|Reviews for Places We Call Home|
| ShadowVulpi chapter 17 . 8/22
All caught up! This story went by pretty fast and I'm glad to have finally reached the present so I can freely discuss everything written so far.
The pacing of this story was a surprise for me. I'm used to a lot of stories having slower beginnings where they build things up for many chapters at a time, but this story started its plot pretty early on when Nip tried to leave the guild. You could argue that the stakes didn't get raised until this most recent chapter with Celebi showing up, but there was always something happening. For that I find the story commendable, even if the plot didn't escalate until literally this chapter.
For the characters, I find myself baffled by how much my impressions of Haru has changed over reading this story. I initially liked Haru quite a bit and found her headstrong personality and desire to stay simple charming. Then these recent chapters started happening after Nip got arrested and she's been nothing but antagonistic and pretty unlikeable, not going to lie. I get why she's being this way, she feels betrayed by Nip and all since she expected better of him, but it's so hard to watch her going out of her way to slander Nip. It would be one thing if he was starting these fights, but no, it's always Haru starting it. I'm really glad Toshi called her out on her behavior, though I don't think his words actually stuck since she went right back to Nip afterwards and accused him of plotting an escape with Tempest. I'm really hoping that she redeems herself from this somehow because anytime Haru comes on screen, I dread the shit she's going to pull.
I also find it baffling that Whisper and Anu actually thought it was a good idea to watch Nip in prison when they were too emotionally invested in the crime. I get they were the only ones available for the job and eventually realized they needed help, but I really wish they had figured this out sooner. It wasn't good for their well-being and I am honestly surprised they outright try to kill Nip, their emotional fortitude be damned.
As for Celebi, I see that he's a walking Bill Cypher reference! And a quirky little fairy like he's portrayed in most stories and games.. Gotta say, he was really vague and rather unhelpful. He just spouted some vague information about how the village is going to be destroyed that could be literally anything and then left. How very rude. Some part of me can't help but wonder if he just did all this because he's a troll, because I really don't want to think he's just inept and his way of "fixing" the timeline is by giving out anti-answers to the people who are gonna die. Either that or he's lazy, which honestly might be worse.
This was an amusing little story at the end of the day. There's some things you did here that I don't agree with (namely everything about Haru and Nip's relationship since it lacks the nuance, which I've discussed earlier), but I do like this little world you've made. It's cozy and feels like an actual Pokemon world with Pokemon actually acting like Pokemon, not like furry humans. I always preferred that approach to Pokemon and I'm happy to see that here. It makes the story feel like it's another strange, but oddly familiar world.
Good luck with the rest of this story.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 10 . 8/14
Alright time to leave another review now that I've read a few more chapters. I'll also discuss the prose in this review a bit since these chapters are actually pretty recent now that I think about it and I don't see many people discussing it in other reviews.
So I'll start by saying that this was a pretty rapid turn of events. I was expecting Nip to get caught eventually, but not this fast. I guess it makes sense he was caught so easily since the dungeon's not that big and it's literally right outside of town, it just wasn't expected was all. I also wasn't expecting him to be caught very well knowing that he had eaten the egg. While I kind of called it on him actually eating the egg, I was still shocked since part of me did want him to be able to redeem himself. But nope, he ate the egg and now he's completely guilty. The trial also shed light on more of his character, showing that he hates his life because he was paired up with a mate who didn't like him. That made me feel a little bad for him, especially because he wasn't getting any of the support he needed (or so he says), but he lost all my respect and pity the moment he said he murdered all those unborn kids so that the next generation didn't have to suffer as he did. Okay buddy, yeah you go ahead and tell yourself that if it helps you sleep at night. You still killed a bunch of innocent children who did you no harm. Some part of me can't help but wonder if Nip can even be rehabilitated as they want to do thanks to the trial, just because he didn't even seem remorseful for all of the murder he caused. He seemed more upset that he couldn't get away with his crimes than anything else. Gotta say, it's rough watching Nip in the story, so I can see how Haru easily gave up on him and wanted him thrown to someone else to be their problem.
So yeah, good job on shedding light on Umbra and Nip. They've both got more development to them even though I suspect there's something else going on that no one is talking about.
Now for criticism, I wanted to talk about your prose in certain parts of the story, particularly, your battle scenes in general. There's an awful lot of "attempted to" in your fights, making the action come off as weak and lengthy. When one writes an action scene, it's easier to read if it's snappy and quick. Like for instance, "Haru groaned, shaking her head in an attempt clear the dizziness and gather her bearings" could easily be rewritten as "Haru groaned, shaking her head and clearing away the dizziness". It's less words and yet it still gets the same point across.
Another thing regarding your battle scenes is that I feel they stretch on for a little too long. Maybe I've just read way too many lengthy fight scenes in PMD stories, but they all kind of feel the same after a while. It's just attack, attack, attack for sentences at a time with maybe a dialogue or two thrown in there. I've found that these aren't very compelling to read and I often end up skipping over the battle scenes just because what ends up happening in the battle usually matter that much, save for the aftermath. Written battle scenes don't really have the flare they do in say a cartoon or a movie because we can't see them, so they don't look as cool when it's just words on a screen. I might suggest that to fix this, you could make them shorter and more to the point and also have more interesting dialogue in between the action. By doing this, you make the battle more engaging and interesting and people might not feel compelled to skip over all of the fighting. Like for Nip and Haru's fight, you could have had them pinning each other down while Haru kept demanding to know why Nip had stolen the egg and Nip insisting that he didn't have a choice and he didn't mean for things to go this way, to which Haru could get mad at that by saying there were plenty of other things he could do besides steal an egg. This suggestion might just be me though since I've found snappy fights and intriguing dialogue is easier to read than lengthy descriptions, but it's something to keep in mind.
I've made it past the halfway mark, so looks like I'll be catching up pretty soon. Oh boy, let's see what's in store.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 6 . 8/9
Time to leave another review.
It seems like the plot advanced pretty quickly! I was actually expecting Nip to hang around a little longer since he looked pretty hurt and probably needed a bit more time to recover. However, it seems he was ready to go after a little town tour with Haru. And by stealing an egg no less! I'm dreading how things are going to go once he gets caught up with the main cast. He kind of doesn't have a justification for stealing an egg when he could have really just stolen some dead meat, as that would have been ethically more right (even if it was stealing still) than a literally unborn baby. So I get the feeling he's going to be punished pretty badly, maybe even executed if he does end up eating the egg (which he just might since he's so hungry).
With that said, this does lead me to asking some questions and questioning a certain interaction between Haru and Nip. Namely, the whole talk about meat eating being "unethical". Haru comes across as a racist (or voreist really is the right word) when she doesn't even try to hide her disdain for Nip's eating habits. I get why she would be uncomfortable with him eating meat since it reminds her of her own mortality and that she's prey, but she implies that she holds his diet against his character, like it's a trait he can actually change about himself. He can't exactly do that... he actually tried to eat berries and it just made him sick, so he's obligated to eat meat or he will literally die. So this whole debate the two of them are having doesn't really feel right because these Pokemon cannot change their diets without getting sick. So this whole thing just makes Haru look bad, which sours her character in my eyes.
That's my main point I wanted to make in this review. I wanted to talk about some prose issues I've been having in the fight scenes, but I'm reluctant because I don't know if you've changed your writing that much since you last wrote this chapter. I guess let me know if you want to hear my thoughts on your prose and style and I'll see what I can do next time I leave a review.
Until next time.
| ShadowVulpi chapter 3 . 8/3
Decided to give this story a try since it's not too long at the moment (compared to other stories I've read) and I gotta say, I'm having fun with this so far.
I'll start by saying I'm amused that you're using a Bidoof of all Pokemon as a main character. I never really thought much of them since they look pretty derpy and PMD 2's Bidoof wasn't really that great to me. However, I do find that by following a Bidoof around, I'm growing to respect them a bit more. It helps that Haru is a pretty likeable character with an interesting view on the legendaries. I don't know too many characters that just don't outright believe in the gods, so it's interesting to see her outright denying their existence and finding journeys to discover them a waste of time. Honestly it reminds me of an atheist weirded out by religious people and why're at church so much. Clearly her viewpoint is going to be changed though considering the events of the prologue, but for now, it's an interesting new perspective for a Pokemon to have.
So far I can't really comment on much since I've only read a prologue plus two chapters, but I will say this is looking promising. I think it also helps that you don't linger too much in details and have just the right amount of inner monologue to keep me immersed in Haru's thoughts, like finding happiness in her simple life even though it probably sounds boring to everyone else. It's a good way to keep me engaged and not want to click off the chapter.
Good stuff so far, I'll be reading more sometime.
| InkyDewott502 chapter 10 . 7/3
Hello Wind! I decided to read through 10 of the 17 chapters of Places We Call Home for your review.
Overall, I enjoyed the many layers of the story so far. The way of life comparing those who call a Village their home. And those who left a Tribe they once called home. The structures of living, society, values different Pokemon have. How Haru and the other Pokemon who live in Theran Village deal with this, then how Nip and Umbra eventually come around to deal with them being enforced on them to an extent.
Just from the North in the desolate mountains compared to the South rich and fertile forest. A physical and metaphorical ridge separating the two. I felt like the scenes in Sunglow Thicket Mystery Dungeon in particular are some of the most engaging besides the lore of the land, but I was confused about Haru and friends and their battles. Not what they did, but rather the information that was left out. I'm kinda a stickler for battle demonstration, and was a little bummed when all of them admitted to not being fighters. Maybe they just doubted their overall ability but they did well in the Mystery Dungeon against the wildeners. More competent than the ones who were tasked to try and apprehend Nip after he stole Whisper and Anu's Egg.
Who knew the simple differences of a diet and morality could get our Sneasal Boy of the week Nip into so much trouble? He would have never got into all this conflict and drama if he didn’t mess with Eggs. I like how the mildly related subjects were touched, just felt like maybe they could be advanced. Particularly the meat-eating and diet of other carnivores, which brought Nip to his more recent problems. The Reader is told that he wouldn’t hunt from other tribes, fair. But then now that he is away from tribes down on his journey what are his options. Adapting to his new environment, and buying the meat of dead Pokemon. A brilliant concept! I kinda feel like sneaking in other village Pokemon at the butcher's shop as like a balance. To counter weight Jhorlo's, the Village Leader wishes to eat Nip once he's dead. I wonder if something will happen with the Purugly if Shimmer finds out his sinister side. Now because of Nip’s inner turmoil, he doesn’t go find a quick job to do in the Village to make some poke. I like these little glimpses into some of his values, he doesn’t care about the traditions of other Pokemon, especially if they don’t cater to or benefit him in the long run.
Now onto thoughts about the mentions of the Legendaries that early couple of chapters have. The rumor of spotting Regigigas after hundreds of years or a lifetime. Praying the different Legendaries sects based on region, cultures, and values. It seems like within all parts of the Continent are linked to different Mythical Pokemon that aren't shared from town to town. The shrines and worship centers where Pokemon leave offerings and prayers to Legendaries is a concept I enjoyed and wonder what lies in store.
Tales of the conflicts and struggles are not equally spread out across the land even in the same Continent, which the Reader could assume was to be very expansive, with Brinash Town on the east coast, The Crescent Moon Tribe and other Tribes of the north, the tropical town far away mentioned by a villager. The Legendaries battles being what could have caused Mystery Dungeons. The recognition of the children of Mew. As in all Pokemon that the Pangoro of the Expedition Society spoke of, a convenient way to introduce a greater conflict, even if the Reader may be left in dark for a short while.
Regarding Nip and Haru. The fed-up Bidoof who seemed to want things to be normal has a different relationship than the outcast lone "wolf" Sneasel. Perhaps also based on their diet, as the omnivore and carnivore, Pokemon pray to the various Legendaries more often and take their religion seriously, Whisper, Anu, and Nip. All Pokemon seemed to be more rather clear and upfront about their beliefs, even if they had to restrain themselves and not act or speak right away. Now this isn’t to say that Shimmer, Haru, and Toshi don’t express themselves as they certainly do but the way they do is also part of the role in the village. Unless I’m just straight up jumping to conclusions in the wrong spot.
I have a few questions about some topics brought up occasionally. In the story Chapter 9, for a second I felt like Nip was talking about saving the unborn Eggs from a cruel life. As he feels so self-righteous all of a sudden, akin to when someone is forced to explain a possible reason they want to abort a pregnancy. It is not exactly his situation as he didn’t eat his own unborn child, at least I don't know yet.
I also wonder what Haru's dream career is, the one she needs some notoriety around the Village and some of the following lands to perform well in.
I look forward to the rest of the Places We Call Home and thank you!
| LukerUpgradez chapter 15 . 9/18/2020
Heya Wind! I’ve been meaning to pop a review your way for the past while, and now I’m finally getting around to it. Since I don’t do the best at giving feedback for chapters individually, I’m going to cover everything I want to say in one review.
So, it’s very readily apparent that this fic is aiming for a slow buildup into an epic, not dissimilar to Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. But honestly? Despite knowing bigger and better things are supposed to be on the way, I’ve really enjoyed this part of the story. The number of interesting ideas you’ve brought to the table with “nothing” happening is very impressive.
I’ll open this with something you’ve probably heard a number of times: Nip is the best character in the story by far. He cracks the story wide open with his very first action, but where many writers would scramble to keep their audience from forever hating him for it, you manage to balance both the merits and the flaws of his character on your plate elegantly. He’s a very nuanced character with a belief system that is relievingly unique and character relations that are always interesting.
Though Nip is certainly the best, that’s not to say the others are bad. Haru is a fairly nice “refuser to the call to adventure”-type character, Shimmer and Muse are an excellent pair of characters perfectly positioned for tons of humor and drama, and Toshi’s contributions to the story are well-rounded. I’m really excited to learn more about Tempest and how he contributes to the story — his relation to Nip already sets him up very well. The most forgettable characters are Whisper, Anu, and Vale, but the recent story developments have really done wonders for them, Vale especially. They’re not *bad* characters, and they all seem plot-important now, but I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head Whisper and Anu’s species and genders. I just kinda lose track of them.
The setting of Theran Village has really been a joy to read. It’s very Mother 3-esque and I have to wonder if that was an inspiration. Seeing this tightly-packed community slowly begin to unravel as Nip, Umbra, Jhorlo, and Tempest start making moves is engaging to read. I imagine this first act is probably going to end with something horrible happening to the sanctity of Theran Village, and I cannot wait to find out what it is and how your characters will deal with it (Shimmer especially).
I’ve found a lot of careful crafting going on for the larger plot at hand going on throughout this fic and I can’t help but theorize about the future of the story. Judging by the continued emphasis on how Theran Village’s society is trying to subvert the predator/prey cycle of life baked into their species, I’m getting the creeping feeling that this is going to evolve into a “Civils versus Wildeners” type of story, with the narrator from the prologue (Who I am guessing is connected to the Expedition Society) seeking the Legendary Pokémon’s power to eradicate one of the two (assumedly the Wildener way of life as it fits more with the “Vermin” description of its enemies?). Which, if this is the case, holy crap, these characters are ticking time bombs waiting to be pulled in a hundred directions and I am all for it. Even if I’m wrong, I’m still very excited to see where the matters right in front of us, like Umbra and Jhorlo, are going to go.
To close out, here’s a few more little things I wanted to point out:
—Fletchinder’s offscreen death is really freaking sad. Way to make maximum use of the one Mystery Dungeon we’ve been in to characterize the cruelty of carnivorous needs.
—The prose has been generally satisfactory. Not particularly incredible, but good enough to get the picture.
—Haru seems like the kind of character who’ll get the plot sucked right out of her hands just because the male lead is more interesting than her initially. She hasn’t been too bad, and I’m sure you have plenty of plans for her, but try to watch out for either of the leads stealing the other’s spotlight.
—What little action there has been so far is pretty good. Not much to say about it.
—I wish the prose didn’t immediately give away that Jhorlo has demons in his closet. It’d be a little different if Nip’s ability to see through his veil was used for something, but right now it kinda just shoots the twist in the foot. It’s obvious enough when he’s walking around with hyper-obedient twin henchmen, hahaha.
—I don’t really have any reason for it, but I really like Muse. I hope to see more of her in the future.
...And that’s about everything. Thank you so much for creating such an enjoyable story, and I wish you the best on the journey to completing it, Wind!
| TheG0AT chapter 12 . 8/26/2020
Howdy hey! I was planning to read all the way to the end and review there, but I have a lot to say as it is. I’ll stop here instead and unload my thoughts.
I don’t have a ton to say about the plot, since the plot is so character-oriented that I can probably cover most of it by just commenting on the characters specifically like I did last time. Before I do that, I wanna give props for the fight scene. That setting was awesome. Simple, but dynamic. I don’t often see battlefields in fanfiction take gravity and verticality into play nearly that much, but you did so effectively.
Updated take on Nip: This guy. Man. I want him to fail, because honestly, I’m not sure there’s much retribution to be found here. He’s not an asshole in the sense that you wouldn’t want to have a conversation with him, since it sometimes seems like he’s a relatively decent guy to have around. No, he’s just an asshole in the sense that he’ll betray those who help him, commit an act too not far off from the equivalent of eating an actual irl child, and then shrug it off as his species’ nature afterward. “Or so he’d been told”, his inner thoughts confirmed—yet, if he wasn’t truly morally bankrupt like Haru suggested, then something within him would’ve triggered long before he went through with the plan. I digress.
For the sake of the narrative, I was willing to forgive him for that… until it was revealed that he slaughtered an entire infirmary of children, his justification being that death would be better for them than having to grow up in his tribe and suffer what he did. Bruh. This actually brings up my favorite part of his character, and the source of my disdain for him specifically: the monumental hypocrisy found in his actions. I have to commend you here, because you’ve gone out of your way several times to emphasize it without ever being direct enough to force the idea on the reader. I came to the conclusion that he’s a massive hypocrite myself, yet I was only able to because you laid it all out in front of me. Well done.
What I’m talking about here is his outspoken opinion on death for others versus his unspoken opinion on death for himself. When it comes to others, death is inevitable, part of nature, and a necessary reality of life (in a paradoxical but meaningful sort of way). While taking this to the extreme of murdering innocent children is a warped way to act upon this sort of thinking, I do at least see where he’s coming from. Problem is… his own death seems to be his greatest fear. When staring it in the face, be it inside of Umbra’s jaws or being threatened with it at the village hearing, his entire demeanor changed. He’s the type of person who thinks they know what death is until they stare it in the face. I love it. I hate him, though. I hope he gets humbled one way or another. I think someone close to him is gonna have to die for the magnitude of death to really click.
My take on Umbra: I’m… not so sure she’s the bad guy here. Or at least, the only/worst bad guy. For a while I thought she might be outright lying about what happened, especially when Nip vaguely brought up that she had personal goals for hunting him down. But when I learned that it was because Nip had slaughtered a bunch of children from her tribe, and when Nip himself more or less confirmed it…? I mean, I get why she wanted to kill him. Granted, there’s a strong argument that Umbra was somewhat at fault for that too, since she was the one abusing Nip in the first place… but eh. That’s a flimsy argument, if you ask me. Domestic and emotional abuse is horrific and Umbra deserves to pay for it, but tracing back the killing of innocent children to past abuse via placing blame on the abuser doesn’t really jive with me. They’re two acts that, while both terrible, are on totally different levels of cruelty and were preceded by completely different thought processes.
Updated take on Toshi: Hmm. So, he did assert himself (not really in the context of Shimmer, but whatev), but the way he did it has given me mixed feelings. It’s good that he took a stand and willfully made a difference, but Whisper put it best: they didn’t need that long-winded, cringey explanation for it. To be clear, the writing wasn’t cringey, just Toshi himself. It made it feel less like he was making a decision because of how he felt and more like he was making a decision because of what his idol might’ve done. There’s not always anything wrong with that, but in the case of deciding if someone lives or dies, it had me raising my eyebrows at him for sure.
Updated take on Haru: LOL she didn’t vote to save Nip. I love it. Again, she’s so relatable, at least for me, because she did exactly what I would’ve done and was thinking exactly what I was thinking. Even if she isn’t one of this story’s more dynamic characters, I find myself looking forward to her sections the most simply because they’re so immersive. She’s just so done with everyone’s BS.
I’ll hold off on characters like the mayor and any further takes on Muse, since they’ve both captured my interest but have yet to break out into their roles, whatever those roles may be. I’ll just have to wait and see.
I was planning to touch on a couple things—toning, pacing, and that section with the Zoruark and Pangoro—in this review, but it’s getting pretty long, so I’ll get to that in a couple more chapters. In the meantime, what can I say? I’m loving this fic. I can’t think of a single character that isn’t well written. The setting is vivid, the writing accommodates everything well, etcetera. I’ll stay tuned in.
| TheG0AT chapter 7 . 8/1/2020
Alright. Egg time.
I’ve read seven of PWCH’s published chapters so far, so I’ll briefly stop here to leave my thoughts.
Haru: She strikes a pleasant balance between being the most relatable character and also having a unique flavor of her own. Witnessing the story unfold through her eyes makes everything seem so down to earth. She’s a compliment to the story’s (currently) “low” stakes in the grand scheme of most PMD fics — i.e. the world isn’t ending or anything like that, at least within the scope of the story up to this point. Haru strikes me as just a regular Pokémon with respectable-but-regular goals, and I think that’s the backbone of why I’ve enjoyed her segments so far. It feels appropriate that she isn’t a human sent from another dimension or some sort of ‘chosen one’. My only worry is that if/when the stakes do get raised later on, whether this appropriate status will be sustainable or not. I have a much harder time imagining Haru, the Bidoof who just wants to chillax and work hard and support her family, going on a quest to battle deities and save boundless Pokémon. I can’t see the future, of course… but, after all, the beginning of the book did start out with a boatload of foreshadowing about “the gods”. I get the feeling Haru is on a one-way trip to biting off more than she can chew, and I’m curious to see whether she adapts to it or she remains in her bubble. Overall, for now, though, I love her. She’s probably the first character in this story I’d want to hang out with personally.
Toshi: Hard to say right now. I’m awaiting the eventual scene where he actually stands up and snaps at Shimmer. I want to see what he’s made of when put on the spot for real.
Shimmer: I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, she’s insufferable; on the other, she’s inspiring. How can she be both? I think, for me, it comes down to how she acts in different situations. In any casual setting, her focus is almost exclusively directed at Toshi, even if Toshi himself isn’t present. From the very start, you made it abundantly clear that she would be a foil for Toshi and generally annoying to be around. And while those things have stayed true, there is something about her that makes her one of my favorite characters anyway: when it counts, she’s dependable, resourceful, and dare I say brave. She defied my expectations in the Umbra fight by jumping into the fray in spite of Muse and her status, both of which she could easily use as an excuse to avoid getting hurt. I half-expected her to cower behind Toshi with the expectation he’d fight for her. It’s a shame for her, really; if she wasn’t so forward and clueless socially, I can see the pairing of those two working really well… which is what she wants, after all. I’m actively rooting for her, so I’m looking forward to the inevitable reality check that (hopefully!) inspires her to adjust her attitude and become the universally likable character I believe she can be.
Muse: I need to see more before really reaching a solid verdict. For now, I can say that she’s diligent and self-aware enough to be genuinely likable and a fun character to read about. She seems keenly aware that Shimmer can be a bit much sometimes, and still does her duty without question. On top of that, she’s very friendly with everyone, Shimmer included (perhaps especially). She doesn’t strike me as a super dynamic character thus far, but she’s still respectable and maybe that’s enough for her current role. Admittedly, I do find myself wishing I could get her perspective on everything more often.
Nip: I’ll dive more into Nip later, presumably when I know more about his home life and his true motivations. For now, I can say that he confounds me in a way that is neither good nor bad. I can’t bring myself to root for him, but I also don’t want him to fail outright. It’s weird. If this is what you were going for, kudos. I’m looking forward to interacting with him in BLC.
Here are some more notes I jotted down while reading, in no particular order:
— The vague sequence at the start of the fic strikes a good balance between not giving too much away, remaining just barely relevant enough throughout the story to stick around in my mind, and setting up intrigue for later.
— Haru and Toshi using joint Rollout attacks is the kind of battling action I came to see.
— I wish the disjointed relationship between Haru and her father had been explored a little more. It doesn’t seem like her parents are ultra-relevant to the story thus far, which is fine… but still. That one dinner table argument scene early on left me with questions that never really got addressed as the story picked up. I suppose I’ll have to keep reading.
— I can’t help but appreciate the undertone of understanding/misunderstanding other cultures. I feel like the vastly different cultures, speech patterns, etc. that would naturally occur within a Pokémon world are infinitely customizable and inherently fascinating to read about when handled and diversified well. You’ve done very well in this category.
— I have some toning issues that I’ll discuss more in-depth during my next review. Regardless… overall, this has been a joy to read.
Am I hooked? Yeah, I definitely am. I got this far, and I don’t intend to stop. For now, though, I’ll wait until I’m caught up to give an overall critical analysis of the story, as well as an updated analysis for the characters. Keep up the good work in the meantime.
| kintsugii chapter 9 . 7/19/2020
Chapter Eight! Ironically called race to the finish as I try to race to catch up with your prodigious update rates, fml.
[“Got everything?” the kirlia asked in a whisper.]
This felt a little wordier than normal - I think "the kirlia whispered" would probably be fine?
[the entrance to the dungeon was just as barren as it had been before, with not a single guard watching it yet.]
This ends up being a thing that's been brought up a bunch across the past few chapters - really interested in what the payoff ends up being, because (I think?) it hasn't actually had plot relevance yet?
[“Oh, fine,” she agreed, sifting her attention]
me thinks you meant "shifting"
[“Try the path to the left!” Shimmer shouted, glancing back over her shoulder nervously, expecting the brutish beast to reappear any second. “The left!”]
I really liked the flow of dialogue here. The way you sandwich the description with Shimmer's frantic statement and subsequent correction makes the whole exchange much more immersive; nicely done. I feel like a lot of quips in action sort of fall apart under their own weight, but this was really well-timed and doesn't take up so much space that it becomes distracting, ya know?
[Legends say that the mystery dungeons are the scars of the War of the Ancient Ones. It’s…. Kind of sad, to look at it in person, and see that even hundreds… thousands of years later, scars still remain on the land.”]
Oh! More myth/legend lore! We saw hints of it in the prologue and early chapters, but it's back? Maybe?
[By now, more pokemon living in the stable zone were appearing, jumping into the fray with little notice of who was friend or foe, drawn by the sound of battle.]
This seems counter-intuitive to the pact? You make a good case for why the wildeners would want to take out the townsfolk who are breaking the pact, but it's not clear why more wildeners would want to potentially/recklessly attack other wildeners outside of the pact.
[Without waiting for an answer, she raced forward with her head lowered, prepared to headbutt him.]
Your overall battle flow here is really excellent - it's a good mix of chaos and a bunch of different sides clashing at once - but here in particular this feels overly staccato. First one thing. Then another thing. And a third thing. The rapid sentence breakdown, made more pronounced with the paragraph breaks, makes the events feel disjointed when in reality they're happening in rapid succession, I think.
[“Oh, quit your whining, it’ll all be over soon” Umbra growled]
Dropped comma between 'soon' and 'Umbra'
[“I guess that’s fair enough,”]
...is it though? I feel like the wildeners (including Umbra) are all getting shafted here (which I think is your point?). We clearly aren't out of the woods yet with the conflict, even if the physical fighting is probably wrapped up.
But wow! So this arc is coming to a close, and it was certainly eventful. I think you've done a really masterful job of juggling a bunch of different plot threads here, and it's nice to see some of the things come full circle - the fletchinder is sort of relevant I guess? If that's the full payoff for the fight in chapter five, I still think you could streamline a little. But outside of that, I do like how so many threads converged in this chapter. The fight was chaotic, but in an understandable way, and I think you captured the feeling of an uncontrolled brawl really well. The cross-chapter pacing on this fic has been on point so far, so it's cool to see that the first arc is (maybe?) starting to reach the falling action?
I'm really curious about the trial. So much of the focus has just been on catching Nip, but now that we've done that, there's really no good direction for what's going to happen to him next, so I expect that there's going to be a lot more interesting stuff going down next chapter, even if it isn't going to be physical conflict. Thank you for sharing!
| kintsugii chapter 8 . 7/19/2020
chugging along into chapter seven!
[What would Expedition Head Blue do?’]
WWEHBD, the cool kid's version of WWJD
[“To be fair… I guess I don’t really want to kill him either, not without giving him a chance to defend himself at least.]
Dropped a quotation mark at the end here.
Also! It's pretty rich from Haru aka "have you just tried not eating meat because killing things is barbaric" to be so nonchalant about loss of life here. I feel like the phrase "I don't really want to" is usually followed by "floss my teeth" or "eat Thai food tonight", not discussing if someone lives or dies. I sort of get what you want to do here - Haru is young and naive and is probably just parroting things she's heard before, but this flippant approach feels inconsistent, even for her.
[“Nonsense. I can tell you’re exhausted; it’s written in the way you’re standing and in the clumps of missing fur. Stay right there. I’ll be with you in a moment.”
“What did I say about sudden movements, dear?”]
this was a really cute pair of details and I liked them. Adults being good at their jobs! Yes!
[“I know, I know ma’am. Sorry.”]
Dropped a comma before 'ma'am'
[“Sometimes I gotta wonder what’s going on in Dad’s head. Imagine if one day we found out he was involved in some cover up?]
This is absolutely what's happening isn't it.
[So when we ended up outside, I just searched for the nearest psychic connection and told them to send help. Oh, and I said to send fire and fighting types too.”]
In-universe it makes sense that they'd have to have this recap conversation, but from a meta perspective it's a little weird to have this talk shown to us an entire chapter later. I almost don't think you need it? There were some good hints in-context in chapter 6 that this wasn't the orb Shimmer was aiming for ("Oh no, that's not the totter orb!"), and that she was the one who called for help (before whipping her head back go glare dangerously at Shimmer. "You… you called for them?"; btw, you just noticed you use 'go' instead of 'to' there). This recap sorta feels like someone else missed those hints and asked that you add in an explanation for how that happened, haha.
[If he were to be caught, he reasoned, he would have a better chance of surviving the encounter if the egg were still intact. In hindsight, he could have just stolen meat from the mandibuzz and cubone; he would have had enough time, even factoring in the longer walk there, and if they had caught him, he would have had the advantage against both of them.]
Poor Nip, only now thinking over his mistakes.
[By the time he reached the fourth division, all that remained was a lingering sense of guilt, and littered pieces of shell that would be swept away by the dungeon winds.]
This is a really nice line! I liked it a lot.
Unsure if he's suspicious of the 'Storyteller' or the fact that her first name is just the first five letters of her species name. it's me Homosa the homo sapiens
[“Well, Nip, if you really must know, there are diglet tunnels that flooded a very long time ago, that used to connect to the world outside the dungeon before they caved in. Before they caved in, I swam in here as a wee little bruxish and decided to stay for a while, but then I grew too big! Or perhaps I was dropped into the dungeon when a staraptor tried to make off with me as their meal. Which of these stories is true? Does it really matter?”]
Joking aside, Bruxi as a character comes at a really good point in the narrative. I like that she's a bit more flippant about the logic and rules of things; it's a really welcome respite from the heavy drama that's surrounding Nip/squad at this point in the story. But at the same time, she's still able to shed some light on how the other pokemon in the dungeon might feel - it's a really clever way of bringing things back around and making characters relevant again.
And who would have a better story than Bruxi the Bruxish?
[instead of halfway across the land chasing after a pokemon as ungrateful as nip.]
Dropped a capital 'N' here
[Umbra reached up to scratch behind her undamaged.]
Dropped 'ear' here I think (?)
[Do you have any idea how disrespectful it would be to leave a tribemate to be scavenged?]
I do like that you've shown the tribe's values in a few places here - for the most part it's sort of posed as a lawless anarchy society vs overbearing rules village society, and it's nice to have some nuance reflecting that the tribe cares about its own still.
[She placed her hand into the thick ink, then pressed her palm against the parchment, next to his print. “Well, Jhorlo, I think we’ve come to an agreement.”]
Did she even read this contract?
...can she even read?
A bit of a quieter chapter, but it's the calm before the storm. The flow of setup feels really natural here, and I think Bruxi's appearance gives a bit of energy to what would otherwise be a dialogue-heavy chapter. I also really like how you're taking your time building up to this confrontation - shit's absolutely going to go square-shaped once they all converge, but you're taking your time steering us there, which makes the payoff even better.
also heads up I realize a lot of this is old chapters so my commentary is/has been/will be a bit more sparse than normal - I'm definitely enjoying the ride though!
| kintsugii chapter 7 . 7/19/2020
[He was staying there for a time yes, but he's run off now.]
Dropped a comma before 'yes'.
[Shimmer and Muse glanced to him for a moment, then - getting the idea - rushed ahead to block the exit.
pouncing forward horn first, dark purple energy forming a glowing aura around her horn]
Normally you're really good at avoiding this, but the double 'horn' here is a bit repetitive in such close context.
[Caught off guard, Shimmer attempted to slow her down with a disarming voice, letting out pulses of fairy-type energy around her as she shrieked. "EEK! No! Bad mawile, stay back!"]
lmao this is the best description for the efficacy of Disarming Voice that I've seen (which is to say, no efficacy)
[jaw full of razer-sharp fangs]
should be 'razor', I believe
[dazed for a moment as the world swirled around her]
dropped a period at the end of this sentence
[With a pained grunt, the mawile suddenly yanked her head, pulling Toshi loose from his braced stance, tossing him into the air when he did not let go of her ear, even as it began to tear.]
getting some heavy Thanos/Infinity War vibes from this section tbh
[And she was no fire.]
I'm not quite sure what this sentence is supposed to be saying.
[It's time to be quiet guys.]
Comma before 'guys'
[“Gods, Haru, what have you gotten yourself into this time?”]
Fun cliffhanger! Egad.
This chapter feels like the second half of chapter five, in a good way - it wraps up a lot of those dangling threads and really helps push things along. I think having the group fight Umbra 4v1 is a good call, because plausibly it gives them some reason to actually survive the encounter while you can still show off how poorly-equipped for everything they are.
And Umbra finally gets some non-evil lines! I think this is a really interesting development. If she's not lying about what Nip did, I'm honestly quite curious to see how you plan on redeeming Nip or making him a sympathetic character again - it's one thing to have teenage mood swings, and it's another to use those mood swings to destroy a bunch of kids? I dunno. I like how you've left it up in the air for whether or not Umbra's telling the truth or not; there's definitely someone in this mix who isn't being fully honest. it's probably jhorlo
Still catching up slowly and steadily, but thanks for sharing so far!
| kintsugii chapter 6 . 7/19/2020
Hello, me again! First half of this is unnaturally grammar heavy; sorry in advance.
[As bad as she felt for that, she couldn't help but appreciate the silence. Even her brother was out and about already, something she found a bit unusual.]
I like this. It's not common (but entirely realistic) for protagonists/narration to follow a chain of logic and yet be completely wrong about something. Adds a nice bit of realism to things.
[Just behind him, Muse - with Shimmer on her back as usual - had veered off]
hello it me patron saint of em dashes instead of hyphens - these should be em dashes
["Nothing good I'm afraid," Muse answered. She paused to lay down on her stomach. "Here, climb on behind Shimmer, we'll go where we can see better."]
How big is absol in this world compared to bidoof kirlia? I think the combined weight of Haru and Shimmer is close to Muse's entire weight, plus bidoof are pretty chonky and absol are pretty lanky.
[Haru carefully slid off of Muses back]
Apostrophe dropped off here.
[Any other time, she would have turned the offer down, would have refused to hang around the duo with no one to intervene.]
The last phrase in this sentence took me a few re-reads to parse. Maybe rephrase to something like "Any other time, she would have turned down the offer to hang around the duo with no one else to intervene"? Usually repetition is used in this way to make two different points, but here you're sort of making the same point once and then expanding on it the second time.
[In addition to the two guards and shrine attendant were the mayor and his two personal guards, as well as Lecha, Tor - a blissey - and the two young ghost pokemon that stayed at the daycare.]
It's strange that Haru calls out just Tor's species here and no one else.
[He allowed the pokemon to murmur amongst themselves for several minutes before finally cutting in."]
Stray quotation mark on the tail end here, and also "several minutes" is a pretty long time to let people talk. even if you are wanting to build up hatred against Nip or are secretly evil or whatever it's more like, count to two hundred while standing at a podium after a mic drop like that; maybe adjust this to a few seconds or half a minute?
[playing that it wasn’t who she thought it was.”]
another stray quotation mark
[Some pokemon made their way over to where Whisper, Vale, and Anu were to offer their help. Jhorlo turned to where Muse, Shimmer, and Haru were hanging around.]
The sentence structure here of "where X, Y, and Z were to" was hard to read - having the list between 'where' and 'were' breaks up that phrase. Also/regardless duplicating such unique structure back-to-back definitely makes it stand out when I don't think this information needs to be flagged as anything special.
[I'll touch bases with Numi]
it's slang so idk, but I think you want 'touch base', singular, here
["go get any exploration gear you have together, we'll meet back at the edge of town in an hour."]
Your dialogue exchanges sometimes go untagged - this is technically okay since they're sort of back-solvable (idk the exact word, but it's easy enough to figure out who's saying what because there's clarification in the responding set of dialogue), but it's a little confusing going forward. Example below:
["Shimmer…" The absol pawed at the ground nervously before shaking her head. "I want you to know that I believe this is a poor decision. But if we go, I would like it if Haru did accompany us, at least."
"Because, you've had the most interaction with Nip, and thus have the best chance of convincing him to come back without a fight."]
The 'what/why' could easily come from either Shimmer or Haru; there's not really enough character in that line to tell who's saying it. Muse's next line makes it clear that it's Haru, but forcing backtracking like this is a little messy from a reader standpoint.
["I don't know…" Toshi mumbled. "I think it's worth a shot. Besides," he added, with a bit of mischief in his eye, "wouldn't this be a great time to make your name known, if you could help bring a criminal to justice?"]
poor guy has completely forgotten that this means he'll have to deal with Shimmer now :')
[Haru snickered slightly as the group made their way down a hill towards the dungeon. "Gotta love mom. She's great, but she's got way too many expectations on us. I mean, moving out to expand the family business? Yeah, I don't mind that. But she's got it in her head that I'm going to become mates with some powerful dragon-type or something. I mean, really? Maybe I'm not ready to settle down mom, I've got a life ahead of me still!"]
Sort of like Toshi's line about how their mother pressure/not pressures him to get with Shimmer - this feels like a lot more information in a single dialogue exchange than most characters would give. Haru's not really afraid to speak her mind so this is sort of in-character, but that Toshi doing it last chapter makes lines like these stick out. And you sort of play it off as an accident with Haru here, but from a meta-perspective it still feels strange even with that justification?
[she immediately noticed the drop-in temperature from summer to fall air]
1. extra hyphen between 'drop' and 'in'; you don't need to join those words so you don't need a hyphen
2. I love this little detail! makes the dungeons seem mysterious~~
["You there!" She barked in an accent that Haru had come to recognize the last few days. "If you've seen a sneasel around, then you will tell me where he is, if you know what is good for you!"]
shit's getting real now, yo.
This chapter is where things start to heat up, isn't it? I actually like the slow burn on this arc - there are a lot of moving pieces going into what I assume is them confronting Nip, and I like that you explain the conflicting ideals that are going to make all of this fall to shit very soon.
I do wonder if you could condense a little further, though. The fletchling/fletchinder fight feels underwhelming compared to, for example, Nip's flight from town or the Umbra fight next chapter. The stakes are pretty low, it's pretty obvious that the heroes are going to win, and it's not like they're really fighting over anything in particular - Haru was just dumb and tried to nick their stuff. If anything, the squad is actually in the wrong here since they almost stole some shit and then beat up the owners claiming self-defense. I feel like part of this was just to prove how inexperienced they are at fighting before having them fight Umbra, but they already seem to know that, and if even the main characters are telling us that they aren't good at something, it's pretty easy to accept that they aren't good at that thing.
I think especially because this arc of the fic is very fight heavy while the first few chapters were very talk heavy, the successive battling chapters start to stack up, and this chapter ends up being the forgotten middle child. You write the fights with good language, they're well-paced and fairly tense, but in this one there's really no sense of stake or any real reason for the conflict. Fights are really exciting when they're clashes in ideals, not characters - so in chapter 4 it's really about how Nip's dog-eat-dog view of the world pairs up with the village's ideals of protecting one another; in chapter 6 it's really about Haru & co seeking answers/justice while Umbra is practicing shoot first/ask questions later. It's a lot easier to get invested in these conflicts because the parties involved are fighting for personal reasons that are complex and understandable - and also for personal reasons that are deeply tied to the themes of cultural conflicts in this story so far, which you've done a really good job of establishing.
That's all I got for now! Sorry that this one ended up being mostly grammar/gripes; overall this arc is a really exciting one and I feel like this was just the chapter where things snagged a little for me.
| kintsugii chapter 5 . 7/19/2020
classic, I think I messed up the chapter order and now they're stuck like this forever
[Grains and vegetables, as far from his diet as they could be. He'd gotten sick when he tried to cave and eat a meal with nothing but bread and potatoes and carrots, all things he had never eaten before.]
This... yeah. I get what you mean about adding more obligate carnivore characters to the village, but imo that makes Haru's argument make even less sense given that 1) Nip literally cannot ingest most non-meats 2) if there are more obligate carnivores around, Haru should know this?
And I guess from a structural standpoint, surely they'd want to make ethically killed meat/oran berries/[whatever their approved form of feeding carnivores is] easily attainable so that a hungry and desparate carnivore wouldn't, say, break into a nursery and eat someone's child. Haru could be dumb/young/idealistic and that's fair, but the rest of the village should probably know better?
Also, dumb question, but are there fields and stuff in the village? I probably missed descriptions of them, because I was imagining that they were mostly foraging/doing smallpatch farming, but bread implies a lot more infrastructure.
IDK. DUMB FOOD THINGS IN POKEMON. SORRY.
[Perhaps he could get one more meal as well, without having to spend energy to hunt. Or even two, since he could keep the meat frozen. It was in no way ideal but… it might allow him to cover more ground.]
I like how you structure these plot hooks really early in there; it makes the inevitable fallout that much more anticipated. Per my comments above - what happens next is an issue that everyone should've absolutely seen coming, but as a writer you do a great job of introducing it in a way where people could probably plausibly be surprised that it still went down that way, which is really hard! Subverting expectations and such.
[He didn’t want to stay here forever, even if he could. They were too strict. Too stuffy. Too single-minded. Too much like things he wanted to leave behind.]
yuh boi looking for a place to call home
["See… Shimmer likes me. A lot, maybe too much. I mean, she's nice and all but… I just can't see her that way! She's too pushy! But mom really kind of… eggs it on, encourages her. Encourages me to hang out with her. She's the mayor's kid, so she's rich and has a lot of power in the village. Muse is nice enough and kind of keeps her from being too pushy but… It's just nice to have company so I'm not stuck talking to her the whole time, you know?"]
Normally your dialogue flows really well, so this bit stuck out to me as fairly expository. Toshi's really an open book, isn't he?
[But in addition to the two, three other pokemon walked with them.]
Bit dumb, but the "two, three" part of this sentence left me scratching my head for a while.
["He and her mother - a gardevoir - had been together a long time, but I think she had a surrogate father."]
You use hyphens (-) here, but you should use em dashes (—) to do breaks in sentences. Hyphens are for breaks in words (forty-five, sickly-sweet).
The surrogate father is a really interesting detail though - it's neat to see some worldbuilding address how biologically incompatible pokemon might still go about forming families.
[Something about it put his fur on end, like perhaps it was a well-rehearsed show.]
EVIL MAYOR EVIL MAYOR
["Creative name, Red," Nip mumbled sarcastically.
"Hey, you're the one that's named after a bite, do you really have room to talk?"]
I liked this exchange a lot; that's all.
[A cruel idea that there would be no going back on. But also, an idea that would be much faster than running all the way to the mandibuzz's shack.]
well i guess no one's called him smart
I get that the shack is far, Nip, but surely you understand why walking might be preferable to kidnapping and murdering their child?
[he had no use for them, and he planned to steal as little as possible]
"steal as little as possible" except an egg cuz corpses are hard to get to
[mid-sized egss in both paws.]
I think you mean "eggs"
I see what you mean about the plot really getting started in these few chapters; this one was really explosive. The structure is sort of weird, though - the first half feels almost irrelevant since they sort of just go into the woods, talk, and then turn back. On a meta level there are definitely some key reasons for that (we introduce Nip's need to hunt, reinforce that the mawile is nearby, show the mystery dungeon, some more character buildings), but on a narrative level it feels empty. It's set up as a fetchquest for a MacGuffin, but they turn back before they even get the MacGuffins properly. And then the pivot into the egg theft is really explosive, but it also cleaves the chapter into two very distinct halves, where the weight/impact of the second one vastly outweighs the first.
My favorite part about this story so far is definitely the worldbuilding, though, so I love getting more of it in this chapter! Seeing it through Nip's eyes, we definitely get a more cynical take on the ideal PMD guild/village/town setup, but I love how you pit their two cultural views against one another like this. It adds a lot more depth and nuance, and we really get to see your worldbuilding shine.
| kintsugii chapter 4 . 7/19/2020
[I really like the introduction of the different gods here - ties it all back together with the prologue and you weave it into the narrative pretty well. There's some really poetic description about the temple that worked nicely too!
[The sneasel shot her an unamused glare. Crap. Maybe she should have worded that better. But the words were already coming out of her mouth. “How do you live with yourself knowing you cut someone’s life short. You’ve cut several lives short, all for the sake of eating when you could have… I don’t know, not done that? At least I’m assuming you’re eating, and not just hunting for sport.”]
I... hmm. This ongoing debate was really strange for me in the context of your fic. You do a good job of making the rest of the world feel unique and non-derivative of our world - there are different gods, and tribes, and traditions, and so forth. Locations feel alive, they're populated with characters, and they feel special.
For me the meat-eating vs plant-eating debate that sort of frames this chapter fits a little awkwardly; it uses arguments for both sides that are more akin to how human omnivores who eat meat would view eating meat (and how human vegetarians view humans who eat meat) rather than how pokemon in a world like yours would. From Nip's side, understanding that the pokemon he hunts and kills are as sentient as he is, he's basically justifying cannibalism with a "hey, it happens *shrugs*". And from Haru's side, given that no other named pokemon in Theran village are obligate carnivores, she may as well ask him to change his colors or breathe fire. Both of them are arguing based on a framework that makes sense on a human framework but not in the universe that you've written, if that makes sense. In the human framework these arguments are common because: meat-eaters can justify their consumption assuming animals aren't sentient in the same way humans are and that cruelty to non-humans is inevitable; non-meat-eaters can debate this because humans can survive without meat and do not need it to live (compared to sn/weasels, for example). But in a pokemon framework where all consumable species are of similar sentience and not all sentient species appear to have the option to sustain themselves on non-meat alternatives, these arguments aren't really logical for either side to be making.
JUST A WEIRD LIL' WORLDBUILDING GLITCH THAT I SAW. I think overall you do an excellet job of making an immersive world, which (ironically) made this one stand out to me more.
And neat, this mawile character looks evil as hell and I like her.
Your characters are you introduce them are lovely, and I think you've got a really clever way of coaxing your world out through dialogue by having Nip be a stranger to it; you're able to deliver a fair amount of exposition without making it seem too forced.
From a pacing perspective things do seem a little slow. You mentioned this in Discord so I won't beat the dead horse too hard, but. We are three chapters in and there's just this feeling that things are about to implode alongside the fact that the only major disruption is this sneasel. For the most part Nip plays off your cast well enough that it's still an interesting read, but for the most part I get this overwhelming feeling that something is trying to happen even when not much is. I think it'll be easier to articulate this more clearly once the action kicks off - again, from what you've mentioned in chat it seems like there's going to be a significant genre shift from this idyllic village, and I do wonder how much of this establishing stuff could either be woven into an introductory subplot so there's something else going on in the background, or mentioned later once shit Hits the Fan.
Anyway! This was a really cute read, and you've got some clever ideas playing against one another. Looking forward to seeing where things go!
| kintsugii chapter 2 . 7/19/2020
Bidoof is a main character and we're taking her seriously! Love.
[The life of a bidoof was hard work, certainly, but taken at a slow and steady pace that would make many a pokemon jealous.
But lately, these past few months, her days seemed less than normal.]
Sylistically you do a really good job of setting up a calm tone for the initial chapters - I imagine shit's going to hit the fan soon-ish, so it's nice and quiet here. There are a few times where I think your micro-pacing slips a little? These shorter paragraphs feel more terse; something's up, something's wrong. I don't think it really fits in with the laid-back nature of the other opening paragraphs here, which are all sunshine and daisies.
[while the opportunity arises]
I don't think "arises" is the word you want, as that implies that it's constantly in a state of becoming available. Maybe something more like "while the opportunity's still there"?
[Although his fur was fairly close to the grey she was used to - though perhaps with a bit of a more brown undertone – his bent and broken feathers were more of a mint color.]
yooooo is this the G/S era of shiny sneasel i'm on board