This is part of my growing number of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu posts. If you want to find more, check out the author tag here.
Also, I’m sorry for the lack of update, my health hasn’t been very good at all and I’ve been busy with working on stuff. But I’m happy to announce that, believe it or not, I tied third for an award as a queer author of youth (YA/NA) fiction.
“Dumbfuck author, dumbfuck novel!”
After cursing out the novel Proud Immortal Demon Way and its author with his last breath, Shen Yuan woke up in an unfamiliar place. Having promised himself not to ask anything stupid if he ever transmigrated, he’s quick to adapt… and realises to his horror he’s the villain with the most miserable end in the very novel he cursed out, and with an annoying system telling him to improve the novel to boot. Can he improve the story, fill plot holes and not kill himself in the process?
Shen Qingqiu (Shen Yuan)
The Dead Guy. Woke up after a fever to find himself in the novel Proud Immortal Demon Way, a stallion novel. He’s one of the masters of the righteous sect, and also a villain in the original novel. Determined to navigate himself to safety.
The Protagonist. In the webnovel, he goes from a pure lotus to a dark mess, who has a clear line between who deserves to be treated well, and who doesn’t. He seems to misunderstand his shizun’s intentions?
Cannon Fodder #1. Luo Binghe’s biggest bully, and “rival” in love, who enjoys digging his own grave as his IQ is instantly drained away by Luo Binghe if the latter is within eyesight.
The Damsel in Distress. This girl not only fucks up Luo Binghe’s life when young, she lengthens the plots like there’s no tomorrow by digging her own grave. She also helps Ming Fang digging his.
Pretty-faced War God. Never appearing on-page in the original work, he proved the original Shen Qingqiu to be a treasonous bastard. Death prevented… WAIT!! It wasn’t that shixiong who saved him, was it?!
Damsel Causing Distress. As an original harem member fighting to receive Luo Binghe’s attention, she vies for his attention now, too. But all she does is cause Shen Qingqiu more trouble, isn’t she?
“In what universe is it acceptable for a master to cower behind his own disciple?”
“Shizun was injured for this disciple’s sake…”
Shen Qingqiu glared at him. “Since you know it was for your sake, then put some effort into protecting your life.”
Slams the book shut, then slams it onto the desk.
I am so effing done!!
Throws up hands into the air, wanting to flip the desk, but the trouble cleaning up later and getting new work equipment isn’t worth it.
Cough. Let’s begin anew.
I preordered the first books almost as soon as they were announced. It was days before my birthday, so this is by technicality a belated birthday gift to myself. Naturally, I also got Bustafellows some days before, so I splurge on myself last year.
Which means I splurged on my blog.
Either way, after preordering, I have more than once said that The Scum-Villain’s Self-Saving System isn’t my favourite MXTX novel. It’s not bad, but had this been my first taste of MXTX, I might not have read the others, and I might not have bought these books even to review, thereby missing out.
This is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s first novel and to be honest, it’s also a novel that’s rough around the edges. I don’t really mind authors’ first works, because they can be charming even if there are things that could have been improved. However, that’s exactly the charm. An unpolished gem, worth looking at and admiring, reflecting light in ways the polished thing would never. It’s a treasure in its own right.
The Scum-Villain’s Self-Saving System is 4 books long. This is, unsurprisingly, the first of them and the next is scheduled for release on April 19th. This first book covers the story up to an important turning point (but if I mean in the novel, in the setting of this book, I’m not saying), and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it definitely completes the first arc of the story.
I’d say it’s a great place to cut it before the next book, considering I know what’s coming next, and the last sentence is half-suspense, half-facepalm.
I have little to say about the translation, actually. I thought I’d end up with a lot of things to point out. There are 2.
The first one is a practical matter more than anything. The story, by default, explains the origin of Luo Binghe’s name, and that’s all good. However, with no knowledge of the language, understanding what on earth an icy river has to do with “Binghe” means one has to check character information at the end. If the layout is the same in the ebook, this is troublesome, and more than anything — it might not hit the reader to actually read the Character & Name Guide first. So it’s just a little impractical.
Otherwise, names are handled beautifully, with, for instance, Elder “Sky Hammer”, where the Chinese name was also retained, so the reader won’t be confused about the too-practical naming sense of Airplane Bro.
The other was just that a footnote for Daode Jing said “More commonly known as Daode Jing(…)” and I can only assume that’s a typo because it makes no sense to include that piece of information in the note otherwise.
The style of the writing used for the translation is top-notch and perfectly suited for the setting while keeping the right amount of cultural specifics, such as “shizun” or “shixiong”, as Shen Qingqiu is most commonly referred to by others, or “Bing-ge” to refer to Binghe from the reader POV. These are explained at the back, much like manga may have a glossary at the beginning or end to explain suffixes or untranslatable words.
I’d say they hit the sweet spot between “too much Chinese to understand” and “too localised”. I believe I’d go down the same route.
The footnotes were a nice touch, explaining some Chinese things, but also, somewhat unexpectedly, pop culture references, such as a comparison to Sadako from Ringu.
The art by Xiao Tong Kong is also absolutely excellent. I ADORE it. Shen Qingqiu is so pretty it nearly makes my heart flutter and Luo Binghe’s so cute it should be criminal.
So what angered me so?
SHEN! QING! QIU!
Slaps desk while thinking each syllable.
So, okay. I want to be perfectly fair here. Shen Qingqiu isn’t a bad character or anything. Logically, I understand his situation too. He has to memorise a bunch of people, has to raise the intelligence of the characters, has to keep his points from dropping, has to curry favour with his disciple while also kind of keeping it to the storyline, handle sect matters that are on his table, and so on…
…and somehow avoid his miserable BAD END. He has a lot on his plate. I get this, okay? He can’t keep everything in mind, okay?
But!! His narration thinks a lot of people are dumb around the Protagonist, but it’s like his own IQ drops as soon as it’s about future Binghe. Isn’t that the kettle calling the pot black?! Wake up! Shen! Qing! Qiu!!!!
Nearly picks up the book, just to slam it back on the desk out of fury.
I spent more than half the book wanting to slam it shut, then smack it as hard as I could onto a surface shouting “F this shit!!” but, at the end of the day, I still read the entire book.
Is this worth reading?
Hmm… Not necessarily if you have my taste in fiction. While there is some comedy in it, it’s not enough to tickle my comedy-loving heart, but it’s also not dark enough to speak to that part of me. But I do think that plenty of people would enjoy this if they are more in the middle, and I also do think that anyone into MXTX should read this.
Isekai/transmigration fans might like it (assuming you like BL), though.
I must be just as dumb as Shen Qingqiu. Because I am going to torture myself with book two. When Shen Qingqiu isn’t infuriating me because I get so frustrated, the story’s good and I get a good amount of laughs.
In short, it’s good enough for me to overlook the frustration for now. Even if I’ve been more frustrated during my second read than my first, I still want to continue. And I love Binghe, okay? At least, the white lotus, who could soothe my heart a little while I wanted to just throw the book on the floor with a roar.
Then again, don’t we all know how masochistic I am with the media I consume? Even without Binghe’s (temporarily) soothing character, I might have read the book just as fast. (Because I did binge it as much as I could, even though my time was limited on the days before Christmas Eve.)
This book is rated 17+, meaning it’s Mature for Older Teens based on the rating alone. For this book, I agree. There’s not a whole lot of violence, no sexual content, and otherwise just swearing, really. But this series is for adults and I’d probably motion more towards a New Adult demographic (and older) if I were to refer to a specific demographic.
This isn’t a work for kids.
Nonetheless, it gets a 2.5 or thereabout on the NSFA scale.
That’s it for today. If you wish to buy the book because it infuriated me, because it’s a BL transmigration novel, because you’re curious or just because you want to see more danmei brought over to the west, you can buy physical copies from the links below to support the blog while at it.
Picks up the book with a heavy sigh and places it in the bookcase, then adds book 2 to the list of books to buy.
Thank you, thank you. See you all in the near future. My next MXTX review will be of the latest work. It’ll be my first re-read of that as well, just like this is the first re-read of SVSSS for me. That’s why I’m reading the second one last, as I’m the most intimately familiar with that.
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