Why did Ling Hong leave in 'Fanhua'?

The Smart Linghong and the Changing World

Linghong is a clever person. She knows if she doesn’t leave on her own, eventually, Lingzi will drift away from her world.

Seeing Lingzi striving hard to build her future, passionately serving table after table of customers, barely taking a moment to relax her tired face before greeting the next table, Linghong suddenly realizes that the leisurely days of muddling along, cheekily taking advantage of Boss Bao occasionally without anyone minding, are gone forever. Like Boss Bao’s position, the old sign of Night Tokyo, everything has been smashed and discarded into the past. Everyone has their place, but when time’s up, it waits for no one.

Now, Linghong can’t keep up with Lingzi’s pace; they are on different levels. Friendship is like this, phased; only those in step with each other can maintain it. If one excels and the other stagnates, they will gradually drift apart. It’s not about who is more indifferent or ruthless; it’s that forcing two people to walk side by side when they are mismatched is exhausting for both.

As mentioned earlier, the blossoms belong to each individual: Miss Wang, Lingzi, Lili, and all those destined to be the forefront wave of their era due to their circumstances and personalities. They are the wild roses of Hongkou, the pioneers who turned around, leaving behind only the name “Night Tokyo”; the businesswomen on Huanghe Road, who dealt without sentimentality and had no boss over them; the opportunistic yet timid Linghong; Jin Hua, who ruthlessly runs No. 27; and Lu Meilin, who independently manages Jinmeilin, arming herself fiercely.

This is a portrayal of the vibrant lives on the sea, each with their distinct charm, no longer confined to the roles others see them in, making their own choices.

The Complex Dynamics of Linghong and Lingzi

Linghong is currently my least favorite character in the whole drama.

Ever since the earring incident, her relationship with Lingzi could never return to what it once was.

This is a normal human reaction; once a porcelain is cracked, no matter how it’s repaired, the crack remains. It’s never the same piece again.

Once you know your friend has deceived you, even if you choose to forgive, they won’t believe it. On one hand, they know what they did was wrong, but they did it anyway, revealing their true nature. This is often referred to as “double standards.”

On the other hand, they believe such actions are unforgivable, and thus think it’s impossible for you to forgive them. It’s essentially “judging others by one’s own standards.”

Lingzi, putting the past behind, approaches them to partner as shareholders for a fresh start. Her rules are right; to do well and expand, one must follow rules. The era of everyone taking advantage of Boss Bao is over. It’s now about seriously building a business, with unknown challenges ahead.

Does Linghong regret watching all this? Lingzi has been paying her rent in Tokyo, and now she’s doing the same in Shanghai. Can you really call Lingzi calculating?

She values relationships deeply.

Otherwise, how could she have attracted both Boss Bao and Qiang?

Linghong is actually in a difficult position now. Previously, she lived off Lingzi, Boss Bao, and Boss Bao’s friends - basically exploiting acquaintances to get by.

But now, Boss Bao is clearly cut off by Lingzi, who is at the very start of her entrepreneurial journey. In this situation, whose “wool” can Linghong pull?

Who would patronize her boutique?

Remember her line about selling only one pair of earrings in a month, purchased by Lingzi? Without Lingzi’s connections, who would want to be overcharged by her?

Now, with Lingzi’s financial situation, she can’t exploit her anymore. That’s one reason she chooses to leave and one reason I dislike her.

On the other hand, if she has even a shred of conscience, she should feel somewhat moved. Lingzi is now independent of Boss Bao; shouldn’t Linghong reflect on herself? After years of leeching off Lingzi, isn’t it time to stop and do something meaningful?

So, if she really has a conscience, why doesn’t she stay and help Lingzi?

There are two reasons: firstly, she lacks the capability. If she had any business acumen, she wouldn’t be unable to sell anything for a month. The rent is paid by Lingzi. Secondly, if she stays and Lingzi’s business fails, will she regret not continuing her easy life of exploitation?

Both reasons are unbearable for her. Perhaps it’s better to leave and pretend she never made any mistakes.

Such a friend, only Lingzi would go home to get money for her, only Lingzi would cry for her.

What kind of person does this?

You live off someone’s kindness, yet you criticize them behind their back, hitting where it hurts most.

Leave then, out of sight, out of mind. Never look back.

Due to the need to explore new opportunities on the internet, I went to Beijing to study at the Central Academy of Drama. 🐶

Dreams, Friendship, and Ambition in Tokyo

While in Japan, Ling Hong and Lingzi worked side by side, with one welcoming guests in a commercial KTV venue and the other serving as a waitress in a small eatery.

Upon returning to Shanghai, they continued to be close, but their paths diverged. Lingzi started managing a nightclub in Tokyo, which mostly relied on Abao’s funding to stay afloat. Ling Hong opened a boutique store that struggled to turn a profit, surviving on Lingzi’s financial support.

Then, Lingzi disappeared for a while during a trip to Japan. Upon her return, she distanced herself from Abao and reopened Night Tokyo, inviting others to invest. Ling Hong certainly invested, but as a minor shareholder with less money than Lingzi, who also participated in direct management. Consequently, the better Night Tokyo did, the wider the income and net worth gap grew between Lingzi and Ling Hong.

What would you do if you were once on equal footing with friends or colleagues who suddenly became wealthy, while you remained stagnant? Many people today might choose to remain passive, but those who went to Japan from Shanghai in those years had different perspectives.

In 1996, a TV series called “Shanghainese in Tokyo” was released in Shanghai, riding the wave of “Beijingers in New York.” However, it portrayed a more realistic narrative. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of Shanghainese went to Japan to find work. Who would abandon the relatively comfortable life in China to become laborers in Japan? Many were driven by ambition and the desire to earn money.

So, initially, Ling Hong must have been a goal-oriented individual, but as days turned into years, she might have forgotten her initial aspirations and transformed into someone she used to despise, living a mundane and directionless life.

Lingzi, having transformed herself, reminded Ling Hong of her dreams. She advised her to seize the opportunity while she was still young, so as not to regret it in the future.

I don’t believe it was the earring incident that drove Ling Hong away. If their resentment ran so deep, Ling Hong wouldn’t have invested in Night Tokyo, and Lingzi wouldn’t have rushed to deliver cash to Ling Hong when she saw her preparing to leave.

Why did Ling Hong decide to leave abruptly? Perhaps she was afraid that when she confided in the people around her, they would discourage her from leaving, extinguishing her determination like a tiny flicker of flame.

Another factor, albeit less dominant but still significant, was the change in the atmosphere at Night Tokyo. During Abao’s era, they used to have dinners together, enjoying a harmonious family-like environment. However, after Abao’s departure, despite everyone making money, the bonds that held them together were severed. The camaraderie of shared meals and the atmosphere of casual conversations disappeared.

Without this ambiance and witnessing Lingzi’s continuous progress while they remained stagnant, anyone with a hint of ambition would seek to change themselves, or at least give it a try.

Ling Hong’s Departure and the Quest for Change

One possible reason for Ling Hong’s departure could be her desire to break free from a haphazard life and take a chance.

She used to be in a situation similar to Lingzi’s, relying on Abao’s support, with Lingzi as her companion in life’s journey.

However, when Lingzi mentioned that there was no turning back once she opened the door, it seems that Ling Hong was deeply affected. She must have known Lingzi very well, making her the person most shaken by Lingzi’s decision.

Watching Lingzi truly start anew, endure hardships, and demonstrate her true abilities may have also inspired Ling Hong. But if she didn’t leave, she would forever be the Ling Hong who depended on Lingzi, which she probably didn’t want.

(On a somewhat whimsical note, when I saw Ma Yili choking back tears while asking Ling Hong if she had enough money, for some reason, an image popped into my head of Ling Hong suddenly doing a 180-degree turn and saying, “Money? Well, that’s never enough… Give me more cash!” It’s quite amusing, but it shows how captivating the story is.)

The Earring Incident and Finding Independence

Let’s talk about the earring incident.

Ling Hong selling earrings for 200 and Lingzi for 2600 was acceptable to me, but when Lingzi asked for 26000, it was beyond my tolerance. Ling Hong and Lingzi were close friends, and Lingzi treated her well, but blood is thicker than water, and money is money. Claiming it was purchased at cost for her was something everyone knew was impossible.

The emotional reaction was understandable, but when she, in turn, asked Abao for 26000, she felt completely justified. It was a classic case of someone who holds others to higher standards than themselves.

The earring incident led to Ms. Wang’s resignation and the reopening of Night Tokyo, serving as a catalyst for a series of subsequent events. Lingzi realized she couldn’t wait for Abao, and Ms. Wang understood that she wasn’t suitable for Abao at her current stage. Both women wanted to prove that they could be excellent without Abao, not only to assert their independence but also to rediscover their true selves.

With the exposure of the purchase invoices, Teacher Ge, Ling Hong, and Lingzi also came clean. After cooling down, everyone began to mend their relationships, displaying the unspoken understanding of adults. In reality, who hasn’t gossiped about familiar friends behind their backs? What’s past is past, and they could continue being friends in the future. Therefore, I believe Ling Hong’s departure was not solely due to the earring incident but rather a result of experiencing all of this. She wanted to try and see how far she could go on her own, just as Lingzi left Abao. It was time for her to leave Lingzi and rediscover her true self.

I think it’s because they wanted Papi Sauce to bid farewell to the boxed meal in advance.

Li Li, Lingzi, Miss Wang… Wong Kar-wai has captured the most beautiful state of almost every female lead in “In the Mood for Love,” except for Papi Sauce.

Papi Sauce’s appearance lacks depth and facial contour. It’s unclear whether it was intentional or due to innate factors.

Even Tang Yan was captured with a hint of Joey Wong’s charm.

Formerly, the dock was Lingzi and Bao’s. But now that Lingzi has seen herself relying on her own abilities, she also needs to find her own dock. Staying here, she really can’t do much. The business of the boutique is very bad; she only sold a pair of earrings in a month, and she had to rely on Lingzi’s help to sell them. Staying and helping Lingzi with the shop? What’s the difference between that and Japan?

She needs to grow, to change her environment, to leave Lingzi, just like Lingzi left Bao. This is the only way she can be independent.

By the way, in this scene, Ma Yili has delivered world-class acting. Her mastery of the Shanghainese dialect and the strong conviction in her performance are truly astounding.

Children Bid Farewell to Their Parents and Seek Independence

In the drama, Lingzi and Linghong actually have a mother-daughter-like relationship, which the actors have explained very clearly.

It’s not surprising to empathize with them as a mother and daughter, and it’s the reason why their separate scenes brought tears to many people, making them think of their own parents when going far away.

Of course, it can be interpreted from a different perspective because the relationship between these two on the surface is just that of close friends. Linghong could also be seen as leaving discreetly after committing wrongdoings and not making money. However, with Lingzi’s shrewd personality, she is still willing to send money to Linghong, who didn’t even ask for it. The complexity of human nature, explained simply by self-interest, seems to oversimplify the situation.

Material Foundation Determines Superstructure

From a pragmatic perspective, now that Lingzi has distanced herself from Bao, how can Linghong’s boutique survive? In the past, they could get by, but now it’s becoming difficult. Doing the new nightlife scene in Tokyo together, their abilities are different. Having the ability, would you feel comfortable just sitting around and eating, not selling more than a pair of earrings in a month (even to acquaintances)? After half a year or a year, if no one speaks up, wouldn’t it be awkward to continue doing nothing?

Mr. Ge had a line that he delivered well - everyone has their own place. In the past, everyone was on the same level, all relying on Bao. Although Lingzi had a closer relationship with Bao, there was no difference in their ecological niches. Now, the positions have changed, the big tree is gone, and everyone has to grow freely. Those who move quickly and those who stay put are destined to go their separate ways. The past feelings were real, but emotions are only a part of life. To survive, people must look forward and move forward.

The quarrel among the Night Tokyo kings is not the root cause. Sometimes, friends might inadvertently speak some gossip behind their backs, which may not necessarily be sincere. Linghong didn’t spread it to outsiders; it was just something friends mutually acknowledged. If Bao continued to cover for them, it wouldn’t be impossible for the F4 of Night Tokyo to band together to mend relationships and seek warmth. But with Bao gone, everyone has to find their own place.

Without Boss Zong providing them with this small group of people blood transfusions, they can’t go back actually.

A Fresh Start

She hurt her best friend, and then the friend started to shine brightly again. It was time for her to venture into a new place and start her own life.

Her role was just a close friend, the landlord was collecting rent, and the fishmonger had his own shop making a living. She also supplied goods to Night Tokyo. Lingzi had to renovate and open her own shop. In that group, she was actually a parasite… and the only one who truly left the group, unable to live a decent life in Shanghai.

She had no special affection or feelings for Mr. Bao. Once Lingzi withdrew from the picture, her purpose disappeared. She couldn’t just idle away and have Night Tokyo as her daily backdrop. It was better to wrap things up early and save money.

In the drama, she was unmarried at an older age, had no money, and her jewelry store was constantly losing. She lacked confidence in making the business thrive. The screenwriter gave her a decent exit, a chance to find a new self, and embark on a new adventure. It was already a good ending.

Because Linghong arrived in Beijing, she started her career in self-media and changed her name to Papi Jiang…

The troublemaker has already caused a stir, so why keep lingering? The role has already faded away.