The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System is a Chinese web novel written by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. It was posted on jjwxc in 2015 and is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s first novel. If the author’s name sounds familiar you’ve probably heard of her most notorious work, Mo Dao Zu Shi. Having read Mo Dao Zu Shi and both loved and hated it, I decided to delve into Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s other novels, as her works are well-received and have garnered attention even among readers new to web novels.
Albeit my gripes with Mo Dao Zu Shi will be addressed in another review, I think it’s fair to say that the title of this article spoils what my thoughts on The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System are.
The story’s main character is Shen Yuan, a loyal anti-fan of the popular stallion novel, Proud Immortal Demon Way. Although Shen Yuan hates the one-dimensional characters and innumerable plot holes in the novel’s narrative, he finds charm in the initial potential of the story. As a plus, he’s obsessed with the cool monsters encountered by the main hero throughout his adventure. Due to this, Shen Yuan follows Proud Immortal Demon Way throughout its long run and… is inevitably disappointed by the ending.
Let’s take a short detour to talk about the fictional Proud Immortal Demon Way. Its main character, Luo Binghe, is a hero with a tragic backstory that prompts him to become evil. Thus, Luo Binghe becomes a demon overlord that brutally murders everyone who ever wronged him. He later continues wreaking havoc among the human race. As the “hero” of the novel, he also has what I’d like to call the Kirito factor, which makes every female character fall for him and join his harem.
Why do we need to know Proud Immortal Demon Way’s plot? Because after voicing out his complaints about the ending, Shen Yuan is suddenly transmigrated into the body of Shen Qingqiu, Proud Immortal Demon Way’s main antagonist. Who, by the way, is dismembered by Luo Binghe and turned into a human stick.
In the wise words of our protagonist, “F**k!!!”
Thankfully, not all hope is lost. Shen Yuan becomes Shen Qingqiu from the start of the novel and is informed by the “system” that it’s up to him to shape the story of the novel. For obvious reasons, Shen Yuan is determined to be nice to the protagonist. Still, he’s puzzled as he gradually realizes that… his choices seem to have made Luo Binghe asexual? His harem is nowhere to be found!
Oh gee, I wonder why.
The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System’s narrative is highly captivating from the get-go. Shen Qingqiu’s personality is hilarious, and the clash between his actions and fourth-wall-breaking thoughts never failed to make me laugh. Gamers will definitely get to enjoy the story even more than normal readers—all the gaming references including stat-raising, quests, side-quests, and the constant presence of a system that follows the player are eye candy for us nerds.
Not only is Shen Qingqiu’s narration unique and funny, but his ever-growing attachment to Luo Binghe and every other character in the world of Proud Immortal Demon Way follows the reader’s own investment of The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System. We, the readers, start off seeing these characters as extras in Shen Qingqiu’s journey. As Shen Qingqiu spends more time in his new world we, along with him, get to know each character’s personal quirks and traits, which encourages us to see them as individuals.
I’m going to give it to you straight chief. I fell in love with all the good guys in this novel. Even the less prominent side-characters are memorable thanks to the wholesome relationships they build with Shen Qingqiu. Our protagonist goes from feeling like an outsider to fitting right in among his friends and disciples.
Concerning the main romance—its development can be summarized as one-sided love to enemies to lovers. Luo Binghe has strong abandonment issues that make him behave like a yandere at times. However, he becomes a starry-eyed sheep around Shen Qingqiu. This eventually changes because of the latter making a ruthless, paranoia-induced choice that leaves Luo Binghe heartbroken. A good chunk of the novel explores the deep cracks in the couple’s relationship, provoked by a broken trust from both parties. Still, the journey taken to mend this bond is interesting and highly rewarding to the reader. When it comes to their endgame dynamic, despite encountering individual characters with similar traits before, I have never read this specific kind of dynamic in a relationship. Luo Binghe is a loyal, overgrown dog, and Shen Qingqiu, usually a high-maintenance diva, loves to spoil him rotten.
If you disliked the author’s clear fetishizing of the gay relationship in Mo Dao Zu Shi, I assure you her rape fetishes don’t make an appearance here. This is very much a tale of two men learning to communicate and getting into a healthy relationship. The extras that follow the ending are a safe zone too. In fact, the extras don’t only give us further insight into the evolution of Shen Qingqiu’s and Luo Binghe’s romantic relationship, they also expand on the side-characters that we fell in love with.
The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System may be Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s first novel. Regardless, the quality of its writing is more consistent than that of her second work. Like in the author’s other stories the main cast is brimming with life. It’s worth noting that the characters aren’t as numerous as in Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s other works, which actually helps the reader build a stronger attachment to them. It’s much easier to pay attention to characters when you’re not having forty different newcomers shoved in your face at the same time.
Among the novel’s genres, its main selling point is the raw, down-to-earth comedy. No matter the situation, you’ll always have Shen Qingqiu’s narration to brighten things up with his panicked swearing and constant one-sided fights with the logic of his unreasonable new world. Shen Qingqiu’s commentary makes every step of the way entertaining. In fact, although my praise is focused on the protagonist, the side-characters often play a big role in the comedy. Keep an eye out for Liu Qingge—he’s not your typical happy-go-lucky comic relief, but he undeniably brings a lot of fun to the table with his grumpy and dramatic attitude. I’d die for him.
I strongly recommend reading The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System if you want to have a fun time mixed with some light angst here and there. Beware that book readers shouldn’t go in expecting top-notch literature; it’s a casual and light-hearted experience.