I’m back to give you the 2nd part (and last!) 2015 Drama Round-Up! If you missed part 1 then I suggest you read it here for other drama reviews 😀
Still the same disclaimer: These are brief (not really brief for some lol) reviews of 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.
I have divided it into parts just like the last time: STORY IN A NUTSHELL (without spoilers, I promise!), POSITIVE (+) & NEGATIVE (-) things about it, and my OVERALL RATING.
Are we ready? 😀
Not so bad, not so good.These are pretty forgettable dramas if you ask me!
Hi My Sweetheart (2009, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Show Luo plays a mushroom-head loser/nerd who is OVER-protected by his family especially by his older sister (same actress who played as his granny in “Corner with Love” lol). He falls in love with Rainie Yang’s aggressive and spunky character but something had to happen in order for their love not to keep going. Years after, they meet but they’re not the same people anymore. With the former loser turning into an arrogant rich playboy and the former bully turning into everyone’s sweetheart. Will they end up to be sweethearts for each other in the end?
+: Confession: I never liked Rainie Yang and I have no specific reason actually. With that, it was supposed to be a challenge for me to watch her here but it didn’t as much as I expected it to be. She deserved her Golden Bell here and the same can be said towards Show’s acting. Loved the comedy here especially in the second half or the revenge part as everyone else refers to. Plus points to the second female lead as well for being the non-typical one because she was kind, pretty, and not annoying at all haha!
Notable OSTs: “Rainie Love” by our female lead and “In Your Eyes” as the duet of our drama’s leads.
–: Silly Taiwanese idol drama at its finest here which isn’t really a good thing unless it’s used well. Some parts became dragging and became so cliche that I was excited to finish it already.
Overall rating: This fought a head-to-head battle with “Autumn’s Concerto” in terms of TV ratings when they were being aired. I could imagine myself being a regular Taiwanese person choosing “Autumn’s” than watching this. I gave it a 7.5/10 because some parts were enjoyable all because of Show & Rainie’s cute chemistry but definitely not rewatchable or remarkable for me!
Starlit (2009, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Jerry Yan plays a pianist who’s already on top of his career until he meets an accident where he also meets the female lead played by Terri Kwan. To put it simply, this accident ruined his whole life not only with his piano career but it has also strained his relationships with the most important people in his life.
+: Never have I found myself rooting for the second female lead until I watched this drama. I must make some immature confession here: I learned that Terri was allegedly the girlfriend of Jerry around these times so that has actually put her in my blacklist… LOL On a more serious note, the second female lead played by Alice Tzeng may have been annoying at times but I really loved the drama more whenever she was present. For those who keep saying that Jerry always plays the same roles (the usual childish rich boy), then it’s for you and for him to prove you wrong.
-: I just know that there’s something wrong with this drama because I didn’t really like it and I can’t exactly pinpoint it while thinking about it now. A part of it was probably Terri’s acting, I really wish someone else (aka Ady An for me!!) played her part. There were many boring and dragging scenes as well that I didn’t want to marathon it anymore. I had to marathon it because I was writing an article about Jerry but that’s another story. Haha!
Overall rating: 8.5/10 = Yup, I still rated it fairly high even if it’s somewhat forgettable + my other negative comments. However, there were many scenes that touched my heart and made me cry as well. Those two are apparently important matters to me as I’ve recently discovered (I’m a certified dramasochist ;). Jerry acted very well here and his character made me believe in true love despite all the battles that he had to face together with the female lead.
Sunny Happiness (2011, Taiwan-China)
Story in a nutshell: Janine Chang plays an optimistic and determined young woman who works as a maid in a hotel owned by Mike He’s character. Formula: Poor girl meets rich boy + exchange of contracts which will benefit both of them.
+: If I’m not mistaken, this paved the way for Janine’s career to be expanded outside Taiwan. It was truly understandable as I felt that this role was totally different from her similar type of roles found in her previous dramas such as “The Hospital”and “Black & White”. Her character was indeed sunny and inspiring, something not usually found in female leads of idol dramas. On the other hand, my first experience with Mike He wasn’t a pleasant one as you can see in my review of “My Pig Lady” here. However, he did so much better here which is weird because this was filmed 3 years earlier than that though I can also attribute it to that drama being a horrible one lol. Moving on, I loved him with Janine here! They were so cute that all they did here was to make my heart feel lighter and happier.
-: This drama probably wins for having the most annoying female supporting characters. They annoyed me so much that I didn’t like seeing their faces at all. I thought that maybe they’d grow on me but it never happened.
Overall rating: 8.5/10 = It was all light and sunny because it didn’t have annoying drama cliches. While it had its moments, I can still consider this a pretty forgettable drama as there weren’t really any outstanding elements here for me.
King Flower (2013, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Ugly duckling (Nikki Hsieh) is in love with her foster ge ge (older brother played by James Wen) but only sees her as a sister. She then turns into a beautiful swan all made possible by Chris Wu’s character because that’s how he rolls. Kidding! Of course there’s a reason but that’s why you have the choice to watch this or not.
+: It’s probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever watched but I have no idea why I became so addicted. I have always known that Chris Wu’s an amazing actor and that’s why he’s on my favorites list so no doubt about that. However, it was James Wen’s character and charm that left me swooning as well. Swooning that I’m already looking forward to watching his other works! As with any other Taiwanese drama, it also featured the importance of family and this is why I liked this drama too.
Notable OSTs: Opening song “Because You’re Here” by Dreamgirls and “Innocent Women” by SHE as the closing song are my favorites.
-: Like I said, it’s just the most ridiculous thing ever that I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief already. Plot holes everywhere and dragging as usual when it could actually be finished in 15 episodes or less. I came into this drama thinking that it was a rom-com but I ended up watching so many dramatic scenes which wasn’t right at all given that it has such an out-of-this-world plot. I read somewhere that people’s clamor for Chris Wu’s character to end up with the female lead messed up the writing process which is why almost all the episodes already focused on his character instead of the original plan, which was really written for James Wen’s character. Spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R! On a side note, all this time I thought Chris was the male lead here lol .
Overall rating: Thinking about it now, I have no idea why I rated it as high as 8/10 when it should’ve been really as low as 6.5-7.5. It really must have been for the times that I was giggling because who wouldn’t if James and Chris were fighting over you?!
Dramas that I simply loved for various reasons and just left me smiling after finishing them.
Rich Man, Poor Woman (2012, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: Don’t let the title deceive you because it’s not even about the typical formula of dramas wherein a chaebol heir falls for a poor/weak woman. Nope, not like that. If I could suggest a better English title for this, I’d definitely say that it should have been “Next Innovation”. It revolved mostly on this business which was started by Shun Oguri’s character with his partner while our female lead here was trying to get a job in this company.
+: Thanks to HYD, my obsession with Shun just became too much that I had to put almost all of his works in my PTW list! This definitely didn’t disappoint with the smooth development of both the storyline and the characters. Plus points for Shun’s character and its eccentricity which I loved so much! Since I’m a graduate of Psychology, it was my first time to encounter a drama (or anything actually) in which one of the characters has prosopagnosia which is just too cool also because it became essential in the way the story was being told.
-: I don’t even remember disliking any parts of this drama but maybe because some parts became too businessy (yup, I had to make this term up lol) that I was craving for more romance but that’s just me since I’m a sucker for romance haha!
Overall rating: I initially wanted to give this a perfect score but ended up giving it a 9.5/10 because I felt that there was still something missing. Though whatever that is, I still enjoyed this drama so much and made me want to check out more J-dramas (aka just keep watching Shun haha!).
Queen of SOP (2012, China)
Story in a nutshell: Joe Chen is your typical career woman who started from the bottom but because of some twist of fate and her determination, she became very successful. Thanks to Godfrey Gao and Zhang Han’s characters too, she became unstoppable and these two men were also battling to win over her heart.
+: I watched this for Godfrey but ended up falling in love with Hans like omg *heart eyes*. I remember getting irritated with Hans at first because I found it funny that he spoke more English than Godfrey ever did in this drama when the former could hardly do it. I can be very shallow and I’m really sorry about that. However, I realized that his character here is just the cutest ever and top it with his winning smile then I could just die. Aside from discovering a new love, I loved the fairytale-like elements in the drama which just made me giggle throughout those episodes. Unlike everyone else, I’m a huge fan of love triangles especially when it isn’t obvious who the first or second lead is and it was exactly the situation here.
Notable OSTs: “Loving Loneliness” sang by our female lead and “A Friend Who Loves You the Most” by my dearest Hans.
-: I remember reading the comments about this drama when I started watching it and wondering why everyone thought it became annoying and dragging towards the end. They didn’t lie at all because it was indeed VERY annoying. So many business matters and irrelevant people became involved and you could hardly see Godfrey in many episodes anymore. It really sucks if you were only watching this for him (which was my initial reason).
Overall rating: It became a challenge to watch it with the business politics and all but I still mostly enjoyed it because of the leads and the convenience of having just 30-40 minutes per episode. I gave it a 9.5/10 with parts of the score also went to the beautiful locations. Taipei, Shanghai, and London?!! What more could you ask for?
Never Give up Dodo (2013, China)
Story in a nutshell: We get to watch the flat-chested Dodo’s (female lead) journey as she prepares to walk down the aisle with fiancee played by Godfrey Gao. Lots of antagonists including exes, best friends, and in-laws but they’re actually the reason why this is one of the silliest comedy dramas out there!
+: I felt that it was important to describe the female lead being flat-chested because that’s where most of the jokes lie on. When I watched the first episode, I remember asking myself “What the heck am I watching?!!”. Yup, it’s that silly and ridiculous that it makes sense why it’s only a web drama because China would never allow this on TV at all HAHA! Godfrey Gao was such a revelation here, he can actually do comedy and I wish he’d make more because he’s a joy to watch. Despite that, I loved it so much aside from the fact that I love Godfrey because of the story and the quirkiness of all the other characters.
-: There was one particular episode that I didn’t like which was when Dodo was accompanied by her groom’s in-laws. It became too corny and a bit torturous to watch but yay for just having 20 minutes per episode so it wasn’t really a waste of time.
Overall rating: 9.5/10 because no other drama has made me laugh the way I did when I watched this drama. The ending made me crave for more but I love how despite the ridiculousness of this drama, the dynamics of love and marriage between the two leads were evidently seen.
Loving, Never Forgetting (2014, China)
Story in a nutshell: Think “Autumn’s Concerto” minus some important elements (aka cliches) of that drama like terminal illness, amnesia, etc. but retain the plotline of making people develop a second lead syndrome but for obvious reasons, I didn’t (Jerry all the way, hello?? LOL)
+: Jerry Yan as a family man (it rhymes!) then yes please! I think I have to talk about him first before talking about anything else. This was his first project as a father, well not exactly because he already did twice before this (go figure). Rather, first time that it’s mentioned in the synopsis. With that, he had to chop off his signature gorgeous mane in order to look more serious and fatherly. Of course he won’t be my ultimate bias if he didn’t act well which he really did in this drama. Some may have criticized it for being wooden but his acting in the latter episodes were hands down the best scenes he has acted in so far in my opinion.
I’ve always thought that this was going to be a heavy drama based on how it promoted itself with the story and teasers. However, there were so many heartwarming and even comedic moments which made my journey with this drama beyond enjoyable.
Notable OSTs: I downloaded all of them but my favorites are: “I Understand Now” and Jerry Yan’s “Having One of Me” as the ending song. I may have not heard his voice while acting here but yay for his voice being used in the OSTs!
-: I can be considered as the #1 hater of dubbing especially when they do it on someone very important to me aka Jerry ugh whyyy lol
Annoying characters are inevitable and some of them ruined my enjoyment. I know that a drama won’t be able to go on if it’s just full of fluff but these people made the story fall like a landslide towards the end. Special mentions to male lead’s mother and the second male lead. Hope we will never meet again!
Overall rating: It could have been perfect but there were a few poor elements which I felt would have been better if they were developed well. Although I still gave it a 9.5/10 because the positives outweighed the negatives anyway. “Loving, Never Forgetting” is one of the few Mainland Chinese modern dramas that I highly recommend whenever people ask me for some.
Boss & Me (2014, China)
Story in a nutshell: The female lead named Shan Shan (Zhao Liying) has a rare blood type. Her boss Feng Teng (Zhang Han) has a younger sister who has the same blood type as Shan Shan and needed her help. As a sign of gratitude, her boss would always have someone deliver packed lunch boxes for her.
+: A seemingly plain and silly story but it had me binge-watch in a very short time and loved every single moment of it! I watched it right after “Queen of SOP” and so it has sealed the deal for Zhang Han to be my ultimate Chinese love. This drama introduced me to Zhao Liying and isn’t she just the cutest? 😀 They had so much chemistry here that I was shipping them in real life lol.
Notable OSTs: “Wind’s Promise” by our male lead as the opening song and “Roll the Dice” as a super feel-good insert song are my favorites!
-: I can’t think of anything negative here because it was just a joy to watch this that I don’t remember having any problems with it.
Overall rating: The first ever Chinese drama that got my 10! I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a great Chinese modern drama to watch. It had the right amount of fluff and angst and I just want to rewatch it when I can to relive such wonderful feelings of watching this ❤
The Four (2015, China)
Story in a nutshell: This drama has many sub-stories and pretty complicated to explain so I’ll just compare it with a Western TV show for it to be simpler. It’s basically an ancient/wuxia version of Criminal Minds with crime investigations and taking actions to prevent/solve them.
+: Janine Chang. Enough said! Her role here as a mind-reading, animal-talking, escaping lady-in-waiting remains to be my favorite role of hers even if I’ve seen her in other roles already. My love Zhang Han didn’t even smile here (which is his best asset :() so I should put this in the negative part lol. Kidding aside, his cold but loving character made him so compatible with Janine’s quirky character. Aside from them, it was the smooth flow and development of both the story and characters made me love the drama. No random personality changes, as it all made sense as we got to know the background of the character along with his/her motives.
-: Cheesy CGI could ruin some parts of the watching experience and I thought I wouldn’t get past it but it surprisingly grew on me. Though I still wish that they’d work on that!
Overall rating: 9.5/10 = Definitely not bad for my first ever period/wuxia drama! I was only in it for Janine and Hans but never I have predicted that I would be into it for the story and other characters as well. Special mention to the antagonist played by Mickey He! He remains to be the most brilliant evil character in my list for his reasonable motives which led to his well-played schemes.
ALL THE AWARDS!
Black & White (2009, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: A police-action drama with the protagonists as the top-performing police officers who were unexpectedly paired. They may be different in all aspects but they had to move all differences aside in order to bust crimes which have been plaguing the entire nation.
+: A+ for my dearest first love Zai Zai (Vic Zhou) and also to Mark Chao’s acting. Vic’s character was just wonderfully played and I could second everyone’s negative reactions back then when he didn’t win the Golden Bell. However, it was unfair to Mark as well because I really loved his acting here. It was his first time to act in anything so people didn’t really have any basis of comparison to his skills and that was already something worthy of praise. Aside from these two award-winning actors, the story was just well-written that I would get goosebumps from time to time.
-: I understand that this is an action drama so romance wasn’t really a necessity. However, I was left unsatisfied with the ending because I thought there would be more to see in terms of the romance department. I’m looking at you, former real-life couple Janine and Mark! Moreover, this drama didn’t have any previews for the next episode and every episode would end with a cliffhanger so I was pretty much pulling all my hair out. Haha!
Overall rating: 10/10 = Never have I seen a drama with so many plot twists but was still consistent and intact with the development of both the story and the characters. I remember not having even finished the first episode but loving it so much already. That already says a lot because action dramas never appealed to me as it can be obviously seen from my range of watching with similar genres of romcoms and melodramas lol. If you’re turned off that this is a police-action drama, then please don’t and give this a try! It’s one of the best Taiwanese dramas out there 😉
In Time With You (2011, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: The story of “In Time With You” is so simple and overused because it’s the typical I’m-in-love-with-my-best-friend-but-I-can’t-because-it-would-ruin-our-friendship. Yup, that kind of story and nope, I didn’t spoil you. It is because the drama was not trying hard to be anything else but show the reality.
+: I didn’t know much about Ariel Lin and Bolin Chen’s acting skills before coming into this drama but while watching this, I could totally understand how they were able to win the best actress and best actor award, respectively. The roles that they played as Cheng You Qing and Li Da Ren would make you feel like you were actually in their scenes because they would make you feel that it was all real. Many people frowned upon the arrogance and obliviousness of You Qing and also Da Ren’s role as a doormat and punching bag but I felt that their characters were still perfectly developed and necessary to the story. Unlike most of the other TW-dramas that I’ve watched, this one did not have annoying or unnecessary side stories because everything just helped in moving the story well and also the fact that the supporting characters played their roles well.
Notable OSTs: This drama seriously wins for having the best OSTs and especially the opening song. I remember watching this drama for the very first time and liking William Wei’s “I Still Am” right away. The leads also contributed to the beauty of the soundtrack with Ariel Lin who sang the ending song called “Wings” while Bolin Chen sang “I Probably Won’t Love You” as an insert song. There were also two beautiful insert songs entitled “Revolving Door” and “Tiptoe Love” which gave soulful vibes to the drama.
-: It’s just flawless that I can only pinpoint one negative thing about it: Myself. I became too attached that I could still find myself rewatching some episodes from time to time. It has ruined my life basically and made me start my never-ending hunt of having my own Li Da Ren. HAHA!
Overall rating: 10/10 = This drama is far from the usual silly Taiwanese idol drama formula which is why it won 7 out of 8 awards in the Golden Bell Awards since this award-giving body rarely nominates an idol drama, much more when it’s actually chosen as a winner. I saw how most of the people recommended this TW-drama for those who are not looking for something light. However, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who simply just wants to watch something beautiful in the most realistic way possible. I would also like to praise the director (who also won best director) who used such a simple story into a drama which was artistically and excellently done. I’m generally not a fan of rewatching anything unless it’s really really good but this definitely fit the criteria!
My tears were just effortlessly flowing while watching this drama and my eyes were literally glued to the screen because I really felt that I was part of the emotional journey of the characters. Overall, I really think that this is a must-watch TW-drama. Having watched a few really great ones (e.g. Autumn’s Concerto, Meteor Garden), it made me wonder if I would be able to find another drama that could make me feel overly emotional and amazed with its beauty and “In Time With You” is definitely one of those dramas now.
The Way We Were (2014, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Five people who are the best of friends have seen one another through thick and thin all throughout a span of 16 summers.
+: Ruby Lin’s Tang Jia Ni is one of the most admirable female leads for me out there! This woman acted her part from a spunky college student to a mature family/career woman very well. The same could be said to Tiffany Hsu’s Rui Rui, Melvin Sia’s Jun Jie, and Leroy Young’s Fang Wei De with respect to their characters. This is why they all got nominated after all! To make it short, I loved everything about this drama! From the actors, story, script, music, setting, literally everything. This is also the most quotable drama for me ever! All of the quotes I got are still saved until now in my laptop. This drama is just amazing beyond words. I think this review won’t give any justice so I really hope that you can just check it out for yourself.
Notable OSTs: “Let’s Not Be Friends Anymore” by Eric Chou as the ending song and may have been repeated in the drama for like a hundred times but I still didn’t mind. It just gets me right into the feels whenever I listen to it! Elva Hsiao’s “Romance Attacks” as the opening song has a cheerful tune and a very deceiving one too as it gives the impression that this is nothing but a feel-good drama.
-: I have never seen a drama that made me cry as much as this drama did… I wanted to capitalize that sentence but it may scare you off haha! Though I know myself well enough that this isn’t necessarily a negative thing because I love crying (usual suspects: dramas and films).
Overall rating: 10/10 = I still remember the day I started watching this drama. I was in school waiting for my next class to take place and so I decided to watch it because why not?! After watching it then, I said to myself that it was nothing special as it was just set in the 90s with elements of nostalgia being used again. Then all the waves of feels and tears came to me like a tornado attacking a sleeping human. Good thing I stopped watching it in school and just continued watching it at home or people there would have judged me for crying like a fool. Though it didn’t matter too because my whole family was judging me for crying so much at home all because of this drama. *Sighs*. I think I talked too much about my feelings that I forgot to explain why I gave it a perfect score haha!
I was initially going to write a detailed review about it but time couldn’t permit so this is my chance to talk about it at least once in this blog. Until now it baffles me why this has such a low rating in MyDramaList.com when other dramas get way higher scores which aren’t really deserving of it to be honest. Like I can’t comprehend how one could watch this without shedding a single tear or getting moved in any way. Anyway, at least the Golden Bell Awards and I are one with love for this drama! Amazing acting + wonderful cinematography + appropriate OSTs + seamlessly flow of the story = totally worthy of 2015 Golden Bell’s best drama of the year!
It’s funny how this was a 2015 year-end drama round-up and yet, none of my winning dramas came from this year haha!
So how’s the last part of my Year-ender post? A total of 3 Japanese dramas, 14 Taiwanese dramas, and 11 Chinese dramas which makes it 28 dramas for this year! +13 to my record of 15 last year haha! I don’t think 2016 could top it as I’ll be very busy preparing for a major exam. On the brighter side, I promise to still be actively writing from time to time.
Let us hope that 2016 will not only be a good year for all of us but also for dramas! Less MEHs and Why did I watch it again?! moments but more Sooo Good and All the awards please!