t-drama remakes vs original j-drama

I noticed that the Taiwanese dramas of the comedy/romance genre I like best are either based on Japanese mangas or usually adaptations of the original Japanese dramas (which are also based on a Japanese manga) shown ten or so years ago.   Are there differences, aside from the language, of the two versions?  Which one is better?

Generally, one noticeable difference is the length.  The Japanese versions will usually have about ten or so episodes while the Taiwanese ones will have around 15-20 episodes.  The t-drama versions would usually have several subplots and will try to stick as much as possible to the original storyline; the j-versions’ plot are usually centered on the main plot and would slightly have a “modified” storyline compared to the j-manga on which it was based.    Second difference is that the t-dramas would usually have an OST with a main title song and several pop songs which lyrics are related to the song.  These songs would usually be played in scenes where the actors are in a contemplating or reflective mode, scenes where the actors would usually be looking out the window or lying awake in bed while scenes are flashbacked. Thus a viewer would have to listen carefully to the lyrics of the songs to get an enhanced understanding of the scene.  The j-dramas OST are usually composed of one main title song and a so-called “insert”song .  The rest are background music and thus have no lyrics.  I noticed j-dramas have less or even zero reflection scenes of the t-drama mode but there are also flashbacks.  A third difference is the ending–for t-dramas, the endings are happy, boy and girl live happily ever after type of endings; in the j-dramas, one doesn’t directly see a straightforward ending where the girl and boy live happily ever after, although this is implied.  This leaves the viewer to expect a “drama special-SP” of two episodes to follow.  In the SPs, the “happily ever after” ending usually happens. 

Now, let’s see the four cases of the comedy/romance genre taiwanese and japanese dramas that I have watched and give my personal (subjective?) rating.

Hana KImi–I like the J-version better because I found the lead actress, Ella Chen, in the t-version not appealing.  Maki Horikita as Mizuki Ashiya was better (in fact, she won the Best Actress award in the 54th Television Awards in Japan).  Further, the j-version starred Oguri Shun (aka Hanazawa Rui of Hana yori dango fame) as Izumi Sano.  Oguri is one of my favorite actors, which explains the bias. 

The t-drama “It Started with a Kiss”(ISWAK)  vs j-drama “Itazura na Kisu”.  I like the t-drama version better.  It was funnier, acting was good although sometimes exaggerated, the actors had better chemisty esp Ariel Lin and Joe Chen, OST was excellent, the longer length allowed for development of the story, the ending really made me feel good.   The j-version, although made ten years earlier was also okay because acting was likewise good.  (BTW, the  lead actor is far more handsome than Joe Chen. ) Plot was short and really focused on the two lead charaters; absolutely no subplot. The lead actress’ acting was not as ” naturally cute” as Ariel Lin; she was really “trying hard” so her acting was exaggerated to the point of irritating. The title song cute for its time. 

“Sweet Relationship” (t-drama) vs. “Oishi Kankei” (j-drama).  Again, ST is a remake of OK which was shown in Japan ten years ago.  I like the t-drama version better because the lead actress, Patricia Hsu, was so convincing whenever she describes the food she eats.  Although I like Nakayama Miho (the lead actress in the -j version), it was Patricia that pulled it off better.  The J-version is more realistic though, but the t-version funnier.  Again, the length of the t-drama allowed for more development of the storyline, although the subplots were sometimes boring and tended to draw the focus away from the main plot.  I was a bit disappointed in the acting of Vic Zhou, one of my favorite t-actors.  His acting didn’t exude “authority” that his role asked for, in contrast to the Japanese actor who played the same role in the j-version.  (BTW, this actor looks better than Vic).  Vic looked  emaciated here and his facial expression was almost the same throughout (although he really looked  great when he smiled). Although both Vic and Patty looked good together, their chemistry was lacking  (maybe due to Vic’s “tired” acting).  But the ending of ST is better, as the j-version ended with the chef going to Paris with his girlfriend and leaving Nakayama Miho in Tokyo, with the promise that he will come back to Toko after two years to taste Miho’s cooking.  (I have a feeling there is an “SP” to provide the closure to the story, but have searched the internet endlessly for one but in vain).  Again, the t-version OST is good and I like Vic Zhu’s sweet relationship main song and Alan Kuo’s “Don’t say goodbye”. 

Meteor Garden (t-drama) vs. Hana Yori Dango (j-version).  Definitely, HYD lords it over MG.  Why?  I will save the comments for another day.

another older woman -younger guy love story

“Tokyo Tower” (The Movie, 2005) adds to my list of J-doramas with this older woman-younger guy love relationship.  This time, Tooru Kojima falls madly in love with a married friend of her mother.  The friend, Shifumi Nakazono,  is 21 years older, tall like a model, attractive, a socialite.  Tooru (played by Juinichi Okada) and Shifumi started their relationship three years ao when Tooru was 18 years.  Soon, Tooru’s mom (a divorcee) finds out and tells Shifum to leave alone her son.  Tooru goes to study in Paris, while Shifumi divorces her husband.  Shfumi goes to Paris to look for Tooru and I guess they live happily ever after.

Another older woman-younger guy relationship that didn’t end happily is that of Koji (Jun Matsumoto) and Kimiko.  I thought that it would have been better if the story only focused on Tooru and Shifumi to have more impact.  Providing the opening song is Nora Jones.  Not really a touching  movie  as Moho no Jouken, but Okada Juinichi is hot.  Is he the same guy as Junpei Oribe in HYD or the guy in Hana Kimi who thought he was a gay (Nakatsu) because he fell in love with that girl (Ashiya Mizuki) who posed as a guy because she is in love with Izumi Yano (played by Oguri Shun).  (I just opened the site of Hana Kimi and found out that Nakatsu is not Junichiro Okada.

My Girl–Philippine version

    It’s been a while since I last wrote my thoughts about Asian drama.  So far, I’ve written about Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese dramas that I have seen, but not about Philippine dramas.  I have not seen any Philippine dramas because they have not interested me until “My Girl–Philippine version.” When I heard that the TV station ABS CBN made an adaptation of the Korean hit drama (and one of my all time favorites)-My Girl- I became curious and watched it.  I was hooked!  The lead Philippine stars (unknown to me until this drama) –Gerald Anderson playing the hotel executive Julian in the Philippine version  (that is, the role of Lee Dong Wook as Gong Chan in the Korean version) and Kim Chiu playing the “fake” cousin of Julian (that is, the role played by Lee Da-Hae as  Joo Yoo Rin in the Korean version) are great actors.  At first I thought that they were too young for the roles (Both are not yet in their 20s; they were winners in the Philippine version of Big Brother–first Teen edition  in 2006)  but they are so good they could get away with it.  And both Gerald and Kim are so cute together. 

I am so glad the Philippine version was able to adapt the drama to Philippine culture and situations.  Julian (Gong Chan in the Korean) belongs to an aristocratic Spanish family while Jasmine (Yoo Rin in the Korean) is a street smart Chinese-Filipino girl. Julian’s lost cousins parents were victims of landslide vis the Korean version where the parents were victims of the Kobe earthquake. 

 I thought the Philippine cast is far good looking than the Korean cast, but I prefer the Korean OST than the Philippine OST.  There are new songs composed solely for the Philippine version like “Sabihin Mo Na” (Tell Me Now) by Philippine singer Yeng Constantino.  Moreover, Philippine dramas are usually dragging, but this one is fast paced.  And just like their  Korean counterparts, the lead actors here are also “fashionistas.”

I don’t know how many episodes there are and until when I would be glued to the TV daily during weekdays; but I do look forward to being at home by 9pm so that I could watch my latest favorite drama.

Goong-one of my all time favorite Asian dramas

I have been writing about recent Tv dramas that I have watched-mostly Japanese and some Taiwan dramas.  However, I have not written about my favorite drama–a Korean soap–Goong or Princess Hours (2006).  I saw it in March 2007-the third drama I have watched since i became a Korean, Taiwan and Japanese drama addict in February 2007- but I have started to watch it (Goong) again.  Moreover, I have successfully downloaded additional songs from the soundtrack–one of my favorite OSTs too.  BTW, this is the only TV drama I have watched that is not based on a Japanese manga; it is based on a Korean manwa.

The plot is simple–a handsome, intelligent but detached prince (Lee Shin played by Joo Ji Hoon) at age 19 years and in his senior year has to marry a doe-eyed spunky girl (Chaeyong played by Yoon Eun-Hye) about his age with whom he has been bethrothed from childhood by his king grandfather and the girl’s grandfather. The prince and his wife-to-be are from the same elite art high school in Seoul.  (Note: There is no monarchy in Korea now since it is said that the Japanese destroyed the Korean monarchy when it colonized the country).  Now, adding more texture to the simple plot are the previous relationship (first love) of the prince with another schoolmate (Hyo Rin) an aspiring and talented ballerina, who dumped him when he proposed marraige, and the undying love of the second prince Yul for the prince’s wife.

Simple as the plot may be, I love the acting and the storyline.  It is one of the most romantic dramas I have ever watched.  Also, the setting and costumes are great; moreover, the what-if-Korea-was-under-a-constitutional monarchy-storyline is really great.  It showed some traditional Korean sports, the Korean monarchy way of life, although I have not verified these with actual Korean history.   I heard that this is a big budget production, despite the appearance of newcomers Joo Jee Hoon and Park Eun-Hye.  I also think that  the kissing scene in Episode 23 is the best I have seen so far, in terms of the chemistry between the two lead stars and the effect the scene has on me.

It is too bad the two lead stars are not really prolific in making dramas–Joo Jee Hoon has “The Devil” which I have started but have stopped watching and I have seen Park Eun-Hye’s “First Shop of Coffee Prince” which I also enjoyed. Other than that, I have not seen these two stars again, although I have to see if Joo Jee Hoon has finished making the movie “Antique.”

*photo from kristabelle16 on Flickr

maho no jouken–my best tearjerker so far

It’s 1:30 am on a Tuesday, I mean Wednesday; I have just finished the last episode of Maho no Jouken on crunchyroll with no hitches (that is, no buffering every 1 minute, unlike Why Why Love which was stressful to watch because of continuous pauses–I had to open three sites just to watch WWL).  I was so touched–the lessons from this love story is just awesome–so true, I was so touched that I cried in the last episode.  It is not a melodramatic film–no overacting; no foolish and unrealistic pa-cute stuff unlike the other dramas  that I have watched so far (WWL is example).  The Matsushima Nanako (Michi Hirose here, the 26-year old HS teacher; btw, she was Tsubaki, the sister of Tsukasa Domyouji in Hana Yori Dango) and Takizaki Hideaki (Kurosawa Hikaru here, the 17 year old HS 2-C student of Michi) was superb.  I think Takky is the cutest (handsomest) Japanese young actor so far; far goodlooking when compared to all my favorite actors like Mike He Jun Xiang and Oguri Shun.  I am looking forward to watching Yoshitsune,  and Boku no Madonna. 

BTW, this was the “Forbidden Love” that the Muslim salesgirl was egging me to buy when I purchased Tokyo Love story, HYD and Gokusen.  She said it was very nice and a bestseller but I didn’t believe her because I didn’t know the actors; besides, the title alone suggested it was not a romantic comedy. 

I think it was worth the loss of sleep;  despite some doubts about whether Michi regaining consciousness was real or just a dream, I still think it was for real so I am really glad that the story has a happy ending.