Moving on from Rush of the Dead Summer (review), I really liked Zheng Shuang as the female lead and went to look for her other TV series. Luckily, there was one on Netflix called Love O2O. The other title is One Smile Is Very Alluring, which is the title of the movie that was released which is also available on Netflix that I hadn’t seen yet. Love O2O opened up a ton of talented young actors and actresses that will lead to some of my future TV series choices (as you will soon find out).
Love O2O (微微一笑很倾城, 2016)
Director: Liu Yu Fen
Cast: Shuang Zheng, Yang Yang, Xiao Tong Miao, Jun Feng Niu, Ye Cheng Zheng, He Zhang, Bai Yu, Vin Zhang
Xiao Nai is a gaming expert who, courtesy of his basketball skills, academic excellence, swimming talent and game company presidency, also happens to be the most popular student on campus. When he first comes across the gorgeous computer science major Bei Wei Wei, the infinitely talented wunderkind immediately falls in love. But it’s not Bei’s looks that he notices; it’s the ridiculous mastery with which she is commanding her guild and owning everyone in an online multiplayer game that makes her impossible to forget. Now, Xiao Nai must use his skills both in real life and online to capture the adorable but dorky Bei’s heart. But does their love have the XP to succeed, or will this relationship never level up? – MyDramalist
If you want to check out Love O2O, you can find it with English subtitles on Youtube or its also on Netflix.
Love O2O is probably one of the more light-hearted and positive Chinese dramas that I’ve seen so far. While there is some drama between friendship, work and relationships, it never over dramatizes and drags out a situation for too long. Perhaps this gives it less depth but the story itself knows how to focus on the positives of each relationship and give its a positive way to solve some of the issues here. There are conflicts that show up especially when dealing with the MMORPG world where the online relationships also result to the expectations and rumors and bullying that happens as well. At the same time, the story is set in the second half on the game development world and the hurdles that they end up facing.
While the story lies mostly in the real world, a portion of it is still in the fantasy world, more the in-game world where they have a lot of computer graphics. They have fighting bits together and has a whole relationships that comes out of there as well as giving it a lot of fantastical elements of online dating via the in-game elements. Its pretty charming to say the least but also has a side warning of how sometimes there can be cases of mistaken identity or lack of communication or misunderstandings and the fragility of building your friendships online rather in-person. The story itself does blend itself well together and as the series moves along, less and less is hidden in-game and more in reality.
Love O2O has the fantastic length of 30 episodes which borders on my personal belief of the upper limit of where an idol drama usually should be.
The execution and pacing here is very good. 30 episodes with the amount of characters and story arc gives the story a sufficient amount of character development while also giving the story a chance to focus not only on the romantic angles but also touch of friendship, bromance, family, etc. The majority of the story is set over the happenings of a budding relationship that starts at the end of a university semester and the summer time and then jumps forward at the end to push forward the timeline and give it a proper ending. That is a good way to do it because life is always full of crazy events but sometimes its those first moments when its goes from ultra sweet to building a solid foundation. Its why Love O2O doesn’t drag at all and stays fun from beginning to end.
If we look at characters and chemistry, our main leads and couple is Wei Wei, played by Zheng Shuang and Xiao Nai, played by Yang Yang. They are fantastic today and probably one of the best TV ships that could happen (in my short Chinese drama time). What works for them is that their characters are almost perfect from the outside and we soon find out that they each have their similarities and balance between them. Its in their actions and their pure intentions for each other that makes them so charming to watch. Plus, their relationship sprouts of Wei Wei adoration of Xiao Nai and idolization as he is the good-looking and smart senior student in school who all the girls swoon over, while as the show goes on, you can see that Xiao Nai doesn’t care of those things but rather its love at first sight on his side that he knows that she’s the right one and doesn’t know how to be a good boyfriend and just tries his best to protect her and support her.
On the other hand, the second leads are Er Xi (Mao Xiao Tong) and Cao Guang (Bai Yu) who are the opposite of the main leads couple because they start off disliking each other, which is the more typical way of how most romantic leads start out in these dramas. However, these two are very fun characters while both of their story arcs have a slight frustrating moments, both regarding each other as well as in terms of friendship and crushes.
Finally, relationships can be bromances and Love O2O thrives in that department, whether its the bromance between Xiaonai and his roommates, which turn out to be his work team as the series moves forward after their graduation or the girl friends (who really do have less part here) of Weiwei. However, the bromance here is fantastic especially as the friendship expands to a fifth member of the group as they get into the work space area. They add the fun and comedy also which rounds out the story a lot to keep it very light-hearted.
Finally, we take a look at the “enemies”. Be it the love rivals or the schoolyard internet bullies or the competing companies for the projects, it falls into the tone here because as frustrating as they can be, they never feel that harmful especially when they always find some positive outcome or enlightenment for the characters, which is nice to see because it keeps the series in a very positive light and gives hope especially to the younger characters who find their way. Its in the details of the script and the writer for this series manages to keep a good balance and remember the tone that its going for.
Love O2O definitely is one of my faves because of its positivity. There are more tears of joy and happiness and swooning over cute and endearing moments as well as being touched over the perfection of Xiaonai as a boyfriend who thrives in communication and trust over Weiwei no matter what other people say and believes his own eyes and experiences. Its span of touching different modern day themes and issues especially as we navigate the online landscape whether in gaming or blogging. It manages to focus on the love here but also give it a good dose of friendships as well as the reality of school, work and the challenges in life overall. Its charming and fun, romantic and cute, inspiring and positive: all the things I like about TV series.