Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bromance ruminations

I think at this point I can honestly say I am ready to write some thoughts I've been having regarding this series. Twdramas are in constant pendulum motion from cute/sweet/cheesy/lovely to serious. This bipolar disorder is not something that is easy to accept and appreciate. Personally, I do not like all-serious episodes after episodes. Sure, I can appreciate, but I do not enjoy. There has to be light so we could see the shadows (oh, what a pathos, good one) and fluff is something to counterbalance our real life. I'd much rather see a silly series that makes me feel good, makes me believe world is not what it seems every damn day, makes me all giggly and happy inside. And one day, Bromance came my way as I intended to return to dramaland. And what a return it was! Two series were mentioned on Instagram and I decided to watch first episodes of both, Marry Me, Or Not? and Bromance.


One of the strongest gravitational pulls twdramas usually have is the chemistry on set, not only involving the OTP, but everyone around. Bromance doesn't deviate from your normal twdrama in that aspect. More - it easily surpasses every expectation. The force between characters here is nuclear, destroying every thought we, the viewers, might have regarding the improbability of some events or useless stuff like that. Marry Me Or Not , currently airing to, being the other illustrious example. It is clear that both Baron Chen and Megan Lai had tons of fun shooting this series. They are comfortable with each other on the set and it's visible; the interactions between them are natural, without any awkwardness and stiffness so often seen in Kdramaland (oh I wish they could learn how to show relationships!). Sometimes it even looks like the director and PD just gave up dealing with their silliness and just shot whatever they came up with. Probably not the case, but that's just my impression after watching some scenes. And that proves how natural things feel.
            The drama’s spinal plot story is nothing groundbreaking. We had our share of gender-bender dramas over the past decade, so another one wasn’t any novelty. However, the story came with a twist. Or few of them. Our main female/male lead was born as a girl, however her fortune had been predicted for a male (“your son will be a brave and noble warrior”, or something along the line). When our Fate Dao Master learned the child was a girl, he concluded that she will die in infancy. Unless she could live as a male up until her 26th birthday when she will have passed the critical threshold of fate. Father of the baby, always awesome and sweet, wanted to strangle the guy. But still in an awesome manner. Parents, to protect their only child, decided to heed the Master’s advice and raised Pi Yanuo as a boy (my friend, upon seeing the pic, thought Yanuo was a guy, so I guess that’s hell of a job!). The series starts at the 100-day countdown to Yanuo’s 26th birthday. She’s kicked (sic!) into the world of Taiwan Triad relationships simply because of how she/he was raised. If Yanuo sees someone needing help – she/he helps. Seeing a guy surrounded by thugs, she/he helped. Their coordinated fight reminded me the second fight from Loveholic, and of course that connection that popped up, sealed my fate even harder. The said guy was in fact a head of another Triad, Du Zifeng, he offered Yanuo compensation for the help but she/he refused, saying it’s just a matter of principles to help people and not to expect the reward for it. After refusing him and leaving his office, Yanuo saves his sister who, like any typical rich airhead damsel in distress, can’t move while being on a path of a wild horse. Zihan falls in love with her savior and with her Mother, who likes to be called Feng Jie, (awesome and beautiful Linda Liu) they start their scheming on how to make Yanuo fall in love with Zihan. After hearing what happened, Feng Jie makes Yanuo the offer she/he can’t refuse – to become a sworn brother to Zifeng (with his feeble protest). Yanuo accepts and the whole story unfolds.

            There are series with Evil Mothers, Evil Fathers, Evil Sisters, Evil In-Laws, Bosses etc. Here, we are spared all of it and thanks gods, because I have enough of Mothers From Hell in other dramas (Marry Me, Or Not, and Riders). Yanuo’s parents are pure awesomeness. They did whatever they could to keep their kid safe, they got her into martial arts, so she/he could learn how to be protected. Plus, they are just model marriage – they love each other very deeply and very corny. Which is something we don’t see that often. They’re protective over their child, but in this situation it’s understandable. However, this care they spread over Yanuo never restricts her freedom, her/his parents can yield to reason and allow some more leeway. Du Zifeng parents, on the other hand, is something a bit more complicated – he was, in fact, adopted when he was a kid. The beauty part of this little detail is the fact that he was never treated any different than Zihan. He was always a part of the family. Few years back, however, his father went on a boat never to return. This is why Zifeng had to become a head of the Triad. And he’s faced with growing opposition inside this specific family, mainly coming from Wu Hansheng, who wants to challenge his right to be the Boss. 

            After becoming sworn (and blood, because Zifeng went one step further on) brothers, Yanuo and Zifeng start to spend more time together, and there comes the first shift in their personalities. Yanuo starts to live fully, work, laugh and have fun, shedding a bit her/his usual self-protecting armor. Surely, she/he still maintains distance, but as her friend, mercurial Xiaojing, says stroking her friend’s flat chest, there’s no possibility anyone would mistake Yanuo for a girl. Xiaojing appears first as Yanuo’s girlfriend to cool down Zihan’s heated advances, and she knows about Yanuo’s secret. They even kissed to make a point, and Xiaojing said she kissed a girl and she liked it (how can anyone NOT love this drama, seriously?). Zifeng changes too, he becomes more relaxed and smiling, taking a devilish pleasure in teasing Yanuo on numerous occasions. But he starts to put another person, who is not family, before himself. Their relationship grows on friendship and mutual trust (yeah, we know Yanuo has one big fat lie up her/his storage), they become comfortable with each other and damn if their chemistry didn’t blow up the set.

            And we have other storylines apart from our main pair of confused kids. Wei Qingyang’s and Yang Nana’s relationship started from coffee and the girl pestered him so much, he reluctantly accepted her as someone in his circles. Qingyang is the quiet and reserved one, silently observing, deducing and judging everyone. He might come off as cold, but in fact, he’s a big softie too. He quickly gets to know about Nana’s health condition and involuntarily, starts caring about her. Nana had battled leukemia and won, however, as we learn later on, she’s relapsed. I do hope her new-found Triad father could be a match donor for her, so there wouldn’t be a tragedy in this drama, marring the overall positive feel of it. They may seem like a boring couple, because they do not go nuclear like our OTP, but their relationship is completely different. It didn’t start from the fascination from both sides, born out of life-saving situation. It came from the annoyance (Qingyang) and clinging (Nana). Nana reminds me a bit a kitten one of my friends had. He was an orphan and whenever I took him, he just looked for any nook of my clothes and he started to suck as if this part of the sleeve was his mother. It was very heartbreaking and Nana is kind of like this kitty – looking for warmth and affection. Plus, she’s sick and the fact she’s still lively and positive is an amazing testimony to her character. She battled the cancer all alone, without parents and friends.

            And then there’s the weird, playfully abusive relationship of Zihan and Guangchao. He became her chauffeur and since then, she’s been bossing him around mercilessly, however he takes this with his own perception – as the sign of affection. And the almost orgasm from foot massage is one of the many gold scenes involving those two. How could they even finish shooting this scene, is beyond me. They are opposites – Zihan is fierce, determined, and violent at times, while Guangchao seems to be fluffy and meek. But they do complement each other, he acts as a safety belt for her sometimes and his devotion does not leave our spunky Zihan unmoved. 

            The drama doesn’t deal with homosexual issues, although it treads over it gently (almost as Yeats on dreams), and what it does splendidly – it does not demonize it. Zifeng’s internal battle was short, he realized his feelings were for a guy and he accepted them. Qingyang, the very observant Qingyang, saw what was happening, but what he has done? He declared support if ever Zifeng decided to confess and pursue Yanuo. Zifeng’s father witnessed the kiss, but apart from shock, he didn’t say anything. Everyone saw how Zifeng treats Yanuo – and there was no hysterics. This is how the idea is introduced.

This was the most beautiful scene I have witnessed in this drama up to date. The silent surrender of Zifeng spoke more eloquently and profoundly than thousands of words. He stays true to himself and his feelings, he doesn’t care about how the outside world would perceive him and judge him. He doesn’t despair he fell in love with a guy, he just accepted it. He gave up and gave in. Without drama, without hiding, without any protest. This is why he had no qualms about doing the boldest thing a guy in a drama could do – holding hands publicly and kissing Yanuo at the open square. He’s not shy about his affections, because he’s head over heels in love and sees no reason to hold it back. Oh, and his jealousy and showing off is just masterpiece. Zifeng’s character is so far one of the best I have seen in recent years in dramas. The same can be said about Yanuo, albeit on different level. She fell for Zifeng but deep down she knows it’s the Girl loving him. Zifeng doesn’t have any alternative. And speaking of Yanuo being girl – I love how she’s conscious about it, she doesn’t deny it, she’s not a tomboy per se. She’s a girl through-and-through, she only has to pretend she’s male. Her sheer delight over wedding dresses was the highlight of her suppressed, but never removed true nature. She likes to feel like a girl, but she has to hide it. For another month or so.

After a long line of main characters being jerks, cold-hearted chaebols and geniuses, it’s so nice to see a normal character. What is more – it’s nice to see characters develop, deepen and enrich each other. And given what we know about the characters so far, I can be fairly certain that the Great Revelation of Yanuo, albeit shocking, will be accepted without much drama. Zifeng is a reasonable person, he wouldn’t throw her/him away because of that little lie. Well, he might feel hurt a bit, but I believe he will come to his senses quickly. There are other issues to deal with – mainly Hansheng and Zifeng’s father amnesia. He’ll need his new-found source of strength.

I will be writing more about this beautiful drama, that’s for sure.

Gifs credits go to here.