Chinese Drama Review: The Chang’an Youth

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It seems like forever since I watched and thoroughly enjoyed a Chinese drama, and I’ve never actually individually reviewed one on my blog. However, since it is summer and I have a lot of time on my hands, I ended up binge watching this in the last two days. And, for all its faults, I absolutely loved it!

It ran from April 20 to May 4, 2020, and stars a cast I have never heard of, but they all seem young and upcoming stars. It also reminded me vaguely of the Korean drama Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, as it’s mostly set at school and features a main cast of one girl and four main guys. It has a lot of common tropes you can find everywhere, like girl disguises as boy and multiple guys fall for the main girl, but it also has a lot of uniqueness too.

It is 24 episodes, and can be watched with English subtitles on Youtube, found on this playlist.

I’m going to try to avoid most spoilers, but I did want to at least say it has a happy ending for everyone. I know a lot of people, including myself, like to go into a drama knowing if the ending is happy.

The Characters

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There are five main characters, all of them students at Shangyi School, a famous Chinese university set possibly during the Tang Dynasty (though I may be wrong, since I’m just going by the female fashion). Shen Yi Yi is a maid and close friend of a wealthy young woman Die Yi. After her friend dies, Yi Yi takes her identity and travels to marry her intended and find out who her friend’s real parents are. She disguises herself as a boy to go to the school her dead friend wanted to go to. She’s the main character.

Zi’an (in the picture, he just left of Yi Yi) is an official sent undercover to the school by the emperor to uncover corruption. He’s cold, intelligent, and an average male lead. He and Yi Yi, of course, fall in love. Jiu Hua (farthest behind Yi Yi) is Die Yi’s fiance, who agrees to join the school and help Yi Yi stay disguised. He’s the son of a wealthy house, and the only one who knows Yi Yi is a girl in the beginning.

Mu Xue (far left) is a mysterious warrior. He’s the only character I wished had more done with him, even if we learn more about his backstory by the end. The other three guys felt pretty fleshed out, whereas he was just a warrior. Xin Yuan (far right) is a prince who disguises himself as a lower noble to go to the school. He’s sweet…that’s about it, but I love the conflict between him and his brother who is one of the main antagonists of the series.

All in all, I enjoyed both the main characters and the many we met along the way. Even if the story focuses on these five, there are many characters who pass through the story. However, I was never overwhelmed with characters, which is really easy to have happen in a Chinese drama. And all of the characters added something to the story.

Speaking of the story…

The Story

The plot follows these five, especially Yi Yi and Zi’an, as they uncover corruption and solve problems together. The problems might be a sports’ match, or it might be uncovering an assassin. While the series is a comedy, it has its fair share of dark topics, and I really enjoyed how it handled more serious sub-plots while not making the series depressing (as a few Chinese dramas I’ve watched have).

While it is a bit slow, it’s not half as much as most Chinese dramas and finds ways to add interest while still having bigger conflicts take forever. Because of Yi Yi’s intelligent but also funny personality and the guys’ hilarity, there feels like never a dull moment. It’s sweet to see how she bonds with all four of the main characters, not necessarily in romantic ways.

Of course, every Chinese drama must have some romance (though this one definitely keeps the romance in the back). However, I thought it handled the love side-plots rather well, not just the main romance, but all romance in general. Yi Yi and Zi’an’s romance is sweet was also funny, as they go from hating each other, to friends, and eventually something more. A total of three of the four main guys have crushes on Yi Yi through the series, but only the main romance ever feels serious. I didn’t get the second male lead bias like I’ve gotten in a lot of Korean dramas. And there are three couples by the end.

The way of conveying the story was a bit annoying at the beginning, as they kept showing flashbacks to show us information, which felt like a pretty cheap way of storytelling, but eventually these scenes lessened and I didn’t mind those that kept happening.


I really enjoyed this series. It’s fun and light, especially with all the dark stuff going on in the world right now. And because it’s on Youtube, it’s easy to access, at least in America (no idea if it’s censored in other places).

Do you like historical school series? Does this look interesting to you? I know it’s not exactly my usual content, but I do do these reviews on occasion. What new shows have you discovered recently that you’ve loved? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

6 thoughts on “Chinese Drama Review: The Chang’an Youth

  1. Well thanks for the review, I’m looking forward to watch it. You can also review Legend of the Phoenix and The Heiress. Those are really good Chinese dramas

    Liked by 1 person

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