Black-bellied vs. Black-bellied: Ultimate Showdown

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In order to help his father investigate the true situation at the group’s clothing company, Qi Yu was almost involved in an economic case. Fortunately, he was able to get away because of “an old hand” who had selflessly been providing him with help.

But as his interactions with this old hand grew, Qi Yu gradually began to discover that all this was far less simple than it seemed. He began to have his doubts about the other’s true identity and his purpose for appearing at his side…

“There is only one true heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it.”

——Romain Rowland

Associated Names
One entry per line
The Hunter Behind the Scenes
The Ultimate Showdown of Black-bellied and Black-bellied
幕后獵手
腹黑和腹黑的终极对决
Related Series
The Daily Life of Being the Campus Idol’s Fake Boyfriend (Shared Universe)
Assistant Architect (Shared Universe)
Recommendations
The Daily Life of Being the Campus Idol’s Fake Boyfriend (2)
Assistant Architect (2)
The Perfect Relationship (1)
Recommendation Lists
  1. MLM NOVELS II
  2. Bl novels 3
  3. May read??
  4. want to read
  5. Genius plot BL

Latest Release

Date Group Release
06/27/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c177
06/24/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c176
06/21/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c175
06/20/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c174
06/16/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c173
06/14/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c172
06/13/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c171
06/09/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c170
06/07/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c169
06/06/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c168
06/02/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c167
05/31/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c166
05/30/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c165
05/26/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c164
05/25/22 Chrysanthemum Garden c163
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8 Reviews sorted by


Ainslee
New Ainslee rated it
June 21, 2022
Status: c88
The story was kinda sweet, however the MC didn't really fit the black belly tittle because he's obviously kinda naive and inexperienced for manipulative behaviour identic for the usual black belly personality.

While the ML fit the title really well.

Halfway thru, they were just on a living together but not sleeping together stage. ML was very patient in his pursuit. Lol.
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idlehands
idlehands rated it
January 7, 2022
Status: --
I'm not that far in and probably continue it at some point, but my rating won't change no matter how much "character development" might happen later on.

This novel has the same problems as the author's other story.

The main characters are around 20, studying/working adults, yet they all have the maturity level and mental competence of 13 years old children.

Someone who grew up in the business circle, was dragged along to meetings etc. From a young age, can't possibly be this trusting and naïve, most lower-middle class children are more realistic... more>> than MC.
If we look at side characters, they are the opposite, scoundrels with zero intelligence so MC can look more outstanding, at least he has manners and good grades.

In short, all characters are stereotypes, nothing else.

I'm only around chapter 44 and am dead tired of how often the author repeats how good looking MC is, it's such a major focus that I have to wonder if I'm reading an entertainment story, a very shallow one.

Here too, women are evil plot devises, I think 5 were given a name, of which only MC's mother is a decent person, most of the others are basically money-hungry prostit**es sleeping with whoever their rich boyfriend/employer tells them to bed.
All the others are only there to blush due to MC's good looks and occasionally try to hit on him.

Why was this necessary?

The relationship between ML and MC is uncomfortable at best, an absolute no-go at worst.

ML is manipulative, while MC is so immature and dense that he doesn't even realise ML is chasing him, he genuinely thinks of him as a teacher - which ML is aware of.
This kind of dynamic is, at least for me, extremely uncomfortable.

It doesn't get any better when he finally understands ML's real intention, instead of voicing his own interest, he starts to play games as not to "lose" to the ML, no matter that the guy never really did anything, MC is just too s*upid to see through the simplest of things.

She likely wanted to make it look like ML gives MC his total support, teaches him how the business world really works, and helps him to grow.
He repeatedly states that he wants MC to come to him willingly, fall in love with him earnestly, but that's not how it is if you look at it closely.

ML has already done so much for MC that he developed a dependency, meanwhile ML does his best to make MC paranoid about everyone around him, even long-term friends.
It's supposed to seem like MC was only made aware of possibilities, that he's now prepared should anyone he likes turn out to be a bad person, and he himself says that he will continue to trust "worthy" people until something happens that proves their bad motives.

"Trust" means you are sure they would never hurt you, "trust" doesn't have a timestamp, if you are already prepared that things go south with someone, then you don't trust them at all.

I'm sure the author didn't think that far, there are quite a lot of similar things that make it clear she never went below the surface, readers are expected to take it at face value and not to think about it too deeply.

It's basically "Campus idol's fake boyfriend" but in a business setting, equally shallow if you try to look at it instead of just glancing at it, characterisation isn't any better either, it's just more ridiculous considering that the characters in this one are supposed to be working adults at the top of the food chain.

I've gone into this with the expectation of reading a mature business focused novel, because that's what it's tagged as – but sadly not what it turned out to be.

What annoyed me the most and would warrant to drop my rating to zero, is that the author seems to think being gay means to like every single man you come across.
It's seriously insulting how MC doubts his "gayness" because he isn't interested in a guy who's basically sexually harassing him, so he can't possibly like ML either, he's obviously straight.

This is such a dangerous stereotype on which a good portion of h*mophobia is based on, I can't fathom why an author would use this in their story, I can only hope she doesn't actually believe it herself.

Two stars for the accurate business aspects, that's the only positive point I could find. <<less
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Xu Wen Hui
Xu Wen Hui rated it
August 25, 2021
Status: --
I read this novel a few months ago, and the only impression I still have of it was the title really doesn't match the novel.
Spoiler

when I finished reading it, I remembered checking the reviews on jjwxc, because to me, the MC wasn't really black bellied and more holy motherish? To me it was more like a innocent, young rich second gen MC who opened his eyes to the dark side of society x the secret identity black bellied ML who taught and mentored him

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This is just my opinion though, but I still liked the couple's interactions
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periperi
periperi rated it
August 19, 2021
Status: Completed
Current rating: 4 stars

I think this book (so far) has one of my favourite ML. The super smart, teasing, and helps MC kind of ML (but also kind of black bellied as per the tags). It was 5 stars all the way till around chapter 60, I'll see if I continue.

I love MC and ML interactions and their student-teacher vibe (not actual school setting, more of ML teaching MC business stuff). Also, with so many entertainment setting stories out there, it's very refreshing for such a business oriented book (not... more>> that I understood much about that aspect). And I kind of liked the little hidden identity part as well that unravels fairly quickly, although ML remains rather mysterious.

Now what I didn't really like (but is a personal preference, I think most people won't mind it, mind the spoiler!) :
Spoiler

around chapter 60, MC and ML enters a second contract as the first student-teacher one ends. Where MC takes advantage of ML's feelings for him to get ML to stay with him (and continue teaching him) in exchange for MC's "body" but not his heart as he is not gay. And ML accepts it. I kind of think ML probably has other motives too but if not, then love has made him accept a the short end of the stick in that deal. Also, I thought MC clearly showed so many signs of affection and even said he liked ML but when it came down to it, he said no he doesn't?! But also, understandably, he doesn't want to make a rash decision. But I don't like that kind of deals (makes me feel like it's cheating someone's feelings). Even if the affection is actually secretly mutual, with a deal smack in between them, it feels dirty. SIGH I preferred their previous interactions. And to think this book is about 180 chapters long and this is only chapter 60.

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But otherwise, so far it's a pretty interesting book with strong characters in the business setting with cameos from author's other book. (And yes, they smoke, WHY).

Edit: At chapter 73 and I actually still really like the story (will rate this 4.5). I think the CP really compliment each other (love how competent the characters are) and the business part is surprisingly still quite interesting. Still minus 0.5 for my spoiler above because
Spoiler

I would rather the cute parts without a black and white deal between them. But their relationship is still very cute.

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Edit: completed, overall still around 4-4.5 stars. Still really like ML (maybe moreso than MC). The story is actually entertaining enough and can see the growth of MC but certain parts, MC kept throwing tantrums (reminds me of assistant architect). I just want to say I felt really
Spoiler

bad for the zhang kid at the end of the book who got kidnapped with MC. Like he had bad intentions but he was a victim of his circumstance and I wanted him to have a happier end too. Like I just felt sorry for him in the whole book.

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And FYI, this book has no side CP other than Qi Feng from the other book. <<less
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Indigokhalil
Indigokhalil rated it
March 28, 2022
Status: c187
I've never written a review before but after having actually finished reading this novel and seeing how few reviews there are of it, I feel the need to do one. In my opinion, this story doesn't receive enough praise. It's very different from the usual danmei webnovel but different doesn't mean bad.

For one, the background of this story is the business world. And it's not just because the characters are CEOs or office workers. It talks about stock manipulations, acquisitions, mergers, investments, etc., all the various aspects of a corporate... more>> business. And the author weaves a very convincingly realistic setting.

Which brings me to the next point – the ‘realistic’ setting. In this story, (apart from, arguably, the ML and MC) everyone is portrayed in various shades of gray. For most of the characters in this story, you can't say they're completely good or completely bad. For a lot of the 'bad' characters, I find myself feeling sorry for them or liking some aspect of them while hating others.

The author also writes realistic situations. She portrays the business world in all its ugliness and moral ambiguity. It's this morally ambiguous setting that forces the MC to grow, to learn, to form his principles and his courage.
The MC's growth is slow. I actually prefer it this way. He starts the story as a sort of naive, unbending 19 year old which to me, sounds reasonable. I don't know about you but I wasn't anything impressive at 19. I was pretty much just a college student trying to find my way around. Granted, I'm no business scion, but I did have classmates who were and they were no better than I was. I'd be more turned off if he started off as some bigshot business genius. The author writes his growth in a way that we can clearly see it. He becomes more cunning, more wily, more able to play the game. He learns to see people -- including long time friends and the ML -- as they are and he makes his own decisions as to whether to trust them or not. In short, he grows as a shrewd businessman but with principles. However, he doesn't really fully mature until maybe the 130 chapter mark. Just keep that in mind.

The ML starts of as a sort of life teacher for the MC, while at the same time, he is an undercover government agent tasked with investigating the MC's family company. Because he's so much more experienced than the MC, the relationship in the beginning is pretty lopsided. But as the MC grows, their relationship also changes to be much more even. The MC, while he was taught and guided by the ML, does form his own opinions and his own principles. As he begins to fully mature, he starts taking steps independent of the ML and that's when their relationship, for me, begins to become quite even.

The story is told almost exclusively from the view of the MC so we hardly see the view of the ML. Despite that, we can see his struggles between his mission and his love for the MC. It really pulls at my heartstrings. Towards the end, you can also see his utmost devotion. Awww... my heart.

The plot is amazing. The whole 180+ chapter novel is one big corporate intrigue story. Everything ties in. Things that happen in the beginning are connected to the end. It shows that the author really thought this story out.

Another big thing that I love about this story is the author's motivation behind writing it. In a note on chapter 130, she explicitly explains that she wanted to write about idealists in a society like the one that we currently live in where people give up their scruples to get ahead. In the final analysis, that is exactly what she does. She has the MC and ML represent what she thinks to be the 'proper' path. She shows the struggles and the price the MC had to pay -- losing friends, potential partners, an easy way to succeed, making hard decisions that affect 'innocent' people -- in order to stick to his principles. In the end, the MC and ML are rewarded for this but it came at a cost.

The author was criticized for being idealistic by some Chinese readers. Among western readers though, I feel this story is being criticized for being not idealistic enough. We're so used to stories where black and white are so clearly delineated, where the MC is completely upstanding, right, pure and OP. Well, this story isn't one of those and I think it's all the better for it. I think readers who've experienced working in corporate can relate to a lot of the characters and themes in this story.

One last thing I would like to address is the lack of good female characters. Yes, there aren't a lot of 'good' female characters. The only one that could be considered is Jiang Ying, the MC's mom. However, I would like to point out that there aren't really that many 'good' male characters either. As the author has explicitly said, the ML and MC are the ones she wrote to be 'right/good'. Everyone else is just kind of gray. The female characters could certainly fawn over the MC less though. A possible reason why there's also very few female characters is because she made the setting to be realistic and while I find it sad and believe that it shouldn't be the case, women are under-represented in the upper levels of corporate business.

Overall, I really liked this story and I hope you would give it a try. I hope you'll read it through til the end because I think this story needs to be read in its entirely to really be enjoyed and to understand what the author was trying to do and say. Rating 4.7 out of 5.0. <<less
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qwynedd
qwynedd rated it
April 27, 2022
Status: c40
I honestly feel annoyed and really don't like ml, i'll probably drop this.

... more>>
Spoiler

Emotionally manipulating mc? I already commented this on the site but he is a major red flag 🚩 that's not how healthy rel works. It's no different to some ch novel where third parties get theirselves preg just to marry a rich family to gain money or public proposal to pressure them to enter a relationship, it's called ✨ manipulation✨. Besides such person is capable of gaslighting someone. And the MC is young and naive, and he is 7 years older???? I hope people stop romantizing this kind of mls. "Fox", "blackbellied" towards MC. If it was a attitude towards a business rival or competitor I would've agree to it but to use this personality towards the person u like, if I were him. I'll find somebody else to date. The very moment I realized that they manipulated me into the relationship no matter what I felt. I would definetly doubt what I felt then yeet myself out.

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Besides the title is insiting rivals to lovers but it's not. It's very misleading. <<less
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SilentWatch83
SilentWatch83 rated it
November 17, 2021
Status: c50
I like it so far!

MC who is used to being the one in control over his emotions and relationship are slowly being led by the ML into being more spoiled and artless, despite him actually teaching the MC how to be more calculative.
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Psychoutre
Psychoutre rated it
April 29, 2022
Status: c65
MTL is pretty good!

Quite sad to drop this tbh, I was having the time of my life reading that the MC is 186cm tall, we love non-feminine shous, however it didn't last when his character is pretty childish, naive and quick to anger. I was fooled by the cover thinking I'd read about a cunning, smart, well-behaved MC and a similarly scheming ML. I was hoping a battle of wits, but that definitely wasn't the case. Essentially MC doesn't have class... such a shame.

Just wanting to throw hands with the... more>> MC insisting he's not gay or purposely plays with the ML's feelings. I guess I'll have to go back and hunt for something else to rave about... <<less
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