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dahlys
dahlys rated it
Cultivation Chat Group
July 22, 2018
Status: c2222
If you like Konosuba you'd probably like this, it is absolutely hilarious. Cultivation Chat Group is a parody of xianxia novels and most of the novel is spent overturning people's impression of cultivators. They enjoy modern conveniences (why use magic when you have a smartphone?) and are so bored out of their minds (due to their long lives) that they spend all day and night gossiping online.

Story and Writing

The story moves at a snail's pace for the first 100 chapters or so, but struggle through it and the pacing improves.... more>> After 1000 chapters the pace speeds up even more. There is an underlying main plot but it is not particularly important, as nonsensical comedy is the main point here. This novel is meant to be read with a light heart and not taken seriously at all. The arcs are kept fresh and interesting for the most part, and describe how these long-lived cultivators integrate themselves into the modern world and have fun mixing magic with technology. There aren't any large timeskips where the MC goes and secludes himself for hundreds and thousands of years, instead we have an almost day-by-day description of the MCs life as a beginner cultivator (2100 chapters and not even 7 months have passed).

Another point that I find outstanding is the quality of the writing despite CCG being a webnovel (I read the original, untranslated version). I don't see much repeated vocabulary (e.g. 20+ occurrences of "suddenly", "instantly", "at his cultivation level" in 1 chapter, I'm looking at you ISSTH, HN1F) and elementary school level writing. Stupid situations where the enemy looks down upon the MC and boasts about themselves don't exist unless it is a deliberate parody. The writing is clear and creative, though often long-winded (okay, so the author makes money by the number of words written, all Chinese webnovel authors are long-winded on purpose). Overall, it is at least obvious that this author does not have a limited vocabulary problem and checks his work before uploading.

Characters

What makes this series good are the well-developed, likable, wacky characters, be they friends or enemies. There is no absolute good and evil and everyone has a reason for doing what they do. Named characters aren't constantly being killed off or rendered irrelevant. Despite the large number of characters, they remain memorable unlike many other xianxia where by the end of the story you'll only remember the MC and (hopefully) his wives. Everyone has an actual personality although it may be cliched or forced at times.

The MC Song Shuhang starts off as a generic normal boring good guy, but he turns out to be extremely easily influenced and grows a lot throughout the story (not always in a beneficial way to himself). He is not your typical determined shonen/xianxia MC, he is a happy-go-lucky guy who just wants to have fun and stay alive but keeps stumbling right into important, world-shaking events. I'd say he is quite similar to Linghu Chong of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. He is forced by the plot setting (modern day era only) to level up at a ridiculous rate in the novel timeline (which is not by any means realtime, in realtime he is the slowest leveling xianxia MC ever), but doesn't realize that he himself is OP as his enemies are always more OP than he is. He is a "lucky protagonist" but his luck is contrived as the whole modern day setting thing wouldn't work at all if he wasn't nonsensically lucky.

Conclusion

CCG is a much needed breather from serious novels with lots of plot and serious characters with lots of passion. It's silly, ridiculous, and really funny. Sometimes we need to read nonsense for the sake of nonsense, because it is truly entertaining~ <<less
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dahlys
dahlys rated it
I Shall Seal the Heavens
August 20, 2018
Status: Completed
ISSTH had a really promising plot setup, but poor execution and bad writing left me disappointed by the end of the story. Over a hundred mysteries that were hinted at time and time again were never resolved, especially the secrets of South Heaven, the Ji Clan, and Mountain Sea Realm. The Violet Fate Sect and South Heaven War arcs are really good but the other arcs are boring. The author builds up tension and then fails to deliver. We thus end up with a "weekly antagonist" cycle. The only things... more>> that kept me reading were the emotional scenes that sometimes made me tear up, the laugh out loud interaction between Ultimate Vexation and Lord Fifth, and the slight hope that at least the biggest mysteries get resolved (but in the end they are not resolved or the answer is downright pathetic). The final arc "I watch blue seas become lush fields" is a waste of time, the story should have ended with the final battle of the previous arc "The demon sovereign returns" or "My mountain sea realm".

I read the original version in Chinese and the writing is absolutely PAINFUL to read. Er Gen uses the same words and phrases over and over again, often multiple times in one chapter. 20+ instances of "suddenly" in one chapter, seriously? Ouch. I started ISSTH because I liked Er Gen's previous novel Renegade Immortal, but I feel that the quality of the writing has actually worsened.

Character development in ISSTH is nonexistent and character personalities tend to be cliched. The MC Meng Hao is a hypocrite, he thinks of himself as a good guy but ironically
Spoiler

he is the worst money grubbing thief ever, scamming people, forcing people to owe him money and torturing them if they refuse.

[collapse]
Chu Yuyan is not the female lead, but has so much more personality and presence, too bad she never gets what she wants since I was supporting her all the way. And that's all the characters I can remember as the rest might as well be Passerby A and B.

All in all, I am disappointed in ISSTH since I was setup for a good ride but left hanging in the air. <<less
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dahlys
dahlys rated it
The Desolate Era
August 17, 2018
Status: Completed
Desolate Era can be split into two halves: the Three Realms and the Universe.

The first Three Realms half deserves a 4.5/5. The protagonist Ji Ning wishes to take hold of his own destiny and fights for his loved ones, his friends, his world, and to restore law and order. The plot is deep with layer upon layer of enemy conspiracy, and keeps you reading to find out what really is going on. The plot twists are amazing and will leave you satisfied and surprised. The cultivation phases are clear and... more>> the protagonist remains true to his original skills -- he is damn bloody good at the sword and only gets better at it. Romance is the weak link here, Ji Ning doesn't spend much time with his wife at all, and there is literally no content about his daughter even though she is the most important person to him. Even his pets have more screen time.

In the second Universe half of the story, Ji Ning suddenly loses his original motivation that made the first half so compelling. He already has the strength to protect what he wishes to protect, so acting on a promise, he... embarks on a holiday. He oh so conveniently runs into one opportunity after another and gets stronger.
Spoiler

He then finds new motivation in resurrecting his wife despite their shallow, short relationship, and Ji Ning thus turns into a spoiled brat wallowing in grief, unable to get over her death and clinging onto a thin ray of hope.

[collapse]
The new arcs are boring and even the fights lose their flavor once Ji Ning's skills become set in stone and only increase in power and speed. Even the final war has none of the complexity and delicacy of the Three Realms war! 1/5 for this half! <<less
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dahlys
dahlys rated it
Dragon King’s Son-In-Law
October 6, 2018
Status: c50
I starting reading this expecting a funny romcom and slice-of life... What I got was just slice-of life. The novel up to now is not funny at all, and the characters' personalities are bland as hell. When I read the summary I was expecting either 1) silly comedy like Seto no Hanayome or 2) complex, messy family politics like a Taiwanese drama but there isn't any hilarious or exciting stuff going on at all. Maybe it gets better later but... eh, that's one heck of a slow start, so I'm... more>> dropping this. <<less
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