Been off the radar since forever but never out of dramaland! For a drama this interesting, it is worth getting back into blogging. Such a gem, I can’t wait to share it!
The easier title is Joy of Life but that clashes with another modern C-drama. The Chinese title itself sounds more poetic and it is correctly translated into Thankful for the Remaining Years, which now sounds like a sob story of a dying patient.
In the twilight years of Eastern Jin, Liu Yu usurps the throne to become the founding emperor of the Liu Song dynasty. Consort Ye’s newborn son is the only royalty to survive the bloody purge, and is adopted by the Imperial Secretariat Fan Jian. At the age of eighteen, Fan Xian’s impending political marriage with a princess makes him extremely popular among the ambitious princes, though he carefully avoids joining any of the factions.
Fan Xian is lauded for his loyalty to the emperor during two successive rebellions, though later discovers he is the biological son of the tyrannical ruler, and that Liu Yu was the one that sent assassins to kill his mother. For revenge as well as the peace of the kingdom, Fan Xian engages in a deadly political struggle with the emperor, and eventually succeeds in forcing Liu Yu to abdicate.
First off, the sypnosis sounds heavy, pretty much of politics and harem intrigue going on. A bastard son of the Minister of Revenue gets pulled into all this intrigue yadah yadah and probably defeats them all.
The execution of a typical plot line with the modern mindset, this drama promises to no longer leave the audience out of the loop, it very much knows what we are thinking.
We get started with a young Fan Xian who has the bravado of an adult, serving much comical relief from the get go. A lot of the story is still shrouded in mystery and he has mysterious teachers who teaches him art of poison, art of kungfu. He has no clue why he is kept in DanZhou but he knows he is preparing for something big. The only regret is how short the screen time for this child it. However, one and a half episode of his childhood, greatly set the tone and character of Fan Xian.
The adult version of Fan Xian didn’t fail to disappoint either. It’s like a modern character is living in ancient setting. This story was originally written to be a transmigration story but due to the ban, they made it a little Sci fi, an imagination story of a modern person. If they had made it a pure transmigration story, I don’t think it would have this quirky illogical effect. Despite the drama challenging logic, sometimes even blatantly laying it out for us, it’s entertaining. There are many gaps in dramas that I accept without thinking much because hey, a story is a story but this drama refuses to let these plot holes go. I get astonished and humored when they do mention their own plot holes as well. I think the drama has found itself new ways to be humorous without agonizing us with heavy plots. Historical dramas often find itself in a pinch trying to insert comedy in their plots without losing the tones but I would say JOL is the new role model here.
As Royal Nirvana is airing around the same time, many viewers are comparing the two. Royal Nirvana is executed much differently, it’s in a much more serious tone. I love both but JOL is definitely something I choose to watch after a long tiring day of work. I found myself hard to sit down and watch dramas like Zhen Huan, Ruyi’s love in Royal Palace, the infamous Nirvana in Fire etc . Royal Nirvana is another one I put in the same category so I don’t think I’ll be watching it as much despite how excellently Luo Jin is doing in there.
Another aspect about JOL is how I think it’s shot in a very first person video game feel. This doesn’t come out often, they often deploy this method when they are pulling the humour pit on us but it gives the drama a different texture.
A character favourite has to be the famous Fan Si Zhe also known as Versace in Chinese pronounciation. He is Fan Xian’s step brother who appears to be the black sheep of the family, often inciting the anger of his father for being ‘useless’. As later Fan Xian explains, Fan Si Zhe has only money on his mind however does not have a purpose or a place to squander. His excellent calculation skills and ability to find profit in many things including cashing in on Fan Xian’s book business (Fan Xian rewrote Dream of the Red Mansion which became the most best selling book in the city) was evident to Fan Xian as great entrepreneurship but not his father. I love how Fan Xian enlightened his father that Fan Si Zhe is actually gifted in his own way despite not the acceptable scholar-ly way. As Fan Si Zhe quickly became close to Fan Xian (for profit and for ehem brotherly love), he has gained a soft spot for most of the audiences. AWW.
As there are so many interesting characters such as Teng Zi Jing, Uncle Wu Zhu, Wang Qi Nian, the grand princess, the emperor, I think there is bound to be characters that lack lustre. This is unfortunately the love interest of Fan Xian, Wan Er. Decreed by the emperor to form a marriage alliance, Wan Er is the illegitimate daughter of the Grand Princess and the Prime Minister. Why illegitimate is because the Grand Princess never married the Prime Minister and why the hell they didn’t beats me because the Grand Princess looks single AF. Wan Er is the typical Candy (gentle, pure, naive) heroine, often waiting to be saved or thrown into circumstances which she has no ability to control. Despite forming a cute romance story with Fan Xian, I cannot help but wonder if she has anything else to bring to the table because everyone else is outperforming each other.
From reading the character details, there seems to be a lot more characters yet to appear. Definitely a motivation to keep myself invested in this one. The problem with historical dramas is at midway, the plot intensifies and everything becomes to serious. I hope JOL can maintain the comedic taste when that happens without losing the plot. It’s done so well for the first few episodes, I hope this becomes another of my classical favourites. Get yourself sucked into this epic visual experience now!