On September 2nd, the Jianghu scheme drama "My Journey to You" directed by Guo Jingming and starring Yu Shuxin, Zhang Linghe, and Cheng Lei, with special appearances by Zeng Shunxi, , and Chen Du Ling began airing.
As the grand ceremony for selecting a consort approaches, Yun Weishan (played by Yu Shuxin), a skilled assassin, infiltrates the Gong Men sect to gather intelligence. However, unexpectedly both the master of the Gong Men and his designated successor are assassinated. Overnight, Gong Ziyu (played by Zhang Linghe), who has always been marginalized as the fourth prince suddenly becomes the new master of the Gong Men sect.
In this twist of fate, Yun Weishan can only redirect her efforts towards capturing and seducing Gong Ziyu anew. After careful planning and manipulation she succeeds in becoming his bride. She had initially thought that once she became Gong Ziyu's wife she would complete her mission and attain freedom; little did she know that even more dangerous challenges awaited her. Her only ally being none other than Gong ZiYu himself who appeared to be an inept puppet ruler.
With intricate reasoning consciousness intertwined with gripping plot tension, the mystery genre is becoming one of most significant audio-visual narratives in cdrama. The creation of suspenseful atmospheres filled with doubt constitutes the foundation on which this drama is built upon, an intense espionage battle set between two major factions within martial arts society. The narrative strategy employed in this show introduces double identities, intellectual conflicts,and hidden secrets from Jianghu. This not only brings innovation to storytelling but also presents a fresh blend of genres.
"My Journey to You" undoubtedly represents an innovative break through in its genre, it takes inspiration from Chinese classical aesthetics to construct visually stunning scenes; it employs modern narrative techniques to tell tales about love, suspense, and espionage interwoven into complex storytelling structures. Simultaneously, it elevates its content by exploring themes of love and personal growth, infusing idealism and romanticism with a heartwarming power.
Building a world of strategies within the martial arts realm
The visuals are breathtaking, encompassing not only costumes, hairstyles and makeup but also filters and compositions. Since its release, "My Journey to You" has sparked discussions amongst viewers due to its unique aesthetics. For this drama, the creation of an artistic ambiance in storytelling is an important pursuit, drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese narrative techniques. It skillfully incorporates numerous elements of classical Chinese aesthetics to construct a richly symbolic narrative landscape.
China's millennia-old tradition of clothing culture serves as one of the key inspirations for "My Journey to You". According to reports, the hair and makeup styles in the drama draw inspiration from Qin and Han Dynasty terracotta figurines.
The hairstyle worn by the female lead Yun Weishan, with her loose flowing hair tied with ribbons rather than being bundled up into a knot, is inspired by ancient women who used to tie their hair up, an aesthetic that can be seen in unearthed terracotta figurines from Changsha Ma Wangdui Han Tomb, Linyi Han Tomb, and Chu Tomb No. 1 at Mashan, Jiangling, Hunan Province.
Furthermore, "My Journey to You" also incorporates traditional Chinese intangible cultural heritage techniques, allowing the characters to have more distinctiveness and memorable features. The costume designs of Gong Ziyu and Yun Weishan in the drama draw inspiration from Su embroidery and Jin embroidery, combined with pearl embroidery; while the clothing of the character Gong Yuanzhi incorporates designs from ethnic minority Miao embroidery. Especially noteworthy is the raincoat worn by Gong Shangjue during his travel scenes, which is made using intangible cultural heritage oilcloth design, effectively highlighting his cold and proud personality.
Etiquette, cuisine, medicine, surnames, and many other traditional elements are also emphasized in this drama as expressions of traditional culture. In terms of etiquette posture, the ceremonial movements in the drama all reference ancient Chinese ceremonial practices such as kneeling female figurines painted during Han Dynasty and seated male figurines unearthed from Qinling.
In terms of cuisine and medicine, "My Journey to You" utilizes theories borrowed from Traditional Chinese Medicine as important clues for plot development. Even character surnames evoke a strong sense of traditional Chinese aesthetics - for example, the Gong Men sect derives its name from Chinese ancient musical scale "Gong Shang Jue Zhi Yu (宫商角徵羽)", giving rise to major character names like Gong Ziyu, Gong Shangjue, Gong Yuanzhi, and Gong ZiShang.
In terms of art design, the combinationof classical Chinese elements with contemporary aesthetics gives "My Journey to You," an alternate narrative,a strong sense of familiarity. The family emblem of Gong Men sect is derived from the traditonal Chinese concept of Tianyuan Difang (round sky and square earth), combined with the five elements and China's traditional four mythical creatures: vermilion bird(朱雀), white tiger(白虎), azure dragon(青龙) and black tortoise(玄武). Lanterns are inspired by the design of palace lanterns during the Ming and Qing dynasties, incorporating techniques from Bianjing's lantern-making heritage,and integrating Tang and Song Dynasty patterns found in Dunhuang murals into their graphic designs.
It can be said that although the plot has just begun, "My Journey to You" combines classical Chinese elements with modern visual artistryto create an aesthetic imaginative space for Jianghu intrigues, presenting a vivid depiction of life in this realm.
The polyphonic narrative of intrigue, mystery, and love
If the creation of narrative artistic conception is the innovation of "My Journey to You" in terms of audio-visual presentation, then its modernization in narrative strategy breaks through traditional audio-visual fields, bringing audiences both unfamiliarity and familiarity sensory enjoyment.
"My Journey to You" adopts a dual perspective approach of subjective and objective narration, effectively enhancing dramatic tension. Traditionally, the subjective perspective keeps the answer hidden until the end, enabling viewers to introspect and explore within the foggy storyline; on contrary, the drama opens with a scene depicting "Gong Men Wedding", expanding viewers' cognitive horizons and allowing them to deeply participate and speculate on suspense with a god-like perspective.
On the other hand, "My Journey to You" only provides partial valid information, strengthening the atmosphere of suspense and engaging in a two-way interaction with the audience. For example, there are many doubts surrounding the mysterious deaths of the Gong Men master, why did Bai Caocui suddenly lose its effectiveness as an antidote to all poisons, what is the true identity of auntie who is present at the scene, and why did the guard happen to leave? These unreliable narrations that are difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehood enhance the sense of suspense and provide powerful puzzle-solving motivation for viewers.
The complexity of narrative clues and narrative structure is another innovation in storytelling in this drama. The 1+N narrative structure allows "My Journey to You" to not only focus on core plot points but also generate numerous subplots.
There is no doubt that the struggle between Gongmen and Wu Feng is the main narrative line in the drama, with Yun Weishan infiltrating it as he carries out Wu Feng's mission. Revolving around this main plotline, "My Journey to You" also gives rise to subplots such as Jianghu intelligence battles between Gong Ziyu and Gong Shangjue, as well as uncovering missions by triple female spies like Shangguan Qian. Each segment is gripping enough to keep audiences on edge. With multiple thread-like narrative structures advancing layer by layer while revealing layers upon layers of truth, viewers remain highly engrossed amidst a web-like foggy narration.
It was under this updated storytelling strategy that "My Journey to You" achieved a type-overlapping form called polyphonic narration. It breaks free from traditional niche circles within mystery genres; instead it combines with subcultures such as romance, Jianghu, action, and deduction to meet the current diversified and vertical dissemination in realistic demands, thus covering a wider range of audience.
Love and responsibility reflect warm themes
In terms of character development, "My Journey to You" goes beyond portraying conflicts between good and evil values or moral dilemmas. Instead, it presents a diverse cast of characters with complex psychological motivations and individual awakenings. Whether it's Yun Weishan portrayed by Yu Shuxin or Gong Ziyu played by Zhang Linghe, they are not legendary figures who transcend their essence but rather embody the imperfections and vulnerabilities found in ordinary people.
Within the four-tier (Chi Mei Wang Liang, 魑魅魍魉) division of Wu Feng's forces lies Yun Weishan as the lowest level Chi. Gong Ziyu is far from being a hero figure with aspirations for world domination; he grew up under constant belittlement within Gong Men and only seeks to indulge himself in pleasure-seeking activities.
However, at the same time, both Yun Weishan and Gong Ziyu possess a sense of kindness, integrity, and responsibility rooted within their knight-errant spirit. In order to get close to Gong Ziyu, Yun Weishan resorts to various schemes repeatedly setting traps. Yet even as an assassin she still possesses compassion. This multifaceted portrayal that combines cunningness with benevolence adds depth to character development while easily evoking empathy and resonance among viewers.
On the other hand, "My Journey to You" also showcases valuable growth arcs amidst dangerous situations. Amidst intricate plot deductions filled with deadly threats, Yun Weishan and Gong Ziyu rescue each other while helping one another grow ultimately achieving an expression on love and growth.
Take Gong Ziyu for example: tasked unexpectedly despite his lackluster public image as a wastrel young master; he must not only uncover the truth behind his father and brother's untimely deaths but also face the infiltration of external assassins. This multidimensional challenge swiftly transforms Gong Ziyu from an immature individual into a qualified leader within Gong Men, providing narrative satisfaction.
Yun Weishan also establishes an emotional connection with viewers through her firm love and faith amidst growth. It is during her execution of assassination missions that the emergence of love and human kindness allows Yun Weishan to break free from her cocooned self-awareness. She transitions from being a mere puppet-like tool to becoming a complete woman who embraces love and guards warmth.
By undergoing struggles against destiny, maturing in character, and remaining steadfast in ethical responsibility amidst emotional awakening, "My Journey to You" seeks to convey not only new possibilities within its genre but also values that resonate with young people.