Wednesday, December 9, 2015

KDrama Review: Bride of the Century

The Gist: The Choi family has a problem. A spirit of the lady of the house has haunted their family for years and claims the lives of the first born wives. While most family members in the present day have discounted the stories as rumors, the believers are wreaking havoc when it comes time for the marriage of Choi Kang Ju (Lee Hong Ki), the oldest son. Matriarch Myeong Hee (Kim Seo Ra), a second wife herself, has arranged for her son to marry Jang Yi Kyung (Yang Jin Sung), whose family is in desperate need of financial assistance to keep their family afloat, despite nearly having a daughter-in-law already with the perfect Roo Mi (Jang Ah Young) in the wings. However, when Yi Kyung runs off, her mother and brother, Yi Hyun (Sung Hyuk), plot for a way to keep the marriage in the works. When Yi Hyun runs across Doo Rim (also Yang Jin Sung), an orphan poor girl, he can't believe the strong resemblance she holds to Yi Kyung. Desperate, Yi Hyun hires Doo Rim to impersonate Yi Kyung until they can find her. At first, Doo Rim agrees to pay her grandmother's hospital bills. However, the more time she spends with the cruel-with-a-creamy-center Kang Ju, she starts to dread giving Yi Kyung her life back. Everything is not how it seems, however, with both sides plotting with the lives of others and as the wedding day approaches, is Kang Ju doomed to repeat his father's life of losing the woman he loves?


1. Just Fun!

While the premise of this show is silly and convoluted, the vast majority of this show is just plain fun. While impersonating others always leads to misunderstandings and hijinks, I think BotC has the most fun with it. I was not even that concerned with the other foot dropping problem of the big reveal because Doo Rim and Kang Ju have such a hilarious chemistry with each other. The setup of them being engaged adds an interesting dimension as they get to really know one another (Kang Ju has been overseas until the opening of the show). One of the things I love best is Doo Rim getting Kang Ju in line. As ridiculous as she is, she does a good job of keeping him grounded. She has one of my favorite lines: "What's the use of being dressed head to toe in high end brands. You need to be a high end person!" <3 I had some skepticism about Lee Hong Ki playing such a serious and stern role, having only seen him in You're Beautiful, but he nails it, while adding some of that comedic element we expect from him. I was really sad when this show turned a bit darker, because I could have absolutely watched 16 full episodes of their engagement.

2. Excellent Side Characters

Let's start with Roo Mi. She starts as your typical rival and is a real pain in the ass for a long time, but she turns out to be really impressive as a person. She has a lot of pride and is willing to step aside for those she cares about. Minor spoilers - I'm happy that she and Doo Rim are able to be friends at the end of the show since she and Kang Ju are such good friends. She's basically my hero from this show.

Yi Hyun is an absolutely sweetheart and is not only doomed to be on the losing side of a love square (pentagon?), but his firm character was really lovely. I loved how much he's willing to go to bat for Doo Rim with Kang Ju, despite how he feels about her. I think of all the characters, he loses the most in this show. More spoilers - not only does he not get the woman he loves, but his family is totally nuts. While they get some redemption, the events of this show totally turn his life upside down.

Jin Joo (Park Jin Joo) - Ah! She's so cute! I loved her unwavering support and side love story. I also love the brother and I'm sad we didn't get more from him.

3. The Ghost! 

She is technically a side character, but she is so much fun that she deserves her own point. Her introduction is hilarious and she strikes this amazing balance of being totally creepy and just pretty funny. It takes a really long time to get her backstory, but it's absolutely fascinating. I feel so bad for her - spoilers ahead - although I am a little sad she was cheating with someone's husband. I'm glad we even tied up her storyline well. I also like how that tied in the twist at the end with Doo Rim's grandmother. This is really a story of a lot of generations and how that love and tragedy bleeds forward. This show handles revealing the layers of what's really happened and what's motivating people really well. I was definitely surprised at each reveal and totally engaged.

4. Best Proposal Ever

How adorable was that? The lights, the yarn, the everything? So perfect. The romance of this show is exactly what I was looking for!


1. That Got Dark

So, I was really sad when this show started falling apart. I was hoping that the sad pieces wouldn't be too long, but pretty much everything between episode 11-15 was so sad and unrelenting that it was almost unwatchable for me. I do appreciate that Kang Ju still comes after Doo Rim, even after finding out the truth, but the scheming and sadness is just so overbearing. I really feel the loss of the fun tone of the first 2/3 of this show. Obviously, there needs to be conflict to be interesting and she's been lying to everyone, so that's got to be dealt with, but I wish that was one or two episodes instead of five.

2. Show Logic

I really go back and forth on the logic of this show. Spoilers ahead. So, Doo Rim is willing to marry Kang Ju, even if she dies, and Kang Ju breaks up with her for the same reason. On the one hand, it's ridiculous to marry someone when you're pretty darn sure you're going to die. But then again, no one knows for sure how long they really have with anyone they marry. Lots of people lose their spouses young. Additionally, with this big concern, why don't they just not get married? Yes, yes, that is scandalous and all that, but seriously people! Also, I am just not sure what I would do in Mama Choi's shoes. If you really believed that the wife of your son would die, wouldn't you pick someone other than his closest friend, someone you think of as a daughter? But at the same time, that's just so messed up to Yi Kyung. Or it would be, if she and her mother weren't willing to kill someone for money. If they were really concerned about the curse, they could have just backed out of the marriage. Yi Kyung dislikes Kang Ju anyway. Really, everyone's a little bit despicable, but I'm just not that sure what I would do differently. Ok, no, for Yi Kyung's mom, I'm pretty sure I would have just gone broke and not risked my daughter's life or the life of anyone else. Ah! See me going round and round.


1. Can't even name this point without spoilers!

OK, so they have to part at the end for dumb reasons. Whatever, that's stupid, but we're moving on. What I cannot seem to get past is that Doo Rim has Kang Ju's kid and DOESN'T TELL HIM. OMG, space is one thing, but hey maybe come visit your child on the down low is another thing. I know she thought they weren't going to see each other again (um, for reasons, or something), but he didn't agree to not raise his son. In Kang Ju's defense, he handles the news with total poise, but man I was pissed at Doo Rim that whole time. If this show didn't end so well, I would have really been ticked.


So... while this show did leap into the dramatic late, it was exactly the fun, funny, and romantic show I needed in my life (thanks to Alicia Loomes for commenting and recommending!). The leads were great and engaging and the side characters bloomed into interesting and endearing people, who I could have honestly watched more of~ I slammed this show down in huge chunks and got mad when I didn't have time to keep watching. That's really the best indicator of how good a show is in my book. So, don't let the doppleganger thing hold you up. It's pretty well handled for being the almost dumbest plot device (behind amnesia). 

Final Grade: A-

Friday, November 13, 2015

KDrama Review: It's Okay, That's Love

The Gist: The last thing psychiatrist Ji Hae Soo (Kong Hyo Jin) needs is famous writer/DJ/playboy Jang Jae Yeol (Zo In Sung) moving into her house. At least, that’s what she thinks. Hae Soo suffers from a trauma after witnessing her mother’s infidelity to her handicapped father. For this reason, she sees all intimacy as a bad thing. That is until Jae Yeol takes her own, determine to show her that it’s ok to be close to someone (get the title? yay!). Rounding out the house is Jo Dong Min (Sung Dong Il), a fellow psychiatrist and divorcee, and Park Soo Kwang (Lee Kwang Soo), who suffers from tourette’s syndrome. The four of them learn to deal with their traumas, especially Jae Yeol, whose past refuses to leave him alone.

So, that summary barely encompasses what happens in this sprawling show. I watched one episode of Padam Padam, thought it was a little dark for my mood at the moment and went in search of something lighter. I thought It's Okay, That's Love would be that show. In a small way, I was right. But in a more complete way, I was totally wrong... let's dive in!


1. Intimacy!

Yay! A show with lots of kissing and loving and touching and it’s all totally adorable. I was definitely most immersed in this show when Hae Soo and Jae Yeol were really figuring each other out and really taking care of one another. I thought it was going to take longer to really help Hae Soo, but she takes some really significant strides with Jae Yeol very quickly. I’d say about 50% of this show is just adorable loveliness, which is exactly what I wanted (we can talk about the other 50% of the show later). I was a little bit skeptical about Soo Kwang and So Nyeo (Lee Sung Kyung), but the moment on the front lawn, with the headphones, was actually one of my most favorite moments of the show. If you’re worried that this is a show that’s going to tease and then just build up to one kiss, don’t. It’s not that kind of show!

2. Redemption

For how much sadness there really is in this show, there is a good amount of redemption for almost everybody. Some spoilers to follow. Jae Yeol gets the family that he’s always wanted, which is also a good point for his mom and his brother too. Additionally, Hae Soo gets her happily ever after and even gets to a point of understanding with her mom. While this show is ultimately 50% tragedy, which I was not expecting, I was determined not to drop another show halfway through and found the ending to be pretty happy.


1. Annoyed with Everybody?

So, I was really hoping this show would have some of the magic of friendship. I was super excited when I found out everyone was roommates. I love it when people are forced to live together and fall in love and everyone’s really like family. On the one hand, they do watch out for each other and support each other, but really, they’re all just mean. I’m all for imperfect characters. But everyone seemed bipolar. One moment, sweet and nice and the next, full blown screaming at each other. Jae Yeol and Hae Soo start getting along sweetly, then Hae Soo has to assert her dominance or Jae Yeol is being aloof and it's just a roller coaster.

Point 1, when they're on their trip, Hae Soo is a total brat about how she can do whatever she wants, but Jae Yeol should feel bad about touching her. He handles it well, but I just wanted to hit her.
Point 2, when Jae Yeol is moving out, Hae Soo is right. They should have talked about it or had him talk to her like a human being. It's not like he isn't capable - we've seen it. But he just decides to be mean instead.

It's hard to get fully on board. If I had to live in that house, I think I would have jumped off the roof. I really wanted a voice of reason character or even someone with a non in-your-face personality, but it really is a house full of short-tempered screamers. Sigh. Maybe that’s just me because I don’t like conflict, but I felt like this really stopped me from connecting with any of the characters (even Hae Soo and Jae Yeol).


1. Jae Yeol's Stuff 

*Spoilers* Duh. So, I’m not sure if I’m just sharp (go me!) or if it was super obvious that Kang Woo was a hallucination like immediately. IOTL has a pervasive sense of surrealism that really comes from the neuroses the characters are dealing with. I hated that Kang Woo was a hallucination. The whole time I just wanted him to go away! As a plot device, it’s at least kind of original, but once the reveal happened, everything was just so sad! Also, let’s talk about the brother. He bugged me so much. It’s enough that their dad beat up Jae Yeol, but you have to as well? Also, quit trying to kill your brother every 20 seconds? That’s not the best way to not be in jail. I also really dislike that the mom ended up being the murderer. Anyway, how is any of this not self-defense? There’s so much evidence that there’s abuse and hello, battered woman syndrome anyone? Ugh, I don’t do well with heavy and I really don’t do well with heavy that’s interspersed with light and fluffy. I feel so disjointed. I think separately the plots are fine, but as one cohesive story, it just didn’t click for me.


So... I want this review to be longer, but I am just dwelling on how disconnected I am from these characters. If you're looking for romance, this certainly has it, but it comes with a swift kick in the heart that will leave you feeling off and sad for awhile. I think I'm harsher on this show than someone who likes melodrama's, but I usually just don't. If this was like Pinocchio, where the characters make up for how sad that show is and is committed to one tone, I think it would have worked better. But, instead, there's mostly a lot of yelling.

Final Grade: C-

Friday, September 11, 2015

Drama Queen's Dry Spell (Orange Marmalade, Oh My Ghostess Partial Reviews)

Hello everyone! I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted. Unfortunately, I've been quite busy with work and I haven't found any shows I love. So, this post is going to be a mish-mash of half-watched shows. I hardly ever drop shows mid-way through and I've just had a bad run of doing so. Since I have no fully watched shows to review, let's just dive in.

Orange Marmalade:

The Gist: Vampires are not a well-kept secret. They're out in the open and not well liked. Unfortunately, this makes Baek Ma Ri's life miserable. She wants desperately to be human and unnoticed. This proves impossible when a classmate, Jae Min, takes an immediate liking to her. This is ironic because Jae Min has a serious grudge against vampires. Can Ma Ri learn to like herself and get Jae Min to accept her too?

Why I started watching: Simply - I loved this webcomic. I don't read a lot of them, but once I started Orange Marmalade, I raced right through it. The premise was interesting enough and the characters were quiet and well-developed. There's a very real examination of people and the bias we bring into our relationships. Not to mention, this story has a lot of the power of friendship, which I really love as a secondary plot.

Why I stopped watching: I love when a remake adds its own twist to a story, but Orange Marmalade slashed the original story to pieces. The original story arc is reduced to a pretty simple montage in the first quarter of the show. Then there is this very odd flashback situation, where our characters are other characters 300 years earlier. And that's when I stopped being interested. I have no doubt that this show could be decent for someone who doesn't know the original, but I just lost all interest when it strayed so far from the present day plot. All in all, I don't think I got halfway through this show.

High Society:

Honestly, I don't have much to say about this. I don't even know the plot of this show because I didn't make it through the first episode. I waited to hear if reviews got more positive, but they stayed pretty middle of the road, so I never got back to it.

Oh My Ghostess!
The Gist: Shy Bong Sun is a nervous mess. She sees ghosts in her waking life and doesn't have the guts to pursue her cooking dreams. Her life takes a sharp turn when she is possessed by outgoing ghost, Soon Ae, who can't remember her own death. In a desperate desire to fill her last wish, she starts pursuing Bong Sun's boss to lose her virginal status. She's on the clock, though, as it's only a matter of time until she becomes an evil spirit and Bong Sun is not sure what to do with this new persona she's known for, not to mention a potential new chance at love.

Why I started watching: After reading some positive reviews, I decided to give this show a chance. It started a little slow, but it ended up being totally hilarious. I can't think of another drama I thought was this flat out funny. Park Bo Young does a great job with her possessed character. She has a great energy and commitment to her character. It's a good bit of fun. Also, the romance has some good strong sparks.

Why I stopped watching: Honestly, I got pretty far along in this show, about 12 episodes out of 16. My main issue with this show is that Soon Ae and Bong Sun don't have an even enough amount of time in Bong Sun's body. By the time Soon Ae steps out of the picture, Bong Sun has barely gotten a chance to develop her relationship at all. Poor chef has this long growing relationship, but it's not really with the girl he loves (or is it? Confusing.). I didn't really want to keep watching once we got to the point when it was time to tell the truth. I don't think their relationship was really strong enough to stand it. Also, I was curious about what happened to Soon Ae, but Chef's brother-in-law basically had a neon sign above him that said "I'm EVIL." I wasn't crazy about the lack of subtlety.

Essentially, the show has a really funny strong main character, but our romance isn't really between the right characters.


I haven't really watched a great drama in a while, one I wanted to finish. This leaves me falling back on old favorites - re-watched Shut Up Flower Boy Band - and on some American shows - I've been marathoning my way through Pretty Little Liars. It's not quite filling my drama needs! If you guys have any old or new favorites that are tried and true, please let me know! I could use a good recommendation (preferably one under 20 eps, 16 is better).

Again, sorry for the radio silence. I hope to have some new review for you guys soon. Thanks for reading! <3

Thursday, May 28, 2015

KDrama Review: Sensory Couple/The Girl Who Sees Smells

The Gist: Choi Eun Seol's (Shin Se Kyung) life is derailed when she arrives home after school and a serial killer has murdered her parents. In the process of fleeing, Eun Seol is hit by a car and the murderer has the name tag ripped right off her uniform. The night is further twisted when the murderer heads to the hospital to off the witness and ends up killing the wrong school girl with Eun Seol's name. When Eun Seol awakes, she can literally see scents and one of her eyes has changed color. Along with her new ability, her memory before the accident has been wiped. Wanting to protect her, one the officers on the case adopts her and changes her name to Oh Cho Rim, erasing all signs of Choi Eun Seol. Jump forward several years and Choi Mu Gak (Park Yoo Chun), older brother to the girl who died in Cho Rim's place has become a cop to bring his sister's murderer to justice. The chance comes when the serial killer strikes again close to home. Mu Gak and Cho Rim cross paths, where they combine her unusual skill with his intuition to help solve crimes, leading up to the crime that changed both their lives.

And that's just the first episode. O.O Let's dig in!


1. Lieutenant Yeom (Yoo Jin Seo)

Seriously. Lieutenant Yeom is totally my hero. It's nice to see such a strong female character in what is essentially a romcom ... or a rommurdermysterything. Anyway, moving on. I love that she comes in and takes charge and the men are all respectful and deferential to her. She is their leader and that commands some real respect. I love it. I was worried we were going to have a weird love triangle with her and Officer Choi and Oh Cho Rim, which I think would have been a big mistake. But! They never do go that route. I am happy to say that Lieutenant Yeom and Oh Cho Rim pass the Bechdel test with flying colors. For those who don't know, the Bechdel test is when two women talk to each other about something other than men. Cho Rim is still fairly concerned with Officer Choi through most of the show as I can't fault her for, but I really love Lieutenant Yeom representing a well developed strong female character.

2. Originality

How about that! A romantic drama with originality. I love the emphasis on the senses in each of our characters. Cho Rim's ability is very unique and the effects for it were done well. It definitely had some questions - how does she not just get lost in a fog of smells. She seems to only see one at a time. Oh well, not thinking about it too hard. Officer Choi's narcolepsy/can't feel pain situation was also a new one for me and together you can really see the physical manifestations that their tragedies have had on them and how they cope with it.*SPOILERS* Ok, let's talk about our murderer for a minute here. Celebrity chef Kwon Jae Hee (Namgung Min) is our murderer and while he's not the world's most interesting murderer, his prosopagnosia is an interesting twist and at least patches up the plot hole of how he managed to murder the wrong witness.

3. Mu Gak

I'm going to give it to Mu Gak, I was consistently impressed with him throughout this show. Minor spoilers to follow. I was really worried about how he was going to react when he found out Cho Rim, the girl he loves, was meant to die instead of his sister and honestly, he took it like a boss! He took a minute for himself, but could then accept that it wasn't her fault and didn't blame her for what happened. Which, is better than how either Cho Rim or Lieutenant Yeom reacted. You go Mu Gak. I also really love that he pulls Cho Rim in for their first kiss after she hesitates. That could have been creepy, but it's pulled off real sweetly and I watched that scene like three times :)


1. Comedy... WHY?

So, I really wish I just jumped every scene relating to Cho Rim's comedy group. She is terrible and it never gets better. It really just detracts from the meatier scenes that I am actually interested in seeing. Also, Mu Gak's comedy bits just made me super uncomfortable, even if he's better at it than Cho Rim. I think the interspersed deadpan humor doesn't quite work out and I kind of just cringed every time. Not the best plot device ever.

2. Sugar-Coated Cotton Candy Sickly Sweet Romance

So Cho Rim and Mu Gak have great chemistry, but they are also corny to the point it's almost too much even for someone like me. Spoilers ahead. I think the epitome of this for me was the marriage proposal. He's going just so far over the top that I actually scrolled quickly through some of those scenes (balloons in the trunk - ah! I would hate that). Ultimately, the perfume thing was perfect for Cho Rim, but that episode was laying it on a little thick. They're adorable, but I think a little softening would have gone a long way. I do have to admit, though, I appreciate that Mu Gak is willing to set his pride aside when it comes to Cho Rim and go all out for her. It's a nice development from his stoicism at the beginning of the series.

3. Not Enough Side Quests

I get that we're working to catch a serial killer, but I think the best parts of this show are when they're solving the smaller crimes that we can really have fun with using Cho Rim's skills. Honestly, I'd prefer if this was more like Scooby Doo or CSI and less like ... I can't even think of a good comparison. Would have enjoyed more episodic crimes to solve!


1. Yeah, that's a lot.

Spoilers and spoilers on spoilers. So, I really really really hate that Cho Rim's father decides to just lie to her about her past. I get not wanting to just put that trauma on someone, but she's got to know sometime and I think not having the back story doesn't give her any time to cope about it. The biggest issue I have with this is that it puts her at really serious danger. He doesn't know that the murderer can't recognize her and even though they moved and she changed her name, it never occurred to him that he was connected with the case and might be tracked down? Honestly, Cho Rim was a champ, but the whole thing weirded me right out. It also, you know, doesn't help when she gets involved in the investigation anyway. I also really dislike that Officer Choi's sister died for Cho Rim. They move forward, but how is that something you ever get past in a relationship? This stupid murderer has decimated both their lives. Honestly, this point I feel a bit better about, but it really bothered me whiel I was watching it.

2. Can we catch this moron already?
More spoilers. So, the pacing of this show has some serious issues. Basically, once we find out that the murderer is Jae Hee, the chase is just drawn way out. Some shows can show who the murderer is and still keep it tense and interesting. This didn't. For me at least. We spent way too long with everyone knowing what was up and then not being able to do anything about it. Also, why would a serial killer become a celebrity? Now if anyone saw him, they'd be like, yeah it's that guy on TV. Being instantly recognizable has got to be the most unhelpful thing for a murderer. Anyway, I appreciate that he was smart, but every time I was like yes, finally, we're going to catch him! And then we didn't. Ugh. Too long. Also, I can't believe they just dangled Cho Rim in front of him and was like yeah, I'm sure this will go well. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief, but when she gets kidnapped, I'm almost like well, what did you expect? Also, while this isn't the worst amnesia plot I've seen, I was really hoping Cho Rim's memories would come back early enough to be helpful. But they really just came back late enough to be painful. Exciting at times, but paced poorly.


So...I was interested in solving the murders and figuring out the meaning behind the barcodes, but I think either they revealed his identity too soon or the show went on too long. I feel conflicted about a murderer who is equally super smart and just so dumb. I think this show was worth watching for the originality and some great chemistry, but I definitely was ready to be done with it before it was over. I thought this was going to be 20 eps. and I almost died. 16 was too long already. Fine for one watch, but will probably fall off my radar immediately.

Final Grade: C+

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Itazura Na Kiss - Brought to Life

Hello, lovelies! Now that I have finished the second season of the Japanese remake of Itazura Na Kiss, I think it's time to discuss the differences and similarities of the Taiwanese, Korean, and Japanese versions of this show. I have always loved the original story, which has an impressive scope  and a warm romance. Hence, two of these versions are in my top 10. Anyway, let's dive right in!

Source Material: Itazura Na Kiss - Manga by Kaoru Tada
Itazura na Kiss.jpg
Volumes: 23
*Note: Kaoru Tada unfortunately passed away before finishing her story, but her husband has informed shows of the intended ending so that each story can choose what they want to do with the ending of their story.

Taiwanese Version: It Started with a Kiss/They Kiss Again
It Started With A Kiss-poster.jpg
Years Aired: 2005-2006, 2007-2008
Episode Total: 50
Stars: Ariel Lin as Ziang Qin, Joe Cheng as Zhi Shu, and Jiro Wang as Ah Jin

Korean Version: Playful Kiss

Years Aired: 2010
Episode Total: 16 w/ Several YouTube Specials
Stars: Jung So Min as Oh Ha Ni, Kim Hyun Joong as Baek Seung Jo, and Lee Tae Sung as Bong Joon Gu

(Recent) Japanese Version: Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo 1 +2
Itazura na Kiss-Love in Tokyo-p2.jpg
Years Aired: 2013-2015
Episode Total: 33
Stars: Miki Honoka as Aihara Kotoko, Furukawa Yuki as Irie Naoki, and Yamada Yuki as Ikezawa Kinnosuke

Best Chemistry:

I think this one has to go to the Japanese version with Honoka and Yuki expertly cast in our leads. I think there's this comfort and teasing these two have off-screen, find some behind the scenes things if you can, they're adorable. Honestly, I was floored to find our there was such a startling huge age difference between the two of them because they're so well-matched. I honestly like the Korean and Taiwanese casting as well, but I think Honoka is our best leading lady. She's got a bit more personality than So Min and is a bit more put together than Ariel. I think a stronger case would have been made for our Korean couple if the story had gone on further.

Best Side Characters:

I'm going to split this one up.

I really love Kin in the Japanese version. I think he comes off as the least creepy/crazy of the three, if you can believe that. I think he comes through as a really solid friend. I love the scene where he goes to find Naoki when his brother is in the hospital. He puts his jealousy aside for the larger issue at hand. I love him.

As far as our Christine goes, I hate the Korean version (she's not cute and has no development), I'm OK about the Japanese version, though she's a bit of a caricature, so I'm going to give this to the Taiwanese version. I think her relationship with Ah Jin had the most time to develop into something real, so that she got to be a well-rounded character.

For that reason, I think the friends of our leading lady are also the best developed in the Taiwanese version, the immense length of that show lends itself well to developing side characters.

The family for me has to go to the Korean version. I love the baby Baek brother and think he was the best cast of the three by a long shot and I also think the mom in this version has the best balance of crazy and caring.

Best Intimacy:

You get one guess. ONE. Duh, it's always the Taiwanese version. As with pretty much all Taiwanese versions, they don't kiss like they're made of glass. The Korean version is seriously lacking intimacy, the Japanese second season has a fair amount, but the Taiwanese version had me actually fanning myself through their honeymoon (whew! So hot.) Let's look at their first kiss, sweet and innocent in the Japanese and Korean version, but obviously tense and passionate in the Taiwanese version. It's pretty much the reason to keep going to that well. Lovin' it. I mean, It really started with a kiss ;)

Best Framework/Pacing:

So, I'm usually in favor of concise and brief shows. That said, I think the shortest of the three, the Korean version has the best pacing for the first season (except the Christine story-line) but really only tells half the story. Really, this story without the marriage is just not complete. Now, the Taiwanese version rounds out its characters well, but sweet Jesus, it is really long from start to finish. I'd say the end of the first season of the Japanese version is rushed, but the overall pacing and framework of the show is the best.

Best Ending: 

To me, this has to go to the Japanese version, no question. Essentially, the Taiwanese version doesn't end so much as stop, and the Korean version, even with the specials is still missing a bunch of the story. The Japanese version feels complete. Well done!

Worst Choices:


This has got to be a split between how awkward their wedding was (and the fact that the picture of it is literally hanging over the entire second season) and the total abrupt replacement of the younger brother with a terrible actor somewhere in the second third of this show.


Christine. I'm not going to go into this too much as I've touched on it already, but she is abysmally done in this version.


I'm going to make this a tie between the Rika episode and Kotoko's overwhelming incompetence as a nurse that just won't quit. We all know you can do it if you apply yourself Kotoko! Do it!

Since I can't really pick just one...

Best 3 Scenes of Each Version:


1. I mentioned the honeymoon before, but I actually really love the scene where Zhi Shu asks Ziang Qin's dad if he can marry her. I love this scene in every version, but this scene is the longest, where they are holding hands while Ziang Qin is actually processing what is happening to her. I think it's especially sweet.

2. I love the jealousy scene in the Japanese version too, but I think I like it better in the Taiwanese version. When Zhi Shu finally comes to term with the fact that he's jealous over her and pretty much proclaims his love loud and proud in their cafeteria. Touches my heart!

3. You know, I actually think Ah Jin and Christine's romance coming to fruition after her injury is probably my third favorite thing about this show. Christine is such a sidelined character in the Korean version and doesn't get full development in the Japanese version, that I'm going to give their confession my number 3 spot favorite scene!


1. I really love the moment when the brother is in the hospital and Seung Jo comes in and Ha Ni is rattled, trying to figure out where she left her phone and is clearly trying to hold it together with eerie calm. Seung Jo wraps his arms around her and says thank you. She just breaks down and it just warms my heart.

2. In that same vein, I love the balcony scene after Seung Jo essentially proposes. I think I just love when he has his arms around Ha Ni. Adorable.

3. I'm not sure why I love this scene so much, but I really love the scene where Ha Ni is trying to talk Seung Jo into taking the entrance exam, explaining about how he has so much to give to the world. It's a good example of what works in this one.


1. You have to read my review to know how much I love the coffee scenes. That very first coffee scene where Kotoko is pretty much glowing is actually one of my favorite scenes in all the versions.

2. I love the pillow-talk that Kotoko and Naoki have when she stays over after the hospital scene. I hate that Ha Ni and Ziang Qin make such fools of themselves in this scene in other versions. Kotoko holds herself with grace, they get to know each other better, and there's a nod to the coffee. At any rate this combined with the kiss back at the hospital make this one of my all-time favorite episodes.

3.  Let's give this spot to the scene during the episode where Naoki accepts a medical internship out of town. It seems at first that he doesn't care that he's leaving Kotoko, but we overhear him talking to her father about how hard it's going to be on her to complete nursing school without the support of her friends when he's working all the time, but that he's about to break and bring her anyway. SHUT UP. I love the following scene where Kotoko explains how well she's going to do and be strong and Naoki just interrupts her with a lovey kiss. It's a great marker for how much their love has grown.

Let's finish up by saying the kiss in the rain confession works in every version. AH! Even though I know it's coming every time, I just squeal like a school girl. Wonderful!

Monday, April 27, 2015

KDrama Review: Blood

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The Gist: Park Ji Sang (Ahn Jae Hyeon) is a vampire. Or rather, he is infected with the vampire virus VBT-01, born to infected parents. After he uses his abilities to help a young girl, he decides to dedicate his life to helping people, rather than give in to his thirst. This proves especially difficult after his parents are murdered and he sets out to cure his illness and find the people responsible. This lures him to Taemin Cancer Hospital, where thanks to his non-aging, he is an incredibly young top surgeon. This irks Dr. Yoo Ri Ta (Ku Hye Sun), a fiery young surgeon, who also happens to be the girl whose life Ji Sang saved. Ri Ta is the least of Ji Sang's worries as the infected Director of the hospital tries to bring Ji Sang into the fold, while hiding the experiments he's performing in the poorest patients in an effort to perfect the vampire virus. Ji Sang's best friend Joo Hyun Woo (Jung Hae In) and coworker Dr. Jung (Kim Yu Seok) work alongside Ji Sang and Ri Ta to help combat the Director and find the cure. It's mystery and romance at Taemin, where everyone has secrets and some of them are lethal.


1. Ooey-Gooey Romance

I came into this drama with fairly low expectations. Vampires are falling out of fashion, although Ji Sang's Carlisle complex is fairly adorable. The main reason I watched this is because I really enjoyed Jae Hyeon in My Love from Another Star and I was curious to see him in a leading role. Except for the fact that he kisses sort of like a mannequin, I thought he and Hye Sun had excellent chemistry and really sold the often times corny lines alongside the dramatic ones. I wasn't crazy about Hye Sun as Jan Di in Boys Over Flowers, but she does play up that energy well. Honestly, I really loves that there weren't any love triangles happening, no one was shunned and unrequited, which was a nice change of pace from my usual fare. The romance actually takes quite some time to develop, but I didn't mind because it was just as much fun watching them become friends and frankly, there's a lot else going on in this story to keep you preoccupied. I also was totally in love with our secondary love storyline, but more on that later.

2. Action, Adventure!

So I went into this drama thinking it would be primarily romance, with some backstory filled in. I think now that the romance is, very cute, really just one piece of a larger conflict. I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in what was happening and felt very distressed alongside Ji Sang. I loved the crime fighting group we had by the end of it and that we didn't dance around the fact that Ji Sang is a vampire too long. I was kind of stunned to see Choi Kyung In, which you may remember as the horrible mother from Pinocchio (I know I do!). Minor spoilers ahead... I found it very interesting that her trajectory was pretty much 100% in the other direction from her character in Pinocchio. In Blood, she starts out so sweet and turns out to be so evil! I was shocked. Actually that brings me to the next point....

3. What a twist!

Spoilers. Obviously. So when Ji Sang agrees to take on Min Ga Yeon (Son Soo Hyun) as a residence, she seems like an innocent little lamb. I honestly thought her biggest threat was going to be fighting Ri Ta for Ji Sang's affections. How mistaken I was. When they reveal that she's actually been workign for the Director the whole time, I was impressed with how taken aback I was. I really thought she was trustworthy and I didn't suspect a thing. Normally, when there is a reveal like this, there is something to show for it to lessen the shock, but I was really just blindsided. And I appreciate that. It's boring when you know everything that's coming and although she dies in the end, you do get rewarded for your faith in her as she sticks to her guns against the Director in the end.

4. Luuvy

So, Luuvy is totally random, non-essential and I don't know who thought that a robot would make sense in this storyline, but I love him so much. He adds a lot of comic relief to a series that never veered too far into serious and really just teased our characters on how ridiculous they really are. It was an odd choice, but I think despite the logic factor, Luuvy is a fun addition to this show. 


1. Plot hole?

So, I was able to mostly look past this, but I was confused about what exactly was special about Ji Sang. The Director goes on and on about how he needs Ji Sang and how special he is, but aside from being immune to death serum, he seems to have all the same problems that regular vampires do and he gets super weak around blood, which is worse than regular vampires. He extolls all this effort to find Ji Sang and then get him to like him and then force him to find a cure for the side effects. It's all just not clear why he even cares if Ji Sang is alive or around, other than the fact that his parents weren't supposed to conceive. So, kind of sloppy writing, but oh well, we move on. 


1. Was that even an ending??

Eh. Not really. Despite the cheesiness of the romance and the overdoneness of the vampire story, I was really ready to give this show a grade somewhere in the A-range, right about until I watched teh last three episodes of the show. Let's break down this non-ending and ready, set,go (Spoilers - Ahoy!)

First, Yoo Ri Ta gets totally screwed over. I am stunned that the Chairman and the Asst. Director had her parents, and almost her, murdered to get hold of the hospital. After all the love and support, how does someone ever recover from something like that? She has a line in this episode about how her heart is now an empty room and it's true! Everyone she cares about has pretty much betrayed her in the worst way possible. They both get their comeuppance, but it doesn't really mitigate the horror that Ri Ta is going to be left with. Yikes, that got dark.

Speaking of dark and Ri Ta getting screwed, second, we find the cure, yay! But Ji Sang has to die, maybe? Even though they're testing blood that has been drawn, somehow he has to be injected with the something to make something to cure the patients? Or something? See how skeptical I am. So, that's totally cruel to Ri Ta, but it gets worse. We never get to see if the patients are actually cursed and somehow at the end, Ji Sang is somehow not dead, but there's no explanation, no nothing, except for what seems to suggest that he is still a vampire and no human, which leaves his romance with Ri Ta right about where they started. Annoying.

Speaking of death and romance, thirdly, Hyun Woo, no!!! So right after he gets a happy little romance and potentially finds a cure, Hyun Woo is murdered, brutally and sadly. I hate this. I don't mind any of the other deaths, but Hyun Woo is an absolute good. Again, I think the end of this show got surprisingly dark for how balanced the rest of the show is. Really, once I got to the end of this show, I was kind of angry and confused and disappointed. Which is all too bad for a show I really was enjoying.


So... if the worst issue we were going to face was that Ji Sang isn't obviously special enough, then I really enjoyed this show. Unfortunately, a really confusing and dark ending overshadowed what was otherwise a gripping thriller with a lovely romance underneath. Such a pity. Although, I do look forward to what Jae Hyeon is going to do next. He has that comedic yet brooding thing down. So adorable.

Final Grade: C

Monday, April 6, 2015

KDrama Review: KPOP Extreme Survival/The Ultimate Audition

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The Gist: When Ji Seung Yeon (Go Eun Ah) fails out of her classical piano training in England, she returns to Korea with a dream of singing her kind of music. She arrives at an interesting time as her uncle, Director of a talent company, is in the process of revamping one of their more popular bands, M2. M2 is headlined by the mega popular star Woo Hyun (Park Yoo Hwan) with the bad attitude, who clashes with his band members. Much to the dismay of their team manager, Director Jang is pushing for graduation of the clashing members. To fill in, he announces an open audition where anyone can apply to be in M2. To help her best friend Kwon Ji Woo (Kwak Yong Hwan), who has stage fright to the point of immobilization, Seung Yeon submits his audition and with it, her own. Due to her boyish looks and style, she passes no problem. Eight candidates make it to the final stages, where they must compete but also form a solid team. While Seung Yeon pursues her dream, she also finds herself thrown together with Woo Hyun, who is confused by the strong chemistry they have together.

1. Smart Choices

So, I'm betting this whole set up sounds pretty familiar. This show's premise borrows really heavily from the framework of You're Beautiful (girl undercover in a boy band with a moody, but so handsome talented leader). Yet, I'm thinking that KPOP makes some smart changes. First, I appreciate that the entire show isn't stuck on Seung Yeon's insignificant girl problems ("OMG! Where do I put my tampons?"). I like that in her relationship with Ji Woo, she plays the protector role and she's not focusing on how to walk and talk like a man. Honestly, she really is mostly just being herself. Although, I think that taping up her chest really doesn't totally disguise her hourglass figure and I found it a little distracting in certain scenes that it's so obvious she's a girl! Anyway, more on her passing/not passing later. I was also totally thrown by how much Yoo Hwan looks like his brother, known by me for his leading role in Rooftop Prince. Yet, Yoo Hwan totally stands on his own as Woo Hyun. He's got a lot of talent. I hope we see more from him in the future. 

2. It's Cute

So, this show is super easy to binge watch. I was sick last week and now that I'm all caught up on Blood, I needed something to watch. KPOP was on Netflix, so I just started it on a whim. Those episodes go down easy as ice cream. They touch on a lot of the standard issues, but always stays pretty light and enjoyable. There's a nice undercurrent of friendship and teamwork, but the romance is also just adorable, if not totally sizzling. I pretty much just awwed my way through this show. I honestly just wanted to keep watching it once I started.

3. Jealousy

So, I really loved that the way Woo Hyun and Seung Yeon work out their feelings for each other is by making each other jealous. It was honestly just funny because neither of them can hide their emotions at all. It's written all over their faces when one of them is hurting and you can see the recognition as they play off each other. While they fight a bit, I think the best moments is when they're a little insecure and they push each other's buttons to get some validation. That's maybe not healthy, but it was still really cute. 


1. Music

For a show that's pretty much all about the music and loving music, the songs weren't great. The juniors go to song was a bit disjointed and Seung Yeon sings in a tenor only dogs can hear. It's so obvious she's a girl! That said, I'm so impressed with the pipes on Ji Woo. There wasn't a point in this show where I thought, I want to listen to this song again or download it or anything, which seems like a missed opportunity for me.

2. Ji Woo

AH! I'm so frustrated. *Minor Spoilers* I was super in love with Ji Woo and Seung Yeon's friendship. It is so rare that shows will allow a man and a woman to be friends without a complicated triangle. While I appreciate they didn't draw it out so much, I felt like Ji Woo's confession came totally out of left field. They seemed so platonic and then suddenly he wants to be her boyfriend. It was weird. Also, isn't there some thing where people who are friends when they're really little and grow up together hardly ever become romantically involved? Anyway, I really wish that they had just left Ji Woo as a supportive friend. It really bummed me out.


1. Director/Team Manager Romance

Ugh. This was really the worst part of this show. It's obvious they're in love and for whatever reason, they won't just work it out. Then there's some bull side plot with the flower girl and honestly the whole thing just had way too much screen time. I just didn't care and wasn't sure what I was supposed to take away from the whole plot. Spoilers ahead. So, I'll get to the ending as a whole in the minute, but the ending for this storyline is just jarring. Team Manager Han bails on the director and the company and runs off to America? I can't believe they never got back to him chasing after her. So what, did he just end up with flower girl? Who he obviously doesn't like? The whole thing was unsettling, but I thought we'd at least get a nice confession. Don't bank on it!

2. That Ending

OK, so I must say I was prepared for this to end poorly. Other reviewers had thankfully warned me that this show got cancelled two episodes short of its original run and the ending really suffers for it. For a typically well paced show, the ending tripped all over itself. We have a quick reveal that Seung Yeon's a girl, but we don't really see or understand how that wraps up. Is she staying in the Juniors? Is she pursuing her own thing? It's all so vague. Also, Woo Hyun's ex taking the fall for that is sloppy and doesn't make sense at all. Really, it just doesn't have time to answer the questions it has asked or have any followup at all for the characters. It's presumed that the juniors will debut, but who knows how it goes.

Honestly, the saddest piece about this whole thing is that this show is pretty meta. These actors really are doing this to pursue their dreams and the show getting cancelled is like double crushing their characters and themselves. I hope we see some more from some of these actors in the future because I actually really enjoyed this show.


So... the ending of this show is a hot mess. There's no getting around it. That said, I'd say the first thirteen episodes are a solid A. The last episode is probably about a D. So, if you go in prepared, I think it's still worthwhile, but it will certainly build up some expectations and then let you down, not very gently either.

Final Grade: B+

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

JDrama Review: Mischeivous Kiss 2: Love in Tokyo

The Gist: Kotoko's (Miki Honoka) dream has finally come true now that she has married her long-time love, Irie Naoki (Furukawa Yuki). There's still work to do, though, as Kotoko and Naoki essentially jumped the dating stage and hopped straight into marriage. With Naoki working through medical school and Kotoko working hard to support him by becoming a nurse, they have to sort out not only what it means to be husband and wife, but what it means for them to be a team. The two of them have never been on even footing when it comes to their relationship and in Kotoko's worst nightmare, marriage hasn't changed much. Naoki and Kotoko aren't the only ones struggling with romance. Kin-chan's (Yamada Yuki) one-sided love takes an unexpected turn when foreign exchange student Chris (Nakai Noemie) arrives and little brother Yuki (Miyagi Yoshiaki) looks like he's going to keep up the family tradition, potentially making all the same mistakes as his brother.


1. Kotoko and Naoki

This pair is once again, the heart, soul, and everything about this show. Now that Noaki is finally mostly on board with their relationship, you can really see their chemistry sparkle. What I love best about this show is it continues to bring out the best in our leads. They essentially have to learn to depend on each other in opposite ways. Kotoko needs to learn to have some independence. Her entire life up until now has been singularly focused on Naoki and while that doesn't change, she comes into her own and learns to be her own person. Naoki, on the other hand, really has a lot to learn about being a husband. He always says that Kotoko can do the things he can't and let's face it, Kotoko was a born wife. It takes a lot for Naoki to realize when he's jealous, when he needs to communicate, and when he should verbalize to his wife that he loves her.

Again, although they lived together, there's a lot that changes with marriage. I really appreciate that this show didn't shy away from talking about sex in that opening episode/honeymoon special. Kotoko barely feels comfortable holding Naoki's hand and she's about to go on her honeymoon! It's a great moment when Naoki finally breaks down because it finally shows Kotoko (and the squealing viewers at home) that he wants this too. When he gets jealous about Keita, Kotoko's nursing classmate, he handles it so poorly. I love that Kotoko finally speaks up, something to the tune of "I'm the only one in love here." It stings, but to me, I felt it was perfect. She needed to stop feeling like Naoki was doing her a favor by being with her and start working on their marriage together. Now, Naoki is still going to be Naoki - cold and a bit dumb in love - but I liked this moment as a turning point for them.
And wow, that's a lot to say. Also, they kiss a lot and it's glorious. Definitely fills the void from last season.

2. The Ending

Spoilers coming at you. So, I was super curious what they were going to do with the end of this show. Fans of the manga will know that unfortunately, the mangaka died before she could finish the story. Every adaptation has to make a choice about where they are going to end this show. The Taiwan version sticks completely to the manga and stops mid-story. The Korean version stops about halfway through the manga, with a few teaser specials afterwards. The anime has a made-up ending that's pretty solid, but I mus admit, this version ending was in my book goddamn perfect.

I was worried we wouldn't get back to the pregnancy after the initial scare and while I'm sad we didn't get to see more of it. There was this lovely balance of seeing her telling all her friends, how the family excitedly prepares, and then it jumps ahead, just for a glimpse. You see Naoki and Kotoko walking with their little girl between them. They each call the other's name, before smiling and saying "nothing." It's perfect because you can just see how fulfilled and happy they are and they've moved into knowing each other so well that "nothing" really says it all. Naoki is simply beaming in this scene and it's adorable to see him finally so comfortable showing his emotions. The glow in the scene reminds me of that first coffee scene in season 1, which closes the book nicely. I'm usually not a huge fan of an overly perfect ending, but this show has always been the exception in my book. I loved it. Wow, that was also really long. Sorry.

3. Yuki

While this story is definitely focused on Kotoko and Naoki, there's this adorable subplot where Yuki is finding his own Kotoko. She is dumb but determined and Kotoko instantly takes her under her wing. Fans of season 1 will definitely enjoy this as Yuki gets roped into tutoring her and then rejecting her. Yuki gets replaced with another solid actor about halfway through the series as years are flying by in this season to grow him up a bit. Honestly, one of my favorite scenes is when Yuki comes to Naoki and asks him why he chose Kotoko. It's nice because not only does it get Naoki to open up about his romance, but it shows some brother bonding, which is actually not that prevalent this season. Yuki's still hard on Kotoko, but he's able to learn from Naoki and accept that he doesn't need to be a snob when it comes to love. Minor spoilers, but it was also a nice moment to see Yuki and her shopping for baby clothes for Kotoko, which makes them all seem like a happy family already.


1. Doesn't Kotoko have friends?

According to a lot of the comments on Viki, this show got chopped down a lot and the DVD's have a much fuller story. I think Satomi and Jinko suffered the most from this. Even though one of them gets pregnant and has a baby, we really don't see any of it. I'm a little sad all of this happened off screen because they were always a good support for Kotoko. This happened again to a smaller effect with her nursing friends, even though they're all at the same hospital. I get that we had to cut a lot to focus on Naoki and Kotoko, but it still makes me a little sad.

2. Kin-chan and Chris

Kin-chan is alone no more! I think my biggest beef with this part of the story is that the middle of their romance is cut out. Now, this show isn't really about them, but I feel like you get the beginning of their story and then he's proposing. With what a good friend Kin-chan is, I had hoped to see a bit more of him consistently through the series. That said, I think this is actually sort of realistic. Once you get out of school and married, you only see your friends once in awhile and they get engaged to people you may not know that well. Again, fans of this story will not be surprised by Chris' appearance, but I'm glad Kin-chan got his due as she was shoehorned into the last episode of the Korean version that fell really flat.


1. Kotoko as Nurse

Now, don't get me wrong, I love that Kotoko is working hard to support Naoki in his profession. What I really disliked is that they continued to make Kotoko so inept. I get that it's in her character, but it's also in her character to work hard and get it. I had hoped that they would be kind to her and once she struggled through school and actually made it on the job, she'd at least not be causing harm to patients. But seriously, who hands a scalpel blade down to a surgeon or knocks all the surgical instruments to the floor? This moved beyond cute-dumb to down-right dangerous and I don't think it was fair to her character to write her that way. I appreciate that they give us a few moments of her excelling at it and a chunk of the final episode is dedicated to them working together and she does well. I was cringing for several episodes, but it still doesn't really taint my overall enjoyment. 

2. Naoki's Super Creepy Cousin

If I could just delete this episode from this season, I probably would. This is probably my least favorite storyline. First, they're related so that's creep factor one. Second, I am amazed at how many of these characters just ignore the fact that Naoki and Kotoko are married. This happens in a lot of dramas and it freaks me out every time. Marriage is a big deal and to come up to someone and be like, hey, you should give your husband to me means that you should get punched in the face. Really, even though this ends with Naoki reassuring Kotoko and them being adorable, it's kind of ridiculous that it was a problem to begin with. 


So... based on the fact that I've written about a small novel of why I love this show, you can probably tell that I really loved this show. I'm going to say this kicked the crap out of the Korean version and was just a joy every step of the way. This show finally lives up to its title (seriously, so many kisses, yay!) and it was a real delight to watch Naoki and Kotoko grow together (finally). It's impossible for me to list all of my favorite moments and all I really want to do now is start over with season 1 and watch the story all the way through.

Final Grade: A+

Thursday, March 19, 2015

TDrama Review: In Time with You

The Gist: Cheng You Qing (Ariel Lin) and Li Da Ren (Bo Lin Chen) have been friends ever since Da Ren insisted that he would never fall in love with You Qing in high school. After following her to college and remaining a steadfast confidant throughout the years, they've managed to maintain a close friendship, much to the chagrin of their respective boyfriends and girlfriends throughout the years. The story opens on You Qing's 30th birthday, where she is having a crisis about her age. This also happened to be a rare window where both You Qing and Da Ren are both single. Though this phase doesn't last phase, it prompts both of them to examine their unique relationship and wonder if their feelings really do stop at friendship.


1. The Chemistry

No wonder You Qing and Da Ren keep pissing off their significant others. They have great chemistry together and you can really feel the familiarity bubbling beneath the surface. It's not just that they know each others' favorite ice cream flavors, but that they are totally relaxed around one another. It's amazingly obvious to everyone who isn't them that they're clearly destined to be together, but I think that rings true about life. It's hard to see what's right in front of your face until there's the prospect of them not being there anymore. Nicely done.

2. Nic (Xu Hao En)

I mean, what a jerk for playing around with You Qing's feelings, but I honestly just love this character to death. He is so spectacular at being a flirt that I just really felt for You Qing/I would have crumbled way before her. Yet, I love that they didn't just leave him as a phoney working to climb the corporate ladder. It's a bit sad that he felt the only way he could get anywhere was by seducing his way to the top, when he's obviously very attentive and good at his job. I really love that You Qing put him up for the open position and that he came back around to be a good friend when she was needing an ear to talk to about Da Ren. Honestly, there's just something refreshing about this character that I can't get enough of. I choose him over Ding Li Wei every day. Yes, even then.

3. The Ending

Spoilers. Obviously. So, of course You Qing and Da Ren end up together. What I really liked about this ending is that it wasn't just a fairytale ending. You see that they fight and disagree, much like they always have. It was a delight to see that moment when You Qing calls Da Ren as her best friend to complain about Da Ren as her husband. He handles it marvelously and it shows the balance to their relationship. Also, I think it's funny to show that for how many years they've been friends, there is definitely some awkwardness in progressing their relationship. It was nicely done. Also, I love the dog.


1. Pacing

I was so overjoyed when I realized that these episodes weren't an hour and a half long in the hopes that I might actually get through this show in a decent time period. Still, the pacing of this show moves right past leisurely and into dragging on. I feel that once Da Ren and You Qing start to recognize their feelings, it takes way too long to get any results. I think if I re-watched this show, I would honestly jump episodes in batches of five. I appreciate a show taking its time, but I feel like tha sheer time spent on just quiet reflection was way too much. The overtly melancholy tone of this show dragged the pacing down a bit as you just want a brief reprieve at some point. I get that it is sweet and slow, but come on. Give me something I can work with here!


1. What is up with that logic?

Ok, minor spoilers ahead. So, You Qing has the most warped, forced logic of anyone I've ever seen. She essentially realizes Da Ren loves her and when he moves to Singapore decides the best way to keep him is to stop talking to him all around and marry some other guy. Yeah, that keeps the relationship alive. Why even bother preserving a friendship you can't use? Basically by the time someone falls in love, it's sink or swim. Either get on board or cut your losses. Anyway, that's enough mixing metaphors. The point is, You Qing keeps willing herself not to love Da Ren and it's so pointless. It's obvious from space that she'll regret her decision, but she keeps pushing it anyway. If I was friends with her, I would have just punched her in the face. Be in love, woman!


So.... I liked this show, didn't love it. I think it's sweet, but a little quiet and drawn out for my taste. Also, it was just so obvious that Ding Li Wei was a bad idea, I just wanted to smack You Qing. I'd say this is good for a single watch through when you have a lot of time, but it's going to drag out the rewards for quite some time.

Final Grade: B- 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Boys Before Flowers: A Rewatch

Image result for boys before flowers

I strongly suggest reading my first review of Boys Before Flowers before reading this page as I am just going to jump right in. Usually, I don't blog when I rewatch a show, but I felt much differently about BBF after watching it a second time, that I thought it was at least worth writing about.

So, initially I gave BBF a C-. I wasn't sold on the casting and I was so married to the Japanese version that I don't think I gave this version a real chance. I think watching it a second time, knowing where it's going and how it's different from the Japanese version, I liked it a lot better. I think the primary reason for this is that the Korean version lets our leading couple have an actual relationship. The Japanese version is so short that Makino and Domyouji don't actually date at all during the series, with the exception of maybe a trip to the zoo.

Goo Joon Pyo and Geum Jan Di have an actual relationship. They spend time together and get to know one another (and kiss some! Yay!). I think watching this the first time, I wasn't expecting Ji Hoo's storyline to get pushed so hard that it distracted me from the chemistry happening between Jan Di and Jun Pyo.

That said, I think that Ji Hoo's storyline is still too much. He holds onto Jan Di too hard, for too long. I really appreciate the story lines that have this character step back and help his friends rather than holding a grudge against them. The terrible thing is Ji Hoo is such a nice guy that it's hard to really fully commit to Joon Pyo, when it's ruining Ji Hoo's life. I mean, Ji Hoo essentially proposes to Jan Di after she bails, knowing full well that she loves Joon Pyo. While I felt less torn about the relationship on a second watch, I think they should have backed Ji Hoo off sooner.

On that same note, I think Jae Kyung's character bothered me way worse the second time around. I mean by the time she realizes that Joon Pyo and Jan Di are in love, which I mean is sort of their fault for not just telling her, she pushes her relationship with Joon Pyo on them. How cruel is it knowing you're ruining someone's romance and then asking her to be a maid of honor? That was just brutal for someone who claims to be a friend. WTF? Her swooping in at the 11th hour doesn't really make up for the pain she's put them through. Yikes. I felt bad for her, but not that bad.

As always, Ga Eul and Yi Jung are totally adorable. I love ship them forever!!

So, in a rewatching this and recognizing it as its own story, I'd say it's a solid B.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TDrama Review: In a Good Way


The Gist: Small town girl, Jia En (Kirsten Ren), can't stand it when her long time best friend Ren Wei decides to head to Taipei for college. After deciding to go with him, Ren Wei alters her college applications and she doesn't get into any schools. Lonely and sad, Jia En heads to Taipei to study for next year's entrance exams. Unfortunately, Ren Wei (Jay Shih) is dodging her calls, she didn't call ahead to her family, and suddenly Jia En is stranded on campus with nowhere to stay. Law student Liu Chuan (Lego Li) takes pity on her and sneaks her into his dorm for the night. This starts Jia En's adventures in Taipei, where under Liu Chuan's tutelage, she attends that college next year and joins the treasure hunting club with Liu Chuan's friends (think F4, but with 3), her own friends, a new mentor Bai Xue (Smile Weng), and Ren Wei's own crew, the Men of Steel. The friends live out their college days, struggling with romance, family hardships, and academic issues in this sweet, warm drama.


1. Bai Xue

I really like a lot of characters on this show, but Bai Xue is far and away my favorite. I love that she doesn't resort to rival status when it's clear that she's fighting (and losing to) Jia En for Liu Chuan's affection. She always takes the mature route, no matter how hard it is. I also think she has an admirable trajectory of self-acceptance throughout the show that makes her a stronger character. I also really enjoy that thought she has to keep turning Ren Wei down, they develop a really nice friendship.

2. Romance

While we'll get to why the pacing of the relationships were off, I still really enjoyed the (possibly too matchy matchy) romances with our main characters. Liu Chuan and Jia En had great chemistry from the pilot - what a great pilot! I also liked seeing their friends work out their own relationships with really opposite problems. While it certainly ends up a little neatly, besides poor Ren Wei, its all very cute and just feel good.

3. Let's Learn Things!

As an ever ignorant American, I really thought the freedom theme of this show was a typical teenagers breaking out into the world type theme. *Minor Spoilers* However, as we learn more about Liu Chuan's family, we learn how the White Terror influenced not only this fictional family, but the real Taiwan. Viewers watching this should be aware of the White Terror and how the recent cultural memory of this people is to be afraid of being smart or different, living freely. When the Chinese took over regulating Taiwan after the Japanese lost WWII, citizens who were deemed as a threat could be kidnapped for no reason at all. I honestly didn't know a thing about this until I Googled it after watching the show and it gave me a new appreciation for the pursuit of freedom for Taiwan and her people.


1. Pacing

I'm going to preface this by saying this show is long, like, really really long. It clocks in at 26 1.5 hours episodes, which means, wow, this show is not going anywhere fast. The first ten episodes are leisurely but enjoyable and the rest are definitely dragging. I'd say this show is perfect for when you have a lot of time to kill and aren't worried about the plot as much as the character development. I think this show spent too much time on unimportant details. Like, how many times did we watch a character sitting, contemplating life while staring into the distance for whole minutes at a time? Too many. Also, there's a lot of side plots, I just don't care about because they take up large slices of an otherwise interesting episode. The show is still enjoyable, just definitely slow.

2. Intimacy!

I think the romance on this show had decent chemistry, but the intimacy left me so wanting! I go to my Taiwanese shows when I want skinship and lots of steam. Considering this show was juggling at least three solid romances, I'm a little let down by the intimacy. I mean, we even had a whole episode talking about baseball euphemisms and Jia En buying new underwear, but all we ever really get out of our main and side duos is a little kiss here and there, and not ones with feeling either! I feel for a show about college students and a Taiwanese one at that, this show is a little shy. Not to mention it takes a whopping 18 episodes for Liu Chuan to kiss that poor girl. Again with the pacing issues.

3. That Ending!

*Spoilers* So, wow. For a show that stayed pretty mellow that ending takes a real sharp turn. This also has undertones in the pacing issue. I feel if the show was going to break up our main couple, they should have done so about 2 episodes before the end, to give them adequate time to patch things back up. The weirdly ambivalent ending had me feeling very odd when I finished it. I was hoping that the show would end after Jia En comes back and sees what everyone is up to. I think this show would have been stronger ending on a flash forward. I feel so sad for Liu Chuan, who after all the freedom chasing, still ends up shackled to his dad without Jia En. Honestly, I think it was trying to end on a hopeful note, but just left me feeling a little depressed.


1. Ren Wei

This may seem harsh, but at the end of the show, despite all his growth, I was really just over Ren Wei. He treats Jia En so terribly at the start of the show, so singularly consumed with Bai Xue. *Minor Spoilers* Just when we think it'll work out, he suddenly decides he loves Jia En, who's been there all along, right when he can't have her. This plot point drove me crazy. I really liked Jia En and Ren Wei as platonic friends and I'm sad it went this predictably. I am glad at least he never made it a big issue. He's also just an annoying guy. He is terrible with money and then indignant about being terrible with money, abuses his friends, and is a terrible student. He's a nice guy and all, who is a loyal friend, but I wouldn't touch Ren Wei with a ten foot pole in real life. He drove me nuts.


So... after all the really positive hype this show got, I wasn't blown away. I think it's simple and sweet, but way too long for what it is. It's got cute romances that are unfortunately lacking a lot of intimacy in my book. They may be matchy matchy but don't think about it too much. All in all, I don't want those hours of my life back, but I wouldn't watch this show again.

But also, Momo is super cute.

Final Grade: C+

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

KDrama Review: Pinocchio

Pinocchio (Korean Drama)-p1.jpg

The Gist: When a false media frenzy leaves Gi Ha Myeong (Lee Jong Suk) without a family, he is adopted into the family of a grandfather who thinks he is his dead son, Dal Po. Dal Po assumes this mutually beneficial identity. Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye) and her father move in with In Ha's grandfather after a nasty divorce and find Dal Po living there, but agree to keep the secret for grandfather's sake. When Dal Po discovers In Ha's mother (Jin Kyung) is the reporter who spearheaded the attack on his family, he holds a serious grudge against In Ha, his now effective niece. But as they grow up side by side, that feeling is steadily replaced by another, one he does not dare to vocalize. When In Ha decides to follow in her mother's footsteps and be a reporter, Dal Po is horrified, unable to trust any reporter after his tragedy. This turns out to be a hard move for In Ha, who is a Pinocchio - someone who hiccups when they lie. In an effort to support her and eventually find justice for his family, Dal Po makes an even harder decision, to become a reporter alongside In Ha. Soon, they find themselves at competing companies, working not only on the story of the week, but together in justice for Dal Po's family and retribution against In Ha's mother.

(for ease in this review, I'm going to just refer to Jong Suk's character as Dal Po)


1. Truth in Media

It was a very interesting combination watching this show right after Liar Game, which holds truth at the core of the story. This story poses all sorts of interesting problems. To what degree are reporters responsible for the facts they report and the consequences of reporting those "facts?" Additionally, should it be impossible for someone who is a Pinocchio to become a reporter? To what degree does a reporter need to lie to get at the truth? Pinocchio takes a pretty firm stance on this - reporters should be held responsible for the stories they tell. Yet, Dal Po finds out on his first report, that it's hard to be 100% sure when you're reporting that you're in the right. Still, the fervor with which Dal Po and In Ha ferret out the truth shakes up some of the seasoned reporters, making them examine their beliefs. I must admit this show has me watching my local/national news with a new eye - especially in the way they pester victims of a tragedy. This show has an abundance of food for thought, which I find lacking in a lot of the fluffy happy dramas I watch.

2. Speaking of fluffy...

Alright, so this show is about 50% justice porn and 50% romance. I loved Dal Po and In Ha's chemistry; the casting made this story sing. The almost sibling-like familiarity between our leads is a pretty unique look on a relationship. You'd think that would disrupt their relationship, but In Ha's brash honesty lends itself well to someone who knows that about her. I really appreciate that this show barely even hints at a possible love triangle/square. Let's face it, our supporting cast never stood a chance. Dal Po and In Ha are solid, even when it's heartbreaking for them both and I love love loved it. As far as pacing for this show goes, I appreciate that it doesn't tease out their confession too long so that they can really be a team for the vast majority of the show. Likewise, I like that Dal Po's secret is revealed in decent time, so it's not this huge shadow over the entire show.

3. Tissues everyone? 

Every now and then a real tear-jerker is just what the doctor ordered. The amount of times I teared up during this show is not countable - I mean, that is one heavy pilot. Still, I find that the heavy added a lot of weight to the plot. Every moment I could feel the hate against Song Cha Ok in my very bones and I whooped out loud every time In Ha or Dal Po confronted anyone about his family. It made for an exceedingly satisfied feeling when watching. The only thing that is just too sad is poor hyung. He absolutely has it the worst of anyone on Pinocchio and the lengths to which he goes out of grief still sits like a stone in my stomach. I will give Pinocchio props for the dedication in which it is willing to destroy our characters in a show that is still overwhelmingly funny and romantic. Ah, I can't talk about teary scenes without bringing up that scene with Dal Po and grandpa on the bus. I cried. I really did. But in the best way.

4. Redeemable?

*SPOILERS* So I'm going to say the biggest shock in this show is that we actually found some measure of redemption for In Ha's mom. After hating her so solidly for the entire show, our characters find some common ground and mommy dearest helps us take down the big bad. I must admit, I was amazingly surprised at this turn of events. I really didn't think we'd get any redemption out that character and it really added another level to the catharsis - that sweet/sweet catharsis.


1. Long

I feel very conflicted about this point because this show has excellent pacing. No episode feels drawn out and the suspense is kept tight and yet, by episode 11/12, I kept wondering, how are there almost ten episodes left in this show? How is there this much story left to tell? Honestly, I find for most 20 episode dramas, they could have told the same story, better, in 16 episodes. I definitely wouldn't use this point to dissuade someone from watching this show because each episode is enjoyable, but looking back on it, it is definitely long.

2. Beom Jo (Kim Young Kwang)

I feel like I really wanted to like Beom Jo and it really just never happened. The initial creep factor of him reading all of In Ha's text messages for years just never totally went away for me. I mean, the whole reason he's in this story is really because he was stalking In Ha. While he's a good guy at heart and he does end up being more integral to the central plot than is first apparent, I just never really got invested in his character. Part of sacrificing a true love triangle is that the audience is always going to be solidly focused on our pair and never wonder about the side characters. Yoo Rae (Lee Yoo Bi) I think does a better job of being a character independent of Dal Po and In Ha. Just still don't care that much about Beom Jo.


Dal Po's hair at the beginning of this show! Fan girls every breathe a sigh of relief when he finally "cuts" it. *shudders*


So... this show had me amped up for justice and for love and for truth every episode. What delight. People are tough on Park Shin Hye, but I've always really liked her and this show was definitely no exception. Her on screen chemistry with Jong Suk is a sparkling addition to a show with a compelling plot. I would probably watch this show again. Also, side note, the music was really stellar also.

Final Grade: B+

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody!