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So these days I’ve been spending most of my free time re-reading Ravages of Time, which for those unfamiliar with it is Chan Mou’s adaptation of the popular Three Kingdoms period of Ancient China. It happens to be my favorite comic adaptation too-not that there has been some good ones out there. (Gender-bending Three Kingdoms? No thanks.)  But even if  there are, I think Ravages of Time is a hard one to top. It had set the bar really, really high for Three Kingdoms comic adaptations.

I’ve  been a fan of this manhua for six years now. I can’t exactly remember how I got into Ravages of Time. I can’t remember  if I found the comics by accident or if someone had recommended this to me. But that doesn’t really matter now, does it?

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Ravages of Time changed my standards when it comes to comics. I’ve developed a habit of comparing RoT to just about anything I read. I can rarely find a comic series  which I can consider on par with RoT or at least is capable of giving me the same feelings. Well, there’s Houshin Engi, an underrated manga often brushed aside by a lot of people because of the art style or because of the notion that the story is ‘going nowhere’.  I would admit that I initially had the same feelings when I first got into Houshin Engi and I was almost ready to drop it. But the Sennin War came and then it got really, really good and my god, it just blew me away.  Rereading it made me love it even further because I’ve seen all the foreshadowing, the little hints here and there.  Houshin Engi is just pure genius though it doesn’t seem like it on the surface. And that’s what makes it so amazing.

Mugen no Juunin/Blade of the Immortal is another comics series that I was completely in love with it. The art, the story, the characters—everything about it was just simply so beautiful. I stopped reading it though because of the lack of scanslation but I’m planning to pick it up again soon seeing that more chapters have been uploaded. Thank god.

Houshin Engi and Blade of the Immortal are the only two comics that I can say I love as much as Ravages of Time. But these are old favorites of mine and are exempted from my ‘I-compare-thee-to-RoT’ habit.

What I love about Ravages of Time.  The story. Just when you think the story about how China was unified into one has been told far too many times, Chan Mou weaves a tale that makes everything fresh and interesting again. Luu Bu is no longer just a formidable warrior on the battlefield; he is also a master tactician. Zhang Fei is no longer just a temperamental brute; he is now a crafty manipulator with the talent for the arts. And Cao Cao is no longer just the token anti-hero; his character has been more fleshed out and we are given insights to why he does the things he does.

Another thing I really enjoy about RoT despite the stress it can actually cause to one’s brain is figuring out and understanding the strategies used by the Eight Geniuses and the other schemers . The strategies used are never simple and never is there no counter-measure for every counter-measure. Ravages of Time characters breathe and live to scheme and they are good at it. Really, really good. In this comics, people trick each other into tricking each other because the best way of tricking people is to trick them into thinking that you’ve been tricked.

The relationships. I adore bromances and this comics isn’t short of it. You have Cao Cao and Xiaohou Dun, Zhang Fei, Liu Bei and Guan Yu, Luu Bu and Zhang Liao, Huo and Sima Yi, and Sun Ce and Zhou Yu to name a few. But aside from these bromances, my favorite relationships are the really complicated ones.

  • Eight Geniuses:From Friends to Foe. There is just something so fascinating about the dynamics among the Geniuses of Sima Hui. In school,  they consider themselves as friends, or probably even brothers. But on the battlefield, their relationship changes and despite  of whatever bond they have, none of the Geniuses would let any feelings of camaraderie hinder them from reaching their goal, even if meant hurting each other, or worse, killing each other.
  • Sima Yi and Huo: My Master, the Enemy.  How do I explain Huo and Zhongda without giving out major spoilers?  Huo and Zhongda initially started out as master and subordinate when Huo took  over the leadership of the Handicapped Warriors. Eventually, this relationship changed into friendship; one can almost say they’re the best of friends. But something happened later  in the story that just changed their dynamics completely. Huo still serves Zhongda but it’s obvious that a gap already came in between them because of just one incident. While Huo understood that Zhongda did what he needed to do, as readers we can sense that he also resented the fact that Zhongda actually did it. But he’s still helping Zhongda anyway even though a part of him probably wants to kill the other man. And he could have actually but he wouldn’t (at this point ) because Zhongda is like a brother to him. (Told you it’s complicated.)

What I don’t like. The excruciating wait for a new chapter, especially when the comics is already getting into the more exciting parts. Recently, RoT just concluded the Battle of Guandu and there has some hints already about the upcoming  Battle of Chi Bi. Chan Mou has picked up the pace much quicker now—thank god!— so I guess he can actually finish the story in this lifetime. lol

Now, excuse me as I see that the translations for chapters 368 and 369 are now up and I’m now emotionally preparing myself because one of my favorite characters is about to die next. (I don’t know which is worse: knowing when your favorite character is going to die or not knowing it all and just be surprised by it.)

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June 2012

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