Let’s talk about drama romances!

24 Feb

In my previous post on ‘Manee Dan Suaan’, I talked about how I couldn’t care for the main couple because I didn’t understand how they came to supposedly love each other. That got me wondering, what makes in you tick in a drama romance? Some people go for fairytales complete with rainbows and stardust while others prefer watching the trails and tribulations of star-crossed lovers and then there are those who like unwinding to a light-hearted romcom. I enjoy all those stated above but I prefer those where characters overcome issues/problems within themselves and become better/more complete persons because of the relationship, in contrast to ones who keep the OTP apart with circumstances. A good makjang drama complete with manipulative exes, domineering parents, unfortunately coincidental accidents and terminal illness for good measure is tons of fun too but it takes a rare one (like 2001 Kdrama Beautiful Days) for the romance to stick after the drama finishes its run.

A couple of my personal ‘classic’ drama romances:

Aishiteiru to Ittekure (Say You Love Me) 1995
This Jdorama taught me what heartbreak was at the tender age of 12. At my first watch, I cried for poor Koji who got his heart trampled by Hiroko and couldn’t understand her betrayal. It was only with subsequent re-watches when I got older that I appreciated this drama for its realistic portrayal of the older man/younger woman and handicap/healthy person relationship. Young and vivacious, Hiroko brought vitality into the silent world of Koji but at the same time, her immaturity worked against their relationship and ultimately led to her impulsive betrayal of the man she so loved. Koji also had his share of emotional baggage from the rejections he suffered from those dearest to him when he was younger due to his deafness and that exacerbated Hiroko’s insecurities. I guess it’s not 100% realistic since I have yet to run into anyone resembling Toyokawa Etsushi drawing and being contemplative at the park in front of my house damn but it’s close. If anyone is thinking of checking this out, it does end on a positive note.

Sood Sanaeha (Recipe of Love) 2009
I wouldn’t say lakorns are the place to go to for realism and there are exaggerated comedic elements in SSH but despite the larger than life set up, the romance is most wonderfully grounded. As romcoms go, the main couple starts off on the wrong foot but the initial conflict isn’t drawn out and they are given a believable reason for sticking with each other. It annoys me to no end when romcoms have the couple bicker from start to end then have them fall into each others arms for no apparent reason in the finale. Din and Alin learn about each other’s strengths and flaws through friendship first and later when they grew fond of each other, they were ‘kept apart’ believably by Alin’s blind pursuit of the perfect husband and Din’s own insecurities. My favourite part of SSH is watching Alin learn that you don’t love someone because he/she is perfect. The person is perfect to you because you love him/her.

What are your favourite drama romance tropes and what on-screen romances do you still remember years later?

8 Responses to “Let’s talk about drama romances!”

  1. craxycat_76 February 24, 2013 at 7:16 PM #

    I bounce around so much that it is hard for me to pin a tail on my favorites, since most of the time I am on to the next obsession by then (I give props to all the drama writers for being able to stick to a certain thing).

    I got into Lakorns although admittedly they aren’t my first Drama of choice unless it is an exceptionally well done Lakorn. I do however try to find the one that grabs my attention then runs with it. I enjoyed Mia Taeng (Rome version), Pin Anong (a lot!), and there are others, but I am really bad w/ names so I’d have to look them up lol. Recently I liked the Nadech/Kim lakorn a lot, and I am overly fascinated with the new show with Weir in it. Nak soo Maha gaan looks exactly like every other Lakorn lol, but Weir just looks so healthy and happy I wanna watch him.

    I love a lot of Korean shows so IDK if it is even worth going into that area, although I am still not finding anything to fill my ‘Faith’ obsession yet. I don’t watch a lot of Jdrama just because I get attached to the ones I have seen so that all other shows fail miserably to make me stay w/ them. I am a fickle tv watchin’ bitch….I admit it…got the t-shirt….still trying to get a handle on it😉 U.S. tv I think has been over and done with so much so that I only watch it on pirate sites to avoid the annoying commercials (along w/ that awesome ff thing it has😉.

    Hmm…I wonder why I even am talking about it AEB me not having ANYthing that resembles ‘normal’ tendencies….lol I do try though *grin*

    • J February 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

      Haaa, I’m a fickle fangirl too so I totally get you but I realised the kind of romance that really gets to me has similar traits across dramas from different countries. US tv has lost me too, I’m not even following the crime dramas I used to watch religiously. Guess it gets stale after so many years of the same stuff. Just curious, what’s your favourite(s) Jdramas?😉

      • craxycat_76 March 1, 2013 at 6:34 PM #

        I fell in LOVE with ‘Love Letter’ (info: http://asianwiki.com/Love_Letter_(2008-Japan-TBS)) then it was removed and went on a search for it, along w/ the actors, but it was gone. I also like anything really with Kamenashi (I can never remember his name for the life of me) for some reason he just makes me want to be…younger….hotter…and asian, but neither here nor there *grin* ‘Perfect girl evolution’ (or the name given by dramawiki I just look for names and subs lol’ was a good one too. I am thinking about getting into the show ‘Piece’ cause I saw a vid for it and it looks decent.

        Don’t get me started on the massive amounts of crime drama on U.S. tv. right now…so lame and over done. Rather try to look up shows/actors/dramas that I can’t even name cause at least it is a little original.

      • craxycat_76 March 1, 2013 at 6:37 PM #

        Ok do over😉 IDK what I did wrong, but here I go again.

        fell in LOVE with ‘Love Letter’ then it was removed and went on a search for it, along w/ the actors, but it was gone. I also like anything really with Kamenashi (I can never remember his name for the life of me) for some reason he just makes me want to be…younger….hotter…and asian, but neither here nor there *grin* ‘Perfect girl evolution’ (or the name given by dramawiki I just look for names and subs lol’ was a good one too. I am thinking about getting into the show ‘Piece’ cause I saw a vid for it and it looks decent.

        Don’t get me started on the massive amounts of crime drama on U.S. tv. right now…so lame and over done. Rather try to look up shows/actors/dramas that I can’t even name cause at least it is a little original.

      • J March 3, 2013 at 2:02 PM #

        At first I thought you meant the 1995 J-movie ‘Love Letter’ but I realised it was the 2008 drama. I’ve not watched the drama before but perhaps I will check it out someday. The movie ‘Love Letter’ is old but it’s heartbreakingly good (trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT2PlN8kIik).

  2. Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 9:51 PM #

    As I am getting older, my tastes in drama has become more selective, although I would like to use the word “refined.” Hah. I look for both story arch and character arch, which in the small screen world means characters that grow over the course of the series and a plot that compels the viewer to feel or learn something. I especially enjoy a drama that offers me something to think about base off of the writer/director’s argument. Most importantly, I want a great romance story with lots of chemistry. It certainly requires some digging and contemplation when it comes to top drama romances.

    There are so many great love stories over the course of my drama viewing days.. but I’m going to start with TVB dramas since those were the first dramas that stuck with me during my youth: Heavenly Sword, Tony Leung’s version. It taught me about being yourself, because if you’re always doing what others want you to do, you just end up doing self destructive things, as our main guy learns. As for love, that there are different variations of love but you ultimately love someone you cannot live without. I’ve always remembered Wujee looking at his four loves: one he loves and feels sorry for, the other he loves but is afraid of (respects), the third he loves because she’s so much like his mother (platonic), and fourth, he hates but he loves. In the end, he chose the woman whom he loves and hates because when she’s out of his life, he learns he cannot live without her (not to mention that they both sacrificed so much for each other.) Ah, so romantic!

    As for lakorns, SSH is definitely on my list because the OTP love is believable and developed so well. I’ve also remember older lakorns that taught me many things about life and love (Tawipob 94, Maya Tawan 96, Wun Nee Tee Raw Koy 93 to name a few.) I think people watch lakorns for different reasons and the writers/directors obviously know their target market. But those who think outside of the box, and dare to stretch the typical- now that, I can respect. But you’re right, lakorns aren’t ones to portray reality, but yet, it cannot be undermined because it manages to sustain people’s attention for large spans of time. My newer favorites are: JLR, SSH, GRGR to name a few.

    I’ve only seen one Kdrama and that’s PP, which I love as well.

    Great article J- it certainly requires thoughtful responses! ~Fia.

    • J February 27, 2013 at 2:35 PM #

      I’m surprised you named Wuji’s romances because many people (myself included) do not like that wishy-washy aspect of his character – especially when contrasted with the other devoted male leads in Louis Cha’s wuxia world – but you raised a very interesting point about them being different variations of love. Certainly food for thought when I read or watch Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre again! Not exactly romance related but since you’re a fan of HSDS, have you watched Jet Li’s movie based on the story? It’s a HK movie which means it’s creatively~~ adapted but it’s good for the action and it has my favourite version of Zhao Min. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_23BWterUc -> eng subs if you’re interested

      Your comment is inspiring me to write a post specifically on wuxia romances. I don’t know why they completely slipped my mind when I typed up this post, perhaps because I read them as novels before watching the various tv adaptations, or maybe I remember them more for the action and adventure?

      • Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 5:22 PM #

        I have not seen JL’s movie version but definitely interested in checking it out, thanks for the links! Regarding Wuji’s romances, I understood his wishy-washy-ness (if that is even a word) because that’s sort of his personal growth in the series. The boy certainly has his traumatic experiences, of losing his parents, of constantly being told what to do, and being confused about his feelings toward his love interests. But irregardless, he is always so genuine and authentic. That’s what spoke to me, a hero with a lot of weakness but obviously has the most to grow. Another attractive aspect of Wuji and Zhao Min’s love is that they overcame such crazy hurdles to finally be together. I mean, she and her father were trying to take over the world, and getting rid of anyone who’s in their way. I love a good action adventure with a mixture of love as well. After talking about this, I can’t wait to watch JL’s version now..
        Oh please do write a post about wuxia romances. I’d love to see what other drama you’d mention🙂 Would love to add my two cents. ~Fia

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