Tokyo Cinderella Story


Reviewed by: sukting

December 05, 2005

Rating: three

Foreword
Do you wish to watch a younger Karasawa Toshiaki in the 90s? This serial might satisfy your curiosity as he plays a handsome prince charming. I am sorry that my memory fails me as I watched it in 1995 so this review is very brief. I apologise for the Chinese names below as I don’t know their names in Japanese.

Story

Ju Xiong comes to work in Tokyo, hoping to find a better life. He arranges to meet Xue Zi at the train station. Xue Zi is 23 and has been in Tokyo working as an accountant in a small company after her university education. Ya Shi mistakens him as his chauffeur as he is back from his business trip. (Who to blame as he wears the same clothes as his chauffeur?) Ya Shi envies them to be close as he also has a younger sister, Tong. Xue Zi falls in love with him and gives him her red umbrella to shelter him from the rain. Xue Zi guesses that he is rich and it is hard to see him again.

Her guess is correct. Ya Shi’s family owns hotels, SPAs, communications and sales. He is the Chairman and just succeeds his father, Hao Yi Lang’s post. He will not remember this short meeting. His life is filled with meetings, invitations and also dates. His secretary San Pu is his capable assistant as he knows that he isn’t calm enough to make decisions. That is the weakness of a businessman so that is why he uses San Pu. San Pu wants him to pass the invitation card to Chu Hui, another associate’s only daughter.

(Does this remind you of Qi Zhu’s plight too in ‘Lovers in Paris’?) Ya Shi is troubled – this is some kind of dedicated secretary. The chauffeur , Jiang Mu quickly opens the car door for him. He reminds Jiang Mu to be punctual at all times and wants him to throw the umbrella away since it is broken. Xue Zi gives her money to Ju Xiong for his date and has only enough to buy a hotdog. Ya Shi greets her as he comes out from the same French restaurant. He is there to discuss business but doesn’t have the appetite to eat.

Ya Shi gives her a ride home and she is shocked to see the enormous size of the imported car. Moreover, the chauffeur calls him ‘chairman’. Ya Shi recalls that his sister, Tong also has a red umbrella. Since she leaves home for 3 years, he has searched for her in vain. She consoles Ya Shi that he can find her soon.
He gives the supposed invitation card for Chu Hui to the company D&D to Xue Zi. (Although the situation is similar, Ya Shi is more firm to defy his father openly right on the first day.)

He also welcomes Ju Xiong to be there. She opens the card – it writes – hope to meet you again soon. Xue Zi is delighted but she doesn’t know that this is San Pu’s mistake in forgetting to write Chu Hui’s name on the envelope. Xue Zi is angry that Ju Xiong keeps from her that his date fails and she has bought him a tuxedo through installments. Ji Xiong asks why the dance hostess, Tong works in a nightclub as she is as young as Xue Zi. Her boyfriend, Jian Zhi beats Ju Xiong up and steals his money – including the ring he buys for his date. Ju Xiong brings it to a pawnshop after begging Tong to return to him.

To his dismay, he can only get one third of the money he spends on it but he buys a white dress (which is very elegant) for her. The two attend Ya Shi’s dinner – the silly Ju Xiong doesn’t comb his hair and wears a pair of dirty sports shoes. Xue Zi’s thin make-up fades in the background. Ju Xiong trips and causes a whole table to overturn and drop the food on the floor.

San Pu is very angry and demands to see their invitation card. He frowns – it should be for Chu Hui and wants them to leave. Now they squat down, wanting to clean the mess and leave before Ya Shi comes. When she is under the table to pick up the pieces, suddenly she hears Ya Shi’s voice asking her for a dance.
It is a grand entrance as he holds her hand to go through the middle of the crowd to stand in the centre. This is really a fantasy dance – like a prince who has found his princess. She is at first uneasy but relaxes after he leads her. He smiles broadly and the cold glances turn to the extreme that the others do not dare to look at them. Ju Xiong starts boasting to others that she is his sister. (This Cinderella dance – I have a feeling that ‘Lovers in Paris’ copied this scene. )

Ju Xiong tells Xue Zi not to be serious about Ya Shi as he returns to Hokkaido. Ya Shi sits back in his office – the dance has no negative effect on him. He isn’t thinking of work but his own personal matters. He now knows where Tong is staying. The shameless Jian Er has asked Hao Yi Lang for money. Hao Yi Lang washes his hands off Tong and wants Ya Shi to meet Chu Hui.

Ya Shi sighs and still sees the red umbrella in his car. Jiang Mu is forgetful but he must thank him for it. The umbrella has Xue Zi’s name and address. It suits her well and he can’t help smiling. The two men are thinking of Tong. Xue Zi is astonished to see Ya Shi with the umbrella – it is still with him. The address is unclear so he thinks he might see her if he waits for her at the same place they ate the hotdogs. He gives her his namecard that has his handphone number. He wishes to meet her next Sunday at a hotel.

Ju Xiong is a very forgetful person who forgets his mistakes to fail repeatedly. He will be joining her to work in Tokyo soon, to leave their parents to take care of the eatery. He arrives and circles all the job advertisements and yells upon reading Ya Shi’s report. Ya Shi is 30 like him, single and earns 5000,000 yen yearly. He draws on his face as he thinks that he isn’t a good man.

Hao Ying Lang is angry with Ya Shi’s choice to like Xue Zi. Before he can add that Mr Shen Qi is interested to be in-laws with him, Ya Shi requests him to meet Xue Zi with him on Sunday. Of course he refuses. Ya Shi looks at Jian Zhi’s profile – he has been working on music in the past but his debut album ends in disaster and leads a terrible life now.

San Pu forces Ya Shi to meet Chu Hui. Ya Shi observes that she is pretty and also detects that she can’t be offended. But he still must let her know that it is wishing thinking on Mr Shen Qi’s part. He immediately tells her that he doesn’t wish to get married as he only takes over the company and has lots of things to do. San Pu is in cold sweat and kicks his leg. (I am baffled – Ya Shi is his boss and he dares to do that?!) Chu Hui only smiles and Ya Shi is defeated by her glares to look elsewhere. She doesn’t mind it at all.

Tong leaves home after their mother’s death to cohabit with Jian Zhi. She hates her father and brother not to with their mother when she is dying. Hao Yi Lang is too busy with his career while Ya Shi is studying overseas. Ya Shi feels remorseful to leave her alone during her weakest moment so he tries to make up to her. Ya Shi opposes their relationship as he finds Jian Zhi unrealistic and also worries that he can’t provide a living for her but he still gives him cash. After Tong quarrels with Jian Zhi, she meets Ju Xiong.

Ju Xiong tells her to trust love. Ju Xiong has a pact with Xue Zi – who leaves the umbrella outside the house means that they have brought their other half so the other sibling should not disturb them. So when Tong or Ya Shi is there, the other sibling will go elsewhere.

Xue Zi spends a lot of time choosing the correct dress but Ya Shi brings her to a boutique to choose other clothes. He wants to introduce her to his father and hopes she will be prettier. (Just like what Xiang Zhe does in ‘All about Eve’ or Qi Zhu to Tai Ling in ‘Lovers in Paris’) San Pu calls her ‘the bland porridge’ and refers Chu Hui to ‘luxury dish’. Xue Zi is hurt and refuses to change the clothes.

Xue Zi shivers upon seeing the stern Hao Yi Lang. Hao Yi Lang isn’t happy upon hearing her talking about her past and although this is a dream, she can’t forget Ya Shi. Ya Shi is touched by her speech. When she gets down the car near her home, he quickly gets her a bouquet of flowers. Although the ending is far from her being a princess, he uses this as apology. He will not hope her to act again.

She nearly flies into a rage – so from the moment he has the umbrella, he has thought of making use of her. She nearly cries – what she tells is the truth and she runs away from him. She sees an envelope of money in the flowers. This is his so called apology. Xue Zi puts the red umbrella out and cries. Ju Xiong finds a job as swimming coach after a long search. Xue Zi is puzzled why Ju Xiong refuses to stay on his own.

Ju Xiong confesses that their home eatery has closed down and he is here to find a chance to pay off the debts. Xue Zi calls Ya Shi, wanting to return the money to him. Her voice becomes weak when he wants to wait for her at the usual place till she comes the next day despite her wanting to send the money back to him through registered mail. Ju Xiong sees the money and sends it to their parents without her knowledge.

She is 30 minutes late and thinks that he will not be there. She tells him what has happened. He insists that she has a meal with him since she has used the money to keep him company. Ya Shi recalls the past of visiting this restaurant with Tong. He has even made Tong angry here – she says that he doesn’t know what others think and doesn’t bother to ask. He is apologetic for hurting Xue Zi and wants to apologise to her. Their eyes meet and Ya Shi wants to get her telephone number.

He doesn’t want to wait for her all the time. Xue Zi feels restrained – why? The two together will not gain any advantage. She is nothing and boring. There must be better women around. She doesn’t notice his smile fades away and interrupts her. He will return in a taxi and he apologises to her for wasting her time. He doesn’t like a person to belittle herself. She gets into the car and regrets her act.

Ya Shi is right – she should not be so negative. She turns to hate herself. She takes out her handkerchief and writes her name and number on it. Ya Shi also feels bad while waiting for the taxi. He thinks that he is venting his frustrations on others. Hao Yi Lang has complained that he hasn’t brought a good woman to see him. He even decides Ya Shi’s marriage date for him (what other motive – because of the company’s interest as in other dramas) so Ya Shi is more determined to see Xue Zi.

Hao Yi Lang has lied to the public that Tong has gone overseas to protect his own interests. He also marries Ya Shi’s mother because of money. Xue Zi meets Tong as Ju Xiong brings her home and both get along well. Ya Shi calls Xue Zi but she can’t talk when Tong is around. The women can’t sleep – Xue Zi can forgive Ya Shi but Tong is angry after knowing that Jiang Zhi accepts Ya Shi’s money.

Ya Shi and Xue Zi meet again as she wants to return him the money. He accepts it and eats a hotdog – is she sure that this is enough for her? She replies this is why she wants to see him here again. Xue Zi tells her family difficulties and he decides to bring her somewhere since she returns the money. He has a playful smile on his face. He brings her to an amusement park which is closed after opening hours. Xue Zi can’t connect Ya Shi to an amusement park (neither can I although I see Cheng Jun playing around in Safe Mall in ‘Staircase to heaven’ or Yong Hao fooling around in ‘My Fair Lady’)

He leads her in as it isn’t locked. She turns tense – how can they trespass and most facilities can’t work without electricity? Suddenly the whole place turns bright and she realizes that he has booked the place. This amusement park is owned by him. She then notices workers standing frantically at a corner in a line. (You must watch – it is a very romantic scene.) He holds her hand – he is only here for work and what should they start playing? They play all the games available.

So from the carousel to coffee cups, the music is only played for them. It helps them to forget all their troubles. How nice if this happens daily, Xue Zi has tears in her eyes. Her face is warm after leaving and Ya Shi looks at her tenderly. She describes Mrs Song Jing as a strong woman who refuses to send her off to the train station when she comes to Tokyo. But she still comes in the last minute to pass her scarf to her to keep her warm. Although the scarf is old-fashioned, she treasures it.

Ya Shi envies it as her family is close. Upon realising that Ya Shi wishes to kiss her, she avoids him. There is a moment of embarrassment and he turns away. But later, she allows him to kiss her as she really likes him. When she is dreamy when returning home, Ya Shi calls her to fix the next date to have dinner and watch a movie. Knowing that she is under pressure to step into a French restaurant, he adds that it is too cold to eat out. This shows that he is sensitive to her now.

Her birthday is approaching but she doesn’t expect Ya Shi’s present to reach her parents instead. Ya Shi wants them to continue to work under his hotel chain, Xue Li Hotel’s name and he will pay off their debts. The manager who meets the old mentions that they must be lucky to have a daughter to rope the business. When Xue Li is happily preparing for their date, Ya Shi calls her in the car to tell her that he is too busy. She can still eat there – he is now with Chu Hui but he deliberately doesn’t want to look at her.

Chu Hui suddenly asks him out – is he meeting ‘the bland porridge’? She is so arrogant. This is why Ya Shi’s expression turns very scary and even his voice turns hard. He is here because of work but she keeps leaning close to him when he is driving. Tong decides to forget Jian Zhi and wants to start a new relationship with Ju Xiong. Xue Zi doesn’t walk in upon seeing the umbrella. Ya Shi makes a call and Tong answers it. Both wonder – why is the voice so familiar?

The terrible Ju Xiong – he doesn’t tell Xue Zi that Ya Shi gives her a call. The two poor people wait for each other’s call throughout the night and can’t go to sleep. San Pu gives his checking information to Ya Shi – Tong works in a nightclub. He notices that his eyes are red – that is because he doesn’t sleep the whole night. This San Pu thinks that he has a romantic night with Chu Hui instead. He tells San Pu that he hasn’t forgotten the person. Xue Zi calls him in an angry voice.

She learns what happens to her parents – they want to reject his help. After she has talked, Ya Shi is walking out of his office. Her voice is harsh and he also answers loudly – it is up to her then. He has an important matter to do – to see if Tong is really a dance hostess. Xue Zi is scared by his tone. Upon seeing Ya Shi coming, Tong hides to see Xue Zi. She sees Ya Shi’s namecard and realizes that her brother calls Xue Zi. She understands her why she is unable to tell Ju Xiong.

Ju Xiong quarrels with Xue Zi upon knowing what has happened but still gets her a cheap necklace as her birthday present. Ya Shi is exhausted waiting for Tong in vain for a few hours and returns home. When he pours himself a whisky and listens to the telephone message, he suddenly trembles upon hearing a familiar voice – she faxes her wedding invitation address to him. Ya Shi crushes Mei Ling’s paper.

The siblings predict that Ya Shi will call them but both pretend to sleep and not to answer it. Ya Shi puts down the telephone. He is drunk and is thus so eager to hear Xue Zi’s voice. He can’t erase Mei Ling from his mind – Mei Ling wishes to see him and her words make him sad. Xue Zi has decided not to see Ya shi and celebrates her birthday with Mrs Song Jing who comes especially to see her.

Ju Xiong accompanies Tong to move out of Jian Zhi’s apartment but is shocked when Tong shields Jian Zhi when he wants to hit him. When Xue Zi is about to eat the sushi with Mrs Song Jing at home, she gets Ya Shi’s call, wanting her to come to his home. She can hear that he is completely drunk. He should not have gone to the wedding. Ya Shi goes but leaves in grief upon seeing the bridegroom kissing the woman he loves. The liquor can’t wash his anguish away. Tong decides to return to Jian Zhi.

Out of impulse, he asks Xue Zi to meet him at his apartment. Will she come? He wants her to stay for the night. Both end up in bed – this is how she celebrates her birthday. She leaves quietly and doesn’t feel happy at all. She forgets to take the necklace with her and sees the crushed wedding invitation. Ju Xiong also returns only the next day. Not just because he gets drunk over the matter but he also lands up in bed with a transvestite. He tells Xue Zi the same thing Ya Shi tells her – he doesn’t wish to be alone.

3 days later, Ya Shi gives Xue Zi a gold card. He hasn’t thought what she needs and has no time to shop with her as he has to go on a business trip so she can get on her own. Tong knows about it and feels sorry – Ya Shi is lonely and hasn’t changed at all. Xue Zi is upset that San Pu knows about the necklace when he wants to mail it to her. From him, she knows that Ya Shi loves Mei Ling.

Out of anger, she goes into a jewelry shop. She then returns the card to Ya Shi – he only accepts it like accepting a job. His mind is elsewhere – Mei Ling invites him out to meet some classmates but he rejects her. Xue Zi thinks that he is angry with her for spending so much but he shakes his head. He gets news of Tong and rushes to the nightclub, without dropping Xue Zi on the way.

There is a degree of seriousness and also concern. This is the first time Xue Zi feels that he is humane. He gives Tong a slap but she refuses to return home with him. Xue Zi helps to place ice on her swelling cheek. He tells her that Jian Zhi isn’t a good guy but Tong points out that he is also treating Xue Zi as a substitute. Tong still returns to Jian Zhi – she doesn’t have the same life that Ya Shi is having now.

She knows that he hasn’t forgotten Mei Ling although she has married and pities him. Ya Shi thanks Xue Zi for helping him to talk to Tong. He also tells her about his past and also Chu Hui. He really wants to be with her that night and not with any woman. She trusts him and tells him that she hasn’t bought anything. They should trust each other. She wants to treat him to curry rice this time – she will cook for him.

Ju Xiong sees the necklace sent by San Pu and he reads Xue Zi’s letter to Mrs Song Jing, telling her that she is in love with Ya Shi. Ya Shi sends Xue Zi back and both are chatting happily. Xue Zi is afraid that he might not like her cooking but he likes it. When Xue Zi sees Ju Xiong’s face, she gets terrified. The couple is astonished by his next move. He kneels in front of Ya Shi, begging him not to ditch her. She is his little precious sister and Ya Shi bends down to look at him – please don’t do something silly again.

He promises him that he will treasure her. His smile shows that he can tolerate anything. Ju Xiong is like a child learning horse riding with Ya Shi and he takes photos of Ya Shi and Xue Zi together. Xue Zi will take it out to look at it when she is free. Ya Shi has no time to immerse in joy, though. Shen Qi family wants them to be their in-laws soon. Ju Xiong is shocked to know that Tong is Ya Shi’s sister.

Does that imply that they will become two sets of siblings if he woos her and Xue Zi gets married first?
He gets troubled (For goodness sake, what kind of old fashioned thinking they still have? Even the Chinese have moved ahead with the times but some Koreans also think along the same line too.) Jian Zhi intends to use Ya Shi’s money to open a record shop and wants to marry her – she can be his assistant then.

Ya Shi tells Hao Yi Lang that he will not marry unless Tong settles down. The old man finally agrees to meet her. Their relationship might worsen but he has no choice if they don’t even start. As expected, the meeting doesn’t turn out well and Hao Yi Lang feels worse after knowing that Ju Xiong is Xue Zi’s brother. The two elder brothers have a good talk over their sisters.

Ya Shi brings the siblings out on a sailing trip and meets Mei Ling. Old memories flood back to him as he recalls the past. She has chided him for not knowing how to love her so she marries another man. (This is just like what Sheng Ying says to Qi Zhu too.) She sees him with Xue Zi and deduces that she is his girlfriend. The two women greet each other politely. But Xue Zi is disturbed upon knowing that Mei Ling is his ex and his expression changes upon seeing Mei Ling.


San Pu gives Xue Zi a new necklace – don’t wear the cheap stuffs anymore. He lies that Ta Shi wants him to do it. Ya Shi can never forget Mei Ling. She thrusts the necklace back at him – she doesn’t believe that Ya Shi will be so nasty to her. San Pu, the despicable jerk is under Hao Yi Lang’s instruction to warn Xue Zi to back off. He even attempts to rape her. (That also reminds me of how Zai He nearly rapes Tai Ling too in ‘Lovers in Paris’ but sad to say, there is zero love element between them.)

She calls Ya Shi but only the recording machine answers her. She weeps when looking at the photograph. Ya Shi is now walking awkwardly with Mei Ling. Why does he agree to meet her - he regrets his decision. They are together for a long time but he neglects her so she marries another man. She cries in his arms and he hugs her. He returns home and listens to Xue Zi’s message. She sounds too happy and her voice is too sharp so he detects that something is wrong. His action stops when he takes off his suit jacket to stare at the recorder machine. And why hasn’t she called him on his handphone?

She is here but regrets that he isn’t around. She wants him to tell her when he doesn’t want her. She will respect his decision. He suddenly feels bad looking at his palms. They have held Mei Ling earlier but when he thinks of Xue Zi’s loneliness, he feels shameful. But Mei Ling still stays in his heart. She suffers in silence and returns home. Ju Xiong is angry that Ya Shi doesn’t send her home when she is in this state.

Ya Shi is very busy upon getting Ju Xiong’s call. He has not gotten to meet her at all. Upon realizing what has happened and San Pu says sarcastic things about Xue Zi being a shy chick with no sex appeal, Ya Shi is no longer refined man that we know as he pulls San Pu’s collar – telling him to lay his hands off Xue Zi or he will be sorry. But San Pu reminds him of Hao Yi Lang’s threats.

Xue Zi learns horse riding and tennis. She also tries to find out Ya Shi’s likes and dislikes from Tong. She doesn’t wish to leave him and she wants to bridge the gap between them. Tong doesn’t want Ya Shi to make use of Xue Zi and he diverts the topic – he will approve her to marry Jian Zhi since she is only his only sister. Ya Shi invites the siblings and Tong over to his home for dinner.

Hao Yi Lang is angry that Ya Shi doesn’t listen to him - does he want Xue Zi’s life to turn into a mess? He doesn’t know how to face Xue Zi. He waits for her to return home to see the sports books that she has bought. He sighs – she looks so fragile but he can’t return her feelings. He doesn’t want to force her to accept what he is. She thinks that it is the parting fee and refuses to accept it.

He is amused – he apologsies to let her wait for him the whole night. Is he angry that she comes uninvited? He shows a shiny key under the light. To Xue Zi’s surprise, he slips his house keys into her hand and his cold face breaks into a warm smile, that indicates that he has accepted her as his girlfriend. (A romantic scene but you will find her address distant as she keeps calling him Mr Gao Mu, strange, isn’t it?) She needs not return home if the time is after 12 pm. Her heart ahs chilled when seeing him waiting for her on the street. She has thought that he is going to say goodbye to her and holds the key in her hand.

Chu Hui is always very thick-skinned to approach him but he views her with disgust but has no choice when once she even turns up at his home. You will sense his displeasure when he tells her not to touch his favourite classical cds. He tells her to give up but she only stares at him.

Tong dislikes Ya Shi giving Jian Zhi money. This causes Jian Zhi to be over dependent on Ya Shi. So she parts with him and will only return to him when he is independent. Ya Shi is touched when Xue Zi decides to cook for him. The three are astonished upon knowing what happens to Tong. Ju Xiong nearly spits the red wine while Xue Zi’s hand holding the chopsticks freezes in the air. Ya Shi only stares into Tong’s face when she says that she likes Ju Xiong now. She should know that Jian Zhi is spineless to depend on her.

The siblings are on the way home in a taxi. Tong suspects that Ya Shi hasn’t forgotten Mei Ling to allow her to come to his apartment so she tells Ju Xiong about it. The two don’t part because of hatred. Ya Shi makes Mei Ling wait for him for hours on her birthday as he is too busy. This makes her think that she will keep on waiting for him after marriage. She can’t forget him at all.

What is Ya Shi’s response – his reaction is calm. He guesses the ending will still be the same even if they stay together. Before meeting, he has thought that he misses her. After meeting, he discovers that he doesn’t love her anymore. She hugs him before getting into the taxi.

Xue Zi and Ju Xiong see this when Ju Xiong insists of confronting Ya Shi. Ju Xiong hits Ya Shi’s lips for hurting his sister. Hasn’t he promised him earlier? The siblings leave painfully and Ya Shi avoids them. Of course he understands how Ju Xiong feels kneeling in front of him and he feels letting him down. Tong requests Tong not to see him for the moment as she will remind Xue Zi of Ya Shi.

Ya Shi tells Xue Zi not to call him anymore but she can’t forget him. When she sees the dress, she is reminded of the past again. Tong gives Ya Shi her month’s pay for Jian Zhi’s debt and warns him not to see Xue Zi again. He returns her the money. He can’t be with her 24 hours a day to worry about her and he can only provide limited help. He gives money because Jian Zhi asks for it and he feels that it will help her. If what he does makes him so dependent on him, he is a useless chap.

Since she parts with Jian Zhi, don’t mention this to him again. She accepts it and lowers her head – yes, she is with Ju Xiong now. It doesn’t matter who she likes but she must not be indecisive as him. He admits that he truly loves Xue Zi but he can’t tell her that since she wants to forget him. Ya Shi meets Mei Ling again to return her wedding ring which she leaves at his home. Mei Ling confesses that she only marries her present husband in impulsively and drops her ring into the drink.

She has divorced and there is no more problem. Ya Shi doesn’t wish to see her anymore to avoid hurting his girlfriend. Mei Ling blames him for only discovering now. Ya Shi feels that she is right as she is also an innocent party. Mrs Song Jing’s health worsens and needs a heart operation in a Tokyo hospital. Mr Song Jing requests Xue Zi to ask Ya Shi to write an introduction letter to the doctor in charge.

She doesn’t call Ya Shi through his handphone or home telephone but his office telephone. San Pu sneers at her but still arranges them to meet each other. She detects that Ya Shi becomes slimmer than usual and they live in different worlds. He asks where else he can help. He is truly showing his concern naturally and he is truly a nice man. The doctor is his father’s friend and it should not be a problem.

She finally smiles – Ya Shi is so capable. He also gives a shy smile – it is nothing. It is important to her and she thanks him for his help – it shows her clearly that she is far from him. Help is completely different from love and Ya Shi can add nothing more than to wish her mother’s operation a success. He can draw a line to prevent Mei Ling from coming but he can’t stop Chu Hui from getting close to him.

Chu Hui often goes to bed with San Pu in a hotel but is still determined to be Ya Shi’s wife. Unknown to them, Jiang Mu sees the couple walking out from the hotel when getting coffee for Ya Shi. He ponders if he should inform his young master but he sees that Ya Shi isn’t in a good mood when reading the newspaper. He has this expression on his face lately so he doesn’t tell him. Unlike other jealous lovers who will prevent the marriage from going place, San Pu actually accepts the task to arrange dates for Chu Hui and Ya Shi in delight. (What is wrong with this man?!)

Even a family ball will see her presence as she cites that Hao Yi Lang asks her to come. She will not hinder his work as she speaks good English and is a sportswoman. She is the suitable wife for a Chairman. But the major problem is…Ya Shi doesn’t want to marry her. He can’t stop himself from telling her that he is only making use of her to be with her for the company’s interest. Will she feel lucky with him?

She smiles and pretends to leave sadly to make him remorseful. Later, she calls a taxi to bring her to a hotel – her partner has already checked in. Of course she likes Ya Shi as her target. San Pu assures her that he will not dare to defy his father. She warns him to be careful not to betray her even after marriage. Ju Xiong has a good talk with Jian Zhi and both are not as hostile to each other as before.

You can never believe it – without strings, the specialist will refuse to examine the poor patient! But with Ya Shi’s help, not only the date is fixed quickly, he also gets a single room for the family. Ya Shi looks at the snow – Hao Yi Lang is adamant to set a marriage day. The whole family is grateful with Ya Shi when the operation is a success and her voice nearly cracks when thanking Ya Shi over the phone.

He looks out of the window and suddenly sees her at the telephone booth under his office to make the call there! And she is also looking up to him (although both can’t see each other clearly.) He hurries down but she is nowhere in sight. He runs around, looking for the red umbrella in the snowy weather. He wants to see her – the thought lingers in his mind. He is looking for the one and only umbrella which is old but makes him unforgettable. He finally sees it in the park.

He finally finds her and hugs her. There are tears on her cheeks. Although he can’t bring himself to tell her that he loves her, he is sure that she can read his mind. Mr Song Jing wants Ju Xiong to work with them as Mrs Song Jing isn’t well now. Xue Zi is angry with him for being hesitant but understands that he can’t bear to leave Tong.

Ya Shi hands over the documents that show the damages they need to pay if the merger with Shen Qi enterprises fail. It comes to billions. Ya Shi knows that he will be dismissed when that happens. Hasn’t he known that this will happen? Ya Shi gives in his approval for the marriage. He doesn’t want his staff to go jobless. He hopes that the merger will be done before the end of the year.

San Pu exclaims that this is too fast and the other party might object. But Ya Shi uses the reason that this isn’t an impulsive request to rebuke his rejection. He wants to give up everything – his cold manner doesn’t lose out to San Pu and feels scary when he cites that he never thinks of marrying Xue Zi. But he warns the two not to force Xue Zi to do anything. The two men are startled by his change and agree to it. San Pu is so scared that he does not dare to look into his eyes.

Ju Xiong arranges to thank Ya Shi in front of Tong. Ya Shi apologises for his mistreatment towards Xue Zi. He wants Ya Shi to lift his head as he forgives him. Ju Xiong hopes that he will leave his sister alone. He insists that he must accept his parents’ presents. San Pu wants Xue Zi to leave if she wants Ju Xiong to be with Tong and also informs her that Ya Shi is marrying Chu Hu on Christmas day. She can’t believe this as Ya Shi has promised to spend it with her.

Ya Shi is about to call Xue Zi when San Pu interrupts his call. San Pu asks if Ya Shi can get married on Christmas and he agrees readily. He doesn’t know about Xue Zi’s meeting with San Pu and says that he will rather Ju Xiong punches him to make him feel better. He promises to persuade Ju Xiong to accept them again. Ju Xiong wants to propose to Tong.

Ya Shi’s working schedule is full to talk to different clients in the morning. But he gives Xue Zi a call – his voice has an authoritative tone. She has wanted to ask him about his coming marriage. Hao Yi Lang warns Xue Zi to stay away from his son as it seems that Ya Shi wants her to be his mistress. He looks down on her humble background and also threatens to make her lose her job. Hao Yi Lang finds Xue Zi a difficult woman to deal with but will make preparations to make sure that she doesn’t disrupt Ya Shi’s wedding.

Tong agrees to the proposal. (This is a weird one – Ju Xiong is normally talkative but he is so timid that he writes the sentence down in a notebook to ask her and she puts down ‘yes’.) There he goes for once – normally he walks but this time round, he charges up the escalator to get out of the company to press Jiang Mu to drive to the mall quickly. (Be rest assured, the handphone he uses isn’t the bulky kind that all of us can’t tolerate but is the slim model which most of us can see today.)

He waits there, thinking for a while. Then he sighs or looks at his watch – but he doesn’t realize that Xue Zi is there. She weeps and turns to walk away as she has no courage to say goodbye. He wears the gloves that she gives him and smiles. She has knitted for him and his strange expression indicates that it may be too childish for him. But he quickly puts them on as no one has given him such a special gift before. At this moment, she gets news that her mother is critically ill again so she rushes to the village. But alas, this time, she dies and she is totally devastated.

The family is angry when they get lots of condolence money – Ju Xiong has thought that Tong informs Ya Shi and Ya Shi gives it. Since he has done it in the past, he will do it again. Tong tells him that she gets Ya Shi’s wedding invitation card and they are relieved that Xue Zi has parted with Ya Shi. Xue Zi doesn’t dare to look at Mrs Song Jing’s photo – she has wanted her to say hello to Ya Shi on her behalf on the postcard.

Ju Xiong returns to Tokyo while Xue Zi decides to move back to Hokkaido. Mrs Song Jing has not wanted her to leave so she is returning to stay now. Xue Zi sees an unbelievable sight – Ya Shi is standing at the end of the harbour and looking at her. Just as Xue Zi expects, the money is from Hao Yi Lang. Ya Shi knows that something is wrong when he doesn’t get to see her. Upon getting calling her company and knowing Mrs Song Jing’s death, he immediately sets off to see Xue Zi despite his father’s protests.

This scene is very touching. Upon knowing it, he tells Jiang Mu to drive him off. Hao Yi Lang tries to stop him – doesn’t he think of the company’s interest? Ya Shi tells him that he has neglected Xue Zi in the past. Now, he can’t ignore her or leave her alone now. The clever man has also guessed the reason why Xue Zi doesn’t turn up. He doesn’t know what Hao Yi Lang tells her but he is going to marry her.

He has the determination on his face but she lowers her head and does not dare to look at him. Once they seal the contract, the marriage will be called off. He wants her to wait for him. She has no confidence to love him. He offers incense to Mrs Song Jing but Mr Song Jing refuses to look at Xue Zi. Xue Zi is too tired till she has no tears left. She returns his house keys to him.

Is this really what she wants? Ya Shi gives up all hope and returns Mrs Song Jing’s postcard to her – he isn’t qualified to keep it then. He leaves and Xue Zi suppresses her urge to go after him. Mrs Song Jing thanks Ya Shi for making Xue Zi stronger and prettier. She has grown up and entrusts him to take care of her. Mrs Song Jing is aware of everything and chooses to believe Xue Zi’s dream.

Xue Zi runs after the train but it has left. She still returns to Tokyo – Ya Shi has promised to be with her but is he really marrying on this day too? Tong asks if Ya Shi is getting married – Ya Shi gives a bitter smile – it is their organizations getting married. He gives her a flyer of Jian Zhi’s coming concert. She realizes that she still loves Jian Zhi. Hao Yi Lang wants to meet Ju Xiong and Xue Zi. If not for Ju Xiong and Tong, Xue Zi will throw the money at the old man’s face. Ju Xiong sees the flyer and suddenly feels insecure.

The two associates finally seal the contract. From now on, Ya Shi has more freedom in his personal life. Xue Zi tells Hao Yi Lang that they will accept the money he gives and will take care of Tong when all return to Hokkaido together. Ya Shi is startled to know about it. Tong decides to part with Ju Xiong as she still loves him after watching his concert so he wants to leave Tokyo.

It is Ya Shi’s big day but Tong will not congratulate him. Mr Song Jing wants Xue Zi to continue working in Tokyo after reading her letters to Mrs Song Jing. Ya Shi is forced to go through the engagement and his head is lowered all the time. All starts because of a red umbrella. Xue Zi’s face keeps coming to his mind but it ends in tears. Is it still in Xue Zi’s apartment? He has no luck to embrace her pure smile.

Ju Xiong charges in - he is returning to Hokkaido tonight and comes to see him the last time. He returns the money and throws it into the air. Hao Yi Lang wants his men to catch him. Xue Zi has mentioned to him that knowing Ya Shi gives her the best memory. She tears daily and says that so he must remember that Xue Zi is the prettiest woman. He leaves and sighs – he has no more lost particles in Tokyo.

Ya Shi suddenly smiles and walks out. (Just like Qi Zhu in ‘Lovers in Paris’). Tong cheers at his act and is happy to be in-laws with the Song Jing family. Chu Hui is angry that her wish can’t come true and San Pu consoles her – luckily their company doesn’t suffer any damage. Jiang Mu reveals at this time that Chu Hui and Xi Song have an affair to shame the two in public. Hao Yi and Shen Qi are speechless while the couple can’t explain themselves. The two fathers are stunned too.

Jiang Mu smiles in delight as he runs after his young master after saying that. When walking out, Ya Shi sees the red umbrella – the thing he loses. There is a note written by Ju Xiong – take it, you thief! Ya Shi smiles and knows that Ju Xiong is hiding somewhere. Nevertheless, he says nothing and bows before leaving in his car – Jiang Mu is there again to charge to the factory at high speed. Ya Shi holds the umbrella in his hand. He will never leave Xue Zi regardless what happens. Ju Xiong is contented and leaves Tokyo.

All workers stop work and give him hard stares (Of course, that happens because he turns up in his tuxedo. But I laugh more because he walks around looking for Xue Zi in that outfit which doesn’t fit the place) Xue Zi is still working in her worker’s uniform and is confused. Why is he here on his big day? (‘Lovers in Paris’ might have borrowed the idea from here as Qi Zhu comes to see Tai Ling too.)

His proposal is special – Xue Zi will be impatient with him for working late. He also needs time to persuade his father to accept her. That makes her lonely at home and she might not get used to this life but he promises not to upset her. His smile shows determination again – he will guard against her forever. She bursts into tears – can she really give him happiness? He nods – this is not a problem as this is his choice – she is the only thing he wants. She hugs him to kiss each other, when the umbrella falls onto the ground.

Introduction on characters

1. Gao Mu Ya Shi – Karasawa Toshiaki
Ya Shi is a 30 year old successful businessman and acts according to principles – so coolheaded to arrange the sealing of the deal before marriage. This gives him a safe route to flee even though he calls of the wedding so that he needs not pay for damages. What a shrewd businessman. He is doomed when coming to love. He is cold – no one can read his feelings from his face expressions. But we will be glad when he shows disgust when he is with the women he dislikes. And I do get angry with him for letting Xue Zi down many times when he is unable to forget Mei Ling.

He doesn’t know how to love (just like Qi Zhu in ‘:Lovers in Paris’) and show concern to Tong. It seems that money is the only solution to all. Unlike Ju Xiong, Ya Shi always keeps to himself and almost no one knows what he wants or need. He is attracted to Xue Zi unknowingly and opens his heart to her to care for her. He also finally knows what is essential in life. If not for San Pu for nearly violating Xue Zi, he will not show his humane side in depicting anger.

Toshiaki does a good job although not fantastic. He presents Ya Shi’s cool side well and shows how suppressed he is to love, showing adequate chemistry with the three actresses. We can’t blame his lack of
expressions as the script doesn’t allow him to act much as expected. He is so good looking till I still remember him in this role all these years. When you see him in here, you will realize why Ya Shi manages to attract 3 women.

2. Song Jing Ju Xiong – Kitshitani Goro
Ju Xiong is also 30 years old but is a childish and frank person who doesn’t hide his thoughts at all.So all can tell what he thinks straight away. But you will hate him for shooting his mouth without thinking at times. It seems that Xue Zi is the elder sibling to give him money when he can’t afford or clear his mess. Sometimes you will hate him for screwing things up and he is also selfish to think of his own happiness. Xue Zi loves Ya Shi but he dissuades her. Instead, he can be so happy with Tong. Life can be so unfair. I don’t really like his acting as he can be too exaggerated.

3. Gao Mu Hao Yi Lang - Tsuruta Mayu
This man must be a machine to think of business all the time and disregard his children’s feelings. Even when Tong leaves home, he makes no attempt to look for her. Probably to him, sons are more important.

4. San Pu – Miura Shinji
Whoever gets this man as the secretary will have a hard life. Judging from the way he treats Ya Shi, you will have the wrong impression that their roles are reversed. He is haughty and also ambitious but I can also say that he is spineless for wanting to be Chu Hui’s mister (my address for male version of ‘mistress’) even after her marriage. This actor is talented! With his looks that resembles Hong Kong actor, Chin Siu Hou, he should go far but why is he still an unknown today?

5. Jian Zhi – Watanabe Katsumi
He is also another spineless fellow besides San Pu. But at least San Pu has a decent job but Jian Zhi relies on Tong to support him. To think that she gets earnings from her night hostess job to rent an apartment to stay together and he still asks money from her family! I simply despise him and wonder what Tong sees in him. Maybe he is really talented in music so she is attracted. Luckily, he becomes independent or he will be forever looked down.

6. Jiang Mu
He is bespectacled and looks quiet. He secretly supports Ya Shi’s decision to love Xue Zi as he can see how happy they are together in the car. Who expects him to blurt the affair in public but I like that!

7. Mr Song Jing
He is not deterred by setbacks to think the best for his children. He has dignity and will not accept help easily. (But wrong to slap Xue Zi over it, though) I admire his courage to continue although their hotel is forced to close down.

8. Song Jing Xue Zi – Wakui Emi
She is a simple woman looking for love but she doesn’t have the courage to be Cinderella. Thus she becomes very evasive when with Ya Shi and always belittling herself to make him angry. What makes me tear my hair is also her decision to give up Ya Shi when he wants to fight for a chance to marry her. She should be herself and not to change herself to accommodate Ya Shi. Ya Shi is sure wise to tell her to stop as he likes her the way she is. Her courage to stand up against Hao Yi Lang wins my admiration finally.

Emi is such a good actress - she really shines in here. She may look simple with short hair but there is a glow on her face. You will feel sad over her suffering from humiliation and heartbreaks.

9. Shen Qi Chu Hui – Nishida Naomi
She is pretty and also haughty. She is well educated and also elegant. It still puzzles me why she goes to bed with San Pu – judging from her character, she should look for a guy richer than Ya Shi (Just like Yin Mei aiming for the best and the top in ‘All about Eve’)

10. Mei Ling – Takashima Reiko
She is Ya Shi’s ex-girlfriend – willful and impulsive. She should try to communicate with Ya Shi like what Xue Zi has done. Ya Shi is wrong to disappoint her on her birthday but is there a need to marry another man to test his feelings or spite him back? It is too late when she sees him with Xue Zi and she can’t turn back the clock although she files her divorce. The timing between them is just not right.

11. Gao Mu Tong – Takaki Hitomi
She is Ya Shi’s younger sister. She is simply impossible. She leaves home when her family doesn’t show her concern. With her degree, she can get a better job? Why end up a dance hostess – a rebellious act or really in dire straits – I have no answer. To love Jian Zhi who is a jerk and stealing money from Ju Xiong is another terrible act. Talking about being independent – is this being independent? Luckily she is not my sister – poor Ya Shi must be having a terrible headache disciplining her.

I can understand why she is hostile to Hao Yi Lang but to Ya Shi? Doesn’t she understand his intention as she knows better than him that Jian Zhi is really a brat?! And she has the cheek to scold him to miss Mei Ling when she herself misses Jian Zhi when with Ju Xiong. She has no ground or reason to lecture others but she enjoys doing that. I detest her.

12. Mrs Song Jing – Kawauchi Momoko
She is Xue Zi’s mother and can read her mind although she tries to keep from her. She supports her decision and is the family’s pillar of strength when she takes charge of the hotel when the siblings are away. She will not tell them even though the family faces problems to want to handle it on her own. She is a strong woman and her postcard to Ya Shi shows how she loves her daughter.

Favourite character
Ya Shi – he has transformed from a cold to a warm person. He is determined not to let Hao Yi Lang rule his future and retaliates to make his own choice. Once he knows who he loves, he will be frank to tell the other women who he likes as not to waste their time or efforts. A close second is Xue Zi – she is devoted to Ya Shi but is tolerant towards Ju Xiong. If my brothers behave immaturely like him (luckily they don’t), I am sure that I will not give in to them and we will end up fighting daily.

Most hated character
San Pu – on one hand, he draws a salary from Ya Shi and acts like his boss to make decisions for him. On another hand, he cheats on him to go to bed with Chu Hui. This guy really wants the best of best worlds.

Song
The song ‘meeting – meguriai’ is by Chage and Aska. Even my Malay friends asked me for the song but I only had it on cassette. A definitely must hear and must keep masterpiece! In fact, I think it is better than their previous ‘101 proposal song’ – Say Yes!

Interesting facts

My pitiful Malay friends could not watch it when it was shown over Singaporean channel with only Chinese subtitles. They had to control their urge to wait till it was shown over the Malaysian channel to watch it as it was shown in Japanese but with Malay subtitles.

After reading the script, Emi was attracted and she found her image suitable for the role. Hitomi was formerly unknown but she was famous after this role. Goro was also delighted to be involved and his acting left a deep impression to all. Karasawa acted in many dramas but when talked about his acting career, he also mentioned this serial as his stepping stone.

Many called Karasawa the luckiest actor to benefit from this although he didn’t win ‘the best actor’ award’. Although his acting wasn’t that outstanding as compared to Emi and Goro. But his handsome clean cut looks, gentle nature and also the righteous role plus diamond bachelor status wins the attention from office ladies. (A pity that he is already married, though.)

He found this amusing as he was not considered to be any woman’s choice in his school days. But now, the prince charming role and outlook made him the role model of a devoted lover. This serial became his most memorable work besides ‘White Tower’.

The exciting acting made this autumn serial won ‘the best actress’, ‘best supporting actor’ and ‘best supporting actress’ awards. ‘Meguriai’ became a hot song to become 14th song in the song awards.

Conclusion

It is said to be the most influential serials in 1994. It has all it needs for an idol drama. We have a handsome lead and also a pretty lead. It also has a touching themesong and a moving love story. The smart scriptwriter knows how to put old wine into a new wine bottle to make this Cinderella story come alive. The clever arrangement is also to add sibling ties to add the homely feel.

Ya Shi and Ju Xiong care for their younger sisters. But their way to show their concern is completely different. Ya Shi doesn’t know how to express his well and thinks that money can solve everything. But Ju Xiong teaches him how to communicate with Tong. You will feel like having brothers that combine their qualities – with Ju Xiong’s humour and Ya Shi’s concern.

But the love obstacles can make me giddy. Just from the main couple is enough but also from their siblings - it is a bit too much. But I don’t like the kind of love between Ya Shi and Xue Zi – it is too formal and they are so distant or polite to each other. I don’t think lovers should behave like them. Cinderella can’t be present without the glass shoe but in here, it becomes a red umbrella. It is typical and predictable. You will be charmed by this simple modern Cinderella tale with no stepmothers or stepsisters but the romantic essence is there if you are not too fussy about the plot.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

On song : ***** (Scale of 5) (The best I have heard so far besides ‘Beautiful Days’)


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