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SHT L

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  1. I love her and Dylan Wang together. I hope to keep seeing her develop as an actress. Hopefully her next part isn't in the same Shancai mold, which I felt was really similar to her part in A Love So Beautiful except Shancai (at first) had more of a backbone and more of a brain.
  2. I'm a bit late the party, but I decided to catch up on most Ariel Lin dramas. I got started when I first saw In Time With You from a recommended list of well-written Asian dramas and I became a fan of Ariel forever after that. So far, I've seen Legend of Condor Heroes, Prince of Lan Ling, Tokyo Juliet (despite her and Wu Chun making the pair likable, that was a real chore to sit through and gosh the actual attempted rapes that the main character forgives makes Xiang Qin seem like a feminist hero), Love Contract, and I Will Never Let You Go. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of hers and I think she's one of the best actors on screen working today. I'm including all actors from all countries I've seen in that group. I just finished by It Started with a Kiss and They Kiss Again after hearing so much about them. I was a bit familiar with the material as I started the Japanese version Mischievous Kiss on Netflix some years ago. I couldn't finish that one because I think it was meant for viewers a bit younger than myself but I did make it to the part where she joined the Tennis Club. The whole thing seemed so cartoony (especially the mom's acting). I also watched a bit of the Korean Playful Kiss just to compare it. So after my first experience, I was sort of not looking forward to this, but I'm glad I finished it. It's still a story geared more towards the younger crowd, but the difference between this version and the other ones is that I felt the director went for a more natural feel (as natural as one can be with a story based on a manga like this manga) and allowed the actors to seem like they were ab-libbing to get a more familial mood between the characters. I thought They Kiss Again was even better than It Started with a Kiss. I have to say after reading some reviews on other websites, I'm surprised more viewers aren't more impressed with Ariel Lin did here. Out of all the takes of Kotoku/Xiang Qin, I think Ariel bravely plays the character fully as is, even when she's being the most "dumb" and annoying. I think in order to truly get it right, you have to play her like that to make the juxtaposition between Kotoku/Xiang Qin and Irie/Zhi Shu right. She has to be all-the-way in order to truly make her truly different from any other non-honor student/emotional girl, and make up for the "10 percent" that Irie/Zhi Shu lacks. Plus, with all the situations she finds herself in AND the way she loses her temper but still allows herself to take a lot of verbal and emotional abuse from many characters, she has to be missing something in her brain to process those things like the regular viewer would. And yet, despite that, Ariel makes Xiang Qin so real and quirky and good-natured, that she becomes someone you root and feel for. I think it would have been easy for any actress to scale this character back a bit to make her more relatable and sympathetic to the mostly female viewer who obviously projects themselves into the part, but I prefer the way this version doesn't shy away from it but also doesn't shy away from the message that just because a character can annoy you (make one's feminist heart or any functional working adult squirm) and be really thick at almost all times, she's still worthy of dignity and even respect when her actions show she deserves it. I think she did a phenomenal job there though I could have used one or a few less overwrought crying scenes just to make the impact bigger. After a while, it's like we know Ariel is a master of crying all the way on cue. I'm not sure how I feel about Joe Cheng's portrayal just because I think for some reason they decided to not make him so mechanical/cold. It's as if they were too afraid to do that and instead Cheng would smirk, smile, or whatever like a normal person at times that it kind of makes it harder to buy that he is truly missing a lot of things "normal" people have in terms of emotion and only Kotoku/Xiang Qin could bring them out. I think Furukawa Yuki's portrayal is probably closer to how Irie is supposed to be though he was downright scary in parts when he was screaming and being physical with Kotoku but seems like someone who is lacking something in his brain to empathize with other people's emotions/norms and reacts out of frustration would be like). At parts, it was hard for me to buy Joe Cheng as someone every female would fall in love with on the surface level (and on paper), but it's just one of those impossible tasks. I think he did make Zhi Shu someone I liked watched see grow and mature as the series went on and because he wasn't so cold, you got to see a lot hints that he enjoyed being with Xiang Qin even if he himself didn't realize it. I do think that sort of makes one a bit more confused as to how cognizant Zhi Shu was over his feelings because his facial expressions make it seem that he did recognize it at the time but then later on he says he didn't know what he was feeling until later. There were some clunkiness (I liked Christine's relationship with Xiang Qin and how playful she was in the drunk scene but my gosh she was not a natural English-speaking actress and the man who played her father had to work with some horrific dialogue AND he didn't even try a posh British accent) and some draggy parts to both series, but I love the natural feel of the scenes and some creativity the director had with making the scenes come alive on screen. One of my favorite scenes is Jiro Wang as Ah Jin fantasizing singing to Xiang Qin at the graduation party. I thought that whole sequence was well-done. I also loved after making us suffer in limbo for so many episodes, when Xiang Qin is told by the head nurse she can transfer to Matsu, the way Ariel was filmed walking and being utterly giddy with that song playing made us feel the euphoria she was feeling. I know people go on about the chemistry between Ariel and Joe, and I agree they have real chemistry together, but Ariel has chemistry with all of her male co-stars that I've seen. IMO, nothing yet matches the sheer raw chemistry and passion between her and Mike He in Love Contract. That show had its issues, but one thing it really captured that I think is so rare in almost everything I've seen (I'm including American and European television and films as well) is that youthful passion that can happen between two people experiencing their first deep romance and relationship. Ariel and Mike really had something that I don't think either of them or most actors have captured since.
  3. IMO, YC and BQ didn't really cause those deaths. Every character who died caused their own deaths or contributed to it in some way. They knew what they were getting themselves into by acting the way they did. No character was completely innocent except for Xiao Xia, which was the only death I was truly sad for because her death was totally avoidable.* If anything, the biggest takeaway is that all this plotting and scheming for revenge, and holding on to past resentments/anger will create great harm that will last beyond your generation. And that some times justice isn't served. Honestly, BQ and CY cannot be blamed any of the deaths, especially DFS. DFS death was caused by one person and one person only, his grandfather. DFS already had a death wish by going through with a badly thought up rebellion with alliances made by coercion and threats as opposed to truly grassroots movements and sincere feelings to overthrow the Emperor. No wonder it was so easy for CY to exploit the weakness and dismantle the rebellion after ONE battle that turned things around. The rebellion wasn't even noble either, so I don't see why CY couldn't be loyal to the Emperor. The only reason they wanted to overthrow the Emperor wasn't for this feeling to create a better society but it was all for entitlement and greed for each participant's own ends. They didn't care about the common people. This part was probably added to appease the current Chinese regime, but CY wasn't misguided in staying loyal to the Emperor as he turned out not to be bad after all the threats stopped and thus ending the need for high taxation and horses. Sure he has bad taste in women and people walk on glass when they talk to him, and he's a schemer who makes other people suffer for his own gain, but you know...who didn't do that in this show? None of that would have stopped with DFS in power. Also, regarding BQ marrying DFS only to cause his death...that was all on DFS. She didn't cause his death really, and that plan was stupid because his grandfather already told DFS that even though he would have married the maiden because he "fell in love with her", he still would have sacrificed her. What made DFS think BQ would have been treated differently just because she married into the family? Grandfather didn't care. Anyway, BQ was strong-armed into marrying DFS who pretty much lied about how his grandfather would react to it and that he would spare her because of it. DFS just wanted to marry her and then keep her married to him through his wits and powers of coercion. I mean, DFS was the one who wanted the marriage to happen. How many times does a girl have to tell a man she's not interested and it's not her fault if DFS put her in danger to save her. She never asked him to do any thing and she doesn't owe him anything. DFS was acting like an incel. * Regarding, Xiao Xia's sad death. Honestly, if she was THAT devoted to being a Zhu bodyguard and if she was happy that BQ's existence gave her a purpose in life because she had career aspirations and NEEDED to be a protector with her own lady, then she probably would have died some time later anyway...maybe a rival house who wants to kill the new Zhu heir. Let's face it, Xiao Xia wasn't very good at her job and her martial arts left a lot to be desired. She found more purpose in being a bodyguard than being a wife (nothing wrong with that!) so she couldn't be with YC anyway. Then there's the whole thing about her lowly status and his family most likely not being ok with it.
  4. Does anyone else think if the writers were more "aware" or had a deeper message about the toxicity of obsessiveness of unrequited love, that the title of this drama would be purposefully ironic. Like we imagined CY and BQ saying "I will never let you go" to each other, and for good reason as they had been needlessly separated so many times that when they see each other and are finally settled they can say that to each other finally. However, I feel like the title is more appropriate for DFS's attitude towards BQ and LQW's attitude towards CY. I mean how many times can BQ and CY explicitly declare that they do not love them? How many times does a girl/guy have to say no? They certainly refused to let go of their one-sided love and took any piece of basic human decency expressed by BQ and CY towards them as "love nuggets" (to borrow a phrase from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) where they took any signs of basic human affection or niceness as evidence of deep love. Talk about toxic. Conversely, Cousin Yun Lang accepted BQ didn't like him and though he still stubbornly did certain things out of his one-sided love, he never put BQ in a position to force her to be with him or even be in his company. He accepted it but still acted in a way due to his love for her. That was more of a "him" problem that he needed to deal with later and he never harmed BQ while acting out his one-sided love. He did harm that other girl and dragged her along a bit, but that was a "her" problem as she created her own mess, forced him into an engagement (thankfully she let it go), and he never lied to her about his feelings for BQ. I sort of wish they explored what "love" actually was and how LQW and DFS's attitudes towards love was unhealthy and wrong due to them being seriously starved for love and affection in their upbringing. I also wish the writers played the audience a bit by seeing how many of them started falling for DFS when he was charming and winning despite the fact that all of his actions were committed without BQ's consent and how she NEVER asked him to do some of the nice things he did (after he put her in bad situations in the first place and practically held her hostage). Basically, I would kill for these C-dramas to one day take mature approaches and really dissect the actions of these people who behave badly in the name of love and actually make the takeaway messages more explicit. I know you can still analyze these people and come up with the same conclusions, but it'd be nice if the show did some of that work too and make the characters realize it and actually deal with the consequences without just being killed or whatever.
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