I’ll be honest, I’ve been a drama addict since my “Asian awakening” during sophomore year of college. Since then ~January 2008, I have never been the same girl. I have watched plenty of dramas to write a thorough resume of my activities, so I’ll blog the best and worst of dramas for my viewers. First things first, I need to write up my feedback for 2 years worth of what I watched…
To start off, I had an obsession with Taiwanese dramas (in the order I watched them during the spring semester):
屋頂上的綠寶石 Emerald on the Roof: I bought the full DVD set for $25 in Chinatown, after which I realized I can go cheaper via Youtube and watch subbed versions to boost my rather average Mandarin. This was not the first drama to kick-start my habits (it was actually Autumn in My Heart, more about that later). I would not consider this a worthy drama for anyone’s time, unless you really want to suffer 30 long episodes of “I love you, but I can’t be with you” melodrama. I’m still not entirely sure how I survived this particularly lengthy, often annoying, drama, because at the time I was glued to the television watching up to 5+ episodes per day (mind you, I had school work to do too).
Well, Wikipedia and the back cover totally duped me, because the summary did not describe what really happened in the drama. Here is the snippet:
In this modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET, Chou and Mwo fall in love with each other against their respective families’ wishes. After countless struggles, Mwo is forced to leave with another man as Chou gives in to his father’s demand to an arranged marriage. Before she leaves, however, Mwo gave Chou a green ruby necklace as a testament of their feelings for each other. Eventually, the necklace will reunite the feuding families once again, as Mwo and Chou vow to be together, even in death. EMERALD ON THE ROOF is an emotional tale about true love against all odds.
Yeah, it is not a Romeo & Juliet story replaced with Taiwanese actors. Instead, the story centered around two young lovers 周念中 Chou Nian Zhong (Wallace Huo) and 莫家綺 Mo Jia Qi (Sun Li), who face conflicts and difficulties. The courtship begins playfully, but evolves into deep love. Pepper that with other lovers (played by George Hu and Yvonne Yao), family troubles, jealousy, selfishness, and general complications and coincidences that happen to ruin the couples’ prospects, you have general recipe for a typical Taiwanese romantic drama. When the drama ended, I could only feel frustration and sadness at the depressing ending. This was a combination of the cheesy romance drama and my failed expectations for the couple. I recovered quickly, but I had a brief interest in Wallace Huo. Then, I moved on…
I do suggest listening to the opening theme song: 其實很愛你 (Actually Love You) by Angela Chang 張韶涵). Her voice is angelic and beautiful. The song is the typical love ballad you hear in romance dramas.
公主小妹 Romantic Princess (2007): This is more a romantic comedy. It stars Angela Chang as 麥秋穗 Mai Qiu Sui and two Fahrenheit boys (Wu Chun and Calvin Chen) and George Hu as rich, Southern Wind 南 風 princes. Consider this the Asian equivalent of “The Princess Diaries” if you’d like a comparison. Unfortunately, it misses the humor that Meg Cabot achieved in her series.
Anyway, the story revolves around a girl, Xiao Mai 小麥, dreams of being a princess. Unsurprisingly, she soon finds out she’s adopted AND a princess. She reunites with her royal family and gets involved with the house princes and heirs of the Emp company. Then, the complicated hate-into-love relationship develops between Xiao Mai and Nang Feng Jin 南風瑾. They play around for a little bit, but as all drama plots unravel, everyone hits a big bump in the road. Here, Xiao Mai faces a rival who claims she’s the real princess. The rest of the drama is more “feng feng dian dian” comedy…
This drama introduced me to the Fahrenheit boys (Wu Chun 吳尊 & Calvin Chen 辰亦儒). They were the first Asian boy band I listened to, partly because they remind me of a funkier version of the Backstreet Boys (O good times). See, I learned quickly that these Asian popstars like to make music and act in dramas, faster than hens can pop out your next omelette breakfast for the family. I got into Fahrenheit 飛輪海 immediately, particularly Wu Chun 吳尊. I liked their funky hairstyles, manly charm, personalities, and pop music. They’ve been a popular Taiwanese band since emerging in 2006, so they are worth listening to and watching on variety shows such as 100% Entertainment and 完全娛樂。
And here are the songs featured for the Romantic Princess OST: Fahrenheit sounds like any other pop band and Angela Chang has an angelic, powerful, and girly voice.
新窩 (Xin Wo) New Home (Opening Theme)- Fahrenheit 飛輪海 & SHE
不想懂得 (Bu Xiang Dong De) Don’t Want to Understand- Angela Chang (Ang 5.0)
我戀愛了(Wo Lian Ai Le) I Am In Love- Angela Chang (Ang 5.0)
能不能勇敢說愛 (Neng Bu Neng Yong Gang Shuo Ai) Can You Talk About Love Bravely- Angela Chang (Ang 5.0)
樂園 (Le Yuan) Paradise- Angela Chang (Ang 5.0)
花樣少年少女 Hana Kimi: I also enjoyed this one while I watched it, but upon further reflection, it was NOT good. It was too comedic and lacked substance. The comedic parts were ridiculous, stupid, and cheesy. You’d be better off watching Hana Kimi (Japan), because it’s much shorter and interesting. It starred Ella Chen of S.H.E. as 盧瑞希 Lu Riu Xi and 2 Fahrenheit guys again, Wu Chun as 左以泉 Zuo Yi Quan and Jiro Wang as 金秀伊 Jin Xiu Yi. Riu Xi pretends to be a boy to enter Ying Kai University, an all boys-school, where her track star idol Yi Quan attends. Then she meets and befriends Xiu Yi, who slowly begins to fall in love with her, only that he thinks Riu Xi is a dude. Thus, he goes crazy thinking he’s gay and weird for having that kind of feelings towards another “guy.” While Riu Xi goes to school, she struggles to keep her identity hidden from her new friends, but reaches out for Yi Quan’s affection… will she succeed or will she end up in a sticky mess?
The drama is filled with ridiculous humor and exaggerations. Ella Chen is better off singing in S.H.E. rather than acting in these romance comedies. Her tomboy style came off unflattering and her acting was plain annoying and overly-exaggerated. One of the funnier scenes was when she first meets Yi Quan, but briefly forgets she’s masquerading as a boy and professes her love for him… Ditto Jiro Wang, he was also a pain in the side to watch. Though he could be super silly at different moments and you could laugh along with him, for the most part he was strange and pestilent. One of the funnier scenes was when he started freaking out he was gay, but that got old very quickly. He was rather whiny for a guy and that turned me off. He appeared stupid and foolish with his dreamy, smiley look. So yea, he gets old and annoying very rapidly.
Here are some of the Hana Kimi OST theme songs:
怎麼辦 (Zen Ma Ban) What to Do- S.H.E. (Opening theme) *This is an adorable song when you listen and read the lyrics.
專屬天使 (Zhuan Shu Tian Shi) My Personal Angel- 呂建中 TANK (Closing Theme, 延長比賽 Keep Fighting) *This is a sweet song. I was hooked for a long time.
懂了 (Dong Le) Understood- 呂建中 TANK (延長比賽 Keep Fighting)