The recent freshness in the Chinese drama market has been brought by "Tiger and Crane".
This drama is adapted from the manga of the same name by Huang Xiaoda, and it tells the story of Hu Zi, an optimistic and cheerful orphan who accidentally swallows the Chi Zhu, a precious treasure. In doing so, he meets the cold and fastidious team captain of the Imperial Demon Master, Qi Xiaoxuan. These two young individuals with contrasting personalities are forced to travel together due to the Chi Zhu.
Along the way, they meet companions such as Zhao Xintong, Wang Yuqian, and Shancha. Just as the ambitions of both the human and demon realms are about to bring catastrophe to the mortal world, this group of ambitious and passionate young individuals selflessly sacrifice themselves to save humanity.
The common foundation of growth and the essence of passion in male-oriented fantasy dramas are also pushed to the extreme in this drama. The demon-hunting team embarks on a journey of battling monsters, leveling up, and completing dungeons, allowing the audience to experience the feeling of watching a passionate youth comic. The grand construction of the world showcases the distinctive characteristics of Eastern fantasy literature. By continuously innovating and advancing in content types, "Tiger and Crane" sincerely brings new surprises to the market.
The Fervor of Youth Never Fades Away
What makes "Tiger and Crane" truly valuable is that it revolves around the growth of a group of young individuals in a specific environment, rather than focusing solely on one character. In simple terms, it is an ensemble of youth rather than a singular protagonist. Both approaches have their merits, but the recent trend of highly popular and acclaimed dramas leaning towards an ensemble cast indicates the audience's preference for such narratives.
More importantly, it is about how to make the youthfulness of the characters distinctive. On one hand, this is attributed to the unique world-building of the drama. In the past, stories about demons and demon hunters were often portrayed in movies or web films, where limited screen time meant a greater focus on the moments of demon hunting. However, dramas have more space to delve into the backstories of the characters and their stories, allowing for a deeper exploration of their growth and facilitating a stronger connection with the audience.
On the other hand, it is about the purity of the characters. It is hard to imagine that in a world filled with supernatural creatures, the producer, Yan Zheng, described this drama as pure. After all, even in terms of visual presentation alone, dramas can be thrilling and exciting, seemingly having little association with purity. However, upon closer examination, it is precisely this purity that makes its youthfulness unique.
This purity refers to the inner purity of the youth. Despite each person being in different circumstances, their shared passion and dream of saving the world bring them together and intensify the brilliance and sense of destiny within the characters under the grand theme of saving the world.
Not everyone has to become a hero or stand in a high position to undergo growth. Hu Zi is a typical ordinary individual, born in the countryside, and even some of his actions seem out of sync. However, it is precisely the imperfections and down-to-earth nature of the character that make him vibrant. As destiny propels him forward, his unique charm as a character begins to radiate.
Under the premise of Qi Xiaoxuan's "Dual Spirit" setting, it is a continuous questioning of the nature of youth. Aside from the initial misunderstanding that tugs at one's heartstrings. This clearly breaks and challenges certain traditional notions, as every life that enters the world is extremely precious, and they will become different individuals.
As the main female character in the drama, Zhao Xintong's journey from a wealthy young lady running away from home to the weighty burden of seeking revenge for her deceased parents, and then to her shining family legacy and vision of upholding justice, is a twisted and captivating one.
Including the recently revealed hints about Qianyu fugitive prince, each character stands independently and can serve as the main storyline of a historical drama, allowing the growth of the youth to go beyond surface level and become even more profound.
"Tiger and Crane" is filled with fervor and youthfulness, making it suitable for all viewers who possess a youthful spirit. The entire story is like a journey from youth to adulthood, with the map of youth's growth continuously expanding and more characters being incorporated into the story. This allows the audience to grow alongside the demon-hunting team, gradually and progressively, with climaxes rising one after another. The fervor of youth never fades away.
Find Yourself in an Ideal World
Underneath the most captivating essence of youthful fervor, "Tiger and Crane" brings forth a whole new sensation. Unlike the gradually accepted and familiar world of xianxia stories, "Tiger and Crane" aims to construct a world centered around demons and demon hunters, requiring the content and form to advance side by side, making the imagined world vividly tangible.
The most prominent imagery presented in the drama is the "Tiger" and the "Crane" from the title. By using the strength and majesty of the tiger and the agility and grace of the crane, which symbolize the camaraderie and companionship of youth, it showcases the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
On the production level, the visual aspects are even more striking. Following the growth map of the youth from Ruyun Village to Babao Town and finally to the Fulong Capital, the realistic sets of the Tiangang Hall, Fulong Capital, and the meticulously recreated Dianfeng Valley gradually come into view.
In terms of costume design, not only does Qi Xiaoxuan's distinctive black and white attire stand out, but the family crests and intricate patterns are also exquisitely crafted, along with the meticulously designed appearances of the Heifeng Demon and others, aimed at achieving a sense of realism. It is understood that the drama features a total of 150 sets, 11,000 props, and more than 2,000 costumes, collectively completing this drama. With the world-building completed, the next challenge is how to effectively tell this story.
The drama's effective fight scenes were the first to receive praise from the audience. The seamless combination of large-scale scenes and close-up details, the intense atmosphere, the aerial shots, the use of rotating cameras to capture dynamic angles, and the time freeze-frame actions quickly delivered several memorable action sequences, such as the battle against the Heifeng Demon and the assessment of the Imperial Demon Master.
The strong connection between the characters' martial arts and the "Tiger and Crane" is also a notable feature of the drama's action scenes. Hu Zi's fighting style emphasizes close combat, with many close-up shots of his hand movements. Qi Xiaoxuan's fight scenes are swift and precise, showcasing beautiful movements. Zhao Xintong's fight scenes elevate the matching of femininity and the long spear to the extreme, exuding a powerful presence. The presentation of high-quality fight scenes maximizes the charm of the characters as portrayed in the original comic.
The drama also carries touching core values. In interviews, Yan Zheng repeatedly emphasized the values of bravery, justice, loyalty, filial piety, and chivalry in the process of youth's growth.
From the constant questioning of whether demons can be good or evil by the protagonist group, to the question posed by the mouth of the villain, "Why should demon masters endure the fate of being killed when they are admired?", and the verbal battle between Hu Zi and the scholars, "Compared to your lofty ideals, he values the lives of ordinary people more," it can be seen that beneath the overarching themes of youth's growth and saving the world, the emotional core of the drama lies in the process of self-acceptance and reconciliation with those around oneself.
As the story unfolds, the youth's struggle against authority, their fearless passion, and their willingness to sacrifice will become even more moving, while the beautiful camaraderie with their companions will heal all wounds. "Tiger and Crane" truly achieves the feat of creating surprises with its suspenseful, mysterious, comedic, and romantic plotlines within a story that can be perceived by the general public, ultimately allowing the audience to find themselves in this ideal world.