Alice in Wonder City
Heh, I’m liking this drama if anything because I love men who play violins… and there’s plenty of that in this drama since both lead actors are violinist~ However I am confused about the lead girl Alice… and you’ll see why.
We open to a scene in which Die Fei (or Fei Fei as Hai Jie keeps calling her) is being somewhat reprimanded by her father who tells her that she must thank her sister for working extra hours and getting her a job. She pouts a bit and goes to listen to CD’s of Ting Yu but her relaxing time is interrupted by the trash truck coming by…
And it turns out that your local trash man is Hai Jie not that either notices each other since after she throws the bag right past his face she’s already half way down the block and he can’t complain at her for smearing him with the contents of the nasty bag.
The next day Ting Yu is still in a huge snit about the robbed violin ( I think I would be too, but he’s totally taking it out on the wrong person) and Die Fei tells him straight out that he better stop accusing her for the stolen violin when all she did was retrieve what was in his car. He asks her if he’s the one that stole the violin then?
We find out a bit of what the reason for Die Fei’s sister’s abnormally long hours. It appears that she’s dating Ting Yu’s Manager and they’ve been keeping it on the down low. She tells him that if he really thinks that Die Fei took the violin then it’s like he’s saying he doesn’t trust her since Die Fei is her mei-mei. He apologizes and goes in for a kiss which she avoids until he remembers to close the curtains to his office.
As it turns out Ting Yu’s katageran-(or something like that) orchestra is looking for a second violin and Hai Jie has submitted an application for consideration. Ting Yu’s not all that happy to having to look for a violinist when his precious Hai Ou is missing and when Hai Jie is not right on time, Ting Yu’s ready to just leave the venue without waiting for him.
Die Fei and Manager stick up for Hai Jie and ask Ting Yu to wait. Manager reminds Ting Yu that Hai Jie lent him the violin when he needed one. Die Fei tells him that Hai Jie seems to really respect him and admire him, so could he just please wait for just a couple more minutes. Ting Yu scoffs at the fact that Hai Jie respects him, he tells her that it sure didn’t seem like that when Hai Jie even gave him advice! And he has a lot of admirers but that doesn’t mean he has to cater to each of them.
Just as everything seems to be the end and Hai Jie has lost his opportunity, Hai Jie comes rushing in and smiles and asks pardon for being late (he’d gotten side tracked because he’d thought he’d seen Alice in a cab); Ting Yu huffs and goes to sit and listen to Hai Jie play.
Hai Jie sets up for his performance, talking to his violin like it’s his best friend. As he plays we get flashbacks to his time with Alice, everybody listens to him, enjoying his music, but the surprise is Ting Yu. As soon as Hai Jie sets his violin down Ting Yu springs up and talks a mile a minute, completely euphoric, “it’s him, it’s him! I didn’t just hear the music I could see it!” He hurries out of the hall throwing over his shoulder to his manager that they must get together to talk about his lost violin predicament.
The change in Ting Yu’s demeanor is amazing and Hai Jie can’t even begin to comprehend how drastically his mood was changed. But he’s not the only one since everybody else present is in the same state of confusion. All the manager can tell Hai Jie is that he’s hired because nobody can override Ting Yu’s decisions.
Hai Jie and Die Fei stroll around together afterwards commenting on the sudden turn of events. Hai Jie tells her that he can barely even comprehend how he even came to finally be part of the orchestra. She asks him if he’d wanted this for a very long time. Hai Jie starts to say that not really since he wanted Alice to hear his music, but when Dei Fei tries to find out more about Alice he shuts up and says that all he really wants is for more people to hear his music. She notices that he is a little strange and tells him that he must be an alien just like Ting Yu and that’s why Ting Yu took a shine to him. Hai Jie wonders at how it seemed like Ting Yu could see into him as Ting Yu listened to his playing.
The next day Hai Jie receives a call from his older sister who confides in him that her daughter is playing hooky in school ever since she announced that she was getting remarried to her boyfriend.
We cut to her daughter walking around, insulting would-be players and shop-lifting. She’s saved from consequences of this last offence by the same lady from the first episode who steered a runaway little boy back to school. She pretends to be the mother and then invited her over to eat. Hai Jie’s niece is a brat, but the lady is thick skinned and just lets her rude comments slide and asks her why she ignores her calls and doesn’t go to school. The girl doesn’t answer her but seems a bit taken aback at her forthright questioning.
When the girl goes back home she finds her mother receiving a shoulder massage from her boyfriend and refuses to let them talk to her or even try to get along. Apparently her behaviour is strange because mom’s boyfriend and her used to get along pretty well before the marriage announcement.
Cut to a party that the kind lady is hosting for a whole bunch of kids. The party is apparently Alice in Wonderland themed because I see random kids disguised as Card Deck soldiers and the place is decorated with Alice paraphernalia. One person isn’t really into the spirit of the party and seems like she’s not invited, it’s Alice (with quite the different “look” than the one she sported the year before when she met Hai Jie).
She walks up to the lady who coincidentally seems to be on friendly terms with are resident irritable violinists Ting Yu. Alice ignores Ting Yu who’s sitting there at the table and calls the lady who we find out is Jin Li Sha, “oka-san” and informs her that she’s her daughter Ito Seiko. The Li Sha (Lisa’s) cordial smile stays frozen as she seems to try gathering her wits and respond properly to Seiko.
The party is disbanded and Ting Yu sits for a while in his car before driving home. Once home he starts to play the violin of great sadness, and takes a trip down memory lane of his own mother begging him to please not leave her while lying in a hospital bed.
While Seiko/Alice is taking a bath Lisa’s mind begins to replay the events that occurred right after her husband died in a botany excursion in South America. She remembers how after paying their respects to their son, her husband’s parents requested that she hand over her daughter to them. of course she refuses and tells them straight out that it’s impossible because Alice is her most important person and it’s completely out of line for her father in law to request she hand over her daughter.
Seiko/Alice walk in with a towel and flippantly asks her what room will be hers for the duration of her stay. Lisa asks her if she’s sure she’s the daughter that she was looking for, Seiko tells her names and a redux version of her story. This completely convinces Lisha and she accepts it and shows her to her room where Seiko shuts the door in her face after a cursory good night.
In bed Lisa remembers how she ran towards the dock calling for Alice just as her in-laws leave in a boat. She’s pulled out of her reverie by a text from Ting Yu who asks her if she’s alright and wants to talk.
Lisa walks out of the house and into Ting Yu’s car where he’s waiting with a warm drink. Alice spies on them from the living room.
Ting Yu asks how Li Sha’s feeling and asks her why she’s not happy after having found her daughter. Li Sha isn’t sure of the reason, but she feels that the daughter she has in front of her is very different from the daughter in her memories. She’s weirded out by the fact that Seiko calls her “oka-san” when she used to call her mom in taiwanese. Somehow Lisha feels like the memory Seiko is much more familiar than the present flippant, attitude filled Seiko.
The next day is time for some mother-daughter bonding meal. During the meal we see that Alice is somewhat struggling to tell her mother that she doesn’t blame her because the past is the past. However Lisa doesn’t feel like it’s the past because for twenty-plus years she had to live without any knowledge of her daughter thanks to her in-laws sneaking in while she slept next to a sick Alice. The took advantage of her exhaustion and slipped away, just leaving a note telling her that they took her.
She says that she can’t forgive them and can’t just leave it in the past. She asks Alice if she resents her for not finding her, and tells her that she searched and searched until her visa ran out and then she had her friends still in Japan search for Alice but to no avail. Alice lightly places her hand over her mother’s as her mother cries in anger and sadness at the pain she received all those years thanks to her selfish in- laws.
The next morning Ting Yu arrives with an offering of food for Lisa and Alice, but Alice rudely declines and asks that Lisa go and fetch her from a food vendor nearby. Lisa goes willingly and leaves Ting Yu behind with her rude daughter… not a good choice.
The first thing that Alice does is call Ting Yu Lisa’s boy-toy. This makes Ting Yu furious and he tells her that she doesn’t deserve Lisa as a mother, because Lisa’s a good person and Alice is just an unmannered rude brat. Alice keeps pushing Ting Yu’s buttons and even throws her drink at him – he almost slaps her, but he reigns himself in and stalks out the door before things become worse.
When Lisa comes back she’s surprised at the mess and at Ting Yu’s absence, she asks Alice what happened, and Alice tells her flippantly that she told Ting Yu that she would accept her mother and her boy-toy easily and wouldn’t be mad. Lisa sighs and tells her firmly that Ting Yu is just a really good friend to her, and that they’re not in any relationship that Alice is imagining. She asks that Alice go and apologize to Ting Yu.
Hai Jie shows up for his very first rehearsal with the orchestra and as he peeks into the door he sees that Die Fei is running around placing chairs and attending to the different musicians. When he see her rolling in an extra chair for him, he offers to take it and places her in the chair telling her that he will give her a ride in the special Hai Jie train and put a smile on her face. He then proceeds to scare her silly but elicits spontaneous laughter from her.
Ting Yu’s still in his apartment looking over Hai Jie’s information and last minute preparation for rehearsal when Alice shows up at his door. He asks why she’s here and she tells him that she came to apologize. Which as Ting Yu points out, she’s doing a poor job of accomplishing since she’s brazenly just invited herself in despite his protests. She tells him that she doesn’t feel like apologizing just yet and proceeds to look through his cupboard exclaiming at his poor eating habits (he only has cornflakes and water).
He asks her to hurry up since he has important things to do and needs to leave. However she decides that she’ll keep invading his privacy and makes it so that he has to leave while she’s still in his house. As soon as he leaves she hurries to rifle through his other drawers… is there something she wants from him? (sincerely Alice’s character has me all confoozzled because she is nothing like the sweet though mysterious Alice that Hai Jie recalls)
At rehearsal Ting Yu and Hai Jie bring the house down with their violin duets- well jaws down. Manager even suggest that they record this duet for an upcoming album Ting Yu’ll be recording. Hai Jie is honored and Ting Yu doesn’t disagree with the idea.
During a break in rehearsal Ting Yu thanks Hai Jie properly for the violin loan the first time they meant. Hai Jie laughs it off and says that he was glad he could help. Ting Yu tells him that playing Hai Jie’s violin gave him almost the same comfort as playing his own beloved Hai Ou. Hai Jie asks him how the search for the violin is going and Ting Yu tells him that there’s still no clue as to where the violin could be, and meanwhile he’s trying to learn to make new “friends”.
Hai Jie lets him in on a little piece of his own history with his violin. His violin was given to him on a loan by a friend, and that one day he would give it back to his friend. Ting Yu wonders why he’d return it after having it for so long. Hai Jie smiles and tells him that because he’d made an agreement with his friend: that when he became an incomparable violinist he’d return the violin, but there’s still quite some time till that happens. (I’m not sure but I’m having a sneaking suspicion that Hai Jie and Ting Yu might have known each other during childhood because Ting Yu seemed to react a bit to to this story- or I may be reading way too much into it 😛 )
They both make plans to go eat out together but Manager comes in with a request that Ting Yu make an appearance and play at a sponsor’s house warming party. Ting Yu refuses because he wants to go out to eat with Hai Jie like he’s already planned but the manager keeps insisting. Finally, Hai Jie comes up with the compromise that they BOTH go to party and play. Ting Yu accepts but not without some glaring at being made a commodity for the house warming party.
The performance goes off without a hitch, and even though Hai Jie seems to be having a good enough time at the party, he notices that Ting Yu is extremely unhappy at being there. So he suggests that they skip out of the party, at first Ting Yu was uncertain, but Hai Jie’s excitement infects him and he even takes four bottles of the wine just as they’re leaving.
They go to a cafe to drink and talk, and Ting Yu reveals that he’s been going to those kind of gatherings since childhood because of his prodigy status. Hai Jie is surprised that they made him go and perform like a treasure to be taken out and admired at “important” occasions.
I like the newly found rapport between the male leads and hope that their friendship becomes deeper! Ting Yu needs a fun-loving person like Hai Jie around so that he can stop taking everything so seriously, and perhaps stop being such an uptight person around others.
Hai Jie and Die Fei are cute together, she tries so hard to be stern around him but she always ends up going at his pace, and can’t help but laugh or smile when she’s around him.
Alice is a mystery to me, I don’t understand what she wants? Why did she start rummaging furtively through Ting Yu’s apartment as soon as he closed the door? Why did she become such a rude punk within a span of a year? I think Hai Jie may be disappointed that she’s changed so much, and isn’t the girl that he met the year before.
One thing I do have to complain about: the episode endings, don’t seem all that interesting, it’s like the director and editor thought “oh we filmed and filmed… hmmm this might be a good place to stop, cut here this’ll be today’s ending” without really planning and leaving me hanging for more. Aside from that I’m enjoying the chill and relaxed vibe the story is giving, and I’m looking forward to what more they can mine from the Alice in Wonderland idea. Where is it going? hmmm
- Intro: Alice in Wonder City- Episode 1 (noisesfromthecloset.wordpress.com)