Yes, we’re late again. Oh well. Here are our favourites from February.
The shortest month of the year was another action-packed one, with new releases coming more frequently. The only dark spot of February was my inability to see TWICE in either L.A. or New York. The opportunity to get second-hand tickets was there. Still, because of the stupid cost of non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S., making the short trip across the border was not economically feasible. Which sucks.
So I took out my frustrations (or gained more frustration) by playing the PS5 game Sifu. A game I have been looking forward to since its announcement. I got my money’s worth due to the game’s difficulty and learning curve. Although the game is only five levels, surviving those levels at an advantageous age to be able to tackle each one was the real challenge.
Was Sifu a “throw my controller at the T.V.” pain in the ass kind of game? Absolutely. But once I understood how not to get swarmed by enemies and the methods used to defeat the bosses, the game was a fun experience trying to open a can of whoop-ass as efficiently as possible.
The game is not for those with little patience or who like to go full YOLO in many versus one battles. You will surely be damaging something because of how the game puts you in the pool’s deep end early. However, if you’re willing to invest some time in mastering the game’s mechanics, you’ll revel in the Jackie Chan-style fights ahead of you.
As for the music that impacted me the most from February? Here is my shortlist.
Apink – Horn
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/6GeYzOIumBxJ4iF41J3KXM?si=p6qw7bcaT6Sp1EBQKENhTA
Apple Music – https://apple.co/3I5cwqT
Apink is one of the groups I have some memory of in my first go-round in K-Pop. So to see that they were still active upon my return was a pleasant surprise. I liked the LOOK album from 2020, but they fell off my radar after their promotions for that ended.
So when I saw that they released a new album, I was curious to see what new music they had to offer. Horn is an excellent album from beginning to end with no filler tracks. There was a lot of competition for my listening time when it came to girl groups, but I listened to this album the most.
Epik High – Epik High Is Here Pt. 2
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/1a7B3Nn52Uvi9nhqnHacfh?si=oLLfa5VsSgqyoPy_lscPKA
Apple Music – https://apple.co/3KEA0VH
The second part of Epik High Is Here is the less moody of the two albums. I prefer the songs on this album compared to the first as many are made of of the sound that attracted me to the group in the first place.
This is also another album that is all killer and no filler. This was my favourite of all the albums I listened to in February.
Bruno Mars, Anderson.Paak & Silk Sonic – Love’s Train
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/track/60gTdTwaNtGAzIxKfeGVfJ?si=59113297ac234d04
Apple Music – https://apple.co/3KFNoJi
The duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak can do no wrong. Their cover of CON FUNK-SHUN’s Love’s Train was released on Valentine’s day in time for the lovers out there to add it to their bedroom boom playlist.
Much like their other songs, this is some R&B mastery on display, and I can see no fault with this cover.
While February was relatively light in the way of significant announcements, the stream of new manga and webtoon adaptations continued to go full steam ahead. More excitingly, what I had predicted due to the Kakaotalk buyout of Tapas – faster-licensing agreements – continued, with other companies also pushing for simulpublishing (a practice where creators would release in multiple languages at the same time to cut out pirates).
Both Manta and Tappytoon released several titles for simulpublishing, suggesting that this will now become the norm for titles from now on, which is quite frankly better for everyone involved.
Releases that I particularly loved this month were:
Falling for the Enemy, Mieun Lee (on Manta Comics https://manta.net/series/1786)
There is a wonderfully paced and executed rom-com between an oblivious female lead and the shy but stoic male lead.
Ranking of Kings, Sousuke Toka (available on Bookwalker https://global.bookwalker.jp/dec720a982-91f3-40c7-978d-6513eedc9457/ranking-of-kings-1/)
For those of you who enjoyed the anime, the entire series is now available on Bookwalker.
The Most Heretical Last Boss Queen, Tenichi (available on Bookwalker, https://global.bookwalker.jp/de83d0edd5-f720-4342-ab28-f68b7c8ed5c9/the-most-heretical-last-boss-queen-from-villainess-to-savior-vol-1/)
This incredibly well-done work was finally picked up and released this year in English, an isekai shojo romance that feels like it should be a shonen action series.
However, it is a must-read for anyone who particularly likes a good dash of action and fighting alongside their reincarnation stories.
HEAD UP / Baby Blue
Taking the road less travelled for their major debut, this spin-off group from MNL48 decided to opt for a slower and jazzier release. That being said, they continue their strong train of releases from their very first debut after their Janken tournament victory.
TSUNAMI / Finance Ryugu
This fantastic debut solo single with beats reminiscent of REOL during her Sigma period (quite frankly, my favourite album from her) begs are great question – what exactly do we define as “J-pop”?
Whatever the answer is, this track’s earworm melody mixed with its excellent autotune and heavy use of rap is undeniably impressive.
Aurora / Nantyara Idol (feat Ootaka Jacky)
This 8-minute track is highly reminiscent of legendary shoegaze idol group ・・・・・・・・・’s first album, 『 』. P.S. – shoegaze with a hint of noise is an effortless way to get me addicted to something.
Never stop my beat / Kizuna Ai
While never stop, my beat never quite gets to the levels of her best work, AIAIAI; it is a great way to end arguably the first modern vtuber’s multiyear career. Her final performance, The Last Live “hello, world 2022”, is also worth checking out.
Fan Concert – Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni / Enna Alouette
Speaking of wonderful concerts, this 3-hour experience of a fan reimagining legendary songs from the hit franchise Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, complete with voice notes from various producers of the remakes, was enjoyable to watch.