My first full 65 episode, and all Viki Rakuten comments included, Chinese drama and I was amazed at the creativity. Creativity in story telling and in the visuals. Was tempted to fast forward a bit when things got a bit boring without the main story progressing, but there were always Viki live comments to keep me laughing.

It’s a predictable start, a jilted queen of the Flower kingdom ensures with her final dying breath, her daughter will not fall in love ever so never endure heartbreak. Couple of centuries later we meet this daughter, Jinmi, who thinks she is a lowly sprite, a grape ( lol you read right, I have no idea how one is a grape but ends up talking). She thinks she is far from royal descent.

Based on a book, the storyline differs somewhat. In the book the heroine couldn’t feel any emotion of love yet was herself a lovable character because of her inner monologues. The creators of Ashes of Love realized they couldn’t build sympathy for such a heroine without constant voice overs explaining her actions. Instead they settled on Jinmi not able to experience romantic love. Even then her craving for magical prowess and disregard for love got me irritated at times. Also her naivety came across as apathy to feelings which made me feel for her less. So am not sure why the leads really fell in love with her.

Meanwhile, across the realms, in the Heavenly kingdom , a pheonix is being reborn, legitimate son of the Heavenly emperor. While at his weakest, the phoenix is attacked by an unknown evil and barely escaping falls into Jinmi’s Flower kingdom right into Jinmi’s arms. Xu Feng is this pheonix, the God of Fire.

The evil empress suspects her husband’s elder son, an illegitimate son from an old flame whose story is much later revealed. This elder son, Run Yu, is the Dragon, God of the Night. Doomed to be lonely for eternity as his hand is promised to the Water God’s daughter. A daughter never born to anyone’s knowledge. The backstory of this older generation, Water God and Heavenly Emperor, with its destructive consuming love is epic.

The first few episodes bring a freshness to Jinmi and Phoenix’s relationship. Later it’s frustrating that they aren’t in the same scenes as much, but a welcome respite comes in their romance in Earth Kingdom. She feels then. Deeply. The betrayal that comes after is all the more powerful because of it.

Night immortal and Phoenix have a sibling bond that adds depth to the evolution of these lives. What Night immortal feels, how he survives, how bitterness festers are beautifully and painfully shown. Phoenix has a regal presence and a killer smile, but overall doesn’t get to do much.

There is a magical creature the Beast of Dreams who is the sweetest of all…

My other 3 favourite side characters are the Demon Princess, Moon immortal (uncle fox) and Puchi (Snake). The Demon Princess’s story drags forever with repeated storylines, but her character is positive, loyal and badass. Fox is good hearted. Plus who cannot like a character who binds soulmates into happy marriage? Puchi comes from a sad broken home. He is not virtuous, but flawed, making him interesting, unexpected and likable. Puchi made me wait for him to come onscreen since he bought energy and excitement with him.

The background music is catchy and melodious. I couldn’t believe the leads Deng Jun and Yang Zi had sung the title song themselves! The visual backgrounds are gorgeous. Some of my favourite scenes are the Chinese lanterns on Earth and the blossoming flowers in heaven. The fantasy and magic bring beauty and creativity into each frame.

Through eons of hardship across two generations an unforgettable love story is written. Ashes of Love will break your heart and as easily have you break into a smile. It’s worth the watch. Highly recommended as long as you remember that in matters of heart not everything makes sense as long as the heart is free to feel whatever it wishes to feel and can leverage the fast forward button button to get to what it cares about.


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