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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Drama Journalling: March Week 1

Nothing from Mainland China that sparks my interest yet. President Psycho makes his confession in the newest episode of I Love my President Even Though He Is a Psycho. Our Totsuzen couple has a trial run of the newly-wed life.  Watched Quartet (Jdrama) and I’m piqued by our 4 string musicians. Do Bong Soon continues to hit the right notes and I’ve found my new crack!

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Drama journal: February Week 5

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This week Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms ends it run, see my review here! We are now at halfway mark of Totsuzen, just the right time for things to start blowing up. I Love My President Even Though He is a Psycho web-drama premieres and it lives up to it’s name. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is coming in with a punch and I’m waiting where it may bring us, to newer high!

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