I don’t think anyone needs me to do a why-you-should-read for 2ha because I’m late af to the party, but no danmei rec is complete this year without 2ha and shizun and mo ran! I have feels okay, a lot of them!!!! Like?!! CHU WANNING?!!! So ethereal and gorgeous and deserves everything in the world, and also a shrine in my room dedicated to the beauty and grace and power that is shizun.
So here’s me trying to summarize and also delve into specific parts of 2ha as much as I can, although because I’m new to the fandom I’d say don’t take my word for it entirely XD It’s just Hao Yi XIng (Immortality) is coming out soon and we’re all gonna lost our shit, and it’s cool to have read the novel before the show comes out. This will be the first of... five parts I think to a full 2ha post, but no worries, I won’t like vomit em all out in the first week of January.
We can all agree on a shizun shrine though. Right? RIGHT?!!
Anyway with this one I’ve basically done 10 recs before 2021 approaches, so here’s the compilation:
Enter 2021 with these Danmei Novels (with full descriptions + links)!
- Part of Min’s ‘Why You Should Read’ Series -
Emperor of the cultivation world, Taxian-jun (also known as Mo Ran or Mo Weiyu) has basically committed every sin there is and has at the point right before his death, slaughtered and killed innumerable people. The novel starts with Taxian-jun’s death as he kills himself, tired and weary of the world especially after his shizun, Chu Wanning died. He wakes up in his teenage body, in the first year he became a disciple, and decides that he has a chance to redo everything - to keep the love of his life, Shi Mei, from dying and to ensure that his cruel and hateful shizun, Chu Wanning, will not get the chance to let Shi Mei die again.
As his teenage, young self, however, as much as Mo Ran hates and resents CWN, he recalls all the times he spent with CWN in his previous life, where he made him his consort after stripping away all his cultivation and powers, wanting to punish him for not saving Shi Mei by keeping him at his side in that position. He lusts after CWN in this present timeline, remembering all the times they were in bed together, but is also conflicted about his shizun because on one hand, he hates him, but on the other hand, he can’t help but keep noticing shizun and paying attention to what he does.
As he goes through the same events that he experienced in his first life as a disciple, Mo Ran continues to hate CWN but begins to see his actions in different light. He always thought that CWN thought him to be inferior, and that CWN was a pretentious, arrogant asshole, but as he goes through these same events with different changes (for example, he recalled sitting out of his very first mission with CWN and Shi Mei, but found himself actively involved, working together with his shizun in this present life), the time spent together allows him to better understand CWN’s actions now and also back then in their previous life when he was still a disciple.
CWN on the other hand, despite how he supposedly treats Mo Ran, actually dotes on and is very fond of Mo Ran (this was the case in the previous life, not that he has any recollection of that, and also in this life). He thinks that he is not good-looking and is undeserving of attention, concern and love, and so only knows how to quietly give and makes sacrifices without asking for anything in return. He knows that Mo Ran likes Shi Mei, and is both depressed and angry about that on his own.
As Mo Ran gets to know CWN all over again (and also hurting him here and there in the process), they reach the fated battle where CWN let Shi Mei die (in the previous life) in this life, and desperate still to keep Shi Mei from dying, he replaces Shi Mei’s role in the battle and nearly dies himself.
From then on, truths are revealed about both the previous and current timeline, and Mo Ran has to chase and woo his shizun back, all the while trying to figure out what is the mysterious force that sent him back in time to his current timeline and what danger lies ahead for him and CWN as they try to basically save the cultivation world from destruction.
0.5 refers to Taxian-Jun and Chu Wanning as Chu Fei (Consort Chu)
1.0 refers to Mo Ran as a teenager and Chu Wanning before the events of THAT battle
2.0 is when Mo Ran becomes Mo-zongshi and the Chu Wanning then as they date properly, fall in love, all the UST etc. hahahaha
- Chapters where everyone will warn you to prepare yourself for:
278-280, and no one can tell me otherwise
*This is also a highly contentious danmei novel, some for good reason, most of the times for dumb reasons. Do see the trigger warnings here on the sort-of official 2ha carrd, but also do read my thoughts/disclaimers at the bottom of the post.
*There are also some spoilers below, but none that’s really significant. However, just in case, do skip!
Novel (Online) | Novel (Print) - Pirated, Uncensored Version + Official Vol. 1 Dec 2020 Print (Censored) | Novel Translations | Fan Audio Drama | Manhua (Debuts in August 2021!!!)
*Normally I wouldn’t put any pirated version links, but this current one is the only one that has a proper print and the extras and notes are really hard to find even online, but this pirated version has compiled everything, no section is missing. But of course please do support the original versions, both online on JJWXC and the physical prints
Hao Yi Xing (Immortality) - Slated for Spring 2021 release (TBA) | 50 episodes
Last I heard, they were supposed to be cleared for a Feb/Mar launch this month, but the review told them to make some adjustments so it’s likely to be delayed
I mean, for good reason, because there is NO WAY you can run platonic for the live-action based on the story, and the production itself has also reassured fans that they would be doing the novel justice (and from leaks, this does seem to be the case and damn, there’s NO WAY you can go pure platonic on this one, even bromance is far-fetched)
Luo Yunxi is a god among peasants, and Chen Feiyu is cute af
Some details are definitely being changed, for e.g. CWN obviously can’t be a Consort, so he’s been relegated to the Zither Player role (but if I’m not wrong the role itself like traditionally is also half euphemism for someone who sleeps with the Emperor as well)
2.0 Mo Ran - 1.0 Chu Wanning - 2.0 Chu Wanning
1.0 Mo Ran - 0.5 Chu Wanning - 0.5 Mo Ran
1. 墨燃 Mo Ran - His courtesy name is 墨微雨 Mo Weiyu and in the 0.5 version he called himself 踏仙君 Taxian-jun, which literally means a king who steps on deities/cultivators (fitting, since he slaughtered a lot of them). Initially, Mo Ran actually chose CWN as his shizun because he was the best-looking, and that was possibly one of the only times someone actually chose CWN voluntarily, and for that he always had a special place in CWN’s heart.
As Taxian-jun (0.5) he forced CWN to marry him after stripping him of his powers and cultivation, imprisoned him for basically 8 years in the palace. He kills himself a little after CWN’s death, and then wakes up as CWN’s disciple again as a young teenager. He’s the last of CWN’s three disciples, and has a big, warm and kind heart. He also obviously was very fond of his shizun before things went spiralling out of control for various reasons that will smack you in the face after you finish 311 chapters.
He’s very intelligent, having actually mastered two of the three forbidden spells of the cultivation world in the 0.5 timeline. In the 1.0 timeline, he’s obviously still pretty talented/gifted for a disciple. In his past life, his chosen weapon was a sword called Bu Gui, and then in the present 1.0 timeline, he was given a whip that is connected to CWN’s whip (i.e. they were made from the same tree and were actually one full piece together before they broke into two). He accidentally names the whip “Jian Gui”, and everyone facepalms at that.
After he and CWN get past like....some of their misunderstandings (about maybe 70%, not that they knew it then), Mo Ran becomes full on devoted to his shizun, only has eyes for his shizun, totally clear that he perhaps liked Shi Mei, but never as much as he loves shizun, which is pretty amazing.
As Mo-zongshi (2.0), he’s super ripped, and CWN totally thirsts after him too XD
Has a really sad past that will only be revealed much later, and in the present timeline he is very much doted on by his uncle and auntie, who are Xue Meng’s parents.
2. 楚晚宁 Chu Wanning - WHERE DO I EVEN START. Talented, legendary gifted cultivator with not one but THREE weapons, in which the one he uses the most is Tian Wen, the whip. He doesn’t usually use Jiu Ge, the zither weapon, or his sword, Huai Sha, unless absolutely necessary. Also called 玉衡 as a title (晚夜玉衡 in full i.e. Yu Heng of the Night Sky), and in their sect, he’s referred to as Elder Yu Heng (玉衡长老).
Art picked by bookstores from various artists for the official print:
He has a really bad temper and takes no bullshit, and despite being really handsome, his self-esteem is down in the gutters - he thinks he’s not worthy of love and attention, and I recall in the first arc he always thought “who would love someone like me”. Because he’s so fearsome, other disciples don’t dare to talk to him or go near him, and he always eats alone, tends to his own wounds alone and basically does everything alone. No one cares about whether he’s eaten, if he’s hurt or not, etc.
They’ve basically placed him on such a high pedestal that they forget that he’s just a person too. His bad temper also comes out usually when disciples think they can joke around with him or tease him etc. Everyone covets him in a sense that all sects want him to join them, and everyone knows him. He just takes no shit and kicks ass all the time.
Fond of Mo Ran (not romantically) when he first chooses him as his shizun when he is much younger. His romantic feelings for Mo Ran develop later, but he was first drawn to Mo Ran simply because he could feel how warm and kind Mo Ran’s soul was, and basically how he brightened up his life by not being afraid of him etc.
He does a lot of things for Mo Ran silently without him knowing, and lets Mo Ran misunderstand him on multiple occasions, knowing that even if he cleared things up, it wouldn’t change how much Mo Ran likes Shi Mei.
After the events of that single battle, in the 2.0 timeline, it’s CWN’s turn to be slightly oblivious as Mo Ran tries to care for him and woo him and let him know that he’s loved, but once they get past that, it’s so much love istg it makes you believe in love and weep all at the same time.
3. 师眛 Shi Mei - Beautiful gorgeous Shi Mei who is Mo Ran’s love and who he is fighting to keep alive in the 1.0 timeline. Shi Mei’s cultivation is in the direction of healing, and thus the way he trains is different from how the rest of them trains. He’s very respectful and considerate to his shizun, and is also the person Mo Ran thinks treats him the best. Mo Ran loves his special spicy wontons as well ;-;
4. 薛蒙 Xue Meng - Mo Ran’s younger cousin who in the 0.5 timeline hates him for taking shizun away and for killing his parents. In 1.0, he just detests Mo Ran and calls him a dog all the time. He’s been spoilt as the only child of his parents, and is also expected to take over the sect one day from his father. This gives him a bit of a complex XD He’s considered a little brash and impulsive, and definitely a little narcissistic as he thinks he’s the best looking so far, but he’s pretty much kind underneath all the preening. Has a huge sense of justice, and all he cares about are the people closest to him and his family. He also worships shizun a lot and always wants his attention, which shizun will give depending on the situation.
5. 梅寒雪／梅含雪 Mei Han Xue & Mei Han Xue - This ain’t a typo hahaha these two brothers’ names are pronounced exactly the same but the character for ‘Han’ is different. One of them is flamboyant and a playboy, another is a little stoic and serious, with the latter always cleaning up after the former while the former breaks the hearts of women all over the region. They don’t feature very prominently in the first arc and come out more in 2.0 onwards, but it’s good to note that the both of them are possibly Xue Meng’s closest friends in both the 0.5 and 2.0 timelines, and after.
My Favourite Arcs & Moments:
The 1.0 arc is the most fun, I have to say - The plot isn’t as complicated yet then, and all you have is Mo Ran being his rebellious, horny teenager self going against shizun and also being confused by how much he wants shizun etc.
Xia Sini arc - There’s the arc where CWN becomes a kid version of himself in size due to injuries where he’s called Xia Sini, and masquerades as a junior in the sect while he’s in that form - He also forms a bond with Mo Ran in that form, as Mo Ran seems to take a liking to this cute younger junior who acts like an adult
Hell arc - I will not give any spoilers but damn it was both hilarious and also my heart died at the same time
Farming arc - Everyone who has read 2ha knows of farming arc in 2.0 timeline, because we get two idiots thirsting quite obviously for each other, and also Mo Ran half naked all the time while shizun not quite deciding whether he wants to cover him up or stare at him for longer
The huge reveal arc - This one ripped my heart out, stomped on it, and then went for my eyes because I was crying so hard and for two days straight. The painful and devastating part is when Meatbun FINALLY links all the missing parts together and connects all the arcs and you’re literally slapped in the face with new revelations and a totally new understanding of what happened in 0.5 and 1.0 and then you wanna slap yourself too because now you’ve done it, you’re in this fandom, you’re in this black hole and your heart and brain and soul hurt
In terms of moments, I frickin died at the part where 1.0 Mo Ran first gets his whip and there’s a rule where whatever you say after you hold onto the weapon has to be the weapon’s name - And because I think Mo Ran trips or something, he said “Ah shit!” = “啊，见鬼” - And he inadvertently named his whip the equivalent of damn it/shit/crap basically, while everyone including shizun was like “damn it you stupid dog”
1.0 Shizun getting flashbacks from 0.5 and thinking that it’s just because he’s too horny and sinful and that’s why he’s dreaming of sex with a different Mo Ran like that (but it’s not, they actually happened in 0.5)
When Xia Sini waits for Mo Ran to have dinner with chicken soup he cooked and Mo Ran abandoned him to go find Shi Mei, and then ate up all the soup by himself without realizing that Xia Sini hadn’t eaten yet because he was waiting for him. Xia Sini says he’s a person too, he gets hungry, he hurts, etc. and I was like SHIZUNNNNNNNNN!!!!!
The fact that CWN is an idiot at life in general like cleaning or cooking or anything else - even 1.0 Mo Ran before he understood CWN was like “how the hell is he still alive”
FIREWORKS MOMENT y’all!!! It fulfils the unrequited love angst but also a bit of resolution, and from the leaks of the live-action drama for THIS VERY MOMENT we are all gonna die
WHEN MO RAN KNEELS DOWN IN FRONT OF SHIZUN!!!!
I also liked it when CWN seemed surprised and also proud at all that Mo Ran had achieved as Mo-zongshi later
(Under the cut)
Whew. If you made it down here, I’m tempted to give you a hug, because damn if 2ha is the most gigantic danmei novel I’ve read so far in terms of number of chapters, number of arcs, number of confusing timelines and going back and forth, in terms of also the depth of plot and richness in character and world building.
As I mentioned in this other post, at 2ha’s core, it’s s a story about loving someone so much you would do anything for him, about family and the sacrifices you make for your loved ones, about finding a home when it seems like there is no place for you. You get uncomfortable at the thought of the bad sides to human nature, and you really question morality and what is right and wrong. You get sad because a lot of things were both unavoidable but also avoidable if only one thing or event was different, and everything else which happens after that is a direct consequence of those actions, whether right or wrong. It’s Mo Ran and Chu Wanning making painful decisions at every crucial moment, even if they know it’ll end badly, if only to keep the other safe (278 fuck my life!!!!).
It’s not an overstatement to say that reading 2ha will change your life (well it’ll definitely make you cry a lot and then your eyes are so swollen and you get so traumatized with angsty books even if they come with a happy ending - also you may end up with a side effect of being kind of reluctant or wary to read anything else from Meatbun) - I honestly haven’t read any novel so far quite like 2ha, objectively, not that it’s better than any other novel or that this should trump any of your other faves, but the mastery Meatbun displays in 2ha is on a whole different level. It’s certainly an out-of-body experience, almost.
Every detail and plot point is useful, you don’t get a huge unnecessary filler out of nowhere (okay.. maybe... farming arc but no one is complaining), details that seem irrelevant especially with side characters come to slap you in the face a lot of chapters later, and then you realize there’s an even deeper layer to the story.
Regarding the Trigger Warnings & Debate:
Hoooooo boy. I don’t want to get into this argument, but I would like to address some misconceptions anyway because I can see fandom drama over this already in the days leading up to HYX and the days after.
Firstly, do check out the 2ha carrd above where OP has helpfully listed all the trigger warnings.
If you’re uncomfortable with reading any of those, that’s perfectly fine and readers can totally avoid books that have any hint of those trigger warnings. You absolutely have the right to do that, you can totally ignore and blacklist 2ha for those reasons.
The debate arises (mostly) from people who have not read it but want to diss it based on the trigger warnings alone, saying that Meatbun glorifies what Mo Ran did in 0.5, and that readers who like 2ha are fetishizing the tropes presented.
This is like trying to argue against a full thesis by only reading the abstract. Moreover, I do find the treatment of 2ha unfair, especially when other media (Western forms as well, erm... GoT?) display the same tropes and trigger warnings without people getting into ridiculous arguments about it.
Meatbun does write that she finds all his actions as 0.5 deplorable, firstly. The second is that there was like a 30% contributing factor to his behaviour, none of which excuses what he did and the acts themselves. The point of this is how Mo Ran knows it’s wrong 1.0 onwards, and how he grovels and redeems himself after, and even though he redeems itself, it’s never said that what he did as 0.5 is okay or acceptable. And even after he redeems himself, pays for his mistakes and the truth is revealed etc., the acts of 0.5 are still deplorable on its own, they don’t go away just because he’s sort of reformed and changed his mind on shizun etc.
But anyway, aside from this, happy reading!! Cry with me pls hahaha and gosh once again I’m a newbie to the fandom so do not take my word entirely for it!
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