As the first drama written and directed by Guo Jingming (pseudonym Gu Xiaosheng), "My Journey to You" has been in the spotlight since its premiere, and continues to be a topic of discussion. It is well known that popular directors/producers like Guo Jingming, Yu Zheng, and Wang Yixu, even if they have not released any works for a long time, are always surrounded by legends about them. Information about them is no longer clear and precise, as if all the praise and criticism are shrouded in a veil of mist, making it difficult to distinguish.
It is unfair to judge the work itself and other cast and crew members from this perspective. Therefore, today, let us temporarily set aside the controversies and love-hate relationships that have long focused on Guo Jingming, and re-examine the work "My Journey to You".
The dichotomy of visual beauty and impressive sight
When "My Journey to You" first aired, it was common to see some hesitant netizens wandering in various comment sections, trying to seek authentic evaluations from the viewers who were the first to watch this drama. Interestingly, although everyone's responses were different, the overall sentiment was surprisingly consistent, all expressing that this drama is somewhat different, yet compelling enough to keep watching.
When we place "My Journey to You" in the vast sea of historical costume dramas produced every year, we can see that it is neither like the grand and warm overall atmosphere of "Lost You Forever", nor the martial arts drama "Mysterious Lotus Casebook" with its simple and elegant color palette and emphasis on logical deduction in cases. In comparison, the style of "My Journey to You" is both unfamiliar and mysterious.
In this drama, we can see a black and white gold-dominated visual foundation, intricate and exquisite costumes and accessories, clean and neat facial makeup, fluid and graceful action design, and the indispensable artistic conception hidden behind various visual languages. All these elements give "My Journey to You" a fashionable and luxurious charm rarely seen in the typical patterned costume cdramas, or one could say, a sense of modern urbanity.
Once this perception is combined with Guo Jingming's aesthetic style, it no longer clashes with the underlying medium of historical costume dramas, but instead helps to harmonize the inherent gloominess and heaviness of the visuals. It allows the old and perilous Dusty Valley to provide a dwelling place for a few white and fragile white azaleas.
In this process, art, cinematography, lighting, costumes, and makeup all contribute to constructing "My Journey to You" as a world different from traditional martial arts and traditional historical costume mysteries. Viewers can make a quick judgment of whether to stay or leave just by watching the first episode.
Besides the tangible beauty, "My Journey to You" also exudes a kind of dichotomy in its spectacle, specifically in the excessive emphasis on the presence of the character Gong Zishang. Perhaps, just like the lines in the drama that alternate between classical and contemporary, Gong Zishang is like breaking through the dimensional barrier of the Gong Men, reaching out to the year 2023.
This is Guo Jingming's preference and Jin Jing's unique style. Faced with this innovation, some people can quickly accept, digest, and resonate with them, while others endure, do not understand, and choose to turn off the video. It can only be said that creation and aesthetics are never one-way streets, and every work is a process for creators to test their peers.
The unique character relationships in "My Journey to You"
There are numerous character relationships in "My Journey to You". The romantic lines between Yun Weishan and Gong Ziyu, Gong Shangjue and Shangguan Qian, Gong Zishang and Jin Fan, and even Yun Weishan and Gong Yuanzhi, Shangguan Qian and Gong Yuanzhi, Gong Zishang and Hua Gongzi, Yun Weishan and Han Yasi - these combinations formed by the audience's matchmaking have kept netizens entertained.
If you prefer niche and secretive emotions, the bond between Gong Shangjue and Gong Yuanzhi as brothers, the development of Gong Ziyu and Jin Fan's master-servant relationship, the occasional but constantly vigilant parallel connection between Yun Weishan and Shangguan Qian, and the hidden feelings and eternal longing between Madame Lan and Madame Wu Ji can also satisfy the needs of different viewers.
Although there are slight differences in the atmosphere among the fans of "My Journey to You", it is undeniable that Guo Jingming has poured a unique love into each character. For example, Gong Zi Yu, who starts off as a crying mess after losing his father and brother, is indeed seen as a representation of a waste in the eyes of others, completely unrelated to a leadership position.
However, as the trials unfold, the qualities needed for Gong Zi Yu to become the head of the palace, such as perseverance, ability, compassion, and determination, gradually manifest. Patient viewers find it hard not to develop a sense of nurturing towards his growth.
Another example is Gong Yuanzhi, who is hailed as the most perfect character in the whole drama. As the youngest brother in the palace, he embodies multiple charms, including tsundere, the vulnerability that evokes sympathy, and danger that ensnares others.
Of course, Yun Weishan, who is accustomed to hardship and wandering; Gong Shangjue, who silently cherishes his feelings; Shangguan Qian, who appears innocent in public but schemes in private, as well as supporting roles like Yue Gongzi, Hua Gongzi, and Xue Zhongzi, who don't have much screen time, all manage to capture the hearts of the audience with their unique qualities.
Shortcomings within "perfection"
Compared to the meticulously crafted characters, the script of "My Journey to You" fails to satisfy all viewers. Take the plotline of Gong Er's desire to compete for the position of leader, for example. In the palace, no one is more decisive and resourceful than Gong Shangjue, and no one is more self-disciplined and dedicated to the rise and fall of the palace. Yet, even for a character like him, seemingly tailor-made for the position of leader, there is no clear path to ascend to the throne.
Although Yun Weishan, Shangguan Qian, and Madame Wu Ji, the three seemingly assassins exposed by Gong Shang Jiao, have all been suspected, when it comes to crucial moments, the character development has to make way for the plot. For example, even with his innate suspicion, Gong Shangjue must give up investigating Yun Weishan after she takes the truth-telling grass, as it is believed that Yue Gongzi, who prepared the medicine, can be trusted. And even with her cautious nature, it is unavoidable for Shang Guan Qian to misjudge the fake doctor case, as Madame Wu Ji genuinely wanted to cooperate with them.
In this process, most viewers seem to be possessed by Gong Ziyu, their minds become muddled, and their emotions follow the path of love. This is not because the story is overly complex or intellectually challenging, but because at crucial moments of suspense, viewers are often confused by illogical flashbacks and mysterious atmospheres.
It can only be said that Guo Jingming undoubtedly understands how to graft elements together. He knows that when two seemingly unrelated fragments are ingeniously edited together, it can bring about a completely different perception of the truth. This is why everyone feels that the plot is simple, but can't quite explain the reason behind it.
Since the premiere of the series, speculations about the filming schedule, script lines, and alleged leaks of the source material have been flying around on various platforms. As a result, viewers have become the authors themselves, participating in various speculations and imaginative interpretations, thus enhancing their sense of involvement.
However, besides the plot, "My Journey to You" also has some minor flaws, such as excessive background music and chaotic editing. But if you were to ask the viewers who have actually watched the series, the majority of them would still give quite positive reviews. The reason behind this is that "My Journey to You" actually delivers the emotional value that the current market demands, at least visually, with satisfying romantic storylines and captivating character development.