Moon River Episodes 1-6 Review
I remember like last week coming across a social media post about yet another version of Hana Yori Dango, but I’m guessing they meant that the stories seem a bit similar because currently airing Moon River is based on a novel of the same name by Ming Xiao Xi. I tried to find a publication date, but the only thing I found, which I’m not even sure it’s the right one) shows September 2015 which wouldn’t make sense if they are basing the Taiwanese series on the actual novel 明若晓溪 (Ming Ruo Xiao Xi aka Moon River).
The overall story of the drama follows the naive country girl Ming Xiao Xi, who is a kung fu master, as she navigates the waters of an elite college. They make it sound like her main conflict is with an elite organization (whose name I think translates into Elite Union) helmed by three powerful and gorgeous guys, but that actually isn’t the case. It’s the crazy jealous female princess, daughter of like the chairman of the school or something like that, who she butts heads with the most.
The drama stars Pets Tseng in the titular role of Ming Xiao Xi and at least 2 of the 9 or 10 members of idol group Spexial. Her main love interest is Spexial member Sam (aka Lin Zi Hong) who plays president of the Elite Union Mu Liu Bing. These two have acted opposite each other as love interests in the rebooted K.O series. Another love interest is Spexial member Evan Ma. The third Elite Union member, Dong Hao Nan (Xu Kai Pin), is head over heels for evil princess Tie Sha Xing aka Sha Sha (Cao Xi Yue).
If we are honest about the acting in idol dramas…it’s okay. It’s not as good as it could be. Some are better than others. There are parts where the cast does a really good job and other parts where it is unnatural and you can tell that the actor really isn’t embodying the character but is just acting the character out, which sucks and is a draw away from the drama.
Before I go too much into my thoughts on the initial six episodes, I have to address the HanDan comment I saw. While I get that there are some striking similarities in ways, you really can’t see this as yet another version. And if we’re honest, the overall plot of HanDan wasn’t exactly new anyways. A poor girl who sticks out like a sore thumb in a school for the wealthy, a poor girl with spunk, a poor girl who attracts the attention of a high class dude with a bad attitude. Really…such stories are a dime a dozen. I can, as a lover of the manga and in particularly the Japanese drama as well, tell you tons of ways these two stories are really different, but I won’t.
Anywho, back to my thoughts. Besides lackluster acting at times and the exaggerated comic effects, one thing I don’t really like is character inconsistencies. We see this most with our heroine. Oh sure, we have plenty of scenes where the girl acts sometimes before she thinks (usually in regards to her sense of justice) which causes the opening problem and is very consistent so far. The big thing is her strong sense of justice and fairness disappears when she decides to make her life easier by avoiding the two guys in the Elite Union who do wish to be her friends and her backbone or willingness to fight disappears at the oddest times and her explanations are just meh.
Point in fact. We start are drama with our Xiao Xi, the second pride of her small village, going to school only to see her hometown friend being chased by a large group of guys in purple uniforms. Immediately thinking he’s being bullied she fights the entire gang and wins. It turns out they were performing a welcome ritual into the Elite Union (lower ranks) and her friend chickened out. If we’re honest their ritual was definitely more like a hazing considering all the disgusting things they threw in a blender and expected him to drink, but that’s neither here nor there. She does realize she is wrong for not trying to understand the whole situation first. Her idea of taking responsibility is admit she made a mistake and apologize. She refuses to cave into the student body who demands her expulsion.
In a later episode the jealous and evil Sha Sha frames Xiao Xi for cheating. Without even really trying to prove her innocence after her best friend lies for Sha Sha, she goes to withdraw manditorily from school because it’s one thing if she was wrong and admits it and fights to remain versus being framed and defamed. Say what? Does that make sense? Yeah, honor is important to martial artists. I get that. It’s important to a lot of other people to. But…not fighting to prove your innocense in all of this…in this case its more of an admission of guilt than anything else so I really don’t get that.
What’s really weird is that she’s initially protrayed as strong and spunky but yet we see her more often down and out. True, strong people can be hurt by all the bad things happening to them, that’s not the point. It just seems that a lot of her spunk disappears and that seems to be a big conflict. She can be a doormat quite often especially in regards to Sha Sha. And with her deciding just to avoid people and situations? What good will that do? She doesn’t avoid anything with the first conflict and then spends the rest of the time waffling around.
Our leading male…you can’t really say much about character conflicts as they keep a lot of what he feels and thinks to himself. While Liu Bing can be quite mature and is not quick to judge, there are quite a few times he’s very immature in his dealings with Xiao Xi (and even Sha Sha) even if he does like her (she saved him from getting dragged back home to daddy when she first arrived – she thought he was being kidnapped in broad daylight). But…I really don’t think that’s too out of character for him. I do wish he’d be better about the whole Sha Sha thing, but you also understand he’s doing his best to make sure he’s not like daddy who cowers to the Tie name.
I do find Evan’s character of Feng Jian Che to be a bit contradictory. At times this quiet member seems to kind of link Xiao Xi and Liu Bing together but then in the next he’s showcasing his own admiration and interest and doesn’t seem too happy if Liu Bing exhibits a closeness to Xiao Xi. So…with expressions and actions, it gets confusing to his real thoughts and feelings. Our third member is very predictable. He’s a hotehead who loves Sha Sha and sees no good in Xiao Xi. Now, if he’ll ever forsake the evil queen and make friends with Xiao Xi remains to be seen. He has the worst temperament and morals and really only looks at things at the surface level.
Now as for Sha Sha…I have not pity for her. I thought she had learned her lesson to an extent when Xiao Xi’s friend almost dies becasue of the cheating incident, but nope. In the end her anger and immaturity just lashes out at the Elite trio and Xiao Xi. I don’t think Liu Bing was wrong when he essentially bars her from the hospital room and walks away as she pleads she had no idea this would happen. She won’t change and you know her worry probably wasn’t too much of the boy’s health but what it would mean to her if he had died or was seriously harmed by the incident.
This drama is set to have like 29 or 30 episodes. You can already tell there’s going to be a lot of repetitious happenings and events and everything that can possibly happen to come between the main couple will most likely happen. I can’t forsee good pacing at all. In fact, with the first six episodes, pacing is already a problem. With the first conflict that arose and its “resolution” supposedly time passes. We never see any of these people go to class and Xiao Xi seems to be running around doing other things versus going to school. So…I don’t care if that’s not 100% important to the plot, it just seems silly to have all this school-centered stuff when these people never seem to attend anything. I also don’t feel enough of a development to understand developments in feelings and the sequenes of events. In some cases, we don’t even have enough exposition to back up just what is going on.
But…overall….at least for now…I don’t dislike the drama and look foward to the new episodes each week. But, I can forsee this getting bogged down with pacing and plot development and the lack of expression and explanation can prove to be further problematic down the road as well. But with everything, it really is just crossing fingers and toes and hoping for the best. Will this drama follow in the footstes of being an overall good watch or will it follow the trainwreck disasters that you can’t help but watch or will it become unbearable in the latter half? Only time will tell. Right now there’s enough cuteness and seriousness that can balance out the pure silly and some of the rather large plot holes. And…awesome OST, btw. Definitely check it out!
Not that I have watched a lot from the new K.O. series, but I will say that Pets seems more natural in there at times than at some points in this drama when her character starts getting wishy washy. Sam still has his awkward moments, but he’s not horrible.