My Journey into BL Chinese Dramas, Comics and Animation

Let’s not talk about how long I’ve been gone. Let’s talk about bromantic (gay) Chinese dramas instead!!!

This summer was officially my introduction to Chinese BL xianxia dramas. I FELL HARD into two fandoms, y’all. And I don’t think I’ve completely resurfaced since then. I’m still really confused about how I got to this point but I ain’t mad. Now I’ve discovered a few amazing C-dramas, manhuas, and donghuas. And my world just keeps on expanding.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about:

  • C-drama – Chinese drama
  • Wuxia – Genre of Chinese fiction centered around the martial arts
  • Xianxia – Fantasy subgenre of Wuxia influenced by Chinese mythology, martial arts, religion, medicine, and other traditional Chinese elements
  • Manhua – Chinese comics/graphic novelization
  • Donghua – Chinese animation
  • Danmei/BL – Boy’s Love; m/m romantic relationships
  • MXTX – Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (author)
  • Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS) – The Founder of Diabolism
  • Tiān Guān Cì Fú (TGCF) – Heaven Official’s Blessing
  • Ren Zha Fanpei Zijiu Xitong – The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (SVSSS)

*I’m no expert on all of these terms and definitions but I think I understand a few of the basics.

WATCHING CHINESE BL DRAMAS AND ANIMATIONS

My journey started with the Heaven Official’s Blessing donghua on Netflix. The show was apparently adapted from a Chinese novel called Tiān Guān Cì Fú .

I mean. Just look at it. LOOK. And this is just the title poster.

The trailer looked interesting and gorgeously animated, so I started watching. I’d never watched Chinese animation before and it had been a while since I’d seen a Chinese film (all hail Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers). The language took some getting used to, but once I had re-adjusted to the sound of Mandarin, I became invested in the story and characters. And I fell in love. Watched the whole thing in nearly one sitting. The show sent me over the moon. Xie Lian and Hua Cheng (Hualian) are just the cutest, most sugary sweet couple and I live for them.

Then I started looking around YouTube to see if anyone else loved this show and the characters as much as I did. Of course there was a plethora of fan edits and clips (bless TikTok) that validated my new obsession. Then YT recommended this other donghua called The Founder of Diabolism (alt title: The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation). I watched a couple trailers and was convinced by the character designs and one breathtaking action sequence.

Not my favorite poster but the clearest one I could find!

I started watching and finished the first two seasons and the chibi spinoff (The Founder of Diabolism Q) within a couple of weeks. I was in it. The story was just as engrossing as Heaven Official’s Blessing, if not more. I watched more fan edits and clips, and then felt a little lost. I finished these amazing animations and didn’t know where to go from there.

I let my friend know what I had watched and she informed me that The Founder of Diabolism donghua was actually an adaptation of Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS), a novel she had urged me to read years ago. And better yet, the novel was also adapted into an extremely popular C-drama by the name of The Untamed as well as an audio drama and manhua.

This exists. Therefore, I exist.

The craziest thing is that I remember my friend telling me to watch The Untamed a few years ago (it aired in 2019) but I never got around to watching it since I had been put off by the 50 episode season (each episode about 45 minutes long). I eventually forgot about the whole thing. It all came full circle.

But hold on a minute. My friend began selling me on another, more recent C-drama called Word of Honor, an adaptation of the Chinese novel, Faraway Wanderers, by Priest.

I mean, come ON. LOOOK!

She showed me funny tweets, pics of the lead actors, behind the scenes clips, and fan edits to persuade me to try it. It didn’t take much, really. I was sold by the first clip she sent me. Two guys making flirty eyes at each other from across the way. BOLD.

I decided to jump into Word of Honor first because a) the season was shorter with 36 episodes and b) I knew I was going to love The Untamed more. I turned on Word of Honor and was immediately sucked into the amazing acting, vibrant color scheme, and subtle yet NOT SUBTLE AT ALL romantic relationship between the two male leads (Gong Jun and Zhang Zhehan playing Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu, respectively). The director was walking a very fine line with Chinese censorship. The flirtations were so obvious I was kind of shocked the show managed to air at all in China. I don’t think anyone could debate that the two main characters were in love and were in a committed relationship by the end of the season.

After finishing up WOH within a week and binging fan edits, I immediately jumped into The Untamed. I had been watching clips of Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo’s, the two male leads’, off-set relationship. They had a true spark between them. They complimented each other really well and had a special bond. Also, they were both very handsome. Radiant, even.



The rest of the cast were ridiculously attractive, too. I couldn’t wait anymore. I just had to watch the drama. And I did. IN 4 DAYS. Most intense binge I’ve ever done. And I have absolutely zero regrets. The combat scenes was not as well-choreographed as WOH but it still had flair, and the costuming was not as bright but was just as intricate and visually stunning. The overall show was exceptionally plotted and well acted.

Comparatively, I prefer TU’s narrative over WOH and I also love the relationship between Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan a little more. Their romance is more nuanced and rife with tragedy. Makes for good viewing. Also, the actors did such an amazing job. They BECAME their characters. I believed every facial expression and word of dialogue. Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo’s chemistry was magnetic.

All I’m trying to say is I LOVE The Untamed. It is, hands down, one of my hugest obsessions in recent years and I’m still not over it. Even now I’m re-watching the show. I’m going about it much more slowly but I wish I could brainwash myself so I can experience it for the first time again.

DIVING INTO THE SOURCE MATERIAL

After my initial binge of The Untamed and Word of Honor, in addition to the donghuas for MDZS and TGCF, I plunged into the literary and comic material of MXTX’s works. Who is MXTX you wonder? She is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, the brilliant author behind both Tiān Guān Cì Fú and Mo Dao Zu Shi.

I started out reading the few English-translated chapters of the TGCF manhua on Bilibili Comics. And let me tell you. THE ART. It is some of the most show-stopping art I’ve ever seen. The official artist is STARember and just, well. Look at it.

THIS IS TALENT. The scenery in the manhua is even more detailed and wondrously colored than the characters. It’s absolutely insane. There are many many chapters remaining for the manhua to be completed. Only the first volume in the novel has been covered and that was around 50 chapters. So, that should let you know how long the actual novel is.

Once I caught up with the TGCF manhua, I read the book. Took me 17 days to complete as it is 2,000+ pages and completely worth all the time I gave to it. It was an emotionally exhausting and mentally rewarding experience. Sure, the wording was repetitive in some places, but the story is creative, the characters unique, the romance endearing, and the ending pitch perfect. All the things I could ever want for such a big ass book.

The novel was translated by fans and the English ebook version had been available to all until recently because (THIS IS THE BEST NEWS) all of MXTX’s novels have officially been purchased and licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. The first volume of all three of MXTX’s most beloved novels are slated to be released sometime in December 2021!!

I’ve already pre-ordered my copies, I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!

Not the official cover art, but one can only hope!

Now that I’ve completed the TGCF novel, I’d like to read the other two novels, Mo Dao Zu Shi and Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong. Translated to English they are, The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation and The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (SVSSS), respectively. I hear that the other two novels are way more steamy than TGCF so I suppose that’s something I can look forward to ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) LOL. I might be able to still find translations somewhere, but to honor the copyright and support the author, I will wait until they are officially published.

In the meantime I’ve been watching the 3rd and final season of The Founder of Diabolism. Thank God for Tencent Video. The animation for the last season is phenomenal and the bond between the two characters is noticeably sincere and more romantic. Chances were taken with the donghua and I am LOVING IT. They just did not give a DAMN with this season 🤣

Besides the MDZS donghua (animation), I’ll also catch up on the manhua (comic). I don’t like the art as much as TGCF’s but, really, who could compete with STARember’s art. And then I might listen to the MDZS audio drama (I still got to do some research on that) and watch the SVSSS donghua, which I’ve been putting off since I’m not a fan of CG animation. But it could be better than I think. And then I might watch the special edition episodes of The Untamed BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT.

WHAT TO DO NOW?

By the time December rolls around, I’ll be well-versed in the MXTX universe. Might seem like I already am, but trust me, I’ve only scratched the surface. There is so much to discover and I just want to be immersed.

Unfortunately, China is cracking down on the entertainment industry and tightening restrictions on “effeminate men,” reducing access to certain material, including BL-implied dramas. The live action adaptation of TGCF, Eternal Faith, and another BL-drama called Immortality, inspired by the novel, The Husky and His White Cat Shizun, are currently in production and there is a chance they might not see the light of day. I really REALLY hope this is not the case. Fingers crossed!!!! I’m hoping and praying I’ll get to watch the new adaptations.

For now Word of Honor, TGCF, and MDZS and all its adaptations (especially The Untamed) will keep me sustained. I plan to explore beyond the BL genre and watch all manner of xianxia dramas and wuxia films whenever possible. I dare you to try any of these shows and comics out, and if you do, be ready to fall deep in love with the characters and their stories.

17 thoughts on “My Journey into BL Chinese Dramas, Comics and Animation

  1. I wrote a very similar post a few months ago about my obsession with cdramas so reading yours made me feel so happy and excited to have company… Mine started with Untamed last year during the height of the pandemic and it was really what sustained me during very difficult times.. I’m still so obsessed with it that even now, I read some fanfic on ao3 everyday after more than year… WoH has been my other obsession this year but I’m more conflicted than you about choosing my favorite between the two 😂😂😂
    Here’s hoping you’ll find more amazing ones to watch !!! I’ve explored a lot more non-BL stuff since because I just love the historical dramas in general and especially anything with those cool martial arts action sequences…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay! I’m so glad to speak with someone else who is just as obsessed as I am LOL. The Untamed really fed my soul this summer. I can see it really being a lifesaver during the pandemic and other hard times. It just has that sort of magic, you know? I have yet to read a fanfic on any of the material I’ve watched/read but I plan to soon. Lately, I’ve really been wanting to rewatch all of WOH. Both TU and WOH are so good, I imagine it is really hard to choose between the two for most people haha.

      I’ve explored some more non-BL things, mostly in the historical drama genre too! I just really prefer that type of drama anyways. There are so many good things out there. Not a Chinese drama series, but I’ve gotten into the Ip Man series. Amazing! Highly recommend if you haven’t seen it already!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Untamed or MDZS in general has too too many fanfics, so they’ll keep you entertained for a long while… I’ve also been watching the MDZS anime final season, and have finish the final episode today… I love it but also feel sad that it’s over…

        I love the historical dramas more too.. it’s just fun with all the costumes and the sword fights and all… you should totally checkout Nirvana in Fire if you haven’t already.. it’s considered one of the best historical drama ever and it totally lived up to my expectations…
        And for more recent ones, I think you should checkout The Imperial Coroner. It’s more in the murder mystery/conspiracy genre with a very cute romance and not much action, but I thought it was one of my favorites after WoH in 2021 releases…

        Have you gotten to reading any other cnovels these days?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was heartbroken that the animated series of MDZS ended, but the ending was well worth it. I especially love when Wei Ying saw his younger self with his parents and then saw himself in the same position but with Lan Wanji and Sizhui filling in the spaces. JUST. WOW. Loved it to pieces. I’ll definitely be re-watching that sometime haha

        Yes, the costumes are so beautiful and the melee combat keeps you entertained. I’ve never heard of Nirvana in Fire or The Imperial Coroner but they both sound like something I’d like to explore. I’ll definitely add them to my list. I haven’t seen them recommended to me on Netflix so I assume I’ll have to watch somewhere else. Good thing I have a Viki account LOL

        I’ve not read any other cnovels besides MXTX! I’m looking into Thousand Autumns, 2HA, and Faraway Wanderers though! I’m up for recs if you have any! I’d try non BL too. Historical dramas and mystery thrillers are generally my favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ohh my that ending of the anime was just beautiful!!!! I had tears…

        You can find The Imperial Coroner on Tencent Video app or the WeTv website… but you might have to dig a bit for Nirvana in Fire though.. it might still be on YouTube but some episodes towards the end have subtitle issues… hope you’ll find it somewhere else because it’s definitely the best palace drama I’ve watched till date.
        One drama I liked on Netflix is Handsome Siblings, it has some amazing action sequences. For historical mystery thriller, I think you can try Ancient Detective, you’ll find it on YouTube.

        I haven’t actually read many this year, only a couple of contemporary romances whose dramas I watched. But in BL, I did thoroughly enjoy Lord Seventh, Faraway Wanderers and Golden Stage. Faraway wanderers is ofcourse the drama Word of Honor which is my favorite of 2021. You can also read Nirvana in Fire if you wanna try it before watching the drama because the book is equally excellent.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ah okay, I haven’t visited those sites before. I’ll research my options for Nirvana in Fire though I’m almost 99% sure it should be on Viki. Maybe Imperial Coroner will be as well. Subtitles are usually good on that site.

        I started Handsome Siblings! I got distracted and started re-watching The Untamed though LOL. I’ll have to get back to it. Thanks for the recs! I have so many more shows to watch now haha. I’ve been on a kdrama kick so I might head back into c-drama territory in December.

        I’ll have to check those other c-novels out! It’s exciting to know that Nirvana in Fire is also a book. Man, my TBR just keeps getting longer and longer LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve been on vacation in India, so I couldn’t actually check on Viki. The site is technically banned here.

        I’m not surprised you started rewatching Untamed. I was doing the exact same thing a couple days ago 😂😂😂 it’s not easy to get out of lol…

        Hope you are enjoying all the kdramas… I haven’t watched any, maybe I should try them for a change. And sorry not sorry for increasing your tbr 😉😉 mine is never ending as well…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. A vaction in India sounds wonderful! Oh is it really?! Wouldn’t have guessed that…

        Untamed and WOH keep pulling me back. It’s so hard to move on, even for a short time LOL

        I’m really enjoying a recent kdrama called Vincenzo. Amazing mix of crime thriller, comedy, and romance. Highly recommend. Also, I’d look into Squid Game (the hype is real). Let’s just keep increasing our watchlist and TBRs 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      7. More like I came for a vacation and to spend some time with my parents but got stuck here for almost an year due to Covid-19 affecting visas and travel 😂😂😂 still no idea when I’ll be able to go back to US..

        I totally understand the feeling .. I probably watch one episode of either TU or WoH every day…

        I’ve heard so much about Vincenzo… maybe I can try… Squid Game I did see a couple episodes but it was too intense for me I guess… maybe I should checkout romcoms because they are more to my taste..

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Oh no! Well I hope you’ve managed to find your way back to the US by now. Or at least are enjoying your time over there despite all the restrictions. Wishing you and your family good health!

        I’m almost done with my rewatch of TU. I took a break to read the books over the winter (finished MDZS and SVSSS in a day each). Haven’t reread TGCF just yet!

        I’d love to catch on to some Korean romcoms. Still haven’t finished Vincenzo though. Kdrama episodes are…hella long lol

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I haven’t managed to go back yet. Another visa interview on the 31st of Jan, so let’s see how that goes. I hope you and your family are safe too with all these rising cases..

        I’ve only finished reading MDZS a couple days ago. Never read tgcf or svsss before, so have to pick those up sometime soon.

        I watched a Thai BL drama called Bad Buddy Series which just finished yesterday and it was super cute and fun. A much needed relaxation from our usual angst filled Chinese BLs… you can check it out if you want something a bit lighter.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I hope your interview went well!

        What did you think of MDZS?! TGCF (the novel) might be my favorite so far but I have yet to read the entire story of the other two. But MDZS (or The Untamed) is still my main obsession lol

        Bad Buddy Series. *Takes a note* I’ll check that one out too! I’ve taken a break from our angst Chinese BLs and started watching Ponzi scheme documentaries 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  2. HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE MDZS HELL! I got super obsessed with The Untamed (still am, even listening to the soundtrack made me cry. Gusu is my home TAKE ME BACK) which is why I’m booking the holiday seasons to explore MXTX work since I know I can’t do it on the weekdays lmao. I’ve been meaning to start TGCF donghua on Netflix though but with 1 season left, I think I’m going to wait until it’s all complete. WoH was really Bold lmao it was like we are all in a fever dream watching them flirting with each other.

    There’s actually another drama called Guardian, which was actually pulled on-air due to the explicitness of the BL but the whole series is on youtube if you’re interested!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH MY GOD I’M STUCK AND I CAN’T GET OUT OF THIS HELL?!?! Like, it’s been months. Why am I still constantly watching Yizhan/Untamed videos and MDZS clips??? The soundtrack is GORGEOUS. I unironically listen to “Wuji” when I’m taking a walk. It’s just so soul-cleansing 😩. I’m totally saving the rest of MXTX’s works for December (ESPECIALLY since the first volume of all 3 of her books are supposed to be released in that month). More time for me to fall deeper into my obsession.

      I don’t know when the second season of TGCF will drop but the way it ends feels satisfying enough for you to hold out for a little while. So I do still recommend a watch! WOH didn’t feel real. Just HOW did it make it past censorship. But I’m so happy it did. It’s made people’s lives that much better haha.

      My friend told me about Guardian! I’ve watched a trailer and a few clips. She recommended I read the book instead, though, since the show cuts out a lot of material and changes the ending. I think I’ll still watch. I’m way too curious not too. And the leads are kinda hell cute 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES HAHA THERE’S NO ESCAPE. Same I’m saving a lot of MXTX materials for December- so I can read and cry in peace 😭

        Oh yeah the leads for Guardian are super cute and their chemistry are also off the charts! I ended up not finishing the series though but I think the source material will be a delight to read!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes! Another blogger and a friend of mine mentioned that one! One advised me to read the book first and then watch the drama since it changes the ending. I’ll have to definitely try that one out this year 😀

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.