The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Flash Review: When The Devil Calls Your Name

My last foray into a fantasy kdrama dealing with angels and devils didn’t go too well (I’m looking at you, Angel’s Last Mission, cough), so when I heard some rumblings of dissatisfaction on the grapevine about how this show about selling one’s soul to the devil seemed a little all over the place, I was ready to give this one a blind pass without actually taking the time to check it out.

Thank goodness for blog regular Putri, who convinced me to give this show a try, after she’d watched it and really liked it herself. Once I actually got going with this show, I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging I found it, and now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I’m happy to report that Show even manages its mythology reasonably well.

Since one of my pet peeves with fantasy dramas is that the mythology isn’t clearly presented, &/or crumbles on itself by the end of the story, I count this a pretty big plus in Show’s favor. The mythology presented isn’t perfect, sure, but it retains its structure enough, and is true enough to itself, that I found myself reasonably satisfied on this point. Which then also helped me enjoy the rest of the story more, too. Plus! I even found myself jiving with Show’s humor, uh, most of the time. Win, win, and win.

Thank you, dear Putri, because I hafta say, I’m glad I didn’t end up missing out on this one.

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Flash Review: The Longest Day In Chang’an [China]

Let me preface this review by saying for the record, that The Longest Day in Chang’an is widely praised and loved, and is a bona fide hit with audiences in and out of China. In fact, a number of you have shared with me how much you love this show. And with good reason; Show is very, very solid, which I’ll talk about shortly.

Let me also say, that personally, my experience of watching this show felt akin to a very ordinary girl trying to date, understand, and make a relationship work with, an intellectual, aloof, highbrow, take-me-or-leave-me sort of guy. It’s the kind of thing that I’ve seen work out lots of times on my rom-com drama screen, but.. this didn’t quite pan out the same way for me, unfortunately. From start to finish, it felt like a fair amount of work to me, spending quality time with this show, and try as I might, this never blossomed into true love, sadly.

Still, this might blossom into true love for you?

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Review: My Country

THE SHORT VERDICT:

At its heart, My Country is a polished, beautifully-shot tale of star-crossed brotherhood, and the search for acceptance, meaning, and self.

Granted, Show has its flaws. Sometimes the logic stretches require more suspension of disbelief than I would like; sometimes the emotional tension feels like it’s stretched out for too long and gets tiring; sometimes Show feels like it’s cycling in place, just a little bit. On the upside, though, Show is filled with strong performances from its cast, knows how to take us on our characters’ emotional journeys, and is scored with a consistently evocative soundtrack that is by turn gloriously epic and plaintively poignant.

If you’re able to roll with Show’s shortcomings, it’s not hard to get sucked into this one.

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Review: The Tale Of Nokdu

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show starts off fresh and cute with an emphasis on hilarious cross-dressing hijinks, but changes gears abruptly in its second half with an amped up focus on birth secrets and political machinations. Viewers set on a fizzy rom-com might be turned off by this. On the upside, Show manages to retain its emotional core and heartfelt tone through to the end, and it’s not too hard to stay engaged with our main characters, even in the heavier stretches. And as a silver lining, the feel-good cute makes a comeback by Show’s end.

Jang Dong Yoon shines extra in the midst of a solid cast, and is break-out fantastic in his role as the titular Nokdu. His cross-dressing turn as a timid widow is so memorable, that it’s worth tuning in for his performance alone.

Show has its flaws, but is pretty solid, overall.

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Dropped: Extraordinary You

I think it’s time for me to admit that I’m just not this show’s target audience, because try as I might, I keep losing interest in this one.

They say that life’s too short for bad dramas; I think it’s also true that life’s too short to force yourself to keep watching dramas that you’re just not feeling, even if lots of other people love it. I’m now literally just 2 hours away from finishing this one, but I just don’t have it in me to keep going, I’m afraid. I’m dropping out, 28 episodes out of this show’s 32.

You might think that’s a waste, since I’m just 2 hours away from finishing my watch. But looking at it another way, we could say it’s 2 hours gained, that I can spend on some other drama that I’d enjoy more. That’s not a bad silver lining, eh?

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Review: Be Melodramatic [Melo Suits Me]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Be Melodramatic feels like a more grown-up version of Age Of Youth, in the best way.

Here are Show’s pros, in a nutshell. First of all, Show’s got a slice-of-life, quirky, imperfect feel, and possesses an off-the-wall sense of humor to go with. Secondly, Show boasts an ensemble cast of characters where everyone feels real and three-dimensional in all of their flawed, idiosyncratic glory. Third and best of all, the writing feels deft and insightful, as Show takes us on a journey with our characters, and at the same time, gives us a multi-lensed look at this unpredictable, tiring, messy yet hopeful thing that we call Life.

A refreshing, underrated gem of a show that’s funny and quirky, yet real and relatable, that often hits you with the feels when you least expect it.

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Dropped: Meet Me @ 1006 [Taiwan]

There were two main reasons why I thought I would enjoy Meet Me @ 1006.

The first one was, several of you spoke fondly of this drama, which piqued my interest. So I looked up the show online, and saw lots of other positive comments from other viewers as well. Which made me think, hey, I might like this one too.

The second one was, I’d watched C-movie How Long Will I Love U on a flight, which sounded like it had a somewhat similar premise, and I’d found it warm, sweet and funny. Which also made me think, hey, I might like Meet Me @ 1006 as well.

Sadly, after 10 episodes of this show’s 26, I’m gonna hafta say, I’m just not feeling this one, I’m afraid.

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Flash Review: Go Go Squid! [China]

So, I have good news and bad news, my friends.

The bad news is, this is one of those highly raved C-dramas that I ended up checking out based on the buzz alone, and once again, I didn’t end up loving it as much as everyone else seems to.

The good news is, unlike shows like Well Intended Love and Where The Lost Ones Go, where I not only failed to understand the shows’ appeal, but ended up strongly disliking both shows, I feel like I can understand why people like Go Go Squid. And, I even ended up enjoying it, albeit in a more muted fashion than most.

That’s progress, right?

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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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