And… the growing popularity of IAGW is reaching a new height as it is becoming one of the most-talked year-end topic in Taiwan. With a movie plan on due, the numbers of discussion and all these hypes, there’s really no end to its growing popularity.
My previous reviews had been very brief and not much of deeper insights on the episodes as I was sacrificing quality for speed. But now, I’ve decided to fully concentrate on writing a better review as I try my best to gather all my thoughts and put them into one post. Again, this will be a brief review compared to Miss Koala’s recaps.
WARNING: Beware of spoilers, read at your own risk.
I’ll be doing quite a detailed recap on what’s happening in ep6 so this post will contain spoilers.
Joan’s Night of Fantasy
It’s the night of excitement and fluttering hearts filled with tension. The dance party acts like a gear that pushes the story forward. Just like what Ren-Wei said, tonight will be the most amazing night for the year 1996 and also the most unforgettable night for the students in Cheng-Dong University (CDU). When you gather a bunch of young men of women, sparks and clashes are bound to be happening at every corner.
We start with Jia-En and Liu-Chuan walking side by side as they left the train together. The air is filled with awkward tension left over from their previous unsolved conflict. They are hesitant to break the ice but both apologize at the same time, “Sorry, I was-“, creating yet, another awkward pause. Liu-Chuan persuades Jia-En to start first and she says that she thought a lot about their previous quarrel and she is sorry for being so presumptuous about his problems if he’s unwilling to open up. Liu-Chuan thanks her for the understanding and they made up as they shake hands, but there’s still some remaining cracks in their relationship as they walk in silence.
Posters of the upcoming Christmas dance party are being plastered all over the school and Jia-En took notice of it as she walks into the Treasure hunting clubroom. The club members are talking about how two girls quarreled over Liu-Chuan to get him to dance with them during last year’s Christmas dance party. Bai-Xue adds that she remembers it happened when the romantic slow-dance song, Schumann’s Fantasy (Traumerei) was playing. They were commenting on how good was Liu-Chuan in handling the conflict as the two girls made up immediately after he had a talk with them at the balcony.
The person of the topic, Liu-Chuan arrives when they are still in the middle of conversation. A-Qing curiously asks Liu-Chuan about what did he say to those girls but he just stall off, saying it’s nothing. A-Qing is persistent in knowing the truth so he persuades Jia-En to ask Liu-Chuan as he think that he will definitely reply her. But, Jia-En is still feeling awkward from their previous quarrel so she becomes agitated and yells at A-Qing to stop pursuing the matter if Liu-Chuan is unwilling to talk about it. Her sudden outburst silence the club members as they go back doing their own things and leaving Jia-En to dwell upon the awkward situation.
At night, Liu-Chuan returns to his room and stares at his computer as he thinks about the awkward tension between Jia-En and him. He greets “sky”, Jia En online and she starts chatting with him about what happen to her the whole day. She thanks him for the breakfast shop and train suggestions as they managed to lighten up her mood. She also mentions that she met with the person whom she quarreled with coincidentally and even though they made up, it’s still 99% as she feels that there’s still something strange. Liu-Chuan types that he’s actually Liu-Chuan but deletes it as he think it will be better to tell her the truth in person.
The steel of men gathers around and talks about the upcoming Christmas dance party and they wish that they’ll get to dance with a girl in the party. Ren-Wei only has his eyes for Bai-Xue as he vows to dance with her in the party. A-Di replies that the possibility is very low as she was voted as the Dance Party’s Lover (the most popular girl in the party) for two continuous years. There’s too much competition for him to get her to dance with him. Jacky comments that there’s still some hope as there are many hot junior girls this year like Tracy, Xiao-Wei and also Jia-En. He also thinks that Jia-En may have the chance to be voted as the Dance party’s lover for this year. Jia-En is surprised to hear them mentioning her name and walks over to them saying that she won’t be attending the party as she feels it doesn’t suit her. Ren-Wei encourages her to go and even says that there’s a lot of beauty potential in her. Jia-En disagrees and is set to not go to the party.
Ren-Wei greets Bai-Xue as she is walking in the campus, he catches up with her and starts talking about books he read recently as he sees that she’s holding a book of the author he likes. Their conversation turns friendly as they share the same topic. Ren-Wei feels that the atmosphere is good so he drums up courage to invite her to dance with him at the Christmas dance party. However, she politely declines as she’s the staff member of the dance party. Ren-Wei is insistent to be around her and offers to help her with anything that he can do and starts talking about magic. Bai-Xue heads off, leaving him to think that magic will be a good idea to appease her.
A-Qing and Liu-Chuan are walking back together as they just ended their basketball game. A-Qing points out that Liu-Chuan seems to be in a bad mood and not concentrating on the games. Liu-Chuan asks him whether he have experience of making-up with a girl after a quarrel but still feels something is strange afterwards. A-Qing suggests that the girl must be an expert in relationship as she’s playing the push-and-pull game with him. Liu-Chuan quickly rejects that idea and says that she’s not that kind of girl. That made A-Qing curious about who is the girl is he talking about but Liu-Chuan just brushes off the topic.
Before A-Qing could pursue further, he spots Jia-En from afar and calls her but he’s more drawn onto the girl beside Jia-En, Tracy, whom he never seen before. A-Qing flirts with her but she does not have a good impression on him as she shoots him off. Liu-Chuan trails behind as he is lost in thought as he stares at Jia-En. His stare is so sharp that it could pass through her, heh! Xiao-Wei noticed the odd air as she greets Liu-Chuan, making Jia-En realize that Liu-Chuan is standing next to her. They awkwardly exchange greetings as Jia-En politely calls him “Xue-Zhang”(chinese way to call an upper-classman), purposely distances herself from him. Liu-Chuan feels very awkward because of her attitude and he hurries A-Qing to go back to the dorm with him, leaving the girls behind.
Xiao-Wei asks in concern whether Jia-En is still quarreling with Liu-Chuan but Jia-En replies they already made-up. Tracy asks whether he told her the truth about it was her appearance that needs improvement. Jia-En replies that he say no such thing and Xiao-Wei supports her saying that he must not feel that way as she also don’t feel there’s anything wrong with her appearance. Tracy suggests Jia-En to use the Christmas dance party as an opportunity to turn her previous defeat into success and get a boyfriend. The girls start talking about going shopping in a mall. At first, Jia-En is reluctant to go with them as she decided not to attend the party but quickly complies with their persuasion to just have fun and shop around. She also calls Bai-Xue to come along.
Then, we have the shopping-sequence as the girls are having fun. As they return back to girls’ dorm, Tracy notes that Jia-En didn’t buy anything and persuades her to attend the party with them. They start discussing about their purchases as Tracy bought a lot of nice clothing and even offer some gifts to the girls. Bai-Xue encourages Jia-En and tells her to be confident of herself to attend the party. She also tells her that while appearance is not everything, it is part of her and she should join the fun. Jia-En starts thinking about what she means as she look over to Xiao Wei and Tracy trying on outfits.
That night, Jia-En chats with 3631(Liu Chuan’s online id) online and talks about how is she envious of Taipei girls who are so good at dressing themselves up. She actually wants to see how does a college dance-party look like but is afraid to be embarrassed if nobody invites her to dance as she is not confident of her looks. Liu-Chuan encourages her by saying that she’s definitely not unattractive and she should learn to love herself first before others can love her back. He also volunteers to dance with her at the party. This lightens up Jia-En’s mood and she decides to attend the party as she thinks about his words.
The next morning, Jia-En’s dad is worried about her locking up herself in the room for the whole day since she got back from shopping. However, mom assures him that she’s just putting effort in dolling up herself as she’s a grown-up now. Not long after, Ren-Wei shows up in a magician suit, self-assuming himself as the famous magician, David Copperfield. He starts playing magic tricks and sprinkle papers all over the place, making Jia-En’s dad scoffing at his magic gimmicks, calling him Da-Wei-Kao-Bo-Fei (Kao-Bo-Fei sounds like a bad word in chinese), haha! He passes him a broom and tells him to sweep the floor clean.
Just as they were bickering about the cleaning duty, Jia-En slowly steps down the stairs and Ren-Wei stares in awe of her beauty. He compliments her of being very pretty and even comments that if he knows that he’s not Lin-Jia-En, he will definitely fall in love with her, causing Jia-En to blush from his compliments. He says that she transforms from an ugly duckling to a swan. He assures Jia-En’s dad that he will become Jia-En black knight for the night and will keep her safe. Jia-En exchange promises with her dad, she’s only allowed to drink one glass of alcohol and have to return before midnight, 12AM. Referencing to the Cinderella tale, aren’t you writers?
The Christmas dance party is crowded with students of CDU. A-Di and Jacky compliments on Xiao-Wei and Tracy who arrives earlier looking very pretty today and ask whether they can dance with them later. Before they get a chance to hear their answers, Jia-En arrives with Ren-Wei. Everyone who recognizes Jia-En are wowed by her looks, some of the guys even compliments that the “Red-Tea Girl” is very sweet tonight and it seems like sugar is added onto her. Ren-Wei requests Jia-En to lock arms with him for him to show-off to others as she looks very pretty tonight. He announce that they will make tonight to be the most amazing night of the year 1996. As they enters the venue, A-Qing immediately compliments Jia-En that she’s trying to challenge to become the Dance Party’s Lover (most popular girl of the party) for this year. As he sees Tracy, he flirts with her but quickly gets rejected by her, making him think that he found a match.
As Liu-Chuan and Bai-Xue are discussing about the timeline and schedule of the dance party event, a few guys come over and tries to book Bai-Xue for the upcoming highlight of the night, Schumman’s fantasy romantic slow-dance. As they got rejected, they teases them about whether Liu-Chuan will dance with Bai-Xue again for this year. They chat for a while before they leave Bai-Xue and Liu-Chuan alone. Bai Xue starts to ask Liu Chuan about his plans for this year’s dance but before she can finish, a group of girls come over and ask Liu-Chuan to dance with them for this year. Bai-Xue looks at the crowd forming around Liu-Chuan and stares at him longingly. He quickly rejects them with the excuse that he’s the event’s main planner and tells Bai-Xue to take care of the procedures as he heads out to patrol around, leaving her staring at his back.
At the same time, she spots Ren-Wei and is surprise to see him wearing a magician suit. Before she can finish her exclamations, he takes out a yellow flower from his magician hat and offers her sincerely. Amused, she smiles at him and notes that he was really serious about the magic talks the other day. He stares deeply at her and replies that he’s serious about every word he said to her. She tries to contain her smile as she takes the flower from his hand in delight. He compliments her of being very pretty and she’s very pleasant to hear his compliment.
Everyone is dancing happily in the party and Tracy is having a lot of fun as she’s surrounded by guys. Noticing that Xiao-Wei and Jia-En are not joining the fun, she goes over to invite them. However, they both rejects her as Xiao-Wei says she don’t know how to dance and Jia-En is waiting for her online friend. Tracy misunderstands Jia-En of having an online-relationship and praises her courage. Jia-En assures her that they’re just pure online friends and as the song changes for a group dance-time, Tracy decides to leave them and join the fun.
Liu Chuan, who is on patrol notices Xiao-Wei and Jia-En and he greets them, asking them why are they not joining the dance. Jia-En replies that she don’t know how to dance to this song and will join for the next song. Liu-Chuan compliments them to be very pretty tonight. I’m sure he’s talking about Jia-En as he is staring at her when he compliments them. Bai-Xue arrives looking for him to solve the sound control problems and he leaves the girls. Bai-Xue who notice Jia-En also compliments her of looking very pretty tonight.
As they’re sitting around and looking at the dance crowd, Xiao-Wei asks Jia-En whether she can recognize 3631 in the crowd. Jia-En replies that she actually have never seen 3631 in real life so she don’t know how he looks. As they are chatting, a guy passes her a note from 3631, saying that he’ll be waiting for her at the wooden trestle outside. Jia-En is very delighted and she leaves the seat happily. Jia-En goes into the bathroom and looks onto the mirror to tidy up her attire as she’s excited about meeting 3631.
Meanwhile, in the dance party, everyone is dancing as a pair as the song changes to a romantic tune. Ri-Qi approaches Xiao-Wei who is sitting alone as they strike up a conversation. Ri-Qi talks about his family running a pawn shop and suggest to play a game where they have to describe a person using an letter. Xiao-Wei describes the characteristics of the people in the party with alphabets and they have a lot of fun playing the alphabet/letter game. Okay, I think they’re really sweet as a couple as they seem to be at ease with each other and there’s this subtle mutual attraction about them.
Outside, Liu-Chuan is waiting for Jia-En with a gift he specially prepared for her. He puts the gift onto the wooden handle as he sees A-Di and Jacky getting wasted from drinking too much alcohol. He goes over and help them to get up and go to the washroom to clean up. How I wish that Liu-Chuan is not such a helpful person so he doesn’t have to help them and can wait for Jia-En instead.. UGH! These two guys are really the party-wrecker..
In the party, Ren-Wei tries to invite Bai-Xue again for a dance but she quickly interrupts him before he can finish, suggesting that he should find another dance partner. She uses the excuse of having a lot of work to be done as a staff planner to reject him. Ren-Wei don’t mind her rejection and volunteers to help her with anything. To send him off, she asks him to help her get a warm drink and he complies. After he goes off, Bai-Xue starts roaming around the party asking people about Liu-Chuan’s whereabout. Meanwhile, Jia-En arrives at the wooden trestle outside but finds it empty and she waits for 3631 in the cold weather.
Back at the party, the highlight of the night, Schumann’s Fantasy starts playing and the atmosphere becomes romantic as everyone is slow-dancing to the song. Bai-Xue passes the crowd and roams around the venue looking for Liu-Chuan but to no avail. Not long after, Ren-Wei is back with a warm drink for Bai-Xue and sees her standing alone, looking dejected. He approaches her and puts the warm can drink into her hands. Bai-Xue seems to be moved by his effort and sincerity and agrees to dance with him when he invites her again. They start slow-dancing to Schumann’s Fantasy and they’re so absorbed in the dance that Ren-Wei accidentally dances until the last bar of music as he forgets about the legendary curse that when a couple dances until the last bar, they will break up in the end. Hmm…Is that an indication of the ending for this couple?
A-Qing announces that the votes are out for this year’s dance party lover (the most popular girl of the party). Meanwhile, Jia-En who is still waiting outside for 3631 notes that the dance session have ended already. She decides to head back to the venue but notices a bag of gift at the wooden handle across her. She stops and look into it as she sees a letter from 3631, saying that it’s a pair of earring he specially chose for her and he hopes to see her dance with the earrings. She smiles happily as she tries on the earrings.
Back at the party, A-Qing announces the person voted to be this year’s dance party lover. He notes that the result is very unexpected and this creates an uproar in the crowd as they’re curious about the person. At the same time, Jia-En is wearing the earring while walking back into the party venue. A-Qing notices her and quickly points at her, announcing that the first year student of Foreign Language Major, Lin-Jia-En is voted the lover for this year’s party. Everyone turns to look at her and applauds as the spotlight dawns on her. A-Qing requests the crowd to form a circle around her and Tracy, Xiao-Wei goes over to pull her into the center of the crowd.
Under the traditions of CDU, the new party’s lover appointed will do the opening dance so A-Qing asks Jia-En what she wants to dance. Jia-En replies that she only knows how to dance Jitterbug and this send everyone into an awkward confusion as none of the guys seem to know how to dance Jitterbug. She’s still in the center of the crowd but nobody invites her to dance and Jia-En is embarrassed of her current awkward position. Just when the awkward air is thickening, Liu-Chuan slowly walks up behind her and calls her English name, “Joan”. SQUEALLLLLLLLLLS, I wanna change my name to Joan, can I? OMGOSH, this is the hottest scene of this episode. (Fans self.)
She lights up as she turns around and sees him smiling at her. He invites her for a dance and the crowd clap their hands. They hold hands and start dancing as Jia-En twirls around happily. You guys need to watch this scene in video, words don’t do this scene any justice!! Frankly, it’s kinda cheesy but it’s a good cheese that had me grinning like a fool.
Bai-Xue looks at them dancing happily from afar and walks away, feeling disappointment and dejected. Ren-Wei quickly runs after her as he notices her mood. As everyone starts to dance to the upbeat cheery tune, Ri-Qi and Xiao-Wei, A-Qing and Tracy joins the dancing crowd.
The dance session is over, Jia-En and Liu-Chuan are strolling outside. Liu-Chuan offers her his jacket and asks how does she feel about the dance party. She replies that it’s very fun but tiring, more things happen than 18 years of her life. They exchanges smiles and look at each other, before turning away, feeling a bit flustered. Jia-En says that after drinking alcohol, her face feels very hot. I’m sure it’s not just the alcohol, It’s the guy beside you, heh!
Liu-Chuan compliments on her earrings. Liu-Chuan is totally praising himself indirectly and even notices that she is wearing it. Jia-En thanks his compliment and tells him that it’s a gift from her online friend. She says that even though they’re not really close but they clicks well and it’s fun chatting with him but it’s a pity that he wasn’t able to come tonight as she’s very curious how he look like behind the computer screen. Liu-Chuan comments that since he did not come to see her, he must be very ugly. Jia-En says she don’t mind as long as he understands her and feels happy chatting with him. Somehow, I feel that he’s becoming jealous of his online id, 3631… hahahaha! This is too precious!
Liu-Chuan pauses and calls her name hesitantly, he seems like he wants to confess that he is 3631 but is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Jia-En’s parents. They come looking for her worriedly as she’ve past the curfew, 12Am. They thanks Liu-Chuan for taking care of their daughter and they head home together. Jia-En bids him goodbye, leaving him alone frustrated at his failed attempt to confess that he’s her online friend, 3631.
The next morning, Jia-En wakes up and in daze as she feels that yesterday’s dance party is like a dream and the biggest fantasy is that earring gift from 3631. She sits down in front of the computer screen and types a message to 3631, thanking him for the gift and encouragements he gave her. She also wonders why he did not show up. Before she offs the computer, she notices that the forum board is filled with posts about her, “Lin-Jia-En – 1996 Cheng Dong’s Christmas Dance Party’s Lover ” as the comments shower her with compliments.
The CDU students gathers around outdoor during lunchtime as they talk about last night incidents. Bai-Xue asks Liu-Chuan why he was not around last night during Schumann’s fantasy slow-dance session. He replies that he was taking care of Jacky and A-Di who were very drunk last night. As they are chatting, Jia-En arrives with Tracy and Xiao-Wei. Ri-Qi notices Xiao-Wei and tells that she look like an omega (Ω) letter because of her hairstyle, continuing their topic from last night. A-Qing teases them about when did they become so close and the girls also start joining the fun teasing them.
A guy from the table beside Jia-En and the girls offer Jia-En a drink, confessing to her that they like her a lot. Her friends are very happy for her. A-Qing goes over to the girls side and invites Tracy to join the Treasure Hunting Club but got rejected as she notes that he should be the one joining her modern-dance club as she noticed that he’s not very good in dancing last night. Ouch!
Ren-Wei is still worried about last night incident where he finished the Schumann’s Fantasy dance. Liu Chuan assures him that it’s just a legend because Schumann and Clara’s love was imperfect so the legend says that if he finish dancing to the song, they’ll be together first before they break up. Ri-Qi also assures him to not worry as nothing is absolute and there is always an exception to everything. Ren-Wei tells Bai-Xue that he will not let her become Clara but Tracy scoffs at him saying he’s also not Schumann.
The girls are talking about how pretty Jia-En looked yesterday and even though, she returns wearing her usual outfit, she still looks different. Everyone can’t seem to pinpoint what’s the difference but notice there’s some kind of change in her. Jia-En smiles at the compliments and notes that she must be the most plain party-lover ever.
Ren-Wei is chatting with Bai-Xue online but notices Jia-En messaging him, asking whether he knows how to find an online friend. A-Di who is present in the same room suggests that she should look for Liu Chuan as he is the admin of Chen Dong’s portal site. (He is really part of everything in CDU, I don’t know how he manage to find time for all of that.) She immediately rush over to ask Liu-Chuan to help her look for 3631. Liu Chuan becomes deep in thought as he hears that she’s looking for him.
Overall, this episode took the biggest leap in story development compared to the previous episodes as everyone besides our main couple gets to interact more with their potential love-interest. This episode also solidified the direction we’re heading with The Three Musketeers, A-Qing starts to feel attracted to Tracy, the subtle attraction and similar wavelength between Ri-Qi and Xiao-Wei, and Liu-Chuan’s growing affection towards Jia-En, it’s becoming very clear.
However, not all are happy in this party, as some people felt disappointment and loss at such an exhilarating night. A-Di, Jacky who failed miserably on their love adventures and Bai-Xue who got her hopes crushed as Liu-Chuan’s attention is all on Jia-En. But, I’m sure Ren-Wei will be her knight that saves her from loneliness as she is slowly warming up to him and moved by his sincerity.
Liu-Chuan is slowly creating a love-rival for himself virtually as it seems that 3631 is slowly holding a special spot in Jia-En’s heart . Hahaha. I’m really amused by how the writers are going with this “virtual-rival” direction.
All in all, tonight’s highlight will be Jia-En’s transformation from an ugly duckling to a swan, with elements of a traditional cinderella story mixed in. It’s definitely a fairytale-like night for Jia-En as now, she finally understands what 3631 meant by “love yourself first before other loves you back”. The change in her is becoming apparent and our “red-tea girl” is sweeter than ever before.