoy this because they will be able to empathize with the ex-couple and understand their feelings. Anyone who likes a more serious drama with bits of comedic relief would enjoy this as well! Since each episode is about 20 minutes long, it’s a good series to watch during your lunch break or right before bed – perfect for any Lumi-readers who are busybees.

Be on the lookout for more web drama reviews from the Lumi team!

LumiScope: Alan Z

Asian artists are surely taking the world by storm. Most recently, South Korean boy group BTS made a breakthrough to mainstream listeners above the massive fanbase they already held in a less known scene. While the world of KPOP is considered highkey to those already part of this domain, American audiences are still unaware of the impact Asians and Asian Americans are having on the music industry.

Among the US streets of Atlanta, Georgia, another artist has garnered his own fanbase with fans traveling to see his shows, purchase his albums, and support him in any way they can. I first came across Alan Z when he attended a smaller function in Virginia. He held a strong presence without as many words needed compared to others, and it was more than obvious that he was an artist, ready to stand out and stand up for the Asian American music scene with his original productions and hardworking image.

Alan recently released a new music video for his song “Touch and Go” – a trendy, modern tune that he produced and a video he co-directed. We were lucky to be able to catch an interview with him!

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Has your original image/vision for your music changed since you started?

Alan Z: My vision for striving to be a household name and pop sensation never changed, but my image definitely changed throughout the times. When I was younger, I had different management teams, and they pushed me towards either the “grown and sexy” suited-up look, or the preppy, teenage Justin Bieber look. I hated both of those looks for me. Then I started wearing hats and baggy pants, but unfortunately, the classic hip-hop style was out. Fast-forward to now, I got my signature wavy hair and fitted jeans. I miss the old hip-hop fashion, but unfortunately, it’s a new world we live in.

You co-directed the music video for Touch And Go; did you ever imagine you’d be covering all areas of production when you first started making music?

Alan Z: I knew I was going to be hands-on with everything, which I believe is the result of being a perfectionist. Well, that and also because I learned that you can’t depend on people for anything. The video concept for “Touch And Go” has been like three years in the making. My best friend Taaj and I first brainstormed about it in 2014 when I first recorded the song, and I finally decided to finish writing the video treatment and putting together the cast and crew this past summer. It features three love interests and our storylines are intertwined within the main narrative. Whoever is reading this that hasn’t seen “Touch And Go” yet, watch it now on YouTube so you can say that you saw it before I become too mainstream and bandwagon fans discover me way later.

Of your songs, I imagine there are some selections that you hold near and dear to you. At the moment, are there any of your songs that are more relevant than others to your life?

Alan Z: I have a song called “Discriminated” on my new EP “First Time’s The Charm”, where I open up about the discrimination I faced throughout my childhood and how it followed me into my music career, which has been an uphill battle due to racism. But in the song, I’m not just complaining; I’m fighting back against anyone that has got a problem with me. I interpolated the Eminem line “have you ever been hated or discriminated against” in the song for obvious reasons. There’s also my EP intro track “No Handouts”, which was my F-U to everyone in a higher-up position or had the funds to help me but flaked on doing anything for me. So the idea is that I will make it with or without them. No favors, no helping hand, no handouts.

When you first started making music, what did you think it was going to be like for you? Did you imagine it would be like how it is for you now?

Alan Z: When I started rapping at 12 years old, I thought all I had to do was be good and I’d get signed, and then I wouldn’t have to finish high school. I was wrong obviously. I grew up to learn this business was 90% business, 10% music. Especially nowadays talent is not enough without popularity, so I work effortlessly to build my buzz and keep my momentum going. Alan Z is going to be a household name regardless.

The term “selling out” often comes to mind as the popularity of underground artists hit mainstream media. What do you think of artists who do sell out, and do you think selling out is inevitable or it can be prevented?

Alan Z: I think selling out is subjective. For example, me making pop music isn’t selling out in my case because I have an ear for making catchy songs and I have the Midas touch with any record I’m on, meaning I can put a fire hook on a beat and turn it into a potential radio smash. My definition of selling out is doing something that you personally don’t agree with, for the sake of fame or money. I’m down with making power moves, getting endorsement deals, acting in film and commercials, and making radio songs; all of which may be considered “selling out” to some people. However, what I will NOT do is portray Asians in a negative light or drop one of my talents to be more easily pigeonholed, whether it be singing or rapping. I don’t need to sell out now for me to pack stadiums soon and sell out crowds (bars).  

Was there ever a time during your career that you considered giving up?

Alan Z: Oh of course. That thought has come to my mind, but no matter how close I come to saying “f— it”, I bounce back and go harder. I’m well-aware that many artists that could be lending a helping hand see me as a threat and just watch me from a distance, and my patience has been wearing thinner by the day by false promises and industry snakes. But my love for music, my never-ending lust for success, and passion for impacting others keep me going. No matter how crazy it may sound to some now, I’m say it here: Alan Z will be a global phenomenon.

Passion in music surpasses any other kind of determination when you start off raw, and Alan Z is a prime example of what hard work can do. Beating the odds and showing his audience that he is capable of doing what he sets out to do, he is definitely one to keep on your radar.

Support Alan Z by following him on social media and by watching his new MV for “Touch and Go”!

Follow L.A. on Instagram: http://instagram.com/ai.lumi
Is there another Asian American artist you think LumiScript should look into? Let us know by emailing LumiScriptOfficial@gmail.com!

Tu-esday OOTD: Japangeles

(L.A.) recently made a trip to Los Angeles for KCON 2017, and judging from all her stories and pictures she shared with me, it seemed like she had a ton of fun! Seeing her enjoy herself that much made me want to visit LA again. Hopefully for next year, I can go with her and meet all these cool people she talked about!

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On my own past trip to Los Angeles back in March, I really wanted to buy a jacket from Japangeles, a small business found in Little Tokyo. It was a windbreaker that was being sold at a small booth near the entrance. I told myself to wait until the last day to see if I really wanted it since it was $55. Not too expensive, but hey, I don’t want to regret purchasing anything. I’ve had my fair share of impulse purchases and later regretted them all.

On my last day in LA, I still wanted to buy it so I told myself to go back to Little Tokyo just to get it. I stayed at an AirbnB less than a block away so I didn’t have to travel too far. Unfortunately, the booth was closed by the time I went back, so I left LA empty-handed. I was pretty sad. I even checked their website but that was under construction. Luckily, L.A. was able to buy it for me when she was there! Bless friends that buy you things from across the country. Thanks, birb. ❤

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Here’s a picture of the windbreaker by Japangeles! I got this in the cameo design but there’s also a maroon one and black one! The orange font on the front and back of the jacket gives it a nice pop of color. I’ve been looking for a jacket like this for a very long time and I’m so glad I was finally able to get my hands on this. The design of the jacket gives off a street vibe, which fits my style completely. When I think of street styled clothing, I think of big, loose fitting clothes that make you feel and look cool! Every time I wear this jacket, I feel like a total bada** and I don’t know…I just feel like my cool levels went from a 2 to a solid 9. (The last few sentences just sounded super lame…I’m sorry. I don’t even know if I’ll include this.)

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The material of this jacket is very nice and definitely worth its price. The stitching around the fabric is very small, meaning that it’ll last a long time and won’t break anytime soon.

Here’s a pro-tip in purchasing clothes: if the stitches are big, do not buy it!

Small, multiple stitches are stronger and will have your clothes last longer. The fabric itself is very smooth and soft, so it’s comfortable to wear. It’s thin, but it will keep you warm when it gets chilly. When you touch the inside of the jacket, you can actually feel that there’s a soft layer inside that provides insulation. It’s the perfect time to whip out a jacket like this since autumn is slowly rolling in. If it gets too cold, there are buttons that you can use to bundle up. Compared to other similar jackets I own, this one has the nicest quality. I have a jacket from YesStyle that’s the same style but is very low in quality. The YesStyle jacket is just the outer layer of the Japangeles jacket. It doesn’t keep you warm at all and it feels like I’m wearing a plastic bag. Well, I guess that’s what $10 gives you, doesn’t it?

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I got this in a size small, but it’s quite big on me as you can tell. It’s the perfect item to layer with for cold days. I can see myself wearing a hoodie or a big sweater underneath this! For warmer days, I can see myself rocking a plain white tee with this jacket. Since this jacket is so loud on its own, I recommend wearing something simple underneath.

Overall, I am completely in love with this jacket! If I could, I would buy the maroon version just because the rest of my wardrobe is pretty monotone. I’m starting to use jackets as an accessory piece, and these windbreakers are right up my alley. I’d also check out the other merchandise Japangeles has to offer since the quality of this jacket is so nice. I’m sure that their sweaters and t-shirts are also high quality. I’ll definitely be purchasing more clothes from them once they have their website up and running! Japangeles staff, please open up your website soon so east coast dwellers like me can buy your clothing line!

For those residing in the LA area, please check them out and support them! They recently opened up a store in Little Tokyo, and I’m so happy that they’ve upgraded from the small little booth they once had when I last visited. I hope that this small, independent business expands in the new few years and I can’t wait to see them grow.

Keep hustling, Japangeles!

JJANGIE TRENDS: Beauty People Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pact

 

Three weeks ago, I came down to KCON LA 2017 as my sixth year attending this annual All Things Hallyu convention. Every year, M Countdown hosts one of the biggest kpop concerts to be held in the US, as well as its other expansions across the world, filled with the main attraction of Korean Pop music, captivating Korean culture, and popular K-beauty trends for people to enjoy.

As foreseen, a stop I’ve mostly made this year was the Beauty Block of the convention where an assortment of different korean makeup brands such as April Skin, Innisfree, and the FaceShop can be viewed and bought at alluring sales. Knowing myself, I am not quite familiar with how the world of cosmetics work but thanks to our other author (L.A.) who attended with me this year, she has given me some insight of the basics before we came. So, for this year, I took the chance to check out one booth that caught my attention.


Beauty Block can be found on Yesstyle, their products having a distinct symbol to recognize over the rest. The one product I purchased was the Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pact, a 1.8g shimmering eyeshadow. (L.A.) introduced me to Stila’s product that was similar,  and I immediately fell in love with its glow. However, I knew I would probably not be able to find the same exact one as her’s. As seen, it is a a small round compact of a single eyeshadow pact which comes in eight different tones like Sugar Light (pictured above). This pact’s oil base allows for excellent skin adhesion; it’s almost impossible for the product to fall off easily, leaving a long-lasting effect and a nice shiny base.


In the main description, it explains to use a small brush with the eyeshadow to gently smooth over your eyelids as instructions. Unfortunately, the brush barely grabs any of the product unless I continuously rub the brush over the surface until I’m satisfied with how much I have.


When applying directly as a base, I would recommend using your finger as it melts the product, and it would be easier to evenly blend across your eyelids. Something worth noting is that the shimmer IS NOT glitter. In fact, it more like little bits of breakable, loose flakes. Using your finger instead of a brush allows the little bits of “thin foil”  to break and become smaller, resembling more of what actual glitter looks like on skin when using this compression pact.


Like the the title says, this is a pigment pact.

 

Let me repeat that, the eyeshadow is REALLY PIGMENTED!

 

Above, I did a side by side comparison of Beauty People’s Flash Fix Pearl Pigment Pearl Pact (in the middle) with two other shimmer eyeshadows from Wet n Wild’s Au Naturel palette, and the shine is definitely something to note! I am picky with products like this, but, because of the deep pigmentation and light tone, I grew to love it even more. The amount that I used in the picture is smaller than you would think; specifically, I only pressed enough into the soft creamy eyeshadow a few times, and already there’s a sufficient amount collected. This product that also we used as a highlighter, but one needs to be careful of how much to apply onto your cheek and to evenly blending it out.

 

One note to make when removing, the shimmer will spread if you use a makeup remover wipe, but after washing with soap and water all the product will be off.  

 

Overall, I’m really happy with this eyeshadow and really recommend any one of the pacts if you’re looking for a glossy and elegant look to add to your makeup routine!

LumiScope: @kodaslife_

With the number of fashion icons and bloggers growing with the help of social media, underdog users are taking us by surprise with new content for their followers to enjoy. In the west coast scene, where fashion and Instagram go hand in hand, Koda (@kodaslife_) has his image steadily landing in the spotlight with the help of his style and his music. LumiScript caught a glimpse of this young icon through KoreLimited LA’s Instagram, sporting their apparel. From there, we had the pleasure of interviewing, so that his followers – current and future – might have a new insight past Instagram.

There are a lot of fashion bloggers nowadays. What do you think is the biggest challenge in terms of boosting your audience when there’s a lot of rising competition?

I would have to say the hardest part or the biggest challenge when boosting your audience is the boosting part you have maintain a certain thing people like to keep your audience attention so they can show their friends about you.

Do you have a fashion icon celebrity and/or on Instagram?

Fashion icons: Victoria Loi (@victorialoi), @emilytheghoul, @ellenvlora, @flamcis, @marycake, @zachchoi, @kidkoji, @iamkareno, Jenn Im (@imjennim), Sophia Chang (@sophiachang)

Through your experience so far, what have been the most rewarding experiences you’ve had?

Through my experience being a fashion blogger, my biggest achievement is my supporters. I love them so much, and each and every little comment makes me happy. I’m very thankful for them (and also the free clothing, at times).

 

You’re also a musician. Is there a particular subject you find yourself writing about?

With music, I’ve always been into it since I was little, and I started writing songs since I was 13. I’m 19 now; a style that really fits me well is deep or about love because I feel I can put my passion and feelings into music.

Do you think that sound and image change with popularity over time?

Yes and no. I believe it changes because your audience changes, and most people are heavily influenced by the things that they hear or see and want to be like the next person because that’s what’s hot at the moment. I’ve changed my style many times.

For your music, who do you want your audience to be?

I would love to work towards a positive environment and just good vibes – mainly 16 and up.

 

 

What is your long term goal fashion and music wise?

My long term fashion goal is to just dress nice all the time and turn heads while walking down the street. I love compliments ❤

 

What do you think is the biggest misconception with online fashion icons?

I feel there is a lot of ego and arrogance in the fashion industry.

 

Is there a motto you live by?

My motto is pretty simple; it’s just to be yourself. That’s all you have in the end.

What is something you want your audience to know about you?

I want my audience to know they are very special to me, and I love them with all of my heart. #kobruhs look out for new music soon and follow my ig kodaslife_.

Please support Koda through his journey!

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@kodaslife_

 

LumiLens: Netflix’s Death Note

Time to place this all out into words while it’s still in my head and before I try to completely distract myself with Longguo and Shihyun.

Death Note was one of the first lengthy animes I ever watched. Having been lightly exposed to darker forms of media like Law and Order or Sleepy Hollow as a child, I grew to truly enjoy any kind of entertainment that stimulated my thoughts and made me question, “What would I do in this situation?” Death Note was one of those series. I could rewatch it countless times and never grow tired of the plot, and, to this day, it remains my favorite series. The complexities behind it are what really make this anime famous.

So let’s strip away the complexities and lay out the Netflix rendition of Death Note – because that’s what it is – a rendition.

I was, of course, part of the angered crowd that was frustrated at the thought of there being no Asian American actors in this film. The news became a huge topic in the Asian community, although, if you have seen interviews of the Japanese community in Asia commenting on American casting, they actually have no problem with it. To them, the casting of an American actor with more European features is more accurate to the animation than casting an Asian actor. Keeping this in mind, I pushed aside my prejudice and kept an open mind until I heard more about the Netflix movie.

When the move revealing trailer was released, it suddenly became obvious that this was not the Death Note I had binge watched in the past. This was an American rendition of the concept of Death Note, applied to an American setting. This being said, there was no real reason to keep the same character name “Light” if this was a typical American boy.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

In comparison to the cookie cutter life that Light Yagami had in the original series, Light Turner comes from a broken family; his mother was killed and the perpetrator bought his way out of the indictment. Light Turner holds a heavy amount of anger towards the world, and, frankly, he has an obnoxious sense of justice that earns him a beating within the first five minutes of the movie. In no way is this character supposed to be Light Yagami who is a model student, a good role model to his little sister, and a boy highly sought after by the other girls his age and older.

From the first scenes, Light Turner already displays aggression towards his father, and exemplifies himself as an outcast who has a crush on a girl who’s popular with the athletes in the school. So why does she suddenly find him so attractive at the thought of the Death Note? The next half hour of the movie made me uncomfortable, to be honest. There were a lot of scenes of the two sexually bonding while finding names to write in the Death Note which is… disturbing on so many levels. They bonded over their mutual sense of justice – if you could call it that. It also became obvious that Light’s sense of guilt was higher than Mia’s, and also, what happened to the football player who put his arm around her in the first ten minutes of the movie? She abandoned her former clique for a recluse who just admitted he killed a man on live television?

Past Light, the other key character in the Death Note series is L – the prodigy detective who works privately with agencies all over the world. L is calm and seems to have a robotic-like mind that lacks empathy and sympathy which allows him to take on cases objectively. With L, his assistant and caretaker Watari stays by his side and is the “face” of L in his absence. L also uses a voice modulator to mask his voice – anything to keep his identity a secret.

Netflix’s L was on the same level of emotion as Light Turner. Initially, he acts the same way as anime L, the craving of sweets, the childish behavior, and he even displays an exceptional use of Japanese when speaking to Watari. Upon meeting Light Turner, L is automatically suspicious and aggressively so. This seems to be a pattern with these character renditions – they’re all significantly more emotional than the anime. The stoic persona of the characters in the anime is what added to the ominous air of Death Note. It made one character seem perfectly normal and rational and the other seem odd but very objective and “big picture.” These two were the perfect rivals because as you begin to think one has prevailed – the other makes you question the outcome.

Netflix L does not use a voice modulator, and in fact, he shows himself to Light – face and all – and openly accuses Light of being guilty in front of his father. The only thing missing was his name. After having a public spat with L, Light even uses the Death Note to find L’s true identity through Watari.

THIS WAS MY BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH THE MOVIE.

For those of you who are unaware, L is not a single name – it is passed down as each L dies. Each new L goes through extensive training to be as good if not better than the last. The same concept goes for Watari – this is not his real name. Watari’s real name in the anime is Quillish Wammy and is in fact the founder of the school for gifted children that trained L. So why was Light Turner able to use the mononym “Watari” to find L’s true identity? And if the L legacy is supposed to be passed down with time, why was the orphanage that Watari went to in search of L’s name run down and abandoned? Netflix L’s heavily emotional approach to this case especially after Watari’s death was a clear-cut example of why Mello from the Death Note anime was not chosen as the new L, Near taking his place instead.

In addition to these drastic changes in character personas, there was the addition of a new character – Mia, Light’s girlfriend who joined him after learning of the Death Note. Mia’s deceptive nature, to me, was not as obvious as it should have been. After declaring her love for Light, she puts his name in the Death Note which she will burn to save him only if he passes over the Death Note to her. To counteract this, Light puts a condition in the notebook that if he can convince her not to take the book from him, she will not die. Which… doesn’t make sense to me at all. Putting someone’s name in the Death Note doesn’t come under conditions – if the name is there, it’s there. There is no boolean statement in a Death Note. Again, I’m confused.

L using the Death Note to kill Light at the very end of the movie as well as his emotional display in front of the other officers was so out of character for how L should have been.

At this point, it has NOTHING to do with casting; this was all about plot structure and keeping to the concept of Death Note. This was clearly an adaptation as the story line was barely similar to the anime, but having said that, the names should have been different with the exception of L because he is an international detective. But, again, because of that, his persona should not have changed.

All in all, A for effort, Netflix, but even someone who knows nothing about Death Note would not be impressed by this movie. To me, it looked like two children going head to head in a game of wits without actually knowing what the definition of “wit” is.

1.5/5 stars from LumiScript. Would not recommend.

To Explore is to Experience

Every time I leave a place, old or new, the part of me that I leave behind gets bigger and bigger until I find myself scattered across the world, trying to get back until I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen. That’s the thing with vacations – they will forever be a moment that passes, a temporary hiccup in your life when a blank slate is placed in front of you and you’re free to paint whatever you want. When I was in Korea, that part of me stayed at our small Airbnb in Hongdae, ready to run downstairs to the 7eleven for a midnight snack and banana milk.

Los Angeles is not what you expect. Coming from the east coast where monotony is either the norm or an anomaly, the only thing I had to compare was what I had seen in movies, pictures, or just by word of mouth. Buildings are spaced further apart than what I was used to, and I found myself using public transportation for nearly any place I needed to go to. People stare and speak as you walk by without a second thought, and it’s almost as if tourists are so expected that it’s just become part of the norm. There were too many things that I needed to try that I felt I needed to be there at least a month before I could truly experience everything I needed to.

I never considered Los Angeles a place that I wanted to stay. The traffic is terrible, and I always seem to lose my sense of direction. The streets are dirty, and it just doesn’t feel like a place I could call home.

So what made this time around so different than the last?

The people – the ones I’d come across by chance and found myself trusting after only moments.

The experience – the nights I’d spent thinking that another day had gone by yet there was nothing for me to worry about.

The way that I felt like – for the first time – that I belonged here. It felt like I was breathing familiar air. I had just been placed into a space that welcomed me, and I was ready to take on whatever came first.

Third time’s the charm, they say, and that may be the case – because here’s that feeling again. The feeling that I’m just in a period of wandering, waiting until I can stay and never grow tired of the things I see outside my window.

I was told once that, while soulmates exist, so do soul cities. Your soul city is where your soulmate is, but the fact that a soulmate isn’t always a lover seems to pass people by. Your soulmates are the ones who you are meant to come across, those who enter your life and change it for the better. I came across more members of my soul group during this trip, and that made my time there so much more rewarding.

From this I learned to make friends wherever you go.

Those who are the most unassuming can be the people who add a little piece of ink to the tattoo underneath your memories, spaces in your being that are reserved for certain people that will never fade.

I was all too lucky to come across the people who I’d love to keep with me until I get where I’m supposed to – no matter where that may be. The soundtrack of my life journey picked up in tempo until the background noise became a symphony, and it was an orchestra they made up around me. The laughter and the stories were the only evidence I needed of their existence, and the pictures were simply surplus.

You never truly intend to make friends, but when you do, you find it difficult to imagine how you used to live prior to their arrival. Making friends, while it is something you’re supposed to have picked up in elementary school becomes increasingly difficult as you get older. After friends coming and going, the amount of trust you can hand out dwindles. Stumbling upon others who don’t make you sacrifice any of your pride for the sake of creating trust are the ones who should say – and they are the ones who will stay.

I left LA knowing I’d be back.

From the east coast to the west with love.

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