Sometimes it doesn’t pay to play by the rules. Hunan TV, despite having some shameless promotion tactics, and a reputation in China for being “Shanzhai”, has had a long history of turning out good dramas, from Princess Returning Pearl to their latest Ugly Wudi. In contrast, straight-forward Shanghai-based Dragon TV has always been kind of fail with their attempts at shows. For a station situated in such a trendy city, Dragon (aka Tomato) TV has been one step behind Changsha-based Hunan-TV, and never had the knack that Hunan TV has had in actually delivering quality fun drama. It was however, the first in China to tackle adapting a manga, buying the rights for a live-action drama adaptation to the fanatically-followed manga, Prince of Tennis in 2007, with much support and enthusiasm from its writer, Takeshi Konomi who hoped this would help promote his beloved manga in the huge Chinese market.
Unfortunately, he probably didn’t look at Dragon TV’s track record when he signed that deal. Consequently, this became one of the most mocked dramas in China of that year. Despite the dramas flaws, and merciless taunting from Chinese fans, the series is back for a second season.
Both idarklight and I didn’t find the series that good. It really can’t compare to Hunan TV’s flair for fun entertainment, nor did it give the rich detail complexities that of the big-budgetdramas shown on CCTV display. And since this was a show tailored around the “actors” (mostly from the competition My Hero), instead of choosing actors that fit the story and its characters, the acting was abysmal compared to usual Chinese standards. Even the hotness of the guys was marred by the horrible stylist who seemed to be wrangling with the dilemna of whether to make them more manga-like, or more like normal university students. In the end, they chose normal hair with slight modifications that gave nod to the manga hair, a very non-aesthetically pleasing decision (In particular Oishi’s fringe).
But despite this I thought it had heart, and some nice inspirational background music. And it gave adorable Qin Junjie, whose role as the youngest son in “Curse of the Golden Flower” didn’t do too much for his career, another chance to shine, an opportunity afforded to others as well, like Song Xiaobo, whose choices are limited as an actor. And that’s pretty much what can be said of Dragon TV and its partner company Shanghai Media Group…through it’s almost bumbling way of trying to be a sucessful youth-oriented station, you don’t get an overall sense of quality, but you do find a few gems here and there. Hopefully it’s finding its way slowly to becoming a a finely-crafted station that brings China its new generation of idols, a worthy rival to Hunan TV, and not killer of potential in the entertainment sphere.
It seems as if they are already learning from their previous mistakes. The hair is slightly better. Gone is the horridness of Oishi’s fringe, and actor Zhang Cao’s normal hair is back. More, importantly, the director for this is the director for Pink Ladies, a series starring Rene Liu that was really good. Rene Liu is a really good actress, whereas I can think of only one or two people in this cast whose acting I like, but oh well. It still gives me hope this series will be better than its predecessor.
Puported additions to the cast may include Wu Jianfei, Kimi, Mai Haisheng, Yu Siyuan of B.I.Z and Gao Xiaochen. Xue Zhiqian anf BOBO are confirmed. Gao Xiaochen is, of course the unofficial mascot of Cfensi (the site) and might have a chance because he’d be a much cheaper addition.
In other news, Dragon TV recently acquired the rights to film a telenovela, much like Hunan TV did with Ugly Wudi. I probably won’t be watching that one, but I’m glad Dragon keeps trying. One day you’ll get it right.
And pretty people…because that’s why we watch this for right?
Ryoma Echizen aka Long Ma:
New Lead Actress Wang Ziwen who has one of those unstated relationships with Long Ma:
And the actors for Fuji and Oishi: