Once Upon a Time season 3–spoilers ahoy


tumblr_static_season-3-poster-once-upon-a-time-34970321-500-660I’m sitting at home, waiting for the dizziness to stop (stupid sinuses, stupid vertigo) and thinking about last week’s and night’s episodes of Once Upon a Time. Ever since Mulan showed up at the beginning of season 2, I’ve been pondering on how diversity is handled in the fairy tale world. After all, this is a fairy tale world that includes (real) tales from China, not to mention the genie from Aladdin, so we’re not limited to the tales of white western Europe (and medieval western Europe was a whole lot more diverse than many people give it credit for). One of the seven dwarves appears Asian, the guy who plays Sidney Glass/the Mirror/Genie is black. There are a (few) others, but few who are named and whose backstory we see anything of. Though the actress who plays the Evil Queen/Regina is Latina, she’s not portrayed as Latina, so it’s hard to count that as one in the win column.

While the show has its problematic side, I am enjoying the direction the main storyline is heading in this season—going to Neverland, reuniting a complicated family across generations and adoptions, digging into the nuances of heroes and villains. The idea that Henry can have two moms who both love him, and that he doesn’t have to choose between them, is a good direction for the story to be going. And I like that they’re finally going to be confronting Emma’s emotional distance between herself and her parents, her orphan-ness, this season, because that was kind of hinted at but never really taken head-on in previous seasons. I like that there seems to be some chemistry between Emma and Hook, which will be complicated when Neil/Baelfire finally reaches them.

But I’m highly disappointed with how the show handles its characters of color. Have you noticed how many of them die or get locked away to be forgotten compared to other characters? Sidney (who disappeared to star on Revolution, never to be mentioned again), the fiance who was trying to sabotage magic and kidnapped Henry (who could as easily have joined up with their team, but no, just got killed off; granted, so did her white partner in crime). Lancelot, who is dead before we ever meet him.

We’ve got a spinoff coming up later this week (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) and it would have been a perfect opportunity for exploring a story for one of the surviving characters of color, like Mulan, who seems to exist only as a helper character for the white characters so far, not a hero in her own right—she’s even in a love triangle with Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip, rather than with her own love interest from her Disney story, Li Shang. We never see very deeply into her backstory—season 2 really dropped the ball on her potential. Though perhaps we’ll see some chemistry between her and Neil while Emma’s feeling a little drawn to Hook? I don’t know. Not really feeling that direction. I’d rather see her be a hero in her own right, rather than a love interest who’s only important because she helps the main characters.


I think it’s a missed opportunity in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. And it’s also just plain confusing: instead of spinning the story of Alice in Wonderland off from the Mad Hatter we met in Wonderland (who also disappeared, never to be spoken of again—so many dropped threads in this show)—who was supposedly Alice’s father, somehow the 10-year-old daughter of the Mad Hatter in Once Upon a Time’s world morphs into a teenaged girl from Victorian England. There’s never been time travel in this world before—Baelfire spent quite a bit of time in Neverland before Emma was born before all the curse stuff happened, and we know about this passage of time because he landed in Victorian England before getting taken to Neverland.

But in this new spinoff, Alice’s father is a normal Englishman who has had Alice institutionalized for delusional thoughts and mental illness (i.e., she imagined Wonderland as a girl, but it wasn’t real, they claim). Whatever happened to the Mad Hatter from Wonderland who we met in OUAT who had been so crucial to the plot at one point?

1384131_552128391509326_1605211370_nAnd Alice is older than she was in Storybrooke. Yet the Knave of Hearts leaves during the storm when magic comes at the end of season 1 in Storybrooke, so we know it’s the same world—that is, Alice was in that town as a 10-year-old at the same time—so what’s going on?

And the genie from Aladdin was Sidney Glass, who ran The Daily Mirror, the Genie who became the Mirror because he loved Regina so much. So who is this genie? And related, why is Jafar coming into the story at all?

ETA: Also, wasn’t Cora the Queen of Hearts? Where does this new Queen of Hearts come from? I’m utterly confused about the entire premise of this as a spinoff of Once Upon a Time.

551244_551440014911497_777492047_n(1)I could be wrong about the guys who play the love-interest genie Cyrus and the Knave of Hearts (perhaps they are multiracial or of Latino or Middle Eastern origin, but it doesn’t appear so), but what it seems so far is that the only person of color in the spinoff is Naveen Andrews, who plays Jafar. Given Once Upon a Time’s track record of trying to redeem bad guys, perhaps this isn’t the case of “guy of color is the bad guy,” and I hope that’s the case… and I hope that Jafar doesn’t end up dead by the end of the mini-series.

What does this mean for POC in the Once Upon a Time world? So far, not much good. I’d love to be proved wrong by this season of OUAT or OUATiW, but I have little hope that I will based upon their track record.

Once Upon a Time–Season 2 opener (BEWARE OF SPOILERS)

I just finished watching the first episode of this season of Once Upon a Time. I enjoyed the first season of the show, but did wonder why “all” the fairy tales seemed to include only tales from Europe. (However, I actually don’t wonder why it was at least tokenly diverse, as I’ve seem some wonder; actually, Europe in the Middle Ages was probably more diverse than we usually imagine it. Shakespeare wrote of “blackamoors” and the Romans were a diverse lot who ranged all over the continent and made soldiers of all their conquered foes, not to mention the Huns in Eastern Europe (I’m not well-versed on how far west the Huns got, though), and Middle Eastern cultural exchange/influences, including the Jewish diaspora. There’s another post there about how often what we’ve been taught/shown in common media contributes to these assumptions about the whiteness of history, but I digress. My point is that though diverse populations perhaps weren’t nearly as large in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as they are today, people of color were also not unheard of in places usually thought of as ethnically white.)

My point here is that it was refreshing, then, to have Mulan show up in the first episode of the season. Yay for strong Asian female characters!

Well, character. Singular. It’s only the first episode of the season, so it remains to be seen whether we’ll see more people from Mulan’s world. But this episode brought up a lot of questions that I wanted to just make a list of, in hopes that there will  be answers eventually; I’ll try to remember to revisit this later in the season to see if they’ve been addressed. The show has done a pretty good job, after all, of answering the questions it raises, if excruciatingly slowly.

Reminder: here be SPOILERS. You’ve been warned. Read more

Placeholder—until I find this song

This is one of my favorite moments from the Korean TV show You’re Beautiful but I can’t find an mp3 of a finished version of the song. Funny enough, there’s lots of kpop on Itunes, just not this soundtrack from a movie about a kpop group. So I’m posting this here for my own reference, and consider yourself warned that this contains spoilers for the show if you wanted to watch it (it’s from the 14th episode of like 15 or 16).


Those darn vending machines

A friend was telling me how he misses sitting in a cushy college library, kicking vending machines. (I’m sure that’s exactly how he said it.) It reminded me of this. But I couldn’t just share it with one person. Once again (whether you want to be or not) you are the beneficiary of my current TV-watching obsession. (RSS and Facebook readers, you’re going to have to click through to the original post to see this).

You’re Beautiful

What I’m watching: As you know, I’ve been on a Korean TV kick lately. You’re Beautiful, a HILARIOUS show about a nun candidate who takes her twin brother’s place in a boy band while he recovers from surgery. She has to hide the fact that she’s a girl from all the band members as well as the public, including some very nosy entertainment reporters and a nasty actress who everyone thinks is a beautiful, kind, fairy-like girl. IT IS HILARIOUS, y’all. You have to particularly see this clip, in which the lead singer of the band, Tae Kyung—who has teasingly called the main character both a piggy because she holds her nose when trying to keep her feelings in, and a bunny because he’s afraid of bunnies and and she tends to cause trouble (he was once bitten by a bunny)—does a little “surgery” to make a present for her and return a hair clip she lost.

The best part is that the humor is also really smart. Even when it’s goofy.


I love a guy who can wield a hot glue gun for a good cause.


I can’t help myself. I have to keep rewinding the part where he glances at the piggy after removing its nose, turns it over, and pats its butt.

And of course, the moment when Minam finds the piggy bunny has its own hilarity. Someone even made a gif. This will only make sense from having watched the show, I suppose, but I can’t help but share it.

So: Go watch it. If you like goofy romantic comedies, this one’s a smart one.



Daily leeway

I really love my job. A lot. I’ve been really busy at it for the last month or so, working toward getting Fall books out the door and working on acquiring/editing the books I’ve acquired for the next couple seasons. But what about outside of work? I’ve been thinking lately that part of my life isn’t so interesting.

Today I was hanging out with a friend and he asked me—my memory is fuzzy, but I believe in the context of me talking about yet another TV show I’ve watched—just what do I do after work. Maybe it’s because I was feeling like I don’t have much of a life—I’m still looking for my niche here in this city in many ways—I was a little embarrassed to admit that if I don’t have somewhere to be, I just go home and veg, watching a lot of TV. The answer would have involved WoW if I remembered to play anymore. I’ve gotten out of the habit these last few months.

But I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t know that I have much to be embarrassed about. Here’s my day: Out the door to work at 8:30, or even earlier if I have trash to carry down with me on my way out.

An hour commute; at work by 9:30. Work all day, yadda yadda. I officially get off at 5:30, but I generally don’t leave right away unless I have somewhere to go in the early evening. I usually end up working till at least 6, if not 7, because I’ve just got so much to do. A week ago Friday, I was at work till 10 pm because I had a project I was trying to finish (and ended up having to finish it Monday because I made myself go home at 10 with just 2 or 3 things left to finish).

But on a normal night I might get home, after errands/taking a walk/ etc., at 9 or 10 pm most weeknights! And it really IS okay to watch a little TV at ten o’clock at night. Or eight or nine.

That’s only one kind of weekday evening. Other nights I might leave early from work to attend a book event of some sort—a signing or reading or something. I’ll still get home just as late, but at least I’ve been out real-life socializing in the meantime. Or hang out with friends feeling guilty about how much TV I watch (not what the friend said—just my own thoughts in relation to the conversation).

Weekends are more varied. Some weekends I might stay in and marathon Doctor Who. Some I might be out on a bike ride in the afternoon and watching a movie with friends or playing WoW in the evening (that’s the plan for this weekend, only the video games will be on one of my friend’s consoles, not a MMORPG). Some I might be gathering for Korean barbecue or a movie. I’d like to start getting out with my camera in the late afternoons to practice my photography (I’m getting rusty) but haven’t really done it enough yet. Then there are the weekends that are consumed with mundanities like errands at Target and laundry.

So perhaps my life isn’t so boring as I think it is (except for the errands at Target and laundry). It’s just that I am busy enough in the weekdays that I have to remember to allow myself leeway in the evenings. So if you see me tweeting about yet another TV show, now you know why I do it.


I’ll have some pictures from BEA, hopefully, if my phone hasn’t corrupted them all, but until I figure all that out, here’s a fun one for you. I’ve posted before about how I’m currently in a Korean drama phase. Here’s one that will have enough action/sword fights/political intrigue for any fan of epic fantasy (though this is realistic) and enough romance for those who like their epics with love triangles. Set in the Joseun period of Korea’s history. I hadn’t realized before seeing this that Korea had a history of slavery, so that adds an extra layer to all the other things I’m learning (of course, taking everything with a grain of salt, given that any historical fiction will take artistic leeway and  not necessarily be a true reflection of what really happened in real life).

The fight scenes are particularly cool to watch—integrating this fast-beating metal sound that’s completely anachronistic, but doing it so much better than, say, A Knight’s Tale, which I know a lot of friends loved.

Don’t believe the Hulu description, though—it conflates the brother of the heroine and the former-army-general-turned-slave. Here’s the DramaWiki description, which is a lot more useful.

Chuno follows the story of Lee Dae Gil, a man of high birth whose family was ruined when Won Ki Yoon, a slave, burnt down his house and escaped with his sister, Un Nyun, who was in love with Dae Gil. Driven by his desire for revenge, he survived his harsh years on the street and made his name as a slave hunter, dedicated in his pursuit to find Un Nyun, his first and only love. Song Tae Ha is a General of the Army who became a slave after being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and finds himself on the run from Dae Gil’s relentless pursuit. Both men become entangled in a love triangle with Un Nyun, who is no longer a runaway slave, but Kim Hye Won, a nobleman’s daughter.

Wikipedia’s description is a lot more detailed, if you are a little lost at the beginning. At first it was hard to keep certain characters straight, because it is definitely EPIC—but I’d suggest referring to Wikipedia only if you don’t mind a few spoilers, because some of what’s revealed in the Wikipedia description is only revealed in episodes 5, 6, or 7.

So, if you need another TV show to watch (as if any of us do, I suppose), check this out.

This won’t work on LJ or FB, so if you’re reading it there, click to my main site to see the first episode embedded right here:

Korean dramas

On the recommendation of a friend, I watched an episode of a Korean romantic comedy, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, describing it as “a Korean Sex and the City, but perhaps with less sex, and funnier.” You might have heard me gushing about it on Twitter. It was HILARIOUS, so I must share it with you, and now I’m on to discovering other K-dramas, as apparently they’re called. There are a bunch of them on Hulu. What’s interesting is the next one I’m interested in checking out, Boys over Flowers, is based on a Japanese manga and anime series. Which of course makes the anthropological side of me wonder about the pop-culture bleed-over between Asian nations, and so forth.

Here’s the first episode. Maybe you’ll be as hooked as I am. You *have* to at least get as far as the asphalt incident.

Speaking of anthropological curiosity, I was especially interested in one particular thing I had never heard of from any of my Korean friends (including two Korean roommates)—it just never came up in conversation, I suppose: the Korean spa. There’s a part of TWWSWtM in which one of Shin Young’s suitors, Sang Woo, swears he’s going to wait outside for her all night if she doesn’t come downstairs. (They’re very proper about guys never going in the girls’ apartments, which is why later there’s a sort of scandal when… But I won’t spoil it! You have to see it!) But it’s winter, and she tells him he’ll freeze out there. So he says he’ll wait all night at the spa by her house instead. And this spa! I’ve never heard of such a thing–there’s this room in it where men & women are assigned gender-color-coordinated shorts/shirts that look kind of like mini-scrubs, and people just lie in the room and sleep. And there wasn’t any context! This baffled me, and no one I asked could explain what kind of spa lets people sleep there all night.

But at last the mystery is solved. I went out for Korean barbecue with some friends the other night and the subject of this show came up, so of course I had to ask: had anyone heard of such a thing?

And they had! And of all things, there’s one in Queens! Fascinating. I’ll have to try it out at some point.

It was also hilarious to me as a 30-something professional woman. I sympathize with the three main characters greatly, especially as a fairly feminist member of a pretty conservative culture (Mormonism). Much like Shin Young, no matter how well I do in my career, for many people, the thing that defines me is that I’m an old maid. But if I end up being Miss Rumphius in my old age, how can that be a bad thing?

Adding these to the list of anime

Since we talked about anime a few months back, I’ve been watching a few more that I’d recommend. I’m only a bit into most of the first few—I’m watching several at a time through Netflix, so I’m staggering the discs.

SPOILER WARNING: I’m linking to the Wikipedia articles about these anime and the manga or light novels they’re based on. Sometimes there can be spoilers on these pages with no warnings, so proceed with caution. There are no huge spoilers in my descriptions—everything I mention is mentioned in the descriptions of the anime on the Netflix or Hulu page—but those of you with low spoiler thresholds have been warned.

DN Angel (more, including content/age range info & no spoilers, at Anime News Network)—I’m just starting this one through Netflix and it’s been making me giggle. Daisuke Niwa is a pretty normal 14-year-old kid who turns into a notorious thief when he sees the girl he loves, and he can only turn back when he’s won her love in his thief form. His mom and grandpa as accomplices are hilarious.

Darker than Black (more at ANN)—also just started this one (have only watched the 1st disc so far) and it’s okay. Definitely at least PG-13 for gore in some places–don’t recommend it for kids. The stars have gone out and are replaced by the “stars” of what they call “contractors,” people who have a superpower that is constrained by a habit they hate. So, someone who can manipulate water, for example, might be required to smoke, that kind of thing. I’m still trying to figure out the thread of the plot on this one.

Tactics (more info at Anime News Network)—LOVE this one so far. Also only past the first disc, but it’s really great so far. I would LOVE to see a YA novel focusing on this kind of folklore—Shonen Onmiyouji (ANN), another anime, also features the same kind of concept, a boy/man who can see spirits and banishes them using traditional Japanese methods (which I believe, but I’m not sure, are based on real Shinto practices—someone correct me if I’m wrong). (Nevermind, I will correct myself—if Wikipedia can be believed, Onmyodo was a spiritual practice in and of itself, but influenced by Shintoism as well as other religions.)

Point being: We’ve had plenty of YA books in which teens can see spirits or demons or fairies. But I’d love to see one set in Japan or using these kinds of Japanese folkloric influences. I think it makes a familiar story into something completely different, something fresh and new to a U.S. audience. (As always when I hope for stories like this, do your research and know the culture!)

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok—halfway through this one. Pretty great so far. Anime News Network’s plot summary: “Loki, the Norse god of mischief, has been exiled to the human world for what was apparently was a bad joke. Along with being exiled, he’s forced to take the form of a child. He’s told the only way he can get back to the world of the gods is if he can collect auras of evil that take over human hearts, and so to do this he runs a detective agency. Loki is soon joined by a human girl named Mayura who is a maniac for mysteries, and she soon helps out in her own way. However, soon other Norse gods begin to appear, and most have the intent to assassinate Loki for reasons unclear.”

Kyo Kara Mao! (ANN’s take on it here)—yet another one I’m not far into but love so far. Another giggle-worthy one. Main character Yuri Shibuya is flushed down a toilet into a parallel world where he is proclaimed the Demon King and accidentally proposes marriage to another guy by slapping him on the face for insulting his mother. Hilarious to watch him try to navigate a culture so different from his own (which is what parallel-world fantasy is all about, though it’s not always supposed to be funny). The more serious plot arcs are great, too—Yuri has no idea what he’s doing as a king, and he tries to avoid war between demon and human kingdoms, which baffles a lot of people.

R.O.D. the TV (ANN link)—Actually, I covered this one in my original post.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (ANN link)—somehow this one got left off my last list. Watch this one! It’s hilarious. Only 12 episodes, I think, so a relatively quick watch.

M0onPhase (ANN link)—A hilariously different take on a vampire story. I love the relationship between Kouhei and Hazuki. And the opening sequence is hilarious. I’m only about halfway through this one on Hulu—I discovered it over the holiday break and haven’t had time to go back to it. (Reading subs makes it harder to do other things while watching. I love listening to the Japanese inflections, but listening to dubs (even bad ones) makes it easier for me to accomplish other things at the same time.)

I also re-watched Fruits Basket recently (it’s on Hulu!) and again recommend it to anyone. It’s a classic YA fantasy story.

I really wish there were a second season of Ghost Hunt available (this one’s on Hulu, as well). From what I can tell, it was written by the same woman who wrote Twelve Kingdoms, which might be why I like it so much.

Let’s talk anime

I have a standing anime/movie night with several friends (if you’re local, remember: it’s Friday nights, and we don’t always do anime, so you’re welcome to join in and we’ll decide the week before what we’ll watch the next week; email me for details).

We’ve watched a lot of great stuff in the last year or so–the stuff coming out in the last few years is just plain brilliant:

  • Vampire Knight (if you liked Twilight, you’ll LOVE VK–6 or 7 volumes of the manga is out here in the States, and the anime just got licensed)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Saiunkoku (OH so good–I would really love to be the one to bring over the light novels through Tu Publishing, but if someone got there first, I’d be all over getting them; I wish I could find the full second season on DVD)
  • Gundam 00
  • Ouran High School Host Club (very fun, and a great look at gender roles)
  • Fruits Basket
  • Code Geass
  • Witch Hunter Robin (this stands out among a bunch of standouts–so good)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex
  • Emma: A Victorian Romance
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumya
  • Kuroshitsuji (we have to finish this one sometime) (also: this one is very hard to pronounce!)
  • Wolf’s Rain (good, but very sad ending)
  • Twelve Kingdoms (80s cheese, including a very whiny main character at first, but if you stick with it, it’s pretty fun)
  • Cele-something (dang, forgot the name; helpful, aren’t I?)
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit (wow, what a show. And there’s a great book it’s based on, edited by Cheryl Klein)

… and many others that I’m forgetting. I should make a complete list to help me remember & help lead me to ones I like.

This has led me to many a good anime on my own (including older ones that I never saw when they were new), often because the friend who hosted anime night–who sadly just moved away–is so in touch with it and makes great recommendations:

  • Tsubasa
  • Samurai 7
  • xxxHolic
  • Last Exile
  • The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye (so good I want to add this one to my collection)
  • Ghost Hunt
  • Trigun
  • .hack//SIGN (and just as I got into it somehow all the discs became unavailable)
  • Death Note
  • Scrapped Princess
  • Noein
  • R.O.D the TV
  • Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play (90s cheese, but fun)
  • Read or Die

…and so on.

Anyway, I make this list right now because I want to eventually break it down and review some of them, and also because I’d like to hear if any of you have suggestions–given that I’ve liked pretty much all of this list, and given that if you’re a reader of this blog you probably know the kind of fantasy and science fiction I’m into (there are some great YA-oriented school stories on there, too, that aren’t speculative at all, but absolutely entertaining, like Ouran), perhaps you’ll be able to recommend some I haven’t heard of. What am I missing? You can probably tell that my tastes tend to run shojo–I love the bishis, when it’s not too overdone!–but I’m also open to brilliant stories that aren’t terribly violent.

What would you guys recommend? What new anime coming out is a must-see?

**Oh, and a few I want to see but haven’t gotten to yet:

  • Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
  • Shonen Onmyoji
  • Darker than Black