After 41 episodes out of Show’s 60, I’m finally calling it quits on Ashes Of Love.
Admittedly, part of my brain is a little reluctant to drop this one, because, “Loads of other folks loved this one! What if you’re quitting before it gets good again?” and “You’re already two-thirds of the way through! What a waste, of the 41 episodes you did watch!”
Try as I might, though, I just can’t muster up the interest to continue with episode 42, so it’s gonna hafta be the end of the road with this one, for me.
DID I LIKE IT RIGHT AWAY?
The short answer is, no, I didn’t like this one right away. But YouTube suggested episode 1 to me one day, and I remembered that some of you had liked this one, plus, I mean, a show that’s exceeded 15 million views(!!) in China alone is pretty darn impressive, so I dived in to check it out.
By episode 2, I decided that this felt somewhat like a less pretty, more magicky, funnier version of Ten Miles Of Peach Blossoms, which I rather liked the sound of, coz I really enjoyed Peaches. I did cringe at the humor a little bit from time to time, but a bit of lens adjustment took care of that quite easily.
By episode 6, I felt nicely sucked in. As imperfect as this show was, I felt somewhat addicted to it, and was watching several episodes in a single sitting. That’s a Pretty Big Deal, in my books.
STUFF I LIKED
Deng Lun as Xu Feng
I wasn’t immediately drawn to Deng Lun as our male lead Xu Feng, but it wasn’t long before I came around to his charms.
Basically, I really like that in this story, our male lead falls in love first, and falls hard and fast. There’s something very swoony about seeing a very powerful man hopelessly smitten. So, the more obviously smitten Xu Feng became with Jin Mi (Yang Zi), the more giddy with glee I felt. He was just so earnest and sincere, that my heart couldn’t help but waver at him.
I loved seeing Xu Feng’s protective side, even as he teased Jin Mi, and I loved seeing the small flashes of pleasure on Xu Feng’s face, when he felt secretly pleased by Jin Mi’s presence.
Beyond Deng Lun’s personal charm, though, I do think a lot of Xu Feng’s appeal is thanks to Xu Feng’s voice actor. Xu Feng’s voice is just so expressive while managing to sound even, and I felt the vocal nuances added a lot of dimension and depth to how Xu Feng comes across. I liked that a lot.
Fun cracky stretches
As a general rule, my enjoyment levels of this show varied in direct correlation to how well things were going for the OTP loveline. From initial meet-cute, to early misunderstandings, to the blossoming of feelings (even if said feelings were mainly felt by Xu Feng), to occasions for hyper-proximity and hyper-awareness, any permutation of these things was enough to brighten my watch and get me to readily click on the next episode, when I got to the end of one.
Not only was there a fair bit of cute, there was also a nice amount of melty, and I flailed and swooned dutifully, through it all.
Here are a sprinkling of my favorite OTP moments, from what I did watch.
I have a big soft spot for the mortal trial that starts in episode 19, because this is an opportunity to watch Xu Feng fall for Jin Mi all over again. How fun, that we get to distance ourselves from the building angst in the Heavenly Realm, and just bask in the fresh feels of blossoming romance.
I love the way he looks at her in episode 21, while pretending to be deaf and mute, so quietly searching, with small leaked smiles of wonder and appreciation by turn. Melt.
There’s also the moment in episode 22, when he looks at Jin Mi with such a softness in his gaze, and such a gentle affection and amusement directed at her, as he tells her, “I’m Ya Ya.” Flail.
And then there’s the way he puts on this big show of being sick in episode 23, just so that he can spend time with her. The way he teases her gently; the way he stifles little smiles which are full of affection; I lap it all up, and wish for more.
In episodes 29 and 30, tipsy Jin Mi confessing her feelings to Xu Feng and kissing him while fueled by liquid courage, is a bit of a breakthrough moment. The way Xu Feng just looks at her intently through her repeated “I like you’s” and says, “I will marry you,” is just mesmerizing. Puddle.
STUFF THAT GREW ON ME OVER TIME
Yang Zi as Jin Mi
Imma be honest; I wasn’t really into Yang Zi as our female lead Jin Mi.
Jin Mi’s character is written to be extremely sheltered, naive and innocent, and for a good stretch in the beginning, she’s also supposed to be very young. This made for a female lead character who came across as ditzy and rather scatterbrained, which isn’t my favorite thing.
Over time, though, I got used to Jin Mi being bubbly but a little dense in some ways, and that did improve my watch.
For the record, I’d heard some viewers say that it’s worth waiting to see how Jin Mi’s character changes later on in the show, because she has a very different vibe and personality then, but to be honest, the bits of muted seriousness that I did glimpse from her, felt quite flat and one-note, and I didn’t find that very promising.
STUFF I WAS INDIFFERENT TO
Luo Yun Xi as Run Yu
I’ve heard that there’s a lot of viewer love for Run Yu as a character, but I must admit that I didn’t feel much for his character, overall.
In Show’s earlier stretch, I found Run Yu pleasant but bland, and then in Show’s middle stretch, I found him a little more interesting, but also, disappointing, at the same time. As in, his behavior leaned darker and that gave Luo Yun Xi room to make Run Yu more interesting, but that darker behavior ultimately made me lose respect for Run Yu as a character, which doesn’t balance out very well overall, in my head.
There’s one scene that stands out in my mind, where I was rather impressed by Luo Yun Xi’s delivery, and that’s in episodes 29 and 30, where we get a whole lotta drama with Run Yu’s birth mother dying by the Heavenly Empress’s hand. I was rather jaded with the whole thing, but I must say that in that moment when Run Yu turned on the Heavenly Empress, he was quite arresting. The look on him was a mix of drained grief and all-his-cares-to-the-wind badassery. He’d never looked this cool, to my eyes.
Other than this instance, though, what we see of Evolving Run Yu is a lot less cool. Here’re 2 examples:
E14. Run Yu wanting to assert himself to wed Jin Mi is understandable, but the sneaky way in which he put on that show for Water Deity was not cool, and I lost a whole bunch of respect for him there. Of course it’s easy to swear that you don’t mind losing your deity rights and becoming a mortal for Jin Mi’s sake, if you already know that she’s actually your intended fiance.
E35-36. How horrible, that Run Yu seals the Fallen Pellet within Jin Mi, without telling her. It’s such a terrible thing to do. He basically decides that if she can’t love him, he can’t let her love anyone. Gah.
..Which, basically, evens everything out to neutral for me, with Run Yu. In my head, this is how the equation works out:
[Darker & more interesting + underhanded actions = just as disappointing as Bland Run Yu]
STUFF I DIDN’T CARE FOR TOO MUCH
When we get too much backstory and flashbacks
From about the episode 17 mark, Show started serving up a LOT of flashbacks, to fill us in on what happened among the previous generation of immortals. The flashbacks are deep, detailed, and quite convoluted, and because of them, we sometimes spend entire episodes in flashback, rather than in the present timeline.
I told myself that it’s probably important information to the story, but I got really bored every time a flashback surfaced, and I honestly just wanted to zone out and fast forward through it all. It really didn’t help that Show felt it was necessary to serve up AS MANY flashbacks as possible.
The loveline between Liu Ying and Mu Ci
There’s a secondary loveline between Biancheng Princess Liu Ying and half-masked shadow guard Mu Ci (Chen Yu Qi and Zou Ting Wei), which I didn’t care for very much.
Essentially, Liu Ying is a lot more interesting when she’s being badass, and up till the point where she’s reunited with Mu Ci, I found her refreshingly fierce. BUT. When she’s pining for Mu Ci and trying to get him to stay with her, she becomes sad and teary, and very breathy and kind of desperate, and it really doesn’t become her.
The thing is, from the episode 21 mark onwards, all the way to where I stopped at episode 41, Show decides that it’s important to spend an inordinate amount of screen time on this loveline. I found it very trying to watch Liu Ying continue to pursue Mu Ci, even though he repeatedly tells her not to. He desperately wanted her to stop, and uh, so did I. 😛
I found that the deeper I got into the show, the more bored I felt. There’s a lot of Stuff that happens, some of which is supposed to be a Big Deal, like the Heavenly Empress trying to kill Jin Mi, but I just couldn’t seem to feel interested.
By the episode 41 mark, I found myself thinking during my watch, that Xu Feng wasn’t quite as regal or imposing as I’d like him to be, and that Run Yu looked weirdly like he was always talking as if he had marbles in his mouth and couldn’t close his mouth comfortably.
I realized that it was definitely Not A Good Sign, that I’d be so bored by the plot that these were the things that I was noticing. 😛
That’s also pretty much when I decided that I ought to quit while I was still a little ahead, so that I could preserve the happier memories that I did have of this show, and avoid collecting more unhappy, dissatisfied ones.
I’m sorry I couldn’t hang in there for you, Xu Feng. You were one of my bright spots in this show though, if that’s any consolation.