First Impressions: Legend of Yun Xi

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
The main cast from left to right: Tang Li (Wang Youshuo), Ouyang Ning Jing (SNH48 Lin Siyi), Gu Qishao (Mi Re/Merxat), Han Yunxi (Ju Jingyi), Long Feiye (Zhang Zhehan), Chu Qingge (SNH48 Kiki/Xu Jiaqi), and Emperor Tianhui (Hu Bing).
Legend of Yun Xi follows in the grand tradition of its Legend predecessors such as Fuyao, Dugu, Ba Qing, and the rest in pitting an intelligent and capable underdog of a girl against her enemies---and winning. Along the way, she snags the heart of one man, breaks the heart of another, and dazzles us all with her spirit and spunk from the moment she power walks out of her bridal sedan chair and into her mother-in-law's face.

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi Ju Jingyi
Nothing's getting in the way of this girl's marriage, not even her wedding veil.
Synopsis: Adapted from the novel Poison Genius Consort by author Jie Mo, the 48-episode webdrama tells the story of Han Yunxi (Ju Jingyi), an imperial physician's daughter who's doubly skilled in medicine and poisons. This turns extra handy when she's decreed by the emperor to marry the country's second most powerful man, the Duke of Qin---or Prince Qin, if you prefer---Long Feiye (Zhang Zhehan), because he's always getting into scrapes. However, all is not well in the holy land of matrimony. 

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Han Yunxi: So we're married now, what's next? Long Feiye: Now we pretend everything was just a fever dream.
Han Yunxi's working in the service of the empress dowager to spy on her new husband so she can find her long-lost mother. Long Feiye is investigating the emperor and crown prince for their nasty human experiments while plotting revolution on the side. Gu Qishao (Mi Re/Merxat), a seemingly aloof valley master with a penchant for red robes, befriends our female protagonist and falls in love with her even as he shoulders a mission to destroy her homeland from the inside out.

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Gu Qishao: You can't blame me for hating the male lead when he beats me every time!

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Gu Qishao: Poison lass, run away with me instead! Han Yunxi: Okay, but I have to be home before curfew or hubby will get mad.
Meanwhile, our side plots involves a princess of a neighboring kingdom named Chu Qingge (SNH48 Kiki/Xu Jiaqi) seeking vengeance for her murdered father by marrying Emperor Tianhui (Hu Bing) and a love-you-hate-you whirlwind romance between our two sidekick characters, Tang Li (Wang Youshuo) and Ouyang Ning Jing (SNH48 Lin Siyi). She wants to marry him, he'd rather eat dirt. (Despite three separate mentions of marriage in this post, I swear this series is more palace politics and intrigue instead.)

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Chu Qingge: You think I'm only unconscious, but this is all part of The Plan™.
First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Ning Jing: We totally slept together. Tang Li: We did WHAT?!
Along the way, we have people getting poisoned about every other episode. Because, you know, Han Yunxi has to show off her genius skills. Naturally, everything ties into a big overarching plot that culminates in a crescendo of war-torn battlefields, near-death experiences, and dramatic song lyrics so perfectly encapsulated in the series' theme song and MV, "Falling Flowers Turn to Mud." 

So how's it look so far?

First Impressions:  Surprisingly, I like it.

It's not the webnovel, that's for sure, but maybe that's the point. Legend of Yun Xi leans more on the fluff and character archetypes, painting the picture of a vibrant, lively world with bright, broad strokes instead of lingering over the little details. Pacing for the iQiyi web version is measured but steady so there's always something to look forward to for the next episode. You come to quickly recognize the type of characters you'll meet: the quirky and outgoing heroine, her cold and aloof husband, the charming but crafty second male lead.

Legend of Yun Xi also gives viewers the chance to choose between vengeful, sweet, fluffy, or spicy romance amidst its mixmash of power struggles and poison plots.
Initially, I had doubts about the casting of Zhang Zhehan as Long Feiye, who's nicknamed in the book as Giant Ice Cube, but he looks much better in motion than in stills. They've also paired him with an excellent voice actor that dubs all his lines with all the perfect nuances you expect from a chilly, taciturn aristocrat/"God of War" just waiting for the right girl to melt him. ;) 

Long Feiye (Zhang Zhehan)


Mi Re/Merxat is also well cast as Gu Qishao, imbibing the combination of danger and mischief that makes up his paradoxical personality. In a usual move for drama adaptations, his Gu Qishao is actually an amalgamation of two separate novelverse characters, yet both fit the image of "bewitching but deadly." His eyes and slight head tilts are especially expressive in scenes that ask for punches of personality.

Gu Qishao (Mi Re/Merxat)


And Han Yunxi? Ju Jingyi's a bit more cheery, immature, and cutesy than the original character, but at heart she's still got the spirit and spark that made her such an appealing protagonist. Yes, she still falls into the trap of noble idiot at times, but it's moments when she stands up to her foes or cleverly uses her brains that really allows her to shine.

Han Yunxi (Ju Jingyi)
This is an idol production with plenty of young actors and actresses to match---singers too, as Shanghai Star 48 Culture and Media Group is the main production company. A good number of the supporting cast come from girl groups like SNH48 or similar (perhaps accounting for all these original characters on the side). But every person has their own place, point, and personality, so you'll be able to tell them apart before long.

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Emperor Tianhui (Hu Bing) and Chu Qingge (SNH48 Kiki/Xu Jiaqi) in the center, flanked by girl group stars. From left to right: Baili Mingxiang (SNH48 Shao Xuecong), Ouyang Ning Jing (SNH48 Lin Siyi), Han Ruoxue (CKG48 Liu Jiongran) and Bai Su (GNZ48 Xie Leilei).
Conclusion: In the flood of ancient Chinese dramas now available on the market, Legend of Yun Xi blends in rather than stands out, but there's always something special about watching a book you've read come to life. As the English translator for the webnovel, I can attest to getting hopelessly, foolishly, biased over this drama, plot deviations and all. It's exciting, it's bright, the main trio fit their roles---we get a visual feast of backdrops and costumes and a lovely OST to match, so what's not to love?

Sometimes, good stories don't have to be told the exact same way. Sometimes, they find their own path in the retelling, and glow beautifully all the same.

First Impressions Legend of Yun Xi
Bows with grace, exits stage right.

Feel free to visit volare novels to read the original webnovel (Poison Genius Consort), catch up on drama extras + subbed content, or follow the ongoing recap of all 48 episodes! Do note that there are big differences in the drama vs. novel. :)

25 comments:

  1. Kyaaaa guest post from Ruyi~~ <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wahh, nice write-up Ruyi! I'm liking the drama too. Did'nt think I'd like the ML from the stills, but he's actually my favorite (well except for JJY...)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am surprised how much I'm enjoying this. I saw that video of Ju Jungyi playing the violin at the Hunan graduation show and was intrigued because the girl is drop dead gorgeous and expressive and decided to check this out. Don't regret it one bit! I'll have to read the novel translation now too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I might be the only who doesn't like this at all. Everyone looks good in the pictures but not in action, especially main girl. Maybe it's the acting, her eyes are very pretty but so frozen.
    Same old storylines, very cliche.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same, but I like the main guy, so I only watch his parts *LOL*. Same old storylines, very cliche, so I dont feel that I miss anything :p

      Delete
    2. I second you. The dubbing also so annoying. Feel very far from novel.

      Delete
  5. Yes, suprisingly I also do like it. I don't really mind the deviation from the novel. It still has some elements of PGC. Ju Jing Yi as Han Yunxi is actually quite fun to watch especially when she is funky in her own way and Zhang Zhe Han is also quite good being an 'ice man' with a soft heart. This is actually one of the few idol dramas that I really like with good pacing and decent acting. Try to keep an open mind while watching it though and enjoy it for what it is.

    ReplyDelete
  6. because of feng qiu huang, i was a bit worried for this drama adaptation (especially since i just love transmigration stories) but i really like it, the motions are better than the pictures imo and the male lead is well cast! i didn't notice it isn't his voice, it suits his face well XD And I just love the little smiles and smirks of our male lead or how his eyes brighten so much when he's happy or amused! :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. I didn't read the novel so I don't know much about it but I liked it. It does kind of seem cliche as there is the bubbly and cute female lead, the cold male lead, and then the playful and heartwarming second male lead. However, I think that each character played their roles well. There were times where I felt like going into the screen to hit the male leads because they would take so long to confess to one another but other than that I really liked it. I also thought that JJY and ZZH's portrayal of LFY and HYX were pretty good and I loved the scenes of her hugs that she gave him; it was so cute since she is a head shorter than him so she had to jump onto him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The novel is way less cliche, come read with me!

      Delete
  8. The drama has currently broken through 300 million views and has set a milestone for 500 million views: release of the ending song in full! So take a peek on iQiyi if you have time. I'm sure they'll hit that milestone soon at the rate they're going.

    ....is totally going to translate the lyrics, huehuehue~

    ReplyDelete
  9. Definitely a well-made idol drama. The romance is sweet and fluffy and both leads are good-looking so thats a bonus. The palace politics bore me though so I tend to fast forward those parts.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have to say that I'm enjoying this drama so much so far. At first, I really didn't like the actor who portraying LFY in the drama, but as the drama goes, I can't help it but like him more... I know that it must be quite hard to act as a Giant-Ice-Cube whom his facial expression has remained frozen for thousand years. And for the actors portraying HYX and GQS, I must say that they are quite what I imagine, so I don't really have the problem with them. I also like how some of my favourite scenes in the novel has been brought out in the drama... Love this drama so far and will continue watching until the last episodes...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the great and detailed review. I decided to try the drama after this review and the enthusiastic comments and to my surprise I really like it so far!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Woah does its really Zhang Zhe Han Character voice in drama is really get dub ???
    I don't realise it at all 0.0

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hahaha. I LOVE THIS FIRST IMPRESSION POST! You add in just enough wryness without coming off as mocking. I giggle at every thing you said because it is so damn true, but I fall for the cliches all the same. Haha. I started reading the Chinese novel, but I may very well check out your translations. Thank you!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. oh.... I love the novel and translation, one of my most favorite C Novel male leads! Hope the drama is just as good.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Although i don't like the deviation from the novel, I can accept that the series can be in some sort of alternate universe. I will give it a second shot.

    Even in US novel adaptations, they go way off course (such as the sword of truth series).

    ReplyDelete
  16. I agree with a lot of the comments above that thanks to this fun review, I checked this drama out, it is quite nice, main cp has great chemistry & the 2nd main cp are hysterical together, thanks so much for the recommendation

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am faling in love with this drama at the first episode... Now and then I switch between watching Yun Xi and Fu Yao.. both so entertaining funny and have lots visual ofactor/actress. Especialy main and second lead. Can't wait for the english subs of episode 13th-48th.... I am also reading the Yunxi Novel now..

    ReplyDelete
  18. Zhang Zhe Han nail his part very well!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. i absolutely love this drama, i just finished it and i must say it had an unexpected but expected ending. perfect! (trying not to spoil anything haha) this drama leaves quite an impression on me. overall, the plot and storyline is above average. i feel like the ending could seem either very confusing or very refreshing, depending on your viewpoint. for me it was quite good. however, i must say that the cast really made this drama shine. the two leads were so amazing, their chemistry was so heart wrenching to watch. and gu qishao made me feel sorry for him, all he wanted was to be by han yunxi's side... some of the side actors also did very well, like tangli and ningjing (sooo cute), and chuqingge etc. everyone should totally watch this!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love this drama very well written especially the actors and actresses that play the part Zhang Zhe Han, Yu Jin Ji, Mi Re they have a lot of chemistry together love watching this drama my favorite

    ReplyDelete
  21. I didn't know Zhang Zhe Han when I started watching this.Initially I didn't think much of his looks or acting. But as the show progresses, he grows on you. He nails Giant Ice Cube completely.
    Now I am his fan! And I have caught up on all his past works. I am surprised he is not more popular than what he is now.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Am I the only rare few that didn't enjoy the drama? I've read the novel and loved the novel to bits. I think I didn't enjoy the drama much was because of yunxi's personality rather than the plot deviations. I enjoyed the novel because of Yunxi's extremely strong personality all the time. But I think she's more like the cliche idiot and bubbly girl at times, and only strong at times.

    ReplyDelete