Year-End Special: 2018 Drama Round-Up

2018 dramas

Better late than never? This is a long overdue post since the holidays never gave me a chance to lie down and write my drama thoughts. 2018 was a combination of bad and good things that happened in my life — and so, the dramas that I have watched this year were no different.

This year was definitely more productive than my last (click here for my 2017 round-up) but it was not necessarily a good thing as this year has proven that less is more when it comes to watching dramas.

I will have a lot more to say here so come with me in looking back at the dramas that I have watched this year!

C-Drama Gems
It was such an amazing start to my drama year because of these wonderful Chinese dramas. I call them gems because I don’t think they are given much attention compared to other C-dramas. These dramas definitely deserve to be treasured like gems!


Where the Lost Ones Go (2017)

Story in a nutshell: From the title itself, the male lead suddenly disappeared without a word. Leaving his college sweetheart, Ye Zi, empty and in pain. Why did he disappear? Will they ever get a second chance at love?
ALMOST EVERYTHING! From the music, cinematography, to the whole story itself was almost too beautiful to exist. The main leads were fairly new to the industry and they certainly impressed me with their raw and emotional acting. 
Notable OSTs:
The Chinese title of the drama is “Ke shi bu shi ni” (Unfortunately it’s not you), a song by Fish Leong. It was used as an ending song and during some sad scenes and it never failed to prick my heart. The rendition was by a duet of a female and male singer (which is unfortunately not on Spotify!). Our male lead is a great singer who both showed his skills in the drama and in real life by contributing 3 amazing OSTs: “Ye Zi” (name of the female lead), “When I See Your Eyes”, and “听得见吧“. These songs really made this drama even more worthy of your time!


-: Nothing big for this drama to be criticized for. It was just all the time taken by the female lead’s best friend (who has such a good-looking husband, by the way!) that ticked me off if I remember correctly.
Overall rating: An almost perfect score of 9.5/10 was given to this drama that gave my year such a lovely start! I feel like I was pretty unfair in giving this drama this score as I watched it right after finishing my 2017 top-rated dramas, “Eternal Love” and “A Love So Beautiful“. Although this drama was excellent, it just could not match up to all the love that I gave to those two top-rated dramas. That was definitely just me, of course. Even so, I am still highly recommending this drama to you especially if you are on your drama slump because this drama will lift you up even if you think it will not.


With You (2016)

Story in a nutshell: High school deskmates who became really great friends and tried to stand through the test of times as they were faced with struggles of growing up, family, friendship, and falling in love.
Cute leads!!! Tan Song Yun and Liu Haoran played their parts so well as innocent high school students who were eventually developing feelings for each other. They really looked like they were not acting with their adorable expressions of showing admiration with each other. Aside from the leads, I also liked the second male lead whom I inevitably compared to ALSB’s 2nd lead, Wu Bosong. I liked the former more whom I felt was more genuine in expressing his true feelings to the female lead. In short, my drama-watching experience would not be as good if the leads were not played by these amazing actors.  
Notable OSTs:
“耿耿于怀” (Geng Geng Yu Huai) was the only song that I remembered and loved from this drama. The song title was a wordplay on the names of the leads. Even if it only had one memorable OST for me, it definitely did not affect my love for this drama.

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-: Just like any other drama out there, it had filler stories that my short attention span easily flew away. Let us also not forget how this drama was gradually sliding towards a downhill slope up until the last episode. There were some plot holes which were a little bit frustrating for viewers, especially when you are already so invested with the main OTP (like who wouldn’t?).
Overall rating: The same reasoning as I had with “Where the Lost Ones Go”, I just could not bring myself to giving it a perfect score. This is why it was also only given an almost perfect score of 9.5/10. The amazing recency effect brought about by one of my ultimate 2017 favorites,  “A Love So Beautiful”, was too strong to defeat in this genre. Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend this drama if you are a sucker for campus and slice of life dramas like I am! This is also one of the more realistic dramas of its kind so it is undoubtedly a relatable and an emotional rollercoaster to watch out for .

Taiwanese Dramas are failing again?
The Golden Age of Taiwanese entertainment has long been over for several years now. As a Taiwanese drama enthusiast, knowing that disappoints me so much. Even so, I never lose hope and continue to watch Taiwanese dramas but some were really just not my cup of tea, 


Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark (2016)

Story in a nutshell: A group of high school friends reunited for a camping trip gone wrong. One dead body was found after another. Who is behind all of these merciless murders? 
The intriguing plot got me watching this right away. This is not my usual type of genre but China’s “Love Me If You Dare” made me appreciate the suspense-thriller genre. Given that this a mini-series, it only had 7 episodes, an amount that is a huge contrast from the usual number of episodes of TW dramas. Sometimes, shorter is better!
Notable OSTs:
Unfortunately, nothing was worth mentioning here. Did they even have songs?


-: So why did I write that having only 7 episodes is a positive attribute? Because I just wanted this drama to end so badly! Nothing good was coming out of it. I could not believe that such an exciting plot line could turn out to be such a snoozefest. It was supposed to be a thrilling guessing game of “Who’s the murderer?” but right now, I could even hardly remember what went on in this drama.
Overall rating: 4/10 for a drama that had so much wasted potential. The moral of the story was basically to never trust your friends or just trust no one. Even the ending was such a letdown as justice was not served to those who needed it. This is why I would be more than happy to save your life by telling you to watch something else. Let’s just go talk about the next dramas, shall we?


Wake Up 2 (2017)

Story in a nutshell: A sequel of the same title set after 5 years, the controversy left in the first drama continues with major conflicts arising involving the addition of new characters played by Lego Lee and Summer Meng. 
If you were my friend since 2016, then you would know how much I was obsessed with Lego Lee. It was such a delight to see him like a cake (colorful with so many layers!) here. His addition to the story was pretty interesting given that he works in the medical but is against most of how things are in his field because of his personal beliefs and family history. What better way to express all of his sentiments but in his role as a rapper at night! Aside from Lego, one thing that I really loved about this drama was how they portrayed the characters’ struggles. They all wanted to never give up and save lives but they just could not succeed every time. 
Notable OSTs:
“Never Give Up” was not only the name of the ending song performed by Lego Lee, but also the tag line of the drama. It spoke to me in so many levels even when they used it in their context as doctors. This line may be a cliche but it just never fails to apply in any aspect of life.


-: This negative aspect of the drama that I will be stating was not their fault but entirely mine. I am not sure where I got the idea that this was set way before “Wake Up” started and so I thought that this was a prequel which had many plot holes. Really, self? How did I get that weird idea? *face palms*. Moving on to being objective about this drama, I thought that the latter parts were too dragging and already veering away from the main plot. I also thought that Summer Meng’s character did not really do much to the story (please tell me if you think otherwise!).
Overall rating: A passing score of 7/10 for the sequel of a drama that I really loved. The first installment (you will see my review in a bit!) was just astounding so it was pretty hard to beat. However, I still liked it for sending such a strong and powerful message of knowing when to give up or not at all.


Love of Sandstorm (2016)

Story in a nutshell: Three siblings joined forces to solve their parents’ marriage problems while juggling all of their problems at the same time. Will their family ever be the same again?
Wu Kang Ren!!! I have loved this actor ever since his “Autumn’s Concerto” days and he just never fails to amaze me no matter what role he plays. Not quite sure if his story line was my favorite only because it was him in it or if the story line was really good. If you’re his fan like I am, then this drama would be worth your time because he’s going to make you laugh for sure!
Notable OSTs:
One OK Rock’s “Wherever You Are” (yes, the Japanese band!) stood out for me as one of this drama’s OSTs. It sounded like it came from the early 2000s with its pop rock genre with cheesy (but manageable) lyrics. I am thankful for this drama for letting me discover this song and had me add it to my Spotify playlist right away!


-: Given that it came from a Japanese manga converted to a Taiwanese drama, it would be inevitable for this drama not to have some slapstick elements at some point. The first few episodes were too ridiculously silly for my taste. It got me thinking what I was getting myself into… It eventually got better but the story was still not enough to keep me entertained.
Overall rating: 7.5/10 with most of the points being given to Wu Kang Ren haha! This drama had its own eccentricities which were probably not meant for a viewer like me. A good watch if you have limited time to binge-watch given that this is also a mini-series.

Nevermind, there are still good (kind of?) TW-dramas!

It turns out that not all hope is lost because I still managed to find some good TW dramas below!


The Fierce Wife (2010)

Story in a nutshell: A perfect housewife, dedicated to her family, has had her life figured out until she discovered that her husband is having an affair with her cousin. How will she go about her life knowing this matter?
 Excellent acting by the leads, James Wen and Sonia Sui. I have always loved these two so seeing them in this drama got my needs for a drama with superior acting greatly satisfied. I knew that they acted well because as much as i loved James, I hated him to the core when I was watching him cheat on his wife. As for Sonia, I wish she had won the Golden Bell for this although it was already a great achievement that she got nominated for a Best Actress award.
Notable OSTs:
The opening theme,  “五天几年” by Freya Lin gave me good vibes whenever I would listen to it. Who would have thought that it would be an opening song for a drama with this kind of theme?


-: What would be a drama about marriage infidelity be if we did not have the 3rd party? Amanda Chu acted her part very effectively as I just wanted to throw my iPad whenever she would show up. I do not exactly remember the details but I remember disliking the part where the drama did not really give a satisfying explanation about her psychological issues.
Overall rating: This drama broke barriers for starting the trend on the genre of infidelity (it has actually become like a genre @_@). They paved the way for dramas and movies with this theme which became very overused and annoying at some point but this drama was tastefully done. A rating of 8.5/10 for a well-written drama with complex characters who have gone through major developments.


Someone Like You (2015)

Story in a nutshell: Male lead and his fiancee got into a car accident — losing his sight and his fiancee. He ended up having a caregiver who looked exactly like his fiancee and also met a young woman who behaved so much like his fiancee too. Would he still have hope in love with these women?
I can praise a lot of things in this drama: story, acting, music, and the chemistry between the leads. I have liked Lorene ever since she was still known as Kirsten (my beloved “In A Good Way” days!) but her acting was not really a good thing that you could easily point out. Two years after, her acting has greatly improved that it was just right to have her act alongside Kingone — one of Taiwan’s greatest drama actors who worked so hard to where he is now. Aside from the actors, the story was well-written that it made me relive the good ol’ days of TW entertainment. The kind of story that would want you to feel the experience of falling in love. 
Notable OSTs:
One of SETTV’s strong suits is producing great music to accompany their dramas. My most favorite song here was Tracy Wang’s “Empty” which served as the closing theme. “I’m Still Missing You” by Bii (who played as Kingone’s frenemy here) was a good opening song too since it set the theme of the drama — the pursuit of happiness despite facing challenges which could not be controlled. Lorene Jen also contributed to the soundtrack with “Loving or Not, I’m Still Lonely”, probably the most notable song in the drama since it was vital to the story. My mom even kept asking me to memorize it so I could sing it to her (lol). I don’t even sing but she liked it so much that she was willing to listen to my voice because of that song haha!


-: SECOND LEADS/SIDE CHARACTERS’ STORIES. One of my downfalls as a drama-watcher is not having enough patience to sit through the story of everyone else aside from the leads. A perfect drama for me would entail being SUPER good that I would not care enough about the second leads for my love to be reduced or it was a well-written that story was just focused on the leads. Unfortunately, “Someone Like You” went downhill for me when they gave so much time to Kingone’s stepsister who fell in love with Lorene’s brother who was a priest… Say what?!! Their story was definitely unconventional to begin with but Katie Chen’s acting was just plain annoying. I wanted her to get out of my screen together with Vanessa (second female lead).
Overall rating: I have always thought that this was another typical Taiwanese melodrama — melancholic, cheesy, and dragging. It has all the elements of a melodrama but it was not heavy at all. Surprisingly, the story turned out to be funny, entertaining, and easy to watch. They even had “Autumn’s Concerto” references (SETTV’s ultimate 2009 hit) when Lorene was talking about how she loved a book entitled “Next Stop, Happiness”. It was very fitting since the literal translation of the Chinese title of “Someone Like You” is “Hearing Happiness”. A rating of out of 10 for this relatively recent TW drama that I would totally recommend to whoever needs a drama like it.


Sunshine Angel (2011)

Story in a nutshell: Poor girl meets rich boy but rich boy eventually became poor and poor girl tries to save the day.
Rainie Yang and Wu Chun in a drama was definitely every fangirl’s dream come true! I am not even a fan of Rainie Yang but I was still fangirling about this collaboration. She had to speak Nihonggo most of the time as she was raised in Okinawa by her Japanese grandmother and she did it excellently. As a fan of Wu Chun, I could definitely say that this was worth watching for him. This may sound shallow but he just looked so ridiculously good in this drama that you would want to keep watching. Watch and you will know what I’m talking about!
Notable OSTs:
All I could remember was the English opening song which had a cheerful retro tone singing, “Sunny!”. I found it interesting that they had that as the opening song instead of having Rainie or Fahrenheit sing it. Speaking of Rainie and Fahrenheit, this drama did not even take advantage of having them by making them contribute to the soundtrack. If they did, I would have added them to my Spotify right away! Bummer.


-: If you know how a typical Taiwanese idol drama conveys their story, then you might already have an idea of the story of “Sunshine Angel” already. If you don’t, it is just basically showing how the leads met for the first time and loathing each other. By twist of fate, they meet again but their feelings would eventually become lighter until they keep developing. Evil characters suddenly enter, destroying their lives but their bonds would become tighter because of those evil plot lines. It does not stop there because those evil people would not stop until they get what they want or at least until they get caught. This is the reason why stories like this become dragging and would make the viewers wonder when it is even ever going to end. So in a nutshell, this drama would get low ratings from a watcher like me because I just knew what was going to happen already.
Overall rating: 8/10 despite the predictability and dragginess (a word I just made up) as it was still a good watch. This was also probably one of the last dramas aired of its classic generation. This was the last TW drama of both leads until Rainie decided to star in “Life Plan A and B” after five years. If you are also a fan of Fei Lun Hai, you would love this because the 3 other boys were guest stars in this. Hontoni?! Hontoni!! was the cutest dialogue between the leads so I will end this mini-review with it 😉

Deng Lun Saves the Year

Lo and behold my greatest 2018 discovery: Deng Lun!!! What a surprise. I guess dramaland just never runs out of beautiful actors to bless us with. Thanks to Fifteen, I got to discover and love this man. Let’s have a look at his dramas which made that possible!


Fifteen Years of Waiting for Migratory Birds (2016)

Story in a nutshell: Childhood best friends of fifteen years with the female lead keeping her feelings since she did not have the courage to express them yet. Will she ever have the courage to tell him how she has been feeling for fifteen years?
I really liked the story — best friends for years who could not admit their feelings to each other bounded by their self-made limitations. As a (dra)masochist, I even liked it more when they grow into adults and harbor bittersweet feelings. I just like my drama that way so don’t judge haha! The story was written very well that I ended up taking many screenshots of this drama’s quotable quotes that I will share with you below. In addition to the story, the actors were such a great discovery with special mention to Sun Yi (lovely girl!), Deng Lun (duh), and Chung Lin Li (boy who played Daniel the cutie). I liked Sun Yi and Deng Lun so much here that I ended up watching their next collaboration, scroll a little and you shall see!
Notable OSTs:
None that I can remember but you cannot fully trust me on this because it might not have been on Spotify and so I just completely gave up…


-: Deng Lun’s character was unnecessarily evil here and look how fate played on me. I started hating him but ended up falling head over heels for him. Putting my current love for him aside, I loathed his character so much here that I actually felt good that I did not have someone like him close to me (and never did I wish that too). He wanted to ruin Li Li’s (Sun Yi) life but like what he has done to me, the cards have turned against him that she ended up ruining his life (*wink wink*).
Overall rating: 8.5 for my Deng Lun starter pack! I enjoyed this drama a lot and caught so many feelings at the same time. One special feature of this drama was their use of migratory birds. Who would have thought that they could be so fascinating enough to be used in a drama? It was even more interesting for me since I have always had affinity for avians. I think this drama was already worth watching just for the symbolic representation of the migratory birds itself. You might also come to appreciate the drama if you’re a masochist like me and if you love or want to discover Deng Lun and Sun Yi as well. Let me end this mini-review with some wonderful quotes from the drama:

“Life is like a box of assorted chocolates. After you eat all the bitter ones, it will only become sweeter”
“Having someone to secretly and silently love for so many years is a type of happiness, too.” – Li Li (Sun Yi)

Liu Qian Ren (Deng Lun): “Even if the migratory bird left no trace after flying past, it still left a feather to prove that it once came by”
Li Li: “Every person has a migratory bird in their heart. Looking at this feather, you can imagine that bird has once appeared in your life”


Because of You (2017)

Story in a nutshell: An iconic family in the field of Chinese embroidery loses their only granddaughter through a car accident. She now lives a completely different life running a wonton shop with her stepmom until she ran into her own family, not knowing what life she could have been living. How will she face reality now?
The same reason why I watched Fifteen and the only reason why I watched this drama — my lovely Sun Yi and Deng Lun! There was definitely nothing special about the story and everyone else was just plain annoying but these two made this drama worth watching. Their natural chemistry was oozing with goodness that I even had mistakenly shipped them in real life (just for a few minutes!) until my friend told me that Sun Yi was already married… Moving on, Deng Lun’s Li Yun Kai was just every girl’s dream boyfriend/husband so he totally set the expectations for men really high.
Notable OSTs:
I loved 线 by 刘惜君 so much as it would play during the love lines of our leads, may it be a sad or a happy moment. Too bad that the soundtrack is not on Spotify either!


-: Fifty freaking six episodes with Deng Lun and Sun Yi only appearing during the 7th (or was it eighth? ninth? I cannot clearly recall!) episode. Skip the first episodes if you must but if you are like me who is a drama OC, then don’t but it will just make you suffer. Aside from the lengthiness, the evil stepsister and her fiancee (Yun Kai’s brother) could be your worst nightmares especially the sister. Who knew that a person could be such a manipulative and a big pathological liar? Watching her made me realize how scary the world really is with people like her and she was just a fictional character so people in real life could definitely be worse.
Overall rating: 9/10… I am actually laughing and pulling my hair out now on why I gave such a very high rating. Oh wait, I think I remember now! Deng Lun and Sun Yi sent me to the skies filled with love that I could not dare to rate it any lower despite all the sufferings that I had to endure for this drama. If anyone sees a cut version of this drama with just these two, then please take my money! Will I recommend this? Hmmm maybe only when you love Deng Lun and Sun Yi enough to go through all of those crazy episodes, then go!

Not Worth the Wait!

I guess this will not really need an explanation…


Here to Heart (2018)

Story in a nutshell: A relationship that never seemed to have a decent closure when she suddenly left him and lived her own life. Will they ever have a second chance in love again?
My “The Four” babies, Zhang Han and Janine Chang’s reunion! I have always loved these two and their acting here did not disappoint at all. They were able to rekindle their chemistry here and how they acted in this drama’s many emotional scenes were enough to keep me watching. What better way to top all that was to place it in beautiful cities such as Shanghai and London — both bustling and charming enough to wipe away their pain even for awhile.
Notable OSTs: 
I was probably way too annoyed to remember any OST from this drama. it could be that or they just did not really provide us with great music.


-: If you have watched any modern corporate Chinese drama, then you would know how the story flows. It would start with the leads working hard in their respective fields until someone would have to move and eventually meet the other lead. Then once they meet, they will plot revenge of all sorts against each other but still realize that they have only been doing that as a defense mechanism for their true feelings. “Here to Heart” was exactly it and add some crazy sister and unnecessary story lines to complete the recipe. This all boils down to — Voila! A recipe for disaster.
Overall rating: 6/10 with my ratings only going to Janine and Hans’s acting and chemistry (they were even rumored to be dating and I was cheering for that haha!). If you want a good modern corporate Chinese drama, then go see “Boss and Me” starring Zhang Han as well. You’re welcome!

Worth the Wait!

If you have seen my most anticipated dramas of 2018 here then you could only imagine how my eyes were just sparkling with hearts while watching them. Lucky for me that they turned out to be as great as I expected them to be (or even better!).


The Flame’s Daughter (2018)

Story in a nutshell: Before you watch this drama, please make sure that you won’t read its synopsis online. So many sources are completely wrong so it’s better for you to just watch it instead. Based on my watching experience, Lie Ruge (Dilireba Dilmurat) is the daughter of the master of the most powerful martial arts sect who entered a brothel to find ways on how to lure her ex-fiancee (Zhang Bin Bin) back. Instead of finding ways on getting her fiancee back, she found Yin Xue (Vic Zhou) who easily warmed up to her and wanted to be with her no matter what happens. What is in their past that makes them connected to each other?  
THE STELLAR CAST, that’s for sure! 2018 was an amazing comeback for my dearest Zai Zai (Vic Zhou’s nickname) that he released two dramas which he does not usually do. It was even more rewarding as a fan since he did this drama with my other favorites: Dilireba, Bin Bin, Ruilin, and Daisi aka the lovely artists of Jaywalk Studio. This drama was an even more enjoyable watch with how the story was developed. Sometimes, the quality of the story would be compromised to give way to the martial arts scenes but luckily, this one didn’t and it turned out to be great.
Notable OSTs: Both the opening and closing theme songs were added right away to my Spotify playlist. The opening was entitled “Ru Ge” (titular character) by Jason Zhang (who sang TMOPB’s opening too!) and “Yu Huo Cheng Shi” was sang by Dilireba and Mao Buyi. They were written to fit the drama and they fit perfectly with the theme — love against all odds.


-: As much as I loved seeing my favorites togetherthey did not seem to have enough chemistry needed for a love like theirs. Others might say that it could be the age difference but come on, I think we have seen enough works with a similar situation and an even greater age difference at that, yet we did not have that problem. It could just be really their pairing and how both Zai Zai and Reba probably did not have the kind of chemistry that is flexible — maybe they could only possess great chemistry with certain people (*ehem* Zhang Bin Bin *ehem* and *ehem* Barbie Hsu *ehem*). Their chemistry was very crucial like what I said, what they had was love that could surpass life and death.
Overall rating: As much as I had problems with the chemistry, this drama still deserved a rating of 9.5 for me. Everything was still a delight to watch and I was even squealing at the sight of seeing Zhang Bin Bin and Vic Zhou’s (my kings!!) scenes together that I wish they had more. Real talk: both of them and Liu Ruilin were such great eye candies that you would not want to look anywhere else. These wonderful actors were the main reason why I got to sit through this kind of drama and I do not usually watch wuxia! It is a great martial arts drama for beginners as it is not as confusing with its characters and plot. Even so, the characters had a kind of complexity that made their strengths and weaknesses very critical to the story’s development.


Meteor Garden (2018)

Story in a nutshell: Do I really have to tell you about this, guys? I know you know this already 😉
From the casting, music, story, and tributes to the classic drama, this new version mostly gave justice to the source. Every episode was like going on a trip down memory lane and some scenes were even made better than the original. I also loved how they were able to adapt quite a number of scenes/story lines from the manga which were never done by the previous versions. They had an advantage of doing such given the number of episodes that they could play around with.
Notable OSTs:
LOVED EVERYTHING! I have the whole OST album in my playlist and I do not ever skip the songs whenever they would be on shuffle. My most favorite part was how they still kept the songs from the original drama such as Penny Tai’s “Ni Yao De Ai”, Harlem Yu’s “Qing Fei De Yi”, and F4’s “Meteor Rain” (I just wanted to cry when this came on!). They rearranged the former but the original is still better but of course, nostalgia at its finest! I also loved that the 2018 F4 boys contributed to the OSTs with their personal and team collaborations. Let us also not forget the 2018 Dao Ming Si’s anthem, “River” by Bishop Briggs. Now we can never listen to the song the same way again because we will just always imagine Dao Ming Si walking down the hallway or trying to save us from the evil guys haha!


-: If you have been reading my episode reviews here, you will surely know what ticked me so much while watching this. That story line could just freely disappear on the face of this earth, please… Just to refresh your memory, it was the story line of Meizuo and Caina. I mean it was great that we finally had a story for the F4 member that never got attention no matter what version you watch, but this drama did an overkill. One thing that I also disliked was the forced product placements on every opportunity that sponsors could get. I understand that it was how this adaptation became a realized dream but really, how will this drama become a classic if they had those ads pestering not only the viewers, but also the story itself.
Overall rating: I have only placed a few negative things and I would take forever if I write everything and at least my episode reviews are there if you want the specifics. Even so, my feelings of enjoyment still overpowered my feelings of disdain so I gave this drama a very high rating of 9! If you want to know what aspects of this 2018 version has done better than the 2001 one, it would definitely be the bromance of Hua Ze Lei and Dao Ming Si. I mean, Zai Zai & Jerry and Shun and Jun forever but the 2018 bromance provided a lot of fangirling service that we never got the chance to see even in the other versions. Another thing that I surprisingly loved was Ximen and Xiaoyou’s story line. I never really cared about them before but this version simply did their story well that they could use another drama just to showcase that.

Okay, I think I talked way too much and made me wish that I had continued my full-length drama review because I have so many feelings and thoughts about this version. You can ask me if you want to know more instead!

Hello Again, K-Dramas!
I don’t even remember the last time that I watched a Korean drama. It was probably “Stained Glass”, “Save the Last Dance for Me”, or “One Mom, Three Dads” which were a decade ago. The Sinophile in me just did not have enough time and interest for them anymore until I somehow forced myself so I could have the greatest achievement (maybe just one of?) of every Hana Yori Dango fan out there: finish all available adaptations of HYD!


Boys Over Flowers (2009)

Story in a nutshell: Read this part above in Meteor Garden 2018 haha!
This adaptation had a very interesting start that no other versions has done yet. It immediately caught my attention and credits are also given to Lee Minho’s Gu Jun Pyo. I could understand why he is one of the most famous actors in Korea as the boy’s got charm! His competition with Kim Hyun-joong’s Ji-hoo kept me entertained that I would be way too confused if I were Jan Di.
Notable OSTs:
“Almost Paradiseeee!” If this does not make you sing while reading it, then it was not probably remarkable enough for you which is probably just a 1% chance haha! I have mentioned in my previous year-end drama round-ups that I do not usually remember OSTs in J-dramas maybe because of my unfamiliarity with the language. The same principle applies here now that I have watched a K-drama, I barely know their language so the songs just could not stick in my memory *shakes head in disappointment*.

I said earlier that the start kept me hooked right away but it eventually went downhill when things started to drag. It was so dragging that I could not even remember what parts of the drama I was talking about. Most importantly, the chemistry between Jan Di and Jun Pyo was probably this drama’s biggest letdown. Even the unofficial Chinese adaptation (lol at my comparison) had leads with amazing chemistry and this version just failed big time. Another disappointment of mine was also because of me being such a huge Hua Ze Lei/Hanazawa Rui stan since 2003 so Kim Hyun-joong’s Ji-hoo just did not do it for me. Not sure if my mind was already tainted with his real-life scandals or if it was just really his acting or how his character was translated into this version that made me impossible to like him *heavy sighs*.
Overall rating:
I am very happy that I got to watch all the TV adaptations of Hana Yori Dango but this version got my lowest rating of a passing score of 7. It might not be as bad as others think it is because this could be their first drama so it has the nostalgia factor. The same logic applies to me given that “Meteor Garden” is my ultimate favorite and so I just could not appreciate “Boys Over Flowers” as having the former set my expectations high. Will this now make me want to watch other K-dramas? Yes, it could but I would still prioritize my other dramas instead!

This Year’s Only Winner!
Having this year as my fourth time to write a year-end round-up, it is only the first time that I gave a perfect score to just one drama. Although I am not quite sure if this is something that I should be happy about because it probably means that my taste has upped a notch by having seen such extraordinary dramas in the past years. However, it could also mean that the quality of dramas is deteriorating but it could also be my choices. Okay whatever, off to awarding the best one that I have seen this year!


Wake Up (2015)

Story in a nutshell: A hardworking doctor gets blamed for his patient’s death due to anesthetic complications. He was easily blamed due to his health problems involving his sleep and mental health. He and a medical insurance agent (played by Wu Kang Ren) team up to figure out the real score behind the patient’s death.
EVERYTHING from the story, actors, and how it all tied ends together in just a matter of 6 episodes.
Notable OSTs:
I think I was too engrossed in the story that I did not pay attention to the music anymore (oops!).


-: For the first and sadly the last time this year, I did not dislike anything in a drama.
Overall rating: A perfect 10, of course! Taiwan rarely makes medical dramas but when they do, they just provide you with all the possible brilliance and keep you amazed. The last medical drama of theirs that I enjoyed was Jerry Yan’s “The Hospital” and I was so glad that they were able to create something as real and powerful in sending a message even after almost a decade. “Wake Up” was done perfectly that I managed to finish all the episodes in one sitting (my flight from Vietnam to home haha!). Unsurprisingly, they won many awards in the Golden Bell (Taiwan’s Emmy’s) including Wu Kang Ren for the Best Supporting role and he deserved it. I highly recommend this if you want to watch a drama that was made to win all the awards possible.

Added a bonus content here by sharing with you some reality/variety shows with Jerry Yan that I enjoyed this year.


Shake It Up (2018)

How it works: Celebrities perform dance numbers which would determine their dance coach/partner that they will be performing with for the rest of the show.
+: Jerry Yan! Do we really need to answer this? Haha! On a more serious note, I give all my respect for this drama for being able to have Jerry as part of the lineup. What did they ever do to have him dance on the stage?! This show also had my fangirling worlds collide as he formed a wonderful bromance with another favorite of mine, Jiro Wang of good ol’ Fahrenheit. They were basically giving all praises and perfect scores to each other that the other people would think that they were already invading their private time haha!


-: This show was supposed to showcase celebrities who are mostly first-timers in the dance industry. Jerry could not really dance to save his life as much as he wanted to be a dancer so it was a great disadvantage for him to be competing (who were not really beginners) alongside Jiro (even though I loved their bromance!) and other actors whose names I could not really remember well. The worst part that this show has done as well was how most of the actors just suddenly disappeared without any explanation. Say what?! They were even my favorites such as Jiro, Deng Lun, and Jerry which was such a failure for a production like theirs. They had silly rules during elimination which were probably implemented to make up for the sudden disappearances of the celebrities but that was just plain crazy.
Overall rating: I am very thankful for this show’s existence because without it, we would probably never have discovered Jerry’s love for dancing, how Jiro was fanboying (lol) over, how Deng Lun could not also dance for his life but still managed to be so charming, etc. With that said, I could only give a very low score of and also because I have only watched the episodes with my favorites so it could just not go lower or higher. There are no subtitles for this show but I was able to translate the episodes with Jerry here.


Let Go Of My Baby (Season 3, 2018)

How it works: Male celebrities try to be hands-on dads for quite a long period of time, having to do chores and bringing them to different places with lots of fun activities.
+: One of the few best things that happened in 2018! Again, I watched it for Jerry but the concept of this show was just beyond lovable all because of the babies (some are big ones!) and the loving ge ges. I loved all of the ge ges because they were all genuine in working with the babies, so genuine that they would even bully them (I’m looking at you too, Jerry!). They all had their own style of  “fatherhood” and it was also what made this show extra special.


-: Nothing for sure!
Overall rating: I may have only watched Jerry’s episodes but I would automatically give it a 10. Every episode would run for more than an hour but complaining about it never even crossed my mind. It was so cute how they were all fanboy-ing over Jerry and their dynamics as ge ges were priceless. I wish they could all do a project together again! As a huge fan of Jerry, I was truly happy to see him being genuinely happy with what he was doing. He has always said that he loves kids and he loved the experience of taking care of them also because of his ge ges. They all helped him warm up which he thought he never would as he was always scared to show his true personality on camera. I could keep saying many wonderful things about this show I might take forever so if you want to watch this show, go to @jiaersubs on Twitter for their links. I have also created a thread for this on Twitter here that you might help you want to watch this show more 😉

This turned out to be a lengthy post so congratulations if you got this far! 2018 was not a wonderful drama year as I had expected to be only because I mostly watched dramas that came from the previous years. I actually started my 2019 watching some great 2018 dramas such as “Accidentally in Love” and “Ashes of Love” so you may see my reviews for them this year!

Have you watched any of the dramas that I listed here? What was your favorite? Did you dislike any of those too? Please feel free to share me your thoughts below.

May 2019 turn out to be a greater year for dramas than the previous years! See you around 😉


5 thoughts on “Year-End Special: 2018 Drama Round-Up

  1. Kate - skimmedmilkdrama

    Wow, I didn’t realise Jerry went on so many reality shows! I watched Fifteen too and that was an unexpected gem for me – I learnt about Sun Yi, Deng Lun and Zhang Ruoyun for the first time and they all became my loves. I must admit, even though Deng Lun was an antagonist, I was completely sold by him. I even rooted for him at some point…. Hope he would do more modern dramas ^-^ I also watched Because of You for the two of them, and the fact that I actually watched the original kdrama that it was based on… and liked it. Makjang as it was, it was a satisfying watch. Unfortunately, the chinese version performed badly. But I did like the new actors and actresses that I learnt of because of that drama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dramarian Post author

      Yes, 2 in one year! Not sure if he’s ever going to do that again 😦 I agree with everything that you said! Good thing he’s taking advantage of his fame so he’s been on a roll with projects lately! I also heard that the Kdrama was nice and that Because of You was just a complete disaster lol but Sun Yi and Deng Lun were just the cutest!!!


  2. humbledaisy1

    I just had to write and tell you that this list has already derailed my 2019 watching plans. Where The Lost Ones Go has jumped to the head of my viewing list and I’m already halfway through. There are advantages to working by yourself – no one can see what you have on your screen! I also loved The Flame’s Daughter and your ideas about finding the soundtracks on Spotify were great. I am probably not convinced by the “great” romance between the leads (I am a big fan of Liu Ruilin as Yu Zihan / Prince Jingyuan) but I do love the very nostalgic and melancholy feels of this show. I’m the kind of person who likes to go and rewatch the sad episodes and this one has a lot! Thanks for the suggestions –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dramarian Post author

      Thank you very much for writing this comment! WTLOG got me intrigued and hooked because of the story. Such a gem. I wish I could work by myself too haha! You will be surprised by the depth of Spotify when it comes to licensing Mandarin songs and I just love it. Same here, TFD’s chemistry wasn’t just convincing as I had also stated in my review but it was an enjoyable watch, nonetheless. I rewatch sad scenes too but I’ve never tried doing it in TFD. Again, thank you so much for this lovely comment. It totally made my day!


  3. Pingback: Year-End Special: 2019 Drama Round-Up | SkimmedMilkDRAMA

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