One of the hottest Chinese dramas in 2021 is none other than romance esports series Falling into Your Smile (2021).
Directed by Qiu Zhong Wei and produced by Kelsey Yang, the story is based on Qing Mei’s webnovel “You’re Beautiful When You Smile”.
The series follows the story of Tong Yao (Cheng Xiao) who is scouted to be part of an esports team called ZGDX.
When she finally agrees to join the group and be a professional gamer, Tong Yao officially becomes the first female esport athlete in China.
Her new teammates include the leader Lu Si Cheng (Xu Kai), Xiao Pang (Sun Kai), Lao K (Gao Han) and Lao Mao (Kevin Xiao).
WeTV reported that Falling into Your Smile is the most watched Chinese drama in the month of July 2021 on its platform, beating out other on-air Chinese and Korean dramas.
So what is the buzz all about?
Here at KajoMag, we have watched all 31 episodes of the series so here are five reasons you should watch Chinese drama Falling into Your Smile (2021):
1.The buildup of the story and main characters
The plot builds around the journey of ZGDX playing through China’s Onmyoji Arena Pro League or OPL.
Like any other sports teams, ZGDX has ups and downs throughout the series.
Moreover like any other sports, they win and lose their matches in the story.
The storyline progresses steadily, focusing more on Tong Yao becoming a professional gamer, the teamwork of ZGDX as well as Tong Yao and Lu Si Cheng’s romantic relationship.
Tong Yao who is used to playing video games as a pastime has to learn how to play it professionally.
She also has to learn to deal with her new status as a ‘celebrity’ whose every move is being watched and posted online.
Other than that, we can see how ZGDX grows as a team and work out their differences whenever conflicts arise.
2.The chemistry among the characters
Speaking of ZGDX, their chemistry in the drama is undeniably good.
The team members Lu Si Cheng , Xiao Pang, Lao K and Lao Mao as well as their coach Yu Ming (Yalkun Merxat) and manager Xiao Rui (Cui Shao Yang) are like older brothers to Tong Yao.
Lao K, being portrayed as the metrosexual guy in the group, notices the little things happening around them.
In the meantime, Lao Mao is the fitness fanatic who is clueless of his surroundings.
Xiao Pang is like a human version of a teddy bear who always sticks by Tong Yao’s side.
The only one who always bickers with Tong Yao is Lu Yue (Yao Chi) but in more like sibling’s rivalry kind of bickering.
Last but not least is Chen Jin Yang (Rachel Wang), Tong Yao’s best friend.
Their friendship is just how you imagine it would be between two young women.
They spend time together, care for each other, are protective over one another and talk about work, love, men and even sex.
3.Healthy romantic relationship between the two main characters
Of course, the most interesting relationship to watch in the series is between Lu Si Cheng and Tong Yao.
Honestly, healthy romantic relationships are hard to find in C-dramas as well as K-dramas.
A cliched plot usually consists of an intelligent, handsome, cold and borderline God-like male lead falling in love with the damsel in distress.
Throw in insecurities, misunderstandings and some love rivals on either (or both) sides, and there you have it; a typical background love story in C-dramas and K-dramas. Sometimes, you don’t even know why the two main characters fall in love with each other in the first place.
Thankfully even from the beginning of Falling into your Smile, Lu Si Cheng and Tong Yao have something that you can rarely find in most fictional couples on TV, and that thing is growth.
First, they begin to trust each other as teammates and then slowly become friends.
From there, they start to show interest in each other with the little things they do for each other and some innocent flirting being thrown back and forth.
When they are finally sure about their feelings, they decide to pursue a romantic relationship together.
Even when they are dating, Lu and Tong are helping each other to be better people and esports athletes.
They do have issues… because which relationship doesn’t have problems, right?
However, they deal with it using very less dramatic way for a fictional couple, which is by communicating.
Don’t expect over-dramatic scenes like someone left crying in the rain after a fight or a love rival coming out of the blue to sway their feelings.
However, there is one thing that is very cliche and cringing to watch when comes to Lu and Tong’s relationship in the series; the slow-mo scenes of Lu catching Tong every time she falls and then them gazing into each others’ eyes.
These scenes are just unnecessary.
4.It addresses the social issues around esports industry
Most of the social issues addressed in Falling into Your Smile are about the esports industry.
With Tong Yao being the only female pro-gamer in the fictional story, it naturally highlights the sexism in the esports industry.
While her teammates are unfazed by her gender, the world seems to be more interested with the fact that she is a girl who plays video games.
Since the esports industry is relatively new, the series focuses on society’s general perception on professional gaming.
The general population deso not see gamers as a profession and there is no future in playing video games.
In the series, the parents of these professional gamers all have different reactions to their children’s choice of work.
Some are supportive while some even disowned their sons.
Their reactions portray the different opinions of society in professional gaming.
Apart from esports, the drama also highlights other social problems that are not just happening in China.
These issues include cyber-bullying, irresponsible journalism, obsessive fans and invasion of privacy for public figures.
Today, athletes are treated like celebrities whose private lives are being reported in the news.
Gone are the days when athletes’ names only appeared in the sports news section.
5.Thrilling fighting animation scenes
If you are not familiar with the game Onmyoji Arena, you might find all the talking about the game strategy and the animation scenes in the series are confusing.
You might even think ‘What on earth are these people talking about?’ or ‘What the hell is going on?’ or ‘Who is who again?’
Once you get familiar with the nature of the game and the game’s characters, the fighting scenes are very entertaining.
The fighting matches in the series are depicted through animation so it is like watching an anime in the same time.
Every fight is not the same as these players used various characters and strategies in different matches.
Moreover, the background music in the fighting scenes makes it more thrilling to watch.
So is Falling into Your Smile (2021) really worth watching?
Falling into Your Smile is Xu Kai’s first ‘modern’ role in a television series.
His previous roles are all in historical or periodic dramas such as Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), The Legends (2019) and Dance of the Sky Empire (2020).
Meanwhile, K-pop fans might recognise Cheng Xiao as one of the members of girl group WJSN.
Although she has been active as a K-pop idol since 2015, Cheng only made her first debut as an actress last year in the drama Detective Chinatown.
Speaking of K-pop, one of the drama soundtracks ‘Warrior’ is by Korean group SEVENTEEN.
Other artists who contributed to the impressive line of soundtracks are WayV, Angela Chang, Chen Zhuoxuan and even the two lead actors Xu Kai and Cheng Xiao.
Overall, Falling into Your Smile is story about a group of young adults who share the same dream and goal.
It is a still a romantic comedy so you will find yourself chuckling every now and then.
While international fans might enjoying the drama including Cheng’s performance as Tong Yao in the series, the esports community in China was not entirely thrilled.
Global Times reported that esports players in China were accusing her of being ‘unprofessional’ and ‘ruining the spirit of esports’.
This series of criticism led into an online uproar between esporting groups and Cheng’s fans.
The drama’s production company had to publish a statement urging the fans to “watch these episodes rationally, pass fair judgement and do not insult or target any actors.”
Perhaps Cheng’s performance was so good in Falling into Your Smile that some viewers could not differentiate between fiction and reality?
You have to watch the drama yourself to find out.