Well hello there. Let’s go back in time to 1995, year of the Pig. And allow me to wallow in a moment of bliss – Liu Chuan! This Pr’ek, In a Good Way, is the Prince Charming, consorting among the common students of Cheng Dong University campus in Taipei, and being the carefree idol that he is. Top of the class, star basketball player, and coolest guy to crush on? Impossible. But alas it is and believably so since this is 1995, and Prince Charming, at least in dramaland, became something of a rarity and darn near extinction much after this golden year.
But who is this Liu Chuan, you may ask? Why, he is the guy that Jia En, our Nang’ek, meets in college and inadvertently impacts her life. Jia En grew up in Ping Dong with her best friend and childhood crush, Ren Wei. She practically orbits around him, so when he decides to apply to Cheng Dong Public University, she follows suit. Unfortunately she didn’t anticipate that her good friend and crush would dare change her major and thereby changing her fate. Jia En doesn’t get into college (because the finance major Ren Wei chose was too competitive, although she would have easily gotten into the business admin major that she had chosen) and she must wait another year to take the exam and re-apply.
Being in a small town and all of her peers have moved on, it becomes increasing lonely for Jia En. She decides to move to Taipei and study there in the meantime. But luck is not on her side as her friend doesn’t answer her calls, her parents have moved their restaurant, and she gets pick pocketed in the charming Capital. Jia En finds herself seeking the only person she knows, Ren Wei on campus. However she mistakenly awaits her friend in the wrong dormitory, and meets Liu Chuan, in his birthday suit no less. It is quite the first impression.
The sky pours imminent rain showers and Liu Chuan, after donning his clothes, decides to stick with his good conscience and offer Jia En a place to shelter from the rain. He knows it’s against dorm policy, and worse case scenario he would be kicked out of the dorm, but Liu Chuan couldn’t just watch a girl suffer without extending a helping hand. And so he does, much to her surprise and gratefulness. Here, she came to see a man who is avoiding her, but meets another man who literally and figuratively saves her.
I love how they meet. It’s a refreshing start to watch Pra’nangs encounter each other without misunderstandings or yelling matches. Jia En, although naive, is kind and well adjusted, while Liu Chuan, is sweet, considerate, wise and damn near perfection. You know, all the stuff Prince Charming is made of. Unlike Ren Wei, who is selfish without an ounce of remorse. I get that he wants freedom- he wants to be relieved of his family, friends and old life- and I get that this allows Jia En to change and see him for the lackluster crush that he is- but still, he’s selfish and the worse friend ever!
Not only does he change her application form when she’s not looking, and thereby wasting a year of her life, he ignores her in a time of need, and breaks his promise when he already told her he would never tell anyone that she spent the night at a man’s room! And in front of the whole school no less. Luckily, Liu Chuan has a conscience and defends her, with his popularity; he garnered people on his side. Jia En is heartbroken by her friend’s betrayal- and she hasn’t even discovered that he changed her application form yet- so she cries in the corner, hoping that no one would see her. Liu Chuan, who has a GPS where Jia En is concerned, tells her that he likes to clear his head when he’s feeling down. He takes her to the beach where he watches her build a sand castle and listens to her troubles.
Jia En tells him that Ren Wei was her only friend growing up. He was good at everything, even building a sand castle. But he wouldn’t let anyone inside his castle. She had asked to be his Queen when he became King, and overtime she succeeded and he built her a bridge to enter his castle. They became great friends after that. But today she realized that she’s envious of the people inside.
Liu Chuan peers at her and makes such an astute observation. As they watch the sun rising, indicating a new day, Liu Chuan hands her a stick. He instructs her to destroy the sand castle as a metaphor of freeing herself. She hasn’t noticed this, but she has a tendency to trap herself in other people’s castle. She cares too much about people’s every move that she allows them to determine whether she laughs or cries. She needs a castle to call her own because if she’s stuck in another person’s castle, she won’t know her own potential.
Jia En looks at the sand castle and with a decided nod, she destroys it. Liu Chuan tells her that when she gets back, people may still point at her, but she shouldn’t be afraid. Because when she stops living for others, she will be free. Truer words. Liu Chuan you get a gold star! When they return to campus, Jia En has a new, fresh take on life.
I love a coming of age story line, I love that we don’t dwell on a Nang’ek pathetically pining after her crush, and I love that our Pr’ek is central to her character development – and not only plays a pretty face with popularity oozing from his pores- but is a man who deserves every bit of that notoriety. This is an impressionable moment in young adults’ lives where the people they meet and the experiences they go through shape them into the people that they become.
And to think that I’ve only gotten through two episodes, I’m excited to see how the story unfolds. Love it so far! Might I add that this is my first Taiwanese drama? Yay me.
*A big thank you to Fun for recommending this drama, and for graciously allowing me to use her Viki account. You’ve no idea how great it is not to watch commercials! Kawp kon na ka!
*Pic credit to original owners