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Set during 1998, the story tells of how a group of friends come together, encounter love and many other aspects of life. The drama is another production by Ruby Lin.
Cast & Credits
This review may contain spoilersEDIT: This is NOT a rip off or the same thing as "In A Good Way". I'm going to assume that viewers who are saying that haven't watched more than the first few episodes and feel that because there is a group of characters the story follows over the years that makes them too similar. I feel those people are really losing out on watching a really great drama, but of course that's up to them, it's just a shame.
I have to say right off the bat that this is hands down one of the best Taiwanese Dramas I have ever watched. The last episode is arguably the best ending to ANY Asian drama I've ever seen despite the bittersweet feel it had.
Story (10 out of 10):
Wow. Where to begin with such a thoroughly thought out and beautiful story. If ever there was a realistic drama, I feel this would be a great example. There is such depth and nuance that it is hard to put into words without spoilers. This series takes a story that has been done many times in dramas, but isn't afraid to go all out with it, it packs so many feels that you barely have time to catch your breath. Even if some things were arguably predictable, it didn't take away from the story, because of the realistic way it played out. 16 summers in 16 episodes feels so appropriate, and I feel is one of the best examples of demonstrating the passage of time. Too often it feels that dramas take place over the course of days or weeks. Fang Wei De states at one point how time passed more quickly when everyone was having a good time, and that certainly felt tangible in this show. I just can't praise the ebb of time in this show enough.
I really appreciated that we are presented with our core characters as children and see them through their experiences into adulthood, the character development is real in this. The ups and downs, and how words and actions DO have consequences whether it is in the form of regret or in the form of enlightenment. Often times, I feel like characters will say and do things in dramas with little to no repercussions, but that is not the case in TWWW, and that is why I feel it is certainly one of the best dramas I've had the pleasure to watch. There are no evil type characters, just times when people make bad or sometimes even horrible mistakes... but instead of going overboard, we're able to see each character as a person, with real problems, real emotions, and having to again really deal with what comes after.
Another big thing is closure. This is handled SO well, and it doesn't come off as though the writers were just trying to wrap things up in a nice neat bow, but to further demonstrate life in general. My only regret is not being able to articulate well enough just how great this story is.
Acting/Cast (10 out of 10):
I've only ever seen Leroy Yang in Love Forward (2012) and while I enjoyed his prickly businessman persona in that, I wasn't all that impressed. However, he more than impresses as Fang Wei De. He definitely plays jerkish well, but the latter half of this series, just took my heart and breath away. I'm definitely going to be looking into his other dramas when I can because I could seriously be missing out. I really can't think of any other Taiwanese actor to fill that role than him.
I've seen Tiffany Xu quite a bit and in general it feels like she always plays characters I can't stand. I first saw her in Autumn's Concerto (2009) and later Drunken to Love You (2011) and especially had the urge to want to slap her characters. She's had supporting roles in It Started with a Kiss (2005) and ToGetHer (2009). She's been in many other dramas, but those are the only ones I've seen so far. Having said that, I was glad to NOT hate her character in TWWW. She did something pretty awful, but the way things played out, I was even able to forgive her by the end.
Despite Ruby Lin having such an extensive drama/film career this was my first time experiencing her acting and I have to say it was great. I felt she played a great strong female lead. I always like the spunky female leads that don't take any crap. She's strong, but has a sensitive side and I think she handled them both really naturally.
Rounding out our Quintet is Jason Tsou (Ding Guo Qing) and Melvin Sia (Wang Jun Jie), this is my first time seeing them in a drama, so I really have no frame of reference but definitely I felt they owned their characters and made them feel relevant. I find sometimes when you have more than 2-3 leads in a drama the other tend to fall by the wayside or just blend into the background or at worst are just straight up forgotten. Not in this case though.
Each actor brought their A game as far as I'm concerned and it really paid off.
Music (9 out of 10):
I'm still upset that I'm unable to download Eric Chou's - Let's Not Be Friends Anymore song on itunes. Some may feel like it was overplayed, but I'm not one of them. It's such a beautiful song that was really much more than a theme song. It was the only vocal that I really liked, but even still, I felt the OST went very well with series and I enjoyed the instrumentals.
EDIT: Eric Chou's song actually IS available now on iTunes, I guess they wait to release OSTs until after the drama airs (I'm so used to K-dramas releasing singles while airing - I'm so spoiled :P ).
Re-watch Value (7 out of 10):
I wouldn't re-watch the entire series only because I don't think my heart could handle the intense feels, but there are definitely some funny and powerful scenes that are worth re-watching.
Overall (10 out of 10):
I would HIGHLY recommend this drama to every Asian drama lover. It really has it all and even though there are drama tropes scattered throughout they don't come off as tropes, but just great moments within a great story. It is not perfect, but honestly I felt especially in terms of writing and story this is pretty damn close. There are no questions regarding the characters motivations, there aren't any WTF?! moments that are never resolved. It's just a really well made drama that definitely deserves more praise than it may receive.
Some have compared this as a knock off of In A Good Way....please. Not even close. In a Good Way WAS a good drama, don't get me wrong, but it was not nearly as thoughtful as this drama, not nearly as well written. What they do have in common is that they begin in the past and you see the characters grow throughout the years a la Reply 1994 and Reply 1997. If you want something more upbeat, sure, that is In a Good Way, and then down right LOL by comparison is the Reply series.
Lastly, the writers did a great job of closing out this drama. The last episode was not filler or BS like most dramas seem to be nowadays. It was beautiful and I highly recommend having plenty of tissues when the onion ninjas come for your eyes.
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Anyway cried like river watching the last episodes.
Really hoped for them to be together and spending precious time with each other.
The main song was also killer song, loved it!
10 thumbs up if I had ten of them!
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