I know, I know. This has long been overdue but I still think that I owe everyone this year-ender post. I was out of the country from December to January and there was no time for me to blog at all. I even got to meet my blogging partner Kate over the holidays! It was so much fun, I wish I could blog about it 😀
Anyway, let’s get started on this post as it is one of my favorite things to write about — a year-end drama round-up! I made one for 2015 which you can see here just in case you still want to read it. In this post, I wrote some brief reviews about all the dramas that I watched in 2016. So this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dramas were all made in 2016 as the title of this post may have suggested.
I divided it into parts: STORY IN A NUTSHELL (without spoilers, I promise!), POSITIVE (+) & NEGATIVE (-) things about it, some NOTABLE OSTs, and my OVERALL RATING.
Are we ready? 🙂
It was okay.
Okay? What do I mean by that? Okay in a sense that I could live without watching it. It was also okay that I watched it. This is all because I didn’t really have much feelings about these dramas.
Koizora (2007, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: A typical bad boy falls in love with the nice girl kind of story. The love that they shared seemed to be full of rainbows and butterflies until *insert cliche plot twist here* had to stop it. Will there ever be hope for their love to blossom again?
+: Even if this kind of story has been used time and time again, it still never failed to give us some hope about love. Not a bad watch if you want to use up all of your boxes of Kleenex.
Notable OSTs: I don’t remember any and I’m so sorry for that 😦
-: Since it falls under my “Ït was okay” category, I guess that can sum up the things that I didn’t really like about this drama. It was pretty forgettable that I’ve been having a difficult time thinking about what to write now. The acting could still have improved but it was still okay.
Overall Rating: 8/10 was what I recorded in MyDramaList but if I could rate it now, I would give it a lower score of 6. Considering that this was my first drama to watch for 2016, it was not really a great year opener for my year in dramas. I would recommend the movie version starring Miura Haruma more over this drama.
Hana Kimi (2007, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: Our female lead took fangirling to the highest level by literally following her dreams and moved to an all-boys school, where her ultimate idol high-jumper athlete is studying in. Competitions, chaos, confusion, it was definitely a crazy ride for everyone!
+: Shun Oguri!!! C’mon, what’s not to love?! This man never fails to amaze me and I just had to watch this drama for him. I actually can’t choose between him or Wu Chun in portraying the lead role best. I just loved them both as Sano! I also didn’t expect Ikuta Toma to be so lovable as the 2nd male lead. I didn’t really like him before so I also can’t choose between him or Jiro Wang.
Notable OSTs: I think I’m pretty bad at remembering Japanese drama OSTs unless they’re super good. The opening was some form of Japanese rock that I was not really a fan of. Maybe I’m just biased with the Taiwanese version because I loved its OSTs more.
-: Some parts were just dragging and boring that I could not help but miss the Taiwanese version. Taiwanese dramas are more known to have some slapstick elements but this Japanese version was surprisingly more slapstick. It did not become funny for me at that point that I just wanted to end it already. Also, the female lead looked way too feminine like who are we kidding?! Even if I’m not a fan of Ella Chen, I think she won as being the best Hana Kimi female lead!
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 is still a high score despite my negative comments all because Shun and Toma were amazing in it. It definitely had a better closure than its Taiwanese counterpart in terms of the story and that’s what I loved about it. I’m part of the minority who preferred Taiwan’s version more but I still enjoyed this drama nevertheless.
Drama Go Go Go (2012, China)
Story in a nutshell: A dramaception (drama within a drama) that you’re not really sure about which drama world you’re following. A hopeless romantic screenplay writer would do anything just to write a drama where her ultimate D-lister celebrity crush could star in. It was definitely not an easy drama to write as our female lead did not know what to believe in anymore. The entertainment industry is just way too complicated!
+: This drama actually got me hooked for awhile because of its great romcom elements. The male leads were also to die for, Ruby had Jiro Wang, Lin Gengxin, and Hu Bing to choose from! How could you even choose?! Back when this was airing, this kind of plot was pretty unique and that’s definitely a plus for me.
Notable OSTs: I just loved the songs sang by Jiro Wang in this drama! “Our Screenplay” is actually playing now as I’m typing this review. It was such a perfect opening song for the drama and the lyrics were just way too accurate. “I Should Love You” as an ending song also fit the mood of the drama as it was also pivotal to the story.
-: Like almost any Chinese drama, it got dragging that it wasn’t getting my full attention anymore. I also felt that Ruby Lin’s character had way too many issues which she shouldn’t be having anymore.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10 is the lowest score that I gave for this section of dramas. Although I don’t exactly remember why I gave this rating, it must be because of the dragging story lines towards the end of the drama. I would not really recommend this drama to watch unless you’re a fan of the actors (which I was).
A lot of people will probably hate me for tagging these dramas as overhyped but I have my reasons so don’t hate me please! 😀
Devil Beside You (2005, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: He’s the school’s notorious bad boy aka devil whose favorite hobby was to bully our female lead. It became more complicated when love started to dominate both of their lives. Odds were sadly not in their favor as their own parents were also experiencing the same thing. Definitely one of Taiwan’s classic dramas!
+: I didn’t expect this drama to have a fast-paced way of storytelling so that was really good. Taiwanese dramas during those years just have this feel-good kind of vibes that one would enjoy. Maybe it’s just me because I’m a huge Taiwanese drama fan but this drama was just one of those.
Notable OSTs: No OST has caught my attention for this drama 😦
-: I’m not a fan of Mike or Rainie but I’m completely aware that their pairing has a huge fan base but for some reason, I did not really have much feelings about them. I feel like I would have liked the drama more if the leads were not them.Oh well, different strokes for different folks. Given that this is already an old drama, there were just some cringe-worthy elements like acting and visual effects that I could forgive but it’s still a no for me!
Overall Rating: 6/10 is an almost passing score. Maybe I would have actually rated it higher if I didn’t know about the hype of this drama. As for this case, I didn’t really get the hype so I don’t think I would ever watch it again.
Scarlet Heart (2011, China)
Story in a nutshell: After getting into an accident, our female lead accidentally time-traveled all the way back to the Qing Dynasty. She became Maertai Ruoxi and found herself entangled into the princes’ fight for the crown.
+: This may sound shallow but I just really loved Ruoxi’s pink outfits in the drama! Speaking of her outfits, Ruoxi as the main lead is someone that you would root for. No wonder all the princes were just so enthralled with her charm and wit. The story line was definitely something that could get you hooked for a long time and indeed, everyone just went crazy then.
Notable OSTs: Female lead Liu Shi Shi’s “Season of Waiting” gave me some feels and it’s probably the only song that I could remember clearly.
-: I completely understood that the Qing Dynasty or the ancient times in general was extremely harsh and inhumane in terms of punishing crimes. However, I just hated the latter part of the drama because of that factor. There were also times when I didn’t find the other stories interesting anymore and I just had to pull through finishing the rest of the drama.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 is still a relatively high rating because the drama still kept me entertained. It started the time-traveling genre craze and it wouldn’t even be a craze if it had not been because of this drama. Maybe I just expected way too much from it given the hype that it has been getting over the years which led me to look for something more.
Story in a nutshell: The most beautiful girl in the IT college is apparently also the only female in the top gamers of a famous online game. Similarly, the campus heartthrob is actually the #1 player in the game. Both of them fell in love online, but will this also turn into an offline romance?
+: I have always loved Yang Yang and Zheng Shuang even before this drama happened. Seeing them together was a visual feast for me and it was also one of the reasons why I enjoyed watching the drama. I also loved the concept of the story, living in online games plus romance? Oh yes, finally something new that was brought to the table!
Notable OSTs: I loved “Alluring Smile” as the opening song because it gave me an idea that I will be watching a drama that is nothing but a feel-good one. Yang Yang’s “Just One Smile is Very Alluring” as the ending song was just as lovely too. I mean, how could you not love Yang Yang singing for this drama?!
-: Zheng Shuang’s acting… It’s funny how I put her in both the positive and negative aspects of the drama. Although it has been said many times already, I’m still going to say it here. Did she not know how to kiss such a beautiful man?!! I really didn’t think so especially that her long time boyfriend was Zhang Han (my man! <3). Haha! To be more forgiving, maybe it was the director who told her to act that way. She was a great Makino in China’s unofficial adaptation of Hana Yori Dango so I’m not really sure about what went wrong along the way. Aside from her acting, I felt that the story did not have much to offer towards the end. I also felt that they could have done more to keep it interesting but it ended up falling a little flat for me.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 I wasn’t so crazy about it unlike almost everyone else but it has definitely sealed the deal for me that Gu Man’s works are worth watching. However, it’s still my lowest rated Gu Man novel-drama which can also be based from my personal bias that I like dramas that are more in touch with reality (which I didn’t really feel with Love O2O). I would recommend it to people who are looking for more feel-good C-dramas but I don’t think I would prioritize it as a recommendation given that there are still better ones out there.
I never thought that I would like these dramas because of the following reasons: 1.) Cliche story line 2.) BL isn’t really a genre that I would consider going into (tried watching before but it wasn’t really my cup of tea) 3.) Enough of these gender-bending dramas please.
And yes, such claims all disappeared after watching these lovely dramas. I want more!
Hapimari!? (2016, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: A typical marriage contract kind of story wherein our handsome and wealthy male lead is out to get his power and money and would do whatever it takes to get them. Even if it means marrying a stranger aka our poor and hardworking female lead who would also need him for the money.
+: Dean Fujioka as the male lead in a romcom J-drama… Enough said. This drama made me love him even more! I was badly crushing on him during those months of watching that I wanted to watch his other dramas but life got in the way. Anyway, Dean was just amazing here and he had great chemistry with Nana here despite a huge age gap in real life.
Notable OSTs: Even if I loved this drama, I did not like any of the OSTs and I especially hated the opening song. Listen at your own risk haha!
-: There were some corny and slapstick parts that I don’t want to specifically point out anymore but they were still mostly acceptable for a J-drama based on a manga. So maybe it was just me who found such scenes quite off.
Overall Rating: 9/10 I enjoyed this drama so much that I wrote a First Impressions post on it just when everyone else was going crazy over “Love O2O”. Yes, the story has been used time and time again but this drama just made me beyond happy. It was so easy to watch it and it killed me that I waited for a long time to see the last few episodes since the subber had major exams (but thank you and I love you so much, Furritsubs!). If you want to see a light and easy J-drama to watch, then go watch Hapimari!
Addicted (2016, China)
Story in a nutshell: Two teenage boys found comfort in each other’s company amidst their seemingly endless personal and family drama.
+: The OTP!! Wei Zhou Xu and Johnny Huang are soooo good-looking though I personally prefer Johnny’s Gu Hai more but aaahhh they’re so lovable! I was not really a fan of the story, I was more in it because of those two but the setting and cinematography were just A+.
Notable OSTs: The drama had a great set of OSTs but I did not love it enough to add them to my playlist.
-: What the heck was that ending, guys?! The drama was supposed to have a season 2 but SARFT China just had to ruin everything. It was basically the ending that made me lower the overall score of this drama and also some boring parts that did not seem relevant to the story.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 Like what I said earlier, BL was never my cup of tea but Addicted’s OTP just had to change my whole perspective about it. Although this drama made me watch BL, I don’t think I would watch other such dramas unless they make a 2nd season. Yup, that’s how much I loved it and other dramas that I’ve been seeing with the same genre don’t seem to interest me as much as Addicted has made me. I’m very much looking forward to watch Johnny in other projects though because he was just so great in this.
Bromance (2015, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: Our female lead (? haha!) has always been raised as a boy ever since a soothsayer has warned her parents that her life would be in danger if she would not be raised as one. Things turned out to be more complicated when she became sworn brothers with the mob leader’s son. Will there ever be just bromance between the two of them?
+: Baron!!! I became an instant Baron fan because of this drama. He has bloomed so much coming from the last time I saw him as his well-loved character as Dylan in “Fated to Love You” (I was Team Ji Cun Xi all the way though!). He had a sizzling chemistry with Megan and I could watch them again and again.
Notable OSTs: Loved Bii’s “Back In Time” as a mellow insert song, it just had to be good because Bii’s story line was way too forgettable. “Quietness” as the ending theme song was the perfect balance of mellow for the energetic opening song “Epochal Times”. “So beautiful, it’s my life” ~~~oh the LSS!
-: Bii and Katie Chen’s (second leads) story was the major letdown of this drama. Like I just needed to be saved from their story aka snoozefest. I kept tweeting about it and funny how one of my Twitter friends said something like, “I never thought I would ever not feel bad about someone who had a terminal illness”. Yup, a very mean comment but she just got it so accurately! There was basically nothing happening in their story and I didn’t think that they could act too. Someone also said that it seemed like we were watching a different drama when we were watching the second leads’ story because it was not really connected to the main leads’ story. Real bad.
Overall Rating: 9/10 This drama just gave me nothing but good vibes. I had a second-degree burn accident last year and I was prescribed by the doctor to rest in bed for three days. To make my rest more meaningful, I decided to watch this drama and voila! I finished it in three days as well, my life depended on Bromance during those painful days so this drama will always have a place in my heart. But aside from its personal value to me, I think Bromance gave a fresher take on gender-bending dramas and it was definitely worth watching!
These dramas just amazed me from start to finish. I would highly recommend these dramas to anyone in need of a good watch. You’re welcome 😉
Love Me If You Dare (2015, China)
Story in a nutshell: An internationally-known criminal psychologist could solve even the most bizarre crimes in an instant. With the help of his assistant, no crime could ever be remain unsolved. As for their budding romance, will they ever have a happy ending despite the complicated crimes that they have to solve?
+: I have always loved eccentric drama characters and for Wallace Huo’s Jin Bo Yan/Simon to be one, that’s already an A+ for me! He was so peculiar and adorable at the same time that my eyes were turning into the heart eyes emoji when I was watching him. Also, the crimes in the story were very well-orchestrated that it would make you sit on the edge of your chair.
Notable OSTs: For this kind of drama, I don’t think the OSTs would have an important role especially that the drama’s mostly suspense/thriller. With that, I hardly remember any of the songs that were used in this drama.
-: The scenes with the FBI were just a bit off for me mostly because they were all speaking in English and Wallace would just reply to them in Mandarin. Lol. Although I appreciated it more instead of forcing the actor to speak a language that he does not really speak (trust me, a lot of dramas have done it already). Other than that, nothing else really made me dislike the drama.
Overall Rating: 10/10 for a very great C-drama! The production and story execution were just excellently done. I don’t think I would ever watch a C-drama psychological thriller as great as “Love Me If You Dare”.
My Queen (2009, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: A 33 year-old magazine editor has been single for years after being heartbroken by her one great love. She then meets a young and handsome any job will do worker who will change how she sees love after being deprived of it for so long. Will love finally come into her life again even when it’s with someone who’s younger than her?
+: Ethan Ruan and James Wen fighting over Cheryl Yang, where can I sign up to be the female lead instead?! Loved the story and during this time, it was pretty much the pioneer of May-December romance dramas. It never failed to make me fall in love with Ethan’s Lucas and it made me laugh until I could cry.
Notable OSTs: Fish Leong’s “Mei You Ru Guo” as the opening song was a good one, “Don’t Cry for Him Anymore” and “Ai Qing Zhi Suo Yi Wei Ai” were notable OSTs.
-: As usual, there were some dragging parts and scenes that should not have been included instead. I could actually specify those scenes but it would definitely spoil one’s watching experience so I’d rather not write it here.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 Almost perfect! I mostly enjoyed every minute of this drama that I was really sad when I was watching the last episode. This drama helped me get through such stressful months working and studying at the same time so it will always have a place in my heart too. It was also Ethan Ruan’s last drama in almost 8 years now, crazy! He needs to go back to dramaland like. right. now.
In A Good Way (2013, Taiwan)
Story in a nutshell: We are in the year of 1995 where our female lead and her childhood best friend moved to Taipei for university. Both of their lives changed especially when they met people who are in search of freedom just like them. Now that they are all friends, will they ever be able to attain freedom together?
+: The cast, story, setting, music, and basically everything that there is! I could write about all the positive things about this drama again and again but I think most of it was already written in the full-length review that I wrote months ago (see link below).
Notable OSTs: Music was very essential to this drama and without it, this drama would not be as successful as it was. Adrian Fu’s “Good Morning, Hard City” as the opening song is just one of the best opening songs that I’ve ever listened to. Even seeing the music video just kills me, what way too intense IAGW feels I have! Freya Lim’s “Ming Ming Ai Ni” grew on me because I didn’t like it before but now I just want to belt it out in a karaoke bar. Most of all, Wu Bai’s “Lingering” is the most beautiful song in this drama that my heart could cry *sighs*.
-: There’s nothing bad about this drama except the heartaches and crazy mental state that it has given me… and let’s not forget that Lego Lee’s Liu Chuan just proved to me that I don’t think I would ever find a man if he just set my standards way up to cloud nine. Lastly, I hated it because of the last few anticlimactic episodes.
Overall Rating: 11/10
MY ULTIMATE WINNER! If you followed us on Twitter during the months that I watched this drama, you might have either muted me or went with the flow by watching it with me too. Luckily, some of our Twitter friends decided to rewatch “In A Good Way” and they were blaming me for it of course haha! I BECAME AN IN A GOOD WAY TRASH, GUYS :(( I just have (yup, present tense!) so many feelings about it that it made me publish my first full-length Taiwanese drama review in this blog. Okay wait, I might have babbled way too much without actually going to my main point. “In A Good Way” hits all the right spots when you’re looking for a drama exploring the themes of nostalgia, first love, dreams, and most especially freedom. I don’t want to make this longer anymore as I’ve also inserted the link of my full review above just in case you want to know more about my endless IAGW feels.
It was the same as my 2015 year-ender post, no drama from the year ending has won my heart enough to become a winner. This is mostly because I’m way behind in dramaland so I tend to watch the ones from the previous years instead of the ones that were currently airing.
And that’s it for my 2016 year-ender post! I’m just beyond glad that I finally got the time to publish it. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It wasn’t even half of the amount that I watched in 2015 (28 dramas back then!) and just 12 for 2016 but I was still happy with the dramas that I got to watch. I don’t think I can watch as much for this year as well but I will still definitely update you guys when I can 😉