Entertainment

Now Playing: Nevertheless, Death’s Door, and more

Everything from live action and animated romance to nostalgic games

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Now Playing

It’s been a while since we compiled things you can watch, listen to, and read. But with Metro Manila entering another two-week lockdown due to the rising cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant, now is as good a time as any for these recommendations. We have everything from live action and animated romance to games that will make feel nostalgic. Here’s the latest edition of Now Playing.

Games to play

FANTASIAN

Rodneil: This was one of the 2021 headliners of Apple Arcade made by none other than Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. The gameplay is a throwback to the late 90s, early 2000s JRPG style but playable on all devices where you can access Apple Arcade. It’s the type of game I grew up playing and it’s nice to see it come to mobile.

Scarlet Nexus

Rodneil: BANDAI NAMCO’s crack at an original intellectual property (IP) is off to a good start. Scarlet Nexus opens possibilities of how anime games can explore the single-player action RPG style instead of the hundreds of arena fighters we see. The game itself is enjoyable with its engaging combat and twist-filled story. I’m hoping against hope that this approach is applied to existing Anime IPs.

Death’s Door

Leez: Death’s Door is a charming indie game that’ll inexplicably take you back to action-adventure games of the ’90s like the SNES classic Legend of Zelda — A Link to the Past. The game is gorgeous and worth every moment. Developed by just a team of 5 (Acid Nerve), you’ll play this game while scratching your head. If you have a soft spot for indie games, you NEED to play this. Just… trust me.

Shows to binge-watch

Ginny & Georgia

MJ: If you’re in for comedy, drama, and a bit of rage then Ginny & Georgia is your pick — a story following a single mom and a teenager’s life as they settle down in a fictional town called Wellsbury. Over time, you’ll find Ginny annoying unless you’re that kind of teenager. But Georgia, oh Georgia, she carried the whole show on her shoulders. Netflix may always fail at representing teenagers at their shows, but the way they wrote all the mothers here — they’re realistic and on point.

Nevertheless,

Rodneil: I really only wanted to watch this because I thought Han So Hee is pretty gorgeous. I didn’t watch her run at the World of the Married because stories of cheating trigger me. Nevertheless, deals more with grappling with attraction, emotions, and where those two things intertwine. Plus the Sol-Jiwan wlw side story is becoming a fan favorite.

Time To Twice — Tdoong Forest

Rodneil: When the pandemic struck and outside activities were limited, TWICE started their own Reality/Variety series called Time To Twice. The latest season titled Tdoong Forest has the nine members doing simple activities at what appears to be a resthouse. It’s a nice break from all the assault-on-your-senses content and has been my source of “healing” these past weeks.

Horimiya

Rodneil: Young love at its finest and purest. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Horimiya. It’s simply a nice story told about high school romance. It’s a nice and easy watch that’s for anyone who’s looking to reminisce about what it’s like to be young and in love.

Masters of the Universe Revelation

Rodneil: Gotta admit, I only checked this out because of the online uproar it caused online, plus I’m a fan of Kevin Smith’s works. I think the title itself, which excluded “He-Man”, was a big enough clue on how this show will turn out. I think Smith is taking the franchise to a new, interesting direction and I’m all for it.

Eden

Rodneil: This one likely flew under everyone’s radar but it’s worth checking out. Directed by Yasuhiro Irie (Fullmetal Alchemist), Eden showcases a world governed and populated by robots. Curiously, two robots meet and eventually raise a human child who eventually tries to learn the truth of what really happened to the planet. It’s a nice, touching, quick watch (four episodes) that can surprisingly tug at your heartstrings.

Move To Heaven

Vincenz: You may have never heard of being a “trauma cleaner.” Not only is it a tough job for cleaning the items of the deceased, but it’s also a heart-wrenching job for knowing each and every story of the dead. Each episode is a story to tell. While they are different on their own, it gives us a lesson: don’t take life for granted and enjoy it while it lasts.

Racket Boys

Vincenz: I’m not fond of sports but this series shows the reality of badminton against a baseball-driven nation. This is a refreshing take on K-Dramas that is full of romance, drama, and terror. You get the reality of badminton from both the youngsters and oldies and how it’s underrated and less supported either emotionally or financially. It also shows how being inspired and fully driven truly affects the overall capacity of an individual in fulfilling his/her dream of becoming young national athletes that either represent their respective regions or their nation as a whole.

Movies to see

Ruruoni Kenshin Live Action films on Netflix

Rodneil: Easily the best Live Action Film adaptation of any Manga or Animé, all five films of the Rurouni Kenshin franchise are now available for binge-watching on Netflix. Even if you didn’t read the manga or watch the animé, I’d wager this is still a good way to enjoy Kenshin’s story.

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Rodneil: This one isn’t coming out until August 23 on Netflix but we were lucky enough to get a screener. The story builds on the lore of The Witcher franchise. It serves as a prequel to the live action adaptation starring Henry Cavill and provides a nice little backstory about how Witchers come to be Witchers.

The animation is super high quality reminiscent of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: Legend of Korra and DreamWorks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender. It had me daydreaming about an X-Men Animated Series reboot in this specific art style.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Perfect World by TWICE

Rodneil: “Perfect World” the song is one of their best Japanese comebacks. It showcased the really dark and edgy side of TWICE that some fans have been longing to see. The rest of the album features previously released singles along with gems like “Good at Love” which is again a surprising track from the nine-member girl group as well as the feel good “PIECES OF LOVE” and the emotional “Thank You, Family” and “PROMISE.”

Taste of Love by TWICE

Rodneil: Released earlier than their Japanese comeback, Taste of Love is a splash of TWICE in Summer. This whole mini album, headlined by the title track “Alcohol Free”, feels like a refreshing drink you take in under the heat of the sun. It embraces TWICE’s bright image and color but one that feels more grown up compared to the cuter tracks from their earlier years.

Dance On My Own by LOONA

Vincenz: All songs in LOONA’s [&] EP are all worth the hype but for any newbies who are still transitioning from Western to K-Pop, this is a great song to listen to.

Even though the lyrics are emotional, the song is actually fast-paced and energetic to the point that it’ll move you to grooves. None of the members are native English speakers but the lyrics are clear and audible. LOONA is really destined to go big globally.

Si Fueras Mía / It’s Love by D.O

Vincenz: D.O’s Empathy album, no doubt, is one of the best K-Pop albums out there. Not only does it include an English track, there’s also a Spanish song that truly made me think he knows how to speak the language.

Other than the inclusion of its Korean song counterpart called “It’s Love /다시,사랑이야 (Dashi sarangiya)”, “Si Fueras Mía” gives a different vibe due to the chosen lyrics. These titles are truly worth listening to.


Moodswings In This Order (MITO) by DPR Ian

JP: DPR Ian’s debut EP features DPR Live and CL (former K-pop group 2NE1 leader) in one of the tracks called “No Blueberries.” The album’s central theme is the personification of Ian’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder and other life experiences into a fictional character named Mito.

MITO is an introspective album that combines lyrical and auditory components with engaging visuals. This multidisciplinary approach makes for an utterly immersive album with widely relatable representations.

I Just by Red Velvet

Gab: It’s an old B-Side track from Red Velvet, but with the recently concluded promotions of the now out-of-hiatus SM girl group, they brought it back. It’s a banger for a B-Side, and it’s good music to listen to when you play games at a high level, or maybe that’s just me. Also, ROCKSTAR WENDY!


The Mismatch by The Ringer

Rodneil: NBA off-season is in full swing and with it comes a plethora of player movement. The Mismatch with Kevin O’Connor and Chris Vernon shares pretty sober takes and well-researched analysis on the NBA landscape.

Books to read


Rogue Anthology

Leez: Rogues is an anthology featuring 21 original short stories from various authors. The book has been edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Released in 2014, the book is worth multiple reads and revisits. It’s got sci-fi mystery, historical fiction, epic fantasy, sorcery, comedy, tragedy, and crime stories. Where, rogues, cads, scalawags, con men, thieves, and scoundrels get the spotlight of their enthralling moral obscurity. What’s not to love?

Discourses, Fragments, Handbook (Oxford World’s Classics)

JP: Epictetus was a reek Stoic philosopher who taught philosophy as a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. In a chaotic time like this pandemic, stoicism is a good compass for overcoming challenges and reinforcing mental and emotional strength. This book relays Epictetus’ core principles in a language and manner that’s clear and relatable even to modern readers.

Entertainment

Netflix Southeast Asia movies to watch

Homegrown Southeast Asian titles for your holiday must-watch

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Netflix Southeast Asia

Looking for Netflix shows to binge-watch throughout the holidays? The streaming app features a rich collection of localized content across all genres for viewers to give a try.

Here are some of the best titles from Southeast Asia and beyond for subscribers to enjoy.

The Lost Lotteries (Thailand)

This comedy features five unlucky strangers meeting each other for a common goal of fighting a mafia boss who have stolen their winning lottery tickets worth millions.

Hurts Like Hell (Thailand)

World-renowned sport Muay Thai traces its roots to Thailand, and this mini-series will give fans an even more in-depth look into this industry.

The Trapped 13: How We Survived The Thai Cave, Thai Cave Rescue (Thailand)

If you’re interested in real-life stories, then these documentaries are for you. Both feature the 12 young Thai footballers who were trapped in a flooded cave complex for 17 days back in 2018.

The Trapped 13: How We Survived The Thai Cave in particular reflects the perspectives of the survivors while showcasing the intricate details of the dangerous rescue mission and how they managed to survive the event.

Thai Cave Rescue, on the other hand, is a drama series which took real-life elements from the boys’ stories.

The Big 4 (Indonesia)

Abimana Aryasatya, Putri Marino, Arie Kriting, Lutesha, and Kristo Immanuel star in a mix of action and comedy from Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto. The Big 4 sees four retired assassins joining forces to track down an elusive murderer.

A Perfect Fit (Indonesia)

What if fate comes a little too late? In this whirlwind romance, an already engaged fashion blogger finds herself going down an unexpected path during a life-changing trip to Bali, where she meets a gifted shoemaker.

Doll House (Philippines)

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ very own Baron Geisler stars in Doll House, which is ought to give viewers a good cry.

The heart-warming tale portrays the complexities of father-daughter relationships. It comes with a sentimental plot toward the end that will touch the hearts of everyone.

Chinese language picks

Warriors of Future (Hong Kong)

A suicide squad is assigned to save humanity from the threat of extinction after a meteor carrying a destructive plant hit the world. In the process, they will have to defeat alien creatures in a post-apocalyptic setting to succeed.

Shards of Her (Taiwan)

This Taiwanese mystery thriller stars Hsu Wei-Ning, Toby Lee and Wen Chen-Ling. After a coma leaves her with amnesia, an accomplished career woman finds herself navigating a warped reality where she is forced to revisit her painful past.

Mom, Don’t Do That! (Taiwan)

When a 60-year-old widow decides to fall in love again, her two daughters get both happy and annoyed. This Taiwanese drama-comedy that is filled with hilarious moments will teach everyone heartfelt lessons too.

Do you have your own Southeast Asia movies or TV shows recommendations?

SEE ALSO: Inside Netflix’s dubbing process

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IN PHOTOS: Dubbing with Netflix, HIT Productions

Plus a quick glimpse of the Netflix PH office

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Netflix HIT

Have you ever been curious about how the whole dubbing process works? Netflix, along with HIT Productions, was kind enough to give us a quick tour showing how our favorite Netflix shows are dubbed in Filipino. 

HIT Productions prides itself as “The Philippines’ top audio post production house and recording studio for advertising.” And they have the clientele to back up the claim. Other than Netflix, they’ve also worked with plenty of notable brands. These include but are not limited to Jollibee, Mitsubishi, Coca Cola, and many more. 

They’ve partnered with Netflix on many shows and movies. For this particular tour, they showed us how they dubbed Season 4 of Stranger Things.

Different rooms for the talents and director

Dubbing Director Cheska Aguiluz

Heading in, I was fully expecting a Sound Booth like setup – you know, the ones we normally see in TV shows and movies. HIT has a different setup. They have the director in one room and the voice talents in another. The rooms are situated right across each other with sound engineers manning both rooms. 

The communication between the director and talents still happens real time, and they see each other through an iPad.

Each room has a monitor that displays the scene that’s being dubbed. The talents’ audio goes straight into a computer that’s in the same room as the director. 

Netflix HIT

Multiple talents will be in the same room at one time. This depends entirely on the scene that needs to be dubbed. They take turns dubbing with sound engineers adjusting the height of the mic each time to make sure it’s optimized for each talent. 

Although, they did mention this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there will be scheduling challenges, but they’re able to work through it.

Netflix HIT

The actual dubbing back and forth is fascinating. They go through each line meticulously, making sure the cadence, the breaths, the tone, and the emotion matches that of the original actors. 

Recording a single episode will take days. And that’s just the recording. The next part is just as tedious.

Painstaking editing

Netflix HIT

The level of precision applied in the voice acting and directing extends to the cutting floor when the recordings go through post production. 

Here, sound engineers go through each scene, switching between the original scene and the dubbed recordings to make sure they match. This includes how loud or soft the voice is as well as adding effects to mimic the room environment sound of each sound. 

What makes the whole process tricky is a lot of it is guess work. I asked if they are given a cheat sheet of the effects used by the original production. They said that rarely happens. That means they rely both on their sharp ears and years of experience to make sure everything matches.

After post production, an entire episode goes through a quality check. If anything sounds off, it’s back to post processing again. 

HIT says in a month, they’re able to finish roughly around three to four episodes. Of course, that depends also on the length of the episode. Stranger Things Season 4, for instance, typically lasts over an hour. With some episodes even running as long as feature length films.

Trying out dubbing

Netflix HIT

Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado

After a look at the voice acting and post production process, HIT took us to a room where some members of the media got to try dubbing. Here, Head of Localization Rudolf Baldonado, led the way. 

Baldonado explained that the most important part of the whole process is the script. Localization, as you may have surmised, is no easy task. There are so many things to consider: What words to use to match the movement of the lips, the general direction for each line, and making sure all the lines make sense when delivered together.

A couple of voice talents showed us the ropes first, recording a scene from the Don’t Look Up film. Baldonado, who also helmed localization for Trese, noted that mimicking the original actor’s voice is less important than delivering the right tone and emotion for the line and the scene. 

Netflix HIT

During the recording, he also noted that dubbing is more about voice acting than actual voice quality. How well you convey the right emotion is more important than whether or not you sound pleasant or not. 

Sit down with the voice talents

Netflix HIT

To wrap up the tour of the HIT Productions office, we sat down with the voice talents and the rest of the team that worked on the Stranger Things Season 4 dub. Here’s everyone who joined us: 

  • Christian Velarde (MIKE)
  • Albert Silos (WILL)
  • Steve Bontogon (DUSTIN)
  • JM Canlas (LUCAS)
  • Steffi Bontogon (MAX)
  • JM Torres (VECNA)
  • Nelieza Magauay (ROBIN)
  • Ericka Peralejo (SUZIE)
  • Cheska Aguiluze (Dubbing Director)
  • Rudolf Baldonado (Head of Localization)

Many of them shared their experiences and lessons learned while working as voice actors. 

A lot of the echo the same thing that Baldonado mentioned earlier. That the ability to understand the character’s emotion and act it out through your voice is the most important skill in the craft.

Netflix HIT

What stood out to me the most though, is how each of them seemed like colorful characters on their own. And they deserve just as much recognition as TV and movie actors. 

Quick Netflix PH HQ Tour

After the session at HIT Productions, we were taken to the headquarters of Netflix Philippines. Some interesting things to note: 

  • The meeting rooms are named after Netflix’s shows and films
  • There are areas designated for quiet time 
  • The place is spacious with many areas for quick, breakout meeting sessions
  • It’s filled with books and other ornaments that have to do with Netflix shows
  • Free-flowing drinks! 
  • This writer would like to spend a work day or two in the area (Thanks in advance, Netflix!) 

Here’s a photo dump:

Netflix

Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Netflix

Squid Game meeting room | Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Photo c/o Netflix

Beverages | Photo c/o Netflix

Pantry | Photo c/o Netflix

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Tao Tsuchiya spills deets about Alice in Borderland S2

Coming This December

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Tao Tsuchiya

It’s been almost two years since the first season premiere of popular Netflix series Alice in Borderland. Based on a manga of the same name, the story revolves around two people who found themselves in a dystopian version of Tokyo, and with a twist — they play real-life “games” in order to survive.

Season 1 ended with a very intriguing cliffhanger, and fans are left with more puzzle pieces to solve. 

Good news: the waiting game won’t be much longer because season 2 is finally coming this month! As special treat to fans, we got the chance to interview Tao Tsuchiya who plays Usagi in the series.

I personally love her badass, athletic physique in this live action adaptation. But compared to her character, she is actually kawaii in real life. It was a short but fun chat with her.

Without major spoilers, here’s what Tsuchiya revealed for the next season:

A more emotional and (possibly) romantic Usagi

In season 1, Usagi was introduced as an athletic, competent girl with a sad past. She competed in the games independently until she meets Arisu, played by actor Kento Yamazaki, who eventually becomes her ally.

During our interview, Tao Tsuchiya briefly mentioned about her character development, even experiencing the feeling of first love.

“Usagi, basically, has this feeling of disappointment towards society [in season 1], so she’s pretty much aloof. But in season 2 and by meeting Arisu, she cares about other people and then she has this feeling of first love. Usagi was in solitude, or she was alone, [but now], her scars starts to open up and she shows her vulnerability and anxiety and her doubts.”

Is the Arisu x Usagi ship finally sailing this time?

Big visual upgrade

Season 1 was a visual treat for the viewers. The overall effects were well thought of and brilliantly presented. As someone who’s been to Tokyo, I found it fascinating how they made the big city really look and feel like a true-to-life gaming arena.

Tsuchiya promises Season 2 will be more enjoyable because “the scales, technology and CGI are bigger. We created a world that we can’t imagine before, so the whole thing is a whole upgrade.”  Sounds exciting!

New games will be a balance between mind and physical

When asked about the nature of games in the upcoming season, Tsuchiya teases that half of the games will be about the mind, and half will be physical. According to her, there will be different portrayals in the mind games. The cast and crew enjoyed the back-and-forth participation to both kinds of games. 

She also teased about a game that will make her character understand the value of life. We wonder what it is about.

They try to be faithful to the manga version

Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki

Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki

For new fans, Alice in Borderland is based on a shōnen manga series written by Haro Aso, and the first season covered around the first 31 chapters. 

According to Tsuchiya, they try to be as faithful as possible to the manga. However, some elements have to be tweaked for better live action experience, most especially the facial expressions. 

With the manga having 64 chapters in total, season 2 is expected to cover the remaining 33.

They filmed season 2 will a calmer perspective

Alice and Borderland Season 1 was filmed during the onset of the pandemic, and Tsuchiya described it as quite stressful because of the uncertainties.

While season 2 is also filmed during the pandemic, protocols are eased up and the cast are more chill when filming this new season.

She also shared a few filming moments that had us smiling during the interview:

“There was a time where we were on the tallest building in Shibuya at five o’clock in the morning and the crew were obviously very sleepy at that time. But we actors were dressed in rags and were basically in a situation, or we looked like we were about to die any minute. But then at that moment, for whatever reason we burst out laughing and I’m sure the crew members didn’t understand why we were laughing that hard. There was a moment because you know it’s such a tough world that we are trying to portray. Maybe because of that, we just kind of thought it was inexplicable but that was the moment that we remember.”

Well, how fun was that!

Alice in Borderland Season 2 will be out on Netflix this December 22.

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