DramaFever is DEAD

DramaFever.com was a great niche website for fans of Asian dramas. It was murdered on October 16, 2018 by corporate American media greed.

Maybe that sounds a bit melodramatic. Kinda like the Asian melodramas I adore watching. But when you’re in the middle of watching the fourth episode of an eight episode show you’re marathoning, and the screen goes black and is replaced with this message…

Notice from DramaFever

Yep. It feels like murder for an annual subscriber who never even got an email notification of this major change to come.

Not only was I watching one of the first newer Japanese shows they had added to the site in a long time, I was also watching 4 currently airing dramas. One called “100 Years My Prince” I had watched four episodes, but had yet to add to my list shown below.

Watchlist from My Drama List

Two of those shows can be watched on other legal streaming sites. The other two were exclusives. So, viewers were cut off mid-program with no alternative since AT&T doesn’t plan to launch whatever bundled streaming service they’re planning until 2019 and they own all the licenses.

A huge miscalculation

What AT&T and Warner Bros Entertainment don’t understand is the site wasn’t just a place to watch TV shows and movies like, for example, Netflix or Hulu. What distinguished sites like DramaFever and Viki from other streaming services is the wealth of news and information you could also find on the site and the app. Those apps build community online and sometimes even through offline events such as the DramaFever Awards, K-Con and the recent K-Expo in New York.

The companies that bought DramaFever had a terrible understanding of the audience. Or maybe they just didn’t care. Twelve hours of watching foreign language television show is an time commitment beyond watching a show streaming in your native language. Twelve hours invested in a show that was exclusive to this website with no way to watch the remaining four episodes is cutting off life support for an avid fan. And for Chinese fantasy drama fans that often watch 50 to 80 episodes, I can’t imagine how devastating this is for them.

There were better options

What strikes me most is how unbelievably, poorly handled the entire debacle was. The communication was atrocious. Oh well actually it was non-existent. They didn’t have the decency to notify annual or monthly subscribers ahead of time (before the media knew) so that they could prepare in whatever way they needed to. Subscribers who heard via news articles posted on Facebook were left wondering if and how they would get refunds. Some people had recently subscribed. Others had just gotten billed and accounts automatically drafted in the last couple of days. The shutdown happened on October 16. I got an email the next evening saying my automatic billing was cancelled. Still no word about a refund for the remaining months on my subscription.

Cutting off the service instead of letting it run until the new streaming service was ready was a disservice to viewers and staff of DramaFever. Those former viewers have just been turned into haters, protestors and potential boycotters of the new AT&T streaming service. All because they were told it was a business decision to abruptly cancel a service they’ve depended on for not just Korean, but also Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese currently airing dramas for nine years.

AT&T and Warner Brothers Entertainment owe subscribers, viewers and DramaFever staff an apology. They need to mea culpa and say, “We admit we fucked up. We’re sorry,” while handing all of us our refunds or, in the case of staffers, severance pay.

Peace out old monopoly entertainment companies

This is why many current streaming TV viewers left traditional American networks and cable for streaming services. Because the old style way of operating, not putting customers first, was a deal-breaker. Now they’re trying to bring the same old methods into the new realm of streaming service, looking at it through greedy eyes instead of consumers eyes. Good luck with your new customers. They won’t be the former DramaFever ones.

Kimura Takuya fandom

Kimura Takuya in Ando LloydI’m over two decades late to the party, but I’m now firmly on board with the Kimura Takuya fandom. Along with the other folks in the k-drama watching group, we decided to jump to Japanese drama for a mini break from Korean dramas. We had the option to watch one of  three Kimura Takuya TV shows: from his 20s A Sleeping Forest, his 30s Pride, and his 40s Ando Lloyd. We chose Ando Lloyd: AI Knows Love.

Ando Lloyd turned out to be a sci-fi romance and it was entertaining. I think I enjoyed it more because I was watching with a group and the discussions and analysis were interesting. I wouldn’t have stuck with it on my own. It still hasn’t sold me on J-drama. I was happy there was some romance and it wasn’t tragic so that was a win for me. It was nice that there was deeper meaning a than just a sci-fi adventure.

Kadoshiro teddy bear from Ando LloydAnd, hey, I also found a new favorite drama creature —Kadoshiro.

As far as making me a solid Kimura Takuya fan, because he played a robot in this, it was difficult for me to see why everyone was drooling about Kimura Takuya. I kept thinking  More Kadoshiro Hajime, one of the supporting characters, would have been better. But still there was something about the intensity in Kimura’s eyes that led me to want to see him in something else. Since this Kimutaku in his 40s is a hottie, I decided to check him out in his 30s and watched Pride.

DING, DING, DING, DING!! SOOOOOLD!

Yep, this was the show that placed me firmly into the Kimutaku fandom.

It’s a sports story. It’s a love story. It’s hot, untamable star athlete being “tamed” by ordinary, nice, office-worker girl. The whole soundtrack is Queen music. Queen! He has a friend named Hotta. What could be hotta than that? Okay, I know.  Ignore that. Kimura as Halu by episode 5 half confessing to Aki on a bridge in the first snowfall. *heart*

***SPOILERS***

Halu smilingHalu. Oh Halu you heartbreaker. Full confession and lovemaking all in episode 6. BOOM! By episode 7 I was already steeling myself for heartbreak, because this rosy pink love was ripe to be hijacked by the past. Sure enough Aki’s mothafucker absentee boyfriend (M.I.A. for 2 years) shows up right as Halu is about to say “game over,” move in with me to Aki on their favorite bridge. All I could do now was hang on until ep. 10 or 11 when we all can finally say game over, love on.

My biggest complaint with Pride was focusing entirely on Hotta and Yuri in ep. 5 and Aki totally losing her mind in her decision-making toward the end. And the case of last centuryitis that Halu and Aki caught one evening. I mean sure this show was made in 2004, but cell phones were pretty widespread at this point. They waited outside each other’s homes all night, but no one thought to just use their cell phone to call and say, “Where you at, yo?”

I was on a roll after Pride. Trying to consume whatever I could find of Kimura Takuya. I started A Sleeping Forest and promptly put that freaky thing on hold. Then watched Long Vacation a quirky Noona romance when Kimutaku was in his 20s. I followed that with Love Generation another 20-something romance, this time featuring a love/hate OTP relationship. Both were okay, but neither rose to the level of carving out a special place in my heart like Pride did.

Love Generation certainly had some memorable moments. One featured the brother of Kimura’s character, Teppei. His older brother is about to marry Teppei’s ex-girlfriend from high school. But, he’s having an affair with a woman from his past that has Yakuza ties. And boy is she a cuckoo bird especially when older brother tries to break up with her. She turns into crazy stalker of him and fiancé. And just when I thought this lady was crazy enough, she pulls out what I think is a switchblade to stab him. Okay, but no, it’s actually either a permanent red Sharpie or lipstick and starts writing on his chest goodbye in Japanese.

What I remember most about both of these dramas is Kimura was always running, running, running everywhere all the time. And he was so young. And seems to specialize in playing the awkward, almost nerdy guy. Except in Pride.

He must be good for me to watch shows that aren’t in HD. My brother was right. Once you go widescreen, HD or retina display, you never go back. But for Kimutaku I did. And now I’m fangirling all over the place. Considering my usual group is k-drama focused, I even had to find another group that focused on Asian dramas that aren’t Korean, but I probably need one specific to Kimutaku.

I started his current drama I’m Home, but my Korean drama watching groups suddenly got busy with several really good shows so it’s on pause for now, too. But I’ll definitely go back. It has an interesting premise. I recommend watching Pride and Ando Lloyd. If you can handle shrill female leads then go ahead and try Long Vacation and Love Generation, but they’re skippable unless you are truly a new fan.