The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Flash Review: When We Were Young 2018 [China]

Remember when so many of you asked me if I knew of a show that’s similar to A Love So Beautiful? Back then, I felt like nothing really fit the bill, but now, I can finally say that this lil show does feel like it’s a reasonably close relative of A Love So Beautiful.

It’s true that this one’s much more about friendship and family than it is about romantic love, but the world in which these characters live feels like it’s plausibly just a couple of neighborhoods away from A Love So Beautiful’s drama world, in the same nostalgic time period to boot. Both big plus points for me personally. I’ll admit that these characters didn’t come alive for me right away like the characters in A Love So Beautiful did, but I can honestly say that by series’ end, they’d gotten deep enough under my skin, that I was sincerely reluctant to say goodbye.

Which is why I think that if you loved A Love So Beautiful, then this one’s solidly worth a look.

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Flash Review: Fates and Furies

Have you ever been hearts-in-eyes infatuated with someone – charmed by their good looks, sweet words, and thoughtful chivalry – only to be later disappointed by their glaring flaws, on deeper acquaintance? Whether it was with a real-life crush or with a celebrity Oppa, I feel like many of us would likely have felt this way at some point in our lives.

That feeling, my friends, is how I felt, watching this drama. For Show’s first half, I was very much smitten, and gobbled up episodes back-to-back, pacing myself only because I sincerely dreaded running out of new episodes. The bum thing was, Show became a lot less cracky for a good chunk of its second half. On the upside, Show comes back with a reasonably solid finale, so it wasn’t all downhill.

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Flash Review: The Last Empress [An Empress’s Dignity]

Do you enjoy rollercoasters? Coz if you do, The Last Empress might just be the show for you.

At its best, and right out of the gate, Show is a fun romp rife with makjang plot points, logic stretches and murderous intent (it’s all about the lens, which I’ll talk about very shortly). I personally think the extension didn’t do Show any favors, coz Show spins its wheels a fair bit in its later stretch, which is a serious pity. On the upside, Show wraps up in a reasonably solid manner, and I’m emerging on the other side without regretting my watch.

That’s not bad, all things considered.

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Flash Review: How Long Will I Love U [Chinese Movie]

My inflight adventures continue, my friends, and today I met a movie that I wanted to tell you guys about, coz it’s cute, and there’s enough heart in here to bring on a nice case of the feels.

On a personal tangent, I’m kinda extra chuffed, because I basically decided on this movie today, because I recognized our leads’ names in the description. If you’ve been around here for a bit, you’d probably know that I only really started watching Chinese shows (mostly dramas) a couple of years ago, mostly as an addition to my main diet of Korean dramas. Which means that I often approach a Chinese show without having seen at least one of the leads before. And today, I recognized both leads’ names and where I’d last enjoyed their work (I saw Lei Jiayin in The First Half Of My Life and Tong Liya in Nirvana In Fire 2). Woot! Achievement unlocked! 😀

Ok, but seriously, this movie is a sweet lil one, which I hope you guys will like.

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Flash Review: Terius Behind Me [My Secret Terius]

I almost missed out on this one, you guys, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I first attempted this drama when it was airing last year, but the timing just wasn’t right for me. I was in the midst of trying to get myself out of a bit of a drama rut at the time, and unlike my usual more patient self, I was much quicker to decide whether I was feeling a drama or not. Unfortunately, as some of you would likely know, the other bum thing about a drama rut, is that you often just don’t feel a drama, even if said drama is very decent. Same thing for me, with this show. I gave this show a try while it was airing, and didn’t even make it through episode 1. Oopsie.

Happily, the story doesn’t end there. Fast-forward several months, when I was properly out of my drama rut, and I found myself liking this show quite a fair bit, on my second attempt. Everyone was right; this one is a cute lil gem. ❤

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Review: SKY Castle

THE SHORT VERDICT:

An excellent ensemble cast made up of skilled industry sunbaes; faceted, detailed deliveries that feel convincing and engaging; a tightly written narrative that delivers some surprising twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat; thoughtful directing and execution; an expertly applied OST that can be hauntingly ethereal one minute and then pulsing with tension the next; SKY Castle has it all, and it all comes together in one polished, dysfunctional package.

This drama is a very solid, compelling social satire that manages to make its characters come alive, even as it makes its social commentary. On the downside, Show suffers from an ending that feels like a tacked-on epilogue written by a different team altogether. Happily, that’s easily fixed by thinking of the last episode as just that, because Show manages to tell a story in its first 19 episodes that feels reasonably complete even before it presents its finale.

Worth the hype – and the monster ratings.

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Flash Review: Memories Of The Alhambra

So, funny story, you guys.

I was late to the party, and started my watch of this show when everyone else was well into Show’s middle stretch. I struggled enough with Hyun Bin’s character in this show’s first two episodes, that I was legit on the brink of dropping this show. And then, Show ended, and there was such a heated furore among viewers for Show’s reportedly terrible-horrible-couldn’t-be-worse-let’s-boycott-this-writer-forever ending, that I was so sure that I had dodged a bullet.

But then, I saw a couple of tweets by viewers who actually felt satisfied with Show’s ending. Well, now. That sure got my attention. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you might know that I’ve been known to, on at least several occasions in the past, buck general audience trends by feeling completely differently about certain shows versus the majority of viewers. It was like that when I started the blog in 2012 (my first ever post was for Operation Proposal, which I really liked – and which most people hated), and it was like that recently too, when I’d been very solidly satisfied with the ending of The Third Charm – which most people also hated.

So this curious cat (with a reasonable amount of FOMO) decided to do an experiment. Instead of dropping the show, I adjusted my viewing lens using all the fragments of information I had, and jumped in for a marathon. The big question I wanted to put to the test was: With the right expectations and the right lens adjustment, would this show – could this show – actually turn out to be, well, good?

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Dropped: Boyfriend [Encounter]

One thing that Dramaland has taught me, is that true love simply cannot be forced.

Whether you’re one of the leads trying to make it work with a chaebol-parent-approved love interest, or a second lead working hard to earn the affection of the lead that you’re one-sidedly crushing on, no amount of effort will produce true love.

I don’t know which I am in this drama analogy (maybe I’m a lead character and Boyfriend is a chaebol-parent-approved, er,  boyfriend? Hur); what I do know is, after 10 episodes of trying – like, really working – to love Boyfriend, I’m finally realizing that I’m just never going to love this show, no matter how hard I try.

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Review: Coffee Prince

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Fun, breezy, and so heartfelt, that it’s still considered a classic in Dramaland today.

There are lot of things to love about this show: a drama world that feels real and lived-in; leads with crackling, warm chemistry whether they’re bickering, stealing wistful glances at each other, or getting up-close-and-personal touchy-feely; an excellent ensemble cast that all feel like they belong in their characters’ skins; a well-executed OST. On the downside, some folks find the humor a little gross, so fair warning, I guess? I personally don’t enjoy gross humor, but I didn’t find the humor in this much of a deterrent, to be honest.

The ending can feel a little underwhelming in spots, but overall, this one is well worth a long-term spot in your drama-loving heart.

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Year In Review: 2018

What a year, I say.

I know I said last year that Dramaland was exploding with more dramas than ever before, but Dramaland basically outdid itself in 2018 – and then some.

You know when you have only 2 ice-cream flavors, and only room in your stomach for 1 scoop, it’s really easy to choose, but you still wish you had more flavors to choose from? Well, it’s all fine and good when it increases to 5 flavors, or 10 flavors, right? But when it gets to like, a thousand flavors, your eyes glaze over, you get hit by decision paralysis, and it just feels impossible to choose, anymore? Same thing.

I used to try and keep up with Dramaland, especially after I started blogging. I’d try to stay on top on what dramas were airing, and which ones were good, and I’d try to watch all the reportedly good ones, because I’m a curious cat and FOMO is real, yo. Well. I think 2018 is the year that I realized it is humanly impossible to keep up with everything that Dramaland is putting out, and there is just not enough time in one person’s world, to watch all the reportedly good ones, and take time for the ones that you wanna watch, whether anyone else is interested or not.

So 2018 is the year that I stopped trying. Uh.. Kinda.

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