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TV Review: Love O2O Episode 01

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Year: 2016
Episode: 1/30 of completed CDrama series (English sub)
Other Names: A Smile is Very Beautiful; WeiWei’s Beautiful Smile, Just One Smile is Very Alluring
Online: Wikipedia [1] & [2], MyDramaList, IMDB, DramaFever
Genre: Drama, Romantic Comedy (light)

I came across the series Love O2O by chance while I was exploring some of the newer titles on the MDL website this evening. The premise seemed interesting, resulting in me checking out the first episode. It turned out to be quite a bit different than I expected.

Bei Wei Wei (Zheng Shuang) is a computer science major studying at a Beijing university that enjoys playing a popular Wuxia MMORPG in her spare time. When her laptop dies when she is discussing swapping information for a possible date with the guy that she is married to in the game she ends up being seen in a PvP battle at an internet cafe by Xiao Nai (Yang Yang), a fellow computer science major. After her “husband” divorces her and remarries, the number one player on the server, Xiao Nai’s avatar, asks Bei Wei Wei if she would mind being a couple.

To begin with, I expected this series to play out completely in the real world. However, we see how Bei Wei Wei and Xiao Nai see the world when they play. It plays it with some decent CGI-enhanced scenes that rival some movies. Given that the series is also Chinese, I would say that the animation grinds the quality of shows such as Ice Fantasy into the dust. The costumes and props are also pretty good during these scenes.
To the casting, I was somewhat happy with the choices even if I was not familiar with the actors and actresses ahead of time. The cast did a great job of playing up to the silliness and drama of the odd series, making it highly enjoyable. Zheng Shuang makes a very convincing and confident Bei Wei Wei, our heroine. Although we didn’t get to see much of Yang Yang’s Xiao Nai, what we did see offered us an idea of his dreams and ambitions. We get to see a few other characters as well, but the one that stands out is our heroine’s friend Er Xi (Mao Xiao Tong). Er Xi is an adorable supporting character that offers a lot to the progression of the story itself through her interactions with her friend and other characters.
To the gaming references, it was easy to recognise and understand many of the game mechanics shown in the animated sequences. As a gamer that has played a few Asian MMORPGs, it felt authentic rather than some attempt at winging it. For example, a lot of MMORPGs have some sort of marriage mechanic. The methodology differs from game to game, but there is generally a benefit for doing so. In many cases, there is also some cost for divorcing the other character. We see the divorce mechanic play out dramatically in the first episode of this show via a ritual.
We also see resurrection and party loot mechanics play out as well, on top of a shop mechanic. If you’ve ever played games such as Ultima Online, you’ll note a similar mechanic as the latter shown in the first episode. This mild attention to game mechanics made the show that much more enjoyable. We also see things like the silliness of local and world chat, complete with moderation in real time. Okay, this last one is very much game specific. Not all games have live moderation because of costs, but it is kind of neat to see the use of a ban to create a certain degree of humour.
To the pacing and plot, the episode played out in a logical manner. We learn a few things about the characters whilst avoiding an info dump. That should give room for storytelling in future instalments of the series. We also have a strong sense of how much time is passing as well, with the characters having real schedules because they are university students. It made the characters feel that much more authentic.

In conclusion, I really liked the first episode and will be watching more of the series. I recommend it to people looking for a light romantic drama, especially those with a gaming background. If you do check out the series, feel free to let me know what you think of the show.

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Author: keikomushi

Reader, Writer, New Media Buff, Anime Fangirl, Gnome Hunter, Last Action Femme Fatale, Appreciator of Nature, Jack-of-all-trades.

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