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
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.
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.
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).
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.
~ Admin JY
(A not that comprehensive review/rambling for this drama)