Intricate Relations Review

Title: Intricate Relations                                   Author: Teagarden

Source: Brothers x Conflict                               Characters: Ema H. & All Asahina Brothers

Genre(s): Drama / Romance                              Rating: T

Chapter(s): 36                                                  Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Ema Hinata joins the Asahina family at age eleven. As Ema grows she offers the brothers support in their dreams, care when they’re down, and cheering when they succeed. The brothers all come to adore Ema, but as time goes on they have to ask themselves: do they love her as their stepsister, or as a woman?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11933610/1/Intricate-Relations

 

Welcome Readers, I felt like I was on a movie kick with my reviews lately and I needed to change things up.  So, I returned to a story a found a couple of months ago when I was on a Brothers x Conflict binge.  It was one of the few stories I found that featured the series’ focal character, Ema, and the multitudes of stepbrothers rather than on just one or two brothers; so, it caught my attention.  Now, after reading this story twice I can properly give it a review that it deserves.

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.  Today we are entering the world of harem fan fiction – well, reverse harem fan fiction – with “Intricate Relations.”

For those who may have never heard of Brothers x Conflict it is an Otome game, there are manga and light novels available, and an anime.  The premise is that Ema Hinata an only child of a world renowned adventurer, she gains 13 stepbrothers when her father remarries.  Ema begins living with her stepbrothers and over the course of the game, novel, manga, and anime several (all 13) of the brothers come to feel romantic feelings for Emi and vie for her heart.

That is not a typo, there are 13 potential guys for this girl.  Well, 12 in this story because the story didn’t bother with the youngest (thankfully) who is 10 in the anime (13 in Season 2 of the novels).  Still, that is 12 guys to juggle and build potential relationships with in the story.  It’s hard work and the story puts in an admirable effort, however it still has its flaws.  Let’s start there, with the balance of these 12 suitors and their quest for Ema’s affections.

This story was not a slouch in how it handled the brothers.  The brothers each made a different impact on Ema and had their moments with her, and while the balance was pretty well maintained there were still some characters who ended up falling to the way side during the course of the story.  Hikaru didn’t get much of an opportunity to try his luck at Ema’s heart due to the fact that the character moved out of the country and was mostly kept out of the picture; in the end, he became the voice of wisdom to Ema.  Not a bad change.  Iori suffered though.  His potential romance was built as strictly one-sided and his sudden departure then return left no room for anything to potentially take root between him and Ema.  Louis was another one that got regulated to “friend” despite having a decent beginning and would have made a strong contender had his character and attentions been maintained.

Otherwise, the other 9 siblings had pretty solid romance opportunities with Ema.  Each one being cultivated over time from Ema at age 9 to Ema at 18.  The story maintained several of the rivalries from the game / novels / anime and used those to help generate tension between the brothers.  Unfortunately, this made these characters seem narrow sighted for not seeing all their brothers as rivals.  The few brothers who did not have rival to be pitted against normally had to compete with their jobs and the age difference.  Those were probably the most interesting characters as they often acted not out of jealousy (except for 2 instances) but out of the desire to make the most of their time with Ema.

It’s a difference in terms of how the characters approach their feelings for Ema but still the 9 brothers build up strong potential romances with Ema.  Strong enough that it’s hard to know who she will eventually choose.  I will touch on the ending later, for now I want to dive into Ema’s side of this romantic harem.

Ema Hinata is one of those characters who is meant to be the “every girl,” very few defining personality traits and quirks in the game and while she has a bit more in the anime, she lacks a bit of depth.  This story gives her that depth and actually tries to shape her away from the “every girl.”  She doesn’t have a strong personality but she does have one, enough of one that when as her brothers start confessing their feelings to her and (some) becoming aggressive with their affections she reacts.  She doesn’t just take their actions or words; she reacts to them.

Everything that happens as the brothers make moves on her causes Ema stress and the pushier they become, the more she retreats from them.  In the anime, Ema kept pointing out that “they’re family” and in this story she clings to the idea of “Family” even more firmly because she grew up side by side with the brothers then suddenly – it would feel sudden to her – how her brothers feel for her has turned from familial to romantic; it causes her to eventually lash out and say how she sees them as family.  In the anime, it feels like the “family” reason is more of an excuse for her to not analyze her feelings but in this story it makes sense given the history it builds between her and the brothers.

Actually, because of how Ema reacts to the brothers’ aggressive behavior leads to my favorite moment in the story; the part where she leaves Japan with Louis (the brother regulated to friend/family zone) to spend the summer in France.  It’s my favorite part of the story because unlike the anime where Ema tries to family-zone the brothers and they all decide to still pursue her; this story shows that there are consequences to the brothers pushing so hard for her to return their affections.  Ema leaving is also the best point because it allows the character to analyze her feelings and what she wants for her future – a subplot in the story.  It’s the only time where Ema is able to focus on herself instead of the Asahina brothers.

Now, as for the end; much like the game, there are multiple different endings.  There is an ending for Tsubaki, Azusa, Natsuem, Yusuke, Fuuto, Kaname, and Masomi.  While I think this is genius because it allows just about any Reader to be happy with the various endings, it also pisses me off.  Note the number of different endings – 7 – note how many brothers I said had strong romance potential with Ema – 9.  Yeah, two of those brothers did not get an ending, Ukyo and Subaru.  Why I’m mad about this is because the Ukyo had a strong build and was on the same level as Masomi yet for whatever reason he was never given an ending.  Just nothing.  Apparently the story didn’t bother with giving Ukyo a happy ending beyond him just being happy that Ema’s happy.

Truthfully, I’m more upset about Subaru not getting an ending because out of the 9 potential romances his got dropped a bit earlier than the others.  Not completely dropped but enough to signal that the story was done trying to wiggle the basketball star back in.  He had a strong beginning, a weak middle, and then he disappears near the end to pursue his career only to return when Ema returns.  There’s concessions made for the other brothers to try and tie up loose unrequited ends but Subaru gets nothing.  I understand that he’s hard to write – whoever created Subaru’s character did not bother trying to go past “he’s a basketball star who’s awkward with girls” – but this story could’ve given him a bit more potential.  It certainly could’ve – at the very least – given him an end where Ema goes to watch one of his first games in the pro and…well, time makes the heart grow fonder.  This story could’ve gone corny and made it work.  Instead, it ignored the potential.

Overall, the story is very good.  Despite my grievances about certain characters not receiving an ending or a chance at romance, I still enjoy it a lot.  I appreciate how the brothers’ feelings slow eat away at Ema until she breaks down and must literally leave to find herself.  I also enjoy the amount of time devoted to each brother’s feelings and their interactions with Ema.  Personally, my pick would be for Kaname or Yusuke but I’m biased.

I do highly recommend the story, it’s a good one to read and it does a great job of maintaining the harem aspect of the story.  I seriously could see each one of those endings happening and when Ema returned from Japan it was wide open as to who she would end up with.  It was a great story to read and I hope other Readers take the time to check it out.

 

Stars: 8.5 / 10

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Chasing Methuselah Review

Title: Chasing Methuselah                                       Author: Sandra E.

Original Source: Inuyasha                                       Character(s): Kagome & Miruko

Rating: M                                                                 Genre(s): Romance

Chapter(s): 13                                                           Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: NA

http://www.continuingtales.com/story.php?name=methuselah&part=1

 

Welcome Readers, I am your reviewing host, Idunwanaprofile, reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  What I have for my dear Readers this time is a treasure that I had discovered years ago.  I’ll kind of date myself but I found this story back when Fanfiction.net still had the rating NC-17 and before they said “nay-nay” to stories containing descriptive sex scenes.  I know that stories with sex scenes still get posted but this story I found before the whole drama with the ratings and content.

As anyone can see with the URL I provided, I didn’t link this to FFN.  I couldn’t.  This story has been removed from FFN despite the fact that the scenes weren’t posted on FFN but on a different site.  That’s neither here nor there.  The important thing is that I did find a place where this story still exists and the link above is still good as of August 18, 2017.

As for what drew me to the story, it is a Miroku x Kagome fan fic and when I first found it I was relatively new the world of fan fiction and didn’t realize that fans mixed and matched character romances.  That concept blew my mind at the time!  So when I found this story and it was NOT Inuyasha x Kagome I was pleasantly surprised.  This story was my gateway into exploring non-canon couples.

Enough of my relationship with the story, on to the actual content!

In this story Kagome discovers Miroku’s reincarnation in the form of a transfer student in her class and he has memories from his past life.  In an effort to try and glean as much information as possible about the future from him, Kagome spends more time with the reincarnated Miroku in modern Japan.  However, she ends up spending more time with the actual Miroku in Feudal Japan, setting in motion a series of events and situations that open the characters up to romance.

There are several things that this story does right (and thus set the bar kind of high for other stories), but it does have its flaws.  Flaws that while I overlook while I am reading still need to be addressed.  Unlike A Dangerous Game (see my first review ever), this fic is not the type where I had loved it growing up and now that I have reread it, I find that it doesn’t live up to my fond memories.  Nope!  I am grateful for not having another repeat of that disaster.  Nah, this story still meets my expectations even though I do pick up on aspects of the story that need work.

I guess I’ll start with some of the things the story does right.  There’s so many so I’m going to limit myself a bit otherwise we’ll be here all day.  So I’ll focus on: the romance, the characters, and balance of the story.  Those three areas will be plenty.

Anyone who has read my previous reviews of romance fics have probably figured out that I’m very particular when it comes to romances.  Read some of my previous reviews, I get up on my soapbox quite often – I haven’t lately but I will soon.  The romance between Miroku and Kagome is the type of romance that I can really get behind and believe to work out despite any dysfunction.  It takes its time to shift the relationship between the characters from companions/friends to lovers and when the shift happens it’s not sudden; instead it comes softly.

What the story does NOT do, is make Miroku the rebound guy turned romance.  Nope, Kagome is gradually recovering after Inuyasha has chosen Kikyou and is not on the hunt for her next crush.  Nor does the romance start as some scheme of Miroku’s to get into Kagome’s pants…er, um her skirt.  Nope, because for the better part of the story Kagome is under the distinct impression (like most fans) that Miroku likes Sango.

The romance is a slow build up and is a bit complicated.  I’m trying to think of a way to describe the romance without spoiling the story.  …It’s a romance that buds from an accident.  Remember the synopsis and Kagome discovering Miroku’s reincarnation with memories intact?  Yeah, it all starts because of him!  Kagome realizes that the only way there can be a reincarnation of Miroku is if Miroku died and since the reincarnation nonverbally communicates that he dies sometime before they defeat Naraku, Kagome makes it her personal mission to try and prevent his death.

So, it’s not that Kagome instantly realizes she loves Miroku (in fact she doesn’t realize that until chapter 8 or 9) and Miroku isn’t instantly in love with Kagome; he goes from being curious about Kagome’s sudden attention to his personal health to curious about her life in modern Japan (particularly about this “he” she keeps referring to) to jealous over having to share her with another time and an invisible romance rival.  It’s a slow yet seamless build.  I love it!

Kagome and Miroku (original and reincarnated) make this story.  All of the other characters are great in building out this world and bringing depth to the two worlds Kagome interacts in, but the leads absolutely steal this story.

Kagome is a bit different from the anime / manga; she truly asks as a girl out of time as she brings up science and facts that she would know from the future.  There is a point where she literally explains out a math problem to Shippo while she’s studying – you’ll never see that in the anime.  There’s another point where she uses her knowledge of science and biology to form a plan to take out Naraku; I’m pretty sure the anime doesn’t bother with science in Naraku’s downfall.  Then in her time, she’s brings up knowledge that she only gained from her time in the Feudal Era.  I appreciate this change because Kagome’s knowledge should be slipping into the two worlds.

There’s some other OOC (out of character) quirks and traits that make Kagome different from her anime / manga counterparts, but the essence of Kagome is still there.  She wants to help her friends, collect the shards, defeat Naraku, have everyone find their “happily ever after,” etc.  The core of Kagome is there with a few embellishments.

Miroku (original) is amazing.  The changes to his character are in reaction to changes in Kagome’s behavior.  Like her increased interest and concern in his health causes him to start hanging out with her a bit more.  This in turn makes him unfazed when Sango is engaged to another man.  Instead, he becomes jealous about the unknown suitor from the modern time who has Kagome all to himself.  I don’t normally like the jealous characters but Miroku pulls it off well in this story; he subtly stirs the conversation away from Kagome’s time and to more immediate topics in the Feudal Era.

Just like with Kagome, the core of Miroku is there but now it’s enhanced due to the interactions with Kagome.  The two characters play off each other easily.

Miroku (reincarnated) holds his own in this story.  It would so easy to make this character as someone who just sets things in motion but doesn’t truly make an impact until the end.  That is not this character!  No… This reincarnated version of Miroku actively inserts himself into Kagome’s life when she’s home and pursues her (romantically).  He’s not necessarily aggressive with his romantic advances but he certainly makes it obvious to onlookers that he has feelings for Kagome.  He lets Kagome know enough to set in motion key events while not sharing everything until she finally reaches critical points.

For example, the bath tub scene.  I’m not going to spoil the entire scene but I will say that this scene really shows how much reincarnated Miroku was holding back – emotionally.  Realizing that the past has finally reached point X, he “finally” acts on his emotions.

The reincarnated Miroku is very much his own character.  There is enough that ties him to the original but his past and upbringing is different and it shows in his character.  It’s refreshing and it causes confliction in Kagome as she tries not to think of the reincarnation as the original yet can’t help but feel attached to him like she does to the original.  It’s a great addition and allows for further depth to Kagome and the romances.

Finally, this story has balance!  It’s not purely romance, action, slice of life, etc.  It is a combination!  There are times when Kagome is in the Feudal Era and romance is developing, the gang is attacked, there’s questions about what comes after Naraku’s death, etc.  The romance reigns supreme but there’s plenty of time devoted to action scenes and the characters – particularly Kagome – figuring out what to do after the adventure is over.  Then in the modern era, there’s a balance between school, romance, and more action.  Nothing feels like it’s encroaching on each other, it all weaves into this story.

There’s a bit of everything for everyone.

I mentioned flaws in the story and indeed there are flaws.  I will address the elephant first, the very end.  What the fuck?  It’s not a bad ending but the logic behind defeating Naraku is both genius and questionable.  I don’t want to spoil it but let’s just say that on the one hand the logic seems feasible but on execution is questionable.  It’s the difference between hypothesis and results.  The hypothesis can make sense and seem solid, but the results make you question “how is this possible?”  That’s the final fight with Naraku.  Then there’s the ending after the final fight which makes sense and doesn’t.  Like, it makes sense because why wouldn’t there be demons in modern day, but how they all get there makes zero sense.

It’s a flaw but it doesn’t deter me from reading this story and recommending it to others. Oh and I recommend this story; I recommend it so hard!  Regardless of the end, the journey is amazing and the characters are such a joy to read.  The romance is wonderful and it’s one of those things that when it finally comes together you just want to cheer.  Oh yeah, this story is great and worth reading.

Go check out Chasing Methuselah, it’s worth the read.

 

Stars: 9.5 / 10

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

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

As Luck Would Have It Review

Title: As Luck Would Have It                                       Author: shukishi

Original Source: Gokusen (J-Drama)                           Character(s): Yankumi & Shin

Rating:  T                                                                  Genre(s): Romance / Humor

Chapter(s): 5                                                              Status: Hiatus / Discontinued

Author’s Synopsis: It’s been five years since Sawada Shin left for Africa and now he’s back with every intention to make Yamaguchi Kumiko his.  Shin feels the need to change his ex-student/teacher relationship…Wait a min-Shin!  Where are you putting your hands on Kumiko?!

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4648460/1/As-Luck-Would-Have-It

 

Welcome Readers, we’ve made it through another week and to close out the week I decided to revisit a story for this review.  This is a fan fic for the J-Drama version of The Gokusen that I had read a while back.  I thought that maybe revisiting the story with fresh eyes I could find some redeeming qualities I missed the first time around.  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 am a huge fan of The Gokusen; I loved the manga (still one of my favorites), I enjoyed the anime for its wackiness (even the dub), and I love the J-Drama even though it’s following a completely different story.  One of the things that I love in all iterations is the romance between Shin and Yankumi because (especially in the manga) it never played out as a typical romance; Yankumi is always in denial and dense that the romance is an uphill battle for Shin. The J-Drama didn’t end where the manga had – Shin confessing and Yankumi punching him for such foolishness – but it at least had hinted that Shin was in the running for Yankumi’s heart until he disappeared to Africa.

I understand why the J-Drama took that route but at the same time, I want to see Shin return and pursue Yankumi again.  So fan fics that have that plot for its basis tend to draw me in.  Unfortunately, not all can be gems.

This particular story is about Shin returning from Africa and ready to win over Yankumi.  Unfortunately, the path to romance with Yankumi is blocked by a new rival and Yankumi’s own obliviousness.

It’s enough to bring fans like myself into the story but the execution can quickly turn fans away from the story.  The story is loaded with flaws and missed opportunities; tense and POV (point of view) changes, narrative/story-telling potholes, and out-of-character (OOC) issues.  Issues that make this story hard to read and enjoy.

I’ve harped on this type of issue in the past, the interchanging of tenses and POV in stories.  Just don’t do it.  Stick with one tense and one POV type.  This story can’t decide if it wants to be written in the past tense or in the present tense.  Rather than me just talking about the tense issues, I’ll just give Readers a taste of what the story offers.

“Who?” Was what Shin asks and even without being face to face, Kuma knows that Shine was not pleased and would be scowling.  Poor Yankumi, making a man like Shin loving her to such an extent in which he’ll be willing to do anything for her, except letting other men capture her attention.  She’ll never know what hit her; Kuma fully knows that Shin would do anything to make Yankumi fall for him.” (Chapter 1, Paragraph 5).

This is how the whole story is written.  Then to compound the issue is the POV shifts.  I’m not saying that it switches from 1st to 3rd and so on – Thankfully! – but it does switch between which character the POV follows.  Initially it starts with Shin but then the sentences switch to reflect Kuma’s feelings, actions, and understanding; this happens before Kuma actually appears in the story!  When the switch in POV happens, Kuma is a voice over the phone talking to Shin who has recently arrived in Japan.  Why is the story suddenly being told from this voice’s understanding?

Next, the storytelling is typical; short scenes that are normally straight to the point and then done.  In another context this would be fine but how this story handles those scenes leaves a lot to be desired.  For instance, there is a scene where Shin and Yankumi have dinner at his apartment – in the story that part didn’t make sense – and it abruptly ends with Shin saying that he has a crush on a girl in Japan.  Really?  Why end the scene there?  If the next scene picked up with Yankumi planning to help Shin out with wooing this mystery girl or planning to find out the girl through Shin’s friends, then that ending would’ve made sense.  However, the next scene is Shin waking up the next morning.

Which reminds me – this bothered me as I was reading, why doesn’t Shin have a job or try to obtain a job?  The only thing that he does in the story is meet up with Yankumi and go to the Kuroda residence.  The story seems to have forgotten that Shin did more than just crush after Yankumi and that apartments are not free.  When he was in high school, his parents paid for his flat but now that he’s an adult (23) and returning from Africa, he would be expected to seek employment.  Hell, Yankumi would expect him to seek employment; she didn’t teach slackers!

This ties in with my final compliant, the OOC-ness featured in this story.  Some of the characters are spot on or pretty close to their original carnations; Yankumi, Kyo, and Kuroda.  Then there’s Shin, our lead character, who acts nothing like his J-Drama or manga self.  Shin is always a bit of a smartass and likes to project the appearance of a slacker, but he’s not a slacker and he’s willing to stand up for what he believes is right.  The Shin in this story is more like a puppy-dog; he shows up where Yankumi is just to hang out, he tries to get in good with her family (although that seemed unnecessary), and he’s almost territorial against his rival.  It all feels unnatural.

I know this story is based on the J-Drama but this is one area where I wish the story would’ve taken a few cues from the manga specials for The Gokusen; in the specials, Shin is shown to have his own life with college, friends, and a part-time job, but he takes the time to set up “dates” with Yankumi (dates to him, not to her), takes candid – unattractive – photos of her, and openly tells her how he feels without mincing words.

This story could have infused some of those characteristics to its Shin and made him palatable.  He could’ve had a job or interview lined up, Kuma could’ve been getting his apartment ready when he landed, he could’ve bought tickets to a movie that only Yankumi would’ve wanted to see, etc.  Things like that would’ve developed him a lot more and made him less of a one-tracked stalker.

I’ve ripped on this story a lot, but I will give it the small credit I feel it deserves.  The silver lining of this story is in Chapter 5 when Shin and his rival, school doctor Natsume, finally meet and have an exchange of dialogue.  It’s the only realistic interaction between any two characters and it’s the only time when Shin is in character.  Chapter 5 is the best delivered chapters in the story despite the tense swapping.

Still, one chapter doesn’t make the case for the story as a whole.  Thus I recommend that Readers don’t bother with this story.  The concept is nice but the execution is not great.  Each chapter presents a challenge just to make it through the writing.  Plus, from the author’s notes it sounds like the story doesn’t get updated often (if at all) so there’s not much point in getting invested in a story that may never reach an ending.

 

Stars: 3/10