(FYI I wrote this a couple of months ago too)
Time sure does fly, I could have sworn I was just revising for exams the other day, and now I’ve already graduated and uhh become a total bum. Though I have to admit being a bum for a while does have its upside. In that I can pretty much sit on my arse now and type away here for as long as I want, without that nagging feeling at the back of my head that constantly tells me to get back to looking at notes or, to write another long winded essay. However on the other hand, I have to admit, I think I’ve totally forgotten how to write anything but academic essays, another reason I’ve been putting off writing anything on this blog, but I really couldn’t help it this time around, heehee!
I finally found crack! Haha that’s pretty much my favourite phrase to throw around whenever I find a drama I like beyond just liking. This is usually the stage where I turn into a zombie because I spent my nights stalking all social media accounts associated to all the cast and drama and spend my days re-watching fan mv’s and talking non-stop to other fan girls about how great the drama in question is. Given that it’s almost been a year since I went this crazy for a drama although, I’ll give- Lan Ling Wang had its blunders, ‘Battle of Changsha’ 戰長沙 is absolutely not the case.
It’s pure drama heaven. From casting, to production quality, music, story telling and other aesthetics, it’s a gem. The rarity of having a drama that doesn’t weigh itself down in its own shoujo antics and still doesn’t smother you in detailed political talk that isn’t really meant for my shallow brain, it’s pretty much gold to me. I personally don’t have the patience to sit through a drama filled with political jargon, because it essentially all comes down to ‘big old men arguing’, in my head, which is less than thrilling. for someone who shamelessly enjoys her flufftastic shoujo dramas that very commonly make little to no sense, much less have any ounce substance.
I originally didn’t expect much out of Battle of Changsha, I think I vaguely mentioned it in my upcoming something post-I can hardly recall what it was even called. The main selling point being, Wallace’s gorgeous face. The guy was made for HD Television, I swear!
The synopsis for the series was a little misleading I’ll have to admit though, the drama isn’t solely focused on Gu Qing Ming (Wallace) and Hu Xiang Xiang (Yang Zi), but spends a great deal of effort and time building each individual character from the Hu family, providing back story and delving into their familial ties. Two of my favourite characters have to be Xue Jun Shan (Ren Cheng Wei) and Hu Xiao Man (Niu Jun Feng).
They are probably the most endearing characters out of the entire ensemble. Portrayed as flawed characters, Jun Shan takes bribes despite being someone who works to enforce the law. While Xiao Man a 16 year old, determined to rebel and run away from home on several occasions ends up giving his nai nai a panic attack every time he does so.
The characters don’t distinctly draw attention away from the imminent war they are faced with but, show how they must continue to live. Xiao Man’s naivety mirrors his twins, as the war still has not reached their home, they live their lives exploring, playing tricks, not a trace of the war on their everyday activities until the war slowly creeps up, getting closer to their beloved home. The only real sign outside is when the false alarm for a bombing goes off and everyone has to run to their local shelter. Even then it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever reach them. That false sense of security settles in and even as the viewer you begin to think that it won’t hit the Hu family. At least I know I sat there wishing it wouldn’t. Then when the fire started, and Nainai decided to stay back and safeguard the house I wanted to yell at my screen at how she could be so delusional as to think that if her entire city was being attacked what made her think her house could survive.
Yet she totally proves me wrong when we see her open the door safely, only to see that the majority of the houses nearby have all become ashes, people she knew by name have become corpses, and there’s nothing she can do. The fact that the house remains draws suspicion that there must have been some kind of foreknowledge or at least some underhanded method that they had in order to have just the Hu household standing after such a disaster, even then Nainai holds her ground in living an honest life and offers to feed those in need until her families innocence is proved. There’s something truly heartwarming about this scene, it’s not just the altruistic gesture, but the fact that even in difficult times the head of the house never forgets her own responsibility, it’s a facet to a human that one would think pretty much evaporates in the face as something as dangerous as war.
Except it doesn’t come off as being something being labelled as heroic, but has a more familiar smell to it. Her gesture doesn’t appear to be something she does simply to save face but, really a characteristic that is embedded in her, and we see this follow through in her family as well. In a way, the ideas and themes behind family values is something I didn’t think would be emphasized in this drama, and the fact that it does in such a way that places it in context of a time where it really is survival of the fittest, is somewhat refreshing. Heck it makes me want to believe there are people who are nice without ulterior motives and are nice because that’s just how they were raised. In context of today’s modern society, I guess you could call me a little cynical.
The image of war throughout this drama isn’t something for the lighthearted, though to be fair it isn’t something out of the regular BBC news either so view at your own discretion. The fact that I was never bored out of my mind nor did I wish to hit the fastforward button throughout those scenes says quite a bit. It really does feel like every scene has its worth, though some scenes may hold more significance than others, the less important scenes are not done with less effort by any means.
I have this annoying inability to naturally meander through topics, so I’m just going to throw this out there- I must fangirl Yang Zi! I literally fast forwarded the majority of the scenes in Qiong Yao’s ‘Flowers in Fog’, actually I’m not even sure why I picked it up, I only followed older sis and youngest sis’ story line and Yang Zi was adorable in that series. However, I didn’t expect her to be able to transform into such a well thought out character in Xiang Xiang. She really brought her to life, gave her that sense of youth, and transitioned her into a fine young woman who was a mirror for her families women. If anything I’m totally looking forward to her upcoming works, one of which I believe is another Minguo series, with the same production company (Shandong TV Media) called 大秧歌 Da Yang Ge.
It’d probably be a crime if I didn’t mention Brother in Law, he is just a wonderful, wonderful character. I simply have run out of adjectives to describe how much I loved him as a character, and how much dynamic he brought to the family. His light heartedness is a little breath of fresh air in contrast to Qing Ming who has a tendency to take everything in a very tense mode. Whereas Jun Shan, regardless of how dire a situation has become he really has no end, being a little older it’s as if he kind of gets there is no point in spending your day to day life standing on edge and frightening the people around you with the possibility that they could be danger. Instead, in those small moments of being with his family he sort of brought out how important those moments were with his family. Cheesy much? Yup I’ve forgotten how to write without making myself cringe but, it still doesn’t change the fact that Jun Shan is most likely my favourite character.
If there’s one thing I’d leave this post with, it’s go watch it if you haven’t! It really is worth everyone’s time, regardless of whether you like the era, or dramas that have anything to do with war. It’s worth every scene!