Skip Beat! Live Action Episode 1 Recap
Well, there is always problems when bringing a beloved comic to life. I am happy that so far it isn’t too bad, but I do have to say that Siwon and Donghae don’t seem to really capture the essences of their characters while Ivy Chen does a good job in the role of Mogami [Gong Xi]. Donghae does a pretty decent job with Sho’s character [Bu Puo Shang], but doesn’t seem to have the evilness an self-centeredness as much as the manga version had. And Siwon as Ren [Dun He Lian], still not sold. He’s not bad, but I just don’t think he has Ren’s charisma and gentlemanly ways. That being said, not too bad of a start to the series.
For those new to the plot of Skip Beat!, we follow the story of a young woman named Gong Xi who left behind everything she knew when her childhood best friend and crush, Shang, decides to leave for Taipei to pursue a music career. She gave up her studies and works several jobs in order to support him. One day, she learns that Shang was just using her and she becomes bent on revenge. So Gong Xi decides to join the entertainment industry to become more famous than Shang. Thus she runs into the outwardly perfect, yet very cold Dun He Lian who helps her on her path to becoming an actress.
We open with some very important information [and really horrible animation – this show seriously has a very bad CGI problem]. We learn that everyone is born with a mysterious chest filled with little resentments. If the chest should ever be open, then that person will start doing bad things. To prevent this, the chest has many locks and is hidden away in a tiny corner of a person’s heart.
After that little important piece of information is passed on, we meet Gong Xi [Ivy Chen as the lead Mogami Kyoko] who is working hard in a fast food restaurant. When she learns that one of her coworkers bought Bu Puo Shang’s latest CD, Gong Xi immediately thanks her and then tells the other coworker to hurry and buy Shang’s CD as well. Wow, for those who don’t know the entire story, it’s really obsessive fangirlism. Gong Xi is then reminded that she will be late for her other job. She rushes off to quickly change, nailing a girl coming on the next shift with the door. Gong Xi apologizes and we learn that this happens frequently. As Gong Xi changes, she is happy to overhear that Dun He Lian’s fan has switched to Shang, but she quickly becomes depressed when she overhears that with the purchase of Shang’s latest CD, you got two posters. How come she didn’t get any? Her coworker told her it was probably a mistake and the happy Gong Xi rushes off to get her complimentary posters.
Now, we get a really ridiculous scene with really crappy CFI effects. Basically, you have Gong Xi riding her bicycle faster than a speeding car, train, and even Superman [known to be faster than a speeding bullet]. She quickly reaches her destination across town and demands to know why she didn’t get Shang’s poster when she bought the CD. The manager says that they are currently out and gives Gong Xi a cutout of Shang instead, promising to notify her when the new posters arrive. This makes Gong Xi happy. Remembering that she was supposed to be on her way to her next job, she quickly bikes on. She makes a 40 minute trip in only 15 and arrives at her destination dog tired.
After a scolding from her female boss and wonderment from her coworker, Gong Xi gets changed for work. Her boss wonders why Gong Xi is working so hard a such a young age to pay for an expensive apartment. She’s completely let go of herself as a woman. Wan Zi [Cai Yi Zhen] says that Gong Xi has her own unique style, just like Wan Zi has her own. Before she leaves, Wan Zi asks Gong Xi if they can use her apartment to throw a birthday party for a friend. Gong Xi quickly says its impossible because it is horribly dirty and filled with spiders and bats. Wan Zi tells her to stop making such stuff up and just say no if she doesn’t want to. It’s not like Gong Xi has a man hidden in her apartment. Gong Xi turns away and forces a laugh, but is saved when the lady boss comes and tells Wan Zi that Gong Xi is not boy crazy like Wan Zi is. Wan Zi then leaves for her tutoring.
Gong Xi feels guilty for keeping the secret, but how can you tell someone that you live with an up-and-coming star? When she gets home, Gong Xi is shocked to find Shang [Lee Donghae] there. He isn’t very welcoming and is kind of grumpy. Gong Xi asks if he’d eaten yet and he said that it’s past 10 already so of course he’s eaten. Gong Xi complains about not being able to reach him recently and he says that’s her problem Ouch. She definitely is pretty dense as she doesn’t get his insults or coldness really. We get an explanation of how Shang left home as he wanted to be free to pursue his music, but since he got a manger and started rising in popularity, his freedom is really limited. This makes a light bulb go off and Gong Xi then rushes out.
As she goes about her errand, we get Shang and Gong Xi’s basic history. Gong Xi says that since her mom was always busy [in the manga, her mother abandons her at Shang’s], she was always at Shang’s. The two were childhood friends and always played together. Shang was constantly running away whenever his mother wanted him to learn more about the family business and do chores. As Shang got older, the only thing he was interested in was music. He told his father he wanted to pursue music versus living in the Japanese-style inn and having an arranged marriage. This earns him a slap and Shang rushes out where he bumps into Gong Xi who overheard everything and asks her to go to Taipei with him. Now, in this series, Gong Xi gives up going to university for Shang. In the manga, she left home as a teenager [she is only 16 when the manga starts].
Gong Xi knows how much Shang loves strawberries, so she goes to every store in town to pick up all the strawberry-flavored snacks and candy she can. Her final stop is a dessert shop that is closing to get strawberry pudding. She heads home only to find Shang on his way out, but she manages to stop him when she rattles the box of strawberry pudding. He happily eats the food and they watch TV. A show comes on where they reveal the most huggable and desired male in show business. Shang is anticipating himself, but is angry when it turns out to be none other than Dun He Lian [Choi Siwon]. Gong Xi tries to comfort him by saying it was obviously a rigged poll [only to have it announced that it was a fair poll among females]. Gong Xi then starts insulting He Lian by calling him a shorty who wears insoles. She tells Shang not to be too upset as he will surpass He Lian someday. This does not appease Shang. He wants to be better than He Lian, NOW. He then gets his bag and leaves. This makes Gong Xi angry at He Lian and she throws pudding at the TV.
We then cut to the TV studio where He Lian and his manager Du Jin [played by Jin Qin who also played Mars’s manager in ToGetHer] are on their way out of the studio. They complain about the boring, typical questions asked on these shows. At this time, Nan Gua [Dong Zhi Chen] rushes up asking for an autography for his daughter [he’s a famous anchorman or host]. He Lian is about to comply when Nan Gua’s manager [Lin Zhi Xian] rushes up and complains about how Nan Gua left in the middle of recording. He Lian smiles and then scolds Nan Gua for being unprofessional. He Lian does still sign the autography as it is not the daughter’s fault. He and Du Jin then leave with Nan Gua fuming and Du Jin worrying that He Lian’s seriousness towards work made him come off as too cold, too cruel.
The next day, Gong Xi phones Shang, but only gets through to his voice mail. She asks him not to be angry as she thinks he is better than He Lian any day. She then hangs up and begins passing out fliers for her work. She then notices a poster and recalls that Shang has a live show shoot. She decides to head over after work to see him. Of course, she isn’t the only one there. A crowd of fangirls are all there trying to get in past security to see him. Not able to break through, Gong Xi hides in an equipment chest. She then sneaks around looking for Shang. She finds him with his manager who acts jealous that Shang goes home to “Happy New Year” [not quite sure why that’s her codename, but whatever]. Now, in the manga, there was some spark between the manager and Sho, but it never seemed serious on her side. I think she just wanted Sho to be free of Kyoko who could harm his career. Here, it looks like the manager actually likes him. Shang then explains that it is time for him to kick Gong Xi to the curb. He only brought her along with him to Taipei so she can act as his maid and take care of him. He has never liked her. In fact, one of the reasons he ran from the inn was because his father wanted him to marry Gong Xi and takeover the inn one day.
Poor Gong Xi is floored. She throws the strawberry cake at Shang’s back and asks if that is really true. Shang confirms that it is [I hated Sho in the manga with this scene, but just didn’t find myself hating Donghae…that’s a problem. I didn’t come to like Sho until way later in the manga when he began to realize what an idiot he was]. Gong Xi started starts crying, but the locks to her resentments had already been broken. Her crying turns into maniacal laughter and her little spirits come swirling out of her. She vows to get revenge on Shang [who has agreed with his manager that Gong Xi has completely flipped]. As she says this, Gong Xi is taken hold of by two security guards and Shang says that their worlds are too far apart and she can’t touch him. The only way for revenge is for her to join show business and there is no way she could be a success with how she looks and acts. Talking about adding salt to the wound. She is then escorted out.
On her way home, Gong Xi wonders why such a thing happened. She is depressed and crying. When she gets back to her apartment, her anger kicks in again and she viciously attacks Shang’s cutout and goes through ripping up all of his posters on the wall. When she gets to his first CD, she hesitates. He recalls how happy he was when it was first released. Back in those days, he was actually nice to her and treated her decently. As time wore on and his fame grew, he became more distant and cold. He constantly insulted her and snapped at every little thing she did. Recalling all this makes her angry once more and she snaps the CD in half. Just you wait, Shang. She will join the show business world and get her revenge on you.
The next day Gong Xi gives up the apartment and buys new clothes and shoes. She also gets her hair done. When she goes to Bu Dao Ong, Wan Zi cannot believe her new hairstyle [SO obviously a wig]. Wan Zi also wonders why everyone is so serious. Gong Xi announces she wants to quit in order to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. This makes the bosses unhappy as they really care for and like Gong Xi. Hearing that Gong Xi has no place to stay, the lady boss says that Gong Xi can stay in their upstairs room. The male boss then tosses her the key and says that until she can get a job elsewhere, she will still work there. Gong Xi is happy for the support and kindness.
Wan Zi is shocked by just how little Gong Xi has [a single suitcase]. Gong Xi lies and says she threw everything else out. Wan Zi then wonders just why Gong Xi is pursuing a career in show business. Is she perhaps a spy sent to clean out the riffraff from the industry? Gong Xi denies this and then mutters about how if she was a spy she could easily dispose of “him.” Wan Zi doesn’t quite catch this and Gong Xi distracts here with a cockroach. Wan Zi decides to help out her friend.
Gong Xi dresses up in horrible pink leopard print and a cheap-looking cold vest and skirt. She also has the expensive high heels. With her horrible multi-colored hair, she looks like a very cheap prostitute. Or what could be called “trailer trash.” Wan Zi’s idea was to march up and down the street to be discovered. While doing this, the two talk and Wan Zi cannot believe that someone who knows so little about movies and the like would want to be in entertainment. Tired of walking without results, Gong Xi adds an elaborate sign and tries to get people to talk to her. One man does come up to her, but he turns out to be a sleaze ball. Gong Xi then decides to try to get into LME – the biggest entertainment company in Taiwan. She knows nothing really about the industry, but she knows what the biggest company is. Go figure.
While Gong Xi was deciding to go to LME, He Lian and Du Jin were awaiting a call from the president about Nan Gua’s complaint against He Lian’s behavior. Du Jin is worried, but He Lian is as cool as ever. When the call comes [got to love the little cell phone gadget that acts as a traditional phone handset] Du Jin just gives monosyllabic answers and we have no idea what the president told him.
Not a bad start. A lot of exposition to get to the heart of the story. The acting isn’t bad and Ivy Chen is surprising good with a complex character. Siwon is a great actor, but I don’t think he really embodies the qualities that made Ren such an interesting character. I liked Donghae in It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl. That role really suited him. While he does pull off cold and arrogant, he really doesn’t seem to have that vibe that makes you want to hate him. Which is kind of necessary for that character. Oh well. This show could also use some better CGI, but a lot of dramas have cheaper CGI as it is a really expensive feature to budget. However, good CGI would actually make the crazy Kyoko parts even better.