- Sep 23, 2009
I recently bumped into Mo Dao Zu Shi, a 2015 Chinese fantasy/romance light novel series/webcomic/animated show by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, localized under the name "Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation". Official english translations of the light novels are being published by Seven Seas and can be found at various book retailers. I'm not aware of any official localization of either the comic or the animated show, but a fansub of the show can be found here: (LINK), and a fan translation of the comic can be found here (LINK). - though I recommend having good add blockers in place before following either of those links.
rather than an extensive plot or setting summary, which you can find via google if you want, here's just a brief list of selling points:
- what if Nagash were a genuinely nice and pretty good boy, and he had a prim and stuffy but equally good and nice and pretty boyfriend, but he was still, you know, Nagash?
- feudal Chinese fantasy setting a neat change of pace from European medieval settings
- plot mixes elements of war, politics, romance, mysticism, mystery, comedy, tragedy, horror, handles all of them fairly well imo.
- Pretty. Nice character designs, nice color use, nice free-flow vertical format to the webcomic chapters, the production value of the animated show is solid, decent action choreography, even if it over-uses motion blur to cover lower frame rates a bit more than it should.
- Pretty gay. Meets my own minimum gayness standard, at least.
- odd couple protagonist duo of disrespectful low class chaotic good troublemaker and super serious, by-the-books lawful-good temple monk, brought together by their shared unbreakable moral codes. A strong pairing for romance, drama, and comedy, fun to watch them navigate political mystery thriller & supernatural horror situations together.
- colors and music used as compelling motifs. The angry red screeching of pretty boy Nagash's flute is very striking, and contrasts nicely with the austere blue plucking of boyfriend's magic stringed instrument.
- There are so many war crimes. You don't turn a good boy into Nagash without some war crimes, and adding even a relatively well intentioned Nagash to your setting isn't exactly going to reduce the amount of war crimes going around. Are war crimes a selling point? The war crimes are pretty badass, so I think so.
- Non-chronological storytelling can be a bit confusing, alternating between 'modern day' segments following Pretty Boy Nagash's revival 13 years after his death and extended flashbacks to his past life. Can be particularly confusing since his character design pre and post revival are pretty similar despite the fact that he's supposed to be in a completely different body, and most other characters haven't visibly aged all that much despite the decade+ time skip.
- Every character has like 4 names - formal names, courtesy names, nick-names between close friends and family members, etc. You get used to it eventually, but until you do it can get a bit confusing. Doesn't help that the character designs have fairly similar faces.
- A bit slow to get going. Lots of time in season one spent building up the setting and characters and relationships. That's all well and good, the time isn't wasted imo, but if you're here to see pretty boy Nagash do some badass war crimes, you're going to be waiting a long time. Worth the wait, imo, but time means very little to me these days, so your experience may vary.
- Slow going extends to the romance between the main duo. I've finished season 2 and am still waiting for them to kiss already. So while the show is pretty gay, it could honestly have stood to be a fair bit gayer.
- fansub has some common fansub issues, like 'translator notes' shoved off in the corner that only flash on the screen for like a quarter second so you have to wind the show back and pause to get the context. I still remember the days of 80s and 90s bootleg vhs anime fandubs so this is kind of nostalgic to me, but I could see others either preferring the novel or comic or else wanting to wait for an official localization of the show, though I'm not sure when or if one is coming.
Anyone else heard of / following this? Thoughts & opinions? Any interest in trying to arrange watch parties? I'm always eager to give any media property with a necromancer protagonist a fair try, and I've been pretty happy with this one so far.
It's honestly been a pretty good few years for necromancy or at least necromancy-adjacent media properties. Should I make separate threads about some of the others, or just make separate posts in this thread?