*Available on U.S. Netflix*
The Gist: Plucky Xiaoxi (Shen Yue) pursues a one-sided love with her smart, but cold neighbor Jiang Chen (Hu Yitian). Jiang Chen has a hard time looking past her low IQ and embarrassing antics, but starts to get possessive when a new student, competitive swimmer Wu Bosong (Gao Zhiting) transfers to their school. Still, as both boys start to circle Xiaoxi, neither can really accurately express their feelings. The cast of friends is rounded out by tough but smart Jingxiao (Wang Ziwei) and dorky Lu Yang (Sun Ning). The five friends live out their high school days trying to sort out their hearts and chase their dreams!
1. The Romance
So, did this summary remind anyone of all those Itazura Na Kiss adaptations? The smart but cold boy pursued by energetic but dumb girl. They’re neighbors in this rather than living together, but the effect is similar. Readers should know by now, though, that my love for the Kiss franchises (It Started With a Kiss, Mischievous Kiss, Miss in Kiss, etc.), so it was nice to see a show that had the same vibes.
However, there were some major differences that I found quite awesome in our main duo. Shen Yue and Hu Yitian have awesome chemistry as our main pair. While Xiaoxi is totally obsessed with Jiang Chen, she doesn’t wrap her career around him and when she feels like she’s being mistreated, she doesn’t hesitate to stand up for herself. There are some misunderstandings that arise from this, but it’s nice to see a girl who can still stick up for herself despite being so in love.
Likewise, once Jiang Chen admits his feelings, he is very doting on Xiaoxi. It’s so lovely to see that he isn’t embarrassed of her. When he tells people that she’s his girlfriend or their getting married, it almost took me by surprise because he does grow a lot in the series from being so closed off. Into some spoiler territory, at the ending, it does take him a long time to apologize (and there was fault on both sides), but when he does, he is so sincere about it, it just wiggled its way into my heart.
Honestly, I have heart cavities from how incredibly sweet this show is.
Also, I will say, again, in small spoiler territory, that I loved the development between Jingxiao and Lu Yang. I was worried with the nurse plot, but they are a good match and it was nice to have their story moving along in the background from our main couple. Again, this show is just so sweet all around, I could barely take it!
2. The Time Jump
So another thing about this show that reminds me of the Kiss franchises is the time jump. We see our characters not only in high school (though that is the bulk of the show), but in college and beyond as well. I was wondering why all the characters looked so old at the beginning of the show, but once I realized the scope of what they were doing, it made sense. I like this in the Kiss shows and I liked it a lot here as well.
It was nice to see how our characters matured and to give their relationships time to develop. Obviously, any show like this will have some relationship problems to work through and I think that progressing to working adults gave some extra opportunities to really handle the nuances and hard work of balancing life with your work. Also, the ending to this show was just so insanely adorable, I couldn’t handle it. Their relationship isn’t perfect, but it felt very relatable.
3. Wu Bosong
Oh man. I really liked Bosong. His relationship with Xiaoxi is really funny - I love that he calls her boss. He is very supportive and friendly and while you know that Jiang Chen is end game, I did really feel bad for him. Not to say I think that Xiaoxi should have ended up with him, but some triangles are harder to swallow than others and I think this one was difficult. He is willing to open up to Xiaoxi in a way that Jiang Chen isn’t for a long time, but I think he just came from too far behind, she was already so in love with Jiang Chen by the time Bosong showed up. I will say though, that a lot of the parts following him swimming when other characters weren’t present, I found myself skimming. I like him more in relation to other characters than I did on his own. Additionally, I liked that Bosong and Jiang Chen had sort of an uneasy friendship. It’s more complicated than if they just straight up hate each other all the time. I think it also allows for Jiang Chen to really have to contemplate if Xiaoxi would be happier with Bosong.
I was a little worried about this show being 23 (+1 bonus) episodes long, but honestly, I watched this show so fast that I didn’t even mind that it was on the longer side. Realistically, this is one of those shows that I would have kept watching if it was even longer. Things move a little slower during the high school years, but not in a way that I minded. I like a little bit of a slow burn romance (although I was ecstatic when they finally got together). The later episodes move really quickly and I think that doesn’t leave too much room for filler. This means that most of the show at that point is just so focused on the romance and that’s just the way that I like it.
5. Jiang Chen
OK, so I said already I like the romance, but I really loved Jiang Chen. Hu Yitian does such a fabulous job of making him aloof, but also just so so caring. You can tell how much he loves Xiaoxi and is just totally committed to that. I find that he really shines in their kiss scenes. The expressions he makes before (super intense) and after (kind of an amazed dazed?) are just to die for. It’s lovely. Also, he is very beautiful, so I get where Xiaoxi is coming from. I don’t think my heart would make it either.
Honestly, this is another one of those times that I am really wracking my brain to figure out what about this show bothered me and am coming up quite short. This show warmed my heart so completely and I am excited at the prospect of watching it again sometime soon. Spoilers: I think maybe my only complaint is that we didn’t get to see a wedding for them? But at the same time, we get a beautiful proposal and we did get to see Lu Yang and Jingxiao’s wedding, so maybe that would have been overkill.
So… I adored this show! ADORED IT. This was one of those times that I was slowing down so that I could savor it just a little longer because I wanted to watch the entire thing in one sitting. It was a struggle. This is a great summer show - light with all the romance. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but it executes familiar tropes well.
Final Grade: A+