Doupo Cangqiong Manga
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From DesperateScanners: In a land where no magic is present. A land where the strong makes the rules and weak has to obey. A land filled with alluring treasures and beauty yet also filled with unforeseen danger. Xiao Yan, who has shown talents none had seen in decades, suddenly three years ago lost everything, his powers, his reputation, and his promise to his mother. What sorcery has caused him to lose all of his powers? And why has his fiancee suddenly shown up?
Synopsis Doupo Cangqiong Manga
It’s normal for the protagonist of a cultivation story to conveniently have some mechanic that allows him to level up faster and gain high level skills and items, but there needs to be a balance against perceived innate talent and hard work. If too little sets him apart from the others, then the protagonist seems undeserving of being called a protagonist. But if too much help is granted, then he doesn’t seem like a protagonist by his own merit. In other cultivation stories, there’s always a reason why the protagonist is seemingly overpowered, whether because he transmigrated (i.e. isekai), reincarnated, is actually a sect leader in disguise, was left overpowered artifacts from his master, or found a cave of high level internal energy skills while practicing.
In Doupo Cang Qiong (Battle Through the Heavens), the protagonist gets a ring without much explanation, and in it contains the spirit of a master that absorbs his 3 years of hard work prior to the start of the story, and in return the spirit becomes his master. Not just his master, the spirit guides his cultivation, directly imparts energy upon him causing him to gain levels, gives him political advice, teaches him martial arts that are higher level than nearly any character in the first two seasons, helps him create pills, and even takes over his body to fight for him. Despite being a genius, the circumstances make it seem as if he’s handed everything on a silver platter, and despite a year having passed, the pacing makes it seem as if he’s gaining levels every other day. He seems like an entitled, whiny little brat. Yet somehow he’s able to beat other cultivators on the same level or higher — easily. It seems almost plot breaking, more so than any other cultivation story I’ve seen.
Watch this only if you’ve run out of things to watch, and want a cultivation shounen fight or revenge fantasy. Otherwise, watch Douluo Dalu (Soul Land), Fanren Xiu Xian Chuan Zhi (A Mortal’s Journey), Wan Jie Xian Zong (Wonderland of Ten Thousands), Yuan Long (A Carp Reborn), Ze Tian Ji (Way of Choices), among others. Come back to this after finishing all of the above.
Despite what the other reviews say, I didn’t find any significant difference, besides that the protagonist seems to have hit puberty and aged 10 years, between the first season and the others. To the contrary, I found the OVA specials to be extremely tedious, and I would only suggest the first special if you like some cheap ecchi/romance, and the second if you like an hour of fight scenes with no significant tie to the overall story (in my opinion, boring).
Update: This show takes a significant turn for the better after season 4, since some plot event addresses most of my concerns above, and the production value jumped by a lot. As expected, when the protagonist has to find his own way, by himself and without much influence from the all-powerful tutor, this show becomes much more interesting. If rated on season 4-5, I’d probably rate it a 7. Not only did the protagonist become more mature, the main plot gets reintroduced after season 4. It is no longer just traveling to random places to level up.