When a novel has a series or movie version, expect it that it wouldn’t be exactly as the original content. Particularly if it is being adapted from Danmie/BL literature. Due to Chinese censorship restrictions, the love between the lead characters becomes platonic or bromance. It will then depend on the chemistry between the actors and their on-point acting skills to hook the audience to the said series.
Three of my favorite Danmei novels were written by Chai Jidan. Her works always leave an awe-inspiring feeling; in the same way as ‘Are you addicted’, ‘Feng Mang’ and ‘Advance Bravely’ did to me. It leaves an imprint with a roller coaster ride of emotions that lingers for a long time. However, Advance Bravely became extra special when one of my favorite Chinese actors (Simon Gong) played the main lead.
Advance Bravely is Xia Yao’s story (played by Simon Gong), who is born into a quite well-off and renowned family. Xia Yao has a shameful and traumatic experience that causes him to have an unusual detest for anyone with white slender legs. In this case, it is Li Qiao Dan played by Yuan Ru, a very beautiful girl who fell for Xia Yao’s charm but is constantly rejected by him. Yuan Zong played by Jason Yu, is a retired ex-soldier from the special forces. He runs a bodyguard training company and was asked by his little sister (Yuan Ru) to persuade Xia Yao to date her. The twist in the tale- Xia Yao and Yuan Zong became close to the extent that it takes Yuan Ru out of the picture.
The chemistry between Simon Gong and Jason Yu was explosive and believable, no awkwardness at all. The acting skills were praiseworthy, and you could see that they were very comfortable with each other. Despite censorship, the sexual tension between the main leads is so strong that even a simple physical connection and close skinship makes it obvious that the show was adapted from BL content. It’s not platonic like some of the other BL novel adaptations. The relationship between Xia Yao and Yuan Zong may not be verbally discussed, but it’s certainly not “Bromance”. They are obviously romantically involved throughout the entire series.
But even though I enjoyed the series and although it made me smile a lot, the inconsistency relative to the plot is very noticeable. Some parts look like it jumps from one scene to another without a definite reason. Some scenes are very irrelevant additions because they don’t make sense. Though it is included in the novel, it wasn’t necessary to add them to the series. It looks like they randomly choose scenes from the novel. It is not well-developed. Also, they only include the light struggles of each character but weren’t keen on delivering the deep feelings they were experiencing. The issue lies not with their acting, but with the lack of visualization about what’s going on between the characters.
Also, it was very strange to end the season with an animation. That scene is one of the most important highlights in the novel, so I was expecting it to be more special than just leaving it as mediocre animation. I want to elaborate on the backstory of the animation. The person that Xia Yao saved from the pothole is Hang Dong, the main character in ‘Feng Mang’ and the idea of the crossover between those characters from one novel to another always gets me excited.
All in all, the series is a breath of fresh air, because of the undeniable chemistry between the main leads and eye-candy visuals. But if you want to learn more about the story, I would recommend that you should read the novel for a better understanding of the characters, since the series does not elaborate much on their situation.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5.