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“Heaven Official’s Blessing” Boys’ Love Drama Casting Divides Audiences

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The official cast of the live-action adaptation of Heaven Official’s Blessing has been announced, to the delight of Chinese netizens.

Heaven Official’s Blessing is a “Boys’ Love” novel written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, who also wrote the internationally acclaimed story Modao Zushi which was turned into the wildly popular show The Untamed. Production of the live-action version was confirmed in December and will be helmed by none other than the director of The Untamed – Chen Jialin.

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This isn’t the story’s first foray onto people’s screens. It was initially adapted by Bilibili and Funimation in October 2020 into a wildly successful anime series, streamed on Netflix for international audiences. Fans clearly couldn’t get enough of Heaven Official’s Blessing, with the animated version breaking 100 million views in just three weeks on Bilibili’s platform.

The announcement of the cast of the live-action version has been greeted with much anticipation from fans on Weibo – especially as pop star and R1SE heartthrob Zhai Xiaowen has been announced as the main character, Prince Xie Lian.

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Many netizens have expressed excitement at the casting of Zhai as Prince Xie Lian, with one saying “although he is a rookie actor, he treats every role with a dedicated and sincere attitude.”

However, as with every adaptation of a beloved novel, there were fans who were not so pleased with the decision. Some expressed their frustration at the choice, accusing the studio of casting the pop star as a money-grab. One angry fan said “I can’t accept this casting…Zhai Xiaowen is just a guy that sings.”

The backlash against Zhai prompted many to jump to his defense, urging fellow fans not to be so quick to judge.

“The show hasn’t been broadcast yet, why should you deny him so quickly?”

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Cover image: from Weibo

Chloe Yorke
    Chloe was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Shanghai and San Francisco. She is currently studying Chinese at Durham University in the UK and is passionate about Chinese art and culture.