The Ride or Die Couple in The Legend of Xiao Chuo

Having covered the Xiao Chuo’s sisters in a previous post, it’s time to get to the main couple of The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Xiao Yanyan (Tiffany Tang) and Han Derang (Shawn Dou)! While these two may not spend the bulk of the drama together, they are literally a ride or die pair! Yanyan and Derang start out like many couples in historical Chinese dramas. In their case, Yanyan is the spirited daughter of the prime minister, blissfully ignorant of the political intrigue swirling at the highest leve

We Are Family?: There Goes the Sisterhood in The Legend of Xiao Chuo

The Legend of Xiao Chuo is about our feisty protagonist Yanyan (Tiffany Tang), but central to its plot is her relationship with her sisters, Wuguli (Lu Shan) and Hunian (Charmaine Sheh). How do we go from sisters are doing it for themselves to two sisters out for themselves? The disintegration of the sisterly bond is caused by putting jerky guys ahead of family. I’m just going to say it: it’s all Wuguli’s fault! From the time she first steps into the drama, this second sister is suspect. Other

Imperial Relationships: Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace

While everybody and their sister were watching Story of Yanxi Palace, I watched Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace. Ruyi is the heroine Chinese palace drama has been waiting for. While she didn’t ask to be put in this situation, she handled it her way. Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace is a lavish production, showing you what it means to be in the palace. I loved Ruyi’s outfits and especially her hair! But all of that does not erase the tensions of the story. Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace follows

Rise of the Phoenixes: Moving Forward and Giving Up Are Two Different Things

Rise of the Phoenixes (2018) seamlessly combines palace politics, humor, friendship, family, betrayal and triumph around Ning Yi (Chen Kun) and Zhi Wei (Ni Ni), creating one of the most compelling couples to appear in historical Chinese drama. I don’t add couples to my All-Time Favorite Asian Drama Couple List easily, but they are on it, despite that fact that for most of this drama, they are actually not even together. This is a gorgeous drama, but gorgeous in ways that are different from the

Stakes Are High: First Impressions of Secret of Three Kingdoms

Everything is at stake from the first episode of Secret of Three Kingdoms. The imperial family is on a mission and the odds are against them, meaning that all hands should be on deck. But are all hands really on deck? At any rate, I’m here for it! This drama had me at Three Kingdoms. It could have been called Random Villager A in Province 2 and I would be on it. I love Three Kingdoms! Due to its length, complexity and sheer number of characters, it lends itself to multiple treatments. The team

We Are Family: Nirvana in Fire 2 – The Wind Blows Through Chang Lin

Nirvana in Fire 2: The Wind Blows Through Chang Lin brings all of the royal drama of its predecessor but also shows that family bonds transcend all. I was very skeptical when word got out about the sequel to Nirvana in Fire. VERY. SKEPTICAL. Nirvana in Fire revolved around Hu Ge‘s Mei Changsu/Lin Shu, an unlikely hero trying to accomplish the impossible to redeem his family’s honor. So when I found out that its sequel would feature an entirely new cast AND and be set decades after the original,

The Valiant and the Vainglorious: The Fortress (2017)

The Fortress (2017) is a poignant look at the one place nobody wanted to be when the Qing decided to invade Joseon. Despite the fact that people make all the wrong choices, there are some people who maintain their dignity (hint: one of them is not the king). The 2017 Korean movie depicts the final days of the Qing siege at Namhan Fortress, the mountain stronghold to which King Injo’s court retreats in an effort to maintain its (somewhat) autonomy in the face of the clash between the Ming and th

The Crazy Wonderful of Princess Agents

C-dramas can be uneven, given their length and complicated plots, but Princess Agents has achieved a paradox. Despite its absurdity, you are compelled to watch to the very crazy end. First, let’s start with the wonderful. The leads. While the romantic triangle is not new, the trio of Chu Qiao (Zhao Li Ying), Yuwen Yue (Lin Geng Xin) and Yan Xun (Dou Xiao) is entertaining, especially before the Big Tragedy. Chu Qiao is a great female lead. At first, you wonder about her indifferent attitude, bu

The Daily Grind: Misaeng (2014)

Misaeng (2014) is a quiet K-drama that perfectly captures how a job can be soul-sucking and emotionally rewarding at the same time. Jang Geu-rae (Im Siwan) is our intrepid protagonist, just a guy who spend a whole chunk of his life training to be a baduk player, only to find himself looking for a job after a family tragedy. Geu-rae is very introspective (Siwan does a GREAT job staring into the camera!), so we get a lot of his internal dialogue. At first, it seems like he just isn’t the type to

The Supermen of Love Me If You Dare and When A Snail Falls in Love

C-dramas are bringing us male leads that are super smart and highly attractive.   Despite their socializing issues, they still manage to provide the romance that draws many of us to Asian dramas.  Both Bo Jiyan (Wallace Huo)  in Love Me If You Dare and Ji Bai (Wang Kai) in When A Snail Falls In Love are very good at their jobs, a little awkward with relationships and all the way adorable.

Hatin’ on Hae Soo in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

There are many aspects of Scarlet Heart: Ryeo that make it a worthwhile K-drama to watch, but there is one that is quite annoying.  Hae Soo (IU) is the female lead that drags this K-drama down. This is not a criticism of IU, who is supercute and an expert in the wide-eye closeup. This is also not an indictment of any of the actors who play the princes (Oh, I see you Wang So (Lee Jun Ki); there’s another post coming with your name on it).

Power in Unity!: Ideal Masculinity in Descendants of the Sun

We all know the primary reason we are all over Descendants of the Sun is Captain “Big Boss” Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki). He’s become one of my favorite male protagonists in a K-drama, so central to the story that he takes attention away from the female lead. At the same time, he reinforces male friendships. Big Boss is pretty much perfect. He’s attractive. He dresses well. He’s courageous, often going into dangerous situations.  He’s humble (sorta?) but also confident in his abilities.  He’s rea

They Are Not Cheerleaders: Female Characters in Haikyuu!! and Kuroko’s Basketball

While you might assume that sports anime series like Haikyuu!! and Kuroko’s Basketball might relegate its female characters to the sidelines, they do a remarkable job of making them smart, relevant to the story and characters in their own right. Sports anime can pose a challenge in trying to include women characters, especially those with single-gender teams like basketball and volleyball. Female characters don’t play on the teams, so they often provide support for the teams in varying capaciti
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