So, it’s been a bit of an odd month to say the least.
How are you all doing? I’m currently on day 21 of official quarantine here in Lima, but I don’t think I’ve actually been anywhere other than the supermarket for well over 3 weeks now. The quarantine is pretty strict here (we have many more restrictions in place than in other countries), however it’s the best thing to keep the country’s health system from being overwhelmed.
I’ve luckily been able to continue working from home, which has given me a schedule for my days, but around that I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and YouTube. Plus, baking, cooking, board game playing and cocktail making has been heavily featured in my daily life these last few weeks! We’ve also gone from summer to autumn here during that time – and by that I mean the temperature has dropped a few degrees and that’s about it! There’s not much difference really, not like the falling leaves and foliage colours that I’m used to seeing in autumn back in the UK.
Blog-wise, I’d actually been wanting to post something on here for a while, but quite frankly, I had no idea what about. Are people interested in travel posts when the majority of us can’t leave the house? Are they pure escapism, perhaps giving you inspiration or helping you to plan a trip for next year? Or are they just completely irrelevant and/or insulting at this time? Let me know how you feel about it in the comments.
For now, I think I’ll try to focus on other things as best I can, but what better way to start than with my international viewing picks to keep you entertained safe at home (or on your breaks at work). Plus, to celebrate autumn’s arrival (I’ll celebrate just about anything right now), I thought I’d post some photos of Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, from my trip to Japan in November, alongside my recommendations. I’ve tried to include only the series and films I’ve watched and loved over the last few months, as opposed to my all time faves, but there are a few exceptions that I just really wanted to share. Plus, the majority are available on Netflix, which makes it easier for most countries to enjoy.
I’m also planning to make another post like this on foodie viewing recommendations and perhaps one on films or series that showcases different countries and will give you a travel experience from the safety of your living room.
In the meantime, let’s get started!
FIVE MYSTERIES IN FIVE LANGUAGES
I love watching international series and I even wrote a post dedicated to my favourites last year, which you can see here (I won’t be including them in this post). Personally, I love a mystery or a police procedural so that’s why I’ve chosen these titles, and I’ve even added in an English one for those who consider English a foreign language. Definitely watch in the original language with subtitles, it’s a far better experience!
KINGDOM (Korean) – I watched season 1 of this last year and I’d been not so patiently waiting for season 2. Luckily it hit Netflix screens again last month and I genuinely rationed my watching to two episodes max per day to at least stretch it out to 3 days!! ‘Kingdom’ is set in Korea sometime during the Joseon dynasty (so at some point between 1392 and 1897) and follows the Crown Prince of the time fighting against an evil scheme within the upper echelons of government and the royal family itself, whilst also battling with a deadly plague turning his countrymen into zombie like walking dead.
It. Is. Awesome. The beautiful palace scenes, the gorgeous countryside, the costumes and the insane zombie scenes are what makes this series so great. Plus, the mix of characters from all levels of society joining forces to defeat the hidden (and not so hidden) evils, are like the cherry on the top of a zombie covered cake.
LA MANTE (French) – This show, set mainly in Paris, focuses on a series of copycat murders committed in the same way as a serial killer, La Mante, already serving time in jail for her crimes. The original perpetrator is willing to help catch her copycat, but only if her son (a policeman) is brought onto the team as well. This series is pretty bloody, so definitely not one to watch with the kids around, but it keeps you on your toes. We not only follow the hunt for the killer, but also the relationship between mother and son and the family secrets they left in the past.
HIGH SEAS (Spanish) – This murder mystery, set on a ship crossing the Atlantic from Spain to Brazil in the 1940s, reminded me of settling down with an Agatha Christie book. There are family secrets intermingled with murders past and present, and tons of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. You’ll also find you’ve watched five episodes back to back without even realising it – it’s pretty hard to stop!
THE VALHALLA MURDERS (Icelandic) – After watching ‘Trapped’ last year (season 2 just came out!) and absolutely loving it, I thought I’d try this new Icelandic release to see if it matched up. I was hooked and ended up watching it in under 48 hours. Kata, a detective, and Arnar, a profiler, are partnered up to solve a series of murders in the Icelandic capital. The story will keep you guessing as to who is truly behind it all, but be warned that they seem to search a lot of creepy abandoned buildings in the dark – cue me watching through my fingers.
SHERLOCK (English) – I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan – these stories, Agatha Christie’s, and probably the Secret Seven, gave me my love of mysteries from an early age. I’ve read all the books in the series by Arthur Conan Doyle, and I bloody love this modern day adaptation. A brief synopsis for the small percentage of people who don’t know – Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dr Watson, played by Martin Freeman, solve mysterious crimes together in London and further afield. It’s wonderfully filmed, with Conan Doyle’s fantastic characters (and additional ones) brought from history to the present in such a genius way. I rewatched all the episodes again last summer and I’m really hoping we get more in the future.
So, I couldn’t narrow these down to only one Japanese pick, because I love them all, so I’m giving you a few options instead. The more the merrier, right?! There are far more series that I’ve really enjoyed, but I thought five would be enough for now! If you’re planning a trip to Japan, I would definitely recommend watching some anime (Japanese animation) if you haven’t already, as it’s a massive part of their culture. There are so many fantastic series and films, you’re sure to find something you’ll love!
ATTACK ON TITAN – Three enormous walls are the only things standing between humanity and the human-devouring Titans that live beyond… And that’s all the context I’m going to give you, because otherwise it’ll spoil even the first episode for you. This is completely addictive to watch and honestly fantastic, and all three series are available on Crunchyroll in various countries. I couldn’t stop myself from clicking next at the end of every episode, as the story is just super intriguing. Don’t skip through the opening titles, the music is epic, especially for season 2. I cannot wait for season 4 to be released at the end of this year!!
STUDIO GHIBLI COLLECTION – I totally cheated here as this category from the Studio Ghibli animation house consists of 22 films (21 of which have just been released onto Netflix), but I couldn’t possibly pick only one to include. I’ve still not seen all of them, but I’m catching up now I have access to them all! ‘Spirited Away‘ was the first of them I ever saw, many moons ago, and is definitely still one of my favourites. However, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle‘, ‘Princess Mononoke‘ and ‘Castle in the Sky‘ are equally as wonderful.
BEASTARS – ‘The story takes place in a world of modern, civilised, anthropomorphic animals with a cultural divide between the carnivores and herbivores’ (thank you Wikipedia for making that concise!) and is primarily focused on the high school aged students of Cherryton Academy, all trying to figure out their place in society (especially our protagonist Legoshi). When you watch it, at times you forget they’re all animals, as the emotions and struggles are so human. It’s a fantastic series, and no, it’s not like Zootopia.
NO GAME NO LIFE – Since 2014, when this series was first released, fans have been dying for a season 2. Now that it’s been released on Netflix, will we all finally get one? Shiro and Sora are an undefeated step-sibling gamer partnership, who, having defeated a God at a game of chess, are summoned from the real world to Disboard – a world where everything is decided by games. It’s a beautifully stylised production with an intriguing and addictive storyline.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS – A princess goes in search of a disbanded and disgraced group of knights, The Seven Deadly Sins, who she hopes will return from their banishment to help her save her father’s kingdom. Battles and conflict make up a lot of the action in this show, but it’s actually full of hope, friendship, love, brotherhood, family and camaraderie. It’s about good fighting evil, but also about fighting the evil within yourself and helping others around you do the same. There’s so much to enjoy aside from all of that, including season one’s opening theme, Ban, Hawk the pig, and Gilthunder’s amazing pink hair. Plus, it’s set in a world filled with magic, humans, fairies, demons, druids and knights – think medieval Britain, only taken up 100 notches and way cooler.
Just a note: on Netflix, there are four episodes classed as season two which were actually special episodes and not a full series. So, season three on Netflix is actually season two!
So there we go, I think that’s a good start for your time in quarantine! Let me know if you’ve seen any of these and enjoyed them, or if you’re planning to.
I hope you’re all doing okay during this crazy time and staying put, safe at home. Or if you’re out there on the front lines or working hard behind the scenes, thank you from all of us. It’s hugely appreciated. I hope at least one of these shows gives you all a little bit of escapism, even for half an hour.