Watching In A Good Way again reconfirmed why I love it so much. I think I loved it more this time around than I did the first time and all the warm, fuzzy feelings all came rushing back, if not stronger this time around. It’s a drama done right and when a drama is done right then it’s a drama worth cherishing. It offers everything that a drama should offer and so much more than what I could have asked for. It is a very thoughtful and well-structured drama right from the start to finish and at the same time crafted a set of entertaining and three-dimensional characters. That itself is a very hard accomplishment for any drama to achieve; it’s very easy for a drama to go haywire either through the character development or the plot but it is very hard for a drama to strike a perfect balance between these two elements. However, IAGW did what most dramas fail to do and found that balance. Of course, this drama is by no means perfect with a few stumbles here and there but overall the drama is really up there with what it was able to deliver. A good drama is memorable but an amazing drama leaves a long, lasting impression. This drama did that for me and also presented itself as a beautiful journey to witness. Nothing from the drama itself indicated to how good of a drama it would be but it proved so otherwise, awing me yet again. Each of the elements of this drama was beautifully crafted and the end result was a beautifully executed drama. This hands down is one of the best dramas I’ve seen in my books and there is nothing as of yet that can top it in its genre.
IAGW is really a drama that turned out in a good way. It’s a very thoughtful drama and I really applaud it for being so. It’s a drama that centres on the uni and political era in Taiwan during the late 1990s but more than that though, it is a drama that about self-discovery and transformation. The writing and execution felt very real, which made the drama that much more powerful in what it was able to convey. It’s a drama that is filled with journey and is of one that brings you on a journey with it, which was what made me so emotionally attached to the drama. I absolutely fell in love with the drama and felt like I was actually there on journey with the characters as they overcame the various hurdles in their lives. There is a very real sense to the drama, which really helped the drama to soar to amazing heights.
The cast and characters was what really made the drama what it is. Lego Lee as the all-in-one intelligent and handsome beau Liu Shan Feng “Liu Chuan” and Lorene Ren as the brought a brilliant warmth to their romance, Jay Shih as Zheng Ren Wei showing mature growth with his character arc and Smile Wen as the campus flower Bai Xue Fen “Bai Xue” but rewriting second leads for the better. I also adored the supporting casts, who added a nice flare to the drama. Steven Sun as bubbly Xie You Qing “Ah Qing”, Apple Lin as the bright Tracy, Yao Yao Chun as the kind and caring Liao Ri Qi and Jenny Wong as the shy Ding Xiao Wei. The whole crew was brought together by fate to study at Chengdong University and their meeting with one another changed each of their lives forever. They were met with new challenges but they faced these challenges head on and and allowed these challenges to help them to grow into a better person. What it brought for us as viewers was the satisfaction of knowing that they have grown to become better, more mature and more resilient characters and they will be able to tackle anything that comes in their path even when the challenges are not on-screen for us to witness.
Although the drama is quite lengthy compared to other idol dramas, the drama doesn’t have that sense of dragginess that other dramas sport when they reach the finishing stage. The ending was open-ended but did not have a sense of feeling incomplete. None of the characters are dealing with anything that requires any further development. Ri Qi and Xiao Wei are in their cutesy, courtship phase with one another; Ah Qing and Tracy are, too, in a similar situation and that was more than enough of a closure for me. Ren Wei have come to terms to be by Jia En’s side as her best friend and will always be there for her and it was his entire journey from the start for him to come to this realisation that really brought about a sense of completeness for him. Bai Xue is just amazing as she is; she is a strong and independent woman and can overcome anything in her life. and needs no man in her life to be complete. I, did, however, love the subtle signs that she has fallen for Ren Wei, but whether that comes to fruition is another story. Jia En and Liu Chuan had a very open ending but it’s not open enough to be incomplete. They each had their own path to take and being apart was the best path for them to take because it is only through this separation that they were able to further push themselves to grow. The ending could have definitely filled me with more closure but I was satisfied with how it turned out. The ending was supposed to be followed by a movie to provide a more complete ending to the drama but three years later and I am still waiting.
Liu Chuan is the cream of the crop. He is intelligent, handsome and achieves great in everything that he does but he actually holds a lot of insecurities. We got to watch him go on a journey filled with growth and open himself to show us his insecurities. Liu Chuan comes from a pretty well-off family but has a very politically-oriented father who does do things through the most righteous way. Liu Chuan is a very righteous person and wants to live freely and pursue what he truly wants, except at the back of what he does, he is tied down through his relationship with his father. He doesn’t want people to have a prejudice view on him because he is his father’s son; he wants people to view him for who he is and I guess that is why he is reserved in expressing himself to those around him.
Jia En really helped to open up Liu Chuan. Liu Chuan who has always held his insecurities to himself slowly found himself opening up to Jia En and grow fondness to her. She understands him and just wants to help him to be himself, but the better version of himself. She is always there for him, whether it be supporting him side-by-side on his discovery journey, supporting him from the sidelines or just being there as a listening ear. Unknowingly, Liu Chuan became Jia En’s everything. She became dependent on him and little by little she was losing her own goals in life. She was willing to give up her study abroad opportunity to remain by his side. While it hurt, I was glad for the separation between them two. It set their hearts on the right path but more importantly for Jia En was that it allowed her to keep chasing her dreams. She was so close to giving up everything for him and that is definitely not what he wants for her. He just wants her to be herself and to keep chasing her own dreams. Only this way will they be able to keep loving each other. It was broke my heart to see them come to that decision but it was for the better and I guess it many ways it opened up their horizons and allowed their hearts to keep loving each other.
Jia En is a very special character. I really enjoyed how the scriptwriter was able to flesh her out piece by piece and as an emotionally deep but mature character. She has definitely grown up a lot as a person since stepping inside university. She has met an array of people who has completely changed her life around, particularly Liu Chuan who helped her to realise her dream and passion. He gave her direction in life and so much so that he became her direction in life. He was her everything and his journey became her journey. Without a doubt she has definitely grown as a person since meeting Liu Chuan but at the same time because she grew dependent of him, her growth was overshadowed by his growth. In saying that though, if not for him she would not have been able to realise that she has such capabilities.
Bai Xue is truly amazing, just truly truly amazing. I just love her so so so much! She is the best friend that anyone can have. She is supportive and she is always there for when her friends need it. She sees the bigger picture and helps to point her friends in the right direction. I just love love love her! She is an amazing woman in her every right. I really quite enjoyed watching her character development. It’s quite different to the rest of the crew because her growth is not because of anyone but herself. She matured by pushing herself to overcome her personal fears, whereas for someone like Jia En, she needs Liu Chuan to push her to see her own greater potential. The way Bai Xue handled her feelings for Liu Chuan was just a-class. Not only did she push herself to confess to him despite knowing that he does not have feelings for her but she also handled the rejection with grace. I love her encouragement to Jia En to pursue after Liu Chuan and I absolutely love her for being the gem that she is and providing some pretty solid advice to her peers, particularly to Jia En and Ren Wei. Bai Xue is just pure amazing!
Ren Wei really emerged at the second half of the drama to become one of my favourite characters. I was quite annoyed with Ren Wei in the first half. Following high school, his mind was just set on heading to Taipei to chase after freedom. He fell for Bai Xue immediately and was deadset on doing everything that he can to pursue her. Jia En decided to venture out into Taipei too but she knew of no one other than him. However, he neglected her and ignored all of her calls for his help when she needed him most, instead spending time on trying to pursue Bai Xue. Ren Wei is a very rash person and will make decisions then and there on the spot without consideration of the consequences that comes with it. However, that all changed when he realised that his heart had fallen for Jia En. By then it was too late for him to make his move as Jia En and Liu Chuan were already in a relationship. He has a very deep friendship with Jia En, one that holds too much of a consequence for him to jeopardise. Instead, he decided to remain as a supportive friend by her side and to just be there to hear out her woes and what I loved more was just how he was able to craft a deep friendship with Bai Xue and very maturely but with braveness faced his feelings to Jia En. It was this whole phase that really made me change my opinion on him. He really matured during this phase and I love that he was able to make this decision carefully and with lots of consideration. His capacity for maturity and his mature growth in many ways made him a very loveable character. I liked that we were able to witness him on his self-discovery path to truly find out what the extent of freedom means. Probably my favourite part of his maturity was when he settled on the fact that he will only be there for Jia En as her best friend and decided to keep his fond affection for her forever a secret between him and Bai Xue. That was a very nice gesture of his maturity, showing just how far he has come from when we first met him.
The ending was quite open but at the same time quite complete. I like how it shows the maturity of the characters and how far they have come over the past few years of their uni life. Jia En leaving for England without Liu Chuan by her side probably the best sign of her maturity. She has grown too attached with Liu Chuan and needed to be apart from him in order for her to further grow. Whether they choose to stay together or not, this separation will give them a clear answer on whether they are suited for one another and only time and fate will tell what the outcome will be. I want to end this post with just how amazing the writing was; absolutely spectacular. I just love how it was all organised from the very beginning with Liu Chuan’s treasure hunt journey leading himself and everyone else involved on an incredible growth journey. This drama is an amazing drama that I love ever so dearly even to this date. And thanks for giving me Momo! It will always hold a special place in my heart.