Regrets Review

Title: Regrets                                                        Author: Caitastrophe8499

Source: Malice in Wonderland                                    Characters: Alice D. & Whitey

Genre: General/Romance                                         Chapter(s): 1

Rating: M                                                           Status: Complete

Synopsis: One shot. The trial scene from Whitey’s point of view, hopefully adding a bit of insight to the romance that wasn’t really explored.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9056366/1/Regrets

 

Welcome Readers, this time I went back to Malice in Wonderland.  What can I say?  I really enjoyed the movie and I’m really interested in the stories that fans come up with for this fandom.  I found this one-shot that details Whitey’s side of the Trial through the end of the movie.  From the looks of it, there is a very niche group of people who have seen the movie and fewer yet of people who look for the fan fics.  Kind of sad since the movie is prime for fan fiction and creative stories to build off it.  That’s neither here nor there though, let’s get this review started!

I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

Typically, I don’t mind these stories where a scene is explored through a different character’s point of view; they tend to be creative, informative (depending on the author), and can add that extra layer that was absent from the original source.  On the other hand, these stories can be uninspiring and just the scene written without much added to it than the different perspective and some additional thought lines.

This story falls somewhere between those two types.  It adds some insight into Whitey’s character but it still feels like someone telegraphed the scene from the movie.  The story starts at the trial and goes all the way through to the end of the movie and while it’s told from Whitey’s perspective, the different perspective doesn’t really change much of what happens.  The most value-added part of the story is when Whitey stares as the watch hanging from his necklace and weighs the pros and cons of him going back to try and save Alice.  That is the only time during the story where it diverges and goes on an original tract that is never covered in the movie, but then it ends just as it started; telegraphed.

I think the error of this story is that it’s too narrowly focused, it limited itself to just the trial and the end; completely bypassing the beginning and the misadventures in the middle.  If it hadn’t been limited I think this story could have fully explored and fleshed out the character of Whitey and the romance that the movie glossed over.  As it is, the story’s focus is so narrow that it just doesn’t have the time to flesh out all these elements.  It does have the time to bring some insight into Whitey’s character but doesn’t really add much to the romance.

The one-shot was pretty short and I’ve covered everything I wanted to talk about already.  There isn’t much because the one-shot didn’t provide much.  In the end, the story was so-so; it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just somewhere between.

Would I recommend it?  It doesn’t really add value and anyone who has seen the movie won’t get much out of it that isn’t in the movie.  There’s the insight into Whitey but I don’t feel that the bits of insight are worth reading the story.

 

Stars: 4/10

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Inside Out Review

Title: Inside Out                                                  Author: armlessphelan

Source: Ranma ½                                                Character(s): Ukyou & Ranma

Rating: K                                                             Genre(s): Romance & Character-centric

Chapter(s): 1                                                       Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: They say it’s better to have loved and lost. Does that hold true if the love is unrequited?

http://archiveofourown.org/works/577875

 

Welcome Readers, it’s the beginning of another week and to kick it off I’m taking a look at this Ranma ½ one-shot centered on Ukyou.  For me, this series will always hold a special place in my heart because it was one my first animes.  I own and have seen the entire series, OVAs, and movies (anime and live action), and I’ve read the entire manga series multiple times; so yeah, this series has stuck with me for over two decades.  However, what drew me to this one-shot is the fact that it is Ukyou-centric.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

As I said, what drew me to this fan fic is the fact that its focus is on Ukyou.  When I was much younger I favored Ukyou out of the fiancées but as I got older she fell out of favor; she was a tomboy but would shame Akane for being one; she owned and operated her own restaurant but was always willing to give it up to be Ranma’s wife; she was always quick to call Akane “friend” then belittle her in front of Ranma.  As I got older, I saw her more as a hypocrite than the strong, independent woman I saw as a child.

What does this have to do with the one-shot?  Well, this is an introspective piece on Ukyou after the fight with Safron and it takes its time to acknowledge the flaws in Ukyou that keep her forever in the Friend Zone.

In case anyone did not read the manga or never got to the fight with Safron, it’s the last enemy of the whole series.  Akane is kidnapped and taken to China so everyone joins the effort to get her back, except Ukyou because no one ever tells her that something has happened and they could use her help.  Instead, Ukyou is left completely out of the adventure and wouldn’t know about it until after the party has returned.

The text explains Ukyou’s feelings about this and it becomes the catalyst to the rest of the introspection.  Ukyou examines her feelings for Ranma starting from childhood when she’s bitter and filled with resentment for him to them reuniting when all her hatred melts after Ranma calls her “cute.”  Then it continues until the current events.

I mentioned that this story acknowledges Ukyou’s flaws, it does this by showing that she’s not like the other fiancées in that they only know Ranma as he is in the series.  Ukyou – as the story points out – knew Ranma as a child and recognizes his lack of maturity.  The story also points out how due to Ukyou’s business she couldn’t drop everything and follow Ranma at the drop of a hat (although in the anime and manga she has done so).  It also points out that a lot of Ukyou’s romantic feelings are tied to past Ranma rather than to present Ranma.

It’s this kind of analysis and depth I can appreciated.  I don’t think that this one-shot goes too depth into Ukyou’s motivations and behavior, but it’s a good start.

The writing helps to keep the focus on Ukyou and her reflections by having limited dialogue and guiding the Reader through Ukyou’s muses and actions.  It feels more like a silent movie where the audience sees the impact and emotion from the actors but any dialogue or set up is presented in cue cards.  I thought it helped to keep this one-shot focused and centered on Ukyou.

There isn’t really anything wrong the story to complain.  It’s simple and gets done what it means to get done, evaluate if it is “better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” when the love is unrequited.  In Ukyou’s case, based on the story, I’d say, “no.”

Readers, if you are a fan of Ranma ½ then give this one-shot a quick read.  It doesn’t matter what couple you are a fan of because this is just an excellent introspective look at one of the other fiancées as she realizes that she doesn’t have a chance.

 

Stars: 8/10

Emma’s New Year Review

Title: Emma’s New Year                                         Author: Kathy

Source: Emma by Jane Austen                                 Character(s): Emma & Knightly

Rating: NA                                                        Genre(s): NA

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Synopsis:  Emma Woodhouse attends a party and finds an opportunity for love in the new year.

https://www.dwiggie.com/derby/kathy24.htm

 

Welcome Readers, it’s time to close out another week.  Since I’m in the middle of reading a couple very LONG stories – one is 81 chapters and the other is 122 chapters – I wanted to take a break to read something lighter.  So, I went back to my old stomping ground of Austen stories and dug up some treasures.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

Returning to my favorite site for Austen fiction I looked at the “Fantasia Gallery” where all the alternate universe stories are stored.  There were plenty to choose from but this Emma one caught my interest.  This is a cute one shot.  It’s a modern setting for Emma and it’s essentially the ending of the book where Knightly confesses to Emma but it takes place at a New Years’ Party.

I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed this story.  I enjoyed the modern setting, the nods to the original story, the whirlwind of emotions Emma feels, and the relationship between Emma and Knightly.  Just everything worked so well in this story!

I enjoyed the modern setting of this story, although I had initially thought it was going to be a 1920s setting; it has a swinger vibe to it.  Further into the story, enough information is given to paint the modern setting; and who Emma is by this point in the story.  Knowing who Emma is helps to show where in the original story this one parallels; the confession scene.

The writing does an amazing job of recapping the story of Emma via Emma’s evaluation of the past year and weaving it into the current events.  It seamlessly goes through the ups and downs; from Miss Taylor’s wedding, befriending Harriet, the horrible debacle with Elton, and the strange relationship with Frank.  It’s a well-crafted nod to Austen fans but not given in huge detail that would burden people unfamiliar with the original story.

This story does a great job in creating a sense for Emma’s emotions.  She’s recently single, her last boyfriend was dating someone else, and her new friend is crushing on her long-time friend and brother-in-law.  Then as midnight draws near her worst nightmare is released on the party; balloons.  Emma’s fear during this part of the story is almost pliable.  As is her relief when Knightly saves her.  There is the sense that everything is kind of closing in around Emma throughout the party then there is the glimmer of light with Knightly rescue and confession.

The relationship between Knightly and Emma isn’t explored much but I don’t think it needed to be.  After all, the story subtly gives hints as to the kind of relationship he’s had with Emma prior to the story and Emma actively chooses not to explore her feelings during the party.  Knightly is very much like any other iteration, ever Emma’s dependable friend; he knows to do to help ease Emma’s burdens (getting her father food and drink), he anticipates her needs (fear of balloons), and he doesn’t seek admiration for his deeds.  For showcasing very little of Knightly in the story, it does successfully illustrate him as the man who has always been by her side.

I don’t think there is anything terribly weak about this story.  It’s got solid writing, a great build up, and is wonderfully charming for Austen fans.  I kind of want to read more stories like this one.

I highly recommend Austen fans to check out this story.  This is definitely worth the read.

 

Stars: 10/10

Red Moon Glow Review

Title: Red Moon Glow                                                     Author: Relena for President

Source: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing                                 Characters: Heero Y. & Relena P.

Rating: T                                                                       Genres: Romance/Sci-Fi

Chapter(s): 24                                                                 Status: Complete

Synopsis: A.C. 212. Foreign Minister Relena Darlian has dedicated much of her youth and career to terraforming Mars, but endures nothing but public criticism over the lagging project. Her love life isn’t exactly progressing, either. Will she and Heero ever get on the same page, or will they remain stuck in on-again off-again limbo? And is there someone else waiting in the wings?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12077475/1/Red-Moon-Glow

 

Welcome Readers, we’re going to start the week off strong with a story that is exceptionally well done but still makes me mad.  I went ahead and checked out the story because I thought it was a love triangle between Heero Yuy > Relena Peacecraft > Trowa Barton and while the result – I feel – is not what I expected, I kept reading it because the story is engaging.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer: here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

I’ll start by saying that the author’s synopsis is not exactly what the story delivers.  Based, on that synopsis I thought this was going to be a story where Relena works on the stressful terraforming project and seeks some release from her infatuation, Heero Yuy.  Instead of bringing Relena relief, he makes her more stressed as they cycle through their on-off relationship.  During the project though she meets the “someone else waiting in the wings” (an Original Character or another pilot) who starts to show her that there are other people who can make her happy in a relationship.  This kicks Heero into gear and becomes a story of these two options presenting themselves to Relena while she struggles professionally.  That’s what I expected.

Now, what the story is about is a pregnant Relena trying to contact the father of her unborn child – Heero – while he’s out on a super, secret mission. The synopsis is correct in that Relena is dealing with the ever discontent and criticism of the Mars terraforming project but the bulk majority of the story centers on Relena trying to tell Heero she’s pregnant.  She tries to call his burner cell, contact Lady Une and get him a message that way, try to get her bodyguards Duo and Trowa to open up about the secret mission, etc.

I’m not mad that my expectation is not met; actually, I prefer it when a story presents something I am not expecting.  What has me hot under the collar about this story is the “And is there someone else waiting in the wings?” portion.  I will go into detail about this glaring – in my opinion – weakness and other faults in the story later.  First, I would like to touch upon all the story’s strengths; the story, the limitations of POV, and the general writing.

This is a truly engaging story.  I found the story of Relena having to reorganize her priorities and life to make room for her expecting child, and her determination to get a message to Heero compelling.  There is so much drama happening in both plots!  The two plots do not compete against each other and one doesn’t overshadow the other, instead they are intertwined.  There are moments of the story when she’s working, others when she starts to plan transitioning her assistant to take over when the baby comes, and moments when she’s frustrated that she can’t contact Heero.  It all plays together well and makes the story engaging.

This story truly understands POV and remembers that since its following Relena there are certain tidbits that Relena will not be privy to – other characters’ feelings or thoughts.  However, some of those tidbits can be picked up by the Readers.  Trowa’s crush on Relena is one example of something Relena is unaware of but through subtleties in the details and other characters dropping hints, Readers are able to pick up on Trowa’s feelings.  Another example is the secret mission that Heero is assigned during the story.  Relena knows nothing about the mission other than Heero can’t be reached and he’s in deep cover; however, she knows that her bodyguards know more than they let on so tries to get information from them.

There is only one instance when the story forgets about the POV limitations and that is between chapters 18 and 19.  At the end of chapter 18, Relena forces Trowa and Duo to sit down with her and tell her everything about Heero’s mission.  In chapter 19, the meeting has taken place and now they are proceeding with a rescue plan, but whatever was revealed to Relena during that meeting is not revealed to the Reader.  This is the only time in the story when the lead character knows more about what’s going on than the Reader.  It makes the story feel a bit disjointed for a bit but after a few chapters Reader’s catch up to what Relena knows again.

Beyond that one instance, the POV is solid and reflects the proper limitations when following a character who has limited in-knowledge to what’s going on with Heero’s mission.

Finally, the writing in general is terrific.  This is a great story that doesn’t overburden its Readers with too many details, it written fairly linear with some clear flashbacks, and has Relena carry the story.  The writing is mature and shows a great understanding of what it means to have a working character (i.e. a character with a job) – something that most stories tend to forget.  It also speaks to what it means to be a working woman expecting a child; it’s not just simply planning for the baby and taking care of yourself but also planning a transition period and figuring out how to tell people, especially when you’re “single.”

The writing for this story is truly amazing and part of the reason the story can hold a Reader’s attention for 24 chapters.

Now on to my complaints about the story.  I will preface this portion of the review with: All these “weaknesses” are based on my opinions.  For some readers these will not be weaknesses and will not affect how they feel about the story.  For me though, these failings are what brought the story down for me and make me unable to give this story a glowing review.

Let’s start with that “And is there someone else waiting in the wings?” hint from the synopsis.  Yeah, that hint of a love triangle is what attracted me want to this story in the first place and…it plays absolutely no part in the story.  None; zero; nada; zilch.  I could go on but that would be a waste of space.

Love triangles are hard to write.  I’ve tried and failed in my own writings.  The key is to a good love triangle is that both options have to be viable.  No one is going to believe that there is a love triangle taking place when only 1 of the 2 parties receives the attention.  For example, did anyone watching the Twilight movies ever believe for an instant that Bella would end up with Jacob instead of Edward?  No.  Many fans hoped and that’s why there’s fan fiction for it, but no one believed the story would deviate from the Bella / Edward romance.  That is an example of how not to write a love triangle.

Unfortunately, this story seems to have taken its cues from Twilight because while I see the signs for a possible love triangle, the story never acts on it.  The love triangle is meant to be Heero à Relena ß Trowa but the only part of that triangle that comes through is the Relena / Heero romance.  Admittedly, Trowa’s feelings for Relena do come through despite the story being told from Relena’s view, but it’s useless because Relena shows no romantic interest in Trowa.  Trowa is doomed to the friend zone – at best.

See the one of the ways to make sure that a love triangle works is to have the person at the center of it (i.e. Relena) be conflicted between the two suitors (Heero and Trowa).  In this story, there is no conflict, there is no temptation; she is dead set on Heero.  The only people who dares to suggest that there could be something between her and Trowa are other characters (friends, family, etc.).  Any time one of those characters bring it up to Relena it gets swept away and Relena goes back to pining after Heero.  Every time Relena notices something with Trowa, she compares it to something about Heero; mannerisms, speech, aura/sensations.  She doesn’t see Trowa as Trowa; she keeps seeing anything that is Heero in Trowa.

This is why this love triangle just doesn’t work!

The “love triangle” is by far the weakest part of the story and the number one remedy I can think of is to eliminate the love triangle altogether.  Seriously, it doesn’t move the story.  The main driving points of the story are: Relena’s pregnancy, Heero x Relena romance, and Mars terraforming.  The love triangle is not necessary for any of those items.  In fact, if it had been left out entirely, I probably would have enjoyed this story more.  Since I was expecting the love triangle I kept hoping for progress there on Relena’s half and none came so I ended up feeling cheated.

That’s my major complaint about the story but I’ll touch on a couple smaller ones.  Like the flashbacks and the romance with Heero.

Inherently flashbacks are not bad.  In fact, flashbacks can help enhance the story.  This one has a mixture of flashbacks that enhance the story and ones that are filler.  Some of them are good for showing the relationship between Heero and Relena in the past but then there are a couple that do nothing except fill space.  For instance, there is one flashback that Relena relates to Hilde about a night when Relena snuck into Heero’s cabin on the Mars trip and she read a book to him before they had sex.  It could be argued that the conversation they had was meant to be insightful about Heero’s feelings toward children and marriage, but that could’ve been accomplished without the flashback.

Then there was another flashback from when they were training to go to Mars and it’s the stolen moments of affection and sex between Heero and Relena.  It doesn’t do much except showcase how much sex Heero and Relena have when their relationship is “on.”  If anything flashbacks like this one should have been used to help illustrate how important the Terraforming project is and the commitment Relena has to the project.

One flashback that is never featured but should’ve since the event is mentioned a couple times; Noin’s miscarriage.  It’s brought up as a traumatic event and something that Relena feels partial blame for happening, but it’s never featured in the Mars flashbacks.  Plenty of Relena and Heero sexy times are featured in the flashbacks, but not this one horrible event.  Maybe it really isn’t necessary for the story but it would have been far more interesting than the flashbacks of Heero and Relena having sex.

Finally, the romance with Heero is a bit stale.  Heero is a hard character to write and this story does do a pretty good job, but the interactions between Heero and Relena makes me feel like it’s an abusive relationship.  Not physically abusive but emotionally.  Heero purposely has Relena tell him why she’s been trying to contact him even though he already knows that she’s pregnant.  He purposely doesn’t have anyone give her some sort of message that he’s alright after he’s captured.  It’s explained away as having been “too risky,” but his actions (inactions) lead to a pregnant Relena being put in danger anyways.

Then there’s just the fact that the relationship is constantly either on or off.  When it’s on, Relena and Heero seem to fuck like rabbits, and when it’s off then they are jealous lovers from afar.  They do discuss their relationship and their life goals, but their differences seem to either separate them for a time or melt away for sex.  If Relena had not been pregnant at the end of the story, I don’t think Heero would’ve jumped into marrying her.

This is just how the relationship comes off to me.  It’s not necessarily a horrible relationship but it’s one that leaves me in doubt that either party should be married.  *Shrugs* This is just my opinion though.  To another Reader this might be the greatest romance.

In the end, the story is great; I think there are some glaring flaws and they could be easily removed by eliminating the “love triangle,” but even those can’t hide the fact that this story can easily pull in Readers.  Would I recommend it?  Yes.  Despite my grievances I would still recommend this story to anyone looking for a great Gundam Wing story and one that has a strong leading woman.

 

Stars: 7/10

George vs. the Dragon Review

Title:  George vs. the Dragon                                 Author: Galaxy1001D

Source: King Arthur (Legend)                               Character(s): George, Merlin, King Arthur

Rating:  K+                                                          Genre(s): Humor / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: In King Arthur’s Camelot, young Squire George must find a magic ring to stop a dragon from terrorizing England, but finds out the hard way that a dragon has no fury like a woman scorned.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5492003/1/George-vs-the-Dragon

 

Welcome Readers, we’re closing out another week and this time I wanted to end it on a high note.  I found this story a while back, saved it, then read it after seeing the new King Arthur movie, “Arthur: The Legend of the Sword.”  Seeing the movie made me want to read some stories based on Arthurian legend and I came across this one in my collection to read and review.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

The synopsis is actually pretty accurate; this is a retelling of the George slaying the dragon.  The dragon Goldenfire has turned its back on the people of England due to an enchanted artifact from Morgan Le Fey.  The artifact causes the dragon’s moral alignment to make a 180°, thus the dragon kidnaps maidens and terrorizes the countryside.  Now the only way to return Goldenfire to its former glory is to put the Ring of Matrimonial Bliss on it.  Squire George volunteers for this venture as it’s the only way he will be pardoned for his less than moral behavior.

It’s a clever, entertaining story that knew its source material and its strengths, playing certain aspects up a bit more than others and making nods when appropriate.  It’s a nice balance.

Whenever I come across a retelling of Arthurian myth (part or whole), I normally expect a dark, grittier version – like the latest trend in Hollywood.  I don’t expect the story to be light hearted and fun, but this story defies my expectations.  This is less of a dark Hollywood story and more like the ‘90s Saturday morning cartoon adventures – with some adult humor.

For instance, on the one hand there’s Merlin’s behavior during the initial meeting where he’s an elder(ish) man caught up in what he sees in his crystal ball then a bit clumsy as he comes out of his trance.  On the other hand, there’s Queen Guinevere who in an almost air-headed way mentions how George has been peeking in on her while she and several other maids undress.  There are just little subtlies like those that give the story it’s comedic, light-hearted feel yet adds a bit of tongue in cheek with the hint of voyeurism.  I enjoyed the combination.  It made the story more enjoyable.

Another strength, is the story’s sense for the source material.  Even people who have never read a single King Arthur book or seen one of the movies knows King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin; but those same people wouldn’t know Sir Kay, Sir Gawaine, Sir Tristram, Gareth of Orkeny, Sir Hector, or Sir Alisander.  There are so many characters in the Arthurian myth and this story takes the time to recognize it.

The begin is a meeting of The Knights of the Roundtable as they discuss the crisis and plan their counterattack on Goldenfire; the meeting isn’t just King Arthur and Merlin speaking, all the knights engage in the discussion.  This isn’t engage like “Oh my” quips but actual sentences expressing concerns and strategic thoughts.  While the number of lines might be small each line is not wasted; each utterance by the Knights gives a brief glimpse into who that knight is and their personality.  I applaud the effort the story put into including so many characters without making them feel like furniture – there to fill space.

Finally, the twist.  This would by an M. Night Shyamalan type twist if Shyamalan could do lighthearted.  I don’t want to give it away so I won’t say what the twist entails.  I, however, give credit on it being simple and fun.  Karma comes full circle. In this one.

Normally, I’d point out how the 2D characters bring down the story but I can’t with this story.  It’s a shorter story so there’s less growth and time to spend with the characters.  Plus, in the older Arthurian stories the focus is less on the characters and more on the adventure.  This story reflects that mentality by focusing on the task to defeat Goldenfire rather than on who George is as a character.

Even so, the story does a good job of establishing the type of persona the characters are meant to personify.  Lancelot is the brash warrior with more brawn than brains, Arthur is the judicious ruler, Merlin the knowledgeable wizard, Guinevere is the compassionate, ignorant queen, and George is the hormonal bachelor.  The story gives Readers enough information to develop an opinion and enough to figure out how the ending affects them.

In the end, anything I would gripe about isn’t an issue with this story.  So, there’s nothing really wrong with this story, it’s a delightful retelling.

I would recommend this to any Reader, whether you are a fan of Arthurian legends or just a fan of fan fiction.  It’s a fun story that doesn’t require much Arthurian knowledge before reading and while such knowledge helps with the tongue-in-cheek references, it’s not required.  This is just a fun story about a young Squire sent to neutralize the dragon threat.

Personally, I hope to find more stories like this one by Galaxy1001D in the future.

 

Stars: 8.5/10