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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Right or Wrong 是非

Bigger production budget and longer episodes meant the stories in season 2 of HIStory were better developed (and if I dare say, had better acting.) They finally ditched the air mattress and got themselves real beds. And they ate in a real dinning room instead of a sun room. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Obsessed.) And the best of all, they broadened the stories to be more than just BL. Right or Wrong (是非) hit the ground running with a story of a little girl, her single dad, and a young man who became an integral part of their family.

HIStory2 Right or Wrong HIStory2 Shi Fei

I got into watching this show because of the little girl. She reminded me so much of myself as a kid I got goosebumps watching her. I remember the countless times when my head got buried in the crooks of my babysitters’ arms. It’s not like it’s my fault that I was the biggest third wheel in the world or that my head was so big it blocked the TV…
HIStory2: Right or Wrong Shi Fei

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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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Song, you woke me up

Recent bombardment of work left me tired and double visioned. Try as I might to concentrate, my attention started to drift, my eyelids felt increasingly heavy, and my fingers froze on keyboard. So to wake myself up, short of slapping myself in the face every few minutes, I resorted to listening to some of my favorite oldies while I read through thousands of pages of technical materials. If my head bobs, it’s definitely not because I’m sleeping in front of the computer. Here are my Top 5 Work Songs:

No. 1 on this list is Mayday’s “don’ts don’ts” (五月天-傷心的人別聽慢歌). Their catchy lyrics and fast beats improves motor reflexes, which in turn makes repetitive work less tedious.

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KO ONE: RE-CALL 終極一班5 Part 2

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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KO ONE: RE-CALL 終極一班5 Part 1

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?

Wish & Goodbye 许愿.再见

Zhao Li Ying and Huang Xuan did a mini movie for an online show called “Best Performance (最美表演)“, which just wowed me. There is so much feelings contained in Huang Xuan’s pause that I was in tears without even realizing. The last time it happened to me was the piano scene between Ady An and Van Ness Wu in Autumn’s Concerto (下一站,幸福).

Other mini movies from “Best Performance”: