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]

Read More »

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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!

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).

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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)

Why to Watch: Boss & Me (杉杉来吃)

(May contain spoilers)

  1. Relatable and mentally strong female lead
    While Shan Shan is optimistic in nature, she is not simply a ball of sunshine that radiates ignorantly no matter what meteor comes her way. She has very understandable doubts in herself, her abilities and her compatibility with someone seemingly faraway from her, Feng Teng (the male lead). however, she chooses to discuss her doubts with her friends, family and most importantly, her love in question, FENG TENG himself.

  2. A+ Communication in Romance –
    Even though Feng Teng himself took a while to admit his affections, Shan Shan has set a wonderful standard for romance dramas to look up to. While she was still doubtful about her compatibility with Feng Teng and even Feng Teng’s feelings, she so bravely confessed to him first. She explained that she was not sure what love felt like, that she was not sure what he felt like, but she wanted to confess her feelings anyway. *applause* And even more importantly, their communication and mutual understanding for each other continues even as their relationships develops.

  3. Sweetness with minimal Melodrama –
    The development of Boss & Me is fairly unusual for an Asian romance drama. Korean (romance) dramas are rife with melodrama and angst, sudden illnesses, family conflicts, and hidden blood relations/revenge back-stories. This C-Drama however works perfectly well with minimal angst at all. The problems faced in their relationship are straightforward and expected right from the beginning of the story (with the exception of the third-party arc in the drama). Nonetheless, their relationship development is sweet and entertaining with good comedy in their interactions (and Shan Shan’s reactions).

    Instead of seeing them painfully separate from each other due to having to travel abroad and such, a more realistic picture of their relationship is wonderfully portrayed. Their longing for each other is not angsty, but a slow reminder of their significance to one another. Instead of seeing grand magnificent dates that other rich millionaires in dramas may have set up, we are treated with scenes of the couple doing simple things like reading and eating together (as the title suggests). This is why Boss & Me is perfect as a feel-good and sweet drama to watch!

  4. Improved & Independent Female Leads!! –
    Although Shan Shan began as an ordinary and mediocre entry-level employee, her romance with a rich, capable and handsome person does not merely give her a straight ticket to live the easy and comfortable life. Instead, it gives her new aspirations and motivates her to improve herself. She takes up an accountancy certification course (CPA) (although initially as somewhat of a joke), adapts to her position as Feng Teng’s girlfriend rather than being intimidated by it, and even eventually starts her own business with her cousin Liu Liu.

    Liu Liu is also another female character in the show who overcomes her challenges to improve herself. While she was bound to her mother’s expectations and a bad fiance, her capabilities as an entrepreneur shine through and enable her to eventually start her own business and forge a living for herself instead of living by her mother’s expectations.

  5.  Good-looking Main Characters –
    Not only are the interactions between the characters pleasant, cute, uplifting and adorable, the main characters look really good too. While Hans Zhang may not have the best reputation as a celebrity in the world, his looks and style have been refined over the years to arguably reach its peak in this show. His eye candy power in this show is strong… >.>  Zanilia Zhao also does well in portraying a bubbly, cute and relatable Shan Shan, making their interactions truly heartwarming.

    The best part about Chinese dramas are that many of them are available online in HD and on YouTube!
    The downside is of course that one would need to understand Chinese to hear and read the subtitles to understand. However, I am hopeful that the show would have been popular enough to warrant English subbers to have worked on them!

    In the meantime, the YouTube Playlist to all the episodes of Boss & Me (HD w/ original Chinese subtitles):
    杉杉来吃 Boss & Me – Congratulations to the show for getting over 1 million average views for many episodes!

Emergency Couple K-Drama Review

Disclaimer: *includes minor spoilers*

Rating: 7/10 (if you can make it past the first 6 episodes)

A decently entertaining k-drama that delivers the romantic feels and cute feelings expected of a romantic comedy, but only if you can make it past the first 6 episodes… :/

SUMMARY + BASIC PLOT PROGRESSION

Episode 1:

As quickly as the young medical student acted by Choi Jin Hyuk (CJH) as Oh Chang Min and nutritionist Oh Jin-hee played by Song Ji Hyo (SJH) fall in love and get married, they also start to argue and reduce to emotional messes. Gone is the initial sweetness that lasted for about 5 minutes in their marriage scene. Instead, the highlight becomes a huge harrowing fight between them where they exchange shouts, screams and childish threats, the result of their deteriorating relationship. While this may have been an attempt at being comedic, the result is actually negativity between the couple that overwhelms any previously present positive vibes between them.

With their childish 5-year old behavior, SJH’s pathetic state of affairs and CJH’s self-centeredness amidst their desperation, it is no wonder they got divorced. With little explanation on context of their desperation, it was hard to find reasons to support their eventual expected reconciliation at all. It would have been perfectly fine for the plot to stop here. However, of course, years after, they meet each other awkwardly with the same off-putting immaturity between them.

With the lack of more appealing drama options at the time, I struggled on.

Episode 2-6:

For a romantic comedy, Emergency Couple does not deliver on its namesake for a surprisingly long period of time. Instead, it is filled with drama, bitchiness and world building.

For most of episodes 2-6, the focus is placed on Oh Jin-hee as she faces challenges adapting to her new work environment, facing discrimination for being an older but not exceptional student along with her own personal and family affairs. Amongst her challenges are not screwing up in her work and getting fired, specific hospital emergencies, dealing with her family problems, and facing Chang-min and her dreaded ex-mother-in-law.

In this period of time, Chang-min as a character is generally sidelined, hence removing the possibility of romantic interaction between the two anymore. In fact, Chang-min’s character becomes somewhat antagonistic due to his childish pettiness, in a bid to protect his own interests. There is little room for redemption of his character at this point since he is solely focused on acting like an arrogant, rich and pampered high school student.

Add to this equation his crazed protective mother. As one of the most immature and unreasonable mother characters in K-dramas I have watched to date, Chang-min’s mother seemed to be able to throw tantrums at any given moment, with her childishness on par only with her supposed level in high society. Thus, it was somewhat inevitable for Jin-hee to gain audience’s sympathy despite her unsophisticated quirkiness. This turned out to be my main if not weak reason for continuing the show – to watch Jin-hee become the underdog.

The characters of the other fellow doctors are also established in during this arc, such as the Head Doctor (for lack of a better term) and the other interns.

Episode 7-9

If you have made it this far in the show, congratulations, you would have finally seen some light near the end of the tunnel.

Thanks to the development of relationship of the Head Doctor (2nd male lead) with SJH/Jin-hee, CJH/Chang Min’s character has finally changed for the better as he slowly notices his lingering feelings for SJH. For this reason, his character’s bastard-like personality slowly changes to be nicer, or at least more like a funny but angry lover who doesn’t admit jealousy.

At the same time, other relationships between the characters form, including potential alternative pairings for both CJH and SJH with the supporting characters. In addition, SJH’s character has finally made some breakthrough in gaining confidence as a doctor even though she may not have escaped trouble completely.

Episode 10-13

From Episode 10 onwards, Emergency Couple finally functions truly and reliably as a typically good K-drama. This short arc in particular is where the cute and romantic interactions and feels come in and in full swing.

CJH evolves into a caring and very sweet (unofficial) boyfriend even as his relationship with SJH and her feelings remain unclear. He unexpectedly acknowledges his feelings upfront for SJH quickly and declares “war” with the 2nd male lead as well. Their interactions also allow them to reflect on their earlier marriage, with flashbacks that shed light onto their previous relationship.

Episode 14 -21

Here on out, the drama arguably descends from its climax and enters an arc of falling action of sorts. With the main characters’ relationships status still unclear, SJH’s potential feelings for the 2nd male lead and CJH’s familial crisis, the hope and happiness of episodes 10-13 die down.

CJH begins to question his suitability for SJH should they reconcile (despite having asked a few times already) as he struggles with familial expectations and problems that will eventually change his mother’s attitudes for the better. It is ironic that CJH does not acknowledge SJH’s feelings even when she decides to finally agree to reconcile with him. It is also interesting that the 2nd male lead’s chances are not destroyed or subtly removed completely until near the last few episodes.

Fortunately, the crisis and tragedy-arc is not as longwinded as the first arc. After CJH and SJH agree to get back together, they enter another phase of sweet romantic interactions, even with SJH’s nephew (Baby Gook). From the family crisis, CJH’s mother eventually shows more likeability as a character as she mellows down from the incident and has made it clear that she will not be interfering with their relationships anymore and even formed a subtle understanding with SJH’s mother.

Meanwhile, all the other couples and supporting characters either do get pairings or seem to get paired up with someone else by the end of the show. While the ending is predictable in a decent way, thankfully there was no rush for CJH and SJH’s characters to both get married as a way to end the show.

That’s all for today.

~ Jerna (@jernahorizon)

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Hyde, Jekyll, Me: Episode 1 Commentary (w Spoilers)

New Hyun Bin Drama Thoughts – Feb 7, 2015 – Feb 22, 2015

(A spoiler-filled scene by scene commentary)

Jekyll, Hyde and I (JHI) – the title which I will address it as I knew it before.
Unfortunately, since I was watching this on my phone, screenshots of the actual episode will not be included.

This is admittedly a very late commentary considering the show’s run, but in any case, here goes.

Having read the synopsis online and the title in earlier anticipation of the drama, I already had reservations of what I was getting myself into. “3rd generation chaebol”, “split personality”, “girl falling in love with other personality” – other than the actual psychiatric disorder of Dissociative Identity disorder, all these were reminiscent of what I thought was the magnificent failure of Taiwan drama Fall In Love With Me starring Aaron Yan. Nonetheless, being powered by admiration for Hyun Bin from his performance in Secret Garden, I decided to give it a shot anyway (since my drama mood seemed to be recovering).

In the first scene, Hyun Bin is shown at some circus platform in a somewhat hazy setting. A kid runs into him with a balloon tied to his back. Being the block of wood that he is, Hyun Bin’s character just stands there and does not avoid his face being rudely blocked. Furthermore, logic was such that to remove the balloon from his face, he was to flick it away for a convenient shot for the camera to reveal his handsome face in a nerdy getup. Of course, being a balloon and TIED rather securely, the balloon quickly floats back to his face.

And then, the first traces of Hyun Bin’s character’s personality is revealed to be that of an asshole as he nonchalantly pulls away the balloon from the child and lets him stand there crying.

(Unimportant spoiler part: the scene continues when he notices a disco ball about to fall on a girl walking under it and waits to the last second to barely save her from being hit. Of course, this is later revealed to be a dream.)

Hyun Bin then wakes up to be in his own room and suddenly terribly concerned about his heart rate. Having read the synopsis beforehand, I understand the circumstances, but perhaps to some extent, those who haven’t may be confused as to who is this Robin? (I can’t speak much for that but they do suggest in very non-explicit ways that he has a split personality)

Then my next important comment – Hyun Bin rushes into his lush and luxurious indoor garden which can only remind me of Kyoya’s indoor pool resort as shown in Ouran High School Host Club (the anime and manga) minus the actual water bodies. Then he proceeds to doing yoga and lowering heart rate with high tech equipment around him to monitor his readings, all in pattern print pants that look like the next potential replacement meme for Kim Joo Won’s (of Secret Garden) sparkling sports jacket.
https://i2.wp.com/a.mfcdn.net/store/manga/98/02-007.0/compressed/Host_Club_v2_c7_03_.jpg

http://mangafox.me/manga/ouran_high_school_host_club/v02/c007/5.html

https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/6e0d0-joowonjacket.jpg?w=403&h=611

https://shoujoinvestigation.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/6e0d0-joowonjacket.jpg
Along comes his side-kick assistant that is already less identifiable than the face that was Kim Joo Won’s Assistant Kim although it is predictable they will play the exact same role. They discuss more about the heart rate and Hyun Bin’s dream while Hyun Bin strategically changes into his work clothes. Despite being a Hyun Bin fan, I have to admit Hyun Bin’s body isn’t hot. It’s definitely not as sculpted as someone like Song Seung Heon’s so well… (Hyun Bin’s chest is quite simply just there and serves no purpose as a result.) Producers, it is fine to not include such changing shots for fan service because it’s not that effective.

Hyun Bin for JHI ReviewSong Seung-Heon

You must admit there is a stark difference…

Hyun Bin: http://en.korea.com/hyunbin/board/wo-hyun-bins-good-body/

SSH: http://serieszap.lnwshop.com/webboard/viewtopic/14

They proceed on to the grounds of the setting, which is a theme park named Wonderland which now only seems to be a Korean Disneyworld without the actual cartoon themes. Personally, this just seemed lacking in creativity and somewhat of an excuse for interaction between a character with a physically active career and an otherwise standard chaebol. Wait, this already sounds like Secret Garden… Instead of stuntwoman with barely any career-related interactions and proactive stalking by Kim Joo Won, JHI has already created a setting for more interaction given it will not be love at first sight now (oops spoiler).

Then Hyun Bin’s character proceeds to solidify his standing as a complete childish asshole that for some reason is still in a position of power. Having been scarred from his dream with balloons, he demands that his theme park with myriads of children to be removed of balloons and have even balloon-looking items banned with zero consideration for how it would affect a business at all.

Having watched Secret Garden before, it occurred to me that “Hey, Kim Joo Won didn’t exactly show business prowess either in his role.” However, it still occurred to me that he did still partake in superficially professional business roles and deals such as in convincing his cousin to remain as an endorser for his company. Here, not so much.

In addition to a self-centred and childish boss, now his theme park lets loose a gorilla from the circus (supposedly) whereby a) there is no one staff running to catch after it or warn of this danger b) security is non-existent and does nothing to ensure the safety of the patrons c) the boss and his entourage are completely clueless and helpless with dealing with the situation. Why do I not want to be anywhere close to this Wonderland now?

For some reason, amongst the crowds dispersing and running away for dear life, this one lady decides to run towards this nerdy looking guy in a suit frozen in position (yes, Hyun Bin) and asks for help (literally “save me, Ahjussi”) instead of running away with the rest of the world. To make matters worse, guess what this amazingly rich chaebol does? Book his place as a top asshole. He not only tries to shake away this pesky lady from holding on to him, but he quickly decides to even childishly BITE on the lady’s hand to make her let go. Following that, he PUSHES HER AWAY DIRECTLY into the direction of the gorilla and flees to climb up the roof of a nearby stall, even aided by his underlings. All I could do was LMAO.

If it was not Hyun Bin acting this character, I am pretty sure I would already be cursing at this little piece of shit’s uselessness. I mean, are you freaking kidding me? This useless idiot character is the main lead? orz The childishness of Kim Joo Won combined with utter incompetency without reason for any adoration.

Okay, maybe I haven’t given the character enough of a chance yet. He grabs out his gear and finally calms down and lowers his heart rate from a dangerous level of 150. He takes off his gear and seems ready for action. What are you going to do, Hyun Bin? Spring into action? Command authority? Make a decisive game plan?

Apparently not… He does what a big boss should have done long ago – contact his staff and asks them about the situation and preparation for an emergency. However, he simply asks them if they are prepared, not even giving directions on how to possibly strategize to deal with it in a more efficient manner. Of course, no one also seems to care that scared visitors are for some reason encircling the beast instead of running away.

The staff finally arrives with some equipment but look as helpless as a non-professional approaching this creature they’ve never seen before in their lives. And these people turn out to be the people supposedly in charge of the circus where this animal could only have been at. -_-“

They weakly shoot a tranquiliser dart that ends up bouncing off the gorilla’s chest, agitating it further. Then comes the girl who heard about the news while in a taxi and all she does is call out the gorilla’s name “Bing Bing” and the beast is surprisingly tamed after dashing through a path of scared humans and seemed to be waiting to body slam the girl.

This is also ridiculous because I believe no trained professional would still go to that extent of not preparing any strategies to calm the beast down. All she did was call out her name and open her arms wide for a hug that never came. Not even trying to grab the gorilla’s attention, or lean in to seem more approachable and friendly to the beast. In fact, the beast could apparently see her and recognise her voice far away all through a ring of humans enough to dash its way through it. True enough, the girl is the next circus master coming to take over who the gorilla regards almost like a mother having been there in its childhood.

Reporters come, but not much outrage. A PR statement from this lady who hasn’t officially taken up her post and all is well. Okay, I won’t put too much importance on this.

Then out of selfishness to understand his increased heartrate, he forcibly calls up the girl to his office. Why would your heart rate increase upon seeing a gorilla about to pounce on a girl? Well, maybe out of good conscience? After all, that girl might be killed? No of course not, wonders Hyun Bin’s character (whose name I still have yet to remember). Upon seeing the girl, he does absolutely nothing but pulls her into close proximity to him for squealing fans in front of their electronic devices. What? Why?? This seemed nothing as much as fan service reminiscent of Secret Garden’s sudden close proximity with Gil A Rim to examine her wound. In this case, the purpose is even less precise and more socially awkward, since he simply stares at the girl and observes his heart rate as shown on his high-tech Bluetooth-linked spectacles.

https://i1.wp.com/seoulbeats.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/20101122_seoulbeats_secretgarden.jpg

http://seoulbeats.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/20101122_seoulbeats_secretgarden.jpg

Once he is done, he lets her go. By the way, they barely know each other *cough cough* and you expect viewers to somehow ship them together already?! Please…

He even does not consider talking any business with her until he finally tells her simply “Oh I am closing down the circus”. Obviously, this girl didn’t get the memo when she publicly announced herself as the new incoming circus master. The reasoning is superficial and terribly casual and ruins the poorly constructed illusion of a setting that this drama revolved around.

In any case, to throw the girl off, he pacifies her by lying to say that her contract will be not be terminated when in actual fact moments later he actually does otherwise. The girl being the stereotypical headstrong “let’s stand up for ourselves and our rights!” character, trails the immature and useless main character as he miraculously hears from his doctor about a cure for his split personality. While the girl is at first stopped outside the hospital, she cannot be prevented from entering a public compound (if I remember correctly). Somehow she deduces the exact location or direction that Hyun Bin is heading to in this otherwise empty hospital. Given her circus background, why am I not surprised to see her zip-line down (yes, zip-line from building to building with zero safety equipment) to what happens to be the exact office of Hyun Bin’s doctor.

A side note, but Hyun Bin’s doctor’s room looks terribly similar to the brown wooden interior that was I Can Hear Your Voice’s public defendant office. I discovered that at least the broadcasting channel SBS was the same for both dramas so my deduction may be right. I thought this would only be something that Hong Kong or China dramas would be more obvious with. In any case, I am still wondering why a doctor’s office is so much less white, more disorganised and not even clinic-like. It’s like a business office with its own coffee table and such. Or are Korean hospitals different from my knowledge?

Yep, something like this…https://i0.wp.com/www.dramafever.com/st/img/wp/2013/07/Shin-Sang-Duk-argues-with-Choi-Yoo-Chang.jpg

http://www.dramafever.com/st/img/wp/2013/07/Shin-Sang-Duk-argues-with-Choi-Yoo-Chang.jpg

While Hyun Bin happens to see this crazy lady zip-line across hospital buildings, no souls are present other than theirs and perhaps this is a good reason to question the hospital security already. Not only did a lady zip-line across buildings directly into the confidential and private space of a medical practitioner through a window, another stranger dressed in black heavily assaulted the doctor to break her glass coffee table and leave many bloodstains around the office. Of course, crazy gorilla lady here witnesses all this frenzy and eventually notices or sees the assailant. Hyun Bin soon arrives and his scaredy-cat nature proves useful for once as he instinctively dashes away from the crime scene for his life. (My memory of the exact episode procession at this point is a bit blurred.)

They run away, not together but at the same time. The drama then takes a sudden turn into the mood of City Hunter or another police action film with dramatic running scenes of mostly running through hallways in a swift but aesthetic manner. What a combination of moods this show has been so far, eh? Hyun Bin eventually reaches the lift and successfully enters it himself. However, the girl being behind him is just several feet away from him barely makes it before the door begins to close on her. The assailant catches up and (iirc) grabs the legs of the girls and pulls her away as one could imagine in a horror film. The only difference is that it was broad daylight with plenty of light indoors and Hyun Bin was out to display his prowess as a hopeless asshole again – he purposefully kicked the girl’s clawing hands from interfering with his lift and rapidly pressed close on the lift button.

Soon, the girl is helplessly carried away to her doom at a roof instead of simply assaulting her or killing her as it seems had been done before. Somehow Hyun Bin’s actually likable alter ego Robin drudgingly makes his long-awaited appearance. After all, anyone else with a semi-decent and normal personality would be a refreshing change at this point. While in the safety of the lift, main character’s heart rate exceeds the 150 threshold. While it was described by the main character to seemingly release a beast, having read the synopsis, we all know it is actually a nicer human being that the main character is so afraid of.

The lift scene is, again, reminiscent of Secret Garden scenes. In Secret Garden, Hyun Bin also had a trauma and tragic past that made him claustrophobic. He also had a very dramatic scene in a lift in which somewhat explains his claustrophobia. Here, in a lift again, I could not help but see the many similarities that were almost lifted from Secret Garden. After much agonising, Hyun Bin as main character slowly becomes limp in position before straightening up again in a Superman kneeling position. Dude, did you just eat some anti-kryptonite serum or something? No really, he looked like Superman ready to fly off to save the world.

And save the girl, at least, he does. While the masked assailant procrastinates in the elimination of a key witness, Robin has time to run up to the roof (no idea how he guessed) and engage in a little bit of a tussle with him/her. However, the girl having been left literally hanging off the edge of a building soon falls off into a conveniently located water body or pond located within the hospital. This is when superhero Robin also decides to heroically jump after the girl to grab her in time (not sure whether physics would allow this since my physics sucks) and seemingly protect her from the main impact of the fall into water.

(Another) Trope Comparison! Anybody else remembered Tamaki jumping off the cliff to save Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club?!       http://mangafox.me/manga/ouran_high_school_host_club/v03/c008/31.html

Ouran High School Host Club 8 at MangaFox.me Ouran High School Host Club 8 at MangaFox.me

No seriously, the whole jumping after the girl into a pool of water is… not original that is the least to say. Nonetheless, it seems still rather useless given that unlike Tamaki, Robin didn’t jump in to be able to pull her out of the water. Instead, he simply hugged her and they both sank into the water slowly… How exactly they got saved when there were no other souls in the hospital is another problem. Or is it that I have been reading too much manga too?

But at this point, I have learnt that it is easier not to ask questions about this drama anymore.

http://mangafox.me/manga/ouran_high_school_host_club/v03/c008/32.html

The first episode ended with the asshole main character acted by Hyun Bin awaking in the hospital and wondering if his better alter ego did show up and everyone wondering if Robin did save the girl. I’m not sure if anyone remembered the doctor though (lol). As to whether or not I continue this drama will depend on how much free time I have and whether or not I am willing to waste spend it on this train-wreck of an unintended comedy.

JHI Commentary End

The End

~ Jerna (@jernahorizon)