Mixed feelings throughout the series but I guess it made sense because of the title and the theme of forgiveness, etc.
- Tender Huang (黃騰浩) as Zhao Yu (趙宇). Having liked Tender since watching Xiao Hai Da Ren, I was looking forward to enjoying his performance in this one. His performance didn’t disappoint, but his character sort of confused me at one point in the story. More on that later. I thought he was smart at first. And perhaps he was since he was a gifted person after all with his abilities to brew tea at such a young age and then making the business prosper later on where his father failed. Though I wanted to forgive him when it came to matters relating to the heart but I felt kind of too frustrated at times to sympathize. Or perhaps I was confused and impatient at the same time.
- Fu Xian Hao (傅顯皓) as the young Zhao Yu (趙宇). Great performance from the young actor. Totally could see the stubbornness still present with both actors as the character grew up, etc. Though I felt the kid was kind of arrogant at first, saying some things that could offend his father. And I was glad he become less arrogant in the later years. I’m sure he didn’t mean it in that way when he said if his father wasn’t around, he could take care of things YET it was a hard blow for the old man.
- Li Jia Ying (李佳穎) as Hu Xin Er (胡馨兒) aka Li Ya Ting (李雅婷). Seeing Li Jia Ying’s performances over several dramas, I was glad to see her finally being the leading girl. She’s actually one of those leading girls having an acting caliber that rises above that of the second female lead. She was really cute in here yet NOT too overly innocent. She was helpful and supportive but wasn’t so weak like her exterior. Several times, I was surprised at how Xin Er possessed so much strength to let go or let it be in front of others. Yes, she did hide and cry by herself yet it was understandable. She really put up a strong exterior in front of others.
- Stella Huang (黃湘怡) as Zhao Fei (趙菲). Zhao Yu’s younger sister. Mixed feelings. At times, I find her really cute, then others I found her too innocent. But I was glad there was more character development with her as events unfolded. She learned how to become stronger and move on. Even if she didn’t want to. It wasn’t too unbelievable given the time gap, etc.
- Xu Ya Qi (許亞琦) as the young Zhao Fei (趙菲). Cute little girl. Though she was in the scenes at times during first three episodes, she didn’t have as much chance to perform like the child star who portrayed her brother. But she was cute enough and made me see the connection between her older version as well.
- Zhang Ming Ming (張明明) as Fan Li Qun (范立群). I felt that this guy is really good at acting all right. At least he amazed me after watching this since I really hated him while watching Peak Times. He was a true playboy in here and really knew how to lure the girls in. Not to mention his immature behaviors at first. And it was not like I really liked him in here either, but found him funny at first.
- Chen Bo Nian (陳柏年) as the young Fan Li Qun (范立群). Not much from him except some scenes regarding how he was so spoiled. Consistent with his background and while he was growing up.
- Yang Zi Shan (楊子珊) as Fan Ai Qun (范愛群). Fan Li Qun’s younger sister. I don’t want to pick on her, but among the main cast, she was the weakest link in the acting department. Her inconsistency made it hard for me to understand what was really going on with the character. There were drops of hints here and there or some concealment to retain mystery in the plot–especially in the later parts. But still not too convincing with some cases. And I didn’t really like her character. NOT because she was Zhao Yu’s love interest since the start, but more like her spoiled nature that made it hard for me to like her. It’s like how I don’t like her brother for the same reason. At times, I want to say it’s okay. But I’m not really that okay with it. I can’t like every single character.
- Ji Liang Zhu (紀亮竹) as the young Fan Ai Qun (范愛群). I found her really smart at first when she was drinking the tea at that one place and explained each step of brewing tea, etc. That actually carried on when she grew up. However, I didn’t like her spoiled brat nature either.
- Xie Wen Xuan (謝聞軒) as He Si Si (何思思). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s cousin. I think she was the reason that reminded me how strong people on the surface weren’t really strong. I’m not saying I blame her since everything happened so fast with the other incident and she had the right to fight for her happiness, etc. Not to mention her situation hit a bit too close to home with how her mother was a single mother as well and how she remembered the events of growing up, relying on herself mostly. I really liked her at first and found her hilarious, but was more turned off of the other dramatic events later on. I did state already that I do understand the conflicts in her heart and don’t blame her for making different decisions, but I just felt too bad for Zhao Fei in some situations. At least she had Li Qun’s mother’s backing (and her own mother’s backing in the later parts).
- Wang Jia Xuan (王佳萱) as the young He Si Si (何思思). Feisty and that consistency carry on to her later years. At least until the “real” dramas finally started.
- Long Shao Hua (龍劭華) as Fan Yong Kang (范永康). Li Qun and Ai Qun’s father. I hated the character but felt like the actor was good with his performance. He used everyone he could to get what he wanted. Though I wasn’t convinced with Zhao Yu and Ai Qun’s chemistry, I felt he have a major role in ruining them. How could he do that to his own daughter? He was totally using his health situation and her filial toward him to force her into helping him that one time.
- Xu Gui Ying (徐貴櫻) as Lin Yan Ni (林燕妮). Fan Yong Kang’s wife, Li Qun and Ai Qun’s mother. I hated the woman. I didn’t care if she was the wife and had better calls than her husband in the whole business situation. She really made Zhao Fei’s life a living hell at one point. And though He Si Si’s mother brought it onto herself for acting so desperate while at the Fan resident, I still didn’t like her attitude.
- Ann Lee (李淑楨) as Tang Mei Lin (唐美林). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s mother. I had a feeling she was the weakest link at first. But it was just the exterior since she was much braver and stronger than her husband in many ways. YES, she did break down at first when she heard the news of his passing (but it was normal). Later on, she was confused as to what she should be doing and almost sold the farm. But she learned to become stronger and tougher over the years, protecting her children throughout the years. I was so scared that she would die in the later parts of the drama since the scenes spotted in the theme videos made it suspicious that someone was going to get sacrificed. I was glad she lived up ’til then to see Zhao Yu and Xin Er finally ending up together, etc.
- Wang Zhong Ping (王中平) as Zhao Fu Xiang (趙富祥) aka Hu Ke Qin (胡克勤). Zhao Yu and Zhao Fei’s father. The most hated man in this drama for me. A total coward, not daring to face any consequences. Not capable of protecting his family yet he would get all mad or pull the ‘ego’ card when his wife was pointing out some ‘true’ issues. I thought his character would change to ‘bravery’ after being with Cai Chun OR something, but he was still a coward, hiding behind her with situations. But I must say Wang Zhong Ping was really good in the role. He was totally convincing that he made me loathe his character so much throughout, even if his wife had already forgiven him near the end.
- Josie Leung (梁家榕) as Tang Mei Jing (唐美晶). He Si Si’s mother. Mixed feelings. I liked it that she was really caring toward her sister and wanted to take her sister out on shopping trips, etc. Yet I didn’t like how she couldn’t see it when others do not want her around, etc. Sure, she wanted what was best for her daughter, etc but don’t have to act so desperate in front of the Fan family, etc.
- Hu An An (胡安安) as Hu Cai Chun (胡彩春). At first, I really liked her for her snappy comments toward her boss and her step-father. Later on, it was just plain mixed feelings. I understood that she had her weak moments and in the later years, like she said, she didn’t have what it took anymore if Ke Qin were to leave her. Yet I felt she was too weak when she gave in and spent the night with him that one time years ago, knowing he was married. (As I already blamed him and bashed him to no end in his section, I felt it was only right to point out what she did also.)
- Michael Huang (黃仲崑) as Li Tong (李桐). I found him really cool and funny at first. Then later, I really respected him for what he did. Though he led a gang life in the past, that didn’t stop or discourage him from starting his new life later on. He had hope with the search for his daughter, but there were situations that I felt he was the bravest among the male population in here.
- Deng An Ning (鄧安寧) as Lin Gu Wen (林顧問). When I realized he was the director of Angel Lover, it made me wanted to laugh since Tender Huang and Li Jia Ying were also in there (but in different stories). It felt strange that he was guest-starring for such a role. Yet it was cool that he was game for it.
- Tender Huang and Li Jia Ying as Zhao Yu and Hu Xin Er. They were really cute together though their characters were ten years apart. It felt off at first but I was glad the scriptwriters went along with it. But like most leading couples, they spent so less time together as a couple that made me want more screen time for them. YES, they spent a lot of time together at the tea farm before that and up until they finally became a couple. But I still felt like it was too little after they were a couple. Sometimes I felt like they got together too late and it wouldn’t work, especially how the foundation for how Zhao Yu liking Xin Er was off, but I guess anything could happen with time. It was not impossible but I felt like it was strange how he just let go of Ai Qun like that. There wasn’t anything he could do anyway and time had made him realized the person right by his side all along was the one. If both collaborate again in the future, I want to see them dating from the start, LOL!
- Tender Huang and Yang Zi Shan as Zhao Yu and Fan Ai Qun. They didn’t lack in chemistry since their background implied that they belonged together. Yet I felt mad confused at the beginning and then again in the later parts. Why? It was obvious in hinting their beginning when Zhao Yu picked up her hair clip and it seemed like he was into her, etc when they were finally growing up. But what made me mad confused regarding him was how he was guiding Ai Qun that one time and actually have a hand around her shoulders BUT when he spotted Xin Er nearby, he withdrew his hand right away! It was like he didn’t want Xin Er to catch them and misunderstand or anything. I meant Ai Qun didn’t mind and he liked her, right? So why was he acting like he was up to no good? AND it wasn’t like he was taking advantage of Ai Qun, he was really helping her maintain her balance. Then what got me even more confused about her was it seemed she liked him all along but just wanted to go out and explore the world, etc. I swore I thought she made up the boyfriend part at first to see how his reaction was. Then how jealous she was with Xin Er made me felt like she liked him. Then I moved onto to thinking like possibly because she wanted to be spoiled by him after having broken up with her boyfriend. It made sense. Yet her expressions said more than that. So when they got together and separated, it felt too weird to me. I don’t doubt that he liked her but I wasn’t totally convinced with their chemistry character-wise. Even if the scriptwriters had established so much history for them to the point that I didn’t believe that he could forget her so fast, but it just made it tenfold more confusing for me.
- Zhang Ming Ming and Stella Huang as Fan Li Qun and Zhao Fei. They were so cute together yet I was really disturbed how he was still such a player after being with her. It was possibly because he had to go through stuff and pay for it before he could mature? But it was such a shame this pairing didn’t work out. It was so cute that he kept teasing her and she would take it seriously, etc. I enjoyed their fun moments a lot. She made him a better person in a way because he could soften up and not be so mean at times. He seemed more caring toward others as well, but not totally. In the end, the only thing good out of it was both learned to mature and be independent.
- Zhang Ming Ming and Xie Wen Xuan as Fan Li Qun and He Si Si. I felt their chemistry when they were bickering at the beginning. But I was hoping for a better get together for them than the whole ‘mistake’ before they actually fall in love and cherish one another. OR the intention of the scriptwriter was to make it different from other dramas? (Like how other dramas would just make it like they would fall in love later on and he would have to break up with Zhao Fei, stating the typical sorry, etc.) I was really frustrated by how his mother kept intervening and making it worse for them both. I swear they would’ve eventually got together if she didn’t make it so hostile for all parties.
- Wang Zhong Ping and Ann Lee as Zhao Fu Xiang and Tang Mei Lin. Like I said earlier, I thought she was the weak link in the relationship. Yet I was wrong. When problems appeared, he just wanted to escape by committing suicide and let his family deal with the rest. When that didn’t work, he sought out other ways BUT when others cast doubt on the plans, he just went all ballistic on it. Like how she asked him questions regarding that one deal and he just acted like she kept treating him like some useless dude. How could they maintain a proper discussion when he kept wanting to win? I felt bad for him initially when I wasn’t watching much yet when she kept nagging him but as more and more details unfolded, I felt like he was too much an idiot to empathize. And perhaps they were so wrong for one another as well because they can’t seem to reach an agreement at times.
- Wang Zhong Ping and Hu An An as Hu Ke Qin and Hu Cai Chun. I don’t know what to say about them, except maybe they fit more, etc. Again, he was still the weak one in the relationship. It was too late to change anything in the end except to let them stay together.
- Michael Huang and Ann Lee as Li Tong and Tang Mei Lin. Impossible but it was a shame. I liked it that finally, she could depend on someone like him. Yet, of course, they can’t become an old couple, caring toward one another anymore. At least they were still friends and future-in-laws.
Triangles: I said numerous times in the past already that I hate triangles but I guess it’s hard to ignore in this case.
- Li Jia Ying – Tender Huang – Yang Zi Shan. Because of the confusion I mentioned above, I felt that this triangle was kind of loose. Perhaps that was why I didn’t care as much. Though I was indeed very impatient as to when Zhao Yu and Xin Er would get together, it was relevant to have him resolve past conflicts and have a chance with Ai Qun first. They were indeed from two different worlds. It wasn’t about being ‘rich, poor’ either. But it was more like their mentality didn’t allow them to be together. Her past baggage with her boyfriend made matters even worse. It was hard to blame her but it indeed proved she wasn’t ready for a new start. The most ironic thing was when she finally learned to cherish Zhao Yu, he had moved on. Unbelievable, but I guess after he cooled down, he realized what he wanted was by his side all along. The time gap still didn’t stick for me, but I felt because Tender and Jia Ying have so much chemistry that helped the cause even more. And I must credit Zhao Yu for not going back to Ai Qun after he and Xin Er were under the impression that they were siblings. NOT that there’s anything wrong with that since he has every right to since Xin Er was his sister, etc. But I felt it was just strange if he knew it didn’t work out with Ai Qun but return to her. It would even undo the foundation of how he and Ai Qun already got why they should be friends only. (Though she didn’t think so and was still hopeful.) They already made his father a wishy-washy character throughout so having him becoming exactly like his father wouldn’t help the case either, right?
- Stella Huang – Zhang Ming Ming – Xie Wen Xuan. I have mixed feelings with which couple I should ship for at first and still seeing some hilarious scenes in the theme video. But I didn’t like how things unfolded later. Probably because it was too cruel for all parties. Yet what I hated more (as mentioned earlier) was his mother for making things worse and worse. Even if he was a player and needed some lessons before actually maturing and taking some responsibilities for his actions. But that was too cruel. And though I was pretty sure that the mother had told her friend to find any means possible to pull Li Qun and Si Si together, I want to blame them for getting drunk themselves. Sure, they have to be polite to that one lady when she offered, etc. But drinking to that point? They should know better. I usually make my bet on Zhao Fei being naive and NOT being able to turn people down (after witnessing her being bullied by his mother and having to take it all), but Li Qun and Si Si? Perhaps it was better that Li Qun and Zhao Fei didn’t end up together since she wouldn’t be able to survive within the household. Maybe one day the mother would see the good in Zhao Fei but she was too much of a doormat during the beginning. I liked her independent attitude in the later parts better. She will probably meet someone one day that will appreciate her for her kindheartedness. Whoever said that “You’re marrying him, not his family” couldn’t be more wrong than this. Not to mention naive. Because seriously, if you can’t get past family approvals, it won’t work no matter what. (Even if it works but there are still conflicts within the family. It doesn’t mean I’m discouraging others from fighting for their happiness since I have no right and I’m just tying that phrase in with the current drama being discussed here.)
- Ann Lee – Wang Zhong Ping – Hu An An. Already said he was a coward in both relationships. And I thought the ending made sense–even if they both got off so easily. Because honestly, what else could Mei Lin do? It had been soooo long already. She should just let go and live her own life instead of torturing herself with it.
- Most of the main cast have younger counterparts, except for Xin Er. It was essential that they left Xin Er’s identity a mystery until near the end. There were hints throughout yet there was still no definite answer. I felt it was interesting that they let the story flowed so that there were about 3 episodes with the kids until they zoomed toward the later years. Made it somewhat more refreshing than just having flashbacks about their childhood in a way.
- The main couple suffered from the cliche of being possible siblings. When I realized what was going on with the plot, I quickly thought of Momo Love since Li Jia Ying was also in there. Yet I liked how it was being handled here better. Instead of hugging each other and crying (which Zhao Yu tried to comfort Xin Er at one point) and do other senseless stuff to fuel their emotions even more, they separated and tried to move on. The part where Xin Er pushed Zhao Yu away and yelled for him to go away made it tenfold sadder and touching than just hugging each other for me. It made it more convincing with the earth-shattering news reaching them that they could be siblings and NOT wanting to touch anymore. It was like they were in the dark about it, so why make it super soapy with them hugging, etc? It wasn’t until she was in the clear about their actual relations that she finally hugged him and didn’t want to let go. (Though he tried to brush her off–since he was already calm by that time and didn’t want to stir any feelings up, he let her be when she told him she only needed a little more time since she really missed him.) Their reunion was equally cute and worthwhile. It was interesting how the situations reversed during the ‘heartbreaking’ moment and then the ‘clearing up of events’. Like how I just said with him wanting to comfort her yet she didn’t want him to touch her at that time (or she wouldn’t be able to let go), then how he was much calmer when she came to visit him near the end and told her not to do that, etc.
Recommended or not? Depends. There were very frustrating moments but also worthwhile moments as well. Because the theme was about forgiveness and all, it was essential for some of the twists to occur. Yet it didn’t make it more enduring at times. I enjoyed it and felt it was one of the better ones out there. Maybe the acting of the majority of the cast had helped the cause. Since it wasn’t like super special with the theme, but it was refreshing in a sense with some of the differences. And because it didn’t have the feeling of a typical ‘fairy tale’ drama so that was why I was pulled in. These were real issues in life that people might have faced.
*Image was captured by DTLCT