Extravagant Challenge (Skip Beat! Live Action) – 01 Review
After years of waiting, the live action version of the series has finally aired.
I really love this manga to bits and have been looking forward to seeing how this drama fares.
Short Episode Summary
“High school graduate Gong Xi gives up her chances for university in order to support her childhood friend and romantic goal, Bu Po Shang, in his pop idol career. Upon arriving in Taipei, Gong Xi starts working on multiple jobs in order to support Shang, whose popularity quickly rises, eventually becoming one of the top idols in Taiwan. One day, Gong Xi catches Shang flirting with his manager, and learns that he only used her so she can help him with his living expenses. Heart-broken and betrayed, Gong Xi vows to get revenge by becoming a bigger star than he.” – Wiki
The episode essentially covers the above summary that was in wiki. We start off having been shown Kyoko’s devotion to Sho followed by flashbacks of her past with Sho (which includes their childhood past).
The episode then followed on by showing us a glimpse of Ren’s character and his lack of tolerance for people without a strict work ethic. This is the first introduction to Ren and Yashiro’s character in this series. Ren essentially insults a senior in the industry due to his poor work ethic and that results in Yashiro having to deal with the repercussions that is to follow.
We then follow Kyoko as she chases after Sho and how she comes to learn of Sho’s “betrayal”. It is revealed that Sho only ever saw Kyoko as a maid and a tool in order to further his ambitions.
Suffering from the shock of it all, Kyoko vows vengence and decides to go for a make over.
She moves out of her apartment and into the restaurant of an old couple whom she had been working part-time for.
There to aid her in her dream of joining the entertainment industry, in order to beat Sho, is her part-time co-worker.
Note: To make it easier on me, I shall refer to the characters by their original Japanese name instead of the Chinese ones.
Kyoko = Gong Xi (宮囍)
Ren = Dun Helian (敦賀蓮)
Sho = Bu Po Shang (不破尚)
Yashiro = Du Jin (杜金)
Review Disclaimer: Since this is my first review of the live action series I guess I shall try to cover as much as I can of my first impression on this adaptation. I will *try* my best not to slip into “fan girl” mode and give this show a fair review, but I highly doubt that I would be able to be unbiased in my opinion. As such, please take note that I am going to be reviewing from the POV of a person who has read the manga and not someone who is watching this for the first time.
Before I continue on about what I thought about the show, I must say that before I had watched the show, I had made sure to lower my expectations as we all know that it is very seldom that a Live Action would be able to live up to it’s original manga form.
The characters on a whole were pretty much on point with their original mirrors. The character that had felt most “on point” out of the main cast would have to be Yashiro’s character. He had made the most believable version of the original character in my opinion whereas Ren had came across as being a bit too “rude” when he had scolded his senior over his work attitude, even the script had made a point to point that out. We all know that Ren is a character that is very strict when it comes to work ethics, but what happened to the “gentlemanly” persona that Ren is meant to have in that scene? I honestly hadn’t expect him to be so blunt, at the very least, it would have been better if he had simply flashed that gentlemanly smile of his while talking down to the guy.
As for Kyoko’s character, I thought that Ivy Chen did well in looking the part of her character (apart from the crazy pink outfit scene). Her reactions were believable and her character had seemed true to my impression of Kyoko’s personality even if Kyoko did come across as being somewhat thug-like at times.
Last but not least is our dear Sho, although I loved how the episode had focused on showing us the interaction between Sho and Kyoko’s characters, my issue with Dong Hae is that he doesn’t have the vibe that makes you want to hate him with a passion. Instead, he can’t help but give off this endearing vibe that pretty much makes me wanna go… “oh well… you are forgiven for everything that you have done” followed by giving him a pat on the head. =_=” As for the scene with Shouko, her character had annoyed me the most. Since when was she so slutty? Her character is meant to treat Sho like a little boy that she has to manage and not for her to act jealous over his actions. =/ Even though her character had denied being jealous, she has still came across as a cougar of sorts.
At the end of the day, all I can give is my first impression on the character since it is probably too early in the series to judge how the characters will turn out as the series progresses.
With a star studded cast, it is no shock that people would have high expectations for this series (or at least be intrigued by it). The weirdest part of the casting in this series would be the way the language barrier had worked due to the choice of actors (don’t get me wrong, I love the casting decision). The dubbing had turned out better than expected but boy was it still odd to watch the show. I have to give props to the actors for being able to pull it of in such a believable way.
As for the acting, the main actors had done a good job in making the scenes believable but the supporting cast hadn’t done as great a job. There were times where the acting had made me cringe (even if the those parts were small character roles with little importance). Since my favourite character in the manga is Ren (whose isn’t), I am glad that the part was played by Si Won since I think that the guy fits the basic criteria of being good looking. (Although reality can never live up to the original manga verison.)
It took the episode a very long time to cover the amount of material that they had covered. The first half of the show was entertaining and had kept a consistent pace, but the second part of the show had too many new scenes which had dragged the show out for pretty much no reason. What was with the whole Pink outfit board carrying scene? It had felt unnecessary. Before you think that I am just too attached to the manga, I actually felt that all those extra flashback that Kyoko had of Sho were done really well and had added to the value of the show by making us feel sorry for Kyoko whilst allowing the viewers to understand Kyoko’s grudge. At the end of the day, the show had dragged out plenty of the scenes in order to either prolong the episode or to play out the comical element of the plot. It was always expected that the script would have to adapt based on the medium but isn’t the pacing a tad too slow for the first episode? After watching 100 minutes of Extravagant Challenge, we are barely into the plot. And by the looks of the preview, all we will get next week would be up until the point of Kyoko joining LME. Hopefully we would at least cover Kyoko’s first acting experience by the end of the next episode. I wonder at which point would the series diverge from the manga and go on it’s own route.
The approach that the series had taken to the original material was more comical than romantic and that is what I would have expected out of the show, after all, despite how much we would love to see the character fall in love and have the rest of the series focus on that love, I always saw SB as being a story with light romance and a heavy focus on being a drama plot. Although some of the moments in the live-action were a bit lame, overall, the show did a pleasant job at making me laugh, especially with Kyoko’s crazy antics. And we even got to see an Initial D moment as well as a cameo appearance of “Superman” played by some random Caucasian actor. Lol.
Dear god, the CGI.
Boy was the CGI in the series bad. Thank god the show dosen’t take itself seriously and purposely over-dramatize all the reactions of the characters when it came to the CGI moments, if the show had tried to give off the impression that everything was meant to be believable, I would have ended up crying. Although that the show had taken an over-the-top approach to the dramatic moments, it really doesn’t excuse the bad CGI. Hopefully the CGI will only get better from her on.
As I had mentioned above, the dubbing of the show was one of my bigger worries. Although it had turned out better than expected, I still don’t like it despite the fact that I know that it can’t be helped. But what I did like was the sets and locations used during the filming and the atmosphere of the place.
The episode was definitely entertaining and I am itching to run off to dig up the Skip Beat manga that I have somewhere on my bookshelf. The cast is beautiful and most of them suit the characters that they are meant to be playing. Hopefully we will be seeing lesser “original” scenes until the story diverges from the manga as I felt that the weakest point of the episode was when Kyoko was with her friend on the streets trying to attract the attention of a scout. The pacing could be improved but this first episode had manage to establish the mood of the series.
I am really anticipating the Dark Moon arc of the story and can’t wait to see the interaction being Ren and Kyoko’s characters. =D
Episode Rating: 8/10 – It was mostly entertaining but the flashback trope was madly overused in this episode.
Ra’s Extravagant Challenge Question of the Week:
What was your favourite and most disliked moment in this episode?
(for the fresh eyes, what sort of impression does seeing the story for the first time give you?)
My Favourite Part: The pudding looks yummy… I want one… (although the behind-the-scenes shot of the kid spitting it out kinda turned me off)
The Part I Disliked: Didn’t like the childhood scene. I always worry when kids act in shows as it is hard to find children who can act well, and what we had seen in this episode really made me worried that the Corn part is going to fall flat on it’s ass.