08 January 2017

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Novoland: The Castle In The Sky 九州·天空城 - Episode 1 (Recap)

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on January 08, 2017
kakashi: This drama is set in an ancient world - Novoland or Jiuzhou/九州, a fictional universe, for which 30 books have been written - where humanity is separated into several races. Important for this drama are the "Humankind" (the powerful Ren Tribe) and the "Wingkind" (the Yu Tribe), angelic humans who have the ability to grow wings and fly. The upcoming and much anticipated Tribes and Empires is set in this universe as well and in order to get warm for it, I've decided to recap Novoland: The Castle in the Sky as well. It's only 28 short episodes. Piece of cake! I even got 1080p files for this. 
JoAnne: I'm already dying. This is the best kind of bad. Also, in my (very new, very limited) study of Mandarin, I have learned that 'ren' means person - as in 'meiguo ren' means 'American person' - but 'yu', so far, has only turned up as language or fish. So the Yu tribe are fish of the air, maybe? Help me out, commenters extraordinaire!
SakiVI: I used this to fill in the space between Ice Fantasy episodes. It's nowhere near as lush, but the Wingkind Emperor certainly helps things along.

Episode 1

The snow is falling heavily as a woman struggles to give birth to a baby inside a humble hut ... when soldiers arrive outside. And the human Queen, armed with a golden sword. Her name is Bai Xue (Liu Min). And she has come for this man, whose name is Jikou aka Jishu (Zhang Luyi, I really like him).
Does she need him to shovel or something? I mean, why come in such bad weather, especially when his wife is having a baby?
It's Old Dog Wu
As they stand there, ready to fight, a flower floats from the sky and lingers above the hut. A baby starts crying ... it's a girl. A curious birthmark can be seen behind her right ear... The Queen and her soldiers attack and wound Jishu, but his wife Rui Zhu (Tang Jingmei), barely able to stand, saves him with some darts she throws at the soldiers. The couple is able to flee with their tiny newborn baby in their arms. But alas, the flight ends at a cliff.
I would expect nothing less.
But of course. 
Oh ... Jishu used to be the Queen's lover! According to his now-wife, he was never able to fully forget her; but he knew that they had no future and thus, he settled down with a mere country-girl. Ah, the rage in this Queen ... it is scary. Knowing full well that her former lover now loves another much more, she demands the child.
Because that's every woman's dream, isn't it? To raise the child another woman has given the man that you love?
Clearly I'm missing something in my life since I have no interest in ever raising Jaehyo's children from anyone else. 
When the soldiers charge, Jishu blasts them with some purple light from a wrist device. He is temporarily preoccupied with them ... and the Queen goes in for the kill. Rui Zhu dies, stabbed to death. Everything grows quiet for a moment as Jishu grieves for her - before he grabs the child and jumps off the cliff.
This man really knows his tragic traditions.
To be honest, I remember finding this whole opening rather tedious.
Cut to the "Stars Court", an academy for Humankind and Wingkind nobility (and the keeper of the peace between Humans and Wingers). Jishu is kneeling before the Master (Xing Gu Xuan) there, bloody and weak. The Master lectures him: The God of Shooting Stars only comes to earth once every century. That God makes Shooting Star Pollen appear, which the nobility of the Yu clan needs to fly. Jishu begs his former Master to save his daughter, but he refuses. The Stars Court is neutral ground between the two clans.
You know, if I'm heartbroken, bloody and beaten, holding on to a final hope for saving my child, I pray that someone is kind enough to take a moment out of their busy day and lecture me about local customs. I think it would be just the thing to reassure me, and not a waste of precious time in any way.
Okay, now I know what the Shooting Star business is all about. I'm at episode 15 or something in real life, and I had completely forgotten this pollen story.
Jishu has a backup plan though. He asks his master for "a piece of the Shura cinnabar". It will change his appearance completely.
I was tired when I watched this part last night, and my eyes were a little blurry I think - I thought it said Shura cinnaban and my immediate thought was 'that's misspelled' followed by 'he's thinking about snacks right now? well, maybe his blood sugar is low...'
***
The story continues 18 years later. A beautiful butterfly (it's name is Chishu) flies to a girl standing in the shallow water. This is Yi Fuling (Guan Xiaotong), our heroine - Jishu's daughter.
Both she and the butterfly are lovely.
She's cute, yes.
The butterfly is a mechanical messaging device and it brings news from Bai Tingjun (Liu Chang), the Crown Prince of the humans (and the horrible Queen's son!) who has been studying at the Stars Court Academy these last two years. Look! Chishu can write with blue glitter - it's very neat.
So the Queen already had a child when she and Jishu were lovers? Was she a widow? Is Bai Tingjun a couple years younger than Yi Fuling? (First I wrote Yu Fuling, but that made me laugh so I knew it was wrong. Go ahead, say it again out loud.) Oooh...are they brother and sister?
Nope. Timeline: Queen and Daddy lovers. Then apart. She marries someone, has a child. He gets with someone and has a child, but later than she has a child
So they're friends?! Wow, that could get awkward with the mother-in-law ... friends or more, because Yi Fuling ordered "red beans" from him for her birthday (which is today, I guess). The red bean is "an item to express longing". He is sending her a dagger instead, either not willing to take this to the next level or too dense to understand what she wants. She is super disappointed.
I miss you so much, I brought you beans?
I think it's actually a kind of flower
I thought the beans would cause gas.
At the Stars Court, all the pupils are gathered for a special ceremony, the Seven Star Lantern Prayer Ceremony. One pupil from each clan (Humankind and Wingkind) has the honor to come up on stage for a duel. The victor can light the sacred lantern. Of course, Bai Tingjun gets the honor for the humans, being crown prince and all. Me and my daughter call him coati. The two on the left are the managing director of the Stars Court and his secretary. Or something similar.
Why coati?
Because he has a huge nose.
Also, oooh, very handsome.  
It's so bulbous.
On the side of the Wingkind, it's the Emperor Feng Tianyi (Zhang Ruoyun) who was chosen. Uhm, where is he? Oh. Here he comes. And even just seeing him from the back, I already know that this guy is HOT. He struts. He is late. He is full of confidence and arrogance. He says he has no interest to fight on this stage. He will simply yield the honor of lighting the lantern to the Crown Prince - him being the best pupil and all. What mockery. 
I think that Tinjun is more handsome than Tianyi, but Tianyi oozes sex. Hating yourself the next day, hungover kind of sex. Vague memories of elevators and giggling under coats in taxicabs kind of sex.
What kind of cab rides have you been taking, Jo?
Well, Tingjun can't (and wouldn't) refuse, even though he clearly hates the Wingkind emperor's guts. He ventures to light the thing. The Emperor secretly winks at two from his entourage, who smile broadly ... when Tingjun jumps up again, holding onto the lantern for support, the chain breaks. No, you didn't!
Of course they did. Um, if half the school is not gifted with flying, why isn't there a ladder handy for doing this?
They're too young. They haven't got their wings yet. 
Before the whole lantern (who is a sacred object) can crash, the Wingkind Emperor saves the day with his whip.
Oh Good Lord he's got a whip? We are doomed. Well, some of us are doomed. Damn, these boys are gorgeous.
The whip is getting a bit too sick for me. It's okay when Yan Da does it, though. 
Well, managing director has a kind of surveillance camera on stage, and he can immediately establish that Feng Tianyi's posse are the ones behind this prank. Well, it's probably more than just a prank - the Emperor clearly has an ulterior motive.
And is clearly as dumb as he is pretty. Or evil, because there's a chance he knew about the camera and knowingly sacrificed his men. What a dick. Hmm....
In the meantime, Yi Fuling has convinced herself she has to go see her Brother Tingjun. This character annoys me by being annoying like this. The Stars Court is in the mountains and it is snowing heavily when she climbs a steep rock. The academy is off limits to her, but she is very determined. But determination isn't everything ... the rope breaks and she falls ... almost on top of the Wingkind Emperor, who is puzzling silently over a mystical beast who is guarding the Floating Jade Mountain Ridge. He wants to get in.
There are so.many.jokes here. SO MANY.
She gets a good look at him and says: "You are really handsome". He seems amused. "And you are?" he asks, bending down to her a bit. Just then, two guards come running - they've discovered something amiss.
He dresses like Elvis, though. Fat Elvis. He's skinny Elvis in Fat Elvis outfits.
Only someone skinny can carry off Fat Elvis.
Yi Fuling claims there will be a cave or something for her to hide in - like in the novels she reads - and he's like "are you insane"? But then, she decides to take him hostage. Ahahahaa.
She's gonna drag him off to a cave? I like this girl.
Okay, he says, but he had a much better idea how to save her. And he slams the knife away, presses her against the rock wall and ... kisses her. When the guards (actually, they're Humankind pupils) reprimand him for his indecency, he calls them meddlesome and says "can't you see the Emperor is busy right now!?"
*fans self* I wonder if anyone will make the obligatory complaint about forced intimacy?
I won't this time, no.
It helps. After the two have left, he scolds the girl for trespassing on sacred ground. They bicker a bit until she mentions Brother Tingjun and that she's looking for him. Hmmmm, the look in Mr. Emperor's eyes is interesting, to say the least. He claims he's a person who loves to help others and promises to help her. The best opportunity is during the Annual Mirror Flower chase competition, which is held in a couple of days. He even pinkie swears that he will help.
Okay she's an idiot. He might as well have been holding one of Trot's glitter banners with neon lights blinking 'I'm a liar! I'm a liar!'
Hey, but he actually keeps his promise! Well ... sort of. He recruits a new guy into his posse (called "elite club"): Yu Huanzheng (Chen Ruoxuan). He is weak and seems cowardly, with very low self-esteem, but he has special skills as we later find out. He's good looking. I look forward to this. As for being weak...umm, he got his shot at the club because he was the last guy standing in a feat of strength and enduranceAs an entry test, he then sends this guy to find Yi Fuling, who is hiding in a tiny cave. He hands her "Skygrass", a special drug of the Wingkind nobility. It gives you supernatural speed when you eat it and she is told to use it to break through the defenses tomorrow.
Does Wingkind get all the goodies? (Does? Do Wingkind? Do Wingkind.)
Yu Huanzheng is my fave after the Emperor.
Feng Tianyi gets the most mirrors in the race, but his team members were all over the place. Tingjun got less, but his team was exemplary. Overall, his team got more mirrors and wins. Ah, he is so boooooring. Outside, Fuling takes the grass. With some special device (that he made himself, it's called Ring of Flying Light), Huanzheng shoots needles into the guards throats ... uhm, that doesn't look legal (and Huanzheng looks sad about it). Taking this opportunity, Fuling runs ... right into the courtyard where everybody is gathered.
I bet all he does in elevators is hum nervously.
It's so thick. 
Uhm, what? Is this the plan? Haha, in her confusion, she hits one of the masters! She then claims the Emperor is to blame for everything when she sees him standing there, but Tianyi denies everything. Smoooooth. She is taken away to prison. But what is the Emperor planning? We see him read in a highly interesting book that night. Those are wings, right? He thinks to himself: "When I want something, there's no way I won't get it."
This seems very accurate.
The next day, poor Huanzheng feels very bad about what happened. The Emperor is mean and tells him not to be such a sissy. And the episode ends with a worried Tingjun appearing down in the dungeons and both him and Yi Fuling staring spellbound at each other's lips.
I have rarely seen a man who looked less enthusiastic about pretending to kiss a pretty girl.
Thick and bulbous...

Comments

An excellent first episode! No time was wasted to introduce the major protagonists and give us a pretty clear idea of their characters. I won't lie, I am extremely smitten with the Wingkind Emperor, even though he's such an ass. We all know he won't stay such an ass. And I was even before I continued watching. Yes, I do like these kind of bad boys.
Oh I love me some bad boys too - but I can't keep from thinking that he's going to end up looking like Marlon Brando. Not young Marlon. Old Marlon.
This Emperor is very pretty.  

I don't like the Crown Prince much, because he's such a dull "filial son". But I do like Yi Fuling! This actress is very young (only 19), but very experienced and she is doing a good enough job as "innocent" maiden, who thinks it's a clever idea to go into restricted areas for her "love".
I wonder if the Crown Prince will remain dull in your eyes, or if the inevitable competition for Yi Fuling will spice him up a bit.
I find her a little tedious, but then I've never liked hyper teens. 

Clearly, the Wingkind Emperor is planning something and it has to do with that "mystical beast" he thought about. I think he changed his plan when the thing with the Lantern failed and she came along. In any case, he wants trouble and trouble is what we are getting.
Trouble with a capital T. Bring it on, you bad Emperor you.
He's always plotting. 

And then, there is that God. And that God is somehow connected to our Yi Fuling. Hm....
What God. I missed a God? Where?
It's about the most important thing in this drama, but nevermind! (The God of Shooting Stars)

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