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

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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!