Thanks to the cracktastic Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, I realize that I no longer have CGI-aversion issues when it comes to dramas, woot! The unexpected result – unexpected to me, at least – is that I suddenly found that I have a whole new world of dramas to explore. As a drama fan who’s been feeling a little on the jaded side of late, this is good, good news indeed.
Lots of my drama friends loved this show when it first aired last year, but I’d missed that train because of this show’s CGI-heavy gaming scenes. I’d poked at this tentatively, but fled hastily at the CGI. Not this time, my friends. This time, I found myself actually rather enjoying the fantasy gaming scenes.
I know. What have you done to me, Peach Blossoms?
Right away, like, in just the first 2 episodes, I found that this show felt refreshing in a nice number of ways. Here’s the quick run-down.
1. A pretty awesome female lead
I felt like our female lead was pretty darn awesome. Wei Wei (Zheng Shuang) came across as independent, strong, smart, unafraid to speak up for herself and solve her own problems. Plus, as a bonus, she’s nice and pretty too.
Watching her, I felt like we need more girls like her, in dramaland and in real life.
[MINOR SPOILERS] She doesn’t need a guy to solve her computer problems; she simply buys the parts and fixes her own laptop. I also love that she’s not easily cowed, nor easily discouraged. Cao Guang (Bai Yu) smearing her reputation doesn’t even give her pause. She does what she can to set the record straight, but doesn’t let it get to her when he’s a jerk and refuses to believe her. Instead, she cheerily goes about living her life, and I LOVE that. [END SPOILERS]
2. A fun set-up
I liked the set-up, where our OTP knows each other in 2 different contexts. This makes for an interesting, almost “You’ve Got Mail” sort of set-up, which I feel inexplicably drawn to.
As a bonus, the rhythm of the narrative also feels different than the usual kdrama rom-com journey, which I find to be a welcome change. This drama hums at its own pace, and because the usual kdrama rom-com milestones don’t apply, this show feels fresher and less contrived, to me.
3. A handsome male lead
Yes, this is shallow, but I liked that Yang Yang is so very good-looking as our male lead. I found his look rather unusual, and thought it fit really well into the fantasy gaming world as well.
4. The online connection
I don’t game, but I hang around online enough to identify with what it feels like to have an online identity, online friends, & online rapport, and how that is separate from – but can bleed into – your real life. I liked that this was one of Show’s main themes, and found it easy to engage with.
It’s important to keep in mind that this show has its flaws, some of which are easier to overlook than others. To help you get the most out of your watch experience, here’s a bunch of stuff to keep in mind.
1. The acting.. is mostly not great.
Once I got past the initial episodes, I came to the reluctant conclusion that both leads aren’t so great at the acting. I actually cringed at some of their scenes; sometimes, he looked like he was modeling instead of acting; sometimes, I found the breathy-cutesy rather awkward on her.
[MINOR SPOILER] On a slight tangent, Wei Wei being so in awe of Xiao Nai all the time took some getting used to, because I had her in my mind as a pretty cool chick who could hold her own in almost any circumstance. Once she started interacting with / dating Xiao Nai, though, the fact that she was consistently flummoxed by him kind of niggled at me. But I guess that’s easy to say when I’m not all giddy in love for the first time. [END SPOILER]
On another note, I just wanted to say that somewhere past the initial episodes, I suddenly became distracted by just how skinny Zheng Shuang is. To my eyes, her legs literally looked like they were too thin for her body. Once I saw that, I couldn’t unsee it, unfortunately, and that little detail continued to distract me through the rest of my watch. 😛
2. The humor might not work for you all the time
In general, the humor in this show worked better for me than most of the broad comedy that is commonly employed in kdramas. I found myself quite nicely amused a fair amount of the time.
Having said that, though, there were times where I felt like the humor was losing me, a little bit. In particular, the scenes featuring Xiao Nai’s three roomies, with their comic relief sort of vibe, wasn’t super amusing to me. Sometimes, it even felt rather stilted to me, and that was a bit of a downer.
3. There’s a lot of in-game time
There is a generous amount of time spent in-game, and at times, it felt a little pointless to me. Characters would spend time chatting with each other, and sometimes, all we get to see is them doing a lot of typing. Not super exciting stuff. Which is why after a while, all the in-game interaction started to wear thin on me. I felt like there was too much of that, and not quite enough of real-life interaction among our characters to balance it out.
In Show’s defense, it is true that a lot of the in-game interaction eventually forms a context and foundation for the character interactions in the real world.
4. Sometimes, it’s like PPL city
OMG, I don’t know if I’ve seen another drama with as much PPL as this one, you guys. SO much of one particular brand of orange juice (every. single. meal.), and so much Yakult, and so much Oppo too.
In addition, some of the PPL is super obvious, with actual lines dedicated to plugging the products’ virtues. Like the scene in Xiao Nai’s car, where one of the roomies even names the special technology that makes the car so stable. I found it quite distracting and just a bit much, overall.
5. Sometimes the romance is laced with creepy [MINOR SPOILERS]
I do like that Xiao Nai, for all of his detached coolness, is so into Wei Wei. But, it does feel borderline creepy, that he basically stalks her into becoming his girlfriend. I mean, he can’t see her online, and so he hacks into her computer to see what she’s doing? And this is portrayed as romantic? Uh. I hafta say, I found that a little bit disturbing.
STUFF I ENJOYED
Despite the stuff that wasn’t so great, I marathoned this one real quick, to the exclusion of pretty much everything else – and you guys know I’m generally not given to intensive marathons.
Here’s the stuff that kept me going, and that made this show a fun little watch, in spite of its shortcomings.
1. Cheeky Xiao Nai
In the earlier stretch of the show, I found Xiao Nai rather inscrutable, thanks in part to the writing, and thanks in part to Yang Yang’s rather stiff delivery. But, he still had my attention because he’s really quite lovely to look at, heh.
The good news for me was, as the OTP relationship grew, Xiao Nai got to show more and more of his cheeky side, and that upped his appeal in a Big Way. There’s a particular scene in episode 27 where he tosses a cheeky eyebrow wiggle at Wei Wei, then follows it with the sauciest grin, evar. OMG, that was the total highlight of the episode for me, seriously. Squee! <3
Here’s one more shot of Cheeky Xiao Nai, just because. 😉
2. All of the kisses
Unlike most other dramas I’ve seen, this one’s not at all stingy with the skinship and kisses. There are kisses sprinkled throughout Show’s mid-to-late episodes, and, Yang Yang demonstrates very clearly that he’s very capable in delivering the kisses with.. feelingg. <3 All in all, a very happy combination indeed. Ahem.
The only downside is, Wei Wei mostly looks like she’s just enduring the kisses, and that really sucks a lot of the fun out of the kisses. It would’ve been so much better, if she would’ve kissed Xiao Nai right back, like the awesome, strong, capable female lead I’d first pegged her to be.
Still, despite Zheng Shuang not being much help in this department, Yang Yang single-handedly made the kiss scenes quite spine-tingly and squee-worthy, and therefore another highlight of my watch.
3. All of the trust
Another thing that I found very refreshing indeed, is the extreme levels of trust among many of our main characters.
Yes, there are times when that trust is put to the test, but more often than not, instead of taking a side-step into a Big Misunderstanding that drags on for episode upon episode, Show puts the unshakable quality of our key relationships on display instead. I liked that a whole lot.
4. Stuff stays simple
Thanks to the solid amount of trust between our characters, in general, I found that conflicts and tensions got solved relatively quickly in this drama world. No angst lasted for very long, and trust and loyalty would ultimately triumph.
On a related note, no baddies were really all bad either. Pretty much every antagonist felt understandable, and therefore human. Some of them even got a bit of a redemption arc by the end.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Unsurprisingly, all’s well that ends well.
The 2-year time-skip allows Wei Wei and her friends to graduate, gives Xiao Nai and his company time to flourish, and sets the stage for wedding-related stuff to percolate and come to a head. All fan-servicey fluffy good things, in my opinion.
It’s not groundbreaking stuff in any way, which is in perfect keeping with the rest of the show. And while I usually tend to roll my eyes a little bit at time skips, I couldn’t at all complain about seeing Xiao Nai working to win Wei Wei’s hand in marriage, from her misinformed, grumpy dad.
Plus, the finale is also peppered with more of those capably-delivered kisses – and I’m absolutely not complaining about that. <3
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Insistently sweet, simple, and light on angst. A nice little cotton-candy marathon.
FINAL GRADE: B+