The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Flash Review: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung

In a drama landscape where characters have been traditionally subscribed to a patriarchal way of thinking, and where women – especially women in sageuks – have often been relegated to being pushed around by men who believe they know better, Rookie Historian stands out for daring not only to present a different perspective, but for presenting it as the better way. Say, what?

Make no mistake, Rookie Historian is not a perfect drama by any means. I’ll talk more about why that was the case for me, shortly, but really, for its bold stand alone, I feel like Show deserves some acknowledgement and praise.

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Flash Review: The Story Of Minglan [China]

This was a show that I just couldn’t not check out, come to think of it.

First of all, this is by Daylight Entertainment, the same good folks who gave us Nirvana In Fire and Nirvana In Fire 2, both of which are excellent shows that I loved.

Second of all, lots of you guys loved this. And your love was so effusive that I felt like I would like this one too (this, when I hadn’t yet seen a single episode, heh. See how persuasive y’all are?)

Now that I’ve emerged on the other side (73 whole episodes!), I have to say that while I don’t think I loved it as intensely as many of you did, I did like this one quite well indeed.

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Review: Search: WWW

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A dark horse of a show that took a tiny bit of getting used to, but eventually surprised me by sneaking under my skin to grab my heart in a big way.

Search: WWW truly is a rarity in Dramaland. First of all, it’s women-centric and puts the spotlight on the relationships among our main female characters, which in itself is a big plus. But even more surprising than that, is that while each of our 3 main ladies has her own loveline with a perfectly matched love interest, those romance arcs never take centerstage in our narrative, even at their most melty. Instead, the romances are positioned as just one aspect of our women’s very full lives. Seriously, how refreshing and cool is that?

Thoughtfully written, solidly directed, and brimming with consummate performances by the cast, this is one drama that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

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Flash Review: In Time With You [Taiwan]

Sometimes an oldie really is a goodie, my friends.

In Time With You had been recommended to me by several of you, and I’d dutifully put it on my list with the best of intentions, but as you might have guessed, I kept putting off actually checking it out, because there was always something newer and shinier to watch.

So what was the catalyst that finally drew me into watching this 2011 modern classic?

Well. My interest was first kindled not too ago, when my friend DDee started spazzing about this show on Twitter, as she embarked on her personal first watch of it. That made me bump this show up my list by a lot, in my head. But THEN, she finished the show, and promptly announced on Twitter that this show had officially unseated Coffee Prince from the #1 drama spot in her heart. Woah. That’s a BIG statement, coz DDee loves Coffee Prince, and so do I. I just couldn’t not watch it now, could I?

And now that I’ve finished my watch, let me just say, THANK YOU, dear DDee.. this truly was a gem of a drama. If not for your wholehearted, enthusiastic spazzing, I might’ve never gotten around to checking this out, and that would’ve been such a pity. ❤

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Review: Suddenly This Summer [China]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

An earthy youth-to-young adult story of growing up, and learning to love yourself and others, Suddenly This Summer is understated, poignant and relatable in all the right ways.

Because Show is more slice-of-life than its cuter drama cousins like A Love So Beautiful and Put Your Head On My Shoulder, it can feel like a slow watch. But what Show lacks in trendy cuteness, it more than makes up for, with characters – even the secondary ones – who feel like real people earnestly doing their best in their individual life journeys.

Even though Show is heart-pinching at times, it feels refreshing in its gentle earthiness.

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Dropped: Mother Of Mine [My Prettiest Daughter In The World]

Every so often, a family drama comes along that feels worthy of the 50+ episode investment.

To be honest, for a solid 20+ hours, I sincerely thought that Mother Of Mine was one of those. For a while, I found myself slurping up an episode or three, or four, each day, to the point where I was legit afraid to run out of new episodes. That’s quite something, isn’t it?

Unfortunately for me, at around the episode 53 mark (this show does half-hour episodes instead of hour-long ones), Show started feeling less fun and less charming to watch. Also unfortunately for me, this really doesn’t seem to be a self-correcting trend.

68 episodes in, I’m finally deciding to call it quits with this one.

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Review: One Spring Night

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A romance that manages to feel real and raw, yet sweet and aspirational, at the same time.

Even though our characters are flawed and sometimes even a little unlikable, Show manages to also make them brave enough, and sweet enough, and considerate enough, that our lead couple feels thoroughly worth rooting for, both separately and together. While our story doesn’t ever achieve cracky levels of engagement, Show more than makes up for this, with its deft exploration of characters and relationships, while putting some very healthy relationship dynamics on display.

Despite feeling a touch slow in terms of its plot development, Show manages to feel thoughtfully satisfying all the way to the end.

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Dropped: Angel’s Last Mission: Love

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one of those shows that either really works for you, or really doesn’t. Some of my drama friends seem to really like this one, which is kinda why I thought I might, too.

For the record, I kinda-sorta liked this one okay after the first episode, but afterwards, there just wasn’t any spark for me with this show (kinda like how a second lead in a drama somehow never seems to manage to spark with a lead character, ha), and since dramas have consistently taught us not to try to force love, after 16 episodes of trying – and failing – to get sucked into this one, I’m calling it quits, you guys.

On the upside, at least I’m taking my drama lessons to heart? 😉

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Dropped: My Absolute Boyfriend [Korea]

If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you might know that I like to give shows a chance to win me over, and I often give shows more time than they might deserve, while trying to adjust my lens to find a winning setting that allows me to enjoy the show in question as best as is possible. However, given the current drama landscape where more shows are popping out than ever before (I can hardly keep track of ’em all!), drama quality is more patchy than ever (some wonderful gems, but also, so many duds!), and everyone’s drama tastes are just so varied, I’ve been burned more than a few times, trying to love dramas that I never ended up loving after all.

Case in point, my recent foibles with Chinese drama Well Intended Love, which lots of folks loved, but which never ended up working for me (spoiler: I actually legit hated it).

Now, I don’t hate Absolute Boyfriend, but, I do think it’s time that I learn how to quit while I’m ahead. That’s why I’m dropping Absolute Boyfriend, just 10 episodes in.

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Flash Review: Circle

What a solid, surprising little gem of a drama, you guys.

There are so few kdramas that attempt the science fiction genre, that off the top of my head, I can only think of one other drama – 2010’s Joseon X-Files (also known as Secret Investigation Record) – as a show somewhat in the same category. That in itself makes Circle a bit of a special snowflake, in my books. In addition, whether or not you’re into science fiction (I’m not super into it myself), Circle manages to be consistently interesting, compelling, & mysterious; sometimes rather exciting, and almost always emotionally engaging.

When I started this one, I wasn’t all that sure I would like this odd science fiction duck of a drama, to be honest, but now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I can sincerely say that I’m glad I made time for this one.

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