I first started watching dramas back when I was 8 years old because “Meteor Garden” was such a phenomenon. Up to now, I only know one person who never got into the hype and we all still jokingly judge her because of it haha! I watched K-dramas in the same local channel that aired Meteor Garden years after. My love for Asian dramas eventually died and I went on to watch Western shows and I never imagined myself re-entering Dramaland. Not until the local channel that decided to air “Meteor Garden” two years ago and voila! This is already my third year of watching dramas. Good times, good times.
When I wrote my 2015 Year-End Drama Round-Up (part 1 & part 2), some dramas that I’ve watched already were being recommended. It was then that I realized that I never wrote about it here that’s why they were probably suggesting it. With that, I wrote about the dramas that I watched in my first year of fully getting into this wonderful world called dramaland. A lot of the dramas mentioned are very special in my heart and if only I could have all the time and willpower to write individual reviews on them, I would but the mini-reviews that you will be reading should suffice for now.
Note: I never changed my rating from the very first time I watched these dramas. If you think the ratings are too high then it’s all because these dramas have set my standards given that they’re my very first ones. Oh and they all came from Taiwan! 😀
Just like last year’s drama round-up when I watched a lot of classics, my very first dramas are the definition of a classic.
Meteor Garden (2001)
Story in a nutshell: You know the drill, do I even have to say it? The female lead Shancai is enrolled into the very prestigious (and for elites) Ying De University because of her mom’s belief that she has to marry someone rich. She would have never imagined that she would become the school’s most popular flower boys’ target to bully. Her frequent encounters with the boys made the group leader develop feelings towards her but she only likes the wallflower of the group.
+: I have nothing but praises for this drama compared to other people who criticize that it’s way too old already. Nothing’s ever too old when it’s an absolute classic 😉
Notable OSTs: As Harlem Yu’s “Qing Fei Di Yi” starts playing, everyone goes nuts! It only means that there’s another great episode to be seen. While Penny Tai’s “Ni Yao De Ai” hits you with all the right feels as it plays while Shancai and Dao Ming Si are experiencing some roadblocks in their complicated relationship.
-: The only negative thing about it is that it will suck the life out of you as it introduced me to dramaland. It’s still a beautiful negative 😉
Overall rating: No questions asked because this is automatically a 10 for me. I even lost count on how many times I have watched this classic already!
Meteor Garden 2 (2002)
Story in a nutshell: Male lead gets amnesia and develops a completely different story with another ladylove. Female lead becomes miserable all throughout the drama.
+: Oh them feels! I was crying at 4AM in the morning because of the heartbreak that the drama was giving me. Please see image below for your reference.
Notable OSTs: Interestingly, they mostly used English songs in this drama. They probably did it for the international audience due to the success that the first installment had. “All by Myself” and “Broken Vow” basically set the tone of the drama. Full of heartbreaks and sorrows 😥 but at least we had F4’s classic song, “Can’t Lose You” to save us from such heartbreaks.
-: It was still a train-wreck… despite my feels, they shouldn’t have made this sequel or they could’ve come up with a better plot. Although I still forgive them because this was more than a decade ago so the whole plot was not necessarily a cliche during that time.
Overall rating: 8/10 yup, this was mostly boring and heartbreaking but I love me some angst and tearjerkers!
Meteor Rain (2001)
Story in a nutshell: A spin-off of the dramas written before this. All F4 members except Hua Ze Lei had a special episode.
+: Honestly can’t think of anything positive about it except that I had to see it because it meant more Jerry but there was nothing outstanding about it.
Notable OST: F4’s “Meteor Rain” is definitely notable and it was probably the only song in the drama. So notable that my men sang it during the recent F4-1 reunion aka Ken’s wedding (coincidentally, Zai Zai wasn’t there just like how he didn’t have an episode here lol)
-: I still don’t know why they didn’t give Hua Ze Lei a story though. His character is way too interesting to be missed out on.
Overall rating: 7/10 may be a passing score but this mini-drama was basically just a filler as we were waiting the transition from Meteor Garden to its sequel. There’s nothing really worth watching here and no one really knows the exact setting in terms of time as Dao Ming Si should have started MG1 as a nice guy when his episode took place.
Story in a nutshell: Two broken people found comfort and love in each other.
+: It was so refreshing to see Barbie and Vic in completely different roles after the success of Meteor Garden. At least our Zai Zai finally got the girl even in real life for awhile :'(.They nailed playing their roles and were able to establish that they are not idol actors, but real actors.
Notable OSTs: “Say You Love Me” complemented the melodramatic feel of the drama while “Rang Wo Ai Ni” sang by our leads can make you happy thinking about the awesome chemistry that they had.
-: I don’t know if it was just me but I could not watch this drama at night because of some horror/disturbing scenes. Trust me, I love horror and I’m a Psychology graduate but it’s just my personal preference that I avoid psychological-themed forms of entertainment
Overall rating: MARS is one of those most well-loved Taiwanese dramas and I actually find it weird that I didn’t like it as much as everyone else did. I gave it a rating of 8/10 because I would still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a Taiwanese drama with exceptional acting and a solid story line.
LAUGH & LOVE
Because rom-coms are everything!
Down with Love (2010)
Story in a nutshell: A hotshot lawyer played by Jerry Yan was left with no choice but to take care of his nephew and niece. He then hired Ella Chen’s character to take care of them and all romance and laughter start to take place.
+: My dearest Jerry Yan in a romcom?! I don’t know about you but of course that already had me sold! It was just so funny that I would end up like an idiot smiling after every episode.
Notable OSTs: Jerry sang the opening song, “Just Want to Depend On You” which gives the audience an idea of how fun and enjoyable the drama is. “Adore You” as an insert song is what my friends and sister love very much. SHE’s “Loving You” as the ending song is another great song too. In short, all OSTs here are just worth replaying over and over again.
-: The second leads especially that Ding Hui Fan!!! A few episodes before the ending were just dragging, a typical Taiwanese drama feature.
Overall rating: Again, it’s not supposed to get a perfect score of 10 but I still gave it when I first watched it because of the feeling it gave me back then. I was even savoring every episode because I just didn’t want it to end. I thought I was the only one who felt this until my sister said that she felt the same too. It’s a modern Cinderella story which is a common plot for Asian dramas but it’s so enjoyable that you’d love to watch it again! Although I hate rewatching it because it just reminds me that even Ella’s Yang Guo’s character can get someone like Jerry’s Yu Ping when I couldn’t even get one… HAHA!
Hana Kimi (2006)
Story in a nutshell: A gender-bending drama based on a popular manga. Ella Chen’s Rui Xi is pretty much the biggest fan girl of Wu Chun’s Yi Quan so she pretended to be a boy in order to enter Quan’s all-boys school. Yup, only in dramas!
+: I laughed way too much because of this drama! Loved the acting of Ella especially because you would really think she’s a boy. I never had an issue with Wu Chun’s acting (I just love this man!) and he even gained my respect more when I watched the behind-the-scenes footage of this drama as he had to polish a lot of his scenes because of his novice Mandarin skills. More than Ella and Wu Chun, I think Jiro could win all my acting awards in this drama. He’s the main reason I enjoyed this drama very much!
Notable OSTs: SHE’s “What to Do” gave an idea that this drama will be nothing but fun! Tank’s “Personal Angel” complemented some (very few) angsty scenes for our OTP as the ending song while Fahrenheit’s “Super Love You” was a good insert song.
-: What was that ending? That’s the point, we will never know. Rumor has it that it was supposed to have a sequel but fast-forward to ten years after the drama ended, we still haven’t gotten a sequel.
Overall rating: 9.5/10 was my rating as I never had really had problems for this drama except the lackluster ending because it just gave me tears from laughter and loads of happiness.
These last two dramas are not only top-rating in my heart but they were able to win the hearts of thousands of viewers especially in Taiwan. I’m not sure about the current statistics but as far as I know, “Fated to Love You” became the highest-rating idol drama in Taiwan followed by “Autumn’s Concerto” which stole the #2 spot from “Prince Turns Into A Frog”. another Joe Chen drama. She should really be crowned as the Taiwanese idol drama queen!
Autumn’s Concerto (2009)
Story in a nutshell: Popular bad boy was changed tremendously when he fell in love with the school’s beauty who is broken inside but remains to be optimistic about life. Sounds simple, right? There’s a lot more in this story and just watch and you’ll see the beauty in it.
+: EVERYTHING from the melodramatic story line, humanly characters, and brilliant acting from the cast. Van Ness Wu was my least favorite out of all the F4 members but he ended up to become one of my ultimate favorites and even fought the #1 spot in my heart with Jerry because of this drama haha! Chris Wu has redefined second lead syndrome by having exceptional acting skills (not all second leads could act well tbh). Ady cried so much in this drama and still managed to look so beautiful. When she cried, I wanted to cry with her too. Who could also ever forget about Xiao Xiao Bin’s Xiao Le? Probably the most adorable kid in dramaland. All acting awards should have been given to him!
Notable OSTs: Della Ding’s “Wo Ai Ta” was pretty much overplayed in the drama but I still loved it. Her “Xing Yun Cao” and “Qing Ren” are my ultimate favorites with the latter being able to break me into places every time it plays especially “Love You No Amnesia”, the instrumental version of it. Della and Wakin Chau’s “Suddenly Want to Love You” gives us all the sunshine after all the storms experienced in every episode.
-: Irrelevant and dragging story lines a few episodes before the ending. I loooove Chris Wu and his portrayal of Hua Tuo Ye but I just couldn’t stomach his story line like c’mon, just give us our OT3 (happy family). I watched this drama a lot of times already but I just had to fast-forward through Tuo Ye and Chi Xin’s story line.
Overall rating: !!!!!!!! If I could just bombard this mini-review with exclamation points, I would. This drama had all the cliches that you could ever ask for. Terminal illness? Check. Amnesia? Check. Evil parents? Check. Abusive step-parents? Check. Extremely nice second leads? Check. Don’t say that I’m spoiling this because the trailer and plots would tell you so. I watched this drama without knowing what I was getting into and so did my friends and sister. They all then thanked and hated me for ruining their lives. Okay, let me get to my point. This drama has set the bars extremely high for me and after watching it, I was afraid that I would end up disappointed with every drama that I will be watching after it No other drama has touched my heart the way this drama did. I’m still hoping that the lazy and tired bugs could stop biting me so I can post a separate review about it because obviously, I just have so many feelings about it even after 2 years of watching it.
Fated to Love You (2008)
Story in a nutshell: Sticky note girl (read: hollaback girl or a yes woman) accidentally gets pregnant by a douchey rich heir in a cruise after getting their hearts broken.Through this fated twist of events, their lives have inevitably been connected in ways that they would have never imagined.
+: This drama will just make you laugh until you cry! It has all the elements of a Taiwanese drama, very silly but can still tug at your heartstrings. As I said, even my ultimate favorite “Autumn’s Concerto” could not defeat this in the ratings department when it was airing which already speaks a lot about this drama. Korea also made a remake of this two years ago although I heard mostly negative comments from my friends because they think that the original remains unbeatable. You may see it for yourself then! 🙂
Notable OSTs: “My Happiness” had this unique instrumental play that I loved and was played in the critical parts of the drama. “99 Times I Love You” was such an upbeat and fun song to open this drama while “Sticky Note Wish” as the closing song just gave such a warm and fuzzy feeling.
-: I have to admit that I wasn’t really into this drama when I watched the first episode. I found Joe & Ethan not-so good-looking when I watched them for the first time. Remembering those times just makes me want to punch myself because Joe is amazing and so is Ethan like ohmygosh, what was I thinking?!! Ethan gives me life!! HAHA. I was actually getting bored at first until my friends were so crazy about it that they told me to just keep watching. I ended up being a mess because of this drama and stayed until the wee hours of the morning just to watch even after finishing my home works.
Overall rating: Another perfect 10 and it’s not even surprising that it remained to be undefeated in the #1 spot for so many years. Taiwanese people have really great taste, I must say. I wouldn’t even be watching it unless I heard that it was this good. Unlike “Autumn’s Concerto”, I never had to use the fast-forward button for this drama because there weren’t any annoying side stories. However, the ending was just not enough but it stayed true to a common Taiwanese drama ending, brief and unfulfilling. Nevertheless, the ending didn’t really affect my whole judgment of the drama as everything else was just so good.
This was fun! It made me realize that such dramas are the reason why I haven’t been rating recent dramas highly. These Taiwanese dramas have set the standards and I don’t think they would ever be replaced in my heart.
Have you guys watched the dramas that I just wrote about? If not, do you have any plans of doing so? I believe that you should just go with it because I strongly recommend all the dramas that were just reviewed.
Up next is the second and last part of my drama round-up! See you there? 😉