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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nia Xiao Qian Episode 1 Recap & First Impression

Name: Nie Xiao Qian (聶小倩)

Synopsis: A modern retelling of a well known Chinese fantasy story about a female ghost who tries to kill a scholar but ends up falling in love with him instead. The original story is set in ancient China but in this version all the characters have been given a second chance to continue their story in the modern time...except the scholar has been reincarnated and he no longer remembers the heroine. 

Nie Xiaoqian Episode 1 Recap By Ninja
Well known as an interior designer and psychologist, Yan Qi has a lesser known profession that he've held for over 500 years as a demon hunter. Head of a "special" department in the Formosa Hospital, Yan Qi is called in whenever there are certain "mysterious" cases such as when an important VIP suddenly gets ill without any apparent cause. 

Forcing everyone out of the room, Yan Qi calmly sits as the beefy black man on the hospital bed transforms into a woman in a full Chinese opera getup. Turns out the VIP patient has been possessed by a vengeful female ghost who is determined to avenge her death on her enemy's descendants. Despite the fierceness of the ghost, Yan Qi was able to capture her with ease and leaves the hospital staff in awe of his mysterious skills. 
As we follow Yan Qi around, we see that through his eyes the world is filled with spirits and other supernatural beings. Interestingly, Yan Qi seems to ignore most of the spirits he encounters and only deals with those that are strong enough to actually attack people. 
The wheel of fate starts to turn and many seemingly unrelated things merge to bring all three of our leads together to the Formosa Hospital. 

Time to introduce our hero (I think he is the hero at least)! With complete disregard for his own injury sustained during a big piled up traffic accident, Li Cheng Xi rushes back to his post as an emergency doctor to land a helping hand. Stumbling over a small box during the chaos, Cheng Xi picks up the strange box and unconsciously starts to chant after a voice that suddenly appeared in his mind. 
The box opens as Cheng Xi finishes the last word of the chant but by then Cheng Xi had fainted to the ground. While everyone in the emergency room is busy hovering around an unconscious Cheng Xi, our confused heroine (Xiao Qian) is overjoyed as she stretch out her hand and yells happily "I am not trapped in the box anymore!" 

Yelling Yan Qi's name loudly, Xiao Qian angrily demanded "Lousy monk! Trapped in a box for 500 years is too much even for a ghost!" 

500 years ago, Yan Qi had trapped Xiao Qian in the box after failing to convince her that it is better for her to reincarnate then to stay by Cheng Xi's side as a ghost. To be fair, Yan Qi had only intended to keep her in the box for a short time until he is done fighting a big bad villain BUT something obviously went wrong and Yan Qi lost the box. For the last 500 years Yan Qi had been searching relentlessly for the box/ Xiao Qian but has been unsuccessful thus far. 
Realizing Yan Qi is not close by, Xiao Qian looks around in bewilderment at all the strangers in bizarre outfits and tries to spot her savoir that set her free from the hated box. Her eyes widening when she sees Cheng Xi's face, Xiao Qian rushes towards him while calling "Cai Chen!" 

Cai Chen is Cheng Xi's name in his previous life but to lessen the confusion I will just be using his current name Cheng Xi from here on.   
Elated to be reunited with the man she loves, Xiao Qian's happiness soon turns to disappointment when Cheng Xi regains consciousness and looks at her without any recognition. 

Completely freaked out by the strangely dressed woman who has suddenly attached herself to him, Cheng Xi desperately tries to get rid of Xiao Qian...especially when he runs into a female doctor he has been crushing on.
Too preoccupied with shaking Xiao Qian off him, Cheng Xi doesn't notice that everyone else can't seem to see Xiao Qian at all.  
Her womanly radar blaring loudly after noticing Cheng Xi's not so secret feelings toward the female doctor, Xiao Qian is even more determined to stick to him like gum. 

Frustrated and just a bit scared when Xiao Qian even follows him into the men's bathroom, Cai Cheng runs away from Xiao Qian and breath a sigh of relief when it looks like he made a successful escape. 
Unbeknownst to Cheng Xi, Xiao Qian had just gotten smarter about following him and had made herself comfortable at his house while he is patting himself on the back for ditching her. 

Taking a tour of Cheng Xi's bathroom (which she thought was his bedroom), Xiao Qian jumps with surprise when Cheng Xi suddenly barges in and starts to take off his clothes. Trying to hide from Cheng Xi, Xiao Qian tries to sneak away but eventually gets caught by a completely naked Cheng Xi and the two shares an accidental kiss. 
Despite her upbeat attitude, Xiao Qian is definitely having some difficulties as she tries to adjust to the modern world and its many new things. After setting fire to the kitchen by using Cai Cheng's friend's precious paper robot as kindling and freaking out in the hospital elevator (because it's a moving box), Xiao Qian is nonetheless still determined as ever to stay by Cheng Xi's side. 

Meanwhile, Cheng Xi had a rough morning with almost getting strangled by a patient but fortunately Yan Qi shows up at the perfect moment to save him. Chatting in a familiar and friendly manner with Yan Qi, Cheng Xi complains about the crazy woman that showed up after he accidentally opened a strange box. His attention caught as Cheng Xi mutters about a woman dressed in historical Chinese outfit and being trapped for 500 years, Yan Qi grabs Cheng Xi's arm and demands "Where is she? Take me to her!" 

First Impression
Taiwanese drama has done such a good job lately that I was really hoping Nie Xiao Qian would be a winner as well. Sadly, I wasn't all that impressed with this one. The acting first off is not the caliber we saw from both Bromance and Marry Me or Not. Is not that the acting was terrible because it certainly wasn't that bad...but I just couldn't immerse myself in the story and instead find myself being jerked out of it by the two leads' acting. 
There is one beacon of hope though and that is Christopher Lee, the actor that plays Yan Qi's character was quite impressive in his role. If the writer is willing to start shifting the attention to Yan Qi and make him the hero (which I think is quite possible, since I think this show has three leads anyway) I think I could be intrigued enough to keep watching this one. 

The acting aside, the tone of the story also seems off. The fantasy element in the show was fine but the comedic timing was definitely off. In scenes where I should be laughing I find myself grimacing instead...and that's never a good sign. 

All in all, not the best first episode for Nia Xiao Qian BUT I am going to give it at least one more week or I just might hold on until Kingone Wang shows up. Kingone is doing a guest appearance as the young Yan Qi.


  1. thanks for this! I was debating on whether to watch this but I think I'll wait for a few more weeks for your recaps/other viewers' impressions. (if you decide to stick with it) ^_^

  2. I watched it and felt the acting was so so, but it is just the first episode. I am holding out until Kingone makes an appearance.

  3. I watched it and felt the acting was so so, but it is just the first episode. I am holding out until Kingone makes an appearance.