[pandemic diaries] Here to Heart

I subscribed to Netflix last year because of ARASHI’s documentary series that is still ongoing. But it has since become an important app to get me through this coronavirus era.

Last week, I found Here to Heart (2018), not exactly a recent Chinese drama but the leads (Hans Zhang and Janine Chang) and the plot got me clicking that + button to add it to my list. I was into Episode 2 when I discovered, to my horror, that it has 48 episodes.

But I carried on. The plot reminds me of those fan fiction I have read: Nanxian and Nuan, two former lovers meet again, they still love each other, but they need to go through a lot of twists and turns before they get back together and find their happy ending–in this case, 48 bloody episodes.

It has all the drama ingredients: noble idiocy, (selective) amnesia, love square, pretty locations (shot in London and Shanghai), nice clothes, nice cars, nice homes and office, eye candy (aside from Hans, there is Ji Xiaobing; Janine is also so pretty in this drama), an annoying second female lead who always gets in the way, a thousand misunderstandings…but thankfully, no terminal illness.

I learned to look away from the screen and do something else when the scene didn’t involve Nanxian and Nuan. I managed to crawl through the first half of the drama on the sheer onscreen chemistry of Hans and Janine alone, but I was crazily abusing the fast-forward button by the time the drama hit the second half.

In my frustration, I read blog reviews and was assured I wasn’t alone. One blogger reflected that you needed to watch each episode that had Nanxian and Nuan pining for each other but hiding their feelings–and the truth of their break-up seven years ago on top of the hundreds of roadblocks they had to encounter–in order to appreciate the ups and downs of their relationship. But, here’s the caveat, she wrote that she won’t do it again. LOL.

I’m done watching and dutifully took notes for the scenes that I liked so I could watch them again, and it has proven helpful because I really enjoy watching Hans and Janine–they look gorgeous together. This is their third time acting together, and I tried watching their previous drama, The Four, but the genre is not exactly my cup of tea. So, I’m back to Here to Heart. Thank god for that fast-forward button.

I also managed to get a friend to watch, with the warning of course that it could get frustrating (an old article said Chinese viewers were frustrated with the second half because the leads have become guests in their own drama–there were fillers and other subplots obviously to stretch the whole thing to 48 episodes). Said friend occasionally sends me real-time reactions (“Alamak, his hair is still in place even when he’s sick and at home in his PJ!” I’m still laughing over this).

One of the things I’d probably remember from this quarantine period is writing this piece while listening to Karen Mok’s “If There Was No You,” which Nanxian and Nuan sing at karaoke (it’s their song). Karen’s voice is so good and evokes just the right emotions for the song about missing an ex lover. The song also makes me cry thinking I went through 48 episodes just to see Nanxian and Nuan meet again and walk off into the crowd for about a minute or maybe two.

Next up will be Boss & Me, which stars Hans. I read the novel, “Come and Eat, Shan Shan,” years ago and enjoyed it so much. I hope the drama adaptation lives up to it.

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