My Top 7 Chinese dramas of 2023

 Good afternoon, lovely folks! Happy New Year and Happy Holidays!

I guess looking at the last post on the blog at the end of Oct you can surmise we've been busy. This was the time when I seriously started getting ready all the Christmas preorders for cakes and pastries, and it didn't slow down until Christmas eve at which point we promptly caught the flu. 

Coming out on the other side of all the New year festivities, I fee like it's time to make lists of memorable Chinese dramas of 2023, cause let's face it, I watched far more dramas than read books, and I failed miserably on my Goodreads challenge of 75 books, which a few years back I'd have read in 3 months tots. 😂

I feel like I can not compete with my younger self voracious reading anymore, so I am just happy I found myself equally passionate about dramas in my 40s.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are my highlights of 2023 in Chinese drama land.

1. The Blood of Youth

A classic wuxia (martial universe) setup based on popular anime series. 

This was such a popular adaptation that they are making season 2 which in China is a rarity.

 Fabulous fight sequences, a fast pacing story and a great cast all contribute to its great success. I was definitely glued to the screen all throughout. 

Li Hongyi who is playing Xiao Se, the prince who lost all his martial powers but not his powerful mind, did a great job with his dry humour and slightly detached, tired of it all demeanor.

Don't believe me? Watch the trailer and decide for yourself .

2. Till The End of The Moon

I did two very long posts gushing about this unique xinxia (fantasy) drama including the review of the original novel, and I still stand by my words.

The makeup choices here might have been unfortunate, but the storyline, rich background colours and costuming on top of the overall chemistry between Luo Younxi and Bai Lu (it's not their first work together) were exceptional. I also really enjoyed the CGI battle scenes. It was grand and magical. I do recommend reading the original novel to save yourself the disappointment from the last episode, as it needed a better ending. But, I can guarantee you will be obsessed with the main characters, exceptionally beautiful soundtrack and the love trumps all story.
This drama also has  huge amount of fan vids for your entertainment. Here is the trailer and one of the fan vids.

If I could call Mysterious Lotus Casebook one name, I'd call it sassy. This wuxia drama took 4 years to make, and the quality shows. It's a murder mystery type of plot and it's also bromance. Two arch enemies meet up 10 years after the final showdown, only one of them is on his last legs and hiding from the world, and another is full of beans and trying to heal him so they can repeat their glory days. It's another classic wuxia plot, great action sequences, heroic soundtrack and lots of sass. I loved every minute of it. Its high online rating proves that many other viewers loved it too. If you see just one martial arts drama this year, this should be it.
I can not find a trailer with English subtitles, so here is a fan vid with its murder cases.

Scent of Time was a complete curveball for me this year. An HBO project, it wasn't heavily advertised or promoted at all, it wasn't even easily accessible. And yet, it made waves. Zhou Ye is an interesting actress. She truly shines in dubious, grey character roles if you remember her in Word of Honor. This is a rebirth and redemption story in a historical fantasy drama. Main heroine does a lot of bad deeds during her life, and at the moment of her death regrets it and has a chance to rewrite her destiny anew. She is transported half way through her bad life and feverishly tries to undo her own mistakes while destiny has other plans for her. It's a moving story, beautifully filmed and casted. I also discovered Wang Xing Yue here, and what a great actor. These two had sizzling chemistry. Prepare for a tearful ending though...

5. Lost You Forever

Lost You Forever is an absolute highlight of 2023 for me. It's a xinxia drama the likes of which I haven't seen before in Chinese drama land.

It's very dark, brutal, raw, and instead of classic xinxia gods and demons realms, it places its characters in human realm living as demigods.

I've seen Yang Zi in modern dramas, but there is something special about her when she plays in xinxia (Ashes of Love, anyone?). She is like a magnet glueing the rest of characters to her. She is not the prettiest actress but she has mad charisma and pure talent. I swear there were scenes of her torture in this drama which left me crying and sweating empathizing with her character.

She plays a lost princess who has been disguising herself as a male doctor for the last 300 years and living under the radar. This is an epic political intrigue fantasy, and due to a series of circumstances, three very powerful men get involved with her which brings her out of hiding and back on a chessboard with demigods vying for power and eager to use her as a pawn.

This is a drama which also let me discover Tian Jianci, a very talented actor playing my favourite partner for the FL, nine-headed demon Xiang Liu. 

Everyone is eagerly awaiting season 2 of Lost You Forever which should be out this year, and I can not wait! This is a breathtaking drama which if nothing else 💯 will bring you to the dark side of cdramaland.

6. Story of Kunning Palace

If you want another antihero story with a dash of rebirth and palace intrigue fantasy, say no more. Story of Kunning Palace is there to serve. 

It's not the best role for Bai Lu, but I don't blame her, because Zhang Linghe absolutely steals the whole show here as a slightly psychotic, cold and sexy strategist with a very long game of revenge.

Bai Lu plays a corrupt empress who has a chance of rebirth after she kills herself to atone for and rectify her mistakes. So, in her second chance of life she goes back to the moment in life just before she made her first fatal mistake.

Ironically, for a palace intrigue this drama spends more time outside of it than inside, and only wins from it in quality. Don't expect a historical drama here, instead it's a period fantasy and should be treated as such. Above all, it's very entertaining!

My Journey to You might lose points to Lost You Forever's excellent plot, but it is the prettiest, most aesthetically pleasing drama I've ever seen. When I was watching it I felt like I was witnessing a birth of another cult classic. 

This is a classic wuxia drama, full of assassins and sinister plots, but it's the cinematography here which is everything. 
I can only describe it as a visual feast. Every frame, every shot is stunning.

This is also the most serious I've seen Esther Yu who usually plays very girlish characters with high voices and childish antics. It proves that a good director is everything.

Tons of beautiful people here by the way, and the plot stays very exciting all the way through. There were many strong contenders for my number one drama of 2023 but I just had to give the spot to My Journey to You. It's too unique and will stand out anywhere.
Please, watch the vids underneath to convince you to give it a chance.

And this is a wrap, folks! Thank you for reading and please, let me know if you watched any of these and what are your favourites of 2023.