I have been stalking this drama for what seems like forever. I have read Stewed Squid With Honey by Mo Bao Fei Boa several times. I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for a tsundere lead who falls hard for the cute and chatty girl. So, my hopes were high, and I was super excited when I saw the casting of this drama. I roped some of the fangirls in to watch it with me. Let’s see if this one lives up to all of our expectations.
Tong Nian is a popular Japanese song cover singer and a college student who is majoring in computer security. One night while helping her friend at his computer cafe, she meets Han Shang Yan aka Gun, and her world is turned upside down as she falls in love. In the high stakes world of competitive gaming, Gun is a god. He runs his crew on a tight schedule and micromanages their lives. Their relationship begins with a case of mistaken identity, but when they sort things out it’s too late to back away from each other.
Initial Thoughts About the Story:
Clkytta: Going into this drama I was curious how they would fill in all the blanks because honestly, the novel had a lot of glossed over areas. It mainly focused on the main couple, so I was really curious if the drama could develop the side characters more to round out the story. I’m all about the romance between Gun and Tong Nian, but we all know that we need to have a little conflict and other perspectives too.
Kdrama Jen: I have not read the book, but the first few episodes are keeping me entertained. I am kind of intrigued by the world of E-sports and cyber security competitions. I love how smart and intellectually talented people are treated like superstars. This is kind of a slower pace, but I am 8 episodes in, and I am still watching!
Karie the Maknae: This drama is my current drama crack. The story seems solid, and Clkytta talked me into reading the book, too, because why not?? I like the deeper development of the story in the drama already, but I also love the insights the book is giving me into the characters.
Love at First Sight and Mistaken Identity
Clkytta: I have a soft spot for a sweet romance. Tong Nian falls in love with Gun as soon as she sees him. I’m ok with that. Gun is our typical tsundere lead, but he and Tong Nian also seem to have some kind of deep connection where he doesn’t seem mean like other tsundere characters sometimes do. He seems fascinated by this complicated but silly girl in front of him. This fascination is noticed by his teammates who immediately think that Tong Nian is his girlfriend and start calling her sister-in-law and pulling her along with the team. It really seems natural that the two would end up as a couple. He keeps trying to push her away like he does everyone else, but then he does little things to pull her closer.
Kdrama Jen: Tong Nian is kind of adorable. I love that we discover she actually has more followers than the K and K team. She falls for the tsundere lead instantly, but then a series of events keep happening to connect them together.
Karie the Maknae: I don’t usually like the “love at first sight” trope, but it was a great launching point for this story. And I can see how Tong Nian is immediately drawn to Gun — his personality is a perfect complement to hers.
Not Just Another Video Game Drama
Clkytta: While the story is set in the gaming world, the focus is on the players and not as much on what they are doing in the games. We learn more about the dynamics of how gaming is an emerging sport and the complexities of the various roles of the players. I love how Tong Nian is a total newbie and the reactions of the various players as she tries to play with professionals. I really find it interesting how Gun is so tolerant and loves the challenge it presents to play when handicapped by an unexperienced player.
Kdrama Jen: He was kind of sweet when he took the newbie player under his wing. He had no idea it was Tong Nian—he thought it was the younger sibling of a more experienced player. I like that this gave us a glimpse of his true character. He is kind of a marshmallow beneath that cold exterior.
Karie the Maknae: I was getting echoes of Love O2O at first, but they were quickly brushed aside when Tong Nian was SO completely horrible at the game!! And I really like that the drama is not focused on the gaming aspect, but on the relationship. That’s the part I’m interested in, anyway.
Does the Story Hold Up?
Clkytta: I find that the drama seems to be doing a great job following the original storyline while developing the side stories really well. I’m only 5 episodes in, but the storyline is making a lot more sense as they seem to be really filling in all the holes with Gun’s story. They haven’t really developed Tong Nian’s character much, but they are making us understand what makes Gun tick.
Kdrama Jen: It is interesting to hear Clkytta’s thoughts as she compares to the original story. I feel like I am still waiting for a number of fuzzy images to come into focus. I still don’t understand why Gun retired so suddenly. I am assuming he was betrayed by his friend in some way. I still want to see Tong Nian demonstrate her complete awesomeness as a top engineering student. We are getting glimpses of each of these, so at this point I feel like I am being lured into the story, but I am still only at the edge. Still, I am intrigued.
Karie the Maknae: I’m a little farther along than these two, and I can say that the drama is DEFINITELY holding up. Tong Nian has her soft, cute side, but she holds her own when she needs to. She’s one of the more emotionally stable characters I’ve seen in a drama.
Should You Watch?
Clkytta: Yes! It doesn’t matter if you have read the novel or not, you will enjoy this drama. They are doing a great job in creating a story that is interesting and sweet. This writer has a similar writing style and vibe to the writer of Love O2O and Come and Eat Shan Shan and I really enjoy her stories.
Kdrama Jen: I am on board! I am enjoying the supporting cast too. Hu Yi Tian is in this—he caught my eye in A Love So Beautiful. The main actress was the lead in Ashes of Love (the Grape Fairy) and I recently saw her in Legend of White Snake. Our leading man, Li Xian, turned my head in Side by Side with You, but this is the first time I am seeing him as the main lead. Overall, this is a cast full of familiar faces. So far, it feels like the story is heading in a solid direction, and there are enough potential conflicts to keep everything interesting. I am enjoying it.
Karie the Maknae: There’s a lot about this drama that’s appealing to me on so many levels — the mysterious backstory, the broken boy lead, the cute and intelligent girl, the fluffy romance — and I find myself returning to it again and again. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Now all that’s left to do is for our fans to watch this with us and tell us what you think! Have you read the novel? Do you feel like this is a good
Until the next time,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi