Based on the novel by Mo Bao Fei Bao, Go Go Squid! is about a Computer Science grad student and a driven esports professional. It just began airing and will be 41 episodes in total, concluding on July 31. You can watch it with English subtitles on Viki.
Go Go Squid! stars Li Xian and Yang Zi, with a special appearance by Hu Yi Tian of A Love So Beautiful fame. Li Xian previously caught my eye playing a Special Forces member in last year’s Only Side by Side with You, so I’m really excited to see him in a leading role. As for Yang Zi, I found her character in Ode to Joy so annoying, and then her character in Ashes of Love too simple and naive. From what I’ve seen from trailers and the first episode, her character in Go Go Squid! is also that sort of character, but I remain optimistic.
This first episode introduces a lot of characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes!
Episode 1 Recap
At a specific type of cyber security competition called CTF, the K&K team loses to their rival SP. Our male lead, Han Shang Yan, is the K&K boss and he looks visibly disappointed. Even though they’re a new team, they were expected to win the competition. Shang Yan rejects a handshake from the SP team manager, Appledog (Wang Zhen Er), and there seems to be some history there. She makes some uncomfortable eye contact with Wu Bai (Hu Yi Tian), the K&K team captain.
Our first glimpse of the female lead is her riding her bike in front of the K&K bus. In a voiceover, she introduces herself as Tong Nian (Yang Zi), a second-year Computer Science graduate student, coincidentally related to cyber security. Speaking from the perspective of someone looking back on the past, she remarks that it must’ve been fate that he turned around that night and went into the internet cafe she worked at.
It’s love at first sight for Tong Nian when Shang Yan comes in to the internet cafe for an overnight session. She puts together a snack plate for him and imagines him asking to be her friend when she brings it to him. The reality is, he’s so absorbed that she’s barely able to get his attention.
The internet cafe is her cousin’s, Dou Nan (Chen Shuai), and to help her he suggests they tell Shang Yan he’s won a raffle for a week of free internet. She counters that Dou Nan has to be the one to tell him, and he needs to use WeChat to scan for the prize. She changes her WeChat profile name to ‘Predestined Tonight Cafe’. Initially, Shang Yan ignores Dou Nan but that cousin of hers shamelessly persists. Dou Nan and Tong Nian browse his public posts but they’re all cyber security related.
Tong Nian is disappointed when Shang Yan leaves, and even runs outside after him to give him his receipt.
It’s Shang Yan’s turn for a voiceover, and he shares that he came back to China to establish the K&K team, to help young people develop their talent. He feels an immense responsibility but he swears that he will succeed. He enters the K&K team headquarters and even tucks in one of kids whose arm is hanging off his bed. (The headquarters is really sleek, and is that a slide I see?!)
In the morning, the K&K team kids wonder if their boss returned last night. They’re a lively, fun group, and there are so many of them I have yet to tell them apart.
Some of the team members see Shang Yan receiving messages from the ‘Predestined Tonight Cafe’ and laugh gleefully that he’s finally learned to use WeChat. (We see this animated segment of Tong Nian saying one of the messages out loud in a maid outfit; it’s about the weather…)
In the pouring rain, Shang Yan brings them out for their daily 5 km run. The members complain but the captain, Wu Bai, steps up to ask where they’re running. Shang Yan reminds them that they only have a few years of being a competitor and they’re in their prime. He yells at them that no one remembers the second place winner. A salty team member remarks that Shang Yan just doesn’t want to lose to Solo, suggesting a bitter rivalry exists between the two of them.
The K&K team members sit around tables of food hungrily, waiting for their boss. Shang Yan calls out Wu Bai and tells him to withdraw money for red envelopes for everyone. They’ve already received year-end bonuses, but this is his own gift to them. (Despite his intensity about winning, Shang Yan isn’t heartless.) Wu Bai asks, as his cousin, if he gets one, too. No wonder they both have that same aloof vibe.
🌟FAVORITE MOMENT 🌟Shang Yan asks his cousin if he can block someone on WeChat, showing him the messages he’s been receiving. Wu Bai takes a look and asks him if he went on a blind date. 😂Shang Yan says never mind about blocking them; it’s too much trouble. He tells Wu Bai he’s going out of town for two days.
In a classroom, Tong Nian looks at her phone listlessly. Her friend, Ya Ya (Jiang Peiyao), asks her about winter break plans, but Tong Nian says she can’t take a trip because she has to help her cousin run his internet cafe. She asks what liking someone is like, but they’re interrupted by the appearance of Tong Nian’s senior classmate Zheng Hui (Qu Xianping). Asking to speak with Ya Ya alone, he tells her he likes Tong Nian but is afraid of being rejected. Ya Ya agrees to help him.
Shang Yan arrives at a convenience store, seeking out an employee, Mi Shao Fei (Lee Hong Chi). They hug emotionally as Shao Fei says he thought he’d never see Shang Yan again. Shang Yan explains that five years ago he started a CTF company in Norway so he came back to build a Chinese branch. Shao Fei still follows CTF news but it makes him sad, and Shang Yan replies that if he can’t let it go, then join him. Shang Yan came to recruit him for the K&K team.
Shao Fei drags him out to have a drink, as it just so happens that he’s meeting someone who Shang Yan will want to see. SP team member Ou Qiang walks in and is surprised to see Shang Yan. He says he’s brought someone with him as well.