This story is dedicated to a lifelong and dear friend of mine, as well as the co-writer of this story, Carolina. Thank you for being the inspiration behind this story and for throwing me into the depths of writing hell.
My music taste is fairly eclectic within its genre, in that I enjoy all kinds of instrumental music from the slow, piano pieces to the hard and fast epic tunes. In the mix lies a great number of Asian music, particularly those that feature ancient or traditional instruments.
I adore the sounds of traditional Asian instruments, from the guzheng to the erhu. I truly believe these instruments have a sound unlike any other on Earth. This kind of music can put me in a trance within seconds.
For this reason, I planned to do an Asian-inspired story since before I even started the show. However, I kept putting it off, because I wanted to make sure I had sufficient time to do research on Eastern Asian culture.
Not only did I want to research the culture, but I wanted to find music that would cover different countries of East Asia. I ended up primarily using Chinese and Japanese inspired music. I did, however, manage to get a Taiwanese folk song of the Puyuma Tribe, which I was very proud to have on the playlist, as well as excited to have found some new fascinating music.
When I got the music all down, I was ready to write… and then I wasn’t. I could not figure out what I wanted to do with this story. I juggled so many different ideas. I started with a story inspired by the Vietnamese version of Cinderella, and I ended with a story about a Kasa-obake, a Japanese umbrella monster. I hated all of it.
So, in desperation, I went to the one person I knew could help: my amazing friend, Carolina. Carolina is Vietnamese, and through our friendship, we’ve been able to learn a lot about our different cultures. Since I knew I wanted this story to be written well, I knew I needed her guidance.
Knowing my show is all about the fantasy genre, she knew exactly what I needed, and she threw me into the world of Wuxia.
Wuxia is a Chinese novel that tells the tale of regular humans who can fight with supernatural abilities through Chinese martial art training and internal energy cultivation. My story is based more on “Xianxia” which has more high fantasy elements like magic, demons, immortals, and folklore.
At first, it seemed like a fantastic idea. It’s exactly the inspiration I needed, but then, I realized there is a lot more to this genre than I expected. To be frank, for a person who knows nothing about the genre, it can seem extremely complicated, and this is why this story is, without a doubt, the most difficult story I’ve written for my show.
It is now where I’d like to give a massive shoutout to Wuxia World and their gallery for helping me write this story and make sense of the genre.
I wanted to be as true to the genre as possible, so I delved deep into the world, and Carolina was right there with me. She answered every question, found me every resource, sent me every video, and explained every concept. If it weren’t for her, this story would not exist.
We also got to do some improv for this story. We played the two eldery alchemy twins, and we had so much fun doing it. Knowing the relationship the twins had, they reminded me of Lo and Li from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and so I named the alchemy twins after them.
After we outlined the story together, I was ready to write the story, but I was very nervous. I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I threw my all into it. Every little bit of research I had done came into play, and I can honestly say, I am extremely proud of how the story turned out.
A little fun fact is that the name of the isle, Buxiu, means immortal in traditional Chinese. (At least, according to Google translate.)
Another fun fact comes again from the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, but this time, from The Legend of Korra. I used one of my favorite quotes from the show in my story. It is Tenzin who says, “Admitting your fears is the first and most difficult step in overcoming them.”
This story certainly speaks about the philosophy behind immortality and why one may pursuit it, but I think there is an underlying, and far more important, message. It is that of mental health.
By the end of the story, you have this all powerful immortal guardian who is being defeated by this old man, and she’s literally crumbling. And it’s in this moment where you may think, “Well, I can’t do anything. I’m just a mortal. I’m useless and worthless.”
However, you are not. You’re anything but. You just have a different kind of power than these cultivators do.
We all have a person we look up to, as you do with Yun in this story, but even that person has moments where they break down, where they go through situations they cannot handle on their own.
Just because you see them as higher than you for some reason, it doesn’t mean you can’t help them. They need you when they’re down, becuase you have something to offer they can’t offer themselves: support, love, confidence, and empowerment.
Those are powerful qualities, and that person needs them. You can be the one to give it to them.
Yun is supposed to be your guardian, but she goes down, and she needs some help to get back up again.
I think it’s important to understand that everyone is battling something all the time, and we can’t all just assume that the people we look up to are super human. They may be super, but they’re still human.
Yun tells you to leave the isle not because she doesn’t want you there, but because healing and self-discovery is also a process one has to go through on their own. You can be a support system, but it inevitably falls on the person to heal in their own time and in their own way.
This story pushed me to the edge, but I came out so much stronger as a writer. I am grateful to the experience I had writing it, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I.
Next week is officially my last week of college. So it is my last show of The Fantasy Realm, and my finale challenged me in a completely different way.