de Greenlemon, Fevereiro 7, 2018

This was a very unexpected journey, it must be said! The drama is absolutely mind-blowing in every sense of the word! It gives vibes to all school dramas already aired and dusted but at the same time, it’s so refreshing. After watching school dramas for a long time, after a while, it’s almost like eating your favourite dessert at different restaurants. It’s the same dessert but done by different chefs. 

Of course, there are better chefs and worse chefs, some more traditional than others, some more creative, reflecting different desserts styles, but, still, the dessert is the same, so those who like school dramas will enjoy the freshness of With You, while those who have never tried watching them, might not know what they’re missing, so perhaps With You might provide an inspiration to give it a go!

... A story about a high school love and friendships that begin and remain...With You.

WARNING: possible spoilers!

Below are 4 reasons to watch the C-Drama With You in no particular order, but in order!

1) Lu Xing He, the second lead... syndrome! 

Lu Xing He (Wang Li Xin), the artistic son of an extremely influential man makes the bad boy look like a Makoto Shinkai's male character, always there for Geng Geng (Tan Song Yun), always trying to cheer her up, always trying to get her attention. How many second leads do you know that test a chemical reaction in a school fountain in front of everyone, for the one they love? 

Lu Xing He: "Geng Geng, do you know that science and art reach the same end through different means? I can understand the beauty in science. You can also understand the beauty in art. It's just like the chemical reaction I'm about to show you. When two seemingly ordinary things are put together there's a beautiful reaction." He adds sodium to the water fountain and there's a powerful water explosion that soaks him him entirely.

How many second leads teach their leading girl to play the drums, write letters to or sing her favorite song on a stage for her, with style, in front of the entire school?

LU Xing He: "I want to dedicate this song to the only girl I care about. I hope she [Geng Geng] remembers that there was a guy who seemed specially unreliable, a scoundrel, a guy who annoys others, who sang a truly revolutionary song today" He sings 'Stand Up, Sisters' Geng Geng's favorite song.

How many second leads do all these amazing things for the girl they like in high school and on top of that take her on bike rides, creating all these wonderful memories for her? Not many! That's love!

There’s not how not to root for Lu Xing He, but at the same time, there’s not how to root for him either, as both him and Yu Huai are on equal footing in terms of likeability!

2) Yu Huai, the cute and protective... male lead 

Yu Huai (Liu Hao Ran), the genius physicist in the making whose father works in Africa to support his family, likes Geng Geng. It’s so plainly obvious to see and he gets so jealous of Lu Xing He, so utterly jealous. He doesn’t want her near him at all and when he sees them together, his eyes are like a dragon spitting fire, expressing just how mad he is and how he wants Geng Geng to pay attention to him alone but the thing is he never tells her. Sometimes, guys can be idiots and slow to admit their feelings, slow as in past the middle of the drama, that kind of slow!

Yu Huai is a complex male lead, with challenges. He loves physics but he’s rubbish at poetry; he loves basketball, but the arts are not his thing. He’s not top of his class, like so many leads on school dramas, but he is second and he works so hard, so hard, so hard and he helps out Geng Geng a lot! His love for her is never ending, never wavering, never absent even when he is, even when he goes away, he does it for her.

It seems that all his decisions, the most important ones, at least, are for him and for Geng Geng!

The audience might not see it that way at times, might not agreeing with it at times! This is reminiscent of his mother that wants her son focused. It’s comprehensible but children grow up and make decisions that might not please their parents at one point or another. Yu Huai made decisions, he made those decisions and agreeing or not were Yu Huai's decisions, Yu Huai's decisions for love! Sometimes loving someone means having to let them go and be happy, sometimes that’s the only thing that can be done and that... is never easy!

This raises the question - when there are two male lead characters so intrinsically dissimilar in their way of thinking, acting, being, yet so uncommonly identical in the way that they feel love... which guy would you choose?

3) Beta, Geng Geng & Jian Dan's tight-knit friendship
...and the Boys Over Flowers allusions!

… and there are a few, as girls are all about boys, and Jan Di had to choose between calm, introverted Yoon Ji Hoo and maddening, extroverted Gu Jun Pyo! Beta (Dong Qing) is all for BOF, when exemplifying Geng Geng's love situation with Lu Xing He and Yu Huai during lunch break and Geng Geng and Jian Dan (Chen Meng Xi) are all ears! Indeed...after a thoughtful logical argument that turns out not to be so logical, hey... "that's what dramas teach us!"

The BOF allusions were really smartly written in the script which has flown brilliantly but the girls aren’t just about love and BOF, they are there for one another, and support each other through thick and thin, like a modern,  all-female version of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, friendship and loyalty wise, minus the protecting the king, queen and France.

Beta is all about defending her friends no matter what, loudly voicing her opinions! She defends Geng Geng when she’s criticized by some classmates and when Geng Geng’s desk colleague viciously badmouths her! She is a great friend to Jian Dan, warning her about the new girl she starts to hang out with, despite Jian Dan turning on her! It can be hard to spot a snake in the midst of concealing vegetation, especially when one is blindsided by unrequited love like Jian Dan's for Han Xu (Li Jia Cheng) and just goes along life following her friends... until through circumstances she moves on and learns to follow herself and her dreams!

Geng Geng is all about supporting her friends and enjoying herself in the company of those she holds dear: the girls and Yu Huai! They're really close and that strong knit friendship is beautiful to watch on screen! 

Then there's the classroom environment during the exams… all for one and one for all… despite being class 5! Everyone collaborates with one another for school projects, like when they have to rehearse for a performance that they aren’t very keen on but still do it for their colleagues and have a ball in the process with their production being so amusing! They study hard, really hard and they enjoy the school years; the lunch breaks in the cafeteria, the walks home, the fun times outside of school! The love that is reciprocated and the love that isn't...

4) Yu Huai & Geng Geng... the Love Story

The first love is always unforgettable! It’s so full of innocence, so devoid of complex obstacles, often self-created, so untouched by self-recriminations that do not exist during youth but plague adulthood! The first love is honest, emotional, vibrant, even when it’s platonic, even when it’s unrequited, even when is returned! 

The first love is free to fly, free to feel, free to experience, to enjoy, to live! Yu Huai and Geng Geng’s love is all of that and more, so much more! 

Yu Huai: "Geng Geng remember, although I'm not as awesome as you think I am, I'm still quite incredible. At the very least I'm more incredible than you are, so you have to adore me!" Geng Geng: "Of course. I'll adore only you!"

Their love grows on a foundation of friendship with walls of complicity and a ceiling trust that only those connected by the red string of fate understand! Their love in romantic but it’s not perfect and like a tree withstands the test of time and keeps going strong despite the absence, in spite of the distance!

Yu Huai and Geng Geng spend hours and hours in this silent love story of their own, with him demonstrating that he loves Geng Geng all the time but sometimes making her feel insecure and mad and sad like the things we lived through in high school that were typical of those days.

Geng Geng: "Yu Huai, no matter what happens I will always be by your side! The meaning of love is two people being together! If we can be together then we can be our best selves!"

That is the meaning of love, two people that love each other being together!

Based on the novel The Best of Us by Ba Yue Chang An, Yu Huai and Geng Geng's story is a visual transcription of the book. Of course, closure at the end is as fundamental as oxygen in a literary work but life doesn’t always offer the pitch-perfect Disney closure, for the end is often the beginning of another story with the same characters. Borrowing the words of Anne of Green Gables, here uncontextualized, the end/new beginning provides "lots of scope for the imagination" to go in whatever direction one chooses it to go. 

Yu Huai and Geng Geng’s love is as modernly epic as they come, two teenagers connected by the red string of fate, two teenagers connected by a bond that is as strong and as important as the love they feel for one another! It's love and love requires no explanations!

With You is a youthful piece that depicts high school life with a synergistic energy filled with warmth and nostalgia, conquering the hearts of the audience as demonstrated by the 2 billion online visualizations at the end of its run.

Give it a go! You won't be disappointed!

chinese with you liu hao ran tan song yun wang li xin chen meng xi liang hao