On November 4th, "Weaving a Tale of Love Season 2," was released on Youku. The clever female protagonist, Liuli, repeatedly exposed the schemes of the princess, providing book fans and drama enthusiasts with a satisfying experience. Comments such as "captivating from the beginning" and "can't get enough with two episodes a day" clearly demonstrate the audience's love for this drama. As the popularity of "Weaving a Tale of Love" soared, Tencent quickly followed suit, releasing "Wonderland of Love" on November 6th, further igniting the market. A day later, "Story of Kunning Palace" premiered on iQiyi, intensifying the competition among the three Chinese major long-form video platforms.
In recent years, the key factors determining the competitiveness of costume dramas in the market are no longer just big work, high viewership, and large investments, but rather the sense of differentiation brought by content innovation. Taking these three new dramas as examples, they have expanded their creative directions beyond the confines of palace intrigue, domestic conflicts, and dominant female protagonists, and instead focus more on elements such as new women, legends, and personal growth. The core of the stories also touches on the emotional perspectives, social views, and workplace situations of contemporary young people. It can be said that these new costume dramas have incorporated modern elements within the traditional shell, echoing the realities of contemporary life.
Regardless of character development, plotlines, or themes, the three concurrent costume dramas have their own innovations. They not only ignite the drama market, making November a truly costume drama frenzy month, but also provide new considerations for the future creative paths of new Chinese costume dramas.
Ancient charm remains crucial for costume dramas
In the past two years, there has been a belief in the industry that the appearance of costume dramas is not important, and that logically consistent stories and well-matched actors are the key to success. However, since it is called a costume drama, compared to modern dramas, its classical aesthetics and ancient charm are still one of the core motivations for audiences to follow the series. It also embodies people's romantic imagination of ancient life and etiquette. It can be said that everyone has their own measuring stick.
As a sequel, "Weaving a Tale of Love Season 2" not only maintains the quality of its predecessor but also elevates its texture and charm. The visually pleasing scenes become the first eye-catching point that draws viewers in, sparking discussions about design aesthetics and artistic styling rarely seen in costume dramas.
The opening scene of the wedding between the male and female leads is rich in red and green tones, yet not excessive. The color combinations are just right, showcasing different visual aesthetics of the ancient era. Each step of the wedding is imbued with the profound charm of Tang Dynasty etiquette, showcasing the grandeur and solemn beauty of a Chinese-style wedding. It allows the audience to truly experience an ultimate sense of Eastern romance.
The costumes in the drama quickly became a hot topic after its premiere, with the entire internet praising the beauty of the costumes in "Weaving a Tale of Love". The intricate patterns, meticulously crafted, delineate the aesthetics of the Tang Dynasty, with a grand and vibrant overall ensemble. Not only do they subtly match the characters' personalities and destinies, but they also showcase the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty, allowing people to visually experience the charm of the resplendent Tang Dynasty with great visual impact.
The early banter between the male and female leads in "Wonderland of Love" is delightful, and the filters are also very pleasing. The overall quality of the drama is equally impressive. It is worth mentioning that the fight scenes in this drama are excellent, worthy of being showcased even in serious martial arts dramas, and they are even more top-notch in historical dramas. The rhythm of the fight scenes, the choreography, the visual aesthetics, and the conveyance of emotions are all on point. However, some viewers have criticized the female lead's bangs and the male lead's costumes for not being aesthetically pleasing enough, which creates a slight sense of dissonance compared to the overall quality of the drama.
The texture and pacing of "Story of Kunning Palace" are also well controlled, and the music and OST are very appropriate, complementing the storyline. The exquisite and magnificent makeup and costumes of the main and supporting characters reflect the meticulous research and design of the palace aesthetics. While fans of the original work have praised it, they also suggest that if the dialogues had a more ancient charm and if the capturing of wide shots, medium shots, and close-ups could be more precise, the quality of this drama would be even more perfect.
For period dramas, it is only when the visuals and temperament are captivating that viewers will be interested in continuing to watch. The relationship between the makeup and costumes, visual aesthetics, and good story and characters mutually fulfill and empower each other. Once the foundation of aesthetics is established, the arrangement and combination of these exquisite elements can form a good chemical reaction.
The strong character settings and captivating characters
Of course, in addition to the superficial good looks, historical dramas also need to be enduring in terms of substance. These three new works have gained popularity among viewers because they share many commonalities in terms of substance.
"Weaving a Tale of Love Season 2" is adapted from the novel "Da Tang Ming Yue". After marriage, Pei Xingjian and his wife Liu Li trust each other, and no matter what conspiracies or tricks they encounter, they always have a countermeasure, serving as each other's strongest support. Two independent and outstanding adults rushing to each other's aid in times of danger, mutually redeeming each other, make the plot and emotions more complex and tense.
"Wonderland of Love" is adapted from the novel of the same name by Feiwo Sicun. The male lead, Li Hui,, and the female heroine, Cui Lin, who is as capable as any man, have a dynamic relationship of both enemies and friends, engaging in a battle of wits and bravery.
This not only creates an intriguing dynamic but also adds to the storytelling. "Story of Kunning Palace" is a novel serialized, and the protagonist Jiang Xuening, who gets a second chance at life, and the young teacher Xie Wei, join forces to plan and uncover the truth, rewriting their lives. These three pairs of couples are complementary and mutually fulfilling, embodying the concept of strong character settings.
Throughout the years, the dual strong character setting has been able to cater to the core needs of the audience - the desire for strong plots and intense conflicts. The setting of a strong male and female not only brings about a thrilling and suspenseful plot development, but also provides ample room for the actors to showcase their talent.
From the episodes that have been aired so far, the performances of the female leads Gulnezer, Jing Tian, and Bai Lu in these three dramas are commendable. The simultaneous release of dramas with the same theme also presents a more direct comparison of the acting skills of the rising actresses in the 90s generation, creating a healthy competition between the first-tier and second-tier actors, which gives people more confidence in the growth and acting potential of the younger generation of actors.
Jing Tian's portrayal of Cui Lin is sharp and domineering, with a commanding presence. Her expressive eyes allow the audience to witness her impressive plasticity. Bai Lu's portrayal of Jiang Xue Ning has many highlights and shining moments, whether it is the queen's decisiveness and generosity, or the playfulness and wit after her rebirth, Bai Lu seamlessly switches between these roles, delivering precise interpretations.
Breaking stereotypes is the most difficult path, but Gulnezer has always been striving to break through herself. In "Weaving a Tale of Love Season 2", her acting has been recognized by the audience. Whether it is the intense confrontations or the overflowing emotions, Na Zha handles them with just the right amount of control. Her crying scenes have been praised by netizens as heart-wrenching, and her explosive moments are highly relatable.
Gulnezer's beauty and makeup in "Weaving a Tale of Love" are also captivating. In the drama, her portrayal of Kudi Liu Li is full of mystery and charm, resembling the ethereal beauty in our memories. Na Zha's interpretation of classical beauty seems to transcend thousands of years, leaving a lasting impression.
Whether it's winning awards or having a strong influence, Dilraba and Yang Zi are undoubtedly in the first-tier of the 90s generation. Compared to them, Gulnezer, Jing Tian, and Bai Lu, these second-tier actresses, are also growing rapidly. In addition to their visible improvement in acting skills, as their new works are released, they are gaining more recognition in the market and accumulating a larger fan base.
Grace and independence female role
In addition to the ancient charm and character settings, these three period dramas also share a common core resonance. All three dramas have female characters as the narrative perspective. Although set in ancient times, the three female leads are given modern female scripts, portraying independent and strong-willed characters. They are no longer the typical naive and sweet characters in traditional dramas. The progression of emotions in these three dramas is realistic and reasonable.
In "Weaving a Tale of Love", Liuli and her husband Pei Xingjian travel to the western region, facing hidden dangers and overcoming crises together, safeguarding peace in their own realm. Compared to the previous work, this drama shows Liuli's growth from curiosity about the world to a more mature and stable mindset. Whether it is towards her loved ones or close friends, she gives them unwavering support and encouragement.
In "Wonderland of Love", Cuilin is the only daughter of General Cui Yi. She hides her true identity and disguises herself as He Xiaowei to accompany the army in battle. She is meticulous in her thoughts, both intellectually and militarily capable. She wears a mask and employs unique tactics on the battlefield, displaying her ambition to bring peace to the world despite being a woman.
Similarly, in "Story of Kunning Palace", although it starts with the opportunity to reverse fate, it does not solely focus on that aspect. Instead, it emphasizes the growth experience of the female lead after her rebirth, as she seeks to correct her mistakes and rewrite her life. It pays attention to the portrayal of the character's inner growth trajectory and emotional changes.
It can be seen that the female leads in these three costume dramas have complete character arcs and career growth lines, and even succeed in saving the male leads. They are no longer confined to petty love affairs, but have ambitions and broad perspectives, shining on their own life paths. This value of not bowing down to fate is more vibrant and resonates with the audience compared to cliché and Mary Sue characters.
Indeed, these three costume dramas are reshaping the creative thinking and logic of new period dramas, revealing the long video platforms' desire and determination to break through in the period drama race. The new period dramas that have been restarted after the cooling down period are speeding towards refinement, and those high-quality dramas that integrate traditional culture, innovative narrative expressions, character development, and diverse themes are bound to stand out in the competitive period drama race, winning recognition from the audience and the market.