Did you know that some of the most popular C-dramas out there are actually based on manga and anime?
If you’re interested in watching a live-action take on some of Japan’s best stories, spanning from shoujo romances to shounen sports narratives, then you’re in for a treat! Here are five Chinese drama adaptations that you should definitely catch:
1. Hikaru no Go (2020)
Chinese Title: 棋魂 (Qíhún)
Based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, the critically acclaimed Chinese web drama Hikaru no Go follows Shi Guang, a sixth-year primary school student who accidentally discovers the ancient board game Go in his grandfather’s house and summons the spirit of Chu Ying, a Go master from the Southern Dynasty. Under the latter’s influence, Shi Guang develops a passion for the game, beginning his journey to become a professional Go player.
Although the original source material of the series is Japanese, Go, also known as weiqi, is actually a Chinese chess game that possesses a rich history of more than 2,500 years. This emphasis on Chinese culture, along with the drama’s faithfulness to the manga’s plot, holds a good chunk of the reason for the show’s widespread popularity and its success as the highest-rated domestic teen drama of 2020.
Episode Count: 36
2. Hana Kimi (2006)
Chinese Title: 花樣少年少女 (Huāyàng Shàonián Shàonǚ)
Originally known as Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, this Taiwanese drama is a high school romance rich with the thrill of identity reveals! Inspired by high jump athlete Zuo Yiquan, Lu Ruixi decides to crossdress and transfer to an all-boys school to meet her idol. However, Ruixi one day finds herself knocked unconscious during a friendly soccer match by her friend Jin Xiuyi, who then discovers her identity as a girl but chooses to keep it a secret.
Meanwhile, Zuo Yiquan retires from his athletic career after an injury caused by a road accident. Although unaware of Ruixi’s actual gender, Zuo Yiquan finds himself falling for her when she convinces him to return to the high jump sport.
Episode Count: 15
3. Symphony’s Romance (2020)
Chinese Title: 蜗牛与黄鹂鸟 (Wōniú Yǔ Huánglí Niǎo)
Looking for a drama that focuses on classical music? Having adapted Nodame Cantabile, one of the most popular shoujo manga to date, Symphony’s Romance follows the story of musical prodigy Li Zhenyan, whose bright and budding career is threatened by a lingering childhood trauma that holds him back from studying under the best classical masters in the world.
Enter Xiao Wo, an exceptionally gifted and quirky pianist who somehow finds herself changing Li Zhenyan’s life. Pursuing their passion for music, the two embark on a journey towards a common dream and face a new future together.
Episode Count: 40
4. Prince of Tennis (2019)
Chinese Title: 奋斗吧，少年！(Fèndòu Ba, Shàonián!)
Those wanting an exciting sports drama won’t be disappointed with China’s 2019 adaptation of this iconic manga! Follow Lu Xia, a tennis prodigy who finds himself in a slump — trapped under the shadow of his father’s own reputation as an elite player. Losing passion for the sport, Lu Xia returns to China and joins a high school tennis team, where he discovers the importance of friendship, teamwork, and the true meaning of tennis in his life.
Avid fans looking for more Prince of Tennis content may also be pleased to know that this is actually the second adaptation of the renowned sports series. If you enjoyed this modern rendition, try checking out The Prince of Tennis (2008) and its sequel Go for It! The Prince of Tennis (2009).
Episode Count: 42
5. Meteor Garden (2018)
Chinese Title: 流星花园 (Liúxīng Huāyuán)
Who doesn’t know the love story of Daoming Si and Dong Shancai? Based on the shoujo manga Hana Yori Dango, aka Boys Over Flowers, Meteor Garden was originally a Taiwanese series that aired in 2001 to global success, even debuting the widely successful boy group F4.
Revived almost two decades later, Meteor Garden (2018) retells the classic tale of an ordinary girl admitted to the most prestigious school in the country, only to find trouble with a clique of the richest and most handsome boys on campus — the F4. Unwilling to be looked down on by the upper-class elite, Dong Shancai sparks the ire of the group’s leader Daoming Si, who gradually realizes his feelings for her. Shancai, however, falls in love with one of Daoming Si’s best friends, Huaze Lei.
Episode Count: 50
Had fun with this C-drama list? Check out our rec list for the sweetest 2021 rom-coms now!