Open Thread: Autumn’s Concerto Episodes 1, 2 & 3

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks for joining me for this watch of much-loved Taiwanese classic Autumn’s Concerto! ❤️



1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.

The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD. 

ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).

This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.

We need to protect the innocent! 😉


2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 1

Well. Just like I’d predicted, lens adjustment turns out to be really important, in watching this show.

The production values are very retro, which might take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to watching Dramaland’s more recent offerings. This is definitely far from new and shiny.

However, I do think that given this show’s 2009 vintage, Show’s age doesn’t show that terribly. I’ve always found Taiwanese dramas to have an earthy, rustic sort of vibe, generally speaking.

As for Vanness Wu’s character Ren Guang Xi, he does take some getting used to, particularly with Dramaland’s recent trend of having nice male leads right from the beginning of the story.

Ren Guang Xi is definitely written more in line with older generations of dramas, where male leads tend to start out as jerks, and then get reformed by true love, like in the vein of Playful Kiss, Goong and Full House.

It’s going to take some time for Ren Guang Xi to grow on me, for sure, but Show does do some things that I find helpful, even at this early stage of our story.

The first thing is, the little glimpses of Future Guang Xi, that we get from the title cards that Show sprinkles through the episode, as well as the montage from the closing credits.

In those spaces, Ren Guang Xi looks kind and happy, and he and Mu Cheng look blissfully content together. That helps, as does knowing that Show’s Chinese title, “下一站, 幸福” translates literally as “Next stop, happiness.”

This tells me that as bad as things might be in the beginning of our story, our characters are journeying towards happiness – and we’ll get there, eventually.

Another thing that helps, is the way Show presents Guang Xi as being a troubled young man with a lot of emotional baggage because he’s been disillusioned by his mother’s behavior and neglect.

That closing scene at the end of the episode also gives us a glimpse of Guang Xi’s softer side.

We see that he’s well-regarded by his friends, and he also speaks kindly to that friend of a friend, who had been hurt by Chang Ai Li, which is why they’d requested Guang Xi to “take care” of her for them.

It’s pretty messed up that Guang Xi’s taking bets to punish pretty girls, but it’s clear that this all goes back to his emotional baggage around women and his belief that they are all fake and manipulative, just like his mother.

It’s not subtle at all, but I actually think this lack of subtlety is helping me buckle in for the ride, because it’s easy to spot where Show is coming from, with our characters.

The same lack of subtlety applies to Mu Cheng as a character.

Man, this poor girl suffers a great deal from the get-go, losing her father like that on her birthday, and then almost getting abandoned by her aunt.

It basically feels like Show’s dumping as much suffering on her as humanly possible, so that our sympathies are immediately with her.

I admit I rolled my eyes a bit, but y’know, this is pretty much par for the course with a show of this vintage, since Candy heroines were all the rage at the time.

So of course Mu Cheng’s long-suffering, good-hearted, kind and sweet, in spite of all that she’s been through, and all that she’s still going through.

And man, with her demanding aunt and aunt’s lecherous husband/boyfriend/partner, who’s turned his sights on Mu Cheng, now that she’s all grown up (ewww), Mu Cheng’s already got her hands full.

And now, Mu Cheng’s life is about to get more complicated, because it looks like Guang Xi’s friends are going to place another bet with him, this time with Mu Cheng as the target, because she’s so haughty that not a single guy in school has managed to get her phone number.

Clearly, this is the set-up via which Guang Xi and Mu Cheng end up in the same orbit, which is how he’ll end up falling for her.

And then there’s also our second male lead, who looks set to have the opposite trajectory of Guang Xi, where he’ll have his nice guy image ripped away, to show what a jerk he is, on the inside.

So far, this all leans rather predictable, but somehow, I’m not opposed to it.

There’s something about this show that makes me want to see what happens next. I don’t know, maybe I’m just itching to see Guang Xi learn his lesson and become a whipped puppy for Mu Cheng. 😅

And (or?) maybe it’s because this show feels like a pretty easy, non-demanding sort of watch, so far.

Whatever it is, I’m actually kind of looking forward to the next episode, so well done, Show. 👏🏻

Episode 2

There’s something oddly moreish about this show.

Even though the production values are very much on the side of rustic, and even though our male lead Guang Xi is behaving quite terribly almost all the time, I find myself slurping this up quite happily.

This, when I now can’t bear to watch Boys Over Flowers, because of the terrible jerk behavior that the male lead shows. How.. unexpected!

I do think that this is because I’m waiting for Guang Xi to fall flat on his face in his efforts to humiliate Mu Cheng, by falling helplessly in love with her instead.

Plus, like I mentioned last episode, the way Show is setting up Guang Xi to be emotionally damaged and wounded, is helping to take the edge off the nasty things that he says and does.

The more we see of Guang Xi, the clearer it becomes, that he’s essentially in self-destructive mode. Not only does he actively get into trouble with the law, he’s even trying to get himself expelled.

It seems like his way of trying to get his mother’s attention. At the same time, it’s a form of self-harm, and in true textbook form, it seems to be a cry for help, even if Guang Xi himself isn’t cognizant of it.

When I stack up Mu Cheng’s aunt and Guang Xi’s mother, Mu Cheng and Guang Xi really do have something in common.

Aunt doesn’t mince words, and uses emotional blackmail to get Mu Cheng to go on that date with Guang Xi. And later, after the (failed) date, Aunt is quick to tell Mu Cheng that she should be ready to sleep with Guang Xi, if that’s what it takes, to turn things around.

Ugh. Aunt is literally ready to pimp out Mu Cheng, if it would bring her some kind of benefit.

And somehow, it makes it so much worse, when Lecherous Uncle speaks up for Mu Cheng, because we all know that he’s not really in this to protect Mu Cheng.

He’s literally just constantly looking for ways to take advantage of Mu Cheng. Right now, he’s trying to peep at her in the shower, and I wouldn’t be surprised that he’d cop a feel, if the opportunity presented itself. UGH.

During the date itself, Guang Xi almost had me going for a minute, with the way he was suddenly acting all nice towards Mu Cheng.

But, I reasoned that it was way too early in the game for Guang Xi to actually learn his lesson and fall in love with Mu Cheng, and, true enough, it all turns out to be one big ruse, for a photograph of him kissing Mu Cheng as his proof of victory.

I’m actually glad that Tuo Ye shows up and makes a fuss, because at least this way, Mu Cheng becomes aware of the situation, and has a chance to make up that fib, about having made a bet about Guang Xi as well. Which, of course, makes Guang Xi furious, heh.

All that said, I also wanted to say that the niceness that Guang Xi had shown during the date, had felt quite believable. Could that be coming from a real place? Or is it truly all an act, from beginning to end? I do wonder about that.

The appearance of our second female lead, listed as Yi Qian, is quite bizarre. Like, who charges into a hockey practice like that, when they’re just visiting the place?

This is one of those things that I think we just have to accept as part of this drama world. I do think a manhua lens (the Chinese equivalent of manhwa or manga) is helpful in this case. Coz, where else would someone barge into a hockey practice like that, right?

Other than this weird situation around the introduction of her character, though, I find Yi Qian quite likable so far. She’s cheerful and sassy, and doesn’t seem snooty or proud.

Her interest in Guang Xi is sure to become A Thing.

Which brings me to Guang Xi’s mom, who nudges him towards making nice with Yi Qian, for the sake of preserving Shende Hall, which they would have to sell otherwise.

She doesn’t say it in so many words like Aunt does, but Guang Xi says it for her; she’s literally not opposed to Guang Xi sleeping with Yi Qian, if that’s what it takes for her to get what she wants.

Gosh. What is with these parental figures, and their penchant for using their young charges as leverage, even if it means pimping them out? But again, that’s all part of this very dramatic story world, where everything’s quite hyperbolic, as a matter of course.

With Aunt saying those hurtful words about Mu Cheng never playing piano again, it’s not terribly surprising that the sight of the piano through the window, would draw Mu Cheng to try to enter the building, which is known to be abandoned anyway.

It’s complete drama coincidence, of course, that Air in G is such a special piece to both Mu Cheng and Guang Xi, linking them to their memories of their respective fathers.

But I can see why Mu Cheng would play that piece specifically, since that’s the one she thinks of whenever life gets tough, and why Guang Xi would get all upset about it, coz that’s the piece he’d promised his father that no one else would play, on that piano.

I can see why Guang Xi would lash out at Mu Cheng, by saying all those hurtful things about her being nothing but a Bento Box Girl who would do anything for money. He’s so emotionally damaged that he probably doesn’t know any other way to react to something like this.

I have no real idea of how this scene is going to end, because he’s threatening Mu Cheng with canceling her aunt’s lease on the cafeteria, and Mu Cheng wouldn’t want that.

What could Mu Cheng do or say, in this situation, to turn things around? I’m legitimately curious to find out.

Episode 3

Ooh, this episode we get some indication of what I’ve been waiting for: Guang Xi showing that he’s grown some real feelings for Mu Cheng.

Sure, stuff happens to get in the way of this loveline actually blossoming, but that’s par for the course, particularly this early in our story.

I’m just pleased that we have some indication this soon, that Guang Xi’s got that marshmallow heart on the inside, and that heart is starting to beat for Mu Cheng. 😁

In the scene that opens this episode, where Guang Xi tells Mu Cheng that the only way to make this problem go away, is to take off her clothes, I honestly don’t think that he actually means to go through with it.

My take is that he’s trying to provoke her, to see how she’d react, if the mask that he’s convinced that she’s wearing, is torn off.

Which is why, when it dawns on him that she might actually be dealing with real harassment in her life, potentially from her stepfather figure, he suddenly does a 180, and starts to show concern.

And UGH, Lecherous Stepfather Dude is actually peeping through the window, grumbling that he can’t touch Mu Cheng at home, and yet, she’s here with the rich boy. That’s so messed up, that he’s literally obsessed with Mu Cheng in such a sexual way.

Forced proximity is a pretty effective trope (and to be fair, for a show of this vintage, it wasn’t as tropey then as it is now), and I was pretty on board with Mu Cheng and Guang Xi spending some time together in the vacuum that is that room in Shende Hall.

The reason that I like this vacuum, is that when the context of everything, like Guang Xi’s bet with his friends, is taken away, it feels like they’re able to have some semblance of real and meaningful conversation.

I mean, sure, Guang Xi makes up part of that story about the boy dying after being abandoned, but most of his story is actually true, and Mu Cheng’s sharp enough to pick up on that, and offer some perspective from her own experience, without blowing Guang Xi’s cover story.

I thought that was quite meaningful, and it does offer Guang Xi a different way to look at the fact that his father had let go of his hand without warning; that it hurt his father too, and the important thing is that he learns to get up on his own, without blaming someone else for his fall.

Because this is such a foundation stone in Guang Xi’s messed up emotional state, I feel that this is an important seed that Mu Cheng sows, in this vacuum moment, when Guang Xi’s let down his guard, at least somewhat.

While the discovery of the injured bird is executed in an extremely staged fashion, I like the idea enough, of them bonding over this rescue, to just roll with it.

Because, it’s only after Mu Cheng talks about giving the bird a second chance by giving it a home, that Guang Xi tells her that he hears a special emotion in her piano playing. That feels real, gentle and sincere, and it’s.. nice.

And I’m convinced that the reason Guang Xi insists that Mu Cheng come to Shende Hall to play for hime every night, is more to give her a chance to play the piano, and for him to see her, than anything else.

But of course, with the fresh glare of sunlight shining in on this vacuum, Guang Xi’s reflexively reaching for a prickly cover story, that if she doesn’t, he’ll report her for misuse of school property.

Pfft. I can see right through you though, Guang Xi. 😏

He cares more about Mu Cheng than he’d like to admit, and the prickly facade only lasts as long as he can comfortably keep it up.

Like when he takes Mu Cheng home and Lecherous Stepdad Dude gets all territorial and weird, Guang Xi’s hackles go right up, and before we know it, he’s giving Stepdad Dude a warning, then pulling Mu Cheng aside and giving her his own mobile phone, so that she can call him if something happens and she feels unsafe.

And then there’s the way Guang Xi tells everyone that he lost the bet, even though this will be embarrassing for him. He’d rather protect Mu Cheng’s honor, and pay the price of losing the bet, even though he does actually have the photographic evidence that the bet entails.

That’s pretty huge for Guang Xi, isn’t it? After all, it’s not so long ago that he was being really unreasonable and awful to Mu Cheng at that police station. This much progress in such a short time is quite impressive, if you think about it.

But of course, there’s got to be some kind of obstacle in our narrative, now that Guang Xi’s showing real feelings for Mu Cheng, and Mu Cheng looks legitimately touched by how Guang Xi protects her honor by not revealing the kiss picture, and that obstacle is Yi Qian.

I actually like Yi Qian so far, she seems kind, in the way she gets Guang Xi treated after he collapses, and also, she doesn’t seem to hold a grudge, judging from the amiable way she responds, when she hears Guang Xi talking to his mother on the phone, and referring to her as Mom’s ATM.

If anything, instead of offended, Yi Qian even smiles in genuine amusement. It’s hard not to like her, yes?

Combining her general cool and likable vibe, with the gossip from other students, that she would be a great match for Guang Xi, I can see why Mu Cheng would decide that she’s better off not having anything to do with Guang Xi, because she can’t be anything but a momentary distraction, to him.

And then Mu Cheng has that OMIGOSH-SOOO-AWFUL slimey encounter with Lecherous Stepdad Dude, where he takes her to that seafood market and buys a turtle for himself (believed to be good for vitality), while pointedly talking trash about, er, bedroom prowess.

On top of all that, he also sneers meaningfully at Mu Cheng about the saying “a turtle in a vase” (indicating that she’s trapped, just like a turtle who’s grown up in a vase).

I can see why everything would add up to be super overwhelming for Mu Cheng, such that she’d literally run away.

I’m glad that she at least considers calling Guang Xi like he’d told her to, but I can also see why she’d change her mind.

Her conversation with Guang Xi, when she shows up to play the piano as scheduled, tells us everything about what she’s thinking.

She talks about the baby bird and how Guang Xi shouldn’t get so involved with the bird because he’ll never be the bird’s family, and how spoiling the bird now, would only make her struggle to live later on, when she’ll end up alone.

Clearly, this isn’t about the bird at all, but about herself, and how Guang Xi’s momentary sympathy and help, would only end up hurting her in the long run.

I want Guang Xi to read between the lines and see what Mu Cheng’s really talking about, but it seems that he hasn’t connected the dots, and only ends up lashing out at Mu Cheng, saying that he doesn’t know why he embarrassed himself for her, and that he should have made the picture public.

So now, it’s Mu Cheng’s turn to put on a prickly, aloof facade, with her statement that he should have shown the picture, because she doesn’t need his sympathy and protection.

Dang. I hope he figures it out sooner rather than later, especially with Lecherous Stepdad Dude getting impatient to make his move. 😬

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1 year ago

So, I read your episode recaps with enjoyment, but… I was on the fence about whether or not to join this watch party, and I fired up the first episode last week and got a ways into it, and the combination of the very retro vibe and production values, the extreme dislikeability of the ML, and the apparent Candy-ness of the FL, just…I could feel my interest draining away.

I just don’t think I can do it. I think I’m gonna sit this one out. Have fun, y’all!

eda harris
eda harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Trent

trent, do not let the first few episodes somewhat mislead you, the rest will change completely. i am not sure you’ll enjoy it, but i say you might. the drama is different, and it approaches a lot of topics from different angles, that have a potential to be of interest to you.

1 year ago

Glad you’re enjoying this KFG. I find this a classic along the lines of Autumn in My Heart, Full House and, yes, Boys Over Flowers (the franchise as a whole) where you can see the tropes a mile away but still gobble it up. I was originally worried (that you’ll be disappointed) since you were mentioning it along the lines of Coffee Prince which is a classic for a different reason (I watched Coffee Prince for the first time last year and it felt fresh x3 despite its age).

There’s something comforting watching older dramas like this (I watched My Princess recently), even if we roll our eyes on some parts. I think I’ll probably be joining on this one 🙂

1 year ago

Finally I have the time to join another group watch, yay!
Very happy to watch a Taiwanese show for a change. The Mandarin sounds really different from the mainland shows.
I think the term “cracky” applies here, as in every segment there’s information and action that propels the story development forward. The FL has real charisma.
Something about the gender dynamics, to put it neutrally – No spoilers following but grisly stuff from my job:

don’t read if you’re a sensitive person
I work with an NGO and we experience this topic when dealing with Safe House reports from South East Asia. There are cases where little girls are raped over years by uncles, stepfathers and brothers until they find the strength to run away and seek help or a care worker or pastor recognizes the signs and intervenes. To see a photo of a young girl who was abused from the age of eight, now at fourteen sitting with a counselor or female pastor and beaming away since she’s finally safe breaks my heart every time.

It’s realistic. The fact the ML catches on so quickly about what’s making the FL uncomfortable is quite unsettling. He knows sexual harassment is kind of to be expected. That he engages in this behaviour himself is quite disgusting. Still I find the ML easier to “digest” as opposed to Boys over Flowers because it’s made clear very early on that he reacts to feeling a victim by victimizing others and there are some moments where he appears to be conflicted. Plus the FL always tells him straight what she thinks of him.
The hair: I don’t mind it. Having watched some Japanese offerings where more hair mostly seems to mean better hair and the wedge fringe remains a timeless classic, I file this under intercultural experiences.
Am looking forward to the next episodes.

1 year ago
Reply to  ngobee

There’s nothing like the nostalgia-train that hits you whenever a ML turns up with that hair: crispy, over-bleached, fried-to-death, and fixed with cans of hairspray. Helmet-hair is an icon, and I hope the current mushroom-hair doesn’t stick around for as long. 😀

eda harris
eda harris
1 year ago

episode 1. first impressions.
guang xi’s hair – an unpardonable mess, but matches his inner and outer world.

mu cheng is all eyes and lips, you call it “candy”, may be, but if i would have been a man, my heart would have probably skipped a bit. i think she’s all cute and exotic.
but the underlying current – abuse in progress (sexual in nature). unfortunately, she’s covering up for her stepdad/ankle, for the sake of her aunt and the business. i felt she had to tell it to her aunt, those kind of secrets pester and pester, developing into a major trouble.

her step-dad/uncle – verifiable crip, with no possibility for redemption.

quang xi – “main dish on the menu” –(in addition to hair) spoiled, rich, ego crazed maniac, borderline psycho with heavy painful baggage deep inside.
mu cheng’s first impression of him: “selfish jerk” – sounds about right.
and yet, in spite of all i just said, there is some kind of hope for him, and this i felt since the first time i watched it. don’t even know why, and don’t know what and how exactly this drama did this, but that’s what it made me feel.

quang xi’s mama (the dean of the university),- rich, powerful, domineering with streaks of abuse, cold, and as manipulative as her son (i feel a chil on my spine looking at her) – instructs her son to “please” (date, kiss, f***????) president he’s daughter, or else… sheng de hall (guan xi’s connection to his dad) will be lost. both, she as well as mu cheng’s aunt do not hesitate to pimp out their kids for the sake of “business”. (beyond disgusting)
she needs to be watched closely. (she might be in competition with healer’s mom in healer.)

episode 2. first date.
first date disaster. is it really all a disaster?
guang xi – manipulative jerk, used to always getting his way and getting all he wants. the date and the reason for the date – the bet- with mu cheng backfires and he’s paid by the same token – the girl made a bet also. (probably a bluff that she came up with at the moment, nevertheless, insulting to guang xi and a blow to his ego). but makes him think – this is not one of those girls that he encountered before. what will be the effect? actually, i liked the entire scene of the hockey rink, and i liked their dialogues, and the acting. and i felt that in spite of himself – he was listening to what she was saying.

most important – the PIANO – both of our main characters’ connections to their dads, who are both deceased, and the first seeds of their connection through the piano. we saw mu cheng as a child with her dad at the beginning, and now we get a glimpse of guang xi with his dad, who’s a music professor. bach’s concerto in g major – special meaning, and the special tune as designated by his dad. that is all that guang xi has left from his dad – it is the most precious and the most painful memory, and it is followed by the scene of dad’s suicide, a mystery and torture in guang x’s soul – a major part of his baggage.

episode 3. the beginning
the theme of piano continues. mu cheng and quang xi get locked up in sheng de hall and spend the night together. they become a boy and a girl, two humans that find a common language, communicate and share (both have memories of piano and dads) and are able to simply relate to each other, with no animosity. the story begins. the walls are broken down, it’s a nice development.
in the morning guang xi takes her home, and something interesting happens – he suddenly becomes this protective macho guy. but here is the problem for me, it all happens within a span of a few days – the transformation from nasty to almost adorable is too fast, too rushed, something missing in the middle… i would like to see more development, it would have been more believable.

1 year ago

Being a relative latecomer to K-drama, I’ve only gone back and sampled a few older dramas from time to time (Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy and Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, to name two), and have found that the distraction of the old-school look and production values goes away pretty quickly. Maybe that comes from experience in watching lots of old movies in my youth.

But this one strikes me differently, not so much because of the look or the plot, but by just how archaic and toxic the attitudes toward Mu Cheng are, starting from the very minute her dad died in E1. And that lecherous step-uncle, or whatever he is…I just can’t. (For some reason, that turtle scene was one of the cringier things I’ve seen in forever.) Even the aunt and Guang Xi’s mother, scheming to (and KFG put this about as gently as she possible could) pimp them out, ugh, ugh, ugh. I of course know where we’re heading, at least in outline, so we’ll see how it goes. 

On another note, although I was pretty confused as well by the sudden appearance of Yi Qian on the ice, I also liked her pretty much immediately. As a matter of fact, my first impression was that she and GX would actually make a pretty good couple.

So, I have a technical question for you all. Since Mu Cheng is a Candy, I’ve wondered if Koreans call this character type a “Candy” in English or if they use another word. Anyone know?

Last edited 1 year ago by j3ffc
1 year ago
Reply to  J3ffc

– Agree. The turtle scene was grotesque.

Ele Nash
1 year ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Agree, that turtle scene was horrible 😭

1 year ago
Reply to  J3ffc

I think countries who were exposed to the classic anime Candy Candy generally refer to characters like this as such. For Korean dramas, I’ve seen it mentioned many times in forums. Within the dramas itself, I distinctly remember Gong Hyo Jin’s character in The Master’s Sun calling herself (sardonically?) as a “Candy.”

1 year ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

Thanks, @Jiyuu. I’m not familiar with the anime, but that would certainly explain the use of the name.

1 year ago
Reply to  j3ffc

It’s quite old. Before the 90s I think. But it’s still mentioned or given pop culture references every now and then. Like in the shirt of one the biggest rock bands from Japan (I hope links are allowed here):

She’s the formula for most of the early kdrama heroines we’ve seen (kind and optimistic, warmhearted and loving, hardworking, long-suffering yet uncomplaining, gets into unfair situations and needs saving). She’s also the image most drama heroines are trying to avoid completely nowadays.

But there must be something about this type of personality because I do enjoy watching similar characters in my dramas from time to time (as long as they don’t make dumb, illogical decisions). Han Hyo Joo in Shining Inheritance/Brilliant Legacy, Jang Nara in Fated to Love You/You Are My Destiny, Gong Hyo Jin in The Greatest Love/Best Love are 80% “Candy” IMO.

eda harris
eda harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jiyuu

jiyuu, apart from everything else, i loved this singer, enchanting voice, and his sweat drenched hair. thank you.
but in no way can i compare it to our ML’s hairstyle, which looks to me like he spent at least half a year somewhere on a jamaican beach smoking ganja. (without having access to a shower). lucky,

not even a spoiler, but just a precausion
this will change pretty soon.

1 year ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Just a drive-by to comment on turtles. Content warning for gross stuff (involving blood and deceased turtles):

So back when I was living in Taiwan (1988-90), we used to occasionally stroll down one of the shadier streets in Taipei, and there were a few shops that seemed to cater to, for lack of a better description, the dark side of traditional Chinese medicine. Including, we were given to understand, various tonics and nostrums for enhanced male virility. Sort of a pre-pharmaceutical Viagra, if you will. These shops would have a cage of snakes, for one thing (apparently venom was an ingredient in one type of tonic? I dunno), but also a cage of little turtles, maybe palm sized or so. I distinctly remember more than once passing such a shop in the afternoon and seeing the cage of little turtles, alive and moving around, and then walking back later in the evening

turtles’ fate hidden behind spoiler tag…
to see a row of turtles laid out on a chopping block, neatly beheaded, with a little dribble of blood next to each (apparently turtle blood mixed with alcohol is supposed to positively affect male virility? Again, I dunno…).

1 year ago
Reply to  Trent

They eat it for virility (from what I saw in the drama) and longlife, I think. Because turtles supposedly don’t die of old age (they just die of some causes and thus live loooong). Not sure how true.

I’ve been in one of those shops where the jars of medicine contain white mice or lizards in some solution. Eeek.

1 year ago

These first three episodes were all about re-focusing my lens, so I could settle into the story.

Getting used to shaky production values, including wonky subtitling and frequent station break interruptions. ✔️

Getting used to grittier, darker elements of storyline, i.e. witnessing fathers’ deaths, near child abandonment, creepy dangerous stepfather, parental figures pimping out kids. Can you say squeamish? ✔️

Switching from a S. Korean cultural perspective to a Taiwanese one. ✔️

Getting used to generally abhorrent male character behavior (they’re all pretty misogynistic at the moment.) ✔️

And, perhaps, most distracting of all, getting past those dated male haircuts! 😂 More extreme wedge fringe a la My Girlfriend is a Gumhio! I don’t personally remember that look from the late 2000s, for which I am grateful. ✔️

Interestingly, I found these anachronisms kind of fascinating and contextual for the storytelling, rather than turn-offs. It felt like mining for another era’s values – even though said era was only 13 years ago.

Most of all, I reminded myself that this is something of a Taiwanese drama Classic, so I can expect payoff in coming episodes. Meanwhile, I’ll stay curious about, and engaged by, the journey. A different Asian drama viewing experience is welcome!

Last edited 1 year ago by Leslie
Ele Nash
1 year ago

Helllooooooo! Ooh, not often I’m the first to comment 😊 Thank you again for hosting another group watch, kfangurl!

So, as I mentioned over on your post about this group watch, I actually had nightmares because of Lecherous Stepdad 😨 He is truly despicable but I think what really got to me was when Mu Cheng is running away from the fish market, she looks so lost and scared 😢 I get the ‘gain your viewers sympathy’ trope of a put-upon heroine (and given the torment poor Yoon Ah-yi went through in the very recent The Sound of Magic, it’s clearly still en vogue) but what I dislike about it is when the romantic interest is also culpable. As you say, Boys Over Flowers indeed – which made me rage so often, I had to moan to my cats to get it off my chest!

Yet… Why are these shows still so moreish?! I kind of hate myself for consuming Boys over Flowers anyway, and crushing a little bit on Gu Joon-pyo. And now I find myself stifling a little squeal of ooh at the picture on the ice rink when Guang Xi was being all charming. So what, a bit of charm and all the awful behaviour is forgiven? Gah.

Yi Qian on the ice rink with no hockey kit but a fetching purple ensemble?! Hilarious 😅

Well, I am looking forward to Lecherous Stepdad getting some terrible comeuppance, and Auntie landing on her selfish, shrivelled nose, and Guang Xi informing his cronies how very, very wrong he’s behaved (yes, even to the bitchy-looking ex-girlfriend) and how very, very wrong he’s been to degrade any woman for any reason. Please tell me this is how it plays out? That his redemption isn’t just because he falls for Mu Cheng, but because he sees his past behaviour as being as grotesque as Lecherous Stepdad…

eda harris
eda harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

ele, i have not seen boys over flowers, so can not compare. but i can tell you and everybody else, in this one your emotions, attitudes, evaluations, perceptions will turn upside down, inside out, and your expectations will be flipped, and then flipped again. so projections do not really work here.
one more thing, if you have a heart (and at least your cats probably can confirm that you do) – it will be totally broken. but at the end, very end, as KFG noticed, it will be mended.