Jan 20, 2023
Minor spoilers by the end (regarding what will follow the story in the future).
Even though the story is all over the place due to the weird translations, it's fine as long as you have ever played any Chinese MMORPG or have watched a donghua before. It's actually impressive because the animation isn't some CGI massacre, so the fight scenes are relatively good.
Story is as follows.
The premise is similar to what you have in most MMORPG games these days - you have levels and advance by gathering experience. You do main quests, side quests, kill monsters, etc., and level up, then explore new areas,
new quests and so on.
Sometimes you have some additional paths for gathering special points/experience that allows you to spend extra points on skills to open new upgrade paths, optional effects or have an altogether different spec for your character. This is very similar and why it's easier to look at it from that perspective.
We have a protagonist who is, as they call it, in the "Qi Refining Realm". Above that, there is the "Foundation Realm", in the end you also get to hear some other realm names that are irrelevant to the story in this animation. The "Qi Refining Realm" is what you can consider the basic level system of a generic MMORPG, and the "Foundation Realm" is what you could consider the awakening spec of a class in an MMORPG (Black Desert Online, Blade and Soul, etc.). The protagonist, Bai, is unable to reach the higher realm despite training for more than 3000 years. Over time he has become pretty much the most powerful being without reaching the "Foundation Realm". Anyone who proceeds to the higher realm is immortal, so he is basically a Chinese Hercules/Heracles, who can fight and defeat immortal beings without being immortal. He is known all over the world, but doesn't have a single disciple.
This story should be about him trying to find out about the way to the higher realm, but as someone who has lived for more than 3000 years, there are more important matters than that, such as saving the world. You will see him going to find out more about the higher realm, or so it would seem, but ending up saving the world, helping a neighboring sect or such. Basically, this is an MMORPG playthrough where you follow the main quest and do the side-quests on the way as well.
Due to the fact this only covers one arc, there wasn't much character development, which is a let-down, but that could change in the future seasons, if that ever happens.
The animation is good if we overlook some unimportant scenes. The fightning scenes are alright and for a donghua, this is already way better than you could hope to begin with. However, the sound effects are really lackluster, that is very evident during fight scenes sometimes, because what you would normally expect when seeing good visuals is the clashing of swords, sounds of the ground going boom etc. That is where they definitely saved the budget, however, it's much better than having poor animation quality. The silliness of the characters can be bothering sometimes, but that is the way donghua is. It ain't game breaking, but sometimes it's just weird.
Closure - read at your own risk
The story doesn't have a very clear closure regarding the Foundation Realm aspect, we only get some clues where to go next, but it is clear this donghua only covers one of many arcs in the story. The next arc is him going to the monster realm to find out more and help a neighbouring sect's leader with some important matters, which would be covered, if ever, in the second season. However, we get a closure to to this arc, which is great. The whole quest about finding out more information on the Foundation Realm is more like a secondary quest that's hinted at every once in a while and it's more like a secondary quest, and motivation for the protagonist to proceed further.
It isn't for everyone, but it's a fun watch when you have some free time. The episodes aren't that long and you get to see enough story and action in each episode without being overcrowded with information. You get a closure to one arc and find out about a lot of the characters. The story wasn't rushed that rushed, but you don't get to see a lot of character development as well.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7
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