Saturday, October 15, 2011

random thoughts: A Tribute To Fangirl Insanity

Warning: This post contains a lot of senseless rambling. Proceed with caution.

Upon diving into a new area of entertainment, I always chance upon certain stars, celebrities, artists, actors, etc., that I become unconditionally attached. Basically, it's called an irrational, yet justified fangirl obsession and it becomes dangerously delusional... or something like that.

When I find someone in the entertainment world that I take a shine to, the following will happen: 1) I search for their works, whether music or other drama series and I enjoy them with a strong bias, 2) I web-stalk them for the duration of my obsession, 3) I look for YouTube video clips that other fans around the world have uploaded depicting my obsession in all the best features. Pretty much, for a good amount of time, I'm hooked to that person until he or she leads me into a new obsession (which sometimes doesn't take long).

For example, during my TVB Hong Kong drama years (which pretty much spanned my entire life) I have always found that, due to certain character roles, I end up falling senselessly for the actors behind that image. The very first time that my obsession ended up going into overdrive, however, was because of TVB celebrity Bosco Wong, known for many, many breakthrough roles and his ability to naturally blend in with the drama series he participates in without trying to steal anyone else's spotlight. Through him, I finally discovered what an obsessed fangirl could do when given the right resources on the internet.

I joined an English-based fan club for more news and information on him. I spent a lot of time on YouTube looking up anything related to him. I've seen almost every drama series he starred in (even the short cameo scenes from his earlier work). And I even began listening to his music when the company debuted him as a singer -- and I tried to justify that his singing really wasn't that bad, although ultimately I had to admit that he really isn't cut out for being a vocalist and should just stick with acting.

I was totally in love with this guy. This had been nearly five years ago when I saw him lead a series for the first time in a series which also show cased a rather cute romance line for him and rumored celebrity girlfriend Myolie Wu. Five years ago, I was still in that early twenties young adolescent stage where being a fangirl is still justifiable (in my opinion). Nowadays, I just refer to myself as the self-proclaimed fangirl, but really I'm a hermit otaku woman with fangirl tendencies...

But what are labels... really? Moving along now.

This is not to say that he's the one and only (or even the first) TVB star I've fangirl-ed. Others include Raymond Lam who, in comparison, is a much more refined actor and also an excellent vocalist. But during my obsession with Raymond Lam, it had never occurred to me that I could go online and "web-stalk" him like I did with Bosco. But that's okay. I tend to see Ray in the same light that I see my eternally beloved superstar Andy Lau anyway: I should only ever view his work, listen to his music and admire his talent rather than try to follow him around like a lost lamb. His talents are just too classy for me to fangirl him (not that I don't). But this guy has gotten to a point where he has entered my list of "Eternal Fandom" wherein no matter what he does or who I end up obsessing over next, he will still be in my list of top artists, right there next to Andy Lau, BoA, Utada Hikaru, Stephen Chow (Hong Kong movie director/producer/actor genius), and many others. Since the list hasn't officially been set, I'd hate to mention any other people and then end up denying them in the future. Because this unofficial list will only ever include the stars and artists who are there to stay and not just any random celebrity I happen to take interest in for a short few months (not that this list is really important to anyone else but myself).

TVB was where I started off finding my most beloved stars because I grew up watching Hong Kong drama series, and to this day still hope that I can get out of it what I used to when I was young. Several young actors from that broadcasting company had easily come into my interest aside from the above mentioned:

- Tavia Yeung -- Yes, she's a girl and it seems strange to fangirl her, but she's a talented young actress with some of the best crying skills I've ever seen and she's always got great chemistry with her co-actors, whether or not there's a love line. Her acting skills have always been consistently improving and has finally been able to pick up series as the main female lead without having to share the limelight with others, and that, in itself, had made me ecstatically happy for her.

- Steven Ma -- There's not much to say about this guy except that he's a naturally talented actor and there have been multiple character roles where he's caught my attention over and over again. But the obsession phase never really came around for him.

- Gordan Lam -- While he's no longer part of the TVB family and has moved on into shooting movies and the like, he's always been one of my favorites for one standard reason: his ability to emote feelings and tell a story with his eyes. To this day, the one thing I remember about him is seeing those eyes express something and being able to feel exactly what it is he's trying to express. There's talent for you.

- Roger Kowk -- I had a short obsession phase with this guy just because of one character role he played. But after that, I really only paid heed to the fact that he IS a good actor, but otherwise not really that attractive.

While there have been many others I've been attracted to in the past through TVB, I have to admit that the fangirl phase never really hit it's peak. The male stars in TVB had always been... well, typically the majority of them were way older and at the time that I watched TVB religiously, I never really could feel attracted to older men (with Andy Lau as the only ever exception). So the fangirl phase really only hit Bosco and Raymond even if I DID have a lot of other stars I became interested in.

But as my world began to expand, my new obsessions began to grow and I found that fangirling certain stars became increasingly easier due to the amount of wonderful talent in the realm of Korean entertainment.

Let's backtrack a little bit though before we dive into Korean entertainment:

My first dive outside of TVB drama series had actually settled in the anime and manga area and the first and only artist I fangirled was none other than very talented voice actor Suzumura Kenichi. You may find my post on him here: The Many (Anime) Faces of Kenichi Suzumura. While I had never officially seen this person, I had heard his voice in so many forms that I ended up putting him on my favorites list. He is quite a talent and to this day, I won't change my mind. But my "fangirl" period for him ended a little too quickly, I think. My obsession dwindled pretty fast. Thus, he hasn't entered the "Eternal Fandom" list.

There had been other voice actors I admired, but seeing as how I can't even pick out their names without looking anything up, they apparently weren't that significant to me. Sakurai Takahiro is a voice actor who is probably best known for some "handsome men" and "hero" roles, but I know him best as Cloud Strife-sama from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children movie. There's also Kobayashi Sanae, a female voice actor who is usually known for voicing younger boy roles and spunky girl roles.

The funny thing about this anime and manga phase, however, is that I never truly fangirled any REAL people aside from Suzuken-sama. My fangirl tendencies usually strayed towards the fictional anime or manga characters. But we'll just leave it at that and if anyone is interested in my anime and manga obsessions, head right on over to the drama zone's sister site and enjoy some more insanity.

After that anime and manga period (which lasted a whole of five months) ended, I quickly made a leap into the next area of entertainment: Japanese dorama. This obsession lasted a whole of two drama series, both starring the eternally lovely Ikuta Toma-sama whom I still have inklings of obsession for, but not to the point where I fangirl him to oblivion. During that time, of course, I was about to breach the lines of sanity and dangerous because of him. For an idea of how much I liked this guy, you can check out the only Hana Kimi posts I have shared on this site. I think I swoon over him enough in the two posts about the Japanese version of Hana Kimi to make up for the short amount of writing I'm dedicating to him here. His admittance into my "Eternal Fandom" list is still in debate, because I still squeal over learning about new movies or drama series that he participates in, but I haven't been motivated enough to go watch them. I still follow a blog that is dedicated to him, but I don't always read everything posted there. And so I'm kind of giving him a few more months before I make that ultimate decision to switch mode from obsessed fangirl to eternal supporting fan.

I believe that the ultimate decision will come into play after I finally get around to watching the rest of the dorama he stars in as well as the two movies he has recently finished shooting.

Nonetheless, I shall always refer to him dotingly as the lovely Ikuta Toma-sama because I DO really love him so... *cue huge fangirl sigh*

Following the Japanese dorama phase, which is more correctly referred to as the "Ikuta Toma-sama fangirl phase", I ended up finally entering that Taiwanese Idol phase. Taiwanese Idol drama series and Taiwanese Idols have always been a big thing among young girls of Asian culture. The idea behind Taiwanese Idol Dramas, after all, were simply to show case the most popular celebrities in a series for all to bask in their prettiness. The majority of these drama series were romantic comedies at their best, featuring good looking men and women who were young and sometimes already quite widely popular. A handful of them were truly able to act, but the rest of them really just survived on their already accumulated popularity.

Admittedly, I can see the main aim of Taiwanese Idol Drama at young girls in their teenage to early twenties and older otaku girls like me who are suckers for romantic comedies.

It wouldn't be until the production of Taiwanese drama series Black and White that we finally see a break in the monotonous romantic comedy or melodramatic romance track that Taiwanese Idol Dramas have become known for, which are usually low budget and nothing spectacular aside from being fun entertainment. Granted, Black and White still show cased good looking people in the main roles, its story line and direction was a new experience for those of us already used to the typical Taiwanese Idol Drama formulas.

In this territory, I truly DID end up spending quite some time, nearing more than a year of interest. Remnants of my obsession with Taiwanese Idols still linger and I will find myself still looking for some possible drama series to watch from that area. But, of course, it hadn't really taken long for me to get tired of the same stereotypical story lines, over and over again, and the same celebrities playing the same pretty boy and pretty girl roles, over and over again. While this was the rather superficial reason why I liked Taiwanese Idol Dramas in the beginning (the good looking people as well as the fluffy romances) it is an indulgence than can only pique my interest for so long. And then, after a while, I realize that I'm yearning and grasping for something else with more substance. It would also be nice to see good actors on the television screen once again.

It's not that every Taiwanese Idol Drama is an empty shell filled with flower vase celebrities. I haven't exactly seen every possible Taiwanese Idol Drama possible. There ARE good story lines that aren't just fluffy romance pieces and there ARE good Taiwanese actors and actresses (Rainie Yang, Ariel Lin, Kingone Wang, Barbie Hsu, to name a few). But the main formula is pretty much predictably reused over and over again as the plot's resident attraction and the majority of Taiwanese Idols are too stiff at their best.

Once again, in every area of entertainment (in this case, every different country and culture) I tend to find a few stars I cling to rather easily. Looking back at my obsessions, however, make me realize that the Taiwanese Idol arena is truly for the young teenage girls.

For the first part of my Taiwanese Idol interest, I was a big fangirl for hot boy group Fahrenheit for one simple reason: Wu Chun. With a baby face and a killer athlete's body, this man is truly one of the most handsome men I have ever laid eyes on. And so because of him, I ended up becoming a fan of the boy group he was part of, listening to their music religiously, buying their concert DVD as a souvenir of my fangirling, and following their career through news sources and YouTube videos. I started picking out drama series which included at least one of the four boys (men?) and my flight of Taiwanese Idols obsession started there.

My love for Wu Chun, however, slowly faded in the presence of Fahrenheit's strongest vocalist, Aaron Yan Ya Lun who was the youngest in the group as well as the first official real life bishounen I have ever seen. Youthful and vibrant, this boy had all the attributes that I had never thought possible in the real world as a bishounen -- I always, always, always believed that bishounen could never exist in real life until Aaron Yan came along and proved that Japanese manga certainly had a basis for their "pretty boy" character descriptions.

Aaron Yan was easily picked out from the four person boy group because of his strong vocals and his obsession with music. But my love for him had been a slow and progressive one because of the fact that I was also basking in the superficial glory of other Taiwanese Idols during that time as well. With the likes of Rainie Yang, Mike He, Show Luo, Nicholas Teo and the like catching my attention, Ya Lun wasn't exactly the most stand out performer out there. So he is simply part of a small portion of my fangirl obsession as the youngest and cutest of the Fahrenheit group. Having and innocent personality, a gorgeous smile and almost flawless skin, this boy was adorable in his own way, but could have very easily passed off as a pretty girl if not for his deep voice.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to admit to myself that none of the four boys in Fahrenheit held much conviction in their acting skills. Wu Chun is good looking, but his acting is awkward and stiff to say the least, though he IS quite well suited for action as shown in the movie 14 Blades. By far, I am most impressed by his role as the antagonistic basketball player with a dark edge and awesome-hot death glares in the drama series Hot Shot. As the semi-villain, he actually shows a rather attractive intensity (even if the actual character role makes no sense). Little Ya Lun is cute, but you can figure out almost immediately that he believes himself to be a good actor and so tries too hard to prove himself in that aspect. This ultimately ends up making his acting a little unnatural. Jiro Wang Dong Cheng is probably the only one in this group who even has remotely refined acting skills... but he's not very good at bringing his character to life and you can clearly see it as "Jiro Wang acting as such and such" rather than just seeing the character. I don't mention the last member, Calvin Chen, only because I have only ever seen his one supporting role (which was unnatural at best) and so I would unfairly judge him in this matter.

But anyway.... Moving along from Ya Lun, I entered a much confusing phase known to me strictly as the teenage BBT phase wherein I fangirl some of the youngest entertainers in Taiwan during their timeframe of reign. This is where I truly tried to return to my past youth shamelessly because these boys were strictly fangirled by teenagers.

BBT is short for Bang Bang Tang which came from the Taiwanese television program and talk show called Mo Fan Bang Bang Tang (which I will elaborate more on in a future post). But to be brief, BBT is a group of young boys chosen off the streets through days of auditioning to join a sort of "Super Star Training Course" that would focus on turning a couple kids into famous celebrities by putting them through several training classes with entertainment industry managers, singers, dance teachers, and the like. At the same time, these kids' own personal perserverence is observed through a television program where a classroom setting is arranged for them to show off what they do best and whether or not they can handle being on television professionally. For two years, these boys became a massive cult hit in Taiwan and sometime last year was when I first discovered them long after the television program had disbanded.

I ended up watching the entire television program from the very beginnings of the classroom selection in 2006 and up to the combining of the boys with their sister class in 2009 until I finally got tired of them sometime during their 2010 episodes. It hadn't taken long for me to crunch through all those years of broadcasting, and during that time, I also happily became accustomed to watching Mandarin-based T.V. shows without English subtitles. The best thing that ever happened to me because of BBT was that I finally learned to understand conversational Mandarin where it had always been confusing to my unskilled Cantonese speaking mind.

From BBT, I grew to admire a select few boys, thinking that they were really very talented and hardworking, even if they didn't end up becoming hardcore celebrities. Their skills are fairly unrefined, unfortunately. Acting wasn't a strong trait aside from maybe one of the boys and one of the girls in the sister class. Singing was also not a strong trait aside from three specific boys in the group who still have not found their big break. Dancing and comedy, however, was truly their calling and I think this is what made the television program as well-received as it ended up being.

Ah... the charm of boy bands... my inner teenager will always have her say...

This phase lasted for a short period of time, because I began to lose interest in the Taiwanese Idol arena after I finally picked up my second Korean drama series and said, "Wow! I'm following these more closely now!" Well, not exactly in those words, but seeing as how I've already breezed through one Korean drama series after another, it's no refute as to my cling to fangirling the entire Korean entertainment industry as a whole. It was like discovering TVB's charm all over again, but in a different country and in a different language, with several television stations and many, many more stars (unlike in Hong Kong where TVB was pretty much it as it overshadowed the weaker ATV studio).

The list of how many of the young male stars as well as some of the female stars I've become a fan of is slowly growing itself to the roof.

Jung Yong Hwa of CN Blue was an immediate love when he charmingly portrayed the sweet and romantic Kang Shin Woo in the highly popular You're Beautiful. I ended up picking up all of CN Blue's music as well as following closely along with Heartstrings, his second drama series project alongside female starlet Park Shin Hye, who has also become one of my favorites in the Korean entertainment arena because of her onscreen charm. While I don't fangirl female stars, Park Shin Hye is definitely one that I would willingly follow her career for because she has a definite "IT" factor to her that cannot be easily found with too many others. Jung Yong Hwa, simply put, is just good looking, musically talented, and charming -- unfortunately his acting is still rather lacking and I hope that he'll get the chance to improve upon that. Park Shin Hye is simply charming and a great actress.

The next obsession took form in Lee Min Ho... or rather the character role that he played in City Hunter, Lee Yoon Sung. To this day, I'm not even sure what had possessed me to pick up City Hunter since it's not really my type of series; but I'm glad that I did because I highly enjoyed it and it finally gave me that missing "substance" that I'd been looking for since the days of Taiwanese Idol Dramas and endless shoujo manga. And through City Hunter, I felt like my grasp on television drama series has expanded outside of romantic comedies to include so much more (despite romantic comedies still being my main diet). But Lee Min Ho easily gained my fanship for so, so many reasons, even the most superficial reason of him being extremely good looking and incredibly, sizzling hot. This young one is a talent no matter how you look at it, because I found in him that rare ability to emote with just his eyes and his facial expressions that few actors actually have. And so we let the fangirl obsessions begin... Of course, he's not the best actor out there as there are still some desirable improvements he can make, but nonetheless, I worship his kick butt hot character of Lee Yoon Sung in City Hunter and look forward to new projects in the future.

Not long after Lee Min Ho, my next obsession took form pretty quickly: Song Joong Ki, otherwise known as the perpetually beautiful pretty boy very easily caught my attention. While everyone else who watched the highly popular Sungkyunkwan Scandal may have leaned more towards the silent hero Moon Jae Shin, played by Yoo Ah In, I was fairly attached to the flamboyant and unpredictable Gu Yong Ha, played by Song Joong Ki, if only for the character's personality and significance and some finely sprinkled adorable goodness. And, of course, because of him, I ended up following through with the first ever Korean variety program I've ever watched, Running Man. I have plans to pick up other drama series that he has participated in, and I look forward to the day that he can be center stage in his own drama series. Because being pretty isn't his only skill, rather, his acting skills are decently refined and very well presented. The only disadvantage that he has so far, however, is that his acting skills aren't extraordinary and if it weren't for the character of Gu Yong Ha in SKK Scandal, or even if not for his cute looks, Joong Ki might not stand out as much. But since SKK Scandal is the only series I have seen of his, I might be prematurely judging his skills.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt that this darling little cutie-pie was quite the influence in my continuously molding viewing habits. There is the possibility that Joong Ki will be receiving an individual article in the drama zone soon, but I haven't quite made a plan for it yet.

Other Korean stars began to catch my attention as well while I continued to watch drama series after drama series. Yoon Eun Hye hit my list of favorites after watching her performance in Goong and Coffee Prince wherein she portrays two completely different character roles in each series. I then picked up a movie that she starred in and really enjoyed that as well. She is truly one of the greatest female stars of the current generation, beautiful and talented. Park Min Young was also an interest for me, having gained my admiration because of two fairly strong female personalities in two different drama series, City Hunter and Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Both series were very well received by viewers and myself and both characters she portrayed were readily lovable and unique; unfortunately, I have a bit of a bone to pick with her crying scenes as I have certainly seen much better ones, but overall, she's pretty good at what she does and she's also elegant and gorgeous while she's doing it.

Following, there hadn't been too many others who came into that "obsessed fangirl" level for me, even IF I gained a bit of love for them. There was just never enough spark for me to cling onto them tightly like I had done for a lot of others in the past. At least not enough for me to mention by name because I easily moved on from them fairly quickly to watch a new drama series.

Except now we approach the main reason why this article had been written in the first place.

I had begun writing this article, following my half-baked brainstormed notes over how to format writing about actor and singer Lee Seung Gi. I had even titled this article as "Lee Seung Gi". And as with a lot of other posts that I write, I love to start off with an introductory paragraph (or two or three or ten) that would eventually lead into the subject. The article for CN Blue had included such an introductory, talking about my love for music and my obsession phases of music. This had been my intention when starting the article for Seung Gi. But as one can tell, the writing process ended up getting a little out of hand, and halfway through, I resignedly scrolled back upward and changed the title to it's current glamour.

And thus, thanks to my often aimlessly wandering mind and a specific subject (komawayo Seung Gi ya) I ended up completing an entire article based on random rambling about my fangirl tendencies. It's not like I had never planned on writing something like this before, but I just never know how to format certain articles or even how to start them. So as we can see, I've finally written something quite worthy of posting in my blog as a type of "filler" random thoughts article that can very easily spiral into many, many other new articles to come. Also, it gives me something to post aside from all those "intro info" and "thoughts" pieces that I so very often slack off on, because it DOES sometimes get a bit monotonous for me to simply summarize and review a drama series, especially if I don't particularly know what to say about it aside from "I totally loved this" or "very excellent series that I recommend" or "what the heck was this story trying to convey".

I'm a writing fanatic, but recently, words baffle me and I have trouble coming up with wittier or more imaginative analogies.

But anyway... with the posting of this article, I have opened up the possibilities of including many more individual articles about all the other celebrities and stars I've mentioned up to this point. I had been meaning to make a list anyway, and with this article, my intentions, I'm sure won't be in vain. We WILL have more drama zone insanity focused on my fangirl tendencies because several of these people mentioned in the article will more than likely be detailed on in the future: two of which I have already decided would be added to my list of people to talk about.

Coming back to the initial intentions of this post, I mention Lee Seung Gi this and Lee Seung Gi that, but to be totally honest, I really plan on doting on him in his individual article more so than here, so the only thing I can really say is that I think I may have found an all-new young star to potentially raise into the ranks of my top favorites -- you know, that unoffiicial list mentioned at the beginning of this post that currently only includes Hong Kong's stars as well as two international super stars, BoA and Utada Hikaru. As I continue to follow his career from his debut in 2004 to the present, I have high hopes that he will surpass even my own expectations of him.

As someone else has stated in another blog somewhere that I read in passing, "How is it that Lee Seung Gi is just so good at everything he does?" Because honestly, this statement is NOT far from the truth as far as I've seen and Seung Gi is still young with a long road ahead of him. Going from an amateur singer to a now refined vocalist, his potential is still yet to be reached, but his music has become widely popular. I have yet to find a song of his that I didn't entirely like. Jump-starting his acting career almost immediately with the 2009 ratings killer Brilliant Legacy, Seung Gi's skill can very easily be recognized in that area as well and with some slight improvements here and there, he can readily move into the ranks of best actor with time. And finally, his variety and talk show hosting skills had come as a surprise to me entirely. Seung Gi's image was never really one I had pictured as an MC; he came off as a genteel, quiet and easily embarrassed type because of his age as well as his debonair looks. While this is quite true of him, it seems that it doesn't stop him from working hard at becoming a well-like and readily acceptable talk show host -- this boy has the skill to do anything that he wants and he does it exceptionally well too.

And so, in one paragraph, I have pretty much summed up the entirety of the Lee Seung Gi article I've been planning. But have no fear, the article itself will definitely have more detailed information as well as lots of very squeal-worthy pictures.


Related articles:
people: Lee Seung Gi (Korean singer/actor)


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