Ashes of Love: An Exercise in Anxiety (Part 2)

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

As a teenager, I loved roller-coasters, still do actually. The ups and downs were exhilarating, coupled with jerking twists, and sometimes loops speeding me around in circles until I thought my heart was in my throat. All the while, I’d scream through the entire experience and end it with a gasp of air and a giggle. The thrill of it always had me wanting more. Ladies and gentlemen (cue the trumpets), I present Ashes of Love, a 63-episode roller-coaster ride guaranteed to make you scream, gasp, giggle, and maybe even cry (but hopefully not throw up). If you are willing to give up a few precious hours to watch, I promise, you won’t be bored.

While I could spend a thousand words (or much much more) on a blow by blow recap of episodes 33-63, I’d rather tell you why this show is just so… well, perfect. Well, if perfect means rip your beating heart out of your chest and cut it into a million tiny pieces then feeding it to the old demon lord’s sons languishing in that dark cave (why did I find them funny?). Don’t worry. You’ll love it, I promise.

Frankly, it’s the characters. From the beginning, it was easy to love or hate each and every one of them. From Jin Mi’s naiveté about life and love or Xu Feng’s ignorance of his parent’s atrocities to Run Yu’s obsession with Jin Mi, THESE CHARACTERS ARE INSANELY CAPTIVATING!

The supporting characters were out of this world. DO NOT DISMISS the silly Moon Immortal. He certainly proved he could save the day more than once and don’t get me started on Mr. Puchi, a wonderful supporting character whose friendship with Jin Mi was sweet, funny and very strong. We should all aspire to be a friend like him. Sui He was endlessly annoying with her clingy evil machinations (that apparently began long before she met Jin Mi… ahem… poor Mr. Puchi). Kuang Lu was oddly fascinating with her boundless love and support of Run Yu. The empress and emperor were suitably nasty, and strangely enough, the writers wanted us to feel sympathy for them in the end (sorry… no go… they were just too awful).

Goodbye Water Immortal, Nasty Emperor, Loyal Kuang Lu, sweet friend Mr. Puchi, and obsessed Sui He – I’ll miss you

The love story between Muci and Liu Ying kept me going during those LONG episodes when I despaired of Jin Mi and Xu Feng ever getting together. Poor Muci and his autopsy silkworms. Was anyone else as disgusted by them as I was? And Liu Ying was the one character who never changed throughout the show. I kinda liked that, A LOT. Her enduring friendship with Xu Feng, love for Muci, and commitment to fight for the right was irritating at times, yet I wouldn’t change a thing about her. Liu Ying was a clever and gifted female throughout the entire show and wasn’t afraid to demonstrate those qualities to anyone she came across… oh I forgot to mention that she always spoke her mind and wasn’t scared to take the lead. And how about her last scene?  Pretty cool, huh? Liu Ying is my kind of girl!

Farewell Muci and Liu Ying – Ah sweet memories

Jin Mi, from gullible half-wit to smart and robust water immortal, was THE character that made me want to laugh, scream, and cry. Don’t forget that scene by the waterfall with Xu Feng… where they first… um… yeah… and fireworks… wow. And that time she confronted Run Yu in the courtyard about his scheming, demonstrated the grape fairy turned Water Immortal had brains and courage.

ARE YOU INSANE JIN MI (and writers who wrote the show)! I’m sorry, but the whole kill your loved one thing was crazy (I know…extenuating circumstances… but really)? How do you come back from that? Oh wait, Jin Mi did come back from that and brought ALL OF US along for the crazy ride, making me forgive her for that hideous mistake long before she saved Xu Feng’s life for the 437th time. She never wielded a sword, but Jin Mi showed everyone that she had the strength to stop a war, save the six realms, and change the hearts of the men who loved her. In the end, Jin Mi went through so many changes that I almost got whiplash. But wow, what a ride. ONE OF THE BEST WRITTEN FEMALE CHARACTER IN DRAMA LAND!

Adios Jin Mi – You are an exceptional role model to aspiring grape fairies everywhere

Now Xu Feng… sigh… Xu Feng. Keep in mind that whenever I thought of Deng Lun prior to Ashes of Love, I thought… meh… no big deal. Deng Lun after Ashes of Love (especially as Demon Lord). WOW, MORE PLEASE! His character, like Jin Mi, has morphed into something fun and entertaining. He was the cocky supposed heir to the throne, moved on to tortured and repeatedly rejected lover (ahem… the unfortunate event with the knife and the hair,) then became the dark lord of the underworld.

Truth be told, my undying affection for him as the hero didn’t start until one of the scenes between him and Run Yu where he admits that his older brother is much more intelligent than he was and all he wanted in life was Jin Mi. (What-ta Man!) That is when I knew there was more to him than a pretty face and an ability to use a sword. Xu Feng (Phoenix) had depth and boy howdy, did I hate, love, hate, love his time in the demon realm.

Even before the 54th episode, I yearned for Xu Feng and Jin Mi to live happily ever so much that every episode after that made my stomach a little queasy as this show took the long twisted (terribly twisted) route to get there.

Sayonara Xu Feng… beloved Phoenix… dark demon lord… sigh Deng Lun

By definition, an anti-hero is a character that becomes sympathetic despite lousy behaviour. Some popular anti-heroes in movies: Maleficent, Loki, Mad Max and Dirty Harry. And of course now, Run Yu… I LOVED THIS CHARACTER FROM DAY ONE (that very first moment he drew his sword to stop the intruder) and my love for dear Run Yu never faded. However, it did turn into a boiling cauldron of emotions that can only be described as somewhere between love and insanity. The three leads were exceptionally well written and developed, but face it, Run Yu was the most tormented, most misunderstood, the most… most… well, most everything. By episode 43, I really hated the writers for everything they put this poor guy through (but I still loved my Run Yu… no really… like I don’t think I’ll ever stop… like ever).

Now I have said it all along that I am the captain of Team Run Yu. Please note that Team Run Yu doesn’t want Jin Mi to end up with Run Yu, we just want him to have a happy ending. Leo Luo… wow… he was fantastic, captivating, sensational, remarkable, (ok I’ll stop). Watching Run Yu with all his twists and turns, and his emotional upheaval feels like flying upside down. It’s dangerous but exciting, and you don’t want to stop. If you need just one reason to watch this show until the not-so-bitter end, it is worth the estimated 42 hours just to see Leo Luo give us Run Yu/Night Immortal/Fish Fairy… just perfection.

(Alas Run Yu… Parting is such sweet sorrow… stole that line from Shakespeare)

When I completed Ashes of Love, I gloried that every single person in the show got what they deserved in the end. Now that my time with all these colourful and entertaining characters has finished, I’ll admit that I am more than a little sad this ride is over. Just like those wonderful roller-coaster rides, it was horrid when the safety bars came up, and we were told to exit to our left. I wanted to go again and again. Just like that darn roller-coaster, it’s hard to exit Ashes of Love (please don’t make me stop… please, pretty please).

I suppose, as long as this show is on VIKI or Netflix, I can watch again and again (but not so soon… my heart can’t take it… ok, that’s a lie. I had it on last night). For those with the less intestinal fortitude to watch again and again, there are many YouTube videos about Ashes of Love showing everything from Run Yu, Jin Mi, Xu Feng and the final battle that are well made and very entertaining (especially the battle one).

For those potential and current Ashes of Love fans that suffer from the physical discomfort from such an exciting ride, I have a couple of suggested K-dramas to lighten your mood and bring down your heart rate. You Who Came from the Stars was relaxing to watch compared to Ashes (Much less heart wrenching). If you want a quick, lighthearted watch, Splash Splash Love was simply two episodes of wonderful. For those who don’t like roller-coasters… um… well, there is always Love O2O or Sweet Dreams for more easy-going C-drama watching. BUT COME ON! I DARE YOU! One little ride won’t hurt, right?

Is my life different because I watched all 63 episodes of Ashes of Love? Absolutely! I’ll never look at grapes the same again. I now find crows strangely attractive, and dragons and fishes are now my spirit animal. Will watching the show change yours? Maybe. But remember this. For your own safety, keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.

Let me know your thoughts about Ashes of Love. Were you as depressed as I was when it ended? 

Who was your favourite character? 

What are your thoughts about Team Xu Feng and Team Run Yu? 

Can we be on both? (Yet I still love Run Yu best!)

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