With some little celebrity coming out of the woodwork to leech fame from their production, the team behind 'An Auspicious Snow' got their entire PR department armed and ready to do battle. But in the end, they didn't get a chance to do anything. Two of the drama's cast members, who'd gone out to work a different job that day, drew all the fire to themselves with one of them making a post and the other one giving a like.
Besides a few passersby who were too easily influenced by mob mentality, most netizens had the critical thinking skills to realize the truth for themselves. They wouldn't get too hot-headed and baselessly attack someone innocent—
[Who the hell is this? Miao Ye has the experience for this role. Even though he isn't all that famous, he's more than capable enough to play this part.]
[+1, Miao Ye has been in plenty of dramas. His acting ability is passable. If it were me, I also would have cast Miao Ye.]
[This sort of thing happens way too often. 'An Auspicious Snow' is almost complete, so all sorts of randos are going to pop up and try to get in on the commotion. Just ignore those guys.]
[He doesn't have a lot of fans, but he still has fans, okay? I feel so bad for our little Meow Meow. He doesn't deserve to be attacked like this. I didn't really feel anything for Jiang Ying in the past, but now I suddenly get his appeal.]
[+1, I want a friend like that too. He's always there to fight for you when you need him.]
Every time Jiang Ying got involved in a feud, his anti-fans rushed to the comments section to attack him. They all trotted out the same arguments every time, but Jiang Ying was in a good mood that day. He read each and every one of their inflammatory comments and even picked out a few to respond to.
Anti-Fan 1: Mind your own business, this has nothing to do with you, sir. I can't believe Jiang Ying wants to steal the spotlight even now.
@JiangYingKANI replying to Anti-Fan 1: Hey, birdbrain. At least try to use that tiny brain of yours. Do I need this sort of spotlight? If you're going to attack me, make sure your attacks are logical. Next.
Anti-Fan 2: If you have enough free time to attack people on Weibo, you should focus on improving your shitty acting skills instead.
@JiangYingKANI replying to Anti-Fan 2: Pffft, do you know anything about staying on topic? If you want to rile up a mob and go on a tangent in a feud with someone else, whatever. But that sort of thing doesn't fly with me. Stay on topic or gtfo. Next.
Anti-Fan 3: Jiang Ying and his fans are all a bunch of whiny grade schoolers. Low IQ, childish, and spoiled.
@A Lemon Tree Growing Deep In A Great Mountain replying to Anti-Fan 3: SlightSmile.jpg Wanna know my IQ?
With that, Little Lemon joined the fray and demonstrated the fierceness of a fan defending her beloved idol. She single-handedly proved that particularly well-educated fighters were especially fierce.
"Mutual follow, huh?" Jiang Ying mused as they got out at the airport. He looked at the cell phone Qi Zhu had passed him and deliberately pretended to think about it. "Alright."
But then he grabbed Qi Zhu's hand. "Wait. I'll follow you first."
"I accidentally followed you already," Qi Zhu answered coolly.
Jiang Ying was silent for a moment. "…it's fine, it's fine. No one saw that. Let's start over."
The desire to win was surging within him again.
Five minutes later, no one was talking about Hu Zehan trying to ride the drama's coattails or Miao Ye landing his character or even Jiang Ying feuding again. A brand new topic began to trend on Weibo—
The only thing anyone talked about was Qi Zhu and Jiang Ying following each other.
Confused Passersby: ???
Confused Passersby: What's so special about a mutual follow? Have people run out of things to talk about on Weibo? Why is something like this trending?
Meanwhile, the people who knew a little something about this bizarre friendship all thought—
Huh??? Those two followed each other???
In a short span of time, the relationship between Qi Zhu and Jiang Ying had gone from 'fire and ice, totally incompatible' to 'a baffling friendship'. And now they'd even followed each other.
Jiang Ying's Currently-Feuding Fans: ???
Qi Zhu's Suddenly-Awakened Fans: !!!
[They were friends, right? It was a confusing sort of friendship, but it was still a friendship. By following each other now, are they… trying to escalate their friendship?]
[If we think of it like that, can we consider this… an official announcement?]
[They're going to film a reality show, right? Maybe the mutual follow makes it easier to communicate? Sorry, I dunno if there's a deeper meaning.]
[A mutual follow is a milestone in any relationship. I'm super happy.]
[I really don't get it. I gotta ask. Isn't this just a normal follow? Can celebrities trend even for this sort of thing?]
[I'll answer that, sister. A mutual follow isn't strange or rare for most people, but it's rare for these two. They used to be deskmates, their relationship is super bewildering, and they bicker passive-aggressively on Weibo all the time. And when they @ each other, they used to always look each other up. They never followed each other, and now they have! It's too sudden!]
"Looks like there were some advantages to not following each other sooner," the mastermind of this trending tag mused as he dragged his suitcase along. "Look, with just a mutual follow, our fans are all drawing their own conclusions.
"Ah, my fans are all grown up. They can read between the lines all on their own now."
It was no secret that the two of them were heading out to film a reality show. Plenty of their fans had shown up at the airport with light-up signs to support them.
"Gege, we love you!" one of Jiang Ying's shadows called out, waving an illuminated sign. "Have fun on your island trip!"
"See you on the livestream," Jiang Ying answered, turning back to wave at her on his way past. "Be safe on the way home."
After they passed their fans, Jiang Ying suddenly sighed. "This is nice."
There was no one around anymore, so Jiang Ying reached out and grabbed hold of Qi Zhu's sleeve. "Before our streak disappears, I finally managed to make you mine."
After Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu arrived at the airport, Hu Zehan's people finally let out a collective sigh of relief. Not only were their attempts to get some attention a complete failure, they were ripped apart by Jiang Ying's shadows as well. Not only did they fail to steal a chicken from the chicken coop, they lost all their bait.
While Jiang Ying and Qi Zhu flew out to the island for their reality show, the ZhuYingYaoHong supertopic saw a sharp increase in members. In just a few short hours, their shippers managed to unearth tons of previously undiscovered candy.
[So they grew up together? That's so nice.]
[I! I! I watched the behind-the-scenes highlights from their drama! They're so sweet with each other.]
[Their friendship with big ships has finally been taken to the next level.]
[In just a few hours, their reality show will start streaming live. Sisters, let's all camp out in the stream.]
[Flying off to film a show right after their mutual (official) follow (announcement)… this timing is too good. Did they plan all this?]
The reality show would be filmed on an island that was a famous tourist destination. All the special guests would be staying together at a small villa on the island. They would spend two days operating a small shop attached to that villa; the owners had provided all the lodgings for the show in hopes of gaining some popularity for their shop after the broadcast.
The shop the guests would be running offered a wide range of products and services. It sold everything from souvenirs to seafood to beach activity packages for tourists.
Besides the rooms of the six guests and the bathrooms, livestream cameras were set up all around the shop and villa, covering every angle. Each guest was assigned a camera crew as well. Viewers of the livestream would be able to cut between various camera angles, constantly monitoring the guests everywhere they went.
"Hot, hot, hot," Jiang Ying complained. "I'm going to melt."
He and Qi Zhu had arrived outside the shop, and the stream was already live.
"So why am I wearing a sweater?" Jiang Ying continued. He blocked the entrance, refusing to let Qi Zhu go inside. "Who told me it was windy by the sea? Who told me to wear an extra layer?"
Jiang Ying plucked at the collar of his own sweater, fanning himself. "Mr. Actor, what good will it do you if I melt right here?"
Qi Zhu reached out and gave Jiang Ying's back a light push. "Mr. Actor, go inside."
Inside the main room of the shop, the crew had already set up a big screen on which the guests could see the feed of the show and the bullet comments from the viewers.
"Can you see me?" Jiang Ying waved a hand in front of the screen.
[We can see you, ah, ah, ahhhhhhh!]
[Someone else is here!]
[Little Ying, hurry up and go change. I feel hot just looking at you.]
[What's he waving at? Has anyone told him that the camera is behind him?]
"Go change," Qi Zhu urged.
"You guys are the second and third to arrive. Go ahead and choose your rooms upstairs," said the first guest who'd gotten to the villa. This was Fang Yi, an actress who'd become popular after starring in a film that released last New Year's. Her voice was extremely warm and gentle.
This time, the production team had prepared enough rooms for all the guests. Jiang Ying chose a room at the end of the hall and opened up a window. Right away, he could feel the ocean breeze.
It had to be said that Qi Zhu really knew how to pick a good show. This environment didn't feel like a workplace at all. To Jiang Ying, it felt more like a vacation.
Qi Zhu chose the room next to his. They each brought their suitcase into their own room, and Jiang Ying quickly changed into a set of summer clothes.
"Are you ready?" Jiang Ying scratched at Qi Zhu's half-open door. "Wanna go back downstairs and look around?"
"Sure." Qi Zhu set down what he was holding and followed Jiang Ying downstairs.
"Do we have to cook for ourselves?" Jiang Ying suddenly asked as the question popped into his mind.
"We do," Qi Zhu said. "But the shop is fully stocked with food. We can use anything we want, and the show will foot the bill."
"Then let's eat them out of house and home." Jiang Ying smirked. "I prepared thirty gigs of seafood recipes before coming here. It's all on my hard drive. Let's study up tonight. I'll see you in my room."
"Sure," Qi Zhu agreed, gazing at Jiang Ying with a smile in his eyes.
In the hallway, the cameras broadcast their conversation in real time—
[He's diabolical. Bringing recipes to a variety show.]
[The crew are about to cry, hahahaha.]
[Oooh, so this is where they went! Wahhhhhhh, is it too late for me to fly out there now?]
[Definitely too late. The number of visitors this island takes is strictly limited. You have to plan your trip way in advance. Anyone there now is just super, super lucky.]
[Can they really cook? Will they be okay?]
[As a Qi Zhu fan, I can tell you he'll be fine! And his cooking always looks amazing. But forget about Jiang Ying. I bet it won't be long before he starts fighting with crabs.]
By the time Qi Zhu and Jiang Ying made it back downstairs, the other three guests had arrived as well. The guests all greeted each other, then started talking about how they would run this shop for the next two days.
"Most of the souvenirs are postcards which people buy and mail out here. As for the seafood, we're just in charge of taking orders. Someone will come to cook, but only for customers. We're in charge of cooking for ourselves," Fang Yi recited, reading off the demands the show had provided them. "Besides that, we have some beach activities as well."
Fang Yi was already in vacation mode. She'd changed into a long summery dress and put on a straw hat. "Let's just treat this as a getaway."
Officially, they would start running the shop the next day. But that evening, the shop already saw its first wave of customers. With the island being such a famous tourist destination, many of the patrons were foreigners visiting from abroad.
It was only when they started working that Jiang Ying discovered the show had chosen the perfect cast of guests. He and Qi Zhu could speak English without any problems, and the sweet and gentle Fang Yi could easily switch between Japanese and Korean.
Around mealtime, the shop filled up with people. Jiang Ying was left to man the counter; he was placed in charge of counting their money.
Fang Yi was off taking a new customer's order while Jiang Ying tallied up the bills. Then, he suddenly heard a very familiar word.
"Kani? She wants crab?" Jiang Ying lifted his head.
"Mm, that's right." Fang Yi smiled. "Jiang Ying, you understand Japanese?"
"Just that one word." Jiang Ying waved a hand, modestly dismissing her look of praise. "I don't know anything else. Jiejie, you're way more impressive."
Qi Zhu, who was in the middle of showing some souvenirs to their customers, looked up and glanced over at Jiang Ying.
"What's that deep and meaningful smile for?" Jiang Ying asked, catching Qi Zhu in the act of looking his way. "Work hard, Qi-laoshi. All these netizens are watching. Don't let them catch you slacking off."
The bullet comments—
[That sounds so familiar.]
[Kani? As in JiangYingKANI, his Weibo ID? I've always wanted to ask, isn't that Japanese for 'crab'?]
[Oh, wow. I never knew what that meant. I'm shocked.]
[Why does this seem a little eerily familiar…]
[It feels like there's something at the tip of my tongue. A name… but I just can't remember all of a sudden.]
[Crab… crab… Boss Crab?]
[Jiang Ying and Boss Crab really are a bit eerily similar. They're both such strong fighters. It's like they're long lost brothers, separated at birth.]
"Nonsense," Jiang Ying declared. He just so happened to have time to sneak a peek at the bullet comments. "I've been using this name for years. I had it first.
"You guys are getting out of hand, just listen to yourselves. If you just want us to battle it out, fine. But now you're saying we're similar? Your imaginations are way too wild, way too vivid. You have no evidence, so stop talking nonsense.
"Am I the sort of person who would diss himself?"