Directed By: Chen Rong Hui
Written By: Fang Xiao Ren; Chen Bi Zhen; Shao Hui Ting; Lin Pei Yu and Zheng Han Wen
Megan Lai – Pi Ya Nuo
Baron Chen – Du Zi Feng
Bii – Wei Qing Yang
Sean Lee – Chu Zhe Rui
Katie Chen – Yang Na Na
Mandy Tao – Du Zi Han
Amanda Chou – Fan Xiao Jing
Yang Ming Wei – Liao Guang Chao
Edison Wang – Wu Han Sheng
Linda Liu – Sister Feng
Joseph Hsia – Nan Xing Tian
Chen Wei Min – Wu Wan Hao
Tou Chung Hua – Du Guang Zhu
Language: Mandarin Genre: Romantic-Comedy; Action Drama
Number of Episodes: 30 Run Time: 45 minutes
Bromance is a Taiwanese gender-bender romantic comedy drama with elements of action. It shares some similarities with the Japanese manga Tokyo Crazy Paradise by Yoshiki Nakamura.
Due to an astrologer’s ominous prediction, Pi Ya Nuo (Megan Lai) has to live the first 25 years of her life as a man to avert the calamity to befall her. On her 26th birthday, her fate would change and then she would be able to live openly as a woman. But 100 days before her 26th birthday, fate intervenes and entwines her destiny with that a mafia leader Du Zi Feng (Baron Chen).
He feels indebted to her and finds himself drawn to Ya Nuo. Even his sister Zi Han (Mandy Tao) falls in love with her. Their mother Sister Feng (Linda Liu), to ensure that Zi Feng has someone around him that he can trust and become friends with, and to further Zi Han’s romantic attachment, requests Ya Nuo to become Zi Feng’s sworn brother.
The main problem lies in the fact that Ya Nuo is a woman. But she agrees when she realises Zi Feng has always been alone. He was an orphan who was adopted by the Du family and so he owes everything to them. His family’s mafia past also haunts him because people judge him based on that. They forget that his father moved away from that and decided to start a legitimate business – amusement parks. So except for his two sworn brothers, Wei Qing Yang (Bii) and Wu Han Sheng (Edison Wang), he’s had no friends.
The latter in fact emerges as the antagonist of the series of because of his ambition. He wants to become the clan leader and replace Zi Feng. He chooses to undermine Zi Feng by using media to tarnish his image. That sequence leads to an emotionally charged moment between Ya Nuo and Zi Feng because they risk their lives for each other.
Zi Feng has quite a bit of emotional baggage; his father has been missing for years post a shipwreck. Not having found a body means the family has not experienced closure. Even Qing Yang feels similarly because his parents were travelling with Du Guang Zu (Tou Chung Hua) on that very ship. Zi Feng is constantly attacked for being a mafia leader and also various plots abound to overthrow him. Some of these plots are intentionally or unintentionally done by those near him.
Things get comical when Zi Feng feels he is falling in love with Ya Nuo and then begins to question his sexual orientation because of that. For Ya Nuo, it is about whether she should keep her vow or not since she finds herself falling in love and unwilling to hide the truth. There is also an interesting reference to Cinderella made in the series when Zi Feng, unwittingly comments on Ya Nuo when he says that Cinderella is a pitiable character because “she had to bear the loneliness of keeping a secret” – a line that sums up Ya Nuo in the series.
The side plots are equally interesting. Qing Yang meets with a young girl Na Na (Katie Chen) on a cruise. She has cancer and yet is lively and curious about things around her. She breaks through Qing Yang’s reserve when she forces him to make coffee for her (he runs a cafe at the amusement park). His coffee makes her happy and she wants him to make it the way her mother used to make it for her. This connection with the coffee brings them closer.
Unexpectedly, Na Na turns out to have a significant connection to Qing Yang. It seems to be a feature of Taiwanese dramas that all plotlines tie up and feed into each other. It’s like the line from Kung Fu Panda, “there are no coincidences” and destiny plays a huge role in the narratives. For instance, Ya Nuo may have an older connection with Zi Feng, and her childhood friend and veterinarian Zhe Rui (Sean Lee) plays a vital role in keeping her identity secret, just like Xiao Jing (Amanda Chou), her cousin.
Liao Guang Chao (Yang Ming Wei), Ya Nuo’s friend develops an interesting relationship with Zi Han when he becomes her bodyguard/chauffeur. They both feel the other is too unlikeable but it becomes interesting to see the development in their character arc. In fact, Guang Chao/ A-chao displays a range of emotions, going from the comical sidekick to being deeply mature to lovelorn and so on.
As a viewer, one might feel what more could be left once all the plotlines are tied up but right in the last episode, there is a revelation that manages to keep the viewer hooked.
Bromance has a host of interesting characters, by turns emotional, funny and melodramatic, it’s quite a ride. With the past tying up with the present and satisfying conclusions, it gives a sense of catharsis. It even attempts a sympathetic reading of characters that seem quite awful in the beginning. And essentially, it gives a very different reading of a mafia clan.