スターマン ~この星の恋~

Riding on the wave of a good Jdorama autumn season, with Kyou wa Kaisha wo Yasumimasu and Nobunaga Concerto, I went on a Jdorama marathon last weekend. There was a sale at the neighbourhood DVD store, and I picked up 3 Japanese dramas on discount. These are old dramas, which I’ve read/heard of but not attention grabbing enough for me watch till now: Saikou no Rikon, Starman ~ Kono Hoshi no Koi, Hero 2.

I watched Saikou no Rikon for Eita, but sad to say, it wasn’t up my alley and I slowly found myself watching just Eita. The drama was too slow and didn’t feel like it achieved much every episode. I’m usually ok with slow, non-idol-ish dramas (such as Yasashii Jikan, Haikei Chichiue-sama) as long as each episode serves a purpose and moves the story forward. However, with Saikou no Rikon, I found myself lost as to the purpose of each episode. I couldn’t see how each episode contributed to the final resolution where Mitsuo and Yuka realised that in spite of their flaws, they couldn’t live without each other.

I have yet to start on Hero 2, but the fact that they changed the female lead irks me. I’ll still watch for KimuTaku and Kuryu for old time sake. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.

And now, to the main subject of this post.

スターマン ~この星の恋~

I found the official poster very unflattering for both leads, so here are their individual shots
Hirosue Ryoko as Sawako and Fukushi Sota as Hoshio

Hirosue Ryoko Fukushi Sota

Starman
Stole this photo from Fukushi’s blog here

It is not the perfect Jdorama, but it is addictive and a very breezy watch for the weekend. Slightly quirky in the usual way Japan does all its manga adaptions/manga-inspired dramas so perfectly. To enjoy this, one needs to throw all logic out of the window, accept each ridiculous plot point as they come, and watch it as a bundle of craziness being thrown at you left and right, as if you’re reading a manga. Just like watching Ashiya pretend to be a guy attending an all-male high school in Hanazakari no Kimi-tachi e, like watching true love happen between an OL and her built-to-order robotic boyfriend in Zettai Kareshi, this is just another love story involving a single mother and…an alien.

I wouldn’t recommend this to friends who are not Jdorama watchers, or who doesn’t already display an appetite for the crazy (how many times have I used this word already?), as it may scare them off. But just watch it with an open mind to see the actors and actresses take this ridiculous setting and impossible characters and create a drama overwhelming with romance, fun, and family love.

Summary

Abandon by her husband who didn’t want to face the realities of married life with 3 kids, Sawako (Hirosue Ryoko) looks after her three children, Dai, Hide and Shun, with the help of her granny. One day, she comes across an ikemen who passed out on the street (heh), and brought him home to be seen by a doctor. When it was diagnosed that he lost his memories, Sawako decided to lie that he is her husband, Uno Hoshio (Fukushi Sota), and even ropes her family in to help sustain the elaborate lie. Fortunately (plot-wise), the lie was soon exposed and resolved with minimal angst. Hoshio had developeted feelings for Sawako, deciding to leave his past behind and continue being part of his newfound famly. Eventually, it was revealed that the original body (Tatsuya) had actually died, and is now inhabited by an alien (fortunately for Sawako and us, he found a nice body – literally, jump to end of post). Will their love survive this transnational relationship? On the sidelines, find yourself entertained by a senpai alien-human family, a group of extras, who cast meta jokes about their roles, a girl whi is crazy about all things about space, finds out that she is alien too, and eventually gets transported into space. Yeah, did I say this show is filled with madness?

Delicious madness, that it.

Watch it for! DAI ICHI-BAN:

Fukushi Sota’s dimpled smile!

Fukushi Sota on VS Arashi 7 July 2013 Sukitte Ii na yo
Who can resist that smile?

I don’t need perfection in looks. For example, I adore Hirosue Ryoko’s natural teeth; the crooked form makes her feel more real somehow. But Fukushi’s smile is just so irresistably perfect. Fukushi’s a relatively newcomer to the drama scene so his facial expression/body movements etc may seem awkward, or even stiff at times. But all was forgiven the moment he flashes that trademark dimpled, yasashii smile; the same smile which threatened to take over Tamaki Hiroshi’s position on the “watch-for” list during Kyou wa Kaisha wo Yasumimasu. Filled with charm, gentleness and innocence, his smile put a warm, fuzzy feeling inside me, and kept me watching.

Bonus: Watch this Youtube clip, where Fukushi got pranked on TV with ridiculous situations during a mock interview. His reactions are priceless!

Watch it for! DAI NI-BAN:

The family, in particular the bond between Dai and Hide, Dai and Sawako, and Shun and Hoshio.

Starman  Starman Starman
Starman 

Love the kids, so cute and ridiculous, like their mom, who is like her granny. It runs in the family! At least in dramaland.

Like what Granny said, Dai is a very matured 10 year old. Unlike other children of his age who would rush to claim a seat on the train, he would make his mother have the seat. He also helps his mother to look after the 2 younger brothers during playtime, and also takes the initiative to cheer his brother up when the latter gave a disappointing performance at a baseball competition. Almost like the adult of the family, he knocked some sense into his mother and ‘stepfather’, to give more thought to their future instead of just basking in the happiness of the moment. I feel the same as Sawako – heartache that Dai’s being forced to grow up and protect his mother in his father’s place.

Contrary to my expectations, he didn’t throw a fit when his mother literally brought home a new father. Instead, he accepted her decision. Although he did not warm up to Hoshio until much later, he didn’t reject this new person as any other 10 year old would in similar situations. He was cautious because Hoshio was of unknown background, and perhaps also because he was worried that Hoshio would abandon them just like his father did – that was why he later asked Hoshio if he would disappear one day. Such a sensible child, so sensible that it makes my heart ache for him.

He was the highlight of the family scenes, the one who brings this out-of-the-world story back to solid reality, making the drama more relatable to most of us who has never had the fortune of picking up a handsome alien husband AND have the guts to keep him by the bedside. Honestly speaking, I was thinking up the exact same picture as Sawako did about Hoshio’s true form – octopus-like creature!

Now, look at these. Who can blame Sawako for giving in to her last Otome-dream and throw all reason and morality out into space?

Papa Hoshio and Shun Starman Starman
Shun and Hoshio-papa = double the cute dosage!

Watch it for! DAI SAN-BAN:

The scenery!

Starman  Starman Starman
Could find a good cap of a scene with Fuji-san in the background, but you get what I mean right? =D

It’s such a visual treat that this story is set in the countryside, so there’re plenty of beautiful scenery, including Fuji-san as the backdrop, open fields and farmland, forest scenes. Best of all is the night sky with all the stars dotting it. I’m pretty sure some effects were used to make the stars more obvious/numerous, but I’m inclined to belileve that the night sky is really so beautiful in that town, where light pollution is low.

My favourite scene was during the first kiss between the 2 leads, under the starry sky. The cinematography made full use of the scenery and also paid homage to the setting of a prince who came from the stars, panning 360 degrees around the couple with the camera angled such that the night sky filled the background as they shared their first kiss with each other.

Watch it for! DAI YON-BAN:

Who am I kidding? Of course for Fukushi Sota!

I was pleasantly surprised that he has a pretty well toned body, not overwhelmed with packs, but asthetically pleasing. Here, have one more of Fukushi ❤

Fukushi Sota

[image credits as marked/Google/yahoo.co.jp]

Minor complaints

I actively disliked that girl who was crazy about aliens. Skipped all of her scenes which didn’t feature Hirosue a well.

What was with the lack of creative display of Hoshio’s special abilities and how he used them to protect his family. Just how many times did he leap into the air to catch a baseball flying towards his family (twice for Shun and once for Sawako)? First time was amazing, second time made me feel nostalgic (since he was in Kuro-Hoshio mode when he did the same thing Shiro-Hoshio did for Shun), but third time made me roll my eyes. I’m sure the scriptwriter could have concoted fresher scenerios to let our hero do his job.

There were quite a lot of loose unexplained threads, such as Tatsuya’s background (sure, he was a scary dude, but he gradually softened towards the family. Too bad he died. I was hoping they could reconcile him with Shiro-Hoshio. But who exactly is this Tatsuya guy and what did he experience to want to commit suicide? It seemed to me that he was some popular star – pun intended?), who the alien in that girl was (since she couldn’t communicate with Shinzo the alien way, was she from a different planet as Shinzo and Hoshio?)…

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Rants and Raves – Chinese novel 腹黑王爷的绝色弃妃

After Tong Hua’s (桐华) Lost You Forever/Eternally Yearning For You (长相思), I took a break from novels and leaped back into drama-watching mode. It’s always like that for me – shuffling between novels and dramas from various countries. I’ll dig up everything good for the season, and then move to the next source for more, and then the cycle repeats.

With only 2 dramas on my plate now (Ballad of the Desert 风中奇缘 and Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu きょうは会社休みます), I’ve started on a new c-novel I stumbled upon at sutekii’s blog. She’s doing chapter summaries of it here.

Black Bellied Prince’s Stunning Abandon Consort (unofficial translated title by sutekii) 腹黑王爷的绝色弃妃

Fu Hei Wang Ye De Jue Se Qi Fei

If I were scrolling through a list of Internet c-novels and this title appeared, I would never have clicked on it, because it screams everything I cared nothing about.

腹黑 has Japanese origins, being directly lifted from the kanji 腹黒い Haraguroi. The Japanese word refers to someone who is scheming, cunning, and planning to cause distress to others while putting on a deceptively pleasant front. When used in mangas, the negative connotation is not as strong, and sometimes just used to refer to someone who is pleasant most of the time but has a hidden dark nature ready to be unleashed when the situation requires it. In its Chinese form, it has further gained popularity as a trait for romantic novels’ male characters. It is usually used to describe a character who treats the woman he loves very coldly. He’ll think of ways to bully her, but all the while making sure that no true harm comes her way and gets rid of her true enemies and dangers posed to her. It’s as cliché as any male character can get, and any character and plot development shouldered by such a guy must be limited.

王爷 is a character that has graced so so so many novels. Not interesting, at all.

绝色弃妃 completes the story of the OTP, which is also a common feature in c-novels. The beautiful consort who is somehow rejected by the cold prince (who actually likes her a lot inside).

Definitely not something I would venture into.

Yet, when faced with an endless list of c-novels to choose from, one has to rely on the recommendations of fellow novel readers. So I took a leap of faith and decided to give it a shot, after reading the plot synopsis.

If anything, I finished 100 chapters in the past 2 days. That speaks a lot.

This is not a review but more of a list of things I appreciate about the novel, and a list of things I hope will improve. I’ve included at the end of this post a very summarised write-up on the 3.5 major arcs in the story up till Chapter 100.

My rants

  •  The author does not use any quotation marks, and only uses colon marks sparingly. This disrupts the reading experience because I often find myself rereading a sentence numerous times just to decide whether a portion of the sentence is being spoken by the character, or whether it is merely a narrative of his/her thoughts. Sometimes, it makes a lot of difference. For example:

Excerpt from Chapter 63 一剑穿心 (Sword through the heart)

半空中的莫问尘眼底森冷,他没有第一时间去看被两名大汉欺负的花千姿,而是看一眼站在风中,静得可怕的苏七七。

面上更清冷了几分,他已经猜到那日在大厅外面的人是谁了。

一定是苏七七。

自己和雷御风的话,她听得一清二楚,才会以身犯险吧。

苏七七,本王看错了你。

在空中一个倒翻,极速的落到苏七七与花千姿之间,莫问尘已经抽出腰间的长剑,将两名大汉砍倒在地,血花四射,溅满了干裂的土地。

没有再看苏七七,却扔下这样一句话。

Mo Wen Chen looked on with an icy gaze, he didn’t look at Hua Qian Zi, who was being attacked by the two thugs, first, but looked at Su Qi Qi, who was standing in the wind enveloped by frightening silence.

Expression also colder than usual, he has already guessed who the person outside the main hall the other day was.

It must be Su Qi Qi.

She must have overheard what he and Lei Yu Feng said, hence making this bold move.

Su Qi Qi, I misjudged you.

He did a mid-air flip and swiftly landed between Su Qi Qi and Hua Qian Zi as he pulled out the long sword on his waist and killed the two thugs, spilling their blood on the dry land around them.

Not looking at Su Qi Qi anymore, but spat out words like this.

The lines in bold and underline are very critical to the entire scene, bearing different effects whether it had been verbalised. Fortunately, in this particular example, the author subsequently indicated that it had been spoken out. This is not always the case and so this style of writing really bothered me. I heard from sutekii that the author starts to use quotation marks later in the novel (over 500 chapters!) and I’m looking forward to that.

  • The above example also shows another shortfall of the writing. The author has the habit of inserting random broken lines haphazardly, breaking the flow of the narrative. It’s not as major a shortfall as the one above though.
  • I like logic in novels, so there are some parts in the story thus far which doesn’t quite make sense to me. I can accept the fantasy elements, though it shocked me because I didn’t see such a twist coming, but not the skips in logic. Of course, they might have been explained further in the story, but for now, my major complaint is on Su Qi Qi.

1) The greatest mystery of all is how Su Qi Qi acquired her skills and knowledge. She is well versed in poetry, dancing, painting, zither (she beat the “King of Zither” twice), chess (she solved 9 “deadlock chess tactical patterns” which no one in the whole of the Southern region could), calligraphy, and medicine (she saved Mo Wen Chen who was poisoned when all other doctors failed to find an antidote).

We must remember that prior to marrying into the Prince’s residence, she was the unflavoured first daughter of the Prime Minister. Her mother, despite being the first wife, is unflavoured and hence keeps to her small courtyard. For her, because of her father’s attitude towards her, not much effort was put into grooming her. All she had was guidance and teaching by her mother.

Yet she turned out to be full of talents, which are gradually revealed to everyone, especially in the third arc of the novel. No one at the Prime Minister’s residence knew about her talents.

But how?

Her mother may be a very talented lady, so I can accept that Su Qi Qi acquired the skill of poetry, dancing, painting and calligraphy through her mother’s teaching. These are skills she could practise without drawing much attention to herself.

What about the zither? In numerous scenes it was depicted that despite being in another part of a residence, one could still heard the melodious sounds from her playing the zither. If so, how was it that no one at her home ever noticed a heavenly tune echoing through the halls? Where did Su Qi Qi practise her zither?

The elephant in the house, in the whole book, must be Su Qi Qi’s knowledge of medicine and acupuncture. She used acupuncture to save people who were poisoned, used the same to threaten a martial artist’s life, and to give herself a temporary rush of energy. She managed to come up with an antidote for the Prince’s poison. Yet there is no explanation (as of now) how she became such a skilled healer, knowing medical skills which even the acclaimed miracle healer doesn’t. Anyone can have knowledge on medicine from reading the relevant books, but not everyone can apply that knowledge in practice, especially on first try!

2) Adding on to the unbelievable factor for Su Qi Qi is her coldness. She is often described to show a calm, unreadable expression, reining in her emotions very well. Even when she is being bullied and tortured. It just doesn’t click, and make Su Qi Qi a rather flat character for me.

My raves

  • The set-up of the universe promises a lot of backstory, and I hope the author tapped on it in subsequent chapters. Offhand I can only think of these:

1) how Su Qi Qi’s mother turned out to be the opposite of the frail, poor unflavoured first wife of the Prime Minister, having spiked her best friend’s dream and sent her to the Emperor’s bed. I’m sure there must be more than meets the eye and that would be interesting.

2) how Hua Qian Zi and Su Qi Qi’s sister, Su Meng Ru, are going to fight it out in the palace. Palace scheming!

3) what is the purpose of the jade pendant Su Qi Qi’s mother gave her and stressed the importance of? Does it have to do with her background?

4) what will Su Qi Qi do with the golden medal bestowed to her by the Emperor on her coming-of-age ceremony?

  • The numerous characters were weaved in and out of the pages very naturally, and some are interesting enough that sometimes I wished they would replace Mo Wen Chen as the lead male (as I’ve said, I’m not particularly partial to the cold-face-warm-heart type anymore):

1) Fen Wen (焚文), the miracle doctor and “King of Zither” (though he was initially introduced as the master of flute =.=). He saved Su Qi Qi during the first attempt on her life. I was hoping that he would be the one to save her after she got stabbed in the heart in Chapter 63 above. Or maybe realise that Xiao Su Su is actually Su Qi Qi after he hears her play the zither, because one’s soul would show when playing music.

2) Xiao En (萧恩), the elder cousin of Xiao Su Su. He is said to be extremely clever and talented, which is a waste because he has no place in a matriarchal country like Bai Hua Kingdom. It’d be interesting to see a male lead who isn’t overbearing. I hope he FINALLY gets the courage to ask Xiao Su Su why she knew so much when she had been in vegetable state for the past 15 years (or are they supposed to accept this lack of logic, like us?).

Overall, the novel is definitely worth your time, if you are looking for a rich plot which has unforeseen twists and a good balance of romance and political conflicts.

A brief summary of the 3.5 major arcs till Chapter 100

Chapters 1 to 22 – Su Qi Qi, our heroine, marries into the Ding Bei Duke’s residence (literally Duke who stabilises the North, Mo Wen Chen’s title), after being rejected by the Emperor of Da Yan for being too plain looking and without talents. The Emperor Mo Wen Xuan, broke the engagement bestowed by his late Father, and took Qi Qi’s younger sister Su Meng Ru as her Empress instead, all because she was more beautiful and talented than Qi Qi. Losing her position as Empress, Su Qi Qi was then bestowed to the Emperor’s younger brother Mo Wen Chen as his First Consort.

Mo Wen Chen sees it as a humiliation to be given a women his brother rejected, hence cannot bear the sight of Su Qi Qi. He sends her to the laundry house to work as a servant. Jealous that her elder cousin has married someone as plain as Su Qi Qi, Hua Qian Zi terrorises Su Qi Qi on numerous instances. Finally, after her friend got killed by Hua Qian Zi, Su Qi Qi decided that she cannot let the situation continue. She volunteers to heal Mo Wen Chen when he got poisoned by the Emperor. Using her acupuncture skills, she managed to stop the spread of poison.

She also sets out to create the antidote for the poison. After trying out the poison on herself, she finally finds the cure. However, to complete the formula, she needs two rare ingredients. Hence, she and Mo Wen Chen’s good friend Lei Yu Feng, master of the Lei Fortress, went into the mountains to locate these herbs. There, she finds one of the herbs. She meets the miracle healer Fen Wen, who saves her from an assassin, and realises that he has the other herb. Both agree to a competition on the zither in exchange for each other’s herb. In the end, Su Qi Qi wins, surprising all with her zither skills.

Chapters 23 to 63 – Mo Wen Chen and Su Qi Qi are invited to the capital by the Emperor to visit Su Qi Qi’s family. Knowing it to be a trap to kill off Mo Wen Chen, who the Emperor sees as his biggest enemy, Lei Yu Feng tags along and brings with him his Lei Fortress’ private army. The group is attacked by many groups of people, one of which is the bandit gang Hua Sha Bang. The leader of the gang, Hua Chi, holds Su Qi Qi hostage to force Mo Wen Chen to surrender. However, he is shocked when Mo Wen Chen leaves Su Qi Qi to die. He is further caught unaware when Su Qi Qi uses a golden needle to fight back, threatening to stick them into his neck if he wouldn’t leave. In the end, Su Qi Qi manages to free herself, leaving an impression on everyone, including Hua Chi.

At the capital, there are several attempts by the Emperor through the Prime Minister to convince Su Qi Qi to spy on Mo Wen Chen and to plant treacherous letters on him. However, Su Qi Qi remains faithful/loyal to Mo Wen Chen, who has been treating her increasingly well. All the while Mo Wen Chen wonders if he is actually falling for Su Qi Qi, or if he is treating her nice so as to win the bet with Liu Yu Feng. The trip ends with tragedy when Su Qi Qi gets threatened with her mother’s life by the Empress Dowager and her mother burns herself to death so that Su Qi Qi will not be robbed of her blissful marriage.

After a fierce battle outside the capital, which shows plenty of evidence of Su Qi Qi’s growing importance to Mo Wen Chen, the group final returns home safely. However, Mo Wen Chen soon receives a letter from his aunt, the Queen of the matriarchal Bai Hua Kingdom, giving her daughter’s hand in marriage to Mo Wen Chen. He agrees to make Hua Qian Zi his second wife out of gratitude to his aunt.

Due to scheming by Hua Qian Zi and also coincidences, Mo Wen Chen is made to think that Su Qi Qi does not care that he takes another wife, while she thinks that Mo Wen Chen’s display of affection is merely due to the bet with Lei Yu Feng. These misunderstandings  set the stage for the biggest plot of all, where Hua Qian Zi staged an act that Su Qi Qi got two thugs to rape her so that she cannot marry the Prince. She also causes the Mo Wen Chen to accidentally stab Su Qi Qi in the heart. Devastated, she jumps off the cliff. Afraid to find her dead, Mo Wen Chen does not send anyone to search for her body, so that he can still hold onto hope that she is alive out there.

Chapters 64 to 87 – Su Qi Qi wakes up to find herself in the body of a Xiao Su Su, the youngest grandchild of the Xiao family in Bai Hua Kingdom. Xiao Su Su has been in vegetable state for the past 15 years since birth and the family is overjoyed that she has come around. Xiao Su Su is an aristocrat who has been betrothed to Bai Li Mo, the 9th prince of the Ao Yun Kingdom. However, Bai Li Mo cancels the arrangement after learning that Xiao Su Su has been a vegetable for 15 years.

Angry to that he was tricked into a betrothal with a dimwit, he schemes to make Xiao Su Su embarrass herself in front of the entire Bai Hua Kingdom during the Bai Hua Festival, where talented man and woman gathered to pit against each other and win the top honour. To everyone’s surprise, Xiao Su Su outshines everyone in every contest, eventually emerging as champion and makes a name for herself in the entire Southern Regions (comprising the Bai Hua Kingdom, Ao Yun Kingdom and You Zhen Kingdom). Everyone, including the Bai Hua Prince Hua Qian Ye, Ao Yun 9th Prince Bai Li Mo, You Zhen Crown Prince Xu Wei Ran, Lei Yu Feng, and everyone’s bodyguard @.@ is impressed by her wits and talents.

Meanwhile, Hua Qian Zi returns to the Bai Hua Kingdom after being kicked out of the Ding Bei Duke’s Residence. Xiao Su Su is embroiled into the schemes of Hua Qian Ye and Hua Qian Zi. The former wants to make use of Xiao Su Su to lure the other 2 kingdom’s princes into a trap that will kill both of them and cause war between the 2 kingdoms so that Bai Hua Kingdom can take advantage of the situation when both its rivals are weakened. The latter wants the backing of the Xiao Family, which holds power over the army. However, Xiao Su Su manages to diffuse the situation with her wit.

Chapters 88 to 100 – In order to distance the Xiao Family from the kingdoms’ rivalry, they give up the power held over the army. However, this makes the Xiao Family vulnerable to all the enemies it made over the years, including the royal family. Hence, Xiao Su Su accepts Lei Yu Feng’s request in order to win the backing of the Lei Fortress, which both Da Yan and the Southern Regions are afraid of. Lei Yu Feng’s request is for Xiao Su Su to compete against Fen Wen in the zither, so that he can win back a zither highly prized by Mo Wen Chen. (the arc continues beyond Chapter 100!)

Hear the sound of 大漠谣

After so many months of waiting, we finally get to see Da Mo Yao (大漠谣) on TV.

I had started reading the novel after Bu Bu Jing Xing (步步惊心), excited that another Tong Hua’s novel was getting adapted. As I read on, and joined in the Jiu-ye x Jin Yu shipping, it became obvious that the end game was not what I was rooting for, and that made me put the book down. I could not bear reading and feeling the sense of regret that engulfed Jiu-ye with each step Jin Yu took towards Huo Qu Bing.

My excitement for the drama died further when the cast of Tangren’s adaptation was finalised.

  • Liu Shishi (YAY!) as Jin Yu (aka Xin Yue in the TV version)
  • Eddie Peng as Huo Qu Bing (aka Wei Wu Ji in the TV version)
  • Hu Ge as Meng Jiu (aka Mo Xun in the TV version)

I was holding out hope that even though I can’t have Jiu-ye and Jin Yu happily ever after in the novel, at least I could see Hu Ge and Shishi happily ever after in the drama. They have acted in many dramas together, but not once as the OTP! But no, he had to act as my favourite character (the gentle second lead who quietly cares for the lead always win me over), who doesn’t get the girl in the end. =(

So in a way, it may be for the better that DMY took more than 2 years since the start of filming, before it finally got the go-ahead to air.

For more the saga, read this report, also summarised below:

自从2012年3月开机以来,《大漠谣》经历了一次补拍、一次更换播出平台、两次送审、三次更名的坎坷,最终以《风中奇缘》之名宣布10月登陆湖南卫视。

Since the commencement of filming in March 2012, Da Mo Yao went through 1 instance of refilming scenes, 1 change in the airing platform, 2 submissions to the broadcasting authority, 3 changes of name, before it finally announced the October airing on Hunan TV as “Feng Zhong Qi Yuan”.

At least I don’t feel so strongly for Jiu-ye now, since the bittersweet chapters in the first half of Da Mo Yao has gradually faded with time.

Determined to start afresh and heaad for the right direction, I went into episode 1 reminding myself that the OTP was Huo Qu Bing and Jin Yu. Jiu-ye was but a short detour so I shouldn’t get so invested. Jin Yu’s words kept replaying on my mind: When she first came to the city, she was looking for Huo Qu Bing, although it was Jiu-ye who found her first.

Below I translate the lyric and an introduction to my favourite song off the soundtrack of the drama.

好好過 by 胡歌. I love the MV, perfect in depicting the anguish and sense of helplessness Jiu-ye must have felt as Jin Yu slipped away. I’ll listen to Hu Ge and let go of my lingering love for Jiu-ye x Jin Yu so as to open up our heart to Huo Qu Bing. Claps for Eddie, who managed to inject boyish playfulness into the general, making the character look like a viable choice to ship with Jin Yu for now.

Translated introduction to the song from binmusictaipei on Youtube
聽說你還繼續打聽我的下落
何必讓遺憾 放肆再重播
轉身去你還有更遠的路要走
別讓這一段 綁住你的夢 你的天空

[好好過] 胡歌

I heard that you are still looking for me
Why let regret take hold again?
Turn around, you still have a long road ahead
Don’t let this short episode tie down your dreams, your sky

“Live Well” by Hu Ge

由唐人電影製作有限公司投資拍攝,改編自《步步驚心》作者桐華的小說《大漠謠》之經典­華劇《風中奇緣》,為2014年最受注目歷史古裝戲劇,由劉詩詩、彭于晏及胡歌領銜主­演,講述一段橫跨大漠與京城、將軍與素人的唯美曲折愛情故事。

Produced by Tangren, “Sound of the Dessert” is adapted from Bu Bu Jing Xing’s author, Tong Hua’s novel of the same title. The most anticipated historical period drama in 2014, it stars Liu Shishi, Eddie Peng and Hu Ge in a story that crosses the dessert and the capital city, a beautiful love story between a general and a commoner.

編曲以鋼琴小調旋律開歌,彷彿置身秋風楓紅樹林裡。眼眶的眼淚映著思念,卻只能含著這­份思念,加以思念,無以訴說。人生繁瑣又虛華的大千世界裡,分分合合何其多,因果難以­界定;時間、空間、機運、緣份…,感情常常是說來來,說走走。

The song opens with simple piano melody, as if one was deep inside a forest dyed with red leaves and filled up autumn wind. Eyes brimmed with tears which reflected longing, but one can only hold onto such feelings with even more longing, with no way to put them into words. Living in this hectic and materialistic world, there are too many meetings and farewells, sometimes with no apparent reason. Time, place, opportunity, destiny…, feelings often come and go.

《好好過》的MV中,「就讓我們彼此都好好過,時間會愈合了現在的寂寞,再見面也許在­不經意多年以後,能笑著說彼此過著的生活,放了所有,不再執著」。道盡了莫循對莘月甘­願放手後對彼此的祝福,雖顯無奈,卻真愛坦蕩。

In the MV for “Live well”, “Let’s both live well. Time will heal the loneliness we feel now. Our next meeting may be by chance, many years later. We’ll be able to laugh as we share the life we’re living. Let go of everything, don’t be stubborn anymore.” depicts the blessings Mo Xun gave Xin Yue after he decided to let go. Despite the sense of helplessness, his love is true and giving.

歌中彷彿浮現出莫循在莘月唇上輕輕一吻,將衛無忌的手放在莘月手上,似乎永遠的訣別,­讓人淚奔,那是怎樣的不捨與心痛。

The song leads to a scene where Mo Xun lightly kissed Xin Yue’s lips before putting Wei Wu Ji’s hand on Xin Yue’s hand, as if in a final farewell. How reluctant and heartwrenching it must have been.

「聽說你還繼續打聽我的下落,何必讓遺憾放肆再重播?」偌大的世界,偌大的思念,緣份­在之中竟顯得淺薄脆弱;若分開是最好的結局,放手的成全就是最好的成就。「好好過」,­也從兩人之間,再度回到一人獨處世界。也許這三個字是生活裡最平凡無奇的願望了,但真­心擁有,也算得上是一種不可多得的奢侈幸福。

“I heard that you are still looking for me. Why let regret take hold again?” In the vast world, the overwhelming sense of longing, destiny appears to be so shallow and frail. If being apart is the best ending, letting go is the best one can do for another. “Live well”. From being one half of a pair, returning to a world with only one lone self. Perhaps those 2 words represents the most ordinary wish in life, but to truly own it would count as a kind of extravagant happiness.

胡歌完成這首歌錄製只用了很少的時間,將莫循的情感真切地注入其中:「現在有好多的歌­曲都被過多地修飾,那這一次胡歌錄《好好過》是以最真實的聲音,我們沒有經過過多的修­飾,只為了保持最自然的一份真誠。」數位的音樂世界裡,眩目的音樂常引人追尋,乾淨誠­懇的聲音少有。胡歌以非常動人的共鳴,在戲劇的故事裡種下一顆單純信仰的種子。

Hu Ge only spent a short time recording this song, injecting Mo Xun’s feelings into it. “A lot of songs nowadays tend to over edit. This song by Hu Ge showcases his honest voice. We didn’t do much editing, so that it can retain a most natural sincerity.” In the digital music world, everyone’s after a well-polish song; clean and earnest voices are few and far between.

《風中奇緣》將於10月1日起,每週三、四晚10點於湖南衛視播出。

Sound of the Desert airs on Hunan TV at 10pm every Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 October onwards.

Translated lyrics (please do not repost without permission!)

好好過
Live Well

早已過了玉錦繁華的時節
任憑那 滿園紅花落
儘管不捨我們曾有的悸動
終究沒能夠 支撐到最後
The season of beautiful blossoms has long passed
Fallen red flowers fill up the garden
Even if I’m reluctant to let go of heart-thumping moments we shared
Ultimately I am unable to preserve till the end

就別再藕斷絲連 就別再回頭
熟悉的畫面 只會更難受
我孤身留在一個安靜的角落
獨力去承受 當時的選擇 即使有錯
Don’t hold onto the threads any further, don’t look back again
Familiar scenes will only make you feel worse
I’ll stay at a quiet corner by myself
Singlehandedly bear the consequences of my choice, even if it was wrong

就讓我們彼此都可以好好過
那些曾經的美好留在心中
那時的分開已經是故事的最終
再留戀只是徒勞和蹉跎
Let’s both live well
Keep those beautiful days in our hearts
Our parting was already the end to the story
It’s only fruitless and a waste of time to hold onto them

就讓我們彼此都可以好好過
時間會癒合了現在的寂寞
再見面也許在不經意多年以後
能笑著說彼此過著的生活
Let’s both live well
Time will heal the loneliness we feel now
Our next meeting may be by chance, many years later
We’ll be able to laugh as we share the life we’re living

聽說你還繼續打聽我的下落
何必讓遺憾 放肆再重播
轉身去你還有更遠的路要走
別讓這一段 綁住你的夢 你的天空
I heard that you are still looking for me
Why let regret take hold again?
Turn around, you still have a long road ahead
Don’t let this short episode tie down your dreams, your sky

放了所有 別再執著 OH~
Let go of everything, don’t be stubborn anymore

千山暮雪 Sealed With A Kiss

SWAK 1

SWAK is a pretty dated drama which aired in 2011, starring Harwick Lau and Ying’er.

Back then when it was airing, I took a quick look at the synopsis and decided to skip it because it sounded so melodramatic:

(From Wikipedia)

Tong Xue has lived under the care of her maternal uncle ever since she was orphaned as a child. To lessen her uncle’s financial burden, Tong Xue works at a cafe, and it’s there that she meets Mo Shao Qian, the CEO of Yuan Zhong Corporation. What Tong Xue doesn’t know is that her own father had once betrayed the Mo family by selling out the corporation and plunging it into significant financial crisis, indirectly causing the death of Shao Qian’s father. To save the family business, Shao Qian was forced into a political marriage with Mu Yong Fei, heiress of Mu Corporation. Yong Fei loves Shao Qian deeply, but he’s repulsed by her possessive and unyielding ways. After discovering Tong Xue’s true identity, Shao Qian seeks revenge by utilizing evidence of her uncle’s embezzlement activities to blackmail Tong Xue to live as his mistress. As Shao Qian gets to know Tong Xue, he cannot help but fall in love with her, but his feelings are very conflicted. Things are also complicated by Tong Xue’s nostalgic feelings for her childhood love, Xiao Shan.

This is the perfect mix of corporate scheming, revenge, and long-term rape which I’d never venture to watch!

So this drama faded to the background and I never thought about it till recently when I read a post by Mrs Koala on the new Jerry Yan + Tong Li Ya’s drama, 恋恋不忘 (Loving, Never Forgetting), which made reference to SWAK as another drama in the 虐恋 genre of cdramas. Curiosity perked and facing a serious drama drought (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have both ended the season, HK dramas this season are disappointing, TW dramas have lost their charm, Kdramas this season don’t interest me, and Jdoramas this season are also uneven), I actually checked out episode 1 of SWAK.

And then I was hooked.

  (Qian Shan Mu Xue), which literally means “thousand mountains, snow at dusk”, takes a character from the name of each major character in the drama.

莫绍谦 Mo Shao Qian – male lead, the monster who took revenge on the daughter of the man who indirectly caused his father’s death

童雪 Tong Xue – female lead, the victim who gave up her life and future to protect her family

萧山 Xiao Shan – first love of the female lead, the beautiful memory which keeps the female lead from losing herself

慕咏飞 Mu Yong Fei – wife of the male lead, the main driver of most of the plot development in the drama

I read that the author of the web novel, which the drama is based on, had initially intended for Tong Xue to end up with Xiao Shan. However, due to the overwhelming support from readers for Mo Shao Qian, that original plan didn’t materialise.

I can see why.

Mo Shao Qian is an extremely complex character. Initially, I wasn’t on any ship. The drama was strangely addictive, but I didn’t feel an urge to support any particular pairing. However, the drama lets us gradually peek into the inner thoughts of Shao Qian and the broken soul which was being crushed by the layers of burden and self-inflicted pain. The uglier the truth got, the more I wanted to know about this person! Slowly, the character, and the acting by Harwick, drew me in and before I know it, I was on the Shao Qian-Tong Xue ship. Alright, I will be honest about it; Harwick’s face also contributed a fair bit to the likeability of the character.

SWAK 4

It wasn’t really much of a ship, because most of the time, their relationship is like the above picture. From what I gather, viewers either hated or loved their relationship dynamics. There are few in-betweens. The most contentious matter is the concept of rape and Stockholm Syndrome driving Tong Xue’s growing affections for Shao Qian (i.e., not true love). I had, and still have, an issue with the rape too, and cannot believe that I actually feel so strongly for Shao Qian in spite of his deeds.

In the next few posts, I will try to rationalise my feelings for this character as I rewatch the drama. Having the benefit of hindsight, hopefully we can read his actions and motivations at each scene better.

[Review] Ending of Ruse of Engagement

It’s been 3 days since Ruse of Engagement (“Ruse”) wrapped up it’s 5-weeks long airing with the final episode 25. Yet,  it remains on the a hot topic on the Weibo topic-of-the-moment chart. Even the uproar brought about by Qiong Yao’s open letter to Yu Zheng stayed on the chart for about 2/3 days only.

Pan Tao Weibo

Pan Tao weibo 2

Sad to say, Ruse is staying on the chart for unwelcomed reasons – the ending.

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