Sep 9, 2019
xche (All reviews)
Honestly, as a Chinese person, I've never found much draw in period Chinese dramas/animations. I just tend to find the idea of ancient China and notions like sworn brotherhoods over-romanticized... but Mo Dao Zu Shi drew me in easily. The music is fantastic. I don't think I've ever come across any show that made music instruments seem so cool and believable as "weapons". The consistent emphasis on the idea of "cultivation" grounds the possibility that sounds created by instruments can have that power. This "cultivation" affects one's personality, status in society, sense of identity etc. And instruments having powers isn't treated as a whim in a overdramatic action packed anime. Not only that, the theme songs and interludes creates the sense of a sweeping romance transcending time.

I have to say, it was a struggle at first to tell the characters apart from each other. Hence the art score rating of 8, although just based on aesthetics and appeal, it certainly deserved a 10. It adds complexity to the task to understanding the layered storyline, when some of the characters in similar clothing also look so similar... buuut, I still gave this show a high overall score of 9 because:

- The two main characters are fantastic. They're layered and flawed and aware of their own flaws. There isn't this tendency for them to be always right just because they are heroes and protagonists. The voice actors are amazingly expressive with a wide range of nuanced emotions.

- The relationship between the main characters are beautiful and believable. They don't suddenly abandon all their duties because now they've found a soulmate that they want to spend their lives with. There are so many hurdles, it almost seems impossible for this relationship to flourish, but it does... and the audience is painfully aware of the cost of that.

- You don't totally have to understand the exact chronological sequence of everything that unfolded to really enjoy this show. It's beautiful, and pacing is great, the character relationships are fascinating and complex. The timelines are still unfolding but it doesn't bother me. I mean it's a reincarnation plot. Even the characters are figuring things out.