The Cdramas have been knocking it out of the park in the latter half of 2022, resplendent with their stellar storytelling, amazing cinematography, and compelling emotional draw. Lighter and Princess is looking like it will join their ranks! Come see why you should watch this modern coming-of-age Chinese drama.
THE SET UP
“Li Xun is a cool and calculating computer programming ace who gained special admission to college. To others, he can sometimes seem aloof and distant, but this is mainly down to his worldview: He sees life as one great big computer program, and only feels comfortable when he is in control of what is going on. He knows nothing of love – considering it to be an emotion that may be beyond his understanding.
Zhu Yun, meanwhile, is a clean-living and innocent young woman who has just begun her college life after doing everything her parents and society expected of her to the best of her ability. When she meets Li Xun, she feels conflicted. She worries that he is a disruptive influence and a possible troublemaker, but still feels somehow drawn to him. Although they seem to butt heads at first, they start to begin cherishing their time together. But when a life-altering incident threatens to separate them – just as romance was starting to brew – their affection is about to undergo the ultimate test!”
Chen Fei Yu (Arthur Chen) plays Li Xun, and boy howdy, is he playing the bad boy programmer well. He’s aloof, but there’s a smirk just waiting to come out every time he messes with Zhu Yun, keeping him on just this side of likable. He’s a master at making sparks fly between them.
Zhang Jing Yi is handling the part of Zhu Yun with a relatability that drew me in from the first scene. She is smart and determined and stubborn enough to handle whatever Li Xun hands out. Programming may not be her first love, but she’ll do well at it because that’s who she is.
Rounding out the cast are Zhao Zhi Wei (who played the twin brother in Le Coup De Foudre) as Gao Jian Hong and Jenny Zeng, who plays Ren Di. Gao Jian Hong is rigid in his thinking and desperate to prove himself, but he really wants to help others improve too, which keeps him from being cold and righteous. Ren Di is a drummer and sometimes roommate to Zhu Yun, as well as a font of wisdom for handling human relationships. She keeps the group connected from past to present.
The drama kicks off in media res, showing Li Xun being released from prison, being forced into a company buyout by Gao Jian Hong, and having difficulty reconnecting with Zhu Yun, who appears to be dating someone else. It’s not a promising start as the troubles mount up, but then we skip back into an extended flashback, which shows the three connecting as they begin their programming studies at Nahua University under the affable care of Professor Lin.
Their journey together, especially Li Xun and Zhu Yun’s, has run deeper than the usual college flirtation as they push and pull against each other’s motives and their attraction to each other. Li Xun comes off as knowing everything and playing a deeper game than everyone else, and I’m interested to see where the journey will take them all.
WATCH OR PASS?
If you like coming of age dramas, this is definitely a good watch so far. It’s not fluffy, and the characters are full of depth and real struggles. I’d say that it has the potential to be as compelling as School 2013, but I’m only 8 episodes in. I’m told there’s angst to come (thanks, Discord peeps!), which will only make the story even MORE compelling. You can find Lighter and Princess on Youku or Viki.
Until the next flick of the lighter, I remain —
Karie the Maknae
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi