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Huan Zhu Ge Ge (Huan Zhu Princess/Princess Returning Pearl), Cinderella Chiung Yao’s version

Every girl’s dream is being a princess. Well, I guess every woman in their youth even dreamed to become a princess. Disney has several princesses, even Mulan presents Asian culture. But, there is another princess from Asia’s land. She is Huan Zhu Princess.

I’ve written about this story which turned into the phenomenal series back in 1998 until 1999 on the previous post. But, in this post, I’d like to discuss deeper.

Huan Zhu Ge Ge is written by Chiung Yao and inspired by a story about Emperor in Qin Dynasty who adopted a commoner to become a princess. Ms. Yao was so impressed when she heard about this commoner princess and based on the folk story, she wrote Huan Zhu Ge Ge.

Xiao Yan Zi, Huan Zhu Ge Ge

Xiao Yan Zi, Huan Zhu Ge Ge

In her version, Huan Zhu Ge Ge is Xiao Yan Zi (Hsiao Yence in popular pronunciation, means little swallow), a commoner who mistakenly recognized as The Emperor illegitimate child. The truth is Hsiao Yence is only helping Xia Ziwei (Hsia Cewei), the real Emperor’s daughter to deliver the message. By accident, Hsiao Yence was shot by an arrow from the 5th prince, Yong Qi (Yungchi) or Wu A Ge. Yungchi feels guilty and helps Hsiao Yence to meet with the Emperor. Being an orphan since young age, Hsiao Yence enjoys the attention given by the Emperor. But, life in the palace is not that simple. There are rules and also politics. Hsiao Yence struggles to adapt. From the male part, Hsiao Yence’s free and naïve behaviors quickly attracts the 5th prince and his classmate, Fu Ertai. Yungchi even already attracted to Hsiao Yence the moment he met again with the girl, already wore the princess dress, but holds himself because he thinks she is his sister. By the time he knows the truth, the prince turns into a man who fights for his love. Meanwhile, Cewei waits outside the palace wall and attracts Fu Ertai’s older brother, Fu Erkang.

The first season is a phenomenon in China for being the first series which has global audience around the world. It’s such an achievement considering the low budget and the actors and actresses are new comers. Zhao Wei who portrays Hsiao Yence just graduated from art school, while Alec Su already famous by being a boyband member. Huan Zhu Ge Ge is the first time for both of them to act, and it came out very good.

In the sequel, Hsiao Yence and Cewei along with Yungchi and Erkang meet with new people and also struggle to live in the palace after Empress Dowager comes home from her spiritual trip. The difference from the first part is in the second series, the four of them are already engaged and we can see how they try to maintain the relationship, especially for Hsiao Yence and Yungchi. The difference between them is so deep. So many arguments, but in the end, we can see how much they care for each other to bridge their differences.

The sequel is also a hit. Not only made fans idolized the couple, there were also rumors along them. At one point, it said Alec developed feelings for Vicki due to the intense working hours, but he can’t because Vicki already had a boyfriend. And then, when they meet again for Romance In The Rain, Alec suddenly pay attention to Ruby Lin, the one who portrays Cewei. I don’t know which one is correct, but when Alec finally reunites with Vicki to become judges for China’s Got Talent season 5 he told Vicki they can have so many on-screen partners, but the first one is still the most special. I guess the truth is Alec still holds his admiration for his former co-star.

Zhao Wei and Alec Su as Hsiao Yence and Yungchi. They are the classic couple for the fans.

Zhao Wei and Alec Su as Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in the first and second season. They are the classic couple for the fans.

Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in their Han clothing. They wear the clothes when they go out from the palace.

Hsiao Yence and Yungchi in their Han clothing. They wear the clothes when they go out from the palace.

In the third part, so many fans think the story is a downfall. Not only the series left by the three main casts, Chiung Yao also made Yungchi has to marry another woman in order to save his wife’s brother’s life. Even Yungchi’s decision to finally say goodbye to the palace and left his second wife to follow Hsiao Yence as he promised couldn’t cheer up the fans.

Louis Khoo and Huang Yi replace Alec Su and Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Yunchi in the third series

Louis Khoo and Huang Yi replace Alec Su and Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Yunchi in the third series

If I recall Chiung Yao’s works before Huan Zhu Ge Ge, she also made some characters become second wife and even I remember one story where the lead male character falls in love with his sister in law (Belenggu Pintu Cinta in Bahasa translation). Reading Chiung Yao’s works is like asking to ourselves what kind of love we do prefer. The easy one or the hard one.

It’s just really shocking for the fans after watching how deep Yungchi’s love is for Hsiao Yence from the previous two series and then he easily agrees to marry another woman. Alec Su who portrays Yungchi in the first two seasons said he respects how Ms. Yao wrote about Yungchi in the third installment even though he didn’t take the part anymore (Louis Khoo replaced him for the role), but if he could give his opinion, Yungchi would never do that to Hsiao Yence.

Speaking of casts, the third installment has major replacement casts. I only recognize Huang Yi who replaced Zhao Wei as Hsiao Yence and Louis Khoo whom I recognize from Romance In The Rain series. I saw Huang Yi in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon series while Louis Khoo, either coincidence or not, has work alongside the three main casts from Huan Zhu Ge Ge in Romance In The Rain. And one of them is Alec Su who is Wu A Ge himself. Well, that’s how showbiz goes, I guess.

Despite the fictional stories, some of the characters are real like The Emperor Qianlong, The Empress and the 5th prince. Even Chiung Yao included the real background family story. In real history, Yungchi is the son of a concubine, Yu Fei. His mother is not a favorite, but Yungchi is a hardworking and dutiful child, so he and his mother have a relatively good life. Yungchi lost his mother when he’s still young and he turns into a quiet and introvert boy. This trait is also used by Chiung Yao for her Yungchi in Huan Zhu Ge Ge. Her Yungchi is luckier. In real life, Yungchi never had a romantic relationship, while in her story, Yungchi is deeply in love with Hsiao Yence.

As for myself, I prefer the first and second season and for the third season, there are many fanfictions which taking Hsiao Yence’s side. I guess in the end, fanfiction made by fans or even Chiung Yao, Hsiao Yence will come out from the palace eventually and Yungchi will follow her (to match the real history in which Yungchi only lives until the age of 25). Just like the Empress said in the third installment, “The palace can hold the Emperor, wives, concubines, maids, servants, princesses and princes, but never a little swallow bird.”

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2014 by in Chit Chat, Movie related, Rambling and tagged , , , , , , .
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