Review and Synopsis by Anime Girl
Mo Dao Zu Shi Review by AnimeGirl.io
Mo Dao Zu Shi, also known as Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation, is an animated series based on the Chinese novel written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. It follows Wei Wuxian, a powerful warrior on a mission to discover the secrets of the spiritual world.
Wei Wuxian, the “Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation” is one of the most powerful and dangerous warriors in the world. However, he was seen as a dangerous threat because of his immense power and was persecuted by thousands of people.
Wei Wuxian is the protagonist of Mo Dao Zu Shi, and the first season of this animated series recounts his upbringing as a demon cultivator. We follow him as he grows up in the Cloud Recesses and sees all that he loves destroyed by the Wen Clan. Despite being a goof, Wei Wuxian is an innocent boy with a good heart.
He was the Yiling Patriarch and played a huge role in overthrowing the Wen Clan after the launch of the “Sunshot Campaign”. However, his success was due to his discovery and mastery of demonic cultivation, a dark form of cultivation that goes against what the Five Great Clans taught. When war breaks out with the Wen Clan against the four other Great Clans, Wei Wuxian finds out about Demonic Cultivation and uses it to save his friends.
Thirteen years after his death, Wei Wuxian is reincarnated and wakes up in a completely new body. He is ready to start living again and enjoy his new life, but the world is overflowing with zombies and evil spirits. It soon becomes clear that this reincarnation will not be an easy one – Wei Wuxian learns that people are hunting his spirit to destroy it because of his demonic path known as “Mo Dao”.
This first season has fifteen episodes that follow Wei Wuxian as he wakes up in a new body and remembers his past. Mo Dao Zu Shi starts with Wei Wuxian waking up in a barn, disoriented and confused. He soon learns that his spirit was awoken thirteen years after his death because of the so-called “lunatic” Mo Xuanyu. The ritual that Mo Xuanyu used to reincarnate Wei Wuxian cost him his life.
Now in Mo Xuanyu’s body, Wei Wuxian sets off to understand what has happened in the thirteen years he’s been dead. Although he’s foolish and goofs off, his powers are still feared by many cultivators as he was the Yiling Patriarch in his past life. Wei Wuxian realizes this and is cautious about how often he uses his powers to avoid being exposed.
In the second episode, Wei Wuxian flees Mo Xuanyu’s village to avoid being discovered. However, his luck takes a turn for the worst. He encounters two people from his past – Jiang Cheng, his sworn brother who betrayed him, and Lan Wangji, an old childhood acquaintance that he used to butt heads with. Wei Wuxian did not get along with either of them in his past life, and this reunion isn’t an easy one.
Wei Wuxian manages to throw his old acquaintances off his scent by pretending to be Mo Xuanyu, but Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji soon become suspicious of how good “Mo Xuanyu” is at demonic cultivation.
Flashback to Wei Wuxian’s First Life
Wei Wuxian goes to the Cloud Recesses, where he reconnects with his past and we see his life unfold through flashbacks. This timeline shift allowed me to better understand why Wei Wuxian was a formidable demon cultivator. We get to see how Wei Wuxian grew up, what his friendships with Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji were like, and how the supernatural magic works in this universe.
Wei Wuxian was a trickster as a child, and he was always getting into trouble and causing mischief alongside Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji.
As we watch the three training cultivators grow up in the Cloud Recesses, we also get a glimpse of the clan politics that are happening as well. There are five cultivation clans in their world that are known as the “Five Great Clans” of cultivators. Although each clan does their best to get along, the Wen Clan is sly and manipulative and soon rises above the rest to try to control everything.
The Wen Clan begins to carry out attacks on the other clans and begins enlisting younger cultivators for “re-education” to control them all. Wei Wuxian speaks out against the leaders that are abusing their power, but the Wen Clan continues to torture the young cultivators and pin them against each other.
War erupts between the clans, and Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng lose their family and home in a massacre caused by the Wen Clan. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng try to stick together and run from the Wen Clan, but Jiang Cheng is captured. Wei Wuxian is ambushed and pushed off a cliff into the depths of the Burial Mounds – but this place is where he becomes the Yiling Patriarch and changes the history of cultivation.
The ghosts in the Burial Mounds attempt to corrupt Wei Wuxian, and he gives in to the resentful energy. He doesn’t die but ends up discovering demonic cultivation. News spreads of a “demonic flute player” that torments the Wen Clan, and Wei Wuxian is the skilled cultivator behind it.
As Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng struggle to survive, the four other Great Clans decide to team up against the Wen Clan and launch the Sunshot Campaign in an attempt to overthrow the fifth clan. Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji have lost all hope of reconnecting with Wei Wuxian, but he appears in the middle of battle against the Wen Clan as the mysterious flute player.
Wei Wuxian reveals himself as the inventor of Demonic Cultivation, but his childhood friends are not happy about it. Wei Wuxian saves them, but Lan Wangji is angry with his demonic cultivation practices and pronounces them as heresy.
As a girl, I didn’t think I would enjoy a supernatural Chinese anime with a male protagonist. There weren’t any female characters that I could relate with, but I was pleasantly surprised by the morally grey characters and by the relationships between the protagonists.
The first few episodes were hard to follow at first, but I was quickly pulled into the story and the supernatural magic of Wei Wuxian’s world. I was just as confused as Wei Wuxian in the first two episodes of his reincarnation, but everything began to fall into place once we were transported back to the Cloud Recesses during Wei Wuxian’s first life.
I rarely write reviews on animes, but Mo Dao Zu Shi is truly a masterpiece and unlike any other show I have ever watched. The artwork is so beautiful, and the music adds a great element to the magic of Wei Wuxian’s world. Ancient China comes to life with each episode, and the characters are so proud of their culture and cultivation traditions that I found me rooting for the clans fighting against the Wen Clan.
The story and plot are very solid because there’s a little bit of every genre mixed in. There’s action, adventure, fantasy, and even a bit of ancient Chinese historical fiction that draws you in. As someone who has visited ancient Chinese temples and towns before, it was such a nostalgic feeling to see Wei Wuxian and his family and friends grow up in such a historical space.
In terms of the production quality, Mo Dao Zu Shi draws you in immediately with amazing quality. The animation and the background music truly draws you in.
I enjoyed this series and can’t wait to watch the next season. Mo Dao Zu Shi is truly an amazing supernatural anime.