“Immortal arts, magic weapons, magical powers, and the boundless spiritual qi between heaven and earth vanished into obscurity overnight, and all exorcists turned to mere mortals”
With an interesting premise as such, Bilibili’s latest offering “Epic of Divinity Light” premiered to high expectations a few weeks back. Although the production value seems a bit lower than most Bilibili ventures, the characters are intriguingly enough to grab your attention. Adapted from Fei Tian Ye Xiang’s (非天夜翔) web novel “Dinghai Fusheng Lu”, Epic of Divinity Light is a prequel to Bilibili’s widely popular anime “Legend of Exorcism” . Since both anime share the same parallel universe, there are abundant similarities between the storylines. If you are an avid fan of “Legend of Exorcism”, then you will be slightly disappointed with the CGI effects; they aren’t comparable. However, Shanghai Foch Film and TV Culture Investment have tried their level best to orchestrate the minute details instrumental to the storytelling. Without further ado, let’s review the first three episodes of this exciting new series!
Chen Xing is the holder of the Heart Lamp, and the sole surviving Exorcist. After his master’s death, he descends Mt. Hua to find his Protector and restore the missing spiritual qi of Heavens and Earth. Though optimistic, he is burdened by the knowledge of his exceedingly short lifespan.
Xiang Shu is the Protector or Guardian God of Chen Xing. He is a death row prisoner in Xiangyang City dungeons. Xiang Shu is quite grumpy and isn’t afraid to use force when necessary. Despite his gruff exterior, he is kind.
Feng Qianjun is an easy-going person, who practices martial arts and is exceptionally skilled. He is from Huainan and carries a broadsword on his back.
Centuries ago, the land of China was full of magical spirits. Those who could utilize the power of spirits were called Exorcists. Their duty was to prevent the Great Diablo, a demon that shows up once every millennium, from plaguing the world. In the Han Dynasty, however, in a catastrophe known as The Oblivion, all magical spirits vanished overnight. Having lost their powers, Exorcists became a thing of the past.
Later, during the incessant war between the Qin and Jin Kingdoms, the resentful spirits of those who died in vain became the nutrients triggering the revival of the Great Diablo. In order to stop the demon, Chen Xing, the last surviving Exorcist, starts a journey with the Heart Lamp, a magical artifact that dwells in his soul. He travels to Xiangyang City to find Xiang Shu, who is destined to join him and defeat the demon.
A Journey That Defies Life and Death
Although the storyline isn’t gripping, the stunning visuals of the main characters certainly manage to evoke intrigue. Chen Xing is a 16-year-old teenager, precisely the last surviving Exorcist. He is the holder of the “Heart Lamp”, a magical artifact that is entwined with his soul. Although awkward at times, Chen Xing has an innate strength that is commendable. The first episode depicts his journey as he arrives in the war torn city of Xingyang to find his Protector or the erstwhile Guarding God of War. Despite his initial reservations, Xingyang’s Governor allows him to search for the Guardian. Unfortunately, the Heart Lamp chooses the worst possible candidate as the Guardian God- Xiang Shu, a death row convict. He is obviously met with disbelief and resistance. But Chen Xing manages to win the Governor’s trust with his righteous demeanor and brutal honesty. Our lead couple have an unusual dynamics, unlike most Chinese BL couples. Chen Xiang seems too naive and innocent at times, while Xiang Shu is quite sinister. Despite his injuries, Xiang Shu still looks menacing. Their connection is vibrant from the first meeting itself, as Chen Xing looks besotted with his apparent Guardian God. The fact that Xiang Shu has mercilessly killed innocent people, doesn’t deter his conviction. It is indeed questionable, but Cheng Xiang seems to have an immeasurable amount of trust on the Heart Lamp’s choice.
The Evil and Handsome Guardian God
There is no better way to describe Xiang Shu, the deuteragonist and main love interest in this anime. Despite his striking good looks, Xiang Shu is entirely unpredictable and devious. He doesn’t speak much, so you will never understand his actions or the reasoning behind them. He has a grumpy personality and isn’t afraid to use brute force whenever necessary. His relationship with Chen Xing hinges on obscurity. Despite the fact that Cheng Xing rescued him, Xiang Shu attacks him and flees with the teenager’s meager belongings. Next, you find him looting a bank and the Heart Lamp’s choice seems regrettable. You can’t help but wonder if the Heart Lamp chose the wrong person to act as Chen Xing’s protector. Atleast, Xiang Shu doesn’t seem overtly enthusiastic about his new job. Although he tries to dissociate himself from Chen Xing, Xiang Shu is undeniably protective of our young Exorcist. He arrives on time to rescue Cheng Xing, when he is attacked by an army of undead soldiers on his way to the Qingming City. Their connection burns bright when they fight the Masked Leader, controlling the Undead Army. The masked leader is an unknown entity, who is trying to revive the dead King of Chu, Sima Yu. Although the purpose for the revival isn’t revealed, Xiang Shu kills the masked leader in a stunningly choreographed fight sequence; wherein he is able to harness the power of the Heart Lamp. The magical artifact didn’t choose him in vain. Xiang Shu expressions and intentions are closely guarded. So I’m really looking forward to the next episodes, will they reveal his true identity?
The Kind Hearted, Chivalrous Assassin
Feng Qianjun certainly doesn’t look like a killer, because his kind demeanor betrays his gentle nature. He is enigmatic and quite mystique. His impromptu decision to join Chen Xing on his journey will make you question his true intentions. However, his protective nature dispels the unfounded doubts instantly. Frankly, Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun have a better chemistry than our lead couple. Feng Qianjun is quite skilled in martial arts (not as good as Xiang Shu is, but that’s a given since he is the main character). Despite that, he tries his level best to protect Chen Xing when they are attacked by the army of undead soldiers. Xing and Qianjun share a comfortable camaraderie, although they are complete strangers. Unlike Xiang Shu, Feng Qianjun is rather easy going and witty. Entirely compatible with Chen Xing (yes, I’m shipping them). When paired with Xiang Shu and Chen Xing; this trio make a strong and formidable team. Interesting personality and quite humane; so I’m still unsure of his profession. There is more to him, than visible on the surface; hoping that the next episodes give us a more clear picture about this assassin.
Bilibili is one of my favorite animation studios, so obviously I was buzzing with excitement when the premiere date for this anime was announced. Epic of Divinity Light and Legend of Exorcism have similar storylines and parallel universes. The second season of Legend of Exorcism focuses on the same theme of “Undead Soldiers” and their sudden rebellion. Since Epic of Divinity Light is the prequel, I’m guessing we will get a more in-depth caricature about the infection and the most plausible solution to treat the soldiers. The first three episodes build a slow burn tension and offbeat chemistry between our main couple and Feng Qianjun. The visuals and CGI effects aren’t exactly phenomenal, but the fight sequences are truly outstanding. The pilot episodes have done a decent job of introducing the variant characters and the sudden shift in their relationship dynamics is fascinating.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5
(Source- MyAnimeList & Anilist)