Moon River (明若曉溪 or 明若晓溪) / Ming Ruo Xiao Xi)
One day, back in 2015, I was on the weird side of YouTube and found a music video by the Chinese-Taiwanese boyband, SpeXial. After hearing the song, “Subtle Love,” I was instantly smitten by them. The music video is the opening for Moon River that was currently airing at the time. I really wanted to watch this show but when I researched it, it wasn’t released yet. And soon after, I kind of forgot about it.
Yet it wasn’t until the last week of finals that I once again found this music video and went searching for the drama. Luckily, Viki had it and I immediately consumed it despite having to write a paper. Yes, my Asian drama addiction is real but it isn’t a problem…yet.
Moon River, or 明若曉溪 (明若晓溪) / Ming Ruo Xiao Xi, is about a country girl named Ming Xiao Xi who gets accepted to a prestigious university as a physical education student. When one of her fellow hometown friends gets bullied by their peers, Ming Xiao Xi saves him and she ends up disrupting the Elite Union’s status quo system. As a result, many of the students desire for Xiao Xi’s expulsion, but the Elite Union’s president, Mu Liu Bing, thinks otherwise.
Now, Moon River is an idol drama that features two SpeXial members: Lin Zi Hong (Sam) and Evan Ma, who are practically eye candy every episode. In fact, these guys and some of the other cast members had an interesting fashion sense to convey their characters’ personality. Lin Zi Hong, who plays Mu Liu Bing, wears a lot of greys and blacks to convey the darkness he has in his heart. After his mother’s death, there has been a strain in Mu Liu Bing’s relationship with his father. As for Evan Ma, who plays Feng Jian Che, he wears a lot of bluish-white sweaters and scarfs which gives off this gentle and calm aura around him. As for Ming Xiao Xi, who is played by Pets Tseng, she wears a ton of color and patterns to convey her cheery and bright personality. Her signature outfit is a long skirt with a sweater or cardigan that gives her this “grandma” vibe. I thought it was creative to use fashion as a way to express character personalities. Furthermore, I like the fact that they recycled outfits which shows some practicality and realism. These characters are still students—they still have limited freedom and power to do what they want.
As for the plot, it’s divided into two major story arcs: Ming Xiao Xi and Mu Liu Bing courting one another, and then, Mu Liu Bing’s fight against Tie Enterprise which puts a strain on his relationship with Xiao Xi. The first story arc was fun and entertaining as we see Mu Liu Bing trying to get Ming Xiao Xi’s attention. I would consider this story arc as the “honeymoon” phase as we see our main leads courting one another. The first story arc kept me engaged in this drama as we see a lot of cute, romantic moments with Ming Xiao Xi and Mu Liu Bing.
However, my interest in this drama faded when the second story arc was introduced. There was a shift in pace and storyline as we focused on Mu Liu Bing and his family issues. These episodes were a bit difficult to watch because of how “rushed” the storyline felt. The scenes were abruptly pulled together without any smooth transitions. In fact, when the big finale came, it was a bit anticlimactic. I found the ending as a letdown because the ultimate reason for this family feud is because of a grudge (a pretty general storyline in most Asian dramas). This drama is filled with fun and charm but ends up being a pushy melodrama when it didn’t need to be.
Also, there are some leftover gaps in the end. One major gap is the “romantic” storyline between Feng Jian Che and Dong Hao Xue. Che is aware of Hao Xue’s feelings for him but he doesn’t seem to properly reject her, and so we don’t know what happens to them when the drama concludes. Also, Mu Liu Bing and Xiao Xi’s reunion was really cheesy—it was hard to watch.
Many viewers compared this drama and this group of guys to Boys Over Flowers and The Heirs. There are similarities amongst these dramas. For example, there are a bunch of flower boy rich guys, the standard Cinderella plotline, and the self-righteous female protagonist. I agree that Moon River is like Boys Over Flowers and The Heirs, but I think the female character is more like Do Bong Soon in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon though. Aside from being incredibly strong, Xiao Xi is good-hearted and adorable like Bong Soon.
If you would like to watch Moon River, check it out on Viki.