rheasilvia: (Rainbow hearts)
[personal profile] rheasilvia
Before I start posting fanfic and talking about Guardian, I’d like to give you all some idea of what this fandom is about. So!

Guardian is a Chinese fantasy/scifi series about a cop who heads a specialized team for supernatural* crime. Zhao Yunlan – the cop – is supported in his endeavors by Shen Wei, a mild-mannered professor who acts as a consultant, and who frequently jumps in to save Zhao Yunlan and/or the day. He does this surprisingly effectively, because Shen Wei is secretly an immensely powerful being known as the Black-Cloaked Envoy, one of the rulers of the supernatural* realm. Shen Wei has also been in love with Zhao Yunlan for thousands of years, for complex and spoilery reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture.



* I use „supernatural“ as shorthand for „technically scientifically explainable scifi-genre-like goings-ons that are for all intents and purposes supernatural“. More on this in a bit!

The entire series is available on YouTube, with subtitles, and is a delight. I encourage you to check it out if you have any interest in gay romance, or fantasy/scifi with an unusual slant.

The Heroes

Zhao Yunlan is irreverent, quirky, brilliant at reading people, and somewhat reckless, but scarily competent and completely devoted to protecting people who can’t protect themselves. He has a habit of sucking on lollipops that gets rather R-rated at times. He also possesses the superhuman ability to sprawl on absolutely any surface.





Shen Wei, aka the Black-Cloaked Envoy, is seemingly reserved, but intensely passionate, and is both a bad-ass, steely incarnation of justice and a fussy, kindly gentleman scholar (with hearts in his eyes, if Yunlan is near). He likes to cook for Zhao Yunlan (because ZYL does not take proper care of himself), and he stares at him a lot. He also moves in right across the hall about two seconds after meeting him (again). (It’s complicated.)





Together, they fight crime!

The actors are great, the characters are multi-faceted and well-developed, and their sizzling chemistry fairly jumps off the screen. (If that is a thing that chemistry does. Errr.)

There are also a lot of great supporting characters, including Zhao Yunlan’s team, which is awesome, and his father, who is horrible in an awesome way.



The World

Guardian‘s worldbuilding is initially somewhat startling, particularly because there is a jarring info-dump right at the start of the series. This is because the novel the series is based on is fantasy, and the series had to be changed to scifi because of censorship. However, don’t worry! If you ride it out for an ep or two, it all comes together beautifully. It’s totally over the top in some ways, but gloriously so – the series just goes all-in and throws in everything, no holds barred. Aliens! Genetic mutation! Shapeshifters! Elemental powers! Meteors! Ancient wars! Rulers of the magma-filled underworld! Yes! Just keep piling on the awesome!

The Gay Romance

The series is based on an m/m novel, and in theory, the romantic and sexual relationship between the two male leads was toned down to a bromance for TV (censorship again). In practice, it was totally not. Granted, Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei never kiss on-screen, and their relationship is never openly referred to as romantic (although Zhao Yunlan flirts so openly and massively that it almost counts). But that’s it. In all other respects, this is a gay romance.



It is, in fact, the most front-and-center gay romance I've ever seen in a fantasy series, as well as probably being the most satisfying gay romance I have ever seen in any TV series, period. The relationship between the main couple is central to the plot, it is well developed, it has immensely strong and genuine emotions, and it is intense and sweet and angsty and absolutely believable every step of the way.



Special Effects and All That

Evidently, the series ran into some financing issues, so the special effects are not always great. This didn’t bother me at all, though. CGI is never a priority of mine anyway; I focus on characterization and plot, and to my uncritical eye, most of the special effects seem absolutely fine, or even good. Plus, I grew quite fond of some dubious costume elements, such as one villain’s purple-streaked mop wig – you will know it when you see it.

Far more important for me is that a lot of thought went into the sets and costumes. Shen Wei's and Zhao Yunlan's apartments, for example, are perfectly furnished to reflect their personalities, down to the tiniest little details.

ETA: The Cat

I've been reminded that the internet is for cats, so allow me to add: Zhao Yunlan's deputy director is a shapeshifter, and is also his cat.

If you do give this series a try, I’d love to know what you think! :-)

Date: 2019-01-09 05:30 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Shen Wei/Zhao Yunlan - cheers)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
It is, in fact, the most front-and-center gay romance I've ever seen in a fantasy series

Yes! It's so central to the entire show, and the censorship did exactly nothing to change that. It's unquestionably a love story, kissing or no. And OMG, do I ever love it to pieces. *g*

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Date: 2019-01-09 06:26 pm (UTC)
solo: (決まっている)
From: [personal profile] solo
I would have you know that the people I infected after you infected me have now infected others! The virus is spreading!

And this is totally absolutely a gay romance. Who needs on-screen sex anyway? We know what they do!

Date: 2019-01-09 06:30 pm (UTC)
maggie33: (sexy icon 1)
From: [personal profile] maggie33
That’s a great introduction with great pics.

The relationship between the main couple is central to the plot, it is well developed, it has immensely strong and genuine emotions, and it is intense and sweet and angsty and absolutely believable every step of the way.

I agree with every word. :) And I will always be grateful for lollipops replacing smoking from the novel. Because the things they do with them (mainly Zhao Yunlan but also bb!Shen Wei in the past) are not subtle at all. :)

Evidently, the series ran into some financing issues, so the special effects are not always great. This didn’t bother me at all, though.

Yes, I don’t care about those things either. If I love the characters and the plot interests me I don’t care about cheap special effects. And as you’ve said clothes and sets are great.

Date: 2019-01-09 08:02 pm (UTC)
naye: shen wei & <hao yunlan from guardian kind of embracing (guardian)
From: [personal profile] naye
probably being the most satisfying gay romance I have ever seen in any TV series, period

YES! This. ♥

Thank you for this recap - it made me smile hugely just reading it. And then the pictures! <3

You should link it on [community profile] sid_guardian if you haven't already.

Date: 2019-01-09 08:15 pm (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)
From: [personal profile] bonibaru
why did I read this. like I don't have enough fandoms already. *shakes fists of impotent rage*

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Date: 2019-01-09 08:58 pm (UTC)
yantantether: Shen Wei gripping Zhao Yunlan's collar (Guardian ZYL collar)
From: [personal profile] yantantether
it is intense and sweet and angsty and absolutely believable every step of the way ♥♥♥

Also, randomly, from the pic above that paragraph - I am such a sucker for anytime Shen Wei doesn't wear his glasses in front of Yunlan because it's such a visual signifier for the progress in their relationship and how much he trusts him. Plus it makes him look slightly vulnerable and super hot!

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Date: 2019-01-10 02:13 am (UTC)
galaxysoup: (LeiaWTForce)
From: [personal profile] galaxysoup
Well, if I hadn't already fallen down the rabbit hole this post would make me do it! Actually, it's making me want to do yet another rewatch. Aw, I love this nutty gay show.

I mean... bros. They're totally bros. There is no war in Ba Sing Se. :D

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Date: 2019-01-10 04:04 am (UTC)
starandrea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] starandrea
Oh my gosh, this is AMAZING! I just watched the first episode and I want to keep watching! Forever! I love the random aliens and the magic and the apparent reincarnation and all of it! Thank you so much for the detailed breakdown of the greatness of this show, because I watch so little TV that it's all to your description I even gave this a try. ♥

Date: 2019-01-10 05:06 am (UTC)
executrix: (new souls)
From: [personal profile] executrix
I just watched the first episode.
NOBODY MENTIONED THE CAT. How could nobody mention the cat? This is the Intarwebs.
I would just like to point out that, although The Magicians surely is not the greatest TV series ever made, it is a fantasy series where Elliot is in love with Quentin; it's not clear whether Quentin is capable of loving anybody, including himself; and Elliot and Quentin canonically have sex as well as being lifelong partners with a child in an alternate timeline.

Date: 2019-01-10 05:24 am (UTC)
mergatrude: Shen Wei from Guardian has hearteyes for Zhou Yunlan (Guardian - Shen Wei hearteyes)
From: [personal profile] mergatrude
What a lovely post! *uses it to bait my trap*

Date: 2019-01-11 01:50 am (UTC)
china_shop: Close-up of Zhao Yunlan grinning (Default)
From: [personal profile] china_shop
for complex and spoilery reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture.

HEE! *loves*

This is such a great summary! *scampers off to link to it*

Date: 2019-01-11 05:11 am (UTC)
asya_ana: (Default)
From: [personal profile] asya_ana
Thanks for this primer! I am the slowest ever at getting around to actually watching things, but this has been on my mind and I know your intro will come in handy when I finally watch! :D

Date: 2019-01-13 03:12 am (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)
From: [personal profile] bonibaru
i am on episode 23. what even means having a life

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Date: 2019-01-15 03:08 pm (UTC)
heipaoshi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heipaoshi
I'm definitely going to use this series to get many many friends into this. I love this intro - it has all the best parts of the show, but with enough room that you need to find out more. I don't think I could have hit that balance

Date: 2019-01-15 08:41 pm (UTC)
mekare: Gilmore Girls: Lorelai Gilmore in a woolly hat in the snow (Lorelai snow)
From: [personal profile] mekare
Here via [personal profile] trobadora who aksed me if I had seen this yet. I’m being dragged into this fandom I can tell. It sounds perfect for me.....

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Date: 2019-01-15 09:55 pm (UTC)
kat_lair: (GEN - wtff)
From: [personal profile] kat_lair
You don't know me but I'm shaking a feeble fist at you right now.

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Date: 2019-01-17 07:07 am (UTC)
tinny: Zhao Yunlan almost kissing Shen Wei (Guardian) (guardian_lanwei kiss)
From: [personal profile] tinny
It's glorious how this has 50 comments on the DW side. <3

Yay, more Guardian intro posts! *throws confetti*

I love that last cap of ZYL you chose there. There is no way at all to misinterpret that look. None.

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Date: 2019-01-19 04:43 am (UTC)
asya_ana: (Default)
From: [personal profile] asya_ana
Ok, I started watching... *cries* I'm on ep. 3.

Date: 2019-01-20 03:42 am (UTC)
asya_ana: (Default)
From: [personal profile] asya_ana
I'm on ep 8 and I am literally dying. I hope you're happy with yourself.

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Date: 2019-02-05 12:32 am (UTC)
mecurtin: fandom compass: porn/wank/spoilers/meta and so around (fandom compass)
From: [personal profile] mecurtin
[personal profile] bonibaru sent me, chuckling evilly.

"Sprawling on any surface": so, like Methos, eh?

Question: the series had to be changed to scifi because of censorship

huh? What makes fantasy censorable, and SF not?

Date: 2019-02-23 04:01 am (UTC)
bonibaru: boot heel! (Default)
From: [personal profile] bonibaru
(whispers) Escapade pimping of Guardian is in full swing thanks to dedicated agents of quality and taste with some strategically placed gifs and fanvids in tow.
Edited Date: 2019-02-23 04:02 am (UTC)

Date: 2019-04-20 06:35 pm (UTC)
imogeneherdman: (far cry 3: vaas)
From: [personal profile] imogeneherdman
I've been meaning to look into this show for a while and putting it off, but your post (and youtube link! <3) finally got me watching :D Thanks for the the primer! I'm on episode 15 now lol.

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