Suddenly it's exam time. Suddenly it's time for competitions. Suddenly it's exams on a deserted island. Suddenly there's a talent competition (just an excuse to give MC singing ability and reference cool YouTube videos). Suddenly the clubs they joined go on world tours where they encounter Situation A/B/C/D/E. Suddenly a dungeon appears.
Typical examples of how bad it gets.
Hint: Author's chapter word count requirement is probably 2500 (in English at least) .
First 530 words, side character thinking about MC (reminder MC is 28 yrs old, the school kids are 17).
Next 1400+ words, MC leaving for a RANDOM assassination mission and completing it (same day).
Next 500+ words, MC going home and interacting with side characters.Zero plot progression.
First 730 words, a mercenary group sitting around randomly talking about the MC.
Next 1800+ words, MC and side characters chatting and eating at a restaurant.Zero plot progression.
First 760+ words, MC playing with items/stat sheet when no one cares about 0.001 numbers.
Next 140 words, yet another random club outing.
Next 1300+ words, MC chatting with a side character and showing off in class.
Suddenly it's revealed MC always knew that a random dead dude he was looking for (on behalf of the side character) was actually a good guy. Was never mentioned in the dozens of chapters while MC was looking for him. Has no bearing on the story, just nonsense makjang.
Next 400 words, a side character is digging up some info about MC (which the next chapter reveals is pointless other than to make MC's background a sob story).Zero plot progression.
First 1000 words, side character discovered MC's background sob story and her father might be involved. Pointless makjang.
Next 600 words, other side character realized her father (aforementioned dead dude MC was looking for) was a good guy. Which the AUTHOR SPOILED 1 chapter before. Pointless.
Next 560 words, MC is in Busan because his club once again randomly decided to go. He's in a high class hotel suite. The reason: someone canceled so he got it for cheap. This random teleportation trick happens throughout the novel. Some pointless chatter with side characters.
Next 460 words, MC just so happens to meet potential final boss in Busan. Tadah! Some plot progression finally happens.
MC literally went with bio-warfare by spreading the plague to Tibetan highlands to kill off livestock. He could have done this BEFORE WAR EVEN STARTED. That would have disabled the Tibetans logistically and they can't even start a war
It's hinted there's some hidden secret causing the Emperor to become pathetic, but after 650 chapters it's just sheer nonsense and poor writing. No excuses.
A better scenario would have been to depict The Sage Emperor as being old/with no capable successors and thus unable to hold/manage court properly.
And MC goes to fight the war with a meagre private army, not a single iota of help/reinforcements/supplies from the government. And this after everyone knew the southwestern frontier was falling, the initial armies had been defeated, and there are STILL tons of reserve troops (200+k) in the capital. And the "Sage Emperor" acts mysterious, keeps saying he can't do jack sh*t, and doesn't do jack sh*t.
Multiple training camp sites that were later abandoned when the author realized it made no sense. Spirit vein is sold. All of the side characters developed in the training camps disappear.
e.g. MC was bad-ass with his dual daggers and the fights were pretty epic. Then author randomly introduces a gun in the story, and MC becomes enamored with borrowing a legendary gun to one-shot legendary level bosses. Huh?
He spends almost 10+? Years in the dungeon, is still stuck there, and seems to have worked out some/most of his emotional problems. And that's saying something.
If we all watched and accepted that the protagonist in "Old Boy" became mentally unhinged after being locked in a small room for 15 yrs, of course it's reasonable for Lee Ho Jae to have PTSD and a whole host of other anti-social/self-destructive behavior after 10+? Yrs of survival mode in hell difficulty that he cannot escape from.
Lee Ho Jae realizes that they are not just randomly generated enemies that he needs to defeat to progress. They are possibly real (or formerly real) entities that had their own backstories and were just leading their own lives before being pulled into the dungeon. MC develops real empathy for them.
That's an AMAZING concept. Previous game-isekai type stories (esp Jap ones) had at best friendly NPCs that were anthropomorphized.
A psychotic arsonist is driven to murder due to fear of abandonment. A beautiful ballerina commits suicide in an act of desperation. Goddamn dolls everywhere!
What could POSSIBLY go wrong to undertake a mission to hold your breath under water at 344AM in a haunted house while a murderous spirit is clawing outside the bathroom door??
Given all the kingdom-building novels out there, how hard can it be to build a Horror-themed-Disneyland? =)
Phone buzzing with messages..."Are you there?"
"Are you there?"
"ARE YOU THERE??"
Visitors in the haunted house attraction discover an old notebook ...
"I'm sorry.. I shouldn't have gotten close to you. I just wanted to help pick up the ball.."
"Teacher, I didn't mean to get my clothes wet. Nobody bullied me, it was my mistake."
"Dad, I promise I'll work hard, please stop beating me.."
"I'm sorry, I don't know why my smile annoys people, I won't do it again.."
"I'm sorry.. I'm sorry.. sorry"
A masked lady narrates a story.."Let me tell you a story about my wife.
She's four years younger than me and works as a midnight radio host, so she's often back late. Shortly after we got married, I used to leave dinner out for her but I'd find the food untouched the next morning. Oddly enough, the cooking utensils appears to be used. At first I thought she didn't like my cooking and didn't think much of it...
Over the next few nights, I heard sounds in the kitchen and noticed someone was cooking with the lights off. She was holding blocks of meat and a kitchen knife... it looked like braised pork, but who makes that in the middle of the night?...
I love her, but it's starting to creep me out...
One night I hid in a corner and heard the sounds of teeth tearing into flesh.. munch munchI stayed awake. When she slept beside me, she looked so beautiful. I noticed her belly looked a little swollen and hesitated to kiss her.. maybe it's just her idiosyncrasies, but I still love her.
I looked through the trash bags outside.. at first it was just chicken bones. I'm amazed she could finish an entire chicken! Then it was fish. Then a dog, a cat...
A "mercenary" female assassin who shelters beggar children. A "righteous" knight who won't hesitate to kill. A "just and wise" king who is completely callous to familial relations.
Natural disaster happened. Famine broke out. Everyone rioted. Most of the royal family was assassinated. All that happened within 1 year (named "The Bloody Year"). Huh?? Anyone who studies any world history in school would tell you such nonsense couldn't happen.
Poor attempts by author at describing political changes. The kingdom was supposed to be absolute monarchy, then lost control to feudalism due to wars (lords granted land and powers to assist in governing the country), then back to absolute monarchy again, but everyone is now doing a power grab.
Chapters and chapters were devoted to showing how MC was emotionally mature. He stabbed a gang leader to death, witnesses large scale carnage and massacre, but can regain his emotional control in a span of a few moments. He can even talk down a vampire after being kidnapped.
But when MC meets his callous father (a King), he gets completely tongue-tied like some kinda shoujo. When MC is confronted with zealous fervor of his subjects, rather than argue sensibly that their fanaticism was misplaced despite his own strong misgivings, he goes along with it. SO PAINFUL TO READ.
Whenever MC gets into a difficult situation, it's only his adult mature mind that allows him to assess the situation calmly and see if he can negotiate/use his cunning to find a way out. It never relates to his previous life's skills/knowledge as a bookish academic. What's the point of the PhD?? "Release that Witch"'s MC did something with his knowledge. What is this guy doing?
To figure out how to recreate his power (which appeared to be incited through anger/emotion), MC goes through nonsense exposition of various modern day theorems. Such as:
'There are too few samples, too many variables, and the mechanism is too simple. The overly complicated Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) cannot be used. I can just use the most basic Mill's Methods of induction. First of all, with 'bleeding' and 'losing control' as the keywords, select relevant cases and events.'
WTF?? Why expound all this crap, just go ahead and test it??! And many chapters later, author realizes what he wrote was stupid, so he contrived a scenario (which should be the normal way of doing things) for MC to activate his power. Because author realized there was no theoretical way to explain what mystic power was. So he came up with this nonsensical crap:"Blood had acted as a medium with the previous two times he 'lost control' by bringing the dagger, which was a material object, and the mysterious sphere, which was an energy, before him in a mysterious manner. Hence, he made a tentative guess that the power might be related to dimensional teleportation." WHAT??
An entire chapter devoted to a crazed gang leader murdering children in excruciating detail. I get the point of the occasional gratuitous violence depiction, but was there a point to this chapter at all? Could have been done in less than half. And this repeated itself throughout the entire novel, likely to make up word count.
Entire chapters with either: Exposition about historical events, which at the end become a fake out and we're told isn't true, OR
Fake pleasantries between characters, then all the pretense drops and we're told all the earlier discussion was false. WTF. This is why other commentators said the plot goes NOWHERE.
Literally MC's brother was ranting along the lines of...
"I was betrayed by A".
"I could have become better/faster/stronger but I was betrayed by B and took an arrow/dagger in the knee/heart".
"I lost everything, then I was betrayed by C. Oh and then I took another arrow/dagger in the knee/heart". Yea we get it.
- There isn't an explanation on how people get access to the dungeon (they just randomly receive a phone message), but apparently nepotism exists (since parents can somehow bring their kids over). i.e. There's at the very least some way to communicate between worlds. But author just glosses over it.
- Skills/weapons that MC acquires are randomly mentioned as Unique, etc, or completely missing their modifiers in their description (e.g. Unique, D+). Then there are paragraphs of exposition explaining how awesome these modifiers are. Literally "this weapon is ranked D+. Holy sh*t that's so amazing, how did you not know that?" We're left wondering what the hell the difference is between E and D since author doesn't talk about it.
- Mana can apparently do anything/everything. Modify weapons, augment physical abilities, etc. And somehow MC is the only person in the tutorial that can utilize mana in that way.
- After randomly killing MULTIPLE bosses, they are mentioned to regenerate after each tutorial (i.e. every month). Many monsters are given backstories (love for their children, etc), but no reason why they are there. Often times they are not even there as a trial, they just live in their corner of the world minding their own business. Then MC constantly goes on and on justifying why he's entitled to kill the monsters (because it's a dog-eat-dog world). So what's the point of giving us backstories to the monsters? Fillers??
- Somehow other players such as the dark elf can give out quests/rewards. Huh??
- It's REPEATEDLY mentioned players have innate abilities, which seems to be luck-of-the-draw. No amount of effort/determination makes up for it. i.e. You're either born with a silver spoon or nada. And MC just happens to have TWO silver spoons, one from his brother.
How are you supposed to classify supernatural X-ray vision, super hearing, or super strength while you are still Class C? Because it clearly makes you way more OP than a Class B.
(1) MC goes on and on about how important it is to exploit the system while staying within rules and regs. But then his murders start to escalate where he blatantly does it with eye-witnesses. MC gives flimsy excuses which is accepted because everyone else is busy with a war? Lazy writing.
(2) MC price gouges in the middle of a war, and no one punishes him for it? Even on "peaceful" earth, govts get to declare martial law and commandeer assets. It makes zero sense that MC gets to do whatever he wants. Really flimsy writing by author that contradicts all the "gaming the system" stuff mentioned earlier.
A bitch villain who suddenly turns tsundere makes zero sense. But I guess author had to introduce a love rival just to spice things up.
Nam Joyoon, a 30+ down-and-out actor who struggled his whole career because of unfortunate circumstances despite having the talent. MC doesn't rely on his precognition to help out Joyoon, but genuinely hones his own ability to scout and develop Joyoon. The bromance is REAL.
""What the hell, why am I the only one SAO-ed?"
"Han Xiao did not have anything in particular against any group of people. He respected people's hobbies and interests. These two men before him were simply two lonely hearts who had no way of releasing their pent-up frustrations. Over time, their common bond developed into something special..."
"Division 13 may have been powerful and mighty, but one could never have enough new weapons.
The research department is always allocated with the largest cut of the budget, yet those useless fools only know how to create useless crap like double-sided sticky bombs, curved guns that don't work at all, and fake nipples to hide poison needles! They even have male and female versions!
The covert ops department had borne a grudge against the research team ever since two of their agents were self-poisoned due to a 'wardrobe malfunction'."
Some are my own translations, you can see the similarities to LMS:
... on the player forums.
"I've been randomly transformed into a tentacle monster, requesting help on changing my race, urgently waiting online!"
"WTF, I wanna be a tentacle monster too, let's trade places!"
"Art is an explosion!" - Guess that reference. Also used in "Forty Millenniums of Cultivation".
A tsundere old man NPC who happens to be a key character, a greedy girl-next-door workshop mechanic, players who are game-immersion fanatics, an absurd amount of people who mistakenly assume MC is gay/beastie/necro/etc... the riotous cast goes on.
Several female side characters express an interest in the MC but he disregards them in pursuit of powering up. Even MORE female side characters treat the MC with disgust/disdain and are only respectful of his abilities/reputation and nothing else, which is how it should be!
It allows the focus to be on the plot development. A good example of a similar novel where things went wrong with a female distraction was "Forty Millenniums of Cultivation". I daresay that the awkward female lead kinda ruined the story.
Han Xiao's background was always a power-leveling nerd and he enjoyed it, nothing wrong with repeating that here.
More importantly, the world he's in ISN'T DATA like SAO. It's hinted that this was a highly advanced game operated by a whole series of quantum-mechanical systems. The game appears to have melded different dimensions, blending players with a real alternate universe. Both sides appear to retain their properties, players see it as a game, NPCs see it as their reality. The NPCs themselves are amazed that Players appear to come back alive (respawn). This was briefly explored in another novel, "Reincarnator".
After coming into contact with other players, he confirms that he's an "NPC" that just happens to have a partial player interface. i.e. MC is uniquely straddling both worlds.
He's able to award missions like NPCs, and players can't recognize him as a player.
MC's battlesuit/style is very unique. Despite the ability to change his facial features with the help of a mask, it's obvious to everyone who he really is, so it doesn't make sense when MC pretends to be someone else. MC also decides to work for a variety of organizations (main neutral faction, minor warlords, etc), but adopts behavior that are contradictory to almost all of these organizations.
Same thing with a long term Hidden story line mission, which was an alternative to the 2 Main story lines on his starting planet. It was supposed to be a major deviation running concurrently with the Main story lines, but became completely pointless when author realized he couldn't link the different plot lines together.
Author realizes it was a conundrum, then lamely decided to just conclude the first 2 Main story lines, then pick up the Hidden line afterwards and gloss over it. POOR STORY STRUCTURE.
The closest analogy would be a story about ants like a "A Bug's Life". There are interesting powerful ants, there are boring insignificant ants. We learn much about the ants' daily lives, societal interactions, power struggles, dreams/hopes/frustrations. Then one day, a big clueless bumbling elephant comes along and accidentally stomps on the ants without realizing it. No, not like Saitama from OPM where he contributes meaningfully to characters' lives. Just stomping on them.
Rinse and repeat for 13 volumes.
- MC is quite useless. A former salaryman who becomes ridiculously OP, but is still incompetent and foolish even at 13 volumes. Zero character growth, he continues to be plagued by insecurities and is mentally weak. Very similar to Mushoku Tensei, although he isn't that much of a complete loser.
The concept of an OP main character isn't bad if it's done well (One Punch Man). But again, we've moved past the era of loser MCs.
The joke of plot armor and bumbling strokes of genius is so repetitive that you're already expecting it.
- Author tried to add a darker side to MC where because he is an undead, his emotions get suppressed due to a buff/debuff and somehow becomes a psychopath. It was very poorly written since there was no proper transition (a lot of commenters have indirectly mentioned). At the beginning he's mowing down villains and being a good samaritan. Suddenly he becomes a retarded psychopath like Trump with nuclear launch codes.
Loss of emotional highs/lows does not EQUAL psychopath. That's a poor understanding of human psychology. Psychopaths are defined by complete lack of empathy. The fact that a debuff comes on whenever he experiences highs/lows means he can feel. Even if he was a loner in his past life, it doesn't automatically mean he should act out on a power fantasy. There's just no justification provided on how and why he becomes a psychopath, and at the same time still act like an awkward bumbling fool in his interactions with other people.
- MC has a team of amazing talent under him, but cannot seek their help to perpetuate the myth of his invincibility. Very inconsistent with the fact that none of his subordinates cares since their loyalty is programmed in. This all comes down to weird Jap culture of "face saving" even if everything goes to sh*t. Very weak concept to sustain the whole novel.
- Author decided to really embellish side characters (mostly ordinary residents of New World), devoting multiple MULTIPLE chapters to create their backstories, way more than ALL of the primary characters. I get that author wants to establish different POV for readers, to empathize with side characters and realize how a lot of them end up as pawns in larger schemes (inadvertent or not).
Here's the writing problem. When you devote an INSANE amount of content to obvious side characters that don't advance any plot before killing them off, then it's not Game of Thrones, it's just a stupid WASTE OF THE READERS' TIME. It's a confusion of who the main actors in a story really are. And worst of all, most of them are killed off because MC is just a bumbling fool, which just leaves a bad taste.
His future self sends some memories/emotions to his current self before dying, just so he could make better decisions this time around. Not sure why such a distinction was made. It would've made no difference if he was directly sent into the past instead.
I'm guessing the author wanted a way to handicap MC's foresight so his knowledge isn't perfect, but also gift the MC a strong desire to change himself. Pointlessly confusing.
However the author provided MC with too much plot armor too early (covered below), realized he made a mistake, and thankfully reversed course within a span of 10 chapters.
spell balls that KO everything, diaries/walkthroughs that literally tell you exactly how to complete a mission.
It made the MC's progress through the 1st tutorial completely boring before it got nerfed in the 2nd tutorial. The fact that his cheats explicitly got nerfed tells you the author realized his mistake.
The isekai'd humans go through a tutorial (supposedly to weed out the weak). Then basically another tutorial to "train" them before sending them out to fight for the new world. Why don't the tons of referral agents just choose better human candidates in the first place and have 1 tutorial?
Five people standing/lying around on a battlefield talking to each other in a 3300+ word essay:
(1) an unnamed princess,
(2) an unnamed spearman/enemy who stabbed the princess for some reason
(3) some random unnamed dude that tried to save her and got KO'd
(4) the MC found dying on the ground, and
(5) the god.
That's not a prologue, author needs to go back to writing class.
Was there a need to introduce the unnamed princess, or that the god owes the princess a favor and is therefore obligated to aid the MC to send his memories into the past? Or that it took the author 3300+ words when the average chapter is <2500 words?? That's a classic sin for ALL AUTHORS.
Most readers would have dropped the novel by now with such a weak hook.
But he keeps working like a slave in his company and complains about how little money/poor he is? Zero sense.
-- The girl group that he was in-charge of had little to no improvement while MC keeps getting distracted with other side projects that are immediately successful. We keep losing sight of the girl group and the characters. Author realizes that and tries to reinsert them into the story via pointless interactions.
-- MC's sister keeps popping back up into the story despite being the blandest and most boring character, as if to remind us that she exists. She has zero purpose other than to serve as a handicap for the MC and play a useless damsel-in-distress role. Author eventually realizes this and tries to make her more useful, like learning from a music book (of which she doesn't understand at all), which makes her even more useless.
-- The names of several one-off characters actually change. One of the main characters was supposed to be an orphan, then had parents. WTF.
Because it's more believable, and the author took the time to develop both the side characters and their relationship with the MC Jung Sunwoo. And the author made a very distinct attempt to identify that potential love interests were 20ish and MC Jung was 27/28, since he clearly knew this would be an issue.
He is constantly and literally telling his proteges to develop a "hook" to draw in crowds, even though that's not part of their original personality. E.g. An aloof and reticent female idol needs to become more engaging to the public audience, some others need to dress more provocatively, etc.
I respect that this is part of the entertainment industry, but pushing mediocre stars to the top with cheap tricks like these spoils the novel. You expect the MC with his talents to be able to rise above this crap.
Just because you're a top fighter doesn't make you a good sect leader. The solution... admin-focused cultivators as CEOs for hire!
When your sect has been around thousands of years and you have many critically injured/disabled vets... you get a pension/healthcare problem!
Vol 1: MC is still within his star system.
Vol 2: MC is forced out during an epic fight, makes contact with multiple new civ, from space-farers to steampunk.
Vol 3: MC returns to his star system, origin story of demons.
His buddy from high school, a non-cultivator, slowly works his way to realize his dreams, and refuses to accept any hand-outs from MC.
A refining-master competitor, doesn't just want to follow the norm of developing his sect, but make his own journey of discovery.
Random cultivators give their lives just to ensure MC/team lives on and carry on the survival of humanity.
A reserve military commander lives through multiple millennia as a disabled robot just to carry on his last mission.
Hardened criminals are not pure evil, black or white. They have relatable shades of grey, maybe not fifty.
"Why did nearly half of people feel better seeing my idiotic actions?Maybe the reason was surprisingly simple.Because I looked like I was having the time of my life.That might have been it."
"Just like money is pointless once I die, so is fame.""Don't you want to be eternal?""Even if I am eternal in a world without me, that's nothing to be glad about, " I said.