Interview with THE PotUpper: Kakashi

Alright! And now the last! The interview with Kakashi, fearful leader of this blog. In case you were wondering about the name - Kakashi Sensei is her first Asian love. And you know, first loves are special. If you have any additional questions, just ask in the comments section below!

Interview with Kakashi

Kakashi Sensei, thanks for creating this blog and allowing us to participate in it! So, when exactly did you create "PotUp"? How has it evolved from your first vision?  

Ha! Like so many things in life, there is far less planning and far more coincidence (or fate?! Yes, let's called it fate) than you might think. I started this blog all by myself on March 22, 2010. The first (very short) post was about "Supernatural". And the initial idea of the blog was to be grateful for something every day. That lasted approximately until October (with 40 posts, telling you something about how "daily" I posted). In October 2010, I first mentioned watching KDramas. I wrote "One of these days I will analyze what it is that draws me to Korean drama, but not today. I want to see how the evil step-mother gets punished and the rich arrogant son falls in love with the poor but very nice girl and changes in the process to a warm-hearted good person".

It took me two full years to start doing that! Arang and the Magistrate and Faith were the two shows that made me start blogging about Asian entertainment. Before that, I had a pretty active phase on Dramabeans (during A Gentleman's Dignity run). When I started to write novels in the comment section about Arang after that, I realized I should probably do that on a blog. Dramabeans was also where I got in touch with a lot of the other PotUppers.

In the beginning, I did "Top 5" posts a lot. And hair posts! Haha, I remember how Lee Min Ho's hair got so many hits. And I did "Random Thoughts" posts, those were fun too... it never crossed my mind to do recaps at that time, actually. But I soon got other people to work for me, lol. The first guest post was done by KLnoona, in November 2012, quickly followed by one bcook wrote. Shuk was the third one to join, with her alcohol post in January 2013.
And then, Lee Jun-ki came to Switzerland and I did a whole series on stalking him. Page hits started to rise, from 7'500-something in October 2012 to over 76'000 in January 2013. And then, Shuk had the glorious idea to do "SqueeCaps" for When a Man Loves in April 2013 (which are basically recaps with someone adding their thoughts, with a focus on squeeing), and got JoAnne on board for that second part - who, if I remember correctly, was very reluctant to do any blogging in the beginning. The first show I ever recapped was TEN2 (May 2013). No wing woman for me though! All solo. They great thing about it was that nobody else was recapping the show. It drew a lot of readers to the blog, also lots of now long-time friends/supporters like laos7, a lot of which we interact with on Twitter on a daily basis too.

It was during that time that I first got the sense of "community". A community of bloggers and a community of readers, united by their love for Asian dramas. There's always been a "hard core", both among the bloggers and among the readers, but I love that both parts of the community, bloggers and readers, fluctuate all the time. It's like a living organism. I had never, ever imagined something like this back in 2012. How could I have?

You're the power recapper of this group - we all marvel at your speed and how skillfully you retell the story without getting bogged down. What do you like about recapping - what don't you like?

I actually really like recapping, especially if it's a show I like! That really helps, haha, because it's quite a time suck. But it calms me down after a long day at work. It's a very focused but not overly demanding activity (in terms of creativity and brainpower). I actually like serious, good shows (like TEN2 at the time, or Snail right now), but I also like the really silly ones (like Ice Fantasy). Being able to benevolently snark about something is simply great. Humor is something I cherish a lot and I would say it's one of our trademarks. It helps that there are people co-blogging that share a similar sense of humor!! I also really like our readers/commentors. I think the worst that can happen to a recapper is "zero comments". Yes, comments are important to us! It's our wages, so to speak :) There have been so many great interactions in the comment section (special mention to the Nirvana in Fire crowd, obviously).

There were only a few shows that I hated a lot (Heirs for example) and recapping them was a real pain. If I have to spend a lot of time doing something and hate it, I get really frustrated.   

You're also our go-to screencap and GIF maker. Your eye for framing a shot is great, but the quality of the pictures is pretty high, too. What software do you use? Any advice for aspiring giffers out there?

If you have a Mac, get GifBrewery (that's what I use). You can choose the exact frame to start with (and to end) and you can do all sorts of things with the speed and the frame count etc. I have a standard setting of 100ms frame delay and then set the frame count depending on how long the clip is. I also try to minimize the size of gifs, because they can get far too large (by resizing the file to approx. 400 pixels width). Opening a post with heavy gifs sucks my monthly data allowance up in almost one go in fact!! The more gifs I do, the quicket I get. I hardly ever make a gif that I cannot use, because I've come to see exactly what works as gif and what does not. The hardest to do are fight scenes and kiss scenes. There are a lot of fast movements in fight scenes, which is not so great for gifs. And kiss scenes are just horribly boring (and usually badly filmed). Yes, giffing made me realize that. :D

We know that between work, family, and other interests, your days (and nights!) are pretty full. How do you manage your drama-watching time? 

I watch very little, actually! I have very little time for plain watching and that's the reason for why I'm so "brutal" with regards to dropping shows. Recapping a show that's 60 minutes long takes up to 3 hours (including screencapping and giffing). I do a lot of recapping during the weekend, sometimes at night. 

What is your main reason for watching dramas?

Addiction? Haha. No, I think it's the perfect way to relax and calm down. I used to work day and night (especially when I was writing my PhD) and often had problems falling asleep. I realized that the main reason was my brain that couldn't switch off. Watching shows does that for me - I switch off completely. It's the perfect way to get a good Work-Life Balance.

Truth is, I do enjoy the blogging about dramas and the discussion on Twitter about dramas almost more than the dramas themselves. 

Is there someone in "real life" you get to watch dramas with? 

Yes! Finally! My daughter. She is 7 and a half and does not read English yet, so I have to do simultaneous English-German translations while we're watching, which is fun and keeps my brain young. We watched Ice Fantasy together, it made a huge impression on her. She is still role-playing that stuff and often gets other kids to play "soul swapping" or "reincarnation". Hahaaaa, I'm waiting for a phone call from some concerned parents actually.
We're now watching Legend of the Blue Sea and she loves it (especially the mermaid). I also managed to watch one drama with my husband: Liar Game. So far, that's the only one, but he liked it. Also, I have a new co-worker who is quite into Japanese movies and animé... I am waiting for the right moment to get him started on Korean Dramas. I will keep you posted!

Many people are interested in "first time" stories... care to share yours? What's your first KDrama (or Asian drama) and what happened then? 

It all started with the movie Ninja Assassin and Rain, whom I fell in love with after about 15 minutes. That movie really isn't great, but man, that man! In my quest for more Rain, I stumbled upon Full House. Remember mysoju?! I found that and continued with A Love to Kill and Let's go to School Sang Doo!. I am not entirely sure why I watched Personal Preference next, but know exactly why Boys before Flowers followed. Yes, I actually liked Lee Min-ho back then!! After running out of LMH stuff, I turned to Mysoju's Top Ranking List  and watched You're Beautiful, then The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince before starting Shining Inheritance. The rest is history, as they say.

What type of Asian dramas do you like best? I know that you watch both Chinese and Korean - any interest in other countries?

Would you believe me if I said I have never watched a J-drama?! I need to try them. The first one will be Bloody Monday, because I actually need to watch that for an academic article I'm writing.
The answer to the other question is simply: I like well written dramas best. Which in turn means that I hate badly written dramas. I'm fairly new to Chinese dramas to be honest, but I find them intriguing at the moment because they're different - and because they often do not follow the tropes. I've grown so tired of them. Evil mother-in-laws, candy heroines, stupid police officers ... the list goes on. I am only entertained if I don't see every plot development coming from ten miles away. 

Is there a particular upcoming drama you are most looking forward to?

Hmmm ... not sure. I'm so deeply into recapping various Chinese shows I haven't even been able to look forward to anything. Ha, but I know something! Hu Ge's drama Hunting Ground that keeps being postponed! I miss Hu Ge. Acting Hu Ge, that is, because his face is constantly flooding my T-list. Not that I mind. And Tribes and Empires looks phenomenal too, so I guess I'm looking forward to that one? I'm not entirely sure about Bad Guys 2 ... that could be a hit, but it could also be a miss. I've pretty much given up looking forward to TEN3, because that probably won't happen. 

Any drama-wishes for 2017? 

Keep em coming?
Haha, well, one thing is certain in Dramaland: there never is a shortage of dramas to watch.
More specifically, I want Jo In-sung in a good drama (I definitely don't mind if No Hee-Kyung writes it), Kim Ji-hoon to get the roles he deserves and Lee Sang-yoon to continue picking good projects. Maybe I can tentatively wish for Liar Game 2?
I also wish everyone many pleasant drama moments and may you continue to exchange your opinions with us here! I cherish this a lot.