So for a bit of a change of pace, and since this season’s crop of anime has been disappointly full of sub-par anime, I’ve been checking out some K-dramas. Specifically, a few popular modern dramas and a few period dramas. I’m very picky about k-drama and have put aside most of them, but think I’ve got a winner with Empress Ki. It’s everything I’d want out of an epic fantasy novel sans the magic and dragons! The setting is interesting, the characters get involved in huge nation-ending plots and wars and fights. It has good characters and action and plot moves at a good pace. So yes, watch it! In specifics, the protagonist is actually really cool, and even though it’s a lady, all her plots don’t revolve around her vagina (you know that boring plot kind. Rape-threats all the time and the rest of the time it’s ugh lady sucks I must be Cersei Lannister level conniving and manipulative and then ladies getting shit for it). which yeah, okay in one character, but it drives me crazy when that’s the only lady portrayal in a story. But this Empress Ki had conniving manipulative MEN and WOMEN! The men are WAY WORSE than the ladies and really scary manipulators! And uncomfortable rapey time threats for male and female characters in about 50-50 proportion! and the man-rape-ish moments are actually the most plot important ones, which is super nice to not have yet another plot hinge on being-shitty-to-women. The main character also gets to have a lot of roles and settings and I’m enjoying that. Also, like most of the epic fantasies I enjoy, it’s doorstop-long. K-dramas are actually 55 minutes, and with Hulu’s free watching but added commercials, it takes about a hour and a half to watch, and there are 51 episodes! Hours and days of entertainment! You can binge-watch, but maybe try in batches. I haven’t finished yet, but I have good expectations. And really, it’s so nice, as a western-living person when stories seem obsessed with medieval europe, it’s SUUUUUPER interesting to learn about the history and see all the interesting other forms of culture and dress and conflicts. Expand your worldview! so yes! If any of this sounds interesting, give it a shot! I’mnot going to say there isn’t sexism in it, as there is it’s set in a sexist historical society, but the actual STORYTELLING doesn’t rely on dreg-gusting cliche’s of watching women suffer, women get to do awesome things, there are more than one lady character that are awesome, so it’s got upsides! And so much fun drama!
The premise is that the show takes place in a limbo/purgatory-esque place where people go after they die for judgement, and they play games or other such things to further that end. The architecture of said non-necessarily-real space is very bendable and over-the-top, but it makes for some great visuals. All the staff of this place are interesting visually and character design wise, and I’m very amused at the awesome and interesting hairstyles of the people ultimately deciding the fate of souls! So yeah, overall a fun visual experience and I think it was excellent art and animation. Fun touches of the surreal here and there!
The tone of the show at first was very much like Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl), but this show isn’t a series of vignettes, and intersperses the focus between the actual death arbiters and the dead people, which I SUPER appreciated. It kept it from being maudlin and depressing, and I love a good back-and-forth from the serious to the more lively tone.
So much pointing. And Air Hockey FOR YOUR LIVES!
Anyway, they present interesting questions about humanity and emotions and such, but nothing shoehorned in there or terribly weird gross preaching. The end (no spoilers) wraps things up that were ongoing, but does leave a little hanging in a room-for-a-sequel-y way, and also implies that certain things just keep going in a machinery of these characters way. But overall I liked and felt there was a good wrap-up to an overall great show that I really enjoyed. I think everyone who thinks it sounds interesting should watch it! In North America it’s streaming on Hulu and available through FUNimation.
Yay adult show with adults living hard lives and interesting speculation about life, death and meaning!