In December 2021, the first volumes of three danmei Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s light novels have been officially translated into English by publisher Seven Seas Entertainment, and they all debuted on the New York Times List of bestsellers. Heaven Official’s Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu) Flight. 1 debuted at No. 8, Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) Flight. 1 debuted at No. 9, and The Scum Villain’s Self-Rescue System (Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong) Vol 1 debuted at #14. But what is danmei, who is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu and why did his light novels immediately have a noticeable impact?
Simply, danmei is the Chinese version of the Japanese genre BL (Boys’ Love). It is a genre of works featuring a romantic relationship between men. And even though danmei’s target audience is usually heterosexual women, queer people have flocked to these works.
Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, also called MXTX, is a well-known Chinese danmei author. Although his works face intense scrutiny from Chinese censorship policies, they have thriving fanbases in China and around the world. And they are popular enough to be suitable for live action and donghua (Chinese anime) projects.
Here’s a look at the three MXTX danmei works currently exploding in popularity:
Heaven Official’s Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu) Flight. 1
Heaven Official’s Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu), also called TGCF, is MXTX’s most recent work. It features the disgraced Crown Prince Xie Lian, whose attempts to ascend to the heavens ended in swift banishments to the mortal realm. Banished for the third time to the mortal realm with the task of exorcising ghosts, Xie Lian encounters a mysterious demon king who has been watching him for hundreds of years.
Heaven Official’s Blessing has been adapted into a donghua available to stream on Funimation and Netflix.
Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) Flight. 1
Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi), also called MDZS, is set in a magical world and follows the years-long story of Wei Wuxian, a disgraced cultivator who turned to demonic cultivation and turned the world against him. He gets a second chance at life when a young man called Mo Xuanyu, rejected and hated by his own clan, sacrifices himself to summon Wei Wuxian to avenge him. Wei Wuxian soon meets Lan Wangji, a fellow practitioner with whom he has a long past. As they work together to solve the mystery of which body was present at the Mo house when Wei Wuxian was summoned, they eventually learn more about the circumstances of what led to Wei Wuxian’s death.
Grand Master of Demonic Cultivation is probably MXTX’s biggest hit, with a big impact on Western audiences. The light novel has been adapted into donghua with two seasons available on Tencent’s WeTv streaming site under the title The Founder of Diabolism.
It was also more famously adapted as a live-action series called The Untamed, available on Netflix, starring Sean Xiao and Wang Yibo, two well-known Chinese idols turned actors.
The Scum Villain’s Self-Rescue System (Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong) Volume 1
The Scum Villain’s Self-Rescue System (Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong) was MXTX’s first light novel, a more humorous take on the supernatural fantasy world in which the rest of its novels are set. It’s about a man, Shen Yuan, who is reborn as a villain in a fantasy online comic series he was obsessed with in real life. Reborn as Shen Qingqiu, the beautiful but cruel teacher of a young Luo Binghe, he strives to save Luo Binghe from the villainous role he played in the web novel, and their relationship becomes romantic.
With these novels available in local bookstores and online, danmei is surely becoming more and more accessible to a wider audience.
Seven Seas Entertainment has even included guides and glossaries in the above volumes, covering everything from characters and locations to pronunciation guides and other cultural terms that those new to danmei maybe not aware.
We loved the first volumes of these three danmei series by MXTX and we look forward to the releases of future volumes.
are you a danmei fan? Have you checked the work of MXTX?