It was 2019 when I tumbled across the Chinese series The Untamed I was enthralled. From the gorgeous haunted men to the many layered timeline, it’s focus always remains the love, barely disguised, between the two male leads. One so terrible, so all encompassing you can’t look away and you wish with all your heart for more. Of them, their battered relationship, and of their journey. It’s epic.
And because it’s 2019 and Chinese tolerance for any LGBT+ romance is slim to none, the love is reduced to subtle gestures and looks that sear into the viewer still. And has produced some of the most beautiful fan art I’ve ever seen.
It also sent me on a journey, one that soon became a very typical pattern . That was seeking out the source material because oddly enough there’s quite a few movies and films coming out of China that use BL, explicit BL book and web novels, as sources.
For The Untamed it’s the now well known Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, a full novel found here in translation on Wattpad https://www.wattpad.com/story/237203796-the-untamed-novel-mo-dao-zu-shi-the-grandmaster-of .
Mo Dao Zu Shi – look that up on Pinterest for some of the most gorgeous artists and their fan art ever.
The novel, which is worth a thesis on Chinese perspectives on mm marriage, heteronormative stereotypes when applied to sexual roles within a mm marriage etc.
But, and it’s a big one. The translation itself makes you wonder if those English words were the only ones that could be applied, was it translator choice, am I missing some cultural significance in the words as formatted.
All of which makes it even more impressive that the novel loses none of its emotional impact. There is so much that will hit you here within this story.
Including some triggers as there are some possible non con sex scenes depending , again, on your POV of them. Within the context of Chinese society, is it felt to be really non con? Again something for discussion.
However the best and biggest reason for reading this? The men ( Spoiler alert) have a long lasting, happy wedded life together. Something the Chinese government
Was unwilling to allow in films or tv series at that time. Even now it’s barely mentioned.
Time and again, literally in case of the series Guardian by Priest the forever love between two men is reduced to a love of brothers or friends. Not the passionate one of the book.
But somehow the actors, who read the story, elevated the script and direction, and made the relationship clear, far past what the censorship toned down. That novel along with a great many of Priest’s other stories are also found on Wattpad and even Amazon.
Love surpasses even the censors and translation to another media. It makes the jump from the minds and hearts of authors to the actors who embrace their roles and on through to the viewers who love them yet so sweetly , fanatically, thoroughly.
It started with words, a need to share. The Untamed ( Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) or Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu continues to do just that. Look it up. Netflix. YouTube . It’s found many places.
Then start a journey of discovery of your own . Mine is still leading me to so many unexpected places..
Don’t forget the OST, another must journey to go along with the books and series. It’s how I found the splendid Xueran Chen.