At the Dolphin Bay

(image credit: net)

I have a confession to make. I never really watch the whole thing. Yes, tragic and late, I know. But I mostly watched bits and pieces here and there and mostly MVs. I do own the soundtrack though because it was so beautifully done by some of the cast and production team. So, the point? My opinions were heavily skewed because how I didn’t have the whole picture to fairly judge the plot in its entirety. So now that I watched it properly, my opinions of it changed majorly and I was glad in some ways. However, some things still didn’t change and I will address them below. (Go here if you want to read my tweets while I was watching. Of course, some are no longer relevant because my thoughts changed near the end, but it was a fun activity during the time.)

How was it as an overall though? It was exceptionally good. Yes, that was surprising to me, considering how it seemed to be a typical idol drama at face-front. In some ways, it was so. In other ways, it deserved to be on the top list—even if I had to admit that myself.

Main Cast:

  • Angela Chang (張韶涵) as Yi Tian Bian (易天邊). Who said that Angela didn’t know how to act needs their eyes checked. Yes, there were heavy criticisms of her acting during the time she was more active with her acting career. I know it was inevitable with anyone within the industry, but she especially received backlash. Some of them were really unfair and uncalled for too. I know we can’t all like the same people and have different criteria, etc. But I can’t believe those criticisms regarding her earlier dramas. Because after watching this, I was blown away. I’m not saying she’s the best, but just focusing on her own roles and how she progressed over the years, it was amazing to watch. Was she a little raw at that time? Yes, she was, but she performed quite well for this role. I was able to feel her character’s emotions at each point and what she’d gone through, her struggles, and much more. She made Tian Bian really relatable and likable to me. I liked Tian Bian’s strong personality and it made sense with her having endured so much since little. She needed to put up a shield to protect herself. I especially liked that she was able to defend herself—for the most part (since things got quite complicated later and she couldn’t battle everyone either)—at times. It showed she didn’t need rescuing all the time—though the others did try. It was different that she wasn’t a doormat all the time, like how other dramas liked to pave the leading lady to be. It was different for me and I was truly hopeful as I watched her character go through the journey of discovering herself–whether it was her career or her personal struggles. She learned and grew as she entered the music industry that it wasn’t just about music but about maintaining her image as well. Her transition and handling of situations at times were visible, yet somehow she managed to find the balance to keep a kind heart as well. It shone through as she gained fame at long last, allowing her to break past some of the past cliches with the industry changing someone and how they got sucked into it thus changing them in general. It was also nice that they incorporated the theme nicely by boosting Angela’s ethereal voice as well.
  • Ambrose Hsu (許紹洋) as Xu Ze Ya (徐澤亞). I started out watching Ambrose in tougher roles or even the ones bordering on villainous, so this was a surprise for me, lol. But I was glad to have discovered him in this role. It showed his range. Also, I was surprised that SETTV previously propped up the main guy who was a lot nicer than their typical arrogant, mean guy on the surface. But I soon realized that title went to Wallace’s character (which I will discuss after this). I was glad that Xu Ze Ya was written that way though. It was nice to see him maintaining the humble and kind person that he was all these years. That he was capable of maintaining his professionalism at work and was different at home. It gave his character some layers rather than just being on one side of the spectrum only. Of course, there were times he lost it like that time he scolded Zheng Dong and quickly apologized. It showed he was human and things got messy. But he wasn’t cruel and learned from his mistakes. And possibly because of his softer side, it had created this obstacle where he seemed so wishy-washy at times that it drove me insane. However, I thought it was consistent and made sense, so I didn’t pick on it too much. I was talking about how he was determined to go through with his plan to sacrifice his own happiness and made the deal with letting Tian Bian return to the Hsu family as the rightful child in the first place. His resolve crumbled when he realized that he couldn’t follow through and how deep his feelings for Tian Bian were. Not to mention how everything wasn’t going as he thought it would when Tian Bian finally entered the Hsu residence. The fact that he admitted it was a mistake made it better than just brushing it under the rug or forgetting it all together. In a way, he couldn’t predict the future (like all of us) and didn’t realize it would become so complicated. He was also driven by guilt to right all wrongs and was blinded by his overly optimistic nature. Yet all of those added to his character, as I later realized. Overall though, he was a kind person at heart and truly didn’t want to hurt anyone. I thought Ambrose did a great job in expressing all those emotions and made us love Xu Ze Ya more through all his strengths and weaknesses.
  • Wallace Huo (霍建華) as Chung Xiao Gang (鍾曉剛). Mixed feelings until like episode 7 or 8. Yes, I started out really hating him and was saying inside how I was glad I never watched this previously because I would have hated him and never paid attention to him as an actor if it was like so. I hated Xiao Gang’s arrogant and terrible attitude. His condescension knew no end. He just kept behaving that way because he could. He seemed quite proud of how scheming and manipulative he was at times too. Although I had a feeling he did have a tragic past for real hence dodging regarding love, that was so cliche with the typical main character who was using the mean streak to hide his true feelings. So yeah, it was making me not like him much with his treatment of Tian Bian or the people around him either and I, at times, questioned how Tian Bian could even like him in the first place or allowed herself to be pushed around by him like that. Yet, the turnaround moment for him was worth it. The redeeming plot for him was convincing enough. It showed that he was too drunk on fame and success at times that he forgot about the normal days of the past. I thought he needed some setbacks to remind himself not to forget his team who had stuck by him all this time. Not saying he was pure evil and all. But I was just annoyed by how toxic he was at one point. I didn’t want him to be perfect because that would be unrealistic. I needed him to at least appreciate the people around him and not think that he was right all the time. Of course, I wasn’t picking on some of his training techniques because I knew he was right to keep Tian Bian on a strict meal plan to maintain her voice, etc. Those routines with jogging and more were crucial for her, etc. I just felt his confrontation with others all the time made it hard to work with him. Even if one could dismiss those as quirky traits artists like him have, it just wasn’t cutting it for me. Perhaps, it was hinting at how he’d been in the industry for too long that it had affected him, and needed this exterior to protect himself from others. Who could blame him? But once again, like I said, at least treat his team better. They were on the same side after all. I thought his strongest point was his determination. Perhaps, his fierce attitude had aided in that strength a lot. Because once he decided something, he was persistent in getting it done—regardless of what others said. It also helped with his philosophy regarding his life. It somewhat transferred over to how he dealt with his love life. That sometimes worked out and other times, it didn’t. Because his stubbornness and persistency in pursuing Tian Bian became a major plot point but also contradicted how he ended up back at the original point. (I will elaborate later in other sections.) Acting? I thought Wallace did wonderfully. Considering how Wallace said in several interviews years later that he didn’t even know how to walk properly like how the director wanted at one point, this was impressive. He also mentioned he had to do a lot of research and improve his methods with different techniques; I thought it worked for him. This character did overlap with some of his other characters, but I thought this was his strongest at that time. He was still a bit raw but it was understandable as this was some of his earlier roles. Keep in mind that he was in six dramas that year, one of which had around 40 episodes so yes, he was really overworked. I wasn’t surprised some of his roles eventually just merged into one another. (Given that SETTV liked to typecast people and how their usual main characters were the same as well.) This was his fourth role of that year and third major role so he wasn’t at full energy. Also, he was possibly filming this at the same time as Westside Story because Tony and the rest of the 5566 members were introducing Westside Story at the end of this drama. That meant they were done so it was ready for airing. I wasn’t really paying attention at that time they were filming these dramas but SETTV has a pattern with filming while airing. If they were lucky, this finished first before they loop in a bit of the Westside Story. So, Wallace indeed had a lot on his plate at that time and he pulled through with this major role.
  • Penny Lin (林韋君) as Xu Shan Ni (徐珊妮). Penny was surprisingly likable in this role and I swear some of the synopsis floating around were misleading and did a dishonor to her character. It was one of the reasons why I was surprised to like her character so much, even if she was seen engaged in some major confrontations with both Xu Ze Ya and Chung Xiao Gang at the beginning leading into the drama and introducing different characters to us. Professionally, she was logical and reasonable with her analysis. She had the experience to back up her reasoning too. Personally, she was tough and it somewhat leaked into her professional side. Yet her upbringing had a lot to do with how she’d become so strong and tough. It had fueled her energy and allowed her to survive all these years within such a hostile household. That changed later as the story progressed. I thought Penny did quite well portraying her character and the many sides of her. She totally rocked the professional side and showed her leadership side so convincingly. That might have inspired SETTV to cast her in some other roles later to show off her boss mode some more, lol. That was my guess, but she was indeed badass in those as well. Anyway, Shan Ni’s struggles and vulnerabilities were also vividly portrayed and quite relatable as well.
  • Jill Hsu (徐潔兒) as Mandy Shen Man Qing (沈曼青). I had to think a lot before trying to come up with the fairest analysis for her. Yes, I had to force myself to do that because I thought Jill truly fitted her role. Yet the plot did her a disservice. That also affected my perception while watching. Because I felt her role was unnecessary for the most part. Before fans come after me with pitchforks, hear me out first. Like I said, Jill really fitted her role. What made me come to that conclusion I did was because she was used as a hurdle in Tian Bian’s life during her (Tian Bian’s) debut. Then she was casted aside for the most part regarding the romance side. Although one could say that she was a popular singer and a senior within the industry and it gave variety and was realistic in a sense to have rivalries, she never really had her own story or true purpose. She was also associated to Xiao Gang but that aided his background story more than hers. In short, she was just a plot device to forgo the story and not her own character, like she deserved. I’m not suggesting that they give her a big story to overshadow other characters. Somehow, the writers were able to write the other major characters’ stories and weaved them into the main plot without sacrificing their identities but they couldn’t do that for Jill’s Man Qing? I will admit each character was different with their strengths and weaknesses, etc. But Jill had to take on the role of the jealous girl (like I initially feared for Penny’s character) and it was too typical. We know she was a normal person who rose to fame and lost her way and somehow found the courage to do the right thing to salvage her career as well as her dignity. However, how could one forget that she actually caused half of the problems in the first place? (Aka one can’t ask to be given credit for fixing stuff they broke.) After all, she did bring Eddy back into the picture. That was, of course, after she pulled the stunt of shattering Tian Bian’s spirit on the day of the debut. In some ways, it showed she was human and made mistakes and realized her way. But it was just too weak to try and redeem her later just because they needed her to end up with Xiao Gang, which I will go into more detail in their own section. Considering how she took her precious time to save the day too, I didn’t think she deserved the credit that much either. I was glad she interfered, but like I said before, her character development throughout was really weak, so this was just the last bit to save her character, leading it to be more acceptable if she ended up with Xiao Gang. That was all. Or perhaps, they could have her in here as another character but didn’t have to force some things and it would make more sense. One might ask why I was so harsh on Jill’s Man Qing when Wallace’s Xiao Gang wasn’t all that innocent either. Hey, I hated him for a third of the series. It wasn’t like he was getting a break from me. Regardless of all the factors I listed, I thought Jill did well with her performance. It was just that the writing got sloppy with her character development hence not doing it justice as she deserved.

Others:

  • Liang Xiu Shen (梁修身) as Xu Ruo Gu (徐若谷). Chairman of SET, also Tian Bian and Shan Ni’s grandfather. I hated him throughout but eventually just gave up and no longer cared anymore. I meant whatever, the series was almost ending so if he wanted to make up for lost time, so be it. I was pretty sure if you looked up the word misogynistic, his face was next to it. His beliefs or whatever didn’t justify his actions. I didn’t like the whole idea of getting together with some married man either, but this guy was just pushing it by taking it out on an innocent kid (at that time of the incident years ago) and continued to rule with an iron fist in the household. He was half the reason why the household was so hostile and cold. He was obviously responsible for Shan Ni forcing herself to conceal her true feelings and pushing herself to the max at times. Sure, he realized it later how wrong he was and how much energy he was exerting to hold onto hate but he had the easy way out after all he’d done. It wasn’t like I didn’t welcome it but the plot was at its end already, we—as the audience—were probably all tired from his drama king tantrums at times that we were just glad it turned out that way, instead of the endless hate cycle, so we let it slide. Or we just didn’t care anymore, lol. I was surprised he’d gone from threatening Ze Ya to literally begging him in the next episode, but like I said, I no longer cared at that point regarding him that I was just like whatever.
  • Ge Wei Ru (戈偉如) as Xiang Li Hong(項莉虹). Shan Ni’s mother. I was annoyed with her initially. Although I understood where she came from and it was hard to blame her for what happened and her reaction to her husband having an affair, I didn’t like her arrogant attitude at times either. She was the other half responsible for causing Shan Ni much of the unhappiness in here as well. So there was that. Her turning point was when she realized her father-in-law have been manipulating her into keeping the hate in her heart all these years. I guess misery does love company so he kept reminding her to hate, etc. so he had someone to sympathize with him. That hate had also affected how she raised Shan Ni and was distant toward Shan Ni all these years. I sort of watched the actress growing up, so I knew she could act, lol. No complaints.
  • Liu Rui Qi (劉瑞琪) as Li Hui Lan (李蕙蘭). Tian Bian’s foster mother. I found her harsh at first and bordering on cruelty when she discouraged Tian Bian’s dreams. Well, realistically, she was right that some dreams were just dreams. They were buried in debt and shouldn’t rely on some fleeting faith like that. However, I thought some of the criticisms were uncalled for. After learning how her husband died, it made sense. I was glad that she changed her mind later and respected Tian Bian’s decision. What irked me a bit was her overly naive faith in Eddy. She was in the blind and it was hard to blame her. It would have made more sense if she didn’t believe either one of the parties unless she went and investigated for herself. I know she was kept imprisoned at that point but at least show some signs of caution toward both equally. But I guess they needed some drama near the end to wrap it all up, allowing Man Qing to step in, etc. I was just glad the whole scheme was short-lived.
  • Josie Leung (梁家榕) as Xie Yi Xuan (謝憶萱). Tian Bian’s biological mother. Stay away from married men, seriously. I know it’s easy to judge but I thought that was like common sense. I know we didn’t have all the details regarding how they started (or he could have lied about his background), but I doubted it because he was a major figure in society after all, so it was hard to say she didn’t know who he was or if he was married or not. I also know if the affair didn’t happen, there would be no Tian Bian. But seriously, it was frustrating. I did feel bad for her and how tragic her life ended, but it was just wrong with how things started.
  • Gao Shan Feng (高山峰) as Zhong Ting (仲廷). Tian Bian’s friend since she moved to Dolphin Bay. Tian Bian had a crush on him at the beginning but was rejected by him soon after her confession. He had a brief role initially to introduce viewers to Tian Bian’s life at Dolphin Bay and eased viewers into the story. Then he just disappeared because the plot had shifted away from Dolphin Bay and focused on the entertainment industry and the love triangles between the main leads.
  • Morrison Ni (倪志強) as Ah Tang (阿堂). Part of the music development department under Chung Xiao Gang’s management. I agreed with Peggy when she said Ah Tang was exactly like Xiao Gang, except for the talent bit, lol. He was indeed quite fierce when telling her to get back to work, etc. But he was also a nice addition to the comedic scenes at times.
  • Joseph Ma (馬國賢) as Wang Zheng Dong (王正東). Xu Ze Ya’s special assistant. He seemed strict but had a soft side. After all, he did drop some hints for Ze Ya to take his break on the roof (knowing that Tian Bian went to the roof, lol) and misled Shan Ni of Ze Ya’s whereabouts at one point. I was calling him a traitor (jokingly, lol) at that point. But realized he worked for Ze Ya, not Shan Ni, so he was just looking out for his boss’s best interest, lol.
  • Deric Wan as Eddy. Chung Xiao Gang’s rival in the music industry. I wasn’t sure if his role was more unnecessary or Jill’s Man Qing. Yes, I said it. This coming from me being a major fan of Deric’s. It was just that his whole existence also relied on making Xiao Gang and Tian Bian’s lives miserable at one point. That was it. He was just another obstacle they needed to face. That was all. What I remembered of him was his outrageous fashion sense, lol.

Relationships – family, friendship, romances, etc.

  • Ambrose / Xu Ze Ya and Angela / Yi Tian Bian as a couple. At first, I found their younger versions more matching and their stories so touching. Then when they were all grown up, I felt there was something missing. Granted, I watched those parts years ago. I ended up skimming around and wasn’t really paying attention. It wasn’t until I watched it this time around that I appreciated their story more and realized their chemistry. It was the bias kicking in because I had watched Wallace and Angela on various shows together, hence shipping those two. In some ways, I was glad I took a break during that time and revisited it fully and fairly this time around. I found Tian Bian and Ze Ya’s relationship unique and touching in its own right. It was really heartbreaking to realize how they couldn’t be together and both were trying to be brave and move forward. At times, their resolves failed them, but they couldn’t be blamed because it was indeed very hard. Tian Bian was very brave though and she tried to distance herself from Ze Ya because she knew she couldn’t hold on any longer if she were to stay. I actually felt their chemistry mostly from their interactions and glances throughout. I didn’t know how it was going to work out for them with so many things surrounding them. I was glad it worked out in the end because of the distance and time that it took for everyone to heal. It was a bittersweet ending for me because of how the writers had chosen to kill off Shan Ni instead of working toward another angle. Circling back to Ambrose and Angela’s chemistry, I was surprised to like it so much after watching it this time around. Their acting had convinced me how compatible they were. The story aided greatly, but the chemistry had to be there as well.
  • Ambrose / Xu Ze Ya and Penny / Xu Shan Ni as a couple. Initially, Shan Ni hated Ze Ya, mostly thanks to her mother for fueling the hate, because she would always be second to him in the chain of commands—regardless of her efforts. It was both that and because it was believed that he was the other woman’s son. However, she maintained a professional attitude at work and even acknowledged his capabilities as he implemented all his methods to improve the company’s overall structure. In some ways, she had every right to be upset and felt what she felt—even if Xu Ze Ya had to bear the brunt of her reactions. Having to grow up in such a strict household and not allowing for a second opinion aside from grandpa and mom’s plans made it rough for her as well. She was forced to be tough. It wasn’t until she realized Ze Ya was genuinely a kind person, not putting up a front that she reconsidered. Having him save her that one time or was determined to stick by her side during the crucial point changed her opinion of him majorly. He also told her it was all right to show her vulnerabilities at times, allowing her to be herself and not have to put up such a tough exterior anymore. At least, she could be herself. (Of course, it was meant regarding her personality in general, not meaning to change her opinions or judgment in a professional setting.) Anyway, they had a rough start at first before getting along as siblings. Then, after learning that they weren’t really siblings, it was easy to fall for him because of his kindness and caring nature. Although it seemed one-sided at one point, I believed he eventually did fall for her. It was that scene when they were at the lake enjoying the view. On the way back, he went to fetch her a sweater. When he returned, he thought she had passed away already and broke down. She soon became alert again and the expression on his face was indescribable. In some ways, it could be explained that he was mourning a family member’s passing and was glad that she was still there, but that expression made me feel there was much more than that. It was us witnessing his heartbreak because he lost someone he loved, not just in a family love type only, nor was it out of pity like initially. And she had felt it too hence them sharing that moment. Ambrose and Penny’s chemistry? It was off the charts! At least, for me. It was one of the reasons why I was so torn between pairings while watching—even if I knew the endgame was Ambrose and Angela because it was relevant to the main theme. Around that time, I actually hunted down their other collaboration in Hou Tian Mei Nv (後天美女) and watched a bit. It was a fun beginning yet I had to drop it because I realized they weren’t going to end up together either. It was a shame because they had such a cute relationship in there initially. So sometime later, I ended up pairing them up in The Dating Game and made them into a golden couple in there, lol. Tangent, I know, but they were major characters in the spin-off and I have no regrets throwing some other characters off the bus in the process either, lol.
  • Wallace / Chung Xiao Gang and Angela / Yi Tian Bian as a couple. I used to think that Wallace and Angela should have been together. It was mostly because of my bias toward seeing how compatible they were. However, after having all the pieces of the puzzle and the overall picture, I realized it made sense why it shouldn’t be that way. If the scriptwriters wanted, they could come up with a story for these two, but it wasn’t meant to be, and that made sense either way. I meant I was glad Tian Bian realized that she shouldn’t use him as a lifesaver just because she lost her love already. I actually respected her even more that she was upfront with him regarding the matter. Sure, she did accept his proposal that one time and it was sad to hear the clarification afterward. Yet I felt I couldn’t blame her. At least, she set it straight early on instead of stringing him along till the end. She was different from other female leads in that sense. What was more, the scene backstage when Tian Bian apologized to him for rejecting him one final time, his response made me feel like he really matured. Yes, he was devastated that he was rejected. However, he said that love was a privilege, not a responsibility. It was a powerful statement because it lifted her burden, knowing she shouldn’t use herself to pay off her gratitude for him. It also indirectly addressed the whole “prize-winning” formula that often was in other dramas (aka just because the guy or girl did so much for the person they claimed to love, they automatically got to claim the other person like some object). So, yes, that conversation was important to me and made me appreciate the writers for putting that in for him, allowing us to see how far he’d gone as a character. I also wished so much, though, that they (SETTV) had casted both in a different series together like how they’d done for Wallace and Penny later on (even if it wasn’t fully satisfying.)
  • Wallace / Chung Xiao Gang and Penny Lin / Xu Shan Ni as a couple. Hear me out. I swear they suited one another both as actor and actress and character-wise. Having Xiao Gang end up with Shan Ni would solve the triangles altogether. Even if it would be too typical with the four main leads swapping couples or something, it would still make sense and would be less choking than the current Xiao Gang pairing. (This isn’t a dunk on Jill—if you read my analysis above, but more like an attempt to heal the plot flaws.) Shan Ni could still fall for Ze Ya because of his kind nature but could also end up with Xiao Gang in a different twist. Just like how Tian Bian realized she idolized Xiao Gang more than loved him in a romantic kind of way, Shan Ni could be feeling the warmness of having been cared for after being neglected by her family for so long and being forced to be tough. Her story would make sense with Xiao Gang because they had a history together, first of all. Both actually stated at different points through different interactions with one another or with other characters that they understood each other and how each operated, their thought process, and their feelings. Regardless of how their opinions differed on a professional front, they still saw past their biases and understood one another’s point of views. Even if they didn’t really get along personally at first but they soon learned to appreciate one another or spoke up for one another at different points. What the writers could have done was add in a scene after Shan Ni found out about her cancer results, Xiao Gang could have been at the hospital for whatever reason and overheard it somehow or at least spotted her and forced the answer out of her after seeing her all devastated. It wouldn’t be out of character for him to confront her or get an answer out of her. Then afterward, he could try to keep the secret for her while she cope and find a suitable time to tell her family. That could bring them together. The writers do not have to kill her off either because they could change the part with the bone marrow to match with Tian Bian’s instead of not matching. That way, she could both live and have time to develop with Xiao Gang hence moving on from depending on Ze Ya as an emotional support figure. Xiao Gang could also use that time to understand himself better and fall for Shani Ni because of their time spent together and how he had always admired her work ethic anyway, so it was a bonus he found other traits of hers that he come to love. That would bridge the gap between the two. With Tian Bian’s bone marrow match and much more, it would still allow for the rest of the Hsu family to spend time with Tian Bian and try to understand and appreciate her. It wouldn’t affect her story arch either.
  • Wallace / Chung Xiao Gang and Jill Hsu / Mandy as a couple. SET messed up on this major time. NOT just because of the lack of chemistry on their parts, but as their characters and plot-wise as well. At first, when I watched the opening scenes with them together and some private conversations between the two, I thought they were a match made in Heaven because of how equally vain they were. Sure, they appeared quite classy and perfect in the eyes of the public. But aside from that, they were indeed really vain and showed off their glamorous life. It was hard not to when they were in such an industry. They let fame get to their heads. However, when stuff started happening and the plot shifted away from their relationship, I had second thoughts. I already listed some stuff I found unconvincing above. To add on, I felt having them end up together felt really rushed, which was because we had him still mourning over his lost chance yet jumped immediately to understanding why he must turn around and see Man Qing? I got the message, I got it and even Xiao Gang said it seemed unbelievable and he was willing to take it slow, etc. to earn Man Qing’s trust again. But it was very poor execution. The writers had Xiao Gang spent two-thirds of the plot chasing after Tian Bian and proving to her he truly cared and wasn’t playing with her heart. YET spent about five minutes convincing us that he realized Man Qing was the one for him? Having them spend some time together with chats at times and some glances here and there didn’t help. In some ways, we got that they had this link because they’d been together for a while now. But the writers didn’t bother working on her own character in a way that showed her depth nor make an attempt to heal their relationship slowly. If anything, I felt having them end up together once again regressed their characters back to the beginning. Sure, they made mistakes and learned and grew through the different trials and tribulations. I was pretty sure their realization had to do with how abrupt Shan Ni’s death was too. Well, that partially pushed Man Qing to do the right thing and exposed Eddy. But I felt that was also lacking in getting them both together—or back together. I’m not saying it’s impossible for couples to get back together. I’m not saying they couldn’t solve their problems at long last since they’d both learned a lot within a short span of time. However, I felt it was forced and rushed like I said before. That was why I wasn’t convinced. Not to mention how I thought she deserves someone who could see her for who she is and love her more instead of continuing to entertain this idea and accept Xiao Gang because she was already familiar with his habits. I also felt the writers rushing him back into a relationship was just an attempt to put a nice bow on the ending, that was all. It was also unrealistic to be considered healthy. He needed more time to heal. To truly heal. Again, she deserved better. So did he. If they had promised to meet back again in two years (aka the ending) to see how things went, I would have been more convinced. Again, poor execution.
  • Ambrose / Xu Ze Ya and Wallace / Chung Xiao Gang as love rivals. There was this intensity between them throughout—whether it was on the professional front or personal. They often got into disagreements at work and sometimes used work as an excuse to argue over some details, but one or the other might know it was about Tian Bian all along. The major confrontation they had that resulted in an all-out shouting match and/or actual fight was when Xiao Gang realized that Ze Ya was really giving up on Tian Bian (aka forgoing his plan in marrying Shan Ni). He went on an injustice mission yet ended up declaring that he would never back down again if Ze Ya were to give up on Tian Bian at that moment. It was ugly and dramatic on many levels. However, in some ways, it did make sense that they shall have that confrontation, eventually. What disturbed me was how typical the formula was with the two acting like Tian Bian was a passive party in the whole situation, never asking her what she truly wanted. What irked me at that point was Ze Ya went to the extent of “bestowing” Tian Bian onto Xiao Gang. That was what pushed me to the edge and forced me to take Xiao Gang’s side, even though Xiao Gang had resorted to violence (and Ze Ya returned the favor soon after). Xiao Gang wasn’t just upset for Tian Bian’s sake but also for Shan Ni. Because he said that he understood what kind of person Shan Ni was and she wouldn’t appreciate that Ze Ya’s agreement to marry her was out of pity. In some ways, Xiao Gang was right, but in others, Ze Ya had a point with Shan Ni’s vulnerability at that moment. Shan Ni indeed needed someone by her side. It was getting really complicated. Despite all the madness going on, Xiao Gang actually appreciated Ze Ya for backing him up during the meeting shortly after their confrontation. He did say it to Ze Ya when it was just the three of them in the room. (Shan Ni was there at that time.) After all that was said and done, I really liked that they returned to the topic of whether Tian Bian needed their protection. It was the hospital scene where both offered her a ride home and she turned them down. I felt it was important they understood she was capable of taking care of herself and making her own decisions. And they needed to respect that. It was also worthwhile that they finally made peace with one another toward the end as well. Because they finally learned to appreciate one another’s differences and joined forces to help fulfill Shan Ni’s last wish together. Even if it was mostly following her grandpa’s orders, they, themselves, were more than willing on their own, not just because they were fulfilling some kind of work obligations.
  • Angela / Yi Tian Bian and Penny / Xu Shan Ni as siblings. Surprisingly convincing. I like both Angela and Penny very much, so watching them portray siblings was fascinating. There was this intensity at first, mostly because of other factors. But I thought Ze Ya’s efforts in trying to get along with Shan Ni at first aided Tian Bian’s situation later. Like how he was always so kind to her and protected her like his sister at the beginning—when they were still under the impression that they were siblings. She let go of all those resentments and hate toward him, and even more so let go of her shield. So when the other parts of the plot revealed themselves, Shan Ni was able to cope with it better. Sure, she was shocked to discover the new information as well. But it was like she no longer wanted to target the other person just because. She wanted to find out for herself, not letting her mother and grandpa influence her like they had previously. Sure, she mostly convinced Tian Bian to come home with her because of Ze Ya at first but later learned a lot about Tian Bian and realized the other person wasn’t the enemy. They indeed got along quite well. It was too bad their time spent together and trying to make up for the past was cut short. But was indeed touching to see the lengths they went through for one another later.

Likes:

  • The cast. Despite my complaints or disagreements with certain elements of the plot, I felt the cast fit perfectly for their roles.
  • The soundtrack. Loved it. Hey, I got it before I even watched the drama properly, lol. I especially loved the scene near the end where Angela and Jill got to sing Journey together at the concert. It was a nice touch to show they made peace. (Go here if you want the translations to “Lost Beauty” by Angela.)
  • The theme. Dolphins, who doesn’t love ’em, right? I thought the legend was an interesting story. It created a unique feeling for the drama.
  • Flashbacks were done correctly. The thing with series nowadays is the overwhelming amount of flashbacks used—whether it’s to promote the soundtrack or to extend episodes, it’s getting frustratingly annoying. Even if I like the songs or scenes used, it gets really, really repetitive after a while. That was why I appreciated that this series had used the right amount.

Dislikes:

  • The misunderstanding Man Qing set up by calling both Xiao Gang and Tian Bian to meet her before Tian Bian’s debut press conference. I knew it was meant to be an obstacle that Tian Bian will have to overcome. However, I didn’t like that it wasn’t properly resolved. Sure, that part forced Xiao Gang to finally face his feelings for Tian Bian and tell her how he felt. But it never truly exposed what Man Qing did. He did ponder how she’d overheard what he said to Man Qing, but it was never addressed again after they reconciled. We could try and assume that they probably said something afterward. But the writers made a big deal out of it and it caused a major setback for Tian Bian’s career. I thought we—as the audience—deserved to know the outcome of that.
  • Shan Ni’s death. Yeah, I’m against it regardless of the reasons. What I mentioned when discussing her and Xiao Gang was an easy fix for the plot. However, the writers chose to be dramatic just because. I cried buckets. Not kidding. It was so sad. Not to mention frustrating.

Discussions:

  • Nobody could keep a secret in here. I’m not exaggerating (for once, lol). Anytime you hear, “Don’t tell ____”, you know the info will be leaked—whether intentional or unintentional, accidental or accidentally on purpose. Examples? Shan Ni told Tian Bian not to tell anyone about her sickness until she was ready to tell them. Tian Bian told Ze Ya (out of frustration and concern for Shan Ni but still) that Shan Ni was sick and hoped that he would treat Shan Ni well during her last days. (Oops, the secret was out and everything went into chaos for a while.) What else? Xiao Gang told Happy not to tell Tian Bian about him using his place as collateral for his loan to fund Tian Bian’s promotional events. Happy ended up telling Tian Bian (by accident because he spoke without thinking and realized it too late he wasn’t supposed to say it) when she questioned him. Yeah, pretty much almost everything got leaked by accident.
  • If you swapped the couples, it would still work. I’m talking about Ambrose, Angela, Wallace, and Penny in that manner. Yes, they were so compatible that if you swapped the couples, it would still work. And even if the writers wanted to forgo with Wallace and Angela, Ambrose and Penny, it could work as well with some tweaking. The plot would still make sense. Hell, if you wanted to go further, even Ambrose and Wallace matched with one another if you wanted to go the danmei route, lol. (For real, though, I sent my sister some pictures of Ambrose and Wallace to show what they looked like in the drama and she thought it was a danmei drama, lol.) But too bad can’t do that for Angela and Penny because they portrayed siblings in there, lol. The point? I’m so writing a new fanfic surrounding these four, like I said in one of my tweets while discussing the drama.

Recommended? I thought it was worth it because it was indeed addicting in a sense. If you love the cast, it’s a must-watch. The plot was decent, and it wasn’t too frustrating with some side dramas. For one of those rare times, I actually agreed with the general audience that this was one of the best dramas aired around that time.

A Railway Life

image credit: Daai TV

I started watching it shortly after it aired. However, a lot of other things happened, so I had to put it aside. I went back to it several months ago and watched it slowly as I was between things. So, how was it? Like the majority of Daai series, it revolved around a real-life person and paved out a model family that encouraged others to work hard and also see the positive side of life. Because it was based on a real person, it wasn’t dramatic in a sense that drew in views like a typical idol drama or those daily soaps, lol. But I had shifted to watching Daai dramas more when it came to Taiwanese productions in recent years so I welcomed it. (Yes, I’m getting really tired of those dramatic antics and cliche formulas, so I rather watch something more realistic and actually learn some life lessons out of it too.) That didn’t mean that there was a lack of emotional element in the series itself. It just meant it wasn’t as artificial as the dramatic antics that were purposefully created just for the sake of drama.

Main Cast:

  • Ehlo Huang as Chen Qing Biao (陳清標). Initially, I was touched by how much he sacrificed for his family when little and eventually found his own path and was able to accomplish his goals along the way. He was finally to do all that and much more for his own family. However, I thought it was a bit ironic that he was harsh on his kids, even harsher than his father was on him and his brothers. Sure, the father at times wanted them to have a good life too, but he never forced them through things. If he wanted to, the father could have not allowed him to do a lot of things and just helped with the family business. If one argued that he had to be crazy to not agree with a much better life for his son via the educational path, I would say depends. Sure, he could allow Qing Biao to go to school but the clause was to go into farming and expand the family business only. See how that worked? So, I felt that was overboard that Qing Biao had forced Yi Jie and Qian Ping into pursuing his plans. Yes, his ultimate goal was for them to have a better life, not regress back to generations ago when they had to suffer through so many hardships. Yet he had to remember that his father took a leap of faith with him. How could he rob his kids of their decisions when his father gave him the freedom to pursue his dream? Sure, I got it once again that he was just overly worried and that worry blinded him. He did ease off later, but I thought it was ironic all the same that his mentality was more old-fashioned than his old man, lol. Not to mention how he said those words to his wife, “This generation, what are they thinking? All these independence and thoughts.” NOT the exact quote since I don’t remember exactly anymore, but in some ways, he was frustrated with being questioned when he knew what was good for them, etc. But he once again forgot that his father gave him and his brothers much more freedom than that because the old man truly loved them and respected them, wanting them to thrive–even if it wasn’t following in his own footsteps. So, I was rolling my eyes when he said that. Like that was supposed to be new with allowing your kids to thrive and grow just because, not turning them into a mini version of yourself. And if you’re saying the time was different back then, again, his father allowed them more freedom than that. Don’t bring the whole men versus women conversation in because of Qian Ping and Yu Ling. Because Yu Jie had to follow along too, not allowing any other opinions otherwise. Even if they got it and later apologized for some harsh words being exchanged, their frustrations were justified. (Cue back to how Qing Biao’s father had supported all of Shen Fu’s ventures too–even if he wasn’t 100% sure and yes, they had disagreements. But they buckled up and went through it together in the end. But he still didn’t regret it, because they were family and the old man continued to encourage his grandkids on, etc.) Once again, this was just some strange stuff I noticed while watching. NOT an attack on him or his family or anything. Outside of that, Ehlo did well portraying the emotions at those points. Granted, I haven’t seen the real person whom he portrayed, I just based it on what was happening and how he reacted to it, and if he was convincing in those scenes.
  • Lin Ke Wei (林可唯) as Jiang Yi (姜義). I haven’t watched her for the longest time. Possibly because she had shifted from idol dramas, which was a good idea actually. It wasn’t like she wasn’t in them anymore, but less. I thought she was more valued for her acting chops in real-life dramas than idol ones anyway. She had more to work with and wasn’t restricted in her characters. Of course, I didn’t have time to hunt down real-life interviews of the actual people being portrayed in here. However, I thought she did a wonderful job of showing the transition of her character throughout. She was a kind and gentle girl from little and then transformed into a very kind-hearted teacher. Although there were conflicts and hurdles she had to navigate through, it showed some depth with how she was able to steer through them–whether taking a brief break to rethink her strategy or having those who loved and supported her to encourage her on. Her character grew on me as the drama progressed. It showed her journey quite well–alongside her husband. I didn’t think the kids were just scoring points with her when they said she was the amazing woman behind her husband. She was indeed quite resilient. If it wasn’t for her, the family would have broken apart already. Considering how his job and all. (NOT blaming him here since he was building their life after all but it was tough on the kids too, trying to navigate the world and understand what was going on. They needed their mama as the glue to keep them all together.)
  • Long Tian Xiang (龍天翔) as Chen Qing Biao’s father. He was surprisingly easygoing as far as traditional people went. No, I’m serious. Maybe I was too used to strict parents and all, so I was surprised. Sure, he was seen as tough at times too, and had his principles yet he buckled up and led the way whenever obstacles came up. He did have some guidance from his mother while she was alive too, but had managed to keep to her words and heeded her advice to him throughout the years. I was also surprised that he didn’t care if his grandkids succeed educational-wise or not. Okay, I should dial back. It was more like he encouraged them and loved them regardless of their achievements and didn’t push them at all. He actually went all-in with supporting them–regardless of their decisions. It probably made sense because of how they came from a background of farming and it didn’t matter anyway as long as you were able to find work versus how his son, Qing Biao, wanted the absolute best path, etc. However, usually, the grandpa would take the dad’s side and say, “Your dad’s right, listen to him.” But in this case, his action eased the situation a bit more and he offered some insights and a different perspective. Well, he was quite experienced with life at that point and learned a lot already so he probably wanted to ease off the pressure with the grandkids. Or maybe it was just simply that he loved them because they were his grandkids. But it was just refreshing to see him laying it out so simply. Like how he said he had such kindhearted grandkids already, he didn’t need them to be overachievers or anything else. He was also very happy that they respected him and cherished their family. It was indeed very true. It was hard to come by with all family members getting along so well, etc. So, other factors could be solved regardless. Oh yeah, I would have loved it if he was around during the in-laws’ obstacle situation. He would have gone full grandpapa bear to protect his grandchild from the other woman’s attacks. Or was it because he had passed away at that point already so they didn’t mention him anymore? (They were clearer on his wife’s passing so I wasn’t sure. But I had to assume that he would have passed at that point already. Because it wouldn’t be right without him around in their new home–if they had transitioned to another path once again.) As for the actor, I watched him in so many old series back then with him portraying various villainous roles, so it was hilarious seeing him in this old wise man role. But he did well, obviously. No complaints there.
  • Zhang Qian (張倩) as Chen Qing Biao’s mother. It took me about halfway through the drama to realize she used to be in The Four Brothers of Peking, lol. Yes, it has been ages so I think it was understandable I didn’t make the connection. She was all right. I thought her conflict with Jiang Yi would be long and hard, but it wasn’t much, so that was good. (Jiang Yi was a super germaphobe so it was hard to see eye-to-eye at first. Both sides just needed to communicate and understand, that was all, not implying anything.) She was understanding in that she was able to see past what was more important at times of need–like how Jiang Yi helped with the family situations without putting it over their heads or something. So, in a way, it was just one of those clashes with personality and habits. They got along fine later on when things cooled down.
  • James Chang (張維錫) as Chen Shen Fu (陳神福). Qing Biao’s older brother. He was seriously unlucky. Or was he just naive? Harsh, but whenever he wanted to start some kind of business or an investment, he ended up getting conned or made the wrong call. It was really sad. I wanted him to catch a break, seriously. I actually wanted to know more about him in the later parts of the drama. But I guess he wasn’t the main focus so they didn’t mention him anymore or showed any traces of him after the mom passed away. I hope he caught a break and somehow managed to keep his family safe and healthy.
  • Bella Chang (張懷媗) as Ah Xue (阿雪). Chen Shen Fu’s wife. I felt bad for her. She had to hold down the fort as time went by and her mother-in-law was getting older. I initially bit down my teeth, wondering if she would cause trouble around the household with some conflicts going on. However, I was reassured nothing more progressed after some initial disagreements within the household. Then I reminded myself it wasn’t those typical soap but they were trying to portray some real issues in life and how people actually communicate within the household and not drag it out for dramatic purposes. (Sure, real-life could be messy too but I was glad it wasn’t so in this case.) I felt for her when everyone had to buckle up and endure it all with the debt issues and had to ration their food, etc. I wondered what happened to her kid but the child wasn’t shown again in the drama. Of course, the focus of the story wasn’t on her and her husband specifically, but it would have been nice to get a glimpse at least. Maybe it was mentioned but I have forgotten already because of the gap I watched some episodes, etc.
  • Rex Kao (高允漢) as Chen Shui Wu (陳水伍). Chen Qing Biao’s younger brother. He was shown initially with Qing Biao when they younger and somewhat when he grew up later. However, not much was mentioned anymore after their mother passed away. Once again, I know he wasn’t the focus of the story either but might be nice to get a little update.

Discussions:

  • Casting. I must say it was really good. Because I could see the resemblance of the chosen cast for the characters at various points of the drama. Especially the three kids through the years. I paid closer attention at that point, so I noticed it more than the first generation, so yeah.
  • Ehlo and Ke Wei. OMG, I had a major struggle getting used to them. Seriously, it wasn’t because of their acting. What I wanted to laugh about was about halfway through the series, I realized that they collaborated before. Nothing new with stars working together on more than one drama. But it was funny in the context that they were both in Heaven’s Wedding Gown together and then The Magicians of Love. Considering their characters in there, it was too hard trying to take them seriously as a couple, lol. So yeah. In case anyone forgot, in HWG, he was Ken and she was Ke Wei aka two-thirds of the office bullies who picked on Ai Qing (Cyndi Wang). Then in TMOL, he was Zhe Ming and she was Mango–who were initially rivals regarding the haircutting businesses before he joined Neo Image as well. Anyway, back to this one, they were all right. I thought it was mostly because they were portraying real-life characters, so the production team wanted to keep everything respectful and reserved. So, there wasn’t much of physical contact except somewhat initially. No big deal though. I enjoyed watching their collaboration. At first, I got this awkward vibe from them. But as the series progressed, it seemed like they were more comfortable portraying their roles or something. Or maybe it was my perception. But by the time they were dealing with their own family issues, i.e. their kids, I could imagine them more as a team and how they approached it. It was interesting to see who was calm versus panicked in each situation. I guess it was sending a message about how we all had our blind spots, so it helped to have one person being the calm one in matters, depending on circumstances.
  • The most relatable person was Chen Yu Ling (陳郁聆). Just personally, really. Because I’m also someone’s youngest sister. So I relate to her so hard. There were obvious differences between us, considering how she was tenfold cuter and positive about life throughout, the light in everyone’s world, which was indeed admirable. What I thought I could relate to her was in the sense that she faced the pressure of doing well just like her sister in school. Although her siblings weren’t keeping scores but being compared constantly (even if the parents didn’t do it intentionally) made her confidence sink. She, of course, had support and love thus overcoming the worst and finding her confidence again. It was indeed nice to see. Because I didn’t like how the parents accidentally started this vibe of siblings’ rivalry among them (as all parents at times did–whether they knew it or not). Interestingly, she got the ease off of not having to do as well as her older siblings and was glad about it later on as well. However, I thought it was like how Qian Ping said at one point, she didn’t have to face the pressure, etc. It wasn’t like she didn’t have to deal with it initially, because she had to at least meet certain goals and/or expectations too. It was just that her parents realized it sooner and ended up easing off on her–more Qing Biao–than Jiang Yi at first. I was just glad that she eventually found her own path and maintained a positive attitude throughout. Not to mention how her confidence shone through so brightly too. I was cheering for her.
  • The in-laws obstacles. This bit near the end with Qian Ping having to face her mother-in-law did dap into the dramatics slightly. However, I thought because it was a real-life topic, it was unavoidable. I actually agreed with Jiang Yi when she was shocked that Qian Ping didn’t even ask about Jun Ying’s family. Sure, she had a point that she wasn’t dating his family and didn’t care about his background (i.e. rich or poor). But realistically, you don’t know if he was the rooftop killer or not, hello. (It’s a You’ve Got Mail reference, look it up.) So yeah, I didn’t like that approach at all. It was more realistic that you would make sure to hit the major questions before diving in. Considering how they were planning to spend the rest of their lives together, after all, a thorough discussion of life goals and what it entailed and who it involved would be reasonable. I don’t know about the timeline of the story, but considering how Qian Ping was a courageous young woman out in the world on her own (for the most part) and leaned toward the independent, talented woman path, she could at least be more realistic. She lived a while in Taipei after all, and shouldn’t be too sheltered regarding common stuff like that. Also, considering how traditional the general vibe was, it was obvious they wanted grandkids regardless of the reasons. The mother-in-law especially mentioned that at the initial pre-marriage meetings between the two sides as well. What made her think that it would go away? And then she compromised because the old woman’s words got to her. Sure, compromises were unavoidable in any type of relationship, but to bring a child into this world because you wanted someone to get off your back? I wasn’t convinced she thought it through. The pressure was obvious. It was just too bad her son had the golden card, so it didn’t matter if he didn’t want kids, it would always be her fault because of that fragmented conversation the mother-in-law overheard. And then to top it off with another 8’oclock soap formula (but in this case, it was a real-life situation), she couldn’t get pregnant SO yeah, more ammunition for the mother-in-law. Just great. Yes, I’m bitter as hell. It is a serious matter and I’m upset for her. But I hated that the importance of her existence was reduced down to that moment (and for others to mock). The mother-in-law’s justification for pressuring them was because her tea buddies kept asking? Really? You’re a grown adult, you don’t have to listen to them or interact with them. Also, none of their business. (Yes, I get it, it’s really hard but I thought at a certain age you don’t care for that BS anymore. I’ve reached that age already hence some of my reviews getting braver in words lately. So, I find it hard to believe it was just that. In the end, it was just about “saving face”, etc. More like you wanted to show off to the world and parade your family around in other people’s faces.) I paused the episode to write the previous part, but I knew it! Other people’s opinions were just another excuse she conjured up. In the end, she wanted the grandkids. She just used the long way around to apply more pressure. Jun Ying did make a good case for his wife, too bad she used the ultimate parent card on him. (Typical mother-in-law passing on the generations of toxic idealogy that it was a woman’s duty to have kids. Not to mention how Qian Ping should just take it and accept it and be proud of her duty–and should be willing to sacrifice for “the cause” made it tenfold more frustrating. So the 8 o’clock soaps weren’t far from wrong after all. Of course, I know this stuff happened in real life, that was where the art drew it from. But I at least thought and became hopeful some things would be different. But I guess we can’t all evolve.) And if you want to say: “Stop applying those modernized Western views to the situation, you don’t understand the culture.” Some Westerners actually have those really old views too. I won’t get into it since that covers a whole new level of complication. I’m just saying some traditions and views shouldn’t be clung to. It’s just so toxic to reduce fellow human beings to only one sole purpose. That’s all. (It makes it tenfold worse when you’re also a woman and you tear another woman down just because they don’t want or can’t have kids. Then exude some high and mighty vibe because you did so and so things, etc.) Upside, at least Qian Ping got her parents in her court. I know, it sounds dumb that I should be surprised they supported her. They were her parents after all. But in the extremest circumstances, the wife’s parents’ side would agree with the other side with “continuing the family line” or along the same vibe. However, Qing Biao and Jiang Yi supported Qian Ping with her decision. Sure, they were worried at first and were protective of her (when they learned of the relationship), but actually quite liked Jun Ying and didn’t force him to jump through ten thousand hoops (just for kicks). They just wanted to meet him and get to know him (which was reasonable with some initial questions after all). The part where Jiang Yi accidentally (possibly) blurted out about “not caring about kids and as long as Qian Ping and Jun Ying were together, it was fine” was funny as hell. I had a kick out of it. Because Qing Biao had to clear his throat, reminding her they were at someone’s house and couldn’t say those things. (I’m with Jiang Yi all the way on the petty game she initially wanted to play because the other side wanted to torture her daughter.) I wasn’t mad at Qing Biao for stopping her though, because he had a point indeed. It would be harder on Qian Ping if they interfere even more. It showed he had learned from past overbearing situations with others, so I have to give him points for that. (Qian Ping did choose that path after all. Also, NOT to pile on, but seriously, she should have looked through all their family books before jumping into that marriage. NOT saying she should give up or people shouldn’t get married, but it was a really bad idea that they weren’t on the same page in the first place. I’m not feeling sorry for Jun Ying–even though I know we can’t choose family and what they think, he had more advantage in this situation and the fact that the controlling party was his mother. They had all the power here. If anyone wanted to say that I was petty for keeping scores. Um, the mother-in-law was being calculative first, only thinking for herself, not others. Or more like she only treated Qian Ping as an incubator, not a person. Why should I show mercy toward her? Besides, it’s not like I could do anything to her anyway. I’m just some random, irrelevant person on the Internet.) Totally random, but it was relevant and I don’t want to cut it and put it in their section. But Qing Biao totally took advantage of the situation and used it against Jiang Yi about how she was a teacher, after all, she should stay calm and the lesson she taught her students about thinking before you speak, lol. (Yup, regarding her mishaps in front of their in-law. She said that he was supposed to be on her side in those situations, lol.) I actually felt like they were indeed a couple at that point (more than some of the past serious scenes). It was one of those cute old couple light bickering moments you see at times. Anyway, back to the actual discussion. Regarding how strongly I feel toward the topic in general and possibly missing the point they’re sending–and yes, I shouldn’t meddle into their business (it’s not my place or choice to make anyway), I actually know all of that. But I’m just really upset that they were still sending and trying to normalize that was the correct choice aka to keep trying until some “miracle” happens. If it was Qian Ping’s choice truly, I would accept it more. But it was someone else’s influence, so the rest of whatever was going on was more than the word “infuriating” could be used to describe the situation as an overall. Also, Jiang Yi was seriously lucky as a daughter-in-law. Not to mention how Qing Biao had the gut to move out. I know their situation was totally different and at the time, it made sense that they moved out to fit the circumstances better. But if it was any other in-laws, they would have wanted her to quit and focus on the family. Yet, they weren’t so. They respected her for being such a talented person and accepted it. Even if they wanted the whole family together as much as anyone else. What was also different was that Jiang Yi had three kids, so no one complained and we didn’t see any drama regarding that. But I had a feeling Qing Biao’s parents would be more understanding and actually respect them as human beings rather than punish them (emotional torture and pressure, etc) just because. Oh yeah, did they change the ending to make the mother-in-law more likable? Because I swear it was too abrupt to see her grow a heart like that. It was a typical idol drama move where they changed stuff up for the last episode before wrap-up. I actually wanted to erase the previous parts to make the review less hectic. But decided against it in the end. Because those were my actual beliefs regarding the situation in general, I don’t want to erase that part. I was glad the mother-in-law changed her mind though. It was just that my faith in humanity had taken a downturn and had never recovered just based on personal experience that I wasn’t too hopeful for their ending–unless Qian Ping somehow succeeded. So, I was surprised they (the production team) wanted to send a message of acceptance (as per making the drama and putting the actual story in as well) instead of encouraging women to keep trying, no matter how it would affect their bodies. Again, I believe it’s always up to whoever is involved to make their choice. But I was just surprised Daai chose this story and sent out this message instead of the general procreation themes often splashed around. Because although many general popular cultures (regardless of region) at times wanted to send out the message of respecting others’ choices and empowering women, the ultimate choice they chose to portray–whether real-life stories or fictional productions–would always be procreation. The rest were just there for empty words. What topped the scenes for me was how the mother-in-law actually took an effort to subtly chide her nosy friend at the market when the latter brought up the topic of grandkids.
  • Jiang Yi is a germaphobe. OMG, seriously, they were addressing it at the last minute before wrap-up? I meant we got it initially and I first thought it was because she liked it clean. When it was the situation with the baby and all, I thought she was worried, being a new mother and all. That issue somewhat offended her mother-in-law since Mrs. Chen brought up three kids fine after all. Yet I was glad that was later solved and they didn’t keep that in mind. I must say once again Jiang Yi was seriously lucky to have such understanding in-laws. Because if it was others, they would have use that to their advantage to gain the upper hand later on. Somehow, the family just endured all through the years yet it finally caused major issues when she was already retired? Wow. She sure was lucky to not clash too much before. I guess people thought it would be normal for her to value cleanliness being a woman, a teacher, and other factors. The storyteller really buried the lede until the end all right. But it was indeed a time for Qing Biao to shine all right. She’d been the calm one in the past between his and Yi Jie’s situation. Now, it was his turn to try and resolve their conflicts. (I agree with him though. Each of us has our own habits and routines, but don’t try to influence others or it would cause them discomfort and/or feel more pressure.) Some comments missed the point when they criticized Yi Jie for not knowing how great he had it with his mom willing to clean the place or help and all. Yes, he had it great thus far. That was true that the mom’s intention was good. Yi Jie’s attitude had been a consistent thing throughout, so it wasn’t helping either. But it was a boundary issue in this case. It was nice and all having someone help you clean and stuff. However, how would they like it if their stuff got move around? Each of us has a system and comfort level. How do you like it if people come in and rearrange everything and claim they were helping? It didn’t matter whether it was family or not. In a way, Yi Jie understood well how there would be clashes hence moving out after his discharge from the army. He didn’t want to force his wife to change, knowing the situation at home and all. So, he was already approaching it with his own way. Once again, they shouldn’t use the parent card to force things through or guilty trip their children into changing. I was glad the issue was resolved and all, but I thought one shouldn’t be let off as easily with the parent card. Sure, Jiang Yi understood and thought it through afterward, wanting to call Yi Jie too. But somehow, she was saved from admitting that she was in the wrong too and should meet them halfway instead of going in there and demanding they changed according to her habits. Again, Yi Jie was wrong on the attitude, but he wasn’t wrong about the boundary situation. Considering Jiang Yi didn’t like it either that Mrs. Peng put her daughter in a hard spot. She shouldn’t do that to someone else’s daughter either.
  • Bonus. You get to see the real-life couple (Chen Qing Biao and Jiang Yi) at the end of the series on the train together. That was so cute.

Recommended? I thought it was worth it. I went in, just wanting to watch for Ehlo. Yet I learned a lot about the railway system and some other life lessons too. It might not be as fascinating to locals (or could be, I don’t know), but it was informative to me. Well, it wasn’t like it was focused 100% on the railway system and all. It was at heart trying to portray a typical model family. So it was worth watching see how they navigate through those life hurdles. Sure, I complained about some of the stuff too. However, I felt it was worth it in the end. I might not completely agree with some situations, but it was another perspective. Some things did make me think a little harder about it and it did change my mind about the situation. Others, take it as what it was.

Single Love Song by Terry Lin

(Uploaded by: TerryLinVEVO)

Song Title: Single Love Song (單身情歌)

Music by: Chen Yao Chuan (陳耀川)

Lyrics by: Yi Jia Yang (易家揚)

Key:
Bold = Original
Teal = Pin Yin
Tainted Blue = English
Muddled Green = Vietnamese

拉不住愛情的我
la bu zhu ai qing de wo
A person who is unable to keep love like me
Người giữ không được tình yêu như là tôi
總是眼睜睜看她溜走
zong shi yan zheng zheng kan ta liu zou
Could only stare helplessly as she walk away
Chỉ có thể trừng mắt nhìn cô ta bỏ đi
世界上幸福的人到處有
shi jie shang xing fu de ren dao chu you
There are many blissful people in this world
Thế giới có biết bao nhiêu người hạnh phúc
為何不能算我一個
wei he bu neng suan wo yi ge
Why can’t I be counted as one?
Tại sao không thể tính luôn tôi?

為了愛孤軍奮鬥
wei le ai gu jun fen dou
Fighting alone because of love
Vì tình yêu mà phấn đấu một mình
早就吃夠了愛情的苦
zao jiu chi gou le ai qing de ku
Having endured enough bitterness because of love
Sớm đã ném đủ đắng cay của tình yêu
在愛中失落的人到處有
zai ai zhong shi luo de ren dao chu you
There are many lost people within the world of relationships
Có biết bao nhiêu người bị thất lạc trong tình yêu
而我只是其中一個
er wo zhi shi qi zhong yi ge
That also includes me
Trong số đó cũng có luôn cả tôi

愛要越挫越勇
ai yao yue cuo yue yong
Love should be about resilience
Tình yêu phải càng xuống dốc thì càng dũng cảm hơn
愛要肯定執著
ai yao ken ding zhi zhe
Love should consist of certainty and stubbornness
Tình yêu phải quả quyết và cố chấp
每一個單身的人得看透
mei yi ge dan shen de ren de kan tou
Those who are single knows that fact
Mỗi một người độc thân đều nhìn rõ được
想愛就別怕傷痛
xiang ai jiu bie pa shang tong
If you want to love, don’t fear pain
Nếu muốn yêu thì đừng sợ bị tổn thương

找一個最愛的 深愛的 相愛的 親愛的人 來告別單身
zhao yi ge zui ai de   shen ai de   xiang ai de   qin ai de ren   lai gao bie dan shen
Searching for someone who loves as hard, as deep, as kind, as dearly so I could say farewell to bachelorhood
Tìm một người yêu hết mức, thâm tình nhứt, tương ái nhứt, thân ái nhứt để đến cáo biệt đơn thân
一個多情的 癡情的 絕情的 無情的人 來給我傷痕
yi ge duo qing de   chi qing de   wu qing de ren   lai gei wo shang hen
Someone who is passionate, infatuated, heartless, and ruthless that will give me all the wounds
Một người vừa đa tình, si tình, tuyệt tình và vô tính nhứt để tặng tôi những vết thương

孤單的人那麼多
gu dan de ren na me duo
There are many single people
Có biết bao nhiêu người cô đơn
快樂的沒有幾個
kuai le de mei you ji ge
There aren’t many of those who are happy
Vui vẻ chả có được bao nhiêu
不要愛過了 錯過了
bu yao ai guo le   cuo guo le
Don’t love and then regret
Đừng nên yêu rồi và lầm lỡ
留下了單身的我 獨自唱情歌
liu xia le dan shen de wo   du zi chang qing ge
Leaving me behind all alone, singing a love song
Để lại tôi cô đơn một mình hát bài tình ca

(music)

為了愛孤軍奮鬥
wei le ai gu jun fen dou
Fighting alone because of love
Vì tình yêu mà phấn đấu một mình
早就吃夠了愛情的苦
zao jiu chi gou le ai qing de ku
Having endured enough bitterness because of love
Sớm đã ném đủ đắng cay của tình yêu
在愛中失落的人到處有
zai ai zhong shi luo de ren dao chu you
There are many lost people within the world of relationships
Có biết bao nhiêu người bị thất lạc trong tình yêu
而我只是其中一個
er wo zhi shi qi zhong yi ge
That also includes me
Trong số đó cũng có luôn cả tôi

愛要越挫越勇
ai yao yue cuo yue yong
Love should be about resilience
Tình yêu phải càng xuống dốc thì càng dũng cảm hơn
愛要肯定執著
ai yao ken ding zhi zhe
Love should consist of certainty and stubbornness
Tình yêu phải quả quyết và cố chấp
每一個單身的人得看透
mei yi ge dan shen de ren de kan tou
Those who are single knows that fact
Mỗi một người độc thân đều nhìn rõ được
想愛就別怕傷痛
xiang ai jiu bie pa shang tong
If you want to love, don’t fear pain
Nếu muốn yêu thì đừng sợ bị tổn thương

找一個最愛的 深愛的 相愛的 親愛的人 來告別單身
zhao yi ge zui ai de   shen ai de   xiang ai de   qin ai de ren   lai gao bie dan shen
Searching for someone who loves as hard, as deep, as kind, as dearly so I could say farewell to bachelorhood
Tìm một người yêu hết mức, thâm tình nhứt, tương ái nhứt, thân ái nhứt để đến cáo biệt đơn thân
一個多情的 癡情的 絕情的 無情的人 來給我傷痕
yi ge duo qing de   chi qing de   wu qing de ren   lai gei wo shang hen
Someone who is passionate, infatuated, heartless, and ruthless that will give me all the wounds
Một người vừa đa tình, si tình, tuyệt tình và vô tính nhứt để tặng tôi những vết thương

孤單的人那麼多
gu dan de ren na me duo
There are many single people
Có biết bao nhiêu người cô đơn
快樂的沒有幾個
kuai le de mei you ji ge
There aren’t many of those who are happy
Vui vẻ chả có được bao nhiêu
不要愛過了 錯過了
bu yao ai guo le   cuo guo le
Don’t love and then regret
Đừng nên yêu rồi và lầm lỡ
留下了單身的我 獨自唱情歌
liu xia le dan shen de wo   du zi chang qing ge
Leaving me behind all alone, singing a love song
Để lại tôi cô đơn một mình hát bài tình ca

(music)

找一個最愛的 深愛的 相愛的 親愛的人 來告別單身
zhao yi ge zui ai de   shen ai de   xiang ai de   qin ai de ren   lai gao bie dan shen
Searching for someone who loves as hard, as deep, as kind, as dearly so I could say farewell to bachelorhood
Tìm một người yêu hết mức, thâm tình nhứt, tương ái nhứt, thân ái nhứt để đến cáo biệt đơn thân
一個多情的 癡情的 絕情的 無情的人 來給我傷痕
yi ge duo qing de   chi qing de   wu qing de ren   lai gei wo shang hen
Someone who is passionate, infatuated, heartless, and ruthless that will give me all the wounds
Một người vừa đa tình, si tình, tuyệt tình và vô tính nhứt để tặng tôi những vết thương

傷心的人那麼多
shang xin de ren na me duo
There are many people who have been hurt
Có biết nhiêu người bị tổn thương
我應該勇敢的過
wo ying gai yong gan de guo
Of course, I’m one of those who bravely forge through
Riêng tôi thì dũng cảm vượt qua
不要愛過了 錯過了
bu yao ai guo le   cuo guo le
Don’t love and then regret
Đừng nên yêu rồi và lầm lỡ
留下了單身的我 獨自唱情歌
liu xia le dan shen de wo   du zi chang qing ge
Leaving me behind all alone, singing a love song
Để lại tôi cô đơn một mình hát bài tình ca

這首真心的 痴心的 傷心的單身情歌 誰與我來和
zhe shou zhen xin de   chi xin de   shang xin de dan shen qing ge   shui yu wo lai he
This song which consists of ingenuity,  infatuation, and hurt, who will accompany me to sing it?
Bài tình ca vừa thành khẩn vừa si tình lại vừa thương tâm này, ai sẽ cùng tôi hát đây?

*All translations were done by DTLCT.

Douluo Continent

captured by DTLCT

I started this out of curiosity. Well, I somewhat wanted to watch it because of Xiao Zhan. However, that didn’t motivate me as much since I put it on my list and wanted to keep it there while I took a break from ancient series. However, seeing Calvin sort of sealed the deal for me, lol. Yes, it moved up from the list thanks to Calvin. And if you want to read my thread, go here. Anyway, I thought it was interesting at first and laughed so hard with the humor thrown in to move everything along. It was addicting in a sense. However, it went downhill somewhere along the way. I didn’t mind since some of the cast and characters made it worthwhile and the humor came back along the way to ease the tension a bit–if only temporarily. The main focus of finding out the mastermind behind all those schemes kept the story going. That was the main reason I ended up sticking around. I wanted to find out what was the story behind so many layers of deceit too. Yet, the ending killed it major time. I will save that for later as to why, because I’ll start with my usual characters’ discussions before diving into the other parts of the story itself.

Main Cast:

  • Xiao Zhan (肖戰) as Tang San (唐三). He showed another level of acting chops that made it addicting to see what else he was capable of as the story moved along. Tang San was in a way, a hot-headed person although he had a kind heart overall. He started out quite naive and inexperienced, considering how he lived in a secluded place since little. It made sense. When I say naive, I didn’t mean he wasn’t smart. He was seriously a smart person, but his thoughts were quite simple–once again, because of where he lived since little. As he traveled along and met others, he became more experienced and his thoughts sharpened–mostly thanks to his master. The journey he went through allowed him to deal with various situations. His emotional state at each part was depicted very nicely by XZ. One could feel for him each time he found out something or was trying to work through the obstacles. In other words, it was really convincing. His playful side? I had already seen that side of him in The Untamed, so it was really easy for him, no challenge there. It was just nice to see his character having a mixture of personality to it, not one-dimensional as the main lead, so that was good. Side note, anyone felt like XZ’s image as Tang San in here made him resemble Ekin Cheng? (It did to me at various points, especially Ekin’s image in The Zu Mountain Sagas.) The one downside of Tang San–aside from his hotheadedness at times–that I felt kind of a shame was how there was a lack of scenes where he was alone. What in the world do I mean? He barely had scenes alone because he was always with some of the other characters. I know the theme emphasized throughout was teamwork, etc., but a character had to grow on their own and being able to handle challenges by onself as well. So, I thought one of the rare scenes that defined his character was the part where he went against Shi Nian. That was seriously awesome because he managed to deduct from all the details to unveil the latter’s trap. Although he needed his mom’s help during the battle, that at its heart was a battle of the mind and he didn’t fall for it–nor gave up control. It showed he had traveled a long way and was able to stay calm and work his way out of that mind control scheme. Definitely signs of growth and strength and much more.
  • Wu Xuan Yi (吳宣儀) as Xiao Wu (小舞). At first, I thought she was really cute with her rabbit ear and how she seemed to have such a simple view of life. I guessed immediately that she was a soul beast. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. They didn’t need to drag it out for me. It seemed like a liao zhai formula poking into this one. But in the context of the story, it was obviously different. The definite sign was how concerned she was for the soul beasts–even if it could be explained she had a kind and gentle heart, she reacted too strongly at times when it was mentioned about the soul beasts being slaughtered and how she was trying hard to find a way so both soul masters and soul beasts could co-exist. The even more obvious sign was how she could communicate and talk to the soul beasts and wasn’t the least bit scared of them. Once again, it could be explained she had some special abilities and/or skills to help in that area. However, why would the soul beasts trust a mere human like that? They had good reasons to be suspicious and defend themselves. So, it made a lot more sense that she was a soul beast hence both of the kings of the Star Forest trusted her and much more. Along the way, I just became annoyed with her to the point that I tuned her out mostly. Yeah, I’m heartless like that. But I felt it unnecessary that she kept engaging into all these side fights or seemed to crave for ’em whenever they were at a new place or something. Accepting challenges was one thing or if the other party initiated the fight, it was fair game. But that part where she just went and attack the Tian Dou Empire people like that? It was uncalled for. It showed her care for Tang San, but in the name of team spirit that they often chanted, she lost grounds major time. (So I didn’t like it that Tang San encouraged her on with his chant about how wrong Yu Tian Heng was to attack her. Hello, Yu Tian Heng warned her several times to leave and not cause trouble there. Yeah, I know, those kids were in love, so they threw reasons out the window, but still not cool.) Also, she never freaking listened or broke her promise each and every time. Yet it was dismissed and viewed as because she cared for Tang San so it was all right. It was getting ridiculous and I just didn’t want to bother anymore. It was explained in the brief parts of the ending by her that she was scared hence not telling Tang San stuff, but seriously, I thought it was still not right. Sure, it wasn’t like they could do anything at that point when they were restricted by Bi Bi Dong, etc. I got the fear and all. But it was Tang San, someone she claimed to care about and trust. She could lie to the world all she wanted–because they proved untrustworthy when it came to unknown variables within the soul masters stuff, but hiding stuff from Tang San? He never hid stuff from her. Trust is a two-way street. I thought her character reminded me madly of Ling Er in Chinese Paladin. Because the majority of the story tried to build a case for her character but she wasn’t special per say. Don’t talk about her abilities, the majority in here had their own strengths and weaknesses, so it was automatically viewed as awesome with all those skills they had regardless of other variables. So yeah, it didn’t impress me one way or another except boosting up her character as cute or should be important, etc. Once again, I don’t know why I need to clarify this, but this is NOT an attack on the actress. It’s just talking about her character here. If I was talking about the stars themselves, I would say so.

Supporting:

  • Calvin Chen as Yu Xiao Gang (玉小剛). I remember Calvin sharing pictures of him in costume. However, I never made the connection that it was for this one. I haven’t watched Calvin in ages, lol. Sorry, that made him sound old, lol. But more like I just lost track of his works and ended up writing more fanfics of him than actually watching. So yeah. His character in here was a nice change for me, comparing to his past idol dramas’ characters. It wasn’t like I disregard his efforts in those previous works. But I felt this was different in a sense that it challenged his acting even more. I often seen him in sunshine roles. If not those, at least, it aimed to be lighthearted. So this one, it transcended his acting to another level. After all, it was somewhat enlightened level master. He was still funny at times, but this role was considered to be of a more mature side. He was probably my favorite character in here. Yes, I said it. So, of course, there will definite be bias shift and I could go on for days in regard to his character. But I probably will not here, lol. It would be too long. But I loved the intelligence and wisdom his character brought forth in this one. Well, that had come from a lot of pain and suffering too. But he was seriously a genius. It ddin’t matter if he lacked the soul rings or whatever. He was the definition of working smarter and not harder. Because he could outwit people numerous times without needing to use his strength. What was more, he had such a cute Mutant Soul to help him. Luo San Pao was sooo cute yet appeared so little later that I miss that little dude. Poor him also, kept being called a “pig” when he was a dog, lol.
  • Qiu Xin Zhi (邱心志) as Lan De (蘭德). I haven’t seen him for a while now because I sort of gave up on some of his repetitive royal roles or maybe too glamorous ones. I felt this role was refreshing in a sense because he seemed not so stylish or polished anymore. It gave off a different vibe. He did brilliantly with depicting the humorous side of the character as well as the serious side as well. It was funny seeing him flipping out at times when it came to the finances, but he kept to his principle and didn’t join those big schools, etc. in their ways. So that was admirable all right. Oh yeah, he could just fly to any place he wishes so that was somethig.
  • Gao Tai Yu (高泰宇) as Dai Mu Bai (戴沐白). I didn’t like his arrogant ass at all at first. But when more details revealed itself, it made a lot of sense. So I cut him some slacks. He did learn to get along with the others eventually and opened up to them. It was hard, considering how he grew up with his psycho brother and had to watch his back constantly. He was taught at a young age to be independent and be the strongest. It was hard for him to adapt. It was also hard to let go of his pride. But he went a long way to undo those toxic mentality from his kingdom and managed to reach another level by trusting those around him.
  • Liu Mei Tong (刘美彤) as Zhu Zhu Qing (朱竹清). Dai Mu Bai’s fiancee. She projected some sort of mystery at first from her intro scenes, so I was looking forward to seeing more of her story development. I guessed she was somehow romantically linked to Dai Mu Bai yet didn’t get the context of the story. That was indeed different than the other stories in here. However, it was somehow hilarious to see Dai Mu Bai being troubled by her presence. It was later revealed that she had a similar background as Dai Mua Bai in that she also had a crazy sibling, trying to compete with her. Her sister was seriously crazy, masking the front with caring for her and wanting to protect her from Dai Mu Bai or others yet only wanted to spy on her and get the upperhand with different situations. It made sense she wanted to become tougher to face future obstacles. She also learned alongside the others as the journey continued on. It wasn’t like she was outright hostile toward others. She had an attitude, mostly toward Dai Mu Bai at first. Yet later, it gradually improved. She wasn’t stingy either because she was able to warm up to the ones who treated her nicely or kindly. She wasn’t arrogant in the sense that she thought she was better than everyone either. She knew she had skills yet also knew there were better soul masters out there. I guess, in short, she was a balance to some of the characters in here who belonged on one side or the other of the scale. She was also quite bright as well, figuring out the various techniques as she went through different trials.
  • Liu Run Nan (刘润南) as Ou Si Ke (歐思客). Lan De’s adopted son. He was hilarious from the start. I knew he was in cahoot with that first test, lol. He seemed like a silly, goofy type. Yet he could be so considerate toward others and had a kind heart. He was so passionate about his inventions and actually had a different life goals than others. At least, that was what he chanted at first. Later, it was revealed because he thought his talent wasn’t really a talent or seemed useless during challenges hence not wanting to pursue that path. He was happy to learn that he could be a great asset to the team hence continuing to train and accompany the others through the final competitions.
  • Ding Xiao Ying (丁笑瀅) as Ning Rong Rong (寧榮榮). I didn’t like her at all at first. Yes, surprising, but true. I just didn’t like her spoiled brat attitude-although the actress looked really cute when she showed up at their school. However, her character grew on me and somehow, her personal journey and growth was equally admirable as the others. Sure, she did side-step at times (along with the others) and had to be reminded to take it down as well with the confidence/arrogant boundary. However, she learned to get along with the others and treat them like a team as well. They had not only became friends but almost like family. She seemed fierce at times yet had a soft heart too when it came to caring for others. I thought the actress did a nice job in showing those various emotions and the character’s growth. You could see her arrogant side, her playful side, her cute side, etc. It was all different and addicting in a way to see what else she could do.
  • Ao Zi Yi (敖子逸) as Ma Hong Jun (馬紅俊). Lan De’s disciple. He had a tragic past and had to learn to live a normal life again after the others rescue him from himself and that one dude at his village. He was sheltered for most of his life and had difficult (for obvious reasons) to mingle with others at first. However, he had a chance to start over and ended up progressing much more than he could ever imagine. It was funny that Lan De accidentally overheard him discuss this whole business plan and ended up recruiting him as a disciple, lol. Even Ou Si Ke was shocked that he didn’t get special treatment, lol.
  • Huang Can Can (黃燦燦) as Hu Lie Na (胡列娜) / Qian Ren Xue (千仞雪). Bi Bi Dong’s daughter. She took on the identity of Hu Lie Na upon her mother’s request to conceal her real identity. For whatever reason, we do not know. But it could be said from her point of view (and probably true too, considering what we learned at the ending scene) that she was just another pawn to her mother’s grand scheme. At first, I did not like her at all. Dai Mu Bai’s words to Tang San described accurately how I felt about her. There was this creepy vibe about her that was nerve-racking. It was easy to tell that she wasn’t just there because she liked Dai Mu Bai and wanted to get to know him. Her actions were too suspicious already. One would have to be crazy to buy it. Then it was revealed later that she had the skills to morph into someone’s appearance and become them. It took all these magic madness to another level all right. I didn’t like her scheming ways regardless of her reasons or whatever she cooked up to convince others. However, upon learning how much she did in order to be acknowledged by her mother, it was heartbreaking. Sure, she did a lot of terrible stuff and hurt many people, but she was really pitiful. She did them randomly to seek approval from her mother. It reminded me of the Scorpion King from Word of Honor–even though the relationship dynamic was a little different. One couldn’t help but feel for them. Her character indeed was quite complex as the plot moved forward. I felt the actress did quite well at various points of the story. She showed the cunning, scheming nature quite convincingly. Also, the obvious contrast when she almost turned into a child again, just wanting the love of her mother–something she probably won’t ever have.

Others:

  • Kenny Bee as Tang Hao (唐昊). Tang San’s father. OMG, I totally didn’t recognize him although I felt he looked familiar. He appeared a little bit here and there. Then bam, he appeared to save the day just like that. It was like, hello, should have made him the main guy if it was that easy. Just saying? Yes, I’m still bitter about the ending being so anti-dramatic regarding the supposed important final battle, so yeah.
  • Zhu Zhu (朱珠) as Bi Bi Dong (比比東). Martial Soul Hall’s leader, Qian Xun Ji’s wife, Qian Ren Xue’s mother. She was ruthless and relentless in her ways yet acted like she was some victim in all of it and had no choice but to do such. I didn’t mind that she was ambitious and wanted to be a top soul master or whatever. That was most of the soul masters’ goals in here. However, she took it to another level, sacrificing the one she suppoedly love for power and then turned around to act like he was in the wrong to reject her proposal of turning him into a famous itellectual figure among the lands. Really? Then yeah, killing her husband and treating her daughter like trash. Yet somehow, she justified all of that behaviors because she said she wanted to become a powerful soul master. Really? Of course, the manipulation was top-notch too. How could anyone forget that anyway?
  • Wang Yi Fan (王亦凡) as Ye Zhi Qiu (葉知秋). Cang Hui Academy’s student. He was under Shi Nian’s mind control hence committing some of the cruelest act ever by carrying all the commands along the way.
  • Guo Zi Yu (郭子渝) as Gui Dou Luo (鬼鬥羅). The mastermind behind the schemes in order to assassinate Bi Bi Dong. He wanted to do all of that to avenge Qian Xun Ji’s death. He claimed his loyalty to the previous leader of the Martial Soul Hall only, considering how things turned out. However, Bi Bi Dong found out a long time ago and just wanted to use him to gather all her enemies up in one place to get rid of them once and for all. Too bad that everything he went through was all in vain. He wasted a lot of time and energy just to fall into Bi Bi Dong’s trap.
  • Ren Qing Na Mu (仁青娜姆) as Du Gu Yan (獨孤雁). She was soooo cute. At first, I didn’t think much of her except for a random character they encountered along the way. However, she played a larger part in the story. Well, not that large, but was tied to some of the grand scheme in that they wanted to use her grandfather’s power hence forcing his hands via poisoning her. I loved her feisty nature and her witty responses to her grandfather. It was hilarious to see how she used some crafty tricks to get him to save Tang San–or at least try to find him, etc. It was hilarious seeing that someone finally could get him to change his mind about matters. She said that she had someone in mind already and was teasing them about Tang San, so I was guessing Yu Tian Heng, lol. But of course, we didn’t get to see that either. It would have been fun to elaborate a little more.
  • Li De Xin (李德鑫) as Yu Tian Heng (玉天恆). Yu Xiao Gang’s nephew. I almost forgot his link to Master in here. However, I felt his character was someone whom I wanted to know more about. Of course, because of the relevancy of the story, time didn’t allow for that. I wonder if there was more info on him in the novel.
  • Wang Gen (汪亘) as Xue Beng (雪崩). Tian Dou Empire’s student, also a descendent of the royal family. His name meant avalanche (so yeah, his parents totally set him up for failure here). Anyway, not only was he arrogant but also a sore loser. He dared to challenge people yet couldn’t take the loss so he went into full tattle-teller mode and ruptured up the whole place just because. He was the only one that Xiao Wu fought that I didn’t have a problem with. ONLY because he was the one picking the fight with them all of a sudden.
  • Du Jun Ze (杜俊澤) as Dai Wei Shi (戴惟仕). Dai Mu Bai’s older brother. When he appeared in the story to cause trouble, I finally understood where Dai Mu Bai’s attitude and his overly condescencision came from. With a brother like this, it was a miracle he hadn’t gone insane. He had to watch his back at all time. Because this guy was the definition of arrogance in here. Like if you open up a dictionary, you see his face next to the word “arrogance” or something.
  • Wang Qiao (王俏) as Zhu Zhu Yun (朱竹雲). Zhu Zhu Qing’s older sister. Same vibe as Dai Wei Shi. I swear they were more like siblings than their siblings, lol. Or was that too much if they were under the same roof?
  • Bao Bo Yu (鮑柏宇) as Xue Qing He (雪清河). The crownd prince of Tian Dou Empire. He was quite bright for a young prince. He was probably trained by kingmakers, but he fitted with his role–unlike most spoiled royalties seen around. He knew what was happening all around him, not just taking in nice words from others only. The young actor was good in exuding those characteristics. And then the part where he was supposedly a fake. Nicely done.
  • Anthony Bao (包小松) as Prince Xue Xing (雪星親王). He was also quite arrogant. That was until he got brought down by Qian Ren Xue posing as the young prince. I guessed it was because he wasn’t completely dumb, so his trap was a little more elaborate than some of the others. Yet it was funny while it lasted, seeing him trying to throw his power around and then bam, he was gone. Just because of a misstep, that was.
  • Liu Jiao Xin (刘交心) as Du Gu Bo (獨孤博). Du Gu Yan’s grandfather. Where to begin? He came and went as he pleased. He lacked social skills and his attitude was terrible. His only weak spot was his precious grand-daughter–who knew that and took full advantage of him. In some ways, he deserved it, lol. He did break a bunch of promises to Tang San, so it was payback in some ways. He was hot-headed at times but not too unreasonable. He did learn to get along with others–somehow–and Tang San’s personality and patience helped. He was actually quite smart, considering how he helped Ye Zhi Qiu break the mind control thing and all.
  • Zhang Wen (张雯) as Liu Er Long (柳二龍). The third member of the old Golden Iron Triangle. She appeared almost toward the end of the series and helped them with some of the trials they went through. She was crazy obsessed for Yu Xiao Gang. Seriously, mixed feelings on that front. Because it could create humorous effect. But also somewhat awkward too. But her skills was undenialable though.
  • Shen Xiao Hai (沈曉海) as Ning Feng Zhi (寧風致). Rong Rong’s father.
  • Zhou Xiao Chuan (周小川) as Chen Xin (塵心) aka Grandpa Sword (劍爺爺). He was hilarious. I thought he would be some fierce force at first, but he created a hilarious atmosphere all around later on. The fact that he didn’t care for Rong Rong’s father’s BS stories about protecting her was equally hilarious as well. He was wise for his age as well, reminding the latter they used to be young once and wanted to travel the world and also becoming the best soul master, etc.
  • Guo Jia Nuo (郭家诺) as Shi Nian (時年). The leader of Cang Hui Academy. His special skills was mind control so he took full advantage of that to control his students and eventually all those around him to push forward the grand scheme of Guo Dou Luo. He finally met with his fate when his trap backfired.
  • Wang Lu (王露) as Huo Wu (火舞). Team member of the Flaming Fire Academy (熾火學院). She alerted Tang San about the missing teams, leading to their investigation into the situation. She was actually quite smart and reasonable. She trusted the Shi Lan Ke Academy because they weren’t controlled or influenced by the other powerful groups involved. It was a good call since that allowed the others to uncover more behind the schemes. Too bad, somehow, they didn’t show for sure if she and her teams and the rest of the other schools were actually safe or not. At least toward the end.
  • James Wen as Ju Dou Luo (菊鬥羅). I recognized him right away. Or at least made the connection. But I couldn’t be too sure because I had only seen James in an ancient setting like once before. So, I had to go look it up. But it was indeed him. It was kind of funny seeing him in here since I didn’t realize he was also part of the production. Anyway, how was his character? It was interesting at first. Then it died down. I meant, I didn’t expect him to hog the scenes and made it unbearable to watch. But as for his character, someone who recongized Dai Mu Bai’s talent, the least he could do was show some sense of integrity or a change of heart. Yet he remained disapointtingly dispecable even till the end. Like he was all right with the world falling apart and Bi Bi Dong controlling it. As long as he was comfortable in his position, that was it. Yes, selfish was all that he was. Okay, maybe I’ll give him arrogance too. But that was the majority of the soul masters in here–whether they were capable or not. But as for James, it was fun to watch him portray this role. A different side of him, kind of a laid-back character with a mixture of creepiness at times too.

Relationships – family, friends, romances, etc.:

  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Wu Xian Yi/ Xiao Wu as a couple. They spent A LOT of time together in here, so I didn’t think anyone would think they got robbed of time spent together. Well, if you did, I don’t know what to say, lol. I usually don’t force couples–unless the storyline is unconvincing that I make jokes about it. So, this time, it’s no different. They weren’t my favorite couple in here. But as long as their feelings were mutual, good for them.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Kenny Bee/ Tang Hao as father and son. There was no denying their bond. They were with one another since he was little. How could anyone deny that? Their strong bond was what made it all so confusing and heartbreaking when Tang San thought it could be his father who was responsible for all the pain and suffer. However, it also became a strong advantage for Tang San because that one guy tried to pose as his father and mind-trick him yet failed because of the special object that meant the world to them.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Calvin Chen/ Yu Xiao Gang as master and disciple. I was a little surprised that Tang San chose Yu Xiao Gang as his ultimate master. I meant regarding the circumstances and all, I wouldn’t blame him if he had high ambition and wanted to pick someone else in the future. It was expected the way things were within the land. Yet Tang San was determined to stick with the person whom taught him many things along the way already. He didn’t care that people were making fun of his master or whatever. All he knew was that the person who had been by his side and helping him when his father was absent from the scene.
  • Calvin Chen/ Yu Xiao Gang and Qiu Xin Zhi/ Lan De. They were a riot. They were friends yet kept sabotaging one another through words or strange bets, lol. Lan De always gambled or made bets yet when he lost to Master, he went into a rant about setting good examples for the students, lol. It was like, “Dude, what are you talking about? You’re the definition of bad examples here.” But during serious times, they also joined forces to deal with those obstacles. They knew one another ages already, so it wasn’t going to affect them with a little joke here and there.
  • Xiao Zhan/ Tang San and Gao Tai Yu/ Dai Mu Bai. Perhaps, in those conventional wuxia, they could be considered as “knowing the hero, respecting the hero” type of relationship. Sure, they clashed somewhat at first yet learned to get along and eventually formed a bond–like how most of the team members did. Yet they were almost like brothers near the end, willing to trust one another and working together for the best of the team, not thinking with an individuality mindset anymore. Well, Tang San didn’t want to steal anyone’s limelight or anything. He was quite humble–for the most part. But he had to learn to rely on the others too, not just bearing it all by himself.
  • Gao Tai Yu/ Dai Mu Bai and Liu Mei Tong/ Zhu Zhu Qing as a couple. I felt they could be considered the model couple for the show. Serious, each show has one and they were it for this show. Because they started out really rough, not really getting along. Yet, they learned to trust and respect one another over time and had some proper dialogue as well. That built well into that one trial they had to go through near the end and merging their talents for the final battle. It wasn’t because they needed to win kind of thing. But it showed that they had gone a long way and had connected on a spiritual level as well.
  • Liu Run Nan/ Ou Si Ke and Ding Xiao Ying/ Ning Rong Rong as a couple. I would never thought of it in a serious manner, considering how it seemed so one-sided with Ou Si Ke waiting on her hand and feet at the beginning. Later, it just became a recurring comedic act and a consistency with how he often chased after her or tried to care for her, etc. Yet, it really showed during the part where they thought she got kidnapped by some mysterious force. It was hilarious yet also touching with him running in there, not caring if he got hurt, etc. She was able to see how serious he was too, not fearing death. Even if she knew Grandpa Sword well, but to think that Ou Si Ke went all out on tricks to save her was something quite risky. She took him more seriously after all. It wasn’t like they didn’t get along at that point of time already. But it was that moment she realized he meant it, not just the usual crazy, silly things he thought up to get her attention. Final answer? I swore they were the supposed cute couple in here. Completely unexpected, but they had taken that spot for me as major characters.

The ending? So, how did I feel after finishing it? Or should I say, “How many shades of disappointed was I after reaching the end?” Because seriously, I was disappointed–and temporarily somewhat shocked. I meant they built all this hype and intensity around it, hinting there was going to be some big reveal toward the so-called final battle YET it turned into a 2-second battle and that was it? Next time, something big happens, maybe they should just invite Kenny Bee to take care of it. Since he sure took care of it super fast and all. I didn’t want it to drag out anymore, but possibly they needed one or two more episodes to wrap everything up. Or were they planning to do a sequel? I know it was part of a saga, so it couldn’t cut into other works like that. However, if they weren’t planning on doing the sequel, maybe add a little more detail for people who never read the novels to swallow the ending better. Like after the battle, Tang Hao would just abandon everyone there and take care of Tang San and that was it? Yeah, I know that part was essential. But they needed to show how all the impacted parties fended afterward. It was explained or mentioned somewhat during the graduation ceremony what their future plans were. However, there were some additional variables that presented themselves after the battle, so it would make sense to focus on tying up those loose ends. Sure, we could guess for ourselves that they cleaned up, went home, and rest or recover until they were well enough to travel again. However, if anyone expected me to believe the other five wouldn’t go check on Tang San and Xiao Wu to make sure everything was indeed all right, they must be nuts. Sure, Tang Hao could have said something like, “I have to bring them somewhere, you guys clean up and rest first.” But that was a lot of assumptions on our part with all the details. How about Yu Xiao Gang’s reactions to what happened? He was still wounded from the past and as much as I don’t want to admit that he still cared for that evil witch, he still did. So, how could they just forget about it? There had to be some more aftermath as they go back to the lodging place and rest. Of course, there wasn’t much to do anyway since they couldn’t change the past, but there has to be some talk between him and Lan De or someone else to signify how they all felt about the craziness of the mystery that finally revealed itself. How about Bi Bi Dong’s daughter, Qiao Ren Xue? She just left? It wasn’t like she was going to kill her mama to avenge her papa. But maybe some type of closure for her and her future plans. And then what about what happened with Tian Dou Empire after she turned it upside down with her schemes previously? The most crucial thing that the production team completely forgot to cover too was the rest of the sects who disappeared. Yeah, Bi Bi Dong previously said she would release them after the mastermind dude revealed himself and they handle those stuff, but she couldn’t be trusted, hello. Was anyone checking on them? Were they dead for real this time? At least, give us a clue. That was one of the main focuses coming into the battles too. How could it be disregarded like that? Oh, what about the thing with Bi Bi Dong being able to force their martial souls out? No one explained that either. It was said vaguely by her that she had risen to another level hence knowing how to do it. But come on now! Again, we had to assume a lot with the other things in order for the ending to make sense. Well, it did make sense with Tang San and Xiao Wu. But regarding the rest of the characters, not so much. It was like “team spirit” and “go team” throughout and then bam, they just forgot to talk about the rest of the team when the ending rolled around? Fans of Tang San and Xiao Wu would have liked it too to see how it turned out and when the two would meet again, considering how she agreed with Tang Hao that she would leave him and learn to become stronger before returning to his side. So yeah, if there was an extra episode or two, it could show them meeting up in life again. Or was this all an attempt to direct everyone to read the author’s works to find the actual answers? Because that worked. I already placed it on my to-read list.

Recommended? I would say probably if you’re a fan of the cast or the novel. I don’t think anyone would be as stingy as me with picking on those details I mentioned so it might be even more enjoyable or lovable to you.

It’s Over by Terry Lin

(Uploaded by: TerryLinVEVO)

Song Title: It’s Over (散了吧)

Music by: J.J.Goldman

Lyrics by: Yao Ruo Long (姚若龍)

Key:
Bold = Original
Navy Blue = Pin Yin
Royal Blue = English
Sea Green = Vietnamese

妳試著將分手盡量講得婉轉
ni shi zhe jiang fen shou jin liang jiang de wan zhuan
You tried to break up by using the most graceful words possible
Em thử chia tay bằng cách dùng lời rất là uyển chuyển
我只好配合妳盡量笑的自然
wo zhi hao pei he ni jin liang xiao de ji ran
I’m very cooperative by smiling as naturally as possible
Tôi rất phối hợp bằng cách mỉm cười rất là tự nhiên
我就是不能看心愛的人顯得為難
wo jiu shi bu neng kan xin ai de ren xian de wei nan
It’s just that I couldn’t bear the sight of the one I love to be in a difficult situation
Chỉ là tôi không muốn thấy được người tôi yêu lại phải khó xử
妳剛握過的手留著一絲溫暖
ni gang wo guo de shou liu zhe yi si wen nuan
The hand you just held still preserved a trace of warmness
Cánh tay em vừa nắm vẫn còn lưu lại một chút ấm áp
不知道夠不夠撐過這個夜晚
bu zhi dao gou bu gou cheng guo zhe ge ye wan
Not knowing if I could keep it up past the night
Không biết có giữ được qua trọn đêm hay không
我目送妳遠走站的太久倦意淡淡
wo mu song ni yuan zou zhan de tai jiu juan yi dan dan
I send you off a long-distance, standing there for too long, my thoughts are tired and diluted
Tôi tiễn em đi thiệt xa, đứng lại đó thiệt lâu, ý nghĩ của tôi đã trở nên mệt mỏi và nhạt nhòa

散了吧 認了吧 算了吧 放了吧
san le ba   ren le ba   suan le ba   fang le ba
It’s over, accept it, forget it, let it go
Tan rã rồi, nhận thức đi, đã xong rồi, buông ra đi
該原諒 該瀟灑 別回想 別留下
gai yuan liang   gai xiao sa   bie hui xiang   bie liu xia
Be forgiving, be free-spirited, don’t reminisce, don’t linger
Nên tha thứ, nên phóng khoáng, đừng hồi tưởng, đừng lưu luyến
可惜連我的心都不聽話 可憐受傷的愛還想掙扎
ke xi lian wo de xin dou bu ting hua   ke lian shou shang de ai hai xiang zheng zha
Pity that even my heart wouldn’t listen, pitiful that my love has been wounded yet I still wanted to struggle
Đáng tiếc rằng ngay cả tim tôi cũng không chịu nghe lời, đáng thương rằng tình yêu tổn thương rồi mà còn muốn vùng vẫy
痛不怕 心不假 緣好短 人好傻
tong bu pa   xin bu jia   yuan hao duan   ren hao sha
Not fearing pain, having a genuine heart, fate is short, a foolish fella
Đau không sợ, tâm không giả, duyên thiệt ngắn, người thiệt khờ

我開車聽音樂漫無目的的轉
wo kai che ting yin le man wu mu di de zhuan
Driving and listening to music freely–without an actual goal
Tôi lái xe và nghe nhạc một cách vô tư lự, không có mục tiêu
看街燈都亮了一盞接著一盞
kan jie deng dou liang le yi zhan jie zhe yi zhan
Seeing that the streetlamps are switching on one by one
Nhìn thấy đèn đường từng ngọn, từng ngọn liên tiếp bật lên
像為我計算內心最深處隱藏的孤單
xiang wei wo ji suan nei xin zui shen chu yin cang de gu dan
It’s as if it’s there to analyze the hidden loneliness residing deep within my heart
Giống như là nó đang suy tính nỗi cô đơn ẩn tàng tận trong lòng tôi
總習慣用沉默處理我的傷感
zong xi guan yong chen mo chu li wo de shang gan
It’s a habit of silently dealing with my sentiments
Đó là thói quen lặng lẽ để xử lý những thương cảm của tôi
也知道這世界沒有太多圓滿
ye zhi dao zhe shi jie mei you tai duo yuan man
I know that there are not many satisfactory situations in this world
Cũng biết rằng thế gian không có nhiều việc được toàn vẹn
但愛到曲終人散 難免還是遺憾
dan ai dao qu zhong ren san   nan man hai shi yi han
Yet loving until both parties are no longer in contact is an avoidable and regretful matter
Nhưng yêu đến khi hai bên đều thành không liên lạc là một chuyện khó tránh và đáng tiếc

散了吧 認了吧 算了吧 放了吧
san le ba   ren le ba   suan le ba   fang le ba
It’s over, accept it, forget it, let it go
Tan rã rồi, nhận thức đi, đã xong rồi, buông ra đi
要原諒 要瀟灑 別回想 別留下
yao yuan liang   yao xiao sa   bie hui xiang   bie liu xia
Forgive her, free yourself, don’t reminisce, don’t linger
Hãy tha thứ, hãy phóng khoáng, đừng hồi tưởng, đừng lưu luyến
可惜連我的心都不聽話 可憐受傷的愛還想掙下
ke xi lian wo de xin dou bu tiang hua   ke lian shou shang de ai hai xiang zheng zha
Pity that even my heart wouldn’t listen, pitiful that my love has been wounded yet I still wanted to struggle
Đáng tiếc rằng ngay cả tim tôi cũng không chịu nghe lời, đáng thương rằng tình yêu tổn thương rồi mà còn muốn vùng vẫy
痛不怕 心不假 緣好短 人好傻
tong bu pa   xin bu jia   yuan hao duan   ren hao sha
Not fearing pain, having a genuine heart, fate is short, a foolish fella
Đau không sợ, tâm không giả, duyên thiệt ngắn, người thiệt khờ

(music)

是不是有時候愛需要糾纏
shi bu shi you shi hou ai xu yao jiu chan
Wasn’t there a time that love was entangled?
Không phải có một khoảng thời gian tình yêu cứ mãi vướng víu hay sao?
會不會有時候愛就不該心軟
hui bu hui you shi hou ai jiu bu gai xin ruan
Wasn’t there a time love shouldn’t have softened the heart?
Có phải thời gian đó, không nên vì tình yêu mà mềm lòng?
要夠堅持才代表愛得夠勇敢
you gao jian chi cai dai biao ai de gou yong gan
If there’s enough perseverance, then it represents love’s courage
Nếu đủ kiên trì, đó chứng tỏ rằng tình yêu có đủ sự dũng cảm
我如果能盡情講感覺吶喊
wo ru guo neng jin qing jiang gan jue na han
If I could fully express my feelings by yelling them out
Nếu tôi có thể tận tình gào thét lên cảm giác của mình
含淚問少了你今後我怎麼辦
han lei wen shao le ni jin hou wo zen me ban
Containing my tears, asking you softly, “What will I do from now on?”
Kìm lệ, hỏi nhỏ em rằng: Từ nay trở đi, anh phải làm sao đây?
那現在身邊會不會還有你作伴
na xian zai shen bian hui bu hui hai you ni zuo ban
So, at this moment, are you still accompanying me?
Vậy hiện tại em có còn sánh bước cùng anh không?

散了吧 認了吧 算了吧 放了吧
san le ba   ren le ba   suan le ba   fang le ba
It’s over, accept it, forget it, let it go
Tan rã rồi, nhận thức đi, đã xong rồi, buông ra đi
要原諒 要瀟灑 別回想 別留下
yao yuan liang   yao xiao sa   bie hui xiang   bie liu xia
Forgive her, free yourself, don’t reminisce, don’t linger
Hãy tha thứ, hãy phóng khoáng, đừng hồi tưởng, đừng lưu luyến
可惜連我的心都不聽話 可憐受傷的愛還想掙下
ke xi lian wo de xin dou bu tiang hua   ke lian shou shang de ai hai xiang zheng zha
Pity that even my heart wouldn’t listen, pitiful that my love has been wounded yet I still wanted to struggle
Đáng tiếc rằng ngay cả tim tôi cũng không chịu nghe lời, đáng thương rằng tình yêu tổn thương rồi mà còn muốn vùng vẫy
痛不怕 心不假 緣好短 人好傻
tong bu pa   xin bu jia   yuan hao duan   ren hao sha
Not afraid of, a genuine heart, fate is short, a foolish fella
Đau không sợ, tâm không giả, duyên thiệt ngắn, người thiệt khờ

散了吧 認了吧 算了吧 放了吧
san le ba   ren le ba   suan le ba   fang le ba
It’s over, accept it, forget it, let it go
Tan rã rồi, nhận thức đi, đã xong rồi, buông ra đi

*All translations were done by DTLCT.