carly v d.carly

Final thoughts on "Whirlwind Girl"

a.k.a. the "I can't believe I have to wait until next summer for season 2" rant

In July, I started watching the drama Whirlwind Girl (旋風少女), also known as Tornado Girl, despite knowing nothing about it except that Chen Xiang, one of my favorite singer-turned-actors, was playing a supporting role. And that it was martial arts-related, which I was kind of craving after watching the decidedly not-really-fighting in The Journey of Flower.

To no one's surprise, the "taekwondo" in Whirlwind Girl turned out to be kind of a joke, but I ended up loving the drama anyway. The series is actually based off a story by Ming Xiaoxi, the author of Summer of Bubbles, which was later adapted into a pretty terrible drama with Da S, Peter Ho, and Huang Xiaoming. You'd think Ming Xiaoxi would have refused to allow any of her stories to get adapted in the future, but I'm glad she didn't because us viewers really lucked out with Whirlwind Girl.

The general storyline for Whirlwind Girl follows Qi Baicao, a kind-hearted orphan girl who is adopted by taekwondo world champion Qu Xiangnan, whom she sees as a mixture of father and martial arts master. Unfortunately, when he gets involved in a doping scandal, his life essentially falls apart -- his wife dies, his real daughter refuses to acknowledge him, and he is banned from teaching or competing in taekwondo. Baicao is the only one who sticks by his side, insisting (somewhat blindly at times) that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs. Every day, she takes care of her master and also gets in some kicking practice, even though her loyalty to Qu Xiangnan means she can never officially practice taekwondo.

Baicao is played by Hu Bingqing, whom I'm not familiar with, but I felt she was pretty well suited to her character and her acting was never over the top. Looks-wise, she's kind of a mix of Wang Luodan and Bai Baihe, with that sort of understated prettiness that still allows viewers to easily relate to her.

Qu Xiangnan, her father/master, is played by Vincent Jiao, whom I've had a crush on for more than a decade now. I actually don't follow his work as closely as I could (since he doesn't get starring roles that much anymore), so it was a pleasant surprise to see him. He's definitely aged visibly since The Switch, and there was clearly an effort to make his character rougher around the edges, especially since he's playing a down-and-out taekwondo practitioner, but that can't stop me from fangirling over Vincent. I was rewarded for my patience in episode 29, when they showed him wearing a suit.

Anyhoo, Master Qu Xiangnan feels guilty that Baicao won't get to develop as a martial artist because of her connection to him, so he tries to push her away and ends up pulling a disappearing act so that she's forced to move to another dojo. At first, Baicao is only in charge of cleaning, but after a series of events, the dojo master and some of the older students there realize that she has untapped potential and invite her to practice with them.

Here we have Ruobai, the highest-ranked student who is in charge of training everyone else. He is your typical stoic shixiong who eventually develops a crush on Baicao and ends up doing all sorts of crazy supportive things for her (e.g. doing part-time jobs to help pay for her school tuition and her taekwondo tests) without her ever realizing and without asking for anything in return. In other words, the Perfect Male Lead.

Ruobai is played by Yang Yang, who is becoming one of the "it" young male actors, probably thanks to his sunny smile. He's actually a minor character in another drama I'm watching, Tiny Times (which was filmed in 2012), and he's such an adorable woobie in that one! His looks have matured quite a bit for Whirlwind Girl, and he's definitely a swoon-worthy heartthrob across China now.

Heeeere's a Yang Yang picspam!

Because you can never get enough of Yang Yang's martial arts poses. I don't know if he ever did any sort of martial arts in real life, but he's convincing enough in the drama. (Or, as convincing as you can get with manga-inspired fighting moves.)

After rescuing a little boy. That's how you know he's good with kids!

The generous drama gods gave us a shirtless scene in the drama's first week.

Exclusive practice session with Baicao. This is how the seeds of love are sown.



Random cute fact, netizens started calling Ruobai "Daddy Ruobai" after witnessing how carefully he looked after Baicao. Like when he put a blanket over her when she fell asleep outside.

Or when he carried her back to the dojo when she fell asleep at some dinner outing.

Or when he took her out to eat beef noodle soup and gave her all of the beef from his bowl so that she wouldn't be hungry. And then took an awkward couple-not-a-couple photo together, even though her hair looked hideous from an unfortunate haircut.

And yes, sometimes being a daddy calls for her pouring water on Baicao's head in order to wake her up during a tournament.

But sometimes it also calls for a sweet cotton candy treat to share with your crush.

I will go down with this ship.

Back to the storyline... sort of.

This is Ruobai's BFF, Hu Yifeng, played by Wu Lei, whom you might recognize as the guy who played young Yang Guo in the most recent Return of the Condor Heroes adaptation (the Chen Xiao/Michelle Chen one). He is pretty much comedy relief, but he does a swell job at it.

Also at the dojo is a young man named Yu Chuyuan, who used to be a taekwondo superstar but gave up the sport for unknown reasons and decided to become a doctor. He also used to be close friends with Ruobai and Fang Tinghao (another taekwondo superstar whom I'll talk about later), but their friendship kind of fell apart when Chuyuan stepped down from the taekwondo stage. Baicao meets Chuyuan by accident and they both start liking one another, but neither is assertive enough to admit it. To be honest, I found Chuyuan kind of boring -- there is nothing really off-putting about him and Bai Jingting does an okay job playing him, but he just wasn't as squee worthy as Yang Yang or, as seen below, Chen Xiang.

Ah, Chen Xiang. Where to start? He's playing Fang Tinghao, an international taekwondo champion who has a bit of a rebellious and fun-loving streak to him. As expected, he's pretty arrogant and believes that talent (which he has in spades) will always be superior to hard work, an attitude Baicao hopes to disprove. He also has a crush on Baicao, but it's pretty clear that she doesn't have any interest in him as a boyfriend, and instead of pushing the matter, he just stays as a friend. (He's also a very obvious Ruobai/Baicao shipper near the end.)

Tinghao's one goal in life is to defeat Yu Chuyuan in a taekwondo competition in order to avenge his mother, who is permanently in the hospital after a serious accident in a taekwondo match against Chuyuan's mother. Of course, since Chuyuan gave up taekwondo, Tinghao is left with no way to vent his anger. He is without a doubt my favorite character in the drama, surpassing even Ruobai, because even though you can tell his main purpose is comedy relief, he still has a very compelling backstory and storyline. Also, being portrayed by Chen Xiang doesn't hurt.

Trying to serenade Baicao. The song they used was "Fireworks," which is one of Chen Xiang's actual songs.

Tinghao tricked Baicao into treating him to a meal.

Then, when she went off to the "restroom" in order to see if she had enough money, he secretly paid for the meal and then told her that they were going to dine and dash. Heehee.

So anyway, I rather enjoyed watching Whirlwind Girl, only to discover at the end of episode 32 that it was not really the end!!! The series ends on a cliffhanger of Baicao vs. her mortal enemy Fang Tingyi (Tinghao's younger sister) to see who gets to compete in an upcoming tournament. We'll find out the outcome in the second season, which will reportedly air next summer. WHAT. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME.

According to Ming Xiaoxi, the screenplay for season two is currently being prepared, whatever that means. I guess it's not really surprising that cdramas are taking the "one season per year" route (if I'm not mistaken, The Lost Tomb is doing something similar), but it's going to take a while to get used to. I'm a little annoyed that I'll have to a wait a whole year for more Whirlwind Girl, but I'm mostly worried that they won't be able to get the entire original cast back, since there hasn't been news about the cast signing a contract for the entirety of the series, however long that's going to be. I'm trying to imagine this without Yang Yang and Chen Xiang, and I just don't think it would have the same charm.

What confuses me about all this is that I randomly saw this picture online, which I'm guessing is supposed to be Ruobai, Baicao, and their future kid? (Yes, I read spoilers online, and the two end up together in the book and have a daughter.) So did they film this part of season 2 already? Or are they already filming season 2? What's going on? And why isn't it summer 2016 already?

Great review! Apparently, Yang Yang may not be able to reprise his role in the next season :(
Whoa, long time no see! Good to hear from you again. :)

And yeah, I remember reading that and was very disappointed. :'( I can't think of another young actor who could pull off the role with the same presence as Yang Yang. Hopefully, he does find room in his schedule, though!
Thank you, and likewise! I wasn't sure if you'd remember me, but I'm happy that you do, haha.
I've read something from an official Weibo account that they might make RB die and get another love interest for BC, which I do not agree with at all :( Yeah, hopefully he does!
Ugh, I would refuse to watch season 2 if that happens. >.< As much as I adore Fang Tinghao, I don't ship him with Baicao at all, and adding yet another love interest would be way too dumb.
My thoughts exactly. Fang Tinghao is a character that I adore as well and his character development in the drama was rather nice. It's funny that we're talking about what might happen in the 2nd season right now because just yesterday, Ming Xiaoxi reassured fans on Weibo that she won't make RB die \o/

Btw, I've written a review on XFSN too a few weeks ago, haha. Here:
Well, that's a relief. Although idk how much control Ming Xiaoxi has over the drama screenplay. Wikipedia says she wasn't in charge of the script for season 1, but it seems like she's pretty closely involved, so I'm guessing she has some degree of input.

Nice review! Makes me want to check out some Yang Yang interviews now, to see what he's like out of character. And it's interesting how most of our opinions match up haha. And I didn't notice the resemblance between Fang Tingyi's actress and Zhang Meng, but now that you mention it, she does look a bit like her, except with a thinner face.
OMG Yang Yang interacting with kids!!! It's too much. *_____* And I'd forgotten how cute the Xiaocao plush is. Makes me eager for season 2, as long as Yang Yang is still there~
Ruobai baba
hope someone will notify me when the season 2 be aired. Only if Yang Yang is there.. haha