C-DRAMA: A Love So Beautiful (致我们单纯的小美好) In-Depth Review

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So I jumped on the C-Drama train and boy it was a ride. I renewed my Viki subscription a few weeks ago and while exploring the endless titles of Asian dramas, I stumbled upon this rom-com. I saw a few trailers of this show ages ago and made a mental note to watch it, but never did. So with a newly renewed Viki account in hand, I said “hey, why not?” So here are my thoughts ( and since I loved this drama so much, a very, very long retelling of the story). Spoilers ahead so READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

In a nutshell:

A bright and cheerful high school girl chases her male classmate, professing her love for him whenever she gets the chance. The kicker? He’s distant, cold, and indifferent. The story gets interesting when the two form an unexpected friendship with three other classmates.

In-depth synopsis:

In the first half of this drama, the audience is introduced to a bright and slightly ditzy high school girl, Chen Xiaoxi (Shen Yue). Xiaoxi is cheerful and always looks on the bright side, but she lags in school and can be very clumsy at times. Her shortcomings, however, don’t stop her from boldly professing her love for her neighbor and classmate Jiang Chen (Hu Yitian), one of the most popular boys in her class known for his stellar grades and good looks. Xiaoxi and Jiang Chen have known each other since grade school, but despite this connection, Jiang Chen is distant and very indifferent to Xiaoxi. As the two enter their last years of high school together, Xiaoxi makes it her goal to get Jiang Chen to fall in love with her. Her desperate attempts begin early. She waits outside their apartment every morning so they can bike to school together. She buys him breakfast, gives him gifts, and sits close to him in class. All to no avail. No matter how hard Xiaoxi tires, Jiang Chen rejects her advances over and over and over and over again. The story is shaken up when the happy-go-lucky and energetic swimmer WuBosong begins to attend their school.

WuBosong is immediately drawn to Xiaoxi. Not having many friends due to his rigorous swim training schedule, WuBosong is happy to have someone he can talk to and connect with. After Xiaoxi cheers WuBosong on during one of his swim meets, he slowly starts to develop feelings for the lovely leading lady. The kicker is that Jiang Chen actually likes Xiaoxi (as we get to see early on in the drama), so WuBosong’s sudden display of affection begins to make Jiang Chen jealous, sparking a battle between the two over who will win Xiaoxi’s heart.

In the middle of this trio are Xiaoxi’s best friend Lin Jingxiao (Wang Ziwei) and their spunky classmate Lu Yang (Sun Ning), who also has a life-threatening heart disease. These two, along with Chen Xiaoxi, Jiang Chen and WuBosong form an unlikely friendship, sticking together through high school and adulthood.

As the battle for Xiaoxi’s heart rages on, we begin to see Jiang Chen soften, revealing that he actually does care about Xiaoxi. He begins to show his jealously quite openly and begins to secretly do nice things for her. Besides WuBosong’s growing love for Xioaxi, another obstacle stands in the way: their class leader Li Wei. Li Wei also has a huge crush on Jiang Chen and uses every moment she can to try to get close to him. Many times Jiang Chen agrees to her requests to sit by him, help her with school work, etc., making Xiaoxi jealous in the process.

After an exciting attempt to try to share a romantic night under the stars with Jiang Chen blows up in her face, the tables turn, and Xiaoxi begins to avoid Jiang Chen. WuBosong capitalizes on this situation and begins to start spending more time with Xiaoxi, much to Jiang Chen’s horror. Unsure of how to get Xiaoxi to give him attention again, Jiang Chen turns to Lu Yang for help, who gives him small tidbits of advice here and there.

However, Lu Yang has his own love war going on as he tries to gain the affection of Lin Jingxiao. Jingxiao is a tough-skinned, energetic girl, who doesn’t back down from conflict and fearlessly defends her friends. Jingxiao, however, has a crush on the kind-hearted and very handsome school doctor Li Shu (Zhang He Hao Zhen). Lu Yang uses every ounce of his ability to show Jingxiao he loves her. She’s cordial and tolerates him (in a platonic way), but deep down her heart is set on winning the good doctor’s heart. Unaware of her crush, Lu Yang’s world comes crashing in when he finds out she doesn’t care for him like he thought. Furious at his love being rejected, Lu Yang displays his anger quite publicly. When confronted by Jingxiao about his aggressive behavior, he runs from her and she chases after him. Jiang Chen, WuBosong and Xiaoxi are nearby and join the pursuit. Due to his weak heart, Lu Yang goes into cardiac arrest after a few minutes of running. Fortunately, thanks to Li Shu’s quick thinking, Lu Yang survives the ordeal and recovers. After this incident and Lu Yang’s sweet confession of love, Jinxgxiao softens toward him. However, Lu Yang’s mother pulls him from school and hires a tutor for him after his close encounter with death. Fortunately, we see these two love birds become a couple.

The months pass and Jiang Chen and Xiaoxi become closer. WuBosong, realizing that Xiaoxi is still very set on being with Jiang Chen, sweetly confesses his love to her before he transfers out of school and begins training for a spot on the national swim team. Finally becoming a couple, Jiang Chen and Xiaoxi start dating right before graduation and into their college years. While in college, Jiang Chen studies to become a doctor while Xiaoxi studies art.

Their romance blooms, and we learn that Jiang Chen’s feelings for his quirky classmate were stronger than he let on. However, Jiang Chen’s demanding schedule as a practicing doctor keeps him from seeing Xiaoxi, making their relationship a little strained. The two press on with a sweet romance until Jiang Chen is offered a chance to further his study at a prestigious medical program in Beijing. At first he turns it down, but after a constant nudge from his hospital director, he reconsiders it.

Meanwhile, Xiaoxi is working on completing her art degree and begins to look for a job. To add more pressure, she has to move out of her dorm once the year is over. With the clock ticking, Xiaoxi decides to go apartment hunting on her own. She’s met, unfortunately, with a perverted realtor who tries to make a move on her. Frightened, she tries to get a hold of Jiang Chen to no avail. While looking for him at the hospital where he works, she’s told that Jiang Chen will be going to Beijing to study medicine. Shocked by the news, she confronts him, but Jiang Chen tells her he hasn’t decided yet. Xiaoxi is hurt that he never told her, and in a moment of anger and disappointment she breaks up with him.

Later that day, Jiang Chen is working an operation alongside doctors on a severely ill patient when the patient dies during surgery. Devastated by the loss, Jiang Chen goes to find Xiaoxi, who brushes him off, deepening his annoyance at her cold attitude. The next day things haven’t cooled down yet, and the two quarrel again, prompting Jiang Chen to agree to study medicine in Beijing. Before he leaves, he tries to see Xiaoxi one last time, but she refuses. She eventually runs to the airport to see Jiang Chen before he leaves, but she’s too late and ends up a crying mess right there in the middle of the airport. There she runs into WuBosong once again who has come back home after competing in national swimming championships. Jiang Chen studies in Beijing for three years, leaving behind Xiaoxi.

Three years later we see a more mature yet still spunky Xiaoxi navigating through life. Now back home, Jiang Chen runs into Xiaoxi after not seeing her for all that time. Still deeply in love with Xiaoxi, Jiang Chen makes it his mission to get back together with her. He goes to great lengths and even temporarily flaunts a fake girlfriend, but Xiaoxi still keeps her distance. WoBosong still has his hat in the ring for Xiaoxi and continues to try to win her heart, but Jiang Chen doesn’t give up and continues to chase after Xiaoxi as well. In the meantime, LuYang and Jingxiao marry. WoBosong speeds up his pursuit of Xiaoxi and proposes to her, but she turns him down. As the show nears an end, for the first time, Jiang Chen explains why he loves Xiaoxi so much. He confesses that he always loved her and says he can’t live without her. After hearing his confession of love and Jiang Chen asking for forgiveness, Xiaoxi decides to give him a second chance, and the two resume their relationship with a renewed passion. The show climaxes as Jiang Chen proposes to Xiaoxi (which she accepts), and Xiaoxi releases her first comic book novel about her love with Jiang Chen and the friends she met along the way. The show ends full circle as it reflects on the moments the two shared as teenagers all the way into adulthood.

My Thoughts:

What I liked:

The storyline

You will here me say this every time I write a review. A good storyline is paramount. In “A Love So Beautiful,” it was well-written and made sense. You actually got to see a journey of the characters lives and the character development was present in many of the main and side characters.

The Friendship

I have so many feelings about this drama it’s not even real. But let’s start with our the friendship theme. Most dramas that focus on a couple don’t really focus on much more than that. Yeah, there’s a few side stories there, but the story revolves around the lead couple and second male lead. But I what I really liked about this drama is that while Jiang Chen and Chen Xiaoxi were the focus, the friendship theme was strong and written into the story very well. While the four had their disagreements, they actually grew to be quite close and maintained that relationship throughout the entire show. The beauty of it, I think, is that both Jiang Chen and Wu Bosong didn’t really have a strong friend group until they all came together. A quiet kid who kept to himself, Jiang Chen slowly began to show more of a personality when he was with the group. Wu Bosong finally had people who he could connect with and actually helped him live the life of a normal teenager. Even the quirky Lu Yang, who we later find out to have been bullied as a child, finds solace in his unique group of friends. Also, I love how they all defend Xiaoxi.

WuBosong’s sincere pursuit of Xiaoxi

OMG this drama gave me serious second-male lead syndrome. I’m a sucker for that sweet, sappy kind of romance so the fact that WuBosong was the most thoughtful character throughout this entire drama had me melting. From the beginning, he was always thinking of how he could make Xiaoxi’s life a little better. He wanted to make her happy, and he hated it when she was sad. Even when she was desperately chasing after Jiang Chen, WuBosong did what he could to help her in her love schemes. Why? Because he knew it would make her happy. Boy fought for her affection tooth and nail, and I couldn’t really help but root for him. A real keeper. He’s was the sweetest, and all I’m saying is you really want to keep a guy like him around. Oh yeah and when he confessed his love to her, I almost cried.

Jian Chen and Xiaoxi’s relationship

Although it was the slowest blooming relationship of all time, when it did take off, I could help saying “awww” several times. Jiang Chen’s cold attitude virtually disappeared as he showed a sweet affection to Xiaoxi. They had quite a few super cutesy, lovey dovey moments which was a nice surprise. I won’t go into too much detail because I think these moments were the gems in the drama so I’ll let you discover them on your own.

What I disliked

The high school version of Jiang Chen

Jiang Chen’s cold attitude wasn’t forgivable. From the beginning he wasn’t sweet or kind or thoughtful toward the woman he said he loved. Yeah I get that his father passed away and his mother was absent but that doesn’t give him a pass. He needed to just come out and say he like Xiaoxi if that’s how he really felt. The games he played were childish. What person would constantly have you reject them in public and still have feelings? (Apparently Xiaoxi but even she got fed up at some point). And THEN he wants to be jealous when WuBosong joins the picture. Bruh he have no right! I know what the masses might say: “But he really liked her!” “But he was sweet in his own way!” “But he did nice things for her in secret!” Nah toward the end yes, but the earlier version of Jiang Chen was just a mean jerk. This is a drama but in real life don’t pursue a guy like Jiang Chen.

Xiaoxi’s lack of self-respect

This is small but I began to get really annoyed at how Xiaoxi’s life revolved around a guy who had no apparent interest in her. Yeah it’s a drama, but I like to look at dramas through the lense of real life. Like I said before, in real life, Xiaoxi was a naive, teenage girl who couldn’t respect herself enough to let go of a guy who just wasn’t that into her that’s how it appeared) “But she didn’t give up on a the guy she liked!” No, no and no. If you have made it blatantly obvious that you like someone and their response is I don’t, move on. Please. She had a life to live and she just wasn’t living it because she was pining hard core over Jiang Chen.

Lost in translation?

Some of these translations were just wrong, lol but I digress. (I watched this on Viki.)

That’s it loves! Overall the drama was great and well written. A sweet love story between two teenagers as they go into adulthood, “A Love So Beautiful” embodies more than just love. It shares the tale of high school friendships and life, infused with hardship, disappointment, trouble, bad choices, sweet moments and creating unbreakable bonds.

Final Judgement:

Four and half out of five stars.

Other Details:

Release date: 2017

Episodes: 23 (+ one bonus episode)

Episode length: About 45 minutes

*Platform: Netflix, Kiss Asian (English subtitles available)

*For some reason, this drama is no longer available to US audiences on Viki. If you watch with subtitles, just be aware that some of the translations did not come out well, so some things might not make sense.

Have you watched this drama? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!

Until Next Time!

Ode to You: My First Seventeen Concert

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Say the name …

I remember when Seventeen came to Dallas in the summer of 2017. I was ecstatic, but I didn’t end up going. I had just started a new job and to me, asking for time off then seemed too early. So I said I shall see them again. Little did I know it would be three years later. To think I may have missed them again if not for a friend who said “Hey you going to Seventeen?” I was like “WHAT!!??” So long story short, once I found this out, oh man, you best believed I jumped on that!

Spoiler alert: It was everything I dreamed of and more! Only downside is I didn’t get a light stick in time for the concert and my Carat heart was sad for a moment, but that quickly dissipated. Also S.Coups wasn’t with the group as he was taking a mental health break. I’m a little sad I couldn’t see all of them together, but I much rather them take care of themselves than to push beyond their capacity.

The day of the concert I was so excited I could hardly wait to leave work. Seventeen has always been a group I put on when I want to rock out or just feel happy. From “Very Nice,” to “Good to Me,” “Home” and “Boom Boom,” every song this group puts out gets me grooving. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to see them in person.

My Experience

I saw Seventeen at the Dallas concert at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving. It’s a smaller venue, compared to the Verizon Theater in Grapevine where I saw my first two K-pop concerts. Parking and getting inside was a breeze no worries there. If you want merch (ESPECIALLY a light stick) I would suggest getting there as soon as doors open. (The light sticks were sold out in Dallas in less than 30 minutes.) My roomie and I got there about an hour before the concert started. We were kinda hungry since we didn’t have dinner yet and decided to grab some snacks before showtime. We both got an order of french fries, and I was pretty impressed with how good they tasted. We tried to find some banners to hold during the concert, but we didn’t see any and just headed back to our seats. While we waited, several of Seventeen’s music videos played. At 7:30 p.m. the lights dimmed and the boys came out with a banger: “Getting Closer”

Concert Highlights ❤

Hoshi is so adorable! I didn’t not know that boy had that much personality. He’s literally out here wrecking my bias, and I don’t appreciate it (jk). He tried to teach us a chant but totally messed it up and the boys didn’t let him live it down all night. Sigh … so cute. Okay Tiger we see you ❤

 

Vernon fever was real for me. In case you didn’t know, he’s my bias, and I absolutely adore him. My friend told me he knows he’s cute and totally plays on that, but I seriously don’t mind. Next year I’m going for a hi-touch so he can see his wife up close hehehe…

Woozi. Just Woozi. Boy can dance. He graced the stage so well and drew me in with every ounce of movement. I have to go back and watch videos of him because, wow.

Adore U. This one was a highlight for me just because I love this song so much. Plus the stage was super, super cute!

Very Nice! was definitely a highlight. Played at the end of the concert, the song brought me back to the days when I was first getting into K-pop, and I happened to stumble upon this song. I loved it then and I love now. The boys are such a happy group and when this song starting playing I just fangirled and couldn’t help jumping around like a crazy woman.

HIT. I was seriously about to be mad if they didn’t play this song. It’s a bop and a half! But thankfully they did and my night was made. It’s such a high energy song and you can really see the talent and power this group holds every time they perform it.

Smile Flower. This song was dedicated to us Carats and I wasn’t expecting such a sweet song. When I tell you I almost cried …

Lilili Yabbay. The choreography for this song is simply amazing! I had honestly forgotten about this song but when the boys came with their flowy, white robes I knew. Graceful and flawless.

Takeaway ❤

Definitely can’t wait to see them again (next time I will have a light stick in hand lol). From the flawless dancing, powerful vocals and stunning sets and visuals, I enjoyed every second of this show. Seeing them in concert is a reminder of why I began to stan this talented group of boys. They are such a happy group, full of bright smiles and laughter, something that I am utterly attracted to. This concert gave me a deeper appreciation for the talent and hard work that I can see they put into everything they do. From the bright and colorful stages, to the goofy demeanors to the humble thank you’s, I left thinking one thing: What a group.

Courtesy of K-popped.com

Did you see Seventeen in Dallas or somewhere else? Tell me your favorite part of the show in the comments below!

 

 

Romance is a Bonus Book (로맨스는 별책부록)-In Depth Review-SPOILER ALERT!!!

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I honestly stumbled on this drama and I’m so so so glad I did. Netflix you really outdid yourself this time. In case you missed the title, this review is going to be in-depth so SPOILERS ARE AHEAD. Read at your own risk.

In a Nut Shell:

A divorced woman struggling to find a job gets her big break at a publishing company where her childhood friend works. The two hide the fact they know each other, but things get complicated when they develop feelings for each other.

Detailed Synopsis:

In the first couple of episodes we are introduced to Kang Dani-i (Lee Na-young), a 37-year-old divorcee who’s down on her luck. Like REALLY down on her luck . First, our leading lady hits financial trouble when her husband’s business goes belly up. To make matters worse she finds out he’s been cheating on her. In spite of her hurt and disappointment, she desperately tries to hold on to her failing marriage, but her no-count husband pulls the rug from underneath her and leaves to lead a life with another woman (TRASH). Without a husband or a job to support her, her financial situation spirals out of control and she finds herself on the verge of homelessness. She now desperately needs a job but Dan-i took a career break once she gave birth to her daughter. Maybe that’s not the end all in the States, but Korea’s job force is brutal and virtually un-accepting of those who have been out of the job sector for so long. Company after company rejects her and there is no hope in sight that she will ever land a job again.

On the flip side we see the quite successful life of Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk)  the 32 year-old editor in chief of Gyeroo Publishing. Not only is he one of the founding members of the publishing company, he’s the youngest editor in chief there, and he’s also a best-selling author. What do Eun-ho and Dan-i have to do with each other? The two are actually childhood friends. The two met after Dan-i saved Eun-ho from getting hit by a car when he was a child. She landed in the hospital for a whole year, and while she recovered, Eun-ho became a bit of an errand boy for her. During this time, Dan-i turned Eun-ho onto books and challenged him to write his first novel.

The two had been friends ever since and thought of each other as a younger brother, older sister type duo. However, Eun-ho developed a crush on Dan-i that never went away, even after she married her sleezball husband.

The first couple of episodes we see Dan-i struggling in a way that really just breaks your heart. We see her living in her abandoned home that’s set for demolition, going from job to job in practically the only suit she owns, rejected numerous times and finally breaking down after nothing ever seems to go right. To find some relief, she secretly lives in Eun-ho’s house as the housekeeper he’s unaware of. One day while cleaning, she discovers a flier that says Gyeroo Publishing is hiring. The advertisement indicates age and educational background doesn’t matter so Dan-i get’s the bright idea to apply-as a high school graduate. In essence, Dan-i literally threw away years of experience as an accomplished and award winning advertiser and marketer. She’s desperate so I don’t blame her.

As the first round of interviews begins, Eun-ho is ready to judge the applicants as one of the company’s founding members. He’s shocked to see Dan-i show up in the pool of job seekers, sparking a series of questions about what’s really going on in Dan-i’s life. After the interview is over he begins to ask her why she’s there and what’s going on with her husband. She doesn’t answer and after Eun-ho unsuccessfully tries to contact her (ex) husband and finds her house up for demolition, he begins to slowly put the pieces together.

So now on to the juicy stuff. Eun-ho finds out the whole truth about the divorce and her secretly living in his home. He’s devastated he didn’t know about her troubles and tells her that she can live with him for however long she needs to to. Dan-i tells him that she will move out in six months. Dan-i lands the job at Gyeroo Publishing on the Task Support team which is essentially the errand boy or girl in this case. Eno-ho isn’t thrilled about the new role, knowing that she’s capable of much more than that but goes along with it since Dan-i eagerly accepts the job.

The story begins to unravel as we see Eun-ho’s feeling for Dan-i grow and grow with each episode. To make matters worse, second male lead Ji Seo-joon (Wi Ha-joon) who is actually a coveted book designer (and eventually signs a contract to work with Gyeroo Publishing) throws his hat in the ring for Dan-i after meeting her by chance (to the dismay and horror of Eun-ho).

On the flip side of worse, Eno-ho’s junior and colleague
Song Hae-rin (Jung Yoo-jin), who serves as Gyeroo Publishing’s
lead content development editor has mad feelings for Eun-ho and has been secretly confessing her feelings for him through letters she leaves on his home bookshelf. Things are mess since Eun-ho and Dan-i can’t reveal they live together and without Dan-i knowing how Eun-ho truly feels about her, things get sticky when Seo-Joon starts showing his affection. Perhaps the real kicker of the story is identity and how everyone plays a part in the life a well-renowned’s author desire to leave behind pen and paper for good.

My Thoughts:

I could spoil the whole story for you but I won’t and let you watch for yourself how this story plays out.

I think what I truly loved about this drama was Eun-ho and Dan-i’s relationship (yes, they do eventually get together). I’m sucker for anything romance and these two were gushing with it. I think it was small things that made it evident that Eun-ho loved Dan-i. For example he finds her sleazeball ex-husband by chance and beats him to a pulp (rightfully so) and then makes him pay child support for Dan-i’s 12-year-old daughter. He’s upset when she is and celebrates her victories no matter how small. He may be younger but I see him as such a protector, trying his hardest to shield his Dani-from the world. Even the way he confessed was so sweet since he was nervous to come out right with ‘hey, I love you.’ (You’ll have to watch to see what I mean).

Eun-ho and Dan-i had a believable chemistry which I can honestly say not all drama couples do. Even though Eun-ho was younger, he had a maturity that matched Dan-i’s quite well. From the sweet kisses to tender words of affirmation, Eun-ho and Dan-i had something that made all the couples jealous.

My only qualm with this couple is that it did seem Dan-i kinda fell for Eun-ho out of nowhere. Like one moment she’s like I dunno if I like you and then she’s like you know what I think I’m in love with you. I think I would have liked to how she fell in love. What made her realized she loved him? Not a huge deal since they were such a stellar couple, but it would have been nice.

As for the story line, it’s very solid and not your typical boy meets girl and falls in love. This drama’s theme revolved around books (hence the title) but the books actually tie into how the characters are viewed. For example Dan-i is portrayed several times as book you want to read over and over again, where readers find something new to love out the book everyday. (So sweet, I know. It had me crying).

I love how the theme revolved around books and how books can change people’s lives. Using that, the writers portrayed each person like a book, with interesting plot twists and memorable quotes. No character was flat with a dull personality. Everyone seemed to have an story ( at least the three main characters) that helps viewers realize there’s more on the surface.

The second male was quite likable. Seo-Joon had a tender spirit about him and was very genuine with Dan-i. You could tell from their first meeting he was drawn to her and his pursuit of her heart was the sweetest thing. You kinda wanted to cheer him on (but obviously he’s second-male lead so he’s automatically in the friend-zone). The only time you doubt him is toward the end of the drama when you find out his true identity. But even then you can forgive him considering his circumstances and you see that he truly didn’t have any malice in his heart.

A+ for the side characters! So Gyeroo Publishing is filled with a myriad of employees and we actually get to delve into a quite of few of their stories. From the divorced couple who just couldn’t make it work to the naive girl trying to desperately get away from her mother’s controlling spirit, the side characters give another layer of surprises to the story.

Don’t judge a book for by its cover may be a cliche statement but I think it sums up the message of this drama pretty well. With relateable characters, a believable story, a sweet romance, humor, candor, emotion and depth, Romance is a Bonus Book is well-rounded drama. I’m not the one to bash a Korean drama because I feel like their all good but if you haven’t had a chance to dive into this sweet story of love, acceptance and understanding, don’t wait any longer!

Remember — the Moon is Beautiful (you’ll get it once you watch it 🙂 )

Final Judgement:

Five out of five stars! No complaints!

Other Details:

Release date: 2019

Episodes: 16

Episode length: About 1 hour

Platform: Netflix, Kiss Asian, Drama Cool (English Subtitles Available)