An interesting series with focus on the adventures of a bunch of youngsters in their self-discovery as they grow up. Douluo Continent is a magical kingdom whereby a person with awakened Spirit Masters can train and improve their internal & battle strength, mainly by increasing their spirit ring by absorbing the spirit beasts. The stories revolve around a team of 7 youngsters
- Tang San the core of the team with twin spirits – Blue Silver Grass/ Emperor and Clear Sky Hammer
- Xiao Wu a hundred thousand years spirit beast which transformed into a human and also Tang San’s love interest
- Dai Mu Bai the 2nd prince of Luo Star Kingdom who is also the captain of the team with White Tiger spirit
- Zhu Zhu Qing fiancée to Dai Mu Bai with Hell Civet Cat spirit
- Ou Si Ke with support branch spirit @ Sausages and performance art enthusiast
- Ning Rong Rong, only daughter and successor to Qi Bao Pagoda Clan with support branch spirit of Qi Bao Pagoda and also Ou Si Ke’s love interest
- Ma Hong Jun the orphan with mutated Evil Fire Phoenix spirit
The series follows Tang San’s journey upon the awakening of his spirit from a small village where he stayed with his blacksmith father to Nuoding Academy. At the Academy, he meets Grandmaster who takes him as his direct disciple and meets Xiao Wu. Subsequently, Grandmaster sends the two to Shi Lan Ke Academy (headed by Fu Lan De) to learn new things, whereby they meet the rest of the team members.
Throughout the days in the academy, they learn about the theory on spirit beasts, spirit rings, strategy in competition, actual survival skills in real battle and all related skills. Actually, not very different from the schools that we attend in modern life. At the same time, through their camaraderie & journeys, the friends foster teamwork and influence each other with high standards of principles including loyalty, trust, honesty, respect to opponents etc. Together the team cultivates their individual strength, and embraces the strength to build a great team.
Other than Xiao Zhan who helms the role of Tang San, I could not recognise any of the other actors and actresses. I believe the target audience of this series is probably younger audiences as the focus is really on the adventures of the youngsters. Xiao Zhan is a good actor and I like him tremendously, but he is in his late 20s and I thought he does look his age in the series. I would have expected the series to have younger generation of actors & actresses to depict the youth & fresh look. Are the other actors & actresses good in their role? Hmm… they are adequate, but probably not praise-worthy.
Better to focus on the interesting storyline & pretty good CGIs. The series is based on a xianxia novel with a lot of imaginary mythical beasts & ornaments. It is enjoyable to learn about the new ecosystem and its peculiarity – absorbing spirit beasts to increase spirit rings, different types of spirits of control, agility, support branch, defence etc each with its advantages & disadvantages, fusion of spirits(!), twin spirits, spirit bones, special herbs. One thing about xianxia, it is quite hierarchical in nature as you move from first spirit ring to the ninth spirit rings (with each level with different names). There is an embedded system to climb upwards, seems a bit conflicting when it is after all an imaginary world.
The camaraderie at the academy is realistic, and I do like the ethics embedded within the series. Loyalty to friends, perseverance in adversity, trust as the foundation of teamwork, respect towards opponents, honesty & openness in communication to align objectives & maintaining true friendship, receptive to new ideas, acceptance of fairness for all & rejection of preferential treatment. Frankly, if only we as adult practice all of these in real life, what a peaceful world we will be living! 😀
The series does explore the conflict of killing beasts to increase their spirit rings subtly, with the manifestation of Tang San (as the love child of a Spirit Master & a Spirit Beast) and his love for Xiao Wu, also a Spirit Beast. It also explores how the “underdogs” persevere and work hard to achieve something in life – in Dai Mu Bai’s case as the second prince being oppressed by his own brother & family. There are hints of political manoeuvre with the 2 kingdoms – Dou Heaven Kingdom and Luo Star Kingdom and the existence of Spirit Hall, lightly touched but not delved in details.
The step-by-step journeys, and each journey has its own climax with bits & pieces of information & investigations, are interesting. The storyline keeps me on my toes, and there were episodes whereby I have had to repeat as I was not paying attention when watching. The mood of the series is light & youthful, with a tinge of witty one-liners. Some of the comedic timing is quite good.
Romance? Not the emphasis of the series. You can feel the young love with the younger generation, while the elders have hints of romance here and there, but not fully explored. And frankly, I am glad that this is not the focus.
Novel vs Series
The xianxia novel is written by the online author Tang Jia San Shao, with a total of 336 chapters. There are some slight differences between the series and novel.
- Tang San’s original character in the novel is reflected as a person reincarnated from a different world, but keeping his memory from his previous life. This is also how he manages to make the secret weapons & identifies with the herbs and poisons easily.
- The awakening process happens when Tang San is 6 years old in the novel while in the series it happens when Tang San is in his teens. In the novel, Tang San stays with Xiao Wu for nearly 6 years hence enhancing the closeness of their relationship while in the series the period seems to be shorter.
- In the novel, the Ou Shi Ke is supposed to be the most handsome while Ma Hong Jun is supposed to be a womaniser. The series’ depiction of Ou Shi Ke is really very funny, although Ma Hong Jun’s character seems to be toned down.
- Novel has a lot more battles for the team in different competition while series has condensed the battles into their battles at Dou Heaven Kingdom and Spirit Hall.
- Some characters are quite different as I would imagine them as I try to read the novel before completing the series. One example – Tai Long is way more elegant & good-looking than how I would imagine him to be. Another example – Xie Yu’s character is a lot crueller in the series than in the novel. Crown Prince Xue Qing Hue seems a lot “kiddier” in the series than in the novel, whereby he is depicted as refined & eloquent.
There are bound to be comparison between the novel and series, and fans may not like the actual series. My take is xianxia novels are difficult to serialise in real-life production. Xianxia novels can be in thousands of chapters, some are still running with one or two chapters per week! Douluo Continent tv series is considered very commendable to be able to capture the main essence of the novel. There are some tweaks in the plots & characters, but none that change the focus. Although the series has 40 episodes, it is hanging as this is just part of the novel. To be continued in next season, I guess!
A number of the names have some linkages & similarity to English names 😀 eg team name of Shi Lan Ke or Shrek, Ou Shi Ke or Oscar, Fu Lan Der or Flender.
Xiao Zhan can cry 😀
CGIs effect is hit and miss, but more hits than misses. When I read the novel (translated version), the CGIs is very near to how I imagined them.
Series completed filming in 2019! S2 will be a long way to go.
Kenny Bee is Tang Hao, Tang San’s father! His expression is a little weird, doesn’t seem to fit the character.
Story is suited for younger audience and those young at heart :D. Watch it for Xiao Zhan, the storyline & the adventures of the team. Re-imagine yourself as one of them, root for them in the adventures and be delighted with their achievements. Light-hearted with some surprises in the adventures. More importantly, I really like the principles the team learnt & practises. Go for it, but be forewarned there will be Season 2.