A televised adaptation of Wu Ming-yi’s collection of short stories by the same name, this 10-episode series premiered in Taiwan earlier this year. Set in the 1980s and mainly in the now-demolished Zhonghua Market (formerly located near Taipei Main Station), the central character is Xiao Butian, an imaginative elementary student who is the son of a shoe vendor at the Zhonghua Market. He befriends an eccentric magician who also sells his wares next to him. Butian soon fantasizes about the supernatural powers that he believes the magician possesses, as he is constantly preoccupied with the superstitions and urban legends about Zhonghua Market.
The series depicts a bygone era, of working-class families and their children, who would mingle and live in a former landmark that was an entire world within itself for a character like Butian. The various stories explored via his active imagination and his reluctant magician compadre who brings these stories to life is a great narrative vehicle for a TV series. The production’s ability to convincingly bring to life a Taipei that no longer exists, is a feat in itself. THE MAGICIAN OF THE SKYWALK is a nostalgic walk down memory lane, especially for Taipei-dwellers of a certain generation.