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The problem with translated and weabooist Xianxia


Clephas

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While reading litrpgs, I sometimes come across ones that stray into the realms of Xianxia or are simply Xianxia mislabeled as litrpgs.  Xianxia is a genre of Chinese-origin, creating a system of magic and abilities based off of Qigong practices.  Technically, stuff like Naruto and Hunter X Hunter would fall into the realm of Xianxia, given its use of many of the same concepts.

Xianxia books have a number of common issues, in my opinion.  Some of them are quite enjoyable, but even the enjoyable ones seem to love the heavy-handed ladling of the 'power is everything' and 'hubris comes before the fall' themes.  In some series, a protagonist will constantly obsess over the former and get kicked in the ass by the latter several times over the course of a single book.  This is particularly bad in the case of Xianxia translated from Chinese, where genre tropes are almost as ingrained to them as charage ones are in Japan.  Another trend is protagonists who are so amoral they aren't even really characters, as well as protagonists who are inconsistent and hypocritical to an extreme degree, even to the layman's point of view.   I love the ones who go on to create or destroy worlds, and I love sagas spanning ten books and hundreds or thousands of years.  What I hate is that every Xianxia novel that gets translated seems to read like a reprint of the previous one.

There is another type of Xianxia, mostly written by Westerners (I call it Weabooist Xianxia), that combines these tropes with a tendency to sound like a bad translation from Japanese.  They will constantly repeat the 'I need more power', the infamous 'it can't be helped', and other turns of phrase that will cause winces from any experienced translator.  It is appalling that anyone who considers themselves a writer would consider some of the crap that comes out of many of the Western-based Xianxia writers to be even adequate, much less good.  It never fails to amaze me that some of these people actually got through the editing process.

The very best Western Xianxia writers manage to do something great with the genre, something that the Chinese, as restricted as they are, seem to be incapable of doing... breaking out of that seventy-meter-deep rut.  The worst read as badly as the worst translated Xianxia.

Let's be clear, I really, really enjoy the gradual power-gaining of cultivation worlds, the martial arts, the gratuitous and even casual violence, the duels and rivalries.  What I don't like are the linguistic conventions and pathetically overused tropes that seem to get dropped into so many of them.

 

Thanks for listening to me vent.

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Hello.

I agree with you globally.... BUT ! I'm ashamed to admit that, after a lot of "japan" consumption, I feel refreshed (even with moderately bad writing) when the (male) protagonist :

 - does not redden just by grazing a maiden's hand... despite being over 12.... ?

  - does not find normal to be a quasi molester ("仕方ない... だ... 女だぞ?... 可愛いだぞ? 自重わけ")

  - does not accept violence/humiliation/spontaneous servitude agreement because the other one does not have it between the leg..

And so on....

hmm, why again do I like reading VNs ?..

Seriously now, all JP writings aren't like that and I've seen the same from Chinese writers. Yet there's a true tendency, in particular (as you may have noticed in my examples) concerning relations between men and women (do a lot of Japanese men really readily accept to be considered a sub-species in real life ?).

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