Nirvana in Fire 2 琅琊榜之风起长林

While the first season is focused on one man’s revenge, Nirvana in Fire 2 (琅琊榜之风起长林) is all about one family’s rise and fall. The show has so many injured, sick, and dead main characters, you never know who would fall victim next. Yet, at its heart, it’s a show about family love. For every instance of darkness, love lights the way.

If one day you find yourself in a situation where your heir was dead, your younger son court-martialed for insubordination, your family stripped of power, and yourself on your last dying breath, to most people, it’s a life ruined. But to Xiao Tingsheng, the Lord of Changlin, the highest military commander of the country, it’s a life well lived. His heir had died in battle protecting their country. His younger son defied an Emperor’s edict but secured peace along the northern border for the next 10 years. His family did not do what was best, they did what was right.

I was blown away by how he handled his son’s charges. He did not use his influence to protect his son from prosecution (he had the clout to easily sweep the issue under the rug.) He did not even defend his son’s actions inside the court (there were many people who were ready to back him up if he did.) He did, however, hold his son’s hand and stood with him in front of a hall of indignant politicians. He declared that he supported his son’s decision and they would accept any punishment given. In one simple act, he demonstrated how proud he was of his son. And in the same breath, he upheld the young Emperor’s authority. He proved to a room of scared, power-hungry backstabbers that his family was no usurper. His family was and always will be a loyal defender of the crown.

Come. I’ll take you to school. Let’s go to court. Gif source: Weibo

His last words to Pingjing had me crying a river of tears:
Father was born a slave. I have suffered more hardship than regular people ever did. I have faced the coldest treatment. But I have also experienced three luckiest things in life: One, I met a teacher who wiped away the anger in my heart. Two, I was raised by the late Emperor, and served under two wise rulers who never doubted my loyalty. Three, I had a harmonious family with two good sons.

You always loved freedom. Unfortunately for you, you were born in a military family. After I’m gone, you can let go of the Changlin title. Pingjing, go do what you want to do. Take care of your sister-in-law and your nephew, and don’t worry about anything else.

As for my funeral, remember, bury my clothes in the Royal tomb but my body in the ridge of plum trees.

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The Flame’s Daughter 烈火如歌

The Flame’s Daughter (烈火如歌) is essentially a wuxia drama, except there is one character who is so incongruous with the rest, he made the drama fun to watch, if not a little addictive.

The Flame's Daughter Lie Huo Ru Ge Yin Xue

This drama is filled with so many wuxia tropes that they stack up like a perfect Lego castle. Obviously, I’m not watching it for the plot. I’m watching it for the pretty faces. I’m watching it for the characters development. This drama bumps up the watchable factor by casting actors who can manage subtle expressions of emotional upheaval.

Lie Ruge has the making of a good leader: Honest, attentive, thoughtful, assertive. What she lacks is cold calculation and cunning maneuvers. But no worry. She got plenty of people who would help her out in that department. Cuz she is the title character and everyone is in love with her. *wink wink*
The Flame's Daughter Lie Huo Ru Ge The Flame's Daughter Lie Huo Ru Ge

Hence, we got ourselves first wuxia trope: Everybody is passionate about the hero/heroine. They either love her to death or hate her enough to want her dead.

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KO ONE: RE-CALL 終極一班5 Part 1

The first 3 episodes of KO ONE: RE-CALL (終極一班5) ain’t so bad. They got the right level of humor, solid fighting choreography, and decent special effects (tho’ I do think they used it too liberally.)

KO ONE RE-CALL Gu Zhang Wes Luo Hong Zheng
I’m particularly psyched that Wes Luo is making his comeback after a year hiatus to convalesce from his foot fracture. I’m mighty grateful that the show wrote in his leg injury as part of the story, cuz I do not want this boy to be jumping up and down, kicking left and right, or putting any kind of pressure on his fragile leg. Please, keep him in a wheelchair for as long as possible. As such, I can forgive that most of his scenes are done in front of a green screen and/or with a stand in.
KO ONE RE-CALL Gu Zhan Zhi Ge Huang Wei Jin KO ONE RE-CALL Pets Tseng

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I don’t know if I’m going to watch the latest installment of Zhong Ji Series, KO One: Re-Call (終極一班5). The joint Taiwan/China production had, so far, been a total disaster. KO One: Re-Member couldn’t strike the right balance between comedy and drama. It was either obnoxiously frivolous or depressingly heavy. I dropped it when the crying and the angst in the latter half of the show became too much. Then there was K.O. 3AN-GUO New Ultimate 2017. Sigh… Fancy special effects couldn’t hide the fact that it was a direct copy of the original, but way less adorable and whole lot more annoying.

Then again, I should give the new class a chance. Maybe it will surprise me by bringing something new to the franchise?

The Advisors Alliance: Growling Tiger, Roaring Dragon 虎啸龙吟

I’m jumping the gun with this post because I haven’t watched the second part of The Advisors Alliance yet. But damn if I let spoilers stop me! (Well, considering the spoiler happened over 1500 years ago and posted all over the history books… There is a little I can do about it.) If I can’t fight them, I’ll join them.

A Chinese article titled, Just how amazing do you need to be in order to become a Sima Yi?, had me laughing like a hyena. It’s a cliff note version of the 2nd installment but it reinterprets the key moments of the show. It’s hilarious that they made Sima Yi a total fanboy of Zhuge Liang (which we already knew from 1st installment) even though they were fighting on the opposing sides. Or that his son, Sima Zhao, keeps voicing his unspoken thoughts, which made him want to do a facepalm every time.
Here is the link to the article for those of you who read Chinese or those who loves tons and tons of Gifs:

Stand By Me 一起同过窗

I heard about Stand By Me (一起同过窗) since the beginning of the year. People who had finished it said the drama should be a must-watch Chinese drama of 2016. Having finally watched it, I absolute, completely, 100% agree. Although their plot line doesn’t scream greatness: A lighthearted drama about the shenanigans of a group of college freshmen, their character development through relationships is the best I have seen in years. Whenever the show throws me a new nugget of information on the characters, it’s like finding another piece of puzzle, which makes me go, “Ooooh… That explains why…”

Stand By Me Yi Qi Tong Guo Chuang

Like discovering Lu Qiaochuan is a pessimist with hidden superiority complex. His major personality defect has to be that he can’t handle success. It gets to his head and turns him into a world class arrogant A-hole. The drama showed a glimpse of his big-headed tendency in the beginning, but it was resolved so quickly and joyously that I didn’t think much of it. Then later on, it became a huge problem when his growing ego alienated all his friends. I really wanted to smack him upside down for the way he treated Zhong Bai and the way he spoke to Li Luoxue. (Who does he think he is?! Don Juan?) However, it is the things he did after his success-high faded that continues to endear him to me. Sure, he was sorry. But more importantly, he took responsibility for his bad behaviors and (constructively) repaired the damages he caused. To Li Luoxue and others, a sincere, heartfelt apology and a solution to their class’ disastrous music performance. To Zhong Bai, his BFF who had been with him through thick and thin, no amount of groveling would do. So he didn’t try. He thanked her instead. Thanked her for putting up with him. Thanked her for trying to stop him from turning into an egomaniac. Thanked her for being his friend. To Ren Yifan, his other BFF who only ever wanted was for them to be the 3 musketeers (one for all, all for one), he asked him to do favor as if they had never stopped talking to each other. I’m sure Qiaochuan will lose his head again when the next success comes along. Fortunately on regular days, he is a considerate, down to earth, resourceful guy, which earns him cookie points. And, he is really good at salvaging fall-outs and that is why he still got friends.
Yi Qi Tong Guo Chuang Stand By Me

We would think Yu Hao’s ostentatious behavior makes him the comic relief of the drama. Nope. Qiaochuan’s other roommates, Xiao Haiyang and Bi Shisan, would have us laughing with tears too.

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The Big Boss 班长大人

The Big Boss (班长大人) has a theme for each episode, which doesn’t carry over to the next one, so the enjoyment of the show fluctuates depending on the episode I watch. Episode 4 is by far the funniest. Ye Muxi decided to consult her class’ weight loss guru for a way to slim down after her nemesis called out her weight gain. She didn’t expect that she had to actually do hard work to lose weight. Or that the guru, who is usually the most laid back person in the class, would turn into a monster whipmaster on her.

I laughed so hard watching the chocolate breakup scene.

Did you ever experience moments when no matter how much you eat or what you eat, you kept feeling hungry? My mom called it, “the growth fat.”
The Big Boss

Being chubby is nothing to be ashamed of. A person should love his/her body no matter what size it is. The problem being, Liao Danyi made an objective observation that she could no longer button up her jacket because she had been snacking nonstop. She strongly objected to his statement.
The Big Boss Huang Jun Jie The Big Boss

How dare him for calling her fat?!
The Big Boss Eleanor Lee The Big Boss Huang Jun Jie

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