Let's have a Three Kingdoms thread where we separate fact from fiction.
Topic for discussion: Benevolence, not even once.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms ruined the 3K era, since every other Asian wants to believe what the Romance said was true to history.
At the same time, though, without Romance the 3K era would probably not be nearly as popular, and we would have plenty of people thinking only of the Han dynasty much like Japan cherishes Edo.
Anyhow, though benevolence Shu is pure propaganda, historical Liu Bei is a lot more interesting than his novel counterpart. The biggest problem with novel Shu is that pretty much every other character is there to aggrandise Zhuge Liang.
Not actually contributing to the discussion but pic related is Liu Buei's burial mound in Chengdu, China. I was visiting the city in August and heard about this great garden that I should visit. Come to find out it is the memorial temple for the Three Kingdoms and has Liu Bei's tomb.
Was a neat find
This episode was the saddest fucking thing.
Anyone who hasn't seen it really should watch this series. Sure, it follows the Romance version of events, but it really is quite good for a historically based drama.
I mean, it was Sima-lead Wei that conquered Shu, and it was Jin that conquered Wu.
Though I agree Sima Yan was ultimately a shitty ruler and that Jin failed to keep China together, the Sima family (and thus Jin) was of great importance to unify China.
Do you believe Cao Cao was a Han loyalist, or do you think he always planned to usurp the throne?
From what I've read, unlike what the novel portrays, Emperor Xian seemed to like him well enough.
Lu Bu, not Liu Bei.
Alliances were pretty fragile as everybody was trying to use each other for their own gain, so we probably shouldn't be too harsh on him, since Liu Bei also switched sides pretty often. The historical Lu Bu probably just wasn't as good as seeing the long game as Cao Cao or Liu Bei.
I still prefer the novel in all its unabridged content. The TV series skips over too many of the minor, but still interesting wars.
I really wish there were English translations of the different interpretations modern Chinese historians have come to about the famous figures of the three kingdoms era.
To be fair, a lot of the advisors don't have much development in the novel. Even important guys like Guo Jia or Xun You are shown offering advices but nothing close to actual characterization as you'd expect in modern fiction. But that's understandable considering how many characters there are.
Yeah, it's always interesting what each adaptation chooses to cut or not, adapt faithfully or change. I've read Yokoyama's manga adaptation of RotK (Sangokushi), which in turn is based on Yoshikawa Eiji (a Japanese historical novelist)'s translation, which was the most popular version for Japanese audiences. The subtle changes here and there are interesting in their own way, as well as the dramatically different beginning.
>Even important guys like Guo Jia or Xun You are shown offering advices but nothing close to actual characterization
Xun You at least had plenty of scenes, and was a character you could easily remember.
Guo Jia was almost non-existent.
I think it would be interesting if a TV series could properly mix the novel with actual history. As in, it begins showing the characters as the novel depicted them, but as development goes on people see them as they were in history (or, at least, what has been documented).
I believe the 2010 TV series did a rather decent job on Cao Cao and especially on Sima Yi, but both cases could be improved as well.
Also, imagine other characters receiving this type of development like Zhuge Liang.
Moreover, making it so that some events actually happen like in history giving praise to who actually deserve it. For example, making it so that Chibi is almost elusively a victory for Zhou Yu, no Kongming shenanigans. Or showing how the Northern Expeditions were a huge failure. You could show Hao Zhao wrecking him during the second expedition.
Sticking too close to history has its downsides. Like for example, Sima Yi wasn't really involved in the initial Northern campaigns as he was more focused on the Southern border with Wu, but as a story, it serves as this great build-up for the showdown between Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi.
With regards to Zhou Yu, I do like the guy and I understand why history enthusiasts want to see a more positive portrayal for him, but his role as this jealous officer who feels a little inadequate towards Zhuge Liang and pulling shit like threatening to execute him if he didn't collect X amount of arrows by a certain date was really entertaining for me as the reader.
But the alternatives also seem interesting.
Furthermore, if you wanted to add build-up whilst sticking to history to an extent, you could add a scenario in which both of them learn of each other and become cautious.
As for Zhou Yu, I don't think you need to turn him into an insecure fodder for Zhuge for him to be interesting. I mean, he beat fucking Cao Cao at Chibi. If that isn't interesting, I don't know what else can be.
Also, I wouldn't like things to be 100% accurate to history. You could romanticise historical events for people's entertainment, just without bias and without intentions to over-aggrandise any character.
>I mean, he beat fucking Cao Cao at Chibi. If that isn't interesting, I don't know what else can be
It is, but since the story's full of geniuses, it's nice to have them be unique in different ways. You don't want to have all your super smart strategists being a cookie cutter genius archetype. Some should be a little more insecure and driven to prove themselves, some should be more lazy, etc, to provide more flavour for audiences who want to be primarily entertained and not educated.
That .webm proves that "gentlemen" have always been the betas. Even in ancient china
>Some should be a little more insecure and driven to prove themselves, some should be more lazy, etc, to provide more flavour for audiences who want to be primarily entertained and not educated.
I don't disagree. You could have him feel a bit insecure of his own capabilities, or anyone else of that matter. Just don't use characters in order to aggrandise others.
Now, if you want to add some more tension in the Sun-Liu alliance, you could have him form a rivalry with someone that was actually a military strategist, not Kongming.
I can honestly say I never found it all that biased. It's biased in that Shu gets more screen time, but it's not as if Wu or Wei are being presented as "evil empires" in comparison to the empire of benevolence that is Shu. Cao Cao is presented as being competent and decisive, and so are many of his officers. Same goes for Wu.
You still get the occasional poetry about Wei or Wu officers doing heroic deeds or when they fall in battle. Exactly what is it you find so irritating? The dicksucking for Zhuge Liang?
>but it's not as if Wu or Wei are being presented as "evil empires" in comparison to the empire of benevolence that is Shu
Cao Cao is presented as a villain - if you have a small understandi8ng of how Confucianism works.
Hell, not even that, things like him killing Lu Boshe already make him look bad.
Wu is pretty much "that other kingdom" in the novel.
His claims for legitimacy isn't presented as secure, but he's still presented as a perfectly understandable and competent ruler. Obviously, if you view it with the lens of strict Confucianism, he comes out as much less morally upstanding than Liu Bei, but again, that's up to the reader. For instance, you can see stuff like him using the Emperor's arrow during a hunt as a despicable evil act as the author probably intended, but under another perspective you could also see it as a clever cut-throat political move to establish his newfound top-dog status at the Imperial Court.
If you read the whole novel with other perspectives in mind, he never comes across as some cartoonish Darth Vader villain. He seems like a perfectly acceptable antagonist to me and there's enough room to see him as both good and bad.
>but again, that's up to the reader.
No, at least not for the intended audience. There's a reason why he's considered a villain in Asian cultures.
Wei was never intended to be presented as a proper successor to the Han in the novel. The intention was always to portray them as illegitimate.
>If you read the whole novel with other perspectives in mind
Again, that's irreverent. The perspective it was written for was for a Chinese perspective.
It doesn't matter how talented or clever of a politician he was presented as. He was presented as disloyal, and that's enough for the Chinese (especially those at the time the novel was released) to vilify him.
Hell, he was already vilified before the novel, due to issues of legitimacy, since Jin failed so hard, people came to think both Wei and Jin were illegitimate and that Shu was the rightful successor.
Look, I'm not doubting that the under traditional interpretations, he comes across as a bad guy. I even admitted it in my post.
What I'm trying to point out is that there's enough room in the actual written material for the reader to decide on his own whether he really was evil or not. It's not a case of Cao Cao does something, and then there's this incredibly heavy-handed narration of how despicable he is which forces the reader into accepting that he's such an evil dude. That's what I would consider heavily biased.
You see him do some deed, which under traditional perspectives, would be considered immoral, but the modern reader is not necessarily forced into reading with this perspective.
It's not about traditional perspectives. Even for modern Asians, Cao Cao is the villain.
- The deal with Lu Boshe
- Massacre in Xu Province
- Using the emperor as his puppet
Even for a Westerner, that looks all kinds of bad.
Now, compare him to novel Liu Bei, who is pretty much Jesus Christ.
Cao Cao did kill some people there, but why he did it is unknown. All sources claim he killed people, but only one said he mistakenly killed them.
The massacre in Xu province also did happen.
He also made use of the Emperor, but whether or not they were on bad terms is another thing.
Cao Cao somehow manages to be both the best historical and fictional character ever.
I had a similar discovery. I was visiting Purple Mountain in Nanjing because I wanted to see Sun Yat Sen's burial place. And when I get there I find out that Sun Quan's tomb is on the same mountain.
The fact that he never actually usurped the throne while he was alive makes me think he wanted to be like Duke of Zhou, a man who takes control of the government when the emperor is not capable of doing so.