Who will Andy end up with? Will Fang Sheng Mei finally be happy? Will Qu Xiao Xiao and Zhao Qi Ping end up together? Will Qiu Ying Ying and Yi Qing be in a relationship?
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I read the books the show was based on a long time ago and reread book one after I watched season one. I decided to reread book two while I was watching season two whenever I had the time as well, so this review will most likely be compared to season one and book two. The story is a continuation of season one, and continues telling the story of all five women. It followed the book as closely as possible imo, however they made some significant changes in regards to Xie Tong's character and Andy's storyline. Xie Tong was a police officer in the books and not a singer, and Andy actually got pregnant before marriage in the books as well. But I think because XT's police officer character in the books did some bad things, the production team was probably afraid to paint police officers in a negative light so they changed it. Same thing with Andy, having a kid out of wedlock isn't commonly accepted in China so that's probably why they changed it as well. However, some people might think that the storyline's logic got kind of confusing because they didn't reallly clean out these changes that well. Personally, the first half was really really good, but the latter half dragged a bit (however the second book also dragged a bit so I guess it followed the book pretty well). Not all the characters had happy endings, which I think is really nice because that's how real life is. I love how this show portrays life in quite a realistic way, especially coming from a Chinese background, so many things were painfully realistic and relatable. I think all the characters had character development, although some had more than others and some developed but then went back to point one and developed again. But I think that's the beauty of this show, not everyone can develop immediately and even real life people end up going back to their nature sometimes. The last episode is really nice, it feels that everyone made pretty smart decisions in regards to their future. Also I absolutely adored the friendship and support of these ladies!!!
Acting/Cast: Same cast as last season so I'd say the acting was all pretty good! :D Props to Jiang Xin though, her acting for her character was great, even though her character was annoying at certain points haha
Music: This isn't some chinese historical drama so I'm like quite sure they didn't put too much effort on the OSTs lol but it was like okay not too disracting or anything
Rewatch: I think it's rewatchable, however, it might be easier to fast forward through certain parts when rewatching.
Overall: Loved it! I followed this drama the day it aired and watched all the episodes the day they came out. It's a very precious drama in my life XD
Disclaimer: I gave it a 9.5 on my personal ratings, but for the review, I decided to give it a more objective 8.5 as a whole.
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The second season of Ode to Joy sees the characters more developed and set in their life. Some characters return with an existing relationship, while others were ended or didn't have one. Family plays a more prominent role as the relationships with the girls and their partners become more serious.
Andie comes into Season 2 from a fresh breakup. She gets over her previous boyfriend and begins dating Bao Yi Fan who had a minor appearance in Season 1. Season 2 mainly revolves around her relationship with him. My biggest gripe was the the plot between or involving family. It took the characters to a point where I no longer felt immersed in their world. The best takeaway from Andie's storyline comes from her development as a character. By the end of season 2, you get the sense that she's developed into this wonderful well rounded woman.
Ying Ying starts off with the continuation of her budding romance with Ying Qin. Things seem to go really well until it hit their down point. There was nothing particularly wrong with the plot however the issue was in character development. Ying Ying does a complete 180 and regresses to her season 1 incarnation. The final result of her journey that puts that 180 into perspective is fine, but as a viewer, it wasn't pleasant to see the same mistakes from last season repeated.
Unlike the rest of the girls, Guan Guan did not have a boyfriend but she was secretly pining for one of the character's existing boyfriends. One of the unique and high points about Guan Guan's storyline is her development as a character. She begins as a naive young career woman who doesn't know anything about relationships to realizing the complexities of life. Her eventual romance with Xie Tong was the high point out of all the girl's relationships.
Qu Xiao Xiao, the character that you love to hate ends up as the character you can't help but love. Her relationship with Zhao Qi Ping goes through it's ups and downs but further solidifies them. The story with her family takes a darker tone however it was solidly executed. It felt realistic but fictional. Overall, I think that Qu Xiao Xiao's storyline was one of the highest in quality.
Finally we get to Fan Sheng Mei. Sheng Mei continues her relationship from the previous season with Wang Bai Chuan. Apart from all the other girls, Sheng Mei takes the most traditional and practical approach. Sheng Mei is put under considerable pressure & as a result, she places her pressure onto others. The resolution of events brings a realization of her character flaws but also brings forth her inner strength.
The breakout star this season was Jiang Xin as Fan Sheng Mei. She played a multi-faceted role where she had to present a strong confident front for the ladies of the 22nd floor while on the inside, she was a very vulnerable person. Jiang Xin did a wonderful job showing so many sides to Sheng Mei and making me immersed in her world. I also loved that her character broke the 4th wall a few times which added to the realism.
Wang Zi Wen as Qu Xiao Xiao brings a notable performance. She takes her character from quirky, fun, to being condescending, and ultimately bring her to a point where Xiao Xiao is level with the other characters.
I did not particularly like Yang Zi's performance as Qiu Ying Ying but I don't blame that on her, the actress, rather, the material she had to work with wasn't good. Qiao Xin did an wonderful job as Guan Guan. She is just so lovable from start to finish. In my opinion, Liu Tao was kind of held back by the material but it doesn't detract from her as an actress. I liked that we saw the spontaneous & lighthearted side towards the end.
One more performance I want to take note of is Yang Shuo as Bao Yi Fan. In season 1, he was this suave, charismatic guy and his acting reflects that. In season 2, as we got to see more situations unravel, the less range that we didn't get in his acting.
As I watch more and more drama, I notice that lots of tracks are reused. Ode to Joy Season 2 is no exception. I liked the music, but I just didn't like the replays. Most notably with the vocal tracks. The incidental music was fine and I think it suited the scenarios it played in.
Ode to Joy season 2 is a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs. The ladies are as lovable as ever. Their journeys take me as a viewer into the world of 5 ladies living in Shanghai. I think that there was a perceptible drop in quality compared to Season 1 but it's nothing that cannot be fixed if there is a season 3. If they left it as it is, I'd be happy with it.
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