Mo Dao Zu Shi, a.k.a. Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is one of the premiere names in manhua, or Chinese comic books. It's also a great example of xianxia, or cultivation stories, which are incredibly prevalent in that culture. Having appeared in various media, this feudal fantasy is most known for its donghua, or animated incarnation.
Featuring a deceased man and his ally's achievement of a dark form of cultivation, Grandmaster of Cultivation is pushing Chinese cultural stories to the international forefront. Unfortunately, as in the case of a lot of Chinese media, some forms of the story are still hard to come by. Here's how Western audiences can get into Mo Dao Zu Shi and reach the highest point of Heaven.
The Plot of Mo Dao Zu Shi
The story revolves around Wei Wuxian, who is most known for his fearsome take on cultivation. Cultivation is a Chinese form for achieving a form of godhood or higher essence, although it doesn't quite go as normal with Wei. Years before, he was summoned into the body of the destitute and abandoned Mo Xuanyu, who allows Wei to use his body as a form of vengeance against his tormentors.
Together, they embark on a journey to unlock the mystery behind a severed arm found at Wo's house, which in turn connects to the initial death of Wei himself. Thus, they become known for their taking of the Wo Path -- a "demonic" form of cultivation that deviates from the norm. Like many feudal Chinese fantasy stories that have recently become popular in foreign countries, the series also counts as a boys love or yaoi equivalent title, although the live-action adaptation downplays this aspect significantly.
Where to Read the Mo Dao Zu Shi Manhua
Ever since 2017, a manhua (the Chinese equivalent to Japanese manga or Korean manhwa) has been regularly published by KuaiKan Manhua. Unfortunately, much like most manhua series', there's yet to be any sort of official Western localization for it, be it physically or digitally. Those who read Chinese characters can perhaps read the series on the Chinese site, but otherwise, it's inaccessible to Westerners.
Where to Read the Mo Dao Zu Shi Novel
The source material for it all is the original Mo Dao Zu Shi novel, which was written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. Published online from 2015 until the following year, the series was eventually released in print format. Thankfully for those interested in the series and Chinese cultivation fantasy in general, it has in fact been localized by Seven Seas Entertainment.
It's fairly easy to come by as well, with online retailers like Right Stuf Anime as well as Amazon carrying the three volumes. It can also be purchased in physical stores like Books-a-Million, Walmart, Target and Barnes & Noble, although they're just now releasing recently. In the case of the latter retailer, readers can also enjoy the book digitally via Nook.
Where to Watch the Mo Dao Zu Shi Anime/Donghua
Easily the most popular version of Mo Dao Zu Shi is the animated series, or donghua. Unfortunately, at this time, none of the major streaming platforms in the West host the series. However, this is likely to change in the future, especially given the success of somewhat similar donghua such as Heaven Official's Blessing being on Netflix.
Another way to enjoy the story is the live-action adaptation called The Untamed. This 50-episode drama ran throughout 2019 and was quite popular, although as mentioned, many of the book's homoerotic themes are excised. Thankfully, it's much easier to watch, as it's available to stream through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and the Rakuten streaming service Viki. Chinese media is becoming a much bigger force internationally, so it won't stay the only such show on this service. For now, however, it's one of the best ways to get into the story of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation.