You’ve seen the internet talking about The Untamed (available on Netflix and YouTube), and you kinda want to check it out, but you have no idea what’s going on. Fear not, gentle viewer, I’m here to help you.
What is The Untamed and where did it come from?
The Untamed originated as a Chinese boys love (BL) novel, written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. The original title is Mo Dao Zu Shi (loosely translated to Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation), shortened by fans and in social media hashtags to MDZS. The author has two other stories that round out a trio of fantasy BL novels. MDZS seems to be the most popular of the three books and is currently the only one with both an animation and live version.
Who the heck are all these people and where did they get those amazing robes?
The Untamed has a big cast and they’re all introduced pretty quickly so it can be a little tough to figure out who is who. The two main characters are Wei Wuxian - who wears black, and Lan Zahn - who wears white. You’ve probably seen fan or official promo art for them. The majority of people are grouped into one of five big clans, identified by the color of their robes.
The Jiang Clan of Yunmeng
They are identified by their purple robes, although in the live version, they often mix in blue and a pretty sea green as well. Their family seat is Lotus Pier. They are a modest and well-respected clan, and their home has a beautiful and cozy feel to it.
The Lan Sect of Gosu
They are identified by their white robes, sometimes alternated with sky blue. They live in the mountains of the Cloud Recess. They are a strict clan (with 3,000 rules!) dedicated to studies. Cultivator students from other clans come there to learn and train.
The Wen Clan
This group is the big bad for the first half of the show. Their colors are red and black and they live in Sun Scorching Palace in Nightless City (named so because it’s so big the sun never sets on it. Brag much?).
Jin Clan of Lanling
These are the hoity toity rich bitches. Identified by yellow, gold and cream robes. They’re the second biggest of the main cultivating clans and live in Carp Tower. It’s gorgeous with open airy rooms, decorated in white, green, and gold.
They’re the newest of the main big clans. They’re smaller and a little rough around the edges. Their family home is Unclean Realm (I’m sure there’s something I’m missing in translation because the place is immaculate) the clan colors are a very pretty gray and silver and they use big blades instead of swords.
So that’s the who! And now, the what the heck is happening.
The Setting: Takes places in ancient fantasy China. In this world, demons, ghosts, etc. are a common occurrence. The nobility / upper class clans are cultivators – sorta like warrior exorcists – who fight these demons.
The Plot: As you may have noticed by the fandom’s screeching and fan arts, Wei Wuxian and Lan Zahn are the main protagonists. At the start of the show, Wei Wuxian is reincarnated in the body of Mo Xuanyu. Mo sacrificies his life to bring Wei Wuxian back from the dead in order to get vengeance against Mo’s enemies. The reason he picked WW for this is because in his first life, Wei Wuxian was a powerful demonic cultivator. The reason WW died? Because he was a powerful demonic cultivator and jealous hos were trying to steal his shine.
At the start of the show, Wei Wuxian has been dead for 16 years. When he’s resurrected, he wears a mask to conceal his identity from those who still hate him. Unfortunately, he’s thrown right in the middle of a dangerous mystery. Someone is manipulating ghosts and demons to harm people. As he tries to help a group of young cultivators fight these demons, Lan Zahn, a close friend from his old life, recognizes him, even behind the mask. The two start tackling the mystery together. But before they make much progress, Wei Wuxian passes out.
As he sleeps, he dreams of his first life, and the show turns into a big flashback where we see Wei Wuxian and his siblings attending the Lan sect cultivation school. It follows the time afterward, where we see all of the trials and tribulations that lead to Wei Wuxian’s powerful rise, fall, and death, as well as the growing close relationship between him and Lan Zahn.
When Wei Wuxian wakes from his coma, we are back in the present and they start working to uncover the mystery. This also leads them to discover events which lead to Wei Wuxian’s banishment, the cultivating world turning against him, and his eventual death.
And that’s what the show is about! But this wrap-up hardly does The Untamed justice. I’ve shown you the what. Next time I’ll show you why you should watch this amazing Chinese drama.
The Untamed is available on Netflix and YouTube.
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