Tokyo Juliet


Reviewed by: sukting

March 29, 2009

Rating: three

Foreword

This is another adaptation of the manga, Tokyo Juliet. This is also Yam Tat Wah’s and Wu Chun’s first Taiwanese idol drama. How do they work with a new Taiwanese cast? Iin the world of fashion, nothing is secure. It shows the life of the fashion world – not just on the designers but also on the models and the clothes company.

Story/Introduction on characters

1. Chu Xing – Yam Tat Wah
He is a top unscrupulous top notch fashion designer. No one will know that his present well-sold daisy clothes are not designed by him but he steals the design from the 5 year old Lai Sui. Upon knowing that she is Feng Liang’s girlfriend, he warns him not to court her but he treats his father as a rival. No doubt he has flaws, he is also a caring but misunderstood father. He is prepared to give his empire to Feng Liang despite of him treating him hostilely.

Lai Sui learns that she has won a prize and rushes to a hotel for an interview. That is Xing’s scheme to stall her with Oleo’s help so that he can steal her design again. He lies to Oleo that Lai Sui is still inexperienced so he has to look through her designs. He is a step ahead of Lai Sui to make the clothes and this almost ruins her career as she is accused of copying from him instead. Lai Sui is blacklisted but Feng Liang manages to steal back the design.

After Xing steals her designs again, she manages to come up with 30 other designs in a month. He finds something amiss as this is not the first time Yi Mi wants Xing and Lai Sui to show designs to him at the same time. This is to help Lai Sui out after he discovers how scheming Xing is. However, a fire breaks out and she only manages to salvage only 2 designs. She lands up in hospital, seriously injured. Feng Liang suspects it to do Xing’s doing but he has nothing to do with it.

The whole world knows the competition between the two but Lai Sui rejects Feng Liang’s help. She is at war with herself – she must surpass herself over the 5 year old Lai Sui to create new designs. But seeing how Guang Xi brings all their friends to help her, she is touched. Xing requests to speak to Feng Liang and reveals the truth.  

Xing had lost his imagination and creativity in designing after Feng Liang’s mother’s illness. So he has to seek this dirty way out. Feng Liang is torn between exposing him or keeping this quiet as he learns this from his mother. He knows that revealing this will bring down Xing’s reputation in this line. Thus he decides to stay to help Xing.

Xing admits his failure when few people turn up for his last modeling event. They go for Lai Sui’s event instead. He pulls down the word in the hall ‘ chrysanthemum’ – the word that he steals from Lai Sui and walks away, signaling the ending of his career. Feng Liang congratulates Lai Sui on her success. One year later, Lai Sui waits for Feng Liang outside her new boutique. He has been away for a long time. He finally returns and both hug each other.

Tat Wah glows in the small screen with his candid dressing and experienced acting. He definitely looks like a fashion guru as he shows his taste in selecting clothes. This air is unique as he has been in the modeling for a long time. I also detect a change in him ever since he becomes a father. He does the father-son communication scenes well. How often do we get to listen to his own voice speaking in Mandarin? His fans must not miss it!

2. Lin Lai Sui – Lin Yi Chen
Lai Sui is an upcoming fashion designer who gets her "Daisy" design stolen by Chu Xing which she designed at five. She drew the chrysanthemum design out of her love for her mother. She has hoped that her father can win a designing contest with it. But later, her mother abandons her family to marry Xing. Although she turns out to like the design, she has no idea that Lai Sui is the real designer. Lai Sui believes this is the cause of her parents' separation and is admitted into a prestigious design school. She has hated him for years but he dismissed her remark.

At the opening day at her university, she openly embarrasses and challenges Chu Xing that she will become a much more prominent designer than him and cause his downfall. Lai Sui also vows that she would never fall in love until this promise is fulfilled but she soon changes her tune when she meets the attractive, flirty, kind and popular senior Feng Liang.

Unfortunately, there are many surprises in store for Lin Lai Sui as she tries to outdo Chu Xing's plans to ruin her while still trying to keep her relationship with Feng Liang steady. Upon knowing Feng Liang’s identity, she avoid him for a while but later can’t suppress her feelings.

Although Lai Sui later becomes Xing’s employee, he deliberately doesn’t publish her works but she is undeterred. When she is blacklisted due to his theft tactic again, she isn’t deterred and participates in a contest anonymously. She finally wins the contest and wins approval from the designing world.

This is her coming final battle with Xing. All her friends stay to help her but she is missing. Lai Sui loiters the streets and discovers that common hood is the best idea. Thus she uses ‘love’ as the theme to create her clothes. Thus her act is a success to lure the other designers and viewers to go. All models even push her on stage to congratulate her.

Yi Chen doesn’t seem to look as talented and ambitious as she should be. I feel that she is still as weak as before and is not that determined enough. She is more at ease in scenes when she seems at a lost regarding her relationship with Feng Liang.

3. Ji Feng Liang – Wu Chun
Feng Liang is Xing’s son who loves making fun of Lai Sui as her senior in the design school. She has first thought of him as a woman due to his long hair. He is just as talented as her since he inherits Xing’s genes. They have known each other since childhood but do not recognise each other till recently. His wish is to open a boutique with his two buddies.

After they fall in love with each other deeply, Lai Sui discovers Liang is Xing's son! Feng Liang chooses to take over his mother’s surname after he walks out on his family. After knowing that she hates Xing, he doesn’t dare to tell her about it.

Why doesn’t he design female clothes – it is due to his heartless father. He never knows that his stepmom is actually Lai Sui’s mother. When he overcomes his grief over his mother’s death, he wants to use the label – Stefanie – which is Lai Sui’s English name. He lies that his model is sick on the day to present his works to get Lai Sui to wear them to parade it in front of the audience as a surprise for her.

He later arranges a wedding ceremony for her. Their friends are the ones setting off the fireworks for them. Seeing that Guang Xi wears Feng Liang’s ring, Guang Xi gets jealous and throws it into a stream and Lai Sui can’t find it. She confesses it to Feng Liang. Feng Liang has to seek another classmate, Maria’s help to design again. This time round, he has a hard time pleasing Maria as she is also interested in him. He includes the family jade on the ring to pass to Lai Sui.

Unwillingly, Feng Liang has to give Maria a treat to thank her. Maria later wears a similar ring and claims Feng Liang to be her one. This causes Lai Sui to wrong him again. Maria later works with Xing to steal Lai Sui’s designs to spite him and he has to stop her.

Lai Sui is preparing hard for the presentation but Feng Liang reprimands her design. There is no originality as it lacks the love in the daisy design. Where has the warmth gone? Her own purpose in mind is to beat Xing. She comes up with a design but is trapped in the lift with the designing boards. She tells Feng Liang what she has in mind and Feng Liang makes sketches. They turn out to look exactly the same.

It is Lai Sui’s birthday and he gives her his home key, signalling that both can cohabit as a couple now. He gets a chance to go to Milan but hesitates to leave her. An old man appears, wanting Lai Sui to design clothes for him. He spots her talent and reveals that he is actually a famous clothes designer too, looking for students. Thus Feng Liang is overjoyed that Lai Sui can join him. But she decides to stay to help Yi Mi so he has to leave for Milan alone.

This is Wu Chun's first starring role and he looks stiff. Overall, it isn’t too bad. However, I can hardly stomach the way that he has long hair and his dressing. He looks really girly with his smooth, delicate features. Unlike Tat Wah who looks fabulous in all kinds of clothes – including exaggerating designs – he looks terrible in them.

4. Teng Nei Si – Zhang Rui Jia
He is Feng Liang’s classmate who also likes Lai Rui. Knowing that he can never get her, he helps Feng Liang instead.

5. Wu Ze Gong – Roger
He is also Feng Liang’s classmate. He enjoys making fun of the couple and jokes that he will propose to Mei Zi to make sure that Feng Liang returns.

6. Gao Fang Quan – Cai Shu Zhen
She is a long-time business partner of Xing. However, she terminates their contract just because she wants to control Feng Liang. She hints to him, wanting a one night stand with him so that she can send his buddies overseas. He rejects the deal but works for her to pit against Xing. Xing spreads ugly rumours about their clothes so Feng Liang has to resign from there.

7. Oleo – Tang Zhi Ping
A young talent who has his own label, Bambino. He grows up in Italy since young and has good dressing sense. Ever since meeting Lai Sui at a designer camp, he sets his mind to woo her, ignoring Feng Liang’s existence. He becomes their lecturer. Oleo nearly rapes Lai Sui in his hotel room and Lai Sui reveals about her designs. He then stops and also looks down on Xing. He threatens to expose his best to get the design back. His professionalism wins over Feng Liang and Lai Sui.

Oleo plans a fashion show. Besides showing his own works, he also introduces Lai Sui’s works to make all know her. He returns to Italy but soon returns upon knowing that she needs his help in a show. He combines his resources with Yi Mi’s team. Guang Xi becomes the host while Feng Liang becomes the model to display her clothes. Oleo loves to comment on Yi Mi’s outdated dressing but he still helps Lai Sui to open her new boutique.

8. Teng Guang Xi – Wu Jun Qiang
He is a popular model and actor who is known to be temperamental. Lai Sui reprimands him for throwing the clothes on the floor during a catwalk. He picks them up but pulls her skirt. Guang Xi doesn’t work well with her so she brings him out, wishing to know him better. They are chased by his fans.

Guang Xi then suggests staying at her home. Lai Sui obliges as he lacks parental love and gets into the entertainment circle when he is very young. She keeps him but he keeps shows signs that he loves her. in the end, to prevent Feng Liang from getting the wrong idea, he has to leave. He is indignant but later realizes that no one can replace Feng Liang in her heart.

Guang Xi is also fed up with Xing. During a modeling session, he only appears in his boxer shorts. He refuses to wear Xing’s clothes – he only wants to parade in Lai Sui’s clothes and this shoots her to stardom.

9. Lu Yi Mi – Huang Hong Sheng
He is the only son of the owner of a famous lingerie company who also designs lingerie and swim suits. Lai Sui comes to him frequently when her final year project is on designing lingerie. He gives her pointers but never stops making fun of her. Only a visit to the company makes her discover his identity.

He also likes Lai Sui and behaves like a playboy. He deliberately forces her to parade in lingerie wear. That is because his model is ill but he also wishes that his works can be shown publicly and none of his designs are missed out. Lai Sui accepts the mission reluctantly. If not for Feng Liang covering her with his jacket on time, she could be forced to dress thinly on stage. Feng Liang is sore over it and they nearly have a cold war because of this.

Yi Mi wants Xing and Lai Sui to show designs at the same time at different venues. The more outstanding one will get to stay in his company as the top designer. Xing thinks that this humiliates his identity. Yi Mi hears the argument between the two and is surprised. Xing then gets someone to steal Lai Sui’s design again. Xing throws into the sea when Feng Liang asks for it. Yi Mi reveals the whole story to the press to shame Xing. Xing then decides to take up the contest.

After leaving Xing’s company, Lai Sui gets into Yi Mi’s company and he gives her lots of chances. When she gets the Milan designer’s recognition, Lai Sui intends to resign but sees Yi Mi frowning on a replacement. So she rejects Milan’s offer to stay on. But she doesn’t expect that Xing causes her to lose this job too to have nothing. She doesn’t give up and hopes to find sponsors to produce her works but none will dare due to Xing’s pressure although they admire her talents.

10. Li Ke Xing - Kagami Tomohisa
He is Xing’s rival who can’t wait to see his downfall. He knows of Xing’s past of stealing Lai Sui’s designs and criticises her designs. Lai Sui sulks but later discovers that he is right. He is going to help her. When Lai Sui prepares her show, she discovers that Ke Xing is Asia’s Designers Association’s Chairman. He controls the world’s new fashion’s direction and his influence is not to be undermined.

Lai Sui asks him why he wants to defeat Xing. Ke Xing reveals that he wants to make sure that the young can continue the tide and not to let the old control the reins to restrict their creativity. Only if Xing – the world acclaimed designer is defeated, there is hope for new blood to replace him.  

11. Pei Mei Zi - Cai Yi Zhen
She is Lai Rui’s classmate and both are as close as sisters.

12. Gan Li Sha - Lu Jia Xin
She claims to be Feng Liang’s fiancée and is back for him. She learns designing to please him. This is Feng Liang’s nightmare as he just cohabits with Lai Sui. Li Sha comes to the same class as Lai Sui and declares war openly. Feng Liang wins the male clothes design category while the two women score the same points in the female group and they have a final hurdle to cross.

Although Li Sha wins over her, she dedicated her prize to her, after knowing that she is the true winner as Xing has influenced all the judges. She loses the contest but doesn’t wish to lose her man. She declares her love to him but he rejects her so she has to return to Milan sadly.

Most favourite character

Guang Xi – he is older than Lai Sui and can be unbearable but he is still a child at heart.
Most hated character
Xing, he can do anything in order to get success.

Interesting facts

This was the only role that Yi Chen looked and dressed maturely, unlike her usual cute and childish roles. We could see her in fashionable wear and high heels. But she lamented that it was a torture for her to wear high heels as she highly wore them.

The director took 5 months to manage to persuade Tat Wah to leave his wife, Qi Qi and daughter Ching Ka to head for Taiwan to shoot this drama. He could not think of another person suitable for the role. After reading the script, Tat Wah became engrossed and sent 5 luggage of his clothes to Taiwan. Knowing that Taiwan relied more on Japanese designs, he chose Italian designs to show the conflict Xing had with his son, Feng Liang. Upon touching ground, all were impressed by his professionalism and got tips from him in dressing better.

Although Tat Wah produces movies now, he still cherishes his old days shooting dramas. That is why he will try to shoot one within 6 to 7 years. This is his first Taiwanese drama and it was a big challenge to him to speak all the lines in Mandarin. He insisted that his voice should not be dubbed.

Many found him easy going and loved to be with him. But once he was acting out the character, he totally transformed to a terror. Almost all shiver like a leaf in front of him. Hong Sheng nearly suffocated when acting with him. Tat Wah had to give him shoulder pats to reassure him when the director called it a day.

Roger only knew how to speak English and Cantonese so the director had a teacher and Tat Wah to help him out. His script was written in English but he worked hard to understand what his co-stars were talking about. He mastered the language with their help and was grateful to them. The whole cast found him looking comical when he did not understand them and enjoyed making fun of him.

Chun dislikes vibrant clothes. He prefers simple and casual designs. He was also shy so Yi Chen had to spend more time with him. At the time the drama was filmed, he was a relatively new actor and spoke unsatisfactory Mandarin, so producers had his voice dubbed over by Yang Shixuan.

Zhi Ping learned many Italian phrases through movies to get immersed into the role. He was delighted to dress vibrantly. His biggest obstacle was the scene to rape Lai Sui. Yi Chen was so cute looking and he just could not bring himself to do it.

Hong Sheng wondered how a young boss should behave. He memorized the script but worried that he could not bring across the bossy airs. He could not forget how hard Yi Chen slapped him. He thought he saw stars but it was an N.G. Without any warning, she gave him two more slaps to finish the shoot. He mumbled that she looked demure but this was definitely too deceiving.

Jun Qiang was still a university student when shooting this drama. He was shy to show off his figure but many commented that it would be a waste if he didn’t do it. The most memorable scene for him was the part where Guang Xi played in the rain and he declined Lai Sui’s offer to get him a coat. It was cold at 5 degrees but he still had to act tough. He thought he would faint when the engines splashed water on him.

Conclusion

This drama is a bit different from other childish or empty story lines as it did paint a true picture on modeling and designing. This is one of the better dramas that I have watched so far. It shows the process of how they work hard to present a good show. The catwalks are professionally done although ‘Le Robe De Mariage Des Cieux’ is still the best that I have seen so far.

The newcomers are given meat roles to act and they look very promising – some of them are either lead actors or TV hosts now. But somehow, I feel that Yi Chen and Chun are not that good to hold the forte. One still looks fresh from school, unable to protect herself while the other isn’t manly enough to become her knight. That is why Feng Liang and Lai Sui keep on allowing chances to come between them.

The director has made the correct decision in the cast selection. But story wise, it was confusing to viewers when Feng Liang and Lai Sui keep job hoping from one to another. And it is long winded when the two keep picking on each other. When we think that one is finally getting rid of a love rival, another will appear. In total, they have six people to get rid of – 3 men and 3 women – isn’t this too much?

All of them give a significant presence – even better than the leads themselves as they are totally different individuals! They are aggressive and also power hungry to demand for attention, which they end up getting successful. They make the leads forgettable although they are the co-stars in this drama. Credits must be given to them. The focus is wrong but I don’t mind it as the leads’ acting becomes boring after a while.

Why must a fashion guru like Xing so scared of an upcoming designer? Because she threatens his position or because he likes all her ideas to steal all of them? We can see that it is not once, twice but numerous times. The process reminds me of how Yin Mei keeps harming Shan Mei in ‘All About Eve’. But it still amuses me to see how Xing tries to protect his own skin to deny everything without blinking.

Actually, he could have touched Feng Liang from the start to make him work under him and save all this trouble. Isn’t he afraid that the truth can be uncovered one day? But the final is the best closure when he walks away in shame. But the arrangement of the leads to meet one year later is redundant. They could have stopped at the part the two shows are over. Still, the drama is watchable because of the hard work that all of them have placed in.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

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

  


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