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Literature / Zhen Hun

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Zhen Hun (镇魂), or more commonly known as Guardian, is a fantasy danmei Web Novel written by Priest (who also wrote Sha Po Lang).

The story is as follows: Zhao Yunlan is the chief of the Special Investigation Department (SID), an organisation that doesn't officially exist. Together with his team of special beings, he solves cases of the strange and bizarre. While investigating a spate of homicides that happens at a university, he encounters Shen Wei, a man who is much more than he seems.

Zhen Hun received a Live-Action Adaptation, which aired on Youku from June 13 to July 25, 2018 with a total of 40 episodes. It stars Zhu Yilong as Shen Wei and Bai Yu as Zhao Yunlan. The live-action drama is a very loose adaptation of the novel's plot.

An audio drama is available on MissEvan, but the episodes (two so far) are released sporadically. A Japanese drama CD adaptation was also greenlit, but so far no other details have been given.


Zhen Hun provides examples of:

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     Tropes that apply to the novel 

     Tropes that apply to the live-action drama

  • AB Negative: The reason Bai Suxia dies of blood loss is because her blood type is so rare and there are no near donors around to give her the transfusion that she needed.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the novel, Li Qian really did kill her grandmother by spiking her food with pills because she was fed up with taking care of a senile person. In the series, this isn't the case; her grandmother committed suicide out of guilt after seeing how stressed Li Qian was (by ingesting the sleeping pills that her granddaughter nearly took), and Li Qian only claimed that she killed her grandmother to distract herself from the grief of losing her most loved one.
  • Adaptation Deviation: To start off, there's no alien race or anything related to mutations in the original novel.
  • Asshole Victim: Sometimes, the characters who end up getting killed by the episode's main villain were just plain unlucky. Other times, they had it coming.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The familial version; Zhao Yunlan and Zhao Xinci aren't on the best of terms, but they do care for each other a great deal.
  • Batman Gambit: Zhao Yunlan pulls one in Episode 13, which leaves the villains vulnerable to an attack and has Shen Wei fully reveal his true identity.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Emphasis on the bittersweet. Ye Zun is defeated and the humans, Demi-Humans, and Undergrounders are saved... but at the cost of Shen Wei's life. Thanks to Zhao Yunlan using his life force to power the Guardian Lantern, Haixing doesn't collapse and light finally appears in the Underworld, but the realm is now permanently sealed off from the rest of the planet. SID is reinstated and is currently flourishing with more members, but half of the original team is still dead. The series hammers in the bittersweet aspect in the final scene where Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei's souls meet in the temporal wormhole and promise each other that they will meet again someday.
  • The Bus Came Back
  • But Not Too Gay: Due to censorship laws, the relationship between Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei is portrayed as a bromance rather than a romance. That being said, the tension is still there...
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The blood of the Ghost Beasts. When Shen Wei (in his disguise) helps Zhao Yunlan find the second Sacred Item in the mountains, the latter remarks on how the blood of the monsters have a horrible smell. After the whole mission is done, Zhao Yunlan looks after a drunk Shen Wei, then catches the scent of Ghost Beast blood on the latter's jacket (since Shen Wei killed a Ghost Beast in his human form). He then puts two and two together.
    • The Sacred Wood key that Zhu Hong's uncle gave to her, since it opens the door to the spot that serves as the second portal to the Underworld.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Li Qian, one of the characters involved with the first case that the SID has to solve, eventually reappears in the latter half of the series when she joins the research institute of the Seastar Administration and provides vital information that helps Zhao Yunlan recover from his temporary blindness.
    • The shadowed figure that served as the villain the protagonists encountered in the first episode ends up being the one who sacrifices himself to free Shen Wei from the Pillar.
    • The bartender that Zhao Yunlan would always run into whenever he enters the Underworld gets to help Zhao Yunlan reveal Ye Zun's true colors to the other Undergrounders in the Grand Finale.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Shen Wei, being Hopeless with Tech, responds to calls with telephones rather than cellphones. This comes in handy later on when figuring out the call number in one of the riddles Wang Xiangyang left them.
  • The Chosen One: Zhu Hong becomes the new elder of the Demi-Humans in Episode 37.
  • Enfante Terrible: Zigzagged for a character introduced in Episode 12. Zheng Yi might seem like a harmless mute, but she's actually a Undergrounder with deadly echokinesis, and she has no qualms about using her ability to harm others. That being said, she's not exactly evil; and once the conflict involving her is resolved, the Black Robe Envoy doesn't bring her back to Dixing for trial. She eventually come back in the finale to assist the protagonists in driving back the rebel Undergrounders.
  • Engineered Public Confession
  • Everyone Has Standards: Cong Bo may be an Intrepid Reporter, but when Zhao Yunlan reveals to him that some of his scoops were inaccurate and ended up misleading the public, he's genuinely horrified as he thought he was sharing the truth. This is enough to prompt him into
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Wang Xiangyang was initially a kind shopkeeper whom the members of SID were the occasional customers of. But he does a complete 180 after his wife and unborn child died, and becomes one of SID's most troublesome foes in the latter half of the series.
  • Graceful Loser
  • The Hero Dies: Extra points for both of the protagonists dying.
  • I Know You Know I Know
  • The Mole: Lin Jing turns out to be one for the Seastar Administration. He's not really happy about his role, however.
  • Loving a Shadow: A literal example happens in Episode 6, when a human realizes that he was dating a doppelganger Undergrounder the entire time. When the doppelganger is taken away and the real one returns, he decides to break off their engagement.
  • Mad Scientist
  • Noble Demon: Wild Fire, the Undergrounder from Episode 18, is very much this. While he participates in underground fighting, he never used his abilities to terrorize other people, and what initially looked like heartless or self-serving actions on his part were actually done with good intentions. He's also not in league with the Big Bad and was actually rescuing said villain's potential victims. It goes to the point that after he explains his story, Shen Wei chooses not to punish him. And even when Ye Zun rallies the entirety of Dixing into an all-out war, Wild Fire is one of the few who chooses to aid the protagonists.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat
  • Reality Ensues
  • Red Herring
  • Redemption Equals Death: Zigzagged. Wang Xiangyang dies feeling remorse for his actions when the whole truth about the events leading to his wife's death comes to light. However, besides handing over the Merit Brush to the protagonists, his last words have him inform them that what he did cannot be undone, even if it's said as a cautionary warning instead of a final taunt.
  • Stable Time Loop
  • Surprisingly Good English: The opening theme of the live-action drama, "We Won't Be Falling", is sung in English, complete with perfect grammar and pronunciation.
  • Symbiotic Possession
  • Token Good Teammate: Not every Undergrounder who escapes the Underworld to go the surface is a bad guy; some just want to live normal lives and aren't working for Ye Zun or his main lackeys.
  • Tragic Villain: Overlaps with Tragic Monster. There are a few episodes where the Monster of the Week is causing trouble, which attracts the SID's attention; however, they're not exactly evil and can have sympathetic motives behind their actions.


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