I purchased a copy of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (Vol 1).
Half-demon Luo Binghe rose from humble beginnings and a tortured past to become unrivaled in strength and beauty. With his dominion over both the Human and Demon Realms and his hundreds-strong harem, he is truly the most powerful protagonist…in a trashy webnovel series!
At least, that’s what Shen Yuan believes as he finishes reading the final chapter in Proud Immortal Demon Way. But when a bout of rage leads to his sudden death, Shen Yuan is reborn into the world of the novel in the body of Shen Qingqiu–the beautiful but cruel teacher of a young Luo Binghe. While Shen Qingqiu may have the incredible power of a cultivator, he is destined to be horrifically punished for crimes against the protagonist.
The new Shen Qingqiu now has only one course of action: get into Luo Binghe’s good graces before the young man’s rise to power or suffer the awful fate of a true scum villain!
I didn’t know much about The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System when I bought this light novel. I’d seen clips of the donghua here and there. But I’d not paid much attention to it, because I didn’t like the animation style. But like so many of us, I’d seen the live-action version of The Untamed and loved it. Would have read the book, too, except that I didn’t think I could handle something thousands of pages long on my computer screen. So, when Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s books got official English translations (in print), I bought the first volume of all three that came out together (The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing, and Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivations). I’ve read two of the three now.
I ended up enjoying this. But I honestly thought the start was a bit of a mess. It took a little while to figure out what was going on and settle into the narrative. It’s partly because the main character (Shen Qingqiu) is so utterly blasé about what happened to him and so informal in his narrative, slinging around slang like loli and moe. But after a little while, even that felt like it fit.
But what I found significantly more amusing than I expected was the parody aspect of the story. It’s very meta—aware of what it is and good-naturedly mocking the genre, authors, conventions, and character arc types of what is, in essence, itself. I laughed several times at it.
When I finished this volume, I went ahead and finally watched the donghua, which follows the book quite closely (but loses a little of its meta-ness), and pre-ordered volume 2 of the print series. Here’s the thing though: I ordered it more on my expectation of liking where the story is going than my love of this volume.
Luo Binghe is a child (14) for most of this book, and Shen Qingqiu is trying to be a good mentor to him. It’s cute, yes, and watching Shen Qingqiu miss all the signs of how he is changing the narrative (and even the world and genre of the story itself—and doing it with kindness) was fun. But there’s a quote, round about the middle of the book, that goes:
Demons were compelled to viciously bully the person they liked. Only if the object of their affection failed to die would the demon accept them. If the target died, that meant they were useless and not worth nursing any lingering affection for.
The anticipation of a Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù-style pairing and all the flustered bullying to come is delicious. So, I’ll be following the series. I’d honestly expected that to be what I found in this volume. But I don’t mind the story starting earlier than I expected and being made to get to know these characters better while I wait.
I normally prefer to link to other small blogs, not big ones like Tor. But I liked this review so much that I’m including it.