radiuju: (books / music / movie talk)
Joaru ([personal profile] radiuju) wrote on January 24th, 2016 at 01:05 pm
Okay, it's been weeks since I finished all 54 episodes of Nirvana in Fire/瑯琊榜 and I haven't gotten over my feels for it yet. It's real cold in Taipei today (3 degrees Celcius!!) so I'm just bundling up at home and figured out I'll pour my feelings about the show now. If you plan to watch the show, please don't read, this will be extremely spoilery.

First of all, I really, really applaud the production value and casting. I felt that it did not lose at all to feature films, which is quite something considering that this is actually a TV drama.

What I'm also very impressed about is the number of intriguing female characters in this show. I have not watched wuxia series in a long time, but what I remember from when I was a kid, a lot of the female characters tend to be damsel in distress even if they were skilled in martial arts whatsoever, or annoying, clingy "fangirl" who tags along with the hero against his wishes. Of course, there were exceptions, but I saw those typesquite a lot that it's embedded in my memory. And let's be honest here, they were not really my favorite type of characters because they felt rather unrealistic. Flat.

If I were to be nitpicky, I'd say the weakest female character in the show was actually Duchess Nihuang. I liked her a lot more at first, because she showed how she refused to conform to the expectations of the royal family (wanting to pick her own husband, commanding an army in the battlefield instead of staying in the city despite of how the other royal ladies see it, etc) but I felt that her character became really boring after she found out about the real identity of Mei Changsu. For the next episodes, whenever we see her pop up, she will end up crying on screen... I understand for the first or two occurrences, because she had missed Lin Shu so much and there's nothing wrong with that. But to have her only appear on screen to cry every single time... I don't know, I find it irritating. Hahaha.

And there's also Gongyu, which I had problem with... I guess because we never really found out why she's such a "dogged nice girl" (if there's such term) to Mei Changsu. I guessed she owed him her life or something, just like almost everyone else in the Jiangzuo Alliance. I guess the main problem here might not be the character themselves but the lack of screentime for them, therefore we don't really get to know about their background and other aspects of their personalities.

However, I really love the writing for Noble Consort Jing. Truly amazing mother character, she is pictured as kind hearted, tender and elegant and yet she's also clever. I wouldn't really call her manipulative, but her ability to perceive people and "bend" them into the directions she wanted them to be is quite amazing. There were times when I'm not even sure whether she really said certain things intentionally to bait the Emperor. I also found the contrast of personalities between the Empress and (former) Noble Consort Yue to be very interesting, as they both play the more "cunning" side of the royal ladies, but they have very different approach. The characterization for Xia Dong and Grand Princess Liyang is also very impressive, feels a lot more believable and genuine than Nihuang and Gongyu.

As for the male characters, well... I have to say I have a hard time buying that Mei Changsu has feelings for Nihuang, because of the sexual tension (laughs) between him and Prince Jing. I read somewhere that apparently in the novel, the romance between Mei Changsu and Nihuang was rather non existent too as she was supposed to love another character already. But yeah, I really love the dynamics between Mei Changsu and Prince Jing, especially all the push and pull because Mei Changsu has to make Prince Jing trust him without revealing his real identity. And the ending... The ending really killed me.

I really wish we got to know more about some characters like Fei Liu and Lin Chen, because things about their backstory were kept really subtle... Especially for Fei Liu because he's actually my favorite male character in the show other than Jingrui. I'm also sad that the ending was too focused on Mei Changsu, Prince Jing and Duchess Nihuang. I'd love to know what happened to the others, whether they are alive or dead, whether they managed to achieve their own goals after that...

I hope that I can get to the level of being able to read the novel, because I read somewhere that the novel is more expansive, and hopefully then it can answer a lot of questions I have about the characters. But first, I must improve my Chinese skills beyond elementary...

I read in a Taiwanese news that they might make a sequel for the TV series if there's enough demand, but I'm actually more keen for a prequel than a sequel. However, at this point, I guess I'd take anything. This show was just too good, I can't even bring myself to watch other shows that my lecturer recommended to me yet!
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