Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) Vol. 1 Manhua Review - An Intriguing Blend of Martial Arts And Mystery

An Intriguing Blend of Martial Arts And Mystery
  • Mangaka : Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (Story); Luo Di Cheng Qiu (Art)
  • Publisher : Seven Seas
  • Genre : Action, Fantasy, Historical, Shounen Ai
  • Published : March 2023

Before this series received its official English translation, the original novel of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation had actually garnered quite a lot of buzz and loyal fans all around the world. Not only that, this series also has a highly popular animated series, along with an equally successful live action adaptation. And now, we finally get the chance to enjoy it in the form of a manhua. So this is our review of the first volume of the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation.

Contains Spoilers

Discussion Time

Mo Xuanyu has had enough with this world. His life has been filled with nothing but suffering, grief, and pain. That being said, before he leaves this earth, he needs to make sure that his greatest wish will come true. But Xuanyu realizes that there’s no way for him to fulfill that dream, so he decides to do the next best thing, sacrificing his life and his soul in order to summon “The most nefarious of malicious ghosts”, the grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, Wei Wuxian.

The next time Xuanyu opens his eyes, his soul and his consciousness are no longer there. His body is still alive and well, but what’s inside is no longer its original inhabitant. The soul of Wei Wuxian has come back from the depths of hell and now resides within Mo Xuanyu’s body. During his life, Wei Wuxian was known as the most powerful cultivator and had invented all kinds of devices and techniques that changed the world forever. But he was also known as the most evil man who ever walked the earth.

As it turns out, though, the Wei Wuxian who’s currently using Xuanyu’s body is entirely different from the legend. Instead of a bloodthirsty monster, the newly reborn Wuxian is a loudmouthed and easy-going man who loves to annoy others. Wuxian knows that he is there in order to fulfill Xuanyu’s last wish, but there is a simple problem. Xuanyu forgot to mention the content of his wish. So now, the legendary Wei Wuxian is stuck in the body of a stranger and is forced to live in a world that considers him as the greatest enemy of mankind.

Why You Should Read Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation)

1. A Perfect Mix of Historical, Martial Arts, Supernatural, and Mystery

The story of the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation takes place in a fictional ancient China, where martial arts and supernatural abilities live together. In this story, there are ghosts, spirits, and living dead, as well as characters who can crack the ground with a whip or subdue evil incarnations by plucking the strings of their instruments.

The combination of historical fantasy, martial arts, and supernatural should be enough to entice most people to read this story. However, the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation has one more thing to offer. You see, other than those three genres, there are also mystery elements embedded into the story. The kind of mystery that requires witty detectives to solve strange incidents.

As a matter of fact, this volume shows Wei Wuxian investigating such strange cases. In the first half of the book, he looks into the increasing cases of people who died mysteriously and then suddenly came back as mindless zombies. While in the second half of the book, Wuxian stumbles upon a couple of mysterious deaths that seem to be connected to a local deity. So as you can see, this book is a mash up of numerous genres, and all of them work together in perfect harmony.

2. Full Color Illustrations

Unlike the usual black and white illustrations that we often see in a manga, the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation tells its story in full-color illustrations. The characters, ghosts, houses, landscapes, fighting scenes… everything is rendered beautifully in vibrant colors.

One thing worth noting, however, is the style of coloring that is used in this manhua, which is quite different from other full-colored comic books out there. It’s not as sharp as American comic books, nor is it as subdued as Franco-Belgian Bande Desinée. The style lies somewhere between the two. The colors are vibrant, but they also look quite soft at the same time.

We don’t know whether it is a common style to Chinese Manhua, or if it’s simply the artist’s unique style. One thing is for sure, though - this style makes every page in this book look extremely pleasant to the eyes.

Why You Should Skip Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation)

1. A Slow Paced Story

As mentioned earlier, the main characters in this series are faced with two mysteries. That alone is not a surprising fact. It’s quite common for the first volume of a new series to be composed of small arcs before it finally begins to tell much longer arcs in the subsequent volumes.

The issue with this volume, however, is the fact that the pace of those two arcs is extremely slow. There’s no problem with a mystery arc taking its time to unpack the story, as long as the mystery itself is quite complex and intricate. But that is not the case at all here. We spend more than half of the book on one mystery, only to find a simple explanation and quite anti-climactic ending to the incident.

That is why although the premise of the story is interesting and most of the characters, especially Wuxian, are lovable, there are times when we get bored while in the middle of a chapter. Hopefully we get to see much more compact and tightly-knitted narratives in the subsequent volumes.

Final Thoughts

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation has an intriguing story that manages to blend different kinds of genres in order to tell a unique story. It also has charming and interesting characters that are easy to root for.

Although this first volume has a slight pacing issue, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for those of you who haven’t read this book before. After all, from the unique premise to the colorful illustrations, there are a lot of things to like in this manhua. So be sure to give it a try.

Have you read the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation before? If you have, what do you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Author: Harry

Harry is a manga addict first and freelance writer second. While he hasn’t read every manga under the sun, he has read an unhealthy amount of Shounen and Seinen manga. When he’s not writing in Honey’s Anime, you can find him in his personal blog:

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