1. Marissa Anez, 34, from America
I decided to watch Nirvana in Fire because of the buzz I hear from all these forums.
My favorite character is Consort Jing because she's just so smart and calm even with all the political problems in the palace and she's very clever with her words when talking to the Empress and other concubines.
Western TV shows and Asian dramas of this genre are different in which less intimate images and such are used in Asian dramas mainly because in Asian culture, society is stricter when exposing your body and such while in the United States, characters are free to show their naked body without much backlash going against the creators or actors.
The only thing that really confused me is the entire premise of how a man can have a wife and multiple concubines. As well as how the servants are immediately killed off as soon as they don't comply with the higher ranked people. No justice is given. I only got used to these aspects because of experience with previous dramas.
I recommend cutting one-fourth of the series to better adapt to Western audiences' viewing habits.
2. Amy Sand, from Canada
A taste fully done Chinese period drama… The settings are stunning, the costumes gorgeous, the cast beautiful… everything is almost too perfect. The political plotting and machinations appear to follow similar themes that I have seen in other period dramas (betrayal, pursuit of power, and secret identities to name a few). I feel that in Nirvana in Fire is that although the cast is huge, the character development remains excellent.
My favorite character in Nirvana was of course Lin Shu/Mei Changsu. His character was so conflicted in all of the emotions he had to carry. The weight of having to avenge his family and all the soldiers that wrong fully died, and not being able to reveal himself to those he truly love and admired. Hu Ge did an awesome job conveying all of those emotions so subtlety that if you blinked, you would miss it. His eyes and his posture conveyed so much!!! I just loved him in this drama.
I think Wang Kai is one to look out for and Wu Lei will be dynamite as he grows more mature and have more serious roles.
The only change I would like to see in the drama is introduction of a little dirt…like actual dirt. Dirt on the hems of costumes and maybe the characters not looking too perfect 99% of the time.
3. Tarji Greene, 48, from Florida, America
Initially, I decided to watch Nirvana in Fire because of Hu Ge. He is such a handsome man and I enjoyed him in Sound of the Desert (Da Mo Yao), The Myth and Unbeatable. Although Wang Kai is quickly becoming a must see guy for me. I also loved the costumes, cinematography and music that were initially shown in the trailer for the drama.
I also enjoyed the scenes he (Mei Changsu) had with Prince Jing. In Episode 33, my heart broke when Prince Jing cut the bell and Mei Changsu kneeled before him. I also enjoyed Mei Changsu's interaction with Fei Liu. They had such a touching relationship that was more akin to father and son. Plus, Fei Liu was such a cute character.
I think Asian historicals are much better at conveying honor and respect to royals. Most Asian historicals have their hierarchy to follow when it comes to royals and their culture. America did and does not have royals and we are a hodgepodge of people of different cultures. As for shows like Game of Thrones, the power plays are more driven by sex and death than strategy underneath.
The portion of the drama where I became confused was regarding the relationship between Ban Ruo and Prince Yu. How did she come to be next to Prince Yu? Why was she so invested in making Prince Yu emperor?
The plot moved quickly and the costumes were beautifully made. I do however wish that more time had been given to the romance of Nihuang and Lin Shu and how Lin Shu died and what happened to Feiliu during that time.