The Starry Love (2023) 星落凝成糖
Summary: Twin girls are born to the emperor of the human clan. The graceful older sister Qing Kui is betrothed to be the Empyrean consort while the feisty younger sister Ye Tan, who was ignored and abused her entire life, is betrothed to be the Void clan crown prince’s consort. Despite their different upbringing, the two sisters deeply care for one another.
On their wedding day, the devious Void clan 3rd prince Chao Feng swaps the two women resulting in Ye Tan going to the sky while Qing Kui ends up in the Void.
The drama follows as these two women try to adjust in their new environments while protecting each other and securing romance along the way.
Total Episode Count: 40
Initial Airing Date: Feb 16
*Note – most English translations are my own and may not exactly match Youku’s official translations
Initial Rating (12 ep in): 7.5/10 – An absolutely hilarious fantasy romance drama that is full of laugh out loud but also tender moments. The drama follows some familiar tropes while turning others on its head as the love and care between the two main sisters drive the story along. The relationship of their romantic counterparts are also extremely entertaining. Despite not being as tightly written as it could be with some less appealing side stories, it is ultimately a worthy drama to chase for those seeking a fun rom com! Oh and the main theme by Sa Ding Ding is an absolute banger of a song!
Final Rating: 7.2/10 – A solid show with strong, healthy relationships throughout the drama in romantic, friendship and sibling terms that beat out relationships from similar themed fantasy dramas. Decent acting from the main cast also help keep viewers engaged. However, the drama, particularly the last 8 episodes suffered from an inconsistent tone and rushed storylines that detract from an otherwise chase worthy drama.
离光夜昙 Li Guang Ye Tan – 李兰迪 Li Lan Di
A young feisty woman with a tragic past. Her birth was wrought with bad omens leading her father to ignore and punish her for her entire life. She knew she was going to marry into the Void and coupled with her unpleasant upbringing, caused her to become a fierce and feisty woman. She accidentally marries Shao Dian You Qin
离光青葵 Li Guang Qing Kui – 何宣林 He Xuan Lin
The kind, serene and graceful older sister to Ye Tan, Qing Kui is a skilled healer but relatively naive. She is brought to the Void clan where she awaits marrying the next crown prince. Qing Kui’s kind hearted nature helped save her sister’s life many times when they were young and helped ease her transition in the Void.
嘲风 Chao Feng – 陈牧弛 Chen Mu Chi
The unloved 3rd prince of the Void Chen Yuan 沉渊 clan, he schemes against his 2 older brothers for the throne. One of the pawns in his schemes is Qing Kui whom he swapped to marry to the Void rather to the Empyrean clan. However, his plans go slightly awry as he falls in love with Qing Kui.
No one thought this drama was going to be any good. The actors use their own voices and Chen Xing Xu (main male leads’) voice in particular was ridiculed because it was so deep and muddled. He also does not look as handsome as he did in Goodbye My Princess or 东宫. But, as more episodes came out, interest grew because after all, it is a fun drama.
Is it the best drama out there? No. Is it funny? Without a doubt. Will it make you smile? Absolutely. Some of the antics of this show are so ridiculous that you can’t help but be drawn into the story because it will make you feel happy. What’s better than a drama where the sisterhood is more important than romance? You’re not going to get extremely deep history or introspective narratives in this drama and that’s fine! The drama, at least for the first 12 episodes, knows what type of drama it is and doesn’t try to be more complicated than that. Though I will say, the characters are surprisingly multidimensional.
The overuse of average CGI and emptiness of the set do detract from making this as beautiful as other fantasy dramas. Some of the side stories/relationships are also not as interesting. If those lines were cut out, this might have been a shorter but more tightly written drama.
Overall though, I think it’s a fun romantic drama to chase.
I enjoyed this drama WAY more than I expected and am now deep in the rabbit hole of watching fan videos of the cute relationship between the main couple. While not a perfect drama, I thoroughly had a blast chasing the show and feeling engaged with the characters. It helps that most of the main cast actually all went to school together so chemistry was through the roof. The behind the scenes clips are all very fun to watch as well because everyone is extremely comfortable with each other.
This drama was the dark horse for February/March and performed much better than expected compared to next door’s The Journey of Chong Zi with solid douban ratings of 7.4.
What I liked：
- Healthy bond between sisters: Ye Tan and Qing Kui were born on the same day but Ye Tan was seen as a bad omen and therefore mistreated her entire life. Rather than mistreat Ye Tan as well, Qing Kui instead tried to help and protect her sister in whatever capacity she could. When the two married to the wrong place, each sister’s focus was the other’s safety. Their bond never waivered even in the face of their romantic relationships which is much healthier. Gotta help your sisters first!
- Chen Xing Xu’s (main male lead’s) acting: Chen Xing Xu had the daunting task of playing 5, yes FIVE, different versions of himself for this drama and I was quite impressed with the end result since I had no idea what to expect for this drama. In behind the scenes clips, he spent a lot of time with the director in coming up with different postures and speaking cadences for the different versions of the character in order to differentiate himself to great effect. It shows just how thoughtful of an actor he is which fans have said makes sense because he was top of his class at the Central Academy of Drama.
- Shao Dian You Qin’s rightful protection of his love: I absolutely swooned at Shao Dian You Qin’s change and subsequent protection of Ye Tan. He has a very clear understanding of who saved him and who the love of his life is. Unlike other dramas, looking at you Eternal Love/三生三世十里桃花, Shao Dian You Qin is not afraid to go against his father and all of the rules placed on him as the protector of the realm. He does not make Ye Tan sacrifice anything for him in order to be together with him which Ye Hua totally did to Su Su in Eternal Love. (So many fan videos show ppl panning Ye Hua and commending Shao Dian You Qin). Shao Dian You Qin has no interest in becoming Emperor and only wants to spend time with his wife because she was the one to save his life after his father was like, no, you can let You Qin die.
- Convoluted side plots/characters: There were several character stories that just didn’t feel interesting. For example, Hu Sui, a little plant fairy that was saved by Qing Heng, Shao Dian You Qin’s brother. They dragged on that storyline of their romance that just didn’t appeal to me. To be honest, most of the romances outside of the main two I didn’t think were too appealing and was watching on fast forward for the show.
- Inconsistent tone towards the end of the drama: Starting from the second half of ep 33, the show needed to create a climatic conflict to bring us to the end. For me, I felt this was not necessary because the beginning of the drama was extremely light hearted and the show wanted to keep elements of that, but then bring in the big conflict that resulted in heartbreak and death. So what ended up happening is moments of laughs and other moments of deep sorrow causing severe inconsistencies in the show. That brings me to other point. Why do so many of these fantasy dramas need to have a conflict that would destroy the world and our main characters need to solve it? If the drama removed these elements and literally ended in episode 32, I would be a much happier camper. Who cares about some of the loose ends? That’s just my romantic take of this.