Chinese dramas have definitely evolved over the years and I’ll say it’s becoming even better and better but the most prominent change will be the upward trend of web dramas, investors seem to have more confidence in web dramas as there are many large scale dramas being shown only on Chinese web streaming sites like Iqiyi, Sohu, Tencent QQ and Youku.
The biggest difference between web dramas and TV dramas will be the diversity in genres as there’s less restrictions and regulations on the web as compared to on TV. Producers can easily skip the process of waiting for their dramas to be approved by SARFT before they can go on air on TV. With more and more viewers preference to watch dramas on the web than on TV, web dramas definitely have a promising future.
I’ll list down some examples of web c-dramas I’ve seen/heard of or anticipating. Note that there may be more web dramas out there that I don’t know since I only list down things that caught my attention.
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Upcoming Web C-dramas
The Lost Tomb (盜墓筆記)
Starring: Li Yi-Feng, Yang Yang, Liu Tian Zuo, Ken Chang, Tiffany Tang
Planned Premiere Date: June 1st, 2015 on Iqiyi and Viki (for foreign viewers)
Plot: The Lost Tomb is an epic tale of action and adventure. Wu Xie (Li Yifeng) is an antique shop owner who comes from a family of tomb raiders. As he continues the family trade with his team of tomb raiders, he finds lost treasures of the Warring States as well as the answers to the tragedies of his family’s past. With the help of his grandfather’s notes and his team – the quiet Zhang Qi Ling (Yang Yang), the resourceful Pang Zi (Liu Tian Zuo), the experienced Wu San Xing (Ken Chang), San Xing’s loyal helper Pan Zi (Wei Wei), and the skillful Ah Ning (Tiffany Tang) – Wu Xie sets out to find the lost treasures as well as the people responsible for the massacre of his family. The Lost Tomb is a Chinese drama series directed by Law Wing Cheong. It is based on a series of novels by the same title (also known as Daomu) written by Kenny Xu Lei. The Lost Tomb also is known in English as the Grave Robbers Chronicles and Grave Robbery Note. (Source: Wikipedia)
Comments: Definitely one of my most anticipated C-drama. Adapted from the insanely popular c-novel, it’s been reported that there’ll be 8 seasons in total that will be filmed for over 8 years. I’ve a feeling that this will become a very successful franchise and I’ve read bits of the novel but because it’s considered a guy’s novel so I think I’ll enjoy it much more on screen than reading the novel :p But one thing for sure is the plot is really good. This is like the chinese version of Indiana Jones or the Mummy but with their own unique flavor.
Close Your Eyes And He Came (他來了，請閉眼)
Starring: Wallace Huo, Ma Si-Chun, Wang Kai, Zhang Lu-Yi
Planned Premiere Date: October 2015 on Sohu and Dragon TV
Plot: （I’ll just write a brief summary.） The hero is an eccentric genius professor who is an expert in cracking down fearsome criminals. Even though he’ve a high IQ, his EQ is extremely low as he dislikes interacting with other people and constantly gets on the heroine’s nerves from time to time. The heroine is a smart college student majoring in English language, she was hired to translate the criminal cases the hero handled in the past. However, she’ve never once seen the hero get out of his room even though she’s living under the same roof during her employment period and at first misunderstood him as a crime fiction novelist. After a few incidents that led to hero showing his face in front of the heroine, he appointed her as his assistant in investigation as he’s lazy to get to know other people (lol).
Comments: Well, this is not really considered a pure web drama since they’ll be airing it on Dragon TV. However, this will be the very first c-drama that live broadcast simultaneously on Dragon TV channel and on Sohu, both on TV and on the web at the same time. But what made me excited is the plot! It’s adapted from the popular romance-detective novel written by Ding Mo (丁墨), one of my recent favorite novelist, most of her novels have unusual elements like Sci-Fi, Fantasy mixed in with romance and her heroines tend to be really well-written, strong, rational and smart. She knows how to write interesting characters and rich stories. Close Your Eyes & He Came is also one of my favorite novels from her as the mystery element is strong.
It reminds me of Sherlock Holmes mixed in with cute romance as the genius hero have no experience in relationship and he can be so dumb at times when it comes to relationship, he got a tsundere personality when it comes to the heroine, ha! I love their relationship! I also love the heroine as only she can handle that prickly hero.
I’m just hoping that the drama adaptation will be as charming as the original novel. I like the male cast, Wallace Huo and Zhang Lu-Yi. Wallace Huo wowed me with his performance in Battle of Changsha (戰長沙) and Zhang Lu-Yi was fantastic as the lead in The Red (紅色), both are war dramas but very different as The Red is more like a psychological battle between the hero and the Japanese antagonist, while Battle of Changsha have more focus on the heroine’s family and the things that changed during the war. Both are highly recommended dramas!
Current/Past Web C-dramas
Evil Minds (心理罪)
Starring: Chen Ruo-Xuan, Fu Mei, Wang Long-Zheng
Planned Episodes: 24 (2 episodes per week starting from May 8th) on Iqiyi （English Hard Subs included inside!）
Plot: Fang Mu is known as a genius in crime pyschology in the city. When he collaborates with police officer, Tai Wei-Lian to crack a series of bizzare campus murder cases. Those cases traumatized him and he became dacadent because of that. He even try to deceive himself and others to try to forget everything. However, the devil’s provocation didn’t stop right there as a series of mysterious serial killings occured again and put Fang Mu in jail. He have no choice but to open up the wounds he’d never like to see again. He’ve to face his inner guilt and sins and compete with the mysterious devil.
Comments: I’ve yet to check this out but the trailer seems promising. This reminds me of a more serious version of The Darker (暗黑者). Only 4 episodes are available as of now. I do not know anyone from the cast but the plot intrigues me.
Jenius (Genius J) (天才J)
Starring: Wang Zi-Qing, Chen Si-Yu
Planned Episodes: 10 (1 episodes per week starting from Apr 24) on Youku/Tudou (Watch on Youtube with English Hard Subs!)
Plot: J who is born in a family of genius is eccentric and unsociable, he likes to skip classes and study weird formulas, a problematic student. He disappeared after he deliberately cuts his own face as an act of self-harming in front of his classmates. After a few months, a new transfer student, Chu Xia goes to find J under the instruction of her teacher to send him a letter. In the process, she discovers that J’s house is very mysterious. During his disappearance, China’s telecommunication companies are involved in a heated business battle…
Comments: I’ve watched about 3/4 episodes so far. The tone and setting is like a high school j-drama, even the main actress is known as a cosplayer in China. The setting is very interesting though and since it’s only about 30min per episode, the pacing is fast and it’s a pretty fun drama.
Back in Time (匆匆那年)
Starring: Yang Le, He Hong-Shan, Bai Jing-Ting, Cai Wen-Jing, Du Wei-Han
Number of Episodes: 16 on Sohu
Plot: Based off a popular novel, the drama depicts the lives of high schooler’s during the 90’s in China. (Source: mydramalist)
Comments: I’ve reviewed about this before in my Year-End Review and also posted raw hd links before on my blog. It’s great coming-of-age story about 5 high-school friends that spans from late 1990s to early 2000s. It talks about the delicate and fragile relationships of these adolescents and this drama had me feeling bittersweet after I finished it. I didn’t watch the movie version that stars Eddie Peng and Ni Ni as I’ve already watched the web drama version and feel that the cast of the drama version fits better as high-schoolers.
Death Notify: The Darker Season 1 (暗黑者)
Starring: Guo Jing-Fei, Gan Lu, Li Min-Cheng, Li Qian, Jing Chao
Number of Episodes: 46 on Tencent QQ (Eng hard subbed on Youtube (only up till ep8 so far))
Plot: A series of serial killings was exposed and created a stir among the public, several death notifications signed by “The Darker” appeared and to counter the provocation of the mysterious killer, the police created a special investigation team. (Source: mydramalist)
Comments: I’ve reviewed about this before in my Year-End Review. “Fast-paced and interesting crime procedural drama with sleek cinematography, fun characters and witty dialogues.” It’s a good drama for those who love crime dramas mixed in with some humor. I really enjoyed this a lot and appreciate how creative the production is for their different opening sequence (different for every cases).
Falling Down (執念師)
Starring: Yu Tong, Jing Chao, Liang Da-Wei, Ai Xiao-Qi
Number of Episodes: 20 on Sohu
Plot: Coming from the same production team as The Darker, Falling Down is a sci-fi thriller that talks about the story of two women, Qu Xiao-Wan and Liu-Xin who are of extremely different personalities. They became acquainted in one fateful night when the bus they rode on almost fall off the cliff. However, the moment when the bus is about to fall off the cliff, the time suddenly stops and the bus stops mid-air. Their supernatural abilities are activated. After a series of dangerous incidents, they meet the future version of themselves who came to kill the “older” version of themselves. Thus, they begin to escape in a road full of danger and twists.
Comments: I’ve watched a couple of episodes and I’ll say that the darker’s style of witty humor is there. The plot and setting is a lot more interesting than what I expected. There’s various kinds of supernatural abilities, such as mind-reading, time-stopping, time travel etc… It’s definitely worth a try. I’ll probably pick it back up when I’ve the mood to watch fantasy drama.