I marathoned episodes 1-40 of this drama in just three days. Does that mean this drama was good? At times. It’s a drama that I was considering watching when I heard about it but decided not to when I found out that it was set in a high school (I’m getting to the age where I don’t find high school dramas very compelling anymore). Alas, I saw super cute things online about it (as I do all dramas I marathon basically) and on Thursday last week I started to watch.
A basic overview of the plot: A girl starts high school at a prestigious school with her childhood best friend, there she meets two boys (best friends) who excel academically and in the arts. Eventually they become friends and there’s some love
triangle pentagon romance drama (although not overly done). There are school-based storylines, family-based storylines and some lovely friendships that develop. Three years pass and they graduate, then move on to university and early adult life where they deal with new issues.
I now regret how impatient I was for the adult section of this drama because, in all honesty, it was the school section of the drama that truly shone. It balanced light and dark, hopeful and worried, and it truly felt as warm as the summer season in which it was roughly based. The adult section veered towards melodrama and seemed forced at times – I lost a lot of interest in most storylines, especially the romances, and began skimming through eps for what looked like interesting scenes. While struggling to succeed is a realistic theme, the way it was portrayed just seemed over the top (especially since those struggling to succeed were depicted as genius/virtuoso types) and I didn’t care at all about the outcome.
While Xiao Si (one of the two male leads) was one of my favourite characters in the first section, he lost most of his depth and characterisation in the second, often reverting to expression-less looks and little development at all, despite becoming the lead character focus in the latter episodes. My biggest sadness came in the form of Lu Xia, the female lead, who was quiet but stood up for what she believed in and had an inner strength. By even the middle of the adult section, she was meek, had no storylines outside the romance, and was sidelined by every. single. other. character. Other characters suffered from the writing similarly (perhaps to a lesser degree).
One of my favourite relationships (friendship or romance) in the drama was that between Yu Jian and Qing Tian. Their friendship that seemed part-sibling part-lover was so wonderful and light even when it was heavy with sadness, and they seemed like they would be a team that could battle absolutely anything. Even when they separated at the end of the school section of the drama (heartbreaking), I assumed that they would eventually reunite before the end of the drama. Instead, we got Yu Jian going to see him and finding him with a girlfriend (he promised to ALWAYS be there for her, and you could totally tell he still loved her) and them not talking or interacting until we see him meeting her on top of a mountain in the last few episodes? Years later, it seems, she says they tried again but couldn’t make it work. A clearer conclusion would have been better.
And that’s where I get to my last point. With all the dragging out of the adult section and its melodrama, the ending was so very very rushed. We fast-forward years into the future, people’s lives have and haven’t changed, yet there’s barely an episode left for us to get reacquainted with the characters before the open ending. There was no real conclusion to the lead romance and it was left so open that it wasn’t even clear if this was a positive or negative ending. I like some open endings but if you’re going to give an open ending, maybe tie up a few more loose ends before you do it. Open is one thing, but messy and boring before an ending is another thing altogether.
School Section: 4/5 stars.
Adult Section: 2/5 stars.
Ending: 1/5 stars.
Overall: 3/5 stars.