[Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episodes 7 and 8

By on September 18, 2014 in REVIEWS, TV Dramas

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All That is Bitter is Sweet <大藥坊>
TVB Series 2014

Cast: Linda Chung, Ruco Chan, Raymond Wong, Natalie Tong, Shirley Yeung, Sammy Sum, Pierre Ngo, Jazz Lam, Elliot Ngok

Disclaimer: This is a watch as I write episodic thoughts and some information may not be accurate since this is memory based. Certain dialogue is reproduced with some creative license adopted. I apologize if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.

“I do not find her Kai Kei likable because she has yet to display any reason why I should like her or cheer for her. ”

FUNNLING METRE FOR EPISODE 7
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FUNNLING METRE FOR EPISODE 8
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FUNNLING METRE FOR LINDA’S PERFORMANCE IN BOTH EPISODES
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I am being very positive when I did not put the angry face for episode 8 because the story is just that; it provokes anger not because of any particular story but because the characters are just so dumb. It is like you think they smarten up a little but all of them are so stupid. And I mean the To family. Each and everyone of them.

First, recap.

One answer to one question. Does Kai Kei know Kai Chung? Answer is yes. Because Natalie walks in angry and says annoyed “That is Kai Chung” in not a very kindly way and Kai Kei looks embarrassed when the old men appear and basically stripped her of her costume and threw her out. Which prompts Kai Kei’s signature line;

“Chong Uncle, Chong Auntie, I just want to keep Kai Cho company as he completes his journey”.

Seriously, she said this like 3 times or so in Episode 6 and now once in episode 7 and I believe she will repeat it once more later on in this episode itself.

Ruco says to her at least she got to say goodbye and so she goes away on a trishaw rather… errrr… blank faced. And poor Ruco got punched with a baton by Sammy for being a busybody and Sammy reminds him not to play the hero, there is only one hero in Foshan and that is Chong Kai Cho who is now dead. Ruco looks like he wanna punch Sammy.

Kai Chung is angry. He is angry his parents treat Kai Kei that way and the parents remind him Kai Kei’s dad killed Kai Cho and Kai Chung, being the only 2 rational characters in this series argued they can’t even be sure. moreover Kai Kei and Kai Cho were deeply in love, Kai Cho would have wanted Kai Kei to be here. As arguments escalate, Natalie steps in and shush Kai Chung so as not to make them angry and suffer as the mom cries he has forgotten she has lost a son as Kai Chung says they have forgotten Kai Kei lost her husband! He has got a point. Father cries he has wasted the money on Kai Chung’s education in Japan for being so loyal to outsiders and Natalie stops Kai Chung from retort.

Sighh…. another protector sort of storyline with brother having the hots for sister in law (well technically she isn’t). Anyway Kai Kei at home takes out 2 specially decorated bottles as she remembers how Kai Cho wanted to introduce Kai Chung to her at the cinema but Kai Chung was late. Kai Cho gone to buy cola for Kai Kei and Kai Kei waited and then saw Kai Chung walking by drinking a cola and she thought it was Kai Cho and went to him, took the cola, drank it, even wiped his sweat, etc and Kai Chung was smitten from the 1st time he saw her and then Kai Cho appeared and Kai Kei knew she made a mistake, that they do look alike and yet not twins. Kai Cho was serious and stable whilst Kai Chung was funny and playful and they all got on very very well. Linda in present time cries as she remembers the past.

Pause.

The special effect is god awful in the scene 2 brothers were together. My feeling is Linda and Raymond as Kai Chung are actually filmed at the same time together whilst Raymond as Kai Cho filmed alone because Kai Cho did not see eye to eye with Kai Kei.

Continue.

Kai Chung cries to his brother and says sorry for being late yet again. He says to Natalie that she would have understand. He was here when Kai Cho and Kai Kei started dating and he went to Japan some years ago but Natalie was here, so she would have seen how his brother loved Kai Kei, how he was such a happy and easygoing man when he was with her and he was convinced Kai Cho would have wanted Kai Kei to be here and as Natalie ponders what he said, Kai Chung promises Kai Cho that he will do all he can to protect her as he would have wanted him to.

Funeral day; what a sad affair because so few people. TVB should have put all the stops and have everyone play kelefe since Kai Cho is so popular he should have hundreds if not thousands of ordinary folks lining up the streets or at the burial ground. Everyone cries hard. Later Ruco is alone and laments the fact that such a nice guy like Kai Cho should die so young and then he notices a movement behind the bushes and goes away and Linda walks to the burial ground and cries as she talks to Kai Cho and to tell him not to worry about her or her family, she will handle all of it, she promises to stay strong and persevere and so he can leave the mortal world without worries. Ruco appears and advises her to stay strong as well and so they reach a mutual understanding; they don’t hate each other.

But trouble brewing.

Stupid uncle goes back home to go into accounts room to take some hidden cash when he stumbles upon an account book from the biggest bank somewhere with $300,000 in it!!! But he fumbled, police came and he dropped the accounts book and went outside and was beaten until the money he collected is given to Sammy and gang. That’s when this series turned stupid. Really stupid for the sake of drama that made no sense.

Pierre tells his mom he can withdraw the money if he can get the book and the official seal because he is named as joint holder of the account. He cons Shirley to give him $300 on the pretense to save old master and he goes to Sammy and bribes Sammy to let him into accounts room to take back a very important family heirloom; the abacus. Sammy tells him to wait for the cue. At night Sammy curious goes into the room and lo and behold finds the accounts book, brings it to general who is astonished Sheung Chun Tong has so much money and Sammy advises him to take the money as military funding and the only way to do so is to declare old master a fraud and convict him of a crime and then they can legitimate ask the mayor to issue a warrant of search and seizure and take whatever money in the bank account. General likes what he hears. Natalie overhears and we are left to guess what will she do? I mean, what can she do??

End of episode 7.

Kai Kei visits her dad in prison and he looks awful. He is now a broken man; he admits he has played a part in Kai Cho’s death and is deep in regret. He however does not understand what went wrong with 9-9 pills. He warns Kai Kei to be careful of Pierre and her grandma who are both greedy and stupid as well as devious. He also doesn’t trust Shirley that much since she is a simpleton. He tells Kai Kei he has $300,000 in an account and tells Kai Kei to find the book and at least she has some money to rebuild the business. Kai Kei is shocked and goes home and says nothing to anyone. Unbeknownst to any of them, the general knows. But Pierre still thinks Sammy will let him into the house and so he says to his mom all they will do now is to wait

Meanwhile, old master is transferred to a dirtier, smellier and darker prison and inside is another man who is terrified and even when served with nice steamed chicken he refuses to eat it and so old master eats it happily only to know later that is the meal of a convict on death row and he sees outside the bar the same man being executed with a single gunshot and he cries hard and is in fear as he realises he is now an inmate in death row and he is probably gonna die soon.

Ruco’s 2 assistants one of whom I think is Jazz is tasked with cleaning up the execution site and sees old master cowering in fear and mumbling to himself. They go back and tells Ruco how strange an execution is done 3 days earlier and Ruco also wonders why until he is told they saw old master there in the same cell and Ruco is surprised how come he is there without a trial.

Pause.

Well, ASK ME!! I know! Why? Because general wants to scare the living daylights out of old master as you shall see.

Continue.

Sammy sees old master with a handwritten note which is a confession and old master reads. Basically he has to admit to cheating the public, selling fake medicine all these years and is guilty of fraud. Old master refuses to sign but Sammy reminds him he killed not anybody, but the deputy mayor. The man he saw executed was a vegetable seller who accidentally killed a cop and he has to die for it, more so old master. Old master cries hard and laments that his family name is now being destroyed in his hands.

We never get to see if he did sign the confession or not, except the general shows the mayor a signed confession and tells him to issue a warrant of search and seizure and what nots. Credit to the mayor he hesitates since after calming down from the grief, he is beginning to question if the old master actually did made a poison and killed his son deliberately or even negligently. But he had to sign on it since the general made it clear he will have no choice.

Pause.

Did old master sign? If he didn’t, he would have been forced anyway. But all suggestions show he did. And this is where it is stupid. This old man may be scared but he holds his family good name in high regard and so he probably would have rather died than sign it. I would have loved to see him being forced to sign, by actual force. By not showing and implying he signed even if involuntarily but without being actually pushed and yanked to sign on it, it shows he is a coward. And I do not like this line of storyline. When Kai Kei laments why everyone is so selfish in her family later on, she could have also referred to her father who places his own safety above that of his hundred year old family good name. But that is the least stupid storyline in here.

Continue.

Sammy tells Ruco to go to To family home and basically the police closes it down and they all beg him to not close it and Pierre angrily says they know about the accounts book and Kai Kei angrily scolds Pierre for being such an idiot, as predicted by her own father. Piere got beaten badly and even Kai Kei is shoved hard and Ruco can only look on with a pained look on his face. Anyway Sammy suddenly agrees to give them 15 minutes to take whatever they want and everyone runs inside except Kai Kei who glares at Sammy and slowly walks in. Once in her room she ponders why her family is so selfish and she cries that the family is falling apart when Ruco suddenly appears and warns her to not to take anything she wants to take because he knows Sammy and Sammy isn’t so nice. She wonders is she should trust him and he says she must and he disappears. Shirley rushes in and says she only has a few nice clothes that is worth some money but Kai Kei warns her not to take anything. Pierre and mom has a lot of gold, jewelry and cash stashed away and says Kai Kei is stupid not to clean out they run out but left behind the necklace that Kai Kei worn when she first met Ruco. She goes outside empty handed and Sammy nicely asks her why she isn’t taking anything and she says stubbornly she doesn’t need his charity. True to what Ruco said, he took everything, even the clothes of Shirley and Pierre protests and gets beaten terribly and all that when Kai Chung appears and kinda makes things worst by accusing Sammy of police brutality. Sammy reminds him he may be the mayor’s son but he doesn’t have any rank and so they drag him out and even punch and beat him!! Ruco rushes out and as one cop is about to beat Kai Chung hard, Ruco stops him and gently reminded the police the man he is about to beat is the mayor’s son. So they stopped but cuffed him to a pole. Inside, Sammy tells Ruco to see him and Sammy destroys the factory and says to Ruco in no uncertain terms to burn the herbs and pills and destroy the equipments. Then raze the shop to the ground I think BUT he can sell the tables and such for a profit. All Ruco needs to do is buy the entire place for $1000 and Ruco says the name is now poison, no one will buy anything from Sheung Chun Tong but Sammy doesn’t care, he wants his $1000. Ruco is very very very angry that he clutches his chest.

And yes, he did squeeze a little. Ahh heart attack coming!

Sammy goes home and tells general the good news and Kai Chung arrives and basically has a death wish by accusing the general of “eating” the $300,000 and being greedy and that he only do all these for money and mayor and wife are shocked and mayor says he doesn’t know, if he had known… but the general is so angry with Kai Chung he pulls out a gun (same golden gun) and points it at Kai Chung to shoot him!!!! Natalie intercepts and looks at her father and says “Father, are you insane? Put it back!!! Put the gun back in!!!!” and general calms down a little but Kai Chung is still making accusations (that man is brave but stupid!) until his mom slaps him and apologises to the general for not teaching her son some manners and Sammy apologises to Kai Chung for the ill treatment and the general calms down and says to the old ones that they should look after their only surviving son and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. And so he leaves with Sammy and Natalie.

Pause.

Somewhere along the way Kai Chung did ask Natalie if she knew what her father had planned to do; she lied she didn’t know. Again one wonders what could she have done anyway?

Continue.

Stupidity continues.

Linda sees the gang burning the herbs and rushes to Ruco who is still pissed of and begs him not to burn anything and to help her. He was right to smile cynically and says;

“Miss To, you give me too much credit. I am just following orders. My hands are tied”
But it seems in this episode no one understands that and logic does not compute it seems and she begs and begs and begs and Ruco says he can do nothing and he leaves and then faints. She saves him, he wakes up and she says she isn’t the one who saved him; he is lucky he is in Sheung Chun Tong and everything is there for her to use to save and revive him. She isn’t sure what is wrong with him and he says doctors have tried with the best of medicine and every alternative medicine there is to diagnose and cure his disease for the past 60 years. Kai Kei thinks she hears wrongly and he says;

“It is 60 years. From my grandfather to my father to me, we all have the same disease and they did not survive beyond 35 years of age”
Kai Kei knows it is hereditary and says she must do something, she can try to figure out anything to help him, as long as he promises not to burn the herbs and maintain Sheung Chun Tong for her. Ruco laughs cynically at her naivetivity and at her request but Kai Kei persists and Ruco finally says;

“Fine. For as long as you can help me live, I will ensure Sheung Chun Tong doesn’t burn”
How ah? Can ah? Really ah?

End of episode 8.

I don’t get it. I know it is a story but story must still operate within logic and reason.

1. assuming the old man signed the confession, why? Why can’t he die rather than sign? Why not show him forced physically to sign?

2. How he can think he can escape when a deputy mayor died is beyond me. Even if he did not die because of the pill but from a visit to the clinic, believe me, old master will still get convicted. After all it was a corrupted world back then.

3. What the general did was dirty but what the To family didn’t do is insanely stupid. Since they have $300,000 inside a bank, and the general would want to get that money without dirtying his hands and making such accusations against Sheung Chun Tong which I am sure the townfolks do not believe and the Nanjing government probably is observing the corrupt general, why can’t Kai Kei go to the general and volunteer to donate the $300,000 as a bribe in return of her father’s freedom? Or at least 1 year in a comfortable jail? Wouldn’t that be better? What makes the old master think they can get away with $300,000 and rebuild the name which is already poisoned? If Kai Kei had given the money, there is a legitimate way of showing the To family suffering financial crisis, she will have to work hard to rebuild the business AND her father can be released in future. But of course this series want to show Kai Kei finding what’s wrong with 9-9 pills and proving her father is innocent. That’s just insane. I’d rather she rebuild her business in her own name rather than riding on her forefathers’ good name.

4. the begging by Pierre, Shirley, grandma and even Kai Kei is insanely frustrating to watch. When will they ever get it? No one is helping them; no one is kind to them. Even when Kai Kei begs Ruco, I feel she is so stupid. It isn’t he doesn’t want to help but he can’t. Of course Ruco should have just said I will hide the herbs and pretend I have burn them. Maybe that will be what happens.

5. Which leads me to this. I’d rather Ruco is Sammy’s role as a dirty cop who shows a moment of compassion for Kai Kei. That way it can explain how he gets away for not burning down Sheung Chun Tong, covertly help Kai Kei in rebuilding the business under the general’s intense scrutiny and not show a clear mark between a good guy and a and a bad guy. That would have made for a better story in my opinion. Because as a dirty cop he can help smuggle medicine, etc too. That makes perfect sense.

6. The mayor and his wife is changing their opinion whether to hate the To like every 20 minutes.

Whilst episode 7 and 8 is nice to watch, the pace is quickening, the story has gone dumb and dumber.

Performance wise, only very few did very well. Ruco, Sammy and Wai all did well. The veterans were ok. Even Raymond differentiate clearly between Kai Cho and Kai Chung even if his Kai Chung is cliche. Come on, show me NOT a hot headed younger brother with hots for sister in law, please! Ron Ng is crying “HEY! THAT’S MY ROLE!!!”

Natalie is doing well even if very little to do. Pierre is ok except his role is really atypical.

Now Linda….I don’t know what to say. I just feel her performance is too deliberate, her voice too measured and at times she talks too fast, it is like she is out of sync with her old self. She cries beautifully but her face does not register the same emotions as her tears. I find her rather wooden at times and when she is emotional, I find her every action in terms of body language very calculative like Charmaine Sheh. Linda is a better actress than she is showing us here but I gotta admit with the masses; Linda is showing signs of bad acting. It is as if she doesn’t have this chemistry with Kai Kei, like she doesn’t care to put in an effort to be more natural or maybe she is thinking too much and too much effort to the point that she is a pain to watch. I do not find her Kai Kei likable because she has yet to display any reason why I should like her or cheer for her. Her entire family is not likable at all. Her Kai Kei displays courage but yet no wisdom. Her Kai Kei is nice and soft and all things sweet and yet it is an assumption that we must all like her. I am finding it hard to pin point any characteristics in her that I find appealing so much so that I wanna cheer for her. She is one heroine I just can’t like yet. Almost like Rachel of Brother’s Keeper but less annoying. If Linda needs a reference point, she should watch Safe Guards. That series quickly establishes why we must cheer for Steven Ma’s character and even the old master in there quickly establishes why we must respect him. Even Elaine Yiu’s horrible debut acting didn’t deter the viewers from cheering for her when she showed steadfast loyalty and courage against insurmountable challenges even if she’s not terribly smart. Kai Kei is just lacking that reference point. Ruco’s Yat Yuen has that reference point but not Kai Kei.

Other than that, this series is still entertaining.

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This Episodic Thoughts is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://bigapothecary.blogspot.com/

25 comments to [Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episodes 7 and 8

  1. nmas says:

    I agree with funn.. i like linda in all her characters with steven ma even in ghost writer..her character in river of wine and the modern drama with bosco..witness insecurity i also like but her character in this drama is just plain stupid and emotional…not thinking on what impact her action will be to others..and this drama is far from dae jang geum standard..usually linda acting though not the most excellent but can touch my heart but on this drama i almost curse her character stupidity..

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      Maybe it is the way the character is written or maybe she has this bad habit after that awful Rachel character.

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  2. Peggy says:

    JCLL, I stop watching this drama too. Because you are right, why watch when it is so boring. I am only reading the review to know the plot. Too bad Raymond and Ruco got drag into this drama because they are decent actors.

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  3. Funn Lim says:

    Same thing I wonder why you read my reviews if it bothers you so much. If you want hearts and kisses, read the summaries at fans forum. Believe me, you can see only rainbows and beautiful singing birds there. I have a right to complain because this is my episodic thought. This is how I feel for this particular episode. Same way you have a right to comment in here because this is how you feel. To say stop watching because I complain too much is the same way as telling everyone to shut up and not have an opinion, however negative it can be.

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  4. Tammy says:

    First and last time I read your reviews. Please don’t compare her to Charmaine. Both are different actresses that shine in their own areas.

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  5. lemongrass says:

    Funn, I think u can consider writing this into a book. Haha… But seriously this story don’t appeal to me. Not your review but the drama is like what u said being stupidly written. And I feel stupid to be led in such a story if I were to watch it.

    Stopped watching after some review in tv. Just reading it here and there to see if it would appeal to me to consider going on. I guess not.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      Poor Ruco. Why is he always in series that viewers just give up. I really do pity him. Maybe tune back in later when things get better, hopefully.

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      • omg replied:

        Well for yr info, out of the 3 dramas of his aired this year (inclu ATIBIS), OL and ROE are still in the top 10 dramas for 2014 to-date. OL in particular is currently ranked No.3. I think ROE is No.6. Not exactly a shabby record.

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      • MW replied:

        @omg,
        Nope, that wiki list was compromised recently and is no longer valid. Somebody messed with the numbers “recently” to pull OL up to 3rd place.

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      • omg replied:

        MW, what do you mean by “messed”?

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      • omg replied:

        Whatever it is, OL should still be within the top 10 only probably lower than No.3.

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      • MW replied:

        “Messed” as in entered false (unusually high) numbers, especially for OL.

        Maybe such “unfair” acts are bringing Ruco Chan bad karma?

        BTW, I’m a Ruco Chan fan.

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      • omg replied:

        Checked out the Chinese forums. The figures were given out by tvb. They’re correct. Don’t understand what you mean by the karma part.

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      • MW replied:

        If true, I’m surprised that the ratings/rankings for OL (which was over long ago) is posted so late. And, did I miss the ratings article for OL (since it did so well)?

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      • wp replied:

        Viewers give up dramas not because of Ruco, they actually continue for his sake. This is the conclusion I get after reading different forums. OL aired in Chinese new year period but still peaked at 35 points at the ending ep. ROE premiered at 30 points(only drama after TITS 2). The ratings dropped later on due to exam period and Easter holiday, but still peaked at 32 points at the ending ep aired on Good Friday. It’s the 2nd most popular drama in Singapore. Viewers give up ATIBIS becos of draggy and dull storyline and too little screen time for Ruco. Tbb controls the airing periods to ‘fit’ different artistes.

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      • wp replied:

        OL is ranked no. 3 and ROE no. 4 before the airing of RM which now overtake them, source from tbb. LW has the potential to rank over the above.

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  6. m0m0 says:

    the drama’s good but linda’s acting really makes it unbearable.

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  7. nmas says:

    I wonder why linda acting is below par on this drama or her character or she interpret the character wrongly or she just simply dont have chemistry with ruco and raymond…on side note..we still follow this drama because we are waiting for the best scene to happen…whose fault is it linda or the script writer?

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    • imd replied:

      Both

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  8. miriamfanz says:

    Totally agree on Linda’s acting. It feels so out of place. Idk if it’s the era or if she’s trying to act extra soft so she can seem strong later on or what it is.

    With Ruco’s character, I liked it more in the sales pres where he was a cold-hearted businessman at first, then slowly warming up as Linda tries to cure him. Here, I feel they establish him as a compassionate man too quickly.

    Only character I’m liking so far is Natalie Tong.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      So far anything else different from the sales presentation apart from Ruco’s character?

      I am wondering what will happen to Shirley’s character. I suppose uncle Pierre will become a better man in the end, to show family unity?

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      • miriamfanz replied:

        There was a brief shot where it seemed like Raymond (not sure which one) is in cahoots with the general?

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  9. Mike says:

    The scene where Raymond Wong (both brothers) standing side by side fake scene was too fake. They tried to overlap the brothers to make it look real but HK’s film making is still crap so it turned out so damn fake.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      But credit to Raymond Wong who really looks different in both characters apart from the obvious suits,tie,glasses and no suit, no tie, no glasses.

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  10. Norika says:

    I think the story is okay as long as it goes along with some good plots made by Sammy, Ruco, Raymond and Nat.. The To’s family charcater wise are too dump, but i wonder will they change alot later? anyway, the To’s are too dump. I also found it irritating when the characters (Kai Kei & their parents) keep repeating some same thing they have said!

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