Viewers sure got a big surprise this week after Zhang Zhehan and Simon Gong Jun’s Word of Honor 山河令 suddenly dropped its first episodes to almost zero fanfare on February 22, 2021. Unlike other dramas which begin drumming up some buzz a few weeks prior to its release, the drama adaptation of Priest’s A Tale of the Wanderers aka Tian Ya Ke 天涯客 was almost quiet in comparison. Nonetheless, opening week still saw the drama raking in a Douban rating of 8.3 as of today, surpassing even The Untamed’s 7.7 rating when it first opened.
Fans of the novel will probably be asking how true is the drama adaptation to the original. Well, compared with other dramas, Word of Honor appears to have tried sticking close to its roots, pushing the envelope as much as the censor will allow in keeping the interactions between the main characters Zhou Zishu and Wen Kexing and even giving their own take on it.
Other viewers have also pointed that whilst other BL adaptations will try to pass things off as a bromance to make it past the censor review, Word of Honor doesn’t disguise itself as anything other than a dangai (Boy Love adaptation).
In fact, netizens have observed that they’ve cleverly duubbed the more risqué lines differently from what the characters actually said. In one of the recent scenes, Zhou Zishu tells Wen Kexing “anything that he wants“. However, lip readers were able to discern what Zhou Zishu actually said was “repay with my body (translates to I’ll devote my entire heart)” hence Wen Kexing’s head turning reaction.
On the Rise
In recent years, the demand for dangai 耽改剧 dramas has steadily been on the rise thanks in part to the huge popularity enjoyed by 2019’s The Untamed, paving the way for much of the BL adaptations coming our way. In fact, 2021 and 2022 is expected to be THE year(s) of dangai with Word of Honor as the first to air amongst a slew of upcoming adaptations.
This also means the genre now has the potential to catapult the careers of fledgling actors to instant popularity. Now that Word of Honor has caught the eyes of audiences, it’s telling what it could mean for the rest of the adaptations.
English subs for Word of Honor will soon be available on Youku on March 1, 2021.