Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Coiling Dragon (Panlong /盘龙)



I’ve been missing from this blog for almost two months. The reason was: Coiling Dragon. I was obsessed and couldn’t stop reading this story until the very last page and even then I still can’t bring myself to believe that it really ends for good.

Coiling Dragon has 21 books and ± 800 chapters. No. I kid you not. It tells a massive epic journey of the male lead Linley Baruch towards the peak of power that will make your heart beat with excitement.

There are many similar stories out there but I hate most of them because somehow they always manage to incorporate a harem into it. In a genre where women are never an important part of the story putting them into a more degrading insignificant position is simply too much for me to stomach. A harem story is a big no no.

Coiling Dragon is the first story by I Eat Tomatoes (我吃西) that I read. And I LOVE it. I love how it begins, progresses and ends. Well, not really how it ends because besides thinking that the ending is too abrupt, part of me doesn’t want to partway with Linley’s journey to greatness.

Judging from Coiling Dragon, I think I’ll love other works by I Eat Tomatoes as long as there is no harem in it.

I admire how I Eat Tomatoes could write such a gigantic story and still manage to make it so tight and coherent. I love how through his writing he gives us a chance to really know Linley and grow with him. I love how he shows us Linley’s struggles and challenges in details. I love how he makes us wholeheartedly cheer for Linley all the way to the very top.

Another thing that I love about Coiling Dragon is the friendship between Linley and his buddies. But I particularly love how beautifully written the relationship between Linley and Bebe is. Their love is even bigger and deeper than the love between Linley and Delia or even that stupid Alice girl.

And although Doehring Cowart can’t be with Linley till the end, I think that that part of the story (their ending) is the most beautiful and memorable scene in Coiling Dragon. 

I love how regretful Linley is when he finally realizes how much Grandpa Doehring loves him but he didn’t even pay much attention to this Grandpa of his.

I love how despite his ambition Linley never lost sight of what’s really important. He knows with absolute certainty that family is the most important thing in the whole world. He knows that people is what really matters.

If I need to say about the downside of Coiling Dragon then I have to say it’s the ending. I’m not going to mention romance because in this genre it’s obvious that romance is not part of the story and that’s why I hate harem’s arch even more.

If the writer can’t give their female lead a depth and character why don’t they just go without it. No woman is much better than lots of women who are nothing but a plaything. If a man can go to such greatness surely a woman could soar to such height too and not confined to bedroom matters or designated to being just a pretty ornament.

Thanks God Coiling Dragon doesn’t fall into that infuriating pattern despite its lacklustre female lead. I’m not complaining. What I find rather hard to accept is how abrupt the story ends. I want to see the reactions of everyone when they meet Linley again.

Yes, Linley does return to his family but that’s it. The returned Linley is not the same Linley. He is beyond powerful. The word powerful couldn’t even describe him now. He is the God Almighty. How will that fact affect his relationship with others?

Truth to tell, I don’t want this story to end. It’s as simple as that.

ps.
http://www.wuxiaworld.com provides the complete English translation of Coiling Dragon if you want to read this wonderful epic journey of Linley Baruch. I personally think that Coiling Dragon is the best of its genre.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: Yun Zhong Ge



I had made my feelings for Tong Hua clear in the previous posts about her works (Sound of the Desert and Lost You Forever) and if I’m not mistaken I had stated that I had no interest what so ever in reading Yun Zhong Ge due to the obvious reasons.

But, once I started watching the series I changed my mind. Not that the doom and gloom are going to disappear by the end of the drama, it’s just that after being completely submerged by work I’m in need of a total relaxation. So, I chose Yun Zhong Ge because most periodical dramas were light and entertaining in the beginning.

And true to its form despite the horrible ending that awaits at the end of the journey, the earlier episodes of Yun Zhong Ge are relatively free of angst and quite enjoyable to watch.

However, the main reason why I stick with this drama is its Ling Gege.

Those who read the book might love Big Brother Ling for his wonderful character but since I’m watching instead of reading I’m ensnared by the visual. 

This is Ling Gege and Yun Ge:


This is Crown Prince Myongnong and Solnan:

For you who don’t know, I love Jo Hyun Jae (조현재) and the moment I looked at Emperor Zhao/Liu Fu Ling (the grown up version of Ling Gege) I’m lost. No, Meng Jue is lost because it doesn’t matter how much I like him, there is simply no way I’m going to root for him after I see Emperor Zhao.

Every second, every moment, every time the face of Emperor Zhao is on screen my heart beats faster. He reminds me of King Song (Crown Prince Myongnong/Jo Hyun Jae) in the King’s Daughter. The resemblance is so stark that I have difficulty in reminding myself that it’s not Jo Hyun Jae I’m watching but Lu Yi.

This is Lu Yi:

 This is Jo Hyun Jae:


With that face to stare at and root for it’s impossible for me to stop midway like I always do (I watched lots of dramas but rarely finished any of them). I’m going to watch Yun Zhong Ge until the bitter end. I’m going to sit through all the angst and try my hardest to create my own happy ending.

To tell you the truth that’s going to be hard because I feel nothing for the female lead Yun Ge. If I do feel something from time to time, it is disdain.

How could she be so stupid to fall in love with a wrong man while swearing to heaven to love her Ling Gege only? And then how could she switch her love to Meng Jue while still loving her ‘Ling Gege’ and then suddenly stops loving him just because she thinks she is being used by him?

She doesn’t deserved to be loved that much by either Emperor Zhao or Meng Jue. She is nothing but another extremely nice and kind hearted female lead in drama land. Another one that lacks brains and analytical power. It’s particularly vexing because I love her awesome parents.

I might regret my decision to watch this drama when I arrive at the final scene. But for now, I love what I see. The pretty oh the pretty.

ps: more comparison for your perusal

Lu Yi:


Jo Hyun Jae:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Our Second Master by Twentine



I had mix feelings about this short story. At first I really hated it. I hated how disgustingly shallow the male lead was. I hated how he discriminated people (read ugly women) based on their physical appearance and put them under not worthy to be noticed and remembered category whenever he had the misfortune to encounter them.

I hated that he didn’t consider ugly women as a human being who would feel pain and sport bruises if slapped and kicked. I hated that he didn’t consider them as a weaker species that needed to be protected and cherished but instead only equal to a dog or an animal/object that could be kicked in passing.

To add insult to the injury he would not forget that he had a dog in his house, yet he didn’t even remember the ugly girl who served as his punching bag for years. Yang Yi Qi the Second Master was so despicable that I felt nothing but hatred towards him.

However, once my anger reduced a little bit I started to see things more objectively (through a cracked mirror, because only a twisted mind that won’t be able to see another human being as an equal).

Yes, the second master was shallow and despicable. But there was nothing wrong in him loving the beautiful women and showing his preference for them. He bended his knees in front of these beauties because he was nothing but a weak man. Possessing a stunning physical appearance was equal to having a powerful weapon and he was powerless against them.

We might not want to admit it but human beings are wired to appreciate beautiful people. We put high value on beautiful appearances. We instinctively lean towards beautiful things. If I insist on hating the male lead because he fell under the spell of beauty than I should hate the female lead even more.

Like Yang Yi Qi who loved all those women for pure physical reason, our female lead the Little Monkey also falls for the Second Master because of his looks. She falls for this disgusting man just because he is exceptionally beautiful.

She ignores the rotten man inside, forgives and forgets his abuses all because of his physical appearances. On Yang Yi Qi’s defend, at least all those women he loved were equally beautiful inside out. They only fought with each other for his affections. None of them was physically abusive towards those weaker than themselves.

It is not easy for me to love either the male or female lead in this story considering how shallow they both are since their affections are captured by nothing but skin deep appearances. While the only thing that makes me fall in love with any lead in a story or drama is their extraordinary characters.

Fortunately, despite her weakness for beauty, I don’t hate the female lead. I like how although everyone thinks that she is ugly – Yang Yi Qi even calls her monkey, the Little Monkey disagrees, she knows she isn’t beautiful, but she knows for sure she isn’t ugly.

I love that. It’s a very good sign that signifies although she appears to be shallow she actually is not. A shallow and weak person would be defined by how other people see them and not by how they see themselves. And although she seems to be influenced and blinded by beauty the Little Monkey is actually very clear headed.

I love how despite very conscious of her lowly status she knows the value of herself. I love how despite falling under the Second Master’s charms she is never completely blinded by his beauty. Although she loves him, she is aware of his vices, she knows his weaknesses and she knows he isn’t perfect.

But what I love the most about the Little Monkey is her pride. I love how she decides not to show her love to the Second Master and not to lower herself to accept things that she doesn’t like about him just so that she could be with him.

Now, back to the Second Master. The best part about this story is the character building of the Second Master. I love how this story turns my hate for the Second Master into love.

How I hated the Second Master but a person isn’t and shouldn’t be defined by his past. The past has lost its significance once it’s passed. It’s the present and the future that matter.

I love how the Second Master learns from his misfortune. I love how he feels no bitterness about his losses. I love how he reflects and takes them as his due punishment. I love how he starts to see what are the things that really matter.

I love how he finds new purpose in life and rises to the top with his own strength. I love how he becomes a better person. A whole new person although physically he is actually half person now.

And I love how he loves. I think the best scene for me is when the Little Monkey tells him that she is leaving. I love how he nods his head and with a smile lets her go.

Our Second Master by Twentine is a marvel. In its shortness and simplicity it presents all that we might want from a story. I hope that it might somehow find its way into a kdrama where I could love this story for a lot longer.

ps.
You could read Our Second Master at http://onesecondspring.blogspot.sg/2015/08/our-second-master-by-twentine-he-5.html
I almost forget, lots of love and many thanks to Decembi for translating this wonderful story