If you’re an avid anime watcher, then you’ve definitely come across the overpowered MC trope. It’s where the Main Character(s) can seemingly do no wrong, solve any problem no matter how absurd, and have outrageous almost godlike abilities.
In some cases, they are actual gods, and other times they’re just normal people who happen to obtain the greatest power known to mankind.
It’s a very tired trope at this point, but that just means there’s more room to experiment and shake up the formula, and I believe that’s what Chinese Animation, or Donghua, is trying to do.
At a glance, Donghua may come across as bootleg anime, but spend some time with it and you may be pleasantly surprised. I know I was, and that overpowered main character trope (OP MC as I will henceforth refer to it as) made the culture shock a little less jarring. In this list, I’ll be going over 10 Donghua that feature an OP MC.
I’ll start with a brief summary of what each series is about followed by my first impressions from watching the first episodes. Without further ado, here are, in no particular order.
CHINESE NAME : ZUOBI YISHU
In this world, everyone has an equal chance to reach the top, where your academic success determines your quality of life. The National Special-Level University Exams are right around the corner. Passing means you’re destined for greatness, failing means you’re on the bottom rung. So, study hard, sharpen those pencils, and put your life on the line to ace that test! Or, you know, you could just cheat.
(Scored by 18,655 users in MyAnimeList)
This show is not meant to be taken seriously, but it’s bought into its own premise so hard that you can’t help but be strung along for the ride. With an average 13-minute run time per episode, The first spends most of that time setting up your expectations for this world, where cheaters will go to literally any lengths to cheat. I expect the main duo will fill our OP MC criteria and they’ll be pitted against equally wacky and over-the-top adversaries.
SPIRIT BLADE MOUNTAIN: FEAST OF THE STARDUST
CHINESE NAME : REIKENZAN: HOSHIKUZU-TACHI NO UTAGE
Long ago, a meteor shower was supposed to herald a great calamity, but instead, it coincided with the birth of an exceptional boy. Twelve years later, a Celestial Gathering begins, searching for the next generation of sages. Oriku, along with his attendant Ouchou, participate and make short work of the first trials. But the overseer is not so forgiving, or consistent, or even responsible, making the trials an unpredictable mess.
(scored by 31,109 users in MyAnimeList)
Co-produced by Tencent and Studio Deen, this show gets right to the point but, unfortunately, doesn’t offer a lot of exposition. As of Episode 1, it’s not clear why anyone is at the Celestial Gathering, not even Oriku. That said, he ticks the box for OP MC and the episode does a good job of setting up the main through line, clearing these trials. Whatever lies beyond is hard to say, but the cast is likable and the writing it pretty snappy.
CHINESE NAME : QUANZHI FASHI
Mo Fan, Our main character, is a down-on-his-luck student on his way to study magic. In this world, students are Awakened to one of seven magical affinities, but Mo Fan is already behind with only three months of magical study, a poor family, and pitiable reputation. That is until, he Awakens to not one, but two affinities, fire and lightning. Will this garner respect for Mo Fan or resentment, and how will he use his newfound power?
(scored by 41,809 users in MyAnimeList)
Unlike numbers 9 and 10, there’s a lot going on in this first episode. I think that’s a sign that more interesting stories await. Mo Fan may not fit the bill of OP MC yet, but the fact that he has two of the most powerful and rarest affinities means he’s on the fast track. It also means he’s going to face a lot of hardships. What I see here is potential for Mo Fan to grow and develop his character. It’s always nice seeing an underdog fight his way to the top and it feels like Mo Fan has a lot riding on his success.
MY HOLY WEAPON
CHINESE NAME : WO DE NITIAN SHENQI
Chang Wei is your typical college student, with an acute interest in the Chinese occult. Appropriate, because during a near-death encounter, he’s able to invoke an artifact called Xiao Bai which summons a spiritual warrior to fight on his behalf. Now he’s stepped into a world of conflict and spirituality where failure means a fate worse than death.
(scored by 1,940 users in MyAnimeList)
This show makes a pretty good impression from the get-go. Our main character is a bit of a dork, but something about him allowed him to summon what I assume is the spirit of some ancient weapon. A lot of people will compare this to the Fate Series, and while that is a fair comparison, I think this show is capable of standing on its own merits. It’s got good animation, a likable main character, and has a pretty promising setup.
THE DEVIL RING
CHINESE NAME : JIE MO REN
One day, Xiaoan, a freshman college student, puts on an ancient ring under the promise that his mother’s medical bills with be paid for. Unfortunately, that ring spawns a demonic skinless beast from his body, and he’s thrust into a modern world of horrors. He’ll have to control and master this monster, or else be killed by zombies, Taoist sorcerers, or otherworldly beings.
(scored by 1,281 users in MyAnimeList)
This show definitely has a modern horror vibe to it. Judging from the synopsis and the opening, Xiaoan will have to learn how to control this monster, even giving it control of his body sometimes to hunt and destroy other monsters. Xiaoan is a pretty standard main character, but I think this monster will push him to his limits and force him to grow in ways he couldn’t even dream of. I get heavy Jujutsu Kaisen and Tokyo Ghoul vibes from this one and it’s nice to see a darker storyline every now and then.
DAILY LIFE OF THE IMMORTAL KING
CHINESE NAME : XIAN WANG DE RICHANG SHENGHUO
Wang Ling wants nothing more than to peacefully graduate from high school. However, that’s going to be hard when he has an immeasurable spiritual aptitude. Not to mention the fact that he defeated a frog demon when he was just a little boy. What will high school life be like for this god among men?
(scored by 32,199 users in MyAnimeList)
Here’s your typical OP MC who just wants a normal life, but his overwhelming power makes it impossible. This show loves its tongue-in-cheek humor and is pretty on point with its punchlines. I imagine school life will continue to throw complications at Wang Ling and he’ll keep trying to find ways to get out of them. But as is his fate as an OP MC, he’ll just blunder his way to success. We’ve seen this character done before, but it was still a fun watch.
NEZHA THE DEVIL’S BIRTH
CHINESE NAME : NEZHA ZHI MO TONG JIANG SHI
This is the only ” Donghua Movie ” on this list, just FYI. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I’ve seen enough to be impressed. A Chaos Pearl, a primordial well of energy, is split into the Spirit Pearl and the Demon Orb. The former is meant to be reincarnated, but through nefarious plotting, the Demon Orb is resurrected into Nezha, and the Spirit Pearl is used by the dragons in their plan to take over the heavens.
(scored by 3,828 users in MyAnimeList)
It’s up to Nezha to control his demonic powers and put a stop to this uprising. This film is one of the most important milestones for modern donghua. It’s a loose adaptation of the 16th century novel Investiture of the Gods and Nezha is a protection deity in Chinese folklore and serves as the patron god of children and travel. As far as Over Powered Main Characters go, you can’t get much better than a literal god. The animation is on point, the story is timeless, and what it means for Chinese animation can’t be measured. Though, those box office numbers are a nice bonus.
CHINESE NAME : BAI YAO PU
The world is populated by humans and spirits alike. Sometimes, they encroach on each other’s lives breeding conflict. Taoyao is a gifted spirit doctor and prides herself on her skills. With a sharp wit and even sharper tongue, she’s accompanied by Moya, a young monk, and Liu, a fox spirit as they travel the country healing the supernatural.
(scored by 548 users in MyAnimeList)
The first episode gives us a good glimpse of what Taoyao is capable of and she is a fun protagonist. She acts very above-it-all is quick on the retort. It’s not hard to see why, given her skills. It seems this series will place a lot of emphasis on her supernatural patients and how they need to heal. I don’t get a sense of any greater overarching plot, but the formula of discovering who Taoyao is through her ministrations has potential to be very compelling.
GRANDMASTER OF DEMONIC CULTIVATION
CHINESE NAME : MO DAO ZU SHI
Wei Wuxian was feared by the world for his immense and seemingly occult powers, especially his necromancy. Thirteen years after his death, he’s summoned into the body of Mo Xuanyu to exact revenge on the clan that ostracized him. Wei will discover that there’s more to Mo’s family than meets the eye and it may lead him to answers about his own death and legacy.
(scored by 45,683 users in MyAnimeList)
This first episode to chock full of wonderful animation and inventive action sequences. Despite his powers, Wei seems to be comfortable in his position as the strongest being in the fight and plays the role of the fool in Mo’s body. As far as OP MCs go, he’s closer to the lovable goof ball type because getting him serious means courting death. If you’re a fan of Demon Slayer and supernatural horror action, I think this show will have a lot to offer.
THE KING’S AVATAR
CHINESE NAME : QUANZHI GAOSHOU
Glory is the biggest MMORPG and at the top stands the “ Battle God ” Ye Xiu. Suddenly, he’s forced to quit his professional gaming team and gets a job at a local internet café. Glory’s Tenth Server releases and Ye Xiu throws himself back in, but this time he’ll have no sponsors, no backing, not even a professional team. He’ll have to rely on ten years of honed gaming skills and a colorful cast of characters if he wants to reclaim the number one spot.
(scored by 138,995 users in MyAnimeList)
I’ve heard a lot about this donghua and I’m happy to report that the first episode delivers in nearly every aspect. Compared to other OP MC stories.
It’s a little subdued and by-the-books, but the idea of focusing on e-sports and professional gaming is a stroke of genius given our modern world, and it seems to treat that idea with a healthy level of fantasy and fidelity.
Ye Xiu may be a high-level player essentially smurfing his way through low-level quests, but it’ll be fun to see how he handles himself on the other side of the fence.
That does for this list, I know that, right now, Chinese donghua hasn’t quite reached the quality and popularity of Anime or Western Cartoons. But there are truly some shining examples and hidden gems. Don’t think of it as bootleg anime. Think of it as another style of animation and storytelling. There’s nothing new about an Over Powered Main Character and it’s a simple concept to understand.
Soak in what donghua has to offer and maybe you’ll come out with some newfound appreciation for animation as a whole. What do you think of donghua? Any of these entries pique your interest?
Let us know in the comments below. While you’re here, take a look at some of our other articles. We post Top 10’s, news pieces, and other topics for every kind of fan. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
As always, have fun, stay safe, and get your WEEB ON!