51 seconds into watching Drowning Sorrows in Raging Fire (Lie Huo Jiao Chou) and I already had a favourite character. The anime had not even properly started yet. I was still in the intro and one character came up and that was it. I knew, no matter his personality, voice, role, he would be the character I focused on. Thankfully, it was a good call, he is one of the main characters. This means I shall get a lot of information about him.
- Lighting: Dark
- Pacing: Well done and cliffhangers should be illegal.
- Characters: Interesting and mostly pretty and diverse in personality.
- Action: This is not about that – but could use some work.
- Animation: An example of good CGI.
- Sound: Compelling and believable plus the intro and outro are ones I listen to without fail, every episode.
I have given quick impressions for each of the 5 episodes while keeping it as spoiler-free as possible.
A solid first episode. We get our character introductions, character relations, scene and tone-setting without spoiling and minor world-building. Plus we get a decent cliffhanger. Unlike typical donghua (Chinese anime) based on humans and supernatural beings, they coexist rather peacefully in this world. Humans and supernaturals have stopped warring against each other and have found peace. Xuan Ji, our main character, starts his first day at work at the “National Anomaly Prevention and Control and Special Species Management Office”. There he meets a suspicious person, Sheng Lingyuan.
Xuan Ji and Sheng Lingyuan have a little ‘disagreement’ in their views and a dangerous plot is revealed. I really enjoyed the conversation between these two. There was genuine amusement, advice, discussion, distrust and a sprinkling of manipulation. I also enjoyed the smugness that could be felt from Sheng Lingyuan as he patiently waits for midnight. The resulting chaos and overall cliffhanger were so good to watch.
A big plot twist is revealed and shows that the characters are not perfect and will get things wrong. They will suffer losses and that there will be consequences for it. This episode also proved that the main cast is not infallible and do make errors. It also showed us that there is corruption going on and gives a hint that the plot is going to take a turn and provide us with depth. Plus, we are shown a surprising side and an unexpected action from Sheng Lingyuan. This unexpected move made me even more invested in a character I have already admitted to being obsessed with. Once again, the cliffhanger was brilliantly frustrating.
Xuan Ji wakes up in the hospital and can’t stop wondering about Sheng Lingyuan and the decision he had made. It is revealed how the murderer chose and got close to their victims – which also leads to questions about the surviving kid. This, in turn, leads to revelations about the butterflies. Xuan Ji also comes to learn about a link he now has with Sheng Lingyuan. He attempts to break the link, resulting in him being pulled into a portal along with Sheng Lingyuan. We still know relatively nothing about Sheng Lingyuan and Xuan Ji but we are starting to get more information about them.
The source of the butterflies is revealed and Sheng Lingyuan gets some of his memory back. He reveals that he has killed over four thousand people. However, the tone and setting of the reveal tell me that there is a lot more going on than what we can see. Plus, the reveal of the corruption feels like they are leading up to something much more involved. I love the hint at the bond that will develop between our main two characters.
Will I continue to watch Lie Huo Jiao Chou and do I have any expectations?
Yes to both. Story, character and relationship development. I also expect another season since this one is slated to only have twelve episodes.
Since this is an adaptation of a well put together novel, the characterisation does not suffer. Every character has their place, has their personality and style, relationships, thoughts and priorities and goals. They do not overshadow nor under-deliver with their purpose. Each moves the story along to the next point. This aspect helps with the pacing. Pacing can make or break a series. I seriously hope that this continues all the way through all of the episodes.
With the pacing done really well, the cliffhangers were amazingly executed. This is made to be watched weekly, as intended with its release but will still hold up well with a binge-watch. I personally will be along for the ride for the next seven weeks and then once all twelve episodes are complete, I shall then indulge in a binge session.
I know it is unlikely, but I hope that we get some really romantic moments between the main pair and not just ‘read between the lines’ scenes. I also hope we get more scenes that are brighter in colouring and not so many dark scenes.
What are your current impressions of Drowning Sorrows in Raging Fire?
I shared the intro and outro songs on my socials, I have shared them below from Twitter and Instagram below.