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Nirvana in Fire
3 people found this review helpful
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Mar 4, 2017
  • Overall 10
  • Story 10
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 10
Nirvana in Fire is, to date, the only drama series out of every single drama series I have seen, whether in C-drama, J-drama or K-drama world, that has surpassed all expectation on every front, for me.

STORY
Aside from an initial round of confusion when watching your first run of the first 3-4 episodes, there is nothing further I can think of that really mars the perfection that exists for this drama read more - storywise.
And may I just say that even the initial confusion of the first 3-4 episodes which is mainly due to the large number of characters being introduced, and the fact that you are thrown literally right into the show without any prior setup of what's going on, no longer exists upon re-watching. In fact, you will actually realise and appreciate just how intricate and how detailed the writer has been because lots of foreshadowing and information actually exists within the first 3-4 episodes which would have flown by your head upon a first watch, but which makes complete sense upon re-watching.
It really gives you a sense of respect for the writer who has clearly and thoroughly thought through how her story would flow, and has been diligent in embedding subtle but key information throughout the episodes so that as the series progresses towards the mid-way mark, those individual and seemingly disparate threads then come together to form a brilliant picture which then takes your breath away.

The story appears simple - a man who survived a tragedy returns to the capital 12 years later under a new identity to re-dress the horrific wrongs committed. The execution of the story, however, is FAR from simple. Like a grandmaster, this man kick-starts things into motion which will change and transform everything, and the way he does it is simply masterful and marvellous to watch.

The pacing of this show is, neither fast nor agonisingly slow. The show takes its time to dwell on certain threads longer than others, which may come across slow and a little boring for some viewers, but patience is a virtue with this series and if you patiently keep on watching, it will become evident that the time spent on those disparate and seemingly unconnected threads will bear much fruit when things come together. You will find yourself marvelling at the level of care and craft that has gone into the storytelling, I promise you. The best analogy I can give is that of a master sculptor working with a block of wood or ice. At first, all you see is a block. Then, he starts hewing and hacking at certain parts of the block and slowly, a rather vague shape is being formed. As you keep watching the sculptor at work, seeing how he starts to focus on first this section, then that section, the vague shape becomes more discernible and you're able to get a glimpse of the art he is producing. Keep watching and observing and you will see that what was once a block is starting to be transformed into a beautiful piece of artwork and at the end of it, as he puts on the finishing touches, the little carvings here and there, you then marvel to yourself at how amazing it is that he is able to visualise and produce such an outstanding piece of work from just a block of wood or ice.

Since there isn't a section that talks about the cinematography or the sets or the camera-work, I will mention it here.
The cinematography, the scale of the sets and the camera-work is just beautiful. I was informed by friends conversant with the chinese netizen community that some of the directors for the show were art/photography directors, which explains why almost each shot being framed can be screenshotted into a piece of art in itself with its colours and its composition. This makes the show an incredibly beautiful one to watch with every frame and shot a feast for the eyes.
The costumes and the sets were apparently incredibly faithful to the time period in which the show is set, down to the bronze teapots and hand warmers. Court etiquette and forms of greeting and respect were appropriate and in-line with the time period too and apparently the actors had been rigorously trained by experts so that their carriage, their conversation and their movements all conformed accurately and naturally. A great deal of care and diligence had been put into producing the series and it shows.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
The show being so large and sprawling with its cast of characters, there is insufficient time to dwell on the merits of each one of them. Suffice to say that each supporting character played their parts to perfection, nary a redundant character or scene in this series. Every conversation bears some significance or the other.
Another marvel is that, in most drama series, supporting characters, even those that pitch up for maybe just an episode or two, tend to been given short-shrift in terms of their characters or personalities. Not so here. There is hardly a one-dimensional or caricature personality here. All come across real and believably alive in this series whether they be a passing character, or an antagonist, or a protagonist.
This show is alive and full of layered, nuanced and complex characters whose motivations, goals and actions are believably real and understandable, if not sympathetic. You understand where they are coming from and why they behave the way they do as more about them gets unveiled. This is a brilliance of not only the writing, but also the acting of actors playing those characters, in being able to bring them so wonderfully alive and to come across amazingly real.

Spotlight on the main lead.
Hu Ge, playing the main protagonist of the series is simply outstanding in his subtle, layered and nuanced portrayal of his character, Lin Shu/ Mei Changsu/ Su Zhe - why does he have so many names? Please do watch to find out, and no, it is not confusing in the slightest. Powerhouse performance from Hu Ge who has to play a sickly, restrained and controlled man who, for good reasons, have to hide his true self and keep many secrets and cards close to his chest. His quiet and subtle responses to events and news which directly affect him but which he cannot allow to give him away is mesmerising to watch, and utterly heart-breaking to see.
Simply stellar stuff which I've not been able to see the equal of since.

MUSIC
There is not a lot of soundtrack for this series. 3 songs with vocals, and all employed sparingly but impactfully throughout the series. Most of the series is carried by brilliant moments of silence and traditional chinese instrumentals which heighten the tension where it needs to be heightened, and gives poignancy to the scenes which require poignancy. Another masterpiece in music direction as nothing detracts from the scenes but only enhances. Beautiful.

RE-WATCH VALUE
Can i just say that this show is an absolute MUST for re-watching. Not only because it is just THAT GOOD, but also because of the level of intricate detail and storytelling that goes in it. A first watch will never really allow you to fully unpack and appreciate the masterpiece that you have just seen. Scenes, conversations, camera close-ups on objects that seem inconsequential, all of these which did not make too much sense upon a first watch will make complete sense upon a re-watch, causing you to marvel even more at this show.
Seriously, if you have time to watch episode after episode of some sub-par K, C or J-drama, why not spend that time re-watching Nirvana in Fire instead?
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Ruk Jub Jai
1 people found this review helpful
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16 days ago
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.5
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.5
  • Rewatch Value 8.5
I have such a soft spot for musicals, what more a romance musical, so they had me at hello!
This little Thai musical was a surprising little gem of a find, and what an enjoyable watch it was!

STORY
The synopsis says it all, really. A superstar with a reputation for being a player meets a blind girl and falls in love with her. Cue laughable but also heart-tugging hijinks as he read more navigates his way into the girl's heart and life.
In line with most musicals, the style and pace of the show is light-hearted and upbeat, with some poignant moments that draw on your heartstrings, all helpfully flavoured by some wonderful renditions of live songs and some active, catchy and well-choregraphed dancing. Never a dull moment with this show as it moves seamlessly from one scene to another.
Please note that this is a film-capture of a live musical performance on stage so you're watching it as though you're part of the audience in the theatre. This experience is enhanced nicely by the addition of close-ups of the casts in key moments so that you're able to really see the facial expressions (and tears!), and so feel much more drawn into the emotions of the characters than you normally would under a regular theatre watch (because of the distance of the theatre seats from the stage).
I thought it was cleverly filmed, considering that it was a live stage-performance and there are generally lots happening all across the platform. Very well done indeed!

ACTING/CAST
Being a musical and it being performed live in front of an audience of hundreds, if not thousands, the cast members had plenty of practice to perfect their roles and their cues so there is no surprise that they all played their parts wonderfully.
The dancing was energetic, lively and eye-catching - just what dancing in a musical should be. The singing was also inspired, and particularly impressive when it came to one of the younger cast members. Supporting roles played up to comic relief, in addition to their roles as catalysts in carrying the flow of the story along. No weak links at all, and overall, solid casting and performance across the stage!

Spotlight on the main lead:-
Bie, playing the main character, Sun, was scintillating in his role as the playboy superstar. He truly carried the entire show with his charisma and energy - and sustained it all the way through the 2 hours of performance. He is an impressive all-rounder with his energetic dancing, his pitch-perfect singing and his emotional acting, I stand amazed at his performance from start to finish. In fact, Bie's performance was so captivating that if you're not a new fan of his by the end of the show, I would be very surprised indeed.

MUSIC
This is a musical, so naturally there a lots of song numbers by various cast members, and of course by the leads themselves. The subs for the movie musical helped a lot in bringing understanding and context to the content of the songs so the enjoyment of the musical numbers are as good as you can get. Lots of catchy song and dance numbers which will leave you smiling and even grooving to the beat, especially towards the end of the show.

RE-WATCH VALUE
Easily re-watchable as it is just over 2 hours.

Overall, this was such an enjoyable film shot of a live musical stage-performance, I really wished I could be part of the audience so that I could whistle and hoot my lungs out asking for an encore as I give a standing ovation!
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Sotus: The Series
1 people found this review helpful
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28 days ago
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.5
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
Honestly, before SOTUS, I've never ventured to watch a single Thai drama series - my regular haunts were your staple K-dramas, J-dramas and C-dramas. However, finding good drama series, even in the large ponds of your K, J and C drama worlds, were increasingly hard to find.
I noticed for a long while that SOTUS was very highly-ranked on MyDramaList, and wondered about it for a long time. The synopsis of the read more show sounded like your average university drama serial and the poster picture did not strike me as particularly attractive enough for me to consider dipping my toes into a completely new language and cultural show.
So I dithered and dithered until finally, having started show after show and dropped them, I became desperate enough to try watching it to see whether the ranking on this website was justified or not.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:
Having never watched a single Thai lakorn or drama series before, I naturally had to take a bit of time to adjust to:-
a) Thai looks/ appearances - the supporting characters were quite refreshingly ordinary in their looks. None of that touched up stuff. Aside from J-dramas, most other drama series tend to show clinically beautiful people. The main leads were, of course, easier on the eyes (I thought the actor playing Kongpop looked a little like Yang Yang (a good-looking Chinese actor) from certain angles).
b) Thai language - which is, to me, rather nasal and high-pitched to my un-trained ears. It sounded very much like baby-chatter. This aspect of the show took me the longest to adjust because it was just so alien to me.

SERIES REVIEW:
STORY - although I have never been hazed during my university days, there was some mild form of hazing back when I was in college. It was an initiation rite which I did not really enjoy while I was in the midst of it, but saw the benefits of it afterwards because it help break down walls and create bonds during the process. I could, in some measure therefore, identify with the hazing culture depicted in the show. However, the first episode was still rather shocking to me because of the ridiculously stern demeanour of the hazers and their harshness in dealing with the freshmen. I found myself inwardly frowning at some confrontational scenes and thinking to myself that I can't see how I can end up liking this show if it was going to continue along the same vein.
Thankfully, the show moved at a rather snappy pace and by the end of episode 2, it was already rather apparent all is not what it seems, and that the outwardly "bullying" tactics of the hazers was not really a reflection of a cruel bully culture, but that there was a deeper intention and purpose behind it. I may not necessarily agree that this sort of approach is the best, but, like some of the freshmen in the show, I was beginning to see that there was something more behind those harsh actions.
It is good that the production crew were smart enough to show us early on that all is not what it seems on the surface, because that was what really made me continue watching the series - to see more of what would unfold. Piquing the curiosity was a very clever tactic!
And THAT is part of what makes this show so good for me at the end. The snappy pace, the revealing of true intentions over time, the way the story unfolded across the show, was, I thought, very organically well done and wonderfully compelling to watch.
I also liked it very much that while it was a boy's love story at the heart of the show, the show was much more than that. It was also about youthful days, about friendships, about being human and making mistakes, about that first crush in school... very very poignant and nostalgic and REAL. How awesome is that?! So much love for this series because of all that!

ACTING - OK, this review was written after I had finished watching SOTUS and a few more other Thai lakorns, so that I could get an idea of what the acting is like in the Thai entertainment industry. Because while acting is acting, each nation or culture tends to have certain characteristics and I did not want to compare SOTUS with other non-Thai series in the event that what I find good or different, could actually be a norm or something. Hence, this review was written not directly after watching SOTUS, but actually a pretty good while after.
Back to the topic of acting. I heard that the actors in SOTUS were relatively new - and from seeing the filmography of the main leads, yeah, they certainly do not have much drama shows under their belt prior to SOTUS (actually, none at all).
So, a huge big kudos to the actors in this series, because having later watched other Thai drama series of college and high school and even some over-the-top slap/kiss series, I have to say that, for me, the acting in this series is one of the best so far. It certainly stands head and shoulders above all the other university/ college/ high-school series I have seen to date.
Comparing apples with apples (because those series tend to field young actors around the same age), SOTUS actors nailed their characters and acted so much more naturally and realistically that honestly, I really saw them as your average university students dealing with the ups and downs of campus life. I think the bonding and the friendly pranking and hijinks behind-the-scenes really helped to build familiarity, character and ease amongst the acting crew and it shows. There is a charming natural-ness in the internal interaction between the freshmen group-of-friends, and also among the hazing team members.

Spotlight on the main leads -
KONGPOP - Singto did a great job in bringing Kongpop to life. From Kongpop's initial defiance, sass and strong personality (he certainly wasn't a wilting wallflower!), to the subsequent softening of his personality as he starts to realise and see that there is more to what meets the eye, and then to curiosity and an eagerness to prove himself to Arthit, then to the chase for Arthit's attention and eventual affection - and all the attendant feelings of insecurity, angst, despair and resignation - it was beautiful to watch it all slowly unfold on screen. I was right there in the moment with Kongpop with his longing, his little joy and delight receiving whatever crumb of attention from Arthit, his jealousy and insecurity, his anxiety and fear, etc. There were lots of internal cheering and rooting for Kongpop as the series went on! Well done to Singto, for giving us such a lovely and expressive Kongpop!
ARTHIT - Singto was great as Kongpop but Krist as Arthit, was, to me, the real star and scene-stealer of the entire series. Magnificent performance from Krist as the scary head hazer Arthit from episode 1 (his eyes, his disdainful look and his commanding shout was all Head Hazer glory), to Arthit your regular university student and friend (I just love his interactions with his fellow hazers and also with others from his year. There is such natural banter, teasing and ease), to Arthit the respectful junior to his seniors and his teachers, to Arthit the boyfriend (which is the loveliest, sweetest, cutest and most adorable thing I have ever seen on screen, no joke! His shy smiles and soft looks are such a contrast to his Head Hazer demeanour it is such a sweet revelation. I honestly would not have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. And yet, while the dichotomy is so great, it still does not seem off or odd. It is all Arthit and wonderfully natural and believable).
In short, Krist blew me away with his Arthit. Right out of the water!

MUSIC - Not knowing Thai, the lyrics to the music made little impact or impression on me, except for the opening introduction song which was very catchy and memorable (well, you would remember it because it keeps playing each time there is an advert break in the series). But having later watched SOTUS again with the official subs on the GMMTV Youtube channel, I now have a better and deeper appreciation of some of the songs being played in certain scenes.

RE-WATCH VALUE - I've re-watched this more than twice now - still as good as ever, if not better, because I already know the meaning behind some of the actions and attitudes so the first few episodes, instead of being difficult to watch upon the first run, are now imbued with a lot more meaning and understanding on my part. It makes it more enjoyable, so definitely a recommend for re-watches.

NOTES - I am sure the synopsis already clued you in on the fact that this is a Boy's Love series, so if you're squicky about this sort of thing, it may tarnish the series for you. But for what it's worth, I liked the portrayal of the progression of feelings through to its resolution. Wonderfully, realistically, naturally, and tastefully done.

This is a long review, but I had lots to say on this series (more actually, lol). It has definitely, for me, lived up to its MyDramaList ranking, and more. Many thanks for reading this all the way through! Hope you enjoyed it!
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2 Moons The Series
2 people found this review helpful
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11 days ago
  • Overall 5.0
  • Story 5.0
  • Acting/Cast 4.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
Having finally made it to the end of the show, well, it was an OK or average show.

Light, fluffy and of not much substance to speak of in itself, whether in terms of storyline, acting or style.

The raw and green acting from majority of the cast was a serious liability and could not get me really absorbed or invested in the characters or their relationships as there were many scenes read more that came across unnatural, manufactured, obviously scripted and posed for the camera and for fan service.

I know all shows are scripted but I'd like for the actors, the director and the script to at least make a token effort and be compelling and mesmerising enough so that you forget that the people on the screen are acting and see them as someone real or believable whose story or situation you can get invested in.

An OK drama with an OK storyline with just-about-barely-OK actors - my personal 2 cents.
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Khun Chai Puttipat
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11 days ago
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
Having seen James & Bella in action in Padivarada and really enjoyed their couple chemistry together, I wanted to check out if there were more shows with them as main leads and found this one. However, having then discovered that this was Story #3 in a 5-part series, I was a little bit hesitant because gosh, did that mean that I have to go through his first 2 brother's stories first before read more I could watch this? I was not willing to really invest all that time.

Well, after doing a little bit more reading and finding this article on MyDramaList about the "Gentlemen of Chuthatep" series [http://mydramalist.com/article/2014/06/22/thai-lakorns-recommendations-part-two], I decided to take a chance and plunge straight into Brother #3 and see if I can somehow find my way and make sense of the situation. And I'm glad I did because I did not get too lost after all and was able to enjoy this show on its own - yippee!

So, for those who are thinking of watching this without the benefit of watching the earlier 2 shows of the series, IT IS POSSIBLE. Just do a bit of reading of the article I've mentioned and also of the synopsis of the first 2 brothers (so that you roughly know their names and their partners), and you'll be all ready to go!


BACKGROUND/ STORY
What I'm going to say here are NOT spoilers at all (because they are background info and also relate to the first 2 brother's stories and so if you've come after watching those, you won't be spoiled in the slightest), but for those jumping into this show without watching the first 2, this will help give some context.

Basically, this "Gentleman of Chuthatep" series reminds me very much of my old regency romance-novel reading days (Jude Deveraux anyone?) where the authors really enjoyed writing a series of books based on brothers (sometimes also cousins) of old, aristocratic and noble families who are not only immensely well-connected and established in society, but are also incredibly powerful and wealthy and whose male members all have devastating good looks. These authors would dedicate an entire romance novel for each of the brothers in the family which makes for really compelling and addictive reading.

Well, here is the live-action version of that! The "Gentleman of Chuthatep" series comprises of 5 separate dramas (each about 10 or 11 episodes long), with each drama focusing on the romance of one out of the 5 brothers of the Chuthatep family who are, as you've probably already guessed, part of the old established Thai nobility class. So, all 5 brothers are not only blue-bloods of their society but they are also blessed with good-looks, success in their individual careers, and an immense reservoir of funds (i.e. very very rich) courtesy of their prestigious lineage.

All 5 brothers lost their parents rather early in their lives and were brought up by their grandmothers. Grandma Aied is the matriarch of the family while Grandma Oon is her younger sister. Before their father had died, he had promised to have one of his sons marry one of the daughters of another noble family - the Taewaproms (3 daughters). Cue massive familial pressure on the 5 brothers!

As of timeframe of this show, the first 2 brothers (Chai Yai, the eldest; and Chai Ruj, the second eldest) are already engaged or married - but none of them to any of the Taewaprom girls. So, here is Chai Pat who is son #3, under immense pressure from his grandmothers to fulfil his late father's promise.

This show, of course, showcases Chai Pat's own romance story and it comes as no surprise that it was going to be an interesting ride when his love interest is also not a Taewaprom girl, but actually a girl belonging to a lower class of society.
The familial conflicts arising from this is probably already enough to fill the show but there is an added layer of complexity and action when the girl - Krongkaew (aka Kaew), daughter of a high school janitor and having to live hand-to-mouth for survival - wins the Miss Thailand beauty contest and also incites the interest of an old and lecherous but wealthy and powerful man. So, this is a morass of all sorts of issues and situations which the couple must navigate before they can get their happy ending. Sounds interesting? If so, then this might be the show for you.

I'm glad to say that despite all the complicated issues arising, the show doesn't allow those issues to side-track our attention on the main couple too much. There are, in my opinion, a sufficiently good number of scenes of the couple, from their first meeting to their subsequent interactions which build on their budding interest in each other, which then blossom into love. I thought it was a well-balanced show as a result - strong directorial hand, with good editing and cuts that move the situations along swiftly and keep the pace brisk.


ACTING/ CAST
As with most Thai lakorns, the second female lead and the main antagonist will probably come across as pretty one-note i.e. hateful, annoying, despicable. You have to get used to it (if you're not), and move swiftly along. Having said that though, I do confess that they are not as overdone as some others which I've seen. Yes, they are pretty over-the-top, but I've seen a lot worse.
The 4 brothers did have some screen-time, especially the 2 youngest and unmarried ones (Chai Lek and Chai Pee). I really liked the fact that the family dynamic amongst the 5 brothers were not ones full of envy, jealousy or dislike, but was in fact warm, loving, supportive and playful at times. So nice to see the brotherly camaraderie on show here.
The 2 grandmothers... Grandma Aied was the epitome of a matriarch of a royal and noble family. She exuded class, poise and authority befitting her status. I liked that while she was keen to advance and fulfil the promise made by her late son, she was also the more reasonable and open-minded of the two. Grandma Oon, on the other hand, is one who is quick to judge, quick to be prejudiced, and quick to disdain, which at times really makes her quite dis-likable.

Onto the main leads:-
BELLA as Krongkaew, daughter of a janitor and a Miss Sri Siam. Great casting choice, in my opinion, because Bella is really believeable in her portrayal as a poor, humble but hard-working and principled person who is also beautiful enough to win a beauty pageant. There is an elegant nobleness in her posture and in her mien which lends much to the personality of her character here. Her smiles come across warm, and her dark doe-eyes are able to convey the feelings of sadness, anxiety, care and love wonderfully. There are quite a few key scenes where Kaew had to express her feelings with her eyes alone, and I thought Bella rose to the occasion incredibly. A great actress who truly fitted her role here.

JAMES as Khun Chai Puttipat, from the royal house of Chuthatep and a brain surgeon. James looked a little bit too youthful here to be such an established brain surgeon but I suppose his spectacles helped to give him a more serious and professional look. But his youthful look has some advantages - they give him a more friendly and softer look so his scenes as a stern and strict doctor did not come across as too cold or unapproachable (which good doctors should not be). And they also made his loving gazes and warm smiles so much more mesmerising. James' eyes, are, to me, his greatest asset, really, because they are not only large enough that even the viewer feels as though they could drown in them, but they are also able to bring out some of his emotions and feelings onto the screen. For a debut series, I have to admit that I am well impressed with James' acting here.

Most importantly for me, James and Bella had bucket loads of chemistry together which makes this couple come across as very compatible and believable. Their interactions and scenes together not only seem natural and organic, but I also felt that their characters as Chai Pat and Kaew matched each other well. They each complete one another in different ways and as a Chai Pat/ Kaew couple, they both complement each other by filling a void or adding colour to each other's lives through their different personalities. It does come across as a match between equals here - love it!


MUSIC
The "Gentlemen of Chuthatep" theme song is on constant play in between advert breaks which makes the song go round and round in the brain for days. If you like it, that's great, but if not, well, too bad. It's rather hypnotic, really and I'm still of two minds if I liked it or not.
Other than that, the theme songs for this couple is lovely - well, at least I liked it. I thought it told of the couple's situation and feelings, particularly Chai Pat's, spot on. Lends more depth to some of the scenes.
Background music is rather old-school and fitting for the time period in which this series is set, so I thought it very appropriate and sets the mood and style of the show.


RE-WATCH VALUE
Since I really like this couple and their interactions and development, I will definitely re-watch this. But will probably skip on the extraneous scenes where neither are present.

Overall, a true romance series with your sprinkling of drama.
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The Good Wife
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23 days ago
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.5
  • Acting/Cast 8.5
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
I have not seen the American tv series upon which this drama is based on - in fact, I did not even know it was based on a tv show until I had finished this drama. So I went in with no prior knowledge or conceptions surrounding this drama and was rather surprised to find this to be quite a quality watch.

STORY
This is a mature drama about a woman who read more has, since her marriage, left behind her ambitions and her dreams to be a good and supportive wife and mother. When her husband is arrested and jailed for corruption and adultery, her life as she thought she knew it, unravels. She then learns to cope with the aftermath and this sets in motion the discovery of not only what it means to be herself, but also about the relationships and circumstances around her.
It can almost be coined a mid-life crisis sort of drama - the kind where a middle-aged person experiences a sudden change in circumstances and it triggers all sorts of questions about their life and what they've been doing with it.
The directing for this show is, in my opinion, rather slick and polished. The pace is snappy and brisk in general as there is a lot of ground to cover in the past, the present and in the individual perspectives of the main leads. However, there are also clever and timely drawing out of scenes in order to provide an emphasis on a character's emotions, or in highlighting a particularly informative circumstance. Solid directing all round, for me.
PS: I also love the female lead's fashion in this show. Understated, but completely classy and professional. Wished my work wardrobe was as snazzy!

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
Being such a character-focused show, the quality of the show therefore hinges pre-dominantly on the quality of acting of the main leads. And this is where, I personally believe, the show shines best.
YOO JI TAE playing the enigmatic husband to the titular wife of this show, is such a star actor and he excels in playing complex, intriguing, difficult-to-fathom-the-motives characters. A magnetic, commanding and scene-stealing performance as Lee Tae Joon - every time he appears on screen, I can't take my eyes off him, his screen presence is just that huge.
He gives his character depth and complexity in spades, and I would be hard-pressed to think of any other actor who could have pulled off such a performance in such a role. Simply stellar.
JUN DO YEON as the titular character, the wife who re-discovers herself, is not your average pretty air-brushed Korean female star. However, I thought she was utterly mesmerising in her role as conflicted wife/ mother, and as a gritty and determined attorney. She brings out the various and many emotions which her character undergoes throughout the series in a compelling and utterly relatable way.
She also has plenty of chemistry with Yoo Ji Tae as her on-screen husband and some of the most memorable and gripping scenes were when the both of them were interacting. It was all sparks and emotions shooting out between the two. Goodness.
YOON KYE SANG as a fellow attorney and potential love interest, was serviceable in this mature role. He plays his character well but I personally felt that his chemistry with Jun Do Yeon here was just not as compelling and eye-catching as the husband-wife duo. He made a good mentor and a good friend/ support character but as main rival/ lead material, I believe he may still need work, at least in this show anyway.
Other supporting characters were a little patchy compared to the quality of the main leads, but they carried the show well and were sufficient as supporting characters that gave more life and breath to the show.

MUSIC
No really memorable or outstanding song/ soundtrack to speak of, from my point of view. But neither was the soundtrack jarring or off-putting, therefore I believe it was good enough to carry the show.

RE-WATCH VALUE
A good quality show, especially with regards to the directing and the acting of the main leads, but as this sort of show is not really in my genre of choice, I personally would not re-watch it again.
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Yi San
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26 days ago
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
This behemoth of a sageuk (Korean historical drama) stands at a whopping 77 episodes, which can be quite an intimidating number but it was the undisputed leading series during its run on Korean tv, crushing its rival station's offerings into the dust to the extent that when it was announced that the series would be extended, the other Korean tv channels were left scrambling about trying to re-juggle the airing of their read more own shows so as not to have a head-to-head clash with this giant. That's how massive this show was when it aired.

STORY
As per the title, this series focuses on the life of Yi San, also known as King Jeongjo of the Joseon period, who, along with his grandfather King Yeongjo, oversaw a period of growth and renaissance within the kingdom and eventually went down in history as one of Korea's great kings.
Such an eminent king's story could not possibly be simple. The fact that his very own father, Crown Prince Sado, was controversially executed by the grandfather when Yi San was still a young boy was probably not the most auspicious of beginnings. And that is where this show begins...
This show takes its time to show us (probably with a liberal sprinkling of dramatic license), Yi San's path to the throne as well as his reforms, ideas and actions when he was king. Seeing as this show covers the span of a person's lifetime, there is much to tell, hence the monstrous number of episodes.

The setting, the mood and the style of the show comes across conservatively traditional - an air which tends to be associated with serious historical shows. This is not your modern fusion sageuk with its bright fluffy colour palette and the occasional tongue-in-cheek tease. There is a level of weightiness in this show which, I personally think, is appropriate for its subject and its story.

The pacing of this show is also deliberate and measured, but there is plenty of well-timed cliffhangers as this show is also rife with political machinations.

And this is where I come to the crux - this show is one intense ride as there are political schemes galore, with plenty of ambitious parties all attempting to prevent Yi San from ascending the throne by all manner of methods (defamation, framing, assassination... you name it, they've got it). Whether every single event that is depicted in this show is accurate and historically true is anyone's guess but seeing as there is historically a lot more information about Yi San through well-preserved memoirs written by his mother (Lady Hyegyeong) and court annals, and that the key/ significant characters really did exist and were involved in key events, the show is not all fiction either.

Therefore, if you have a real interest in political/ historical figures and their autobiographies; or have a taste for political machinations and upheavals; or have an interest in the Joseon royal courts and the culture of that time period, you might want to consider checking out this show. I personally enjoyed the ride - it was intense and gripping almost all the way through.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
A series this huge and epic in nature is naturally filled to the brim with casts of characters. However, I felt that everyone in the cast, from the various antagonists amongst the ministers or the royal court, to the key historical figures such as King Yeongjo and the various members of the royal family, to Yi San's supporters and friends, to the child actors - all of them did incredibly well in portraying their characters and in bringing life to their roles. All the emotions that needed to be incited were incited, whether they were anger, distress, dislike, sorrow, heart-break, pain, joy or satisfaction. Once you've gotten used to the pacing and the setting of the show, it is easy to get sucked in to the series and be absorbed in the life of these characters. Solid stuff all around.
YI SAN - marvellously portrayed by Lee Seo Jin (he hardly appears in K-drama series these days).
His restrained but emotive performance on screen really breathed life into the character and made the character Yi San come alive. He was also able to wonderfully show the gradual progression from a young, devil-may-care, uninterested Crown Prince, to one who has found a reason to persevere and fight against his foes, to a maturing King learning to manage the court, and finally to a veteran King whose power and authority have been well-established. Honestly, this is my favourite performance of his, bar none.

MUSIC
Rather traditional instrumentals and period-style soundtrack which gave the show it's traditional historical mood. However, I felt that some of the theme songs were a little overplayed towards the later half of the show, creating song-fatigue. This was probably not really the strongest part of the show.

RE-WATCH VALUE
Considering the massive number of episodes for this show, I believe that only a truly avid fan of this show would attempt a full re-watch. It is not a bad show by any means (honestly, it is quite excellent), but the sheer investment of time can be off-putting for many.
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Waking Love Up
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27 days ago
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
Gosh, no one has ventured to write a review on this show? Well, this comes a little bit late but better late than never, right? So here goes.

STORY
It was only after I had completed watching this show that I later discovered that this was a re-make of an older and, at that time popular, Taiwanese show titled "Prince Turns Into A Frog". Having never seen that older show but afterwards read more read about its content, it would appear that the overall storyline for both shows essentially remains the same. So, for those of you who have seen "Prince Turns Into A Frog" and loved it, you might want to consider giving this re-make a try.

For those of you, like me, who have not seen its predecessor show, well, here is a good outline of what this show is about (because the MyDramaList synopsis of this show is actually a little inaccurate):-
This show is about a poor but effervescent and energetic girl (Liu Xiao Bei) who is trying to make some money for her family (which consists of a step-mom who actually cares for her as her own, and a half-brother). Circumstances allow her to cross-paths with a cold, rich, genius CEO of a hotel chain (Xiang Tian Qi) who, in a series of unfortunate events, meets with an accident and loses his memory entirely.
Not really knowing that Xiang Tian Qi is a rich genius CEO, Liu Xiao Bei and her family eventually take him under their wing and integrate him into their little village life, giving him a new name (Liu Xiao Yu) and a new life.
Meanwhile, Xiang Tian Qi's family, fiancee (Mu Zhi Qing) and best friend (Ji Ru Feng) continue to tirelessly search for him as well as attempt to maintain his hotel business in his absence.
Feelings between the amnesiac Xiang Tian Qi and Liu Xiao Bei begin to grow as they live together and share the burdens of the family and assist with the troubles of the poor little village in which they live.
All seems to be going well until Xiang Tian Qi's best friend and fiancee re-discover him living his new life simply in the village and, in another series of unfortunate events, Xiang Tian Qi gets into another accident and, while he regains the memory of his old life, loses the memories of his life as Liu Xiao Yu.
Cue messy relationship issues, conflicts, misunderstandings and tension. Do watch to see how things eventually turn out.

Storyline aside, I think it is also worth mentioning that the overall vibe of this show is that of a light-hearted, funny and rather silly show. This show does not take itself seriously at all and has a lot of cartoonish, slapstick funny moments liberally sprinkled with your over-the-top dramatic scenes which, in another show, would probably make you roll your eyes. Since this show doesn't take itself seriously, viewers intending to watch this should also leave your brain at the door and just sit back and enjoy this crazy ride.
If you enjoy a bit of fun and silliness, as well as willing to suspend belief and swallow the cheese as well as the vinegar as this show turns on the drama, this show is a great one to watch.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
LIU XIAO BEI - Tiffany Tang plays the loud, cheeky and bubbly Liu Xiao Bei really well here. While the vibe of the show promotes cartoonish actions and caricature personalities, Tiffany gives Liu Xiao Bei enough of a personality to make her a bit more than just a one-dimensional character. I found her character to be actually cute and likeable in this show, despite its inherent silliness, and that speaks of Tiffany's ability to breathe more life into her. She also enjoys good chemistry with her co-actors, especially with the main male lead (no surprise as they were actually dating in real life at time of filming).
XIANG TIAN QI - Roy Qiu plays this cold, rich, genius CEO as well as can be, given the craziness of the show and what the character himself has to go through. The first round of memory loss brought an almost complete change of character personality to Xiang Tian Qi, and Roy did a good job in making that difference palpable, believable and utterly charming to boot. I thought he portrayed the various personalities and emotions of his character pretty well, especially considering the playful nature of this show.
The second leads, as well as the supporting characters in this show, were played by actors who didn't mind looking a little silly or participating in scenes that were extremely cheesy and almost cringe-worthy. Not all characters were one-dimensional or one-note all the time in this show. There were moments of poignancy and feeling which added depth to certain key scenes and moments in the show, but on the flip side, there were also moments where suspension of belief was required and you'd need to roll with the punches.
It is difficult to therefore rate the quality of acting in this show, simply because of its rather quirky and erratic nature.

MUSIC
In line with its let's-not-take-ourselves-seriously vibe, the music in this show varies from hip-hop and rap, to pop and rock, to love ballads. A truly eclectic mix of genres rolled into a show, but you know what, it works. I actually enjoyed the music a lot (if you are a fan of JJ Lin, a lot of his tracks are played on this show), and thought it added life and beat to the series.

RE-WATCH VALUE
I guess this is a love-it or hate-it kind of show so if you liked it, you probably would not mind re-watching some of the scenes over and over again, even if it was just for kicks, giggles and laughs.
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Seven Days: Monday - Thursday
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27 days ago
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
This is a review on both "Seven Days: Monday - Thursday", and "Seven Days: Friday - Sunday", because really, the two should be seen in conjunction with each other in order to get a complete viewing experience as both parts make up the whole. There are no spoilers, though. So feel free to read away!

STORY
Actually, I read the manga (also helpfully entitled "Seven Days") on which this short 2 episode read more series is based on, long before I realised that they actually made a live-action version of it. Having enjoyed the short but sweet manga itself and having never seen a proper live-action Boy's Love series prior this one, I was curious enough to check it out.
I will get into the acting for this series in another section but story-wise, both episodes were amazingly faithful and accurate to the manga itself. Here is a short list of just how accurate it was:-
a) The manga itself consists of 2 volumes. The 1st volume being the Monday to Thursday sections, and the second volume having the remaining Friday to Sunday sections. The way the series is split is exactly the same way.
b) Dialogues from the characters are almost word-for-word from the manga.
c) Scenes and events that happen also mirror very closely to those in the manga.
d) What impressed me the most was that even the styling - from the hair, to the way they wear their school uniforms, to even their school bags and the way they carry them, mirrors that in the manga.
It was really as though the manga itself came to life - there were hardly any deviations of it in the live-action series. So, for those who read the manga and enjoyed the story, you would be surprisingly satisfied with this production.
Story-wise, the synopsis is a pretty good summary so I am not sure if I have anything further to add. It really is a simple premise of what started out as a high-school tease between 2 boys to date for a week (seven days), ended up creating feelings which neither were prepared for, and their various insecurities and misunderstandings arising from that.
Like the sound of it? Then do watch. If not, then feel free to give this a pass.

Another thing to note is that the pacing of this live-action short series is rather deliberately slow. I believe that the production team and the director had in mind a pace that was meant to deliberately focus and pause onto the main characters, either to emphasise a scene or an emotion, because this is done consistently throughout the show. It's almost manga-like: you know, that scene where the 2 main leads stare at each other and the wind and leaves just keep blowing by... yeah, that kind of manga-like feel.
If you're not prepared for it, it may sometimes appear as those the scene is being paused, but it's actually a deliberate drawing out of the scene. Some people might find this draggy or boring or weird, but I personally see it as an artistic approach and directorial style, and quite enjoy the slow, deliberate pacing of the show. Most Japanese series tend to be rather snappy and excitable so a mellow, calm-almost-to-stillness show is rather interesting and refreshing as a change.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
I've mentioned how the whole setting, down to the styling and the outfits, were practically a mirror to that of the manga. Now how about the actual portrayal of the characters?
YUZURU SHINO - the senior whose cool looks apparently seem at odds with his playful and unpredictable personality. Played by James. Looks-wise, I think James does have that cool look befitting the character but I had hoped that he could have acted a bit more "fly-away" or ditzy just to emphasise the dichotomy between his looks and his personality which many people around Shino keep banging on about. It would have made some of the comments from supporting characters a bit more believable and understandable. As it stood, I felt that we had to just accept what we are being told i.e. that Shino's personality is very different from the way he looks. More tell, rather than show, in this aspect, for me.
Having said that, I thought the rest of how James portrayed Shino was well done. The curiosity, the internal dialogues, the progression of feelings and its by-products of uncertainty and jealousy - I thought these were all expressed pretty well by James in his role.
PS: I also liked the way he holds his bow and arrow, and his shooting stance. It did look very cool and natural.
SERYOU TOUJI - the good-looking junior whose inner desire to find The One has led to an appearance of being indiscriminate when it comes to dating and partners. Played by Tomoki. Looks-wise, I personally found Tomoki to look too old for the junior he should be portraying - and not a little older, but quite a lot older, which was was initially rather jarring when I first started watching. Looks aside, Tomoki did not do too bad a job in bringing out the emotions and the feelings of Touji onto the screen. His acting did not come across as natural or as at ease as James playing Shino, but neither was it so bad that it was too awkward to watch, so I would consider his portrayal to be serviceable for the role.
PS: Tomoki's shooting stance looked awkward, stiff and unnatural to me, compared to James and the supporting cast. Pity because he was supposed to be rather effortlessly good at shooting and it does not really come across in this live-action adaptation. But this is a minor quibble.

MUSIC
Befitting the deliberately slow pace of this show, the background music is instrumental, mellow and rather poignant in tone. I thought it matched the mood and the pacing of the series well and personally found it to be a good enhancement to the scenes in bringing out the moment or the mood. Nice.

RE-WATCH VALUE
Seeing as it is a very short show of only 2 episodes or parts, this is easily re-watchable. Overall, it is quite a well done series, barring my minor quibbles outlined above. I can see myself viewing it again.
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Seven Days: Friday - Sunday
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27 days ago
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
This is a review on both "Seven Days: Monday - Thursday", and "Seven Days: Friday - Sunday", because really, the two should be seen in conjunction with each other in order to get a complete viewing experience as both parts make up the whole.

STORY
Actually, I read the manga (also helpfully entitled "Seven Days") on which this short 2 episode series is based on, long before I realised that they actually read more made a live-action version of it. Having enjoyed the short but sweet manga itself and having never seen a proper live-action Boy's Love series prior this one, I was curious enough to check it out.
I will get into the acting for this series in another section but story-wise, both episodes were amazingly faithful and accurate to the manga itself. Here is a short list of just how accurate it was:-
a) The manga itself consists of 2 volumes. The 1st volume being the Monday to Thursday sections, and the second volume having the remaining Friday to Sunday sections. The way the series is split is exactly the same way.
b) Dialogues from the characters are almost word-for-word from the manga.
c) Scenes and events that happen also mirror very closely to those in the manga.
d) What impressed me the most was that even the styling - from the hair, to the way they wear their school uniforms, to even their school bags and the way they carry them, mirrors that in the manga.
It was really as though the manga itself came to life - there were hardly any deviations of it in the live-action series. So, for those who read the manga and enjoyed the story, you would be surprisingly satisfied with this production.
Story-wise, the synopsis is a pretty good summary so I am not sure if I have anything further to add. It really is a simple premise of what started out as a high-school tease between 2 boys to date for a week (seven days), ended up creating feelings which neither were prepared for, and their various insecurities and misunderstandings arising from that.
Like the sound of it? Then do watch. If not, then feel free to give this a pass.

Another thing to note is that the pacing of this live-action short series is rather deliberately slow. I believe that the production team and the director had in mind a pace that was meant to deliberately focus and pause onto the main characters, either to emphasise a scene or an emotion, because this is done consistently throughout the show. It's almost manga-like: you know, that scene where the 2 main leads stare at each other and the wind and leaves just keep blowing by... yeah, that kind of manga-like feel.
If you're not prepared for it, it may sometimes appear as those the scene is being paused, but it's actually a deliberate drawing out of the scene. Some people might find this draggy or boring or weird, but I personally see it as an artistic approach and directorial style, and quite enjoy the slow, deliberate pacing of the show. Most Japanese series tend to be rather snappy and excitable so a mellow, calm-almost-to-stillness show is rather interesting and refreshing as a change.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
I've mentioned how the whole setting, down to the styling and the outfits, were practically a mirror to that of the manga. Now how about the actual portrayal of the characters?
YUZURU SHINO - the senior whose cool looks apparently seem at odds with his playful and unpredictable personality. Played by James. Looks-wise, I think James does have that cool look befitting the character but I had hoped that he could have acted a bit more "fly-away" or ditzy just to emphasise the dichotomy between his looks and his personality which many people around Shino keep banging on about. It would have made some of the comments from supporting characters a bit more believable and understandable. As it stood, I felt that we had to just accept what we are being told i.e. that Shino's personality is very different from the way he looks. More tell, rather than show, in this aspect, for me.
Having said that, I thought the rest of how James portrayed Shino was well done. The curiosity, the internal dialogues, the progression of feelings and its by-products of uncertainty and jealousy - I thought these were all expressed pretty well by James in his role.
PS: I also liked the way he holds his bow and arrow, and his shooting stance. It did look very cool and natural.
SERYOU TOUJI - the good-looking junior whose inner desire to find The One has led to an appearance of being indiscriminate when it comes to dating and partners. Played by Tomoki. Looks-wise, I personally found Tomoki to look too old for the junior he should be portraying - and not a little older, but quite a lot older, which was was initially rather jarring when I first started watching. Looks aside, Tomoki did not do too bad a job in bringing out the emotions and the feelings of Touji onto the screen. His acting did not come across as natural or as at ease as James playing Shino, but neither was it so bad that it was too awkward to watch, so I would consider his portrayal to be serviceable for the role.
PS: Tomoki's shooting stance looked awkward, stiff and unnatural to me, compared to James and the supporting cast. Pity because he was supposed to be rather effortlessly good at shooting and it does not really come across in this live-action adaptation. But this is a minor quibble.

MUSIC
Befitting the deliberately slow pace of this show, the background music is instrumental, mellow and rather poignant in tone. I thought it matched the mood and the pacing of the series well and personally found it to be a good enhancement to the scenes in bringing out the moment or the mood. Nice.

RE-WATCH VALUE
Seeing as it is a very short show of only 2 episodes or parts, this is easily re-watchable. Overall, it is quite a well done series, barring my minor quibbles outlined above. I can see myself viewing it again.
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Pin to Kona
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28 days ago
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
I had read incomplete scans of the manga on which this drama is based on, and on the strength of the setting which featured a glimpse of life as a kabuki actor (an unknown and fascinating world of kabuki), and a curious desire to see how the relationship dynamic worked out (since the scans were incomplete and the story was left hanging), I decided to watch this drama.

STORY
Of course, this read more is essentially a high-school romance, Japanese drama style, with your typical love triangle/ love square relationship dynamic. But as mentioned earlier, what really drew me into the show, and kept me watching episode after episode, was really the kabuki bits. I've always been fascinated by old Japanese traditional arts and culture, and the opportunity to have a glimpse or an insight into the kabuki world was just too irresistible.
I really enjoyed seeing how kabuki practice sessions and tutorials were carried out, enjoyed getting to know some of the various types of kabuki plays, enjoyed watching snippets and features of them being acted out on the stage performances and all the accompanying and attendant traditions, processes and cultural mores associated with this. So fascinating and eye-opening or me. This was, to me, the best parts of the series, bar none.
The actual high-school romance itself was nothing new or novel with main male lead pining for main female lead's affections, while main female lead is actually interested in second male lead, who, while he actually returns her feelings, complicates matters by getting involved with the second female lead who belongs to an old and prestigious kabuki family.
There is a fair bit of to-and-fro in the relationship dynamics so if you enjoy shows like this, this will be a good drama for you to watch.
I thought the ending was a bit rushed, and wished that the production team could have spent more time fleshing it out, but all in all, things were tied up rather neatly.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
Seeing as the show is based off a shoujo manga, characters can be pretty one-dimensional and simple, but on the positive side, you know where you stand with them. There are no complicated, layered, nuanced personalities for you to get puzzled over as you try to fathom their motives. It therefore makes easy watching.
Both Tamamori Yuta who played the main lead, Kawamura Kyounosuke; and Nakayama Yuma who played the second male lead, Sawayama Ichiya, did great work acting out their characters, in particular the kabuki sections. It is not easy to showcase the controlled movements of their various kabuki characters and make it look like they are professionals who have been practicing the art for years, and I am sure huge amounts of practice and hard work went into getting the postures and the movements right. So, I want to give credit where credit is due and say that I was well impressed with their performance as young kabuki stars. Well done and kudos to the both of them!
Kawashima Umika, who played the main female lead Ayame Chiba, fitted the character of a poor but enthusiastic high school girl whose passion for kabuki and whose personal encouragement gave the male leads the determination to perfect their craft. I saw her more as a catalyst which powered the story and the motivations of the male leads forward, rather than adding any particularly interesting aspect to the show. She was really a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, though Kyounosuke might disagree with me on that one.
All in all, solid acting from the cast, delivering on their characters.

MUSIC
I confess that I am unable to recall anything memorable about the music therefore the impact of the music on the show must have been pretty minimal to me.

RE-WATCH
I don't mind re-watching the kabuki bits again, especially the stage performances - they were really fascinating and memorable, and not something easily or often seen again.

Overall, your regular Japanese high-school romance, but if you're interested in gaining an insight into kabuki, you should definitely watch this, even if it was for the kabuki sections alone.
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Because of You
0 people found this review helpful
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28 days ago
  • Overall 4.5
  • Story 4.5
  • Acting/Cast 5.5
  • Music 2.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
Having seen and heard about how popular this show was during its airing time and several months after, I was compelled to check out what all the hype was about. Truth to be told, I was incredibly hesitant because of the number of episodes (over 50 episodes for a modern-day romance show seems a bit excessive to me. I can understand this number for historical/ period/ wuxia/ xianxia shows because there is read more just so much world-building and plot to showcase but for a modern romance show? Strange), and also because of the subtle grumbling from viewers about how annoying certain characters in the show were. Still, there was enough positive comments for me to consider checking out this show so eventually I did.

STORY - If you like makjang aka super soap-opera style shows where dramatic turn-of-events and shocking circumstances occur one after the other, and where characters can come across like caricatures and one-dimensional and over-the-top in terms of their portrayal, then this is the show for you.
I personally have grown tired of makjang shows but thought I'd sit through this one for the romance between the main leads. I managed to make it through to the end of the show's over 50 episodes, but that was with the judicious help of the fast-forward button which was put into incredibly ridiculous use by me. The subtle rumblings and grumblings from viewers about certain characters being annoying (honestly, aside from the main leads and Song Xiu Hua (played by the ever-dignified Liu Min Tao), most of the other characters in the show were pretty one-dimensional with their single-minded focus and determination towards their sole goal in life), were unfortunately and sadly true.
Don't get me wrong... there is nothing wrong about portraying characters with ambition and with determination to succeed, but not to the point where it is the be-all and end-all of the character itself. To have that one single goal in mind be the ONLY driving force for a character makes that character unrealistically one-dimensional and psychopathically insane, because nobody in real life lives that way, to the existence of nothing else. Seriously. There were so many of such characters in this show that it quickly became a farce to me. I was no longer watching it because I cared about the characters and wanted them to change and grow up or be better persons - there was no longer any emotional involvement because the characters were so un-relatable.
This is really sad because it really spoilt the whole atmosphere in which the main leads are immersed in. I read and heard people squealing about how adorable the main leads are in this show but a huge part of their sweetness was unfortunately rather lost for me because I was fast-forwarding so much that I lost touch with the pace and with the emotions of the characters.
So, in a nutshell, if you like drama (and I mean drama as in DRAMATIC), if you like crazy roller-coaster rides, and if you get a kick out of seeing repetitively ridiculous scenarios and circumstances, along with a side-helping of sweet, cute romance, then this show is going to be a blast.

ACTING/ CHARACTERS
Liu Min Tao was her usual classy self as the talented and widowed seamstress/ embroiderer. In contrast to her scheming and selfish sister-in-law and fellow embroiderer, she is a breath of fresh air to the whole show. It is too bad her scenes are so few and far in between.
Deng Lun was serviceable as the main male lead. He has a nice smile and a cheeky look which suited his character but for someone who was supposed to be a star lawyer, the use of his talents here in this particular aspect was not well fleshed out. There were lots of sweet gestures and loving scenes so I guess he makes a great boyfriend and lover, but as an intelligent and whip-smart lawyer, there was little to be seen of this, which was a shame.
Sun Yi as the effervescent Guo Guo was also serviceable as the main female lead. She has a cute and sweet look, which makes her easy to like from the get-go. She had to carry much of the show as she was its main lead character, and I thought she did a pretty good job, considering the circumstances and characters that she has had to work with.
As for the rest of the cast, it cannot be denied that they performed their caricature roles to perfection. They incited all the annoyance, the dislike and the loathing for those characters that we were supposed to feel so honestly, I think that they did well in that aspect. But let it also be said that playing one-dimensional characters is a lot easier than having to play layered, nuanced and intricate characters, so in terms of showcasing immense acting ability, I can only say that the acting in this series was sufficient for its story and the characters.

MUSIC - unfortunately, with the fast-forwarding button being my best friend, this was rather lost on me so I am unable to really comment on the soundtrack.

RE-WATCH - No, not for me, I'm afraid. Sorry.
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Padiwaradda
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28 days ago
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
I decided to write a review for this series seeing that not many people have written one for it, poor thing, and it is certainly not a bad series by any means for it to be so neglected. So here goes...

STORY - Having just recently joined the Thai lakorn bandwagon courtesy of SOTUS (that series was my gateway into Thai lakorns and what a gateway!), I decided to explore the pool read more of Thai drama series because it is always a refreshing change to explore new things. MyDramaList rankings being a good way to start, I quickly made my way through the top-ranked Thai shows and eventually came across this one. The synopsis appealed to me so I did not hesitate in deciding to watch it. The idea of a couple gradually growing to love each other through an arranged marriage is an appealing concept because I am someone who carries the belief that while passion and romantic love is great for its drama and high tension, it doesn't stand the test of time. What stands the test of time is the love and devotion that comes from slowly knowing a person for who he/ she is, faults and all, and still choosing to forgive and accept the person into your heart, and to strive to make things work. Warm, gentle love vs explosive passion = warm gentle love wins for me.
So, the fact that this is not your average dramatic, explosive slap/ kiss Thai lakorn, already makes this a very different beast.

The story is set in a sort of 1950s setting - love the period feel of it with the fashion and the sets.
The pace might be a bit slow for those who are used to fast-paced, snappy, dramatics. By contrast, it has a relaxed, dreamy feel here. The show takes it sweet time in showing us the background of the main characters, and bulk of it is focused on your everyday living during that era.

However, this show is not exempt from the some of the usual drama tropes of bitchy second female lead (I am honestly shocked at her outrageous and ridiculous behaviour. And I am not sure if it is dramatic license or not, but some of the scenes with her come across incredibly unrealistic to me. I am not Thai and am not privy to the cultural norms of that society, especially in that era of time, but it seems to me incredibly ridiculous and unrealistic that someone can just swan into another person's house and not only make immediate demands upon the household staff there, but actually run the place as though she were the owner herself! This is the height of rudeness and from someone supposedly of high social class, this is shockingly crass).

There is also a running plot through the series of a criminal group which the main male lead is supposed to apprehend. The leader of the group, the White Tiger, practices black magic and uses it for nefarious purposes. Some of this will probably seem rather far-fetched to a viewer who does not subscribe or believe in this sort of thing, but as I come from an Asian/ Oriental culture myself, I do know that some people really do believe in this sort of thing. So, if this aspect of the show does not float your boat, feel free to ignore or fast-forward those scenes. I certainly did that myself and found that it did not detract much from the main storyline which was about how the two main leads fall for each other gradually through living with each other and discovering more about one another.

There are other secondary couplings (the 2 sisters of the female lead), but I freely confess that they did not really catch my attention because my main focus throughout this series was on the 2 main leads. But these events certainly lend some drama and also break what some people might deem as monotonous from watching the 2 main leads interact.

I personally did not find the slowness and the gradual budding love and understanding between the main leads to be monotonous or boring in the slightest. In fact this was really the sole reason I kept watching this series to the end because, as I mentioned earlier, I am a sucker for slow gradual building of love and trust, and for slow gentle and warm love.

So, if you like soft, slow, gentle building of a relationship through the everyday interaction of life, this show will appeal to you. However, if you're looking for explosive grand passion and drama, aside from the histronics of the second female lead (seriously, ridiculous...), you will probably want to pass on this one.

PS: The editing can also be rather choppy - one of the negative things about this show. Scenes are abruptly cut with the accompanying background music also suddenly ceasing and before you know it, a completely new scene and background music jumps in. This makes for a jarring watch, especially when it happens at particularly emotional/ poignant scenes. The editing could definitely do with more work.


ACTING/ CHARACTERS - As I was mainly fixated on the 2 main leads, this will be my main review point.
RIN - Bella who plays Rin aka Brulalee, did well in portraying her to be the sort of noble gentlewoman of high society. Generally restrained, gentle and refined, I enjoyed her character and personality very much. I also like that she comes across very hands-on with the housework (though who really cooks in the kitchen with those outfits?), and is not a wilting wallflower when she feels strongly about something. Rin is not a two-dimensional character, and I like that she is relatable and realistic (unlike the caricaturish second female lead).
SARAN - James who plays Saran, looks rather young to be a Deputy Sheriff and the male lead but I warmed up to him because unlike your alpha male dominant character, Saran comes across confident but kind and careful in his interactions with those around him. He is not over-bearing or aggressive, but can be firm and single-minded if he chooses. What I do like about this series is that Saran rather quickly warms up to Rin and is willing to give her a chance and make things work out with her early in the show. James makes it easy to like his Saran character and understand his conflicts. He has a sweet smile and can carry the occasional cheeky look, which makes it rather cute.

Towards the end of the show, I thought that the 2 main leads looked really good together and there is a comfortable natural-ness to their acting which makes their love and warmth believable. It is on the strength of this great chemistry that I enjoyed the series as much as I did, so well done to both James and Bella for their portrayal of their characters in making me like them and root for their happy ending.


MUSIC - I actually like the soundtrack and thought that it suited the mood and the pace of the show very well. There is this slow, dreamy mellow feel to the music which is very reminiscent of the period itself. However, towards the later half, I thought the theme songs for Rin and Saran were starting to get over-played. it would have been nice if they had changed the songs from the second half of the show onwards to prevent song-fatigue.


RE-WATCH - I probably would not re-watch the entire show again but I may re-watch certain bits of it for the Saran/Rin interactions because they were lovely and sweet.

Overall, it is a lovely, sweet, warm and slow-build little show. If you like this sort of series, then you really should consider giving this a try - it certainly won't disappoint you on that front.
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