Detective Ji Bai has to train a new recruit, the criminal profiler Xu Xu. Although she is great at determining one's thoughts, she doesn't know how to interact well with people. But that's not the reason why Ji Bai intend to fire her. She's very talented in the art of profiling, yet lacks in physical ability, running as slowly as a snail. Still, impressed by each other abilities, the teacher-student pair slowly fall in love in the midst of their investigations.
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Cast & Credits
That's actually quite simple. At one point, I thought « Wow ». I was already hooked from the start (or rather around episode 3 because that's when the main leads actually meet for the first time) but later I really fell in love with the characters and the story. I was impressed, which nearly never happens. I was so eager to see the next episode that I ended up reading the novel... only to be frustrated by not being able to finish it. Yes, unfortunately for now, you'll only find the first half translated in english on internet. EDIT : now completed!
It's a little difficult to follow at first because there are a lot of characters and informations to remember. When it started, I thought it would be roughly one case every three episodes. So I didn't really care about the criminals identities and that's where I was wrong. It's actually one big case. The first case leads to the second, which leads to a third even bigger, and so on. Episodes are short but intense on informations. You have to stay focused to follow this drama, be warned.
Drama vs novel
Personnaly, I love them both in a different way. In the novel, I love how intense the main leads relationship is. We don't have their inner thoughs in the drama, so the focus is more on the investigation, which gives off an intense feeling too. Hence, I did not mind the difference, but I'll surely see a lot of things in a different way when I'll rewatch it. For instance, Ji Bai feelings are less obvious in the drama. He smiles at her, confides in her, stays by her side... They just made Xu Xu realization of her feelings more obvious than the novel through her drawings. Still, I think you'll appreciate the drama more if you watch it before reading the novel.
Acting and characters reactions
Realistic. I have to word it that way because, when it's a romantic comedy, chinese and taïwanese dramas tend to exagerate situations. Fortunately, they choose to focus on the investigation for this drama, so the acting is also very serious. The one thing that actually doesn't feel right is Xu Xu drawing cartoons. I felt the way she was portrayed in the novel, being someone really mature and logical, was more realistic.
Music and cinematography
I loved the opening song and even more its clip. So beautiful and kind of sensual, even with animals drawings. It goes well with the cinematography. Some sequences are beautiful. I loved how they make use of some silent moments. One little thing bothered me in the first few episodes. At times, the camera trembled too much, probably to give a suspens feel. But overall, it was really well-done.
Im happy to report the opening two episodes i was swept away. The opening theme is one of the best ive heard in awhile (its a trademark sound similar to CSI) and the cinematography was so nicely done. Those drawings adorable and gorgeous. Finally i now couldnt imagine Ji Bai as none other than Wang Kai and Xuxu none other than Olivia. They both suited the roles to a T.
Yet there is a but after putting out these praises. Of all the 3 novels from Ding Mo i find the love relationship in When Snail falls in love to be the cutest and sweetest. And just the right balance with the crime solving bit. But the production crew in this drama has opted to tip that balance and scale down the romance. I understand roles get magnify or diminish and plots do change in adaptation. But i cant really agree its for the better with some of the changes. Nevermind that its more centric on police detective skills, crime solving and profiling and character growth for Xuxu.
Just to name a few: Xuxu's pursuer was scraped off. Xuxu as the solo disciple to Master Ji scrap off. The JiBai pursue first got a 180degree treatment. The reason why JiBai went to Myanmar changed. Yao meng character changed but since its for the better im ok with that.
Lets just say cause i read the novel there were certain things i was waiting for and came up empty waiting and watching from beginning to ep 15. Nothing. Then we go from nothing to suddenly 75% in their romance development. I get it thats its snail" but that sudden development didnt have time in earlier episodes to plant and bloom properly.
Then episodes 18 to 21 was so epically good and bolstered up by such commendable acting from both our leads.
This drama could have been a solid 10. All the more cause we know the chemistry between our leads is powerful and that i felt was not fully unleashed. Ive been left in vain wanting that bit more for our lion and his snail. To the point i wish theres a special episode to see more of them as an item.
Il definitely miss Wang Kai as a detective n that man rocks the white shirt blue jeans look. Again want to note awesome casting of him n Olivia. This among the best C dramas have to offer in 2016. DO WATCH and if you love more romance development Do READ the novel.