ZAI ZAI!!!!! (and Taiwanese drama thoughts)

Vic Zhou (Zai Zai) is going to be in a NEW drama, finally!!!! (According to

*long crazy fangirl moment*

Okay, for those of you who don’t watch Taiwanese dramas and/or avoid them like the plague, Zai Zai’s this guy that started his acting career in idol dramas, after accompanying his already actor friend to an audition and then reportedly being asked on the spot to audition too.

He started in the Taiwanese Hana Yori Dango (that means “Boys before Flowers” – that was first a manga, then an anime, then a drama in Taiwan, Japan, and finally Korea – I think everyone that watches Asian dramas has watched all of them).

Except while the Japanese version is called Hana Yori Dango and the Korean version is called… well, Boys Over Flowers (english), the Taiwanese one is called Meteor Garden. Don’t even ask me why. I tried finishing the first episode… twice. Maybe there was a meteor somewhere…?

(By the way if you’re not like *yawn* who doesn’t know this or *yawn* I don’t CARE about dramas:

WATCH Hana Yori Dango 1 + 2 (Japanese) (especially 1) and not Boys Over Flowers (Korean). If you want a GOOD drama. If you want to watch Lee Min Ho, a guy who can act and looks awesome while doing it (and is in the Korean version) watch City Hunter (which is airing now). Hasn’t finished – but based on the progress so far? You’ll totally thank me later.)

Oh right I was talking about ZAI ZAI… so in Meteor Garden the four main male characters form this group called F4 (Flower 4) in their pretentious ultra private wealthy kid’s school (the portrayal of the social scene is dark where Ouran’s High School Club’s own is light). The four guys in the Taiwanese version decided to actually make an idol BAND called “F4.” Basically slow mediocre songs that are “wo ai de” on a refrain, competing with Fei Lun Hai for being the most idol Backstreet Boys-copy cat boy band that ever ever idoled. (Actually there are MANY of those things, but back when I was first discovering music I was like “whoa Chinese um Taiwanese music!” Well.)

So let’s sidestep the musical stuff. Meteor Garden wasn’t so great but it was ZAI ZAI’s first time acting. And even so there were a lot of people shipping the “non-cannon” pairing – Zai Zai’s character (the second male lead) and the main girl. Which is interesting because they (he and Barbie Xu) started dating. And then did the darker drama MARS. Whoa.

Sure, Japan has variety (hey has anyone seen YASHA? I know you haven’t. Or Last Friends?), and Korea has genres that are pretty clear and have a variety histogram that looks like a row of thin evenly spaced skyscrapers, but Taiwan? Taiwan is idol drama land. Taiwan is Cinderella land. Taiwan is RainieYang-anyonefromFeiLunHai-MikeHe-anyonefromF4-TiffanyXu-JoeCheng-EthanRuan-ArielLin-anyonefromanyboybandever-QiaoChenEn-MingDao-LinMeiXiu land. (Lin Mei Xiu is an older actress who is in every. idol. Taiwanese drama EVER made. For the watchers – recognize her?) Taiwan is melodrama-pregnancy-marriage-cancer-amnesia land.

Korea has all these things too but it likes to make excuses for them. Taiwan makes no excuses.

Most Korean viewers watch the 16-20 episode dramas while the Taiwanese have created their own adaptation of the same manga the Koreans are using with 30 episodes.

And the Taiwanese draw out the episodes and the dramas with all these “family” scenes, with Lin Mei Xiu having scenes as the country mom or the head-maid or the not-head maid or the employer or the other relative and all the other supporting actor-dramatic-comedians moaning about how they’re going to lose their town in two days with just as much notice because of that big shot businessman that owns a hotel chain or mall or whatever who also happens to be the main male lead of the story. Oh and there are KIDS! There are always cute kids that may or may not be orphans and either keep you interested during those family/social parts where you’d usually be like “CAN WE GET BACK TO JOE AND ARIEL/CHEN EN AND MING DAO/RAINIE AND MIKE RIGHT NOW??????”, and then there are the ones that save the series, like that kid in Autumn’s Concerto. That drama I want to forget I wasted 30 hours on.

If you’re thinking “Can we get back to ZAI ZAI?” then I’ll mention that MARS, based on an awesome manga of that same name, doesn’t waste time like that (only 21 episodes WHATTT). The original story is very strong, but psychological – deals with dealing with traumatic experiences and overcoming them through love and will, even when the road is realistic and bumpy. There are some parts that might have seemed over the top to me (what was her mom thinking to “trust” her ex-husband over her daughter…) but I know that crazy shit does happen in real life and hit you in the face. I don’t think they set up some problems like that one as problems we would expect and thus buy immediately…

WHOA I’m digressing like brownian motion and I don’t even know if there’s a mathematical definition for brownian motion or if brownian motion technically does it but ANYWAY

Why watch these kinds of dramas if I have so many complaints?

Because some of them have heart. It may be difficult to find one that’s very well produced, or entirely consistent, but those moments that count – those moments are some of the greatest moments you’ll ever see or remember in the world of drama. At least it was that way for me.

That’s the way Zai Zai’s “MARS” and “Silence” (melodrama with illness and all that) were like for me. Sure, there was plenty I didn’t like that had to do with direction/editing (duck! It’s a coincidence! duck! Another one! In slow motion!), production, and 1-D characters, and in the second case what javabeans on would call Noble Idiocy… but. The acting was great. All of his scenes with the lead girl in either drama… man you could live or die with him. The acting is what turns those dramas in my mind from cliches to modern classics. Or at least in my heart.

What do you think is next? Two guesses!

Actually I would probably not watch Silence through again – tried to listen to the OST music to post a music video and was like no – but there are certain scenes that I might. Here’s the beginning song MV. That scene at 2:28… the acting… OMG. The breakups tend to be the most over-dramatized/over-the-top parts of a drama, but the way this scene was built up to and handled and ACTED… amazing. ZAIIII ZAIIIIIIII

(too bad his new drama probably won’t be a romance since he decided to NOT be an idol drama actor anymore… war romance? Awesomeness without romance?)

(And no, I have not finished that one where he’s a writer or Black and White…. yet. But I’m hoping the new drama’s plot will be more intriguing…)

4 responses to “ZAI ZAI!!!!! (and Taiwanese drama thoughts)

  1. LOL. Your blog posts are awesome. I can totally imagine you saying this to me. In the “Marcela-maybe-she’s-not-on-drugs-but-she’s-clearly-on-something” way. 😛

  2. lmao, if i can like stephen’s comment, i would. you are obsessed with zai zai! i did not expect that because his acting…ticks me off. actually most acting in taiwanese drama ticks me off. taiwanese idol dramas are mostly based on a manga and i think the manga does a much better job in telling the story. anyways, i hope zai zai’s new drama will meet your expectations.
    the dramas are starting to mush together and i can’t specifically differentiate one from the other. but these dramas will always remain special for me: Eternal Happiness, You’re Beautiful and My Girl. i’m slowly trying to wean off my drama addiction, but it doesn’t hurt to look at male Korean celebrities from time to time.

    • Never seen Eternal Happiness, right now my favorites are… well the re-watchable ones for me are still Prince Turns into a Frog (yes, one of THOSE!). Favorites are Story of a Man… greatly enjoyed Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Secret Garden (even though the plot was totally contrived by the end), Kim Sam Soon, … enjoyed I’m Sorry I Love You while I was watching it, it felt like Silence done right plot-wise. Japanese dramas like Summer Snow, YASHA, Hana Yori Dango… those are my classics. I’d probably introduce someone to a drama with My Girl or Hana Yori Dango, or Prince Turns into a Frog. Never trying to use You’re Beautiful again because last time watching scenes again just… made me fall out of love with them. Might have come together better than anything like BOF but after the fact I think it’s waaaaaaay overrated. (Doesn’t help that I never liked the main character. And that the last few episodes just made it worse, and then the resolution was a concert… I mean, is that original? A large sacrifice? Reaaaallllly meaningful and not just put in as, say, every girl’s dream? Anyway I’m going to stop here…)

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