A Comparative Commentary on Love O2O 微微一笑很倾城: the Canon, Drama, and Movie

(This article was first posted on shoujoinvestigation’s Tumblr. Some minor edits to spelling mistakes and stylisation are made in this updated version. I’m crying because I can’t find some of the typos I noticed before now.)

I may not be your biggest fan of the franchise, but I’ve been wanting to finish off this overdue commentary which have been sitting in the drafts for months… This is a comparative commentary of the two live action adaptations, with knowledge of the novel as a basis. (I have read the book first, watched the drama, then the movie.)

Disclaimer: This commentary is fundamentally still coming from my own perspective and opinions. Differing opinions are welcomed but be nice!

TL;DR:

The drama and movie have different focuses, each with their own strengths and flaws.

The drama worked better as a live action/lighthearted romcom, while the movie better as an adaptation.

[spoilers and long post ahead]

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Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me 恶魔少爷别吻我: PSA FAQ

Adapted from my Tumblr post here on Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me (Seasons 1 and 2), a Chinese web-drama adapted from a web novel of the same name.
The drama is school life, friendships and relationships of protagonist An Chu Xia who is forced to move into male lead Han Qi Lu’s house due to her own familial circumstances as well as attend the prestigious Si Di Lan (Steinland) school which her parents had attended together.

1. Where did you watch this show?

I watched it on YouTube on the official TenCent (or Teng Xun) Channel and other Chinese drama sites for several reasons.

I can understand Chinese so the problem of “raws” is not a problem for me
– Somehow other Chinese sites ended up uploading the last few episodes faster than the YouTube releases (probably because of Tencent’s subscriber early preview option) –> Yes, I have already completed the show (S1+S2)

THE LINKS ARE HERE: (OR SEARCH 恶魔少爷别吻我)

SEASON 1: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMX26aiIvX5oWv-JZEEI6zWTUK0MULOtl

SEASON 2: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMX26aiIvX5oomrxI-59MznAY1NwsKDdN

2. WHERE ARE THE ENGLISH SUBS? WHERE CAN I WATCH IT WITH ENG SUBS???

Literally the links above have a CC option for ENGLISH with 100% (pretty decent but still not necessarily professional) FAN-PROVIDED SUBS.

To my knowledge Season 1 should be completely subbed and now can be found on other drama sites or DailyMotion as discussed in communities like MyDramaList and more. I’m sure you can just Google it by now.

3. WHERE ARE THE SUBS FOR SEASON 2??
EPISODE X HAS NOT BEEN SUBBED?? WHEN WILL IT BE SUBBED?!??

As aforemnetioned, ALL SUBS are probably FAN-PROVIDED out of the willingness and goodwill of the subbers’ hearts (even including some people around me). The fact that Season 1 was subbed consecutively by 1 particular user in quick fashion was already ASTOUNDING to me. At the rate of all the wonderful and kind effort of the subbers, it’s seriously only a matter of time before it is subbed.

Please. Be. Patient.

4. Can you (whoever in Chinese-speaking community) please help sub it?!?  PLEASE PLEASE I WANT TO WATCH IT. I WILL THANK YOU A LOT FOR IT. / Where else can I watch for Eng subs for Episode X?

I had also seriously considered this endeavour precisely because I wanted to share my love for this drama when the CC option for this show JUST RELEASED. Yet ironically, being asked to sub it simply because I had watched it and understood the raws (amongst other dialogue) actually put off my own motivation to sub it. Because subbers are probably doing it more out of their own desire rather than the “need to be thanked by you” yet YOUR request somehow sounds to like making others obligated to sub it for you. Especially with no consideration whatsoever given to the lives of the subbers being possibly busy and not being paid for their efforts in any other way.

In any case, referring back to Q3, I’m already amazed at how the fanbase already managed to sub the eps SO QUICKLY such that I didn’t even have to contribute much subs. The official YT links (ABOVE) are also honestly probably the fastest way that MORE people can contibute to the subbing all at once. So it’s seriously your best bet at getting subs the quickest. I have no idea where the other posts have been getting theirs in any case.

Conclusion: please refer to the SAME LINKS from Q1. And please be patient. 


Further Clarifications:

5. So wtf is this show about? What tropes does it have? Is it like X (another drama)?

There are seriously many places you can easily find out this information. Such as this MDL page with also the SAME YouTube official links mentioned in Q1.

http://mydramalist.com/22132-master-devil-do-not-kiss-me

DISCLAIMER ABOUT EXPECTATIONS:

Despite its currently increasing popularity, this originated as a pretty OBSCURE WEB-RELEASED CHINESE (not Taiwanese) DRAMA based on a webnovel of the same title (which I have not read). So its standards in terms of its mostly young and new cast, production quality and even filming style MUST BE GIVEN some SLACK.

To put it simply. my friends and I can safely say, it has A LOT OF typical shoujo-manga style romance tropes and can be said to be a combo of Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) + Itazura na Kiss and a bit of Fated to Love You (TW version) even. Whatever else dramas comparison I may not have watched, and I’m pretty sure the above SUPER classic dramas may have already covered it.

In any case, my thoughts about this show, specifically for Season 1 have been aptly summarised in this review over here (http://mydramalist.com/profile/jernahorizon/review/28153) OR on posted here on Tumblr which other reviews also seem to cover similar points (as far as I know).

6. Is there a Season 3? I heard there was a possibility of Season 3?!

So far, at the time of posting, after stalking the relevant Weibo official accounts of the drama, there seems to be TALKS of Season 3, based on S1 and S2′s director’s post comments which HINTED at this. The director responded that he would not be free to direct S3 in any case due to schedule clashes.

HOWEVER, there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation on ANY OTHER information per say as to the CASTING (whether the leads will remain the same) OR when it will be filmed (which is unlikely to be ongoing because Xing Fair the female lead is currently filming something else it seems).

And honestly after finishing Season 2 and I’m actually GLAD that I don’t think S3 is technically needed. (Though I’m also not sure where the story stands now in the canon novel since I have not read it.)

There are serious time-variability to the accuracy of these answers, such that such questions hopefully no longer need to be addressed. These responses are as far as possible based on accurate information at the time of posting. 

If it wasn’t obvious enough, I’ve been giffing this show on Tumblr and plan on continuing in which would also include a huge ass rambling of my thoughts on the finale which I have watched (as explained from Q1 already).

~ Admin JY (Jayne)

More content/posts on Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me here on Tumblr!

Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me 恶魔少爷别吻我 (Season 1) Review

This review was written prior to the release/watching of Season 2 which directly continues from Season 1.

I never thought I would sink so deep into this show after starting it out of pure curiosity of its good ratings… but for all its light-hearted classic romance, comedy, and extremely easy-to-watch enjoyability, it was hard for me not to. uwu. I really enjoyed this and actually suffered withdrawal for once from this show…

Highly recommended: 8.5/10 (objectively) but 9/10 for enjoyment!

While Master Devil uses many familiar romcom tropes (namely Itazura na Kiss and Hana Yori Dango e.g. moving into male lead’s home, popular but unapproachable male lead, elite school etc.), the show stands out well in being a GOOD well-written romcom WITHOUT all the unnecessary angst, frustration over stupid/extreme characters or developments, and exaggerated/pointless drama.

Here, we have a truly independent and intelligent female lead Chu Xia who is given a lot of opportunities to develop her relations with other characters in a NON-hopeless-girl-against-the-whole-world context, without always involving the male lead Qi Lu. And for the male lead, contrary to the title, he really isn’t an unreasonable arrogant ass at all, even if he may be unfriendly in general. He still has ego issues and is reminiscent of the lovely-bastard-style character that was Ji Cun Xi (in Fated to Love You) even, but is still not that bad, for all his childish and nerdy hilarity. Really, to my delight, all of the characters are generally really nice and not hateful at all, which really makes the watching experience so much more easy to watch and enjoyable.

Perhaps given its short 20-minute-per-episode format, the plot moves relatively fast from one arc to another with a good balance between the leads’ romantic tension/development and relationships with other characters, ending on enticing previews and building on previously mentioned things (making the developments more natural and coherent). Although the characters all have a kind of general stereotype we can identify, their interactions with each other are refreshing and light-hearted and never fail to amuse me every time, especially with the male lead Qi Lu ;))

What is even better really is how the plot develops in a very reasonable and logical way!! (to think that most romcoms don’t even have much of this tho lol) To not be so hung up over a single kiss, to thank someone even though you don’t necessarily like them, for antagonists to also be reasonable rather than extremely single-mindedly bent on something??

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But seriously, there is only arguably ~10% of plot development that doesn’t quite make a lot of sense and requires some suspension of disbelief, such as the first episode lol. (But once you get over that bridge, all will be well ;))

Since many of the cast members are fresh faces to me, I am less able to vouch for their acting. But they still did a good job in my opinion to represent the characters with the depth and distinct personality to make the show reasonable rather than flat. (Also a plus since they all also have good looks haha)

The OST is amongst some of greatest faults of this show, other than the questionable fade-to-black transitions that the production team chose to use. Attributable to the lower web-drama budget of the show, the OST is definitely not spectacular compared to more popular OSTs, especially the opening theme which just makes me orz. Nonetheless, I managed to grow into the other songs of the OSTs with time in my bid to relieve withdrawal symptoms.

That being said, it’s very important to note that these 23 episodes CANNOT be viewed as a completed story, given the way it ended that leads in to the next season as if it were just another episode. Hence, despite the completion of a season, the story seriously is not over yet, given the number of questions left and the HUGE POTENTIAL for further romantic development that has left me in my current withdrawal state.

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As a result, the rewatch value for the show is definitely high for me, given the current anticipation for Season 2 and simply the fact that the show has such classic elements without causing the heartache, that there will always be something you can enjoy from watching it again. :))

Master Devil Do Not Kiss Me 《恶魔少爷别吻我》 Season 2 airs on YouTube (in raw Chinese) on March 8, 2017!!

EDIT: English Subs have been slowly added to the official YouTube releases searchable with the Chinese title”恶魔少爷别吻我” ! Season 1 has since been fully subbed and can be found on other drama websites while Season 2 has subs for at least half the season already.

~ Admin JY (Jayne)
(Adapted from my MDL review for this drama)

I Belonged to You 《从你的全世界路过》 Movie Review

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After listening to the OST very often even before the show released, I had been looking forward to this show JUST for the OST without much expectations for the plot or story.

Following the love stories of three men, I Belonged to You is a poetically written slice-of-life, but stands out even more for its absolutely beautiful cinematography and sound.

Given its slice-of-life nature, the plot wasn’t particularly exciting or notable, but   still good enough to find at least something to like, like the cute interactions of Mao Shi Ba (Yang Yang) and Li Zhi (Bai Bai He). In terms of acting and characterisation, characterisation was still commendable and reasonable given the short duration, and acting was solid, given the strong cast. (Especially after reading about the lengths Deng Chao went to prep for his role…) You probably wouldn’t bawl much over the story, but it can still touch you reasonably.

But seriously, that is not even the main point of this review. Because it is in the absolute beauty that is the cinematography and sound that alone justifies making this into a movie format as completely worthwhile.

As someone who usually doesn’t pay attention to cinematography, it must be said that nearly every scene in this movie was extremely beautifully shot – from cityscapes to character dialogue shots and nature landscapes. The aesthetics of this movie alone are to die for and 100% wallpaper worthy nearly everywhere. The production team really did amazing work to find such beautiful locations and capture those shots.  (Seriously the movie posters don’t do it justice.)

However, this show was not only a feast for the eyes, but also the ears! The OST that I listened to before watching also did not disappoint, with amazingly appropos timing with the story, to leave a good strong impression without being overused. Even the background music, the soothing voices of the DJs, and effects of setting on speech were immaculate. Never had I appreciated so much the SOUND aesthetics of a movie…

Overall, this would probably be a good light movie to watch to chill and relax to escape the problems of reality, with amazing aesthetics and sounds to recharge your senses, which would also make it enough to consider rewatching again at some point. 🙂

~ Admin JY (also posted here)

A Touch of Green 《一把青》 Review

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This is definitely not the usual type of drama that Shoujo Investigation would include into our recommendations. A Touch of Green  is consistently heartbreaking, heavy in its themes, yet amazingly gripping, painfully realistic and most importantly, so very human.

Not only for its many levels of underratedness, this show deserves every 10/10, stellar rating and drama accolade it can get.

–> *100% RECOMMENDED*

Synopsis:

A Touch of Green  《一把青》 follows the lives of the wives and the pilots of the Republic of China Air Force 11th Brigade during the Chinese Communist Revolution (1945-1949) and beyond. The story begins by following Zhu Qing 朱青 (Cindy Lien), a university student whose life begins to intertwine with the charismatic pilot Guo Zhen 郭轸 (Chris Wu) through a chance encounter.


– REVIEW –

PLOT: It is hard to summarise this show into a seemingly exciting synopsis without sounding like every other historical drama. In fact, it’s because there are SO MANY THINGS happening that you are just pulled along with each episode without much time to think about what just happened. And things don’t necessarily happen in clear cut arcs either, unlike more simplistic drama plots.

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However, a more important reason for this is the sheer heavy nature of the show. The first third of the drama is still fairly easy to watch quickly given its relatively more lighthearted nature. The show even arguably has its fair share of unexpected comedy to balance the heartache.

But soon, you will realise the drama is gonna take you to discover new lows. Just when you think that things cannot get worse, the drama proves you wrong time and again. It seems nearly impossible not to cry at all throughout the entirety of the show.

Hence a word of warning for all those (planning on) watching this, this drama definitely requires mental preparation. There is after all a reason why both Admin JL and I took almost a full year to complete this drama. From our experience at least, it’d be hard on the heart to watch this all at one go.

However!!  This should never act as deterrent for you from watching the show! The story and characters are all so good there was no way we were planning to drop this.

In the words of Admin JL, there is basically a lot of “shit hitting the fan”.

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CHARACTERS: In this highly character-driven plot, the characters are the backbone, flesh and the shining glory of this drama in many essences.

For us at Shoujo Investigation at least, we adore well-written and three-dimensional characters. And this show precisely delivers and even takes the standard up a notch.

Again, it is hard to describe the main characters succinctly because it would do them no justice at all to create a stereotype for them to fit in. All of them are so complex and unique that the show definitely acts to shatter typecasting of the actors themselves.

In a nutshell attempt, Zhu Qing is independent and takes no BS from anyone yet beholds an unspoken innocence. Guo Zhen is also not just a charismatic and defiant pilot, but also harbours darkness in his heart only leaked through his sarcastic jabs and comments.

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A great source of enjoyment from this show was simply watching the character development of all of the characters, especially across the more obvious “arcs” across time. It was also brilliantly portrayed and written how the characters kept their quirks and personality in some way or form across time. Yet all of them also grew and changed because of their respective painful experiences into new roles that the audience would never have thought to expect from the characters.

Human nature is so strongly presented in this show to our delight~. None of the characters are stereotypically “good” or “bad”. Most significantly, the wives and their seemingly demure nature is contrasted with the sacrifices and moral dilemmas that they are willing to go through for their husbands.

The relationship between the main characters are also constantly changing with new events. While they are friends and love each other, they fight, they leave snide remarks, they seek forgiveness and even betray each other.

Sometimes the characters even do seemingly inexplicable and irrational things, yet that is exactly what makes the show so human and complex.

Even minor new characters are constantly introduced with almost none of them disappearing insignificantly.

So human, so complex, so realistic.

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STORYTELLING: Another part about this show I enjoyed very much was the narration/dialogue and many subtleties delivered in the filming direction.

Using the voice of Mo Ting, Xiao Zhou’s daughter and various objects in the show, many beautiful metaphors are delivered – the fake math equation 5×1=3 (五一得三), time being a drug with unknown side effects; a dove; plane 513; and the pilot’s bomber jacket next to Shi Niang’s qipao being kept.

There is simply so much depth being included into every scene whether with dialogue or not that not a single scene should be missed.

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OST: The main reason that I came to know of this drama was through Hebe Tien’s OST MV for this show titled 《看淡》 (As it is) roughly translated as “Numbed” or “Jaded”. This theme song alone epitomises much of the show’s heartbreak and complexity in its lyrics and appropos dramatism.

Clearly, the MV was enticing enough to reel me in to desperately find sources for it just to find out what this interesting-looking story was about.

CONS: If there is any thing to complain about this show, it’s that it can be hard to understand. The show uses specific and historically related references, so it’s easy to get lost and not catch why certain things are happening to the characters. Simultaneously, the characters themselves often use roundabout sarcastic jabs and often don’t mean what they say. So once you lose the context, it’s hard to understand what they really intended to mean.

However, the main problem for more international audiences with watching this show is the complete lack of English subtitle versions for this show, not to mention the already few sources online for the original raws. Considering how the show has been out for a year already, it seems unlikely that eng subs for it will come anytime soon either ;__;

So if you CAN understand Chinese, please do give this show a try!!
(do message us if you need help finding links!)

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In summary: 100% recommended, heartbreak warning, prepare tissues, amazing actors and characters, seriously great, please watch if you can!
It may not be your favourite drama, but it is definitely a GOOD drama.

~ Admin JY

Bromance – TWDrama Review

https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/e3c3f-bromance2bofficial2b2.jpg?w=809

Bromance the Taiwan Drama is exactly what it seems to be – the Taiwanese idol drama adaptation of a very cliché gender-bender shoujo manga that never existed.

Rather than a review, it would probably be more useful to judge whether this drama fits your personal preference and expected type of feels. So, here’s a list of what to expect in the show (with some commentary in between):

  1. Gender Bender
    It almost goes without saying that it would be a girl cross-dressing as a guy. This time, it is out of a school setting but into a slightly more adult context, eliminating the unnecessity of a male harem
  2. Super Nice Second Male Lead Childhood Friend
    Enough said.
  3. Action Setting with “Triad” Background
    https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/04cc0-screenshot2b2015-10-182bat2b11-43-572bpm.png?w=988&h=556

    Every so often, a good shoujo manga comes along and throws in that tension and excitement with this “bad boy” context where he is STILL a nice guy, but badass and tough to everyone else is always a typical sort of appeal. (Not everyone can go into a military setting like DOTS, right?)

  4. The “Strong” Female Lead
    Pi Ya Nuo starts off with a convincing enough neutral
    behaviour while showing off her (physical) strength and capabilities as a respectable (wo)man. However, Bromance suffers the same problem as many other gender benders – unrealistically effeminate behaviour that gets way too obvious for the context of hidden gender as the female lead falls in love.
  5. Second Pairing Just Because
    While I have nothing against the second pairing of Bii + Katie Chen, it is also just as unimpressive. Their only purpose seems to be to act as a foil of an ordinary relationship to the extraordinary circumstances of the main pairing.

    If there was any source of concern, it would be how their relationship develops:
    Katie Chen’s Nana character is a bubbly sunshine girl that talks almost one-sidedly to the stoic, unresponsive Qingyang (acted by Bii). She sticks to him and somehow, love blossoms~…

    Bii’s acting skills aren’t particularly impressive either to me, which definitely contributed to my disillusionment in an already far-fetched idol drama

  6. The Must-Have Getting-Together scenes (non-exhaustive)
    1. Accidental kiss, arising from an amazingly unrealistic set-uphttps://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/ceac2-screenshot2b2015-10-252bat2b3-47-322bpm.png?w=988&h=556
    2. Getting sick/injured for one another in dramatic fashions
      https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/2c179-screenshot2b2015-11-082bat2b12-04-532bpm.png?w=988&h=556
    3. The Long Lost Childhood Connection
    4. Increasing skinship (through outdoor camp scenario)
      https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/49c15-screenshot2b2015-11-222bat2b1-12-352bpm.png?w=988&h=556
    5. Second Male Lead’s interruption of interaction
    6. Being seen in girly female clothing (whether by accident or not)
      https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/9dfad-1.png?w=809
    7. Convenient and non-disruptive Discovery of Female Identity OR Acceptance of “Gay” Feelings
  7. Falling into Fanservice

It’s both a boon and a bane that Bromance has plenty of intimate and cheesy scenes of the main pairing after they get together in ways that would definitely give you your cheap feels fix. However, this ends up sacrificing the still-decent plot progression in the initial stages. At some point, you may begin to wonder, is there anything really going on as a driving plot anymore? Of course, if you’re just here for the second-hand embarrassment, then this should not be a problem

8. Behind the Scenes

The irony was that I probably found more enjoyment watching their behind-the-scenes (titled Men’s Talk) after every episode and skipped less of that than the main show. It was definitely amusing to see the actors also cringe and die of laughter from the second-hand embarrassment of the characters’ cheesy acts. If not, there are always plenty of jokes going around between the cast.

9. **SPOILER ALERT – The Reveal**

This used to be one of the most crucial turning points of any gender-bender – the lies, the feeling of betrayal, the angst, the fall out. However, following the path of non-angst in this romantic comedy, rest assured this is no longer the case at all. While there seem to be moments of confronting their love for a “male”, what was supposed to be a fall out dissolves into becoming an open secret that most accept with no qualms.

OVERALL:

 

Bromance is definitely one of the more recent epitomes of the classic Taiwan idol drama, in a slightly more updated and decently less brainless form. If you’re in the mood for good ol’ cheesiness, shoujo romance tropes and plenty of intimate fan-service scenes, then Bromance is definitely the drama for you.

Bromance is not for everyone, for example if you are looking for character development and plot. But in terms of being a reasonable enough premise for shoujo romance tropes to work, this drama fulfils its purpose and expectations well. After all, sometimes we can be suckers for some brainlessly satisfying romance.

 

Rating: 6.5/10

~ Admin JY

Screenshots from ninjareflection.com, dramakiwi.com, thesedramaticdays.blogspot.com

Koinaka ~ J-Drama Review

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Drama Synopsis

Aoi Miura was a boy who always botches things up at the crucial moment despite all his effort and hard work for preparation beforehand. Although he is constantly put down by others for his failures, Aoi always manage to revive his self confidence with the support of his childhood friend, Akari Serizawa. To the shy and indecisive Aoi, Akari’s bright personality and her willingness to accept him for who he is secretly paved way from friendship to love in the young boy’s heart. Unknown to Aoi, Akari also shares the same feelings towards him but the fear of losing their friendship should their love be unreciprocated has prevented either party from confessing to each other.

One day, a boy named Shota Aoi transferred from Tokyo to the same school as the childhood lovers in Toyama Prefecture. Through a minor event involving Aoi’s best friend, Kouhei Kanazawa, Shota became friends with Aoi and Kouhei, and subsequently came to know of Akari. Being a gloomy person, Shota was attracted to the cheerful and friendly personality of Akari, and fell in love with her at first sight.

Trouble brews in the mean time as Akari’s father becomes knee deep in debt. At the same time, an argument between Akari and Aoi has given Shota an opportunity to create a misunderstanding between the childhood lovers. Thinking that Akari might have feelings towards Shota, Aoi told Shota to go in his place with Akari to the annual Toyama Prefecture’s fireworks festival*. Disappointed that Shota came instead, Akari left to find Aoi whom she then confessed to indirectly through a kiss on his lips. Unbeknownst to Aoi, this will be the last that he will see of Akari until ten years later as she needs to escape from the debtors with her father.

Before leaving, Akari wrote a letter to Aoi in which she confessed her feelings and asked to meet him a year later at the place where she was supposed to meet him for the Toyama annual fireworks festival. This was, again, foiled by Shota who stole the letter before Aoi could read it, and went in place of Aoi to meet Akari. With both parties thinking that they were dumped by the other, they went on with their separate lives and only met ten years later in Tokyo when Shota arranged a meeting between the two. The reunion rekindled the buried feelings that Aoi had towards Akari but also feelings of bitterness towards Shota who is now dating Akari and being much more successful in life than him.

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!spoiler alert!

The drama revolves around how the Aoi grew as a person and mainly how the childhood lovers resolve their misunderstandings to come together eventually.

*In Japan, asking someone to go with you to the fireworks festival is usually an indirect way of confessing your feelings. Accepting the invitation usually also suggests that you are interested in the party who invited you.

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Review

  1. An asshole second male lead (but this probably shows that his acting was good)

When I watched the first 2-3 episodes, I almost felt like dropping the series because of how asshole the second male lead is in the drama. I really hated how he kept on trying to hurt the feelings of Aoi by showing off his relationship with Akari even though he is perfectly aware that he still has feelings for her. This is why it became absolutely unbearable for me to know that Akari has reached the stage of kissing with Shota kun or possibly even more because it felt like he tainted her somehow…(I was trying to convince myself that she went nothing beyond holding hands with that jerk…..TAT). But towards the last few episodes, I felt slightly better (only very slightly) about Shota since he did change to become a slightly better person.

Although it’s a cruel twist of fate, but I do have to admit that Akari probably wouldn’t be where she is today (being able to study to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher and to be free from debt) if it wasn’t for Shota. If she had been with Aoi back then, it isn’t hard to imagine that they might have broken up because of stress from her financial issues and all (we do have to take into account that Aoi himself is not earning a lot of money unlike Shota who is a doctor).

Furthermore, Shota must have felt somewhere in his heart that it was wrong of him to have tried to come between Akari and Aoi. That is probably why he kept the manga book and Akari’s letter for all this time. Along with that, he also has to deal with his own insecurities about her ever going to know about his deeds, about his own guilty conscience and about their relationship in general. He still somewhat paid for his own actions although probably not in the way that many of us would have felt fully satisfied with.

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2. Weak and draggy plot

What I didn’t quite like about the drama is that the plot seems too weak to base the entire drama upon. There are quite a few parts of the drama that can be skipped without affecting how you interpret the story, so I feel that the drama could have been tidier if these parts are improved such that they add more value to the story. Although the drama did try to spice things up by including some stories for the side characters (Kouhei trying to woo Aoi’s sister, Akari trying to locate her father, Kokone who faces a similar situation as Aoi and Akari) but some of these side stories felt more like a device to drag time instead of adding more value to the story.

3. A nice portrayal of friendship + lovable side characters

The thing that I appreciate about the drama is the way they portray friendship. Kouhei is friends with both Shota and Aoi and he tried to be fair in his friendship with the both of them. I liked how he supported both of them and tried to spur them to give their best (encouraging Aoi to be more frank about his feelings with Akari, encouraging Shota to go fair and square with Aoi and to apologise to Akari for his deeds). I suppose the character that I liked the most in the drama is actually Kouhei? I also appreciated how they portrayed humans as shades of grey. While Shota tried to prevent Akari’s dad from contacting her ever again, but I can understand from his perspective that he was in his own way trying to protect her from the fact that her father left her with the debt and had started a new family. While Aoi can be all self sacrificing and considerate, but he does have sides of him that are negative (eg. Being mean and behaving immaturely because he is jealous about Akari and Shota). This goes to show that nobody is completely good or completely bad which is a more realistic portrayal of human nature.

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Overall Rating

All in all, I would probably rate the drama as 6.5/10. It is ok for passing time when you are bored but it is probably not a drama that you would highly recommend or watch again. Sure enough, there are certain parts of the drama which I felt was quite relatable to. The male lead’s innocence towards romance and self sacrificing sentiments can also be quite cute at times. However, I felt that there is not much in the plot to hook you such that you will have the motivation to carry on watching the next episode, and the ending is still quite predictable. BUT if you like to watch romance dramas for the angst and a predicted good ending, then go ahead! This is the thing for you!

~ Admin SY

Moon River 明若曉溪 – Speed Review

MRXX7
What are you saying – this isn’t a good drama??

Expectations: Sounds like the Hana Yori Dango (HYD) premise

Reality: Is a less dramatic, less exciting, less angsty, less romantic drama of a similar premise

Rating: 6.5/10

While the good news is that this drama is less melodramatic version of HYD, the problem is that it is just as lacklustre in many other aspects of the drama. While it has the feel of a TW-drama and the budget of a C-Drama, Moon River ends up right smack in the middle of nowhere.

MRXX10
Surprise surprise and welcome to nowhere-impressive-dramaland

Although armed a rather extreme premise similar to HYD’s and a character like Xiaoxi, none of the exaggeration is utilised to much benefit – little exaggerated comedy, few dramatic romantic feels, not even the most basic angst of people from different social stratospheres getting together, letting good potential go to waste. That is not to say that the drama did not have its fair share of tropes – familial obligations, guardian angel admirer, antagonistic childhood friend in love with male lead and even a dramatic revenge plot.

At the beginning of the drama, novelty still existed in how the characters would be affected and changed by the school based events, especially since it still seemed loosely inspired by HYD. However, as time passed, even the plot’s happier undertones faded and were replaced with sometimes illogical train of reasoning for the main leads to react to supposedly dramatic but draggy and sullen plot progressions.

MRXX3
I cry everytime too when the drama gets draggy.

There was also little character development to speak of that was impressive, if any. Perhaps it was because I was too busy skipping long inconsequential conversations, but there often seemed to be a lack of logic as to why the main couple had to face their acting-like-married relationship struggles despite their obvious mutual affection. But then again, I don’t even remember when did they start expressing that mutual affection (especially on Xiaoxi’s part). Few characters changed other than at most growing to accept Xiaoxi as an amazingly influential person that brought positive effects on the school’s life (even though school increasingly grew irrelevant as the episodes passed).

MRXX5

There were some still interesting points in the drama such as some unexpected change of hearts and lack thereof. It probably is a good thing too (in some ways) that despite being in love, Xiaoxi’s dowdy style of dressing did NOT improve, nor did her personality drastically change as a result. Similarly, I was glad that they did not completely forget the aspects of action that only Xiaoxi’s character would reasonably be involved in.

All in all, a good way to kill time, with an okay beginning and an unimpressive ending. However, being of both TW and C-drama origins, it could have lived up to better expectations especially on the feels, if not characterisation that never truly came through even if the plot was lacklustre.

MRXX11
When you finally finish a meh-drama so you can move on with life

~ Admin JY

(A not that comprehensive review/rambling for this drama)