The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Vol. 1

By Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and Xiao Tong Kong (Velinxi). Released in China as “Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong” on the JJWXC website. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Faelicy & Lily.

It’s rare I read a book that features so many genres that I normally don’t really deal with. I haven’t really read any Chinese “light novels” before. I don’t really do BL all that much. And I am almost totally unfamiliar with Xianxia, the supernatural fantasy “cultivation” genre that this novel is both part of and also parodying. But there were three very famous books coming out from this author that were getting MASSIVE buzz, and I wanted to read at least one of them. I picked this one partly as it was the shortest volume, and partly as it seems to be the least popular of the three (I like my problem children), but mostly because it’s also squarely in a genre I do read obsessively: Reincarnated Villainess. Or, in this case, villain. Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe may not quite match up exactly with Katarina and Maria, but at times it feels like it’s not for want of trying. As for the book itself? I’m glad I read it.

Shen Yuan has been reading a Chinese webnovel obsessively, despite raging in the comments about how the author is a hack. When the book ends, he gets so upset he actually dies… and finds himself in the body of Shen Qingqiu. No, not the hero. The hero’s evil master, who mercilessly abused and bullied the actual hero of the novel to the point where his eventual brutal torture and murder is one of the most disturbing in the book. Needless to say, this does not fill Shen Qingqiu with joy at ALL. Nor does the fact that there’s an omniscient System Voice telling him what he can and cannot do… which means he can’t simply change his evil ways right away. Can he manage to somehow avoid his bloody fate? Can he actually get Luo Binghe to look at him in a better light?… and wait, does he really want him to look at him in THAT kind of light?

Knowing nothing of the books and their genre, I was expecting this to be more serious than it was. It’s a hoot a lot of the time, particularly our hero’s screaming at the incredibly bad plot devices and scenarios that he is now forced to live through. That said, he gets wrapped up in both the people of this world and his charge, Luo Binghe, very quickly. The ‘danmei’ in this first book is pretty light, mostly consisting of Luo Binghe falling for his master in a very obvious way and Shenj Qingqiu boggling about the fact that he’s suddenly become the heroine rather than any of the hundreds of women that Luo Binghe was supposed to be bedding in the original (we even get the equivalent of “that’s the line she says to the guy in the game!” from Bakarina). There are also a few genuinely great plot twists along the way, and the characters are obvious cliches (that’s the point) while remaining fun to read.

So yes, I’m definitely happy I picked this up, and will definitely be reading the second book in the series. I’m not sure whether I’ll venture into the other two series, though – how funny are they?

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  1. As a fan of MXTX’s work in general, while I can’t speak to Heaven Official’s Blessing’s humor (my initial aborted read of the now-taken-down fan translation happened when my memory problems were particularly dire, though I do recall a few laughs), she has a very good way of adding in humor even to more serious stories like MDZS. That said, if you’re only in them for humor, be aware that they’re much more serious stories that use genre expectations in ways usually meant to enhance drama rather than laughs. There’s definitely funny bits, but it’s less the focus compared to the more lighthearted tone of Scum Villain.

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