Ashes of Love (2018) 香蜜沉沉烬如霜 : C Drama Series Review

The series chronicles Jinmi’s growth in facing life tribulations on the backdrop of an immortal fantasy realm. As the sole descendant of the Flower Deity, Jinmi is pleasantly living her simple life as an immortal protected by the Flower Realm. When she accidentally rescues Xufeng (Fire Phoenix Deity and the son of Emperor of Heavenly Realm), she ventures out and life turns topsy-turvy as fate somehow has a different course for Jinmi.

Innocent exchanges…

The 1st part of the series is light-hearted as the innocent but mischievous Jinmi gets into one trouble after another. The mood is light & pure as Jinmi manoeuvres new adventures & attracts new friends. Her playful exchanges with Xufeng are hilarious, helping the two to develop an attachment to each other without both of them realising.

As more characters are introduced, the series continues to slowly peel the characters’ deeper emotions & dispositions, gradually revealing that nothing is ever black and white.

The immortals of Heavenly Realm, originally portrayed as upright & righteous, have hidden agenda & are a deceitful lot. Similarly the immortals of Demon Realm, originally portrayed as villainous, have also unveiled loyalty & compassion. Impression vs reality – nothing is as it seems on the surface.

the brothers…

The story moves on to the triangular romance of Jinmi, Xufeng and Runyu (Xufeng’s elder brother and Night Dream Deity). Runyu’s path turns dark when he decides to use deception to win his love & his status as the successor to the Heavenly Emperor.

The 2nd part of the series turns intense as the loose ends from the past are revealed. As the story from each character is revealed, their underlying struggles are also laid bare.

What I love about the series is each character is given the chance to tell their side of the story, the actions taken, the reasons behind their decisions & the consequences they are now enduring. None of the character is an angel all the way, none is filled with darkness all the way too. It is just action & reaction. An apt quote “You are free to make whatever choice you want, but you are not free from the consequences of the choice.”

Therefore, the profound impact of the choices made by the elder generation gave rise to the consequences affecting the next generation. The same dilemma & decisions are thrust upon the next generation of Jinmi, Xufeng & Runyu.

Upon being deceived into misunderstanding Xufeng as the murderer of her father, Jinmi is confused & struggles with her own emotion – her attraction to Xufeng & her need for revenge. When she decides to kill him, the despair releases the “emotionless pill” that is embedded within her soul.     

Death of the Fiery Phoenix

The 3rd part of the series focuses Jinmi’s journey towards empathy, redemption & forgiveness. Facing the consequences of Xufeng’s death, she attempts and succeeds to resurrect his life through grave sacrifices to redeem herself. Xufeng, upon his own resurrections, chooses to lead the Demon Realm. Jinmi’s road to redemption & Xufeng’s road to forgiveness are long and arduous. Will love prevails?

Of the 3 main characters from the love triangle, Runyu’s character is brilliantly portrayed by Luo Yun Xi as he manages to portray the deep emotions in his many struggles – to prove his accomplishments amidst being the underdog, mistreatment by his own family, his hidden desire for revenge, his brotherly love for Xufeng, his desire to obtain Jinmi’s love. Runyu’s character is properly flexed, you just could not bear to hate his character.  

Jinmi, portrayed by Yang Zi, is well acted and her maturity develops throughout the journey from an innocent immortal to confusion in her choices, to despair upon realising the consequences and her road to redemption for forgiveness.

Road to redemption at the Demon Realm…

Deng Lun takes up the titular Xufeng’s character. Deng Lun is a very pretty boy, and I do like him as I have watched him in other series before. His chemistry with Yang Zi is very good. However, the storyline did not give much room for the growth of Xu Feng as a character which is a pity. In my eyes, he looks better as the leader of the Demon Realm. 😀

The casting of the 3 main characters is spot-on & apt. Somehow the backdrop of an immortal realm allows the very skinny Luo Yun Xi and Deng Lun to excel in their characters.

The Empress of the Heavenly Realm (portrayed by Kathy Chow Hoi Mei) is also a good villain to hate but in her struggles to maintain control over her position & love of the Emperor, it is pitiful. The Moon Deity (Yue Lao) is a very cute character, especially his relationship with Jinmi and Xufeng. There are other characters which are worthy of mention – Puchi as the “snakey” character always out to benefit from others especially Jinmi, Sui He as the love-sick girl willing to sacrifice everything to be with Xufeng, Liuying as the demoness with righteousness.

As the series is based on an immortal realm, significant computer-generated imagery (CGI) is used. The CGIs look great and believable. Costumes are great! They are colourful and changes throughout the realms. Colourful in Flower Realm, white & pastels in Heavenly Realm, dark & black in Demon Realm, light blue in Water Realm…

Last but not least, the songs! They have great songs in the show. Sharing one of my favourite series theme songs.

左手指月 By Sa Ding Ding (Upwards to the Moon)

Simple arrangement with synopsis using Gacha characters!

Link to Sa Ding Ding’s actual performance.

Please note the music sheet is personally arranged & shared for educational & personal entertainment purposes.  Please use these personal shared items responsibly and not to use these commercially.

Conclusion 9/10

Fundamentally a romance series, it is light hearted in the beginning and picks up intensity as the journey leads the audience to root for redemption & forgiveness. The storyline is engaging, always prompting for what will happen next. The chemistry between the leads are great, and the third wheel is so good in milking out the anguish of his character.

What attracted me the most is the series paints a multi-dimensional views of the characters. The series has an abundance of empathy for each of the character, always providing an avenue for the character to tell their own story – the sorrows that they endured, the dilemma that they faced, the reasons for the decisions that they took, and the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, the series resonates with me not just because of the romance. Rather the series resonates because of the empathy.

Be prepared for a long ride if you decide to start this series as it is 63 episodes! Personally, I think it can be cut down a little. It has a happy ending, so… go ahead and run the course with Jinmi & root for her!  

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