ORLA DARBY

A Collection of Things

that inspire and interest me

The Untamed – Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation – Chén Qíng Lìng


The Untamed is a live action-drama adaption of a Danmei novel by the Chinese author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, entitled Mo Dao Zu Shi. The drama was released in 2019 on Tencent and then released on Amazon and Netflix. It became massively popular worldwide. It follows the adventures of two young men who live in the Jianghu. Their relationship in the novel is a romantic one, but due to Chinese censorship, this romance is played down, though the story stays fairly true to the novel. They face war, betrayal, redemption, resurrection and reunion, and deals with how their relationship survived all the trials they went through.


The story takes place in the period of Sung and Tang dynasty China. It is a Wuxia tale, which is set in the world of martial heroes. Wuxia features the supernatural, like ghosts and demons, but is still in the mortal realm, while Xianxia is set within the heavenly realm.


This drama became so popular in China that it led to more BL dramas (Boy Love), but the Chinese government clamped down on it so there will be no more for a while. However, it’s popularity led to an animation, a Manhua (Chinese version of Manga) and the novels being translated into English by Seven Seas Publishing. There is also a mobile game in the works.


When my Mum first showed me this drama, I was not interested at all, so she nagged me and eventually we watched it together, we both loved it. From that grew my interest in the Wuxia and Xianxia genres, and we both became hooked on Chinese and Korean dramas that feature mythology and similar themes. I sought out the other stories written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, ‘The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System’ and ‘Heavens Official’s Blessing’, and fell in love again twice over. Before I knew it, they had all started to influence my artwork and my story writing.

Favourite Books

Fantasy stories have always resonated strongly with me. Reality is often harsh and painful, and escapism is something I often crave. With fantasy stories I can lose myself in a world that is completely different to my own, where the impossible and impractical become entirely reasonable. Another reason I enjoy stories so much is because, even if the journey is dark, twisted and painful, you can almost always guarantee a happy or satisfactory ending. Reality offers no such reassurances.

Best Comics

I grew up with a passion for stories and art. Comics became the obsession they did because they were a perfect combination of the two. I enjoyed Lumberjanes because of the light-hearted narrative, the mystery, and the LGBTQ+ themes. I loved the Harley Quinn comics for its anarchy, non-conformity and its gratuitous yet comical violence, because there are many times in life where I wished I could solve my problems by hitting someone with a large hammer. My love for the Green Lantern characters originated from Green Lantern the Animated Series, which then developed into my love of the comics, the Red Lanterns specifically; where the Green Lanterns stood for Justice and bravery, the Red stand for retribution. Two sides of the same coin of fighting against injustice.

Film

I liked Into the Spiderverse because it was a comic book brought to life, literally. It was animated in the style of a comic book, and since it was based on a Multiverse theme, it used the art styles of various types of comic books for the different characters: Manga, cartoon, black and white etc. You don’t normally see these different art styles working in tandem, and they did it so well. I loved the film for its fascinating visual composition as much as I did for its story and plot.

Music

My taste in music is very eclectic, so it’s hard for me to narrow my favourites down to a specific artist or genre. One artist does stand out significantly from the others, however. Ado is a Japanese artist whose voice and music stands out in my memory. I might not be able to speak the language, but in most cases the message and meaning of the songs have been able to transcend the language barrier. Ussewaa spoke to my inner frustration & rage with the society we live in, and the corporate world I often feel trapped by. Odo is about fighting and not giving up and inspires me to persevere and keep fighting.

A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains – Wang Ximeng