First Impressions on J-drama: Takane no Hana + Episode 1 sypnosis

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I’ve recently found no J-dramas that pique my interest but somehow stumbled upon an old one. Takane no Hana or the English title ‘Born to be a Flower’ bears meaning of the unreachable flower on a cliff. Lead by Satomi Ishihara who can be repetitive or slightly screechy, I decided to give it a shot anyway. And I’m impressed.

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The story begins with our protagonist, Momo Tsukishima, daughter of the notable Tsukishima school for flower arrangement. She had been left at the altar by her fiancee, who had an affair and now, on his way to become a father. Right off the bat, she tries to meet him at a park but we see that he meets his current pregnant wife instead and she is dragged off by police. Turns out, he has a restraining order on her and she has been stalking him for 6 months.

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Her family comes with her driver to bail her out of the police station but she cycles off on her red bicycle to avoid naggings. On her way, she gets into an accident for being distracted and ends up in the drain with a broken bike. We are then introduced to the male protagonist, known affectionately as Pooh (Mineta Kazonobu). He runs a bicycle repair shop and spends free time playing mobile Shogi. Despite not getting much business and taking care of his elderly paraplegic mother, he seems to be living contently.

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After Momo drops off her bike in his shop and gets a free change of clothes from Pooh, she heads home. In between of this, we are introduced to Nana (Yoshine Kyoko), Momo’s younger half sister who is meek but also well-versed in flower arrangement. The antagonist, Utsunomiya Ryuichi (Chiba Yudai), serves to bring threat to the Tsukishima family business and other flower arrangement schools.

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We are also shown Momo and her father’s interaction (Kohinata Fumiyo), transitioning from formal attitude of a student to headmaster, to a daughter and her father. Momo’s father tells her to get herself ‘rehabilitated’ with the help of another man, or a new love. Just like people who fracture their leg, they need treatment and rehabilitation. However, her father also coldly tells her that she will come to realize that wouldn’t be true love and she should thank the person and dump him after. Momo is flabbergasted by her father’s advice and does not share his opinion.

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When she comes to retrieve her bike, Pooh is in the middle of a marriage meeting with a divorcee with a 5 year old child, hilariously mentioned by his friends as Balloon due to her well-endowed boobies. It turns out that earlier, his mother had passed away peacefully. His mother’s friend was tasked by his mother to help him out with marriage prospects , leading to this omiai.

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We are introduced to Shota-kun, a troubled boy who seems to be a container full of hate, especially towards his mother for unknown reasons. Momo suggests a trip around Japan on a bicycle as a joke but Pooh is enthusiastic and persuades Shota. This one is another one on a journey for healing too.

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Momo somehow joins him with his friend at their local hangout and they dissect his omiai. Momo gives her two cents about worrying whether he would come to dislike Balloon’s child because according to her, it’s male instinct to kill children of others. As the conversation progresses, Pooh finds that she carries a burden with her as well and encourages her to share it. Once she turns on the faucet, there was no turning back and Momo shared her feelings with her new found friends. After hearing her story, Kazama drew his classic whiteboard explanation.

Angry people hate while sad people love.

tnk9Momo is a good person because despite being betrayed, all she could do was love. True love bears no hate, says Kazama. They karaoke all night after all the sappy stories and Momo wakes up in Kazama’s house. They share breakfast and a classic Love me Tender plays on the background. So romantic 🙂

tnk11The episode ends with Momo coming into a flower arrangement demonstration after Nana gets stage fright. We get sight of the other Momo, who is beguiling as she sings a prose about a flower. Here, she is the flower out of reach, Takane no Hana.

I am Tsukishima Momo.


Character analysis

Tsukishima Momo is your typical spoiled girl raised in privileged environment. However despite that, she was blessed with the talent for flower arrangement much to her father’s joy and the jealousy of her stepmother. This talent of hers made her coveted and it felt like people around her was objectifying her. Her despair over her marriage breakdown could show that her fiancee was the one person who didn’t really value her talents over her individuality. So much of her identity had to do with Tsukishima and flower arranging, Momo must have been buried in.

We often see Momo glancing into the mirror during flower arranging, a technique her father has taught her. To imagine ‘another her’ watching her every move, like an audience. I like to think that this other her is the perfect talented Momo who does not allow for error, who only lives for flower arranging. This somehow explains why Momo becomes very afraid when she sees ‘the other Momo’, who swallows the real Momo’s love and other aspirations. Marriage seemed to also become one of Momo’s escape plans as she announced that she was leaving flower arranging once she becomes a full time wife.

Along with being free-spirited, Momo holds strong moral values which was demonstrated in regards to her fiancee taking responsibility for the child he had with another woman. Another point was when her father had told her to use and dump a man to get over her heartbreak. Although she is shown to be flamboyant and a bit off the hooks, she is shown to know boundaries where morality lies.

On the other hand, Kazama lives on the complete opposite end of social strata. Described as a strange child since young, he lived peaceful days with his mother and operates a bicycle repair shop left by his father. Even though he seems socially awkward at first, he is surrounded with kind people who sees him for who he is and embraces him. He is the hidden diamond in the rough and his mother describes him to be capable of achieving anything he wanted, a smart child when younger. While all parents believe the same for their children, we get glimpses which show Kazama to be concealing his talons. Kazama certainly has layers to him as well and I can’t wait for the drama to explore it.

Plot analysis

This drama heavily reminds me of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. Both dramas have their female leads on a pedestal, often having more than the ordinary but still unhappy. And then comes the male leads, poor or not well-to do , who comes into the picture and changes their life. Although Tatta Hitotsu no Koi shows young 20 year olds, I would like to think Takane no Hana as the slightly more matured version, like their thirties version. It’s exploring not just the rich girl, poor man gap but also their dilemma in life. Just because their dilemma is in a different spectrum or different scale, doesn’t mean they can’t communicate to each other on the same page.

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At this point, the more obvious development would be witnessed on Momo. She has quite clear cut problems and she is actively trying to solve it, by falling into a new love. Kazama is more of the dark horse but I’m hoping they heal each other on the way.

The rest of the cast namely, Utsunomiya, Momo’s stepmother seem to be pure antagonistic. Nana is the goody two shoes who would gradually deviate to the ‘evil’ as she faces her inferiority complex. Momo’s father on the other hand is some insane obsessed flower arranging master, can’t wait for Momo to prove to him that artistic pursuits do not require moral sacrifice.

I love the overall tone of the drama and J-dorama has the talent of giving us a lot of plot progression even from the get-go. Just 1 episode and we have established the chemistry between Momo and Kazama. My gripe is that these kind of romance drama turn angsty and a little idiotic towards the end and they will try whatever they can to break them apart. Then please us by gluing them back on without being faithful to the original personality of the characters.

I’m definitely continuing this drama for now and recommending it for those who prefer slice-of-life romance J-dorama that leans on to a mature side.  Well, if the train crashes, it wouldn’t be the first wreck I’ve had.

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Thoughts on K-drama: Unfamiliar Family

Hello you guys and its time to dive into something more family oriented. I don’t think I’ve watched any weekend family K-drama (because of commitment issues) but Unfamiliar family feels like dipping my foot into a family genre and also still having it that 16 episode format. Now how I got started was a due to a video on YouTube. Due to Hospital Playlist (THE DRAMA of the year which don’t get me started, it’s too nice for me to ruin in a post), I’ve been watching a number of reaction videos by Korean doctors. Out of boredom, I continued watching their videos and they were analyzing the eldest, middle and youngest child stereotypes or psychology? in one of those videos by using this drama as reference. And I was hooked. It’s realistic, the actors are good and although it sounded like any other drama, I picked it up.

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First Impressions: C-drama, Joy of Life 庆余年; Thankful for the Remaining Years (2019)

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Drama Journalling April Week 3

This has been a busy week! I’m excited about being in a new department for electives (I’m a medical student if you don’t know this) and that’s demanded me to actually study more. However, there’s still another reason why I’m busy: I’ve started on 3 new dramas @.@

First off, I’ve already have first impression post on Boku, Unmei No Hito Desu. Next, I’ve started off with the successor of Do Bong Soon‘s time slot, Man to Man. Finally, I’ve picked up yet another Chinese drama, Surgeon. And this is also why I haven’t gotten to the finale of Do Bong Soon. T.T Get ready for long post below; there’s two first impressions!!

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (epi 15)

  • Bong Soon miraculously gains her powers back (heavens have spoken!).
  • It’s a little weird though that Bong Soon and Min Hyuk are not worried that the psycho is on prowl. Okay, maybe a life-death event can rearrange our priorities, like having a mooch session. I’m okay with that.

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  • Bong Soon is STILL adamant about catching our psycho. Hopefully not alone again please.
  • When the dopplegangers (gangster guy and transvestite project manager) met, I was hoping for a liiitle more haha. I mean like some birth secrets or something.

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First Impressions: Boku, Unmei No Hito Desu

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What if you are destined to meet? What if Destiny has been giving you the push all the while but you are too dense to realize it so God has to appear and teach you? All this because you both will make the future Einstein/Beethoven/insert genius name here???

That is the premise of the newest drama and also much anticipated reunion between Kamenashi Kazuya and Yamashita Tomohisa since Nobuto wo Produce. Kimura Fumino plays the leading lady while her bestie would be played by Nanao. Anyone who have watched Siren would realize the irony of this. [In Siren, Nanao played a serial killer who was obsessed at ruining Kimura Fumino due to some twisted jealousy. It was a good 9 episodes of thriller.]

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Plot: Masaki Makoto (Kamenashi) is a good looking guy with the crappiest luck when it comes to dating. He seems to meet with the weirdest women and twice met girls who cheated him for his money. A transfer brings him to his new workplace, not so coincidentally, next to leading lady Kogetsu Haruko’s office.

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Drama Journalling April Week 2

I’m sick as hell this whole week. That means no screencaps but I’m still on track!

We catch up with I Love My President Even Though He Is a Psycho this week. Continuing my foray into the addictive Whisper. And for Do Bong Soon, the climax hits when she decides to bring matters into her own hands. I’m also marathon-ing Glory of Tang Dynasty, first impression here.

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  • It’s one blackmail after another. Feels a bit like chess, don’t you think?
  • Although some aspects of the plot still leaves much to be desired, both the leads are keeping me interested so far. I also like how the second leads are not as simple as they seem, leaving more backstory and space for development.
  • It’s fast but we find out how So Hee and Jeong Il are lovers to begin with and when So Hee co-operates with Jeong Il to bring Dong Jun down, Chairman Choi seems like he is afraid of his daughter. That’s another interesting thing to follow up on, the Choi father-daughter relationship; is his daughter actually the father’s nemesis too?
  • Love how the bad ass ex-cop has to now save the coward ex-judge.
  • And because of her chivalry, the ex-judge decides that building an alliance with her would be a good bet although he knows fully that it’s near impossible to control her from acting on her own impulse.
  • It’s still early but I hope their alliance stick through because they’ve shown that they are capable of turning the knife to each other when their interests don’t match anymore.
  • The drama is doing good job at keeping us at tethering ends because one minute they are friends, one minute they may not be. One minute he is being blackmailed, the next minute it may be checkmate.

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First Impressions: Glory of Tang Dynasty

Oh well, it’s about time I picked up a palace drama AGAIN. After a break from internal strife of ancient China, I’m tempted again by Glory of Tang Dynasty. So here I am, raving about it after a speed watch of 12 episodes.

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I have to say, this picture is a part of that motivation. SO PWETTY!

Watch value: 3/5

When this aired, I was quite busy being in love with  Ten Miles of Peach Blossom. I gave it one episode before calling it quits. Why was that?

  1. It’s a little politically saturated. I can understand basic Chinese, just enough to watch normal conversations but when they start the court dramas and talk about strategems, I’m lost like a sheep. I tend to skip those parts a LOT and just watch where the main couples come in or like interesting parts.
  2. I’m not very familiar with Jing Tian (main female lead) or Allen Ren (the main male lead). So that pulled my motivations down a little.
  3. I was busy with Ten Miles of Peach Blossom. Wait, I think I said that already.

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Drama Journalling April Week 1

Major updates for Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (covering all 4 episodes) and Totsuzen, which I finished in one go! Also starting a new Kdrama, Whisper!

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (epi 9-12)

  • Our heroine clears her next level (by beating up ALL the mafia from our resident mafia gang) thus effectively: 1) reveal to Min Hyuk that she is the mysterious hoodie girl who saved the bus he was on 2) reveal to Gook Do that she is indeed the one who sent all those gangsters to hospital
  • It’s interesting to see how Gook Do may change after realizing belatedly that he liked her all those years and the fact that she is super-strong. He expressed that he liked girls he could protect/vulnerable, alas, we always find people who don’t exactly fit our criterias.
  • Min Hyuk instinctively protects Bong Soon from a knife, resulting in yet another hospitalization. It’s cute to see that his reflex works faster than his brain because logically he knew Bong Soon could handle it but there’s a small possibility she might be injured. And of course, he takes full advantage of the injury, making a mountain out of molehill so that he gets special treatment from Bong Soon. Cheeky boy.

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I have sensitive cellular tissues. NOT!

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Drama Journalling March Week 4

Picture above shows Matsushima Hikari as Suzume-Chan in Quartet. She’s hugging her cello case here.

I held a cello that was larger and older than me, it felt like I was protected.

Just back from my trip and I’m so behind my dramas! Whisper is out and I’m so tempted to pick it up!! Love both Lee Sang Yoon and Lee Bo Young but haven’t seen them in My daughter, Seo Young. 

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Drama Journalling : March Week 2

Nowadays I’ve got around to reading SO MANY english translated chinese novels, it’s addictive! It’s even eating up the time for me to watch dramas XD Also, reading all these historical C-novels are making me re-watch Legend of Zhen Huan. I’ve included the novels I’ve been reading below!

This week, I’ve not watched Totsuzen or Quartet, will resume soon. I’ll be busy in these 2 weeks so my drama quota will be reduced!! 😦

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