|Reviews for Gods and Demons|
| Coatl chapter 42 . 9/20/2017
Oh yeah. Now that it's been a week or so, I thought I'd come back to this story again and leave some of my more lasting impressions of it. Which is to say, man, I really can't overstate how great some of the character relationships were.
For some reason, my mind keeps going back to Angela. I remember her from when the fic first came out. She was the pretty popular bitch you see in bad teen dramas, the Dudley Dursley to Moriko's Harry Potter. She was a cliché that didn't really add anything to the story.
While Moriko's aunt and uncle went from unfair to almost inexplicably abusive in the rewrite, Angela became a *person*. I love how you've depicted her underestimating how terrible the relationship is between her parents and Moriko. She's only been told one side of the story and is under the impression that Moriko's caginess towards her is another manifestation of simply being unreasonable. Deep down, she just wants to be friends again like when they were kids. The tragic part is that everything is so strained between Moriko and her family that it may never be the case.
Moriko, on the other hand, seems to feel that everything Angela's doing is just a cruel, flippant one-upmanship, rubbing Moriko's nose in everything that she doesn't have. Her resentment is almost palpable in some chapters, and Angela doesn't see it that way at all. Angela sees her badge quest as just having some fun with her high school friends before they all go off to college.
I think Angela kind of starts to get it by the end, although I'm not sure Moriko does... and I love this. I love how you've written it so that the bones of their relationship can be obvious to a reader, but to the characters, all they can see is the skin.
This is the things that stuck with me.
| Negrek chapter 42 . 9/13/2017
So now that we're at the end of the story, I figured it would be nice to kind of sum up my thoughts on the story as a whole. On the epilogue specifically, I don't have a lot to say: it works as a nice capstone for the story and segues into sequel-land quite smoothly. It's like maybe 500 words long and I don't think I can really think of much else to say about it, but yeah. Is good.
With that out of the way, here we go! The LAST REVIEW, the review to rule them all. You can stop refreshing your inbox now. :P
One of the first things I'll say is, I know I commented a few chapters back saying I didn't know how you were going to be able to wrap everything up in a satisfactory way, but honestly? I think if this were the very end of everything, with no sequels planned, I think it would still work. There would be some dangling stuff, sure (Moriko's encounter with the rage-demon would look a bit out of place, for example), but for the most part I do think that it all comes together in a satisfying way. I'm definitely interested in seeing where you take the story from here, too. I imagine we'll be skipping most or all of Moriko's ranger-academy days, if only because academy-fic seems kind of like a weird place to go from here, but I could also see it starting out academy-ish and then things going to hell because demons, again. (In which case, poor Moriko! She deserves a break.) One way or another, I think you've sown plenty of good plot threads to sustain things for another couple fics, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where you end up going with them.
Okay, now on to the content of the story itself. I'll start off with the criticism first, so we can end on an unalloyed high note, okay?
I do think that the trainer journey part of the story shares a rather uneasy peace with the much more pressing demons-and-mayhem plot that takes over in the latter half. I don't think the transition from one to the other is a bad thing, really, but it is a bit of a genre clash; fighting demons tends to want a fairly breakneck pace, is usually fairly plotty and action-oriented, while journeyfics tend to be more personal-journey stories, where character growth is often the primary objective. While trainer 'fics often do grow the beard into something world- or region-saving, I think they do also often experience some pacing/characterization issues as a result. And you do do a good job of marrying the "personal journey" with the "if we're lucky we might just survive this, maybe even sane" demon stuff! I think Moriko's character arc is done quite well, though she does still have her issues. (Wouldn't be much point in two more stories if she didn't, right?) However, I think that the trainerfic does pull against the demon plotline at times, and in general kind of gets eclipsed by it, not always in a good way.
I think a couple times in my reviews of the rewrite I've mentioned feeling like we don't get enough sort of "trainers on a journey" scenes, and that as a result I don't think that we really connect with the characters as well as may have been the case in the older, slower version of the story. It's definitely a tricky balance, because you want to introduce those plot elements, and once the plot start rolling by its nature there isn't a ton of time to slow down and breathe, but I think you may have erred a bit too far on the side of keeping things moving along and removing some of the cruft of trainer 'fics that actually helps develop the characters and their relationships. This issue is compounded by the fact that the nature of the story as a trainer 'fic is that it also kind of forces you to introduce a bunch of characters (namely, the pokémon), which there then often isn't a lot of time to actually do anything with.
So I wrote a paragraph about the handling of the pokémon characters in this story, which initially began with the sentence "I think we have a good level of familiarity with Matt's team, though of course it helps that there are only three of them," sooooo you can probably tell where this is going. (I thought Sai and Dzalar belonged to Russ.) I think the level of familiarity we have with Russel's team is appropriate to their role in the story: Sylvia is the only one of them we learn much about, and I couldn't name all the pokémon on his team. I think that's okay, though, for the role they play in the story. And Tak, Maia, Bjorn-I think they all work quite well as minor characters. They all have distinct personalities, but there's not a lot of depth to them. And that's just fine, given their role in the story. However, there are also some pokémon where it looks to me like they ought to have more developed character arcs, but then they end up kind of getting dropped.
On Moriko's team, Thanasanian is one in particular that I think you honestly could have cut from the story without a problem-just had her show up at the end like, "The queen said I had to find you and join you, but then everything got crazy and I'm only now catching up!" or similar. I'm guessing she's going to be more relevant in the sequel or you wouldn't have gone out of your way to bring her back, but I think she was pretty under-utilized in this story. Moriko does mention her now and again, so it's not like she's totally forgotten, but I think she's only actually out of her pokéball like two or three times after joining Moriko, and then only for brief scenes or even couple-line mentions. I feel a little similarly on Liona; she clearly has issues, but ultimately there's not a lot showing her/Moriko working on them: she has the suggestion of a character arc, but it doesn't actually progress much if at all over the course of the story. I have less of an issue here, since she nevertheless feels essential to the plot of the fic, and there's plenty of room to work with her more in the sequels, but it was nevertheless a case of her being set up as someone with a lot of stuff to work through, who ultimately kind of didn't. Sai and Dzalar got even less focus after their initial introductions, despite again feeling like characters who *should* have been going more places. Dzalar in particular; I actually went back to look at the new revised chapters to see whether she ended up getting sent back to her family in the revision or something, because she really does seem to up and *vanish*, after having been force-evolved by some bad energy, burning down like half the forest, and separated from her family? It strikes me as really odd that that never comes up again.
(Looking back through the 'fic to see what was up with Thanasanian and I happened to run across Moriko thinking "Rufus and Tarahn would follow [me] anywhere," oh NO)
There's also the fact that the pokémon are completely overshadowed in the final demon fights, so with the exception of Rufus, we really just don't get to see them at all for, like, at least the last five chapters or something? (Maia does fight, and some of the others provide transport etc., but it's a case where they definitely *could* be cut/replaced with others no problem.) In the end, the fact that Moriko's a trainer barely even plays into the final fights at all. Obviously, she uses things she's learned on her journey and the connections she's made, but for most of it she and her pokémon simply can't do anything meaningful. This makes more sense in the context of there being further 'fics to come, since Moriko still has a lot of growing to do as a trainer as well as character-wise, but taken just as this one story it's a bit of a disappointing capstone to her journey. I also thought things got a little Celeste ex machina at the end, there. Again, totally understandable because Moriko et al.'s powers are extremely limited compared to what they're fighting, but still kind of disappointing.
I did at times find it hard to keep track of all the lore going on, but I think a lot of that is to do with it having been a long time since I'd read earlier chapters by the time I was getting around to the point where stuff was really relevant. Not sure if there's anything that can be done about this, really; there is a LOT going on and a lot of worldbuilding that needs to get accomplished. It didn't help that the people who really know what's going on (namely Celeste and the Queen) are the ones who absolutely refuse to give straight answers until after the fact.
Okay, enough of that. Let's move on to all the ways this story kicks ass. The original version was already a standout among OT 'fics, and the revision takes everything up a level and really shows how much you've progressed as a writer and in general as a person. I mean, obviously your prose has improved, as has how you structure the story and so on, but you also handle the characters with more subtlety and maturity than teenage-you did. Which should hardly be a surprise, but hey, it's always nice to have *confirmation* that you've grown up a bit since high school.
So let's talk about those characters and that prose. As I've mentioned a few times, I think, your action writing in particular is superb. It's not just how you choreograph battles or less formal brawls, although you have a nice sense of how to manage tension and keep things interesting, but even just how you describe what's going on. I called your writing cinematic in one of these recent reviews, and I do think that's the best way to describe it. You're excellent at creating atmosphere, at choosing imagery that really gets across the awesome power of the forces you're pitting against each other in this story. It makes the battle scenes wonderfully vivid and super satisfying to read. There's this flashy, almost, dare I say it, DBZ kind of quality to the action, where it's just out of contol and *fun*. But without, you know, sixteen chapters of flashbacks while the characters power up.
That same sense of atmosphere really helps bring Gaiien to life, too, I think. It really feels like a wild, beautiful place to travel through, untamed in a way that's both dangerous and seductive. I would definitely love to visit myself, even though I would probably end up getting my soul eaten, oops. The prose isn't flashy itself and mostly stays out of the way, but it has a lovely cadence that carries you along, and your choice of images and details brings the world to life with wonderful clarity.
And your characterization is just lovely. There are so many great character moments in this story, for example every time Linden opens her mouth, and despite what I said about how good the action is you could probably just remove all the battles and whatnot and leave this as a purely slice-of-life curtainfic kind of thing and it would still be totally excellent. Like I mentioned earlier, I'd like to see more of the characters dicking around bouncing off each other, not less. It's rare to find a writer who can really balance the darker, emotionally heavy material with more hopeful, even humorous moments, but I think you really pull it off. It's something that always makes the characters feel more real to me, because even in the grimmest times life is just fantastically weird and kind of silly, and *people* are fantastically weird and kind of silly, and so the awkward moments, the funny moments, the in retrospect totally a bad idea moments, are the ones that often feel the most human to me, and you do a great job of incorporating them amidst the hardcore drama.
While I wasn't always on board with the character arcs for the various pokémon, as I mentioned, the fact that you really tried to *have* character arcs for the pokémon, and have them with their own motivations and opinions and understanding of the world was spectacular. It's incredibly rare to see a fanfic do so much with the actual pokémon, and it was a real treat to see how you developed their relationships with their trainers and with each other. Again, I would like to see even more of these guys! You're definitely on the right track with them, and some of them, like Vleridin, are top-notch already.
And while we're on that topic Vleridin/Moriko is imo the best character relationship in the fic, right up alongside Russ/Moriko. Should be obvious considering how much I've talked about them in past reviews, but we can spare a few extra words to talk about them again now. They're interesting because they move in essentially opposite directions: in one case, two people who initially fear and mistrust one another grow into the closest companions, and in the other, a long-standing friendship isn't able to withstand the strain put on it by outside forces and ends up falling apart completely. I think you did a great job with both, one a tragedy, and one, uh, not really a comedy, but you know, a good thing. They're both complicated relationships, and you really dug into them through all their twists and turns. Slow burn, just the way I like it. :)
Also, a brief mention that I really like Moriko as a protagonist. She has some kind of typical protagonist problems, feeling like an outsider, tragic past, low self-esteem, the works. But there's an edge to her that I really like, that anger that's more than just your typical teenage rage-at-the-world moodiness. She has a fierceness to her, a real ambition, that you simply don't feel with the majority of OT protagonists. They may pay lip service to wanting to be the best, but Moriko really *wants* it, in a kind of hungry and defiant way, and it's just awesome. All those prayers, "Let their teeth be my teeth, let their bones be my bones"-shivery. She's going to be a force to be reckoned with someday.
What about worldbuilding, then? I do think you did a fantastic job of running with what is in some ways a quite radical spin on the pokémon canon without making it feel like a different franchise. Like, it certainly feels *different* than in canon, rather darker and turning up the knob on the sci-fi-elements, but it's not really that radical a departure, not all that much more than, say, the Orre games. But the idea of pokémon as energy spirits only loosely bound to physical form, who compete for energy and not conventional matter like animals and bond with trainers as a way to gain more energy, is wonderfully flavorful and even lets you resolve some of the uncomfortable issues in canon, like the pokémon predation thing and the "why do pokémon even with trainers" thing. It also fits perfectly with the atmosphere you set up through your descriptions of Gaiien. More than just a wild and untamed region, pokémon are part of a wild an untamed *world*, one where humans are a recent, uneasy addition, where human comprehension pales in comparison to forces and history that stretch back into a hazy dawn age. There's so much that's still mysterious, so much that once was known that's now forgotten; it really gives you that epic fantasy feel, and then there are, you know, jump ships and regen treatments. You get to have your science and eat your magic, too! It's a fascinating take on the pokémon world and one that lends itself to all kinds of interesting stories.
Overall, I guess what I like best about this 'fic is that it kind of goes to eleven and just keeps on going? Like, you're talking about GODS and DEMONS, ancient pokémon the size of small landmasses that even teams of legendaries have trouble taking down, attacks that can level entire cities, OMNISURF, fusing with pokémon to completely fuck shit up, cool hovercraft, mystics and adepts and massive anti-pokémon artillery and just all of these badass ideas kind of thrown in a blender and told, "okay, now fight?" Like, all too often I feel like I'm on the Hobbes side of the tyrannosaurs in F-14s discourse, but there is just so much over-the-top shit going on in this fanfic and I completely love it. It's so satisfying to see pokémon and pokémon battles cut loose from the tame context of the games, to really get to play in that potentially-civilization-destroying arena that the pokémon lore often hints at, but we so rarely get to see in canon. Like, the only time we really get to see the kind of large-scale destructive power that shows up in this fic is in the pokémon movies and those, you know, kind of suck. So to have it executed to wonderfully here is an absolute delight. It's so METAL, I fucking LOVE. IT.
So, to sum up, this is my favorite trainer 'fic ever and I'm super pumped for the sequels. Huge congratulations on coming back to this and finishing it after so many years-and not just completing it, but actually completely rewriting it! I've seen so many fanfics die because their authors fall victim to compulsive rewrite urges, but you totally managed to power through it and produce not only a finished fanfic, but one that's even better than the original you started all those years ago. I hope you had some kind of little celebration to reward yourself for posting that last chapter, because it's a huge achievement that absolutely deserves some recognition. Thanks for coming back to this one and refusing to let it die, and thanks, always, for sharing your stories with me and everyone else. It's been a privilege to follow this fanfic all the way from beginnig to end, and I eagerly await the sequels, whenever you're ready to start in on them.
Okay, I think that's everything I've got to say. The question now is how to handle reviews on the rewrite, since I believe I'm caught up to where I started reviewing the new chapters on the old story. For the most part I guess things haven't changed much, so... copy/paste? Seems a little cheap, but I don't know that there would be much of anything new to say on the majority of chapters.
| Negrek chapter 41 . 9/13/2017
Honestly, I just love Linden, and while her really maturing and losing some of her energy as a result of what she'd been through would have been solid, logical character development, her blithe refusal to stop being anything other than an eager pre-teen is great and adds some welcome levity to the super heavy stuff that's been going on in the latter half of the story. The initial scene with her here is hilarious and a nice palate cleanser between the intense final battle and the bittersweet feels-y stuff that makes up the majority of this chapter.
The worldbuilding stuff, with the mewtwo and Lapis and the Queen and so on was nice, too. Not sure if it all needs to be here, though... this is kind of a long chapter. It does tie up some loose ends and set up some sequel hooks in cases, but perhaps not all of it belongs just here.
[ There are mammoths there and giant animals that went extinct on Terra. ]
omg telling me we're going to the cool prehistoric continent, those are always fun.
What a heartbreaking end to the Moriko/Russ storyline. No simple, happy reunion here; as usual, you don't let there be easy solutions to problems. Russ' attitude isn't fair to Moriko, not in the slightest, it's not entirely in line with reality, but it's totally understandable how he'd think that way. Frankly, after everything that had happened, and especially with the darkwater working away at him for a couple weeks, it would be almost bizarre if he boomeranged back to his previous outlook on things.
on the other hand she more than risked her life to save you you lil shit, the least you could do would be to say THANK YOU
And Sylvia just puts the cherry on top of all the bad feelings. be good puppy :(
I like the dissonance between Professor Willow and Moriko. Like the Professor knows that she's been through awful stuff, but she doesn't really GET it, so she's all cheerful and wanting to talk about next steps here, and how everything that happened this summer is going to be a good credential for getting her into Ranger school, shows she's well-rounded... yikes. A nice demonstration of how much has changed for Moriko, and how much of that change is private.
I mentioned in an earlier review that Rufus' decision felt a bit out of sync with what I saw going on during the mega evolution itself. I think when the Queen talks about mega evolution in the last chapter, she mentions that specifically coming OUT of it can be rough, so maybe that's why there wasn't a lot of conflict as such going on while the evolution was still in play. I'm conflicted about the decision in general. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense for Rufus to feel like he does. He kind of *has* ended up without a tremendously clear role on Moriko's team. Obviously he's important in terms of fighting, but Vleridin really did become the favorite, and Tarahn will always be her first and oldest friend. It's easy to see how he could feel overshadowed, which I imagine was just as unintentional when you were writing this 'fic as it was for Moriko to kind of live it, to go along and have her attachments develop as they did. (I also kind of wonder whether Rufus' decision was prompted by that review you got about Moriko's other pokémon being jealous of all the attention Vleridin was getting, heh.)
But there wasn't much build-up here, I don't think. And I'm of two minds, because having it be totally unexpected makes it more of a gut punch for Moriko. But it does seem a little abrupt. I do love the decision to have Rufus leave; it's just something you never see in 'fics, but it's such a realistic, heartbreaking thing that happens all the time: sometimes people grow apart, and there's nothing bad or wrong with that and they can still be friends, but it hurts nonetheless. I guess maybe for me what would have worked better was to see how the results of this failed mega evolution kind of precipitated all this stuff Rufus hadn't wanted to acknowledge or talk about coming to the surface at last and shaping his decision, and I think that's what you were going for, but since I wasn't sure what was up with the whole mega evo thing, it ended up looking a little muddled to me.
...anyhow that was a lot of words about that. Onwards! Poor Thanasanian, not getting out of the journey that easily. I look forward to seeing how she and Liona develop in the coming stories; I think they're both interesting characters, but they didn't get a lot of spotlight in this fic.
And we come to a nice quiet, bittersweet ending. Moriko's lost a lot over the course of this story, and gone through things nobody should have to, but she's gained a lot, too. I think you do a nice job of wrapping up loose ends with this chapter, bringing things to a satisfying close while also pointing the way forward to the next story. You handle a lot of emotional moments well, and bring in a bit of humor to leaven the HEAVY FEELS a bit, too. Nice job of getting the kind of reflective tone down, of highlighting both how far Moriko's come and what it's cost to get her there, what she's had to (or now has to) give up. I don't know that Ranger school sounds particularly right for her, to me-she does seem the more passionate type who might have problems working under Ranger constraints, someone who's going to want to do her own thing-but I think she'll have the opportunity to learn a lot and recover a bit in a more normal pokémon-related environment. A very nice near-end to the fanfic!
| Negrek chapter 40 . 9/13/2017
Hmm, all the matter of the darkwater coming to a head here. In the last chapter the Queen refers to it as "God's blood," and for a while I was thinking that when the Prince was referring to it as "mine" he was doing the typical villain entitlement to things that aren't actually theirs. Had to go back and reread the queen's story, at which I'm guessing Ituras is supposed to be the first murderer-god, who somehow became a demon as a result of absorbing that other god's energy? Moriko is really thrown into this battle between ancient powers without even properly understanding what their deal is, like, there's obviously the history between the demon that was under the dark gym and the Prince, and Celeste plays into all this in some ways I'm not entirely clear on, and then how did the Queen get involved with the Prince/Fire in the first place, anyway? There's all this backstory that Moriko isn't privy to but kind of has to deal with anyway, and I'm curious as to whether we'll be exploring it more in the sequels or if it will mostly be a different set of antagonists. I mean, given that none of the big players actually die as a result of this battle, I imagine they'll be causing more havoc later, but still.
Also kind of wondering why the Prince waits until *now* to go for the darkwater from Russ, when obviously he had plenty of opportunity earlier, and it's evidently really important to him. More "he likes to play with his food before eating it," I suppose? Seems like a dumb move, to not get that back when you have the chance if it's so important, but it's consistent with the Prince being cocky and disdaining his opponents.
I like the bait-and-switch here, where the initial trap for the Prince turns out to only be part of the *larger* trap (that still ultimately doesn't succeed, but hey). This battle has a good flow of back-and-forth in terms of relative strength of position, lots of reversals to stop it from getting stale. Also mighty clever on Moriko's part, both the use of other demons to attack the Prince's human element and ultimately getting Russ cleansed of the darkwater by the Prince. Poor little paraslit, though. Some bittersweet vindication there for Linden and her ideas about demon pokémon.
The pokémon/human duality of the Prince ended up being very important for this final fight, but I honestly don't remember it coming up before? I'm guessing it must have been mentioned during the desert segment. Up until it became relevant here I was thinking that the Prince's human form was like the human form of any of the other legendaries, a disguise rather than a literal, actual dude.
Ituras' legendary form reveal was appropriately magnificent and terrifying. Like I said with the ice demon earlier, you really do a lovely job of describing these huge, terrifying monsters in a way that makes them appropriately awe-inspiring and kind of beautiful.
I'm quite curious as to what makes a champion so terrifying that just calling in a couple of them is potentially enough to stop something that all the elites of a region can't contain. Plus multiple battle-trained legendary pokémon like Atlitzin and the mewtwo! So presumably it's more than them potentially having legendaries of their own, or the ability to use mega evolution, or something along those lines. Very interesting. ("The Argent Emperor" makes me smile, thinking of the angsty teenager from the games.)
[ ...and at last a heavy, metal-plated head, barded and crowned. ]
I'm guessing that should be "bearded."
[ ...and it stabbed the ground with another earthquake attack that rippled the ground... ]
Maybe look for a way to avoid repeating "ground" like that?
[ ...scattering hastily-assembled equipment and materiel... ]
[ ...and for a moment it seemed as distant and serene as a distant nebula. ]
Here again consider rewording to avoid multiple uses of "distant."
Anyway, this was a huuuuuge battle, definitely a fitting culmination of everything that's gone on in the story thus far. As I mentioned earlier, you do a great job of throwing in lots of twists and turns and reversals of fortune, and the fight certainly never feels *easy*, as is appropriate when you're fighting what used to be a literal god. How often does a story get to cut loose with greater-than-legendary-power opponents, multiple elites and legendary pokémon, and all kinds of crazy human tech? This must have been a fun sequence to write. (Well, probably also frustrating. But hopefully at least some fun!) I think it maybe ran a little long, though. After the scene of Ituras hanging around, looking at the ocean, the gearing up for more fighting started to feel a bit tiring to me. It's tricky, because there are a lot of elements that need to come together here (Celeste and Karaxil and the paraslit and the human/pokémon hybrid stuff and of course getting the darkwater out of Russ, etc.), so it's not like there's anything that strikes me as a straightforward cut. Likewise I don't think you'd want to take a longer breather in there somewhere; it wouldn't feel very appropriate with the tense atmosphere you're trying to create. By the end I definitely was feeling a bit of battle fatigue, though. Still a great set-piece battle, showing off your strengths in action writing and atmosphere.
| Negrek chapter 39 . 9/12/2017
The final battle begins in earnest!
The conversation with Celeste at the beginning is very interesting. Especially the part at the end, about how pokémon (and, I guess, second-crossing people?) dealt with ancient pokémon. That is something that humans bring to the table, isn't it, the ability to organize on a large scale to be able to deal with huge threats like that? It's an interesting perspective here, that technology and wealth certainly have their downsides and excesses, but that what came before wasn't exactly eutopian, either.
[ Geat chunks of scale and blubber sloughed off, calving like an iceberg... ]
Sort of a misplaced modifier here. It'd be "calving like icebergs" (not totally sure that makes sense, though), because the object is "great chunks of scale and blubber," NOT the whiscash.
[ The Prince was haloed in dark light; it dimmed and confused the drones' video feed, but it seemed that the whiscash's energy was redirecting, coalescing after all-on him. ]
Aww yiss, called it. B)
[ He has the darkwater in him, the god's blood. My enemy will come for him. It calls to him. ]
Could you not have mentioned this earlier? I love how Moriko nails her on this, and on her manipulations, and also how the Queen has no remorse about it whatsoever. I think you've done a great job with her character. She really isn't a *nice* person by any means, but she is a *necessary* one, or at least without her the Prince would probably have been a much bigger problem much longer ago. (Whatever Lark says!) Of course, there's no way you could play a centuries-long agonizing fight against someone who regularly murders, tortures, and would dearly love the power to do a great deal more than that, and be anything but a ruthless, calculating person fighting for any scrap of advantage. Those who fight monsters, etc. I'd be happy to see her return in the sequel.
I was kind of surprised how little fanfare was given to Moriko's mega evolution. She's never even ensouled Rufus once, and she's certainly never done a mega evolution before, so I guess I was surprised it seemed so easy. The fight itself was great, though! Very cinematic, and you could get a real feel for the Moriko-Rufus fusion, with Rufus' cocksure, more playful bragging combined with Moriko's more straight-up anger. I like how Droit was all, "fight defensively! Be careful!" and they just go immediately with the full-frontal assault. And Rufus' big hero moment! Great.
With knowledge of what comes later, though, it does seem odd to me that there isn't more sign of the mega evolution going poorly. Rufus-Moriko seems pretty confident through the whole thing, up to the point that they're separated. All the worry and fear that Rufus talks about feeling doesn't really appear to be there, and when they separate it looks to me more like it's because the Fire ripped them apart than because there was some disharmony there that made the link fail. It's an awesome scene, but it was a little weird for me to read, in later chapters, that Rufus was so shaken and unresponsive afterwards (he seems fine, aside from his injuries, here), and I didn't see any indication that he found the transformation difficult or unpleasant the way he describes it later. Which Moriko'd be able to sense, yeah, as part of the fusion herself?
Anyway, onward to the meat of the fight!
| Negrek chapter 38 . 9/11/2017
Soooo this chapter marks the beginning of a run of them that I missed somehow? I showed up when you mentioned you'd put up the last chapter (which was a surprise in and of itself) and then it turned out there were like four others I somehow hadn't seen? It was weird.
[ "Alright," Linden agreed. ]
"Agreed" as a speech tag on dialogue where a character is clearly agreeing to something is a huge peeve of mine, aaaaaaaa
Lark's kind of a dick, no? He does have a point, though, about Russel only being one person in contrast to the entire region that he's trying to save, and that relatively speaking, the demons aren't all that destructive. So that's a point, but a rather short-sighted one, I think... small, relatively speaking, problems that you let go about their business unimpeded have a nasty tendency to become huge-o-normous problems later (as Lark's about to find out, heh).
...actually he acts substantially more the dick in the second scene after the Black Queen shows up. He's pretty sympathetic earlier in the chapter, tbh. What with what the legendaries were talking about later, with how the Rangers seem to actively avoid engaging with the Prince, I was briefly thinking there was something more going on there, like they were being demon-manipulated or something.
[ Ranger-Captain Petrel watched briefly, too. ]
Petrel is a Team Rocket admin from HGSS, so I did a bit of a double take here. I like the bird name theme you have going on with the rangers, though! (Does this mean that Moriko's going to need to pick a cool bird code name in one of the later stories?)
I was confused by Dragut's introduction here, because I knew Moriko had met a pirate-y E4 member earlier in the revised version, but he was being introduced like he was someone new here. I was thinking that earlier person must have been a different E4 member, meaning that they were ALL pirates, heh. I guess this is something that'll be different in the revised version.
I loved the scene with Atlitzin and the mewtwo in the ops tent. It's so strange and humorous, having these three weird and super-powerful legends hanging around, chatting and dispensing advice like just another contingent of Rangers (which, of course, they are). And Atlitzin using those weird foofy tendril things to have some coffee, then crush the cup and eat it? Gold. You tend to portray legendaries as rather more human than I'm used to seeing, but you kind of have the demons and ancient creatures like Celeste to fill in the more otherworldly, eldritch roles. Anyway, this was a great scene, probably my favorite in the chapter.
I liked the Spirit of Wrath's portentous talk when she first shows herself to Moriko, and I definitely did get the impression that she was the one behind Moriko's parents' death, so I was pleased to find out that was the case later on in the story.
In general that encounter was great. People puppeted against their will, turned against the people they care for and made to fight without any concern for themselves is always super creepy. You obviously don't want to hurt them, but often times there's no other way to stop them, and for the moment they certainly don't care about hurting *you*. It's a very cruel thing, and appropriate to a demon pokémon and the idea that they like to toy with their prey before having an energy snack.
| Negrek chapter 37 . 9/11/2017
[ They encountered a number of dark-type sources as well... ]
Hmm, I wonder what that looks like? With grass or water sources, for example, you can imagine a nice thicket or particular old tree or lagoon or similar that might have an association with whatever kind of energy. But what would a dark-type source be? Like a cave or something?
Or does that mean pokémon or proto-pokémon, perhaps? What the guide later says about good/bad sources and hunting them down makes it sound like she was talking about wild pokémon/ronin/demons, there. But presumably you must be able to get dark energy straight from the environment, too.
[ Linden was watching the imprisoned demon like someone looking at a rescue kitten or eevee. ]
I'm a little surprised that there isn't stronger objection to the idea of smashing these ridic ancient chains that were supposedly set there by the gods themselves to keep this thing imprisoned. That would kind of suggest that setting it free would mean pretty serious consequences, and as far as the gym leader goes, they do already know somebody who has some success reducing the effects of demon-drain? And do they really trust Celeste and her mysterious knowledge all so much? Obviously it's necessary that the demon get released for the plot to progress properly, but it seems strange to me that Celeste starts talking about these chains, and the first question that gets asked once she's finished is "where are they (so we can break them)?" Or that the pokémon are most hung up on turning to energy to help because one of them might take advantage!
[ ...five pairs like a spider's. ]
Spiders have up to four pairs of eyes. ;)
Nocturna saying she should be joining the gym leaders and elites, joining the fight, is good and certainly true. But didn't anybody come looking for her? Like, shouldn't someone have tried to come out and get her if she didn't show? Or did they all know, by this point, that she wasn't going to come? (In which case, harsh, just leaving her to fend for herself knowing what's happening to her!)
This I felt like was an A-to-B sort of chapter, kind of setting things in motion and getting the pieces in place for the upcoming final battle. Which is sort of strange to say, because in a lot of stories it feels like releasing this ancient demon would be a huge, climactic moment. There hasn't really been the build-up to it, I guess, that would make it seem so impactful here. I think it might be nice to get a bit more of a reaction out of the characters as the last of the barrier comes down, as the demon is coming fully awake. I thought the descriptions around the demon itself were lovely, how it moves and how it transforms into its human shape. Very pretty and atmospheric! As it is, though, Moriko and the rest are apparently just standing around watching, not feeling anything in particular while this is all going on. Getting a bit more of how the characters are responding to all this might help a little more emotion and impact to the scene.
The REAL meat in this chapter, to me, is at the end, where we finally learn what happened to Russel. I love the awful dilemma you've set up for Moriko and Matt here. Of course every instinct is that they have to rush out and save him RIGHT NOW, but from a practical point of view they just can't. There's no way they can win, all that's going to happen is the lot of them getting captured/murdered/worse along with him. It's such a heartbreaking and difficult situation, and it's great to see Moriko face down the fact that this isn't a story (haha) where the heros can just charge in and defeat the baddies with the power of friendship and righteousness and whatnot. Real emotion here, and a great development in the continuing drama around Russel.
| Coatl chapter 42 . 9/9/2017
I remember reading this story, eh. Maybe eleven, twelve years ago.
It's been a while.
After a number of false starts I decided to go through the whole re-write and finish reading the darn story.
It's not even what originally drew me to this fanfic all those years ago, but I absolutely loved all the character moments. They were my favourite part, hands down, and I feel they're the strongest parts of the story. The falling out between Moriko and Russ was very well done. It smacks of a painful realness that I think most people have experienced first hand: friends who you were once really close to but who changed, the way relationships can grow toxic. Sometimes the person a friend becomes is so different that you're not quite sure where your relationship stands with them. Sometimes the changes put their personalities in a new light, and maybe the traits you once admired about them turned out to be kind of terrible once you understood their origins. And all the while there's an ever-present sense of guilt that a long-standing friendship like that should be unconditional, confusion that maybe you, yourself, are the problem.
That’s to say nothing of the pokémon characters. There were a lot of them—too many for all of them to be well fleshed out. Still, I did like the volatile relationship between Vlerdin and Moriko. I knew they would grow to kind of grudgingly trust each other, but it's a testament to the quality of writing that I ate it up and felt warm fuzzies about it anyway. Also, Tarahn is great. I remember liking him a lot the first time I read the story, and that hasn't changed at all in the decade since. I really dig his cheekiness, his wisecracks, and his lazy kitty personality. Call it wish fulfillment, but he's like the big talking cat I always wanted to be my friend when I was a kid.
The weakest part of the story (and what seemed to change the most in the rewrite, unfortunately) was the worldbuilding. More specifically, the worldbuilding itself was fine, but the plot did not play very well with the way it was introduced to the reader.
There's always a danger, when trying to pick up old plot threads, that the ideas for what you're writing might have changed drastically in all the years that the story's been collecting dust. At times the badge quest subplot seemed to be really jarring against all the heavy lore dumps and epic battles between good and evil (or grey and black-grey). On top of this, a lot of reveals (which I assume were cooked up way back when the story was conceived) seemed to be entirely contingent on what I like to call fifty-car pileup worldbuilding. For instance, there's a reveal that the mysterious and aloof Matt is actually a cursed 26 year old trapped in the body of a teenager... who witnessed his best friend die and has his energy continuously siphoned off to a mythical demon lord. That's a pretty bonkers backstory bomb all on its own. It's something that probably needs its own story to pull off convincingly, and there are tons of characters like this (the crazy centenarian lady who has a vendetta against a demon lord and ten undead pokémon living inside her body, the demon-slaying baby mule who spouts prophecies and is her own mother reborn, the fourteen year old super trainer who can tame demons, the bloodthirsty gym leader who biomerge digivolves into a crocodile guzzlord...). I'm not saying that hodgepodge casts with crazy backstories and worldbuilding overloads can't be done; Homestuck wouldn’t have been so successful otherwise. It's just that, at times it almost felt like some of the wackier worldbuilding revelations were contingent on creating drama rather than that this was an interesting, established world that the story happens to be taking place in. I can’t really quantify the exact reason, but the lore actually got harder to follow as the story progressed. It may just be a testament to me being kind of dumb, but things got so strange near the end that I was having difficulty following the events of the final battle against that demon lord. I couldn’t tell if Moriko biomerge divivolved with her oxhaust and then mega evolved into a super Moriko, or if there was some form of demon taming involved that turned the tides in that fight. I think there was some lore drop in an earlier chapter about the demon lord having a type disadvantage to biomerge digivolution (only with live pokémon, not undead ones), but I honestly have no clue.
That said, I didn’t actually mind any of the “flavor” bits of worldbuilding that had less to do with the actual plot. The history was an interesting read, and I really haven’t seen that idea played with much, i.e., that humans came to the pokémon world by crossing over a dimensional bridge from Earth. I’d be interested to learn how pokémon like giratina play into that. I also really enjoy the new pokémon you’ve created for the region. The illustrations of them are lovely. The leaflet line is my favorite, and svarog in particular is giving me some serious Princess Mononoke vibes. I wish svarog was the pokémon that we got instead of emboar… and I can totally understand why you changed oxhaust to be a steel/fire type starter rather than yet ANOTHER fire/fighting.
Although you’d have to admit it would be hilarious in-character of Gamefreak to do that.
One other thing that bothered me was the way characterization telegraphed character outcomes. For instance, even though Moriko makes Matt out to be unpleasant and insufferable in the early chapters, even though various auxiliary characters describe him as cruel and kind of an asshole, he doesn't actually come off as any of those things the narrative. At the very worst, he's occasionally kind of snarky. Then, when does a complete turnaround later and supplants Russ as the nice, reasonable one, I didn’t actually notice any change in the way he was portrayed at all. Similarly, Rufus was much more of a character in the original story. In the rewrite, all but a few of his character moments got removed or became somewhat generic (no more Rufus wearing Tarahn as a scarf). I didn’t really get a sense of who Rufus was at all. When he decides to leave Moriko in the penultimate chapter, my only response was a kind of “meh”.
Despite the various issues, this was still a trip down memory lane and I enjoyed Gods and Demons thoroughly. I’m glad you decided to finish it.
| Shadow Serenity 57 chapter 42 . 8/24/2017
I'll admit I haven't been following this version since you started doing the re-write (mostly because it was so long ago that I'd read it that I felt the need to re-read it anyway to remember who was who and such). I do have this on my notifications though and I intend to follow through with finishing it off once the re-write is complete so I can compare the two.
Though that poses a question that I know I've asked you somewhat recently and regret to say I've forgotten the answer to: Are you going to continue the re-write to the end, or do you intend for people following it to jump to this story to continue?
That said, I didn't realize the story was so close to the end, so I'm a little shocked and sad to see that, though I guess I do still have a long way to go.
I remember accidentally messaging you about it at some point in like 2007 (I think?) and asking questions only to find out you'd stopped writing it years beforehand. Felt really dumb at that for not checking the last update. Glad I wasn't the only one asking about it, though, as I've very much enjoyed getting to know everyone again and knowing that the story finally has a conclusion. (Ironically enough, where the re-write is at now, with the ant colony, is exactly the part I last recall reading of this version.)
I'm assuming the "will be followed by" implies two new stories? If so, that's even more to look forward to. I know how hard it is to find good OC fics these days, and personally I'm not huge on fakemon, so it's high praise for me to be as invested in this story (and the potential sequels) as I am. Take that as you will - one reader's opinion may not be high on your attention scale, but regardless, I've very much enjoyed this entire ride (so far; lots left to read, of course!), and the world you've created within this existing universe. It's not just an OC fic, it's a very unique one among the limited collection on read-worthy ones I've encountered. I love those. (Also, I found this originally through Negrek and Clouded Sky, so any work she recommends is worth reading.)
Anyway this is long and I'm rambling, so. Here's to another roller-coaster!
| Gerbilfriend chapter 42 . 8/24/2017
That little ending bit. There's more? :D I will look forward to it, thank you for writing this world. I love your world building and the plots and this whole story is incredible.
| Gerbilfriend chapter 41 . 8/24/2017
Moriko and Russ and it hurts but it makes sense. It makes so much sense and maybe the epilogue will change things but I love that Moriko is trying and maybe even healing. Rufus broke my heart to and talking about favorites and why did you have to break my heart.
| Clarilune chapter 2 . 8/16/2017
Another interesting chapter. Rotewald is a cool last name. Angela was okay. I know in the author's note you said you wanted her to be less annoying. She was still a little annoying, but it was tolerable. I had to look up the pokémon designs to fully grasp what they looked like, and I would have honestly gone with grass starter just because it's final evolution looks badass, but they all look pretty good. Volcalf looks adorable, by the way. Professor Willow made me chuckle a little bit. I suppose you didn't anticipate that eventually Pokémon Go would come out with the same-named professor. It's cool that she's studying Persian and machamp, but that is also very specific and I want to know why. The machoke was an intriguing inclusion, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he plays out in the story. The writing style was more focused this time around, but it still switches between characters slightly.
One note: I can tolerate perspective switches to a degree, but I cannot stand tense switches. If you have one chapter in one tense and then switch to the other tense in the following chapter...eh. I don't like it. Consider sticking completely to one tense.
Otherwise, good chapter.
| Clarilune chapter 1 . 8/16/2017
I'm pretty sure I found you and your story on tumblr and that I saw your illustrations of it there. You're a pretty good artist and also hella ambitious to be making your own pokémon designs.
Anyway, this seems interesting. I'm not usually fond of reading original-region stories just because they usually have massive info-overload so that readers can understand the world that the author creates. You did a decent job of explaining the region and supplying enough description so that I could visualize it without necessarily overwhelming me. So much thanks for that.
Your writing style is interesting. With how you were describing things and how the views change, it made me think you were trying to treat it like it's a movie trailer of sorts. That was the vibe I was getting up until Moriko's introduction and scene.
On the subject of the introduction, I liked it. I like that you're writing in present tense over past tense. I got a little distracted when it was transitioning to the Gaiien region and describing it, but that's probably just my ADD.
Moriko seems aight, but then again she's a child and this is the very start to the story. I'll definitely have to look up your illustrations of the pokémon since it's a little hard to visualize the pokémon as is. The open-ended, omniscient sharing of perspectives might throw me off a little bit. I'm used to a chapter following a specific character's perspective, and already I feel a little unnerved by it, but something tells me if you've been working on this story and revising it since 2004 that it's worth my time to read it.
Ordinarily, I comb through the chapter of a story and point out very specific sentences or parts that I like or didn't like, but this story is fairly developed already, and if I did that for every chapter, it would take me forever to get through this. For now, I'll stick to commenting on a few things here and there, and then settle for giving my usual treatment of reviews to the most updated chapter. I'll do my best to catch up.
Interesting first chapter. I want to keep reading just because I'm curious about what you've created.
| Gerbilfriend chapter 40 . 8/16/2017
Okay. Okay. That was even more intense than the last chapter, less Moriko fighting outright but so very emotional. I love the way you create these demons and gods and a whole wide world in Pokémon.
| Gerbilfriend chapter 39 . 8/10/2017
Oh wow. Just that whole fight and Moriko's choice and this whole thing is amazing and wow. I just dont really have one thing becuase this whole chapter was incredible and wow.