THE SHORT VERDICT:
This is a little gem of a show – provided you do like low-key, slice-of-life things.
Show’s main focus is the central loveline, and it’s all very youthful, sweet and wholesome, in a way that feels at once nostalgic and aspirational.
I also liked that Show also takes time to focus on the friendships that our characters share. Feeling like the invisible sixth member of the friend group was definitely a highlight of my watch too, aside from the very cute and very sweet OTP stuff.
Warm, sweet, comforting, and perfect for a binge on a rainy day – or as a drama nightcap, to put you in the right mind space for warm, sweet, comforting dreams. 🥰
THE LONG VERDICT:
The reason this show came onto my radar, is because I came across folks talking about how viewers who struggle with the setup and story of Hidden Love (review here!), almost all end up loving this show.
There were just lots of praises for this show for being sweet, slurpy, well-written and just pretty special, all-around.
Now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I’d say that this show vibes a little more earthy than Hidden Love, even though both shows have their own brand of whimsy.
The conversations land as a little more down-to-earth, rather than Hidden Love’s more glossy, more “packaged” sort of feel.
And then there are some romcoms that are a little less glossy and a little more earthy, even though they still qualify as romcoms? Like Our Beloved Summer, for example.
I’d say there a similar kind of difference between this show and Hidden Love. They both have their charms, and their audience.
And I happy to say that I appreciate and enjoy them both. 🥰
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
Overall, I found the soundtrack to be very breezy and nostalgic, and altogether very feel-good and enjoyable.
If I had to pick a favorite track, though, it’s actually Show’s opening theme, which brings on the feels for me in a very definite, nostalgic sort of way.
I’m including it separately, in case you’d like to listen to it on repeat instead. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show feels like a refresh of an old formula
Basically, this show reminds me quite a bit of shows in the vein of c-drama A Love So Beautiful (review here!), because our female lead develops a crush on our male lead pretty much right from the get-go, and is brave enough to wear her heart on her sleeve.
The reason I cite A Love So Beautiful as a comparison, instead of Mischievous Kiss or Playful Kiss, which are similar types of stories, is because, in A Love So Beautiful, the cold aloof male lead isn’t so cold nor so aloof, and the warm girl crushing on him, isn’t so blind nor desperate.
We have a similar dynamic here, which I think works really well.
2. This is also a coming-of-age story
Besides being a romance, this show is also a coming-of-age story, not just for our leads, but for the friend group as well.
So, yes, there’s romance, but there are strong and important friendships too – and y’know, that reminds me of A Love So Beautiful as well. 🥰
3. This vibes slice-of-life
..So don’t expect very big or dramatic developments in our story.
Show does slice-of-life very well, I do think.
HOW I’LL BE APPROACHING THIS REVIEW
First 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.
STUFF I LIKED
Show’s an easy watch
One of my favorite things about this show, is just how easy it is, to watch. This show really is such a nice serving of cozy warmth. It’s kinda like a cinnamon roll, fresh out of the oven: sweet, soft and warm, and eating it just makes you happy. 🥰
I realized that watching this show puts me in a really good mood, and I found myself humming while doing other things (between episodes, not while watching the episodes), and just generally being all-around chirpier.
That tells me that this show is a fun little happy place, for me. 🥰
Show has a rather slice-of-life sort of flavor, despite its cute, youthful vibe, in the sense that we get little mini arcs that help nudge our overall story forward.
These little mini arcs don’t take up much screen time, and they get wrapped up pretty quickly, so you don’t have time to get tired of it, before the next mini arc is introduced.
Our overall story, of course, have everything to do with the burgeoning connection between Zaizai and Lurang (Zhang Miao Yi and Zhou Yi Ran), and to a lesser extent, Jiang Jia and Gu Ran (Jiang Zhi Nan and Bian Tian Yang).
And I must say, those burgeoning connection trot along at a nice pace, which is nice too.
I also appreciate that aside from developing the OTP connection, Show also takes some pains to flesh out the friend group.
This combination of OTP cuteness and friend group loyalty, reminds me of A Love So Beautiful, which is a c-drama I enjoyed a great deal.
Stuff doesn’t get dragged out
Generally speaking, Show never drags out anything for too long, particularly if it’s an angsty sort of arc, and I liked that very well.
We’ve got lots of tropes helping to nudge our story along, but these tropes don’t outstay their welcome. They do the job, and then get shown the door, in relatively good time, which helps the sense of momentum.
E3-4. The way that miscommunication has Zaizai trying to demonstrate all the qualities that Lurang’s described in his ideal companion, when he’d been thinking about his dog, is just silly.
I appreciate that when Lurang realizes what’s going on, he clues her in to the fact that he’d been talking about his dog, by showing her a picture of said pup.
This way, Zaizai’s misguided efforts and accompanying embarrassment are cut short, and any secondhand embarrassment that we might feel as an audience, is cut short too.
The video diaries
Every episode ends with an entry in Zaizai’s video diary, and I really enjoyed this.
Not only does it give us a deeper glimpse into Zaizai’s thoughts, in light of the the events of the episode, it also lends a really nice layer of nostalgia to the watch experience, I feel. 🥰
STUFF THAT WAS OK
Show’s use of tropes
Show makes use of familiar tropes while it tells its story, and I don’t mind it, because, 1, this is par for the course, for this kind of show, and 2, I find it all pretty fun and amusing. 😁
[EARLY MINOR SPOILER]
Like how Show quickly serves up a case of mistaken identity in our first episode, which has Zaizai thinking that Lurang is his friend Gu Ran, and vice versa.
Hijinks ensue, of course, which help to nudge our story along.
Additionally, sometimes, Show surprises me, by taking a different direction with a trope, than I’d expected.
For example, in episodes 9-10, when Show introduces Xia Ning (Zhang Xin Tong), who actually knows Lurang from middle school.
At first, I’d imagined that Xia Ning would also have her sights set on Lurang, since Show consistently paints him as the ultimate Mr. Popular among the girls, and I’m very pleasantly surprised that this isn’t the case at all.
Sure, it makes Zaizai stew in a bit of jealousy, but ultimately, Xia Ning turns out to be a very nice, sincere person who seems to have no deeper interest in Lurang.
I found that quite refreshing.
STUFF I LIKED LESS
Some stuff gets lost in translation
This isn’t actually about the quality of Show itself; it’s more about the subtitles.
I noticed that, unfortunately, there are times when things get lost in translation. I will mention a couple of other examples in other sections in this review, but for now, here’s one example, to illustrate what I mean.
[EARLY MINOR SPOILER]
E1. The lost wallet incident in episode 1 has my subs saying that Zaizai’s put down her name on her student ID as “Audrey Hepburn of the school,” but in actual fact, she uses Liu Yifei, aka Crystal Liu.
I guess the subbers did that to make it accessible to international audiences, but really, I’d have loved for Crystal Liu to have had the shout-out she deserved.
Similarly, the male classmate who reacts incredulously, saying that he could then be Tom Cruse of the school, actually uses the example of Wan Yan Zhu, ie, Daniel Wu.
And then, when Jiang Jia, Zaizai’s bestie, mock-introduces herself as Angelina Jolie, she’s actually using Wang Zu Xian, ie, Joey Wong, as an example.
Not sure the subbers actually needed to swop out the names, since Crystal Liu, Daniel Wu and Joey Wong are pretty well-known internationally.
SPOTLIGHT ON CHARACTERS & RELATIONSHIPS
Zhang Miao Yi as Zaizai
Overall, I really enjoyed Zaizai, as a character.
She’s very likable, in her cheery, irrepressible way, and not only that, she demonstrates that she’s pretty darn awesome too, and is much wiser and stronger than one might first assume.
I will talk more about Zaizai in my section on the OTP, but for now, here are some Zaizai-specific highlights from my watch.
E1-2. I like that, while in similar drama universes, the warm female lead is typically made out to be pretty bad in her studies, Zaizai’s excellent in English, to the extent that the new teacher would know her name, because she’d managed a perfect score in her entrance test.
Yes, Zaizai’s not great in her other subjects, but I just like that she’s this good at a subject.
E3-4. One of the things I find endearing about Zaizai, is that cheery, resilient, hard-to-get-down quality about her.
Even when she does get embarrassed in front of Lurang, it really doesn’t take her long to dust herself off, and be on her merry way.
And she’s so matter-of-fact with Jiang Jia, when Jiang Jia first fails to get intel from Gu Ran on the kind of girl that Lurang likes, and she tells Jiang Jia that it’s ok, she’ll ask Lurang herself, and anyway it won’t be the first time he’s heard her talk nonsense.
How is she so self-aware, and so blithe, at the same time? 😁
E5-6. The mini arc this set of episodes, is the thing where Zhenxin (Olive) accuses Zaizai of stealing the money that she’d collected for Class 1’s class fund.
I don’t find Zhenxin very likable, in that she’s obviously jealous of Zaizai for her closeness with Lurang, and feels that this closeness should have belonged to her, for some reason.
I do like how Zaizai carries herself with such dignity through the whole thing, even though it must be shocking to her, to be accused of theft.
I just like that Show is making Zaizai out to be a pretty great girl, with things like assuredness, confidence and a good sense of self-worth, even though she’s not as academically accomplished as Lurang and the others in Class 1.
I love – LOVE! – how she calmly turns around and says that since Zhenxin is convinced that Zaizai took the money, then Zhenxin should come up with evidence to prove it, and Zaizai shouldn’t need to come up with evidence to prove her innocence.
HA! YESSS! YOU GO, GIRL! 🤩
SO self-assured and calm at the same time. Gosh, I love Zaizai a hundred times more, all of sudden. 😍
E5-6. One of the things I really like about Zaizai, is how irrepressible and hard-to-get-down she is.
When she asks Lurang over text, is he’s excited to root for her in the coming sports meet, he gives an evasive answer, but she happily grins to herself that he obviously wants to cheer for her.
I just love that confidence about her, it’s very endearing. ❤️
E15-16. It’s a bummer that Zhenxin takes that photo of Lurang and Zaizai together, and reports them for inappropriate behavior, which gets both Lurang and Zaizai called in to the teachers’ room.
Again, I really like how Zaizai stands her ground, and asks the supervisor if he’s called them in to hear their explanation, or simply to accuse them.
And, I’m glad that it all blows over without too much trouble, basically because the teachers have long known that Zaizai and Lurang are tutoring each other.
Good on Zaizai for not letting it get her down, even though Zhenxin tries to be mean about it, and, not gonna lie, I’m actually kinda glad that Lurang overhears their conversation, and straight-up tells Zhenxin never to do anything like that again.
E15-16. I’m glad that Lurang and Luli end up reconciling, thanks in part to Zaizai, for telling Luli about her own journey to friendship with Lurang, where she had to pester him to be her friend.
And, it’s also because Zaizai tells Lurang that Luli idolizes him, that Lurang feels inspired to return to his Big Brother ways of the past, taking care of Luli, and rushing that exam entrance slip to him, and even giving him a lollipop, just like he’d used to do.
Aw. That is very heartwarming and sweet.
Zaizai really is our MVP, for becoming the unexpected link, to bring these two brothers back together again. 🥰
Zhou Yi Ran as Lurang
Our male lead, Zhang Lurang, is played by Zhou Yi Ran, who played youngest brother Qiqi in The Bond (review here), which lots of you loved, and I find him very likable, in this role.
I mean, Lurang is on the reserved side of things, and he’s very smart, and that’s kinda similar to the cold aloof male leads of the Mischievous Kiss franchise, but the similarities seem to stop there.
I like that Lurang is actually thoughtful, observant and kind, underneath his reticent surface, and I love that he comes out of his shell, bit by bit, over the course of our story.
I love that we get to see him grow, even though he starts the story already being widely admired by other people in school, and I love even more, that a lot of that growth has to do with Zaizai and the friend group.
I will talk more about Lurang in the OTP section, but for now, here are some quick thoughts on Lurang, during my watch.
E11-12. As expected Zaizai’s cheerful text updates brighten up Lurang’s days at home, and it feels significant, that he seems to feel closer to and more comfortable with Zaizai and his other friends, than with his own family members.
It feels like he’s the one who’s rather disdained and taken for granted at home, because his younger brother is the one who’s more excellent and outstanding in his academic results.
It feels significant, that when his brother Luli asks about coming to see him at Jiang Yi, Lurang declines, because he wants to spend his free time with his friends.
In a way, it feels like Lurang’s making a stand for his own preferences, and is prioritizing the things that make him happy.
E13-14. I like how our gang of five heads off to Baichuan for a break after their exams, but I must say, I felt bad for Lurang, because his mom’s (Hao Wen Ting) basically always complaining about him, even though he really does do very well in school.
I’m glad that he’s starting to speak up for himself, and I’m also glad that he doesn’t allow her harsh words to stop him from going to Baichuan with the rest of the gang – and having a good time of it.
Zaizai and Lurang
I really enjoyed watching Lurang and Zaizai grow closer in gradual degrees, and I couldn’t help but squee, at some of their cute moments together.
I also really loved the idea that these two people turn out to be so good for each other; that they’re not just cute together, they make each other better people too, while they’re at it.
I also really appreciate that, even though we start the story with Zaizai being the one who “clings” to Lurang more, that dynamic gets flipped by the time we get to the end, such that he spends as much time clinging to her, as she does to him. Very cute, and meaningful too.
I liked that a lot. 🥰
Here’s a sprawling look at my thoughts about this OTP, over the course of my watch.
E1-2. I like that Lurang is clearly not hating our female lead Zaizai, in all of her efforts to get close to him.
He definitely seems amused by her, and I’d venture to say that he does think she’s cute, even though I’m not super sure yet, if he’s already at the stage where he likes her.
Zaizai literally looks like a doll, with her big eyes and rosebud lips. More than that, though, I find her likable – and so I find it easy to understand why Lurang might find her likable too.
She’s all heart, and she’s kinda goofy too, which makes her very endearing, to my eyes.
E1-2. Zaizai is endearingly courageous, when it comes to putting herself out there, in order to be nearer to Lurang.
In turn, I also find it endearing that Lurang is pretty nice to Zaizai, even though he largely remains reticent.
Like how Zaizai volunteers to take the bus with his class, when the bus for her own class is full, all because she wants to be near him, and he stands up to help her with putting her bag in the overhead compartment, because he notices that she’s struggling with it, a little bit.
Immediately, I’m drawn to the fact that Lurang is a nice person, and nothing like the aloof jerks that these cold smart guy types have often been characterized as, in similar stories.
And, when he comes across Zaizai taking a rogue rest in the sick room, I’m amused that he humors her from behind the screen, and then informs the nurse who comes in, that Zaizai’s very ill. 😁
Importantly, I don’t detect any malice from him; he’s not trying to get her in trouble, he’s just cracking a joke, with a small twinkle in his eye, and I’m fast growing fond of him, for his quiet niceness.
It’s pretty great, that we already get a moment of hyperawareness, in episode 2, with how Zaizai and Lurang find themselves hiding together under that staircase, because they’ve both got contraband stuff in their hands.
She’s got her cellphone with her, and Lurang’s got Gu Ran’s PSP, both of which are not allowed in the military training camp.
It tickles me that it’s Lurang who seems a little awkward and hyperaware of Zaizai’s proximity, while Zaizai’s all wide-eyed innocence, holding onto his arm. 😁
Heh. I don’t believe him, when he says no, in response to Zaizai’s question, about whether he’s feeling shy. He sure looks like he’s feeling shy, to my eyes. 🤭
That’s one thing I like about Zaizai; even though she likes Lurang and has hearts in her eyes for him, she doesn’t get all tongue-tied or weirded out, when she’s with him.
Like this staircase incident, and also, later on, when she walks with him and asks him about “Lurang,” while addressing him as Ranran, thinking that his name is Gu Ran. I mean, isn’t that so confident and precocious of her? And yet, she just comes across as simply being herself. I do like that.
And then, how about the way Zaizai literally asks Jiang Jia to volunteer her to sing a song in front of everyone – so that she can dedicate a song to “Gu Ran.”
As an introvert, I am in awe of Zaizai’s chutzpah, because I couldn’t do that, in her shoes.
..And of course, this is when the ruse is finally up, because this is when Zaizai realizes that the boy she’s crushing on, is actually Lurang, and not Gu Ran. 😁
How intriguing, that Lurang quotes Zaizai’s first words back to her – that to not run while the rain’s coming down, is dumb. He’d heard her that day! Ooh!
E1-2. I do enjoy the way Lurang seems to enjoy teasing Zaizai; in my head, this means that he thinks she’s cute.
Like the way he stifles a smile, when he teases Zaizai that there’s something behind her, while they’re on night duty – and then tells her that it’s just a leaf.
I also like how Zaizai doesn’t try to shirk responsibility, and quickly tells Lurang she’s sorry for calling him a dummy that day, in the rain.
Our girl is pretty forthright, and I’m liking her very well, in all her clumsy, dorky, sunshiny glory.
It’s quite funny – and punny! – when Zaizai gets spooked by the sensation of someone following her, and bursts into tears, telling Lurang that she’d bumped into a ghost, and Lurang replies that he’d bumped into one too – a coward.
The pun is lost in translation, so here it is.
The word for ghost is “鬼” (guǐ), and the phrase for coward is “胆小鬼” (dǎnxiǎoguǐ), which literally translates into “small bravery ghost” even though we’re not talking about literal ghosts here.
And so, when Zaizai cries that she’s seen a ghost, Lurang’s being wry and ironic, when he says that he saw one too – a “胆小鬼,” referring to Zaizai herself.
Pretty cute, yes?
E3-4. I like the indication that Show gives us, that Lurang is very observant of Zaizai, even though he doesn’t say a whole lot.
Like when Zaizai and Jiang Jia show up at the dessert stall belonging to Guan Fang’s grandmother while the boys are eating there, Lurang’s quick to refute the speculations from the others, that the girls had followed them there, by saying that Zaizai’s not that good of an actress, so it’s an actual coincidence.
Heh. I just like this idea that he knows Zaizai better than he’s letting on. 😁
And, when Zaizai gets threatened by that dude on the bus because she calls him out for trying to molest a female passenger, Lurang speaks up to back her up pretty quickly.
He does have her back, even though he claims that he doesn’t, and I like that Zaizai’s clued in to that.
And then, I like that by the time we get to the end of this set of episodes, we’ve got Zaizai tutoring Lurang in English, and him tutoring her in math and physics, in exchange.
In many youth romance dramas, it’s always the guy tutoring the girl, so I like that it feels nicely balanced in this story; Zaizai’s got something to offer Lurang too, and it’s something that he legitimately needs. I like that.
I also like that Zaizai recognizes that Lurang needs her help, and then goes out of her way to offer her help to him, but in a way that wouldn’t make him feel bad, because she recognizes that he’s not used to needing help from others, being an otherwise top student.
In fact, she does this consistently, where she’s careful to be considerate of his feelings, so that he doesn’t feel bad for accepting her help – like when she offers him oden at the convenience store, because she knows that he hasn’t eaten.
When she notices that he feels bad about it, she gives him the option of returning the favor, by buying her a meal some other time, to which he quietly agrees.
This is just Zaizai being her good-natured self, but I do think her kindness comes at just the right time for Lurang, who’s just had a falling out with his mom, over the tutor that Mom had wanted to engage for him.
It’s crazy to think that despite his outstanding results, Lurang gets disdained at home – and by this potential tutor too – for not being as outstanding as his brother. Gosh. You just can’t win, sometimes, can you?
I feel bad for Lurang, and I’m glad that with Zaizai, he feels accepted and not in a way that makes him feel indebted.
I do love that Zaizai turns out to be such a good and effective teacher to Lurang, such that he’s quickly able to answer questions in class that stumps everyone else.
And how endearing is it, to find out in the epilogue, that Zaizai actually put extra effort into practicing how to teach Lurang in a way that would be effective and easy for him to understand.
Aw. And here I’d thought she was a naturally good teacher. It’s somehow more endearing, that she learned to be a good teacher, in order to each Lurang. 🥰
The bond between Lurang and Zaizai is definitely growing stronger, slowly but surely, and I couldn’t help but get a thrill out of how Lurang comes to Zaizai’s defense, when those other boys try to bully her and Jiang Jia, during gym class.
E5-6. I’m a little surprised – but very pleased – by how Lurang is showing more and more overt affection and care towards Zaizai, at this early point in our story.
I’d imagined that he would take a little longer, to start leaking affection towards Zaizai, because that’s typically how it goes, when we have a male lead who’s the smart, reserved, aloof sort.
But because Lurang isn’t exactly like those OG aloof male leads in this kind of story set-up, he’s showing more care than I’d expected, and earlier than I’d expected, and that is definitely very gratifying to witness.
When Zaizi merrily tells him to go ahead, because she’s got a bit more work left tabulating stuff for the teacher, he shows concern, asking if she’ll be all alone, and then when it starts raining, he comes back for her, so that he can shelter her with an umbrella.
Ahhh! That is very significant indeed, even though he claims that he’d just happened to come back to school.
I mean, we know that that only reason he’s even back on the school grounds, is because he’s worried that Zaizai will get caught in the rain. 😁
And I do love how our girl Zaizai is so irrepressibly upbeat; even when Lurang tells her that he’d forgotten his notes, and that if she’s caught without an umbrella again, she should go check the teacher’s room for a spare, she just grins that if he tells her that he’s coming, she’d happily get rained on again.
Heh. The way Lurang awkwardly averts his gaze definitely gives me lashings of self-consciousness and hyper-awareness. I do rather like how Zaizai seems to regularly unsettle Lurang just by being her chirpy self. 😁
E5-6. I do love the fact that Lurang shows up to vouch for Zaizai, saying that she’d gone to Class 1 to pass him notes for their tutoring sessions, and had asked Zaizai to keep it a secret – even though that’s totally not the truth.
But, I just like the idea that Lurang knows that Zaizai didn’t take the money, and is willing to go out on a limb to save her, even if it involves telling a white lie.
He doesn’t need proof to believe that Zaizai didn’t steal the money, and that sense of belief and trust, from him to her, really appeals to me. 🥰
I also appreciate that afterwards, Lurang and Zaizai actually talk about the whole thing; this way, there’s no misunderstanding.
She doesn’t misunderstand that he’s actually embarrassed about receiving help from her, and she understands that he just doesn’t want the teachers to misunderstand her.
I love that when she tries to explain why she’d gone to his class, Lurang doesn’t even need to hear her out; he’s just that sure.
“Su Zaizai, I believe you.”
And that quiet look of conviction – laced with a bit of affection, I think? – is very heartwarming to see.
It’s no wonder that it brings a smile to Zaizai’s face. 🥰
E5-6. It feels kinda gallant, the way Lurang tells Zhenxin that she owes Zaizai an apology. Naise. He’s not going to let Zhenxin get away with wrongly accusing Zaizai, and I like how protective this makes him look, in relation to Zaizai. 🥰
How confidently sassy is Zaizai, when she declines to accept Zhenxin’s apology, because it’s not sincerely given.
I really love how Zaizai’s able to do this without coming across as mean or petty.
In fact, she comes across as self-assured and pleasant, and I feel like anyone watching her, would believe that if Zhenxin had offered the apology with sincerity, that Zaizai would’ve accepted it.
It’s no wonder Lurang can’t help but smile a little tamped down smile of what I think is pleasure, as he watches Zaizai’s retreating back as she walks away.
And, doesn’t it feel kinda significant, that when Guan Fang invites Lurang over to his Gran’s shop for dinner, Lurang only says yes after Guan Fang mentions that Zaizai will be going too? 😁
I also like that we see Lurang leaking a few smiles, while they’re all at the amusement park together, the next day.
Zaizai notices too, judging from the way she makes one of her wishes on the ferris wheel, that Lurang will smile more often, since he’s got nice dimples. Heh.
It’s cute though, how that immediately brings a little smile to Lurang’s face, and we get to see said dimples right away. 😁
I’m really digging this growing closeness between Lurang and Zaizai.
The way they each get happy and excited about the other person’s results feels very pure; they’ve both worked hard to help each other, and this is the fruit of their labor.
Isn’t it cute to see that Lurang misses the bus on purpose, in order to wait for Zaizai, when she tells him that she’s got something for him? Of course he doesn’t admit that he missed the bus on purpose, but we all see it. We’re onto you, Lurang. 😁
And then, isn’t it cute, that he listens to Zaizai’s recording in the plushie that she gives him, several times, with a smile on his face?
She’s bringing him joy, whether he realizes it or not, and I think it’s all very sweet. 🥰
E5-6. It’s completely tropey that Zaizai has a fall from her bike because of Lurang’s dog, but hey, it gives Lurang the perfect excuse to thereafter offer to take Zaizai to and from school, on his bike.
That definitely puts them into a routine with each other, and it’s definitely got a very couple-like vibe about it.
I mean, she even has him bringing her food, when she texts him to say she’s hungry, tee hee. 😁
Importantly, he doesn’t actually seem to mind. 😉
And then during the sports meet, doesn’t Lurang seem a tiny bit jealous, when he teases Zaizai about cheering loudly for her class monitor?
The subs say that Wang Nan’s nickname is “Handsome,” but there’s a pun here that doesn’t show up in my subs, which I thought you guys would find rather fun.
Wang Nan is the name of the class monitor, and Zaizai clarifies that his nickname is “nán shén” which is typically written as “男神” and means “male god,” but in this case, the nickname is written as “南神” which must be the character in Wang Nan’s name.
What’s cute is that Zaizai explains that the “南” in this particular “nán shén” nickname is the “南” in “南瓜” – which means pumpkin. Lol. I found this quite funny. 😁
Importantly, even though Lurang says he’s not jealous, he does look mollified by Zaizai’s explanation – so it did matter to him, then. 😁
I also like how matter-of-fact the moment is, when Lurang finds out that Zaizai’s been lying about her leg still hurting.
The look he gives her is more of slight exasperation than anything else, and I like how this works out to be such a little bump in their relationship.
But also, how could he be mad at Zaizai, with that sheepish, adorable smile that she gives him, while promptly admitting she was wrong, and apologizing?
You just can’t stay mad in the face of that, yes? 😁
E7-8. The couple vibes continue, this set of episodes, and I have admit, I am very taken by how Lurang gives his medal to Zaizai, just because she likes it.
I mean, I appreciate that Zaizai is trying to explain to Lurang why his medal is important, even though he didn’t win first place, but the point is, he gives that medal to Zaizai, and then, when Zhenxin asks him about it, he replies simply, that Zaizai liked it, that’s why.
Hey now. Isn’t that a VERY boyfriend sort of thing to do?
I have to admit, it gives me a distinct stab of satisfaction, to see him say this to Zhenxin, because we know that Zhenxin’s had her sights set on Lurang from the beginning.
Aaand, we get an almost-confession sort of scene, when Zaizai returns the medal to Lurang, wanting him to hold onto it, and lets slip that it’s not the medal per se, that she likes, to which Lurang replies, “You like..?”
Which has our girl vehemently denying that she has any romantic feelings at all, because she’s only 16, lol.
You’re plenty capable of having romantic feelings, my dear Zaizai, and we all know it – including Lurang, I’m sure. 😁
I don’t think Lurang hates the idea of Zaizai liking him either, judging from the fact that he’s still listening back to her recording on the plushie. 😁
In fact, when Zaizai is given the chance to do that sharing for Class 1, Lurang seems both a little proud, and a little protective, from the way he watches her with a slight twinkle in his eye, and then calls out to her in front of everyone, telling her that it’s time to leave – and then leaves with her.
Hey now. That’s very much a territorial move, isn’t it? He’s staking his claim on Zaizai, in a way, and showing everyone that they’re close enough to leave school together on the regular. 😁
The mini arc, this set of episodes, is the Cinderella play that the Drama Club puts up, and I like how, when Lurang sees that Zaizai wants to play Cinderella, he votes for her, even though Zhenxin goes around trying to canvas votes.
When he denies voting for her, while rubbing his neck, how cute, that Zaizai then picks up on the fact that Lurang has a tendency to rub his neck, when he’s lying.
Oh, she’s got his number alright, and he’s not going to be able to lie about anything to her now, even if he tries. 😁
It’s so like Zaizai to ask Lurang to practice her lines with her, and it’s so like Lurang to give her a Math test, and tell her that he’ll do it if she scores at least 90 marks on it.
I love the peek of marshmallow heart from him, when she scores 85 and is really disappointed, and he makes up a reason – her serious attitude and good attendance at tutoring sessions – that he says is worth 10 more points. AW. Isn’t that sweet?? 🥰
And then, during rehearsal with the rest of their little group, when Zaizai asks Lurang to help her record her delivery of the lines, I love the little smile that he leaks, while watching her through the viewfinder.
Our boy is very much enjoying Zaizai’s presence, and I dig it. 🥰
And then, of course, when actual Prince Charming ends up injured and unable to make it for the play, Lurang’s the perfect stand-in, since he’s practiced all the lines with Zaizai, during their own group rehearsals.
With each little mini arc, we can see Lurang and Zaizai becoming closer, and I find it all very endearing.
Isn’t it nice, that by the time we hit the end of episode 8, the two of them are going to the aquarium together, for fun, just the two of them, and it’s got nothing to do with their tutoring sessions? 😁
Oh how far these two have come, and it’s all felt so natural, that I didn’t even really realize the difference, until mentally comparing them now, with them in the beginning of our story.
Somehow, just seeing them get along together happily, makes me happy too. 🥰
E9-10. We get some OTP moments from the aquarium visit, which I enjoyed nicely.
Like when that lost little boy tells Zaizai that he wants to hold Lurang’s hand, and Zaizai blurts out, “You’re not the only one,” before furiously backpedaling, to add, “..I also think you should hold his hand.”
Hahaha. Our Zaizai’s not fooling me, and I’m sure she’s not fooling Lurang either. I’m sure he knows that she meant that she wishes that she could hold his hand too. 😁
I just have such a big soft spot for Zaizai’s guileless, blithe way of flirting with Lurang.
As in, I don’t even think she thinks she’s flirting with him, but she’s always so artlessly letting him know how she feels about him, and I find it all very endearing, especially now that we know that Lurang is rather isolated and lonely at home.
Sometimes, it’s hilariously random, like when the announcement comes on, reminding people to take care of their valuable items so that they don’t lose them, and she just turns to Lurang and says, “Valuable item, you must follow me carefully.”
Tee hee. I find this very random and very cute, and I think that it must really be very heartwarming and nice for Lurang, to always experience random moments of affirmation from Zaizai, at some of the most unexpected times.
And sometimes, it seems like Zaizai’s not even aware of the implications of the things she says.
Like when the little kid tells Lurang that Zaizai looks like she wants to eat him, because the way she’d looked at him, is just like the way she’d looked at the fish – and Zaizai responds that she’d only looked at the fish like that because it was too cute, and she liked it too much.
Lurang totally clues in that this means she also feels the same way about him, to look at him the same way, but it seems like Zaizai is blithely unaware of the inadvertent confession that she’s just made, hee.
And then there’s how the little kid’s teacher gives them a pair of matching souvenir pendants from the aquarium, and Zaizai gets all excited about them being matching. 😁
Zaizai’s just so simple and artless about her affection for Lurang, and I find it endlessly endearing.
I’m not surprised that Lurang’s leaking smiles around her a lot more, and every little indication we get, that he’s becoming more cognizant of his affection for her, and not fighting it, makes me smile.
I find their current relationship pretty interesting, because they aren’t actually dating, but they are clearly more than just friends – and neither of them seems in a hurry to evolve their connection any further. They seem content to exist in this space, where they’re more than friends but not quite girlfriend-boyfriend.
Like when Zaizai, thinking about doomsday, asks Lurang what his biggest regret is, and he answers, “Not coming to Jiang Yi earlier,” and Zaizai heartily agrees, because if he’d come to Jiang Yi earlier, she could have met him sooner – and then breezily tacks on that it’s fine, coz they have lots of time ahead of them.
It’s.. artlessly presumptuous? Very interesting and also, very endearing.
I find that I really like seeing this semi-couple dynamic thing at work.
Like when Zaizai and Jiang Jia miss the train to Yong’an for that regional competition, and therefore take the bus.
The way Lurang’s so alert to the time that her bus arrives, and gets ready to go out to meet her, is giving me mini-squees.
E9-10. I like how we get little indications that the one who’s special to Lurang, is none other than Zaizai herself.
Like how he chooses not to climb to the summit of the mountain they’re hiking, because Zaizai says that she’s getting blisters and would rather for everyone at the midpoint.
The way he silently goes to buy her jellies to cheer her up, and then take her sightseeing via cablecar, is such a boyfriend-like thing to do. 😍
What feels more meaningful, beyond that, is the voiceover that we get, of their conversation, where Lurang talks about how he’d gone to high places, to make himself feel better when he’d felt down, and how Zaizai encourages him to forget his worries quickly, by being like her, by doing things that make her happy.
The fact that the result of this conversation is Zaizai encouraging Lurang to be happy, and encouraging him that for some people, he’s their ultimate solution; that some people actually like the world better, because he’s in it.
And how significant, that when Zaizai talks about wanting to be a person like that too, we hear Lurang say in voiceover (and I’m convinced he’s thinking it, rather than saying it out loud to her), that she already is.
Eee!! He’s saying that he likes the world better, because she’s in it! Isn’t that squee-worthy, especially when we hear it in that deep, matter-of-fact way of his? 🤩
And then how about the way he goes to the room that she’s sharing with Xia Ning, not to talk to Xia Ning, like Zaizai assumes, but to look for Zaizai, in order to give her hot packs, because he figures she’ll need them.
That is SUCH a boyfriend thing to do!! 🥰
And then how about that moment when they’re napping while resting their heads on the tray table, and they take turns looking at each other?
I’m not at all surprised that Zaizai revels in it for a bit, and takes a photo as a keepsake. What does surprise me a little bit, in a very good way, is the way Lurang looks at her – and then keeps on looking, while a smile plays at his lips.
Looking at her makes him happy! Eee!
And then when everyone’s counting down to a possible doomsday, it feels Very Significant, that at the stroke of midnight, the one thing he chooses to do, is put one of this earbuds in Zaizai’s ear, so that they’re listening to the same music, together.
The way they look at each other for a long, long beat, while everyone’s whooping around them that they survived the supposed end of the world, makes me feel like this was a confirmation and new beginning of some sort, or a kind of unspoken promise, even though neither of them says anything.
E9-10. With the exams being over and all, it’s time for the holidays, and therefore time for Lurang to go back to Suyang, where his family is.
It’s cute how Zaizai only allows her crestfallenness to last a moment, before blithely telling Lurang that she’ll take responsibility to keep them in contact, so that they don’t lose touch.
And again, it’s meaningful, how Lurang tells Zaizai that he’ll reply to her texts. What’s unspoken, I think, is the fact that he’ll reply to those texts, because they’re from her. Aw. 🥰
E11-12. In the midst of the time that Lurang and Zaizai do get to spend together in Suyang, I like that moment when her little cousin tells Lurang that Zaizai’s really bad at math, because Lurang responds by telling the little boy, that Zaizai’s really good in English, and has helped him a lot; that it’s normal for everyone to have their own strengths.
Aw. He’s indirectly encouraging and affirming Zaizai; how nice. 🥰
I also like how, when she’d walking him out, after dinner with her family, he reveals that his own family isn’t closely knit, and they only sit down to meals as a kind of obligation.
This feels like a pretty personal thing, and it feels significant that he’s willing to share that with Zaizai, and quite easily too.
It’s just like Zaizai to offer herself as a chat partner to Lurang, for whenever he feels like chatting.
I do think that Xia Ning is right; Zaizai really is Lurang’s most trusted friend. 🥰
E11-12. I have to smile at the epilogue at the end of episode 11, where Lurang muses that the fireworks are really beautiful – and so, Zaizai makes a wish that the fireworks factories will always be fully stocked, until she’s a hundred years old. SHO CUTE. 😍
E11-12. I’m nicely tickled by the fact that Lurang, seeing Zaizai’s Weibo update that she’s not feeling well, makes it a point to drop of medicine and a hot water bottle for her – and then, brings some to Gu Ran too, and then gets roped in for a sleepover, because Gu Ran can’t get over how nice it is, to not fall asleep alone, heh.
And then, how cute is our little epilogue, where we see Lurang call Zaizai to check on her, and we only see after the call, that he’d actually been standing right under her window.
Eee!! He was worried about her and wanted to check on her with his own eyes. Again, SUCH a boyfriend sort of thing to do!
E13-14. This set of episodes, we also see glimmers of jealousy creeping in, with our OTP, since Lurang gets the wrong idea about the love letter he’d seen in Zaizai’s workbook.
Heh. I’m actually kinda pleased that he gets the wrong idea, because I feel like our guy needed something to nudge him a little bit, into showing a little more overtly, that he likes Zaizai.
Of course, being the reserved type, Lurang withdraws into himself and broods, and is a little grumpy, but doesn’t tell Zaizai what he feels and why.
Good thing our Zaizai clues in on his hand-to-neck giveaway clue, that he’s lying about being in bad mood – and that he’s also lied, about not seeing anything in her workbook.
I just love – LOVE! – how Zaizai reacts, when she realizes what’s up.
Instead of getting all concerned &/or contrite, I love how she cheerily chastises him for not being able to recognize her handwriting, after knowing her such a long time, and instructs him to go home and read her notes again, as punishment, before merrily skipping off, on her own.
Ha. I love that.
I also love the little smile that immediately comes to Lurang’s face, and I love even more, the goofy smile he can’t wipe off his face, as he stares at her notes, later on, at home. 😁
E13-14. I like how Lurang clearly cares about Zaizai, and is looking out for her, while they’re working.
First, there’s how he offers to go up to the storage room in Zaizai’s stead, to get the items that their supervisor has asked for, and then, there’s how he goes to look for her, when she gets lost in the maze of rooms, and shows up just when she’s getting scared because that cell phone suddenly goes off, with that spooky ring tone. 😁
Aw. I’m glad that Lurang arrives just in time, and she’s able to run right into his arms, while crying like a baby. Cute. 😁
Later on, I do love that conversation that Zaizai and Lurang have, while sharing that popsicle, where she tells him that, in her eyes, he’s definitely better, and nicer, and more handsome than his brother could ever be.
I love that she gives him that coin that she’d earned, as a keepsake, so that he’d remember that she’ll always have this extra point for him, over and above everyone else, including his brother.
That’s very sweet and meaningful, and I do think that Lurang’s very touched by this.
Later on, I had to grin, when, at the Music Festival, Zaizai asks for a sun as her facepaint design, and Lurang chooses a sunflower, because in Chinese, the name for sunflower is “向日葵” (xiàngrìkuí) which basically means “flower that faces the sun.”
Is that a Meaningful Choice, or what, yes? 😁😁
E15-16. It’s lots of fun to see our gang of five playing on the beach, after the Music Festival.
I have to admit, though, that the highlight, for me, is when they’re sharing about their favorite things about summer, and Lurang chooses the exact banana popsicle that Zaizai had shared with him.
I mean, isn’t he indirectly saying that Zaizai’s his favorite thing about summer?
E15-16. We are still getting these indirect confessions between our OTP, and the one that really gets to me, is the one where Zaizai proposes that the contrapositive of “I like you” is “If someone doesn’t like you, that person wouldn’t be me.”
That’s a half-confession on its own, but I’m more taken by Lurang’s response, where he counters with the statement, “If I exist, my love for you exists,” and asks Zaizai to come up with a contrapositive, to which Zaizai answers, “If I don’t like you anymore, then I wouldn’t be me.”
Eee!!! All these barely veiled love confessions going on between these two, complete with intent meaningful looks; it’s all making my heart wobble. 💓
E15-16. I love how brave Zaizai chooses to be, even though it must be scary, to ask Lurang about why he didn’t tell her about his transfer, even though he’s (apparently) told everyone else.
I’m bummed because she runs off before Lurang has a chance to explain what’s really on his mind, but Show doesn’t let it drag out for too long.
I mean, yes, it’s rather hard to see Zaizai continue to avoid Lurang so pointedly, but when Lurang misunderstands that Zaizai’s cousin is a hooligan type making trouble for her, he doesn’t hesitate to step in.
Thanks to Cousin’s analysis of Lurang’s behavior, Zaizai starts to soften in her attitude towards Lurang, and I’m glad that eventually, Lurang finds an opportunity to clear the air between them.
YAY that Lurang tells her that he’s never found her annoying, and that he’d wanted to tell her first, about the transfer, but couldn’t figure out how to bring it up.
E17-18. Augh, you guys, this show is so very, very wholesome; I do think that that’s one of my absolute favorite things about it.
I’d been wondering whether Show would really let Lurang go back to Suyang, since that would mean separating him from Zaizai, as well as from the rest of the friend group.
With him being so happy around them, I was wondering if Show would find a way for him to stay in Jiangyi instead.
But that’s not what Show does at all.
Sure, Zaizai’s sad about Lurang leaving, but the way she and Lurang handle the situation is so positive and wholesome, that they managed to make me smile anyway – even though I really didn’t want Show to split them apart.
For protagonists so young, our characters display a great deal of maturity and positive discipline, in approaching their separation.
How sweet, that on top of the group celebration, Lurang comes to visit Zaizai, to give her a birthday gift. The polaroid camera is quite perfect, since Zaizai likes to capture memories.
And, the promise that they make – that he’ll come back to Jiangyi when she finishes up the photo paper – is so hopeful and perfect.
On their last walk home together before Lurang leaves, I find it so poignant, that they give each other all these little pieces of advice and reminders.
Clearly, these are things that they would’ve reminded each other in person, if they’d had the chance, but because they’re about to be separated, it feels like they’re telling each other all the reminders now, and that’s so poignant, truly. 🥲
And, how significant, that Lurang asks Zaizai to apply to East China University, together with him.
In c-dramas like this, this is as close to actually establishing a romantic relationship as it gets, without actually establishing a romantic relationship.
This is an expression of intent, as well as a confirmation that they’d like to be together, in the future, and in the context of that, I squeed.
This way, it feels like Lurang and Zaizai are taking this separation, and turning it into a new beginning, and that feels very assuring indeed.
The exchange of photos also feels very significant, because isn’t that what couples used to do, when carrying around passport photos in your wallet was still A Thing?
This is another form of confirmation, that they would miss each other, and so, looking at the other person’s photo, would be a source of comfort, in the days to come. 🥲
I love that after Lurang’s very low-key departure, where the friends can’t even see him off, because they’re in class, he and Zaizai continue to write letters to each other, because they’re both not able to use their phones, in preparation for the big gaokao exam.
Somehow it feels extra precious that they’re writing physical letters to each other. Where phone messages are instant and convenient, letters require more effort to write and send, and it just feels so precious, that they both make it a priority, to write letters to encourage each other, and keep each other updated on their lives. 🥰
And then, what a surprise bonus, that when Zaizai goes to Suyang for the autonomous admission exam, and tells Jiang Jia that she plans to drop by Lurang’s school just to have a look-see, Gu Ran acts quickly to pass on the message to Luli, who then tells Lurang – which is how Lurang manages to meet up with Zaizai, even though this was completely unplanned.
Yay for friends who’re good wingmen. 😁
Gosh, they really do look so happy to see each other, even though they’re still talking in code of sorts, with Zaizai saying “we” instead of “I” when telling Lurang that he’s been missed.
It’s sweet how Zaizai already knows so much about the school despite this being her first visit, because of Lurang’s letters, and it’s also sweet how Lurang tells Zaizai that he’d just wanted to tell her everything. Aw. 🥲
I love how well our OTP-in-waiting communicate so transparently and in such a mature manner, honestly.
I like how Zaizai explains to Lurang that she’d taken the autonomous admission exam as a form of insurance, but it doesn’t mean that she’s giving up on attending East China University with him; that she plans to work hard, once she returns to Jiangyi.
How wonderfully mature is it, that she tells Lurang that regardless of what happens, he should continue to chase his own dreams, because they shouldn’t give up on their dreams because of others.
How levelheaded and forward-thinking is Zaizai, to tell Lurang that becoming better people together, is the coolest thing?
The fact that Lurang smiles and tells Zaizai, that she should do the same, and keep working hard, no matter what the outcome is, is so sensible as well.
Like, HOW HEALTHY is this not-yet-a-relationship???
E17-18. How cute is the epilogue of episode 18, where Zaizai’s recording her video diary, and bemoaning how she regrets now having been in the same class as Lurang even once, during her high school years.
..And Lurang shows up and becomes her deskmate for a while, which makes Zaizai super happy, to the point that she seems to forget her just-expressed regrets. Adorable. 😍
E19-20. Our OTP gets officially minted, this pair of episodes, and it’s all as wholesome and sweet as ever.
Overall, I really like how the minting of the relationship is as low-key as ever, but very lovely and sweet, nonetheless.
And, I also really like that even as our OTP relationship evolves, Show still manages to retain its signature core of everyday sweetness and wholesomeness. 🥰
I found it refreshing, though not exactly a surprise, that Zaizai would decide to confess her feelings to Lurang.
Refreshing because, well, this is something that traditionally has been something that the guy takes upon himself to do, and it’s clear that Lurang does reciprocate Zaizai’s feelings, so it would’ve made perfect sense too, if she’d waited to see if he would make the first move.
And then, it’s not exactly a surprise, because from the very beginning, Zaizai’s been the one to nudge their relationship forward, every step of the way.
She’s always been proactive and irrepressible like that, and it’s very in keeping with her character, that she would take it as a matter of course, that she should tell Lurang about her feelings, officially.
I did cringe with secondhand embarrassment through all of Zaizai’s failed efforts to turn things romantic on that amusement park date with Lurang, but the silver lining is most definitely the way Lurang keeps looking at her with affectionate indulgence.
Like, he can totally see through her ploys, but just smiles and lets her keep going, because he clearly thinks she’s cute.
And then, right when she isn’t expecting it, he makes his confession – “Zhang Lurang likes Su Zaizai” – right in the middle of their game of words, and it’s low-key, sweet and magical, all at the same time. 🥰
“Do you think I’ve been confident in doing everything?”
“It’s not right. For example, being honest with you.”
“I like you.”
It’s also so cute, that all the post-confession awkwardness melts away from Zaizai, the moment Lurang takes her hand, as they’re walking home. Aw. 🥰
Afterwards, it’s so very adorable, how Zaizai squees in her bedroom, and Lurang can’t stop grinning, as he mindlessly pours cup after cup of water, while thinking about Zaizai.
SHO CUTE. 😍😍
E19-20. I do appreciate that Lurang and Zaizai make no effort to hide their new relationship, even though they also don’t make a special effort to announce it to the friend group. They just carry on with their new couple dynamic, never mind who sees it, and I do find that matter-of-factness quite sweet.
E19-20. It’s cute to see how Lurang and Zaizai adjust to life in university, as a campus couple.
Mainly, I like how matter-of-fact they are about it; they don’t specifically try to hide their relationship from the people around them.
And, they go through their various couple milestones in such a natural, fuss-free yet sweet sort of way.
Like the way Zaizai can’t help but peck Lurang on the lips when she finds him in close proximity when she wakes up on the bus, and then explains that she couldn’t help herself from taking advantage of him.
..And then Lurang quotes her “copy and paste” words back to her, before giving her a proper kiss, right back.
Eee! CUTE! 😍😍
That senior from Zaizai’s department clearly likes her, from the way we see him looking at her, and trying to get into her orbit, and it’s actually very endearing how Zaizai doesn’t even seem to notice, because her heart’s set so completely on Lurang.
On that note, Lurang’s turning out to be a pretty awesome boyfriend.
I giggled and melted, at how he had so many snacks and treats in his bag, all for Zaizai, because he wasn’t sure what she’d like, and also, at how he’d thoughtfully gotten her that pair of insoles for her military training shoes, because he’d noticed that they were too big.
I did cringe with secondhand mortification, when Zaizai’s private video of their couple cuteness, meant only for Lurang’s eyes, gets broadcast to the entire lecture hall. Eep.
But, the video itself is very sweet, and I soon forgot my secondhand mortification, when we see that Lurang’s so taken with the video, that he watches it over and over again, in his dorm, never mind what his roommates think.
And, isn’t it sweet, how, when Zaizai moans in mortification, he offers to confess to her in a similar way, to make her feel better?
I mean, Lurang’s such a reticent, reserved sort of character; the fact that he readily offers to do this public confession for Zaizai, without a lick of hesitation, says SO MUCH, and I’m grinning goofy grins for dayyyys, you guys. Dayyyys. 🥰
Bian Tian Yang as Gu Ran
I’ll talk more about Gu Ran in his section with Jiang Jia, but I just wanted to say that I started out finding him too loud, preeny and theatrical for my liking, but he eventually really grew on me.
All in all, he’s a good egg with a lot of affection and loyalty; all bluster on the outside, and soft marshmallowy tenderness on in the inside. 😁
Jiang Zhi Nan as Jiang Jia
Kinda similar to how I felt about Gu Ran, I did find Jiang Jia a little too exaggerated and cartoony at first, but she definitely grew on me as I progressed through my watch, and I particularly felt for her, in terms of her personal journey with regards to her crush.
I’ll talk more about Jiang Jia in relation to Gu Ran, in the next section, but for now, here’s a quick peek at my thoughts around her first crush experience.
E13-14. With Qianyu (Feng Xiang Kun) suddenly moving away and leaving school, my heart goes out to Jiang Jia, as she grapples with her crush leaving her orbit, and I’m quite touched at her determination to tell him how she feels, not because she believes that it would change anything, but because she doesn’t want to live with any regrets.
That’s a pretty brave decision, and I do admire Jiang Jia for that.
E13-14. I do think it’s brave of her to decide to give Qianyu the letter that she wrote, even though she then takes it back, when she hears him say that she reminds him of his little sister.
I feel bad for Jiang Jia, because Qianyu clearly doesn’t reciprocate her feelings for him, but it feels like a useful learning experience, like when she muses, while rubbing her sore feet, that you really can’t force it, after all, if something’s not meant to be yours.
Gu Ran and Jiang Jia
I have to confess that, at first, I felt completely indifferent towards the potential loveline brewing between Gu Ran and Jiang Jia.
For one thing, I wasn’t overly fond of Gu Ran and his cartoonish ways, at that time, and for another thing, I wasn’t really into the bickery enemies-to-lovers vibe that Show was giving him and Jiang Jia.
However, that did change, for me, by the time I got to about the episode 9 point, when Gu Ran becomes more aware of Jiang Jia and affectionate towards her, and it starts to get low-key cute.
E9-10. It’s cute how Gu Ran brings an extra jacket to the train station because he can guess that Jiang Jia will be cold, and then passes off the whole thing as getting her to hold it for him, is pretty darn cute.
All this undercover thoughtfulness; I dig it. 😁
E11-12. When Gu Ran falls sick while his parents are away, it’s really heartwarming to see that his friends are concerned enough about him, to check on him when they don’t hear from him.
..Which is how we have some moments of hyper-proximity and hyper-awareness between Gu Ran and Jiang Jia, and y’know, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m kinda digging their potential loveline.
The part where she loses her balance coz her leg’s gone numb, and lands right on top of him, within kissing distance, is quite possibly the spiciest thing we’ve had in this show, and in that moment, I kinda wondered what would’ve happened if Gu Ran had actually kissed her.
She would’ve hit him, is what would’ve happened, I’m pretty sure, heh. 😁
E13-14. I feel that Gu Ran is actually more cognizant of his feelings for Jiang Jia than he wants to let on.
Not only does his gaze stray to Jiang Jia often, he’s always looking for her, and so aware of her.
And then he keeps doing things for her that he thinks will make her happy.
Like how, when he realizes that she’s not planning to buy any snacks at the convenience store because she’s used up her allowance, he splurges and tells everyone that they can pick whatever they want, because the snacks are on him.
Aw. He totally did that for Jiang Jia’s benefit, and it’s honestly very sweet, that seeing her get all happy, makes him happy too. 🥰
He pays so much attention to Jiang Jia, that he even knows what hair clips she has – that’s a total giveaway of his feelings for her, isn’t it, since he’s totally not the kind of guy who has any natural interest in hair clips?
No wonder he’s got Lurang and Guan Fang looking at him funny. 😁
I do feel for Gu Ran, in that he must feel so sidelined, because not only does Jiang Jia have this big crush on Qianyu, she’s also pretty expressive about how she wouldn’t ever have feelings for Gu Ran (not in so many words, but you get the idea).
And yet, despite his wistfulness whenever Jiang Jia says something to that effect, Gu Ran seems content to just look at her, and make her day better, and there’s just something really sweet about that.
E13-14. Even though it’s rather hard on Gu Ran to go shopping with Jiang Jia, when she’s clearly buying shoes in order to look pretty in front of Qianyu, I do like how Jiang Jia smiles at him, and thanks him sincerely, for being so patient with her, and telling him that she’s happy.
I do think that it makes Gu Ran happy to know that he’s made her happy, even though she’s still only got eyes for some other guy.
E13-14. In the wake of Jiang Jia’s realization that you can’t force things that aren’t meant for you, it feels really comforting, that Gu Ran’s there for her, with comfortable slippers, and the heartfelt encouragement that just like there are no two stars that are alike, there isn’t anyone else who’s like her; she’s unique, and therefore special, in her own right. Aw.
E15-16. I feel so bad for Jiang Jia, when the box of presents from Qianyu contains a gift for everyone – except her.
It’s honestly thanks to Gu Ran for his quick thinking, to say that her gift must be coming separately, which makes Jiang Jia feel better for the time being.
And then, I feel so bad for Jiang Jia again, when Gu Ran messages Qianyu about Jiang Jia’s gift, because he’s basically saying that he didn’t buy her a gift, and could Gu Ran get something for her, to make up for it?
Gosh. It’s one thing to not have any special feelings for her, but Qianyu’s not even being fair to her, in sending gifts to everyone but her, and he doesn’t even seem to feel bad about it.
If he’d felt bad about it, he would’ve given Gu Ran a heads-up, to give Gu Ran a chance to get a gift beforehand, so that everyone would have a gift to open, at the same time.
But how sweet of Gu Ran, to pick something really nice and special – that style of watch, in that pale pink, is totally something I’d believe teenaged girls would love, at that time – and make that Jiang Jia’s gift.
I’m glad that Jiang Jia happens across the messages between Gu Ran and Qianyu, so that she doesn’t continue to think that the watch is from Qianyu.
And, when her other classmates ask about the watch, it feels rather significant, that Jiang Jia says, with a happy smile, that the watch is from a friend – a good friend.
Aw. This is one of the nicest things she’s said about Gu Ran so far, so I do think she’s starting to reconsider how she sees him.
E17-18. I’m really growing a soft spot for the soft gaze that Gu Ran’s wearing in Jiang Jia’s direction, with greater and greater regularity.
He’s definitely doing sweet things for her more and more, and it’s honestly really sweet.
Like the way he notices that she likes that bracelet in the store, when they’re shopping for Zaizai’s birthday gift, and then buys it for her – and then presents it to her as something that he was forced to buy, in order to enjoy a bundle discount.
Which is completely untrue, of course. Boy just wanted to give her that bracelet, and make her happy, is all, and it’s really sweet.
I’m just kind of bummed that when Jiang Jia asks him if he likes her, he backpedals so furiously, that he ends up hurting her feelings, a little bit.
Aw. I just want these two to be honest with each other, because it’s clear that Gu Ran likes Jiang Jia a lot, and it’s also becoming clear that he doesn’t mean nothing to her, either.
When Jiang Jia gets discouraged about not knowing what she wants to pursue in life, I really like that Gu Ran takes it seriously, and encourages her by telling her what her strengths are, and how her strengths are special, and set her apart from everyone else.
Honestly, it’s because of Gu Ran’s encouragement, that Jiang Jia eventually realizes that she’d like to become a journalist, because that will be a career where she’d be able to utilize the strengths that he’s outlined for her.
E19-20. I’m legit feeling a bit wistful for Gu Ran and Jiang Jia, because they end up not confirming their feelings, even though, when Gu Ran declared at the amusement park, in such loving detail, how much he likes her, I thought we might be getting two couple confirmations for the price of one.
That confession by Gu Ran is so grounded and tender, honestly.
“She might not be the most outstanding person. She likes to hop around singing out-of-tune songs. She’d be too sad to eat because of a bad ending in a novel. When she is angry, I can’t even stand her. However, when she smiles, she is the only person I see.”
Gosh, that made my knees wobble.
E19-20. We get the closest we’ve gotten a mutual confirmation of feelings between Gu Ran and Jiang Jia, when, in his goodbye letter, he asks if they’re the most important people to each other, and Jiang Jia tearfully nods “yes” while reading it.
Guan Fang and Gran
I do appreciate that Show gives us a chance to get to know Guan Fang better, because among the group of five, he seems like the odd one out, because Lurang and Zaizai are obviously going to be a pair, and the same goes for Gu Ran and Jiang Jia.
Guan Fang is the lone singleton among them, and it feels apt, that we should give him a little time and attention, to get to know him better.
Even though his pairing is with Gran rather than with a romantic partner, I find that this works very well, because he comes across as perfectly content, to be Gran’s special grandchild. 🥰
E10. What a surprise, to learn that Guan Fang had used to be a little troublemaker, always getting into fights all the time.
And what a poignant reveal, that the reason he’d decided to turn over a new leaf, was because he realized how much he was making Gran (Wu Xu Xu) suffer, from having to clean up his messes, by apologizing to other people all the time.
That’s pretty touching, that he would do that for Gran, and that Gran did all that for him, without a word of complaint.
It also gives me a whole new perspective of Guan Fang.
The reason he’s such a pushover sort of nice guy, isn’t because he’s incapable of defending himself; he’s basically overcompensating, for having been too much of a troublemaker in the past.
It feels important and meaningful now, that he shares this part of himself with his friends, as well as take steps to find an equilibrium that works, so that he’s not such a pushover anymore.
Also, even though I did just say that Guan Fang’s kind of the singleton in the friend group, he isn’t actually alone.
His pairing is with Gran, and it’s very, very sweet to see them walking home arm in arm, with Guan Fang telling Gran that he hopes that she’ll be able to be by his side for a long, long time to come.
Aw. Schweet. 🥰
The friend group
I definitely grew fond of this group of friends over the course of my watch, and I really appreciated how Show teases out this friendship in slow degrees.
The bonds of friendship are grown gradually over various events and milestones, and it feels so natural that I don’t even notice them growing closer and more important to one another, until I look back and remember how they’d met, in the first place.
This friendship brought back fond memories of my own school days, and I enjoyed pretending that I was the invisible sixth member of this friend group. 🥰
E5-6. Isn’t it so sweet of the rest of the group, to arrange to go through the trash together, to try to find the lost money, in order to clear Zaizai’s name?
I find it extra sweet, that they arrange to do this without her knowledge. They just have her back, and I really, really like that.
E11-12. This set of episodes, we learn that beyond the cheerful smile that Gu Ran tends to wear, he feels quite lonely and neglected, because both his parents are constantly busy with work.
It’s only really now, that we get to see how important the friend group is to him, because they form the family network that he often has to go without.
It’s really pretty cozy and heartwarming, to see that our friends are connected across the air waves, as they wish each other “Happy New Year” at the stroke of midnight, even though they aren’t physically in the same place.
Of course, Lurang’s on the phone with Zaizai, and Gu Ran’s on the phone with Jiang Jia, while Guan Fang’s with Gran. The important thing, is that none of them is alone, during this time of festivities and celebration.
E13-14. It’s really heartwarming to see the five of them having fun together, on the train, and then on the beach, on their trip to Baichuan.
And we do get these little glimmers of special closeness between our two potential couples, like how, when Zaizai falls asleep on Lurang’s shoulder on the train, he puts a cap on her, to shield her face from the sun. Aw. 🥰
And then, when Jiang Jia loses her wallet with Gu Ran’s and Guan Fang’s money in it, along with her own, it’s cute how they all get part-time jobs at the Music Festival, and have a good time, despite the difficulties.
E17-18. The group’s celebration of Zaizai’s birthday is thoughtful and cute, and I’m most taken by the fact that the friends actually took the trouble to custom make signs, to point Zaizai on her way to them, so that they could surprise her with cake.
E17-18. I’m so glad that Lurang goes back to Jiangyi for the class graduation, because even though he doesn’t go to school in Jiangyi anymore, it would’ve felt a little hollow, I think, if the friend group had celebrated their graduation without him there.
And of course, he’s there to keep his promise to Zaizai as well, that he would definitely come back to Jiangyi. 🥰
E19-20. Even though it’s a bummer that Lurang’s sunrise date with Zaizai gets completely gatecrashed by the rest of the friend group, I’m actually glad that they all get to have this camping trip together, before all heading off to university.
They’ve been together for a good three years now, and it feels bittersweet, that aside from Lurang and Zaizai, they’ll all be heading off to different schools, going forward.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I came into this finale feeling wistful about saying goodbye to these characters, and that, for me, is always an indication that I really do like a show.
Show stays true to its feel-good, wholesome core all the way to the end, but of course, with our characters out of high school, the specifics are a little different.
I’ve seen some viewers comment that they wish the post-high school years could have been given the same amount of time and detail, that we got in the high school years, and I can totally understand that sentiment, because I’d definitely gotten used to the feeling of living life, with these characters.
At the same time, it makes total sense that our central gang would find their interests diverging, and thus, want to pursue different paths, after high school.
Which is why I thought it was a good move, on Show’s part, to give us the highlight reel approach, so that we get to follow our characters’ journeys, despite them not all being together, and zooming in on selected important moments, so that we don’t miss out.
And, in terms of the highlights, one of my favorites has to be the scene where Zaizai remarks that Lurang’s so reticent, and yet, she’s allowed him to take up residence in her heart for such a long time, and what a generous landlady she is.
I love how Lurang suddenly pulls her in and gives her a kiss, and when she asks, “What are you doing?,” he deadpans, “Paying rent.”
Hahahaha! I had a good giggle out of that, I tell ya! 😁
And then, when Zaizai responds, “Well you owe me lots of rent,” he counters, “I’ll pay it slowly,” to which she replies, “Well, then I’ll have to charge you interest.”
Tee hee hee! So cute! SO SHO CUTE. I legit rewound that on the spot, just to watch it again, I liked it so much. 😁
Generally, I also very much enjoyed seeing how steady Lurang and Zaizai are, in terms of their relationship.
Every time someone expresses interest in either of them, it’s actually really nice to see how artless and candid they each are, in letting people know that they’re already in a relationship.
I also like how happy and expressive they are, when they’re together.
It’s all so healthy and wholesome, y’know?
I also wanted to mention this kiss, because it totally gave me unexpected Healer vibes. (If ya know, ya know. 😉)
Another highlight for me, this finale, was Gu Ran finally confessing his feelings for Jiang Jia.
While part of me has been feeling impatient for them to acknowledge their feelings for each other already, I do understand Gu Ran’s explanation to Lurang and Guan Fang, that he’s too scared to confess his feelings to Jiang Jia, because he’s afraid that if she doesn’t like him back, it might jeopardize their friendship.
And so, I’m glad for the ex-classmate stepping in to be our plot catalyst, because once Gu Ran registers in his head that Jiang Jia likes him too, he doesn’t waste any time running to her side and telling her how he feels about her.
I thought it was very poignant and sweet, how he read her that letter that he’d written to her, before he’d left to go abroad for his university studies; it says so much, that he’s carried that letter with him all this time. 🥲
And it’s so great that Jiang Jia also happily expresses her feelings for him, by immediately pecking him on the lips.
Aw. Our secondary OTP is finally officially minted, and waste no time in giving us cuteness on our screens. Likey. 🥰
Yet another highlight, for me, is how Lurang answers the question, after his presentation, about what keeps him going.
“I used to be a person with no self-confidence. Even before high school, I had a little bit of low self-esteem. I always thought I would live out my life in mediocrity until I met someone.
Every time I look into her eyes, there’s me in them. I’ve always wondered why there is someone as cheerful as the sun in this world. When I failed, when I was in trouble, when I wanted to give up, she would tell me, “It’s okay, you are the best for me.”
I don’t think anyone can resist such a preference. Not to mention me, who never received such a preference before. It was because of her unreserved faith in me that I thought I should persevere for her.”
Aw, that’s so beautiful. 🥲
This is exactly the magic that Zaizai’s brought into his life, and I really love how he’s able to articulate that it’s her unwavering belief in him, and her choice to always be 100% biased in his favor, that’s given him so much, in life.
It’s given him joy, and expectancy, and confidence, and anticipation, and hope, and it’s just quite priceless. 🥲
I also very much love Lurang’s proposal, where he uses snippets of their video diaries, to bring Zaizai – and us! – through all the years and milestones that they’ve had together.
I also love the way he talks about how he’d like to spend his life with Zaizai, enjoying the small beats of life together, watching movies and taking walks, and maybe having a baby; it’s all so low-key and so wholesome and lovely, at the same time.
Given how reserved Lurang was when we first met him, this really demonstrates how much he’s grown, and how far he’s come, and it feels perfect, that it’s culminating in this marriage proposal, which feels like it’s been years in the making. 🥲
And before we know it, we’re at the wedding, which I’ve only been expecting since Day 1, since there’s wedding footage in every episode’s opening credits.
And yet, despite my having seen some of this footage 23 times before, watching Lurang and Zaizai get married, while surrounded by their friends and family, still made me goofy-happy.
For the record, when Zaizai tells Lurang about how she’s made it her wish every year, to marry him, and that it seems wishing the same thing many times really works, his reply isn’t quite “It’s my pleasure,” as my subs say.
His reply is, “It’s my honor,” which hits totally differently – which is why I thought it was important to mention it.
In a similar sort of vein, Zaizai’s voiceover, as they exchange a kiss, is, “Today, I finally married Zhang Lurang. No, it’s that he’s finally married me.”
It’s not easy to translate, because there’s a difference in the word used to describe a woman marrying a man, versus a man marrying a woman, but I’ll just loosely translate it so that it vibes closer to the intended meaning:
“Today, I finally married Zhang Lurang. No, that’s not quite right; it’s that he finally got to marry me.”
The reason I felt it was important to highlight this, is because, from the very beginning of our story, it was almost always Zaizai who wore her heart on her sleeve, and was plain about her affection for Lurang.
It feels like an important flip of the equation, I feel, because where before, she’d always been the one pursuing Lurang, it is true that things have equalized now, and they are equally in love with each other.
And, it just feels like a nice way to acknowledge her self-worth, in a cheeky little voiceover.
Now, as they reflect on all that they’ve been through with each other, as well as with all of their friends, I feel certain that their tomorrows will be even brighter and happier, than the days that have come before. 🥲
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Sweet, youthful, wholesome and comforting. Like chicken soup for the soul.
FINAL GRADE: B++
The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of When I Fly Towards You, is My Journey To You [China]. I’ve taken an initial look at My Journey To You and I’m happy to say that I am loving it, so far. 🤩
You can check out my episode 1 through 3 notes on My Journey To You 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): +My Journey To You [China]
VIP (US$15): +My Lovely Liar [Korea]