Episodes 1 & 2
Ok folks, 2 episodes have aired for Extravagant Challenge (Skip Beat). So as I announced way back when I will be writing recaps for it, but because the first two episodes are pretty much set-up episodes, I’ll recap them together.
Warning: I’m a huge fan of the Manga, and a huge fan of the idol actors (Siwon & Donghae), however I’ll try my hardest to be impartial towards their acting.
As we start the drama we get a little animated intro showing us the pandora box locked inside each of us from birth, it’s very heavily locked however under certain circumstances they can be unlocked.
We are introduced to Gong Xi (Mogami Kyoko) a hardworking girl who is apparently juggling three different jobs to pay for a very expensive apartment. As soon as we meet her we’re able to tell that she’s at the very least a very die-hard passionate fan of Bu Po Shang (Sho Fuwa) a relatively newbie singer.
While she’s overhearing a conversation between her coworkers about Shang, she finds out that with the purchase of the new Shang CD came a poster. She’s extremely shocked and upset that when she bought her two copies of Shang’s CD’s she didn’t receive the complimentary poster. So she goes on a rampage back to the music store riding her bike faster than a train, and even faster than Super Man flies.
the store manager apologizes and gives her a Shang cardboard cut out and a promise of notification when the posters come in.
She arrives to her last job of the day exhausted from the crazy biking she did to get there on time. Her friendly coworker asks her if they can host a party in her big expensive apartment, but Gong Xi deflects by making up stories about how dirty it is, etc. The friend finds it all suspicious, and she asks her if the reason she won’t host the get together is because she’s living with a man.
Gong Xi starts to panic at that acusation but the boss lady comes to her rescue telling the friend that Gong Xi isn’t like her always thinking about guys. Gong Xi ackwardly smiles and avoids further commentary on the subject.
After work Gong Xi walks by a cosmetic store and imagines her face in the advertisement. She likes make-up but she can’t afford it. But Shang likes her without make-up on right? cut out boy becomes real and just smiles at her before returning to his cutout state.
When she arrives home Gong Xi excitedly tells Shang about receiving the cutout in lieu of the poster, and he merely looks up at her from his casual perusal of some magazine for a fraction of a second before returning to it. He looks up again and makes a motion that means he wants water, and Gong Xi hurriedly brings him a glass and holds the straw to his lips for him to sip… omg he’s so lazy and arrogant. Gong Xi wake up dear!
Gong Xi wants to spend some time talking with Shang but he gets up to leave. Gong Xi asks him if he’s eaten and he tells her that of course he has why should he wait for her? She sadly remembers a time when they’d just arrived in Tai Pei and he was still struggling to make it, during those days he would wait for her to eat and eagerly talk to her about his dreams, but as things looked up for his career things took a downturn in their friendship. Hurriedly she gets an idea that might hold him for some time.
As she’s running around she recalls the moment when Shang asked her to leave his house with him. He had a huge argument with his father because he didn’t want to have an arranged marriage and a boring arranged life like his father. His father slaps him and Shang leaves the room.
Gong Xi who had overheard part of the argument hurries after him and asks him if he was really getting married. He tells her that he would never get married with the “boring” woman his father had chosen.
Present day Gong Xi hurriedly goes around town to the different stores looking for all things strawberry, e specifically strawberry pudding. She even slides underneath the closing curtain of a store just to buy them. She’s probably too cute for the shopowner to resist… look at that face, would you deny her her strawberry pudding?
When she gets there Shang is opening the door to leave, however she jangles the pudding box, and suddenly he’s all attention. He’d been unable to procure the treats because they were not compatible with the image his agency had created for him.
He has this interesting ceremony for eating the pudding that stems from his early childhood. Even then Gong Xi had dotingly watched him eat it and then playfully squeezed his cheeks. She’s about to do just that when Shang tells her she shouldn’t be so childish. (like he’s any better.)
As she’s regaling him with gossip about how her coworkers who’d once been fans of Dun He Lian (Tsuruga Ren) were now his, a tv program begins announcing the most sought after bachelor.
Of course it’s Dun He Lian and Shang takes it as a personal affront and swears that he’ll take him down. Gong Xi tries to cheer him up telling him that he will some day, but he doesn’t like the amount of time “some day” implies because he wants to defeat He Lian now!
He leaves their apartment in a pissed off mood even slamming the door on Gong Xi’s face. Gong XI turns to the He Lian in the television and throws a pudding at the screen blaming He Lian for Shang’s bad mood.
He Lian himself is leaving the set from the show Gong Xi had been watching. He’s intercepted by a well known MC who asks him for his autograph for his daughter. The MC’s manager arrives scolding him for running out on the show. He Lian proceeds to basically scolding the older man for shirking his job, though he still signs the photograph for the daughter since she’s in no way at fault for her father’s lacking work ethic.
He Lian’s manager is worried by the way He Lian managed the situation, fearing the ways angering that influential MC might affect He Lian’s career. He Lian himself is not worried about that and asks him if he really said anything with intent to hurt? since he didn’t then there’s no problem.
Gong Xi is still thinking about Shang’s bad mood from the night before and she tries calling his cell to leave him a message telling him that of course she believes he’s better than He Lian now, but the fans may take some time to change camp since Shang’s still new to the entertainment business. She decides that she’ll go visit him at an event.She tries several ways of entering but is thrown out quite fast, until she notices some super sized trunks being rolled into the building.
Shang himself is having a fit and scowls at the fact that the producers keep wanting him to change the sound of his music, essentially stripping him of his creative rights.
The Manager flirtily tells him that she’ll get him all the rights, programs he needs so he just needs to sit tight and just follow her lead. Then she broaches the subject of Gong Xi, he playfully asks her if she’s actuallly jealous. But that she needn’t be since he’s not interested in Gong Xi at all. The manager asks him then if it’s fair to Gong Xi to be kept around as a maid when Shang won’t return her feelings at all. Shang tells her that he was planning on leaving Gong Xi’s side anyways.
Gong Xi has by this time managed to make it inside the building and has been standing outside the door listening to Shang call her a maid and the “boring” person his father wanted him to marry and have kids with. As she’s hearing this the pandora box in her heart is losing it’s locks one by one.
She walks in and after throwing the strawberry snacks at him, she starts naming all the crap she had to go through just so that he could reach his dreams. He’s unmoved and she starts crying at the complete and utter selfish idiot he is and she crouches down to gather herself.
As she’s crouching a laughter starts to bubble over as the pandora box has burst open. She stands up with the spirits of hate and revenge swirl around her, she vows that she will have her revenge. I’m so glad she’s not some full on weepy heroine, it’s the reason why I got addicted to the manga… I’m definitely all for revenge! (as long as no one’s is seriously hurt of course.)
Shang scoffs at her vow since she’s a nobody and he’s a star, she can’t do anything. And as if to prove it guards appear to pull her away from the room. Before they remove her from the scene Shang tells her that the only way she could have her revenge would be by joining the entertainment business and becoming even more famous and popular than he. But he scoffs again at that possibility since she’s not sexy or pretty.
She’s thrown out and dejected she makes her way to their shared apartment. Once their she rips apart the cardboard cut out and all the posters she had of him as well as throwing around the various Shang paraphernelia (ie pillows) but she stops at a CD.
The CD is his debut CD. He’d come home excitedly looking for her to give her the CD as a present and so they could celebrate his achievement together.
But by the time he put out his third album he’d dismissed her coldly and told her to leave so he could compose music without interference. Gong Xi again starts raging and she rips apart the CD vowing that even if it were the last thing she’d do she would have her revenge and make it in the entertainment business.
First thing she does is go buy some shoes. She’s surprised by their price but pays it in cash. then She goes to a hair salon where she asks for the style of a star. What she gets is more like the effects of a tornado mixed with red paint.
She then goes to quit at the Japanese restaurant, and her boss and his wife are sad and upset that they’re losing her. When she reveals that she doesn’t have another job to replace this one and she’s already sold her apartment but doesn’t have a place to live anymore, her boss pops out behind the counter and places the keys to the upstairs bedroom which her coworker used to occupy until her family moved to Tai Pei.
Gong Xi and her co-worker go have a look at the room. It’s nothing much compared to the luxurious apartment she had before but it’s serviceable. Her co-worker has followed her and starts asking questions about the changes that she’s been going through, could it be because Gong Xi is really an undercover police officer. Gong Xi says that if she were she could have just shot down the troublemaker but she hasn’t because she isn’t.
Her coworker decides to help her try to get found, and Gong Xi spends almost a whole day walking back and forth before she get’s “scouted”. Turns out to be the wrong kind of attention (Gong Xi’s clothes are the prototype model for the leopard print hooker). She decides that just walking around hoping to be found isn’t going to work, instead she must join LME, the biggest talent agency and Shang’s rival agency.
He Lian’s Manager is worried that the MC may call for a reprisal for the scolding he received from He Lian. However, he’s surprised that instead of anger the MC is actually thankful. He offers to read the text message he sent to He Lian but He Lian refuses.
Manager ignores He Lian and reads it. Apparently the MC’s daughter has a terminal disease and fallen into an unresponsive depressive state, never smiling and refusing to socialize with her friends. When she received He Lian’s autographed picture she finally allowed her parents to gather her friends for a party.
He Lian looks out the window and shows no outward response to the sad story and his manager wonders if He Lian is human. As he looked out the window He Lian’s attention was caught by a girl running full tilt into the building.
Of course the running girl is Gong Xi and while she’s arguing with the receptionists a talent manager emerges. He’s Manager Shen (Takenori Sawara-san), in charge of the new talent hopefuls.
Seeing her passionate display of interest he takes her aside for an interview asking her what she’s interested in, acting? no , singing? not really. MCing? ew no, they’re such fakes! Manager Shen looks at her likes she’s a crazy waste of time and next cut we see Gong Xi trying to escape being thrown out by running up the down escalator. ( there’s one thing I’ll have to get used to : Manager Shen seems a tad bit more bumbling than the shrewd Sawara san in the manga, but that’s just my opinion)
He Lian actually has a heart and decides to buy a bear for the MC’s daughter and asks that his manager clear some time on his schedule for a playtime visit to the little girl.
As fate will have it He Lian is riding the elevator down and upon seeing him Gong Xi realizes that she’s walked into the agency that represents him. She tumbles to the ground in surprise and horror except that she realizes oh! Shang is my mortal enemy so He Lian no longer should be hated. Except that He Lian looks at her like she’s trash he’d rather see thrown out, and while she’s mumbling like a crazy fool to herself she’s thrown out of the building.
While Manager Shen and He Lian and his manager(Yashiro-san) talk about the crazy girl’s antics, said crazy girl has kneeled down in front of the LME building and written out a message on the floor begging Manager Shen to allow her to enter as a talent.
Manager Shen tries to leave by a side door in the evening however Gong Xi was already there waiting for him. He hurriedly gets into to a taxi to head home and to his dismay Gong Xi is able to ride her bike a plaster herself to his window.
However she soon has to part ways at a divide in the freeway and heads in another direction. Manager Shen breathes a sigh of relief at being freed from her presence, however that relief is short lived since Gong Xi had found out his address from a previous interview and had hurried over to be there before he got home.
At night for several nights Manager Shen is tortured with visions of Gong Xi’s revengeful spirits asking for a chance. As her last ditch effort she passes herself off as a breakfast service he’s ordered for his wife. Since a lot of the ingredients were imported if he were to pay for them it would be in the thousands.
He gives up and in his office he hands her over papers for auditions with extreme trepidation. She snatches the paper away before he can change his mind
as she’s walking in the LME building she runs into He Lian who despite himself has become interested in her progress. He wonders what she had to do to force Manager Shen into allowing her to participate in the auditions. He Lian keeps staring at Gong Xi and discomfitted she asks him why he’s looking at her as if to say that no matter how hard she tried she’s not going to get selected so why waste time. He asks her if her talent is to read minds to which she scowls that the meaning of such a look like the one he’s given her is very obvious to everyone.
he continues to lecture her until he finally asks why she’s even interested in joining the entertainment business. She cracks under the pressure and loses her cool, shouting that she’s doing this to get revenge on Bu Po Shang.
He Lian looks lost for a bit and ends up trying to google Shang to see who he is. Gong Xi is surprised that he doesn’t know who Shang is and has to slap herself as she goes into Shang protector mode.
He Lian stares at her a bit more and the tells her that revenge and persistance alone won’t be able to help her along the path of an entertainer, if that’s all she has she’s better off doing something else than wasting the judges time on her. Then as if he’s realized something he smirks and tells her to go ahead try her best and when she’s broken by failure she’ll finally understand what he’s been telling her.
Gong Xi doesn’t understand why He Lian is being so rude to her when she’s never done anything to him. She goes home and posts a small picture of He Lian next to the bigger one of Shang and uses them as target practice: now the two of them will need to bow down to her and admit she’s better than they are when she’s famous.
At the auditions the next day she’s amazed by everybody’s eye-catching manner of dress and their talents. As she’s standing there admiring them and torturing her Shang voodoo doll for being the cause of her inability to buy make-up and pretty things to make her stand out a noise from a young woman brings her back to her surroundings.
Jiang Nan Qin (Kanae Kotonami “Moko-chan”) has dragged a little girl to the place and is looking for her mother, saying that the auditions were no place for a little girl (Marie). Her eyes lock onto GOng Xi holding the doll and she demands that Gong Xi take her daughter out of there. Gong Xi denies the accusation, but Nan Qin instead starts to berate her on her for being, weak, unfashionable. unattractive, unsexy etc.
Gong Xi at first is taken aback by the tirade from Nan Qin but as she begins to sound more and more like Shang Gong Xi’s evil spirits start to swirl. She turns on the little girl who had started crying and starts stretching her cheeks
little miss, do you think that no matter what happens as long as you cry someone will come and make you laugh and comfort you?
Inside the audition rooms Manager Shen is being questioned by another talent manager about the girl he let enter as a last minute addition. Manager Shen begins to tell them not to feel pressured about it and that if she deserves to be cut they should cut her from the group. However he begins to hallucinate evil spirits cursing him and his family if she were to be dropped.
He Lian is filiming an action movie however during his break time he wonders how the auditions are going, if she actually managed to survive the cuts. His manager is surprised that he’s even interested to know the outcomes of the auditions since he’s never made a show of being interested in it before. Then we’re shown god awful action scenes but I’ll forgive show, it’s been doing a good job so far with the characters I won’t nit-picket about this.
And while He lian’s washing his hands and thinking about the auditions we get a name for his manager – Du!
Back at the Auditions just as Nan Qin is complaining about the president not being there a whole Mardi Gras dancing group comes out and from the center the LME president Luo Li (Rory/Lory Takada) comes out and orders the participants to give him auditions that will make his eyes open wide.
Rather mediocre talents come out but Gong Xi’s impressed by all of them. Then it’s Nan Qin’s turn. Her talent is being able to memorize a script after a reading and being able to act it out exactly as needed. She demands a script from the president and he gives it to her, impressed by her ability to look him straight in the face with confidence. Nan Qin acts out the scene alongside the recording of another character without missing a line.
Then it’s Gong Xi’s turn. She tries to tell everyone why she’s there that day and everybody starts jeering at her accusing her of being a crazy Shang fangirl. However President Luo Li sees that she’s not any ordinary fangirl because if she were she would have gone to Shang’s agency and not to the rival one.
After a mishap in which she launches her bag at Manager Shen, she finally strikes a pose, a knife in one hand and in the other a daikon. She then proceeds on demonstrating her master chef skill of the art of katsura muki. Which is basically peeling the daikon in thin sheets. She arranges her peeled daikon into the shape of a rose. The President is wowed by her skill and passes her onto the next round.
It’s a skill that little Gong Xi had learned as a way to make herself feel less in the way of Shang’s parents at their onsen ryokan they owned and in which she grew up in.
Outside the audition room as Gong Xi is reveling in passing the test and sticking out her tongue at a He Lian poster, Nan Qin tells Gong Xi that she’s like a pig with an elephant trunk in a room full of people. She’s basically like a circus attraction that will lose it’s appeal after a time.
The next audition test is the cell phone test. Nan Qin can in less than twenty seconds start crying and acting out the response to the call she received on the cell phone.
Again right after Nan Qing it’s Gong Xi’s turn and as she puts the cell phone to her ear, it’s a man telling her that he’s sorry but they’ ll have to break up because he has someone else, it was her fault for being unatractive and not sexy. Gong Xi hears this and on the other side of the stage Shang appears, it’s basically the same words he told her when he broke her heart.
Okay first of all I’m extremely happy with Ivy Chen’s – Gong Xi. THere are times when she might seem exaggerated and way too prone to contorting her face into strange maniac expressions, however comparing it to the source material, that’s exactly how Kyoko is. She’s extreme in her loves and her hates.
At first people might argue that Gong Xi was too much of a pushover, completely being stepped on by those around her, but she’s not. She was only weak for Shang, who had her heart in his hands and carelessly crushed it in his desire for more fame. I don’t think she was even posessive over Shang, it wasn’t the fact that Shang might love someone else than her that upset her, it was the fact that he didn’t appreciate all she sacrificed for him at all, dismissing her as ‘ugly and unsexy’ not even taking in account the beauty of her devotion to him. What hurt her the most, was that she grew up thinking of him as her closest friend, (in the manga her only one since girls were always jealous of her apparent closeness to him as they grew up) and he never thought of her as more than the plain girl who is good enough to be his maid.
I’m looking forward towards the bildungsroman story of her character. Hopefully she’ll come into her own, and realize what she has to offer to herself first and then to those around her.
Donghae as Bu Po Shang has me completely amazed, he’s really grasped the childishness and charming side of his character very well, and then he shows how that turns him into an extremely selfish bastard towards Gong Xin. I want to hate his character. but I can’t, and I really really missed him in the second episode.
Siwon as Dun He Lian, is not as great as I thought it would be but it’s not horrible, in fact I think that he’s syncing with his character quite well. It’s just that he has the toughest character to play in the whole drama. He Lian/Ren is mysterious, he is by turns extremely serious and charismatic, but also quite childish even in the manga. of course he never lets anyone see it, but things like looking up people on google, but not wanting to admit ignorance are cute, but something he hates to have to show anybody. For right now, Siwon is doing great in the scenes where he’s interacting with others, it’s only when he’s brooding with himself when I feel that he’s forcing himself to “act” as He Lian.
And I love the little details in the show, for example Manager Bu/Yashiro-san (He Lian’s manager) in the manga is completely not allowed to touch techie stuff without rubber protectors because of his “ability/curse” of ruining them. and the show has prepared that cute rubber gadget that looks like a land telephone.
Also the fact that Gong Xi’s picture was not your typical smiling one. Like so many other pictures of typical actress hopefuls.
In short I’m looking forward to MOAR!