I’ve been looking forward to writing this ever since I got the idea in my head. In this post, I’ll be writing brief reviews about all the dramas that I watched this year. So this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dramas were all made in 2015 as the title of this post may have suggested. This is part 1 out of 2 2015 Drama Round-ups that I’ll be writing.
My year in dramas is pretty colorful which I need to highlight: 1.) I watched a lot of C-dramas more than I intended to 2.) It was my first time to watch a drama while it’s currently airing 3.) I went beyond my habit of watching C/TW dramas by watching J-dramas (yay!) 4.) It also concerns going beyond my habit: watched a period/wuxia drama for the first time! 5.) I was able to watch some dramas which have been collecting dust in my never-ending plan-to-watch list already haha! and most importantly, 6.) I started blogging about dramas!
I’ll be dividing it into parts: STORY IN A NUTSHELL (without spoilers, I promise!), POSITIVE (+) & NEGATIVE (-) things about it, and my OVERALL RATING.
So are we ready? 😀
Love ’em or hate ’em, there must be a reason why such classics stood the test of time. Most of them have aired a decade ago but I still had to check for myself why they’re so well-loved in the first place. All of the dramas under this category were also aired in the main local channels where I live but I actually never paid attention to them until I have
obsessively started watching dramas.
It Started With A Kiss (2005, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Not-so-intelligent girl has been crushing over the smartest boy in school for years. Fate did all the work by letting nature take over its own course with an earthquake destroying ONLY the female lead’s house. Good luck seemed to be pouring because what are the chances that her dad’s best friends with the dad of her ultimate crush?! And so they lived together like it wasn’t a big deal but of course it is, how could you not be crazy over that fact? HAHA.
+: This would probably be one of the top dramas that I would recommend if you’re looking for a rom-com. It was nothing but funny and wonderful that I couldn’t stop giggling like an idiot while watching this. My favorite scenes were definitely their “tutoring” scenes and it made me wonder how the female lead managed to keep calm at all when she was living under the same roof with the man of her dreams!
Notable OSTs: “Say U Love Me” by Jason & Lara as the opening song, “Practical Joke”, “Come Near A Little Closer”, “Heard”, and “Meet” as insert songs are really great songs which made me love this drama even more.
-: I seriously can’t think of any negative things about this drama. Even the second leads played by the adorable Jiro Wang and beautiful Tiffany Hsu weren’t annoying for me!
Overall rating: I totally understand why it’s a classic and how Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng still have loyal shippers up to this day. The chemistry here was the cutest I’ve ever seen and it just felt so natural to watch them together! It’s a perfect 10 for me and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch something light and enjoyable.
They Kiss Again (2007, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: You definitely can’t watch ISWAK without watching the sequel. The leads are grown-ups now and would have no choice but to become more mature as they encounter a lot of problems mostly regarding their careers, love, and marriage.
+: It still kept its charm of being romantic and funny just like the first one. The chemistry of the leads became more sizzling even if they had a difficult time finding time for each other because of their respective careers being built up.
Notable OSTs: “You” (there’s a slow and fast version of this) by our female lead Ariel Lin, “The Secret Hidden in the Smile” sang by the actress who played as the mom of our male lead, and “You Once Made My Heart Flutter” are my favorite OSTs from this sequel!
-: I had high expectations for the sequel because everyone else seemed to love this more than the first. However, I found myself not enjoying it as much as the first one. I’m attributing it to the fact that probably I could relate to ISWAK more with the female lead having an obsessive crush on the male lead more than this which was more serious in terms of relationships.
Overall rating: I still gave it a fairly high score 0f 9/10 because I loved the love that the leads had for each other. I couldn’t help but wish for something like it too! I have also never watched any other drama with so many beautiful and natural kisses as this drama had.
Hana Yori Dango (2005, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: This should be very familiar to any drama-watcher out there but I’m still going to say it for first-timers out there. Poor but hard-working female lead goes to an elite private school in which it is ruled by the sons of the school’s board members known as F4. She gets bullied by the leader of the group but this leader eventually falls for her.
+: “Meteor Garden” will always have a special place in my heart with it being my first drama ever. This is the reason why I was a bit hesitant watching an adaptation of it. However, it didn’t disappoint because it managed to show all the important elements of the original story without the lengthiness which made the Taiwanese version a bit dragging to watch. Just like “Meteor Garden”, this version made me develop second lead syndrome. Until now, I’m still undecided who I love between Vic Zhou’s Hua Ze Lei and Shun Oguri’s Hanazawa Rui. Such perfect actors for that character *swoons*.
Notable OSTs: The male lead’s group sang the opening song “Wish” which gave me happy vibes while “Planetarium” gave the drama a more emotional feel.
-: If you think about it, this adaptation could hardly go wrong. The source material is a manga from the same country so they shouldn’t really have had a difficult time translating the manga to a drama if we would compare it to what the Taiwanese production team had to go through. However, I may have loved the brevity of this version but it may have been too brief that I didn’t really have a heavy emotional attachment to it compared to what I felt when I was watching “Meteor Garden”.
Overall rating: Despite that problem of mine, I still gave it a 10/10 because this drama made me realize that I’m just beyond in love with the story that it made me read the manga right away. It’s a true classic and it will also hold a special place in my heart now that it’s my first Japanese drama. A great start to my newly discovered path going to J-dramas if you ask me!
Hana Yori Dango 2 (2007, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: This picked up where HYD ended with the male lead studying in New York and our heroine followed him there. Unfortunately, things aren’t as sweeter as what they used to be.
+: This drama was able to do everything that “Meteor Garden 2” failed to do in all aspects. I remember loving this more than the first because it had all my favorite scenes from the Taiwanese version (the first one) but the Japanese moved those scenes to the sequel. Jun Matsumoto and Shun Oguri’s bromance is to die for that I could just rewatch their scenes together and I’ll be fine with it.
-: No particular criticisms on the drama itself except for the fact that they still made a film as a continuation of this. I felt that the ending here was already satisfying so when they did HYD 3, it had the ending that was very unsatisfying in my opinion. This is mainly because I’m a Rui fan all the way so I didn’t really understand his ending there that I was already happy with his state in this drama instead.
Overall rating: I have yet to find another drama series which got a perfect 10 for both the first installation and its sequel because so far, only Hana Yori Dango has done it for me. Classic story was retold excellently by correcting what the first adaptation failed in.
Prince Turns To A Frog (2005, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Joe Chen plays a money-obsessed woman that her ultimate ambition in life is to marry a rich man. Then enter Ming Dao’s character who is a rich arrogant man who is about to get married with her fiancee until he meets an accident. Joe’s character felt that it was all her fault so she felt the need to help (though not really lol) him. The two fall in love because it wasn’t the old rich arrogant him anyway, the accident turned him into a completely different man. Will there be a happy ending for these two unlikely lovers?
+: Classic Taiwanese idol drama at its finest = silly and ridiculous. Never found Ming Dao good-looking until I watched him here. His changed self was beyond adorable that it was so sad to watch him go back to his original character’s personality. Loved the family dynamics here found in Joe’s family despite the fact that they’re not her real family members.
-: No notable OSTs for me here, maybe there are but they became too repetitive that I didn’t want to listen to them ever again after watching this lol. I felt that 30 episodes were just too much that the story could have been shortened to even less than 20 episodes. During those 30 episodes, I’ve been waiting for something exciting but unfortunately, nothing ever did. I expected so much more given that this was created by some people who were also responsible for “Fated to Love You” and “Autumn’s Concerto” aka Taiwan’s most successful dramas ever.
Overall rating: Gave it a 7/10 all because of those funny moments but this is a pretty forgettable drama. Perhaps I would’ve liked it more if I watched it a decade ago when it was still airing and maybe I would’ve understood the hype back then. It used to be the highest-rating drama until FTLY and AC came and I totally understand why it was replaced very easily lol.
I DON’T GET THE HATE
The title says it all. A lot of people seemed to hate the dramas below except for me… haha!
Romantic Princess (2007, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Angela Zhang plays a poor and hard-working young woman who has apparently been living a lie because she’s actually the long lost granddaughter of the country’s richest man. Think “Princess Diaries” x silly Taiwanese flair
+: Wu Chun as the ultimate eyecandy of this drama is definitely plus points! George Hu is also such a cutie here acting as Wu Chun’s younger brother (just like in “Hot Shot”). I love the realness of the situation here. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies when one day you wake up and everything’s actually not what you’ve been dreaming of or what you imagined it to be.
Notable OSTs: “I Don’t Want to Understand” by our female lead as the ending song and Fahrenheit’s (in which 2 of the cast members were a part of) “Xin Wo” as one of the insert songs were my favorites.
-: The grandfather became too controlling and manipulative that I felt that he was too obsessed in pampering his successors. These were also the times that I got so bored already and I was waiting for something better to happen.
Overall rating: 9.5/10. Thinking about it now, I really had a thing for rating dramas so highly even when it doesn’t really deserve it. However, it would also be unfair if I change it because my basis when I watched it for the first time can’t be compared to how I feel towards it now that I’ve watched way better dramas. If I remember it correctly, I still gave it a high score because I enjoyed it mainly for Wu Chun’s character here. He was very mysterious but still so endearing.
Let’s Go Watch Meteor Shower (2009, China)
Story in a nutshell: China’s unofficial adaptation of “Hana Yori Dango”. It’s unofficial because apparently they didn’t get an approval from the manga’s author and because the production team behind this wanted to twist the story with their own ideas. Trust me, it’s still the same premise/story of a poor girl rebelling against the infamous F4 (H4 in this version) with the leader played by Zhang Han ended up falling for her.
+: I have accepted my fate by declaring that I’m just bound to love any adaptation related to this classic story. “Queen of SOP” (wait for my year-end part 2!) made me such a Zhang Han fangirl that I wanted to watch wherever he was in. Seeing that he was the Chinese Dao Ming Si/Domyouji left me surprised because I couldn’t imagine him pulling it off at all. Alas! He played it so well that I consider him the best Domyouji next to Jerry Yan’s portrayal. He also had amazing chemistry with his then real-life girlfriend Zheng Shuang here that kept me smiling like an idiot when I was watching their scenes together.
Notable OSTs: H4’s “Let Me Sing A Song For You” and “Starlit Fairytale” gave the drama a lighter mood together with the female lead and second male lead’s duet of “Love’s Waltz”. While “I Want to Soar” and our male lead Zhang Han’s “Retrieving Memories” were played appropriately in the dramatic scenes.
-: I thought that the Taiwanese way of doing slapstick comedy was already annoying enough to turn off a lot of viewers but they should see the Chinese way. It was so ridiculous here and I’ve only seen it in this drama but not in other C-dramas so maybe it’s not really necessary to call it the Chinese way lol. Some episodes were too dragging and unnecessary to the story but I have no idea why they still included them. This was also the first adaptation that I wasn’t rooting for the second male lead. It was either the actor couldn’t act well or his character wasn’t written as well as the one in the manga or in the other versions. So I was basically hating on him the entire time haha!
Overall rating: This is probably the HYD adaptation that got the most hate but I still gave it a 9/10 because I fell in love with Zhang Han and Zheng Shuang’s chemistry here. It was almost comparable to Barbie Hsu and Jerry Yan’s chemistry in “Meteor Garden” for me. Despite the fact that it was just an unofficial adaptation, it was able to replicate some of my favorite moments in the other adaptations.
My Sunshine (2015, China)
Story in a nutshell: The story is about two people in love who were separated by their own circumstances for 7 years. They started out as college sweethearts with the female lead being persistent with her feelings towards the male lead. After 7 years, will their love have a second chance again?
+: This simple story already attracted me but what made me love the story more was the flashback scenes during their college days which were very crucial in creating this kind of drama. It was my first time to watch the main leads in a project and their acting was just fine. I also wasn’t able to read the novel in which this drama was based from so I’m not quite sure if the readers’ idea of Yichen and Mosheng was played faithfully by Wallace and Tiffany. More than the main leads, Xiao Xiao (Mi Lu) and Yuan Feng (Yang Le)’s story stole the show for me. They were so entertaining to watch that I wish they even had more scenes because they were so great!
Notable OSTs: My favorite was the opening song by Zhang Jie with the same title as the drama.
-: I wish the team behind this drama consulted people who could speak English well regarding their script. They were many lines spoken in English and they were somewhat butchered but I just had to ignore that since not everything could really be perfect lol. The second male lead was beyond annoying (his dubbed voice was the English butcher haha!) but thanks to him, it tested the love of our leads for each other.
Overall rating: 9.5/10 = There’s a Special but it didn’t really add anything special (see what I did there) to the drama. It’s probably perfect for those who want to watch or rewatch without going through all 30+ episodes again by just watching 4 episodes as a shortcut. I gave it a really high score because I simply enjoyed watching this drama. I’d be fine in rewatching some of the scenes that made me happy and feel good. Overall, the drama had its fair share of angst (also annoying) and romantic moments but still managed to be a relaxing watch which made me love it. I haven’t watched so many good C-dramas yet but I consider this as one of the good ones so far so you may try this out if you’re craving for some romantic/nostalgic-themed drama to watch.
My Best Ex-Boyfriend (2015, China)
Story in a nutshell: Li Tang (Jerry Yan) and Fu Fangsi (Maggie Jiang) shared a very romantic past and so did Cheng Xiangnan (Viola Mi) and Yin Hao Ran (Ron Ng). Six years have passed and they’re still left with feelings that they have for each other despite the fact that Tang and Xiangnan have been engaged now.
+: Don’t you think I talked WAY too much about this drama already?! HAHA. I might just keep repeating myself so it’s best to read my detailed drama review here 😀
Notable OSTs: My ultimate favorite songs are JJ Lin and Kym’s “Waiting For Your Love” as the opening song and Wang Su Long’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” as the ending song. The insert songs entitled “Ten Years” and “The Summer Day Blown by the Wind” were also remarkable.
-: There are also plot lines about revenge and business which may annoy you but at least it didn’t drag much compared to most C-dramas that I’ve watched that focused too much on those sides.
Overall rating: The cinematography/editing of the drama was well done and of high quality and I wish more C-dramas would learn their lesson from this drama. It’s also important to note that the story pretty much revolved around the world of fashion which makes it refreshing and pleasing to the eyes! Most importantly, the story’s really enjoyable to watch because of the splendid cast (both main and supporting). Overall, I recommend this to anyone who’s just up to watching a refreshing C-drama in terms of its quality and theme.
WHY DID I WATCH THIS AGAIN?
Many reasons actually. Hype, curiosity, boredom, favorite stars, etc. until I realized that I should’ve chosen other dramas worthy of my time instead of not dropping it… Now I need all my wasted time back!
Let’s Watch the Meteor Shower Again (2010, China)
Story in a nutshell: Any sequel of an HYD adaptation only means one thing: amnesia! This plot device started way too early but it also ended a bit early which is definitely good news. This sequel had its own life already and didn’t rely too much on “Meteor Garden” or the manga anymore. It also didn’t really pick up from the previous season which could be both interesting and mysterious at the same time.
+: Be prepared as there are only a very few positive things about this sequel and mostly just negative. Honestly, this was a chore to watch that it took me a long time to pick it up again after not watching for weeks but I can definitely credit my enjoyment at times to the chemistry of Zhang Han’s Yun Hai and Zheng Shuang’s Yu Xun. I’m already looking forward to watching their other dramas together! If I disliked the second male lead so much in the first one, he redeemed himself here. He was so selfless but not the kind of selfless which can be found in a typical drama martyr lol.
-: So many unnecessary changes happened in this drama. I’m not just referring to the fact that they changed the actors who played the characters but almost everyone had a 360 degree change of character. Just so you can understand more what I’m saying, as an example: Yun Hai (Zhang Han)’s mom was just purely evil (given that this is still loosely based on HYD) in the first drama but she totally changed in this sequel and you wouldn’t even know why or how because it just happened. Many plot lines ended up to be like that that you can easily say that the character developments and story were just poorly developed. I felt like they only made this sequel just for the sake of making a sequel.
Moreover, I thought that nothing could beat my hatred for Ye Sha from “Meteor Garden 2” (the second female lead) but their version of Ye Sha or Jiang Yuan as she is called here is probably the worst 2nd female lead that I’ve ever watched in my history of watching dramas. I didn’t even mind not watching her scenes as I was busy playing Candy Crush while her scenes were playing (lol I’m so harsh).
Overall rating: 7.5/10 = I’m just glad that I finished it already and just because I was just really curious on what would happen to Yun Hai and Yu Xun after the first drama. Folks, this is an example of a bad sequel and I hope you won’t go through something like this ever (lol!)
Absolute Boyfriend (2012, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Female lead was feeling lonely and decided to impulsively order a “boyfriend”. The story can just be narrated in that sentence alone because all the problems revolving around that impulsive decision are basically the reason that will make you check this drama out.
+: Can anyone help me with this?! HAHA. All my plus points are just basically for Jiro Wang’s excellent portrayal of an absolute boyfriend.
-: Feel free to throw all your rotten tomatoes at me because I will just keep emphasizing all the negative feelings I had when I was watching the show. There are so many great Taiwanese actresses out there but Goo Hye Sun was cast here simply because of the Hallyu wave. This is why the quality of this drama was obviously sacrificed which I believe should be avoided already as seen in my Christmas wish list here. I would have been less negative if she could act well but she couldn’t act well and that reason in itself makes this drama so droppable… Why didn’t I drop it then? It’s my rule not to drop once I started something but don’t worry, it was kept on-hold for so many months. It was kept for so long that I was able to finish 10+ dramas already before going back to finish this haha!
Overall rating: 6.0/10 = The lowest rating I’ve ever given to a drama in my whole drama watching lifetime (just 2 years though haha!). The last few episodes of the drama were supposed to be the saddest or the most emotional parts and maybe I would’ve cried except I didn’t because the female lead’s acting still couldn’t convince me. *Deep sighs*. A total waste.
Just You (2013, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Aaron Yan plays the new CEO of GAZE (company name) in which Puff Guo works for. New CEO means new rules and one of the rules is to have a dating ban in the workplace. The employees found it to be unfair and so they assigned Puff’s character to be the rule-breaker by making the boss fall in love with her.
+: All the plus points for Dean Fujioka whose name here was also Dean lol. I didn’t like him when I watched him for the first time in “Corner With Love” but he was just so adorable here! I also understand the hearts of the loyal shippers of Aaron and Puff because they really do have great chemistry.
Notable OSTs: Aaron Yan’s “Unstoppable Sun” as the ending song, “Point One Percent” as an insert song, and “Beloved” as the opening song are my favorites. Great OSTs even if I didn’t really like this drama.
-: Even if I just said that I loved Dean here, his character was also a letdown here for me. (Spoiler:
I enjoyed his role being the threat to Aaron’s character but he didn’t really pursue it). Everything was already going well until they introduced the second female lead which made my dislike for this drama go higher and higher.
Overall rating: 7/10 = It’s just a passing score because I expected so much with many raters rating it high and my friends were spazzing over it. I had to see it for myself but it was just a waste of time that it became such a chore to watch it. Feel free to throw more rotten tomatoes at me again by the way because the fact that my most hated actor was the male lead here made it even more a torture to watch… I know he’s so well-loved but this is probably my first and last drama that I’d be watching from him. Good riddance, drama!
A Different Kind of Pretty Man (2014, China)
Story in a nutshell: Zhang Han’s character was proposing to Emma Wu’s character until an explosion happened and their lives were never the same again. It’s one-of-a-kind in terms of its storytelling approach because there are superpowers involved! Yup, it’s a Chinese sci-fi drama 😮
+: Nothing else good about this drama except for the eyecandies. It was also refreshing to see a C-drama using special effects and not just because of Wuxia/period dramas but to try something new which is a sci-fi drama.
-: ZzzzZ… why did I watch this again? Oh right, because I was going through an obsessive Zhang Han phase lol. This drama made me realize that I’m capable of multi-tasking while watching because I just had to, this wasn’t a watchable drama for me at all. It also made me realize that I didn’t like Emma Wu (aka Gui Gui) and I can’t exactly pinpoint why. I blame my friend for influencing me to dislike her as well haha!
Overall rating: 6.5/10 = An open letter to people who work behind C-dramas: Since you already tried making a sci-fi drama, please never do it again and just leave it to the West because that was horrible. XOXO.
Best Time (2013, China)
Story in a nutshell: Janine Chang plays a successful manager of a PR company ran by her best friend. She quit this job by pursuing the man of her dreams (played by Jia Nai Liang) though she could not achieve it without a block along the way, which is her uptight and arrogant boss played by Wallace Chung.
+: I wish more dramas would be considerate of their busy audience’s time and follow what “Best Time” did, just a total of 20-30 minutes per episode. It was very interesting and fun to watch because although Janine’s character was a bit crazy and obsessive, her determination in following (literally and figuratively!) the man of her dreams made her very relatable.
-: It was very promising until they injected all kinds of drama tropes possible towards the end that I just wanted to punch somebody. Please save yourself from this drama and feel free to message me anytime and ask me to give you the spoilers and never bother to watch it. HAHA. There were quite many episodes when Wallace’s character wasn’t in any of them so it sucks if you’re watching this for him. This was a bit reminiscent of “Queen of SOP” for me when business matters could literally take up all the airtime possible which could just make it very unwatchable. Annoying female characters are present too such as Janine’s best friend here and also her rival at work that I wish they just disappeared.
Overall rating: 6.5/10 = Giving all my points to Janine because she acted excellently here although the dubbing was a bit of a party pooper. Unlike everyone else, I was rooting for Jia Nai Liang’s character and I’m glad that this drama introduced me to him. There’s a Special in which the audience gets to choose which ending they’d like to see. That in itself is a weak point because it shows how indecisive the writers were. *Rolls eyes*.
My Pig Lady (2014, Taiwan-China)
Story in a nutshell: Ady An plays the rich daughter of a piggery owner who wants to be classy in order to be able to date men from the upper class. Mike He’s character happens to be one of those men that Ady’s character aspires to date until he ended up being in the rock bottom and so they helped each other for their own motives.
+: I didn’t like this drama at all that all my points are being given to a very few entertaining and good parts and to my dearest Ady An. Nothing else…
-: One would think, if you have Ady An and Mike He in a feel-good drama, how can it be so bad?! Well, that’s what I thought too! The drama had so many flashback scenes that they could literally take up the whole episode. I also never thought that there could be something worse than not having kissing scenes… and they are fake kissing scenes! If you get to watch this, you’d totally understand what I’m saying.
Overall rating: 6.5/10 = I don’t recommend this drama and I only gave it an almost passing score for some entertaining and good parts and for Ady An as well. I really felt that so much potential was wasted when the production crew already got some of Taiwan’s biggest drama stars in a project but everything else still failed to deliver in the end.
That’s all for today, folks! I may have ended my part 1 of my reviews with my not-so-favorite dramas but it’s okay because my 2nd and last part will be mostly full of love! So what did you think about my reviews? Are you now interested or turned off with the dramas that I wrote about? Haha!
I love talking about dramas so I hope you can tell me your own insights and opinions about these dramas too!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😀