Next Stop, Happiness (Autumn’s Concerto) Episode 1 Recap & Impression

She was a talented child, possessing the slender fingers that can only belong to a pianist. She was an entitled princess, the privileged daughter of a wealthy businessman. She was happy, living with her father and his lover, whom she called auntie, in a beautiful maison, knowing nothing of the piles of debt her father swept under the rugs.

But like an ethereal bubble, her carefree world burst when her father stepped in front of a car and died.

The maison, the piano, and everything of value were taken, leaving little Liang Mucheng with no one to rely on but the stranger she called auntie.

Auntie tried to abandon Mucheng on the bus, but Mucheng held on. They traveled aimlessly, became hungry, and stole. When they were caught, a local lowlife saved them and took them back to his home. He fed them because he was interested in auntie. Mucheng was disgusted. She tried to leave. But auntie refused. “I’m tired,” auntie said, “I don’t want to live the life where I have to steal to stay alive anymore.” Reluctantly, Mucheng returned to the man’s home and ate the rest of the ramen.

That night, bending over a large basket of dirty dishes, Mucheng bit her lips and tied up her hair, kissing her all-too-brief blithe childhood goodbye.

Ring Ding (丁噹) – I Love Him (我爱他), Next Stop, Happiness Opening Theme Song [download]

With the passage of time, Mucheng grew. Her personality hardened; she became tough but optimistic, blunt but independent. Her hands changed; they became rough but nimble, ill-cared for but skillful. Most of all, she managed to adapt.

Maybe qualities like diligence, courage, and honesty don’t begin to describe Mucheng. But if only one word is allowed to sum up this girl, it would be resilience. Life can throw lemons at her but she certainly won’t be defeated.

And if her father’s accident was her first taste of Life’s lemon, the second one began with a fish.

On that day, Mucheng was designated with the task of bringing home an expensive fish alive. She was on the bus, planning her ultimate get away from the mess she called home — college — when an ostentatious yellow Porsche parked itself in front of the moving bus. The bus came to a screeching halt and the fish catapulted to the front. The bag leaked and the fish was half dead.

Eager to return home, Mucheng urged the Porsche driver to move his car, pointing out the traffic congestion his careless act had caused. But Ren Guangxi, the rich, young owner of the yellow Porsche, was too callous to take heed. He had just dumped his nth girlfriend and wanted only to get rid of the girlfriend he’s grew bored with. He tricked Mucheng into agreeing to move the car and instructed her to back out and hit the bus behind it.

Once the public transit was hit, an accident was considered to have occurred and no one was allowed to leave. They were all ushered to the police station. The fish died, Mucheng got held up, and Guangxi was punished to direct traffic.

The fish was intended to please the director of the school where Mucheng family business was catering at (Sheng De University). With the fish dead, Mucheng had to retract the 2000 TWD registration fee for college admission she had saved up for and replace the fish. Worse yet, when she returned home, she needed to be on a constant watch for the man who took her and auntie in. He’s been making surreptitious advances on her, watching her change and trying to lay a finger on her. Shower was worse. Before turning on the water, there were three things she had to do religiously: 1) secure the three bolts on the door, 2) cover the windows with large wooden pieces to prevent anyone from peeping in, and 3) block the cracks with towels. Even then, she still had to listen for the perverted man’s creeping behind the window.

Despite the unfortunate outlook, Mucheng did have a good friend. Hua Tuoye has had a crush on Mucheng for as long as he can remember. For her, he learned the art of flower arrangement. For her, he got accepted at Sheng De college (and became the oldest student there). For her, he swallowed the foul slangs that used to roll off his tongue. Yet she’s too busy trying to get by to notice.

Life isn’t only hard for the poor; the rich have their set of problems as well. Under the wayward disinterest Ren Guangxi always wore, buried a vulnerable child who desperately needed approval and secretly yearned for a warmth that’ll one day melt his icy pretense. He was the son of an aspired pianist and an elitist heiress to a large family fortune. Perhaps once upon a time, it was love that drew Guangxi’s parents together, but the gulf between class slowly devoured that love. Resentment grew with the father’s lack of success, then one day, the father left. When Guangxi saw his father again, it was in the morgue.

The day his father died, Ren Guangxi gave up a piece of himself. He lost motivation in life and started playing around with the hearts of women.

This was how he landed with a bet to court the most difficult girl on campus, the new bento girl Liang Mucheng. She aroused interest not because she was extraordinary — she was, in her own way — but because she turned down every boy who dared to ask her phone number. When he found out his new prey was the girl who subjugated him to community service, he knew he’s game enough to play this courtship game.

Through coercion and blackmail, Guangxi secured a date with Mucheng. She agreed because she lost a book while at the police station and Guangxi’s lawyer happened to pick it up. She only wanted the book back. But Guangxi was confident that he’ll steal her first kiss tomorrow.

The date commenced the following morning at the ice rink. While Guangxi played hokey, Mucheng shivered in the cold. He noticed it and during the break, brought her hot coffee and a jacket. Softened by the act of kindness, Mucheng meekly inquired about the book, hoping Guangxi will return it by the end of the date.

“Was your impression of me really that bad?” he asked, “The reason I asked you out today was to apologize. For your book, your fish, your time, and your innocence.  I’m sorry.”

Slightly taken aback, Mucheng responded pointedly,

“You didn’t have to apologize to me, because apologies can’t change what had happened. What was lost will remain lost; what was inflicted can’t be undone. Apologies can’t reverse time, nor can they amend for the past. But since you have the heart, I accept your apology. Because that shows me you are not a douche.”

They sat basking in the harmony of mutual understanding and good intend, until Mucheng noticed that the others have left the ice rink.

At which point, he led Mucheng to the rink, held her hand, and attempted to teach her how to skate. They shared a moment of unadulterated trust, letting no cynicism nor skepticism disrupt this rare but invaluable feeling. It climaxed when Mucheng asked the question, “I’ve been meaning to ask, were you ever scared playing a dangerous game like hockey?” “So you’ve been secretly observing me,” Guangxi teased, “There’s danger to the sport, yes. But that’s also the allure to it. Being bumped, getting hit, those are the times that I truly feel alive.”

Mucheng blinked, then she changed the subject, “Did you know one time when Bach was expected to perform, someone tampered with his cello? All of the strings were cut except for G-string. When everyone was waiting to see him fail, he composed a tune on the spot, using only the G-string. That tune became the famous Air on the G-String.” Guangxi’s face darkened as the mention of the tune reminded him of his beloved father — that was his father’s favorite song. He replied coldly, “So the moral behind the story is to beware of backstabber?” Mucheng shook her head, “No. It told me that no matter how difficult circumstances become, we are still capable of producing the most beautiful melody. So when things get hard for me, I always think about the origin of this piece of music. Now, I’m sharing it with you. So please don’t say you feel dead anymore.”

Guangxi said nothing. He grabbed Mucheng by the waist and kissed her. But the kiss was truncated by Tuoye’s flying fist. His friend had overheard Guangxi’s bet and told him everything. Now he came to save Mucheng.

First there was shock, then hurt. But pride prevailed at the end. Mucheng puffed her cheeks and retorted (this following speech is the sole reason I decided to watch this drama):

“Tuoye, you came too early. Did you not hear about the bet I made with other people? Our bet was that this player will ask me out in a month, kiss me in a week.” Turning to address Guangxi alone, she continued, “You underestimated me. Didn’t you say my talent is to look innocent when I’m not? I placed a bet on you as well. As long as I win, people will buy bento from me for a whole month.”

It was Guangxi’s turn to feel disbelief and anger swelling inside of him. “What. Did. You. Say? For a fish you could demand justice endlessly, for a book you could worry yourself sick, but you bent your principles for money? What Bach, what G-string, have you even listened to Bach?!”

Mucheng swallowed hard, “The game is over. There’s no point to continue.” She turned and walked away, leaving Guangxi to his own fury.

Impression

To be honest, I’m not too confident about the story line: two unlikely people fell in love, but the star-crossed lovers were forced to separate. (Cliché.) A serious brain surgery wiped the boy’s memory clear soon afterwards. (Again, cliché.) He married another woman while girl raised their child alone. But circumstances would have it that they were to meet again. (More cliché.) Through unavoidable interaction and attraction, their love was eventually rekindled. (This, my dear, got to be the queen of cliché!)

See, the problem with melodrama is that it often falls in one of the two following classifications: poignant or pointless. Unfortunately most who attempt fail to impress. And I wasn’t gonna take the chance only to be disappointed. Especially when I don’t even have that much free time nowadays (and you see how scarce I update). But as I mentioned in the recap, when I heard Mucheng’s speech upon knowing she’s just been cheated of her feelings during the promo, I decided otherwise. I can’t promise timely, episode-by-episode recaps, but I’ll give the drama a try. Knock on wood, it may just be one of those rarities that doesn’t suck.

The one thing I really liked about the first episode is how refined the characters are from the start. For instance, Ren Guangxi isn’t just a frivolous rich boy bored of life. He’s habit of dumping girls is his way of rebelling against his mother, who carried out an affair with the family lawyer. He found her duplicitous and sought to rip every woman of their deceptive pretenses.

I’m sure a lot of us have seen contracted lovers or love based on a bet. When found out, the girls are always angry and run away crying. But here, Liang Mucheng bites back. She concocts a lie of her own and uses it to save face. This little refinement makes the otherwise overused plot appear so much more refreshing and it adds a punch to Mucheng’s personality. (You go girl!)

The acting is surprisingly solid, although Vanness’ accent requires some effort to ignore. The scene where the man (Ah Cai is his name) snuck out to watch Mucheng shower is especially memorable. You know he’s there but when the blockade is removed and you see his face imprinted on the fogged glass, it’s still startling. I almost jumped!

31 thoughts on “Next Stop, Happiness (Autumn’s Concerto) Episode 1 Recap & Impression”

  1. I’ve already seen the episode but because I love so much your recap I came here to read it!Perfect as usual but I was disapointed that you were still skeptical about this melodrama!When I watched it , I was like :”I should go buy some tissues OMG!”…I wasn’t a fan of Vaness and his former hair cut but OH GOD!He’s super cool in this drama and I never noticed how his acting was brilliant in Meteor shower.Perhaps because I was too busy following Barbie and Jerry’s story!And this is the first time that I really like the heroine!God, I’m fed up with the strong-girl-but-sometimes-fragile type!The heroine look incredibly fragile and pitiful ,yet she’s very protective and prideful that doesn’t mean that she will hit every guy in front of her T-T..Amazing character Mister Writer!

    Hey Did you see the extended preview of the Episode 2?
    You should!I’ve never seen such a passion and tenderness in a love scene since They kiss again(the first one not the others!)..It’s like he’s kissing her and afraid to break her, treasuring her so much!I’ve never seen such a passionate kiss before in an Asian show(well maybe in Lady Castle and Goong) but WOW…I was amazed!!!!!!

    You should give this show more chances , I assure you!I can bet MY LIFE on it!I’m not a fan of the Taiwanese silliness in the dramas..It’s fun if it’s balanced but too much of it is really..GROSS!

    This drama has the good air of the taiwanese drama, the tragedy of the Korean shows and the most important thing: The touching side of the Japanese!I don’t want to hear anything!There is ABSOLUTLY a japanese one in the staff because only Japanese shows can be really touching…I never cried in Boys before flowers even in the supposed scene and all but OH GOD I was crying rivers in Hana yori Dango..Just by hearing the OST I start sniffing while remembering Domyouji running to the hospital or Makino after the plane!!!T-T See I’m crying again!

    Everything in this drama is touching, from the scene to the music(INCREDIBLE by the way!)..I cannot say that the plot is an original one but at least I’m sure it will be the best adaptation…The only thing that bothers me in the episode 2 is that she’s going to leave him for his sake but I don’t know..I feel that leaving someone that we love simply because we think that it ‘s for his own good is indeed SELFISH!He was running after the car then fell and my heart broke with him T-T..

    Some tissues please!!

    Hey Hey!Did you see his hair cut after 6 YEARS !!!!OH MY GODNESS!OH MY GGGGGGGGGGGGOD!HE WAS HOT HOT BURNING HOT!!!!I’ve got bruises all over my eyes and heart!Vaness heal me XD!

    So Irugnotmis!!Please keep doing recaps because even if I watch it ,I want to live the show through your words!!!^o^

    1. Don’t worry, this drama will be on my radar for awhile, at least until it starts to disappoint. But the recaps will be relatively late so you’d have to wait for them.

  2. Thanks for such a detailed recap! The stepdad is a MAJOR creeper, even more so in ep 2. The story is moving along pretty smoothly and not being too-stretched out (i.e. Easy Fortune Happy Life). I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about the characters. I actually really like the guy and girl second leads. They’re not annoying or pathetic, or maybe it’s just too early to tell…

    I love the end credits with Ady, Vanness and their little boy 🙂 Very cozy and natural! The kid is super cute!

  3. I watched a 5 minute trailer and boy am I hooked!

    I used to somewhat like Vaness, but he is looking mighty fine in this show! Hot 🙂

    But you’re right about his accent. A bit cringe-worthy, but I guess I could try to overlook that.

    I am so loving the girl’s character. They look good together 😀
    Tiffany Xu…don’t really like her, and since she is the supporting character, she’s going to turn all bitchy and evil pretty soon huh. Well I like her look better than in ‘It started with a kiss’ though…

    I am going to go watch this now!!! I hate how it’ll take a couple of months for this drama to finish 😦 I like watching dramas in one whole shot.

    1. Just watched the first ep, not bad…but there are some flaws 😦 Not as fantastic as I expected, but pretty good 🙂
      I’ll be sticking to it for a while then!

      1. Personally ,I don’t find his accent this bad..Well ,I’m not a native Chinese but I can tell that this doesn’t bother me at all…It sticks with is image of the rich playboy that speaks so many languages that he got an accent (like for Domyouji/Gu Jun Pyo in Meteor Garden)

        I’m totally hooked, I planned to stop watching until there is enough episodes bit I couldn’t ..T-T I watched the second episode Bouhhh, and now I’ve got nothing to watch and I AM DYING T-T

        Don’t know, I don’t see any flaws there,I fell at first sight with this drama…OMG and with the actors O-O

        *DIE HARD FAN MODE*

        I went crazy while watching the scene in the music room but it’s not as good as the scenes that I saw in the preview!!!!!Omona Omg!!!WATER!Bring me some water, I’m gonna die XD!
        Dam* I have to wait to WHOLE week now!T-T

  4. Haha I watched the first 2 eps, a billion trailers, previews etc. and I am absolutely OBSESSED.
    Can’t stop thinking about the two characters together. They are so cute & sweet!
    Why do episodes only come out once a week? 😦
    Actually after a while, I do like his voice ^^
    It’s nice, and when he speaks english, it is not cringe-worthy, which is awesome 🙂

    1. Oh really? It’s the same way for me too..Can’t stop thinking about the ending and all that passion Omo Omona!!O-O
      And did you see Vaness with his short black hair WOW WOOOW!I would marry him now if I could!!WOW!WOw..Did I say I too much Wow?T-T Boyissu

      1. Hahaha yes!!!
        He is totally hot with the short black hair (makes him look older which is good since it is supposed to be 6 years later….) but is brownish, longer hair is cute though 😀
        I like that one better!
        Mu Chen is so pretty after 6 years!

        1. Well I didn’t like Vaness’ hair in Meteor garden, I would always mistake him for a girl O-O But with that black hair ,I was totally in LOVE!Yeah you’re right, Mu Chen is SO pretty after 6 years and their “little happiness” is so cute!!!!-o-_-o-
          But we have to wait again and again!!!

          Let’s be friends!^O^ I like discussing dramas with you and especially here!

  5. This is my 2nd time watching a chinese drama (I’m Korean/white).
    My first was Fated to Love You, which was good.
    I watched a little bit of some other ones that were popular, but couldn’t get into them.
    Then I watched Autumn’s Concerto and was instantly hooked~~~
    Thanks for your amazing, wonderful recap!!!!!!

  6. I was instantly hooked the moment I saw the teaser. I wish I would be able to continuously watch the succeeding episodes, unfortunately, I can only watch @ mysoju.com and most of the times episodes uploaded @ Ning and Viikii dont work. 😦
    Vanness Wu is awesome. I may not be a Taiwanese, but I immediately noticed his accent, but anyway he pulled it through and it sounds good on him. He looks good, too.
    This drama series, maybe a typical one, but the way it was done, makes it special. (I’m not doing any conclusion yet, but this is based on what I’ve seen.) Way, to go guys, hope it will carried up to the last.

  7. Its been a while since the last time I post here, and btw since the last time I watch some taiwanese drama.
    I dont usually watch melodramas, because like you said before, it had the tendency for the cliché thing, so I always felt that when you had seen one you saw it all.
    Well, anyway I really like sublimes fansubs work and after Black and White they choose this project, and I also have a weakness with the name (always in love with autumn), so I decide to give it a try later, after some more episodes.
    It was a surprise to see that you are making the rewiews for this drama, and I really like your B&W, rewiews and comments so I guess Im back, and as always Ill be ready for your rewiew.
    Thanks a lot, and keep your pace with the rewiews, because I dont think this drama will be as exciting as B&W, so you can do it on you own schedule.
    Thanks keep going!

  8. Well I wasnt very sure were to write this but I think you are reading all new post since you answer our posts (thank you for that), so I wanted to tell about a great japanese drama Im just starting to watch (since I read some of your reviews from jdrama, I thought you may liked), it only has aired 3 episode, but if you like sci-fi,medical, jidaigeki kind of dramas this one you may also like.
    The name of this drama is JIN, and had a really strong beginning, Im already hooked to this one, and btw this is one really deserves a proper review (of course its just my opinion), because (at least till now) it has a really solid plot and a great casting.
    Hope at least you give it a try, and tell me what you think, I always enjoy reading your opinion.

  9. Really? I think Guangxi misunderstood his mother that she was having an affair. The lawyer seems like a really good guy, he was probably just comforting his mother.

    1. Guangxi did have the misconception that his mother is carrying out an affair, however it’s a minor point that doesn’t play too much into the later mother-son conflict.

  10. omg!! this is the best drama ever.they need to extend it instead of only 20 episodes.(that’s what i heard)this is the best drama that i ever watched.really i cried through most of it.it also really lets me know how fortunate i am to not have mucheng’s life.i ❤ autumn's concerto!!!!!!!!

  11. I was avoiding this drama for a long time, but recently I gave ep1 a try. I was surprised by how complex the characters were from the start, particularly Mu Cheng. I loved the scene when she turns Guang Xi’s trick right around on him.

    I’m still not sure if I’ll continue this drama because I sense a multitude of cliches to come…

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