Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Here's wishing everyone 岁岁平安, 事事顺心!
Been MIA for a while now because I was away in my Land of the Patecas to visit my dear friend, Gou Gou, and my favourite jack, BlackJack. Lady Fortune was not with me this time, but I still had a great time, just relaxing, enjoying a sorely missed company and having good food. It is not awesome to be back at work after 11 days of not being at work.
Anyway, drama of the hour is:
步步惊心 up to Episode 16... Kevin Cheng~~~ *goo goo eyes*
My third drama from China after 宫锁心玉, which some of you may know is the first China drama ever that I made the conscious decision to watch, as an adult. Not just because my grandma made me watch it with her. And I really liked it. Read more about my first take on that series here.
So of course, I was skeptical about watching 步步惊心 because of the all too similar premise of a modern girl ending up in the Qing Dynasty 300 years prior, and falling in love with both the 4th and 8th Princes of Emperor Kangxi's reign. Especially after reading up about it and finding out that the girl falls in love with 8th first then 4th, the opposite of what happened in 宫锁心玉, I was even more reluctant to ruin what was a good series in my mind.
Not even after I realised that 宫锁心玉 was actually loosely based on 步步惊心, originally a novel with its TV series in the works much earlier than 宫锁心玉, effectively classifying 宫锁心玉 into the copycat series, and one that stars one of the sexiest actors from Hong Kong, after Donnie Yen and Daniel Wu *power goo goo eyes*, and one of my favourite childhood idols, Nicky Wu.
I wonder if the creators of 宫锁心玉 purposely rushed out their series so that people will think of 步步惊心 as the copy. I always kinda felt like 宫锁心玉's ending was rushed and not thought out properly. Perhaps?
Anyway, my reluctance was worn out after so much raves from the Pinkies about 步步惊心, to the point where they actually asked their partners weird things like "will you do what Prince 4 did for Ruoxi?" and "what will you do if what happen to Ruoxi happen to me?" at the risk of causing 家暴事件. And they even emo-ed for days after watching the ending. It must be really damn good for my usually level-headed friends to drop into this deeper pit of 花痴ness, so I decided to give it a try.
After all, enough time has passed since 宫锁心玉, I felt ready to revisit the story of Prince 4 and Prince 8, two historical characters that has taken up a special place for me after watching 宫锁心玉. And most importantly, I was really bored. *shrugs*
I love it.
I feel that one of the reasons is how much stronger the cast is in 步步惊心. Particularly the supporting cast. With 宫锁心玉, most of the focus was placed on the relationship between Qing Chuan and the two princes, which left little room for the other princes. But in 步步惊心, you really get a chance to see how Ruoxi interacts with the other princes, and also get to know some of the other princes and their stories a little better, which means you will become more emotionally invested, whether you like or dislike them.
For instance, I know I hate the crown prince, making him the anti-hero in a drama where there is essentially no real protagonist except the hands of fate. And of course Prince 10, 13, 14 are people I always love to see appear. I especially like seeing the friendship that Ruoxi had with Prince 13. Every damsel needs a protector who is not secretly thinking how he wants to lure her into his bedroom with every smothering look he gives her. Prince 13 is just perfect as this protector.
Now for the major comparisons of the main characters. For comparison sake, I am going to call the princes from 宫锁心玉 Ah Ge, and the ones from 步步惊心 Ye, as per how they are commonly addressed in both series.
Qing Chuan-4 Ah Ge-8 Ah Ge vs. Ruoxi-4 Ye-8 Ye
Without a doubt, Yang Mi is the prettier actress. I love watching her in 宫锁心玉, and she was the reason I sat through the entire series of 美人心计. There is this touch of delicate resolve to her which makes her beauty kind of luminescent. In comparison, Liu Shi Shi seems to be plainer in the looks department, which means that she had to work so much harder to convince people that she was worthy of the affections of at least 4 princes. And I feel that she managed to inject enough personality into the character to pull it off. The character of Ruoxi really grew on me.
In terms of characters, I do prefer Ruoxi more. Her character seems more complex and real. I am still mad at her for dumping 8 Ye, because her reasons were so self-serving. I could understand why Qing Chuan chose to leave 4 Ah Ge, because some of the things he did before he fell in love with her were really ruthless and unacceptable to her. Although he was ready to give up everything for her, this was something Qing Chuan had no way of knowing for sure. You can never just forgive and forget when someone you supposedly trust the most lied to you and even made use of you.
In comparison, 8 Ye had always conducted himself with dignity and treated Ruoxi with respect, Ruoxi had no reason to doubt him at all. Although the only difference between him and 4 Ah Ge was his reluctance to give up everything for Ruoxi. Yet, I still find myself seething at Ruoxi's decision to dump him. Hello! You do not dump someone who looks like 郑嘉颖! You hang on to him as long as you can, and allegedly bring him dumplings on the set even after he supposedly dumped you.
And this is one of the reason why I like Ruoxi more. She managed to invoke more emotions from me. There was always no fault to find with Qing Chuan. She did everything right. Ruoxi sometimes makes me so mad at her, yet she would always immediately do something that makes me commiserate with her.
Okay, anyway you see I am developing this tendency to compare 4 Ah Ge with 8 Ye. Probably because I think their personalities are more alike than 8 Ye and 8 Ah Ge. And probably also because I already like Kevin Cheng going into the series, and I always liked 4 Ah Ge, thus grouping them in the same category. I always thought that 4 Ah Ge was a greatly misunderstood character in 宫锁心玉. He only did what he did because he knew that he could be a great emperor who could bring good to his people, and we all know that Yongzheng was a good emperor who improved his people's lives. This part of history gave 4 Ah Ge's character a whole lot of brownie points. Perhaps his tactics to get there may be questionable from time to time, but I don't think he was all that cruel and evil. A man's just got to do what a man's got to do to get where he wants to go.
This is kinda how I feel about 8 Ye. In comparison, 8 Ah Ge seemed less ambitious and less driven. Somehow, he always felt like a brat to me, who only cared about what he wanted, which was always Qing Chuan and Qing Chuan-related, which meant that he would do anything to make her happy. It is all good that a man loves a woman so deeply, but 男儿志在四方. Nothing kills a guy's sexiness more than seeing him mope after a woman, and base all his major decisions on her well-being. But of course I wish for a man just like that. Yes, we women are ridiculously fickle.
Now what about 4 Ye? Hmmm, I have to admit, at this point, he is still pretty much a mystery to me. Compared to 4 Ah Ge, he seemed to be, how do I say this, so nonchalant. He pretty much just walks around all day with a constipated face, holding onto his pigtail. I mean seriously, wtf is the deal with the pigtail holding? PS told me there is a meaning to that, it is something very sweet and personal to 4 Ye. But I have not find out what yet, so it is quite silly to me. Is it not enough that he walks around looking like he is perpetually pissed off and don't give a shit if your puppy dies? It's like he woke up one day and decided that he would look more badass if he clutches his pigtail when he walks. Although he definitely does not seem to have the kind of die-hard ruthlessness that 4 Ah Ge had, and I am pretty sure he did not start out wanting to be emperor like 4 Ah Ge did. Not as much as 8 Ye at least.
But I am hearting the moments he shared with Ruoxi. Telling her his likes and dislikes, teaching her how to ride a horse, and *gasp* kissing her forcefully!!! Oh my! So 死相！ Hurhurhur! Although I would like to make an observation. Both he and 8 Ye fell in love with Ruoxi when she first dropped into the Qing era, and it was like more than 10 odd years before both even get to express their feelings in a more explicit way with her. HOW THE MOTHER OF GOD DID THEY CONTAIN THEMSELVES?
I kept telling my friend, the first time 4 Ye did it with her, yes they did it because Ruoxi became pregnant (opps spoilers *River Song voice*), must be like taking a dump after being constipated for a week. His eyeballs must have popped out man. Hurhurhur!
Okay, this post is getting long. I need to go back to presenting a semblance of a working adult. Sigh, I am still emo from Ruoxi and 8 Ye's breakup. He seemed to love her so much. Every time he looked at her, he seemed so happy. And he was always so careful whenever he touched her, like he was afraid he might break her or something. In comparison, 4 Ye seems more 粗暴. Haha, maybe that's why Ruoxi loves him more. *wink wink*