Reviews for A Different Lesson
howardrhonda828 chapter 19 . 11/26
So, I know I haven't said this before, but I didn't actually read all the way through this fic the first time around, so after this point, I genuinely don't know what will happen next, so easy on the spoilers in your responses!

Anyway, giving Crane a furry friend in the form of "Mei Ling" was pretty creative. I truly didn't see it coming. It also makes him matter more as a Furious Five. He's not just background noise; his past and his story matter.

Interesting that Tai Lung met these sisters on what was essentially the same mission. For different reasons of course, but they almost met by "fate" or something, with them both taking out those bandits.

Also, THAT'S what made Tai Lung swear off of alcohol. Now I get it.

Making it to where Po is the Dragon Warrior in spirit, while also still having much to learn in actual kung fu combat gives the scene tension. Po isn't a Gary Stu. He's still a bit novice with his skills and I like that.

Ooh, hanging the secret of Tai Lung's parents over his head as a tantalizing carrot. Again, no spoilers on this one!

I can't really critique in-depth on the fight scene because... unless it's in a visual medium, it's hard for me to properly visualize and I'm not really drawn to those things intrinsically. I do remember the character beats though, like Po using one of the sisters' faces as a punching bag after stepping on her foot, throwing apples at her, and stuffing one apple in her mouth.

Po has a playful attitude even when he's fighting, and I remember the characterization of the fight more than I do the technical actions.

One thing that confused me was the sleight-of-hand I think one of the sisters used to injure Po with the garrot. What exactly happened?

Also, wow, he actually said Po's name for the first time, and it's when the panda is actively dying. It's kinda bad that that's what it takes for some people. When it's practically too late to care. That's why you gotta tell the people you love that you care right NOW! Don't wait until later.

Sorry for the PSA, but yeah.
howardrhonda828 chapter 18 . 11/23
"I like to watch you sleep sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean often." Oh my gosh, Pearl should hook up with Shifu as to why they like to watch their children sleep! But yeah, I think that's one of my wholesome things ever, especially with how Tai Lung doesn't look so haunted when he sleeps. It's like he's in his purest state.

So now we get a clear picture of how Shifu messed up in raising Tai Lung. He taught him to value strength above everything else, and that an open display of emotions was "unmanly" and "weak" when the exact opposite is true, and he sheltered him from the rest of the world, including the very citizens that lived below him, so Tai Lung didn't have chances of connections, mingling, fraternizing, etc.

It's sad that Shifu still believes it would have been appropriate for him to die for his mistakes in raising Tai Lung, but inspiring that he also thinks that since he's still alive, he must do everything in his power to try to right his wrongs.

It's heartwarming that Tai Lung is genuinely disgusted by the tasteless and graphic way the goat was killed, as even during the worst of his rampage, his kills never went beyond the bounds of common decency. You know, he never ate anybody's heart after disemboweling them or anything crazy like that.

And what a twist: that the message was written in Mongolian and that could only come from Chorh-Gorm.

And again, Tai Lung is happy to be traversing with Po! That companionship is really rubbing off on him.

Ah ha, Tai Lung has trust issues, because in a way, Shifu abandoned him when he needed him most. That too is sad and I can attest, it's hard to overcome. I did wonder if Shifu or Oogway ever visited him in that prison and apparently it was only a handful of times every few years.

Po continues to be an empathetic, compassionate creature and Tai Lung still craves it! LOL.

As Tai Lung switches his thoughts to Tigress, I didn't think Tai Lung would've presented the orchid to her in a boyish and nervous matter. I would've thought he would've attempted to play it off, adopt his usual sarcasm and aloofness.

So Tai Lung didn't engage in carnal pleasures because it felt it would've been "too easy". Why am I not surprised? He's always about challenges!

When you truly think life would be dull and empty without your partner, that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. As Garnet said, a partner is meant to compliment you, not complete you. If there's something broken inside of you, a partner alone cannot fix that. In fact, things might get worse, not better. Love doesn't heal all wounds. And then there's the abusive side of things, where if the man or woman tries to leave the relationship, the other partner either gets violent or suicidal and it's sad for all involved.

Anyway, we have the classic "It's quiet, too quiet" scene with Tai Lung and another big surprise: Tai Lung actually KNOWS these villains!
howardrhonda828 chapter 17 . 11/21
The tale of Tai Lung and WuShon fire demons was certainly awe-inspiring! It's great that this time the ones telling the story are the ones who actually experienced his heroics first-hand! It's also a pretty cool touch that THAT was the dream Po always had, only he would insert himself into the role of Tai Lung. And to do all that at the age of 15? Man, did Tai Lung have an invigorating life or what? Well, you know, until it all went to shit but still!

And Po walking in on Tigress and Viper having a "moment" was classic. I guess he took their kiss and makeup session a little too seriously at first with their smeared makeup, teary eyes, and the way they were embracing each other!

This is also one of the most light-hearted and fun chapters with the Five all having a slumber party and participating in Truth or Dare. I didn't know China ACTUALLY had a thing like that, only with the name "Truth or RISK" instead of "Dare".

Viper having to threaten to tattle on them to Shifu if they don't participate was pretty funny too.

I just had a mental picture of Mantis bathing with a sponge on a stick and it's one of the cutest things ever.

And Tai Lung actually is a "40-year-old virgin", just like in the 2005 sex-comedy movie! LOL! But I can totally see it. Of course he wouldn't be focused on humping anything that moves when he was training to the greatest kung fu warrior in all of China.

But still, that IS funny. Tai Lung really never let himself have pleasures like that. I'm sure, even with how harsh Shifu normally is, he would have at least allowed THAT. I mean a man has needs after all.

"Well I can tell you it wasn't with one of my own kind, otherwise I wouldn't be here today."

True! Thing is, I've done some research on mantis mating and it turns out that the female mantis doesn't ALWAYS devour its male partner. In fact, only a few species do and not always under natural conditions. It's actually kind of a mystery why it happens. Some biologists say it sometimes comes down to simple hunger: well-nourished female mantises are less likely to turn their partner into a meal than a starving one.

Also, I really can't imagine what other bug or small animal Mantis could have possibly made whoopie with without it being, ya know, awkward! And classic Mantis: "She found out that size really doesn't matter!" Eugh!

Yeah... does a mantis even have a penis? Not in the stereotypical sense, no. I... I'm thinking way too hard about insect genitalia right now!

And Tai Lung gets his dignity knocked down another peg with Po being dared to re-enact what their "legendary battle" was like, down to all the slapstick fumbles and comedic timing. Oh man, I would've paid to be in that room to hear (most) of the Five laughing.

But then Tai Lung gets back at Po by daring him to bend over and touch his toes without bending his knees which is just cruel! I actually did want Po to be able to do it now since he'd said he'd been working out, and he DID slim down a bit in the second movie. But no, he releases his sucked in breath and messes up at the last second.

But to be fair, why does no one realize that Po is at a healthy weight for a panda? I mean, do they expect pandas to be skinny? He's not just some "fattie" and honestly, that's body shaming! If he didn't eat so much, he'd literally die from malnutrition/starvation.

Anyway, I'm glad Viper chewed them all out for that dare and called them out on bullying Po, which is something they really should have gotten over. That's also a good point that even Tigress, while she was disdainful and contemptuous of the panda in the beginning, didn't actually enjoy taking jabs at him or making fun of him like Monkey, Mantis, and the others.

Even though this was mostly a light-hearted chapter, I liked the addition of a serious "Truth" question with Tai Lung being asked what his biggest regret was besides not obtaining the scroll and he described an incident where he couldn't save everyone from a bridge collapsing at the Thread of Hope.

That's something that every hero has to face; the realization that they are not all-powerful and can't prevent every tragedy. Even Superman struggles with this, and that guy's practically a deity.

But to quote Grandad from Boondocks after Huey asked him what do you do when you can't do nothing but there's also nothing you can do: "You do what you can."

The next answer to the "what was one of your favorite pastimes?" was also pretty heartwarming. For all his earlier derision towards genteel activities like "reading tea leaves", Tai Lung admitting that he actually enjoyed fishing with Shifu showed a more casual side to the cat. Also yes, how appropriate for a feline to like this sort of thing.

My favorite dares after that was Tai Lung hero-worshipping Po for a change, even if it was done in a melodramatic and highly exaggerated fashion, like at the Thread of Hope, and then having Tai Lung bury his muzzle into Po's belly and blow on it.

That was just pure fluff!

I find it interesting that Viper can still sell her venom to other people even though she doesn't have any fangs. How would that work?

And of course the last dare would follow the usual romantic convention of daring two parties to kiss each other, with both sides protesting heavily before giving in and actually doing a damn good job of it.

I gotta say that the banter was pretty well-done though, especially the whole, "I wouldn't kiss you if you were the last man on Earth"/"Well I AM the last man on Earth! The last REAL one anyway!" exchange.

Oh man though, missed opportunity for the Five to learn about Tai Lung's Leopard Claw Nerve Strike technique! I think that actually shows some progress that he'd be willing to teach it to them if they happened to ask. That means his pride is going down.

And finally, poor Shing Fai. You know, I actually thought it would be THIS poor fellow he ended up meeting a grisly end by the main evil entity of the story and that would have broken my heart. I mean, he's so helpless! Elderly too!

But no, instead he sees his goat friend all disemboweled and bloody. I'd be wetting my pants if that were me. I'm surprised you didn't write a scene where the goose had urinated from fear.

What a way to change the mood though. Fun light-hearted and fun to downright horrifying! It never felt jarring though. It just means things are getting more serious.
howardrhonda828 chapter 16 . 11/13
Warriors with enough training can manipulate their chi to control the elements? Yep, this is officially Avatar. And I love how Tai doesn't actually know how he did what he did with Shifu, holding fire in his hands. He just... did it. And yeah, even Po was performing moves off the cuff in their battle for the Dragon Scroll.

And ho boy, Tai Lung and Po should have known not to insult Shifu within earshot. "Were you wanting to do your twenty laps around the mountain before we left, or after we return?"

I loved all the interactions with the children at the Bao Gu Orphanage, especially Shifu giving out ginger cookies, even for small feats such as standing still or performing a proper kung fu bow.

Hm, I did think Tigress being kept in a cage was overly harsh and even abusive even if it was to protect the other children, but when she shared that story of nearly killing another child with her strength, even when she didn't mean to... yeah, it's unfortunate. Really, you'd think there'd be animal-specific orphanages where stronger predators would be kept with more appropriate creatures who weren't in danger.

And yeah, we all heard Shifu's leg snap when Tai Lung batted him away and we see him use a cane later on when he's training little Tigress.

But WOW, the way Tigress laid out how Tai Lung was only in love with the "idea" of her instead of the "real" her, it was harsh as hell, but undeniably, absolutely true.

It reminds me of what Garnet said to Jaimie in the episode "Love Letters". (The cartoon is called Steven Universe by the way.)

"Love at first sight doesn't exist. Love takes time and love takes work. At the very least you have to KNOW the other person, and you LITERALLY have no idea what or who I am."
howardrhonda828 chapter 15 . 11/8
Okay, so ol' Monkey is trying to protect someone he views as a sister (and in earlier times, a potential lover) in Tigress. I can understand that. But he really must have a low opinion of Tai Lung if he thought the snow leopard, even when he was a villain, would ever "take advantage" of Tigress's frozen body after paralyzing her at the Thread of Hope. Yeah, he did some bad things, but never THAT bad.

I bet even Tai Lung would find rape disgusting, and God help anyone who ever TRIED to do such a thing to Tigress or really anyone. I can see him tearing the bastard's balls off.

Interesting that Tai Lung thinks that alcohol is a poison that no one in the right mind should engage in, when he was perfectly willing to drown his sorrows in alcohol at that tavern long ago when he had been denied the Dragon Scroll. Granted, that was the lowest point in his life, but still. I can definitely see him not making that a habit though. Kung fu requires intense focus and you can't get that if you're buzzed out of your mind.

I loved the foreman coming back to converse with Tai Lung and bringing his cute little daughter Yi along with him! I also love how Yi was enchanted by Shifu's large ears and eyes. They really do look appealingly soft and fluffy. I wonder if Shifu was the type who would allow a child to touch his ears or play with his fur?

And I wonder if that's a Chinese thing, where introducing yourself by your first name in an informal manner is actually a big deal? "My name is Shen Zhuang, but you can just call me Zhuang."

Tai Lung with a career in building and construction, huh? That is quite a prospect, isn't it? When you think Tai Lung, you don't think of a guy actually having a 9-to-5 job to earn a daily salary to pay the bills and feed his family now do you?

Once again, this reminds me of how Super made Goku, an accomplished martial artist, actually get a job where he drove a tractor and harvested fruits and vegetables to sell on the market to earn money for his family. It was actually pretty cool.

"Keep up all that moaning and groaning, and I'm gonna start thinking you're opening up a brothel!"

Holy moly, I bet that even had Mantis blushing pink! Zhuang, you are a dog!

The interaction between Xiulan and Tigress hurt my heart. Tigress was actually trying to mollify this woman and she just spat in her face, telling her she wasn't a real defender of the palace and that she couldn't even trust her with the Village's children, and then that she might have even be in cahoots with Tai Lung when she fought him at the Thread of Hope? And the worst part was that Tigress didn't even get mad and try to defend herself like she did when Wei dare insult her... she just looked like a chastised cub.

I'm glad the others stood up to defend her, especially Shifu who was like, "Apologize IMMEDIATELY."

And how can she say that about the children when none of them had so much as a scratch on them when they returned home to their parents from the daycare?

I also thought it was heartwarming that Tai Lung defended his master when Xiulan said that maybe it was Shifu's turn to go senile now, since she let the "mad killer" back into the Valley.

Also, what is Di Yu?

I loved how Po was the one to stop all the arguing by pounding his fist down on the table and threatening to sit on anyone who made even another peep. That just comes across as really awesome and really humorous at the same time.

But what he said here: "All right, okay. I read ya. But I bet you he's really sorry for that now... aren't ya Tai?" when he learned that Tai Lung killed her husband 20 years ago, came across as ... weak.

Even if he is sorry, that's not really something you can just say "I'm sorry" for. This reminded me of a quote Bobby Johnson said in the movie South Central.

"Jimmy, son. If you hit a man in his face, in time his wounds will heal. And later on, you can apologize, to that man. If you steal his goods, later on, you can return those goods, or you can repay him equal value. But if you kill... there IS no later on. There's no way to repair it with that man. There's no way to make it right with him or his family. His life is gone forever. You never come back from that."

And as an aside note, I never knew that the phrase "ball and chain" could also be used to describe one's romantic partner or wife.

But then again, Zhuang's perspective is interesting too. He's coming from the side of relative innocence; he never lost anyone in the rampage and was barely even alive by the time it was over. So it does make it easier for him to forgive. Even when he did carry some hatred and resentment for the snow leopard in his younger years, I love how it was actually Master Oogway who set him straight on that.

"Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent to throw it at someone else; you're the one who gets burnt."

That's just such a good quote, and of course, it would come from Buddha. Oogway definitely seems like the type who would follow Buddhism.

"Hell, if I was a bastard I could be thanking Tai Lung for killing him, since I couldn't be married to Xiulan otherwise."

Hm, that's also interesting. It plays with the concept of how good things can flourish even in the bad. Like how a tornado, even in its destruction, can leave fertile soil behind for plants to grow and things like that.

And when they're sending out boats to the loved ones and Shifu is rather reticent and laconic about his family, I always did wonder what his backstory was. The cartoon series actually did give him a backstory, but I forgot most of the details of what it was.

Then we have Monkey getting captured by our main shadowy evil villain, which will definitely cause some tension!
howardrhonda828 chapter 14 . 11/5
Another chapter that I would consider one of my favorites. First, you gotta love Mantis's pervy sense of humor for where that gnarly stick of Oogway's might have been used for. Like Tai, I think I may need brain bleach after that!

I love how Tigress actually chose to wear the orchid over her ear! I bet she looked real cute like that.

Tai Lung being hopelessly allergic to dust and sneezing explosively is a both a precious thing to read about and a pretty funny thing as well. Ha, imagine him with a stuffy voice and red, watery eyes.

Tigress thinking the Emperor was cute in younger days and Tai getting real jealous about it, calling him nothing but a "pampered pretty boy" again, speaks of his insecurity.

Okay, now I wanna know what the 'Kama Sutra" is. I bet it's something dirty. Very dirty.

Tigress coming across the old wooden tiles Shifu used to teach her how to control her strength back at the orphanage made me smile.

Po owning a Tai Lung action figure was actually made canon in KFP3! He's playing with him in the bathtub.

More cute Tai with him being painted in Oogway's lap as a cub, though he has to defend his pride by saying he was a little "hellion" at that age.

And Po wanting to show the villagers the baby picture of Tai reminded me of the Firelord's baby picture, again in Avatar.

"I think he kept all these things because...he hoped one day you'd change, that you'd repent what you did and ask for forgiveness...and then he would have released you from prison so you could come home."

(Could that be true? If so, that was so sweet. I mean it'd be very cruel if Oogway expected and even hoped that Tai Lung would rot in that prison.)

"I feel the same way, a lot of the time, about Shifu. How could someone so disciplined, so distant, ever feel something like that? Sometimes, though...what we think we see, and what is fact, are not the same."

(Nothing to say but heartwarming, and a lesson on life.)

And Tai had a teddy bear as a child. That's just so cute. But the villain is anything BUT cute as he corrupts Vachir!
howardrhonda828 chapter 13 . 11/3
I love the image of Tai Lung playing checkers with the other children. Can you imagine Tai in one of those itty-bitty chairs?

And he knows Shifu well to figure that a "small" and "minor" task would be anything but from him!

And I like how Po isn't portrayed as oblivious to the other villagers' scorn but rather actively tuning it out and focusing on positivity.

Yeah, that whole "dewdrop" thing wouldn't be enough, even if the Dragon Warrior was the most devout of monks. People gotta eat!

Tai Lung's gone through some development for him to actually care about Po not liking him anymore when he revealed that he smashed up his father's shop and nearly killed him 20 years ago in his rampage. I can't imagine how awkward a conversation that would be, as well as uncomfortable.

And of course, Po takes it in stride, tells him the two of them smashed just as many buildings in their fight with each other, that the past is the past, and his dad is perfectly fine now so there's no need to worry.

Apparently, his father shares his "insanity" by also brushing it off, telling him the old shop needed remodeling anyway! LOL!

I kinda wished there had been more of an interaction between Tai Lung and Ping the goose, where we could actually see the written dialogue but oh well.

Haha, Tai Lung expresses sympathy for Po having to take and deliver orders in such a cramped space, especially given his size! And for once, he's not making fun of him with such an observation but being genuine.

Tai Lung, jealous of Po possibly having feelings for Tigress? Come on dude, don't be so insecure!

And of course, Tai would want the strongest oolong drink, which translates to "black dragon". Man, everything goes back to dragons with this guy!

Interesting that Shifu also didn't share what really happened to Oogway at the peach tree, so none of them know he dissolved into flowers. I wonder how "spiritually" aware Po and the others really are.

"Okay, okay, don't get your fur ruffled!" Haha, because Tai Lung is a snow leopard and not a bird!

And I love how in contrast to the villagers' scorn, Ping makes sure to serve his son and his friend first, giving them first-class treatment. He also gives them five-star food, when it would've been so easy for him to poison the dish or something if he were more resentful of Tai Lung.

Tai Lung's developed a bit of autophobia there, huh? Makes sense for things like silence and solitude to put him at unease, especially after all his time in Chorh-Gom.

And here we basically learn that when Tai Lung cried out "It's nothing!" at the blank parchment paper, he wasn't simply talking about the scroll. He was talking about himself. My heart breaks yet again.

I almost wonder whether Tai Lung would benefit from some form of professional therapy, but then I also wonder if ancient China had such a thing back then.

Po's speech afterwards reminds me of the Soothsayer's words in KFP2: "Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are. It's the rest of it—who you choose to be."

I'm not gonna lie. That part made me tear up a little in the movie, and that's not an easy feat when it comes to me. I'm not the sentimental type.

Tai Lung doesn't know what to do with the gift of compassion he has received. Here's what you do buddy: accept it, however odd or difficult that may be to do.

A younger, more innocent cub version of Tai Lung giving him an orchid flower. Cute.

And now we have our villains: the Wu Sisters! This should be fun.
howardrhonda828 chapter 12 . 10/30
Ah yes, the chapter where Tai Lung endures bullying by yet another pachyderm. Instead of Vachir the Rhino, we have Wei the Elephant. I can’t help but think that that connection was on purpose.

I like that attention to detail of Tai Lung knowing that dull tusks would actually hurt a heck of a lot more than properly sharpened ones.

“And what exactly do you think I’ve been doing, you overgrown waterskin?” Another classic line.

“...glaring into his persecutor’s tiny, and in his opinion anyway, unintelligent eyes”

Burn!

I love how Tai Lung has finally gained the confidence to defend himself by bringing up his heroic accomplishments, all thanks to Po’s encouragement. Again, this is sweet.

At the same time I kinda agree with the foreman that whatever good things Tai Lung did in the past, they were marred by his horrific rampage where he laid waste to the Valley.

Forcing Tai Lung to address him as “sir” though was just a power trip on the feline, and I’m glad Tigress stepped in at that point, because the guy was starting to throw his weight around.

“Leave it to a woman to get all emotional and show too much sympathy.”

And now we can add misogyny to Wei’d douche list! Wow, I did not expect that to come out of his mouth!

Okay, badmouthing Tigress in front of Tai Lung was practically suicide. He deserved that brick to the back of his head!

I don’t know if the rest of the beating was justified, especially snapping the poor fellow’s leg, but by the way the whole crew cheered when Shifu banished him, it seems that Wei truly was a “hardass to everybody”.

And as someone once said on TV, “You can’t piss someone off, then tell them how mad to get.”

Shifu’s dressing down of the cocky fellow really was something to witness though. And at the end, “Get out of my sight.”

Damn! Just total dismissal.

Tai Lung meets another potential friend in that bull, and then Tigress takes him to the daycare where we see the little cowgirl Yi again!

And I like how Tai Lung, though long-suffering, is patient with the children and doesn’t lash at any one of them, even when they do annoying or painful things.

You gotta love the little red baby panda getting back at Tai Lung for ripping out Shifu’s whiskers as a child by ripping out his own! Karma’s a bitch!

Little Yi refusing to let go of her kitty even when it’s time to go is an adorable image, as is Tai Lung’s unwillingness to physically remove her or raise his voice at her. He just doesn’t have the heart to.

I would’ve loved to hear the entire conversation of how he made her go with that pinky promise.

And finally, Tigress’s jealousy returns when she sees Tai Lung getting the praise that she thinks she should be getting. Oh man, I just wanna give her a hug and tell her that she’s valid too!
howardrhonda828 chapter 11 . 10/29
She knew, of course, that Mantis for certain and probably Crane as well believed her choice in the matter had more to do with the rippling pectorals and well-defined abdominals the snow leopard sported.

(Vipress attracted to Tai Lung-serpent attracted to feline? Geez, talk about a crack pairing!)

Though she had no reason to, she felt guilt that she'd led such a sheltered, almost charmed existence while he had been through so much anguish and torment.

(Ah, the Tumblr equivalent of “checking your privilege”. But in all seriousness, it makes sense for Viper to help Tai Lung because she wants to share her ‘good fortune’ with him. The gift of unconditional love, devotion, and kindness by her parents, without her ever feeling like she had to EARN it.)

That reptile pun was uncalled for Tai. This is the same guy who took offense (inwardly at least) at the whole “catnip” joke from Monkey, but still felt the need to crack one of his own at Viper’s expense! Tsk tsk.

“You know, I used to think people like your mother were fools. Sad, pathetic do-gooders who couldn't see the real way the world works, who'd keep mindlessly parroting their blind beliefs until reality bit them on the arse. Now...now, I don't know what to think."

Well, at least it was some progress anyway. Frowning, Viper said, "Every time I hear you say things like that, Tai Lung, it makes me see just how truly hurt you've been."

(Right? That mindset of Tai Lung’s is such a “who hurt you?” one, even though we already kinda know what did. He’s just so cynical.)

"Um...I'm sorry that I made you hit yourself, when we fought at the bridge," she finally said, lamely.

(Bwa ha ha! You know, since Tai Lung made such a big deal about Po “humiliating” him back when they first fought, I can see Vipress apologizing for attacking him in a “ridiculous” manner as well.
Then Tai Lung has to be a bit of a jackass about it, though not as sniffy about the act as he was with Po, by saying he’s “had worse, believe you me,” in a tone that suggests he’s mocking her abilities. Good thing Vipress set him straight on that!)

"Really? Then the next time my deceptive dancing defies your nimble nerve strike, remind me to bring that up again."

The snow leopard stared at her, dumbfounded, for several moments...swallowed imperceptibly...and then softly gasped, "That...that was you? You were the Protector of the Moon Festival, the one who took on the Gorilla Bandit all by yourself, and won? I...I heard about that from Vachir, while I was in prison..." All traces of jocular teasing and knowing cockiness vanished. "Forgive me, Master Viper. I meant no disrespect to a legend such as yourself. I was only saying I didn't suffer unduly, so you have no need to apologize."
(
Ah ha! Tai Lung turned simpering real quick once he learned that he was talking to a legend. And I’m glad, because this is more progress from him. He’s learning to be more respectful.)

"Fair enough." Tai Lung paused too, then smirked lopsidedly. "But no matter what, there's no way in hell you're turning me into a ribbon-dancer."

(I friggin’ love that line.)

I loved hearing more memories of little Tai in his childhood, and him playing with bunnies was the most sweet and heartwarming to me, as well as him watching dragon puppets from Shifu’s shoulder.

“The awe-inspiring spectacle, in far-flung Tengchong, of plains and mountains of fire—Oogway called them volcanoes”

(So Tai Lung didn’t know what volcanoes were? I wonder if this was when he was very small or if there are other things humans take for granted that sentient animals wouldn’t know the names for?)

“After that display of blinding speed and shimmering waves of chi washing across the battlefield, never again would he consider a turtle slow, no matter the reptile's usual languorous attitude.”

(I bet an Oogway in his prime would’ve been stunning to see! A turtle being fast reminds me of Ash’s Turtwig in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. I also love how even the Five were enraptured by that little tale.)

A terrible thought came to Viper, and suddenly she forgot all about defending Tai Lung as instead her venom, so to speak, was directed at him. "What did he do to you? Did he hurt you, Tigress?"

(Oh that is just precious. She may believe in the guy, but as soon as Tigress gives off weird signals like he might have done something naughty to her, Viper is hissing up a storm to make sure her friend is okay.)

But for a moment she was strongly tempted to snap her tail rigid and smack the striped feline hard on the rump as she passed—because she certainly deserved a paddling at the very least.

(I totally wanted her to do that, just for the mental image and the laugh. A snake spanking, ha!)

“I don't have a damn problem with heights—it's the sudden stop at the bottom that I take issue with!"

(SAME. Still though, Tai Lung with acrophobia? I was with Viper; he treated those ropes and that bridge like a damn jungle gym, but I guess it really was the “hot blood in his veins” that was blocking out all of the danger.)

"So—can you redirect your chi, and use it to shove the air, send out a blast of wind?"

(Oh, that is SO airbending. Aang’s name is written all over that.)

"Fine. If you're all so certain this is needed, I'll go out there and coax the kitten along if he freezes up. But he's going first; I'm not about to let him ogle my backside if I can help it."

(Geez Tigress, you’re not going out on that bridge with Master Roshi or another anime pervert!)

I love Crane flying down to save Tai Lung as he fell from the bridge in the same way he swooped down to save Tigress in the movie!

And please Viper, please don’t try to play matchmaker! But you just know she will, and those two DO need a nudge.
howardrhonda828 chapter 10 . 10/28
This was one of my favorite chapters so far, feeling like one of the most lighthearted.

Firstly, I love Tai Lung being all pumped up and stealing some of Po's lines like "I was born ready" and even having a similar exchange where Shifu is like, "Tai Lung? Focus. FOCUS." because he's getting too overexcited and carried away bragging and flexing his muscles.

Too friggin' cute.

Then there's Tai Lung's whining reaction to the reveal of a hammer as an ultimate weapon, and he whines how he doesn't want to do menial work, but Shifu is right, he's done enough battering and destroying, it's time to rebuild for a change!

And I totally love that fist-on-the-hip, "There are no take-backs in the Jade Palace" retort from Shifu. Picturing Shifu adopting such sass when he's usually so stern was a treat to visualize.

And Shifu knows just what buttons to press to make Tai Lung wanna cooperate. "Well surely you have the physical strength for it my son", and that right there gets him. Playing to his ego.

Also, you gotta love Monkey and Crane beating Tai Lung to the top of the roof, with the cheeky, "What took you so long?" and everything. That'll teach Tai Lung to take it easy with the showing off for a while!

And we all loved the "I should beat you round the mountain a few times"/"You and what army you lice-infested baboon?" exchange.

But hey, props to Monkey for knowing about roofing. This once again, adds more depth to his character.

I always interpreted that "before enlightenment pour water, after enlightenment pour water" thing as meaning that even after you find some wisdom, there's still work to do, and you'll never reach the end of what you need to know.

"I was thinking about... noodles." Okay Tai, now I KNOW Po is rubbing off on you. LOL!
howardrhonda828 chapter 9 . 10/28
First, the conversation between Master Shifu and Tigress. I love how Tigress tries to play the "I would never disobey you, dad" card on him, only for Shifu to go, "Yeah... except for that time at the Thread of Hope where you totally did."

Haha!

I also found it cute how Shifu asked if his daughter was feeling alright when she said she was willing to trust Tai Lung and give him a chance, however begrudgingly.

Huh... what's the third use of the Wuxi Finger Hold?

Ha! Shifu knew Crane was eavesdropping. Of course he would. He can pick up a gnat dropping to the floor.

Po fanboying over Tai Lung to the villagers is simultaneously sweet and also facepalm worthy. He really IS an eternal child.

Welp, I friggin' knew Tai Lung would accept the offer. He never backs down from a challenge, no matter how seemingly insurmountable, difficult, or even hopeless.
howardrhonda828 chapter 8 . 10/28
And here it is, the interaction between Tai Lung and Oogway, and may I say how both characters continue to be in perfect form. Oogway being patient, sage, and wise, but also cheeky, humorous, and airy in his mannerisms. And Tai Lung's sarcasm is still slaying me, especially here.

"Oh, for the love of—could you BE any more cloying?" That made me crack up. That's exactly how I see Tai Lung reacting to his ethereal presence. Seeing it as saccharine, pretentious, and annoying.

I also liked how Oogway was hurt by the notion that he could possibly hate Tai Lung. I'm glad Tai Lung got out his anger about being denied the scroll because of "darkness in his heart", but then when Oogway asked lightly, "Are you done?" and Tai Lung gave a sheepish nod, I almost found that cute.

Like a parent asking if their child is done with their temper tantrum and little Tai being like, "Yes dad."

And yeah, Tai is no blameless victim. As Po and Tigress and now Oogway have been trying to get into his big, fat head, we all have choices, however many circumstances may be mitigating.

I think you may've retconned things by having it to where Oogway sensed TOO MUCH darkness rather than darkness at all, because in the movie, there isn't an emphasis on "too much".

But the Ying and Yang lesson is astounding here. "You had too much darkness because you had too much light." And that blinding light was Tai Lung's pride. How utterly... well, excuse the pun but, enlightening!

And so obvious too when you really think about it. I loved how Tai Lung fell to his knees at the realization of that.

Also, this exchange is gold:

"I totally screwed up, didn't I?"
"Totally."
"You were right all along and I was wrong."
"Absolutely."
"I never deserved the Dragon Scroll, because I wasn't ready."
"No you didn't, and no you weren't."
"D'you mind? I'm TRYING to apologize here!"

That just made me crack up! Oogway is so cheeky I swear!

Geez, I see we are REALLY laying the blame heavy on Shifu though, for molding Tai Lung that way, despite the guy having a choice to do differently. But yeah, both father AND child fucked up royally.

Thing is, Shifu admitted his mistakes. He admitted his pride: "It was my pride that binded me. I loved you too much to see what you were becoming. What I was turning you into."

Also, I love how even Oogway feels the need to apologize and realizes that he should have intervened earlier too, which yeah, can't help but agree. I get that he wanted Shifu to learn this lesson too but to let it go on for so long... after a while, the guy needed more firm of a nudge.

And the "other threat" is now implied to arrive and even without knowing what it is, even I felt myself feeling dread as well as anticipation, like a shadow looming over things.

But when Oogway said his poor old stick wouldn't be tough enough to beat some sense into Tai Lung, that was by far the most devilish and cheeky thing he'd ever said! I guess Tai Lung isn't the only one with a sense of wit, now is he?

And yes! Fix Oogway's staff Tai Lung! That sounds pretty good as a reconciling measure.
howardrhonda828 chapter 7 . 10/27
I’m glad Tai Lung is being made into an errand boy to fetch supplies because HE needs to get a good taste of menial, or in his words, “peasant work” to learn some humility, as well as doing some hard work that doesn’t involve pulling off cool moves or simply flexing his muscles!

I also love Shifu’s guilt-trip!

“Gee son, I’m so achey and sore. Haven’t the slightest clue where it all could have came from!”

I also thought it was heartwarming that Tai Lung suggested Po come with him! It’s proof that he’s becoming rather fond of Po and his amiability and would like his friend to accompany him.

Oh my god, “His heart leapt, along with another part of an anatomy”! You dirty dog you!

Yep, Tigress would totally humiliate Tai Lung like this, turning him into her personal bandwagon and pack mule. Again, I would pay to see this animated, of Tai Lung being weighed down like a Christmas tree with all those wicker baskets!

Yeah, manufacturing a crisis to make yourself look like a hero… not the best plan Tai. I’m glad he realized how suicidal it was, especially where Tigress is concerned.

And then we have the villagers’ reactions which are entirely appropriate, realistic, and unsurprising. I mean, that’s what happens when you deliberately make yourself a terror. You get people running and screaming from you as soon as you walk through a crowd.

Even if that’s not what Tai Lung wants anymore, things like this don’t just go away. He’s definitely going to have to earn their trust again.

I also loved Tigress acting as a peacekeeper and a diplomat to calm the villagers, showing that she doesn’t just keep peace physically by fighting other threats, but also knows how to relate to people as well. That gives her an extra level of humility, as she doesn’t seem herself “above” mingling with the “commoners” like Tai Lung does.

Also, Tigress loving kids is something I can see as well, especially with her experiences in the orphanage! She was holding on to a little pig child in Kung Fu Panda 1, shielding him from the dust kicked up from the Wuxi Finger Hold, and she also grew a fondness for the little panda girl Lei Lei.

And then we have Tai Lung having his walk of shame through the Valley, getting constant reminders of the impact his rampage left behind, not only on places, but people too.

It broke my heart when Yi, the little cowgirl so clearly wanted to play with her big kitty, not being tainted by the horrible stories of Tai Lung’s rampage, or knowing that she should be afraid of him, only for her mother to yank her back by her arm and give Tai Lung a hateful look.

This kind of reminds me of how Fisher Tiger told his crew not to share any of their painful history with the humans to other fish men, because he didn’t want the next generation to be brought up on prejudice and hate, even if it did come the human’s subjugation of them, as well as slavery. He said that they needed more people like Koala, a little girl who had a clean slate and didn’t know anything to hold resentment for the species. This is from the anime One Piece by the way.

But on the subject of Yi’s mother, I couldn’t imagine being face-to-face with the guy who killed someone close to me, like a lover, or a husband. I can totally see why she’d be so baleful.

Another reviewer also brought up a good point. To put it in his words exactly, because I couldn’t have said it any better:

“For all their willingness to forgive him and give him a second chance, neither Shifu, Po, Crane or Viper lost anyone close to them to the snow leopard’s rage. If they had lost, say, a husband, a parent, a brother, a child or a close friend that tragic day, would they have been able to look past the pain and suffering he had inflicted upon them? Or would they have clamoured for his blood like almost everyone else? It is easy to forgive when you haven’t been personally affected by the terrible things someone did, but if you have experienced loss and torment at his paws, it’s a very different story. Does that mean you have no business trying to help him or forgive him… or does it mean that your unbiased view of him is necessary in the face of the hatred of those whom he wronged?”

Even with Po’s dad, Tai Lung didn’t actually kill or injure him. He simply scared the dickens out of him. But how much of a different story would it have been if that did happen?

Tai Lung saying that he didn’t want to kill those people; he simply wanted them to hurt the way he hurt, is something that goes back to the idea that “hurt people hurt people”. It’s sad, but true.

My own father would put cigarettes out on me, lock me in a closet, starve me, and beat me daily, until I was rescued at the age of four, but he was also a man struggling with a lot of heavy shit too. It’s not an excuse of course for the abuse, but it was a reason, however depressing it was.

I also love the reasoning you gave for why Tigress decided to stand up to Tai Lung at the Thread of Hope, and it was to give Shifu more time to train Po, because she had been wrong about him all that time. It’s so selfless and again, almost a form of apology from Tigress for how she treated Po before.

But of course, as Tai pointed out, this is something she would really be telling Po as well, instead of just him, and it’s sweet that Tai is starting to think about others in this way, instead of being entirely selfish and narrow-minded.

And Tigress also echoes Po's words from before, that it is Tai Lung that Tai Lung has to convince is capable of forgiveness and redemption, not anybody else.

Also, wow!

“There’s only one way up or down and I’ll be guarding that, unless you wanna take the shortcut down”

I love how that was just a challenge, not a genuine request, and Tai Lung responds in the correct way as well, saying that he isn’t gonna be taking the easy way out like that!
howardrhonda828 chapter 6 . 10/26
I love the idea of releasing Tai’s pent up chi also releasing his buried emotions as well as rejuvenating his energy!

Also, yes, Tai Lung is finally having FUN with kung fu! He's fighting honorably, by the rules, and actually having fun! There’s living and there’s existing, and Tai Lung is finally learning how to enjoy himself in combat without his delight being, ya know, murderous or malicious!

Yeah, I can totally see Tai Lung acing that obstacle course, and I also liked the idea of him knowing all of the other Five’s styles. Now, I’ve heard some people criticize Tai Lung’s character in this work as him being a “Gary Stu”, but I think you just barely avoid that. Yes, he’s uber-talented, but he also has real weaknesses too, especially emotionally.

And then there’s the inevitable “you made me look like a fool” fight that Tai has with Po. And the thing is, they both have a point. Po did do a lot of ridiculous and humiliating moves on him, but at the same time, Tai didn’t give him a choice! Po did give him a chance to call it quits, but the guy kept coming!

“You made… me bite… my tail!”

(That is so TFS! If you don’t know what that is, it’s the popular abridged parody version of Dragon Ball Z, with the people behind it called “TeamFourStar.” And after Goku bites Frieza’s tail to get him to stop choking him, the two have this exchange:

Goku: You punched me in the face!
Frieza: You bit my tail!
Goku: You punched me in the face!
Frieza: You bit my FUCKING tail!)

"Why did I want to be the Dragon Warrior...isn't that the question of the century. I wanted it...because Shifu wanted it. Because Oogway never gave him the scroll either, so I thought...if I could achieve it, the thing that had made my father feel like a failure...then he would be proud of me. Then, he wouldn't feel like a failure anymore."

(You hear that? That’s the sound of my heart. Breaking. Into little bitty pieces. Damn, that makes Tai’s line about how everything he ever did, he did to make Shifu proud hit even harder.)

"The only one standin' in your way...is you."

(Damn, that makes me think of Rocky’s words to Adonis in the movie Creed. “It’s you against you out there! He’s just in your way! Get him out of your way!”)

"If you don't believe it, look at me! I always wanted to be a kung fu warrior—do you think I ever thought I'd be livin' the dream? If I can be a hero, anybody can!"

(Ha ha, love Po’s willingness to deprecate himself a bit if it means motivating ol’ Tai out of his funk. And then he eats another slice of humble pie by deliberately making himself look like a fool by failing the obstacle course as badly as he did the first day he joined the Jade Palace! Po is the sweetest creature I swear.)
howardrhonda828 chapter 5 . 10/26
“engaging in a sprightly game of Go with Mr. Ping”
(What’s Go?)

Master Shifu discovered that Tigress had locked herself in her room and refused to come out no matter what importuning the other Five employed, instead having given them a very terse and roughly scrawled note from beneath her door, instructing them to leave a plate of tofu in the hall for her come mealtimes.”

(Ha ha! Tigress is still such a teenager! Which makes me wonder… how old is Tigress exactly?)

Tai Lung found himself being escorted from the cellars of the Jade Palace up to the bunkhouse, to the room where the smallest (though no less deadly) of the Furious Five would preside over his torture—excuse me, medicinal therapy.

(Ha, Mantis and his acupuncture might as well be torture, especially when he messes up! Even Shifu got a taste of it!)

Yeah. Being gruff, mean, nasty, driving everyone else away by being the cold, heartless monster everyone believes him to be...that's his defense mechanism, all right. He puts up walls to keep people from getting in. But it's not me he hates. It's himself...for being weak and a failure.

(I agree with this wholeheartedly. And Tai Lung isn’t the only guy I know who uses sarcasm and meanness as a defense mechanism to make themselves look tougher on the outside, while being a wreck on the inside.
It kind of reminds me of how Sans uses humor as a defense mechanism in Undertale, while in reality, he’s actually one of the most tortured characters in the game.)

Po still couldn't imagine what it must have been like to be locked away—from life, from light, from everything—for twenty years. If that had been done to him, he'd be insane too. At least I would've made sure he got some decent grub!”

(That is the sweetest thing. And I can totally see Po making prison food for Tai Lung that actually doesn’t taste or look like utter mush!)

"Sure, you're a legendary warrior, and a rampagin' killer who nearly destroyed the valley. But I don't see that when I look at you. I just see a person. Isn't that what you are?"

(Daw!)

"You know, I've never met anyone quite like you before. You're very...unique."

(The closest Tai has come to a compliment, and even then, it’s still kind of backhanded if you think about it! LOL!)

"Fine, have it your way. Stab me to your heart's content."

(Tai, do NOT give Mantis ideas! He’s gonna turn you into a pin cushion!)

Considering how incredibly thick and heavily layered the feline's cold-weather fur was, surely even more of a detriment to locating the nerves in question, the fact Mantis had made no comments about this strongly suggested to Po the insect had indeed been unfairly biased before against the panda's...padding. Crossing his arms over his chest, he grumbled to himself.

(To be fair, Mantis also said, “Who am I to judge a warrior by his size? I mean, look at me!” And he did sound sincere when he made that point.)

"Tai Lung, you stink!"

(I love how that statement by Mantis had double meanings. A humorous one about his rank clothes, and a serious one about how the guy is still being a hard-headed idiot who really HASN’T learned anything in all his 40 years of practicing kung fu.)

Silently, soberly, Mantis stared at him as if he were prey he had just caught and trapped—then reached out and struck one needle with both pincers, tweaking his facial nerve.

(Dude, I would have PAID to see Tai Lung’s goofy expression animated! Especially if it were similar to Po’s!)
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