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I recently finished watching a Taiwanese gender bender comedy called Bromance. The drama aired on TTV between October, 2015 and February, 2016. The drama starred Baron Chen as Du Zifeng, the male lead. Megan Lai starred as Pi Yanuo, our female lead. Pi Yanuo and Du Zifeng were our OTP in the drama. Newcomers Bii and Katie Chen were the second leads in the drama, playing Qing Yang (Zifeng’s friend) and Nana, respectively. Mandy Tao played Zifeng’s sister, Zihan, and Yang Ming Wei played Liao Guangchao, Pi Yanuo’s childhood friend. Amanda Chou played Xiao Jing, Yanuo’s amazingly supportive cousin. Finally, Sean Lee played Zherui, the third angle connected to our OTP.
Bromance is the story of Pi Yanuo, a woman who grew up pretending to be a man. A fraudulent fortune-teller convinced her parents she needed to be a male for the first 26 years of her life or she would suffer a horrible fate. Du Zifeng is the leader of the triad and the General Manager of the amusement park outside of which Pi Yanuo sells food truck hot dogs. Pi Yanuo meets Zifeng when she saves his life, and the two quickly become sworn brothers. Bromance is the story of how the two fall in love and find their way to a happily ever after.
Du Zifeng is the leader of a triad and has been in charge of the organization ever since his father went missing 7 years ago. He was adopted by the trial leader at a young age when he saved that triad leader’s life. He has taken on the task of turning all the triad activities legal, as his father had dreamed. One day, after he is done brooding at the edge of a cliff, he goes back to his amusement park and is attacked outside its doors by goons.
Pi Yanuo, who is there selling hot dogs, jumps in to save him. The two fight alongside each other and beat up the bad guys. After the fight, Zifeng attempts to reward Yanuo by offering her a contract in his amusement park, thereby insuring that she would have steady business. She quickly refuses and leaves. While leaving, Yanuo ends up saving Du Zihan, Zifeng’s sister. Zihan immediately falls for Yanuo, her knight in shining armor.
Feng Jie, both Zihan’s and Zifeng’s mother, sees her daughter’s attraction and conspires to make Yanuo a part of their lives. Playing on Yanuo’s better nature by talking about how lonely Zifeng has been all of his life and how he needs one true friend, they convince Yanuo to become that friend. And if that isn’t enough, they then convince her to become his sworn brother. Yanuo, seeing the stoic expression on Zifeng’s face and remembering her own lonely childhood, falls for it both times. The two swear a blood oath and become sworn brothers.
Things quickly escalate from there. Zifeng teaches Yanuo how to shoot, practically wrapping himself around her in the teaching. At Feng Jie’s birthday party, the two have their first dance and their first accidental kiss. They meet at the swings where Yanuo likes to hang out whenever she is feeling badly/stressed, and they share their first beer aka indirect kiss. When they meet accidentally on a cruise, they sleep together for the first time, with Yanuo wrapping herself around Zifeng. Zifeng sees Yanuo’s naked back in the shower, and seeing that naked back, he turns his gaze away. He feels . . . something, but it’s too early to place a label on it. Zifeng suspects nothing.
Zifeng then takes her to his secret hideout and shares the story of how he was saved as a child by a girl. We learn that Yanuo was his savior. On hearing that he wants to reward his savior and has spent the past 15 years looking for her, Yanuo hides the truth from him. The other reason being that when she saved him, she was dressed as a girl and had left behind a hairpin, which Zifeng has to this day. When Yanuo’s food truck gets stolen, Zifeng gives her a job and teaches her how to tie a tie. And for the second time, he is aware of her as something more. But even then, he suspects nothing.
The two begin working together, playing in the park fountain and dealing with work issues. Zifeng risks his life to save her, and Yanuo breaks down in tears at the danger he put himself in, entreating him to never risk himself again. He retorts, saying he had to do it because she was in danger. He does apologize for making her worry. Yanuo then cross-dresses as a girl, knocking Zifeng’s world off its axis. He is mesmerized. Becomes aware of her as someone he could be attracted to. And then immediately confesses to Yanuo that he would chase her if she was a girl.
At this point, Zherui (our wanna be third wheel) has entered the picture; he was Yanuo’s neighbor as a child. Zherui Ge knows Yanuo’s secret and dreams of being Yanuo’s boyfriend when she turns 26. Zherui realizes that he might be too late when he sees the two gazing quiet intently at each other.
Yanuo, Zifeng and friends go on a camping trip, where Zifeng plays the hero and retrieves Yanuo’s favorite tin (which coincidentally holds her half of the hairpin pair she was wearing on that fateful day when she saved Zifeng) from where it fell. Yanuo then tends to Zifeng all night when he gets sick, sharing her body heat with him and lying with him in her arms. Zifeng awakens to her slipping out of the sleeping bag, and the two have a quiet conversation by the campfire, where Zifeng thanks her for the care. The next morning, Zifeng discovers the hairpin. When he demands answers, Yanuo confesses to being his hairpin-wearing savior. When they go to her home, he sees her bedroom, her bras and her sanitary pads lying around. Zifeng still suspects nothing!
When Zihan mentions to Zifeng that she has seen the connection between the two and will back off so that they can be together, Zifeng realizes for the first time that he may feel more for his sworn brother than he thought possible. When he sees Yanuo during a blind date, he feels as if he is caught cheating. When Qing Yang says the same thing as Zihan, Zifeng acts, trying to figure out if these feelings are really love. He gets close to her, becomes jealous of Zherui touching her, allows her to tie his tie and protects her in the elevator, even enjoying it when she holds his hand for a brief moment. He goes from realization to being ready to be with her and protect her for the rest of his life. While he is practicing his confession, he overhears a conversation between Yanuo and Guangchao where she says that she could never love someone of her own gender. He realizes that his feelings are one-sided and futile. He pulls back.
Because the two are not too discreet about their emotions and displays of affection, they were caught in some pretty suggestive poses. The news of their relationship gets out, and the media comes running. He tells her to stay at home, saying that some time apart will make her parents happy and might be for her own good. When she decides to leave for Japan, heartbroken by the circumstances, he goes after her and stops her. He tells her that she promised to be with him, and he will hold her to that promise.
We then segue into Zifeng meeting “Yaqi”, Yanuo’s sister. This comes about when Yanuo dresses up as a girl for Xiao Jing on her cousin’s birthday, and Zifeng catches her. Xiao Jing’s quick thinking saves the day. While we have two meetings between the two, Yaqi quickly disappears into the background when Zifeng’s long lost father makes an appearance. He has apparently lost his memory and is called Ah Hai now. The two then go to see where Ah Hai lives, and Zifeng accidentally leaves his keys behind.
Yanuo takes Zifeng home for the night, since he can’t very well waste money on a hotel. Before they can get too close and Yanuo can act on her impulse to kiss him, Yanuo’s parents come home. Despite their attempts to keep the two lovers apart, Yanuo and Zifeng still end the night in each others arms. The next day, the two go to stay with his father and get much closer in the two nights they stay there. Yanuo brings both father and son closer together, and boldly tells Zifeng to stay with her forever if he wants to reward her for her efforts. The two then share their second kiss as part of a game that Xiao Jing concocts.
The next day, Zifeng goes to meet Hansheng, his rival for the triad leader position, with Yanuo and Qing Yang in tow. They discover that Zherui was the mastermind behind the great reveal of DuPi’s love. Yanuo is heartbroken by this betrayal, but is almost sure that Zherui couldn’t have done it. When she later goes to confront Zherui, he explodes at her for not knowing his emotions and tells her that she was selfish to use his love for her. She asks why he did this, and he retorts that he was jealous of Zifeng. Yanuo is honestly confused, wondering why he would be jealous if Zifeng doesn’t even know that she is a woman. Zherui rightly points out that Zifeng will find out when she turns 26, and they will be together.
Zifeng is standing outside the doors and overhears everything. And that is how he discovers that Yanuo is a woman. (We don’t find this out until the end of the drama.) While clearly shocked, he goes and comforts a crying Yanuo and then takes her to their secret hiding place to cheer her up. He even takes her on a motorcycle ride, which she previously mentioned wanting to do. When she mentions that she has a secret on the swings after one drink too many, and then begs for him to give her time and to understand, he softly smiles and tells her that he will wait and won’t get mad.
With the revelation of Yanuo’s gender comes the realization that her saying that she could never love someone of the same gender meant she couldn’t love women, and the fact that she has already tried to kiss him and has kissed him now . . . means that she probably likes him, too. He takes her to her first candlelight dinner. He plays the piano for her. And then confesses to her, saying that he wants to be Prince Charming to her Cinderella. After making sure that he isn’t delusional, she accepts him, only asking that he keep their relationship on the down low for a little while. She clearly intends to become a woman and then allow him to reveal the relationship. Zifeng is ready to tell the world, and, in fact, doesn’t hide his feelings in front of family and friends, but decides to be patient for her.
When the truth comes out that Zherui was forced to confess the betrayal by Hansheng, Yanuo goes and kicks Hansheng’s butt in a real bad-ass way. Zifeng then tells Zherui straightforwardly that he has confessed to Yanuo and Yanuo has accepted him. Zherui says he’s still going to try to ‘get’ Yanuo. Thus, while Yanuo is taking care of an injured Zherui, Zifeng has many opportunities to be jealous of their closeness. He even goes as far as feeding Zherui to prevent Yanuo from doing so. Things take a serious turn when Yanuo is injured in a car accident, and Zifeng discovers that Hansheng was behind the attack. He then goes and gives Hansheng a well-deserved beating, and leaves off with a warning that he’ll let him off once for the favor he owes Hansheng’s father but never again.
Yanuo and Zifeng have moments of togetherness, one of which Feng Jie witnesses. She then deals with and accepts her son’s homosexuality, welcoming Yanuo into the family by the end of the episode.
We then get some more cute OTP moments. Zifeng confesses that Yanuo is his firework, lighting up the dark night. Zifeng gets jealous of a visiting Zherui and Chubby, their shared dog. Yanuo calmly tells them both off for being juvenile. Zifeng and Yanuo get caught in a shower, got to a hotel room and have a heavy make out session which is leading to some very interesting places, but Yanuo puts a stop to it. She tells him she’s not ready, because she needs to keep her secret. And Zifeng understands and stops.
Zifeng survives another attack by Hansheng. Zherui saves him, but loses his sight in the process. Zifeng feels incredibly guilty, and the two men become friends in the process of Zifeng taking care of Zherui. Zherui also states that he knows that he could never get Yanuo, since she is the one who decides who she wants to be with. And she has already decided. Zherui eventually recovers his sight and goes off to join the Doctors Without Borders program as a vet.
Our OTP goes through a few more murderous attempts by Hansheng, and comes out relatively unscathed on the other side. Zifeng proposes to Yanuo on her birthday, and she, with her parents blessing, accepts. The morning after her birthday, she confesses the truth in a letter and then goes looking for him when he doesn’t come to her. He blithely says okay to her revelation and then lets her know that he knew this entire time. The two quickly wed, and begin their honeymoon in the epilogue.
Xiao Jing is Yanuo’s cousin, and probably the only one who knows Yanuo’s truth outside of her parents. She is the perfect bestie. Xiao Jing loves her cousin and wants only the best for her. You can see that through her actions and her constant support of Yanuo. She is also sassy and colorful.
Xiao Jing is a stewardess, and her career takes her away from Yanuo for long blocks of time. But when she is there, she bolsters her cousin’s confidence, creates situations for Yanuo and Zifeng to be together, and encourages Yanuo to go all in and pursue Zifeng even before her birthday. She is the voice of experience and the one who counsels Yanuo when Yanuo loses her self-esteem or has any doubts about her attraction as a woman or Zifeng’s reaction to her truth. She also forces Yanuo out of her comfort zone (dressing her as a girl and forcing her to interrupt Zifeng on his blind date).
She is a wonderful character, but we don’t really get to see what her inner desires are. She is there as a support, and nothing else. I do wish she had gotten her own happily ever after.
Qing Yang ~ Nana
Qing Yang is Zifeng’s childhood friend and his right hand man. His parents went missing along with Zifeng’s dad 7 years ago. He is a stoic man, and is not prone to violent outbursts or really any emotional displays at all. When his friend is going through the emotional turmoil of falling in love with a man, Qing Yang is there to listen and encourage him.
Qing Yang meets Nana and is quickly roped into her life. The connection begins more out of sympathy than anything when he learns of her serious health issues. From there, the two become closer when Nana comes to live in his home. Nana also turns out to be his mentor’s daughter, from an ex-lover who fled upon learning of her pregnancy and wanted to raise her baby outside of the influence of the triad. The mother passed away, and Nana freaks out meeting her father. Zifeng and company conspire to make the father-daughter pair live together and grow closer.
Nana relapses, her cancer coming back. She decides to hide the truth from Qing Yang, but, in the process of treatment, she becomes closer to her father. Qing Yang is no dummy and quickly figures out the truth. He then tells her that he loves her, and the two begin dating. Nana goes through the operation, with Qing Yang keeping an eye on her from the sidelines. Nana is there for him when the truth of his parents comes out, and he has to deal with their death.
When Nana comes back, fully recovered, she overhears a conversation between Qing Yang and her father. She misconstrues Qing Yang’s words, now believing that he was only with her out of pity. She flees. As she slowly makes her escape, she decides to stop by her childhood home, where she comes across her father. The two talk, and he explains that Qing Yang really loves her. Nana chooses to believe her father and races back to Qing Yang. The two reunite, and promise to be together forever.
Liao Guangchao ~ Du Zihan
Liao Guangchao is Pi Yanuo’s best male friend. When their hot dog truck goes missing, Guangchao becomes a driver for the Du Family.
Du Zihan is the triad princess. She is confident and sassy and goes after what she wants. She will also fight for her family and her reputation, even if it is a losing battle. We get hints that she really is a productive employee of the amusement park, but the drama really doesn’t go into much detail about it.
On meeting Yanuo, Zihan falls in love and sets out in concerted pursuit of ‘him’. She attempts seduction . . . proximity . . . manipulation, but all attempts fail. She gracefully backs off once she realizes that her brother and Yanuo have a thing going. She gives them her blessings and moves on.
While Zihan is recovering from her heartache, she slowly and gradually falls in love with zany Guangchao. On seeing him giving Xiao Jing a leg massage, she explodes and says some pretty horrible things, hoping that he will come after her. He doesn’t. She then goes and apologizes, explaining to the lunkhead that she said those things because she was jealous. He smilingly accepts her apology, and lets her know that he has big dreams about starting a catering empire to make her proud.
The two accidentally kiss, and will, presumably, live happily ever after.
Hansheng ~ Triad Matters
Zifeng is the head of the triad and the adopted son of the previous triad boss. The triad is composed of three families, and for the past 15 years, Zifeng has competed with Hansheng, the son of one of the other families for leadership of the families. He won. Hansheng has decided that he will be the head of the triad, come hell or high water.
The drama begins with Hansheng sending his goons to beat up on Zifeng. That fails because of Yanuo. After making multiple attempts to separate Yanuo and Zifeng (bamboo spears, paintball shootings, media exposure of his homosexual love, Zherui Ge etc.), Hansheng plays hardball and disables Yanuo’s brakes. Yanuo survives, but Zifeng then goes and beats up Hansheng, only stopping once he remembers how much he owes Hansheng’s father. Hansheng then attempts to kill Zifeng in a Fireworks explosion, but Zherui saves Zifeng. He attempts to kill Zifeng and Yanuo when they come after Amy, and Qing Yang shows up to save the day.
Hansheng’s father, the sworn brother of Zifeng’s father, then finds out that his son was the reason his sworn brother went missing 7 years ago. On pressing, he realizes that his son was selling drugs at the time, and Qing Yang’s parents discovered his illegal activity. Hansheng killed them to hide the truth. The triad leader, Zifeng’s father, then discovered the murder, and Hansheng attempted a third murder. He failed, but Zifeng’s father lost his memory and disappeared.
In atonement of his son’s actions, Hansheng’s father confesses to the the crimes and is arrested. Hansheng is pissed off by this, blaming Zifeng once more. He then makes one final attempt on Zifeng’s life, grazing Yanuo with the bullet in the process. Zifeng still gives him another chance to atone. This time Hansheng takes it, and turns himself in.
I absolutely loved, loved, loved this drama! It had the crack factor that I’d been missing in my dramas for the longest time, and I’ve pretty much had my favorite scenes on repeat since I finished the drama.
Gender benders are my favorite genre. That was one huge point in Bromance’s favor. Watching a man fall in love with another man despite what he knows about himself and his sexuality, and then to give in to that attraction and those feelings because of the connection he feels with this other being is a beautiful thing to watch. It’s not about the boy love, but the fact that in this scenario you can see how love changes this man so much that he changes a huge part of his own identity for his loved one.
Additionally, when we have a girl dressing up as a boy, then we don’t have to deal with that initial shyness and boundaries that we would if she was the normal female lead in an Asian drama. The gender bender part of it takes away those obstacles. Where else would we see the heroine kick ass and then sleep with the hero? Where he sees her naked back, and then sleeps with her multiple times thereafter (once even after he finds out the truth.) Where else would we see the couple making out in his room while the parents are right outside? Mind blown. 🙂
Additionally, despite the fact that the drama was about a triad boss falling in love, it was still a romantic comedy. There was a distinct lack of really conniving people, although we had one evil one with his minions. And finally, there were really no triangles, or at least no really viable third angles, and that was a refreshing change from the perpetual triangles I have to endure in Korean dramas.
Du Zifeng ~ Pi Yanuo / Baron Chen ~ Megan Lai
The OTP, Pi Yanuo and Du Zifeng aka DuPi, were the biggest draw of this drama. The characters were absolutely perfect. She turned down his offer for easy money and said yes to his offer of friendship, and he gave her a little bit of his heart. When he treated her as a woman, her heart trembled. When he risked his life to save her, she gave him a little bit of her heart in return.
Du Zifeng was the perfect man, a woman’s dream. He was a fighter, willing to do anything to protect the ones he loved, smart, honorable and filial. He took care of his family, his company, and Yanuo, once Yanuo came into his orbit. He fell in love with who she was, rather than the outer skin, and was ready to go all in until his accidental eavesdropping put the brakes on his confession. After that, he let her take the lead and waited for her to make the moves. She was the one in charge of that relationship, and how cool is it that this manly man gave his woman that power? Thus, she was the one who kissed him first. When he found out her truth, he kept her secret because she needed that from him. He was the perfect lover.
Outside of that, Du Zifeng was a good human being. A lot of stuff happened to this man. He was orphaned . . . maybe abandoned. After being adopted by his new family, he was shunned and isolated. He lost his father when he was 23. And, yet, he didn’t let any of this get to him. He was loyal. He spent 15 years looking for a girl who saved him from drowning, just so he could thank her. He became a triad leader because of his father, but was clearly too soft for it. When he was beating up on the goons in the first episode, on seeing that the guy was down, he stopped rather than taking him out entirely. He learned from his parents, and he was ever ready to do good. How could Pi Yanuo and we not help falling in love with the man?
While we never saw him as he was before his father disappeared, we see his confidence and his experience now. He is the leader in his relationship with Yanuo, but it seems he hasn’t been with a woman for a long time. Not since he began carrying the burden of the organization and his family. When tragedy struck again, he matured and became a better man for it. We see what could have happened if he hadn’t matured in Hansheng’s example.
Finally, do I blame Zifeng for not knowing the truth? Would I say how dumb was he or how could he not know? Nope. These gender bender dramas are based on the premise that the hero just does not know and cannot see the truth. He has blinders on for this one thing. I don’t blame him for something the entire structure of the story is set on.
Pi Yanuo was a total bad ass. She spent the first 25 years of her life pretending to be a man because her parents needed her to be. She went all in, and lived her life as a man, remaining isolated from the world so that her secret wouldn’t be revealed, participating only in manly activities, never having a real job, etc.. The woman she was knew how to fight, but didn’t know how to be a woman. She was righteous, not being able to stand any injustice regardless of what it might mean to her safety. And despite what her heart might have wanted and what her body might have desired, she still respected her parents enough to keep her secret up until the end. Yanuo never revealed to her parents the isolation and pain she suffered in denying such a big part of herself. She never rebelled. She never revealed her lack of self-esteem, only turning to Xiao Jing for comfort when needed.
Yanuo saved Zifeng as a child, and then saved him again as an adult. Her heart reached out to Zifeng when she heard about his lonely childhood, and for the first time ever she began to go against her parents. Sympathy/compassion and then love gave her courage. She became his sworn brother, worked for him, continued to see him after the scandal, and then entered into a relationship with him. Love didn’t weaken her, it only made her more. She still kicked ass and was still filial to her parents. She supported everyone around her, and had the power to calm them and help them think rationally. She became the woman she could be with his love as her support, and that someone wasn’t a weakling. She would always go after what she wanted, as proven by her passionate attack on Zifeng at the beginning of their honeymoon.
When these two met, the chemistry was explosive and instantaneous. From their proximity to each other . . . to the saving and touching, with the excuse that they were each other’s sworn brothers . . . to the awareness . . . attraction and love. From love to confession to loving and supporting each other. Besides Yanuo hiding her one very big secret and Zifeng hiding the fact that he knew her secret, they were as completely honest with each other as they could be.
Pi Yanuo and Du Zifeng are the greatest OTP that I have ever seen, and I highly recommend watching this drama for just the two of them.
Now, moving on to the actors and their behind the scenes chemistry.
I previously saw Megan Lai in two other dramas: Meteor Garden II and Mars from years ago, and I didn’t have a good impression of the actress, but this drama turned my opinion of her upside down. Megan Lai made a wonderful female pretending to be a male. She had the body movements down pat. She wore almost no makeup at all, which showed a lack of vanity. She carried herself as a woman who had lived as a man her entire life. But that wasn’t the only role she had to play. She transformed from that manly character to a woman, and we could see her gradual transformation into a feminine male and then to a full on woman, who reveled in her femininity and the man’s love that has made her that way. She let her inner woman out and the change was believable. I believed in Megan’s Pi Yanuo and the journey the character took to the woman she was at the end.
Baron Chen played Du Zifeng, the man who loved so deeply. Baron’s Du Zifeng was strong, stable and the more experienced one. And Baron Chen very ably played him. I was with the character every step of the way, and could read his every emotion due to his acting. My favorite part of a gender bender drama is when the man becomes aware of his attraction . . . the discomfort . .. the fighting himself . . . and then the acceptance. It is very hard to pull off. It can look fake and awkward. Baron got it just right. He was able to make the falling completely organic and completely believable. I first watched Baron in Fated to Love You, and while he did make an impression (of the “Oh, he’s very pretty” kind), but he then disappeared off of my radar. Watching him in this drama was a complete treat, and I hope to see many more modern Taiwanese dramas with him.
But more than their individual acting, it was the combination of the two that left the biggest impact on me. Every time the two of them were onscreen, their chemistry was crackling. Every time the two were together off screen, their chemistry was off the charts. It’s not very often that I can say this about a couple, and for the first time ever I found myself shipping them off screen, as well. That experience has been totally surreal. Baron and Megan, together, were magic and made this drama a 9 out of 10 for me.
Most of the cast were superb in their roles. Megan Lai and Baron Chen were the biggest draw and did wonderfully with their roles.
Other cast, such as Amanda Chou (Xiao Jing), Mandy Tao (Zihan) and Yang Ming Wei (Guangchao) were also great and brought a fun energy to their roles. Edison Wang (Hansheng) had a very straight role, the baddie who brooded and looked mysterious and/or conniving alternately throughout the drama. He got the job done.
The older generation, Zifeng’s parents, Yanuo’s parents, the other two sworn brothers were all great. Especially Linda Liu, who played Zifeng’s mother. She projected just the right kind of warmth, but never let the audience forget that despite her status as a mother, she was still a woman who had loved deeply and still loved her husband.
The only two that kind of stuck out were Bii and Katie Chen in their newness and rawness as actors. Bii played Qing yang as a very stoic personality, so much so that I struggled to understand what was going on in his mind. Where you are left wondering what the character is thinking and you don’t really get an answer, that might be proof of some very green acting. Katie Chen tried hard with Nana’s character, but you could see the trying. She wasn’t irritating, and I hope to see her improve over time.
The writing of the drama was haphazard at best, with the writer taking a very circuitous route to tell her story. She/He had the tendency to try different elements in the show and then kind of throw them aside or ignore them for a couple of episodes or forever. We had the twin, Yaqi, who very conveniently disappeared after 1 episode. We had the weak third angle, Zherui, who came in as a rival for Zifeng’s love, but by the time he came around DuPi were so completely one that nothing could get between them. You could see that the writer didn’t really know what to do with him, and ended it with him becoming Zifeng’s friend, too.
We had the slowest, and pretty much worse, investigator in Qing Yang, who took the longest time to find out things, so that we would have these big climaxes . . . like the media alleging that Zifeng and Yanuo were in a relationship, and then that problem just fading into the sunset . . . multiple attacks on Yanuo . . . and that just going away for a few episodes until they had time to find the culprit . . . Zherui being the maybe culprit . . . but then him going into hiding. With all of Zifeng’s resources, couldn’t his team move a little bit faster? But then again, where would the drama be then?
The writer also took a lot of time just showing our OTP being together, not that I am complaining about that. After all, I watched this drama as a romantic comedy and romance is a huge part of that. I thoroughly enjoyed the two falling in love and then being in love. Of course, the drama was chock full of cliches, but I don’t expect something new and revolutionary from my dramas or my stories. I have seen enough shows and read enough romance novels that nothing is really new anymore, but the way something is presented really matters and who does the presenting really matters. And Baron and Megan were all in when they were giving us these characters. And the directing made the cliches fresh and really enjoyable to watch.
The writer pretty much dropped the ball on the revelations. We got to see no one’s reaction to the revealing of Yanuo’s gender except for Guangchao. Even Guangchao’s reaction was brief and really just him trying to dazedly feel her up for confirmation. In order to hide the truth from the audience about Zifeng’s knowing, we never got to see him deal with the truth in a big way. There were slight hints throughout, but no outward reflection on this huge truth that he has encountered about the woman he loves. If we’d had that reflection/reaction, then the writer couldn’t have hidden the truth about his discovery. We don’t see his mother or sister reacting to the truth. I can’t quiet figure out when his father found out. And Qing Yang and Nana? Forget about it. In one sense, the tension remained in the story because the audience was left wondering whether he knew or not. But that lack of a reaction on pretty much everyone’s part was a huge disappointment to many fans. I know that I would have liked to see the reactions.
I can’t blame the writer too much, since I believe the drama was cut pretty much last minute, and, thus, extra stuff had to be cut. Which kind of also explained the lackluster wedding we got for them. No family members were there except for the younger generation, which I found weird.
Finally, the writer wasn’t able to really connect the story of our OTP and the second couple, Qing Yang and Nana. It was as if we had two dramas going on . . . a romantic comedy with the OTP and a melo with Qing Yang and Nana. The stories would overlap periodically, but it still felt like two different dramas. That second story would have been an okay story, if only they didn’t have to vie for our attention when we had the incredibly charismatic DuPi in the next frame. There was an uneven tone in the episodes that I bore with just to get to the DuPi scenes. 🙂
I guess I can also give the writer some leeway because of some other revelations. It has been revealed by Megan Lai herself that she was supposed to turn back into a female by episode 3. They then delayed the transformation to episode 8, and then all the way to episode 18. Yang Ming Wei (Guangchao) also revealed that he was only supposed to be a guest star. The story completely changed while they were live shooting the drama, so there must have been a lot of scrambling behind the scenes. So, that kind of allows for some leeway, but we did get a beautiful couple to enjoy. So, the writer definitely got one very big thing right.
The directing made this show. The director has a magic touch and has just the way to bring out the best from Megan Lai, Baron Chen and almost all of his actors. He was able to highlight the right emotions in every scene with DuPi and the senior actors. I truly appreciate the work he did on this drama.
We’ve been shown the alternate versions of how they ended the heavy make out session in the hotel room between our OTP. Where it could have been soft and tender, the director chose awkward and the underlying seething emotion instead. I would have liked the first choice, but I thoroughly understood the second one. That pause Zifeng had while beating up the goon in Episode 1, the small smiles that played across Zifeng’s face when dealing with Yanuo in those first episodes, every touch the two shared . . .the director made everything beautiful.
Bromance also had wonderful music. Epochal Times, Back in Time and Quietness were three of the tracks that stood out. My favorite though was Bii’s unreleased track, Love You Gently. I found that the music really fit the situations in the drama, and I was lucky enough to see a version of the drama with subbed lyrics, which also helped with the mood of the scene. I really loved Love You Gently’s lyrics about the depth of the man’s love and what he would be willing to sacrifice for her. I have those songs on repeat on my playlist and can’t wait to get Bii’s song once it releases.
I rated this drama a 9/10 for how much I enjoyed it. Despite the weak writing and the somewhat less than tight story line, the genre, the OTP and the romantic chemistry of the main leads carried this drama for me. I would say definitely watch Bromance for the cracktastic fun it can be, but with the mindset that it is a gender bender, cliched, romance first and everything else second.
P.S. Seems like my Bromance treatise will never end. Before I signed off for good, I wanted to talk about two of my favorite scenes in the drama.
Episode 5 – when Du Zifeng sees Pi Yanuo as a woman for the first time ever.
How completely is he in to her? Despite the fact that his mind knows that ‘he’ is a man, his heart can’t help but react. Ignoring everything else and everyone else, he just stands there and looks at her, unabashedly drinking her in. The small smile playing across his face when he sees her interacting with the little girls are the little details that got to me. You can see his whole world view shifting. The mesmerized look in his eyes, even making Yanuo self-conscious, was a treat to watch. I wonder if Yanuo has ever been appreciated the way he did that day?
And how much do I love that he then just has to speak out and let his sworn brother know how he felt on seeing her as a woman? That was just perfect.
Of course, with Zhe Rui standing to the side and realizing that he has been too complacent, thinking no one snatch Yanuo from him, was kind of fun, too.
Episodes 9/10 – The almost kiss and its aftermath. I know some viewers were disappointed by the fact that they were interrupted, but I feel that this was a milestone in Yanuo’s life, and she only got to experience it because of Zifeng. Getting caught by the parents.
I like to throw this word around when talking about the scenes between the OTP in this drama, but this scene was perfect, too. Cue fangirl . . . okay fanwoman shriek here.
From the nervousness she suffers at having a boy in her home while alone, to his teasing her by tickling her and how organically the situation snowballed into a tension filled moment . . . and almost kiss . . . it was all perfect.
Zifeng became aware of the intimacy of their situation way before she got it, but she didn’t hold back either once she realized. She boldly went for the kiss. How wonderful is it that he just submitted to her, giving her the power at this moment? However far she would take it . . . however much she wanted to do . . . he was all in, but he wasn’t going to take the lead due to the overheard conversation regarding her supposed sexual interests. He still thought she was a man, but he was with her every step of the way without hesitation.
And then the parents coming home . . . the understanding dad and the strict mother . . . the contrite “children”.
Yes, the scene after was set up a bit weirdly, but as Zifeng and Yanuo sat there, waiting for the mother to speak, their eyes downcast, I bought how contrite they were, but there was that joy bubbling inside of them. Regardless of her age, this is the first time that Yanuo has done something like this. Of course, she’s dressed up as a girl, other rebellions seeming to connect with Zifeng but this is the first time she brought a boy home! Her shy happiness (as evidenced later when talking to Xiao Jing) was apparent here, as well. And the Pi family having to deal with it, the mother and father feeling their way with this, and then panicking when Zifeng wants to sleep with their precious daughter, was hilarious.
And after all that, Yanuo and Zifeng finding their way to each other and then sleeping in each others arms was the perfect end to the perfect scene. (happy sigh).