The Blue Whisper (2022) 与君初相识 恰似故人归
Summary: Ji Yun He (ft Dilraba Dilmurat) is a powerful and talented spirit master who grew up in the Thousand Flower Valley. She dreams of freedom to explore the world but is restrained by the secrets that shackle every spirit master who resides in the valley.
Changyi (ft Allen Ren) is a merman who was captured by the cruel Fairy Shunde (ft Cristy Guo). She wants the spirit masters of the valley to subdue the merman for her pleasure. She has three demands: The merman must speak human words, cut his tail as a gift to her, and finally give his merpearl to swear loyalty to her.
At first, Lin Hao Qing (ft Aero Xiao), Ji Yun He’s adopted brother, accepts the task, but Ji Yun He requests to join in the efforts. She plan for her freedom from the valley in exchange for Changyi’s freedom. However, as she spends more time with the innocent Chang Yi, Ji Yun He finds herself struggling more and more to proceed with her plan. She must decide whether to sacrifice Changyi’s freedom for her own.
Total Episode Count: 42
Initial Airing Date: Mar 17, 2022
Final Rating: 6.5/10
The Blue Whisper was touted as an eastern fairy tale drama that tells a story of freedom, love, and sacrifice. I thought it was a serviceable drama that had some great highlights but also some pretty bad low points. This drama is an adaptation of the 2019 novel “Yu Jiao Ji” (驭鲛记) by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang (九鹭非香). She is the same author as 苍兰决 or the drama Love Between Fairy and Devil.
At first glance, this seems to be your typical immortal romance drama, but after the first few episodes, it becomes clear that most of the characters are fighting for a greater goal. Whether that is freedom of self, freedom of oppression, or freedom to love, each character is fighting for some form of freedom. Oftentimes, romance comes second.
Ji Yun He (纪云禾) is a female character who is powerful from the get-go. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) as a character is resourceful, intelligent, ambitious and driven. She’s also compassionate and loving. To me, this is mostly shown, yes with her interactions with Chang Yi (长意), but also her spirit attendant Luo Jin Sang / Luo Luo (洛锦桑 / 洛洛). She will unflinchingly be the first to save her friends and loved ones but she doesn’t do it without thought. She fights, she plans, she schemes to try and get the best outcome for everyone. Only when all else fails does she decide to make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s been a long while since we’ve seen a female character willing to do so. I thought the end message that true freedom is ultimately having the freedom to choose who you want to be, who you want to be with, and where you want be was a really touching one.
In a twist, it is our male lead, the merman Changyi (长意), who is the innocent outsider, unaware of the evils and trickery of people and has to undergo what he believes to be betrayal and growth to finally become the leader of the north.
The special effects were pretty good in this drama. The martial arts direction was top notch. In the first few episodes, there are group battle scenes that rely on both martial arts and special effects and the blend of both in this drama was a delight to watch because we rarely get those in the TV shows these days.
Overall, I thought the drama was a decent adaptation of the source material. The biggest misses in this drama and the reasons for my low rating are where the screenwriter decided to shoehorn entire storylines and change characters altogether.
This drama aired in March 2022 and was one of the top streaming dramas of March and April. This drama also increased user downloads and daily active users onto Youku’s platform.
Ji Yun He 纪云禾 – Dilraba Dilmurat 迪丽热巴
The strongest Spirit Master in the Thousand Flower Valley, she is outwardly ambitious and calculating but deep down she’s a caring and compassionate. She meets the innocent merman Changyi (长意) during one of her missions. She is touched by his innocence and the two gradually fall in love. However, seeing no other option to save his life, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) pretends to betray Changyi (长意) while she get’s captured. In her efforts to gain her freedom both from the Frost Mark in the Thousand Flower Valley and from the Fairy ShunDe, she endures humiliation and torture from her captors. Throughout the series, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) fights for freedom and equality for all of the celestial beings against the repressive regime of the Immortal Master.
Changyi 长意 – Allen Ren 任嘉伦
A Prince of the merpeople, Changyi (长意) was captured by Fairy Shunde when he rescued her in the ocean. He was sent to the Thousand Flower Valley for the spirit masters to subdue him to be a loyal servant for the Fairy. His innocence to the ways of the world moved Ji Yun He (纪云禾) who vowed to free him from his captivity. However, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) could only succeed by sacrificing herself and pushing Changyi (长意) off a cliff. Believing that he was betrayed, Changyi (长意) vows vengeance against Ji Yun He (纪云禾). He, along with Kong Ming, head north were Changyi (长意) becomes the leader of the north. He rescues a frail Ji Yun He (纪云禾) from captivity, but it’s too late to save her
Fairy Shunde 顺德仙姬 – Cristy Guo 郭晓婷
She is the most noble immortal in the the realms. She is arrogant, haughty, and cruel. As ruler, she gets whatever she wants but she only wants the love of her master, the Immortal Master. Discontent brews under her oppressive rule until finally a faction in the north rebels against her. After becoming disfigured from a fight against Ji Yun He (纪云禾), she seeks vengeance against all who wronged her. She finally discovers the truth of her master’s favoritism towards her, but this pushes her to the brink of madness and she vows to destroy the world.
Lin Hao Qing 林昊青 – Aero Xiao 肖顺尧
The Young Master of Thousand Flower Valley and Ji Yun He’s adopted brother, he always competed against Ji Yun He (纪云禾). Like Yun He, he’s outwardly calculating, cold, and ambitious but he’s always tried his best to protect Yun He from the worst of the world. He hid his love for Ji Yun He (纪云禾) throughout his life and sacrificed himself to be a pawn for Fairy Shunde so that Ji Yun He (纪云禾) and Changyi (长意) might have a chance to finally defeat her
Xue San Yue 雪三月 – Fiona Fan 范桢
A spirit master, she is Ji Yun He’s best sister-in-arms. She seems at first stern and distant. She harbors a secret. She is in love with the cat spirit Li Shu (离殊). She tries to flee with Li Shu (离殊) with the help of Ji Yun He (纪云禾) but Li Shu (离殊) has different plans.
Li Shu 离殊 – Ci Sha 此沙
A cat spirit who is Xue san Yue (雪三月)’s spirit attendant and lover. At first, he targeted Xue San Yue (雪三月) to enter into the Thousand Flower Valley in order to save the Blue Feather Bird, who had once saved him in his youth. However, he truly fell in love with Xue San Yue (雪三月) and willingly sacrificed himself to protect her
Luo Jin Sang / Luo Luo 洛锦桑 – Hu Yi Xuan 胡意旋
A butterfly spirit who is Ji Yun He’s spirit attendant. She is Ji Yun He (纪云禾)’s only friend an confidant, who in the beginning, was only thinking about earning spirit stones to buy goodies to eat. When Ji Yun He (纪云禾) is held captive by Fairy ShunDe, Luo Luo does everything she can to try and free her friend.
Kong Ming 空明 – Wang Zi Teng 王子腾
A wandering immortal with a talent for medicine, he saves Changyi (长意) after he falls off the cliff. Wanting to overthrow the repressive regime, he persuades Changyi (长意) to head north and join the Fox spirits in the north to form a rebellion.
Blue Feather Bird 青羽鸾鸟 – Tong Lei 童蕾
Played by 徐海乔 – An ancient and powerful bird spirit, she was wrongfully imprisoned for one thousand years. After she was saved by Li Shu (离殊), she decided to seclude herself from worldly affairs. However, after seeing the suffering of the world and a stern lecture from Luo Luo (洛洛), she finally agrees to support the northern rebels to overthrow the cruel ShunDe (顺德仙姬).
For this drama review, I’ll try my best to keep to the Youtube translations so as not to confuse readers. This will be a recap of the first 14 episodes. The drama itself is split into 2 parts, the first 22 episodes are 与君初相识 which translates to “When I First Met You” and the second 20 episodes are called 恰似故人归 or “It’s as though someone familiar has returned”.
In the beginning of time, there were two clans. The Celestial Immortals maintained order while the Earth Immortals often broke order. The Celestial immortals created a group of spirit masters to moralize and subdue the earth immortals or “spirits”. The Celestial Immortals are not allowed to fall in love with the earth immortals.
The members of spirit masters (御灵师) reside within 万花谷 or the Thousand Flower Valley. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) is a very talented spirit master, rising to the rank of guardian, but she secretly longs for freedom away from the Valley. She is in constant competition against her adoptive brother Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) for the top post in the Valley. The Master of the Valley, who is Lin Hao Qing (林昊青)’s father, keeps a tight leash on all the spirit masters in the valley with a secret mark called the Frost Mark. Any who dares to defy the Master will suffer the effects of the Frost Mark and ultimately die.
One day, the Fairy Shunde (顺德仙姬) arrives at the valley with a gift or a task. She has captured a rare merman and orders the spirit masters to subdue the merman and complete three tasks.
1. He must speak human words
2. He will cut his tail as a gift to her
3. He will give his spirit pearl and swear loyalty to her
At first this task is given to Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) but Ji Yun He (纪云禾) also volunteers. The two agree that it’ll be a competition on who succeeds first. In the next few days, Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) uses force whereas Ji Yun He (纪云禾) tries to gain his favor by becoming friends with him or “training heart”. Ji Yun He (纪云禾)’s initial plan was to fulfill the Fairy’s request and then finally leave the valley onto freedom with her spirit attendant Luo Luo (洛洛), a butterfly spirit.
Over the course of their interactions, Changyi (长意), at first suspicious, can tell that Ji Yun He (纪云禾) means no harm. Changyi (长意) finally says her name, thus fulfilling the first task. Ji Yun He (纪云禾), becomes racked with guilt as she continues on with her deception towards the innocent and kind Changyi (长意).
Xue San Yue (雪三月), a fellow spirit guardian returns with her spirit attendant, the cat spirit Li Shu (离殊). Xue San Yue (雪三月) and Ji Yun He (纪云禾) quickly become allies once they believe that each of them know each other’s secret, namely that they both fell in love with a spirit. This was true for Xue San Yue (雪三月) at that time and Ji Yun He (纪云禾) was beginning to fall in love with Changyi (长意).
Li Shu (离殊) also harbors a secret. He secretly became Xue San Yue (雪三月)’s spirit attendant in order to make his way to the Thousand Flower Valley and break the Ten Directions Formations that was imprisoning the powerful Blue Feather Bird. She had once rescued him when he was young and came to repay his debt. In doing so however, he was greatly weakened and sacrificed himself to protect Xue San Yue (雪三月).
Changyi (长意) and Ji Yun He (纪云禾) get accidently pulled into the broken formation. There, they meet a residual spirit of the Blue Feather Bird. Changyi (长意) believes that they should tell the spirit the truth, that the man she was waiting for died a thousand years ago. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) though believes that lies are more helpful in this situation. But after seeing the resolution of the spirit, she changes her mind. She now knows that seeking to be free from the valley wasn’t real freedom. She wants the choice to be free with whoever she wants. They declare their love for each other and promise to never part as they leave the formation. Changyi (长意) gives Ji Yun He (纪云禾) his spirit pearl. Thus, the third task cannot be completed.
Back in the valley, the two are captured. As punishment, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) is forced to suffer the full effects of the Frost Mark. Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) gives Changyi (长意) an ultimatum. If he doesn’t cut his tail, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) will die. With no other choice, he does so. Task two is complete.
Upon hearing this, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) is at first furious at Lin Hao Qin but shortly after understands that he was pressured by his father to do so. The two decide to form an alliance to help Ji Yun He (纪云禾) and Chang Yi escape and kill the current Master of the Valley. Unbeknownst to them, the Master of the Valley was always aware of their plan. Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) though could not go through with the plan. Heartened by this, the Master of the Valley reveals the truth, that he too suffers from the Frost Mark and dies due to his wounds from his mark. This was always a mark to enslave the spirit masters from the Immortal Master.
Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) becomes the new master and receives the Fairy Shunde (顺德仙姬) who comes to retrieve Changyi (长意) to bring him as a present to her master and witness the presentation of Changyi (长意) ’s spirit pearl. Ji Yun He (纪云禾), seeing this, cannot bear to have Changyi (长意) further imprisoned. She devises a plan with Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) to free Changyi (长意) on the road to the Immortal Master in which she will sacrifice herself to ensure Changyi (长意)’s freedom. The two spend one last carefree night in the mortal realm and make promises to never part. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) prepares her goodbyes and free’s Luo Luo (洛洛) from her service.
The bliss lasts for only a few hours and the two are surrounded by Shunde (顺德仙姬)’s guards. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) and Changyi (长意) flee to a cliff. Ji Yun He (纪云禾) declares to him that she never loved him, that she was only lying to gain power with the Fairy. In a final blow, she stabs him and pushes him off the cliff.
In probably the most badass scene in the drama, Ji Yun He (纪云禾) turns around to face Shunde (顺德仙姬) and her guards. She stands her ground against the group and makes a final stand. However, she is overpowered by the group and kneels on the ground succumbing to her injuries. But, in a surprise, she leaps back up, now not as a celestial immortal but as a fox creature with nine tales! This new powerful Ji Yun He (纪云禾) successfully fends off Fairy Shunde (顺德仙姬) is about to deal a killing blow until the Immortal Master finally steps in to save the Fairy and capture Ji Yun He (纪云禾).
That’s the general recap for the first 14 episodes. The story continues with Ji Yun He (纪云禾)’s imprisonment, Changyi (长意)’s rise to power as the leader of the north, and their reconciliation and final defeat of Fairy Shun De.
As I mentioned up above, I thought this was a serviceable drama.
The drama was at its best when it closely followed the source material. The first 14 episodes, which culminates in a climax where Ji Yun He (纪云禾) valiantly protects Changyi (长意) and ultimately transforms into a half fairy half spirit creature was probably the best in the drama. Weibo went crazy over her transformation scene in episode 14. The second half, when it does stick close to or expanded the source material, the drama definitely worked.
I thought the ladies really stole the show in this drama. I really enjoyed the different individual female storylines (except one). Each had their own motivations, their own path, and growth. It was refreshing to see platonic female relationships. The friendships were touching, and we saw each of them support each other unconditionally. The guys on the other hand, were overall a bit weaker.
迪丽热巴 Dilraba really embodied the character of Ji Yun He (纪云禾). We saw how easily she could manipulate characters but we also saw how she struggled with the guilt of deceiving Changyi (长意). She was a complex character who learned over the course of the show that she found freedom by choosing to do what she wanted and what she wanted was freedom for everyone. In the second half of the drama, the character of Ji Yun He (纪云禾) falls severely ill due to her long periods of torture and confinement from Fairy Shun de. To prep for the role, Dilraba 迪丽热巴 lost a bunch of weight to the point where the casual viewer actually thought she was sick. We believed that she was about to break so that when she did, it fit her character. I remember weibo going crazy to prepare for her first death because this happened in the books but everyone still cried a bunch of tears when she died.
I also really enjoyed Guo Xiao Ting’s portrayal of Fairy Shun De (顺德仙姬). She truly portrayed the unhinged fairy with aplomb. I despised her and her cruelty towards others but as we saw more of her story, I pitied her. Guo Xiao Ting also had to act completely differently as the master of the Immortal Master Ning Xi Yu and the difference between the two portrayals is jarring, which just shows the range that Guo Xiao Ting has.
I thought Allen only an okay job here in this drama portraying the at first innocent and sweet Changyi (长意)to the stern yet still caring ruler of the north in the second half of the drama. I don’t think his performance here lives up to some of his other period dramas. It might just be me but he seems to be always scowling in the second half, which yes, is what he was supposed to do but being cold doesn’t mean scowl all the time. This is the first collaboration between 迪丽热巴 (Dilraba Dilmurat) and 任嘉伦 (Allen Ren) and I thought they paired up well enough with each other.
Lin Hao Qing (林昊青)’s actor Aero Xiao (肖顺尧) was the standout for the actors for me. He truly brought life to the character. In the book, he was more one-dimensional and didn’t have a starring role. In this drama, we really see the struggle that Lin Hao Qing faced with regards to duty to his father, his love for Ji Yun He (纪云禾), his duty to the spirit masters, and even his spirit attendant. The actor portrayed Lin Hao Qing (林昊青)’s pains, struggles, and hopes very well. I just hope you guys don’t google some of his cooking videos, they’re absolutely hilarious.
This drama is the second collaboration between Dilraba 迪丽热巴 and the director Chu Yui Pan (朱锐斌). Funnily enough, they discussed this role while the two were still filming 长歌行 or The Long Ballad. Dilraba 迪丽热巴 just happened to be reading the book when she was talking to the director who said that it was his next project, which led to this second collaboration. I personally prefer the story of The Long Ballad to this one but I think the director was able to showcase more of the actors’ strengths here. The CGI and group acting was better in this drama.
Ok – with all of the pros, why did I give this drama such a low score? Well, because the lows are unfortunately quite low.
After episode 14, the writers decide to drag out episodes with the superfluous storyline of Changyi (长意) and Kong Ming (空明) heading to the north to meet the Fox Clan. The whole Fox Clan plot wasn’t in the book at all and the characters were all idiotic. There was a meme floating around saying that these must be the not so intelligent foxes because boy, were they annoying. There was also a randomly inserted female character who fell in love with Changyi (长意)but thankfully he never showed any sign of interest. Why include her if she ultimately didn’t matter? That is like a whole 1.5 deduction because it was very pointless.
The next big ding is the character of Kong Ming (空明). In the book, he is a handsome and distant monk! Now the whole monk character had to be changed because of censorship but I’m sorry, there is a lot to be desired from the actor for Kong Ming (空明). I would have found it more ok but Kong Ming (空明) as a character was also SO annoying and I thought acted out rather poorly. I remember everyone online saying – Luo Luo (洛洛), can you please just ditch him because he is so not worth it, which I agree with.
The OST is also just meh – nothing to write home about.
The screenwriters did make some good adjustments with the adaptation, such as including Blue Feather Bird throughout the drama, giving Lin Hao Qing (林昊青) more scenes, and giving Shunde (顺德仙姬) more of a backstory, but some of the other decisions were baffling. They cut 5-6 episodes worth of content in which Changyi (长意) brings Ji Yun He (纪云禾) to the ocean in order to save her after she saves him from the lava as A Ji. Xue San Yue (雪三月) and Li Shu (离殊)’s storyline was kind of meandering towards the end. This brings us to the most egregious example, which is the ending! What was the ending? I won’t spoil it right here but if you literally need another cartoon scene to explain to the viewer the actual ending, then you know that the ending was terrible.
Overall – if you’re looking for a decent fantasy drama with good acting, cgi, and want to shed some tears, then The Blue Whisper is the one for you. Definitely watch up to episode 14. Just skip some of the pointless storylines in the middle.