With the high popularity Hua Qian Gu is getting these days, people are more and more curious about one specific genre of drama: xianxia genre. This type of story often have very specific elements: magic, immortals, mytical creatures, demons, witches, etc. There will also be a lot of unique magical objects such as magic sword and powerful jewellery. The story are mostly based on recent novels, fanfictions or even action role-playing games. Hence, the drama history of Xianxia is very short. The good thing is that Xianxia dramas always have a strong fanbase even before the release of the drama and the cast are mostly made of beautiful young idol c-actors.
On the tumblr profile of philipdefrancogeng, he gives a good explanation of the whole Xianxia world:
As for Xianxia, the characters forming it are ‘Xian’ and ‘Xia’, which literally means ‘immortal hero’. Xianxia is a newer genre and is essentially a ‘fantasy-fied’ version of Wuxia, with magic, demons, immortals, people who can fly, etc. The biggest contributor to the Xianxia genre is actually not martial arts; rather, it is ‘Taoism’, which is a major part of Chinese history. Taoism is both a philosophical way of life as well as an actual religion. Religious Taoism is often blurred together with Chinese folk mythologies, and is chock-full of stories about demons, ghosts, and people learning how to become immortals through meditation/understanding the ways of heaven, and flying in the air and casting powerful magic spells. The legendary Monkey King, Sun Wukong (whom Son Goku of DBZ is based off of) acquired his power through Taoist practices, and the concept of the Yin-Yang is also from Taoism. Xianxia blends lots of these folk stories and magical Taoist legends into their stories in a way which ‘true’ Wuxia stories almost never do.
The50-person also shared his thoughts on the Xianxia genre and the use of CG:
The third genre would be xianxia仙侠, which includes many of those adaptations of light novels and rpg games that fuse with ancient chinese mythology and shenhua 神话, which are dramas focusing more on all those immortals and chinese myths. I chose to lump them together for convenience, though others might possibly prefer to discuss them separately. The opinion on CG in this genre is divided, not only amongst the international fans, but also Chinese fans themselves, who have been getting increasingly critical as they become more discerning regarding the dramas they consume. My own personal opinion is that the CG for this third grp is usually more poorly done, since the material requires A LOT of CG, from the characters’ magic powers, magical weapons, immortals, demons, spirits, ghosts, and scenery which can run from Hell to Heaven and everything in between, making the few things that are NOT CG stand out a lot. And usually, such Chinese dramas love to use vibrant colours for CG, creating a jarring effect. See The Legend of Crazy Monk series 活佛济公. (tbh that’s already not too bad. there are plenty of worse examples but i can’t rmb any atm)
Here is, with no orders, a list of xinxia dramas. It may not be complete so feel free to add more in the comments.
-Chinese Paladin 1 (仙剑奇侠传) 2005
-Chinese Paladin 3 (仙剑奇侠传三) 2009
-Chinese Paladin 5 (2015)
-Holy Pearl (女娲传说之灵珠) 2011
-Ancient Swords GuJianQiTan (古剑奇谭) 2014
-Xuan Yuan Swords Scar of Sky (轩辕剑:天之痕) 2012
-Hua Qian Gu (花千骨) 2015
-Hua Xu Yin (華胥引) 2015
-Legend of Zu mountain (蜀山战纪) Post-Production
-Pal Inn (which tells the childhood story of Li XiaoYao from Chinese Paladin)
-Half for the People, Half for the Beauties with Mickey He
-Legend of Swordman
More Chinese Mythology centered dramas (these dramas can not be 100% considered Xianxia dramas, but they definitely do have the magical elements on!)
-Huan Tian Xi Di Qi Xian Nu (Seven Fairies)
-Tian Xian Pei
-Niu Lang Zhi Nu
-Legend of the White Snake
-Legend of the Green Snake
-The Little Fairy
-Lotus Lantern/Lotus Lantern Prequel
-Journey to the West
-A Legend of Chinese Immortal 剑侠 2014
There are probably more out there, but my head can’t remember them all. Oh, and I did not count all the Liao Zhai stories because they are too short and are mostly… ghost story insteed of long epic. 😛
Note: Excluded from the list are classics such as Feng Shen Yan Yi, The Legend of Hero, All Men are Brothers, Lan Ling Wang and Princess of Lan Ling. Even if they have a big mythology focus (for instance, they all have the character Nuwa in it) and magical components, these dramas are way too centered on Chinese History facts to be considered xian xia fiction.