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Actress Yang Mi and Taiwan actor Ethan Juan star in the fantasy series, Legend of Fuyao, the most viewed online drama with nearly 14 billion "clicks" in around 50 days this summer.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Generating nearly 14 billion "clicks" in around 50 days, the fantasy series Legend of Fuyao has become the most viewed online drama of the summer - the most competitive season for reaching young audiences.


Adapted from the hit novel of the same title, the series, co-headlined by Chinese mainland actress Yang Mi and Taiwan actor Ethan Juan, debuted on streaming platform Tencent Video on June 18, and was also aired on Zhejiang TV from June 18 to Aug 13.


Set in a fictional world that is divided into five kingdoms, the 66-episode story follows the adventures of the titular protagonist, Meng Fuyao, a low-ranking servant girl brought up in a martial arts clan.


As she attempts to figure out why she possesses mysterious yet hard-to-control powers, the protagonist embarks on a journey across the five kingdoms upon which she uncovers a thrilling conspiracy and falls in love with the most powerful ruler’s crown prince, Zhangsun Wuji.


Thanks to the star power of the actress who plays Fuyao - Yang is followed by 88 million fans on Sina Weibo and is known for her roles in a string of hit fantasy serials - Legend of Fuyao has sparked much online debate, generating over 17 million posts on the micro-blogging platform.


The series has also been welcomed in overseas markets, exemplifying the rising international interest in Chinese drama productions.


In recent years, television dramas set in ancient China have become a popular genre for foreign audiences, with their exquisitely-tailored costumes, detailed sets and exotic locations - from ancient royal palaces to dramatic natural landscapes - capturing the imagination.

近年来,中国古装剧大受海外观众欢迎,剧中精美的服饰、精细的布景以及异域风情的场景—— 从古代皇宫到具有视觉冲击力的自然景观—— 都激发了观众们的想象力。

Simultaneously released on global streaming services, such as YouTube, Viki and Dramafever, on the same day as its release on the Chinese mainland, the drama has also aired in Malaysia and Singapore. More countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea, will make local language-dubbed versions, according to an online report by the People’s Daily.


Yang Xiaopei, the drama’s chief producer and vice-president of the Shanghai-based studio Linmon Pictures, told reporters at a news conference in Beijing on Aug 15 that she read the novel around four years ago and immediately felt a connection with the protagonist.


"Fuyao is not shy to express her feelings, both love and hatred. She is very brave and independent as she attempts to fulfill her dangerous mission," explains Yang.


Even though the story is set in an era when women in China were considered inferior to men, Fuyao sets out to subvert the historical view that women were not as capable as their male counterparts.


"We’ve infused modern values into the characters to make them easier to identify and resonate with contemporary audiences," adds Yang.


Interestingly, online novels and screen productions revolving around the theme of gender empowerment have become a trendy genre favored by millions of domestic viewers, especially women.


Taking shape from the 2011 hit series Empresses in the Palace, also known as The Legend of Zhen Huan, the genre has seen a flood of such tales, including the Jing Tian-led The Glory of Tang Dynasty, Yang Mi-led Eternal Love and Zhao Li Ying-led Princess Agents.







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