The Celestial Zone (often abbreviated as "TCZ") is a manhua series from Singapore by writer/artist Wee Tian Beng, the story of The Celestial Zone takes place in ancient China during the Warring States Era, revolving around a group of people who are dedicated to the cultivation and pursuit of spiritual powers that grant them with abilities beyond the ken of normal men
, these extraordinary men and women are collectively referred to as being from The Celestial Zone
. However, it isn't all rainbows and sunshine in The Celestial Zone, as the pursuit of power led to the formation of two factions. The righteous way, the de-facto good guys who have benevolent and selfless goals
, and the evil way
, who seek power solely for their self-centered and destructive ends
. The plot revolves around the conflict between the two factions, and the various tales of those involved in the battle as good and evil fight for supremacy over The Celestial Zone.
The original series debuted in 1999, concluding in the year 2003 and spanning a total of twenty-five black and white volumes. Since then, it has grown into a franchise in its own right, having spawned a spin-off adventure of one of its lead heroines, Chi Xue
in a single-shot volume, as well as a proper sequel titled The Celestial Zone II
which spanned the year 2003 to 2006, covering 40 volumes. A Spiritual Successor
has since been created, a 40-volume long series titled The Celestial Zone 21
, which deviates from the usual Warring States setting and instead takes place in modern times, and featuring a more sci-fi feel instead of fantasy. A second proper sequel has since been launched, The Celestial Zone X
, featuring an almost entirely-new cast of characters, and recently concluding its run at its 32nd volume in March 2012. The story isn't over yet, however, as a follow-up series titled The Celestial Zone X-2
was announced and launched as of April 2012, taking over from where the previous series left off.
The Celestial Zone provides examples of the following tropes:
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Tropes common to the TCZ franchise in general
Tropes specific to TCZ, TCZ II and TCZ X
- Affably Evil: Blazing Sun, The Dragon (in ways more than one) to Moon Monarch. Of all things considered he's actually a rather nice guy so long as you don't cross him, even being polite enough to kindly request the heroes to back down so that they needn't fight him and face certain defeat.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Played straight by all generals in the Opus Diaboli, with the notable exception of Hippu Triocculus, who turns out to be more of a Dirty Coward.
- Big Bad Wannabe: The Crown Prince of Wei; after killing an injured Xuan Hua Divine and claiming what remained of his spiritual powers for himself, proceeded to dub himself the "Xuan Hua Heavenly King". Turns out that he's all bark and no bite.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The Evil Way. You can't get clearer than that.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: It's made very clear that spiritual powers in TCZ are the result of intense training, discipline and self-cultivation.
- Enemy Civil War: Among the followers of the Evil Way in The Celestial Zone, like their good counterparts are also divided into numerous sects, which often do not see eye-to-eye with one another. A good part of the story in the first series revolved around a long-standing rivalry between two of the largest sects in the Evil Way.
- Faux Affably Evil: Two words. Moon Monarch. First introduced as a rather elegant and classy villainess, but is eventually revealed to be a monster.
- High Fantasy: TCZ X is this, with Wuxia elements combined.
- Meaningful Name: A good deal of the TCZ cast. Chi Xue when translated from Chinese meant "Crimson Snow", which matches the heroine's red hair, red-themed wardrobe, and her (seemingly) frosty demeanor. Xing Ling means "Happy And Agile", and she's indeed as happy as they come, not to mention fast as hell.
- Monstrosity Equals Weakness: As followers of the Evil Way move up the in-universe Sorting Algorithm of Evil (shown below) their appearance gradually becomes more human-looking as they become stronger. Case and point, the weakest of Mooks, the Ghosts, tend to resemble hulking humanoids with malformed facial features. Those at the Demon stage look perfectly human, save for scary-looking eyes (typically featuring Hellish Pupils or a constant glow. Those at the Evil Spirit level and above tend to be completely indistinguishable from normal humans appearance-wise.
- Mook Horror Show: Any time Chi Xue descends upon an army of Evil Way followers the ensuing battle - if it can be called one - inevitably turns into this, with Volume 3 of TCZ I having the most memorable instance ever. Incidentally this volume was also intended to be an Establishing Character Moment for Chi Xue, what with that particular volume being aptly titled Destroyer of Evil: Chi Xue.
- One-Winged Angel: Xuan Tian Crow's Super Mode, Lethal Blood Transmutation is made of this trope. She even gains literal wings in the process.
- As well as the Demonic Combination used by Demon-class Mooks, with a good helping of Body Horror thrown in. Two Demons fuse together at the torso when they use this power-up, gaining a two-headed, four-armed composite form in the process.
- Schedule Slip: TCZ X has been running into this rather frequently due to a number of side projects taking up the creator's plate.
- Sdrawkcab Name: For the Mazakala characters, this often also overlaps with Meaningful Name. Guess what Elbisivni means when spelled backwards? And incidentally, Mazakala is "Alakazam" spelled backwards, rather fittingly for a realm that is dominated by Functional Magic.
- Sentient Cosmic Force: The Aura of Emei.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In-universe example provided by Wang Chan, that the followers of the Evil Way go through four stages of progression in their self-cultivation, in order from weakest to strongest - Ghosts, Demons, Evil Spirits, and finally Ultimate Evil.
- Super Mode: Wee Tian Beng seems to be absolutely in love with this trope. A good deal of TCZ characters have a Super Mode in one form or another to boost their Bad Ass levels when the situation calls for it. Even the lowly Mooks have powered-up forms, (mostly of the Turns Red or One-Winged Angel variant) although it's not like it does them any good when up against the good guys.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: The aforementioned spiritual powers of The Celestial Zone, although their effects often border on being magical.
- Wuxia: TCZ I and II is all about this, with elements of High Fantasy mixed in.
Tropes specific to TCZ 21
- Affably Evil: The series' Big Bad Tai Yi Dao has this in the spades. Well-mannered, cultured and an all-around pleasant person to hang around with, so long as you don't oppose his plans, that is.
- Anti-Villain: "Flaming Raptor" Tang Li
- Author Avatar: The fanbase seems divided on whether it's Mi Sheng or WTB... possibly both.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted by villains Tai Yi Dao and Isha, played straight by just about everyone else.
- Broken Pedestal: Sensei Mayana, formerly a mentor to the good guys. Now a mercenary who is willing to kill anyone as long as the price is right.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Alice, Alice, Alice. Throughout the course of TCZ 21 she's changed her group affiliations no less than twice, starting out as a member of Senba Zuru's Crane Shadow Gang and girlfriend to Senba's adoptive brother Kenny. A few volumes later, she double-crosses Senba and ditches Kenny to hook up with the Hermes Corps via agents Tang Li and Bao Er, and did absolutely nothing to dissuade Bao Er from laying a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown onto her ex-boyfriend. Many more volumes later, the pattern would repeat itself as she tried to turn against Tai Yi Dao, deciding that she would be better off as the big boss. It didn't end well for her.
- City of Adventure: Singapore, where the action takes place!
- Dark Action Girl: "Black Cross" Alice, "Lightning" Baoer, as well as to a lesser extent "Phantasmal Talons" Donna.
- Darker and Edgier: Noticeably more grimdark (as grimdark as Wee Tian Beng's works can get anyway) compared to the other series in the franchise, due to a higher incidences of Face-Heel Turn as well as more instances of named characters being Killed Off for Real compared to the other series. In addition, the Big Bad is a Misanthrope Supreme who believes that Humans Are the Real Monsters... And The Hero actually agrees with him! But only to a certain extent.
- Face-Heel Turn: Sensei Mayana, supposedly a highly-respected mentor of Omni and Lavender was revealed to have turned heel sometime before the events of TCZ 21, and in main plot itself Chekov also pulled a Face-Heel Turn of his own.
- Guns Are Worthless: Granted, there had only been a total of two onscreen instances where Muggles get to face off against Espers with firearms. The results were... rather predictable, in the Espers' favor. Bullets don't seem to do jack to Espers at all, it seems.
- Muggles Do It Better: Averted; see Guns Are Worthless above.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Explosive Blast learns this the hard way as he tries to take on a higher-ranked Esper possessing similar powers to himself, learning a painful lesson that size has no bearing on one's power level as an Esper. Cue one of the most one-sided Curb-Stomp Battle ever in TCZ 21, as the diminutive Omni Skyporter easily hands his larger opponent his ass.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Pillars of Hermes, the Big Bad's personal enforcers, and some of the most powerful Espers known to man.
- Spiritual Successor: To the original TCZ series.
- Urban Fantasy: TCZ 21 leaves behind the Wuxia fantasy elements and takes place in modern times, in the island metropolis of Singapore.