Random Thoughts on Nirvana in Fire 2

When the sequel of Nirvana in Fire was first announced with Huang Xiaoming, I was disappointed in Daylight Entertainment for selecting an actor who's known for his overacting. I didn't even bother checking any info on the drama until its release this past December. It was only when I learned that Huang Xiaoming was cast as a "special"leading actor, meaning he's not the true male protagonist of the sequel, that I decided to read more about it and watch a few fanmade music videos of the main couple. It was a path of no return for me when I saw how stunning the visuals were in these fanmade videos. I became obsessed.

This sequel is also written by the original writer/creator, Hai Yan, who actually began writing a sequel to her original work before the success of Nirvana in Fire. The true male protagonist in the sequel is actually the 20-year old actor, Liu Haoran, who plays Xiao Pingjing, and not Huang Xiaoming's Xiao Pingzhang. Since the Nirvana in Fire 2 takes place 40 to 50 years after Nirvana in Fire, many of the beloved characters from the original are only briefly mentioned in Nirvana in Fire 2.

Sequels tend to disappoint and rarely do they surpass the original. Surprisingly, Nirvana in Fire 2 didn't disappoint and is really quite captivating if you just watch the drama without prior preconception. In fact, I feel more for the characters in Nirvana in Fire 2 than I ever did for Mei Changsu in Nirvana in Fire. The true protagonist of Nirvana in Fire 2 is Xiao Pingjing who seems to be the untold successor of young Lin Shu in the original Nirvana in Fire. I feel like Hai Yan penned the second installation to tell the story of Lin Shu if he hadn't transformed into Mei Changsu but continued his political life in the capital city as a young general. Xiao Pingjing is probably the last remaining blood descendant of Lin Shu/Mei Changsu's family. Xiao Pingjing's great grandmother was Lin Shu's paternal aunt.

If Nirvana in Fire is a revenge story of Mei Changsu/Lin Shu, Nirvana in Fire 2 is a growing up story of a carefree and privileged young man whose world turns upside down when his older brother dies.  The first half of the drama chronicles Xiao Pingjing's lack of interest in politics and in following his family military tradition. He takes a keen interest in living a swordman's life away from political intrigue. The latter half shows his transition into an ingenious military commander and ends up accomplishing more than what his father and brother ever hoped for.

Compared to the original whose romance content was probably hovering around 5% of the story content, the romance in Nirvana in Fire 2 isn't much much greater but an vast improvement to the original. Don't expect a full-blown out romantic story like Three Lives Three Worlds to unfold in Nirvana in Fire 2. The main pairing in Nirvana in Fire 2 is starred by two movie actors, Liu Haorang as Xiao Pingjing and Zhang Huiwen as Lin Xi. The love story between Xiao Pingjing and Lin Xi is only the icing on the cake and you will only get a taste of their romantic chemistry sporadically throughout the 50-episode drama.

Despite the small amount of screen time dedicated to our main couple, Chinese netizens absolutely adore this pairing. They exude an innocence and sweetness onscreen that I haven't seen for awhile in Chinese period dramas. There is rarely any physical display of affection. The most affectionate gesture you will see between Xiao Pingjing and Lin Xi is probably a friendly hug. Nonetheless, I couldn't help myself but root for this young pair.

Daylight Entertainment continues its stunning cinematography and offers breathtaking visual in its production. The details are perceptible in just these few shots. The cast and crew traveled to many remote destinations across China to offer us some really amazing backdrops and sets. Some scenes also required the entire team to hike up a mountain to film.

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