meganbmoore: (paladins: yan yu/mo le: pre-angstplosion)
If you follow me on tumblr, then you know I fell into something like a bottomless pit of cdramas over the last few weeks, bingewatching 2 completed series in a very short period of time, and then starting 4 airing dramas this week.

Series I completely watched:

Green Hill Fox Legend is a fantasy series from earlier this year that is the latest anthology series based on Strange Tales From a Chinese Studio. Unlike others that I've watched, these stories are all connected by having the leads of each story be part of the same large fox clan, with an ongoing plot of a thief stealing the magic fruit the goddess Nuwa tasked them with guarding. Most of the stories really would have benefitted from being at least half an episode shorter, but I enjoyed all nut one of them. The was "Ying Ning", in which the show was embarassingly aware that they were romantically pairing a 15 year old actress with an actor at least 10 years older than her and pretending they were the same age, nd in which the heroine chooses to leave all the people who love her to care for her unrepentant abuser. Another story, which was really fun, had the end cut off because it apparently had canon gay, which made the network panic. Aside from those bits, though, it was a goof fantasy series, though not one of the best.

Detective Tang Lang is the other one I bingewatched. It's a mystery/action series from 2010 set in 1920s Shanghai featuring Wallace Huo as a somewhat odd private detective who keeps getting tangled up with a lawyer named Hung Cue, played by Chang Meng. She has a signature red leather coat, does Sherlock-style cold reads of people, and has a Secret And Mysterious Past. About 2/3 through the series, the show forgets that Tang Lang is the main character and it becomes all about Huang Cue's Secret And Mysterious Past and the fallout in the present, with Tang Lang largely serving as her glorified bodyguard. There isn't much that's particularly original about it, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Then there's the airing dramas. The main culprit here is Ice Fantasy the much-hyped, big budget epic fantasy series that's actually on both viki and dramafever. It's a fairly straightforward "two kingdoms at war" series in which the immortal gods of the Fire and Ice Clans (with humans stuck in between) ended their war a century ago, only to have the Flire clan restart it. Two of the Ice clan's princes escape, and go on a quest to find pieces of a magic artifact. It's really straightforward fantasy blended with wuxia elements with complex worldbuilding and good characters and actors. It really needs to calm down with the CGI at times, but I love it. It also keeps adding more and more excellent ladies (at one point, the fragile old granny who plays with kids in the woods decides she's JUST HAD IT and THESE YOUNG'UNS ARE TAKING TOO LONG and singlehandedly storms the castle and rescues a Damsel In Distress), and has a nice genderswapped version of the "sheltered princess alone in the world for the first time who falls for low-born knight/bodyguard" trope that's just accepted as normal. also, the Fire clan stepped right out of an "edgy" 90s MTV video (poofy hair! dramatic makeup! flashy fabric everywhere!) and goes into battle by surfing on their shields. I kid you not. The Ice clan are the serene and elegant immortals and everything there including clothes and people and hair is white and silver and it's incredibly beautiful and I hate it because unless there's a closeup or they're in a field away from everything it's just a huge blend of white and silver and I can't always make everything out.

I love it to bits and I ran out of episodes and am twiddling my thumbs waiting for more.

While I was watching, I realized that 3 other series I've been waiting on are also airing and getting subbed, so instead of catching up on other TV or doing something productive, I watched the first two episodes of all three.

The Mystic Nine is set in the 1940s and is about 9 treasure hunting families competing against each other, not that most of them have shown up yet. I thought the first episode was good, but it didn't really grab me aside from a few bits. I liked the second episode much more, though, and I'm looking forward to the feuding treasure hunters. That said, it is in dire need of more female characters. So far, there's exactly one, and she's the kind but sickly wife of one of the main characters and I fear she will be fridged. Promotional materials promise a lot more ladies, so we'll see.

Novoland: The Castle in the Sky is another fantasy series about two clans of gods (this time with wings!) who were at war until 100 years pre-story. That's all it really has in common with Ice Fantasy. In this one, a young woman with A Secret Past sneaks into the academy where the young noblemen from both winged clans and the humans train to see her crush/surrogate brother (who is under a curse the he will suffer unendurable pain and die if her has lustful thoughts about her) and gets in trouble. I like it ok so far, though not as much as I was expecting to. Like The Mystic Nine it only has one female character so far (though at least she's the lead here, and there was at least one other in the prologue who will be important later) and unlike The mystic Nine, I don't particularly like any of the male characters so far (and rather loathe her apparent eventual love interest, who is not the cursed fake!brother but a Super Jerk from one of the winged clans-I'm really over the guys who go out of their way to be awful to the female leads but are secretly nice and trying to help in their own special way). The cursed fake!brother and the other guy caught up in her problems are ok, but don't grab me yet.

Lastly, there's Demon Girl, set in 1915 and about a poor dancer who falls in love with a rich police officer. And, unknown to her, her mother was a demon (the series actually opens with Mom slaughtering a bunch of European invaders who were killing everyone in their town), and he is currently unknowingly hunting a demon. And demons here supposedly only prey on evildoers. Based purely on the first two episodes of all three series, I'd say this is my favorite of the airing cdramas, outside of Ice Fantasy, though it looks like it's going to be melodramatic even for the genre. It's my first experience with a Yu Zheng drama, and his stuff seems to be rather polarizing. several of his dramas are in my backlog of things to watch, but I noped out of trying out his stuff until this came along after everything I heard about his version of Return of the Condor Heroes.

Except for Ice Fantasy, it's entirely possible that I'll watch a couple more episodes of each then fall behind and not watch more until they finish airing, which is what has happened pretty much every other time I've tried watching a cdrama as it aired. That used to be the case with kdramas, too, though, so maybe it'll change.

WHILE I'M HERE ANYWAY, let me take a moment to mention Thunderbolt Fantasy, a show that I'm not sure how to classify.  iIve been lumping it into anime since that's the closest I can come up with for it.  It is very much a wuxia, but from Japan, and featuring elaborate and stunning puppets. The story is a very straightforward wuxia one-a young woman who's family guards Super Special Swords is being pursued by A Villain and falls under the protection of two wanderers, one of who summons a bunch of friends to join them in taking on The Big Bad- and plot and characterwise, it has nothing original to offer yet. But it...it is just so good, despite the painstakingly small doses. I've been mostly bingewatching stuff and watching dramas outside of a few US shows lately, so it just feels SO WEIRD AND WRONG to only get 20 odd minutes of shows a week. The puppetry is so good that you can almost forget they aren't animated, and they do some amazing things with the FX and angles and shadows. Urobutcher is behind it, though, so it'll probably end in pain and tears and anger on my part.

And these are the things that have consumed me of late and kept me from everything but work and tumblr. Well, these and pokemon go.

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