Is Reincarnation a Meme?

Hey all,

I was reading through a couple Japanese novels, and I ended up noticing a few common ways novels (including xianxia) use reincarnation. When creating a novel there are a couple barriers to creating an actual good story. A big one one is to create a compelling main character so you can cheer them on while the author ends up getting into the actual meat of the story. Great novels like ISSTT, RMJI, and AWE actually end up spending some time building up the MC's character with trials and tribulations. However, slightly less great novels can get away with reincarnation to make a character that's almost as appealing. Desolate Era, ATG, and Spirit Vessel all use reincarnation to make a character with some defining experience that can be used to explain all his actions. In these three novels, reincarnation is a vital part of the motivations of these characters and you can look at what they're doing in the context of their past life. For example, Ji Ning is getting stronger because in his past life he was weak, Yun Che is trying to get stronger (and build a ruthless reputation) as protection for the people he loves, and Feng Feiyun is trying not to die because
he got brutally murdered by the girl he loved
However, lots of other novels I read seem to just toss in reincarnation for no discernible reason. I was reading Lazy King and the central character just ends up mentioning 'btw i was a Tokyo salary-man in my past life XDDDDDD' in passing, like it doesn't even matter. If it doesn't even matter why mention it? The same thing happens with a few more novels, it's especially prevalent in Japanese work. When I saw CSG's use of reincarnation: "i was strong but i reincarnated so i'll get stronger" it just blew my mind. Is the author trying to insult my intelligence by making such a shallow background to the character, or reincarnating supposed to be some sort of inside joke? 

After some more research it's clear that reincarnation is a meme in light novels, but I'm not quite sure yet about Chinese work. Hope somebody can shed some light on why this is so common.


  • Well i think reincarnation in chinese novels is like you know in their original world there is no power, aura, ki, etc and are governed by laws and studies hence reincarnating into another world in chinese novels would usually mean higher aptitude to cultivation, skills, mindpower and comprehension to things since like we are imbued with problem solving skills and other world knowledge which helps us alot. For instance if in a certain chinese novel ur learning a space time skill. You can use you past memory about science and hence learn and comprehend the skill faster while also a more stable and stronger version then the original. You know what i mean people in our world = their world heaven defying genius.
  • If you read books such as tales of demons and gods its a pretty clear and stable viewpoint about reincarnation so think of any MC in any reincarnation novel like ni lie who has like extreme limits of knowledge which increases his comprehension power.
  • Hope this helps you out in viewing reincarnation in chinese novels better!!!
  • Reincarnation isn't a meme. It's a trope. The authors that had stuff like that in were probably making fun of the trope. Not a meme (lol?)
  • A novel that pulls reincarnation off is nine cauldrons. With the whole first arc in his past life
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