Once in a great while, I find myself yearning to watch a Taiwanese drama. When I saw that Viki finally obtained the license for Alice in Wonder City, I headed straight down the rabbit role to join the adventure. I have to openly admit I am drawn to most things that find inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and this drama was no different for me.
If you click on the link below, you can read some of my thoughts. But be warned: there are some spoilers. I tried to keep it brief, but I do give a few things away.
As a bonus, it stars Aaron Yan, who has blown me away ever since I first saw him in Fall in Love With Me. Okay, I know Fall in Love With Me got really lost in translation and entered crazy town in the last episodes, but it never stopped me from being captivated by Aaron Yan’s character. I don’t know how he does it, but this is the second drama that I’ve felt such heart and soul shining through his role that I was rendered a sobbing mess.
His emotional acting range has really resonated with me, and I hope that it doesn’t make me sound biased, but there are very few actors that make me feel that connection. I really feel his vulnerability and raw emotion. It made some of Ting Yu’s moodiness and rudeness more bearable at times.
Although, Alice in Wonder City is only my third Taiwanese drama. So, where I set my bar for a good drama will probably vary on taste and experience.
While I really liked the “Alice” theme and thought that it had a strong beginning that managed to entrance me, I slowly lost interest in her character throughout the series. It was tiring, tragic, and heartbreaking watching Chen Hai Jie search for Alice and deal with countless misunderstandings. His feelings never changed for her throughout the course of the series. He was firm and steadfast that Alice would come back to him… and she eventually did. They did get their happy ending, but I missed the magical and whimsical quality that their relationship had in the beginning. In the end, it was still sweet but different. Was it the actress? I can’t really pinpoint where it all went wrong for me, personally.
I wasn’t expecting a fairy tale romance, but in the beginning, I felt so much promise between the two. I’m not really sure how or why it went wrong for me, but I found myself skimming Alice’s scenes or playing with my phone until the scenes were over.
The whole arranged marriage situation with that Japanese man drove me bonkers. So did his evil henchmen. I failed to really see any significance other than for it to be a poor plot device. Was there really no other way, drama?
Lan Die Fie was easily a favorite character of mine. Anyone could relate to the passion and love that she had for music. She never knew what she was good at and she never had dreams, but she knew that music was the key to her soul. It was through this love for music and through the help of her sister, that she landed a job at an orchestra to be an assistant for Ting Yu. She had a true ear for music, and luckily, Ting Yu recognized it and appreciated it. He even nagged her not to let her talent go to waste. And can I say it was so warming to see Die Fie find her place in the world? In the end, she discovered who she truly was and who she wanted to be. She stopped hiding in the shadows thanks to Ting Yu’s help.
Yang Gui Mei as Jin Li Sha was probably my favorite adult. And when I say adult, I mean our characters that were more than 35. I loved her heart and sincerity the most. She reached out to troubled kids and genuinely worked hard with them to turn their lives around… or at least find hope. Whenever I think back on her character, I think of hope. She’s probably the best T-drama adult I’ve seen to date. She’s such a refreshing change of pace from evil, scheming, law-breaking adults we see in many other Asian dramas.
Ting Yu was a tough cookie who put up an even stronger act. He pretended to be so strong and unaffected, but the truth about his character was that he was very affected by many things. He was affected by his mother’s suicide because he couldn’t be the perfect son that she desperately wanted. His passion was affected by the fact that music became more of a job and chore than actual enjoyment and passion. He was affected by Lan Die Fie, and because he wasn’t very good at handling much of anything (besides his violin), he was often very standoffish and unnecessarily rude and mean to Die Fie.
Of all the men in this drama, the actor who played Chen Hai Jie was the most charming and lovable from minute one. When Alice wasn’t in the picture (and he wasn’t mooning over her), he was such a great person and friend to both Ting Yu and Die Fie.
The music was beautiful and it was so refreshing to dive back into a world filled with classical music.
Honestly, I did enjoy this drama. There were some parts that lagged and drove me crazy, but at the end of the day, I’d easily recommend it. If you can get past the icy, moody, often rude Ting Yu, this drama really is worth watching. I don’t want to spoil everything that happens, but if you’re in the mood for a weekend marathon and you love Taiwanese dramas, this isn’t a bad place to start.
Before I go, here’s a music video with a song of Aaron’s that’s in Alice In Wonder City.