There is No Such Thing as Part-Freedom Review

Title: There is No Such Thing as Part-Freedom                     Author: InkHeartFirebringer

Original Source: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West                 Character(s): Monkey & Trip

Rating: T                                                                                                 Genre(s): Romance/Adventure

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                         Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: What if Trip had kept her promise and freed Monkey at the village? Would things have turned out differently? Oneshot, slight AU, mostly romantic fluff. 😛

Hello Readers!  This is your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer, reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Recently I played through the video game “Enslaved: Odyssey to the West” and I got hooked on the story (anything else about the game is rather irrelevant) and the relationship between the two lead characters: Monkey and Trip.  So, while in my obsessive state I went on a binge, finding whatever “Enslaved” fan fics I could get my hands on to read.  I haven’t read a lot so far but I got started with this story.

I really need to start lowering my expectations when it comes to these one-shots.  I had thought that this story would be a little more involved.  I’m sorry but the synopsis had me thinking that the story would start when they discovered the corpse of Trip’s dead and the looping recording then would be a retelling of the rest of the game with changes—now that Monkey was free.  Nope!  My expectations went a bit too high and ended up getting drop-kicked.

What the story actually entails is Trip’s point of view on the events of the game (mainly the Monkey and Trip moments) from the very beginning of the game (escaping the slave ship) leading to them finding her dad’s body.  Then Trip obviously releasing Monkey (as promised) and his reaction.  That’s it!

Now before I go further, I want to make this clear, this isn’t a horrible story.  By no means is this a horrible story.  I just happen to think that it took the wrong approach.  If anything this story would be fine with a couple of tweaks to the synopsis and cutting the story nearly in half.  Would the story be perfect then?  No, but it would help in setting Readers’ expectations and eliminate unnecessary parts of the story.

Some Readers may wonder what I mean by “unnecessary parts of the story” and what makes parts “unnecessary.”  Well, about the first half of the story which is a detailed telling of Trip’s escape from the slave ship, her enslaving Monkey, and the two characters setting out on the journey.  Those paragraphs aren’t needed given that this story is described as a “what-if” story.  In what-if stories it is expected that Readers already know the events of the story—thus, are familiar with the events leading to the point where the fan fic diverges from the original story.  What-if stories don’t require the buildup that other stories and retellings require, so it’s okay—if not, best—to start the story at the point when fan fic is going to take an AU turn.  In the case of this story it would be when Monkey and Trip find the recording and Trip’s dad dead.  The events from the beginning of the game are not necessary.

If the story cleared up those earlier paragraphs and tweaked the synopsis a bit—I would suggest phrasing it as: “What if Trip had kept her promise and freed Monkey at the village? What would be Monkey’s reaction?  Would he stay and help fight, or leave?”  The reason why I suggest this wording is because it says that the story is focused on Monkey’s reaction rather than how the story would change.  The wording takes the scope of the story and narrows it to that one moment in the story; Monkey’s reaction.  However, this is just my opinion.

Now, before I close out on this review I do have to touch on one other thing in this story.  The flashbacks.  I know that typically I nag about flashbacks and how they tend not to serve much of a purpose or how there are better ways to express the same thing.  This is one of the rare occasions when the flashbacks support the story rather than hinder it.  The flashbacks are used as a “life flashes before your eyes” type situation but they do help in showing the progression of Trip and Monkey’s relationship through Trip’s eyes.  Each flashback is essentially a cut scene from the game (with a few exceptions) from Trip’s view and they build up Trip’s uncertainty about what will happen once Monkey is free.

That about covers it for this story, I think.  Now, would I recommend this story?  Sure.  Readers, if you are a Trip x Monkey fan and need a story where they finally kiss, then check out There is No Such Thing as Part-Freedom.  Just don’t set your expectations too high; it truly is meant for fluff.

Stars: 6/10


Complications Review

Title: Complications                                                                                          Author: Les723

Original Source: X-Men Evolution                                                            Characters: Rogue / Gambit

Rated: T                                                                                                                  Genre(s): Romance

Chapter(s): 5                                                                                                        Status: Incomplete

Synopsis:  Remy Lebeau’s life is going well. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend, Belladonna, and everything he could ever want. What happens when he meets a new femme that he just can’t have? Can he get her, or will things stand in his way? AU. NO POWERS. ROMY

*Sits before a small fire on a clear night in a tiny wooded area.  Feeds a leaf of paper into the small fire and watches as it browns then blackens and crinkles to ash.*

Welcome Readers to another installment of fan fic reviews.  Don’t mind me, I’m just your reviewer, the Fan Fic Reviewer, I review the Good, the Bad, and the Never Should Have Existed stories in the fan fic universe.  Today I’m going to review a fic titled Complications by Les723.  *Holds up a small stack of paper.*  It’s an AU story taking the setting/characters from the cartoon X-Men Evolution and primarily focuses on the couple Romy (Rogue & Remy/Gambit), my favorite couple in the world of X-Men.  So, instead of keeping with the world of mutants the story instead takes the characters and puts them into a non-mutant setting and fills it with drama.

*Takes a sheet of paper from the stack and feeds it to the fire and sighs.* I suppose I should stop stalling and get on with this review.

This *shakes the stack of papers* was agonizing to read!  I jest not.  Before the end of the first chapter—THE FIRST CHAPTER—which is only 2 1/2 pages long in MS Word, I wanted to die.  Before the end of chapter two I was assembling my noose and during chapter three dangling from the end of that noose seemed like paradise in comparison to reading this travesty!  Here are a few pictures of my comments while reading this story:

Complications Ex. 1Complications Ex. 2Fifteen pages of that!  After a while I gave up on commenting because there were just so many things about this story making me mad and it was driving me crazy!  So how should I do this…?  Mmh… I know.

I’m going to take Readers on a journey, chapter by chapter, because as much as I try not to review stories like this, I want to give my fellow Readers a taste of what I went through without going through the madness as well.  Typically I don’t go chapter by chapter because I want Readers to read the fics for themselves but this time I’m trying to prevent Readers from going through this harrowing experience.

Chapter one, we meet the Cajun as he plays a friendly game of cards with some friends before being pulled away by his girlfriend, Belladonna, whom Readers may know from the comics.  Apparently Belladonna pulled Remy away from his game of cards to show off a large diamond she bought.  There’s an exchange where Belladonna’s hurt by Remy’s disinterest and he charms her into good humor only to have her return to discontentment over another trivial matter.  He leaves to get ready for an impromptu date and so Belladonna can get ready which apparently takes her an hour.  They finally leave for a night on the town when Belladonna decides she wants Remy to buy her some flowers from this flower shop she recently found.

*Throws two more sheets of paper into the fire.* Sorry, apparently thinking about the story as I recount it is very painful.  Ah-hum.  Let’s continue. The pain’s sure to go away eventually.

Chapter two opens with ONE LONG ASS PARAGRAPH detailing Raven Darkholme’s (Mystique’s) life.  I am not joking.  Here’s the paragraph in MS Word:

Complications Ex. 3Yeah…  This is how chapter two starts before finally introducing Rogue who apparently works for her mother, I’m guessing part-time, and is just a terrible employee.  I’ll touch on that one in a second.  Remy and Belladonna show up. In case anyone didn’t read that the long paragraph above, Raven owns the flower shop Belladonna wanted to get flowers from.

While Raven helps Belladonna search for flowers, Remy decides to go flirt with the “belle femme” he sees listening to her CD player.  There’s an unhappy exchange (on Rogue’s part) before Raven asks Rogue to find some Fire and Ice Roses.  This is where I say that Rogue is a terrible employee.  Rogue goes into the back to look for the roses that she knows aren’t there because she took the last ones home.  Of course it’s brushed off as a “perk” since Raven’s her mom and the owner of the store so she can take whatever flowers she wants for free.  What utter bullshit!!

*Crumbles a sheet of paper and tosses it into the fire.*

I realize that this is “AU” but speaking logically, what employer would think that it is good business practice to let his/her child steal from inventory without adjusting the inventory stocks?  Heck, even if an employer allowed his/her child to take from inventory every now and again, why would the employer not force the child to wait until the end of the workday when there are no more customers who may want that product?  Seriously!

It doesn’t help that Rogue doesn’t own up to her theft but just says that they ran out and she forgot to say anything.  Which I call bullshit again because even if—IF—this was a mom and pop type shop there would be some sort of inventory tracking system because how else would they know when to restock?  Then there’s the lead time to consider…  Look at all these business considerations that aren’t taken into account in this story, it’s horrendous!   Raven’s business will go down pretty quickly.

Back to the story.  So Rogue says that they’re out and Raven tries to help a now irate Belladonna pick out something else.  Rogue and Remy have another round where Rogue decides to unbalance Remy by reciprocating the flirtation.  It’s not even good flirtation either.  They are interrupted again as Belladonna found flowers that made her happy and Remy—allegedly—pays Rogue for them and whispers about seeing her around.  End scene.

*Two more sheets of paper end up in the fire.*

I say that Remy allegedly pays for the flowers only because I don’t know how he paid.  Money isn’t mentioned and he doesn’t hand her card.  Then Rogue doesn’t check the price of the flowers or calculates the total; it bothers me that I have no idea how much or how these flowers were paid for.  There doesn’t seem to be a register that handles cards or cash, the flowers apparently don’t have a barcode, nor does Rogue write down the flowers and how many are now leaving inventory!  It boggles my mind!!  How does this shop stay in business?!

*Takes another deep breath and feeds three sheets to the fire.* I’m going to run out of paper before I get to the end.

Chapter three!  Hurray!  It starts with Remy recounting the date after leaving the flower shop and how everything went downhill and Belladonna was content with be discontent throughout the evening until the end when she says how it was “fun.”  *Rolls eyes.* I get the fact that the Reader’s not supposed to like Belladonna and there’s supposed to be this sense of “Remy is dating the wrong girl,” but it’s coming on too strong.  At this point I need to ask, “Why is he dating her in the first place?”  Last I checked normally people date someone for a reason and it’s not typically so they can bitch about their significant other.  So what is it about Belladonna, the woman who seems to frustrate Remy to no end, which attracted him to her in the first place?

Anyways, Remy decides the only cure(s) for his horrible night are alcohol and pretty women, and he goes to a bar called “Wolverine’s.”  Can anyone guess who owns this joint?  Remy sits at the bar and waits for a bartender who is not in sight.

Meanwhile, Logan is trying to convince Rogue that he doesn’t need her to work the bar while she persists that he needs the help.  Eventually she wears Logan down to the point that he agrees to let her work the bar and have Red, Jean Grey, work the floor.  Oh!  Maybe she’s a better employee at her dad’s work than at her mom’s flower shop!  ^.^  I can hope.

Logan serves Remy a drink and let’s “Red,” who was supposed to be bartending but apparently was more interested in flirting, know to work the floor.  Rogue enters in a simple sex-appeal outfit (I have no idea why the outfit needed to be described) and helps one customer before Remy calls her over.  Of course Rogue comes over to help only to discover it’s the guy from the flower shop and they have another exchange of “flirtation.”  I’m not entirely certain it can be called “flirtation” so much as Rogue going “get lost” and Remy thinking she’s playing hard to get.

Rogue tries to leave but Remy grabs her wrist and refuses to let go until Rogue asks for his order.  Reluctantly Rogue submits to his request and asks for his order to which Remy replies, say it with me people, “You.”

Logan, being the protective father that he’s portrayed, intervenes and instead of kicking the harasser (Remy) out, he tells Rogue to go home.  Good to know she’s a horrible employee at either business.  At the flower shop she steals and can’t handle money transactions then at the bar she can serve only one customer before she gets sent home.  Awesome!

Surprisingly enough though, Logan is a protective father only as far as telling Rogue to leave when she’s getting harassed but not so far as to call her taxi, offer her a ride home, or call Raven to pick her up.  Nope.  Rogue has to try and hail a taxi while Remy perches on his motorcycle offering her a ride.  Eventually Rogue gives in and accepts Remy’s offer.

That seems reasonable, right?  Accept a ride from the guy who has been flirting with you despite having a girlfriend—I love how that gets ignored.  It’s good to know Rogue doesn’t have a brain in this story.  If she did she would’ve gone back inside and called a taxi, even ask Logan for the money if needed.  *Crumbles another sheet of paper and pitches it into the flames.* That’s neither here nor there though.

Chapters four and five are just one, two-part chapter so I’m going to recap them both.  Remy goes to a fundraiser event for the Worthington family… *Stares blankly at the fire.* Why was Remy LeBeau invited to a ritzy fundraiser being hosted by the Worthington Family?  I could understand it if he was there on a job (i.e. stealing), but he’s not.  He was—allegedly—legitimately invited to the shindig.  *Blinks several times.* I just don’t get that kind of nonsense.

But I digress, a lot, at the fundraiser he meets Rogue and her friends Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and John (Pyro).  Out of all the characters in X-Men Evolution why choose these two yahoos to be Rogue’s friends?  Whatever!  They chat for a bit.  Wanda and John giving out more information about Rogue than two friends should give to a stranger.  Honestly, if my friends gave out as much information about me to a stranger who I described to them as a stalker, heads would roll.

Enter Warren (Angel) who ends up being Rogue’s boyfriend.  *Another paper ends up in the fire.* Remember when I mentioned how I “love” the fact that these characters just ignore the fact that Remy has a girlfriend?  Well, I love how Rogue has ignored the fact that she has a boyfriend this entire time.  Golly, golly gosh.  Who knew?

Warren makes a speech about the fundraiser and then ends it with a marriage proposal.  *Rolls eyes.* Rogue accepts…woo-who…  This is killing me.  Rogue says, “Yes,” and Remy apparently has a brain fart because he can’t perform basic math.  There’s this point where, for whatever reason, Remy tries to estimate Rogue’s age.  Now, recall that Wanda and John were spilling all this information about Rogue before, among that information was how long Rogue and Warren had been dating (4 ½ years) and how old they were when they started dating (Rogue a freshman in high school and Warren a freshman in college).  I don’t know how Remy got 22 years old from that but whatever.

There’s this bit in the story about Rogue being a “young wife” and this sense that the characters (and perhaps Les723) are against people marrying when they’re in their early 20s.  Wanda comments on Rogue being a rich, young wife and Remy mentions that he thinks she’s too young to marry.  Then Rogue lists off her future plans beyond getting married and it just sets up the rest of the story (whenever it gets written).

In the end Remy decides to “just be friends” as a way to get closer to Rogue.

*Wheezes.* Oh my God I made it!  This story is horrible!  I touched on some of the things that bothered me while reading but here are some things that were just continuous.

The accents.  I get it, Remy and Rogue have distinctive accents and I get that it’s cute to type their dialogue as though they’re speaking, *raises hand* I’ve been there and done it before.  Truthfully though, it’s more of a headache to read.  Sure, spelling “I” as “Ah” and “me” as “meh” is okay but to read something like this: ‘Wondah wha kind of perv will bothah meh tonight.’  It gets annoying.  It’s already established that she has a southern accent and that Remy has a Cajun accent, they don’t need to be written in.

The other thing about the accents is consider the original source, X-Men Evolution, while the accents are present in the comics, the 90s cartoon, and the movies, they’re not quite as strong in Evolution.  Sure Rogue has a southern accent and Remy using a French word every now and again, but their accents aren’t as strong as they are written in this story.  Keep the original source in mind and do not try to mold it to fit other sources (the comics, other cartoon series, etc.).

Plus, if the accents are going to be typed in as dialogue then every character with an accent (John/Pyro) needs to have his/her accent typed as well.  Having him say “Shelia” once does not make it an accent.  It’s just a matter of fairness and consistency.

Another issue was formatting.  There are chapters with there’s no spacing between paragraphs and they’re not indented so it’s just clustered together.  Quotations appear when they feel like it, I guess.  The same goes for periods and commas.  There were times when I had reread sections to figure out what was thought, dialogue, or action.

Then there’s the blatant use of plot devices; oh, Rogue works at the flower shop Remy happens to appear at; oh look, Rogue works at the bar where Remy decided to stop for drink; oh, Remy got invited to a fundraiser event hosted by Warren Worthington III who happens to be Rogue’s boyfriend.  *Throws a sheet of paper into the fire for each example.* Seriously?  Coincidence my ass!  That’s just poor story-telling!!

No one can honestly say that there was no other way for them to meet up.  They couldn’t meet at a coffee shop, book store, music store (he knows what kind of music she listens to), at a community function, hospital, library, department store, restaurant, etc.?  *Sigh.*

Then there was the significant other situation that bothers me.  How am I supposed to believe that Remy and Belladonna are dating when it’s clear that Remy doesn’t like her?  Slapping the title of boy/girlfriend includes the fact that at some point they were mutually attracted to each other.  In this story I don’t see it.  I am just hit over the head repeatedly with the fact that Belladonna is the wrong girl for Remy yet he doesn’t seem to want to get out of the relationship.

Then there’s Rogue and Warren.  I’ve got nothing against people who wish to marry young, but I have something against the set up this story creates.  They get engaged while Rogue has a lot of things she wants to do with her life first and while attraction is noticeably building between her and Remy.  Sorry but I can tell what’s to come in the future. What Warren will expect from Rogue as his fiancée/wife will be vastly different than what Rogue wants, Remy will cater to what she wants, and Rogue will take him over Warren.  Subtlety would’ve been better on this point.

A good example of showing when two people who are together but shouldn’t be is in a movie I saw called “Sophie’s Revenge.”  The hints are subtle and they build over time during the movie to a point where the characters can no longer ignore them.  It’s actually pretty well done.  The subtlety from that movie is what would better convey what is going on in these relationships.  *Shrugs.* I think so anyways.

Phew.  I think that about does it for this story.  Man…

So what is my conclusion?  This story is good for nothing but kindling.  *Points at the fire and the burnt pages within.*  It’s horrible on so many levels that it became painful to read.  Are there going to be people who end up liking the story?  Yes, there will be and that’s in part because it appeals to certain people who aren’t bothered by the contrived relationships, the plot device “meeting” places,  the less than bland interactions, the inconsistent formatting, or the lack of realism.  I am bothered by these things so I don’t like this story.

Is there anything redeeming in this story?  In the story itself, no.  There isn’t a redeeming quality in this story.  The characters are skewed in their personalities in such a way as to make them unlikeable (and these are characters I love!), the pacing moves too fast, the formatting is a headache, the situations are beyond believable, and it’s just too in-your-face about where the story’s going to go.  I feel like I already took the journey without having to go on it.  The only saving graces in this fic are in what it didn’t do.

  1. Rogue and Remy didn’t have sex.
  2. Belladonna and Remy didn’t have sex.
  3. Rogue’s boyfriend is Warren rather than Scott.  If it had been Scott then he probably would’ve cheated on Rogue with Jean, or there would’ve been the side triangle of Rogue x Scott x Jean.

Is there anything that could make this story better?  A lot of things would need to be done.  In fact a total rewrite would need to happen.  There is no way to redeem this story, in my eyes, as it is now without trashing it entirely and starting anew.  The concept is fine but the execution is atrocious!  I would say it’s best to put it down.

Would I recommend this story?  No.  Thus why I’m trying to spare as many people as possible by recapping the chapters.  If Readers still wish to read the original fan fic, then by all means go for it.

Stars: 2/10

The Prince’s Blacksmith Review

Title: The Prince’s Blacksmith                                                        Author: emerald sorceress

Original Source: A Knight’s Tale                                                  Character(s): Kate & Prince Edward

Rating: T                                                                                                  Genre(s): Romance/Angst

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                           Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: The knight, the prince, the lover.  A man with so many sides, so many different faces to show the world.  He had only one heart though and that would always belong to Kate.

Welcome Readers, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer.  I review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in the fan fiction world.  Before I dive into this review I’d like to set the context.  See I suddenly got the urge to watch the movie “A Knight’s Tale” over the weekend and after indulging that urge I went on a fan fic spree, tracking down as many fan fics for “A Knight’s Tale” as I possibly could.  Needless to say, I came away with several fan fics in queue to be read.  This fan fic is the one that I decided to read first.

Sadly, I am underwhelmed by this fan fic.  It’s not a bad fan fic!  Do not misread me when I say that.  It’s not a bad fan fic, but it kind of fell flat for me and I grew bored of it pretty early.

The basic premise of the story is that it is the romance between the Black Prince of England, Edward, and the only female blacksmith, Kate.  It starts during the tournament in Rouen (it’s the tournament where Kate makes her introduction in the movie) and through the movie then past the movie.

*Sighs.* I guess that’s as good of a place to kick off this review, the romance that this story hinges on.  It’s at best a good romance for the hopeless romantics who look for the happy ending and don’t care too much about the journey.  At worst, it’s half-assed.

Yeah… I didn’t like the romance.  It’s too flimsy.  Seriously, the romance is based on two nights (dinners) and on the second night having sex.  Sure, people can argue that Kate and Edward spend plenty of time away from each other yet they still want each.  However, I argue back that the whole basis for this “loyalty” is based on two nights (one of them being a night of passion).  So—in my mind—they apparently found someone who is awesome in bed because there isn’t much else to base the relationship on.

I’ll acknowledge that other Readers will enjoy the romance (as flimsy as it is) simply because it’s cute.  I know this but I do not buy this romance as anything but lust.  Even with the time that passes with Kate and Edward being apart there isn’t a development of their relationship.  Granted, Edward sends Kate expensive gifts as a form of courtship but it doesn’t really do anything to deepen their relationship.  Instead it shows how shallow both characters are in the story.  The prince assuming he can win over this—allegedly—independent woman by flaunting his wealth and Kate appearing to be almost a gold-digger as she secretly starts to enjoy the gifts—supposedly because they remind her of Edward.


Alright I need a moment.

*Grabs the crate labeled “Soap Box” and sets it on the ground.  Steps onto the overturned crate.*

Dear Readers and anyone who is a writer, when it comes to romances there are a few different types to use in literature.  Each of these types are valid options and can range in how much development needs/can occur during the course of the story.

A romance can be developed out of an event that creates an “unlikely” bond between the characters (disasters and tragedies are excellent breeding grounds for those romances).  These romances do not require much build and development beyond forming an attraction between the characters.  The biggest mistake a writer can make with this type of romance is to label it “love,” mostly because it’s hard to defend calling it “love” when it’s based on so little.  There is no shame in leaving out the word “love” and just ending the story on a positive note where the couple has the beginnings of a relationship (a kiss scene or plans for a date).

Another one is a realization romance, the romances where a character will have this ephinany near the end that s/he loves this other character.  A good setting for those types of romances are “the girl/boy next door” or “the best friend” type of romances where the characters have an established bond prior to the romance.  The biggest flaw with this romance is when the previous bond is too weak (they only spoke on occasion or they shared the same class/interest but never hung out).  Having too weak of a bond makes the romance very weak and rather unconvincing.  Instead it becomes more of a romance of convenience (“we’ve been best friends for years, it only makes sense” or “who else knows me better”).  If there is a solid bond prior to the romance and build-up to the realization is sturdy then the romance can work.  I’ll even give a pass if the word “love” is attributed to the romance.

Then the final romance type that I’ll talk about (there are more types) is the long-term romance.  This is the type of romance that is built over time and requires the characters to truly get to know each other.  Excellent examples of this type of romance are: “When Harry Met Sally,” Pride and Prejudice, and “You’ve Got Mail.”  Each one takes place over a lengthy period of time with the characters constantly interacting in some way and slowly getting to know each other and falling in love.  This is the type of romance where “love” should be used and the Reader should feel like the characters will be together forever.  It’s not something that is based on one or two meetings then long periods of separation during which time little is exchanged (word/letter-wise).  This is probably the most difficult type of romance to write and I applaud the writers who succeed at them.  Bravo!

This romance between Edward and Kate is too weak to be like romance type 2 or 3.  In fact it resembles romance type 1 the most except now it spaced itself out.  The fact that it’s based on so little is why I’m unconvinced that Kate and Edward love each other!  This “love” would have been more convincing if instead of gifts Edward writes Kate letters—not love letters—and she writes back.  This way there is a communication between the two and they are getting to know each other beyond the initial two nights and sex!

CONVINCE ME!  It is the story’s job to convince me, the Reader, this romance is truly love!  It is not my job to believe any and all bullshit a story can and will throw at me!


*Takes a few breaths then steps off the “Soap Box.”*

I’m just going to keep it near.  Just in case.

So the romance was weak. Anything else…?

*Looks through the story.*

Nope.  That is my only real grievance with the story; the weak-ass romance (i.e. the main point of the story).  Everything else is fine.  The characters are mostly in character.  The story isn’t bogged down with a play-by-play of all the event from the movie but instead hits the key points and connects it to the romance.  Technically speaking the story is pretty good.  Nothing major wrong with the formatting, grammar, or spelling.

So in the end, would I recommend the story? Yes.  I don’t really have any reason to tell Readers to run the other way.  So, if the synopsis intrigues you, check out The Prince’s Blacksmith.  It’s not a horrible story, it’s just not to my tastes.

Stars: 5 of 10

Mirror Review

Title: Mirror                                                                                          Author: shi-chan

Original Source: Naruto                                                                 Character(s): Iruka x Genma

Rating: M                                                                                               Genre(s): Angst/Drama

Chapter(s): 6                                                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: YAOI Iruka has the gift of foresight, and since he was young he used it to prevent mistakes.  He helped many, but he couldn’t save all.  Then he notices Genma, and how much he resembles Mizuki, his dead lover.  Will Genma remain in Mizuki’s shadow?

*Buries head in hands.*

Hello all, I’m your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer, I review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  Today’s fan fic is a yaoi couple that I have an almost love/hate relationship with; Iruka Umino and Genma Shiranui from the anime/manga Naruto.  This time around I actually ended up on the hate side of this relationship.  I’ll go into details later for now let’s get this review started.

This story, in the fewest words possible, is about Iruka getting over his relationship with Mizuki and his visions—that’s right, Iruka has visions—lead him to Genma.  Yup…  That’s the short of the story.  I could explain how Iruka has to overcome the past to make way for a new future and cope with the… “limitations”(?) of his foresight, but none of that is truly important.  Those things rear their ugly heads every now and again to eclipse the romantic (sub)plot but nothing truly gets resolved.  I’ll go into details later for now I want to talk about the story’s weak points.

I’ll start with the visions.  I’m not saying that using “visions” as a plot device is a copout, it’s a legitimate plot tool but I think it could have been executed a lot better.  There is no rhyme or reason for Iruka’s visions except that “he’s always had them.”  They don’t seem to really have a focus/limitation.  For example, the visions range from seeing a few minutes into the future (spilling tea) to “seeing” distant futures (Genma and Iruka as a couple, Genma’s death, etc.).  It’s like the visions don’t really have a purpose behind them except to move/direct the “romance” portion of the story.

Personally, I would have preferred it if the visions had limitations.  Like Iruka could only see a certain amount of time into the future—there was an anime called “Book of Bantora” that had a character that could only see 3 seconds into the future and it was awesome!—or that he can only have these visions if certain criteria are met (sleeping, touching another person, sipping a specific tea, getting high, etc.).  Those kinds of limitations would have been awesome!  Plus, they would have provided some sort of basis to these visions.

As it is, the visions occur whenever it’s convenient to the plot and the only “theme” to the visions is that they are connected to Iruka’s personal life.  He only seems to have visions about people he’s emotionally attached to.  It’s an okay “theme” but then I wonder why Iruka thinks that he should have had a vision of Mizuki’s betrayal.  Sure, he’s emotionally attached to Mizuki but that vision would have benefited the village, not Iruka.  From the visions Iruka has about Genma, they ultimately benefit Iruka since he takes steps to prevent harm from coming to Genma; not the village.  *Shrug.* This is just what I derived from the story.

Overall, the visions are quite pointless and I have to say that if limitations had been explained then one of my questions might have been answered.  I keep wondering if Iruka has this “foresight” and the Hokage knows about it, then why didn’t he send Iruka on missions?  I mean it!  If these visions are “accurate” at all and Iruka has them about anything (I assume that they happen about anything because the story doesn’t say otherwise) then he could be a very useful person to have along on missions.  He could warn about ambushes, traps, or protect another teammate from a killing blow!  That’s useful!

Now, I do have arguments for not sending Iruka on missions, but I want the story to provide its own reasons first.  I don’t need to provide the arguments for the story.

Moving on!  I’ll be all day about the visions if we don’t move on.

Next up, the flashbacks.   I already hate the flashback episodes in animes (unless they’re like 45+ episodes long) so there’s no way that I will enjoy reading flashbacks.  There are so many flashbacks in this story and they’re rather unnecessary.  I get that they’re meant to illustrate Iruka’s relationship with Mizuki before the betrayal and how it haunts Iruka as he tries to move on with his life.  I get that but they only accomplish in annoying the hell out of me.  I don’t need to read a whole scene from Iruka’s past as he chews on a piece of tuna sandwich.  There are shorter and more effective ways to illustrate his troubled mind than to keep going into a flashback.

If these flashbacks are part of Iruka’s vision power then it needs to be explained and explored.  Would it only be limited to Iruka’s past or could he have visions of other people’s/things’ pasts?  That would be so cool!  Alas, nothing is explained and another opportunity missed.

My next complaint is the lack of development with the romance (sub)plot.  I cannot actually consider the romance a true plot of the story because it feels more like an afterthought.  The romance is limited to exchanges between Iruka and Genma, the visions, and whatever BS scenarios the story could generate to force Iruka and Genma into the same scene.  The foundation of the attraction is as such: Genma reminds Iruka of Mizuki and Iruka keeps having visions of Genma.  That’s it!

There is no additional foundation to the attraction just simply, “He looks like my ex and he keeps showing up in my visions so I must be in a relationship with this guy.”  *Bangs head on desk.* Fuck no!  What the hell kind of reasoning is that?!  Rice paper thin, that’s what!

There is a severe lack of relationship (much less romance) build to Iruka and Genma!  I think the story picked up on this and that’s why about half-way through the story Iruka and Genma just constantly thrown into BS scenarios that pulls that other in (Genma getting injured, Iruka’s body breaking down, etc.).

I don’t even know why Genma’s interested in Iruka, I just know that he is because Raido mentions a “look” that passes over Genma’s face when he looks at Iruka while in the hospital.  If the story hadn’t balantly said that or been labeled as an Iruka x Genma fan fic, I would never have known that Genma is interested in Iruka.  It’s pretty bad romance development if the person reading the story doesn’t see the romance.

My final complaint about the story is the lack of closure.  The story is good at building all these obstacles for Iruka to overcome in order to move on with his life and find a future with Genma, but the resolution of those obstacles is practically nonexistent.  There’s a point at the end of the story where Genma tells Iruka, “I can never be him (Mizuki)” and Iruka says, “I know that.”  Genma’s response is, “Do you?”  That exchange and Genma’s response describe my doubts about Iruka “overcoming” all the obstacles.

Let me break it down a bit.  One of the major obstacles placed in front of Iruka is that he constantly is reminded of Mizuki when he sees or interacts with Genma.  Constantly!  So at the end of the story I’m supposed to believe that suddenly, like a miracle, Iruka has realized that Genma is not Mizuki and has stopped comparing the two?  Well, I’m not convinced!  There is no build or rather break in Iruka’s habit of comparing the two.  It’s just Iruka’s word against everything this story has presented (i.e. Iruka consistently comparing the two men).  I’m not about to take Iruka’s word.

Another obstacle is Iruka handling the ghosts of the past as he has these constant flashbacks to his romance with Mizuki.  Sure the story tries to use a dream where Iruka gets Mizuki’s approval to move on with his life as a reason why Iruka stops having flashbacks.  I don’t by this only because it’s not really Mizuki that is causing Iruka to have these flashbacks but Iruka’s own inability to move on.  It’s less that he can’t move on because Mizuki’s “spirit” or what have you is holding him back, but that Iruka’s own feelings are holding him back.

How that obstacle could have been resolved is by Genma persuading Iruka that it is okay to move on and that it’s not a betrayal to Mizuki’s memory for Iruka to try at romance again.  Alas, that’s not the path the story took.  Another missed opportunity.

The visions and their “side effects” on Iruka aren’t fully realized.  It’s just that apparently having the visions on top of emotional stress breaks down Iruka’s mind and body.  Yet the story doesn’t bother to resolve this issue except for deciding that Iruka needs to move on.  That’s all well and good for the “romance” (sub)plot of the story but what about for future events not depicted in the story?  Will Iruka just have another meltdown because he doesn’t know how to handle his emotional stress and visions?

*Shakes head.* I just don’t get why this development isn’t explored!  It seems like something could have been developed as a key point to the story and helped build the romance.  Such a waste…

Then at the very end of the story Iruka develops a quasi-suicidal outlook on his life that has Genma concerned and Iruka avoiding answers.  It’s just a sudden development that has no conclusion except Iruka being cryptic—I’m sure he is meant to be “insightful” or “enlightened”—and telling Genma “not to worry.”  What the hell!  Even though this blindsided me, this is still something that could have been developed!  Also, why is it that Genma’s the one in need of comfort?  Shouldn’t he be comforting Iruka and pulling him out of this depressive state?  Whatever.  It doesn’t get resolved and is just dropped like every other obstacle in this story!

I’m getting pissed at this story.  *Takes a breath.*

Alright, let’s find some good points to this story.

Still looking.  Give me a minute.


Oh! I liked how Genma, Raido, and Tsunade are characterized. …  I can hear the crickets chirping so I’ll try again.  I like how characters react to the almost cryptic things Iruka says a “warning” for things he sees in visions.  Like Iruka mentions an injury Genma tries hiding and Iruka tells Raido not to worry about the split tea that Raido spills a minute later.

And…that’s about it.  I can’t find a lot of redeeming qualities to this story.  Such a pity…

I’ll say this though, this story could be awesome if the visions were better explained and constructed, the flashbacks were taken out entirely, and there was more of a development in the romance.  The story would need to be completely rewritten but it could have been a great story.

Would I recommend the story?  Only to the die-hard Iruka x Genma fans, otherwise I don’t think many Readers would get much enjoyment (if any) from the story.  It just isn’t as well-crafted or thorough as it could have been.  This story is its own worst enemy.

Stars: 4/10

The Black Fox and Karolis Review

Title: The Black Fox and Karolis                                                   Author: Corkerite

Original Source: Dragon Age                                                        Character(s): Black Fox & Karolis

Rating: T                                                                                                 Genre(s): Adventure/Humor

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                          Status: Complete

Author Synopsis: One of the most popular tavern tales in Thedas: How the bounty hunter chasing the Black Fox comes to be his trusted partner.  Complete short story, originally prompted on the kmeme, but rated T.

Hello Readers, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer.  I review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in the world of fan fiction.

This time around I think I actually found a gem!  It’s been a while but I found this one-shot that had adventure, a bit of action, blending with humor and it all worked so well!  I’m still in awe over how much I enjoyed reading this story.

So for Readers who have not played or read Dragon Age, the story of the Black Fox is part of the lore of Thedas (the world of Dragon Age).  The player doesn’t get to meet or play as the Black Fox but instead the player finds a codex about the Black Fox.  Essentially the Black Fox is the Robin Hood of Thedas and the favorite tavern tale about this Robin Hood type character is how this bounty hunter, Karolis, becomes his trusted partner and friend.  This one-shot is an interpretation of the favored tavern tale.

Where do I start with this story?  So many things I want to touch on…

Okay, I start with this; whether it was done intentionally or not, the story is written very close to the style of the Robin Hood stories.  I don’t know how many Readers out there have read some of the older Robin Hood stories but they’re essentially short stories where each adventure is a chapter (maybe two chapters) long and they’re one-shot adventures with their own beginning, middle, and end.  There’s not an overabundance of description but there’s enough to immerse the Reader; unlike some works where the author thought it necessary to detail every nook and cranny of a building, or detail a character’s attire down to last buckle and worn leather strap.  No!  This story keeps the descriptions simple without being understated.  I applaud that!

Another thing I really like is the characterizations of the characters.  Since players never meet the Black Fox or Karolis in the video game, there is nothing to really base the character’s personalities off of except for a small excerpt from the codex found in the game.  That being said, the personalities of these characters could go in almost any direction but I’m really happy with the direction the personalities do go.  I mean Karolis is depicted as a man of few words, very persistent, and who’s out to etch his name into history rather than gain money.  He’s a bounty hunter and he knows how best to hunt his prey and how to outwit his rival bounty hunters.  Then the Black Fox is…he’s like the Dread Pirate Roberts; a rogue with such cunning that it toes the line of ridiculous.  I love it!

I love the exchanges between the Black Fox and Karolis every time they meet.  From their first meeting all the way until the last, each one is different and carry this wit and humor with them and a dash of action to round them out.  There is one exchange where I was vaguely reminded of the swordfight between Inigo Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts; the clash of the swords interwoven with the humorous verbal repartee.

One of my favorite exchanges is the second time that Karolis meets the Black Fox (technically it’s the first time the Black Fox meets Karolis)!  That exchange is so funny and just smartly done!  I was rolling in laughter just imagining the Black Fox saying how he doesn’t want to go into the river because he’s wearing some nice Antivan leather boots and he doesn’t want them ruined.  It was just hilarious!

The ending is awesome!  It all comes together nicely and I loved the persuasive arguments the Black Fox gives Karolis to join him.  Those arguments were rather infallible; I’m just saying.

Overall this is one was one of the best reads I’ve enjoyed in a while and it’s kept a smile on my face for long after finishing the story.  Even if you know nothing of Dragon Age except for what you’ve read in my review(s), this story is perfect to read because it doesn’t require knowing a lot about the world of Dragon Age and the cast of characters are completely new!  I highly recommend reading The Black Fox and Karolis by Corkerite.  It’s a pretty quick read and the entertainment value (in my opinion) is very high.

Stars: 10/10