Chinese Dramas, Drama Reviews

Drama Review: Super Star Academy (超星星学园)

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Our main couple

After wasting a day trying to find a new drama to watch, I decided to give Super Star Academy (超星星学园) a try and wow, I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Super Star Academy is a super quick watch and pretty well-paced. It features a lot of wacky humor and all of the acting is pretty stiff, but it has the same endearing, strangely addicting quality that Moon River and Whirlwind Girl had, and reminds me a lot of those shows.

The basic premise of Super Star Academy is that certain people born under certain astrological zodiac signs have superpowers. Their powers align with whatever zodiac they were born under. There are only twelve zodiacs, but there used to be thirteen. The thirteenth, Ophiuchus, ended up becoming evil and was overthrown and exterminated by the rest of the zodiac signs. From the very beginning, we’re introduced to this story and the potential reappearance of these evil Ophiuchus super people. We learn about this world via Cheng Zhi Er (Wang Yu Wen), a pretty normal girl who gets roped into enrolling in the Super Star Academy, a school for superpowered people. Cheng Zhi Er soon picks up a steadfast, also “normal” friend, Wan Shi Cun, and also becomes involved with the school’s resident pretty/rich boy, Fang Tian Ze, who is heir to the Fang Corporation. Thus we have our love triangle. There’s a lot of magic, secrets, love triangles, fluffy teenage romance, and intrigue: your usual drama tropes.

What makes Super Star Academy stand out is that it’s extremely self-aware and self-deprecating in a meta way. We get slapstick comedy and wacky humor, very obvious product placement/commercials that are self-aware and almost meta, in that suddenly the characters will drop everything to advertise a drink or a backpack. The show does not take itself seriously at all, with serious moments broken by comedy.

As such, the show does not really ask much of its actors in terms of acting. The characters follow pretty typical trajectories and lack real complexity, but that’s all to be expected from a drama of this kind of genre and scope. Like Moon River, the cast mainly comprised of the members of a boy band. But the romance is cute, if a bit stiff at times, and the story is just so addicting!

For a show that seems all over the place, Super Star Academy is actually very well-paced. The 22-minute episode format is great because it keeps on my seat and things never get boring. Plus it meant that the 30 episodes were a breeze to get through. I binge-watched in less than 2 days. The show does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re aiming to have a season 2 (but when will that come out?) I’m worried that we’re going to get something like Whirlwind Girl, where the whole cast drops out and the second season isn’t even worth watching.

Regardless, Super Star Academy was a pleasant surprise and fun to watch, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Fingers crossed we’ll get a sequel soon!

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