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Mo Dao Zu Shi or The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (also known as The Founder of Demonic Cultivation/ The Founder of Diabolism) is a Chinese Donghua series based on the Chinese novels of the same name by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. The series depicts a fictional Xianxia world where humans attempt to cultivate a state of immortality, known as Xian.
Despite his achievements during the Sunshot Campaign to bring down the tyrannical Wen Clan, Wei Wuxian was feared throughout the world for the unconventional path he forged. 13 years after his death, he is summoned into the body of Mo Xuanyu, a man who was rejected by his clan and despised by his family. Wei Wuxian soon meets Lan Wangji, a cultivator from his past. They work together to determine the identity of the person whose dismembered left arm they discovered at the Mo house. What they don't realise is that this mystery will lead them to the truth about the tragic events that killed many people, including Wei Wuxian.
The series received overwhelmingly positive reviews for its high production quality and storyline, and it amassed a significant Internet fandom in both China and abroad. Here are 5 reasons to watch Mo Dao Zu Shi if you haven’t already.
1. The Animation And Production Quality
Every single frame of Mo Dao Zu Shi is a piece of ethereal beauty. Paralleling the animation quality of animes such as Violet Evergarden, Tencent Penguin Pictures and BC May Pictures does a fantastic job. Each scene in the show is crafted with great attention to detail and everything is very aesthetically pleasing. The character designs are beautiful and eye-pleasing.
Every scene flows as smooth as a river and we really get to see the animation skills of the studios in the fight scenes. The action in Mo Dao Zu Shi is animated phenomenally. All in all, there will never be a dull moment on the screen throughout the show. The show is well-paced and even in seemingly slow arcs, you wouldn’t wanna miss a single scene just because of how pretty it all looks.
2. The Storyline
The world of Mo Dao Zu Shi is rich and intriguing. Mo Xiang Tong Xiu creates an extremely vast and fantastical world with immortal beings, walking corpses, beasts, superhuman cultivators. A lot of motifs in the story are drawn from ancient Chinese history and folklore. Through immersive worldbuilding, Mo Xiang Tong Xiu created a beautiful fantasy land that you would wish you could be transported to. Through intricate storytelling, every seemingly unimportant thing seems to be tied by a neat pretty thread and directly relates to the central plotline.
The show has clever storytelling as well and things move at a much faster pace than the book. You’ll have to pay attention to what is going on the screen or something seemingly unimportant would become really relevant later in the story.
3. The Characters
From the first dialogue he speaks, Wei Wuxian has an immediate charm to him. He is witty, sharp, capable yet completely unpredictable and chaotic. Then there is pure and cold as snow and extremely earnest and diligent, Lang Wangji. Their chemistry on-screen is extremely very fun to watch. Other characters, even the ones with tiny roles to play in the story have really fleshed out personalities. All the characters on the show are vibrant and stand out in their own way and will remain in your memory long after you are done with the show.
Another thing is, every single character is drawn to be extremely pretty with their distinct character styles. It never hurts to look at pretty 2D people on screen with amazingly detailed animation, does it?
4. The Music and Sound Design
Had it not been for the marvellous animation, the phenomenal storytelling and amazing characters, the music and sound design would probably be the best thing about the donghua. Whether it be Wei Wuxian’s haunting flute, Lang Wangji’s Zither or the general background music, the show does not miss a beat in adding to the depth and intricacy of the MDZS world. Even general sound effects played at various times and moods of the show add greatly to the atmospheric nature of the show and elevate it to something beyond just being a good animated show.
5. The Love Story?
The novel Mo Dao ZU Shi gained such popularity that it had a live-action show, an ongoing manhua and audio drama and the ongoing donghua based on it. The live-action show had 50 episodes and was called “The Untamed”. The Untamed was the window to the MDZS world for most of its western audience. However, the live-action show was heavily censored and toned down the romantic nature of the relationship of two major characters.
The Anime while yet to be concluded has more allusions towards this love story. The central love story of Mo Dao Zu Shi is the core of the original novel. While there are so many interesting things going on in the plot as a whole, it is the central love story that holds everything together. Fans of MDZS who were disappointed at The Untamed might find some solace in the animated version of the story. While the donghua streamlines a lot of the original story and cuts out explicit parts of Wei Wuxiang Lang Wangji’s relationship, it is still a better representative of their original relationship than the live-action version. Their story and the story of countless others within the MDZS universe are tragic in the best of ways possible. The shows tugs on your heartstrings on multiple occasions throughout its episodes.
In conclusion, Mo Dao ZU Shi is a beautiful story about love, life, death and people (also monsters). The animation, music, and the story come together harmoniously to create a piece of art, much like Wei Wuxian’s flute playing alongside Lang Wangji’s Zither creates magic. The show is pure magic and if you are not watching it, you are missing out on a rare gem.