The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Vol. 3

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.

There is a 4th and final volume in this series, but it consists of prequel and sequel short stories, from what I hear, so for all intents and purposes this is the final volume. It’s a good volume, though has even less humor than the previous book, as the author is forced to actually take this world seriously given that the demon world is literally trying to imprint itself on the human world. Shen Qingqiu has a particularly rough time of it, ending up in a coffin early on and with things only getting worse from there. It doesn’t help that Luo Binghe is proving to be one of the most annoying stalkers ever, and his affection for Shen Qingqiu is something so obvious that literally everyone in the world sees it and is vaguely offended by it. Even Shen Qingqiu, who finally gives in near the end of the book. Unfortunately, if you want a tender mutual love scene, you may have to wait for Book 4. Sexual assault warning for what comes next.

As noted above, Shen Qingqiu finds himself in a coffin within a cursed mausoleum, and has to deal with both Luo Binghe’s demon father and also Zhuzhi-Lang, one of the weirder henchmen I’ve ever read about. That said, he’s actually doing pretty well at dealing with both of them. Luo Binghe, not so much. Things aren’t helped by the fact that he keeps getting into what looks like sexual situations with Luo Binghe… including feeling him up. Indeed, by now everyone assumes the two of them are already gay lovers. Unfortunately, world saving comes first, as Luo Binghe’s father is bitter and wants to unite the demon world and the human world… physically, by having one overlay the other. Which will, um, kill the humans. But so goes life. Can Shen Qingqiu solve this set of problems while still reminding the system messages that he’s not gay? Signs point to no.

First of all, gotta give some praise. Wu Chen is awesome. Yue Qingyuan is even more awesome. And the backstory for the original Shen Qingqiu is both realistic and also reminds you of something this book hammers home, which is that usually webnovel readers don’t want depth and character development, they want violence and sex, and lots of it. Living in a book like that can be terrible. As Shen Qingqiu finds when he is raped by Luo Binghe at the end of the book. It is theoretically a “I have to do this to save the world” sort of thing, but is thankfully not remotely portrayed as erotic or fulfilling, but as incredibly painful. That said, the tortured relationship between the two leads is at last ironed out, even if it means Shen Qingqiu leaving everyone else in his life to go off with Lup Binghe, who has, well, managed to offend everyone in Shen Qingqiu’s life.

As noted, this is not usually my genre, and I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the epilogue book. But for what it was this was pretty good, and I can see why it has its followers.

The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Vol. 2

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.

I will give credit to Shen Qingqiu, he proves to be slightly better than Katarina when it comes to figuring out affection. That said, the love interests in My Next Life as a Villainess are also perhaps not quite as Luo Binghe, who spends much of the 2nd book on a roaring rampage of revenge, because it turns out that Shen Yuan can try to change the plot and characterization all he wants, but this book is still mostly running on the rails it was supposed to. This is not good news for Shen Qingqiu, who now has to deal with his character’s supposedly evil backstory (though signs point to some of this being a load of hogwash) and being suspected of causing a plague. Possibly worst of all, Shang Qinghua has prepared the secret restoring magical doodad far, far ahead of schedule, meaning that in order for it to do anything there will need to be a prison break.

I will admit, this book is not quite as wall-to-wall funny as the first volume, mostly as the plot is a lot more serious and Luo Binghe is a lot less sweet. That said, when the humor hits it hits hard. Shen Qingqiu’s reaction on seeing Luo Binghe once more was my first lough out loud moment, but there are many throughout, especially as he learns how the rest of the world views his relationship with Luo Binghe – i.e. much the same way fans do here, writing epic sagas and touching songs about their gay love. Shen Yuan is still somewhat horrified by this, and screams about the fact that the hero of a stallion novel has still not bedded a single woman. I will admit that seeing the extent of Luo Binghe’s… devotion to his master goes from disturbing to hilarious to disturbing again. I suspect romance will have to wait for Book 3.

One of the minor plot points I’m really enjoying is seeing the development of some of the women in the cast. In the original novel, they are there as basically notches on Luo Binghe’s bedpost, but the changing timeline… as well as Luo Binghe being in love with his master… means that they’re allowed to go different places. Sometimes this is not always for their betterment – Sha Hualing goes from the popular and arrogant harem boss to a harried office lady pretty quick. Ning Yingying, though, has really blossomed from the somewhat vapid childhood friend she was supposed to be, and her defense of Shen Qingqiu no matter what is really heartwarming. If there’s one downside, it’s that the character of the “system”, which provided so much of the laughs in Book 1, is far more sporadic and muted here. That said, it’s hard to character develop what is essentially Clippy.

The main reason to get this book, even above the humor and the character development, is the readability – it absolutely flies by. Perhaps in Book 3 we’ll even get a mutual kiss.

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?