It has been a long time since I wrote about Gu Man’s novel but since the first episodes of the drama just came out … …
A Slight Smile Is Devastating Tester Recap
The novel is short to start with and as with Come Eat Shan Shan, there is probably going to be additional scenes and development of side characters in the drama. I watched the movie version of this and Yi Xiao Nai He’s white hair is an eyesore and I also disliked some of the plot rearrangements they made to the story. Since the TV series is 30 episodes, I’m hoping that this will be truer to the novel.
The episode first give a peek at the two condors, then it is a sect battle. Lu Wei Wei Wei and (soon-to-be-ex) husband Zhen Shui Wu Xiang are fighting along with Lei Shen Ni Ni and the members of another sect. Teammates are killed and the final kill goes to Lu Wei Wei Wei and Zhen Shui Wu Xiang.
The CGI is actually a lot better than I expected and while it is obvious, the action is fast enough that I don’t really notice it.
We get a much earlier introduction to Lei Shen Ni Ni and the monster drop is a magical necklace for her. Wei Wei gets challenged to a PK match from the other sect’s leader for the necklace and ends up agreeing on behalf of Ni Ni.
Wei Wei and Zhen Shui end up having a private conversation with Wei Wei expressing how awkward it would be to call Zhen Shui “Wu Xiang” or “Husband.” Zhen Shui Wu Xiang’s white hair is really throwing me off. I almost couldn’t watch the movie version of the novel because they used white hair for Yi Xiao Nai He’s avatar. Wei Wei’s struggle to call Zhen Shui anything other than his name was also in the novel and putting it at the front makes chronological sense. At the same time, there is a nice touch with another couple going by where the female is asking her husband to kill monsters for her so the contrast between the two relationships is highlighted.
To switch between the game and real life, they are using speech bubbles when the point of view is in the 3D world and talking when the camera is pointing inside the game. Since there is typing, I guess we are supposed to think everything is in words. This is Wei Wei’s dorm room with the bunk beds for four. I do think this is much more spacious than the average university dorm in China though it might be different in newer buildings since I haven’t visited one in a few years.
Like in the novel, Zhen Shui asks for Wei Wei’s picture to see what she looks like. Unfortunately, the electricity goes out as Er Xi made noodles and overloaded the circuit. Wei Wei ends up acting as electrician which is a nice touch to her and introduces Er Xi.
The electricity gets fixed but the computer doesn’t start as Er Xi reveals she accidentally dropped it when she borrowed it earlier. In contrast to the novel, Er Xi actually knows what is going on with Zhen Shui as she has been “peeking” in as Wei Wei plays. Rather than the broadband being the problem, Wei Wei seems to “reject” Zhen Shui as first the electricity and then her computer is broken.
A completely new part that isn’t in the novel occurs next. Wei Wei and Er Xi goes to fix her computer and this flows extremely naturally to the two of them on a scenic ride through the campus with their helmets on. Along the way, they see a poster of a basketball game which introduces us to Xiao Nai.
The crowd of people chattering as well as the fangirling of Er Xi and Wei Wei informs us that Xiao Nai is in year four, is very good at playing basketball and a regular on the team as well as he is not going to do graduate study in the future.
At the computer shop, in another change from the novel, Wei Wei and Er Xi encounter Meng Yi Ran and her friend. The two of them have come to buy a new memory module for the computer in order to ask for help from a mystery someone. Wei Wei comes in and tries to reveal how the owner is trying to scalp Meng Yi Ran but she refuses help when learning from her friend who Wei Wei is.
The bantering between Er Xi and Wei Wei is extremely funny and their good relationship is expressed well. In another reference to the novel, Er Xi refers to Wei Wei’s bra size.
Wei Wei arrives at the internet café where it switches to a go game in session between an older man and younger man. Xiao Nai is in the middle of a game in a private room with his maternal uncle who wagers a gift on the outcome of the game. I really have to say that this is my favorite part of episode one. Wei Wei heads to her duel and starts to fight just as Xiao Nai continues to play his go game. The point of view switches between Wei Wei and Xiao Nai. The editors teases by keeping Xiao Nai’s face covered or out of frame for a few minutes.
The two end up winning (obviously) and it is nice to see the differences in makeup for Wei Wei within and out of the game. In the game, she has heavier eyeliner and lipstick while she looks much younger in 3D life.
The gift obviously is the internet café but Xiao Nai refuses by saying he wants to start from zero. So the rice paper doors are opened and guess who he sees directly opposite him? I find having tea and go matches in an internet café slightly strange but it probably does happen since cafes probably need different sources of income.
Wei Wei is challenged to another match and starts again. I have to say that the setup in the internet café looks pretty shiny and new, especially the mechanical keyboard.
Long lingering shot on the hands (I wonder if Xiao Nai has a hand fetish) and he ends up staring like a creep from behind Wei Wei. Wei Wei wins the second match, cleans up and turns 90 degrees before leaving, just missing Xiao Nai.
And she goes to the cashier without seeing him.
Wei Wei returns to dorms and her dormmates are gathered together. Because she had tried to ruin the computer store’s sale, they didn’t allow her to buy anything so she tells her fiends she is going online and buying parts to install herself.
Er Xi reveals the existence of Wei Wei’s (little red) notebook which Wei Wei is apparently keeping notes on the game as she aspires to be a game designer, possibly in Feng Teng Corporation (cough).
To add complexity to the plot, Meng Yi Ran and her friend along with Cao Guang saw Wei Wei getting off the car. Her friend has a really negative opinion of Wei Wei and Meng Yi Ran is pictured as being more thoughtful. Cao Guang also states he doesn’t like Wei Wei and never will like someone like her.
As in the story, Zhen Shui and Wei Wei divorce and she learns that he and Xiao Yu Yao Yao are getting divorced from Lei Shen Ni Ni in the middle of a herb patch. Everyone is apparently using HP for their laptops as Wei Wei’s dormmates all have the same color and kind of computer.
Wei Wei’s costume in the game varies from bare arms to red robes while she switches between double short swords and the larger blade. They’ve remained very close to the novel. And … …
This was something they reproduced faithfully and it would have been a disappointment if they didn’t.
In conclusion, screenshots and writing a recap took me a long time, I don’t know how other people do it. I’m probably not going to do this in depth for any other episodes since this was just a test, maybe just short summaries on stuff that diverged from the novel. I do have high expectations for this drama since the first episode was done so well with the added complexity of Meng Yi Ran, Cao Guang and Xiao Nai’s uncle. There are a lot more references to the novel than I have written about and the scriptwriters and directors have added more to the plot such as Wei Wei’s skills at tinkering. They also do more show and tell through Er Xi and extra scenes. I actually think making subtitles would be faster than getting good screenshots since I don’t have any software.
I’m going to release edited translated chapters as the drama progresses.