Reviews for At Exactly What Point Did I Lose Control Of This Flirting?
ninemil con'd chapter 7 . 3/1
...ft the cast in a position befitting of them? Is this close enough to what I wanted?’ vibe.

Of course, I already know you have much more planned, including scenes that would follow this one canonically. But somehow, perhaps due to the self-summarizing mono/dialogues or the oft occurrence of sighs from the cast, I couldn’t help but feel you were somehow evaluating your own work with a sombre sense of goodbye. A bittersweet thought, if ever there was one. Again, that pulled me out a little, but only because as a huge fan of the work, I don’t want it to end anymore than the next guy.

I obviously can’t raise the concept of farewells, without reflecting myself on how this might stand, if it were to become the canonical ending, so allow me a moment to indulge. Certainly the collective promise of tomorrow trope is a hard one to play without it dissolving into cheese, and I’m impressed with the deftness of your execution. If I had to mark anything as edging too high on the ‘Much Too Smelly Stilton For Public Serving’ scale, it might be Hazuki’s fistpump, (is that even a verb, lol?) and the accompanying choric squee from the juniors, but you can’t play a trope without playing a trope, I guess :p The whole situation was disgustingly cute and endearing, and I love the concept of Shizuma proposing to everyone, just to keep them all. (Gotta catch them all, Pika Pika! :p) I ran the engagement trope myself to express Shizuma’s compulsiveness and insecurity, and here it raises so many parallels to self-destructive Shizuma, whilst showing just how far she’s come in herself since. Still impulsive, inappropriate Shizuma, but one no longer unhealthy in her grip. I love it.

As a Yamiberry canonical ending, it also draws wonderful parallels back to the sentiment of the original source finales, too. Strawberry Panic ended with a promise of tomorrow, assertion that the path was unclear, and with several members of the cast in disadvantaged positions to demonstrate key ideals, such as sacrifice or duty. Yamibou ended similarly, with another iteration of the promise for tomorrow, and an undercurrent of making the best of a bad situation. Were Strange Fire to end tomorrow, I can’t help but feel this partitioned farewell does the source works honourable justice. Very in keeping and respectful. And you still managed to squeeze a boobiesquish in without destroying the mood ;)

It’s also the perfect ending to the mini-series that spawned it, getting back to its primary role. Shizuma has made amends, and the emotional state of both herself and her victim has come full circle. Chikaru herself has made insane progress, and the series carries that appealing but subtle duality to the Hanazono-Minamoto friendship, that one might not have expected with Chikaru so obviously on the bottom of the see-saw in the first chapter. Sure, a lot of this is just echoing progress made elsewhere in the core canon, but it’s a great summary in that respect – a firm nod to the magic taking place in the overarching property.

So yeah, a great update. Fun, cleverly in-keeping with trope tradition, and yet without falling prey to the pitfalls of those tropes in the slightest. Masterful execution, my friend, and a pleasure to read.

The fact that I’ve been able to write another ream and extrapolate so much tangential pondering also goes to show just how much story you’ve got left to tell us. So back to it, Fletcher! No rest for the wicked :p

Consider it your karmic dues for playing an onsen service send-off ;)

Mooooar!
ninemil chapter 7 . 3/1
Surprisingly hard to write this review, despite my thorough enjoyment of the chapter, and the quality of writing it features. It’s certainly the first time in a while that I’ve felt the need to converse with you before attempting feedback on an update, and I still can’t entirely put my finger on why.

More than likely, it’s just the disconnect that comes from reading about happy cohabitation in the same week that 18 of 20 surveyed Tokyo wards outright stated that they have no plans to combat discrimination against co-habiting homosexual partners. But that issue is a world away from the university setting in use here, and it’s my failing to allow that to interfere with my enjoyment of the story. There’s also the background dismay that comes from losing such an influential figure from my childhood so recently, and I must apologize again for letting that overshadow your work. I’m definitely no Trekkie, but all the same - live long, and all that.

So, onsen, and boobies! I can’t help but grimace at the thought of Miyuki’s embarrassment, come the following morning. Not to say that in the two years since we last saw the cast, that this kind of behaviour from her hasn’t become commonplace and expected, but still – lol. One of those, ‘did I really say that?’ moments, I’m sure. Let’s hope Kaname gave her something fulfilling enough to offset it :p

Kinda sad to see Miyuki in this state, admittedly, but you can’t have Miyuki be Miyuki, without the potential for situations like this to arise. Better some unreleased sexual frustration than the out-and-out suicide watch that the anime suggested to us. How does Miyuki resolve her woes without causing herself a social nightmare, is anyone’s guess. She can’t take a lover, without the money and her name getting in the way, and all the friends she has that might overlook that, are already in lon-term relationships. You’ve not played the partner-of-convenience card either, for which I’m entirely grateful, but that does leave her hanging, whichever way you approach it. Poor old Miyuki, eh :/ Make it worthwhile, Kaname.

Speaking of which, I don’t know whether to commend the Kenjō girl for her offer, or fear for Miyuki’s integrity. I wonder at the genus of that ‘understanding’ with Lilith, and whether it purely exists for Lilith to indulge her own voyeuristic tendencies. But then, perhaps Lilith is incapable or unwilling to commit, herself, and doesn’t want to tie Kaname down unfairly. Perhaps this is a test to see how faithful the dark samurai would remain, given permission to stray. Let’s face it, Lilith already has cause for abandonment issues of her own. I do wonder how her existence alongside Eve now functions, after the long Yamibou trip to find her, and the admissions from all parties since.

Whichever way, it’s heart-warming to imagine Kaname now integrated enough into any friendship circle to consider an open act like this as acceptable. She really is part of the ‘family’ now, isn’t she? Leagues from the despotic, disruptive emotional fuck up that we first meet at the beginning of Downs. I congratulate you again for navigating her evolution so deftly. She really is a shining example of difficult characterization done right.

“…the very definition of pity sex…”

Tea. Wall. Nothing more to be said. A classic line if I ever saw one :D

Of course, one unavoidable aside from Kaname’s willingness to offer herself up as a means of attaining sexual gratification, is the potential for this to draw negative parallels to her earlier childhood rape. Not just for those who might be out there looking to be offended while reading, (of which we both know there are many,) but also in terms of Kaname’s own self-image and mental self-worth. It is a very casual, offhand remark that she makes, and while its comic value is undeniable, one does have to wonder whether it has implications for her outlook. How does Kaname now view sex and sexual relations? Do her encounters with Lilith end purely at getting off, or is there some emotional content and conciliation within them? Can Kaname ever truly open herself up in such a situation, following her devastating childhood experiences? One might presume she had done so during her off-camera relationship with Momomi in the anime, but we only ever see the couple as dysfunctional and broken, so it’s hard to rightly presume.

I’d hate for her to remain broken forever, as realistic as that might be. But then we can’t have everything, and sometimes, someone has to pay the penalty for the narrative to carry its message. Miyuki ends married because, sacrifice. Kaname ends broken because, men are bastards, and the raped almost-rapist needed justification for becoming what she was. Fixing either of those situations would trivialize them as much as might please the audience.

But don’t get me wrong. I haven’t raised this to make you feel bad, or because I feel you crossed the line – you didn’t. Kaname’s characterization remained intact, and this sounded like exactly the kind of thing the Kenjō girl might have said. We don’t even know that she meant to go through with it, or just get Miyuki hammered enough to pass out and forget about her urges. But it does have potential implications, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t raise them.

Difficult for me to comment on the discussion that follows between the remaining girls in the tub, I must admit. As a western male author, I’m very aware of my own disconnect with the mental processes going on in this scene. On one hand, it’s hugely gratifying to imagine this particular collection of individuals – Hazuki with her earlier self-hate issues, Nagisa with her complicated history with Tamao, Tamao with her own past inadequacies and self-depreciating outlook, Chikaru with her once struggling sexual self-image, Shizuma in the unique position of having historically shat on almost everyone else present in the bath with her – could now be in a place where they’re comfortable discussing a topic like this together. In the nude.

This is not polite 喫茶店 (coffeshop, if you will,) conversation, let’s face it. Even in their inebriated condition as they are, (although as we’ve discussed elsewhere, the inebriated state might have been better conveyed for the participants other than Miyuki,) this is an uncharacteristically candid discussion about female arousal, that takes place during one of the most intimate, exposed positions of public nudity possible.

Would shame or embarrassment have stayed their words were they sober? Would their segregating relationships have presented a barrier of inappropriateness while discussing each other so objectively? Would Shizuma have considered exposing herself further to relax the others, were they not all drunk, or would she just have made them all feel even more awkward? How much has happened during the canonical time missed, for them to be this comfortable? Do women in Japan ever even stop being embarrassed by their own bodies in public, anyway?

It’d take a lot of presumptions on my part, to make assertions about the validity of this scene. Certainly from my limited perspective, however, it felt well-written and tasteful. The descriptions of nudity never border unnecessary ecchiness, and the tone was in-keeping with the emotional content. It’s as much a sad, sombre scene, as it is the typical anime onsen service one. And for this, I’m very thankful. As I’m sure I’ve said countless times in the past, anyone else would have let it devolve.

So yeah, I did find myself distracted during the first read through, but more for my own internal questioning and rationalization of the situation. I can only claim to know so much about the opposite sex and sexuality, after all. I know a little of the social norms surrounding onsen, but to discuss that relative to real world homosexuality and lesbianism in Japan? Yeah, you’re stretching me. Note – no onsen scene in Gravity thus far. You’re much braver than I, and I respect you greatly for that :p

How Chikaru has come on! Everyone else seems to have missed this in their reviews, but damn – that’s one hell of a difference between the Chikaru that gingerly peeled back her top a few updates ago in the core works, and the Chikaru we see here. Sassy, confident, and apparently now quite the exhibitionist. One wonders how much of the final steps she needed to take to become comfortable with her own sexuality and position within the Coven came from co-habiting with Shizuma? Hell, I’m sure the Hanazono Effect would turn me gay in the same environment, so I’m hardly surprised.

A pleasant thought to imagine Shizuma has somehow helped Chikaru come to terms with her own issues, after all the help Chikaru has given Shizuma during the course of this mini-series, no matter how indirect that help might have been.

Exhibitionist Chikaru in the same household as exhibitionist Shizuma? Perhaps they should start an undergarment designer label together, lol, but I disgress

It’s sad to think we might perhaps one day have cause to wish these characters farewell, isn’t it? That was something else I couldn’t help but consider as I read this chapter, especially given it’s now usurped the finale of Downs as the furthest point forward within the established Yamiberry canon. As I suppressed the odd sniffle at close, I must confess it dawned on me that you, yourself, might have also considered the same thing as you wrote it.

The previous chapters of ‘At what point?’ were almost exclusively progressive and optimistic in their outcome. While problems were raised and cast members started in positions of recession or self-depreciation, these situations were almost always immediately solved during the course of their chapter. So when the narrative suddenly paused during chapter seven, and the dialogue became so ponderous as to the group’s eventual outcome, I couldn’t help but feel this somehow mirrored your own train of thought while penning it. That, ‘if I were to end Yamiberry now, have I le
LenxRinKagamine chapter 7 . 2/25
That was great! Keep up the good work :)
World of Dragons Productions chapter 7 . 2/19
Hy, didn't you just update this fic? Ah, well at least I won't have to wait on reading more of this.

First thing that comes to mind is seeing someone whose the very picture of restraint, getting plastered and talking about having a massive orgy. And that's what had this chapter keep a goofy smile on my face while reading it in a public library.

And I think some of the readers were right. If this was most of the other writers on this site, this scene might very well have been just that. What you have here feels like a parody of that; the characters acknowledging the situation they're in and where it could lead
Which makes it kind of head scratching hen Kaname just drags her away for the very definition of pity sex. Or did they actually not do it? It leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable seeing that happen when the image of KanamexLilith had been burned into my head.

But I might understand their "Understanding" as much as I thought. Anyway back to the onsen story. Female sexuality has been something of a study subject for me and it always left me wondering how women can have that sort of intimacy without it being sexual.

I can think of the Eds and Jonny being in the same situation for all of three seconds before getting uncomfortable and hoping out, leaving Ed to wonder what's the problem. Which goes to show how comfortable women are with their sexuality.

Let's see, what else... The whole thing was frigging adorable to read with Shizuma choking up and everyone hugging and the like. The idea of everyone being married to one another in this way is rather sweet.

Hope to see more down the road. Keep writing and I'll keep reading

Peace
shanejayell chapter 7 . 2/19
AWWWWWWW.

That was both adorable and funny.
Spikesagitta chapter 7 . 2/19
Ohh! That's a sweet idea. Happiness with each other doesn't have to be sexual huh, nice pleasant thought.
Apathetic Plot Bunneh chapter 7 . 2/18
I loved this, it was absolutely adorable and I admit I couldn't help cracking up from Miyuki's final line :)
ninemil chapter 6 . 2/17
And welcome back, my friend Hopefully one of many updates to come this year?

Great to return to this property. The fact that it was born of the meta has always made it a bit of a personal fav, but with Shizuma as the focus character on top, it’s a bit like the icing on the proverbial cake. I do love seeing you spotlight her, since more often than not, she’s been an aside in your core properties. That’s not to detract from the Spica, Yami, and Hime elements of your overarching work, but having somewhere to focus specifically on matters Hanazono within your canon is nice. She’ll always be my favourite character, despite her many flaws.

Easy to imagine just how much of a change for the cast, moving out of Astraea’s ecosystem would be, don’t you think? The walled garden drops away, the cityscape takes over. You’ve got that cultural shift between the old capital and the new, with the lesser trappings of status and name. And then Toudai, in particular, is a hugely transient environment, with thousands of strange faces coming and going each semester, rather than the hundred or so confined in that little dormitory building on the Hill. A total lack of forced attention draws for Shizuma to suffer there - from big fish in an incredibly small pond, to tiny minuet in a rolling sea of obscurity. Just another undergraduate, after all that time in the toff’s hen house.

Shrewd then, to see you extrapolate the negative effects of Shizuma’s isolation, without her necessarily having been aware of them. Sure, she’ll have missed Nagisa and been acutely aware of that, but just how much of a hermit she’d become while embracing her newly found obscurity, I feel was appropriate in its subtleness. She must have been so relived, initially, to get away from the prying eyes and the endless reverence and attention. Add to that the escapist shopping opportunities, the tourism staples, the range of evening entertainments, the broader ethnic diversity, the insane university workload… It must have been very easy for her not to notice how alone she was. When you’re a young Japanese in Tokyo, no one knows you’re an outsider until you open your mouth for the regional dialects to crop up. Unless you dress like a country bumpkin, there’s literally no reason to be picked out amongst such a large population. (Hell, my teacher’s daughter is a halfu with English as a first, and no one bats an eyelid until she opens her mouth to speak. They all presume she’s just another local.) So much for Shizuma to lose herself in, with so many reasons to not to blend into the crowd.

It must have been quite a shock for her, in retrospect. Appropriate too, within the short’s canon and your broader narrative assertions, that Chikaru is once again the one to highlight this for her. Those warm, fuzzy feels

Picking up the chapter, I opted for a full read through, rather than stumble into it after such a long break. I’m also working through the mains at this point, as you know, so to approach a new aside cold of its preceding instalments, and with the main story relatively disjointed from the narrative to hand, timeline-wise, it seemed sensible just to refresh the lot.

As I mentioned elsewhere, the transition between updates is seamless, despite the insane lead times. I don’t know how often you go back to reread your own stuff, (or that you even have the time, all things considered,) but when you’re done with the current in-tray, I strongly recommend you take the time to. I know it’s hard to separate what you experience as the author, from what you try to imagine the experience would be like for a fresh reader, but I can’t imagine the process sparking anything but a haughty glow of pride. Definitely a very rounded package, this one. Lots of dovetailing, lots of closing loops, extremely smooth transitions.

It’s nice to see you consider the realities of this coming co-habitation, by the way. Everyone wants that happy yuri squish as their series closing scene, but you’re once again being sensible in your methodical journey toward achieving it. Toudai is, notoriously, one of the hardest universities in Japan to get into. Sure, taking sabbaticals there for a semester or two is common place, since all the other institutions on the planet clamour to associate with it, but actually sitting a full course there? The entrance exam is a bitch, in a country when entry exam pressure-related suicide is a very real, and tragic thing. Both characters go out of their way to consider the difficulties that the choice may cause with their significant others, and both are sensible enough to balance their parental expectations and career benefits against the friendships and relationships they want to maintain. No matter how brief the internalization and the dialogue, I’m glad to see it have gone in there. It grounds the piece and justifies it in a way that others might not have bothered with.

I suppose if I have to pull you up on anything cultural, I should probably pull you up a little on just how much time Shizuma apparently has free for reading ;) Toudai students don’t get free time. In fact, Toudai students rarely get sleep time, but… well, it is Shizuma. One can hardly deny the educational Mary-Sue that Kimino-sensei has already implied and enforced, can we Perhaps there’s a particularly heavy abundance of set texts to get through that semester? ;)

Speaking of which, why medicine, out of interest? I always figured Shizuma for business, management, or some form of representative/ambassadorial role. As Gravity’s flash-forwards open in the edit, she’s in the process of interviewing for an investment firm, as I thought her airs and graces, and social navigation and predatorial nature, would excel in such an environment. Is there something in the translated novel that I’ve missed, perhaps, or was this a gut call?

Nice, also, to see you ground Chikaru’s sensibilities into not pursuing the arts as a major. While she’s definitely the knack for it, (as again, implied by Kimono-sensei’s heavy Mary-Sue,) I think we both know how small-fry Chikaru would be outside the Ichigo-sha, and how difficult an industry that is to break into. She’s far too level-headed to attempt something as risky as that as a major, (and I doubt her mother would let it go, either.)

Do you think, in your canon, there would ever be space for Miyuki to continue her studies? Within the traditional arranged marriage, particularly in a tier of social standing such as hers, her life would undoubtedly fall unavoidably into the realms of dutiful motherhood and spouse. But the Konno-Rokujō pairing is hardly conventional, and her husband much more the understanding type, than most. Perhaps he might be agreeable to an arrangement where she could distance-learn, or have a private tutor? Sad to think, in those later meetings you’re already penning, that Miyuki is now one of the least academic of the group. Very much a fall from grace, on a point she’s always prided herself upon in the past.

Perhaps that’s another reason for the excessive sake? (But spoilers :p)

Anyway, I’d continue, but my hands are killing me now, so I think I’ll take a break and return to musing later. I do want to take a moment to compliment you again, on that scene with Shizuma and Tamao’s date, from the earlier chapter. Reading back through that, particularly as the penny dropped and the tone got more serious, was hugely enjoyable. One of the strongest scenes you’ve penned or Shizuma, and a highlight amongst highlights, for your work with Tamao. Really, really solid writing and extrapolation.

Anyway, ouch :/

Looking forward to the meta. Congrats once again on publishing, particularly for the continuity. Really doesn’t feel like you’ve been away for long at all. w00p!
World of Dragons Productions chapter 6 . 2/16
Well, didn't think I would see you at it again. Good to see you up and writing again.

I'm afraid this chapter leaves me with little to comment on. I guess I'll need to refresh myself with the universe you created here, but here goes. Above all I find Shizuma being introverted a bit odd and I'm not entirely sure I remember seeing this side of her or not.

Still, it's very human of her to become so desperate for company after such a while. Even the most introverted hermit needs at least one companion, right?

I'm not sure what to say about Chikaru. Let's see, this takes place before Hand Me Downs, right? If so then her aversion to being physically impossible intimate with the rest of our Coven makes sense. But since we know where boat sails, it doesn't have much impact to it.

As for technical parts, the prose and writing is, but I admit to not be much in a reading mode as of writing this, hence some difficulty engaging.

At either rate, I hope to hear from you soon.

Peace
shanejayell chapter 6 . 2/15
AWWWWWWWWWWW.

Also, awwww.

And CUTE.

I likey, as you can probably tell.
Spikesagitta chapter 6 . 2/15
Heh. Shizuma really is a social person, I guess being alone for so long is hard on her. Didn't seem like it though, she always seem like someone who will welcome friends, but wouldn't mind being alone either.
DrYuriMom chapter 5 . 11/21/2012
Kiss me? Come to bed with me? You are evil, you know this. I knew going into it that you were going to turn those phrases on their ear, but even prepared as I was for something different from the expectation, you still wove a delightful tale that kept surprising me.

I think the only (minor) criticism I might have is that it seems Shiuzma is left in Ch 3 with a guilty sense of wrongness about 'picking daisies', yet in the anime she is still happily doing so...even after she first meets Nagisa. Then again you did end with there still being work to be done. It isn't a big stretch that Shizuma is a bit neurotic in her 'flower arranging'. Rome wasn't built in a day, even by the likes of Empress Chikaru...

Yay, someone else who has read the novels and knew Tamao's history as one of Shizuma's discards! I had it pegged immediately during the conversation between Chikaru and Shizuma, but then again that revelation by Kimino-sensei was one of the most profound moments for me as I ready the light novels. When integrated into the anime-based story, it can make for some very interesting storytelling. I love your take on it, although I am increasingly glad I am a year and over 200k words into my SP! universe before reading all this or I would never have had the courage to embark on Voices of the Present and Echoes of the Past. I still haven't hit Yamiberry yet and you're already intimidating the Hell out of me. :p

So, I wonder if we ever find out somewhere in your writings how Nagisa reacts to there having been history between her GF and BFF? I have addressed that in Voices and I'd be curious to see how another more gifted author handles that little literary landmine.

The way you had Chikaru turn the tables on Shizuma was delicious. I will say I am feeling just a hint that your Chikaru is a little 'too perfect', but then again I am nibbling around the edges of your magnum opi pending your guidance on whether I should watch Yamiboshi before I read Yamiberry, I may be getting an imperfect sense of the character by reading more whimsical satellite works. I am absolutely keeping an open mind.

It is exceedingly rare to encounter on fanfiction someone (even other females given most are so young and hormone drenched) insightful enough about women in general, and lesbians in particular, to pull out steaming tea as hot lesbian sex. Its more of an adult perspective, but then Chikaru is a very mature young lady. The end of Ch 5 was downright marvelous and I am treasuring it already. :-)
yurimylove chapter 5 . 12/19/2011
Wow... I guess if there's to be anyone in Astraea Hill with greater seductive power than Shizuma, it'll have to be Chikaru-SAMA! And that legendary kiss - described in such vivid, luscious details - well, to quote a line from Hollywood, "I'll have what she's having" _;

Then there's that bedroom scene. Shizuma PWNED? Now you don't see THAT any old day LOL When I saw the chapter 2 title I thought surely it's Shizuma who's asking something bold like that, for a first date... but alas! You had me totally fooled. I like that merry-widow - sophisticated! In fact, it's so sophisticated that, I had to look up wiki to find out what the heck it is XP

Chapter 3 is a very emotionally touching piece. I think it provides a very good exploration and contrast of how Chikaru and Shizuma each deal with their devestating lose in their own ways. Plus a nicely placed hint about what is to come, no less. Anyone who's read my previous "reviews", however, would not be surprised to hear that chapter 4 is my absolute favorite in this series (so far). Being a big Shizuma fan myself, I totally agree with Miyuki when she says that Shizuma is "one of those amazing people". Yes, just leave it to her to do something so unexpected as to ask her romantic rival out on a date. Ever since reading about that concisely summarized first date between Shizuma and Tamao in Hand Me Downs, I've been hoping to see more about it. Now my wish has been granted, in this powerful, tear-inducing chapter - there IS a Haruhi after all w

The marriage proposal scene, told from Shizuma's viewpoint this time, is very refreshing to read. I found it interesting that, Shizuma is actually not as self-confident and invulnerable as she appears to people around her. I think it serves to make her more human. All in all, I think this story is a PERFECT companion piece to Hand Me Downs, and I look forward to reading the next chapter presumably focusing on events after HMD.
SmileyFace chapter 5 . 12/1/2011
This is freaking awesome! :D when i saw the anime some parts i find it confusing but after seeing this its like you wrote the real thing xD. Keep up the good work! Can't wait for the next chapter hope it won't be the last though
GeshronTyler chapter 5 . 8/25/2010
Nice character piece. It's a shame Miyuki's fate couldn't be fair, but there's always the possibility that her husband could screw up and give a reason for a divorce. Have to be a darned good reason though, to make it worth the scandal, and I fear that something like that would probably involve more pain for Miyuki.

That line of Chikaru's was just pure gold, though. I'll never think the same way about that line again. )

Thanks, read you another time.
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