I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Ever Night may not be the best drama evah but it has very solid good points.
Firstly it’s a well made adaptation that manages to condence the original text into something that works. This is where many of the cdrama adaptations fail rather miserably. Like, Tribes and Empires was visually stunning but almost everything else… sigh. Ever Night doesn’t fall into that trap but rather is able to use the equally stunning visuals to support the story. I’m pretty sure that large part of my enjoyment actually stems from the cinematography and OST. There wasn’t even one episode where I didn’t go ” Ah, so, SO gorgeous!” or “How lovely!”. The aesthetics just made me ever so happy. It wasn’t just the scenery but how they shot the sets, surroundings, people, even daily utensils and of course the fight scenes were really well done too. I also loved the costuming. Lot of it is simple but stylish and even the more opulent costumes never cross into the garish, untasteful side. My eyes were truly blessed. Same with the music, it’s well selected and used. There isn’t even one song that I felt was used in excess or overly enhanced to make a point. Drama lets the events speak for themselves. I always applaud when TPTB don’t underestimate the intelligence of the viewers. If you present the story well enough, no gimmics or heavy underlining of scenes needed. We’ll still get it. Also, for once CGI looks very professional instead of resembling something made with a budget of about 5$.^^ Guess this production had it’s priorities right and they put the money where it matters.
Ever Night isn’t trying to dazzle us with something brand new. I don’t think it has to either. Give me a good yarn and I’m happy. Basically this is a hero’s journey, a quest, maybe even a growth story. Sprinkled with some revenge, action and “magic”. And cultivation, lots of cultivation. 😛 I wasn’t immediately captived by Ever Night to begin with, it took couple of episodes to get fully on board. That I’ve always liked fantasy as a genre is quite possibly one reason I got hooked in the end. So much so that I started reading the web novel the drama is based on too and read almost all of the translated chapters in one sitting, ha. The novel is rather meandering and awfully wordy. There are pages and pages of rambling text about the wonders of calligraphy, importance of cultivation techinques etc. Yup, I skipped a lot of that. 😀 Thankfully Drama only took the key parts and anything that is relevant to the story and left the excess on the pages of the novel. As far as I can tell Drama is quite faithful to the novel but the script also differs somewhat in places, which is ok and you probably won’t even notice if you haven’t read the novel. They do give a bit too much screentime to characters who originally didn’t have much importance. I just didn’t find them or what they were up to particularly interesting, so I tended to FF through their parts. The leads, Ning Que and Sang Sang are somewhat different too, but I think it perhaps works better this way in the drama. Novel Ning Que is colder and more calculating, maybe more… bloodthirsty. Novel Sang Sang is less lively and more of a strategist, whenever she bothers to use her brain. Yes, Drama decidedly made both softer, more lovable even. I have no qualms with that. The novel is loooooong, still ongoing and there is lot of ground to cover, so for once I feel that 60 episodes is quite merited. Even with the epi count Drama never lost me, uninteresting characters notwithsanding. I didn’t find it particularly slow either. Some of my most favorite parts are those that have a calmer flow, filled with ordinary everyday life.
Ever Night does have female characters who are quite capable of taking care of their own business and doing what needs to be done. Sang Sang certainly is important too, but foremost this is Ning Que’s story. He IS the protagonist, so anyone who has problems with that should just give Drama a pass. The original novel also isn’t romance centric at all. Contrary to how it may seem in the drama at times, or how the hard core shippers are wont to see things, Ning Que and Sang Sang’s relationship is not very romantic at it’s core. What they have is deeper than any romantic love, it’s an unbreakble bond forged during harsh years together. Nothing in their lives has been easy or easily achieved. They survived because they had each other. You could say that they are each other’s destiny, neither would live without the other. They belong together, as simple as that. Be it fate or what ever, neither give much heed to things like that. It is true that Ning Que initially took Sang Sang a bit too much for granted. He even developed a youthfull crush on someone else, which is quite in line with the character. The lady would have been a good match too. A good person, intelligent and exceptional in her own way. Eventually it didn’t take much for Ning Que to realise, that he’d always choose Sang Sang over anyone else. Just liking someone is not enough to get past that. There are several characters I like but I’m especially fond of all the Fuzi’s (headmaster of the Academy) disciples, the Brothers and Sisters in the Academy Back Mountain and how much of a family they become to Ning Que, who lost his own when very young. He is an unruly, mischivous scamp but still the much beloved Youngest Brother. Which is why I always liked it when the ‘action’ moved to the Academy. So many woderfully warm scenes. I also loved the relationship Ning Que had with his other chifu, the talisman master Yan Se. He really became a father like figure to Ning Que.
Acting… well, I’d say it’s pretty decent over all and there are many solid actors, especially those of the elder generation, who just fill up their roles. Some make their mark even though their parts aren’t particularly prominent. I don’t think it’s easy to forget Andy On’s Chao Xiaoshu in a hurry. 🙂 Chen Zhen’s Li Manman, the Senior Brother is perhaps my fave supporting character. Gosh, I just love his warm presence.^^ Of course, not everyone is equally good. E.g Sun Zujun as Long Quing is rather wooden (and ever so boring), but that could be just the character, as he becomes more animated with Long Quing’s fall from grace. Our lead, Chen Feiyu (Ning Que) is very green indeed but his boyish charm and certain kind of earnestness make up for quite a lot and fit the character perfectly. He is also really good in the fight scenes. I don’t think he is a particularly bad actor, but just young (17yrs) and inexperienced. I’ve seen worse and some of them established actors too. His acting also started improving once he got more comfortable with the role. But yeah, boy has a way to go still. That said, Chen Feiyu is now so firmly imprinted as Ning Que in my mind, that it’ll be kinda hard seeing anyone else playing that part. Pity TPTB dwadled too long and lost the chance to sign him up for the second season. Song Yiren (Sang Sang) is equally green but she feels more experienced and her acting is quite natural. Her actually being the older one of the pair may have some bearing to it. The leads have a very comfortable and natural chemistry that made it seem like they’ve really been together for years.
Drama ended pretty much where and when most people expected. That was a natural cut off point as in the novel it’s very near to the end of the first story arc. I just wish they’d gone a little bit further on with it, to the actual ending. I’m not very fond of dramatic cliff hangers at the end of a season. The last shot though. I’m wondering if TPTB are going to give Long Qing a more prominent part going forward with the story. Not sure how I feel about that.