It takes a village to raise a child so the saying goes, and similarly it takes an fully well-written story to deliver a true drama powerhouse. I’ve enjoyed and even loved dramas on the strength of the OTP alone but that rush of feeling evaporates after the drama is done, like consuming cotton candy. The dramas that stick with me like the sinew to the bone are ones that not only have an amazing OTP but also a gripping cohesive story with a fleshed out supporting cast of interesting characters and stories. Those dramas are few and far between, which makes it all the more special when one shows up. That unicorn has shown up again in the form of 2022 summer C-drama Love Like the Galaxy adapted from a novel. The Chinese title for the drama which is split into two parts is Part 1 星汉灿烂 (Xing Han Can Lan which means The Stars are Brilliant) and Part 2 月升沧海 (Yue Sheng Cang Hai which means The Moon Rises Over the Ocean).
The drama stars close aged leads Wu Lei who is 22 in real life and plays 21 year old ruthlessly efficient on the outside with a marshmallow core just for his bae inside General Ling Bu Yi (also called Ling Zi Sheng) with 23 years old Zhao Lu Si as the 15 year old mentally intelligent but uneducated socially sideways daughter of a lowly general Cheng Shao Shang (also called Niu Niu). I never knew this type of emotionally f*cked up alpha general with equally emotionally f*cked up weird science girl would hit all my I NEED THESE TWO INJECTED INTO MY VEINS level want and then also get an entire complex, nuanced, fascinating world constructed with interesting good and bad guys feels like icing on the cake. The drama has aired up to 42 episodes to date (out of 57 total) so join now and finish out the next three weeks on this amazing ride.
Love Like the Galaxy is the love story of I-have-no-time-for-bullshit-I-have-to-avenge-the-deaths-of-thousands-in-my-family-and-troops young General Ling Bu Yi and this super-weird-for-her-social-times-but-luckily-for-her-also-super-pretty little young lady Cheng Shao Shang. He falls in love with her AT FIRST SIGHT (but having crossed paths before sight unseen) and it’s not even strange in the least because he’s as emotionally stunted as she’s socially inept and together they are like two random puzzle pieces from different puzzles that fit together perfectly in shape and design. Go figure. C-netizens call him “081” (Ling Ba Yi which sounds like Ling Bu Yi) and call her “33” (San San which sounds like Shang in her name Cheng Shao Shang). They have a fairy god-daddy who happens to be the Emperor of the Han Dynasty and the world’s biggest Zaddy and also if he lived in the modern times a total Bachelor avid watcher. He dotes on Zi Sheng and can’t want to see him married and will move heaven, hell, fake beatings, order dates, anything to make it happen. C-netizens also call him “Wendy” since he is the Emperor of Wen (Wen Di hence the Wendy).
Shao Shang is the youngest daughter of a military family and her poor upbringing is the root of all her emotional tics and fears but luckily her parents are loving (Dad in a positive way and Mom in a passive aggressive way) and she has doting older brothers and a sweet older sister cousin. Life is good if she could just marry a nice low ranked nobleman’s son but alas she’s destined for greater things and fate brings her to Ling Bu Yi and he’s like a dog to a bone, he missed his first chance but grabs the second one and the majority of the middle parts of the drama are these two trying to stumble their way around communication and falling in love with each other.
Emperor Wendy has two amazing wives, the Queen is kind hearted and gracious and Consort Yue is sharp and decisive. There is zero palace politics with these three and they are three of my favorite characters. They are human and flawed but among all the adults in this drama these three clearly deserve to be ruling over the world and get shit done right. Wendy is the CEO trying to run a company and making sure every department is functioning even if he has to let little things slide, the Queen just wants to be a good role model and has the softest heart in the land, and Consort Yue is the Slayer that calls out everyone’s bullshit, says what people are thinking but don’t dare say, and is 100% doing the right thing over family ties. These three keep our 081-33 ship plowing through treacherous waters thick and thin.
There are so much shippy moments you might even wonder when did 081 learn to be a loverboy in between investigating murder, mayhem, and his “talk to the hand” way keeping 500 ladies in the capital away from him. Either our Shao Shang activated his latent loverboy genes or he always had it in him and was just waiting for the one and only to lavish it all on her. Initially he does so in his my way or the highway way but later learns to work to give her what she wants and not give her what he wants. If you love swoony romantic moments then this drama is for you – we have save her from a burning fire princess carry, save her from an impending sword stab, she pulls out his arrow, he dangles over a building ledge with her koala clinging to him, he asks for her hand in marriage in front of the entire royal family, she accepts despite her mom eviscerating her self-worth in a misguided attempt to keep her from the gladiator arena that is royal family politics, he brings heavy backup to their engagement party and destroys the witchy royals out to get her, they go see the stars and dream about their future, she kisses him in public at the Queen’s birthday party, he beats up 8 high ranking officials after their daughters push her into the lake, she embroiders an embarrassing set of mandarin duck armor wings and he proudly wears it to battle thinking its chicken wings, and I can go on and on. These two babies are so broken individually and healing together, Wendy is absolutely the stand in for all the viewers in wanting these two to get married, have babies, and just be happy for once in their still young but much too abused lives.
The drama has tons of supporting characters, at last count over 30 speaking parts of minor to major importance in one plot development after another. What’s great is that every character fulfills his or her purpose and story lines are probed, resolved, and moves into the next one. The antagonists one after another get their comeuppance in satisfying ways whether just bitchy daughters of officials to corrupt politicians to royal relatives to even scheming princesses. The nice ones are incompetent but bleeding heart Crown Prince, wise 2nd Princess, laser focused 3rd Prince, and womanizer but harmless 5th Prince. The baddies are jealousy clouded Crown Princess, money grubbing 3rd Princess, and entitled spoilt 5th Princess.
Consort Yue says what we all want to say around annoying and entitled people and anytime she shows up it’s popcorn time! Other great elder characters include the harangued to death King of Ru Yang, the grandfather to cousin to the royal family Princess Yu Chang. She is actually quite cute because her tactics are so dumb and limp, with her completely useless feminine virtues which are all just showpieces like she is and of no value to a real man who has no time for bullshit like Ling Bu Yi in his partner in life, and she will never understand that. General Wan’s Mom (Qi Qi’s grandmother) is also steel balls no bullshit type, that she realized our 33 figured out the collapsible bridge construct and lured the men hungry witches of the capital on it to fall into the lake is the type of great supporting character writing I appreciate. The drama doesn’t have a single filler moment and the quiet times are spent exploring the world of the Han dynasty social and familial norms which are presented with restraint.
The OTP is ride or die in this drama and that it completely sells they are each other’s soulmates even when Shao Shang has three fiancees through the course of the story is what makes it so good. The last drama to make viewers feel that all the men in her life have their own strengths and weaknesses yet are worth their pitstop in the female lead’s life as lovers or even just a friend was Bu Bu Jing Xin, to date the debate over 4 and 8 rages on, with an occasional chime in about 14. Love Like the Galaxy feels like a more romantic laden version of Nirvana in Fire, thoughtfully written in every plotting and detail, which is quite serendipitous since it was the breakout drama for male lead Wu Lei who played little teen Fei Liu the urchin bodyguard to Hu Ge‘s consigliere male lead. I did find the first two episodes of Love Like the Galazy did neither lead any favors as he was too cold and stiff and she came across as passive aggressive and plotting. But the drama absolutely takes off in episode 6 with the unforgettable Winter Lantern Festival that showcases so many different plot threads with a side of visual sumptuousness.
Wu Lei as General Ling Bu Yi is an easy performance and character to swoon over, he is wiry and taut 100% of the time until he meets Shao Shang and then slowly that 100% decreases to the percentages when he’s around her and he softens so meaningfully. The own voices in this drama contribute to how much I love it, the line readings are so engaging as it projects additional nuance for each character. Zhao Lu Si isn’t acting school trained and yes her enunciation isn’t as precise as it can be, but she sounds like a 15 year old smart aleck with emotional abandonment issues and I love hearing her voice in this drama bring Shao Shang further to life. Wu Lei is doing better on the dialogue but Zhao Lu Si has the leg up on the acting, at times he can be a smidge too stiff but she is so natural as she navigates Shao Shang leveling up and growing up with a loving and a supportive basically adopted parents in the Emperor and Queen behind her.
The complaints on Love Like the Galaxy have died down on the costumes having Japanese influences, which was less due to cluelessness from the production and mostly due to the Han Dynasty clothing actually influencing early Japanese clothing in the same era. The complaints now are all around how slow this drama is releasing new episodes, and by slow I mean it releases 2 episodes every Tues/Wed/Thurs so 6 episodes a week. Most streaming dramas release episodes every day during its run so C-viewers are used to that and find the four days of waiting before the next release interminable. I’m used to two episodes a week thanks to K-dramas so this is fine by me, as much as I do want to watch more it’s not a deal breaker. The slow release is reportedly due to the post-production having to live edit the costumes to take out the Japanese similar elements as well as one supporting character (General Wan who is girl boss Qi Qi’s dad) had the original actor get cancelled for misconduct in real life so a new character filmed the scenes in a green room and his face has been AI grafted onto the body of the original actor who filmed and doing that so seamlessly takes time.
Now that I’ve waxed rhapsodic on Love Like the Galaxy, a forewarning that the final stretch forthcoming is going to be close to rocks fall down level traumatic for our OTP before it heads to a likely happy ending. This week’s episodes are going to be the straw that breaks the camels back as Ling Bu Yi finally avenges and takes out the Hidden Boss behind his entire family’s slaughter but in the process sacrifices his hard won love with Shao Shang. I did say she had three fiancees in this story and Ling Bu Yi is fiancee #2. With that said, as long as she’s not married anything goes especially when the man who loves her and only her and basically will burn the world down if it crosses him is around. I think there are 3 more weeks left of airing so join this squee worthy and intelligently written drama now. Please be patient and don’t FF too much even if scenes involve side characters because there are a lot of important plot points and seeing how it all unfolds and plays out has been as enjoyable for me as watching the delicately sweet romance of the two leads.
Count me in, Ms.Koala! This is my fav C-drama in 2022 after ADoS. Everything here is on point, the plot, the CP, the cast, the cinematography,its cinematic color and the settings. I love the flawed characters of the leads but complementing each other with their strengths.I also love Yue Fei, she is one badass queen, straightforward person and knows what is right and wrong and the boundary of things in a situation.Yeah, aside from the CP, and the King who I also adore, Yue Fei caught my heart. So this coming eps will be all blood bath and all the lovey-dovey are gone so I am all the more anxious but excited. Btw, I also love QiQi. She is the counterpart of Shaoshang and YueFei. The three have both the same personalities;they would go far and beyond just to protect their loved ones. Ohhh, I would love to see the wedding of Ling Bu Yi and Cheng Shaoshang in the end of this drama.Fingers crossed for a super happy ending.
qiqi is the real mvp. she was the only other person besides shaoshang’s mom who fought lady ruyang’s maids when they tried to attack shaoshang. such a good friend!
Ohhh I couldn’t agree more! This drama is cracktastic and is hitting all the right notes for me! Everything from acting to storytelling and pacing is just perfect not to mention the awesome OTP and s as lol the interesting side characters! I’m loving it even more than the popular Splendor of dreams and it’s actually shaping up to be my first favorite Chinese drama since Nirvana in fire *crosses fingers* Now I gotta brace myself for all the angst to come!
Count me in. Thoroughly enjoying this drama. Interminable wait for the 6 episodes weekly drop. I did some search on the novel itself. It seems this does not have straight English translation. Just snippets and conversations with some translators. Indeed, so totally caught up in this. We’re in for a rough ride this week. Let’s hang-on and may the ending be to our hearts’ content.
I’m all ears anytime Yue Fei shows up. Anything she makes an expression or says something, I cheer and applaud. She is 100% my favorite character in this show. I could watch her put people in their place any day.
Thank you for cheering for this wonderful drama! Having tried and dropped several Cdramas in the past, I hit play for this one on a whim. It has become my crack-tastic drama. Fingers crossed for an ending that features our OTP watching the moon reflected in a pond surrounded by lively children. Also so invested in the many side characters that I want to know their endings as well. Will 57 eps be enough?
I appreciate your hard work in putting your thoughts together about this drama and sharing it with us, Ms. Koala. Everyone involved in this production deserves all the accolades they’ve been receiving. The aesthetics, the acting, and the overall content of this masterpiece have definitely trampled most of the dramas I have watched in my almost 20 years of drama watching. It is just that good! I hope all of us who are enjoying this drama will savor every minute of it up to the ending credits. It might take a while for something like this to come again. A “Koala” hug to us all who might possibly experience unbearable withdrawal syndrome when this drama ends.
Me too. Me too!!!
But i have to add Shining for one thing as my fave 2022 cdramas.
Everything about this drama is wonderful. From the actors to acting to chemistry to plot to every single detail, amazing!!!!
42 episodes and i havent gotten bored yet.
Hope to see WuLu in modern drama. But with the same director and crew. Cuz this production is pretty good.
There is only one setback from this drama. The affection is not fully played. There are scene’s that they need to hug, they don’t hug. There are scenes that they need to kiss and they don’t kiss. It’s frustrating. But other than that I love this drama.
might have something to do with the fact that she’s 15. i hope we get to see them being more passionate in their affections towards the end.
I love Leo Wu Lei
Agreed! Best Cdrama so far in 2022!!! I love the huge cast and major kudos to all the actresses that played grandmas, aunties, mothers, uncles, and the extended cast – they all were sooooooo good! The relationship dynamics is really what makes the story so good. Strong cast with strong script reallllly elevates this show. ZLS is excellent and her chemistry with WL is very good.
I can say I been watching CDrams for a couple of years this drama is done perfectly done well I can’t get enough I love the Chesmity between them
I rarely watch C-dramas and less so the longer episode ones. LLTG, has been such a pleasant watch that I wasn’t even aware of the number of episodes initially. Acting wise, production wise, character wise…just a good mix.
It’s a favorite of mine now after I bingewatched it last weekend. Great review! I hope they release it on DVD so I can own a copy, otherwise I’ll just rewatch a zillion times on streaming 😂 The chemistry between the leads and the entertaining side characters make this drama the best I’ve seen all year.
So so happy you love this show! It’s just perfection. The cast, OTP, the acting, lighting, cinematography, direction… can go on and on. Even the music. Ugh. I want this production with the entire cast in a new drama now. Need something to look forward to after this drama ends. My mom who doesn’t watch period drama is watching this. Loooove WuLu!
this drama is a rare unicorn that has all the artistic as well as technical aspects of storytelling perfectly executed. both the leads are magnetic on screen, and the wide bevy of supporting characters make the world feel full and lived-in. i think what this makes OTP so compelling is that they’re two strong personalities who are both emotionally deficient. one of whom has never experienced love and the other doesn’t even know what it’s supposed to look like. the romantic tension does not come from whether or not they love each other, but from HOW are they going to love each other. their hearts are in it and the feelings are there, but still they stumble and fall. watching them learn how to be together has been a lovely, gratifying experience, and all of this unfolding against the backdrop of the imperial court heightens the stakes without ever taking focus away from the romance.
i agree with everything you said except one thing, miss koala. i think wu lei being too stiff is not a fault but a feature of the character. his overt sternness makes the moments that he melts around shaoshang even more beautiful, and i think it was the right artistic choice for him to employ these two extremes to bring this particular character to life. it’s extremely jarring to see him switch back and forth, but that is the point imo. zhao lusi is doing an incredible job too, but her character allows her to flex her emotional range more easily. they’re extremely well-suited, and neither this drama nor the OTP would have worked as well as they do with anyone else.
we’re onto the last stretch now, and i’m really hoping the show sticks its landing. happy watching, everyone!
YES! Love like the Galaxy is a total gem! I’m so addicted to this drama. It’s not a masterpiece like NOF but it’s a very well-made all-rounded drama and I didn’t have any urge to press the FF button at all, so that’s a testament to itself already! Haha
Loved loooved loved the hot sizzling chemistry between 081 and 33, many times I just want to scream go get a room already pleaaaase. Even a 3 second exchange between them is enough to combust. Like when she sneaked into his camp and he came up behind her and covered her mouth and flirtingly whispered “all intruders must be killed”. The way I hear it is more like “all naughty intruders must be spanked!” 😅
There are so many funny and memorable scenes, not just between the OTP but the wonderful huge cast of supporting roles. Wendy is an adorkable Cupid, best tempered emperor ever. The queen is like an angel saint, but I feel a bit sad for her in that she never really got the kind of adoring love she yearns from the emperor cause that’s all gone to consort yue, who is also an awesome no nonsense lady. When she comes on screen I cheer, it’s like yeeesss time for some bitch slapping. Usually she comes, put ‘em irritating bitches and annoying jerks in their freaking place, then fleets away, and the audience goes clap clap clap! 😆
33 family is also a hoot! During the chicken wings scene, so hilarious when the dad was getting all jealous cause he didn’t get any self-embroiled war gear, not even a sock and the mom was like yeah right, R u gonna be as shameless as 081 and wear the chicken wings? He was like HELL NO WAY! Haha. Then 081’s right hand men (I love these two) were lamenting how embarrassing their general is and how they don’t want to go to war anymore cause the enemy will laugh their heads off at the ridiculous chicken wing garb and they’ll basically be the laughingstock of the battlefield!
The drama basically has been such a fun and great watch! Love it and I highly recommend those who are not yet on to jump onto the bandwagon. Totally worth it 😍👍🏻
so glad you have an extensive post on this drama to introduce this to your readers who have not started on it. this is my favourite long form period chinese drama in a very long time. the OTP is so adorable in reel and real life, I totally ship them in both! And the production quality is totally up there with the best of what money can offer in C-drama land, none of the xianxia nonsense where most of the money seems to have been flushed down the drain with shitty CG and overpaid actors. And the story! Gosh the story, I actually started reading the book after the first week because it got excruciating waiting for the new episodes – and that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you know I have it bad. The adaptation is stellar so far to kudos to the scriptwriter and director for knowing how to keep the story tight and the plot moving, but making sure the swoony scenes between the OTP are still present, and in some scenes, even one-upping the book version. Can I also just say that Wendy might be the OTP’s major shipper in reel-life, but the director plays no small part in shipping the OTP too in the way he crafts each exquisite scene! The chemistry, my god. So restrained, but filled with so much wanting and frisson, yet innocent and chaste as fitting for the characters’ age/context. It made this ‘jiejie’ smile and squee at this redemptive first love unfolding on screen. I’ve been following every behind the scene clip and those who understand chinese, please go watch the livestream playback of both leads on weibo – it’ll have you smiling so hard the apples of your cheek will hurt so bad.
I couldn’t have said it better. YES!! This is a great drama…and that is saying a lot since most CDramas tend to evaporate after the mid episodes.OOOHHH!!! Crossing my fingers and slapping my mouth!!!
Now I feel bad, that I start at episode 6 and used the FF button too frequently, due to the many side characters. I not exactly live watching, since I started the drama after more the 20 eps were released. And I only have time on weekends to binge watch.
I trust Mrs Koala’s judgment.
So, I’m going to fall behind again and skip the skipping, if even all the side characters’ stories are worth the watch
Thank you so much for covering LLTG in a lengthy post, Ms Koala. You aptly described why this Cdrama is so so addictive. I seldom watch Cdrama, I am more into K-drama, but this one is topping my drama list for the year so far. The OTP are flawed individuals, the male lead is ruthless and the female lead will fight for her revenge, too. But they are well written, multi dimensional characters and acted well, making us root for their happy ever after. Even the second male leads are both interesting characters. Although many people don’t like YS, I can understand why he acts that way. And let’s not forget the awesome Wendy the cupid and his two wives. Oh also the ever loyal Fei and Qi. Please continue to cover this amazing drama Ms Koala :).
It’s really hard to find an intelligent and very well-written drama, that I’ll be happy to rewatch it anytime without skipping any part.
I’m so happy for Zhao Lusi and Leo Wu as well, that girl is very talented indeed and that boy is going to be the next Hu Ge.
Another intelligent drama that I love is Family’s Honor which is a k-drama and if anyone can forget what PSH did, it is a must watch.
Me encanta este elenco, sobre todo los principales ya que me encantan la trama es muy buena me atrapó en el primer capítulo y me puse adicta para terminarlo. Ahora espero que actualicen los nuevos episodios y esperar su inesperado final con ansias.
Es un drama que no se pueden perder muy recomendada
This cdrama gives me the feel of a British period drama. All subtle and background music is never outlandish.
The show of feeling are not out there or over the top. Really love the direction, cinematography, and music…
Saya suka film ini.baru film ini saya tidak melewatkan adegan demi adegan.biasanya saya selalu mempercepat film2 yg lain.chemistri nya bagus n sy jg suka tertawa dg akting neneknya.tidak sabar menunggu episode berikutnya
i daresay that no cast, no scene and no plot go wasted in this drama! Everything done for this drama, may it be the storyline, the beautiful filming angle or the chosen actors/actresses fitted so well. Havent been so doted on a drama for so long. The OTP of this drama has brought OTP to a new level!(Squealing mad!)
Anyone else coming back to this post to check on new comments cause we are all kindred spirits who loves this show?!
Thanks Ms Koala for posting LLTG. I was never a fan of fantasy Chinese drama, although I like the costumes, because it’s unreal for me: the immortals. But because of LLTG, I got interested. I’m a kdramas fanatic since Lovers In Paris. I like the ML & FL so I’m digging into their old dramas now. I’m into The Long Ballad now. I’m not too keen about the FL because she doesn’t look like Chinese to me; just my own opinion.