A coming-of-age story that follows a group of students with an interest in debate.
Freshman Bai Yu studies Culture Industry Management at Yingli University. He mistakenly attends the new member selection meeting of the debate club and ends up joining the club together with Yi Xiao Xi and others. Final-year student Gao Ting Ting, who dreams of winning the national University Debate Championship, now puts all her hopes on the new team. But the teacher in charge wants to give their practice room away, and in order to keep the room, Ting Ting’s team has to place first in the university’s own debate contest. Will their team of rookies with clashing personalities be able to achieve it?
Cast & Credits
1) This show is a great introduction to debate. The show was produced and written by debaters, and you can tell throughout the show that they aimed to show the world the joy and value of debate that they experienced for themselves. The usage of debaters as characters in the show only adds to this. The pacing and format of the show is almost like a sports anime, where you become interested in something you never really cared about before by the passion and motivation of these characters. As someone who has been in mock trial and debate, this show feels authentic to my experience on this type of team and to how joyful and rewarding an experience like this is.
2) The characters are likable individually, and together, they have a lot of chemistry. The writers have created characters with quirks and depth, who may fall into general tropes but are still memorable nonetheless. Pan You Cheng straddles the line between charming-annoying and frustrating-annoying really well with Bai Yu. Lin Xin Yi plays Xiao Xi with a lot of overwhelming cuteness, but in no way is Xiao Xi labeled by the show as a stupid airhead. From the protagonists to side characters to antagonists, the motives and personalities of the characters have emotional logic behind them and they are understandable. The unfortunate exception to this is Xiao En, who is charming enough but definitely lacks depth. Sally, the actress who plays her, doesn't really sell the role. She's a K-pop star by trade, so this makes sense, but it still is kind of disheartening to know that her character was probably mostly conceived to draw in the K-pop crowd rather than to make an interesting character or advance the plot.
3) The romance is good, I promise. This bit might be a little biased, since I'm a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope that this genre cultivates so easily. The romance is never too much to where it overwhelms the show, but it's an important thread to the tapestry this drama weaves about these students' lives. Different types of romantic love are shown: idol worship, unrequited love, tsundere pining, old friends who care too much to confess, etc. There are multiple couples. You will squee and aww. Every romantic moment feels earned, but some people might think that's too slow of a burn.
4) The writing is smart enough to where you know the plot is predictable, but you're having fun so you don't really care. It takes that generic sports anime "I wanna win the big championship!" mentality, but you see these characters work hard and analyze and review so much that it feels earned. You feel proud of them when they win and grow and learn. And they don't have a straight shot from the bottom to the top.
5) The show tackles big questions without being preachy. A lot of the debate topics are huge questions that new adults face anyway when they're away from home for the first time. These include questions about obsession, choices, love, and purpose. This provides a great opportunity for the writers to both create character growth and move the plot along while maintaining the theme of growing up, and they use it really well. Instead of clearly leading the show to tell the audience what is the 'correct' opinion, the debate format shows the different viewpoints people have on a subject and subtly encourages the audience to think about it too.
1) The wording gets really technical at times. For those who can't understand more technical Chinese (English subtitles aren't on Youtube as of writing), it can be difficult to follow along with what the debaters are saying. This includes Wechat messages and modern slang.
2) When the actors have to tackle tougher scenes, their lack of experience shows. While there aren't a ton of immensely emotional scenes in this drama, when they do show up, the acting is... awkward. This is kind of understandable given that many of the actors/actresses in this drama are fairly inexperienced.
3) Some elements of the production pull you out of the show. The most obvious one to me was the time of year. When it was supposed to be the middle of winter, I could hear cicadas in the background of the audio and trees that were completely green. Another is the music: while not as horrendous as other shows, the songs with lyrics sound really cheesy. The background music is fine though. The dubbing is okay but sometimes the audio mixing sounds messed up, which can take you out of an important scene.
Other things of note:
*Some episodes begin with a "cold open" style opening--usually some sort of funny hijink or past memory that's not continuous with whatever's happening in the plot. This can be jarring and confusing at first, especially if you're used to C-dramas that recap the last episode in the first 30 seconds.
*Debate topics always have some relation to a character's current conflict or problem. It's contrived and unrealistic, but if you can look past it, it will be worth it.
*The title sometimes spoils plot points. Learned this the hard way.
*A stale meme from over a year ago is referenced. Sorry about that.
TL;DR: Watch this if you want a breezy, sweet show with cool characters that grow through debate.
The cast did solid especially at the debating portions though there were a few awkward acting scenes in the drama. It wasn't difficult to pull through the awkward scenes though. Main leads and supporting leads are relatively new in acting (especially the FL, I believe it's her first drama?) so them being slightly awkward is definitely forgivable. Furthermore, it was only very slight and not to the extent of it being intolerable.
Overall a very predictable and cliche plot but you'll feel as if you're being carried along their arduous journey in debate. When I finished the drama, I couldn't help but to have this overwhelming sense of pride in me. No harm giving it a try!