Nirvana in Fire / Lángyá Bǎng (review)

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In December of 2017, The Wind Blows in Chang Lin, the sequel to Nirvana in Fire, or Lángyá Bǎng, began airing in China. Though it is probable that many readers of this site were completely unaware of the event, it was without exaggeration one of the most anticipated releases in the world. The original Nirvana in Fire had, after all, been an incredible success both as an online serial novel and as a 2015 television series, “surpassing ten million views by its second day, and receiving a total number of daily internet views on iQiyi of over 3.3 billion by the end of the series. Nirvana in Fire was considered a social media phenomenon, generating 3.55 billion posts on Sina Weibo that praised its characters and story-line. As of December 2016, it has a total view of 13 billion views as reported by VLinkage.” [1]

Of course, a Chinese series may have 13 billion “legitimate” views, incredibly well-received Korean and Japanese syndications, and popular fan translations into various languages and yet raise not one whisper in Anglophone media discourse. There the boosterising think pieces sit, chewing the exhausted fat of a mediocre direct-to-Netflix serial with a title not even the pieces’ writers will clearly remember in two years’ time, exalting prestige television that uses its indisputably high production values to tell maybe three discrete, distended soap operatic stories which center middle-class white male subjectivity in played-out Modernist crisis say 80% of the time. We are given to understand that good television began existing a decade ago, exclusively in the US and maybe a little bit in the UK, with special mention of that Nordic crime thing you like, and that the world is even now bounded in the nutshell of the coastal borders of the US. The fact that this is nakedly market-driven, ahistorical nonsense—and frankly racist—is not particularly important to such analyses.

I am reviewing the original Nirvana in Fire now because, quite soon, the fansubs of the sequel will percolate out. They will be very imperfect, but they are all you will get, because there will be no official translations. [2] In order to engage with The Wind Blows in Chang Lin you will probably want to know something about the original Nirvana in Fire, which alas has the same translation issue. And the original is so revelatory that for all this you had better give it a go or I will come to your house and kill you in real life, I swear to god.

Read full article here.

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Krabat by Otfried Preußler

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In the late seventeenth century, after the end of the world, a fourteen-year-old orphan boy named Krabat walks from town to town begging with a troupe of friends. Krabat isn’t bitter about his lot. The conflict that will eventually be called the Thirty Years’ War (though it pushed at either side of that perimeter) has been going on for over a generation. This is the only life he can conceive of. What is there to be bitter about?

Full review here