After watching Meteor Garden 2018 last year, as well as A Love So Beautiful, I stumbled across Love 020 which is a Chinese adaptation of a novel by Gu Man. I found that there were two versions of this adaptation — a 30 episode series (which I dutifully finished) and a movie starring Angelbaby and Jing Boran. I found each medium had their own strengths and appeals. I briefly lock down on how they pit against each other.
Synopsis: Sophomore Computer Science student Bei Weiwei is known as a campus beauty with mad skills in gaming. Unknown to the community, she is the fierce Luwei Weiwei who holds overall seventh rank in their game server. Unknown to Weiwei, she has caught the eye of campus heartthrob Xiao Nai, who is known in the game as the master Yixiao Naihe. Xiao Nai pursues Weiwei in the game and eventually wins her heart in real life as well.
Series vs Movie
I must admit that I felt like 30 episodes to tell the story of Love 020 was a tad too long since the plot wasn’t overly complex. There were times that the script was redundant and focused too much on how amazing Weiwei and Xiao Nai were in their respective fields that it got a bit uncomfortable at times, especially when the beauty shots of both characters could fill about three episodes. I love Yang Yang and think he’s one of the most gorgeous actors in China but the beauty shots and the extreme close ups were an overkill. I loved the sweet scenes though and the development of the secondary characters, especially Xiao Nai’s posse and the pairing Cao Guang and Erxi. This was really cute. The series had an overall feeling of romance which was definitely a good thing for the genre.
Love 020 the movie had the disadvantage of limited time so they had to make adjustments by combining some of the characters from the series. They picked the right scenes to depict and used great transition to hover from Xiao Nai’s romantic and professional pursuits. I liked the New Year scene when he faked eating at a restaurant by reading a ramen label. The movie made the storytelling work within the two hours or something that they were given to summarize the 30 episode series. I liked it.
Yang Yang vs Jing Boran
Yang Yang is definitely the better looking leading man and the better kisser. However, Jing Boran’s approach to the character made him seem more relateable and charming. He was a bit stiff but not standoffish plus he smiled a lot more at his Weiwei than Yang Yang’s version of Xiao Nai.
Zheng Shuang vs Angelbaby
I think that Zheng Shuang did a great job as Bei Weiwei but it seemed at times that she was too camera conscious (because of those danged beauty shots), especially with the scenes involving CGI. She was also super thin, which made me worry about her health too much to get fully invested in her love story. She had great chemistry with Yang Yang but I could not help but compare her to Angelbaby’s portrayal of the character. Even though she played the character at a much shorter time, Angelbaby was able to embody the role better. She seemed more fun and she carried off the role with a level of comfort that Zheng Shuang did not not. It also did not help that the dubber used for Zheng Shuang had a very thin voice, seemingly cartoonish at times.
Cinematography and Effects
Love 020 the series had the bigger burden of producing more complicated CGI than the movie and they pulled it off quite well, delivering a very traditional Chinese feel to the animation that both versions were going for.
All in all, I would still recommend both Love 020 the movie and the series for fans of romance and fantasy. Both versions had great cast members, all gorgeous who will make you fall in love with both the gaming world and their characters. Its worth a watch. Pro Tip: Both versions are available on Netflix.