Hua Xu Yin: Ep 1 – First Impressions

Chinese DramasDrama Reviews

After a long delay, the period c-drama Hua Xu Yin is finally airing this summer!  Woot woot! I’ve been waiting a couple years for this drama to air, so of course I have to check it out! 😀  Hua Xu Yin has been highly anticipated by fans of its original novel  (Jiu Zhou Hua Xu Yin by Tang Qi Gong Zi) and its star-studded cast.  The drama boasts the big names JIANG XIN (Legend of Zhen Huan), Kevin Cheng (Bu Bu Jing Xin, Ghetto Justice), and Yuan Hong (Bu Bu Jing Xin).  Yes everyone, two of the princes from BBJX are in HXY.  *wink wink*

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^Yuan Hong & Jiang Xin’s characters.

Going into this drama, there are already a couple of issues that have been brought to my attention:

  • Sub-par costumes & set – The joke goes that fan cosplayers’ costumes look better than the actual drama’s costumes.  T_T  Don’t go into HXY expecting elaborate, gorgeous costumes or an authentic set.  The set can look kitsch at times, and the costumes may look unflattering or gaudy.  CGI is just ok.  Oh well–I am checking out HXY for the acting talent, not for the costumes.
  • Novel vs. drama adaptation –  Since I haven’t read the original novel, I can’t say whether HXY does justice to the original or not.  But according to some friends who have watched the drama & read the novel, the drama makes a lot of changes.  Some cast members are mis-cast.  Plot changes & personalities of characters were changed.  And so on.  Novel purists beware!  Watch at your own risk if you’ve already read the novel!

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Episode 1 opens with a very spoilery animated scene.  The heroine, Princess Ye Zhen (Lin Yuan), narrates:

“Many years ago, my name was Ye Zhen.  I was the princess of the Wei state.  At that time I fell deeply in love with a man named Mo Yan.  Only later did I know, that he was the enemy country’s crown prince, Su Yu.  For Su Yu, I disobeyed my King Father, and became a criminal of the state, sacrificing myself for the country by jumping from the city walls.  Everyone hated us for our love, but what made me the most sad was, Su Yu actually tricked me!  Is it because I am a person who can weave dreams with my Hua Xu tune?”

Thanks for the spoilers, Ye Zhen.  T_T  I appreciate the animation and the pretty art  (reminds me of the animations from Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei).  It adds a nice touch to the opening of the drama, and it tells us the meaning behind the title.  But still, the opening is waaay to spoilery!  Already I know that Ye Zhen will fall in love with Mo Yan/Su Yu (Kevin Cheng), betray her country, and commit suicide.  T_T

hxye01.2o75

Of course, the story is more complicated than Ye Zhen’s quick narration in the beginning.  Ye Zhen (Lin Yuan) is the princess of the Wei kingdom.  She is your usual ditzy, impulsive and naive heroine; I can’t help but get annoyed with her.   I understand that Ye Zhen means no harm, but ARGHHH.  She is impulsive–for instance, she escapes the palace even though she knows that her guards will be punished if she does so.  She has no concept of what is dangerous–e.g. Mo Yan pretty much kidnaps her but she just accepts it and doesn’t try to escape from him.  Also, she doesn’t understand that if she leaves the palace, she has a high chance of being captured by baddies.  And lastly, she is an air-head.  =_=  Why oh why must we have a heroine that is dumb?!?!  Unfortunately, Ye Zhen is the main heroine of the drama.  Needless to say, if I continue watching HXY, it won’t be for her.

Mo Yan/Su Yu (Kevin Cheng) is the eldest prince of the Chen Kingdom.  He wants to be chosen as the crown prince, but to do so he needs to find a “special person” that was born on a certain day and has special powers.  Surprise surprise, Ye Zhen is that person.  Her power has something to do with channeling spirits & making all animals (except for snakes) like her.  Later on she will also have the power to create dreams for people.  Mo Yan encounters Ye Zhen by chance, and within just one episode she has already fallen head over heels for him.  As you can guess based on the opening scene, Ye Zhen & Mo Yan’s love story won’t end well.

According to fans who have read the novel, Kevin Cheng is mis-cast as Mo Yan.  The Mo Yan in the book is younger and has a different image from Kevin. Ironically, the general consensus is that Kevin looks better with a queue (aka half bald) than he does with this hairstyle.  IMO it’s the blue bangs that aren’t working on him.

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Although I’m unimpressed with the Mo Yan x Ye Zhen OTP, I’ve got to say that Jiang Xin as General Song Ning makes episode 1 worth the watch.  As you may have heard, Jiang Xin was phenomenal as Hua Fei in the Legend of Zhen Huan.  So I had no doubts about her acting in HXY.  And Jiang Xin has proven me right.  Granted I’m totally biased so maybe that’s why I’m enjoying Jiang Xin’s acting so much, HEHE.  >_>  BUT OMG I loved her character from the very moment she appeared on the screen and said her first lines.  If there’s one word I could use to describe Song Ning so far, it would be “sharp”.  She is a well-established general in the Wei kingdom, and thus is strong, perceptive, and intelligent.  But she’s not the kind of general that always has a poker face and puts on a tough facade; Song Ning has a soft spot for Princess Ye Zhen and is almost like an older sister figure to her.  I’m annoyed by Ye Zhen but when Song Ning is in a scene along with her, I am appeased.  😛  I am so READY to watch alllll of Jiang Xin’s scenes in HXY.  😉

Overall

There are still plenty of other supporting characters that haven’t showed up yet.  I’m ready for Yuan Hong on my screen once again:

hxy11.1ro26

It’s hard to make a judgment call on any drama based on one episode alone.   As of now, I doubt that I will watch ALL 54 episodes of HXY from start to finish.  I am not sure that I’m ready to commit 54-ish hours of my life to watching HXY just yet.  Some people who watched HXY told me that they only watched the most important scenes & skipped the rest of the story.  I will likely follow in their footsteps & strategically watch all Jiang Xin/Yuan Hong scenes while omitting Ye Zhen scenes.

For those who want to take a stab at reading the original novel, you can read up to chapter 12.1 thanks to Fanatical’s fan translations.

Theme Song by Huo Zun & Lin Yuan

Quote translation credit: Viki

Note: The full title is Hua Xu Yin Zhi Jue Ai Zhi Cheng.

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • noooo….. i cannot bare watching this at all…. i’ve waited for this drama for months and her narration forced me to stop watching the first episode! in comparison to the novel,(SPOILERS!!!!) indeed she did falls in love with mo yan, but she committed suicide as a patriotic move to say that she refuses to surrender to the enemy’s country! they’ve made her a brat i this drama! i could go on, but i will spoil the entire original story! i’ll just watch scenes with yuan hong and jiang xin….

      • I find Ye Zhen much more likeable in the novel, though she, at times, has a few loose screws in her head lol.
        The novel is more romance, tragic with a few laughs here and there. This drama, how I see it, is a parody of the original.
        Also, there’s 4 love stories in the novel, I don’t know why there’s only 3 in the drama though…

  • I was pretty curious about the opinions of viewers who haven’t read the original, so thanks for the write up! Ye Zhen’s hyper personality is toned down once she becomes Jun Fu (the dream weaver), and becomes much more pleasant – although she also turns into a Mary Sue and damsel in distress during the latter half.

    There are some logic fails and random misunderstandings thrown in towards the end of Song Ning’s arc, but it was an enjoyable watch overall. Hopefully you’ll continue watching (while also using the fast forward key generously), because I personally think Ying Ge’s arc (in terms of story, acting and couple chemistry) is the best of the lot. Guo Zhenni was pretty good in Bu Bu Jing Xin, but her portrayal of Ying Ge/Jin Que has really proven her versatility as an actress. The 2nd arc takes the best bits from the original and turns Ying Ge’s story into a highly addicting watch.

    • I’m the opposite–since I haven’t read the novel, I’m curious to hear from people who have read it. Thanks for the tip, I will keep a look out for Ying Ge’s story too! So I’m still a bit confused about what the format of HXY’s storyline is. Ye Zhen & Mo Yan start out as the main characters. Then once Ye Zhen becomes Jun Fu, she starts weaving dreams for the supporting characters…hence the 3 subsequent love stories?

      • That is correct. In the novel, each dream helps to complete a section of the Hua Xu tune. Jun Fu does have an ulterior motive as well, which became pretty clear by the last supporting arc. The main storyline of the drama (Su Yu and Ye Zhen) is the only one that’s totally different from the novel.

          • I haven’t read the original novel… but it definitely gets better… Ye Zhen definitely grows a little more brain after she becomes Jun Fu and becomes more toned down… but don’t expect a whole lot of it… like a propensity for jumping under pressure… >.<

            Also, I found the three "side-stories" much more enjoyable… Ying Ge's story was definitely my favorite. And I think Kevin Cheng's hair does start to look a little bit better later on in some scenes… like when he lets it loose completely…

  • 54 episodes?? That’s an awful long drama!
    My biggest challenge will be finding it subbed 🙂

    I saw a few familiar faces, I think it’s the second couple? so I am pretty interested to watch this
    Thanks for the clip of the song, that’s where I saw them, LOL

    • I know right? 😛 I laughed when the tiger made its first appearance. I feel like it actually looks ok sometimes. But other times I just can’t take the tiger seriously…

  • Hi heisui! I’ve been a silent reader since your posts on Legend of Zhen Huan. I really like your site! I’ve also started to watch Hua Xu Yin but I couldn’t stand the OTP that I had to fast-forward to parts of the other couples. The first two stories were pretty tragic and sad. I also had to fast-forward some of Yuan Hong’s parts especially with the mute girl because I couldn’t stand the angst anymore. Hope to read more about your opinions towards this drama!

  • I love this drama though I seem to be in the minority. I like Hua Xu Yin way better than the drama immortal sword hero. At least in this drama I found the hero was actually interesting and likeable unlike immortal sword hero where I found the villain much more interesting. I wish people would stop bashing actors because they don’t look a certain way. Kevin Cheng’s hair bothered me only in the first episode after that I was totally invested in he character and his look grew on me he does look best with his hair completely down or in a ponytail.

    • I’ve heard from people who loved the drama, despite their gripes with certain characters or subplots. As for Kevin, it seems like a lot of the fans of the novel felt that he didn’t fit the image of his character in the novel.

  • Hi heisui! I’m a silent reader of your work, ever since I snooped around the web looking for recaps of chinese dramas. Don’t mean to gush, but it was your recaps that caused me to give Hou Gong Zhen Huan Zhuan a chance even though I was intimidated by the length of 76 episodes. And I can happily say, it was a decision I do not regret. And I especially love your screenshots!!!

    *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* I’ve skimmed through what I could find of Hua Xu Yin on YouTube, and I have to say I am puzzled over the ending of Ying Ge’s story. I have not read the entire novel but from what I gleaned of the summaries, I was actually looking forward to it. But the exit of Ying Ge seemed really… anti-climatic(?)

    Is the drama really that different from the novel?

    • Hi, thanks for commenting! 🙂 I’m happy you gave LZH a chance! 😀 So far I haven’t heard any HXY fans comparing Ying Ge’s story in the drama vs. the novel so I’m not sure if it’s very different.

  • Hi Heisui! Do you know where can I find Hua Xu Yin the uncut version?? Im getting a headache from watching viki’s cut version and my tv’s long version…(I watch viki coz I cant wait to see Shen An and Song Ning’s ending)…I really wish I could watch the long version coz it will gives us better explanation for the some of the characters action..

    Btw, which version r u watching?

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