Entertainment

Now Playing: 2gether, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Animal Crossing

Quarantine edition!

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The year 2020 ushered a sudden change in our day-to-day lives. With social distancing and staying at home becoming our new normal, it’s unsurprising that this pandemic has taken a toll on people’s emotional and mental health. The GadgetMatch team may be used to working remotely, but we’re experiencing this crisis, too. Here’s what’s Now Playing and what’s keeping us sane during the lockdown!

Games to play

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Rodneil: There were so many things that could have gone wrong for a title that was so hotly anticipated. Instead, what we got is a thoughtful expansion on a game and story so dear to many gamers’ hearts. FF7R is not perfect, but it does more than enough to quench the thirst built up over five years (since it was confirmed to be in development) while also making us want more.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Leez: At this point, who wouldn’t want to escape the impending doom of millions of people dying across the globe by going on a small island getaway, making it your own, and socializing with friends? Animal Crossing: New Horizons is addictive with more customizable features for you and your island to make every detail your own. This game is definitely one to add to the list of games and reasons you should get a Nintendo Switch if you don’t have one by now.

Stardew Valley

Luigi: If you’re a fan of the life simulator genre (à la The Sims or Animal Crossing), then you’ve heard of Stardew Valley before. Released in 2016, this cozy farm simulator is one of the best companions when you’re stuck at home in quarantine. With tons of things to do and villagers to warm up to, Stardew Valley can keep you entertained for hours on end.

Resident Evil 3 (Remake)

Kenrick: Capcom just can’t get enough of Resident Evil remakes. Last year, fans of the beloved action-horror game were treated to a glorious remake of Resident Evil 2. This year, Resident Evil 3 becomes the latest installment to be remade. The remake will surely please fans as it sticks to the story of the original. There’s just so much to love about this game as it breathes new life to the characters of Jill, Carlos, and the dreaded Nemesis.

Shows to binge-watch

Community

MJ: When life throws you a curve ball, that’s the universe’s way of redirecting you to a new path — it’s a lesson I gleefully accept. Community reminded me of my younger days. I remember an unexpected disaster that threw me to a bunch of misfits who I now call friends. The hit sitcom finally found its way to Netflix where you can binge-watch its six seasons, giving you real good laughs and serious life lessons in every episode.

What We Do in the Shadows

Luigi: In the month or so that we’ve been under quarantine, you might’ve found yourself stuck with the quirkiest of housemates. Nothing gets stranger, however, than the weird vampire (and vampire wannabe) quintet of What We Do in the Shadows. Inspired by Taika Waititi’s 2014 eponymous film, FX’s mockumentary comedy series follows the adventures of the most dysfunctional housemates: a 757-year old vampire and his familiar, an overtly sexual vampire and his wife, and an energy vampire.

The Last Dance

Rodneil: The Last Dance is a 10-episode documentary detailing the last 6th and final championship run of the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls. Seeing as live sports is currently postponed until further notice, the documentary is a much-needed dose of entertainment for basketball fans who badly miss the game.

2gether: The Series

Vincenz: Tine (aka Mr. Chic) is a playboy who’s desperately looking for a girlfriend to replace his ex. But here’s the catch: a guy named Green likes him so much and follows him around to the point that Green looks like a leech attached to its host. The only way to get him out of the way is to beg Sarawat, a campus hottie, to become his fake boyfriend. He saw Sarawat as his savior to get away from an obsessed gay admirer. Little did he know, Sarawat was already head over heels for him long before they agreed on a pretend relationship.

Unorthodox

Carol: A closer look at the lives of Hasidic Jews in New York and a young woman’s struggle when she finds out the world she’s always known isn’t really for her. The story takes viewers from a secretive part of New York to the freedoms of Berlin. A poignant story spread out in four episodes based on the life of writer Deborah Feldman. It’s so good, you’ll end up wishing for a second season.

Chay: Unorthodox is a short but profound story about self-discovery and questioning what happiness truly is — is it one that you find for yourself or that which your circumstances dictate? The only bad thing about the series is it doesn’t have enough episodes!

TWICE: Seize The Light

Rodneil: This is a YouTube Originals documentary following K-Pop girl group TWICE during their TWICELIGHTS world tour. It also dives deep into their time as trainees and how they overcame hardships together as a nine-member group. It’ll surely be an emotional roller coaster for ONCEs — their devoted fans.

Why R U?

Vincenz: BL (Boys’ Love) series are common in Thailand, and these are based on fan novels. In Why R U, Zon has a younger sister (named Zol) who became popular because of the BL novel she published online. The characters were named after him and Saifah (the person he hates the most). Other than them, Fighter and Tor are also part of the novel (and they both consider each other as enemies). What if one day, you suddenly realize that you and the person you hate are already falling for each other? Would you still think it’s a curse that’s why you fell into the world of a BL novel? Or would you believe that homosexual love is the reality all along?

Ugly Delicious

Chay: Award-winning chef David Chang takes us on a culinary trip around the world; watching this felt like traveling while in self-isolation. Not only does the show combine two things I love, it also tackles racism, history, and what the future of regional cuisines as we know it might be like.

Movies to see

Contagion

Kenrick: A timely movie to watch? While the fictional virus in this movie is much more intense than the current COVID-19 pandemic, the story itself remains faithful to how society will respond to a health crisis. While the movie is almost nine years old, the current situation has revived interest in it as people try to understand just how a pandemic will affect the global society.

Godzilla: Resurgence

Rodneil: This feels like a very unique attack on Godzilla/Kaiju movies. Instead of having the protagonist be a regular citizen with some ties to people researching the creature, the film focuses on how the government responds to its emergence. That seems mundane at first glance but the pacing will keep you engaged. It does a good job of maintaining tension with well-timed reminders that ordinary people are dealing with a threat that can end mankind.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Human. :||: Nature. By Nightwish

Luigi: I’ve always been a huge fan of the hard rock and metal genres coming out of the “it’s just a phase, mom” era. If you want a taste away from the ordinary fare, Nightwish, a paragon of symphonic metal, brings together brutal guitar riffs, operatic vocals, and a full orchestra. Their latest album, “Human. :||: Nature.” comes in two discs: one, a masterpiece of melodic metal; and, the other, a full orchestral arrangement thematically highlighting the human journey of art and discovery. Listen here.

Social Distance

Chay: A daily podcast from The Atlantic tries to make sense of the grim reality that we’re living in. Journalist and physician James Hamblin answers executive producer for podcasts Katherine Wells’ questions about the pandemic and its consequences. Listen here.

Foam and Flotsam

MJ: Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Chelsea Peretti (known as Gina Linetti) may not be in the popular sitcom anymore, but she knows how to keep us entertained with her humor. The artist dropped “Foam and Flotsam”, a concept comedy album about coffee. These coffee-centric tracks may give you laughs while jamming due to its lyrics, but the songs tackle the complexity of human emotions, only told through coffee.  Listen here.

“Easily” by Bruno Major

Rodneil: It’s a song from 2017 but I only chanced upon it recently. The lyrics suggest it’s a song about taking a chance on a relationship. While the thought has crossed my mind, I just really flow with the song’s melancholic but soothing vibe. Listen here.

Redraftables by The Ringer

Rodneil: With the NBA postponed indefinitely, Bill Simmons of The Ringer decided to do an NBA redraft. The rules are simple: How would we rank the players in a certain draft class knowing what we know now. They start with the notable 1996 draft that featured the likes of the late but great Kobe Bryant, and cultural icon Allen Iverson.

Oh My God by (G)I-DLE

Vincenz: A powerful love song with an unusual concept talking about how one woman is going crazy over another. Homosexuality in South Korea (and several parts of the world), is still a taboo. The music video depicts how same-sex love is considered a sin/crime while the lyrics suggest real intimacy and attraction between the two people. Soyeon, the member who’s responsible for writing the lyrics of the song, said it’s open to interpretation.

Doors by Ben&Ben

Vincenz: Just like anyone, we “open our secret doors” to people who we fully trust. This is an empowering song that tells us not to be afraid of opening up ourselves to those we hold dear. At the end of the day, people who truly love and care for you will be there in your darkest times. Listen here.

Sugar Calling

Chay: The Internet’s agony aunt Cheryl Strayed seeks wisdom and advice from writers like Margaret Atwood, Pico Iyer, and George Saunders. The reassuring podcast comes at a time when nothing makes sense and the future seems more uncertain than ever. Listen here.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

Entertainment

Smart brings 25 K-Pop acts closer to the Philippines with KCON:TACT 4U

+1 J-Pop group to complete the lineup

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KCONTACT 4U
OT12 LOONA comeback let's go!

Some people behind the GadgetMatch team (including me) are total fans of K-Pop. With this in mind, we’re here to give you the best news for any K-Pop fan out there!

Smart Communications Inc. is bringing back the most-awaited K-Event of the year. Lo and behold, the KCON:TACT 4U virtual festival that will be held from June 19 (Saturday) to June 27 (Sunday). All you have to do is to access gigafest.smart every 8PM (Philippine time) to access the online concert. For the best streaming experience, just register to Double GIGA Video on the GigaLife App.

There aren’t just one, two, not even just ten K-Pop acts. There are a total of 25 K-Pop acts ranging from female and male groups, plus one J-Pop boy group to make it a whole lot fun, sizzling, and entertaining. Here are all the acts you should watch out! (in no particular order).

Female Groups

LOONA

LOONA is gearing up for their latest comeback with the album [&]. Orbits shouldn’t feel too excited about “Paint The Town” as the song wouldn’t be released within the whole duration of the virtual festival. Instead, expect them to perform their latest hits “Why Not” and“Star” (or “Voice”, its Korean track counterpart).

fromis_9

You’ll go head over heels with fromis_9‘s visuals and vocals — especially with their latest summer bop WE GO”. This is one of (if not) the best 2021 summer releases out there.

OH MY GIRL

Another summer hit pop track in the list is OH MY GIRL’s “Dun Dun Dance” that will surely make you dance all day and all night long with its catchy tune and soothing vocals of each member.

EVERGLOW

EVERGLOW is also one of the latest girl groups to release a fresh new track last month. While it’s not as refreshing as other tracks, “FIRST” will totally make your heads and ears flip because of how powerful it is.

ITZY

Speaking of powerful, ITZY’s “M.A.F.I.A. In the morning” is one of the most streamed K-Pop tracks around. With thousands of MIDZYs in the Philippines, expect them to populate the viewer count once the virtual festival starts.

Weeekly

Weeekly is currently one of the most popular new generation of female idols. With the ever increasing attention among the girls and their 2021 hit track “After School” plus the release of their latest collaborative track “7 Days Tension”, these cute yet refreshing bops would definitely make a lot of fans sing along and giggle with their cuteness!

Weki Meki

Weki Meki is one of the most underrated girl groups out there that you should definitely check out. “COOL” may not be their latest track this 2021 but it’s totally catchy alongside their other releases such as “OOPSY” and “DAZZLE DAZZLE”.

Male Groups

SEVENTEEN

Just like LOONA, SEVENTEEN is one among the K-Pop acts in the lineup that’s also gearing up for their comeback. While “Ready To Love” isn’t confirmed to be in the performance list, “HOME;RUN” should definitely be performed by these 13 amazing boys.

Stray Kids (SKZ)

Stray Kids (also known as “SKZ”) are TWICE and ITZY’s brothers! Not to confuse you with the K-Drama, but they recently won the survival show Kingdom.  Expect them to perform hit tracks such as “Back Door” and more.

THE BOYZ (TBZ)

Another group in the list that participated in the survival show Kingdom was THE BOYZ (or TBZ). Recently, their song “The Stealer” is gaining rounds online — and that song should definitely be performed in this virtual festival.

SF9

Dubbed as FNC Entertainment’s “First Boy Dance Group”, SF9 will surely make a lot of FANTASYs swoon. Even non-fans would surely drool over them.

iKON

After so many years of dispute between Mnet and YG Entertainment, iKON is ready to amaze iKONICs with their amazing performances. They’re also one among the competitors in Kingdom. And yes, they’re BLACKPINK’s older brother group — and Lisa performed with them during their “Classy Savage” sing and dance craze. Love Scenario” in 2021, anyone?

BTOB

Another Kingdom competitor is none other than BTOB. Known for their angelic voices, they surely threw a punch in the survival show — even if they’re the oldest competing group out of the bunch. After years of hiatus, they’re finally back on track. Coincidence or not, they’re sub-unit BTOB 4U will make your eyes bawl with “Show Your Love”.

PENTAGON

BTOB’s younger group, PENTAGON is also set to perform in this year’s KCON:TACT. Other than their latest track “DO or NOT”, they’re also popular for their hit song “Shine”.

CNBLUE

If you’re one among the veteran K-Pop fans like I am, you’d know that CNBLUE is one among the classic boy bands out there. Known for their great vocals and musical instrument skills, you’d be delighted to see them again after years of hiatus. Who knows, they might perform their classic hits this 2021?

HIGHLIGHT

Other than CNBLUE, HIGHLIGHT is also one of the classic K-Pop groups in this list. TL:DR, they originally came from Cube Entertainment (yes, the sole agency of BTOB and PENTAGON) under the name BEAST. If it rings any bell, they’re that boy group who made a lot of fans cheer and roar for years. Their latest track surely proves it’s “Not The End” of their journey together.

ASTRO

From the same company as Weki Meki and other prominent actors in South Korea, ASTRO surely knows how to act hot and cool while singing and dancing in their latest track “One”. And for all Cha Eunwoo supremacists out there, you should know by now that he belongs to this group.

ONEUS

If you weren’t aware, this group comes from the same label as MAMAMOO and their latest group PURPLE KISS. While both weren’t included in this year’s KCON:TACT lineup, ONEUS will make viewers dance such to a groovy and psychedelic track.

ONF

ONF (pronounced as On and Off) is OH MY GIRL’s younger brother group! Not sure if “Dun Dun Dance” and “Ugly Dance” were both coincidental with their “dance” naming scheme, but this crazy awesome Cyberpunk-ish concept has continued from their last release “Beautiful Beautiful”.

Golden Child

Home of INFINITE, Lovelyz, ROCKET PUNCH, and DRIPPIN, Golden Child is one of the underrated groups that need to be recognized for their talent. While completely going with their concept, they still try other concepts that surely suit their group image — and “Breathe” is one of those tracks that deserve more recognition.

A.C.E

This 4-year-old group is also set to step their foot on KCON:TACT 4U. Among other acts in the list, A.C.E is also preparing for their upcoming comeback with the title track “Higher”. But don’t expect too much and just enjoy their latest released track, “Down” for now.

P1Harmony

The third group from FNC Entertainment in this list alongside CNBLUE and SF9 is none other than P1Harmony. Their ultra-catchy hip-popping track “Scared” makes them look and sound distinct from their brother groups.

VERIVERY

“Get Away” is just three months old, but Filipino VERRERs would actually want to hear this charismatic and sexy track live — even if it means of just watching it virtually this pandemic.

TO1

‘TO1’ was rebranded from ‘TOO’ and their latest comeback song surely proves how powerful they are as a group. TL:DR, they were also formed in a survival show called ‘To Be World Klass”.

BONUS: GHOST9

A group composed of popular members from the survival shows “MIXNINE” and “PRODUCE X 101”, GHOST9’s set to have a “cinematic live” segment instead of a live performance during this year’s festival. It might be their latest track “Up All Night” that will surely make you up all night.

Soloist

Ha Sung Woon

Haneuls would definitely stay online to watch Ha Sungwoon’s latest track ‘Sneakers’ especially with its refreshing summer song. If you’re still unaware, he’s one of the original members of WANNA ONE, a project group formed from the PRODUCE survival show series.

The only J-Pop act in the roster

JO1

They’re the only J-Pop act in the lineup. Also, they’re the only active group from the PRODUCE series franchise.

Not to be confused with the group ‘TO1’, JO1 hopes to be one of the most sought after J-Pop acts with amazing vocals and visuals on the line. Watching and listening to “Born To Be Wild” further proves that.

Here’s the full schedule lineup if you want to catch your faves!

KCONTACT 4U

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E3 2021

Rocksmith+: Learn how to play guitar easily

With a massive song library, progress checks, and real-time feedback

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Rocksmith+

I have an acoustic guitar at home, yet I’ve never really taken the time to learn it. In my younger years, I watched YouTube videos and still couldn’t place my fingers properly to strum a chord. Now, I’m pretty sure a lot of other people feel the same way, and you’re looking for easier ways to learn. Fear not, Ubisoft is here with its new music-learning service, Rocksmith+.

Announced during the company’s E3 2021 presentation, Rocksmith+ takes its roots from the 2011 music video game, Rocksmith. Essentially, this subscription service allows you to learn and play chord charts and arrangements of a wide variety of songs. Unlike the 2011 video game, Rocksmith+ has a music library that isn’t limited to just rock music.

Another great feature this service will bring is real-time feedback and progress tracking, especially for beginners. If you download the service’s companion mobile app, it will pick up any guitar you’re playing on through your phone’s microphone. This way, Rocksmith+ will keep track of the chords you know and even show you where to place your fingers for other chords.

Rocksmith+ will be available through Ubisoft Connect for the PC, Android, and iOS, and you can sign up for a closed PC beta starting today until July 22. It will also be available for both the current and next-gen consoles.

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Entertainment

Trese: Three things to expect on the Netflix Original Anime

Quick thoughts on the highly anticipated series

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Trese
All images courtesy of Netflix

Hype for the Netflix Original Animé Trese will hit a fever pitch as the episodes officially drop. The show carries a lot of hopes and expectations since it’s the first Philippine graphic novel to receive this treatment.

Created by Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo, Trese is set in Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans. Series protagonist detective Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld composed of malevolent supernatural beings.

Netflix was kind enough to give GadgetMatch early access so, here’s what I think you should look out for before you watch the Netflix Original Animé. And don’t worry, no spoilers here.

1. Don’t think of it as an “Animé” 

While it technically is an animé since by definition animé is really just any animated work whether hand drawn or computer generated, outside of Japan it’s more popularly known as animation that originated in Japan.

The term also comes with certain aesthetic ✨expectations✨ and that’s not really what you’ll get here. That isn’t a bad thing though.

The art style and overall animation more closely resembles the previous work of series Showrunner Jay Oliva. He’s worked on outstanding DC Animated films — Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Justice League: War, Batman vs. Robin — to name a few.

You can tell me Bagyon Kulimlim is a DC villain and I wouldn’t bat an eye

Die hard animé fans will likely have a more open mind watching this with the expectation that the visuals of Trese are more Justice League or Batman The Animated Series than Tokyo Ghoul or Bleach.

I think with this in mind, you’ll enjoy the series more and appreciate better what it’s trying to do visually.

2. The Filipino/Tagalog dub sounds like your regular animé dub 

Yes, as a person of the Internet I have seen the comments and the conversations online about how the Filipino dub was executed. But I wanna say about 70 to 80 percent of the series will sound natural as you get deeper into the episodes.

If you grew up watching Slam Dunk’s Hanamichi Sakuragi calling Kaede Rukawa “Gunggong” (idiot) or are a fan of the “Tapusin, tapusin, tapusin” (Kill him, Finish him) chants of the monsters in Ghost Fighter (Yu Yu Hakusho), you should feel right at him with the dubbing work.

It isn’t perfectly natural and it does have awkward sounding dialogue. However, that’s par for the course at least from what I remember from watching Philippine TV in my childhood. Could it have been done better? Perhaps.

I watched the first two episodes repeating scenes while switching between the English and Filipino dub. My impression is that this was written first in English and then translated later on to Filipino. I should be able to confirm whether this was the case or not soon but for now, I think the series was certainly written in English first, then other languages later.

That said, the English dub does put on some accents that I don’t know how most people will feel about. Some of it does sound Filipino and they also mix in some Filipino words here and there. Personally, I wasn’t too bothered but I’m interested to see what the reaction of the general audience will be.

3. The music is fantastic

The intro starts with tribal chants that’s then super charged with some electronica. It perfectly mirrors the theme of the show — mystic creatures terrorizing humans in the modern world.

Does the Emissary give you an eerie feeling?

The show’s score also perfectly evokes the feeling of dread of living among aggressive ghouls claiming the lives of humans. Scenes of dialogue that further the detective side of the story also have this air of mystery to it.

When the action cranks up to eleven, we get a modern twist to traditional Filipino musical instruments played during festivities.

Trese

Alexandra Trese kicks ass

All these come together to bring the world of Trese to life and helps with the show’s overall identity.

Overall impressions

Around the time that this animated series was announced, I recall watching (or reading, my memory’s hazy) an interview by the original creators of the title about how they patiently waited for the right people to work with. I think the wait paid off.

The series as a whole is well done. The animation is fantastic if you look at it the way I did. It has a certain look that feels familiar and distinct at the same time. The pace never slows to a crawl. Instead, it slowly builds up to an emotional crescendo.

It’s such a treat to see Philippine folklore in this treatment. Personally, I’ve long wished for something like this. I believe our folklore is rich and deserves to be seen by the world. I pray Trese is just the beginning.

Watch Trese on Netflix.

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