Guardian: Zhen Hun, Vol. 2

By Priest and Marmaladica. Released in China on the JJWXC website. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Yuka, Shry, amixy. Adapted by Ealasaid Weaver.

This is something of an epic, with gods, demons, tales from the age of Chaos, reincarnations, etc. There’s a few big battles, some risky maneuvers, etc. And, of course, there’s the simmering love between Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei, which, no surprises, boils over towards the end of this book. It’s well told. That said, if you were going to ask my favorite parts of this second volume, without a doubt it was the two scenes Zhao Yunlan has with his parents, where he deals with coming out and their reactions to it. It’s one of the few times in the book where everything is taking place entirely in the human realm with human emotions, and both parents, knowing their son and his past relationships, being doubtful that this is the one, and also worried about the trouble he’ll have as a gay (well, bi, but Zhao Yunlan pretty much says “gay now” a la Willow from Buffy in this book) man in this world. I loved these scenes to bits.

We start off in much the same vein as the last book, with mysterious ailments that turn out to have supernatural ghost causes. We’re once again introduced to cool as fuck cop Zhao Yunlan, ultra repressed teacher (and soul-executing emissary) Shen Wei, the adorable dork Guo ChangCheng, Corpse King and tsundere (?) Chu Shuzhi, and of course fat cat Daqing. As the book goes on, though, we begin to expand the plot, mostly as it becomes even more obvious that Zhao Yunlan is a reincarnation of the Mountain God Kunlun. He ends up in a situation that opens his heavenly eye (which I assume is the same as a third eye for all intents and purposes), and heads out to a confrontation for the Merit Brush. More importantly for him, though, he finally manages to flirt hard enough to get Shen Wei to agree to be with him… for however much longer that may be.

I like Shen Wei, really I do. I get the sense that the last book in the series will be where he really comes to shine. But I joked on social media that he was sort of like Roger Daltrey in The Who, ostensibly the frontman but outshone by everyone else in the cast. It could simply be that “tightly repressed yearning to the point of agony” is just not my thing. It is more likely that Zhao Yunlan tends to swamp every single scene that he is in, which is almost every scene in the book, by his force of personality and coolness. I also was not expecting to be taken in by the subtextual homoerotic relationship in this book (our two leads are pretty much text). But yes, the wet and earnest Gao Changcheng and his puppyish increased devotion to sullen Chu Shuzhi, who is driven crazy by our Pure Young Lad basically just being good for no reason at all… it’s cute. I ship it. So… hoping for good things from you in Book 3, Shen Wei!

The third book is the final one of the series. and hopefully won’t kill everyone off. Till then, I can absolutely see why danmei fans love this.

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