Review: Hidden Love [China]


Show’s got quite a few things going for it: it’s full of pretty polish, boasts a pair of good-looking leads who share a sparky chemistry, has a cast of likable characters (with the rare exception, for purposes of narrative tension), and has a very enjoyable soundtrack to score it all.

Show’s biggest strength, though, in my opinion, is its ability to serve up feels that feel at once real and relatable.

Our entire premise is the crush that our female lead Sang Zhi (Zhao Lu Si) has on Jiaxu (Chen Zhe Yuan), and Show’s ability to bring the feels to life, of all the nuances of how it feels to have a crush on someone, is so spot on.

A very easy, enjoyable, sometimes cracky watch, provided you get around some of the points of discomfort that some viewers experienced – which I’ll talk about later, in this review.


I really feel like this is one of those shows where you really have to try it out for yourself, to see how you take to it.

Before starting my watch, I’d come across various points of discomfort expressed by other viewers, about how they found the age gap between our lead characters to be on the creepy side, for example.

If I’d decided not to watch this show, based on those opinions, then I would have missed out on what turned out to be a very fun and enjoyable watch, for me personally.

What I’m trying to say is, sure, it’s true that this show works for some and not for others. But also, I hope you won’t decide too quickly, that this one’s not for you, because I feel like when Show does work for you, it works so well. 🥰


Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it, while you read the review.

Overall, I really enjoyed the OST a lot. It’s all so breezy, cheery and all-around pleasant on the ears. The music definitely helped to amp up the feels that Show was serving up, to the point that just listening to the music now, actually brings back the feels for me. 🥰

I really do enjoy Track 2, “I Have Someone I like,” which is sung by Zhao Lu Si, but if I had to pick a favorite, I think I’d go with Track 6, “Forever Star,” which is breezy yet full of tender feels. 🥰 Likey.

Here it is as well, in case you’d prefer to listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”


Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. This really is all about the romance

Show’s focus is unabashedly, consistently on our central OTP connection.

As a result, all our other characters basically exist to support the development of this loveline.

This means that some minor characters’ arcs get glossed over, once their involvement with the OTP central arc is over.

Adjusting your viewing lens for this, helps.

2. This is based on a web novel

I think it also really helps to bear in mind that Show’s based on a web novel, and so, a manhua lens is helpful to keep handy.

This helps some of Show’s more unbelievable beats to land much better, I find.


First, I weigh in, a little bit, on a few points of controversy, where some viewers struggled with what Show was serving up.

After that, I talk about what I liked and liked less, in a pretty macro sort of fashion, before doing a selective deep dive into characters and relationships.

If you’re interested in my blow-by-blow reactions while watching this show, you might like to check out my episode notes on Patreon here.


Starting this show, I’d heard a lot of things about Hidden Love, from pretty extreme ends of the spectrum, and was very curious to see where I would land with this one.

Would I find it as problematic as some viewers have, or would I love it a lot, like many drama fans?

I’m happy to say that I ended up liking this one a lot.

I do want to weigh in on the various problematic aspects that I’ve seen being pointed out by other viewers.

For context, I did watch Avenue X’s video (here) some time ago, before I started my watch, so I went in with a pretty clear understanding on the things that troubled her during her attempt to watch this show, and why she ended up dropping it.

From what I can tell, there is a section of viewers who agree with her, while the majority of viewers are, in fact, very happy with their watch. In fact, as I type this, this show is enjoying a rating of 9.1 on MyDramaList. That’s very impressive indeed.

So, what are some of the things that Avenue X had issues with? Let me just touch on some of the main things.

To be clear, I am not planning to refute her points one by one, because this isn’t about her, really; I’m just using her video as a point of reference, to organize my own thoughts.

Also, I wanted to say that Avenue X and everyone else is entitled to their feelings and opinions with regards to this show (and any other show), so just because I’m using Avenue X’s video as a reference point to organize my own thoughts, doesn’t mean that I intend to diss her in any way. 😅


1. The actress playing young Sang Zhi looks like a child

It’s true that the actress playing young Sang Zhi is only 10 years old, but I don’t see that as a problem.

It would be a problem if the show was putting a 10-year-old in an inappropriate situation with a much older man, but there’s honestly none of that. The interactions between 14-year-old Sang Zhi and college age Jiaxu is perfectly innocent.

As for Sang Zhi looking so young, it did take me a little bit of getting used to, but I was able to reconcile her very young appearance without too much trouble.

Show does acknowledge how short she is, for her age, more than once, and that works for me.

When I was 14, I did have some classmates who were still very tiny, and hadn’t hit their growth spurt yet, so I can believe that Sang Zhi would similarly still be very kiddish in her appearance, despite already being 14.

And, I do think that that’s what Show’s makers were going with, in having Zhang Xi Wei play younger Sang Zhi.

Not only is she a capable actress, who’s played the younger version of Zhao Lu Si in Who Rules the World, she also looks a lot like Zhao Lu Si, so I can understand Zhao Lu Si recommending her for the role, and the production accepting that recommendation.

I just have to remind myself that Sang Zhi’s a bit of a later bloomer is all, and I don’t find that hard to do, especially given the fact that Zhao Lu Si herself looks quite petite.

2. The magic-romantic lighting of Sang Zhi’s first time meeting Jiaxu.

Avenue X singled this out as a moment that she found disturbing, because she associates the camera language with romantic scenes, and found it inappropriately applied in this scene, because, camera language-wise, it suggests a romantic connection between Jiaxu and Sang Zhi.

I.. didn’t have the same problem.

I found the lighting perfectly fine, and relevant to Sang Zhi having a reaction of wonderment, in meeting Jiaxu for the first time.

I think we can all agree that at 14, Sang Zhi’s more than capable of developing a crush on someone, whether that someone is a classmate her own age, or Jiaxu, who’s a college student, or even a fully adult celebrity.

To my eyes, the magic-romantic lighting of that scene, was everything about Sang Zhi’s reaction to seeing Jiaxu for the first time, and nothing to do with Jiaxu’s reaction to meeting Sang Zhi, in the least.

3. Jiaxu being overly friendly with Sang Zhi

Avenue X and many of her viewers are of the opinion that Jiaxu has no business being so friendly with Sang Zhi and spending so much time with her; that this isn’t realistic.

I find that I don’t have the same problem believing that Jiaxu would be so kind to Sang Zhi, and spend time helping her out.

The way I see it, Jiaxu is bros with Sang Yan, Sang Zhi’s older brother, and because of their close friendship, basically sees Sang Yan’s business as his business, and that’s why he sees it as a pretty natural thing, to help Sang Zhi out, when the occasion arises.

And of course, the occasion arises quite frequently, because this is a drama after all, and drama coincidences and small colliding orbits are just A Thing, in Dramaland. This is common across many dramas, so I’m not fussed about that.

Another thing that Avenue X mentioned, is how Jiaxu refers to himself as “gege” (哥哥) when talking with Sang Zhi. Her point is, that’s not how people talk, and with him doing this so consistently, it comes across as creepy and predatory, like he’s trying to groom her or something.

Again, I didn’t receive it the same way, watching these 4 episodes.

It’s not hard for me to use a manhua lens with this show, since it’s adapted from a web novel, and in my head, manhua type worlds have the license to have their characters talk in a manner that’s not quite in the vein of real life.

Most importantly, for me, I don’t see Jiaxu as having any predatory intentions.

As far as I can see, in these 4 episodes, he really sees Sang Zhi as a little sister, and is pretty good about observing important boundaries, even though he does tease her and act affectionately towards her in some ways.

Like when Sang Zhi realizes she’s on her period and needs help buying sanitary napkins, Jiaxu makes it a point to call Sang Yan to ask Sang Yan to buy them, because Sang Zhi is Sang Yan’s sister.

And then, when they’ve acquired the necessary items, Jiaxu leaves Sang Yan to wait for Sang Zhi on his own, because, again, he recognizes that Sang Zhi is Sang Yan’s sister, and that Sang Zhi would be more comfortable having her own brother help her out, in this situation.

This moment convinced me that Jiaxu isn’t in a predatory space, because if he was trying to be closer to Sang Zhi than is appropriate, he would have acted very differently.

4. 17-year-old Sang Zhi behaves very differently from 14-year-old Sang Zhi

One of the things that bothered Avenue X, is the fact that Sang Zhi comes across so differently at age 14, compared to what we see of her, at age 17.

The gist of it is that 14-year-old Sang Zhi appears to be so confident and mature, while 17-year-old Sang Zhi is suddenly so shy and baby-ish.

I totally get that this might confuse some viewers, but I personally didn’t have a problem with this because I’ve seen a similarly dramatic kind of character change in one of my classmates from school.

When my classmate – let’s call her Rachel – was in primary school (elementary school or grade school, depending on where in the world you’re in), she was outspoken and sassy, and quite boisterous and tomboyish.

I lost touch with Rachel after primary school because we went to different schools after that, but I was in the same faculty as her in university, and I was blown away by how different she was, in university.

Gone was the outspoken, boisterous personality, and in its place, was a soft-spoken, demure, genteel sort of personality.

If I hadn’t known her in primary school, I would have believed that Rachel was just always like that.

Because of this, I can buy the idea that younger Sang Zhi is more outspoken, while 17-year-old Sang Zhi is more shy and self-conscious.

My thinking around the entire way she carries herself at age 17, is that as Sang Zhi has “come of age,” so to speak, she’s become more self-conscious of how she comes across, and has embraced a more “feminine” way of presenting herself to the world.

And in many Asian countries, including China, the cute, demure, shy, young schoolgirly sort of look is widely considered to be attractive and appealing – even by adults.

I can buy the idea that as Sang Zhi grew a little older, she became more self-conscious about wanting to appear more feminine and attractive – and as a result, she’s abandoned the outspoken version of herself, in favor of a more bashful, dainty, ladylike sort of personality.

Additionally, there’s the thing where Sang Zhi’s the baby of the family.

Being the youngest, it’s quite natural that everyone in the family would baby her – and that she would lean into that.

I am convinced that if Sang Zhi were the older sibling instead of Sang Yan, that she would pitch herself quite differently, in general.

I feel that even with adults, you can sometimes kind of tell whether they’re the oldest, youngest, or middle child, based on their personalities.

Which is basically my way of saying that Sang Zhi’s baby-ish ways at age 17, is something that I can buy as being quite natural, especially if you buy the idea that she’s become more conscious about being a particular brand of ladylike, as she’s gotten a bit older.



Show’s ability to bring out relatable feels

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, I do think that, beyond the Pretty of Show’s polish, Show’s greatest strength, is its ability to serve up feels that feel real and relatable.

Whether it’s the early stages of a burgeoning crush, the burning curiosity that one might feel for the other person, or the courtship phase of a relationship, Show brings it all to life in a very palpable, relatable, accurate sort of way.

Feeling the feels along with our characters, was totally THE highlight of my watch.

And, particularly when we get to the stage when there are basically burgeoning feelings eeeverywhere, this translated into cracky, delicious fun. 🥰


E1-2. The way Sang Zhi steals glances at Jiaxu; the way she treasures every little thing that she’s received from him, whether it’s a bottle of milk, or a plushie; the way she perks up at the mention of his name; the way she tries to take every opportunity to be in his orbit – and then tries to pretend to be cool about it all.

It all feels so, so relatable, you guys.

I feel like most of us would be able to relate to that kind of thing; I know I’ve felt that way before, and watching all this unfold on my screen through Sang Zhi’s experience, is sweetly nostalgic in a really good way. 🥰

E5-6. I was so tense through that whole beat where Sang Zhi’s trying to secretly take a photo of Jiaxu, not gonna lie.

I mean, I get that she would like a picture of him, but mannn, it felt like she might be discovered at any moment, and I was just bracing for impact, the whole time. 😅

And the thing is, she is discovered, but our Sang Zhi’s pretty quick to come up with a reasonably believable cover story, that her classmate asked to see a photo of her handsome brother, so she needed a decent picture of someone who’s actually handsome, hahaha.

I so identify with Sang Zhi, though, at being so secretly thrilled at finally getting a picture of Jiaxu, as well as finding out the characters that make up his name.

It’s so relatable, because when you’re crushing on someone, the tiniest little things that make you feel a little closer to that person, or make you feel like you know that person a little better, feel so precious.


The way Show pitches itself

I think one of the things that sets this show apart, is how it seems to sit squarely between the genres of slice-of-life romance and swoony romance.

To my eyes, it feels like Show manages to mix the best of both genres, so that we get a somewhat slice-of-life story that still manages to serve up more swoony romance than is typical, for slice-of-life.

What this means, to me, is that Show manages to remain fairly low-key, in the sense that it doesn’t introduce any large conflicts in order to create narrative tension, and yet, it doesn’t seem to sag or drag, for want of narrative tension.

Instead, Show is pretty skillful in teasing out tension from situations that feel organic to our characters, and as a result, I found that even after the OTP relationship was minted (which is a stretch where many dramas struggle to keep audience interest), I still felt very much interested and engaged with our OTP, even after they officially start dating.

In fact, I found it all very cutely engaging, even. Very nice. ❤️

Show’s treatment of the timeline [HIGH LEVEL SPOILER]

Because Show’s focus is the OTP connection, I’d had it in my head, that they would somehow be in each other’s orbits, all the way through.

But that’s not quite the case, I found.

Instead, Show uses a pretty light touch in our early episodes, in allowing our OTP’s paths to cross in a meaningful way, but then allowing stretches of time to pass, where they are apart.

This means that we speed through the early years, and Jiaxu’s not actually a constant fixture in Sang Zhi’s life.

It makes sense to me on a macro sort of level, because if he’s always around her, and looking at her like she’s a little sister, I think it would be that much harder and weirder, for Show to sell us an actual romance, later on.

This way, there’s time for Sang Zhi to grow up out of his sight, and that does make the eventual romance feel easier to digest.

Also, the highlight reel approach to the early years feels efficient. It feels like we get just the most important points, without having to wade through lots of screen time of them being apart.

I thought this worked nicely.

Some fun punny puns

Occasionally, Show serves up a pun or two, and I found these not just fun, but well woven into the fabric of our story.

Here’s an example from episode 9, which I was particularly taken with.


E9. I wanted to talk a little bit about the text that Sang Zhi sends Jiaxu, asking when he’ll be free, so that she can treat him to a meal, like Sang Yan urges her to do, in his voice message.

This isn’t reflected in the subs, coz it’s not something that’s easily translated, but basically, there are two main forms of “you” in Chinese, with one being more respectful than the other.

What Sang Zhi does, is type out the text with the regular “you,” and then, on second thought, swop out all the “you’s” in her text, for the formal “you.”

This means that instead of writing “你,” she writes “您.”

I’m pointing this out for two reasons:

1, this shows that Sang Zhi’s making a conscious effort to be respectful towards Jiaxu, ie, treat him more as an elder, than as a friend, ie, draw the line more clearly, about them being of different “generations,” and

2, Jiaxu makes a pun later, when he calls her. He teases her about her phone needing repair, because it’s unable to produce the word “你,” and then he asks if the meaning behind her using the word “您,” is because she wants to tell him that he has a place in her heart.

Literally, he says, “The meaning of this “您,” is it “the you upon (my) heart”?” – and this is the pun, because the way “您” is written, is by putting a “you” upon a “heart.”

你 = you

心 = heart

Therefore, he’s literally saying that the meaning of her use of “您” is “the you upon (my) heart.”

I just thought you guys would find that a fun little pun to know about. 😁


Angst &/or conflict never gets dragged out for very long

One of the things I enjoyed about this show, is how angst is never dragged out for very long.

This remains true, even in the penultimate stretch, where most dramas infamously inject angst in order to give us more reason to care, as we enter the finale stretch.

That’s not quite how this show rolls, even in the penultimate stretch, and I like that.


E19-20. This set of episodes is also when Sang Yan (Victor Ma) finally finds out about the relationship between Jiaxu and Sang Zhi, and it’s not pretty – at least for a while.

It’s perfectly understandable, I think, because Sang Yan’s in older brother mode, and therefore is extra protective of Sang Zhi.

I’m relieved though, that he doesn’t hit Jiaxu more than he does, and that their friendship doesn’t actually waver, through this.

It feels important, that Jiaxu assures Sang Yan that he’s serious about Sang Zhi, and even though Sang Yan’s still grumpy and glowery, it’s significant, that he follows Jiaxu back home, and stays the night.

I mean, to me, this shows that their friendship was never in question, because Sang Yan’s willing to go to Jiaxu’s home to stay the night, even when he’s angry.

It’s actually quite endearing, how everything gets smoothed over fairly soon, with Sang Zhi also taking a turn at being angry with Sang Yan, for hitting Jiaxu – but then getting mollified by how Jiaxu’s also apparently hit Sang Yan, in return. 😁

It’s cute that by the end of the meal, Sang Zhi’s blatantly flaunting the sweet lovey-dovey-ness of her romance, in Sang Yan’s face, heh. That’s when you know the storm is well and truly over, and it’s all water under the bridge. 😁



Show’s use of drama coincidences

Given the kind of fluffy rom-com Show is, I’m not at all surprised by this, but just wanted to put it here for the record: Show does use a good amount of drama coincidence in order to drive out story forward.

I’m not too fussed by it, since I understand that this is all about the OTP after all – which is why this is in this section.

Here are just a couple of examples of drama coincidences, that we see in Show.


E1-4. Jiaxu being Sang Zhi’s physics tutor, and also, Jiaxu working at the very cafe where Sang Zhi goes with her friend, to eat desserts.

E19-20. Sang Zhi’s internship boss being Jiang Ying’s friend from the restaurant, when Jiang Ying had thrown water at Jiaxu.


Show’s use of plot catalysts, sometimes

Show isn’t shy about using characters as plot catalysts, and Qian Fei (Hu Yu Xuan) is tapped on quite a bit, in this regard.

Here’s an example from E13-14, to show what I mean.


E13-14. Qian Fei becomes our plot catalyst, with the way he tells Jiaxu that “that guy” that Jiaxu’s describing, sounds just like him, and that he’d once made up a girl based on the girl he’d liked, when she’d asked him what kind of girl he would like to date.

Sure, it’s a stretch, but whatever, we are in a manhua-esque breezy rom-com world, and without someone like Qian Fei spelling it out for Jiaxu, Jiaxu’s unlikely to ever consider the possibility of Sang Zhi liking him, so fine, I’ll roll with it. 😅


Show’s odd choices, sometimes

Occasionally, Show makes some narrative choices which I found rather odd.

Here’s a key example, from episode 14.


E14. Even though I get the thought behind the gesture, I felt it was decidedly weird, that he would invited Sang Zhi out for lunch, and then take her to meet his boss Si Yun (Wang Yang).

Like, who does that, on what is supposed to be date? 😳

We see in flashback that Jiaxu had asked Si Yun to very naturally somehow weave it into the conversation, that she and Jiaxu are absolutely not dating, and that she is, in fact, married, and like I said, I get the idea behind it, but it’s honestly such a weird thing to do.

..As is the way he brings his whole team to the table, so that he can introduce Sang Zhi as his “friend” instead of his “sister,” liked he’d used to do.

The awkwardness of this whole situation made me cringe with embarrassment, honestly. 😅 The only saving grace here, is that Jiaxu whisks Sang Zhi away, instead of having her eat with a bunch of strangers whom she’s meeting for the first time – on their date.


Stretches in logic, sometimes

Sometimes, stuff doesn’t actually add up, logically, in our story – which is why that manhwa lens is important and useful. 😁

Here’s a key example from episode 15, where I felt Show was really stretching logic.


E15-16. The surprise that Jiaxu’s got prepared for Sang Zhi on the rooftop of his apartment building is sweet in concept, but the practical part of my brain protests that surely he hadn’t had everything sitting out there in the open for all the hours that they’d been in the city watching the movie?

Definitely some suspension of disbelief required here. 😅



Zhao Lu Si as Sang Zhi

I really enjoyed Zhao Lu Si as Sang Zhi.

I know that some viewers struggled with the “baby” tones of her voice in this, but like I explained earlier, I found myself ok with this.

Overall, I thought Zhao Lu Si did a really nice job giving us different shades of Sang Zhi, as Sang Zhi grows into adulthood on our screens.

I also like that Show allows Sang Zhi to become a more grounded, mature version of herself over time, such that it feels like the OTP connection becomes more of a bond between equals, rather than that between an older person and a younger person.

Additionally, shout-out to Zhao Lu Si’s comedic chops; her comic timing is excellent, and I found myself giggling a lot, when she’s called upon to deliver some of the funnier scenes.

On a very shallow note, I was mesmerized by Sang Zhi’s hair almost the whole duration of my watch. So gorgeous. 😍


E7-8. Sang Zhi, in her senior year in high school, is working hard to achieve her dream, which is to go to Yihe University – clearly, in order to be near Jiaxu.

I’m actually quite amused and also, impressed, that Sang Zhi’s so focused and so committed to her plan to be near Jiaxu. Our girl really is giving it her all, isn’t she?

In fact, I’m getting the idea that Sang Zhi’s pretty much an all or nothing sort of person, as we see in the next arc – where she hears from Sang Yan, that Jiaxu might have a girlfriend now.

My goodness, I was quite stunned actually, at how Sang Zhi literally ups and flies to Yihe, in order to verify this for herself.

That is ballsy, but also kinda reckless, because as a high school student without a lot of money, and no real idea of what it’s like in Yihe, she really is quite vulnerable.

I suppose this is bravery that is powered just as much by her determination (desperation?) to verify the truth, as it is by lack of awareness of just how dangerous it is, for her to just sneak to Yihe on her own like that.

I’m sure Sang Zhi had an idea, though, that when Sang Yan or her parents discover that she’s gone to Yihe, the first person they’d call, would be Jiaxu – after which, Jiaxu would come for her, and she’d be in good hands.

That said, I’m not sure how much Sang Zhi actually thought this through; I think she just wanted to see Jiaxu and hoped that he would refute the idea that he had a girlfriend.

E11-12. It’s nice to see Sang Zhi take the advice that Jiaxu had once given her, to be nice to someone who likes you, even if you don’t like them back.

I feel oddly proud of her, for letting Jiang Ming down nicely, because she remembered what Jiaxu had said, and acted on it.

E13-14. I have to say, Sang Zhi does have a point, when she explains to Ning Wei (Smile Wei), that because she’s liked Jiaxu for so long, she has a tendency of reading too much into his actions.

I do appreciate that level of self-awareness, which is why she’s not jumping to the conclusion that Jiaxu likes her, despite him coming on pretty strong and dropping quite a few hints, lately.

E19-20. Xiaoyu does mention Sang Zhi to Jiang Ying (Xu Shi Xin), and Jiang Ying does show up a that karaoke place where the team’s gathered, but it actually goes way better than I’d expected.

I’d kinda of expected Jiang Ying to get violent in some way, since she’s shown signs of being quite obsessive and unstable, and instead, all she does is talk (albeit quite insistently) with Sang Zhi.

Importantly, I like the way Sang Zhi handles the situation.

I’d imagined that Jiaxu would show up to defuse the situation and defend Sang Zhi against Jiang Ying’s attacks, but again, this was mostly a product of my overactive imagination from watching too many dramas, and in the end, I really like that Sang Zhi didn’t need saving at all.

Instead, she speaks calmly and firmly with Jiang Ying, and tells her, that regardless of everything, that doesn’t give her a reason to torment Jiaxu, because he is as much of a victim as she is.

Augh. Such steadiness and wisdom, from our Sang Zhi. Very, very nice.


Chen Zhe Yuan as Jiaxu

To be brutally honest, I hadn’t taken to Chen Zhe Yuan all that much, when I first watched him in Mr. Bad (review here).

I just didn’t find him all that appealing, and I do think that that had a fair bit to do with how his character in that show was written.

I’m happy to report that I had no similar issues with him here. In fact, I really enjoyed him as Jiaxu, and found him appropriately appealing, sweet &/or swoony, as the situation called for it.

It’s true that Jiaxu sometimes comes across as a character that’s too good to be true, but again, a manhua lens helps nicely with that.

Additionally, I appreciate that Show peels back his layers to reveal that he does have his own struggles too. And, I appreciate that part of his growth arc, is learning how to allow someone in, to co-bear his burdens with him.

I also wanted to add, I really loved Chen Zhe Yuan’s interpretations of many scenes, where he adds a sheen of tears to Jiaxu’s eyes, which adds a good amount of emotional heft and poignancy to the scenes. Love. 🥲


E11-12. It’s such an unfortunate situation, where Jiaxu’s father had run over Jiang Ying’s father, and her father had ended up dying as a result of the accident.

And how unfortunate, that Jiaxu’s mother, distraught over the incident, had promised that she and Jiaxu would take responsibility for Jiang Ying, like, forever. Eep. 😬

Poor Jiaxu. He’d had no say in this, and his mother just promised his life away, pretty much, for the mistake of his father?

That is grossly unfair, and Jiaxu’s suffered such a lonely, guilt-ridden, arduous sort of life, up to this point, in order to pay off his father’s debts.

I’m glad that he’s got Sang Zhi on his side now, telling him that he’s not at fault.

E13-14. Even though I have so many mixed feelings about Jiaxu testing Sang Zhi like he’s been doing, I very, very much appreciate what he tells Qian Fei over the phone, that he’s determined to pretend that he doesn’t know that the girl he likes, likes him, and that he must court her, even though he already knows that she likes him.

Aw. That is sweet, and gallant, and I do like that. 🥰


Jiaxu and Sang Zhi

I feel like our leads are well-matched and share good chemistry that feels natural and sparky.

Perhaps more important than that, is the fact that I really, really enjoyed this OTP relationship and Show’s treatment of it.

I think that with the premise being that Sang Zhi started nursing a crush on Jiaxu when she’d been 14, it’s a little tricky for Show to get us on board with this platonic bond turning into a romantic one.

Overall, I think Show does a really nice job of it, and I didn’t actually find it weird or cringey, as Show did its thing, and worked to evolve this relationship into the OTP that it sets out to establish.

And, since Show is allll about the OTP, it should come as no surprise, that this section is literally the longest one in this review.

Are you ready? Coz here are my sprawling thoughts on this OTP relationship, over the course of my watch. 😁


E5-6. I’m sure nobody is surprised that Jiaxu turns out to be the physics tutor that Mom (Zeng Li) has engaged for Sang Zhi. It’s par for the course, for a rom-com like this, yes?

I did feel some secondhand embarrassment though, when Sang Zhi lies down on the couch and muses to Sang Yan (who’s actually Jiaxu, busying himself in the kitchen), that this tutor isn’t very professional, seeing as how he’s late and everything, and could she please not have a physics tutor till after the new year holidays – only to be startled into  mortification when Sang Yan shows up and she realizes that, 1, she’s been talking to Jiaxu all along, and 2, Jiaxu is that very physics tutor that she’d been dissing. Oops. 😅

How like Jiaxu, though, to take it all in pleasant stride, AND serve Sang Zhi the instant noodles in exactly the way she’d specified, while rambling about him not being a responsible tutor and trying to wriggle out of lessons.

Jiaxu’s so pleasant in general, and so patient with Sang Zhi, that I completely understand why she would nurse a crush on him – and for such extended period of time too. He is quite special, after all.

E5-6. I absolutely find nothing weird or untoward about the way Jiaxu treats Sang Zhi.

It’s pretty clear to me, that he really does treat Sang Zhi as a little sister and a student for whom he’s responsible, and doesn’t have any other intention than to be a good big brother and a good teacher who will help her improve her grades.

I do enjoy the vibe that we’re getting between Sang Zhi and Jiaxu, as they start to talk more with each other.

It’s different from the way Sang Zhi talks with Sang Yan, because there isn’t a chunk of sibling rivalry in the way; she can talk honestly with Jiaxu about what she thinks about things, and he listens with a pleasant sort of interest.

Like how she remarks that he must’ve been rebellious at her age, because he plays computer games, and Jiaxu good-humoredly corrects her misconception, that all kids who play computer games are rebellious, and even shares how he’d first decided to make it his dream, to create great computer games, to bring happiness and comfort to others.

And, it feels like such an apt mentor-ly thing to do, to remind Sang Zhi to work hard to find her own dream as well.

It’s through little conversations like this, that I can feel their connection growing closer, and it feels organic, and appropriate for what they are to each other, at this point in time.

I find it interesting that Jiaxu seems to have no concept that there’s even a possibility that Sang Zhi might like him.

Like, with the photo thing, he seems to 100% believe that she need the photo for her classmate, so that she can show her classmate a handsome brother.

And then, at the museum, when Sang Zhi blurts out that request, asking him not to have a relationship, he doesn’t even seem to consider that the reason Sang Zhi is saying this, is because she likes him.

Instead, he accepts fully, her explanation, that she wants him to focus on his dream, instead of delaying his dream by being in a relationship.

Jiaxu’s very pure and innocent that way, isn’t he?

But also, I do think that that’s just how he sees Sang Zhi, as a younger sister who has a tendency to do and say rather random things. He just takes it all in stride, as part of her particular brand of weirdness, which is quite endearing, really.

And then, when she asks if he wouldn’t be so nice to her, if he had a girlfriend, Jiaxu again accepts her words at face value, and promises to find a girlfriend who would be nice to her, so that she gains an extra person being nice to her, instead of losing one.

It’s all pretty cute, but I’m pretty certain that when it comes to the promise that Jiaxu agrees to make, that he’d let Sang Zhi know first, if he were to have a girlfriend, Sang Zhi takes it a lot more seriously than Jiaxu.

I guess it’s probably a feature of Sang Zhi’s youth; I am kinda gobsmacked at how she comes up with this big honker of a lie, that she has an online boyfriend, all in order to prevent Jiaxu from getting the “wrong” idea that she might like him – on the off chance that he’s taken a peek at her sketchbook, before returning it to her through Sang Yan.

I hafta give it to Sang Zhi; she’s dedicated, when she puts her mind to something? 😅

It’s really pretty funny, that Sang Zhi’s basically modeled her online boyfriend after Jiaxu, saying that he’s finishing up university, and is in his twenties, and is from Yihe – and here Jiaxu is, getting all concerned and worried, that this old boyfriend of Sang Zhi’s, is taking advantage of her. If only he knew. 😁

I do have to give it to Jiaxu; he takes his job as Sang Zhi’s tutor seriously – but he’s also quick to let go, when he sees that she’s improved enough, and is able to manage on her own.

Even though he’s in need of extra money, he doesn’t try to stretch out this tutoring gig, because he genuinely feels that Sang Zhi doesn’t need the extra help anymore.

And yet, here he is, offering to help her virtually, if she comes across a problem she can’t solve, and he even promises to reward Sang Zhi, when she achieves new highs in her exams.

Aw. He really is like a nice, helpful and caring big brother, isn’t he? At least, I’m sure that that’s how he sees it, even if Sang Zhi wishes it were something else.

E5-6. We get to Jiaxu’s graduation, and the lead-up to it, where Jiaxu regularly sends Sang Zhi little gifts, for doing well in her tests and exams, and it’s all very wholesome and sweet.

I like that the gifts make her giggle, like the dog plushie that looks like Sang Yan, and that they occasionally talk on the phone, like when she calls him to thank him for the plushie, and ask for his address, so that she can send him something in return.

But, just like any responsible older brother, Jiaxu smilingly declines, because he doesn’t want her to spend her limited allowance on him.

Also, it’s such a typical “adult-child” thing to do, for Jiaxu to act all cheery towards Sang Zhi, when he actually has what looks to be pretty serious financial worries.

E5-6. Sang Zhi does get a chance to see Jiaxu, at his graduation, and it’s relatable and sweet, how Sang Zhi looks forward to it so much, and then makes sure to bring flowers and a gift, for Jiaxu, when the day rolls around.

And, it really seems to me that it somehow gives Jiaxu a bit of comfort, to maintain this teacher-student bond with Sang Zhi.

Like, when she asks, all worried, about whether it would be hard to see him again after graduation, the way it will be hard for him to see his college friends again, he assures her that he will come see her, whenever he has some free time.

I think I detect a sheen of tears in his eyes, as he makes that promise, to call her beforehand.

I’m guessing that this is a moment that is both happy and poignant for him; happy because being in this good big brother sort of space seems to offer him a bit of an escape from the life that he’s leading now in Yihe, and poignant because things would have been very different, if he hadn’t had to go back to Yihe.

It’s a similar vibe that I get from him, when all his classmates are in a celebratory mood, and he seems to just be going along and smiling on the surface, while feeling somber on in the inside.

I think it’s really nice of Jiaxu to initiate that picture, with Sang Zhi, because it shows that even though he does think of her as a bit of a little kid, he does also treasure their connection.

E5-6. I’m glad that we get to see that the red packet that Sang Zhi had hidden in his pocket, had actually brought him a moment of comfort, during that dark night when he’d had to rush back to Yihe, and his whole life as he imagined it, changed.

I feel like this is the first moment that we’ve seen, where Sang Zhi’s presence has been a help and comfort to Jiaxu’s life, and my gut says that this feels important, because this means that the care and help is flowing both ways, and not just from Jiaxu to Sang Zhi.

E7-8. I realize on hindsight, that there is one main narrative purpose for Jiaxu to stay the night, at Sang Yan’s and Sang Zhi’s home, and that is, so that he can be in an emotionally vulnerable enough space, to at least hint to Sang Zhi, that he’s in debt.

I find this moment significant too, because I feel like this is the first time Jiaxu’s letting down his “adult persona” guard, in front of Sang Zhi.

And, it’s also significant that he’s the only one he tells his secret to; this is something even Sang Yan doesn’t know about.

And so, even though Jiaxu talks in vague terms, I feel like it’s still a pretty important milestone.

Sang Zhi’s immediate response, to ask him not to worry, and that once she grows up and gets a job, she’ll help him to repay the debt, is so innocent and pure.

And of course, this is Jiaxu’s cue to put back his “adult persona” and assure Sang Zhi that he doesn’t have any debt, and that when she starts making money, she should spend the money on pretty dresses for herself.

Aw. But it does look like Jiaxu is touched by Sang Zhi’s earnest loyalty, and that’s good, especially since he looks to be at a pretty low point in his life.

E7-8. When Jiaxu appears at the airport, it does look like he has a girlfriend, although Show doesn’t actually confirm it.

My heart does go out to Sang Zhi, though, when she buckles and cries her heart out, the moment she’s out of Jiaxu’s line of sight.

Our girl might possibly be mistaken, but her heartbreak is very real, and it feels like she sobs a river, before she goes back to where Jiaxu is waiting for her.

Through it all, I appreciate that the way Jiaxu talks with Sang Zhi, is clearly out of genuine concern for her.

Whether he’s asking questions about her “online boyfriend” or asking if he’d been too harsh on her, it’s obvious to me that it comes from a place of sincere care; he really doesn’t want Sang Zhi to get hurt, and I find his presence protective and assuring.

It didn’t become clear to me until afterwards, but Sang Zhi’s goodbye to Jiaxu, when she gives him the bear plushie that he’d won for her, and wishes him happiness everyday, is her way of gaining closure for her crush on Jiaxu.

This was her way of putting down her feelings for him, and moving on, and Jiaxu doesn’t even realize it.

This is why, when she gets home, she puts away everything that she’d ever received from him, and this is also why she proceeds to not reply to any of his texts.

E7-8. When she’s a freshman in university, they cross paths again, at that karaoke place where Sang Zhi’s friend is celebrating her birthday.

Notably, Sang Zhi is still self-conscious around Jiaxu, and Jiaxu still sees and treats Sang Zhi like a little sister who needs guidance and protection.

Like the way he immediately picks up that packet of cigarettes that falls out of her sweater pocket, and confiscates it, even though she says that it belongs to her friend, and that she doesn’t smoke.

On paper, that does sound controlling, but I can see where he’s coming from, since it’s quite common for young people to dabble in vices, and then lie to cover it up, when confronted about it.

Importantly, by this point in our story, I have no doubt that Jiaxu really does have Sang Zhi’s best interests at heart, and isn’t actually a controlling jerk who gets satisfaction from poking his nose into business that isn’t his.

I’m glad that Jiaxu manages to give Sang Zhi a ride back to campus, and have that talk with her on the way.

I like that Jiaxu basically steps back from the nitty-gritty, and asks Sang Zhi why she seems to be unhappy with him.

This gives Sang Zhi an opening to make it clear that she doesn’t like it when Jiaxu calls her “kiddo,” and I do think that this is important to her.

For context, the phrase used in Chinese is 小朋友 (“xiǎopéngyǒu”) which literally translates as “little friend” and is a term that is specifically used to refer to young children, versus “kiddo” in English, which can be used affectionately on anyone younger than oneself, even if that someone else is an adult.

And, I’m glad that Sang Zhi gets to hear from Jiaxu, that he’s all alone in Yihe, and he’d been happy to hear from Sang Yan, that she was coming to Yihe University.

I’m inferring this to mean that, 1, he doesn’t have family with him, and 2, he doesn’t have a girlfriend now, whether or not the girl at the airport had ever been his girlfriend.

The implications aren’t lost on Sang Zhi, and you can totally see that she’s reconsidering everything she’s thought and felt towards Jiaxu, since the time she’d said her goodbye to him.

E9-10. This set of episodes, is when we do start to see Jiaxu developing some more overt types of feelings for Sang Zhi, and even before he articulates it, we can see him being hyper-aware of Sang Zhi.

While I do find it an interesting theory that some viewers have, that Jiaxu’s had feelings for Sang Zhi for much longer than Show is overtly letting on, I’m sticking to the idea that Jiaxu really has looked upon Sang Zhi as a little sister, for whom he has a big soft spot.

(To me, if he had been cognizant of it, and had been deliberately stopping himself from acting on those feelings, then he wouldn’t have continued to send her gifts in the years that they were apart.

He just strikes me as that kind of character. He would have drawn the line that strongly, if that had been the case.

Which is why I’m going with the thought, that if his feelings for Sang Zhi had been evolving, he had not been aware of them – which means that his feelings were hidden from him.

And to me, THAT’s the second meaning of “hidden love.”)

Now that she’s back in his life again, and all grown up, his feelings towards her are evolving, and what we are seeing, is him responding to the evolution, and trying to figure out what to do with these feelings, if anything at all.

E9-10. For the record, I don’t see the whole pun about “the you upon my heart” as Jiaxu flirting with Sang Zhi; to me, it feels like he’s teasing her for being overly formal with him, when they’ve always been much more casual and friendly with each other.

To my eyes, in this scene, it’s Sang Zhi’s who hyper-aware of Jiaxu, and not the other way around.

The reason I think this, is because of the way Sang Zhi hurriedly hangs up, when she explains why she’d ignored his texts (because she had been living on campus, and hadn’t had her phone with her), and he replies that he already knows, because Sang Yan had told him.

He’s just a little bemused and amused, but you can see that Sang Zhi’s pretty flustered.

I do think that this tells us that even though she’d made the decision to put down her feelings for Jiaxu and move on, her heart still remembers those feelings all too clearly, particularly now that he’s in her orbit again.

Overall, I’d say that Sang Zhi’s a lot more aware of Jiaxu than she is of Jiang Ming, the boy in school who’s clearly nursing some special feelings for her.

I mean, he even asks her to the movie premiere in front of all her friends, excluding her friends from the invitation, and our Sang Zhi doesn’t seem to clue in at all, that Jiang Ming has a special regard for her.

I suppose she’s too distracted by the fact that Jiaxu’s now back in her world? 😁

All of that hesitation and caution gets thrown out the window, when Sang Zhi realizes that Jiaxu is in real pain, and in need of urgent medical attention.

It feels like a direct flip from when they’d first gotten acquainted, when it had always been Jiaxu coming to Sang Zhi’s rescue, and so I like this, because it helps to give us a sense of balance between them now.

And I think it’s a wake up call for Jiaxu as well, like, Oh, now Sang Zhi’s all grown up and able to help me now; how things have changed – that kind of thing.

I did think it was a little early in the game for Show to throw that moment of accidental skinship in there, where Sang Zhi accidentally walks right into Jiaxu’s arms, but I can also accept the idea that this accidental skinship is one of the factors feeding into Jiaxu’s fast-evolving attitude and feelings towards Sang Zhi.

And of course, it’s also a factor in Sang Zhi’s fast-reawakening – and, I would argue, also evolving – feelings for Jiaxu as well.

I do think it’s good that Sang Zhi hears from Mom, about how difficult things had been for Jiaxu, back when he’d been an 18-year-old freshman in university, having to deal with his mom’s death, on top of everything else.

From the snippet of conversation that we see in the flashback, it seems that besides paying off what his family owed Jiang Ying’s family, he’d also been working to pay back Sang Zhi’s parents, for loaning him the money for Mom’s funeral expenses.

Ack. My heart really goes out to him – and therefore, I’m not surprised that Sang Zhi’s heart also goes out to him, for all that he’s been through.

I’m not surprised that she would decide to stay with him and take care of him; after all, he really doesn’t have any family left, that could do that for him.

I do like how she points out to him, that he would have done the same for her. That’s so true, and he can’t argue with that at all. Smart girl. 😁

I see this whole hospital stint as them getting comfortable in each other’s company again, after having been out of touch for these past several years.

Besides Sang Zhi coming to see Jiaxu in a new light, based on the what she’s learned about his backstory, it’s also about Jiaxu seeing Sang Zhi in a new light, where she’s all grown up, and capable of taking care of herself – and of him.

With all that as context, we also get moments of hyperawareness, like when Sang Zhi offers to wipe Jiaxu’s face, since he’s not able to wash up on his own.

With this coming so soon after the accidental hug (and almost-kiss on the forehead), it does feel like there are many opportunities for Sang Zhi and Jiaxu to challenge their existing feelings for each other.

Like, are you sureee that you don’t feel anything for this person? How about how, when you’re within kissing distance, and practically breathing each other’s breaths? 😅

Of course, neither of our leads are jumping to act during these hyper-proximity moments, because they’ve each decided, at their own different times, that it’s best to keep their relationship platonic.

Sang Zhi made that decision to stop liking Jiaxu, back when she’d assumed that he’d gotten himself a girlfriend, and as for Jiaxu, well, I believe that he’s always thought of her as a little sister, and had assumed that he would always be her older brother, so I don’t expect that he would reconsider that stance so easily.

This tension, between what they’ve decided that they are to each other, and the hyperawareness that they’re experiencing, is pretty great, I hafta say, and I kinda hope that we won’t be rushing through this stage of their connection.

The fact that Sang Zhi goes to Jiaxu’s home to pick up his clothes feels like a touch of intimacy, because don’t you somehow feel closer to someone, when you’ve been to their home?

Of course, there’s also the thing where Sang Zhi has to go through his closet and even get underwear for him, so that’s even more personal. 😅

Aside from that, though, I just like the idea that she’s now in Jiaxu’s space, and he’s ok with that.

..And Jiaxu also seems a little self-conscious about the underwear thing, it seems, since he quietly but quite quickly pushes it out of sight, when she brings him his things. 😁

I’m rather tickled by the old uncle roommate that assumes that Jiaxu and Sang Zhi are a couple, and keeps telling them to get married and have kids. And, he won’t take no for an answer either, because he’s made up his mind about them, and he’s hard of hearing, so there’s just no other recourse but to play along with him.

At least, that’s how Jiaxu sees it, and I get why he would play along with the old uncle, since there’s no reasoning with him, but I can also see why this might be a raw nerve with Sang Zhi, who’s probably not even sure of how she feels about Jiaxu, right now, and who assumes that he will never see her as anything more than a little sister.

I can see why this would make Sang Zhi feel all out of sorts, and decide to duck out of Jiaxu’s company, as soon as she’s got him settled at home.

It’s sweet of her, though, to leave all those cute little post-its all over Jiaxu’s home, as reminders for the things that he should and shouldn’t do, post-surgery.

Aw. Our Sang Zhi’s very thoughtful, isn’t she?

And, Jiaxu, being all alone, would naturally find these traces of her presence around the house rather comforting, I do think.

E11-12. The way Sang Zhi goes to that claw machine and decides to try to get back the same plushie that Jiaxu had once gotten for her is pretty significant, I think.

After all, this is the plushie which she’d treasured – and then given back to him, when she’d decided to put away her feelings for him.

The fact that she’s now kind of reclaiming the plushie – albeit from the machine and not from Jiaxu himself – seems to indicate that she’s re-embracing her feelings for him now.

Poor Jiang Ming (Lu Dong Xu). He’s a nice guy and all, but he definitely doesn’t stand a sliver of a chance, with Sang Zhi.

I do like the detail, that Jiaxu understands Sang Zhi better than Jiang Ming does.

When it comes to the New Year countdown, Jiang Ming is all hopeful that Sang Zhi will attend the big party with them, but Jiaxu understands that Sang Zhi doesn’t like crowds and would prefer something quieter.

Ok, it is a little sneaky of him to pretend that he’s already on the way to Sang Zhi’s campus, in order to get Sang Zhi to agree to meet him for dinner, but I feel like I can give him a pass on this, because we know that his intention in asking her out to dinner, is to apologize to her.

And, in his mind, he’s probably thinking that as long as he doesn’t manage to apologize, Sang Zhi’s most likely going to keep avoiding him.

And so, tricking her into agreeing to meet him, is for a good cause, I guess you could say. 😅

I’m glad that he does get straight to the point, and apologize to Sang Zhi, for joking with her in a manner that made her uncomfortable.

This is a nice way of showing that he respects Sang Zhi as an individual, even though he still regularly uses “our little Sang Zhi” as as term of affection.

What strikes me most about this dinner, is that when Jiang Ying (Xu Shi Xin) shows up and starts attacking Jiaxu by tossing that cup of water in his face, Sang Zhi is lightning fast on her feet, to do exactly the same thing to her, in defense of Jiaxu.

And when Jiang Ying tries to argue with her, Sang Zhi’s super fast to rebut anything that Jiang Ying says.

I like that Sang Zhi’s on Jiaxu’s side, but more than that, I like how quick and unhesitating she is, to take his side and protect him from a perceived attack.

I also like that with this whole thing happening, Sang Zhi seems to throw all her earlier reservations and discomfort out the window, at least for a while, with how she dries Jiaxu’s face for him, and gets him quickly into his coat and scarf, so that he won’t catch a cold.

Jiaxu swallowing a bit nervously in response, tells me that he’s not too distracted to still be hyperaware of Sang Zhi, and it’s pretty cute.

More than that, though, Jiaxu’s wearing a stunned, thoughtful expression, which makes me feel like he might never have been defended like this before, by anyone, which makes Sang Zhi that much more special, in his eyes.

It also feels significant, when Sang Zhi tells him that since Jiang Ying is his father’s former creditor, so it has nothing to do with him, and he shouldn’t let Jiang Ying bully him.

Again, it feels like Jiaxu’s not used to having someone so unequivocally on his side, and this feels precious, for him.

It’s really sweet, that when it starts to snow, and they wish on the first snow, we hear that they each wish for the other person’s happiness.

And then, as they text each other while watching the fireworks under the same sky, it feels like they’re really becoming closer now, and no longer feeling that awkwardness from before.

It’s basically around this point, that Jiaxu starts becoming cognizant of his evolving feelings for Sang Zhi, like when his thoughts wander to Sang Zhi, when Qian Fei calls him and starts asking if there’s someone for whom he’s got positive feelings for.

He questions what he’s thinking, and seems to shut it down pretty quickly, but this is quite clearly the first time Jiaxu’s acknowledging his changing feelings for Sang Zhi.

E11-12. I like that Sang Zhi thinks to buy him that peephole camera, so that he can use it to fend off Jiang Ying, because this shows that she’s feeling comfortable around him again.

It’s just too bad that Jiang Ying’s right there at his office, when Sang Zhi comes by to give him the camera, and he’s too flustered to explain the situation to her, simply requesting that she not show up at his office or home without first giving him notice.

Dang. Of course Sang Zhi would feel like this is him drawing lines between them again, and I feel bad for how crestfallen she is, afterwards.

But, our girl perks right up, the next time Jiaxu texts her, to ask about her exams and whether she’s planning a trip home, and it’s cute how happy she looks, while reading his texts.

The whole drunken episode, where Sang Zhi gets super drunk, feels pretty pivotal to our story – or at least, that’s what my gut says.

Jiaxu’s really gentle and patient with Sang Zhi while she’s drunk, and I love his gentle tone of voice the most, in this whole thing.

He doesn’t lose his patience with Sang Zhi even once, even though she literally throws up on him.

And when Sang Zhi drunk-murmurs for him not to be fierce to her (my subs say “mean” but “fierce” is more accurate), he looks at her in such a gentle and tender manner, saying that he’s never been fierce to her.

I like this gentleness a lot. 🥰

Sang Zhi drunk-crying over her weight and her flat chest, and asking him not to be too upset about it because it’s not within their control, is hilarious and also, secondhand mortifying, because she’s going to cringe so hard, when she eventually remembers this, yes? 😅

It’s completely ironic, of course, that Sang Zhi drunkenly tells Jiaxu that she likes someone a lot, but that someone doesn’t like her back, because of course she’s talking about him, but he doesn’t know that, and starts feeling so bad for Sang Zhi, for being hurt and rejected this other guy, who’s nice to her, but also nice to everyone else. 😅

It’s even more ironic, that Jiaxu is upset enough, that he even suggests to a sleeping Sang Zhi, that he become like that guy – but only be nice to her.

This time, it’s hard not to notice that Jiaxu allows himself to go on with this train of thought for much longer, before pulling himself back – and, it’s also hard not to notice the tears in his eyes, as he pulls himself back.

I think the seeming impossibility of the situation is hitting Jiaxu, and I feel like in this moment, he finally realizes that he really does like Sang Zhi – but thinks that it will be impossible between them, because she would never like an older guy like him, especially since he’s always just been an older brother to her – or so he thinks.

E13-14. Jiaxu’s having to deal with some burgeoning discomfort and jealousy, since he believes that there’s this guy that Sang Zhi likes.

The way he asks about “that guy” while driving Sang Zhi to the airport, makes Sang Zhi so hilariously uncomfortable.

The way she tries to tamp down her nervous blinks and awkward swallows is very cute, and the way she tells Jiaxu that no, the guy she likes isn’t the delicate-looking type, but is instead, very manly (but not muscular), is quite funny, made funnier by the way Jiaxu disses “that guy” saying that he sounds like a jerk – because we know that he’s basically dissing himself, ha.

Also, Jiaxu’s starting to come on pretty strong (in my opinion anyway), with the way he’s trying to establish that there is a possibility of romance between him and Sang Zhi.

Like the way he suggests that Sang Zhi introduce a girl to him, since she asks why he doesn’t have a girlfriend, and then, when she says that she only knows people her own age, he deadpans that that that’s fine too.

Ooh. This is the first time that Sang Zhi’s hearing this hinted as a possibility from him, and that definitely gets her thinking.

I mean, for the first time, she’s considering the possibility that he might not have written her off, as a potential girlfriend. That must be quite tantalizing and discombobulating for her, because it does change everything.

Right now, Jiaxu doesn’t yet know that she has any feelings for him, so he’s clearly just testing the waters, to see how she’d react to the idea of this possibility between them, and it’s effective, I’d say.

I mean, he’s clearly on Sang Zhi’s mind more now, given the way she immediately thinks of asking Sang Yan to ask Jiaxu along on that hypothetical blind date, even though the two of them are in completely different cities.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I take it to mean that Jiaxu’s basically not far from Sang Zhi’s thoughts at all times, and also, I take it as Sang Zhi possibly also testing the waters, to hear what Sang Yan might have to say about Jiaxu and his love life.

E13-14. Since packing away those mementos had represented Sang Zhi putting away her feelings for him, her taking them out, when she’s back home again, and embracing them once more, does seem to represent her re-embracing her feelings for Jiaxu.

And then, she definitely tests the waters with Jiaxu, with the way she texts him about Sang Yan possibility dating a younger girl now, and asking what Jiaxu thinks about it.

I do like the way Jiaxu responds with that voice message, where he muses about the girl being an adult, since she’s in college – and why wouldn’t that be ok? – because of how gently wistful he comes across, as he says that.

Clearly, he’s talking more about their situation than about Sang Yan’s, and it’s actually kinda sad and wistful, because afterwards, he muses to himself that Sang Zhi would probably mind the age difference if it were her own relationship, and that she really only treats him as an older brother, after all.

How ironic, really, because Sang Zhi’s feelings are going in the exact opposite direction, even as she comes to the same conclusion about Jiaxu, that he would probably only ever see her as his friend’s baby sister.

E13-14. This possibility now planted in his mind, that he might actually be the guy that Sang Zhi likes, Jiaxu really goes all out to test the theory with Sang Zhi, and I have to admit that this was entertaining, but also somewhat secondhand mortifying to watch.

Entertaining because it does give rise to quite a bit of cute, and secondhand mortifying because putting myself in Sang Zhi’s shoes, I’d feel so embarrassed that my crush knew that I had feelings for him and was lying about it, and testing me to see how I’d react. 🙈

The way he texts Sang Zhi just to let her know that he’s arrived in Nanwu for Qian Fei’s wedding; the way he makes it a point to wear the tie that Sang Zhi had given him, to the wedding; the he keeps giving Sang Zhi knowing glances throughout the dinner; the way teases her via text about why she didn’t greet him, when she saw him.

On this point, I just wanted to mention that my subs say “Say hi” but that’s not quite what the dialogue means.

In Chinese culture (as with many other Asian cultures), it’s considered only polite, to greet your elders when you see them. So if you arrived at a table and your elders were  sitting there, you’d greet them one by one, by addressing them by their appropriate title, like, “Second Aunt,” “Second Cousin,” etc.

In this particular instance Jiaxu is asking why Sang Zhi didn’t greet him as “Jiaxu Gege” as she’s always done, so it’s a little more specific than simply “saying hi.”

And, from the fact that Sang Zhi didn’t greet Jiaxu as an elder, there could be a couple of potential interpretations that Jiaxu might have.

1, Sang Zhi is being rude, and that’s why she didn’t greet him,

2, Sang Zhi feels awkward around him, and that’s why she didn’t greet him, or

3, Sang Zhi doesn’t view him as an elder, and that’s why she didn’t greet him.

Of course, we know that the answer is #2, that Sang Zhi’s feeling awkward around Jiaxu, and it’s her hyper-awareness of him that’s at play, and Jiaxu’s teasing manner just makes me feel extra hyper-aware, on her behalf. 😅

And then, of course, there’s how he starts asking about “that guy” and how Sang Zhi had first met him, and – dang! – it’s a trappp!

SO SNEAKY, the way he says that Sang Zhi had said she’d gotten to know him at a KTV place, and not a bar, like she’d just answered.

Ackkk. I’m mortified on her behalf, but also, oooh, Jiaxu’s more or less managed to determined that “that guy” isn’t real, and therefore Qian Fei’s theory, that “that guy” is actually Jiaxu, is that much more likely to be true. 😱

And then he starts dropping these flirty lines at her, that strongly hint at special feelings, like the way he offers to drive Sang Zhi home with Sang Yan’s car, and when Sang Zhi says it’s too troublesome, he answers, “It’s no trouble – ah, it might be troublesome, if it were to send someone else.”

Ackkk. Such flirty, smooth lines, coming from Jiaxu, to Sang Zhi! I feel discombobulated on her behalf. What’s she supposed to do, especially now, when he smoothly swerves into suddenly addressing her with her pet name, “Zhizhi,” which she’d just established is only used by those who are close to her.

I know, I know, to some of you, Jiaxu’s not coming on strong at all, but I feel like he is, when I put myself in Sang Zhi’s shoes, and it’s weirding me out, not gonna lie. 😅

And then how about the way he casually asks what time flight Sang Zhi is taking back to Yihe, and then says he’s on the same flight and will pick her up in the morning so that they can go together – and then spend all night trying to secure a seat on that exact flight, coz he’d been totally bluffing about being on the same flight. Ack. 🙈

What a lie to tell; the whole time he was trying to get a seat on the flight, I was wondering what he’d do if he couldn’t get a seat, and was busted for telling that lie. 😅

Also, what about that epilogue, where we see that he’d stopped the car just to get strawberries for Sang Zhi, because he knows that Sang Zhi loves strawberries.

Such a boyfriend-y thing to do, yes?

And that’s not yet taking into account how he insists that Sang Zhi feed him, when she offers him a strawberry.

No wonder our Sang Zhi’s confused!

Ok, but I do feel like he was coming on rather too strong, with the way he insisted that she feed him. 😅 That’s why I have mixed feelings about this; I like that he’s testing the water, but when he comes on too strong – or what I feel is too strong – I feel so mortified in response. 😅

I’m also very surprised by the bracelet he gives Sang Zhi, saying that it’s a New Year gift.

As far as I know, New Year gifts are not a tradition, so he’s just made up a reason, in order to give Sang Zhi that bracelet, hasn’t he? 😁

I’m quite tickled, though, that when Sang Zhi sees that there is a secondary, less romantic meaning behind the gift of a bracelet, she immediately defaults to that – thus negating the romantic intention behind Jiaxu’s gift.

I think I’m also just relieved that his gift is no longer discombobulating her, because it feels like he’s been having too good of a time teasing her and unsettling her, of late. 😅

I felt that his breakfast thing the next morning – buying one breakfast set only, and then making like he was sooo hungry coz he hadn’t eaten – was really lame, to be honest.

But ok, I get that he’s just teasing Sang Zhi, to see how she would react.

And our Sang Zhi is a lot more accepting than I am, apparently, coz she still shares the breakfast with him, in the end.

The boyfriend instinct is coming out stronger than ever, with the way Jiaxu assures Sang Zhi that he’s absolutely not dating Jiang Ying, when that acquaintance they run into, makes the assumption.

There’s something about Jiaxu’s manner, with his gentle tone of voice, and the way he leans in closer to Sang Zhi, so that only she can hear his voice, that screams boyfriend instinct, isn’t there?

Also, he makes reference to the promise he’d once made her, to show her his girlfriend first, if he were to have one, and he does that in the same gentle, tender kind of manner, and I’m pretty sure Sang Zhi’s got to be feeling the boyfriend vibes from him, by now.

I do feel very secondhand mortified, though, when Jiaxu gets all amused at the fact that Sang Zhi had thought that the lady who’d come with him to the airport that other time, had been his girlfriend.

Ack. He looks sooo amused, and also, pleased as punch, and I want to bury my head in the sand. 😅😅

E13-14. Even though I think it’s weird of Jiaxu to take Sang Zhi to meet Si Yun, I have to concede that he is decidedly quite smoldery, when he tells Sang Zhi that he just didn’t want her to misunderstand – because it would’ve been troublesome later.

Ooh. That’s a very strong indication of his feelings, I do think.

It’s too bad that Sang Zhi gets that allergic reaction to the milk in her drink, and that’s why they can’t see the movie that they got tickets for, but, doesn’t Sang Zhi look ridiculously cute with that sweater tied around her head?

And doesn’t looks every bit like a concerned boyfriend, with the way he makes sure that she takes her anti-allergy medication?

E15-16. The boyfriend vibe is out in full display, as Jiaxu fusses over Sang Zhi getting an allergic reaction from milk, and it culminates in a – gasp – double wrist grab, ha.

I do like how Show turns it on its head, by having Sang Zhi giggle that she feels like he’s walking a dog. Pfft. Ok, I’d actually much rather this, than have her swoon at being dragged around by her wrists. 😁

Importantly, things are a-shifting, between them, like when Sang Zhi asks him why he’d referred to her as his friend instead of his sister, and he just looks at her, and asks meaningfully, “Did you really take me to be your brother?”

E15-16. Isn’t Sang Zhi quite adorable, with the way she smiles happily, that she’ll wait for Jiaxu to pursue her – but if he doesn’t, she’ll pursue him. Hahaha, that’s totally against the advice that Ning Wei tries to impress on her, that it’s far better to be the one being pursued, in a relationship.

I kinda like that Sang Zhi doesn’t seem to care about these types of things.

But – smart girl – she makes it a point to tell Jiaxu that she’s stopped contacting “that guy” and that there’s currently no one that she likes, the next time he brings up her crush.

Well, that’s not the truth, but it does clear the way for her to accept his affections, yes? Which is an excellent trajectory. 😁

..And then we have hyper-proximity on the bus, while they’re on the way to the big city to watch the movie that they’d missed, when Sang Zhi had had her allergic reaction.

It’s tropey, but I still feel the feels, when Jiaxu takes Sang Zhi’s hand and tells her to hold on to him, for safety. Eee! A very couple-like moment indeed. No wonder Sang Zhi’s leaking a smile. 😁

And then there’s the whole thing at the theater, when Jiaxu offers to hold Sang Zhi’s cold beverage for her, and then remarks that his hands are cold, and could she warm them up.

When Sang Zhi responds that it would be inappropriate for them to do that, my subs say that Jiaxu’s reply is that, yes, it would be inappropriate, because they haven’t put a label on it.

That’s.. not quite what the dialogue says.

He uses the phrase “名分” (“míng fèn) which is a phrase that implies legitimacy. Like, if you have “名分” then you have legitimacy. “名分” is often used in reference to marriage, but in this case, Jiaxu’s using it to refer to him and Sang Zhi not having boyfriend-girlfriend status.

And, for the record, “名分” does have a positive connotation, ie, it’s referred to something desirable. Which indicates that Jiaxu views them being in a legitimate relationship as something desirable.

I hope that helps? Because I feel like the original dialogue has more layers than the subs suggest, in this case.

And, I would venture to say that this is why Sang Zhi looks like she’s lost in thought for a bit, after he says this.

On another note, I’m glad that Jiaxu gets the chance to clear up the misunderstanding from before, when Sang Zhi had thought that he simply didn’t want her to come over to his home or his office, because he was drawing lines with her.

Aw. The tamped down smiles on both sides are heartwarming to see, as Jiaxu apologizes, and Sang Zhi glows from the realization that it had all been a misunderstanding.

E15-16. Jiaxu’s efforts for Sang Zhi’s birthday celebration are all really very sweet, especially when we see that he’d gone to the trouble of learning how to make her a birthday “cake” that didn’t contain milk.

More importantly, this is the scene where Jiaxu asks her permission to pursue her, and, Ahhhh!! That is so great.

I LOVE that he’s asking permission to do so, even though he technically doesn’t need permission, as Sang Zhi points out.

It just feels extra attentive and respectful, that he does ask for her permission, and I love that when she hesitates, he tells her that he doesn’t want to be her elder brother; he wants to be her boyfriend.

Ahhh!!! No more beating around the bush and talking in code and testing the waters – he’s laying it all out now, and I LOVE IT. ❤️

I like how he’s leaning into the potential awkwardness of the moment, and being serious and gentle, and unflinching. 🫠

And, it’s really so vulnerable of him, I feel, to ask her to say something, because he can barely breathe, waiting for her to answer. Love that.

It’s all very sweet and cute, how they banter back and forth after that, about whether he should pursue her for a long time, and whether she has similar feelings for him.. I just like this space, where at least his feelings are out in the open now, and they’re both acknowledging that, but aren’t actually dating yet.

This particular portion of a relationship somehow appeals to me a lot, like it’s extra precious because the feelings are out there, and are just, well, there, without them actually dating because of the feelings.

..It’s just too bad that Jiaxu gets all kinds of busy after this point, and keeps having to postpone their first date, aw.

At first, it’s work emergencies, but when the project’s finally done, the emergency has to do with Jiaxu’s dad, who’s still comatose in the hospital, and I’m just rather disappointed that Jiaxu doesn’t tell Sang Zhi about this.

I mean, if he hopes to be her boyfriend, then this burden is something that she will eventually share with him, right?

I’m glad that he does go to see Sang Zhi afterwards, even though it’s late, and it’s super cute how the roommates bundle Sang Zhi into a presentable state in 5 seconds flat and shoo her out the door, so that she can go see Jiaxu. 😁

And, I’m pleased that Sang Zhi picks up so quickly, on the fact that Jiaxu is unhappy.

When she says that, there are tears in Jiaxu’s eyes, and I kinda think that those tears are because he feels so seen, by Sang Zhi. 🥲

It’s cute how she makes him that cotton candy to cheer him up, and they have some very couple-like moments sharing said cotton candy.

Maybe that’s why Jiaxu moves to say that he gets that she’s saying yes to being his girlfriend, and I like that Sang Zhi flatly puts her foot down, saying that he’s never going to win her over like this. 😁

..Which is why we have Jiaxu promising to do a better job of pursuing her – and that’s how we have him showing up at the lecture that Sang Zhi’s attending at school the next day, and sitting next to her, all pretending that he just happened to be there, heh.

It’s all very gently flirty, and I kinda dig it, no lie.

E17-18. It amuses me that Jiaxu has a way of discombobulating Sang Zhi, without seeming to have to try very hard.

He mostly always seems rather amused by her, and the way he teases with her all flirtatious and twinkly-eyed, almost always gets that discombobulated reaction out of her.

To my eyes, Jiaxu looks like he’s enjoying himself immensely, in this stage where he’s officially gotten permission to pursue Sang Zhi.

Also, as MC says, how is it that Jiaxu’s never dated before, and is still this good at being all teasing and flirtatious? He must be a natural-born fox, then, eh? 😁

I’m actually really surprised by the way Sang Zhi kisses him on the cheek, right there in the lecture hall.

I mean, I wasn’t expecting her to kiss him on the cheek under any circumstances, since she keeps insisting that she will only know if she has special feelings for him, after he’s tried pursuing her.

I guess our Sang Zhi can’t think very straight, when Jiaxu’s turned all his flirty energies on her? I mean, that’s the only way I can explain that kiss. Or maybe she wanted to be the one discombobulating him, for a change? 😁

It’s actually quite funny, the way Jiaxu keeps talking with such certainty about their future, and assuming that they will be together, and it keeps tripping up Sang Zhi, because she keeps agreeing – and then backpedaling, to clarify that she hasn’t agreed to accept his feelings yet.

Ahh. Sang Zhi’s so transparent; at this point, it must be so clear to Jiaxu that she does have feelings for him, and that it’s just a matter of time before she agrees to date him.

And so, it’s actually pretty nice of Jiaxu, isn’t it, to not call her out on it, and go along with it, so that she’ll have these nice memories of being courted, which he’s said before to Qian Fei, that she should not lose out on.

It’s totally Jiaxu’s boyfriend instinct coming out, when he fills in for Jiang Ming during that basketball game, coz he’s clearly preening a bit, to look cool for Sang Zhi – and it’s all very successful, judging from Sang Zhi’s bashful, happy squees. 😁

I do like that, even though they’ve established that she’s given Jiaxu permission to court her, Sang Zhi doesn’t just sit back and do nothing for him, which I honestly think some girls might do, in Sang Zhi’s place.

Instead, she goes and makes all these secret plans, to celebrate Jiaxu’s birthday for him, from surprising him with cake and balloons outside his office, to taking him to a restaurant where she appears to be chums with the staff, and makes him longevity noodles.

For those who are unfamiliar with this, it’s a Chinese tradition, to have longevity noodles on your birthday. It’s considered an auspicious thing to eat noodles, because noodles are long, so it’s believed to symbolize long life.

Honestly, the flirty-teasing banter between the two of them, is really fun to watch.

Like when Jiaxu admits that he’d forgotten it was his birthday, Sang Zhi’s so quick to remark that, yes, when you get older, you do tend to forget, and then, Jiaxu’s quick to tease Sang Zhi in return, that he is getting older, and can she please help him to get married before he turns 27?

To which Sang Zhi answers that she wouldn’t have graduated yet, when he turns 27, so who’s he going to marry? Which immediately prompts Jiaxu to suppress a grin, as he remarks that it doesn’t sound like she’s rejected him.

Tee hee. He’s got this one-track mind that’s always homing in on them either being together, or getting married, and the flirty banter that always manages to turn back to this, never mind what Sang Zhi says, is quite amusing to me.

I must say, though, that it is very nice to see Jiaxu being so happy. He really is much brighter and happier around Sang Zhi, and that’s very heartening. 🥰

I had to cringe a little in secondhand mortification, even as I chuckled at how Sang Zhi texts Sang Yan to indirectly nudge him to wish Jiaxu a happy birthday, but ends up being the embarrassed subject of conversation, as Sang Yan asks Jiaxu about Sang Zhi’s boyfriend – on speakerphone.

Eep. I don’t know whether it would have been less embarrassing for Sang Zhi to just let Jiaxu finish the call with Sang Yan, rather than outing herself the way she did, but I cringed for her anyway. 🙈😅

And then I had to laugh out loud, when Jiaxu ponders the fact that Sang Zhi’s mentioned that her would-be boyfriend is a post-graduate student, and asks Sang Zhi, so innocently, if it’s too late for him to apply to be one. Hahaha.

Honestly, I find it really sweet, when Sang Zhi asks him why he isn’t surprised that she says she likes him a little bit, and yet won’t agree to date him, and he gently answers that it must mean that she doesn’t like him enough just yet, and so he’ll pursue her everyday, even if she keeps saying no – because this will likely be the only romance she’ll experience in her whole life.

Mostly, it’s his gentleness and patient attitude that’s getting me in the knees; he’s going along with this idea that Sang Zhi doesn’t like him enough (when it’s clear that she does), and he’ll go along with it for as long as it takes, because he wants Sang Zhi to have lots of happy romancey memories to last her a lifetime. Glug. That is very sweet. 🫠

I’m pretty sure that Jiaxu’s stretching the truth somewhat, when he pronounces the longevity noodles delicious, but it’s really nice to see him looking so happy and feeling so cared for.

And it’s also really sweet of Sang Zhi, to think of consulting Mom, for Mom’s recipe for longevity noodles, because those taste the best. 🥰

I find it surprising but also not surprising, that Sang Zhi would agree to fulfill Jiaxu’s birthday wish, that has to do with them being together.

Surprised, because Jiaxu honestly hasn’t courted her for very long at all, since the time she’d given him permission to do so. I’d expected that she would’ve let him court her for a little longer, at least.

And not surprised, because she does like him that much, and she does want him to be happy. And if saying yes to him, would fulfill his birthday wish, I can see her doing that too, even if it means shortening his courtship of her. Aw.

Also, isn’t it so sweet, that Sang Zhi in turns asks Jiaxu if it’s ok for her to be with him on all his future birthdays?

This way, it’s not just about her saying yes to him; it’s also about him saying yes to her, and this feels so mutually respectful and nice, honestly. 🥰

And then, as she cuts the cake for him, Jiaxu looks legitimately moved, as he processes the fact that Sang Zhi’s agreed to be his girlfriend, and I do love the fact that we can see tears in his eyes; it just shows us how important and meaningful this really is, to him. 🥲

I’m not surprised that he would reach for Sang Zhi to give her a kiss; what I am surprised by, is how he’s so honest with her, as he tells her that he feels embarrassed because he is that much older, and this is his first relationship, and he therefore doesn’t know what to do.

(I would argue though, that he totally looks like he knows what he’s doing, but fine, I can buy the idea that he’s just a natural, heh. 😁)

And, I do appreciate how gently serious and tenderly vulnerable he’s being, in laying it out for Sang Zhi like this, and saying that this is his first relationship.

It’s also rather nice, that their tender moments can easily turn into little bantering moments, like how he then tells Sang Zhi that she better not think of dumping him, heh.

Doesn’t Sang Zhi look so happy though, when she explains to Jiaxu that it’s a special day because from now on, she will always be by his side?

I mean, it gives me the warm fuzzies to hear that being able to be there for him, is the thing that brings Sang Zhi joy. 🥰🥲

In fact, I really like how Sang Zhi consistently puts Jiaxu’s feelings first.

When he turns serious and starts to tell her about the details of his family and his financial situation (which I think is really sweet too, because he wants to be upfront with her), her first concern is that talking about these things, might make him unhappy.

And then when he admits that he’d been afraid that she would mind these things, she’s quick to clarify that she doesn’t mind.

Aw. These two. They are so sweet together. 🥹

I was a little surprised at first, when Jiaxu gets Sang Zhi to go over to his home, to study, when she’d actually intended to go to the library, because, well, it had felt a little.. sneaky-naughty? Like, it felt like he was possibly using it as an excuse, to get her to come over to his place?

But, in the end, it’s all very sweet and cute and innocent, and exactly the kind of innocent-flirty that I’ve come to expect, from this couple.

Of course, there is that breathless moment, when Jiaxu pulls Sang Zhi to himself and whispers kinda throatily, if he can’t just stay and be quietly by her side while she studies.

Ahem. But, things don’t actually escalate, because Sang Zhi is quick to remind Jiaxu that he’d promised not to get in the way of her studies, and she quickly shoos him out of the room so that she can focus.

They are very cute playing house together, though, like when she insists on doing the dishes, because he’d cooked lunch, and they stand over the sink, chatting. You can see by the way he looks at her, that his heart is full, and that is really quite lovely.

Honestly, whenever Jiaxu gets all smoldery and up-close-and-personal with Sang Zhi, it’s pretty breathless stuff, and I’m only really becoming cognizant now, that this is likely the older-guy-younger-girl dynamic coming into play.

It’s quite likely because of their age difference, that he feels more comfortable nudging the edges of the physical boundaries between them?

I appreciate that when Sang Zhi pushes back, Jiaxu consistently backs off, and I also appreciate that Sang Zhi takes the time and courage, to explain to him that it’s not because she doesn’t like him; it’s because she just gets nervous when he comes up close to her.

And I like the outcome of this, which is that Jiaxu becomes much more conscious about asking Sang Zhi for permission, before anything, including holding hands. This feels really, really considerate and sweet, and I love this, so much.

I love this idea that he learns not to take for granted that she’d be ok with any kind of skinship, just because she’s agreed to be his girlfriend, and applies that lesson so well, because he’s taken it to heart. 🥰

Also, I love that moment when Sang Zhi stops to tell Jiaxu that she really does like him a lot.

I love how Jiaxu looks so tearfully touched to hear this from Sang Zhi, and then gently kisses her on the forehead, before telling her that he likes her a lot too.

Awww. It’s so, so sweet and tender and lovely. 🥰

The skating date where Sang Zhi’s trying to screw up her courage to kiss Jiaxu is just hilarious, and I love how she gives him a heads-up, that she’s going to be kissing him, sometime.

Hahaha. I love that so much, because it’s so funny, and also, because it’s so forthright. 😁

I guess you could say that this is her respecting his boundaries the way she expects him to respect hers?

The way he asks if he should initiate, or if she will, is hilarious; I’m just so tickled by how they’re discussing the mechanics of the kiss, while she fidgets nervously, and he smiles indulgently. 😁😁

And, after all those near-misses, it’s really cute how bashfully happy they are, to finally kiss. 🥰💋

That little scene in the epilogue, where they take turns being a little jealous at other people approaching their significant other, is also very cute.

Ah. On this point, I wanted to mention that the phrase they use for “flirting” is actually “放电” (fàngdiàn), which literally translates as releasing electricity.

It’s a known phrase, and not something that they made up, in case you were wondering. But isn’t it so cute, that they’re literally pouting at each other, for “releasing electricity” at other people? 😁😁😁

E19-20. I really like through all the long evenings of overtime, Jiaxu and Sang Zhi cheer each other on, and encourage each other, with little things like ordering takeout for each other. Schweet. 🥰

And, I do like the detail, that even just spending a little bit of time with each other, after a long day at work, is enough to refresh and recharge the both of them. Aw.

E19-20. After her encounter with Jiang Ying, I find it super sweet and cute, how Sang Zhi doesn’t mention this encounter with Jiang Ying, but tipsily tries to give Jiaxu her bank card, as a gesture to show that she is capable of being good to him.

And how cute, that Jiaxu then insists on giving her his bank card too, where the PIN is her birthday, SHO CUTE.

I like how this ends with Sang Zhi agreeing to take care of his card for him, so that when he needs it, she’ll give it to him. It’s all very endearing and charming, and I’m just smiling goofy smiles at this point.


Sang Yan and Sang Zhi

Aside from the OTP relationship, I also developed a great deal of fondness for the sibling relationship between Sang Yan and Sang Zhi.

It’s all bickery and gruff on the surface, but these two leak care for each other in big and small ways, and I found it all very endearing.

Altogether a sibling relationship that felt very real, believable and quite delightful. 🥰


E1-4. At first, I didn’t like Sang Yan too much, coz at first glance, doesn’t he have a bit of a hooligan sort of vibe, with his lopsided smirk and his pretty consistent way of not being overtly nice to Sang Zhi?

But, by the time I got to the end of episode 4, I found myself feeling very differently about this brother and sister pair.

Sang Yan may appear not to care too much, but he really does care, and honestly, when that care leaks out such that we can see and identify it, it feels so gratifying to witness.

Like the way he goes out of his way to buy Sang Zhi candy, when she hurts herself, and then there’s the way Sang Zhi tears that piece of gum in half, so that they can each have some.

Aw. These two might bicker and fight a lot, but at the heart of it, they do really care about each other, and I find this very endearing.

E5-6. I’ve grown quite fond of watching the dynamics between Sang Yan and Sang Zhi.

Any time I see Sang Yan actually leaking the fact that he does care about Sang Zhi, and is actually a pretty ok big brother, it gives me the cozy kind of feels.

Like when Sang Zhi asks Jiaxu if he wants to eat watermelon, and makes to get it from the fridge, I do like how Sang Yan assumes that Sang Zhi wants to eat it herself, and is using Jiaxu as an excuse – and says that if she’d wanted to eat it, he would’ve cut it for her.

It’s little beats like this, that tell me that Sang Yan is much more caring than he first appears, that I enjoy a lot. 🥰

E5-6. I have to say, I perked up with a bit of an “Aw!” when Mom prods Sang Zhi to get Sang Yan to buy her the anime merchandise that she’s been wanting, with the red packet money that he’s just received, and Sang Yan actually hands Sang Zhi the money quite quickly and naturally, albeit with a mandatory eye-roll.

And how cozy is it, that Sang Zhi hands him some of the money back, so that she doesn’t take everything from him.

These little sibling moments are so great. 🥰


Special shout-outs:

Qiu Xin Zhi and Zeng Li as Sang Zhi’s parents

I just had to give the Sang parents a shout-out, because they are so loving and warm.

I’m especially happy to see Mom being played by Zeng Li.

I think it’s so great, that Zeng Li and Zhao Lu Si are reuniting in a mother-daughter space, after playing mother and daughter in Love Like The Galaxy (monster review here!).

In my head, it’s almost like they got reborn in the present, and finally now have a great mother-daughter bond, which they’d struggled to have, in LLTG. 😁

Generally speaking, I just really liked seeing the family together, it’s all so nice and cozy, with everyone babying Sang Zhi and just generally having a good time together. 🥰

Sang Zhi and her university roommates

I love that Sang Zhi’s roommates are so invested in her love life, and get so excited to hear every little detail, at every step of the way.

There’s no envy around the fact that Sang Zhi’s enjoying a bit of thrill and potential romance, even though most of them aren’t dating, except for Ning Wei.

This totally reminds me of when I was around this age, and I and my friends got suuper excited to discuss every little detail of one another’s dating lives. 😁 Ah, memories. 🥲

On a slight tangent, I thought it would be relevant to mention that the roommates all refer to Jiaxu as “老哥哥” (“lǎo gēgē”) which literally translates to “Old elder brother.”

So, they’re not just referring to Jiaxu as an elder brother, they’re calling out the fact that he’s “old.” It’s kinda like calling him an “Old Oppa,” if you will. It’s quite amusing, I find. 😁


Of course Show gives us a happy ending, I never had any doubt about it.

And, I absolutely did feel wistful, as I got into the finale stretch of this show, because I’d been enjoying this easy-breezy sweet story so well.

It’s like, I wanted to get to the end, but I also didn’t want to get to the end, y’know? That’s a sign that a show’s gotten under my skin, for sure. 🥲

It actually feels like quite a bit happens, in these last few episodes.

From Sang Zhi finishing her internship and clearing the air with Xiaoyu in such an awesomely cool and mature way, to Jiaxu warning Jiang Ying about being a bother to Sang Zhi, to Jiaxu moving into a new apartment with a room specially prepared for Sang Zhi, to them actually starting to live together, in that apartment, it feels like our OTP is on a major highway to happiness.

The main obstacle, in all of this, is how Sang Zhi’s parents express hesitation and doubt, when they find out about our OTP relationship.

Unfortunately, it’s true that sometimes, you can have a really positive opinion of someone – as long as you don’t have to think of them potentially becoming part of your family.

Which is exactly the case with Mom and Dad, because even though they have a great deal of sympathy for Jiaxu, they also don’t want Sang Zhi to have to suffer because of the hardships in his life.

Of course, Show doesn’t allow this to drag down our story too much, because this just isn’t the way Show rolls.

But it does lead to some specific developments for our OTP, like Jiaxu making the choice to leave his job and return to Nanwu ahead of Sang Zhi, in order to work on a new start-up, so that things would be all settled and in a good place, by the time Sang Zhi graduates and returns home.

That’s honestly very thoughtful of Jiaxu, and I feel that this wasn’t just only because he wanted to give Mom and Dad peace of mind; I feel that he genuinely did this out of consideration for Sang Zhi as well.

I’m also really glad that we get that callback to the airport episode, when Sang Zhi had first upped and gone to Yihe, thinking that Jiaxu had a girlfriend.

This time, though, she’s there to tell him the truth, that she’s liked him for a really long time, and she even shows him her star notes, which I thought was really very sweet and touching, for how vulnerable she allows herself to be, with him.

It does have the unfortunate side effect of Jiaxu feeling bad for making Sang Zhi sad so many times over the years, and it is touching too, how he pledges to make it up to her, in the future, so that she won’t have any reason to regret the choice that she’s made.

It feels apt, that our OTP consummates their relationship, at such a tender, vulnerable, emotionally honest moment. 🥲

It’s rather sad that Jiaxu loses his dad soon after this, but it is very comforting to see that he makes peace with Dad, before Dad breathes his last.

It feels like Jiaxu’s finally put down a burden that he’s been carrying for much of his life, and, all in all, this feels like a healthy and positive outcome, in spite of the loss.

Importantly, it’s heartening to see how Sang Zhi is a great support and help to him, during this time of grief and loss; this demonstrates that they are equals in their relationship, and the help and support flows both ways.

And of course, Mom and Dad eventually relent, once they understand how thoroughly Jiaxu’s family issues have been resolved.

I mean, their objection never really felt like a huge obstacle to begin with, honestly, because it’s clear that they have a positive regard for Jiaxu, and I was sure that they would come around in the end, especially once they understood that there’s no more outstanding debt for him to pay.

It is drama coincidence at play in a big way, when Sang Zhi wins a prize for her work, and Jiaxu ends up being the one to award the prize, but whatever, y’know? It’s cute, and these two have been apart for a long time, and they deserve to be sweet on each other. 😁

And then, two-year time skip later, we get Sang Zhi’s graduation, and Jiaxu’s surprise proposal – which I’d honestly thought was going to be Ning Wei’s proposal. He totally duped me on that one, you guys. 😅

How perfect, that he’s got Mom, Dad and Sang Yan there to witness the proposal, and hear the beautiful words that he says to Sang Zhi, so much heart, and some tears:

“Sang Zhi. I always felt that being alone didn’t matter. But when I met you, you showed me that loving and being loved is such a happy thing.

Thank you for giving me so much love. It’s because of you that I found out I’m such a good person too. Turns out I do deserve to be loved. It was you who made me want to to try to love someone no matter what.

I have nothing else to give you but these six words: a lifetime with only one person. I hope you can be the witness of these words, but the time will be a little long; I want to fulfill it with all my life. Will you marry me?”

Aw. So lovely. 🥰

And then, as they walk hand in hand along the beach afterwards, Jiaxu completes the circle, that Sang Zhi had started, with her confession of hidden love; he tells her his little secret, that there had been a time when he’d secretly liked her too.

Aw, that’s quite perfect, honestly.

It demonstrates exactly, the thing that Sang Zhi talks about in her final voiceover, that while she’d been working hard to run towards him, he’d also been running towards her.

And, as we close out our finale, with Sang Zhi talking about how their story started when he was 22, and ended when she was 22, I like to think that this isn’t the end of their story, but simply the start of a new chapter, and that they will continue to love each other better and deeper, with each new chapter of their lives. ❤️


Sweet and slurpy. Very enjoyable.





The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Hidden Love, is Lost You Forever [China]. I’ve taken an initial look at Lost You Forever and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it quite a bit more than I’d expected to.

You can check out my E1 through 4 notes on Lost You Forever on Patreon here.

Here’s an overview of what I’m covering on Patreon right now (Tier benefits are cumulative)!

Foundation Tier (US$1): Entertainment tidbits + the first set notes of all shows covered on Patreon (that’s 2 episodes for kdramas and 4 episodes for cdramas)

Early Access (US$5): +Heartbeat [Korea]

Early Access Plus (US$10): +When I Fly Towards You [China]

VIP (US$15): +My Lovely Liar [Korea]

VVIP (US$20): +Moving [Korea]

Ultimate (US$25): +Lost You Forever [China]

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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15 days ago

I recently watched and enjoyed this. My favorite scenes are FL and her brother.

15 days ago
Reply to  Beez

Beez – anyone with a brother (or without) would agree. It was very natural and very well done.

29 days ago

Ah, I made it to your review at last! I confess I binged on this. I knew I’d love Zhao Lusi (she is faultless, isn’t she? SO likeable!) but – like you, kanfgurl – I was prepared to find Chen Zheyuan underwhelming based on his Mr Bad turn. But, in this, he really brought such depth to Jiaxu. I think it was his character that really hooked me in.

However, I did have plenty of uncomfortable moments watching. I couldn’t breeze over many of the aspects you seemed to. I wished they’d made it clearer all the way through that Jiaxu was completely oblivious to Sang Zhi’s crush. I kept wondering if he knew / suspected and then that made some of his behaviour (if he knew) super-dodgy. I get that later it was a shock to him, but as I watched, the uncertainty worried me.

I actually wished they’d met later and avoided the 14 year-old bit altogether – however excellently (and a very believable younger Zhao Lusi) the actress played it. The casting was off, as Chen Zheyuan looks 24, not 18-19 and I believe the actress is actually 10. It did make me wince, I’m afraid. The romance was all her “hidden love” crush, I know (and was of course totally understandable – Jiaxu was kind to her and super-handsome) but it still left me concerned about what the drama was trying to portray (especially given the title) and for whom.

So, while the uni-based romance was A++ and Chen Zheyuan and all the acting A++, the 14-17 year crush was off in various ways for me, to be honest. I could have done without it – but then, it wouldn’t have had to have been a hidden love by uni, I guess.

School Stuff
School Stuff
1 month ago

Can I ask about when Jianxu asks his boss to tell Sang Zhi that he has not been dating? Then she makes some comment about why he is acting like a young unexperienced boy? i didn’t know what that meant? Like he actually is acting like an unexperienced boy because he is excited about Sang Zhi or was there more meaning behind this, i.e. he does have experience? i felt it was ambigious

1 month ago

Hm, I don’t quite agree with Avenue X’s critique of the show but I don’t think we should completely erase its problematic aspects so we can justify our enjoyment of it without any discomfort. 

  • It was an unfortunate choice to pair a 10-year-old actress with a 24-year-old, and demand we believe they are 14 and 17 respectively. Err, no. 
  • There are some uncomfortable moments between our 10- & 24-years-olds. In part, it’s just cos the ML has the same flirty mannerisms toward the tween as the adult woman, poor acting perhaps. And there are some explicit actions such as holding a cold bottle to the cheek that were questionable.
  • There are also many ways to play a shy teen, and acting infantile (baby voice, childlike mannerisms, soft toys galore) doesn’t have to be one of them. 
  • And handing off a childlike, overprotected women from her family to her husband, yeah, are we really going to celebrate that? 

To put it simply, the concerns are not everything about the show, but they’re not nothing. 

Setting all that aside, this is mediocre fluff. To give it the same grade as Be Melo, Because This Is My First Life, D.P., Pachinko, Someday or One Day, etc, etc. I’m gobsmacked. What a disappointing review. 

1 month ago
Reply to  AnotherFan

I haven’t seen the show, but I believe you’re confusing the age of the actress who plays the child version with the one later on.

I believe the “later on” actress is 24 years old in real life.

1 month ago
Reply to  merij1

In the first two bullet points, I’m referring to the pairing of the then IRL 10-year-old actress with the 24-year-old male actor for their first interactions. We’re supposed to believe they are 14 and 17, respectively, in the drama but it didn’t work for me at all. So as they interact, the uncomfortable moments for me were between a child and a grown man, not a 14- and 17-year-old. I don’t believe I can edit my comment to make that more clear now, but if you’ve seen the show you would know what I mean.

Your YMMV may vary on this. But I ask, why casting director, why? Are there really no age appropriate actors?

But you may be referring to something else, please let me know.

24 days ago
Reply to  AnotherFan

Hi, I do agree that I didn’t like the casting of the 14 year old portion. The actress was great just too young. That part also didn’t work for me. But the rest of the show did. Ultimately Fangirl rates shows based on how much she personally enjoys it.. which is why she gave it an A- alongside other shows. I don’t always agree with all of her grading as we like different sorts of shows, but it was still a very well written and thought through review.

22 days ago
Reply to  AnotherFan

Thanks for the clarification, @AnotherFan. I haven’t seen the show and was probably confused. I agree it does seem like an odd casting decision for the 14-year old version of the FL.

Btw, I love your short list of Grade A shows. I don’t know Pachinko, but the others are on my list as well and Be Melodramatic and Someday or One Day in particular make my A+ list!

23 days ago
Reply to  AnotherFan

Just for clarification, the main characters have a five year age gap in the show

1 month ago

Sometimes we just need an adorable OTP, a ton of fluff and sticky sweetness in drama world and this CDrama gave us all three in bunches in Hidden Love. I binged it and loved every minute.

1 month ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Also – Chen Zhe Yuan – he was adorable in The Princess and the Werewolf. A whole ‘lotta cuteness right there.

1 month ago

Woah thank you for your review! I think most of people concern isn’t work in this drama. Coz it never happened, Jia Xu clearly just a normal best friend who treat his best friend’s sister like his own sister. He’s flirty with her just want to tease her like her brother sang yan did (coz looks hoe cute and adorable sang zhi’s characters) . Believe me this is actually happened in reality. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Coz I do the same like Jia Xu but never ever have even a slight romantic thing to my friend’s brother/sister. In this drama, it never be a romantic way until sang zhi grow up and give attention to all the things that Jia Xu needs. And that’s what make Jia Xu likes her. BUT Jia Xu also concern abt their age gap until he wait to her reach legal age so they can officially dating. I think that’s the proof of Jia Xu does not groom sang zhi at all. So yeah for what I see some people don’t really concern abt the age gap, they just want to join the hate train. And if they do really care/concern about it and being netral and clear mind, they should know that this drama not at all show anything about grooming.

1 month ago

Sadly, I didn’t stay with show all that long. As some are aware, despite being a big Zhao Lu Si fan, I was hoping for something a bit more. I began fast forwarding very quickly – a sure fire sign that will lead me to dropping a show. Unlike some others who will ffwd to the end, I don’t do that.

In terms of what I did see, yes, the young actress is a standout. Show was very cute, and I like cute, but for some reason it didn’t compel me to stay. It’s also interesting that show is now on Netflix.

In the end, as I said to JJ – I feel ZLS now eats this type of role for breakfast and does it far better than any of her contemporaries. As we have already seen, at such a young age, she can deliver so much more. Lu Si is a team player and loves her fans. It would seem “Hidden Love” gave many fans what they wanted, and that is a good thing 😊

1 month ago

When I’ve spent as much time with an actor, like Zhao Lusi, in a genre show (Love Like the Galaxy), I’m occasionally surprised to see them in a contemporary piece, as in “oh, I didn’t realize that she existed in our century”.

1 month ago
Reply to  j3ffc

That cracked me up j2ffc! 😅🤣😂

1 month ago

This one! All the cuteness. I’ve been squeeing a lot on Patreon (shoutout if you’ve not joined us over there, it’s a great and safe space to share the drama love and find likeminded people to scream with) so I won’t bore everyone to death with essays on how much I loved this one. Suffice to say I really, really liked this one.

Admittedly I already liked Chen Zhe Yuan and Zhao Lusi so I’m probably biased but I think they both did a great job. Like you the best part was how they brought out all the feels and it was just so relatable. I could identify with all of the feels of having a crush( except I don’t know if you can ever find a guy as green flag as Duan Jiaxu in real life!!)

Of course there was some a bit more unbelievable moments to move the plot along, but all in all it was a fun sweet not heavy ride which was very pretty and had a great OST. Thanks fangirl for letting me relieve the feels with this review!

1 month ago

Well, I did experience some discomfort watching HL, at the beginning and also later on when Jiaxu (sometimes) I felt sort of patronized Sang Zhi, though she is now his girlfriend and shouldn’t be treated as a kid.

But, the chemistry was there (including siblings’ chemistry, as you mention) and Lusi was there (😍), so I did enjoy the show very much!

1 month ago

I’m so glad you enjoyed this drama was well! I had also seen AvenueX’s video but not until after I had watched a handful of episodes. While I understood her concerns, I viewed and interpreted things the same as you. I also agreed that Jiaxu seemed to flirt pretty strongly during the wedding episode and thought it was a little out of character for him. It was a very enjoyable watch otherwise. 😍

The chemistry between the leads was just SO good throughout the drama that I was not surprised to see how comfortable they were with each other in all the BTS videos. They’re so cute together!

Same as you, I had also seen Chen Zheyuan first in Mr. Bad. He was cute but wasn’t really on my radar. His portrayal of Jiaxu TOTALLY changed that and now I’m a total fangirl 😂 I quickly searched his other dramas and saw Our Secret was rated well and watched it. I would recommend this one as well if you haven’t seen it yet. He did a great job with that role as well!

Thanks for another in-depth review!

1 month ago

I am so glad that you loved this show enough to give it an A-! I must say that the way the actors portrayed their burgeoning awareness and love for one another was what kept me transfixed. You mentioned something about remembering our youthful crushes and Sang Zhi’s reactions every time Jiaxu was in her orbit reminded me exactly of that … the heart thumping, eyes widening, belly clenching awareness, … gosh!! And the siblings’ were awesome too!