Important note! All names, including the title, are in Japanese! For those who have read the novel or comic, or watched the animated or live action series, I’ve put a list of names after the summaries to minimise confusion. Madou Soshi is the Japanese reading title of Mo Dao Zu Shi, and not me bullshitting some random title because I can’t read Chinese much anymore.
Also! Usually I write Given name Family name on characters. This is reversed this time because it just sound better. I drop family names unless I need to use them after writing it once though.
During the first year, peace remained…
During the second year as well, peace remained…
And during the thirteenth year as well, peace still remained…
Gi Musen (CV: Tatsuhisa Suzuki) wakes up one day, several years after his death. He realises he was called for a reason; the person sacrificing themselves for something, but they missed a part in the summoning and he’s just offered the body. It’s not difficult to figure out though, and soon he’s working on taking revenge, while hoping to stay alive himself.
Season 1 Episode 1 (37 minutes)
According to rumours Gi Musen turned an evil path of cultivation, which meant he would raise the dead and control them. He was called Iryou no Rouso. The four big clans got together and got rid of the great evil. But even if he was dead, it wasn’t sure he wouldn’t return, and the clans tried to ensure he would never rise again. For thirteen years, nothing happened. People believed he for sure was gone, and he became a tale of the past.
Until that fateful day…
Musen wakes up, feeling somewhat confused, only for some seemingly random guy to shout while beating him. While being shouted at and beaten for inexplicable reasons, the guy notices there’s an array for sacrifice and Musen realises he was summoned. He finds some papers that the person who sacrificed himself left, asking Musen — Iryou no Rouso — to avenge him. But there’s nothing that explains how the man wanted it, so Musen decides to assume massacre.
He notices he’s hungry and tries to leave, but it’s locked. He kicks the door open and servants call him a madman. Which he doesn’t really mind, and he goes to get something to eat. He overhears some cultivators are coming as guests to the madam of the place.
He goes to crash the party and hears a mention of a cultivator in the house, which he knows is a reference to his host’s body’s previous person. He asks if it’s about him and notices the cultivators that have come are disciples from the Ran clan, lead by Ran Shitsui (CV: Yuusuke Kobayashi), dressed in white as if going to a funeral. The madam asks for him to be chased out, but he confronts her and her son about the things the youth stole from the Musen’s host. The guy attacks him, and even Musen doesn’t get hurt, he already has bruising and uses that to his advantage.
The madam tries to explain it away to the disciples that it was just borrowing, as they are in the same home, but Ran Keigi (CV: Hiro Shimono) doesn’t sound so convinced. Musen asks to have his things returned. Not to mention his shame cousin had come in the middle of the night and his host is known to be gay, and Musen explains his chastity is important because he needs to find himself a good man. Whatever-the-cousin-is-named shouts that it’s nonsense and throws something? and is violent in front of everyone. The cousin throws a fit and Shitsui effectively kills it by explaining they won’t concern themselves with the problems of someone else’s house, but they’ll have exorcise the spirits (or whatever). They ask that people won’t walk around in the yard, especially in the west area.
The disciples are putting up Evil Attraction Flags that should attract weaker spirits and evil beings, which is something Musen once upon a time created and hence is a little ironic that they use since they see the creator as someone evil. He takes one of the flags in the formation and makes sure it looks right, pretending he’s just a madman that wants the flag. He then throws it back, saying he can make a better one (which seems about right, lol). Shitsui asks him to return to his room (or… well… his shed, I guess…), and once back in his
shed room, he takes a moment to praise Shitsui in his mind.
Out of nowhere he’s pulled out of his
shed room and is accused of murder. It turns out his cousin has died and was found in the east area of the yard. The madam wants her son back and wants to avenge him. Shitsui explains that something evil was what killed the boy, not Musen. She says he must know a curse or two and says the missing left arm is proof that he did it. Musen, however, noticies Shien has something and they find an Evil Attraction Flag on him. The madam still blames him though, as Shien wouldn’t have gone outside if Musen hadn’t blamed him for stealing, and says the disciples are useless. He, however, defends them by pointing out they were particularly clear to avoid the western area of the yard where the flags were and that no one should touch anything.
She gets angry at her husband that just stands there and lashes out on him next, and he just pushes her, effectively shocking her, but sadly not to silence (she sounds so annoying). And next the master of the house is dead, and the madam faints out of shock. And they notice that the master’s left arm is also missing. Musen and Shitsui both realise something is clearly amiss, and Shitsui asks Keigi to send a signal in hope of reinforcements. Until help comes, the Ran disciples decise to stay and try to figure out what’s going on. Musen figures it’d be bad if someone who knows him comes, so he would be better off leaving, but he needs to get rid of the curse first.
The servant, Tou-chan, going with the master was unconscious, but suddenly wakes up. Upon doing so though, he strangles himself, and immediately after he dies, it turns dark all around them, which makes people panic. And once they have light again, they notice… the left arm is gone! (Again!) Musen figures the situation out and starts laughing, saying it’s not actually Dou and the master, because they were right-handed, not left-handed and the master pushes his wife with the left hand and Dou killed himself with the left hand as well. Musen notices that the madam’s left hand is really big and says it can’t be a woman’s arm and the disciples surround her. The (dead) madam starts attacking them with her left arm (or something; it’s kind of unclear what she does based on the sound alone, to be honest… she just sounds kind of like she’s at a hospital bed, groaning in pain as she dies) and it gets close that she injures Shitsui. Musen pushes Keigi in the way so the arm touches his clothing (which has talismans woven into the outer robe so it burns) instead, but when Keigi scolds him and he says it wasn’t him.
The arm eventually sucks the nutrients out of the dead body. Shitsui tells everyone to calm down and not move. He figures the arm must be the left arm of someone who has died and been cut up, and the resentful energy of it is in search of its body, checking if people are a fit until it actually finds the true owner. The demon arm starts hunting for a new host, and the disciples try to catch it to avoid further victims. It’s not working, but Shitsui realises there are talismans in the robes and tells the other to take their outer robes off to use them to restrain it. However, Musen realises it’s only a temporary solution, and he needs to do something about it or everyone (else) will die. He just needs something with evil energy and realises he had three resentful corpses. The Baku family! He wakes them up to fierce corpses and sends them to attack the demon arm. At first the disciples think they suddenly have three more opponents, but Shitsui realises they’re after the arm. He figured that because they were killed by it, they will go after it, but he’d confused about why they turned fierce.
It looks like things will turn ugly and Musen feels like he might have to do something, but right then Ran Bouki (CV: Satoshi Hino), aka Gankou-kun, appears.
Season 1 Episode 2 (25 minutes)
A devote prays to a goddess that her husband will treasure her for the rest of his life and the something happens and the devote thinks it’s a sign. Then there is creepy laughter.
Musen is riding on a donkey eating an apple, thinking about what happened. He was glad he was so quick to flee, so Bouki didn’t have time to meet him. He’s not sure what to do now since the curse he got from the summoning is gone (as the family is dead now and the host is now avenged). The donkey start screeching (or whatever donkeys do) and he gives it the last apple… and almost loses his hand in the process. He decides to call the donkey Ringo-chan.
He overhears some villagers talking, and suddenly a girl called En comes laughing. Musen decides to ask about the girl, scaring the villager because he has makeup that makes him look like a monster. They tell him she became like that after her husband died and she seemed like she lost her soul. Then her father died as well, seeming like a corpse until he died. A man who had suddenly got rich and got married, also died the same way. The man who got rich apparently prayed to the goddess and told other to do the same. He had been in the mountains, and suddenly there had been thunder so bad even corpses buried there were burnt. Now there is supposed to be a night hunt where cultivators hunt for evil, which tend to come out at night.
Right then a group of cultivators come and the compass (that Musen also made) isn’t reacting to any evil in the area. However, they decide to not ignore the rumours of people losing their souls and head up anyway, because perhaps the compass isn’t working properly. Musen, on the other hand, is glad to hear there is something really evil on the mountain, because he actually wanted a Demon General, and he heads up the mountain as well.
While he’s hiking up he hears calls for help and excited he turns to whatever may be, but he finds people who got caught in a trap. Before he has time to do anything, a youth appears and is annoyed because once again it’s people in the nets he’s set up and not what he’s hunting. He says he’ll let them down once he’s caught the soul-eater, because they’re just getting in his way. Then the youth sees Musen and recognises him as the shame of the Kin clan, which means the father of the host is a past leader of the Kin clan who was a womaniser. The kid is being rude and Musen tells him off. The youth takes offense and attacks, but Musen overpowers him and takes his sword to let the trapped people down. The youth tells him to let him go or he’ll send his uncle on him. Musen mocks him for it, asking who his uncle is and when Kou Chou (CV: Hikaru Midorikawa) arrives, Musen realises his mistake. The kid is Kin Ryou (CV: Ayumu Murase), who lost his parents many years ago and Musen was the one who killed them. He’s shocked for a moment, because Ryou has already grown to be so big.
Ryou says he’ll beat Musen up, but Chou stops him. Musen realises that Chou still resents him after all these years he’s been dead, and it even affects other people. Ryou attacks Musen, but is stopped by Bouki. The Ran clan disciples are also present. Chou asks Bouki why he’d come to some out there mountain with nothing of value. Bouki just asks Shitsui to tell Ryou that the night hunt is supposed to be open for all cultivators, and not just for him. Ryou doesn’t back down and Bouki silences him with a special spell only the Ran clan has. Chou gets pissed… or already is pissed but is more pissed off, I guess, and tell Bouki to remove the spell, but Shitsui says it’ll go away by itself, eventually.
Chou receives news that all the four hundred nets they had put up have been destroyed. Shitsui says they’ll cover the costs for the nets, but Chou wants nothing of it. He then goes on to tell Ryou that if he doesn’t catch his prey he never wants to see his face again, and they’re off. Bouki sends the disciples away to hunt, and he thanks Musen for the help the other day. Musen nervously tells him to take care on his way home. He decides to descend the mountain.
They walk past a stream and he lets Ringo-chan drink while he washes the makeup off his face, and overhears some chat which includes him and his dark past which is painful for him. He then notices a spirit, who should’ve been rich, and realises that this is not a normal case of soul eating. Ryou is still up the mountain, and he returns in a hurry. He meets some cultivators and asks where the Lan clan disciples and Ryou went, and learns they went to the Goddess’ Cave where a local goddess statue is worshipped.
Musen realises what it all means and that the culprit… is not an evil being.
Season 1 Episode 3 (23 minutes)
Ryou and others have gone to the Goddess’ Cave and sees the stone that looks like a laughing, dancing goddess and some pray for the Goddess to make the soul-eater appear in right there. So she sucks the souls out of those people and starts moving.
None of their exorcism tools work, and people run away. Musen finds Shitsui and Keigi and asks them to send a signal for Bouki to come, but the two hadn’t got any new ones since last time. The disciples think it’s strange that the statue was the cause, but Musen explains that they’re underestimating it as it’s turned into an actual goddess, although it’s a stray god. It’s not evil, so exorcism won’t work. He also explains that if it had been a demon or so, the souls of the dead would have been eaten first, not the souls of humans, which are more difficult to eat. And that means the goddess is fairly strong.
Musen then explains that the man who got rich prayed and then the thunder struck, allowing him to steal treasure and then get married, and then got his soul sucked out when his wish came true. He then explains the reason En ended up the way she did. She must have wished for her husband to love her for the rest of his life, and that’s why her husband died right after they got married. She eats her soul, but her father desperately wished to the goddess, and En’s soul returned, while his was taken. However, her soul was damaged, and she became the way she is. Keigi then points out that the souls of people were eaten in the cave, but no one prayed for anything, but Shitsui figured it out. They asked for her to appear.
Ringo-chan freaks out and the three see that the goddess statue is eating people now and they run away. When Shitsui is confused (while still running), Musen explains that it’s like with babies; once they have teeth, they’ll want to eat meat.
Ryou comes to the rescue and they attack the goddess, and Shitsui explains that the exorcism tools won’t work. Musen realises that the situation is dire and Bouki and Chou are waiting down the mountain for them, so they might not notice until it’s too late. To fight fire, one needs water, and so to fight a goddess, he needs something of more evil nature. He borrows Shitsui’s sword and makes a crude bamboo flute and plays (horribly) to summon anything. Ryou tries to attack, but is caught instead and right then, with the sounds of chains, the feared Oni Shogun appears, to everyone’s shock (including Musen).
On Nei (CV: Souichirou Hoshi) fights the goddess and breaks her to pieces, saving everyone. And immediately people decide to surround the summoned fierce corpse. Musen panics as he loses control over Nei and tries to calm the corpse down with his flute. Suddenly Bouki comes running and takes hold of Musen. He knows Bouki has seen him control corpses with flute before and he gets stressed to get rid of Nei before the man figures out who he is. However, he realises just because he plays Bouki won’t necessarily figure out who he is, since there are plenty of people who copy what Iryou no Rouso did years ago.
Chou scolds Ryou for not sending a signal, but Ryou points out that his uncle had told him that he’d never want to see his face again unless he caught whatever was there. Chou hears Nei is back and they point at Musen as the summoner of Nei. Chou gets hella angry, figuring it must be Musen who’s in the host and gets his whip out. He tries to whip Musen, but Bouki tries to help him. Musen tries to run, giving Chou a chance. He whips him and… nothing happens. Chou can’t believe it, and wants to try again, but is stopped by Keigi, who points out that since the soul in the host is still in it, it’s not a possessing, and hence it can’t be Musen. (lol)
When he asks who the hell this guy is, it’s explained he was a disciple at the Kin clan, because he wasn’t suited for cultivation and because of that (homosexuality) he was kicked out. They go on saying it can’t be Iryou no Rouso on a donkey who also plays flute that shitty, but Musen hasn’t played the flute (
or even had a body to play a flute for that matter) in thirteen years and it’s on top of that a makeshift flute he made in a hurry. Of course he sucks.
Chou decide to bring the crappy flautist with him, but Musen asks Bouki for help, who naturally helps him. Shitsui says there’s no need for Chou to bring the man, since it’s already been shown Musen isn’t possessing that body, but Chou questions why Bouki would protect this random man. Musen says he’s flattered Chou is so infatuated with him, but he’s not really his type. As he has a bit of an inferiority complex and is competitive, Chou asks who would be his type and Musen says someone like Bouki would be more to his liking hoping Bouki will be disgusted. Instead, Bouki decides to bring him with him to the Ran clan, to Musen’s horror.
Wei Ying/Wuxian: Gi Ei/Musen (also Iryou no Rouso (Yiling Patriarch))
Lan Zhan/Wangji: Ran Zan/Bouki (also Gankou-kun)
Jiang Cheng/Wanyin: Kou Chou/Bangin
Jin Ling/Rulan: Kin Ryou/Nyoran
Lan Yuan/Sizhui: Ran Gen/Shitsui
Lan Jingyi: Ran Keigi
Wen Ning: On Nei
I actually read the novel version Mo Dao Zu Shi right before the audio drama’s first episode was released. It was completely coincidental but man, what a good coincidence! I will pretty naturally compare this to the novel itself as i haven’t read the comic nor watched the animated show or Untamed. In other words, the novel is all I have to go on, anyway.
So, like, I guess I need to explain where I stand on the novel first. I am not going to make a review of it here, but I really loved it! Wei Wuxian (JP: Gi Musen) was unexpectedly my favourite character. He is perfection! I still think of him pretty much every day and it’s been a month! I also love the interaction between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji (JP: Ran Bouki). I happen to really like BL, mystery, the darkness of the human mind and dark fantasy, and AUTHOR NAME did a really good job with mixing those to make their novel. Fantastic!
There were parts I wasn’t fond of
which obviously was the sexy content but over all I just adore the series, and especially Wei Wuxian.
That said, this is the plan for my final thoughts: First, I will give my opinion on each episode individually. Then I’ll write my overall opinion. Simple.
This has one of the funniest scenes, when Musen is speaking of protecting his chastity. It just makes me laugh out loud. It was funny in the novel, but even funnier hearing it. I really loved this episode and during my first listen I actually started to cry. There was literally no reason to, but I just got so emotional hearing the characters come to life (in a language I have a fairly fluent understanding of).
I do feel there is some lacking information. Naturally some things need to be left out, but for instance… In the scene mentioned above, Baku Shien kicks Musen and there’s no way to truly tell. On top of that, I think Shitsui actually helped Musen avoid the kick, but that’s also lost. These small things do make a great impact. Other things I felt were fine. It didn’t really matter that there was no mention of how exactly sacrifice circle for the transmigration worked, because it doesn’t give or take away anything to or from the story.
The voice actors were fantastic. I’m still dying because one of my big biases (Hiro Shimono) is playing Keigi, which is a recurring support character. The sound effects, too, are amazing. There isn’t all that much soundtrack that does “take up space”. What’s in there if really good, but the ending outshines it by far.
This episode is pretty backstory heavy, actually. I didn’t realise it the first two times I listened to it, but there’s a lot of mentions of things that happened in the past. If the previous episode had a really ridiculous scene, this one has an incredibly heartbreaking one. It’s even more heartbreaking if you know the details, which anyone reading the novel would know of. It brought tears to my eyes. Twice.
This episode doesn’t really have the same issue with lack of information, and the sound effects make it fairly easy to figure things out. Together with the fantastic voice acting of this episode, it’s just top quality audio drama right here. The VA MVP of the episode is Midorikawa. I’m used to a certain type of characters for him and generally that suits him so well, but OH MAN. Jiang Cheng is so different from what I’m used to and I hear nothing of the kind of acting I’m used to. Hino, on the other hand, just sounds like Toma from the otome game series Amnesia. I just can’t unhear that in this episode. It’s jarring, but also so inappropriately fitting in a way that I can’t hate it. I just wish I wasn’t so scared of Toma.
Keigi didn’t get much of screen… air… voice time, so that bummed me out a bit, but the quality work of this drama balances it out. This is, however, another episode where soundtrack doesn’t really stand out. I can’t actually even remember if there actually was any soundtrack…
Hnnng! The soundtrack in this is lovely. Just lovely. It also has the most jarring flute I’ve heard in a while. It hurts me as a flautist to hear it. Lol. It gets better when it’s the special song, but at first it’s just screeches. The last scene is hilarious, and it makes me laugh so hard just thinking about it.
The sound effects are really nice and I really appreciated them, but in this specific episode there are a lot of people talking over each other, which is a little annoying when you’re trying to listen to what one says and suddenly five other speak.
Once again, I hear Toma when it’s Lan Wangji talking and Midorikawa is still the best VA in the episode. And Keigi for more time, so more lines. Yay!
Overall (includes some stuff I mentioned above too)
I’ve mentioned this is high quality. It has some of the most beautiful soundtracks I’ve heard, and it’s very fitting for the scenes. The sound effects are in general awesome. There are these instances where it’s just really vague and they don’t help at all to let you figure out what’s going on.
Suzuki does a fantastic job as Wei Wuxian/Gi Musen, and I really feel it catches the characterisation of the character. Hino as Lan Wangji/Ran Bouki throws me off because I hear Toma from Amnesia when he speaks. When he doesn’t say words though… Spot on. Oh, wait… I also think Kobayashi as Lan Sizhui/Ran Shitsui is great.
The idea I had of Lan Jingyi/Ran Keigi was completely ruined by Shimono, but I don’t mind. While I did see him as less mature that Sizhui… I don’t know why, but I just thought of him as calmer that the Shimono’s voice is, but as soon as I knew Shimono voiced Jingyi I threw all expectations of what I thought of Jingyi out of the window. Lol.
In the three first episodes though, Midorikawa voicing Jiang Cheng/Kou Chou is the best and most surprising though. I felt like he really got the character down in episode two and three, and it was just a blessing to hear him have a different role than what I’m used to.
Summing that up it would be “Darn, the voice actors are doing so great I can’t even decide what not to praise.” but at the same time I can say I’m not all that happy that the narrator (in episode 1) is MikiShin.
The adaptation is pretty good. There are some things in the first episode I feel get lost, despite it being longer, but otherwise I think they’ve done really well to fit in the two first incidents into three episodes. I still prefer the novel over audio drama because it has more details, but one can only expect so much from any adaptation, right? And it’s really well made!
And I’m getting a real good dose of Wei Wuxian. I can’t say no to that.
If you’re interested in MDZS and know Japanese, you can give Madou Soshi a try. I feel it can be a gateway into the fandom. The first three episodes (and an extra) are free on MiMi fm, a Japanese app available for Android and iOS. Though it’s just ¥1000 for the rest of the episodes, so… The story’s definitely worth it if you’re into BL as well.
In the future, I will probably review the series episode by episode. I chose to do all three because the three first ones are free. When I review episode 4, I’ll review the short that comes between episode 3 and 4, and when I review episode 5, I’ll also pick up the one between 4 and 5. These are shorts, so they don’t really affect the length of the post, anyway.
What would you like to see a review of next? Let me know in a comment!
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