Han Qi Luo(Barbie Hsu), an introverted art student, and Chen Ling(Vic Zhou), a popular playboy, attend the same college. One day, meeting by chance, Ling asks her for directions to the nearby hospital. Qi Luo draws him a map on the back of one of her sketches and gives it to him, then runs off. Finding the sketch later, Ling is unexpectedly drawn to it…and so begins one of drama’s great love stories.
Mars may not be the drama by which I judge all other dramas, as it’s in a genre all its own, but it would certainly be extremely extremely difficult for another drama to topple this one out of the #1 place it’s held for five years. I think it was the fifth drama I ever watched, directly after finishing Coffee Prince. From the moment that the seemingly heartless playboy walks in on Barbie Hsu being harassed and under cover of casual conversation lets a dark, dangerous side of him show, frightening the harasser so much that he runs away, I fell fast, hard, and deeply, and have never recovered since.
Often dark, Mars never pulls its punches, yet it’s got this lovely light romantic feel to it too, as well as an incredible emotional depth and psychological complexity. The acting is superb; both Vic Zhou and Barbie Hsu not only completely and seamlessly integrate with their roles but they also have intense, exquisite, sometimes so-good-it-hurts chemistry (they ended up in a 6-yr offscreen relationship after the drama) as a carefree, daredevil playboy with a tortured soul and a shy, traumatized artist with a past. It is essentially a story of two broken people healing each other. It does sag in the middle, with too much repetitiveness/focus on a minor character – I recommend use of the fast-forward button – but the beginning and end, and so much in between, are amazing.