Supernatural

As I’ve mentioned in the first blog post, my interaction with western TV appears to deepen as I continue on from popular phenomenons in which characters are singular and dramatic to critically successful titles such as The Sopranos in which the characters reflect on the realism of western society (although one can argue in a non-realism way). I keep wondering how, or even whether such difference occurs in the asian contemporary culture. One friend of mine discusses J-Pop with me once and pointed out that ‘the manner in which contents are expressed resemble 80s power ballads’. I immediately disagreed but couldn’t argue my point. After all, once you translate the lyrics into English it goes like

“These beautiful, fragile days are reborn, unfaded.

In the season of dazzling burned seas
and in the season of dancing snowflakes

whenever I turned around, you were there.”

Well, I wonder if it’s the same with TV. The fact that Jun Sang has a second road accident which functions as a major ‘driver’ for the plot in Winter Sonata almost makes this immensely popular asian drama seem unreasonable. A good plot should be driven by strong logic and a reasonable build-up, a drama with supernatural elements should still not rely on such abrupt occurrence. Don Draper doesn’t come up with an amazing solution because of whisky, that would be an error. However, this kind of randomness in the plot did not cause such distress to me… Wait, I need to change this statement. It does when I am aware of this in an English vocabulary, in a study-at-RMIT-and-write-an-essay context, yet it simply doesn’t when I quote my mom on this.

She’d probably comment ‘so fake”dramatic’. However, it is not the equivalent of a failed drama, it’s not even funny. She would still enjoy the dramatic relationship between Yu-Jin and Jun-sang by looking at other details such as their conversations with their parents, etc. She would have a say on who’s the stronger character, and why Winter Sonata is a more successful drama than Summer Blindness in which the main guy comes back from the dead and so on and so on.

I’ve recently picked up one of my Year 8 favourites – well one of the most popular Japanese anime ever made possibly – Naruto Shibuten. The action scenes do not make sense, the plot unfortunately survives on relentless reference to early themes. I still watched it episode after another – a hard-to-shed sense of fantasy is still evident and draw me to the show. One thing that has always made me very aware is even in a critical battle between the most evil and the most kind, the show can cut to a ‘tutorial’ in which both characters are miniaturised and demonstrate the special power and battle place relationships. The faces of these characters, instead portraying wartime intensity, can briefly show circular blank eyes and three black lines to address the awkwardness a failed attack. I cannot imagine such horror in something like Games of Thrones.

On the Chinese internet there are groups of subtitle makers who translate American and British TV shows and seed them to a very, very large audience – many of which do not speak English. I’ve always admired how some of the very native elements were cleverly expressed in a way that’s very loyal to the plot yet as native as it can sound in a Chinese context. It’s a strangely heartwarming feeling – maybe there is something, a kind of feeling we all agree to, just lost in vocabularies and conventions.

 

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