Merry Christmas, dearest readers! It’s that time of the year again when I look back into the dramas that I’ve watched in a year. Comparing it to my 2016 record of 12 dramas and 6 specials, I only managed to finish 10 dramas this year and most of them were even started last year. What a great decline and the trend observed was that as I grew older, the less dramas I get to watch when I thought it would be the opposite *sighs*.
On a brighter side, I ended up loving more than half of the dramas that I watched out of 10 so quality over quantity was probably the main theme of this year’s drama round-up. I’ll stop talking now and hope you can join me in going through this wonderful drama year!
Taiwanese Dramas are failing!
Being a Taiwanese drama enthusiast since the beginning of my journey in dramaland, nothing disappoints me more than a decline in quality of TW-dramas. These dramas had their fair share of goodness but I don’t think I would bother to watch them again or even recommend them to other drama-watchers.
Love Cuisine (2015)
Story in a nutshell: A famous chef in Europe decided to come back to his hometown to become a culinary teacher. If you’re a Lego Lee fan like me, I have to burst your bubble as early as now that his students had more airtime than he did so there’s not much story to highlight in this drama.
+: Lego Lee cooking is obviously a plus like he’s my only reason for watching this drama in the first place. And ohmygosh, silly Chris Wang was introduced to me because of this drama! I’ve always thought that he didn’t really have any appeal but wow, this guy’s charming! I enjoyed his scenes with Lego in the latter parts of the drama so he basically saved the drama for me.
Notable OSTs: “Love More” by Bii was probably one of the few good things in this drama. It was a feel-good song and i don’t skip it when it plays in my OSTs playlist. As for the rest of the OSTs, they have gone with the wind together with my bad experience of watching this drama…
-: EVERYTHING ELSE. I hated Allison Lin’s character for being too naive like I don’t think I would want to watch her in her other works (lol I have so much hate) and especially Ben Wu’s character brattiness, I just hated it to the core! Even in his next drama, “The Perfect Match”, I still hated him and it was probably brought about his role here. Moving aside from those two, I still had more to dislike in this drama as I felt that the story just was not going anywhere.
Overall rating: 4/10 with the 4 points coming from my love towards Lego Lee and Chris Wang. Should you watch this? Save yourself and watch other dramas instead! You won’t miss anything, I promise. I love Lego but even my love for him could not save this drama *sighs*. In case you want to know more of my thoughts regarding this drama, I wrote a First Impressions post for this drama last year here.
Marry Me, Or Not? (2015)
Story in a nutshell: Forgive me but I had to Google the plot of this drama because I just really forgot how the story went. It already tells how much I didn’t like the drama haha! The drama was basically the leads playing the game of love because whoever falls in love, loses the game. Their relationship could be traced back from when they were still in high school until they grew up to having the complete opposite beliefs in love.
+: I loved the camera lighting and the fashion in this drama! The lighting was soft but monochromatic and it went well with the mood of the drama. But what do I even know about camera lightings?! HAHA. I also love how the female leads dressed up because I had to set them as my style pegs being a working girl now. Before I forget, a major bonus plus would be the kissing scenes because Roy Qiu and Alice Ke just knew how to get them done!
Notable OSTs: “Foreverrrrr!!!” If you watched this drama and didn’t have that LSS, then you must be really good! It was sang by one of the leads, Joanne Tseng, but it was only notable for giving you LSS and nothing else. No other OSTs left a mark on me which is a shame since this drama was composed of the same people behind my favorite drama, “In Time With You” which had one of the best soundtracks ever.
-: I hated the second male lead (forgot his name, sorry) and how he was paired with Joanne Tseng. They didn’t have chemistry at all so that was already a big minus for this drama.
Overall rating: Given that I only liked some shallow aspects of the drama, I found this drama to be overrated. A lot of people seemed to like it and maybe I would have too if I knew the leads from their previous drama but it wasn’t the case. I still gave it a 7.5/10 which is still pretty high but this drama was nowhere near trash so getting a lower rating wouldn’t be fair. A part of the rating may have probably come from Bolin Chen’s cameo appearance here as one of Roy Qiu’s character’s clients who was settling some divorce papers (how could you have a divorce with Cheng You Qing, Li Da Ren?!). Will I recommend this drama to others? I will not completely ban you from watching it because you might actually like it but don’t say I didn’t warn you if the drama became too draggy and overly dramatic for you.
Q Series: Life Plan A and B (2016)
Story in a nutshell: From the title itself, Rainie Yang had her comeback drama role as a career woman who had to choose between two life paths. Should she have grabbed a job opportunity in Shanghai and left the love of her life or should she have stayed with her boyfriend and overcome obstacles together?
+: A major plus was the plot itself. It was something fresh in the land of TW dramas which also probably made Rainie snatch this as her comeback project. This was just a mini-drama series having only 6 episodes which is also a plus for drama-watchers who have limited time.
Notable OSTs: It wouldn’t be Rainie’s long-awaited return to dramaland if she didn’t contribute to the OSTs. I was never a fan of hers and her music but the opening song truly complemented the themes of sadness and regret found in this drama.
-: Despite the very short length of this drama, I still found it to be very dragging. The drama failed to keep me entertained and I just wanted to end it. I felt that it didn’t present the harshness of reality as well as I expected it to be.
Overall rating: A passing score of 7 shouldn’t be too bad for Rainie’s comeback and for a drama with a fresh story. Just like what I said about “Marry Me, Or Not?”, I wouldn’t tell you not to watch it but I could only fully recommend this to you if you want a short drama to accompany you during rainy days.
Oh nevermind, there’s still hope for Taiwanese Dramas!
2 out of 3 Taiwanese dramas in the list above came from 2015 but thanks to 2016, it gave me two quality Taiwanese dramas that I truly enjoyed.
Love @ Seventeen (2016)
Story in a nutshell: Two childhood sweethearts had a huge misunderstanding that was never solved until they drifted apart. They had a run-in years after with the female lead having a complete 360-degree turn in terms of personality. Now the male lead had to figure out what went wrong that made her change into that kind of person.
+: I loooved the main cast of this drama. Lego Lee in a nostalgia-themed drama, you can surely count me in! He had a great chemistry with Nikki Hsieh and I truly enjoyed this drama because of them especially when they were still in high school. This drama also introduced me to Edison Wang whom I didn’t really mind during his “Bromance” days but he was nothing but a darling here (let’s not forget his swimmer body too, *drools*). Amanda Chou as the ex-BFF impressed me here and I still remember watching her in a very minor role in “Down With Love, girl has come a long way! Aside from the cast, I loved most parts of the story that I enjoyed watching every episode.
Notable OSTs: “My Only Love” by Alan Kuo as the opening song and “A Better Tomorrow” by Shennio Lin are my favorite songs from this drama. The opening song gave young and good vibes while the ending song gave hints of nostalgia and regrets as part of the drama.
-: How Nikki Hsieh’s original character of being a cheerful and optimistic young girl grew up to be a short-tempered robot was a complete downer, like what and how did that happen?! Of course they tried to justify it but it still didn’t make any sense.
Overall rating: I remember finishing this drama with a lot of my questions left unanswered but I guess the positives outweighed the negatives. A rating of 9/10 is a far cry from my rating of 4/10 of “Love Cuisine” which was also a drama of my Lego love. I hope Lego will continue to make dramas like this since this drama didn’t waste his amazing acting capabilities. Given that the quality of TW dramas have been declining in the recent years, this is still a great drama to recommend to people who are craving for some TW drama goodness.
Back to 1989 (2016)
Story in a nutshell: Not everyone could be transported to the year before they were born in order to discover a hidden truth, but busy career man Chen Che found his luck in a freak accident. His life suddenly became a needle pulling from a haystack everyday when every move that he made could alter everyone’s future. But wait, there’s more! He then developed a close relationship with his mother’s best friend which turned this life of his into a thrilling roller coaster ride even more.
+: There are a lot of time-traveling stories that have already been made but nothing like going back to the year before you were born to find out who your daddy is could be as unique and refreshing. The suspense every episode as Chen Che draws nearer to finding out his dad’s identity was enough to keep my feet up. I also enjoyed his chemistry with Ivy Shao’s Zhen Zhen that I just kept rooting for them as each episode passed by.
Notable OSTs: “Loooove meeee, love me for what I ammmm” wins as the most annoying opening song in a drama for me and sadly, it was notable in that way. “Only These Words Tonight” by Nine Chen and “Two People” by Alien Huang were my favorites from this drama with the former having me sing along whenever it plays in my phone.
-: I don’t remember disliking any part of this wonderful drama except for that opening song because if I did, I would have totally remembered it and wrote everything here right away.
Overall rating: The only Taiwanese drama to get a perfect 10 from me because the story and the characters were just beyond entertaining. It has also tested the limits of my imagination because I kept daydreaming how things would be if I go back to the year 1994 and basically mess everything up haha! I highly recommend this to whoever wants to see a good drama but I guarantee that you won’t get enough sleep like I did so be prepared 😉
I guess the expansion of my interests comes with age as I’ve started appreciating historical dramas when I did everything that I could to avoid them in the past. It also helped that a lot of my favorite actors have ventured into this genre so sooner or later, I really had to dive in these historical worlds.
Nobunaga Concerto (2014, Japan)
Story in a nutshell: Another time-traveling goodie starring my dearest Oguri Shun having dual roles as the legendary Oda Nobunaga and a happy-go-lucky teenager Saburo. By a twist of fate, he had to take in the role of Nobunaga without any experience in handling wars and different kinds of people. He went on this journey of growing up and discovering himself by taking on a historical person’s identity.
+: This drama made me laugh a hundred times thanks to my Oguri love’s talent in comedy and silliness. I loved his sister (my fave, Kiko Mizuhara!), his wife, and best friend Tsuneoki as they all made this drama enjoyable for me. I may only know less than a little about Japanese history but I was aware that this drama tried to be faithful to its historical basis so that is also a major plus. I visited the Osaka Castle Museum last month and I fangirled so hard when I saw parts of the story in the historical timeline in the museum. Aside from that, I love how the drama showed Saburo’s character development from being a reckless teenager to a wise ruler and how he had to face all the demons surrounding him.
Notable OSTs: Let me apologize again that I suck at remembering Japanese drama OSTs but I remember the instrumentals in the background being the provider of my feels for this drama (I should find them now!).
-: Since this is a historical drama, many historical details had to be absorbed and so I ended up dozing off in some parts.
Overall rating: A rating of 8.5/10 goes to the only Japanese drama in this year’s drama round-up. With a total of 11 episodes, this drama brought in a lot of emotions and I’m glad that I got to squeeze in this drama (started watching this last year though) to complement a great drama year for me. My main point for this drama though is that Shun Oguri could never fail and he was already enough to keep me watching this drama.
The King’s Woman (2017)
Story in a nutshell: A young boy who was always bullied was saved by a brave young girl. The young boy made it a dream that no one would ever bully him and that people will be living in fear once he rules the world. Truth be told, he had his dream fulfilled and managed to capture the girl who once saved his life. Full of politics, betrayals, and pains brought about by love, will this king continue to rule his woman’s heart?
+: ZHANG BIN BIN as our dearest Da Wang, what’s not to love?! He was indeed cold, ruthless, and possessive but he still managed to melt my heart when he was trying to win over Gongsun Li’s heart. I say this all the time but wow, Zhang Bin Bin has one of the most handsome faces out there that I could just cry. Also, I wouldn’t be able to love this drama as much if it weren’t for Dilireba’s presence here too. She’s just the loveliest and she had an amazing chemistry with the king and I don’t mind seeing them together again and again. She was a badass female lead but still had a warm heart for the people that she loves. Dilireba and Vin truly owned this drama!
Notable OSTs: This is a kind of drama that didn’t have good music to bank on and I didn’t really mind as I was way too focused on the intensity of the drama to care.
-: There were many side stories that I couldn’t care less about and I just wanted to skip them if I could (but I don’t skip) because I just wanted my Da Wang and his woman but they still gave me useless story lines more than they should have. I also hated Liu Chang’s character (screw second lead syndrome, I had third lead syndrome thanks to Han Shen) and also the Prince of Yan like I just wanted them to get a life or maybe get together… Oops haha! There were also some instances or rather, deaths which were not really processed in the drama so did the characters really not care at all?
Overall rating: 8.5/10 for a drama that had the most intense ending EVER. It felt like I was on a roller coaster ride that was about to go around a never-ending loop with my palms sweating and eyes wide open. I won’t fully recommend this to people who would ask me for C-drama recommendations (because there are honestly way better ones) but rather to drama-watchers who crave for an intense and bloody ride of power and love.
The Princess Weiyoung (2016)
Story in a nutshell: A royal orphan had to assume another identity of a princess from her enemies’ territory and decided to take her revenge. They made everything difficult for her but she made sure that she wouldn’t give up without a fight. With her courage and wits, she was determined to ascend to the highest throne in the country and to serve justice to those who never tasted them.
+: My beloved Van Ness Wu in his first Chinese period drama as his comeback project after 5 years of disappearing from dramaland was my main reason for getting in to this drama. He didn’t disappoint at all because his character was the most interesting in this drama and he never made me forget why I have always loved him since his “Autumn’s Concerto” days *sighs*. I would have been glad for him and his ladylove in Rachel Mao’s character to consume the whole drama with their plots and rendezvous since they were just beyond entertaining. I also loved Tang Yan’s Weiyoung and how she managed to get back on her feet in spite of the numerous evil schemes plotted against her. That’s my girl! Not to mention that she was lucky enough to have his prince in Luo Jin’s character and together, they were invincible.
Notable OSTs: Just like “The King’s Woman”, this drama was so intense that I really didn’t care much about the music anymore although I remember liking Tang Yan and Luo Jin’s duet as one of the OSTs. Oh how love could create such beautiful music!
-: There were sooo many evil minds in this drama and that’s not necessarily a bad thing except that it made Weiyoung live like an immortal already with all the attempts to kill her and still having survived them like a boss. I especially hated her half-sister Chang Le because she annoyed me to the core but good for the actress who played her because it means that she was an effective antagonist but really, I wanted to pull all her hair out.
Overall rating: 9.5/10 almost perfect but not quite! There are definitely better dramas than this but this surely goes to the top for being a great palace/period drama because it dealt with a lot of intrigues, revenge, and betrayals quite well but most importantly, the highlight of this drama is female power as supported by Weiyoung’s rise to the top through her courage, determination, and strong-mindedness.
It’s already my third year of writing this drama round-up and it’s only the first time that the year’s winners actually came from the year it started airing. So what do I mean by that? In the previous years, my winners didn’t really come from 2015 and 2016, they came from years before so 2017 will go down in my drama history for having made such beautiful dramas.
Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms aka Eternal Love (2017)
Story in a nutshell: This drama wins for having the longest drama title while being known to have three of them as well. From its other title “Three Lives, Three Worlds, (…)”, our leads basically went into three different cycles of life with numerous hardships that they had to endure as immortals. I don’t think I could ever tell the story of this drama in a nutshell but what’s important for you to know is that, no matter what life or world they were in, love still triumphed in the end.
+: EVERYTHING. I have so much love for this drama that if I start writing everything I love about it, I’m afraid that I’ll end up writing another full-length drama review. From the cast, costumes, story lines, music, all of it has made me drunk from drinking jars of peach blossoms wine. Those peach blossoms wine brought me into the world of these lovely immortals and I never wanted to leave.
Notable OSTs: “Blooming Flowers” and “Bracing the Chill” were my favorite OSTs with the former being used mostly for the second leads while the latter was for my dearest OTP. I remember having my playlist randomly shuffled while I was inside the train on my way home and when one of these songs came on, my heart couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness. It was during the time when I was in the denial stage of having a post-drama depression with this drama haha!
-: The only thing that I hate about this drama is how it ruined my life. It may have saved me from a drama slump after not having watched dramas for over 3 months but after this drama, I wasn’t sure if I could ever recover from it…
Overall rating: I have eternal love for this drama so it deserves eternal points! After watching this drama, it gave me the sudden urge to write a drama review and it’s been awhile since I had that urge. You can visit it here since I got to talk about this drama in full detail there. I highly recommend this drama to anyone who wants to see how a Chinese drama could reach the highest peak of greatness (if that makes any sense). If you’re hesitating in watching a 58-episode fantasy drama, then don’t! I have always hated fantasy as a genre in general and I don’t like watching long dramas too but this drama opened my eyes to their worlds and I don’t regret anything. Maybe only regret a bit for always daydreaming that I’m a goddess who sleeps and drinks peach blossoms wine on a peach tree who could go cloud-jumping with my Prince Ye Hua whenever I wanted to 😉
A Love So Beautiful (2017)
Story in a nutshell: I just finished this drama yesterday so I could tell you the story with confidence and maybe have the itch to watch it again. It has a similar premise as “Itazura na Kiss” with a dumb girl being infatuated with her long-time crush who’s the most tsundere of all the tsunderes that I’ve ever encountered in dramaland. This is the more realistic version of Itazura for me with all the fluffiness and heartaches as well.
+: Just like what I said with “Eternal Love”, EVERYTHING too. The OTP, friendships, the highs and lows of growing up, and how love could be so beautiful (see what I did there). Jiangchen would be the guy that you would hate to love because of how difficult it is to be with him but you’ll just fall into his trap of how he expressed his love for Xiaoxi *sighs*. Xiaoxi, on the other hand, could be us x number of years ago and we just couldn’t help but root for her because we could see our friend or ourselves in her. Both were just destined for each other and I just couldn’t help but smile and cry along with them.
Notable OSTs: I am in love with the opening song entitled, “How Much I Like You, You Would Know” and the closing song sang by my love Hu Yi Tian, “It’s A Dream”. The opening song was just one of the cutest songs that I’ve ever heard and I never wanted to skip it. It was really made for Xiaoxi’s feelings towards Jiangchen and it would be so nice to have someone that you could think of while singing that song.
-: A major negative part of this drama would probably be how episode 24 had “To be continued…” just like how all the other episodes had it. You don’t play with our fan girl hearts like that, that’s cruel! 😦 Unless of course, they would give in to fan service and create another season *wink wink*. But really, we need more!
Overall rating: Need I say more? Definitely a perfect 10. You can read my full-length drama review here if you want more of my rants and raves about this drama. Since I just finished this drama, I don’t know what I’ll be watching because the symptoms of post-drama depression are hitting me once again. I’m just happy that Jiangchen and Xiaoxi ended my 2017 on such a beautiful note despite an awful start (ehem Love Cuisine ehem) and how I wish we could get more of them as soon as we can. They showed us that not even the incompatibility of their personalities, the distance between them, and how their fates played with them could never stop them from having a love blossomed into something so beautiful.
With just a total of 10 dramas that I watched this 2017, I got to love almost all of them and I hope 2018 will bring in some more good dramas for all of us to enjoy.
I don’t usually leave dramas unfinished but this year gathered a lot of dramas put on-hold indefinitely:
– “Prince of Lan Ling” (2013, China)
– “The Perfect Match” (2017, Taiwan) which I stopped recapping in this blog because it wasn’t worth my time anymore…
– “Please Love the Useless Me” (2016, Japan)
– “Aim High” (2014, Taiwan)
– “In Between” (2012, Taiwan)
– “Stay With Me” (2016, China)
I may be able to finish some of them while I won’t continue the others anymore until I find enough motivation. Besides, I’m looking forward to a lot of dramas coming next year so I should save my time for them 😉
That’s it for my wonderful drama year of 2017! Hope you enjoyed reading them and all the best for a great 2018 🙂