Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hao! Hao! Kyonshi Girl – season 1 – review

Director: unknown

First aired: 2012

Contains spoilers

Hao! Hao! Kyonshi Girl was a Japanese series that was based around the Chinese hopping vampire the kyonsi (or variant spellings thereof).

This review is tempered with the fact that the DVD set I bought did have English subtitles but they were literal translations and so this made them tough going at times. However the programme was pretty simplistic in format and so I don’t think I missed much - though a couple of gaps are mentioned in the review.

Kawashima Umika
The lead actress is Kawashima Umika, who is an idol and part of the idol pop group 9Nine. She essentially plays herself in the series (and the group is also featured) and at the very beginning we are introduced to her, the fact that she is in the group, at college and an actress in Japanese dramas… oh, and hunts kyonsi. This turn of events started because she was looking in a store room at her parents’ café and accidentally opened an urn with a Taoist seal on it.

Bambam captures a kyonsi
The kyonsi had been trapped inside and were now free but the seal became a young boy named Bambam – how he became the seal did come into the show but, to be honest, it was not very clear via the subtitles (however it doesn’t matter really). A layer of comedy is added through with the fact that when he sneezes he becomes adult and reverts back to child with the next sneeze (although an exhausted Bambam became a geriatric at one point too). It is his job to convince Haihe (as she is known) to hunt the kyonsi – she is classed as a priest and did wear a yin yang pendant prior to the accident.

King Kyonsi
This leads to a double life for a young woman who already has a rather full plate. There are over a hundred kyonsi loose and each bite creates more, plus they have to be retrieved before an evil moon (that occurs once every hundred years) or the king kyonsi will come to power and destroy the world of man. First of all her reluctance gets in the way, then her career and even her heart but (except for the two part finale) each short episode is self-contained.

child kyonsi and spell scrolls
The kyonsi follow pretty standard rules. They can be pacified by spell scrolls (which can be mass printed from a jpeg) and, in such a state, guided by the priest ringing a bell (one, obsessed with running a marathon he was going to run when still human, has enough will power to ignore the bell). They are destroyed by sunlight (though they also seem to be around in the daytime but the rules are a little loose). Haihe has a coin sword which does them damage, you can hide from them by holding your breath and if one stands on your shadow you can’t move.

thug kyonsi
A bite will kill and turn a person – though if sticky rice is placed on the wound in time it can be healed and a virgin’s urine can either delay or heal the wound (that wasn’t too clear). What was amusing was the fact that they ran around in one episode trying to get a virgin’s urine and one would have assumed Bambam and Haihe to be virgins. I think, with Haihe, using her urine couldn’t even be contemplated due to her idol status.

It is Ed Milliband... isn't it?
It is quite difficult to score this as I may, due to the subtitles, being doing it a disservice but whilst it was nice to see kyonsi and it was mildly amusing, it was a bit of pop-culture fluff. The idol culture hasn’t really transposed to the West so much (our celebratory culture seems far more seedy, at least as far as the participants are concerned… the audience may be a different thing altogether) and so the central tenant is, whilst understandable, a little unusual. That said the kyonsi could be stiffly amusing in their own right (and for a Brit, especially the one I screen-captured that looked remarkably like Ed Milliband) even if the makeup/mask effect for the King Kyonsi was poorly rubber. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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