WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you DO NOT want to be spoiled, please DO NOT read. You have been warned.
I don’t know what took me forever to watch this but now that I watched it, I finally know what was the hype about it. Though it was probably for different reasons than mine (or at least not totally like mine). Maybe I was just scared of the ‘over-hype’ factor that was building around this drama. But I thought the balance was enough that there was ‘no hype’ and/or ‘over-rated’ feeling over it. The complex of the plot was nicely built-in with the right touches yet there was no ‘drag’ feeling of it. It was fast YET it was not going up and down like a roller-coaster either. Yes, there were intense moments yet you know it was inevitable, considering the characters involved. But there was a great balance with other formulas thrown in.
- Rainie Yang as Qi Yue. A very mature role for her. Well, as mature as can be since she was still seen at times as being super silly. BUT I think it was understandable. The reason why I say that was because her character lacked of dating experiences but her life experiences, such as that of her family and her mother have been plenty. She knew that the world outside her and knew what was important in life, friendship, and much more. I think it was acceptable and forgivable that she made mistakes at times, such as the time that she had hurt Yuan Yi (though I did feel that part a tad annoying to endure) but it passed eventually and she tried to redeem herself as quick, knowing what she’d done. She immediately patched things up and kept her goals clear, NOT dragging the relationships with two guys out. She wasn’t wishy-washy, she knew to sort her feelings out right away. She knew she needed to patch things right away and not let it drag any further. She was innocent (or more like inexperienced) but she was not an idiot. And I think I took people’s words too obediently about Rainie at times and had not given her enough credit. Because this one convinced me that Rainie does know how to act and that she did quite well even. I seriously felt all the emotions she went through and was laughing or crying along with her as the plot moved on. The feeling of overly-excited with her crush on Yuan Yi was really well done. It really brought back memories and made it real to the dot. It seemed exaggerated or overdone or you wouldn’t think possible, but honestly, what was your first crush like? It felt like you never want to keep calm or settle down at all. It was like being in the clouds yet you never want to stop daydreaming, feeling really jumpy, etc. There were other parts as well which Rainie did well with. I think this was her second most serious role to date. I think her most serious role must be the one from Strange Tales of Liao Zhai because it was really hectic and tragic the whole time.
- Mike He as Jiang Meng. I was thinking along the line of ‘typical cold-blooded dude who actually had a kind heart but liked to hide it’ formula when I was watching him and how others around him were saying, “He’s not like that at all.” BUT it changed my point of view as I watched even more. It was not like that at all. While others claimed him to be good, BUT he did not feel that way nor was he putting up a front. He was really feeling like he wanted to be bad or he was bad. He did as he pleased and did what he felt like. His actions were beyond tolerance and his cruel pranks at times made people despise him, BUT he wasn’t fake at all. He wasn’t carrying on with his contradicting views. He did what he believed in–whether right or wrong. His actions were bizarre, but he had a different way of doing things. In fact, he was rather harsh on himself–as we were able to see when the plot unfolded. And am I the only one who found it extremely funny that he was holding his hair up in that ‘cool’ look with the clips? It was really funny to see that but cute. I have to add that I find possessive characters annoying since it made the girl seem like an ‘item’ more than a human being, but it made it really funny and cute in his case since he was so caring toward her to the point that he couldn’t lose her. It could be a fatal formula but it was equally funny and childish in a way how he treated other rivals, being outright mean and straightforward. I think the most touching scene must be the part where he finally met up with his mother after so many years and tried to confront his past demons. He was so shaken up and what the words he delivered were very convincing, so cold yet it proved how much he had hurt from what happened in the past. Another equally touching scene regarding family members was Ah Meng finally letting his father hug him. I so felt for the old man. They did not lose each other, but it was like the decision that had separated them.
- Mike and Raine as a couple. I finally know what all the fuss was about over this pairing. I think Mike’s Rainie’s best match by far. I don’t mean that the others aren’t deserving SO please don’t take it the wrong way. What I mean is that they have more chemistry than the others she worked with thus far. (Though Chun didn’t count since the drama didn’t air yet at the time of this review so he should be given a fair chance before judgments are dealt his way.) Their relationship was really addicting to watch on many levels because they matched wit per wit, which was rare for a Taiwanese drama since it was often portrayed that the girl needed rescuing and the guy pulled a lot more weight, etc. YET this one, they had to do the equal pulling. So what if he was stronger in strength? It paved on that picture right in front of us so it was hard to miss. But it was because of her bravery and the ability to fight back at times that made them matched really well. She was not a weakling and she knew how to defend herself. She just chose not to at times. What he lacked or was not able to see himself, she helped him see it and vice versa. They both did things for one another–as a couple should be–going through struggles together. At other times, they were equally cute. It was so funny to see her so small and gullible while he was so tall and arrogant. Not to mention how she was the older one in this case though she was so short and all. His possessiveness of her was a bit scary at times but it was almost touching to watch how he would never let others harm her. The whole rant with “You’re mine” thing would’ve been annoying if he said it otherwise, but it was too funny in this case. I guess what was really nice about their relationship was the mixture of mature and immature moments. They had sweet moments as well as touching scenes. Their caring for each other was not just said through words (obviously since it has been proven numerous times what they would go through for one another) but also their attentive to details like how they could detect what was wrong with one another with just a gesture or an expression.
- Kingone Wang as Sang Yuan Yi. Okay, I was thinking along the line of typical good guy and the one who lost in the end BUT it was not like that at all. I liked it that they had placed in a part allowing him to say, “Don’t put all assumptions on me”, regarding what Qi Yue said about his behaviors. (Not in those exact words but it was about the same message.) No one should assume that he was the typical good guy. He was just a normal person who would get mad when others wronged him OR would feel down when he was hurt. I thought it was very important that they got this across since it made him normal AND not just him singing the tune, “I’m the good guy that got dumped because the girl didn’t appreciate me.” It wasn’t about that at all. Maybe what I was trying to say all along was he wasn’t playing the ‘pitiful’ card for viewers to feel for him and go hate the ‘main girl’ for not choosing him. He was very real, very honest, and he didn’t exude the ‘fake good guy’ exterior at all. What was more was that he did what he felt he should do, not hoping that he would get something back by doing those deeds, like the part where he kept clarifying things about Jiang Meng’s behaviors to Qi Yue. He knew that he felt terrible not knowing how it would affect how she would think of Jiang Meng after learning of the truth, but he still did it because he thought it was right, NOT because he wanted to score points with Qi Yue. And it was extremely funny to see his humorous side, especially the dream that he had with picking up Qing Zi for their date and all. (LOL) There were also various scenes where he was joking with Jiang Meng or Li Xiang or others. It was extremely amusing to watch. The balance of his character was really nice, not just the typical good guy and not just one dimensional like many other characters in other dramas.
- The Jiang Meng-Qi Yue-Yuan Yi triangle. I never thought I would like a triangle so much. Maybe because it was so short-lived. I meant it wasn’t dragging to the last episode to make everything overly-dramatic. It started as quickly and in so much confusion YET it ended as quickly, allowing all parties to move on–or to heal. I liked the idea of that more since it would make Qi Yue less annoying. She was confused all right since she thought she liked Yuan Yi but feelings told her otherwise when she was confronted by Yuan Yi. After that, she mended the situation (as mentioned above in the character description) immediately, letting go of Yuan Yi. The guys? They surely stated their intentions to one another and was not fake about it, not pretending to be friends OR playing dirty tricks. At least I thought so. Sure, Jiang Meng wanted to sabotage Yuan Yi and Qi Yue but he stated that in plain sight. No one was clueless about that matter. Everyone knew what they wanted. Or at least the guys more than Qi Yue. But the triangle quickly dissolved and allowed them to be all friends, continuing on with their lives, NOT dragging it out to the point of unbearable (like I mentioned above already).
- The rivalry turned into a friendship between Jiang Meng (Mike) and Yuan Yi (Kingone). I know it sort of overlap with the previous topic but I feel the need to put it in for both guys. So I was saying how they were very clear on their goals and got their priorities straight when Jiang Meng declared war on Yuan Yi. Yet I actually had the feeling they weren’t fake with the whole being super nice to each other. Yes, they knew that each had some good in him BUT did not overdo that factor with trying to be nice. It would make the formula typical. Maybe it was less cheesy that they did not say some things. It was like understanding was more important, etc. I especially liked how Jiang Meng did not apologize for snatching Qi Yue away. It was how he was and why should he be sorry for loving someone? It was like he let Yuan Yi beat him up so Yuan Yi would get the frustration out, but he did not regret in being with Qi Yue. I don’t know if it was implying, but it made me believe that both guys did not treat Qi Yue like an ‘object’ like some dramas led on with keep being ‘nice’ about it and how letting go or giving in OR deciding for her. They let her choose. Sure, other dramas do those too with letting the girl/guy choose, BUT I don’t know. It was just different and less overly-dramatic and less cheesy in this case. It was like they both fight for the girl BUT they don’t regret fighting since they gave their best shot. I also find it funny that they seemed to be implying a different relationship between each other at various points, lol. Like how Jiang Meng nicknamed Yuan Yi as ‘Ah Yi’ (LOL) and they got into these random rants at times. A personal favorite must be the part where Jiang Meng accidentally (or possibly intentionally) threw the basketball into Yuan Yi’s cake AND Yuan Yi jumped right up to lash out at Jiang Meng for ruining his cake. Jiang Meng thought it was Qi Yue’s cake for Yuan Yi (since she did mention making extras) BUT it was actually Qing Zi’s cake for Yuan Yi. Jiang Meng was apologetic for it BUT it was funny how the guys were going at each other. Another example why I say they know one another’s good points, BUT did not get cheesy about it OR overly friendly. They just acted normal and looked out for each other when the time needed. That was enough. I had the feeling like they were more actions than all talks. Oh yeah, what made me like it, even more, was the shared screen time between them. I meant usually though they say ‘two male leads’, you still have the feeling the second guy was robbed, BUT I liked how they got to be cool in their own way too. NOT just one guy stealing all the attention, like how they covered for each other at the game. Their childish stab at each other throughout the drama made it even more entertaining since it maintained some sort of consistency yet not too cheesy with them getting along too much or too little.
- Tsai Pei Lin as Qing Zi. I wasn’t sure that she liked Yuan Yi or not until later but I thought what was admirable was her putting her friends before him. I meant like how she would help Qi Yue with all she got. Then knowing that Qi Yue hurt him, she would scold Qi Yue but NOT because of him but for both of them. Then it was time to give herself a chance. It was not fake. She did all she could to help her friend. It was only right to herself that she at least try–even if she was turned down. If she was to be all righteous and NOT care for her own happiness later on, then that would be fake. Though I was kind of annoyed with how she believed that one girl and acted up toward Yuan Yi, I sort of forgive her for it since she could not get past her past demons to trust herself or others in relationship.
- Kingone and Pei Lin as a couple. I liked how this couple has a different story and had about enough screen time as well. They were so cute together and I could feel it was as genuine as Jiang Meng and Qi Yue. They tried to get along at first–as if to give each other a chance. Yet it developed into something much more and they had their sweet moments as well. Like the scene where they were running under the rain with only his jacket as the shield from the rain. Also, their little bet about the ‘red umbrella’. Their awkward interaction at their first date and how they get it sorted out. The misunderstanding and/or confusion with mix messages drove their relationship to another level. Yes, Qing Zi made a poor choice and threw the ultimatum on Yuan Yi, but it allowed us to see that he honestly wanted to treasure her and care for her. He was not sorry for not giving her enough attention (or how the plot wasn’t making him feel guilty over it) but instead was disappointed that she didn’t trust him enough. She wanted attention and care, but so did he. He was not a hero OR wanting to be a hero, but he only wanted to impress her with his capabilities–like he stated (and that was basketball). Sometimes it was not about giving in to one or another, but understanding and supporting one another with his or her beliefs were more important. He already did his part, but what about her? Like I said, this relationship was really different and they both had to explore different things about one another and accepting each other for who he/she really was. The fact that it was not the end of the world that one or the other made mistakes. Yuan Yi needed to get out what he really thought for her to understand him, but he didn’t think any less of her because of it. He only needed to straighten matters out. What was more, it wasn’t about who deserved whom more OR who didn’t deserve whom. It was about the commitment they both made and/or willing to go through with one another. Moving on (lol), it was extremely funny to see him trying to ‘take the initiative’ and failing when they were going on the movie date. Yuan Yi and Qing Zi had other really cute scenes also, like when they were helping Si Shen worked his way back into Ya Li’s heart again. They were so cute with trying to compose the letter together, etc. I was getting worried near the end that they would not get more scenes together aside from with their group of friends but glad there was something more–even if they had to encounter another obstacle. But seeing them on a date, wearing couples’ outfits among other things, was really cute. The swords dual between Yuan Yi and Qing Zi’s father must be one of the most critical scenes since it turned their promises of words into actions. It proved that Yaun Yi was serious about his feelings for Qing Zi. It also proved that they had reached another level of understanding and dedication toward each other because of how they were a team in persuading and/or convincing Qing Zi’s father of how serious they were.
- The brotherly bond between Jiang Meng (Mike) and Yuan Chang Rang (Figaro). Their conflicts were hard to distinguish. Their past was somewhat typical with the attention thing within a family, like how Jiang Meng did not get enough attention from their mother or how Chang Rang always wanted attention and/or acknowledgment from his brother. It was hard to mend everything but when they finally did, it was not fake at all. It made sense since they were family after all. There were fears (inevitably) and not being able to face it. But once faced, it was easier than they thought. It did not matter who was the one who’d done more damage, etc. I liked the little closure scene they had with Jiang Meng teaching Chang Rang how to defend himself. Yes, he was there to cheer Chang Rang on, but Chang Rang had to learn how to take care of himself too. Relying on Jiang Meng’s reputation would not last long, which was very true of how Jiang Meng put it. Though it was wrong to spread the message through violence, in a way, it was like implying that Chang Rang needed to step out of Jiang Meng’s shadow before he could take care of himself, becoming a stronger person, etc.
- The fatherly bond between Jiang Meng (Mike)/ Yuan Chang Rang (Figaro) and Jiang You Hui (He Du Lin). It was so funny and unimaginable. Jiang Meng–supposedly fierce and rebellious–had to look after his father since his father was so out of it. Yes, his father was trying to make up for past wrongs and wanted to pay more attention to Jiang Meng hence the relaxed attitude. But it was still funny that Jiang Meng needed to keep his father in line at times, scolding him or telling him to tone it down. Then there was also the whole thing with You Hui always hugging and kissing them and smothering them in love that was almost embarrassing. It was too much to take. Even Chang Rang had to tell him to tone it down at the game, lol. But it was still too funny.
- The fact that the children were more matured than the parents. Well, at least it seemed that way as a front. I meant it was true in both cases regarding Jiang Meng and Qi Yue. The parents were overly enthusiastic about everything and sometimes even more childish. It was really funny to see the children being the ones needing to look out for their parents at times. Though of course, the parents were capable of settling important matters as well. But still hilarious to see. A not so funny example was that of Ah Meng and Ah Rang’s mother. Yes, she suffered and finally managed to rise in the society, allowing herself to be capable of providing more than enough for her sons yet I felt she was so immature with the ‘blame’ game that made it hard to swallow. Like Ah Meng said, she was making Ah Rang worry. I had a feeling like Ah Meng was doing that more for Ah Rang’s sake than her sake for some reason. No idea. That was just my interpretation though I know Ah Meng also needed some sense of closure.
- Ivy Fan as Xin Li Xiang. Though she was fierce and harsh on others, I thought she had some good in her still to actually tell Jiang Meng about the incident regarding how Yang Ping almost harmed Qi Yue. Also, like Qi Yue said, she just didn’t know how to express her love or loving herself enough. It was really brave of her to admit her wrongs and sort of made peace with Qi Yue. Though she was declaring a new approach and a new attempt with pursuing Jiang Meng, her starting over was a notable point. Also, her righteous was known at various times also. The fact that the whole ‘fierce’ attitude and attacks toward Qi Yue had lessened or how it passed quickly made her character more real and less fake (than again other dramas seemed to let on for dramatic purposes). Perhaps it was her determination that was most admirable and it was the drive that allowed her to continue on. She had a purpose and she was never off course. Though she might used the wrong method, her target was always the same. Aside from being in the blind for so long, she was considered the wisest. It was possibly due to the fact that she had more experience than the others combined. How she thought that Qing Zi was the wisest among the girls but she was wrong and then how she was advising and/or warning Qi Yue of the possible danger in Qi Yue and Jiang Meng’s relationship and the underlying problem that they could not see (i.e Mei Di). Indeed she was right, losing to a person so kind and gentle that you cannot condemn was the worst. And though she disagreed with those ‘softy’ type, she didn’t let Mei Di get bullied by the gang of girls at school either. Very admirable.
- Masuyama Yuki and Ivy Fan as a couple. Though they were using the wrong tactics to express their love at the beginning, they were equally hilarious to watch after they learned to love themselves properly and expressed it in a more positive way toward the people they cared for. It was funny how Li Xiang was saying she was still pursuing Jiang Meng but her jealousy and watching over Yang Ping at times were funny. Like the part where they were on the bus going on the trip for the basketball club, Li Xiang was hitting Yang Ping’s head when he commented about Mei Di being cute. It got even funnier and cuter in a sense when they were doing different activities at their preplanned site. Yang Ping was so clueless at times that it was too cute, making Li Xiang so pissed off at his idiotic nature YET she was not able to tell him either–had to keep her cool reputation (lol). But then she had to take the initiative on the bus when they were on the way back and it was so cute!
- Wu Zhong Tian and Janel Tsai as a couple. I thought their relationship was on the bittersweet side. It was like she was waiting for him but she also stated her purpose, not being fake about it at all. It wasn’t like she will always wait for him. She had waited long enough and until the day he met Qi Yue again. She wanted to give them both a deadline so that they could all move on and also to answer to herself. And I thought that the whole thing with the puzzle of how to win Ya Li’s heart again was really creative. This was another sign that proved the relationships in here were unique in their own way and the plot worked out well with making the relationships different. It was quite touching reading the letter he wrote to her yet it was not too cruel to say that it was not what she wanted. She had waited this long but a letter was not enough to prove it. Yes, those were definitely sincere words, but not enough to convince. I felt she had a right to seek other types of proofs. And not to mention, it was not leaning on the materialistic side either but it was more of an action and a gesture to prove that he had remembered what she said, and how much it meant to her. And the meet up at the restaurant was equally touching and sweet since he had repeated her words from the past (aka remembering what she said).
- Every couple had their own story. Usually, they did too in dramas BUT the cute scenes OR super sweet and/or touching scenes were often reserved for the main couple. But in here, I found it that not one couple was robbed. There was the touching story between Yuan Yi and Qing Zi as well as Yu Ping and Li Xiang. There were also cute scenes of them and more. Even the parents had their own stories.
- The cast and their spread-out appearances. Honestly, I didn’t realize how nice they’d done it. They did not merge in all the scenes with everyone appearing and introducing them or trying to stir things up relentlessly just for kicks. It was just how things were. Like how people pop in and out of one another’s life. A nice cast indeed and no one tried too hard. They had a great variety to make everything work.
- The friendship that the characters in here shared. Like how their stories and appearances were spread out and different, I also like how their friendship developed throughout. Whether it was with the major characters or with the supporting characters. A good example would be how Yuan Yi, Qing Zi, Li Xiang, and Yang Ping conspired to help Tian Si Shen and Chuang Ya Li. Definitely showed how well they’d gotten along and how their views had changed of one another. And it was great to see they took it seriously to make it work and not just talks or childish rants. It was also amazing how they each thought of something to solve the puzzles or tried to chip in their ideas to make it work. Also very funny that Yuan Yi became so smart with helping others yet he was clueless in his own relationship. Though some ideas were bizarre, it was worth a few laughs and touching moment.
- No dragged out obstacles. I found it even better and possibly more realistic that the supposed rivals of both Jiang Meng and Qi Yue were not just one or two person(s). They encountered a variety of people–either from the past or the future–that became a test of their relationship BUT it was not dragged out. There were doubts or misunderstandings at times but it was cleared away. Perhaps it was because of the lack of wishy-washy formula that made it more enduring at times. Also, they did not make one person out to be the ‘evil person’ for the hype of the drama. It was how life was. You encounter people who liked the same person as you but it did not mean that other person was evil. They just wanted to fight for their happiness or wanting a chance before giving up.
- The Pace. I was seriously amazed by the pace of the story. Because other dramas would have subplots but then solved everything like within the last episodes. But this one acknowledged one conflict after another, not letting it drag too much. It was like how it was implying that through knowing Jiang Meng, Qi Yue eventually found out different things about him and coming to accept the person that he was and/or helping him with it. It didn’t drag long, except for the main theme that they were trying to get over the worst demon–the public’s views of their relationship–both ways. I thought it was essential that their seeking of acceptance from the public was the only thing that was around from the beginning to the end. This sort of tied up with the above point but I thought I want to mention it separately to emphasize the rest of the couple’s obstacles also.
- The soundtrack. Like many Taiwanese dramas, the soundtrack is always addicting and plays an essential part toward the plot. I’m more convinced than ever that Rainie does have the ability to convince us of her voice. Yes, she’s not extremely awesome with her vocal range, but she does have the ability to apply enough emotions into the songs that tugged at our hearts. (Or at least I thought so.) Other tracks were worth noting also, playing its own part in the drama along the way.
- Amanda Meng as Yuan Mei Jin (aka Jiang Meng and Chang Rang’s mother). Though I understand where she was coming from, somehow I couldn’t sympathize with her. It was like she did not fight hard enough for Ah Meng in the past. It was like she thought she could go back for him but those years were the most essential and it could never be brought back. If she had fought harder for him, she might not regret it so much or Jiang Meng wouldn’t be so full of hatred toward her. She should not be blamed for caring for Ah Rang more since Ah Rang was always the weaker of the two–health-wise. Yet I felt she was too fake in a way. I think the Jiang family’s principles, especially the grandma, had broken her like Ah Meng had said. But I don’t know. I was not convinced of her suffering too much.
- The ending. Seriously? Come on now. That was a bit corny. Though I admit it was funny and then the signature con job by the devil himself aka Ah Meng, BUT that was lame with trying to make it a bit funny. It dissolved all the touching scenes previously. Though the gang could be funny too, that was too much on the side of being corny. That thing with the videotape and the NG scenes were lame. Yes, that was funny seeing they had to re-shoot but incorporating it into the drama itself? Okay.