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[Mainland Chinese Drama 2018] The Rise of Phoenixes 凰权·弈天下

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On 11/20/2018 at 8:08 PM, sonosong said:

m currently watching him in TVB series, C'est La Vie, Mon Chéri (2008), and his performance is a lot more restrained there and fits the modern setting. I can’t judge by his voice because it’s dubbed over. But, yeah, I think this is strictly how he performed for this series in particular.

 

Also, I'm sorry, but not enough is being said about Ni Ni’s acting from me. Girl needs some love, especially since she did a spectacular job bringing Zhiwei to life for me. I heard some people call her a Mary Sue type, but I don’t get where they're coming from at all? She's such a strong female character. Every time Ning Yi wants to help her, she’s like, “Excuse me, but I got this.” Like the time he told her to stay put at his residence, but she writes him a letter and takes off.

I  just want to say I don't think Chen Kun is a bad actor.  I was actually looking forward to this drama because I have enjoyed his acting previously but I personally don't think he was right for this role. 

 

I'm here for the Ni Ni love!  I'm now a fan and hope to watch her in another drama soon.  Aside from all the love interests I don't think Zhi Wei was a Mary Sue.  I was surprised by how flawed she was.  She makes a lot of mistakes despite her intelligence and in the end she can't even save herself from despair.

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6 hours ago, whisper1 said:

Wonderful  scene as he takes advantage of the drugged FW and seems to fall in love with her himself. I thought we would see him leading her to bed! 

Are you trying to make me kill the script writers? I am really doing my best to believe he did not take advantage of Zhiwei here... >.<

 

6 hours ago, whisper1 said:

Best Expression of Love, after the epidemic his halting admission, so shy, so swoonworthy. Reminded me of Mr. Darcy, very JA.

I agree it was swoon worthy. Although I think Ning Yi talking about having babies with Zhiwei was just as hot. And that deleted scene in the trailers where Zhiwei and Ning Yi stood face to face and smiled at each other... there are just so many... I don't know what's the best

 

Best Villain for me is Jin Siyu. He was just as cunning as Ning Yi, too bad we didn't see as much of him as Ning Qi. Although I would also like the mention the Lord of Minhai, who outdid Ning Yi at every turn until his sons became his own downfall. Ning Qi did a lot, but not once did Ning Yi plot against him... so in the end, Ning Yi never really considered him as a worthy opponent?

 

4 hours ago, skibbies said:

I think it'd be nice if they could create something like this from scratch, but they didn't.

Yeah... well maybe some day...

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5 hours ago, raziela said:

I  just want to say I don't think Chen Kun is a bad actor.  I was actually looking forward to this drama because I have enjoyed his acting previously but I personally don't think he was right for this role. 

 

I'm here for the Ni Ni love!  I'm now a fan and hope to watch her in another drama soon.  Aside from all the love interests I don't think Zhi Wei was a Mary Sue.  I was surprised by how flawed she was.  She makes a lot of mistakes despite her intelligence and in the end she can't even save herself from despair.

 

Hey! Just chiming in my support for posting your point of view earlier. I guess its awkward having a minority opinion but I'm happy to see any discussion at all about ROTP and seeing different perspectives keeps it interesting (think most on here would agree) . We all interpreted the show a bit differently. While I don't agree with you, the chin jutting thing was hilarious to read. I found NingYi's eccentricity in line with his character. In fact, if he wasn't oozing out a bit of crazy every now and then I'd find him really cold. The flashes of 'overreacting' and raw zeal made him more human. A disturbed human but human nevertheless. I guess at the end of the day the way Chen Kun interpreted NingYi worked for me but that doesn't mean it has to work for everyone. What we perceive as 'working' is pretty subjective and when it doesn't sit right it can throw you off. 

 

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Also what does everyone think a Mary Sue is?

I thought it was an annoyingly perfect female character who doesn't demonstrate any skill/strength in the story but all the other characters keep going on that she's the best and fawning over her. And she's a bit arrogant too hence the 'annoying'. 

But I'm not sure anymore because I've seen a variety of characters now described as Mary Sue's and it seems like any unlikable female character is one? 

 

I can't imagine Zhi Wei being anywhere near Mary Sue territory, whatever the exact definitions are. NiNi's portrayal of Zhi Wei is one of the most dimensional I've seen for an 'innocent/good' character. She seemed like a real person from the very first scenes, even before we got to know her character. 

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For those who can't get enough of their sibmance. Damn Gu Nanyi really grew throughout the series. It's subtle but there. Should pay more attention to him next viewing. 

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1 hour ago, niniandkun said:

Also what does everyone think a Mary Sue is?

I thought it was an annoyingly perfect female character who doesn't demonstrate any skill/strength in the story but all the other characters keep going on that she's the best and fawning over her. And she's a bit arrogant too hence the 'annoying'. 

But I'm not sure anymore because I've seen a variety of characters now described as Mary Sue's and it seems like any unlikable female character is one? 

 

I can't imagine Zhi Wei being anywhere near Mary Sue territory, whatever the exact definitions are. NiNi's portrayal of Zhi Wei is one of the most dimensional I've seen for an 'innocent/good' character. She seemed like a real person from the very first scenes, even before we got to know her character. 

Yeah, I think people just throw around the label Mary Sue these days (well alright,  its been going on for awhile). But as an avid reader of fanfiction.net (lol) , I would say bad Mary Sue characters are fairly easy to spot. You can easily see when a writer is trying to be the main character, or even an awesome side character and creating a story for that purpose... trying to fulfill their fantasies by inserting themselves into a story or creating a main character that represents their fantasy-self. A Mary Sue is simply a fantasy self insert character. It doesn't mean that Mary Sues are all that bad. Some Mary Sues can be quite interesting in fact. 

 

For example, think about your favorite actor/idol right now and imagine a romance with him. Now write it. You just created a Mary Sue.

 

Now create a version of yourself inside the tRoP story line, you might even save Zhiwei from committing suicide or worse Ning Yi might marry you instead... yeah that's an example of a very bad Mary Sue... but it happens. I swear! Yes, yes, even if you went and ended up romancing Nanyi instead.

 

Admittedly, a good writer can actually cover up a self-insert to make it feel more of a real character. And thus you wont even notice the writer was actually creating a Mary Sue. But then it wouldn't matter... she didn't feel like a Mary Sue, so who cares. So it all goes down to bad writing. :D

 

So write yourself into the tRoP story line and have Nanyi fall in love with you. But write it in a way that no one figures out that you are writing a fantasy of yourself. Hah! Good luck!

 

On the other hand, even if the character is extremely over-powered, everyone is in awe of her, and she always saves the day, but for some reason (I don't know what), she doesn't feel like a self-insert character (maybe because the situations are just created for comic effect?), then you can't say she is a Mary Sue.

 

 

 

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@Pollen Ainne Hold up! So a Mary Sue only happens in fanfiction?? I feel like such an idiot, i just looked up Mary Sue and found the fanfiction connection.

I didn't know there was a concept of a good mary sue and a bad one. Or that it mostly refers to a 'self-insert' character. No wonder all the varying types of characters described as Mary Sues :expressionless:

By this definition in original fiction it describes a character that doesn't fit in with the storyverse? Maybe a character who is noticeably  favoured by the God of the universe (a.k.a the writer). Sort of like a parent gushing over their kid saying theirs is the best but you can clearly see the bias.

 

I thought it was just a particular type of character usually written by those who can't write 3D female characters. In order to make the character 'strong' they unnaturally overpower her to the point where she has few flaws, is usually right, everybody loves them but still comes across as a caricature but atleast shes "strong" now. Like the story keeps telling you shes the best but you're not convinced.

 

And thanks for that bit about me imagining romancing Nanyi. I actually blushed reading that. LOOL

 

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A mary sue to me is likely a self insert, a character who seems overly perfect, or amazing, or lucky, without adequate writing to support it. People does seem like to lob it at female characters they don't like a lot, which is pretty unfair. Female characters are generally judged more harshly too. Sometimes extraordinary characters goes through a lot, you accept that's the story it wants to tell and just leave it yknow. I mean, no one calls Zhuge Liang Gary Stu/Jack Sue. c!net absorbed the term but use it really broadly, I'm not entirely sure they understand what the term means.

 

The novel Zhiwei gets the rep for having multiple love interest, having a super pretty face but hide it with an ugly one, and generally over powered since she's like 16, she went to school and was prepped to revive kingdom, became imperial advisor (to save her own richard simmons in a pinch), is pretty good at martial arts (thanks to Mum + a special book), later was a pretty good general at 18, and became a Queen in her 20s. She wasn't perfect, she had flaws and made mistakes. Aside from the harem, I don't think the other are really sueish because the writing made it believable enough? and since she's awesome, I can buy that multiple people would be attracted to her you know. As for drama Zhiwei, she is deeply flawed, the only thing I can think of that might sue-ish is she got involved in dangerous power play and survived early on. I think it's the novel rep carrying over, mostly.

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38 minutes ago, skibbies said:

A mary sue to me is likely a self insert, a character who seems overly perfect, or amazing, or lucky, without adequate writing to support it. People does seem like to lob it at female characters they don't like a lot, which is pretty unfair. Female characters are generally judged more harshly too. Sometimes extraordinary characters goes through a lot, you accept that's the story it wants to tell and just leave it yknow. I mean, no one calls Zhuge Liang Gary Stu/Jack Sue. c!net absorbed the term but use it really broadly, I'm not entirely sure they understand what the term means.

 

The novel Zhiwei gets the rep for having multiple love interest, having a super pretty face but hide it with an ugly one, and generally over powered since she's like 16, she went to school and was prepped to revive kingdom, became imperial advisor (to save her own richard simmons in a pinch), is pretty good at martial arts (thanks to Mum + a special book), later was a pretty good general at 18, and became a Queen in her 20s. She wasn't perfect, she had flaws and made mistakes. Aside from the harem, I don't think the other are really sueish because the writing made it believable enough? and since she's awesome, I can buy that multiple people would be attracted to her you know. As for drama Zhiwei, she is deeply flawed, the only thing I can think of that might sue-ish is she got involved in dangerous power play and survived early on. I think it's the novel rep carrying over, mostly.

 

So we're pretty much all on the same page. And RIGHT?? It is always females who get judged more harshly. I hate to admit but I'm guilty of it too. It irks me more when female characters display these traits. Maybe I take it personally because I think it reflects badly on me. Part of it is probably cultural conditioning too. But it is unfair that so many female characters are now easily dismissed as Mary Sues. Argh...I ought to start pointing out more Gary Stus now.

On one hand reviewers can't wait to slap on the Mary Sue tag on any leading female character and on the other side there's a lot of lazy writers who don't know how to write strong females who aren't masculine/aggressive or know it alls. 

 

Havn't read the novel but from this description it still doesn't warrant a Mary Sue tag IMO. Of course the novel is about an extraordinary protagonist like many stories are. How many extraordinary "the chosen one" type stories are there about men? No one blinks an eye.

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10 hours ago, niniandkun said:

@Pollen Ainne Hold up! So a Mary Sue only happens in fanfiction??

Uhm no. If you create an original story with a self-insert such is a still a Mary Sue. Like my first example, if you write a story of yourself and your favorite idol being in a romance, you are still creating a Mary Sue character, unless of course you are so good a writer to convince us otherwise.

 

10 hours ago, niniandkun said:

By this definition in original fiction it describes a character that doesn't fit in with the storyverse? Maybe a character who is noticeably  favoured by the God of the universe (a.k.a the writer). Sort of like a parent gushing over their kid saying theirs is the best but you can clearly see the bias.

Ok I should have read your entire post first. lol. But yeah, it is something like that. She still fits in the story though because the entire universe is made for her to shine. And it's glaringly obvious.

 

10 hours ago, niniandkun said:

I thought it was just a particular type of character usually written by those who can't write 3D female characters. In order to make the character 'strong' they unnaturally overpower her to the point where she has few flaws, is usually right, everybody loves them but still comes across as a caricature but atleast shes "strong" now. Like the story keeps telling you shes the best but you're not convinced.

Unfortunately, the term has been loosely thrown around a lot. But those things that you mentioned are usually the reasons why people would think you created a self-insert. If you look around for definitions of Mary Sue, you usually see a lot of reasons why a person would think a character is a Mary Sue. Those reasons are actually the things that can make people believe you have created a self-insert. Because otherwise, as I previously stated, you can actually create a good Mary Sue and not have people find out. Although you can also create an obvious Mary Sue that people like... or a Gary Stu... (I am looking at you Kirito of SAO that has so much fanbase, ugh)

 

But even if you have those elements, if for some reason, the character is still not believable as a self-insert, she still isn't a Mary Sue. You find Mary Sues a lot in fanfictions, because most fanfiction writers are amateurs.

 

Now if the script writer of tRoP actually wrote tRoP by self-inserting herself as Zhiwei, then yeah, Zhiwei is a Mary Sue. However, if you didn't even think that, then there is no point in thinking that she is. So it is the relationship between the character, writer, and story. Did you once think that the writer was just portraying her own fantasies by being the main character in this story? No? Then she isn't a Mary Sue. 

 

A badly written character doesn't mean she is a Mary Sue. A character written for an agenda (Namely you Rey of Star Wars) doesn't mean she is a Mary Sue, despite everyone hating her and shouting that she is so.

 

Usually, it is people who have no interest in writing and just hear the word Mary Sue from others that misuses the label. Mostly, drama/movie watchers with no interest in books. Sorry... not saying that all book readers know of it's real meaning. But writers should know exactly what a Mary Sue is, and thus stepping away from a character that you have written is as much an important step in writing as stepping into it.

 

10 hours ago, skibbies said:

The novel Zhiwei gets the rep for having multiple love interest, having a super pretty face but hide it with an ugly one, and generally over powered since she's like 16, she went to school and was prepped to revive kingdom, became imperial advisor (to save her own richard simmons in a pinch), is pretty good at martial arts (thanks to Mum + a special book), later was a pretty good general at 18, and became a Queen in her 20s. She wasn't perfect, she had flaws and made mistakes. Aside from the harem, I don't think the other are really sueish because the writing made it believable enough? and since she's awesome, I can buy that multiple people would be attracted to her you know. As for drama Zhiwei, she is deeply flawed, the only thing I can think of that might sue-ish is she got involved in dangerous power play and survived early on. I think it's the novel rep carrying over, mostly.

Thanks for more insight on the novel. When I heard people mention she is Mary Sueish in the novel, I actually kinda believed it because of the things she has accomplished and I have no context whatsoever since I didn't read it. It is kinda not hard to believe. But I think I have mentioned this several pages before, no matter how overpowered she is, if the writer manages to convince me that she is a character and not a self-insert, then she is not a Mary Sue, to me at least. lol

 

9 hours ago, niniandkun said:

So we're pretty much all on the same page. And RIGHT?? It is always females who get judged more harshly. I hate to admit but I'm guilty of it too. It irks me more when female characters display these traits. Maybe I take it personally because I think it reflects badly on me. Part of it is probably cultural conditioning too. But it is unfair that so many female characters are now easily dismissed as Mary Sues. Argh...I ought to start pointing out more Gary Stus now.

On one hand reviewers can't wait to slap on the Mary Sue tag on any leading female character and on the other side there's a lot of lazy writers who don't know how to write strong females who aren't masculine/aggressive or know it alls. 

 

Havn't read the novel but from this description it still doesn't warrant a Mary Sue tag IMO. Of course the novel is about an extraordinary protagonist like many stories are. How many extraordinary "the chosen one" type stories are there about men? No one blinks an eye.

Actually Gary Stus are thrown around a lot too. In the fanfiction world, there are so many of them around (not as much as Mary Sues though). But... let us be honest, there are really more Mary Sues than Gary Stus. The reason being is that, let us face it, we women are more prone to fantasize than men. It is the honest truth. And by saying this, I am not including the tons of harem stories and ecchi manga and anime that are created for male fantasies but not necessarily the author's. 

 

I really despise Mary Sues. We all have our own fantasies, but writing your fantasy and declaring it as a "character" worthy for other's to read about is despicable to me. If you want to write a fantasy about yourself, might as well label it as such and not hide it as a different character. But my advice, don't even write it. Just keep it in your head. lol

 

Edit: Seems us females, usually spot Mary Sue's more easily than Gary Stus. So I might be wrong about Gary Stus being not as many. I just discussed it with my brother just now and he was able to mention a lot of Gary Stus than Mary Sues and he says a lot of Mary Sues are pretty cool. And I actually find the Gary Stus he mentioned to be pretty good characters. So... I guess we are just more judgmental to our own gender.

 

Btw, I have to reiterate... fantastical... sometimes I forget to include that term... but it has to be a fantasy of yourself and not really yourself...

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14 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Ok I should have read your entire post first. lol. But yeah, it is something like that. She still fits in the story though because the entire universe is made for her to shine. And it's glaringly obvious.

I was writing directly from my train of thought. Should've edited it lol.

 

14 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Now if the script writer of tRoP actually wrote tRoP by self-inserting herself as Zhiwei, then yeah, Zhiwei is a Mary Sue. However, if you didn't even think that, then there is no point in thinking that she is. So it is the relationship between the character, writer, and story. Did you once think that the writer was just portraying her own fantasies by being the main character in this story? No? Then she isn't a Mary Sue. 

So its a self insert that betrays itself. Consider me educated ^_^

 

15 hours ago, Pollen Ainne said:

Usually, it is people who have no interest in writing and just hear the word Mary Sue from others that misuses the label.

Yeah that includes me haha. I mostly picked it up from the reviewer/critic crowd and thought I understood what it meant from the contexts they used it in but only now do I really get it. Ah better late than never. And I can't stand most fanfiction. Even though I'm open to it I usually can't make it through because the characters seem different from the original story. They don't even have to be Mary sues even slight changes to the essence of the characters puts me off. I like my characters to be consistent and changes ought to be in a gradient brought about by circumstance. The bigger the change the longer you have to walk me through it. Looking at you Zhiwei and NingYi from the last few episodes. :angry:

 

 

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I feel like tRoP is more magical realism than fantasy. All the magical elements are nonchalantly thrown in and are more rooted in cultural beliefs than straight up fantasy. Check out One Hundred Years of Solitude or anything else by Marquez (or Borges) for some really outstanding examples and beautiful prose. The English and Chinese translations for both authors happen to have been done exceptionally well, although it is likely to pale in comparison to the original Spanish.

 

Also I am so happy everyone here disagrees with all those people calling FZW a Mary Sue. I was really annoyed reading all those comments when the show was airing. Those same people never call guys Gary Stus despite their abundance. All the things they criticized FZW for could also have been applied to Wang Kai's character in NiF. 

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8 hours ago, niniandkun said:

Yeah that includes me haha. I mostly picked it up from the reviewer/critic crowd and thought I understood what it meant from the contexts they used it in but only now do I really get it. Ah better late than never. And I can't stand most fanfiction. Even though I'm open to it I usually can't make it through because the characters seem different from the original story. They don't even have to be Mary sues even slight changes to the essence of the characters puts me off. I like my characters to be consistent and changes ought to be in a gradient brought about by circumstance. The bigger the change the longer you have to walk me through it. Looking at you Zhiwei and NingYi from the last few episodes. :angry:

 

 

Same, although I am more forgiving of Mary Sues in fan fiction as writers are mostly amateurs. But definitely not in published books. But you are right with the change in character. I hate it. When the character doesn't feel the same to me anymore, I drop it. Although some purposely go OOC just so they can push the characters in the scenario of their fantasy and wisely label their fiction as so. So I just read it out of curiosity. There are some gems in fan fiction.

 

Although I think writing a tRoP fan fiction seems harder than most. One because of the conclusive ending, two because it is not easy to write schemes and Ning Yi's character is completely based on it. I feel like tackling a fan fiction of tRoP can only bring disappointment... sigh~

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On 11/20/2018 at 4:17 PM, raziela said:

The director really should have reigned him in a bit more. I felt like Chen kun would frequently make his scenes a lot more overwrought than needed. He was always acting with a capital 'A' even in scenes where it wasn't necessary.  Then for the really emotional scenes he would dial the performance up even further to 11.  It was just too much and diminished any real emotional impact. 

I loved Chen Kun as Ning Yi. If I had issues with NiNi or Chen Kun's characterisations in this series, I don't think I would have finished watching all 80 eps.

 

However, I am not a Mandarin speaker and sometimes I wonder if I needed Chen Kun and NiNi's facial expressions and tone of voice to put some colour into all of those subtitles. In other words, is Chen Kun's expressiveness/'overacting' more off-putting to native speakers and more enjoyable for subtitle-dependent viewers? It would partly explain the mixed reception between the original audience in China and the international Netflix audience (aside from the shorter episode run, bad local publicity and anti-Chen-Kun-NiNi sentiment).

 

Sorry about switching back to an old topic and not Mary Sue stuff. Have been away...

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That's really hard to say tbh? It's a pretty personal opinion. All the things you mentioned and more (expectation for example) factor in how people view the drama and actor's performance, it's very hard to separate them. Besides, the Chinese audience is a bigger and wider pool and have more older cdramas and actors older performance/look to compare with, so they are harsher on cdramas in general. Almost all cdramas get more criticism on c!net, the ones that don't are the untranslated dramas that would have an international audience. (ok NiF is an exception but it still gets more criticisms comparatively, for a) Mei Changsu being Gary Stu/win too easily. but he had lot of prepping. b) the schemes were too simple. but schemes weren't quite the focus there, it was more about ideals, schemes was a mean to the end c) the characters are pretty black and white, because it's again, pretty idealistic story. )

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I don't know... actors overacting in general are off-putting to me as well. I think it all goes down to characterization and individual perception? The way I saw it, the one overacting was not Chen Kun but Ning Yi... I just so happened to get intrigued by the type of character Ning Yi was instead of repelled by it. So basically, Chen Kun just made a character that was overly dramatic at times and it all depends on the viewer if the character appealed to them or not. I don't think i would have judged it differently had it been an English drama... at least I don't think so...

 

I don't think that most viewers disinterest had something to do with Ning Yi's character tho... I think it's mostly with the story pacing... for some reason, even for people who like the show, people find the pacing at the beginning really slow... I really loved the pacing however...

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On 11/24/2018 at 3:45 AM, Pollen Ainne said:

Although I think writing a tRoP fan fiction seems harder than most. One because of the conclusive ending, two because it is not easy to write schemes and Ning Yi's character is completely based on it. I feel like tackling a fan fiction of tRoP can only bring disappointment... sigh~

Also shouldn't drama fanfic be in drama format? who knows that might become a thing with youtube and easy home production. Buahahaa....next level cringe :lol:

 

23 hours ago, morganian said:

I wonder if I needed Chen Kun and NiNi's facial expressions and tone of voice to put some colour into all of those subtitles. In other words, is Chen Kun's expressiveness/'overacting' more off-putting to native speakers and more enjoyable for subtitle-dependent viewers?

You know I've had the opposite experience. I can tolerate bland acting better when there's subtitles because it feels less boring when I'm switching from their faces to reading. I remember with tRop I had to rewind a couple of scenes cuz there was so much happening on his (NingYi) face and I wanted to catch all of it.

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1 hour ago, niniandkun said:

Also shouldn't drama fanfic be in drama format? who knows that might become a thing with youtube and easy home production. Buahahaa....next level cringe :lol:

 

You know I've had the opposite experience. I can tolerate bland acting better when there's subtitles because it feels less boring when I'm switching from their faces to reading. I remember with tRop I had to rewind a couple of scenes cuz there was so much happening on his (NingYi) face and I wanted to catch all of it.

LOL! I remember all the Naruto cosplay drama fights I see on youtube... no please...

 

And I feel you there with Ning Yi's expression. His face definitely tell a story by itself. lol It definitely so much better to watch the second and third time around because you already know what is happening and doesn't have to read as much.

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On 11/24/2018 at 1:26 PM, Pollen Ainne said:

I don't know... actors overacting in general are off-putting to me as well. I think it all goes down to characterization and individual perception? The way I saw it, the one overacting was not Chen Kun but Ning Yi... I just so happened to get intrigued by the type of character Ning Yi was instead of repelled by it. So basically, Chen Kun just made a character that was overly dramatic at times and it all depends on the viewer if the character appealed to them or not. I don't think i would have judged it differently had it been an English drama... at least I don't think so...

 

I don't think that most viewers disinterest had something to do with Ning Yi's character tho... I think it's mostly with the story pacing... for some reason, even for people who like the show, people find the pacing at the beginning really slow... I really loved the pacing however...

I agree, the character NY is overacting, and in doing so he succeeds  in becoming the thorn in his brother's  sides. His father gets it, example " the joke" is no joke, but the Emperor  laughs out loud furthering the threat to the Crown Prince while covering for NY. JMO that puppy dog expression is priceless as it changes when the assembled  brothers and officials turn on each other playing the blame game.

 

As for the pacing... I  am used to western fare when action is often inserted for little or no reason other than to keep eyeballs amused. It took me a while to come down off the action sugar high and appreciate the pace of RotP. Slowing my brain down so that I  could absorb the fine dialogue and small details is one of the reasons I can't  move on. This drama is imersive and my enjoyment has intensified once I  gave myself permission to let go and get wet. 

 

I don't  know much about the Mary Sue discussion. I usually equate it with the damsel  in distress type. My thoughts are that these leads don't  fall into that catagory. Much of the action and dialogue goes against the predictable. I loved FW admitting that she wasn't  the sweet, altruistic  female, and that she would (in other words) burn down the world " for him". My kind of female, lol.

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29 minutes ago, whisper1 said:

I loved FW admitting that she wasn't  the sweet, altruistic  female, and that she would (in other words) burn down the world " for him". My kind of female, lol.

My favorite line in the movie. Too bad she was too controlled to actually give in. I would have loved to see that!

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Ok yikes, guys- I had to make an account here to discuss this show because no one I know has seen this and I am pretty sure no one I know will want to watch 70 episodes. This is the first Asian drama I've watched as an adult. I grew up watching Chinese dramas with my parents but basically have only watched television produced in the West for the past fifteen years. But I saw this on Netflix and was intrigued by how beautiful and textured it looked. 

 

Slightly ashamed to admit that I'm on episode 48 (after 5 days of binge watching and being incredibly sleep deprived) and am honestly kind of terrified to watch any further. I completely spoiled myself reading comments and watching the behind the scenes clips, so even during the utterly sweet scenes of open affection between Ning Yi and Zhi Wei, a dark cloud hangs over it all. I'm already emotionally exhausted- and I haven't even gotten to the rupture between Ning Yi and Zhi Wei. But damn, after Zhi Wei was imprisoned and that scene with her mom bringing her food... I literally ugly-cried my eyebrow makeup off. And the argument between Xin Ziyan and Ning Yi right before he goes to Minhai about with ZiYan interrogating the prince about his commitment to his dreams of empire- such a tour-de-force scene. I cried then too. Now, like Pavlov's dog, I can't help but tear up when I hear any of the music from the show. Loved Zhu Yin's character so much and hated that she was killed off. Her big sister relationship with Zhi Wei. Her comrade in arms kind of bond with Ning Yi. 

 

These characters and their relationships with each other are so rich and layered and I am so invested in everyone, including the villains. Like when consort Chang went to the emperor to plead for the life of her kids and how grateful she was that she would be buried in the royal tombs. Damn, cue more waterworks. HOW IS EVERYONE IN THIS SHOW SO GOOD AT ACTING. And the characterization of the princess Shaoning was so finely done and really complicated the trope of the bratty princess. I loved when she was discussing with Zhi Wei how royal children were forced to fight for the love of their father, never taking it for granted as commoners do, showing how delusional and pitiful she is in some ways yet unflinchingly honest in others, how insular, lonely, and dangerous her world is (and by extension, Ning Yi's world and all the princes). These royal children may gain allies and political backers, but can they have true friends? True family other than their mothers? And the way she told that story about how the crown prince killed someone's cat to make her feel better about her pet bird dying- she really believed it to be a purely heartwarming story about his undeniable worth. Just a revealing and twisted moment of characterization there- here's someone who lacks so much empathy and is so self-involved yet holds her affection for her older brother so deeply.

 

So many amazing moments to turn over in one's head. 

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