Why are wuxia and xianxia so popular?

Hello fellow daoists,
I am writing an essay for my literature club about chinese literature, especially xianxia and wuxia novels.
My question is basically this: considering they are pretty different from standard western fantasy stories and even superhero comics,  why are these novels having a boom of popularity among western readers ?
I'm also a big fan, but I can't say I'm happy about the constant filler material, dumbed-down action and very repetitive and lazy writing and plot.
And yet here I am, donating money on patreon to read a story that barely has any progress, were half the words in a chapter are copied from other chapters, and so on.
Opinions? Professional or non-professional inputs?

Comments

  • Hello, I come from China. Evolution of these xianxia novels, inspiration from China for thousands of years of myths and legends, history books, etc., is constructed by the works of a vast world view, is deeply rooted in Chinese traditional culture is different from the cultural background of the western world.
  • USA here. Like CharlesLiang said the rich history, myths and legends that make for great stories. It's like how the romance of the three kingdoms has so many movies, manga, anime, books and tv shows about it. I personally don't really like superhero stuff because it has too much fluff when it comes to things. Like, superheros won't go around killing people that really need to die, bad guys just get locked up and then they escape and it becomes a never ending cycle. Also, things like romance don't really happen but it's unrealistic to have the hero give up on their love by having them say things like i don't want to put you in danger. It is like really, all your enemies can destroy planets like nothing so what does it matter if you have a girlfriend or wife at that point. That is why these novels are great because you can connect more with the MC's on a more personal level because it feeds on your emotions. You see and feel how powerless the MC's are and the tragic stuff they go through. You see how they slowly get stronger to accomplish a goal only to find out that the higher you aim the more problems you have and you need that much more strength. Just like in real life it is a never ending struggle. Also, superheros are generally good and their enemies are bad. Real life is not like that because good and bad can't be determined that simply. In these novels you see, just like in real life, that life is more of a grey area. People can't really be classified as good or bad because it determines from where you stand on the issue. Take any MC and try to classify them as good or bad, you really can't because they do bad things like kill for themselves and their loved ones. Which makes them good in their eyes for getting revenge and shit but also makes them bad because they slaughter a shit ton of people. And one of the most important reasons is that how awesome would it be to be one of these MC's, freaking having magic and other cool powers. Sure the cultivation woeld is cruel and most of us would die quickly but compared to this life, i'd rather have a chance to become immortal and shit and risk dying young than this boring shit. 
    I suppose these are a few reasons why i think people like these novels.  
  • See, for so many years people were used to reading japanese light novels and mangas and watching animes. They also read the superhero comics and such for many years. Now, each category has its cliches since the comics and LN/manga/anime originate from different countries and cultures etc.. So, we got those kinds of MCs and other characters, stories. For example, usually japanese MCs are very timid/shy/kind (not always the case ofc but you tend to see those more). People got pretty tired of it so they looked for alternatives.

    In comes the chinese novels which have completely different stories. The 'becoming immortal through cultivation' is a very new concept that us western people had no idea about. The MCs are ruthless, killers, different kinds powers, very long novels. All in all, completely different kinds of stories compared to japanese novels that people had become used to. The translations of the chinese novels really picked up speed about an year ago which is very new. Since the novels are very long, there have not been many completely translated novels so people are still reading up on the present ones. Basically, right now is the 'honeymoon phase' of the chinese novels. Once there are enough translated novels, the craze will slow down but the market's potential is basically untapped since there are thousands of novels on websites such as qidian so i don't expect the popularity to go down anytime soon. 


    Understand basic grammar:
    Your vs You're
    There vs Their vs They're
    Defiantly vs Definitely
    Loose vs Lose
    Than vs Then
    To vs Too
    NO 'Should/Could of'

  • edited March 2017
    I'm from USA. Personally, I like the patient style of Wuxia. If I spent as much time reading or watching Western literature as I do Wuxia, I would have ran out of quality content by now. Good Wuxia will lay plot elements that aren't used until 100 or more chapters later. Er Gen is practically famous for this, but others do it too if you look for it. Sure theres filler, but thats because of the pressure to keep churning out chapters. Manga in Japan and Manhwa in China (comics) both have filler so that they have time to think up plot. Good Manga have good filler that has character development, comedy, or side story arcs, while bad Manga filler are repetetive or dull. So this isn't unique to Wuxia. Honestly, I wish novelists had more pressure to keep them on their toes, rather than writing whenever they want. I would like to raise a counter question though..

    Why do Westerners still watch the new movies and read the new "best selling" novels? I haven't found the popular Western media entertaining in a very long time and I have to dig to find something worthwhile. I'll use Game of Thrones as an example because everyone is crazy about it, this has spoilers for the end of book 1. So the main family's father knew he was walking into a trap. They repeatedly told the readers it was a trap. The character in question has said it would be dangerous and likely a trap. And yet, the author resolved this in the simplest way he could, I think it unfoled in less than a chapter if I'm remembering right. Honestly, it felt like the writer was too lazy to actually think of more to kill off this character. So he killed him off as soon as it was relevant to the story so you would be drawn to buy book 2. Thats not to say that the rest of Game of Thrones is bad (thats not the point I'm trying to make), but that book 1 was entirely used just to set the scene and set up plot to use for later. Not a single interesting event happened in my opinion. At least in Wuxia, interesting things are still going on while plot is being laid down.

    I see this happen in movies all the time. The first 30 minutes to an hour is just used to set the scene and lay plot for later. To explain why you should care about these characters they're going to kill off later. Why can't movies just throw you into the story? I don't understand the draw of Western style media.
  • edited April 2017
    I'm from USA. Personally, I like the patient style of Wuxia. If I spent as much time reading or watching Western literature as I do Wuxia, I would have ran out of quality content by now. Good Wuxia will lay plot elements that aren't used until 100 or more chapters later. Er Gen is practically famous for this, but others do it too if you look for it. Sure theres filler, but thats because of the pressure to keep churning out chapters. Manga in Japan and Manhwa in China (comics) both have filler so that they have time to think up plot. Good Manga have good filler that has character development, comedy, or side story arcs, while bad Manga filler are repetetive or dull. So this isn't unique to Wuxia. Honestly, I wish novelists had more pressure to keep them on their toes, rather than writing whenever they want. I would like to raise a counter question though..
    @Cornersoul ; I think you are mistaking wuxia with xianxia as Ergen only writes xianxia, he never written any wuxia. If you want to know what a wuxia is read these stories;
    http://m.wuxiaworld.com/tgs-index/
    ^^ the only wuxia on Wuxiaworld currently in translation...
    some finished wuxia on wuxiaworld;
    http://m.wuxiaworld.com/dkwss/
    http://m.wuxiaworld.com/hsnt-index/
    http://m.wuxiaworld.com/tymyd-index/
    http://m.wuxiaworld.com/7-killers/

    If you are okay with the site not being wuxiaworld then i suggest some of these as well, as I find them quite good;
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-return-of-the-condor-heroes/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-legend-of-the-condor-heroes/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-heaven-sword-and-the-dragon-sabre/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-deer-and-the-cauldron/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-book-and-the-sword/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/the-nine-cauldrons/
    http://www.novelupdates.com/series/a-step-into-the-past/
    These are some of the more popular wuxias, and there are more, http://www.novelupdates.com/genre/wuxia/?st=1
    Wuxia means martial hero and it is a low fantasy and is always set in the real world unlike xianxia which is a somewhat high fantasy with all the immortality bullshit, in wuxia there is never a case of extending the life spans as they only practice martial arts and that's it, they are only stronger than normal people and most of these books mainly revolve around the actual story, all the characters plots and the like which you would never be able to find in a xianxia which is regarded very badly in china and is seen as nothing more than fast food literature... Unlike wuxia which is quite accepted as there are quite a few popular authors that have written wuxias unlike xianxia which is only being written by amateurs and has started rising very recently...
  • Culture and the attitude of protagonist is the main reason for the popularity of Chinese novels among western readers. 

    Especially the attitude of protagonist who don't mind revenge is a good change from the regular superhero comics where the protagonist has the heart of gold and forgive everyone. I would say that people are tired of the standard good hearted protagonist we see in Japanese and American fictions. 

    Honestly no one read Chinese novels for plot or good writing.  What people read them is for engagement and the constant face slapping gives joy to readers.  Even though they are repetitive you have to agree that ATG, MGA, Emperor's Domination, PMG, TMW, etc are the most read. And they certainly offers plenty of face slapping and good revenge. 
  • @strixflash i'm reading chinese novels for plot.. but yeah on wuxiaworld, most of them are pretty cliché. I only read the most interesting ones for me like RMJI, CD, DE, ISSTH and RI. I also reading ED but only for MC's badass time/face-slapping time.



  • Culture and the attitude of protagonist is the main reason for the popularity of Chinese novels among western readers. 

    Especially the attitude of protagonist who don't mind revenge is a good change from the regular superhero comics where the protagonist has the heart of gold and forgive everyone. I would say that people are tired of the standard good hearted protagonist we see in Japanese and American fictions. 

    Honestly no one read Chinese novels for plot or good writing.  What people read them is for engagement and the constant face slapping gives joy to readers.  Even though they are repetitive you have to agree that ATG, MGA, Emperor's Domination, PMG, TMW, etc are the most read. And they certainly offers plenty of face slapping and good revenge. 
    Exactly.. I'm always complaining about the repetitiveness and how there's not enough plot but I still keep reading..
  • The novel which started my love for xianxia was RI (at that time it was still called with its original name Xian Ni), one of the things which captured my interest was the description of the Heng Yue sect, it reminded me of those pictures or photos from Asia which depict chinese monasteries, also the fact that these immortals live in sects atop mountains left me with a sense of mysticism which intrigued me, then when i read the first fight i was like "this is like DBZ, hell yeah XD". Later I kept reading about breakthroughs, scenes, etc in which chinese philosophy reigns supreme, all things which are new to us western readers. The major flaw of xianxia is  repetitivity but writers can't remove it because it also is one of the main plot devices of xianxias, how would the MC grind, level up, find tresures, etc? 
  • Xianxia is like MMORPG game.

    View game have a solid storyline with lots of side quest that will strengthen the climax of the main story quest.

    This we can find at ErGen novel
    (Damn, he is the king of plot.  What plot he set in the earlier chapter will become key factor in next hundreds, or even next thousand chapter lol).

    But lots of game have a poor storyline with repetitive quest with main gameplay is grinding the monster.

    And that's the majority of xianxia lol
  • What i like about these novels is the themes that and setting that makes them interesting
  • Hello, I come from China. Evolution of these xianxia novels, inspiration from China for thousands of years of myths and legends, history books, etc., is constructed by the works of a vast world view, is deeply rooted in Chinese traditional culture is different from the cultural background of the western world.
    I come from China too, I'm tired of the history  thing. Everybody has there their own history, nobody are only themselves. In my opinion, Chinese wuxia and xianxia has some special paradoxial elements that mythical and attractive:
    1. Although west countries is way more incline to the jungle theory, the bad ass in their fiictions is quite bland. Like Voldemort in Harry Potter, I bet a rogue on street in a Xianxia story is way vicous. While Confucious always say people is bore to be kind, Xianxia story always tells a different story, the main charcter always need to survive many things, be simple, rough picture. The strong speaks louder, as the world is itself. It's not interesting, but feed you a relative sensible background.
    2.The charcter in Xianxia and Wuxia is always ambitious or will-driven, they want to do some thing, I am not saying it's right or good something, I'm saying it differentiate from the light novel or more mild shiny knight story.
    3.The Xianxia story boom in China is also new in this near decade, always read by teenagers, and writen by many young writers. I don't know, it's chewish, but readers could easily get bored,no, if you try more, you will. I found out many Xianxia stories are ususlly student compus life illusion. The cultivation status is like semester grade, all thoes conflict are similar to thoes we have in school, of course young readers get excited about thoes pay-off sentiment.
    4.Chinese are athiest but they are full of enthusiasm when talking about thoes supernatural thing. Xianxia story is a set combo of  fast food Chinese traditional philosophy, which is thousand years old. I'm not saying the cliche of history thing. I'm saying many chinese guy didn't read either Tao's religion book or Buddhnism book, but they kept fed and tell stories about thoes thing, between this gap, there is thousand years misunderstanding and imagination which could be gorgeous even to Chinese themsevles sometimes. It's like beauty of music, which comes from a balance of expectation and unexpectation.
    5.I think it's because there is more and more foreigners begin to learn Chinese so there are more translators who would be able to translate more Chinese novels to the world. I would say people like Xianxia is natural because this writer and reader circle in China is so big and it weighs, with China is more and more open, it's surely goes like "some thing popular in China, something popular worldwide". Cuz it's what the market serves you.

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