Falling Into Your Smile is the first Cdrama that I binge-watched and loved.
You should know, I’m not a Chinese drama fan (yet?). I’ve watched a couple of Cdramas before but they did not capture me or make me want to watch more of them. They were just okay and hence, I kept going back to Kdramas.
Clo has been recommending Falling Into Your Smile everywhere. The synopsis sounded great too. So I caved in and watched it, and loved it.
what is Falling Into Your Smile about?
The drama mainly starts with Tong Yao, a passionate gamer, getting recruited for ZGDX—a top gaming team. There has never been a female professional gamer in the Chinese gaming industry before so she will be breaking barriers and dealing with several new things.
When she accepts the offer, most people don’t accept her easily and doubt her skills. Her teammates are the first to shun her. Tong Yao stays persistent and shows her skills to prove that women can be good gamers too.
Through Yao and her team, the drama also explores the widespread traditional view of gaming and how it can be harmful to passionate gamers. Most professional gamers don’t have supportive parents because they don’t understand this career. We also see how people think they just play games all day and hence discard their careers.
Falling Into Your Smile is a cute drama that carefully showcases nuanced topics in the gaming industry with amazing characters. It is funny, adorable, and wholly captivating.
my thoughts on Falling Into Your Smile
On the outside, it seems like another cute romantic drama but it is so much more. I ended up binge-watching it because I loved it too much. I made a bunch of disorganised notes while watching, knowing I would write this review as soon as possible.
The plot is mainly focused on professional gaming but like any other career it has several factors. The drama goes through every one of those factors and shows the viewer the exact struggles that professional gamers face.
- The gaming industry is male-dominated.
When Tong Yao becomes a professional gamer, her struggles are much more compared to her male counterparts. Many players and fans don’t believe that women can be skilled enough at gaming to play professionally. Yao works harder to prove herself and makes sure to highlight that women can be good professional gamers too.
I like that they addressed how important it is for her to be the first female pro gamer and how she defies stereotypes, openly speaks against inherent misogyny, and inspires other girls to do what they want to.
- Most people don’t consider gaming as a real career.
In Asian households, having a proper career is very important. We are not given the choice to follow our passions, especially if they’re unconventional.
Falling Into Your Smile shows the history and experience of multiple gamers to depict how most gamers come into the field without support. They all have to fight against their family and traditional expectations to become someone in the gaming industry.
Gaming professionally is very different from gaming for fun. In many ways, gaming is like any other sport. It requires consistent practice, knowing several techniques, and can cause long-term injuries. They also have to deal with fame, fans, negativity, and loss on a larger scale because everyone is judging their flaws.
They have to put in the work like anybody else to make their name in the industry. It is not unheard of for teams to get disbanded after not performing well which highly affects the team members. The drama shows several gamers, each of them trying their best to be one of the best.
Most of the above are not considered by the general population and hence they discard the validity of gamers’ careers.
- Gaming can cause lasting injuries.
Gamers, especially professionals, have to take care of their wrists because they’re strained the most. I liked how the drama shows multiple instances of lasting injuries and strain that gamers face.
I’m surprised that they did not focus on eye strain as well. It was only mentioned offhand a couple of times. Considering how gamers spend most of their time staring intently at screens, they should be facing at least red eyes once in a while.
- They are also public figures.
Gaming is like any other sport that puts people in the limelight. Gamers have to be public enough to garner attention and support, watch their words, and be ready to face criticism. It is not as simple as only playing games all day.
In the drama, Yao faces several issues because of the internet and fandom. The toxicity especially comes into play because she is the only woman in the male-dominated industry. She has to be careful about her words and actions all the time.
Overall, I really liked how they tackled the main plotline and gave enough focus to every issue without losing the fun vibe. It was cute and humourous while being subtly serious.
I wouldn’t say the plot is perfect because I could see some gaps. But I acknowledge that it is hard to showcase everything and this drama did it’s best.
The characters of this drama stand out immediately. I couldn’t help but pause the episodes and carefully take in all of them during introductions. In fact, I decided that I would write this review because I wanted to talk about two of the characters—Ming and K.
Falling Into Your Smile has the most charming set of people. They are different in many ways but each of them will find a place in your heart. It is especially lovely to see them interact, take care of each other, and have each other’s backs.
Despite having varied levels of focus, I loved every single character. The supporting characters are given less spotlight but I actually loved them more than the main leads. Ming is my number one because his personality called to me right from the start. He is quieter, wise, and is a great friend. His speech in episode 1 made me emotional. He is the perfect mentor.
K was a close second for me. He is beautiful to warrant a second glance but when he grumpily said no to team dinner and stayed at home to have a solo dance session, he shot up my list. That was too cute. He is knowledgeable about skin care and beauty products, takes great care of his appearance, and is very cool. I would love to be best friends with him.
Chen Jin Yang is on another category entirely. I do not put her on the same scale as the rest of the characters. I would marry Jin Yang if I could. I loved every single thing she did in the drama. She is stunning but her confidence and attitude are the most attractive parts of her. She is herself without any false pretenses or shame. She is intelligent and highly supportive of the people she loves. If I had to pick only one person from this cast to talk about, it would be Jin Yan. She’s a queen.
I also empathized with Xiao Rui, the team’s manager who is more like nanny at times. When he spoke about how his role in the team may be small but he is still very invested in each of them as people, I was a goner.
The only complaint I have is how the supporting characters have very less personal focus. The only people who got a little bit of time were Jin Yang, K, and Ai Jia. We do not get to know every supporting character. Coming from Kdramas where most supporting characters are given enough spotlight and depth, this was not so great.
Talking about the main characters, I really liked Tong Yao. She has spunk, determination, and fight. Despite having a sunshine personality, she will fight and argue and stand up for what she believes in. She is quite aggressive in-game as well.
Her growth in the story is really nice. As she is the main lead, her growth is given a lot of importance. There are both slow and sudden changes. The drama doesn’t skimp on showing her flaws and making her deal with consequences. There is truly a difference between how she was at the start and how she is at the end.
Lu Si Cheng, the leader of ZGDX, was the classic grumpy too-perfect male lead. He is very handsome, skilled, a genius, and puts in the work to be the best. He also supports his team and loved ones by doing whatever he can even if it hurts him at times.
Initially, I felt like Yao was going through a lot of growth while Cheng remained the perfect guy with no flaws. It was a little disconcerting to realize it. I had decided to mention it as a glaring flaw in this review. But the drama soon made me eat my words.
Cheng has the best growth compared to all the characters. The plot makes him into this perfect guy with no flaws who can do everything by himself and precisely breaks down why that is a flaw. I have not seen it being addressed this well in any other piece of media. It is a sudden epiphany type of growth compared to Yao’s slow growth but it stole the show for me.
This drama has the cutest grumpy x sunshine and slow burn romance. Although we are given hints in the beginning, the plot doesn’t make romance a high priority so we are not immediately hit in the face by it.
The romance develops very slowly with few subtle actions here and there. There is no active pursuit from Cheng or Yao. The relationship goes from barely amicable to something like friends to more than friends. They have such good banter which develops into the cutest relationship. I craved romance for a hot minute because of them.
I’m pretty sure I took longer to finish the drama because I kept rewinding and watching really cute scenes between the couple. They made me feel so much for a tiny action or one sentence! I was so invested in it. That is the power of a proper slow burn romance.
It was nice how the drama also shows them actually being in a relationship and dealing with issues because of it. It doesn’t end at them getting together. We also see them staying together and supporting each other through multiple hurdles. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine but they make it work.
Considering that it is a workplace romance, it could have gone wrong so easily. I’ve never been a fan of workplace romances, especially where one of them (usually the guy) is in a higher position. I’m wary of biases and prejudices coming in because of the power difference.
In this drama, the guy is the leader of the team. I was afraid of the romance ruining things because she is the first female professional gamer in the industry and has to battle against misogyny already. The romance could have broken the plot by adding mishandled hate and criticism.
But this drama did a great job. Their relationship grew alongside their careers without the lines getting blurred. Whenever hurdles arrived, they handled them maturely. He was a leader when he had to be and he did it well. He gave her proper advice as a leader and reprimands when required too. Their professional relationship is not hindered or majorly altered because of their feelings. It is a fine line to walk and this drama went through with grace.
The only thing I didn’t like was the love triangle. I found it unnecessary and frankly boring. It felt like the writers also got bored of it after a while and neglected it. It didn’t add much to the story and could have been replaced with more focus on supporting characters.
The actor who played second lead was really good too and the role felt like a disservice to him. I hope to see him as a main lead one day.
When I first saw the game that they play in Falling Into Your Smile, I thought it was League of Legends with some edits. It looks SO MUCH like LoL. As someone who has played LoL before and gets annoyed with friends who play it every single day, I found it funny how I ended up watching a show with it. I cannot escape the game, haha.
But the game played is actually Onmyoji Arena which is pretty similar to LoL. OA is unavailable in my country so I had never heard of it before. It has the same concept as LoL with minor map changes and different characters. It is kind of like a Japanese version of LoL.
Since the drama focuses on professional gamers, there is quite some focus on the game itself. We see matches played by them and get to know about the game mechanics and techniques. Although no previous knowledge of the game is required, it helps to get familiarized with whatever is shown. Sometimes things of consequence are mentioned that wouldn’t make complete sense without knowing what they mean in the game.
Despite my “friendly” hate towards LoL, I enjoyed the focus on OA. It was interesting to see them play as a team, try different techniques, anticipate each other’s moves, and win together. It almost made me want to play LoL again before I remembered why I hate the game and that I don’t have the time for it.
The drama also has in-game animations to show critical fights in matches which was pleasantly surprising. Instead of seeing only from an outsider’s or gamer’s point of view, we go inside the game as if it is real and watch as the avatars fight. It was really interesting. The animations were done very well too.
Despite the bunch of heavy topics that Falling Into Your Smile highlights with appropriate seriousness, comedy and fun is not compromised. The drama is very humourous. I rewatched several scenes and giggled and laughed out loud.
It is good at engaging viewers. I laughed, shrieked, swooned, and felt sad with the characters. I was having an experience. Kudos to the talented team for making it so good.
There’s a small part in the story showing Yao deal with her period. We see period talks rarely in any media so this was a GEM. I loved how they showed her getting it during a game and having to miss out on a party because of it. We see her experiencing debillitating cramps and also try to do other things. Love the representation.
It’s not a huge point but I noticed that ZGDX had only one backup member and that was for Mid. What if other members got hurt? Who would take their position? It wasn’t in the drama, probably because they couldn’t focus on so many characters, but it was still weird.
A random observation but the character Lu Si Cheng is eerily similar to Do Kyeong Seok from My ID is Gangnam Beauty. The actors also look quite similar. Both of the characters smile in the same particular way when their partners do cute things too! I couldn’t help but feel like they were almost the same character.
And speaking of similarities, Jian Yang (played by Zhai Xiao Wen) looks just like Ji Chang Wook in some angles. It is not as apparent looking directly at him but the side shots show the similarity.
It was fun to see these two characters and compare them to the Kdrama characters that I know.
Falling Into Your Smile is a gem that you HAVE to watch. It will definitely be a drama that I rewatch for comfort. Writing this review makes me want to rewatch it so bad. I already did watch a couple of sections because I was writing about them.
I especially recommend this drama if you want a light-hearted drama with some depth that does not rule the story. I definitely recommend it if you want a good romance.
The best part is that this drama is available on YouTube! You don’t need any streaming service or random website for this. Here is the playlist that I watched: