OP: 「醉梦前尘」 ( Zui Meng Qian Chen ) by Terry Lin (林志炫)
You might be reading this, somewhat curious. Yet you’ll invariably give this a pass because it’s Chinese. Let me tell you, don’t make this mistake. Mo Dao Zu Shi might just be the best Chinese animation ever produced, and is easily on par with some of the greatest anime to have come out of Japan. There’s a reason it made it into MAL’s Top 50 shows, before being 1/10’d into oblivion by anime purists. If you give it a chance, it has a bit of everything — amazing characters, mesmerising magic, exciting martial action, political intrigue, and ultimately a tragic story that tears at the heartstrings. I highly recommend watching it! But don’t start here. Where to begin? Season 1 – which comprises of 15 episodes. Without further ado, let’s get to work with diving into Season 2!
I know there was a triple episode release. But I’m pretty much illiterate in Chinese, so forgive me on delays as we await the slow trickle of English subs. Fortunately translations for the first episode dropped pretty recently (Hint: To the high seas you must go), so that will serve as a great starting point. I can’t say I was too pleased that the open ending left by Season 1 was rushed to a conclusion within the first few minutes of Season 2. Namely, the primary antagonist was defeated pretty quickly thanks to the combined efforts of an allied force comprising of the four other major cultivation sects: Lanling Jin (Gold/White), Gusu Lan (Light Blue/White), Yumeng Jiang (Purple Black) and Qinghe Nie (Green/Grey). Together, they stormed the Nightless City and put an end to Wen Ruohan’s tyranny once and for all. The action scenes were epic and the fights flowed seamlessly — think of martial art films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a touch of fantastical elements. That said, I definitely would have liked some more build up, perhaps a minor recap to refresh us on events from the past season and a more extended lead into the Sunshot Campaign. Nevertheless, that plot point has been resolved, meaning the story can move back to the present once again.
A new generation of clan leaders have risen up, consisting of the brave young men who led their respective clans in the Sunshot Campaign to overthrow the Wen Sect. Fraternities are a thematic cornerstone within Chinese culture, echoing back to the Oath of the Peach Gardens, where Chinese literature’s most famous brotherhood between Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei came to life. They are almost as ubiquitous as flying swords, so it comes as no surprise to me, seeing a brotherhood between the leaders of the Lanling Jin and Gusu Lan clans, who have each other’s backs no matter what in remembrance of their deceased oldest brother, the previous head of the Qinghe Nie clan. Their collective vision was to protect the continent from the hoards of undead unleashed by the Yiling Patriarch unto this world. Only people are beginning to view Lanling Clan’s efforts as potentially having the ulterior motive, such as amassing wealth through offering protection services. Reminds me of America being the world police and making coin along the way. I think that the Gusu Lan patriarch is far too trusting of his sworn brother, but whether these allegations are truly the case remains to be seen.
Speaking of brotherhoods, we also have the odd one between Wei Wuzian, Lan Zhan and Jiang Cheng. Though the passage of time changes a lot of things. Where they used to be inseparable, having been raised as non-blood related siblings, Jiang Cheng now hates Wei Wuxian’s guts while Lan Zhan seems to have become much more tolerant to him. In this way, the brotherhood seems much deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface. I bet fangirls got their reckoning, when Wei Wuxian peeked on Lan Zhan in the hot springs. The dude has quite an impressive body. As a heterosexual guy, I can’t say I felt excited. But it would be extremely interesting to hear a fangirl’s perspective down below, so let it be known! Sadly, their moment got interrupted thanks to disruptions caused as a result of the demonic hand. By himself, Lan Zhan could not stop the demonic hand. But together with Wei Wuxian, in a duet of flute and zither, they could suppress its demonic pulsations. Again, beautiful synergy harking back to the one time they were trapped in the cave together with that monster.
As Wei Wuxian points out, these arrangements smell too fishy to be a coincidence. That he was resurrected despite being a renown practitioner of the dark arts, as well as the demonic hand appearing within nearby proximity alongside his zombie servant Wen Ning, there might be a mastermind at play behind the scenes with an ulterior motive. One trip to a nearby village, where a lone woman was driven insane by something she saw, the rabbit hole only runs deeper as we’re left to ponder on the growing mystery at hand. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss this week. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you soon for more, because I’ll definitely be covering this show for the rest of this season!
ED: 「少年如故」 ( Shao Nian Ru Gu ) by R1SE