Drama

Currently Watching (A Remake): A Robot in the Orange Orchard

WARNING! Light spoilers on the First Impressions. Episodes covered: 1 to 8.

INTRODUCTION

One year ago, long before A Robot in the Orange Orchard (ARITOO) aired, I posted a comment on the drama page saying that finally Dao Ming Si’s ex-fiancee ends up with his F4 friend Mei Zuo. If you don’t know what and whom I talked about: Meteor Garden (2018). I don’t want to spoil anything about MG2018 for anyone who hasn’t watched it, but since I watched that drama, if interest me, I have followed the works of the actors who played as the F4 boys, Leon Leong (Liang Jing Kang) is one of them, and Sun Qian. So I was excited when I found out they collaborated again in this drama. Besides, the original work I’m Not a Robot (INAR) is the 10th drama I watched since my journey in dramaland, it left a special impression on me. I’m writing this recap from the point of view of someone who watched INAR, thus making a little comparison between the two dramas, while keeping any spoiler as minimal as possible for readers who haven’t watched the original story.

   A Robot in the Orange Orchard 

Country: China

Native Title: 你好呀,我的橘子恋人 (Hello, My Orange Lover)

Genres:  Comedy,  Romance,  Drama,  Sci-Fi  

Episodes: 30   |   Duration: 40 min.

Airing: May 20, 2022 – Jun 20, 2022

Airs On: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (YOUKU)
Where to watch:  Viki, YOUKU    |    Trailer: Viki

It starts with a can of Budweiser…

No, I’m not advertising beer

Lu Sen, the chairman of the successful IT company IMU, suffers from a deadly allergy to human contact since his parents’ death. He lives an isolated life and is only surrounded by high-tech gadgets. Without the ability to directly come into contact with others, Lu Sen is thereby intrigued when he learns that Dr. Fu Yang, a genius scientist, has created an incredibly lifelike robot companion named Friday. While preparing Friday for Lu Sen to test the functions, a mishap happens to the android. Yang Shan Shan, Friday’s real-life model, is then hired to temporarily replace the robot.


CHARACTERS

MAIN CHARACTERS

Leon Leong as Lu Sen

Sun Qian as Yang Shan Shan/Friday

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Team Alpha:

Dr. Fu Yang (Wang Fang), Pai Song (Cheng Ye Qing), Wang Da Yun (An Xiao Ge), and Li Cha De (Lu Si Tong)

Lu Sen’s childhood friends:

Zhu Yun Hui as Kang Li Er
Zhou Yu Hang as Li Zhan

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Since I watched the original version, subconsciously, my first impressions of ARITOO are tied to INAR in certain cases.

STORY

Being an official remake, ARITOO‘s main plot follows the original story, even to the extent of the similar jokes, for example the one as seen below. However, by looking at the trailer and official still images, SPOILER: it has different side couples, hence different side stories. There is also a big spoiler during the opening theme, tho! If you completely don’t want to be spoiled, avoid seeing the still pictures, trailer, and the opening theme at all costs.

I also have a guess, not a spoiler, that Lu Sen may discover about the fake robot pretty soon. I do not want to give out any spoilers on how I came to that assumption. But if you watched the original story, SPOILER: in which the Male Lead discovers that the robot is a human late in the drama, once you watch ARITOO up till Episode 8, you may come up with the same idea. In a way, I quite like the differences, as it makes the drama slightly unpredictable. Besides, it feels weird seeing Lu Sen fall for a robot. Interestingly, when I watched INAR back in 2019, I didn’t feel that way. Possibly, because I was still quite new to dramaland, so I devoured every drama with childlike amazement, finding new things in dramaland. After a while, the drama wonderland loses its wonder.

Honestly, I also want Lu Sen to interact with the real Shan Shan more, not with her hidden identity. Shan Shan has a different personality than the robot she tries to imitate. Her character as Friday is restricted, and she is being herself when Lu Sen is not around, as seen in the GIF below.


CAST/ACTING

I can imagine the audiences who have been watching this are divided into two groups: those who watched INAR, and the ones who have never watched it. The first group will automatically make a compare and contrast analysis of both dramas, including me. In my opinion, the acting of Leon Leong and Yoo Seung Ho, who played as the Male Lead in INAR, are incomparable. The first actor just started acting in 2016, meanwhile the latter has acted since 2000 as a child actor! Another criticism is that Sun Qian failed to act like a robot. I’m a bit suspicious that she was deliberately directed to act as a robot unconvincingly. Perhaps with the previous assumption that her cover will be blown up soon. Anyway, I am always suspicious if I watch any Chinese dramas with the sci-fi genre in it, that it doesn’t come up as sci-fi as shows of such genre from other countries. Merely because of the restrictive government censorship on Chinese shows.

However, I can also identify myself with the other group that comprises audiences who have never watched it. Although I watched INAR in summer 2019, after hundreds of dramas later, do you think I would clearly remember that drama now? Of course not, and I re-watched the first few episodes to write this article to look for some details I needed. As I wrote in the beginning that some side stories are different, I cannot really guess the course of action after a certain event. I even forgot if the same scenes are in the original story. The scene in the first GIF, for example.

That being said, although INAR has more experienced actors playing it, I enjoy the budding romance between Lu Sen and Shan Shan, as Friday, and the interaction between Team Alpha members. Different from INAR, the scientists here not only do scientific work, since it seems there is not a scene of them without eating. They also do yard work for the butler, in exchange for food and smooth package deliveries.


COSTUME & MAKEUP

Costume and makeup are another feature that are critical for Friday. The robot-makeup doesn’t show artificial enough as a robot. In INAR, the makeup put on the Female Lead Chae Soo Bin makes her convincing enough as the robot Aji-3. In my opinion, Sun Qian needs to have thicker makeup, that makes Friday really look like a robot. I also don’t like her original black dress as it’s too big for Friday, as seen on her ‘family photo’ below with her master, ‘grandfather’, ‘uncle’, and ‘big brother’. The robot in INAR initially wears a cute pink dress befitting the actress.


PROPS

As far as I know, the INAR male character Kim Min Kyu has two vacuum cleaning robots and a back scratcher for 2017 technology. Compared to the 2020 technology of ARITOO (both years are when the respective dramas were filmed), Lu Sen owns a robotic vacuum cleaner, a smart music player, a smart doll, and a smart fridge. I particularly love the smart fridge, which Lu Sen named Max. How many times I shove food into the fridge only to find out later that it’s expired because it’s buried in the back, or I need a warning for the unnecessary second bowl of ice cream for the day!


SETTING & LOCATION

There are two filming locations for this drama: the laid-back Kunming in Yunnan Province with its luscious green landscape, and modern Shenzhen with its high-tech skyscrapers. The exterior of the mansion that belongs to Lu Sen is actually the Mountain and Sea Art Museum of Cuifeng Ecological Park in Kunming. 

In the middle of the park of Lu Sen’s mansion is a greenhouse made of glass with an orange tree in the middle. Lu Sen’s parents planted that orange tree when he was little, as a love token. Hence, the ‘orange orchard’ is part of the drama’s title. Lu Sen often spends his time in this greenhouse to remember his parents. The production team actually built the setting. There is a booting ceremony photo of the actors with the construction of the greenhouse in the background. Sun Qian gave a video tour of the greenhouse in a behind-the-scenes video.

But my favorite setting is actually the laboratory where Team Alpha members, including Shan Shan, live and work at the mansion estate. Previously they lived in a dilapidated warehouse and moved to Lu Sen’s home to work on the exclusive and secret project of the robot. The interior of this quirky building is also sophisticated, a lab full of high-tech equipment and state-of-the-art living quarters.


OST

Up to Episode 8, there are three (plus one) OSTs:

  • Opening song “Please Stay With Me in the Future” sung by Li Changgeng (right picture). The song is in Chinese, but he also sang the English version of the opening song with a different title: “Oh My Happiness Circuit”. This upbeat song is my favorite because it’s rare I found a drama OST sung in English to sing-along with. Click on the song link and you will know what I’m talking about.
  • Ending song “Finally Meet You” by A Run
  • Insert song “Ever Wonder” by Wei En Jia

CONCLUSION

To conclude my article:

  • If you watched Meteor Garden (2018) and like the actors, you will most likely like this drama. I even think that ARITOO tries to ride on  MG‘s popularity. I’m not fond of that drama, in my opinion it’s draggy with tons of PPL. But I like the actors, so this is my bias. Good news: no PPL in ARITOO.
  • If you love the original version, especially the actors, you probably will not like this drama. Subconsciously, you will compare the acting in both versions. Hence the low rating during the airing, as the first people who watched it may be the ones who already watched the original version and loved it, and had high expectations of the remake. If you watch a lot of Chinese dramas, you may agree that their remakes do not go beyond the original versions because of some censorship restrictions.
  • If you watched the original version some time ago, and you forget about  the details, you probably will enjoy this drama. ARITOO is not an exact copycat of INAR. Although the supporting character’s setup is the same, there are changes in the side stories. I even forgot that some scenes in this drama also happened in the original version.
  • If you are a romcom fan, I believe you will like this drama. You know what the usual outcome of a romcom drama is. And being a remake, you should already guess ARITOO‘s ending from INAR‘s ending. I don’t believe there is any love triangle. Even if the drama tries to set one up, it will be a (very) weak love triangle. Lu Sen has liked ‘Friday’ very early, even with all her non-robot traits, possibly because he has been lonely since little and longed for companionship without realizing it. And Shan Shan feels pity for him. It won’t take long for a romance to blossom between them. As for chemistry, I said Leon and Sun Qian, having collaborated before, have a great one. Or, I will just show you with a GIF below to close my article:

Thank you for reading and happy watching!


AcknowledgementsThank you to the editors who edited this article. Credits: The OST singer’s picture is linked to its source. Other images are taken from the official posters and Photo section on MDL, and drama screenshots. Emojis are taken from emojiallSelf-made GIFs are taken from the drama scenes.
Edited by: Tine (1st editor)
remake
liang jing kang
romcom
leon leong
i’m not a robot
sun qian

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