Reviews for Different Tales, Different Lessons
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah chapter 12 . 2/5/2018
I was gonna wait till the end to sing your praises, but something in this chapter bothers me: the siege engine makes no sense... Most of it I can rule out as normal low fantasy nonsense, but... How were they going to attack the valley of Peace with it? The thread of hope is a small rope bridge, and the remainder is flanked by mountains, no? The juggernaut is on wheels... And pulled by horse/camel/people...

Other than the logical inconsistency here, still doing a fine job.
Luna Goldsun chapter 8 . 8/8/2017
So...I've taken my sweet time getting around to reviewing these. Mea culpa. So I won't waste any time:

I loved the thought of our great badass Jade Palace Master enjoying reading romance novels (and reading out loud!), and the banter between Shifu and Tai Lung was spot on as always. You can definitely see that even though they get on each other's last nerve, there's still love there. And it's always fun to see Shifu flustered and Tai have the upper hand. Although that comment about both Shifu and Ning Guo both being waist high...you really had to go there, didn't you? ;P

Hu and Huo are so cute, and the way you've made their personalities so distinctly different is very realistic. Of course Hu wants to be just like daddy, and Huo I can imagine wants to be as mature as her mother (though hopefully as they grow, Hu learns a little more restraint and Huo learns to chill once and a while...but they're only six, so I'll give them a pass). And clever of Tai to make shopping a "game" for them to save himself some trouble. It's also common parenting advice now that kids love feeling useful and feel like they're contributing to the family, and giving them tasks is a good way to get them to stay out of trouble. And speaking of trouble...

"My language is as damned good as anyone else's." God I love Lin. And I'm so glad to get another glimpse of her. It's been ages since I read Blue Plate Special, so I'm sure I missed a few references. But I love how you wrote her character, keeping her spirit, her attitude, her language... But of course it was wonderful to see them patch things up together.
Marie Goos chapter 13 . 6/14/2017
Of course any vignette starring Zhuang and Xiulan was going to be bittersweet, which was what made it in turn heartwarming and heartbreaking to read. I was so glad that you expanded upon the story of how they met! I love the way Xiulan messes with Zhuang from the moment he enters her shop, it's absolutely perfect and hilarious.

"You just want to have a shirtless man in your shop." Ha! I'm guessing Zhuang is correct there, seeing as the most sensible course of action would be to take measurments on his body rather than from the existing shirt and use one of her own patterns to create the new garment. Then again, if she only sold women's clothing, then she would have to create a new pattern from the remnants of the shirt, anyway, so he'd still need to take it off. The important thing is that she got a date.

I laughed out loud at their marriage discussion, when Xiulan accused him of an Oedipus complex (or whatever the Chinese term for it might be). And while Po and Ping's reactions were sweet, I also couldn't help but laugh that they sang. But of course the joy had to turn to tears, as we all know what Zhuang's fate ultimately was... And poor Xiulan, her anger is so understandable here. Her comforting Yi in the night was particularly heart-wrenching. And of course there were tears in my eyes when Zhuang's spirit came to her to comfort her and quell her anger. Of course there is the ultimate lesson that he'll live on in her and Yi's hearts, but it's still so sad.
Marie Goos chapter 12 . 6/14/2017
Huzzah, the beginnings of Po and Jia's romance! I'm sure you remember how much I've shipped them in the past. A little off-topic here, but is it just me or did the writers of the tv series copy you with that episode about Po and Song? ;) Of course I'm always pleased to see a new villain come forward, but I'm especially pleased this time since we get some narration from his POV. So Shou Feng has an axe to grind with Tai Lung (get in line, buddy). I do like the idea of Tai Lung's rampage having a lasting effect, and making him enemies who turn up long after his repentance.

Jia recalling all the trauma of Xiu's abuse was just heart-breaking, as well as the descriptions of her past and the flashback. The emotional component to this story, with Jia's struggle to overcome her suffering, really deepened the plot. Poor Jia! How lucky to run into Achal and have the counsel of a monk at her disposal. Although, geez Jia, thirsty much? And wow, you obviously did a lot of geographical research, and included such stunning locations in this vignette.

I like your references here to the Secrets of the Masters short, and explaining it through Po's exaggeration. I see you put Masters Ox, Crox and Thundering Rhino to good use. It's a pity Thundering Rhino died right in the beginning of the second movie, so we didn't get a chance to see him in action as much. And I see you've included another Jiao! Nice to see that you had him accepting his son rather than showing any kind of shock or bigotry. As he said, family comes first. And Aww, Crane and Mei Ling are so sweet together.

Shou was as villainous as Tai Lung ever was and more, as you had the characters point out. Self-absorbed, entitled, murderous, unrepentant... So naturally it would take a holy man like Achal and a reformed criminal like Jia to help him see the light. Of course, after lots of badass fighting from both parties (and from Mei Ling, as well)! How fitting that in the end he followed Achal into monkhood.

Great to see an ode to a Disney classic like Mulan (even if it was culturally and historically inaccurate) in Jia's fan combat. As always you handled a complex and hectic battle beautifully, and this time with the kung fu masters in direct combat with those wielding firearms. And I am continually impressed by your inclusion of martial arts outside of kung fu and descriptions of them. I was wondering how you would handle the defeat of the Juggernaut, and I was not disappointed.

Good for Jia, showing how far she's truly come with her dedication to showing mercy! I feel like the gesture is more meaningful for her character development than for those being spared, but maybe that's because I've become so invested in her character over the many chapters and vignettes I followed her. She has truly become one of my favorite OCs of all time (let's face it, with how little we know of the Wu Sisters they might as well be OCs). Maybe I've said that already, but it bears repeating. To show in the end that she was uncertain she could forgive Xiu for her abuse, but had grown so much and forgiven herself was as complex and satisfying a resolution I could have hoped for (and that I can only hope to convey in my own writing). Jia's internal struggle, and her ultimate resolution with her family and especially her father were what made this the most satisfying vignette so far, in my opinion.
Marie Goos chapter 7 . 6/10/2017
Tai Lung learns to cook! It's one of my favorite fanfiction tropes. Especially when he gets harangued into it against his will. Of course Dalang was the perfect teacher for him, at least for comedy's sake. I noticed, too, how he mused about Lin being a terrible teacher. True enough! And oh, Tai Lung's jealous streak. He must have picked that up from Shifu. ;)

I was laughing that Tai Lung had chopped the vegetables unevenly (I had even called it- that's what happens when you go too fast). Oh, and the blood contamination (yuck). Tai Lung was as fickle and childish a student as I would expect- or hope, rather. I'm going to be honest, Tai Lung's initial ignorance in the kitchen was cringe-worthy, but Dalang's corrections made it amusing to read through. I loved reading about the five and Shifu taste-testing, and of course you now how much I enjoy it when Tigress gets brutal (maybe Monkey will learn his lesson). I'm surprised Shifu came to Tai Lung's defense in the critique, though "this fish is just terrible" is perfectly in character.

Mantis's prank, pretending to be Dalang, was pretty priceless, too. I also have to say that I loved your inclusion of the yin and yang of ingredients here, that was a great detail. And then the spice contest... I can't say I haven't done that. Eating spicy foods, of course, though as you might remember I've also written subtext-filled scenes about eating. This was definitely a fun vignette, with its theme of cooking. Though I pity the fool who would try to teach Tigress...
Marie Goos chapter 11 . 6/10/2017
Wow, what a chapter! All your historical research really paid off in this one. Of course, it was fun as always seeing what you did with Luna's character. Poor Shang, his hopes for Tai Lung got dashed like so much seafoam against the rocky shores. Oh well! I'm certainly not arguing with more adventures of Crane, Mei Ling, and Jia! It's also nice to see some other characters from Li Dai Academy to flesh out Mei Ling's and Crane's past.

Jia correcting Alvares's assumptions was awesome, I love that she's so much more intelligent, quick-thinking and level-headed than she first appeared way back in the beginning of ADL. It's great to read about how she's truly come into her own now that she's free. The tensions between Alvares and Shang is very skillfully handled, too, and I can absolutely understand Shang's reticence considering the real-life history of colonization. Your description of the whole ridiculous love triangle involving Alvares chasing Jia, who was chasing Shang, had me giggling.

I am so pleased you referenced Ching Shih in this installment, she's one of my all-time favorite historical figures. And of course you wrote Long Shi to be just as badass as the history books describe Ching Shih. Hashtag rolemodels. The fight scene was executed as finely as any of yours are, though I'll have to admit that I was rooting for Long Shi. And the way Crane, Mei Ling, and Jia so amusingly used the furniture and objects in the room- and I sensing a Jackie Chan influence, here? Or just Po's style?

Long Shi's surprised attack was much larger in scope than anything I'd expected, I tip my hat to you for writing such a complex siege, not to mention the rescue mission for Shang! It makes sense that they would want to use Crane's ability to fly to their advantage, of course. I couldn't help but snort a little at the realization that Shang was in nothing but a loincloth. Should have seen that one coming!

Seeing Jia truly come into her own, and use that octopus as a weapon, had me laughing out loud. What an awesome character you've created! Sure, she's part of the KFP art book, but you gave her personality. Mei Li holding her own was just as exciting, especially against the Sumatran Rhino, but of course my favorite is when she and Jia team up.

Once again, I was rooting for Long Shi (very disappointed she lost that fight). What can I say, I have a soft spot for female pirates. Mei's not the only one who admires a strong woman! And I'm glad she was able to make a deal and escape, in the end. I see, also, that Jia isn't a yaoi fan, haha. Of course you hinted at those romantic feelings all through the story, so it was nice seeing Shan and Tao (and Liang) finally act upon them. A fitting end, for sure. And it looks like the next vignette will also be a Mei, Jia, and Crane adventure! You could write an entire fic about these three, if you ask me.
Marie Goos chapter 10 . 6/10/2017
Well, I had to read through A Different Lesson before picking the vignettes back up, and it took a while since I've been a slow reader lately, but it was as awesome as the first time around. (I should note that when Tigress rejected Tai Lung initially I laughed out loud, so brutal). As for the new vignettes, where to begin? Of course it's wonderful seeing the lives of the characters, including your OCs, after the events of the fic. And I have to say, it's great seeing my own OCs paid homage to in your drabbles. You got Lin's raunchiness downpat, though I don't know if I could ever see Lin giving up on protesting Imperialism XD Not to mention you have a point about her and Ning Guo. They do go well together, don't they? And all the better to team up and needle Tai Lung together! Those scenes were especially fun for me to re-read. And you have to love how cute Tai and Tigress's kids are. "Forbidding them doesn't do any good- they simply disobey to get that thrill of breaking the rules, and to get what they want." Sounds like they take after their father a bit there, doesn't it?

I have to tip my hat to your descriptions of scenery/places, while I'm at it. They're always so detailed and vivid, I need to take more notes from you! (Especially my descriptions, as you know, usually go along the lines of "it's a forest, get over it"). Your descriptions of Shanghai and its various settings, including Chen's house, went so much more in depth than I ever could. I smiled like crazy at Chen and Yan-Yan's cameos! I must say, you got their banter down. And not to give spoilers or anything, but you hit the bullseye with Yan-Yan using her skills to tend to the more underserved members of the community. Gotta love that old cross-dressing trope (wow, that FFVII reference takes me way back), and Crane was the perfect character for it. I loved reading about him kicking butt, he doesn't get enough love in the fandom (not even from me). Mei Ling and Jia teaming up was everything I could have hoped it would be, too. Let's face it, did they even need any help? :) Just kidding, the three of them make such a fun and butt-kicking group! And, the fact that you put Fung into this chapter is so hilarious and good. He was one of the best parts of the tv show, and his ridiculousness was so perfect in the chapter. I have to get off my butt and read chapters 11-15 of your vignettes still, but judging by these adventures, I have a lot to look forward to!
North Hayward chapter 15 . 11/28/2016
Oh my LORD that was long! Sorry it took so long. I feel accomplished in the fact that not only did I finally find time to read it, but that I finished it at all! Please know that I'm not complaining, just recognizing the massive story length epic that is this chapter really is. Anyway I'll start from the top.

At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the new feel of the jade palace, what with it's new students and where the original five had moved to in their lives. But I realized that was just my nostalgic nature of missing fond times past, and it dawned on me how large your canon timeline stretches, making me actually miss events in ADL and KFP even though they are fictional and I can return to them at my leisure. The relationship, even though we didn't exactly get to witness it grow, between the new generation of students felt genuine, and I thought it was so cool that Yi is now training under Tai. It was an interesting perspective hearing their youthful take on events that had transpired, changing the dynamics of the palace and valley, how it ultimately to bring them together. Even in their youth, maturity was already being driven into them by the Jade palace teachings.

Then out of nowhere BAM! Chao pops up, I knew it was him right away! (though to any ADL reader it would have been rather straight forward i suppose) His sad, withdrawn, and ruefully regretful spirit so full of pain his past wrought and irony he now acutely understands, paints a beautiful backdrop for the mood of his tale.

It made so much sense for Chao to be meditating with Oogway in the dragon grotto. I'm not sure if it was because I had just watched Lord of the Rings again, but all of Oogway's advice sounded like it would come from Gandalf. It was great seeing how Chao was playing a chess game with Oogway in his mind, almost thinking he was winning by how he answered and asked questions, but by the end of the conversation even without any evident effort, Oogway had checkmated Chao with his epic wisdom. For instance when Oogway was reciting his "calm mind" mantra and Chao was like Yeah yeah I got this! And demonstrated inner peace with the water droplet, Oogway was surprised but then quickly broke Chao's concentration by asking how long he could maintain it showing that the falcon had only scratched the surface. Then Dang! That was an incredible vision Oogway had and Chao felt, such a great allusion to what was to come.

The Journey with the other masters which really set up what you wanted to show in the tavern was insightful. Chao, while being a prodigy in the study of Chi and the spiritual realm, seems to be completely ignorant to dealing with the fellow living (in short he has bad people skills) and that was kinda shocking if not funny because of how much a paradox that created. Big bad Chao, indomitable master of Chi...has no idea how to talk to a girl or enjoy a drink at a bar, that was a funny dynamic to watch take place.

Ok, the tavern scene. No I wasn't really put off by it as some readers may have been, and to be honest it was interesting to read. But with that being said so you know my heart in the matter, there were elements that I considered would have been best left out. No not the homosexuality surprisingly, that I was ready for and it was kinda amusing, nor when the hit up dat weed haha, but rather Chao and his indulgence with the snow leopardess. Come on man, the guy was married! (Or close enough) and I thought it would have been great if all had played out as you wrote up till Kun invited him upstairs, i'd have had a lot of respect for him if he had said "No, that I will save for my wife" regardless of the urges he was facing. Still it’s your work and that's a POV nitpick, I wouldn't have wrote it that way but hey, you're not me.

The journey into the mountains reminded me of the trek to Chorgom in ADL when the hero's began feeling the effects of a spiritual haunting, even if this time it was a bit less hostile in nature among the heroes. Man, I could feel the could, see the darkened cloudy streets, and hear the silence while reading this portion. The same terror that grasped Chao gripped me (it didn't help i was alone and it was at night on a wooded mountain side in the Appalachian mountains lmao, and I had to finish the story right there otherwise i couldn't have slept that night haha but that a different tale) I was like... what is going on here? I was so glad when Chao ignited his Chi, sending the Ghosts reeling back and applying a heat I could feel the heat in my chest.

Then the battle began, the chi imbued weapons glowing and friendship coming out in full as the warriors battled together. It was so cool when the sent the ghosts back to the mountains and Chao was just like, ok let’s go get em boys! (If not said with a little more eloquence) and then the battle on the mountain. I could feel the futility in their battle until Chao understood what must be done, then...that vision.

Dude, I have no idea how you got the inspiration for the mines, but it was….chilling to say the least, it so accurately unraveled the pain, anger, and utter hatred that called from the mountains. The “eyes blinded, no dried to husks by venting steam” as bad as it all was that one was the worst to me and made what happened to the evil little bunny later so much more satisfying. Then the warriors giving up their chi and the emotional calm that followed the spirits being put to rest, man it was awesome. But all overshadowed by the foreknowledge of what Chaos words brought to mind, “I will have it. All of it.” shortly in the future he would go on his Darth Sidious like murder of the jade palace.

I have a feeling the kids will be back to hear more from the shade and that there is a chance for him (Chao) to find peace, if not reincarnation, but it will take a while as you said, and he will never be the same. At least he got some peace by knowing how the Emperor ended up, with Oogway giving him just what he deserved. I agree wholeheartedly with how you had Oogway deal with the emperor, some of the best defense is a good offence and Oogway knew he had to act aggressively if the evil monarchy would ever fall.

So all in all, well done and i felt it was a good caper to a massive tale you have created. Well done, and I’m so glad I was privileged enough to read it!
Luna Goldsun chapter 7 . 7/12/2016
I can't believe this. You took my darling, sweet, perfect Dalang and turned him into Gordon Fucking Ramsay.

And I fucking *LOVED* it. :-D

You made him so much more badass in this than I think I ever could. And such a smart ass! God I love how you write him. He definitely takes his trade and craft very seriously, and what a great idea to link the culinary arts with the martial arts. Well played! I especially love how he just wouldn't let up on Tai Lung *at all*, to the point where he was as bad - if not worse - than Shifu!

Oh, Nievelion... OH, this exchange:

"Bring it, snowman. I have plenty of endurance."
"I can swallow just as much as you can!"
"That sounds like a challenge. Care to put that mouth to better use?"
"Bastard. You're on!"

You now my dirty little mind far too well, it's kind of scary. And Mantis' "bottom" dig was hilarious. The whole scene with the Five and Shifu critiquing Tai's cooking was gold. I also loved how you incorporated AU Jiao family here; it was a very loving tribute to a "what if" Ming Hua had lived. Less tragic, much more beautiful.

And sweet mother of mercy, the level of detail you went into describing Tai's training leaves all my research in the dust. You've really put me to shame, but that's a good thing! This shows as much dedication to your craft as Dalang shows to his, and for that matter, how much Tai Lung shows to *his* craft.

Really looking forward to the next chapter!
Luna Goldsun chapter 6 . 7/10/2016
Okay, so I'm waaaaay behind on reading and reviewing these, which is my fault (mea culpa), so I'll try and by as detailed as I can.

First, I still love how you write Po. Still so sweet, childlike without being childish, and just all around a great guy with a big heart. Many times in this chapter, I was so touched by the gestures and things he said to Jia, which given her past, she desperately needs, nay, deserves. They both deserve happiness, and despite the age difference and species difference, they really seem to fit together very well, and this chapter only reinforces that in my mind.

I think it's just fandom-canon now (unless I've missed something lately, as I've been out of the KFP game for awhile) that Po is a total novice when it comes to sex; nice nod to RL panda mating patterns ;) And then throwing that on its head when Po admits that, as a matter of fact, he *does* know about the mechanics at least, even if he has no experience. His fumbling and stuttering was sweet and believable, and Jia's patience was even sweeter. You make a good point, that many writers in this fandom don't automatically think of him as a sexual being...which I find frankly hilarious, considering his voice actor! Jack Black can be pretty damn raunchy. Strangely people have no problem imagining Mantis as being a perv (probably Seth Rogen's influence). But I'm glad you addressed that 1) Po is in fact an adult, and 2) like the other characters, and most people in general, he has certain needs, drives, and desires. Which I think you tackled very well here.

I had forgotten about the "christening" conversation, but I am so glad you included it! You really have to wonder when (or if) those felines ever get any sleep. And Shifu's room? Does Jia really have a death wish?

Loved the banter here between the Five, Tai, and our Cuddly Couple. Can I just say how much I loved that Tai was embarrassed for almost the entirety of this scene? And the reason why was, as you wrote, quite "aww" inducing. It's one thing to think of Po as a good friend, but as a little brother? That sweet tooth is clearly not the only bit of him that's sweet (though it's doubtful he'd admit to it even under torture). But for all the humor and "d'aww"s in this chapter, I loved the poignant moment where Tai revealed the real reason he doesn't go on missions anymore. Bless him, but you're right - being afraid of back sliding is a pretty good indicator that he really has changed. I'm glad you included that.

You know me, I love Monty Python references! And the one at the end... "What's it like?" Classic!

Looking forward to the next one!
The Burning Pillar chapter 15 . 5/1/2016
I don't recall ever mentioning this, so I'll say it now for future reference: I'm a terrible reviewer.

I apologize if this came later than I said it would - Ilien's "Book of Changes" got me hooked as soon as I started reading it. Took my sweet time reading it, and I just finished it 2 days ago. (which warrants a review, now that I think about it...) Plus, I recently started playing one of my favorite online games again, and I'm sad to say I'm getting addicted to it once more. League of Legends, curse the day I ever started playing you!

Anyways, as promised, here's my full review for "Different Tales, Different Lessons". Under normal circumstances, I'd leave a review for each chapter, but I just realized that I read all of this already. Had I not read all of them beforehand, then perhaps each of the reviews I leave may have a stronger impact, you know? It's hard to explain, but essentially if I leave a review for each chap, like let's say, Chap 4, it would be weird of me to say "I found this scene funny" since I already know what happens. Not to mention it'll be rather redundant of me to do so. :/

...Oh well. :/

So many things to touch upon... so where to begin... ah yes!

For starters, I found these here vignettes to be a fresh and enjoyable continuation of ADL, which includes the events both in between and after its wonderful epilogue. It may not have the plot-driven aspect as opposed to said story, but I find that I enjoyed these immensely (if not more than ADL) simply because of the change in scenery here. The unique and interesting stories and adventures told, the introduction of new (some already known from other fics) character and the insights we gain into them, the delightful portrayal of Chinese culture, and the overall mood, tone and atmosphere, which was lighter compared to ADL, were a welcomed sight for my eyes. Also, I love that you were able to tie up and conclude any remaining story arcs that were mentioned or implied in ADL, as well as being able to explore further the final developments of our characters.

*Sigh* If you ask me which one was my favorite, then I'd have a hard time answering that. Lol. There's just so many things from all of these vignettes that I loved m8. Tai and Tigress's wedding, Po's reconciliation with his parents and meeting Bao and Li-Na, the adventures of Mei Ling, Crane and Jia, even Tai learning how to cook from (Dalang!).

Though when I think about it, I do in fact have some favorites. Vignette/Chap 4 was one, as it was easily one of the funniest things I've ever read, owing to the fact that you based that scene from "Emperor's New Groove", which was one of my favorite childhood films.

The introduction of Lin in vignettes/chaps 8 and 9. Other than her reminding me of Toph Beifong in a way (her attitude does seem familiar...), she was one of the most unique and interesting characters I've met in your works, mainly because of her presence in Tai's life before his rampage. I always thought that somewhere somehow, Tai would've had a friend in his earlier years in the Jade Palace, and I'm ecstatic to learn I ain't so far off. I'm really glad we got to meet Lin, even just for a while.

Vignette/Chap 12 was another, for three reasons. 1) The introduction of Achal. Damn, I LOVE that lion! Aside from his totally bodacious badass-ness, he struck me as an individual who has gained enlightenment and found harmony and focus within. An excellent warrior, an intellectual person, and he has a strong foundation in morals and in virtues. He's powerful, yet compassionate, smart, yet humble. In short, he reminds me of Oogway. 2) Shou Feng's story and subsequent conversion. ADL was all about redemption - how one, no matter how dark he is, can still find peace within himself and thus turn to the light, shining brighter than he had ever shone before. Like so with this dude. After hearing this story, I was sincerely sorry for him, which is why I was glad that, like Tai Lung, there was still a chance that he may redeem himself. 3) Jia's own journey to finding inner peace. Like Po, she finally learned to move on and truly live, in every sense of the word, in the present. I was honestly overwhelmed at the final scene of that vignette, where we see Wu Xuan make one final farewell to both Jia and Mei; that was really one of the very few scenes in your works that made me cry. *Sniff* Just beautifully written...

Vignette/chap 13's was also another one of my favorites. Once upon a time, I found that while I can't really blame her for acting as she did during ADL, it didn't stop me from hating her as a character at some point. I was indignant, because all she ever did was make things harder for Tai Lung to come to the light, and I didn't consider how and why she was acting as thus. It wasn't until reading this fic that I realized my negative view on her was misplaced, as she was only ever a victim of Heian Chao. She didn't deserve all that, so which is why I'm glad too, that in the end she found peace in knowing that she was never alone, and that she still had someone by her side.

Lastly, remember what I said about redemption? Yup. After all this time, I thought that after his defeat at the hands of Tai, that would be the last we would ever see of Heian Chao. I was correct, but however, I've forgetten about who the man he used to be, and that man was Xun Chao. I was wrong, in thinking that he should just burn in the underworld for the evil things he's done. But now, after reading "The Falcon, the Turtle, and the Hare", I guess, like my past judgement of Xiulan, I was too caught up on his evil doings that I didn't stop and consider his story, how and why he came to be Heian Chao. *Sigh*

Out of all the things I've read so far m8 (even Mantis's sudden 'resurrection' in ADL), this was perhaps the most surprising thing you've written. But I found this to be fitting, and I'm kind of glad as well, because this shows that someone, someone who has fallen so low like Xun Chao, can still redeem himself, and find his way back to the true path.

*Shakes your hands* I digress my friend. You truly never cease to surprise me...

That's just about it. As far as I know, you've concluded every loose ends and story arcs that I can remember, like the ones I suddenly remembered, like Tigress moving on and leaving her doubts on Mei Ling and Jia behind (for that I'm truly grateful as well. I can't see the former becoming best buddies with the two anytime in the future, but it's a relief, knowing that she at least tolerates them enough that I can believe they can still be friends), Mei, Jia, and Crane's adventures (I have to admit, Crane posing as a concubine was rather funny), then the short glimpses of Vachir Wu Xuan, Bao, Wu Qing's pasts in vignette/chap 14...

I'm running out of words to say. LOL! But in short, I truly enjoyed these vignettes m8. Beautifully, BEAUTIFULLY written, and those shout-outs and references were well played. And as always, I must commend you for you in-depth research into Chinese Culture. The wedding of Tai and Tigress was almost spot on to the traditional Chinese way of marriage, even down to the last detail, and the imagery you painted in your readers' mind, damn man. 10/10. I've never been to Shanghai, but I got a clear picture in my head after reading vignette\chap 10. And Macau in 11? Pheweee. Now THAT was some great writing right there.

All in all, this amazing. Just fantastically amazing.

Before I end, I must apologize as well if this review isn't as in-depth as some of your other readers' reviews. I was never good with words to begin with. But feel free to ask me any questions at all! I don't mind, and it's the least I can do after writing this s***** piece I call a review. :/

So that's that, and off to the Shuffles I go! See ya there nievelion! :D

- The Burning Pillar
Samadhir chapter 15 . 2/2/2016
My, this is quite the chapter, one that will be rather tricky to review. Let’s hope I can do the last vignette justice.

“The Falcon, the Turtle and the Hare” gives us a fitting cap to the vignettes: the backstory of Chao himself! Given that we’ve previously seen of him nothing except the monster he was back in ADL, I was very intrigued over how you would handle him here. As it turns out, you did an incredible job, with much of the falcon’s story containing things that genuinely surprised me. That said, I do have some questions and a couple of misgivings, so let’s get to them…

First of all, the whole concept of the ghost of Chao having been forced to serve in the Jade Palace’s archives for centuries is a… fascinating idea I would never have expected him to return to the world of flesh, even if only in spirit form, so soon – I’d have thought he’d have to burn in the hells for centuries to be cleansed of his sins. In fact, I’m very surprised about the state of his being and personality overall…

What I’m very curious about is your statement that while Heian Chao was a Complete Monster who was utterly irredeemable, Xun Chao is a good man who can earn forgiveness. But aren’t Heian and Xun the same person, Heian just being the name the falcon took for himself after his descent into darkness? Surely Heian wasn’t just some other entity mind-controlling the falcon all those centuries? More to the point, I have no idea how Chao’s personality could’ve changed so radically just ten years from his destruction, from the monstrous creature of darkness to a meek, penitent ghost. Even if he was indeed Drunk On The Dark Side before, surely the choices and decisions and beliefs were still his own? What could’ve happened to make him turn back to Xun so abruptly?

As for the backstory forming the meat of the chapter, it was very intriguing, and it’s fun seeing Chao and his fellow Masters – the first ones trained in the new art of kung fu – back in the old days. Now, I must admit that I had a difficult time keeping track of the various names, since they are introduced en masse here, so I might not always have understood whom each master was and who did what.

Now, one thing I definitely did not expect was that the Masters would all be so… libertine. They regularly do drugs, hire prostitutes and have casual one-night stands on their travels, have open relationships and engage in threeway sex and beyond, most of them sleep with both sexes, and are generally far from the kind of celibate holy men you’d expect people in their position would be. I understand that one or two of them might’ve been like that, but all of them?

But what bothers me about the whole situation is how Chao, who is reserved, restrained, straight-edge and is saving himself for marriage is treated like some sort of deviant for his behavior, and his indulgence in a bit of casual threeway sex as positive character development. I mean, if we’re supposed to be accepting of those who choose to live a more carefree, sensual life, shouldn’t they do the same for someone who does not share their inclinations and believes in being more “prim and proper”? It comes across as them pressuring Chao into being just like them.

Also, for all his good points, Kun convincing Chao to join him in a threesome just strikes me as wrong on some level. He is basically making Chao commit adultery on his fiancée, and this is after saying that men should be more faithful to their wives. The whole “you need to loosen up/practice so you can please your wife” seems a rather shallow justification, and it’s the kind of act that can lead to serious trouble in his relationship with Xiwang, especially since she is said to be quite pure and prim and proper as well. Unless he plans to keep the whole thing a secret from her, and that’s DEFINITELY not something you should do with your spouse.

Anyway, most of the story deals with the tormented spirits trapped in the mines of Zhangye, victims of the ruthless and repressive policies of the Emperor Yang. The description of the dark spirits gathering outside the windows of the inn is one of the most evocative and chilling scenes you’ve ever written for ADL, and the flashback to the slaves being worked to death in the mines is an incredibly frightening and sad reminder that the Yang was not the LEAST bit like Chen.

But the centerpiece of the chapter is of course Chao freeing the spirits from their tortured existence via the vortex of positive chi he unleashes with the help of his friends. Aside from the brilliant visuals (or whatever the literary equivalence is) what really strikes me about this scene, and the chapter in general, is that it really didn’t go where I expected it to. Given that Chao tells the kids (more about them later) that they will understand why he deserves his fate at the end of his story, I expected this to be a sort of Start of Darkness thing where we see his descent into villainy (though in all honesty, you would probably need a lot more than just one chapter to do such a thing justice). But throughout the whole tale, Chao really is nothing but caring, compassionate, wise and humble. I would’ve expected, for instance, that his gathering of the spirits in the vortex would be his moment where he goes “haha, now I will show everyone my power and destroy my enemies” but he quickly realizes and empathizes with the suffering the ghosts have gone through and fuels the vortex with his and his friends’ compassion to set them free. And rather than ending with some kind of betrayal, the bond between him and the Masters are closer and stronger than ever when he finishes his story. So I’m a bit torn: while it would’ve been interesting to see his real start into becoming the monster Heian, it’s also refreshing to get a backstory of a villain that is more subtle, that presents him as a genuinely nice and likeable character – which makes his later fate all the more tragic - and that leaves just enough clues for us to figure out how he could become the person he later became while still leaving a stark and dramatic contrast.

Now, as for the kids he’s telling this story to… I really loved the idea of little Yi, now in her early teens, becoming a kung fu warrior herself, and it was great seeing all these other young prospective students here too. Chuluun was wonderful too, as was it to see Peng from the TV series in ADL too (and I’m glad how you fixed his backstory to something more appropriate; really, how on Earth could they make him Tai’s nephew when they revealed nothing else about his family :P) and Hu and Huo are great too. But I do have two minor problems. First of all, after they realize who Chao is, becoming understandably angry and filled with hate towards the man who caused them such pain and killed or corrupted their parents, Oogway’s appearance seems to calm them way too quickly, going into “oh well, I guess we gotta be more forgiving. Now come on, there’s a new Eagle Claw technique to learn!”-mode very abruptly. I think something more somber and dramatic might’ve been called for. Second, it was great to know that both Po/Jia and Jien/Mei have adopted kids from the orphanage, but I really wanted to know who those kids WERE! Seeing as how we only have one shuffle left of the saga after this, I’m kinda worried that this will never be explored further, and it really should.

Then we get the flashback to the confrontation with Emperor Yang, and the ignoble end the Son of Heaven suffered. First of all, I love the idea that you make this evil, cruel ruler into a hare – just as it’s fun to see traditionally villainous species as good guys, it’s also great to see a small, meek, usually background species as a tyrannical villain. This could’ve been played for laughs, but fortunately you don’t, and the confrontation between Yang and Oogway is tense, scary and even a little sad. As much of a bastard as Yang is, I still can’t help but pity him somewhat; there’s just something so pathetic and deluded about the rabbit. And I’m glad you at least had him be concerned for his family even if he knew he himself would die that night. Now, Oogway’s power driving him mad, either due to pain of the voices in his head or (hopefully, if he still possessed such a thing) the enormous guilt of all the suffering he had caused may be a little dark for the turtle, but it still fits with his character (and besides, this takes place nearly 900 years ago). Sometimes, you have no choice but to do ruthless things, and while it was sad to see Yang go out the way he did, it was very poignant and powerful.

This was a truly marvelous chapter, Nieve, and a great way to end the vignettes. Getting a look at the good man the villain of ADL once was, getting to share in his woes and triumphs, and knowing that he is seeking to atone for all the vile things he did, is both sad and heartwarming. It’s a perfect way to tie things up for a character that I at times found a bit too one-dimensional in ADL. It actually makes us feel very sorry for him, while still making us understand that it’s necessary for him to spend a very long time making up for his many misdeeds, but also leaving us the hope that he will one day find his redemption. It’s a wonderful story with a wonderful message, and it’s yet one more testament to your skill as a writer, my friend *hugs*

And now, all I have left of this wonderful saga is the last shuffle…
Samadhir chapter 14 . 1/15/2016
Well… After the mercifully short ”Love Goes On…” it seems we’re back to the really long chapter format for this one. And not only that, but it’s divided into separate segments with different stories too! As such, I will have to prioritize some of these stories while paying less attention to others, sadly. With that said, let’s dive in…

We start off with a segment featuring Vachir in his days when he was leading the Anvil of Heaven against the Mongol hordes. It features some really interesting themes of conflicting loyalties, of having to fight against what are essentially your own kinsmen, and includes what might be a first for ADL: an outright depiction of war, where non-lethal Kung Fu takes a backseat to brutal, bloody and merciless fighting. It’s a sad but necessary reminder of the world ADL takes place in, where all conflicts cannot be solved either by diplomacy or fun-filled but ultimately harmless martial arts.

While we don’t find out much about Dayan Khan, he seems a fairly interesting antagonist: a Worthy Opponent capable of honor, yet still having committed terrible atrocities. And it’s cool to see how Vachir lost his horn. It’s actually quite amazing how much backstory and personality has been added to a character that basically died unmourned and forgotten by everyone in KFP.

The second segment concerns Tai’s father, No-Longer-Mao, and his friend Xuan during their days as bodyguards at the Imperial Palace, foiling an assassination plot on Chen. I must admit that at times I had trouble keeping all the names and identities straight, and it took a while before I figured out that Yong was Tai’s dad and Xuan is the dad of Mei and the Wu sisters. They make a good pair, Yong’s uptight, proper gentleman contrasting with Xuan’s dirty-minded jokester, and it’s great to see what Tai Lung’s father was like. Btw, since this takes place shortly before Tai’s birth, and Chen was around seventy in ADL, I guess the Emperor is about thirty here?

Following this up is a story I think we’ve all been waiting for: that of Po’s father Bao and the general Hao (sounds like a B-kung fu-movie :P). It allows us a view of Bao as the younger, complicated panda we only heard about in ADL: a skilled, intelligent general and a great warrior who nevertheless carried a great bloodthirst and a scary love for brutal fighting. And like the Vachir segment, it also gives us a truly brutal, bloody battle sequence, along with a cool Worthy Opponent; I particularly like how you have Bao winning the fight against the wolf by basically cheating (but then again, isn’t everything fair in war?) showing him capable of underhanded pragmatism, while still feeling guilt about the matter to maintain some sympathy from us readers.

And of course, it gives us our first look at General Hao, a backstory-character whom a lot of readers, myself included, felt rather concerned about, particularly what seemed like his unnecessarily harsh fate while Bao got off relatively easy. While I think Chen’s explanation at the end of ADL cleared up most of my issues about the matter, it’s still nice to see it developed a bit more here.

Overall, I think you handle him pretty well. From some of your earlier comments about the issue, I was worried that you would make Hao too villainous and unlikeable in order to establish that it was right of Chen to execute him. But this chapter shows just the right balance: a skilled and honorable general who can be pretty generous and friendly if you get on his good side, but also snobbish, ruthless and perfectly willing to encourage Bao’s bloodthirstiness for his own ends (even if that doesn’t absolve Bao himself of responsibility). In all honesty, I might’ve found it more interesting if he had appeared in story either about him refusing Bao’s request to take care of his wife after the earthquake or about him being brought before Chen to answer for his actions, but this was still a really good backstory that lets us know more about both of these men.

And then it’s time for the final, longest, and in my view best of the segments: the backstory of Xuan and Wu Qing.

Composed of two main narratives, a flashback to Xuan and Qing’s first encounter and a visit with a young Mei Ling several years later, it gives us some much hoped-for look at their backstories and lets us see Mei and the Wu sisters as adorable little cubs! Well, more-or-less…

It’s pretty cool to see Xuan’s reckless younger self as he goes out for a good time in the seedier neighborhoods of Shanghai (and if I ever visit a strip club, I’ll be sure to maintain that I’m simply keeping my Yin and Yang in balance :P). When he plays pai gow, you perfectly capture the excitement and nervousness of waiting to see if you’ll go home rich or having lost everything.

And then there’s Qing herself… I think you write her perfectly. Yes, she comes across as dangerous, dark, even cruel in the scene, but there is still a very strong allure to her that makes you understand why Xuan would be attracted to her. The sexual banter between the two leopards and the mood of the seedy, smoky tavern creates a perfect atmosphere for the scene. And as always, you do a wonderful job giving some character and personality to background characters, like the Siberian (Russian?) bear and especially the mysterious cheetah who may or may not be trying to earn enough money to make his way home. The fight scene that follows is great, showing off the ruthlessness and deadly precision that characterizes Qing and the fact that Xuan can’t help but find her vicious skills appealing adds a darker, more complex undertone to his own character.

Now, Qing’s statement about why she gave up part of her money is very intriguing… almost to the point that I kinda wish that she was a bit more of a complex anti-villain. In fact, I’m unsure if that is meant to be the point here: is this supposed to show a Qing in her younger years when she wasn’t quite as cruel or sociopathic as she later became? I guess that’s part of the ambiguity of course, but still… In fact, many of her ideas about the proper role and importance of assassins, as we heard from Chun two chapters ago, could’ve made for a very compelling subplot if it had come from a character (Qing, I mean) who isn’t obviously using it as an excuse for her own lust for power and cruelty. But then, that’s not the story ADL is about. *shrugs*

After a night of passion and the discovery of her occupation (again, I’m glad you didn’t make the assassin part itself the reason for why he left her, but the way she went about it) we make a time skip to where he’s visiting his old flame in the company of his daughter from his marriage with Xu Mei, to check up on the triplets he sired that night years ago for the first time. And sadly, the family reunion is less than happy…

Seeing these ADL characters as children is really nice, and gives us some insight into how they developed into the people they later became. We already get a sense of the Wu sisters’ personalities in their introduction: Jia cheerfully doing somersaults, Chun studying a book with mild interest and Xiu… well…

Yes, out of all these cubs, I willingly admit that I was most interested in her, and what type of creature she started out as. And sadly, while nowhere near the monster she would one day become, we see here that already at this young age, she was already a troublesome child with sadistic tendencies at this early stage in her life. Abusing her youngest sister, “playfully” throwing a knife at Mei Ling, tossing rocks at those birds (wait, would those be non-sapient birds?) and slicing apart that priceless doll her father gave her (though to be fair, it DOES make perfect sense that she really wouldn’t be into dolls)… all of which is happily encouraged by her mother.

It shows that the evil creature she would become isn’t simply a result of upbringing, even an abusive one, but is also a result of her innate tendencies that she was born with. It’s a very uncomfortable scenario that ties into questions of free will and moral responsibility, and it reminds us that as much as modern fiction often tries to go against the age-old notion of evil “in the blood” (and rightfully so), a few people do sadly have a severely deficient capacity for empathy and genuine emotional bonds as a result of genetic quirks or whatever you might believe it boils down to. What true responsibility Xiu has for the things she does in this chapter – let alone what she does as an adult – and whether there was ever any hope for her to become someone different, is a tragic and uncomfortable question that is now outside the scope of ADL to answer.

And after the scene in chapter 12 where he asked Jia to forgive and have pity for Xiu, it’s heartbreaking to see him give her a (well-deserved) threatening growl as his parting words here for what she did to Mei and Jia… but it’s also very heartwarming to know that even after all that happened over the years, he still loved her.

Well, there’s so much more I could say, but alas, there’s that pesky character-limit. So let me finish off by saying that this was a terrific collection of short stories, well worth the extra effort of reviewing it. It again impresses me with the depth and personality you give to your side characters and delving into their backstories was tremendously fun and engaging. With only one more vignette of DTDL remaining, I can only hope that what will presumably be the final chapter of the ADL saga will be just as good. :)
Samadhir chapter 13 . 12/23/2015
I must admit: I was actually very relieved when I saw how short this chapter was :P I love your longer, more involved ones, but a shorter chapter not only gives you opportunity to focus on a more simple, intimate, human story, but is also a lot easier to review properly. So, even as I see that the next one will go back to the super-long format, thank you very much for this, Nieve XD

Extrapolating from the above, I might not have a ton of things to say about this chapter; at least, not as much as I would for the two previous ones. I wasn’t sure just how engaged I was about a chapter focusing on Zhuang and Xiulan, but having read it now, I’m very glad you decided to write it.

I like how the story shifts perspective as it goes on, from Zhuang to Xiulan, and how the various scenes do a subtle time skip, letting us see how the relationship between the two bovines develop and deepen. It’s also nice to see another side of Xiulan; from what I remember, ADL mostly showed her as an (understandably) hysterical and hostile woman who was strongly opposed to Tai (again, for very understandable reasons) and it’s nice to see a different side to her here, to see what drew Zhuang to her in the first place. It might’ve been nice to see a bit more of this in ADL – at times I almost had trouble recognizing Xiulan here as the character from the main story – but it was still great to find out more about her and her husband.

As an aside, if I haven’t mentioned this already, I do like this series inclusion of age gaps in the romantic relationships between several couples, particularly the younger men with older women, like Po/Jia and Zhaung/Xiulan. It’s a refreshing change to see a relationship like this portrayed positively.

Most of the chapter is cute and warm and lighthearted, but it goes into much darker territory with the last scene… :( It’s a reminder of just how much pain and torment Xiulan has had to go through, particularly the fact that just as her life seemed to be turning around, finding a loving new husband at an age when that would’ve been difficult, finally getting over the death of her beloved Dishi and having a child to love and care for, she is made a widower a second time, throwing her into despair and self-hatred once more. Even if we’ve never been in her situation, we can all sympathize with having been in the same kind of hopeless mood.

What’s particularly poignant about this scene is that it takes place a few months AFTER ADL, after Chao has been defeated, Tai has been redeemed and accepted, life in the Valley turns cheerful and bright again and things are getting back to normal. It’s a painful but necessary reminder that the scars and torments that have been suffered don’t instantly heal just because the story is over, that even in the midst of all this joy there are still people feeling horrible after all that’s happened to them. Everything doesn’t just instantly turn back to rainbows and happy smiles, and Xiulan is a perfect example of that.

I was especially moved by her religious doubts at the start of the scene, where her misfortunes has made her doubt in the existence or benevolence of the gods, and her Taoist beliefs fail to give her any consolation. While I’m very glad she doesn’t lose faith completely, it was still a brave passage to include and shows how ADL can deal with heavier subjects.

If I have one problem with the chapter, it’s that I don’t think the appearance of Zhuang’s ghost at the end was necessary, and feels a bit like a cheap way to resolve Xiulan’s inner conflicts. I think it would’ve been better if some other (living) person might’ve been there to explain these things to her if you didn’t want the chapter to end on a downer. While I understand that this is KFP, one still needs to be careful about relying too much on ghosts of the dead arriving to solve all problems.

Even so, it was still nice to see her and Zhuang together one last time, and I thought this was a very sweet, poignant chapter. I understand we’ll be heading into heavier territory soon, so I will definitely treasure this one *hugs*
Samadhir chapter 12 . 12/9/2015
And so it’s finally come to this… a chapter that I’ve been waiting for a long time, for reasons that will hopefully become obvious in my review. And seeing my name in the dedication, knowing that I had a hand in inspiring the writing of this chapter… that means more to me than I can say *hugs*

This chapter, the third in the arc involving Jien, Mei and Jia, revolves around a victim from Tai Lung’s rampage seeking revenge… and the soul-searching it causes in Jia due to her own unresolved issues about Xiu. I will get to this subplot in a little while, but let’s discuss the other facets of the chapter first…

As an aside, I should mention that in preparation for this review, I buckled down and did something I should’ve done a long time ago: I watched Kung Fu Panda 2! This was mostly to have some comparison to the Gongmen Council that appear for the first time in this story… though it turns out I needn’t have bothered, since they’re barely in the movie they were hyped up for :P

I was curious, because in the mentions they’ve been given so far in DTDL, they seemed to be portrayed rather negatively, refusing to aid the Valley during Chao’s siege and all but rejecting Tai Lung’s redemption; I was beginning to wonder if you had something against them. And this chapter starts off the same way, with everyone considering them stuck-up idiots. Ox and Croc are both kinda jerks when we meet them, though they warm up over the course of the story. It’s nice at least that they play an important part in the chapter, and that you don’t have them moping around in a jail cell or killing off one of them within two minutes of their first appearance… :P

I thought Achal was a really cool, nice character. I like how you make him into a wise, compassionate Buddhist monk that at the same time isn’t perfect, who can lose his temper and who sometimes fails to live up to his own teachings and ideals. I did find the whole issue of him and his family being glad when his father passed away a little disconcerting, but then I guess that’s part of him being a flawed person. I am a little unsure about how he can just sit there and allow Shou Feng to run him through with his sword over and over – at first I thought it was some special power or illusion, but apparently he is that badass that he can survive multiple stabbings and remain calm throughout the whole ordeal.

As for Shou Feng himself, well… I am a little ambivalent. I get that you’re going for a tragic, sympathetic villain that has understandable reasons for his actions but take them to such an extreme that he nevertheless has to be opposed by our heroes. At the same time, I do have to wonder why he is the only one who fell over the edge like he did. Many kids lost their parents in Tai Lung’s rampage, but they didn’t run off to plot revenge for years and years and being prepared to burn down half of China to get it. I’m not entirely sure if I like him as a character or not. That said, there are several good things with the villains in this chapter. I loved the close relationship between him and Itultarak, and the dhole himself was a great character. He comes across to me as a nobler and more sympathetic version of the Wolf Boss, and it’s nice to see a henchman to the main villain who isn’t just brushed off and curb stomped by the heroes, but who actually earn their respect and admiration. Overall, I felt the chapter avoided the What Measure Is A Mook thing that bothers me about a lot of stories.

And unlike Long Shi in the last chapter, Shou Feng’s redemption in this chapter didn’t bother me in the slightest because, well, it IS a redemption. He understands the error of his ways, is genuinely remorseful for his actions and will devote the rest of his life trying to atone for them. It was so heartwarming to see Itultarak follow him on his journey, and I’m glad that he will be tutored by Achal. So I felt the chapter ended on a very good note :)

As for Jien and Mei’s “first time”… Leaving aside the, um, “logistics” of the event, I do have to wonder… who WERE their respective firsts that they lost their virginity to? It seems like that would’ve been a fascinating story in itself ;)

Earlier in the story, I particularly liked Chun’s speech about assassins, and how hypocritical it is for people to consider the profession despicable while glorifying warriors who butcher thousands on the battlefield. The quote she gives from Sadi was particularly poignant, and I’m glad that the story, and Xuan, recognize her point without vilifying her. Her impassioned defense of her profession gives me a lot of newfound respect for her, and is one of those little moments that nevertheless becomes one of my favorites in a chapter.

And finally, we have Xiu herself… As you know, her fate and the heroes’ reaction to it was one of my sore points in ADL, an unresolved issue that kinda nagged at me. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to finally see it addressed in such a poignant way *hugs*

To be honest, the chapter went about it in a slightly different way than I had expected. The flashbacks in this chapter seem to give Xiu a few, tiny Pet the Dog moments, showing us times when she was slightly less of a cruel bitch to her sister, and having Jia build some of her efforts to pity, sympathize with and even trying to forgive her on those. This gives the subplot a more warm, emphatic tone than I had expected; I was prepared for a slightly darker, more philosophical approach where Jia has to confront the fact that her sister were wholly evil but try and show some pity and sadness for her anyway.

On one hand, I guess that makes things a little simpler and easier, as Jia does have some moments of humanity to latch onto in her sister, even if they are rare and small, and thus we might not have to confront some truly uncomfortable issues. On the other, yeah, it is very nice to see Xiu in a somewhat different light, to know that she could occasionally have tiny flickers of empathy for her sisters, even if they were quickly snuffed out, and that Jia can have at least some moments of slight tenderness to look back to and build a foundation upon. I guess I was just caught off guard by your own comments on the issue in the past, and your own emphasis on Xiu being beyond redemption and completely and utterly evil.

And I loved the backstory of how Xuan, even knowing all that his eldest and foulest daughter was capable off, still loved her and cared for her, and wanted above anything else to save her from her fate. Whether there was ever a chance, whether Xiu was born a sociopath and so had little chance of turning her life around no matter what kind of upbringing she had, I guess we’ll never know. But to see the issue addressed in such a human, compassionate way, after several years of worrying about her and the philosophical implications of her character, is so incredibly gratifying, Nieve.

The last scene was really beautiful. It was wonderful seeing Jia say goodbye to her father one last time, to know that one more issue from her past has… maybe not been laid to rest, for such things can probably never be laid entirely to rest, but that she can at least contemplate them and look at them from a new, more compassionate angle. At the same time, I’m glad that she doesn’t make a complete turn-around and forgive her sister completely for all the horrible things she did without any remorse. But at least she has a foundation to start on now, a state of mind where she can at least pity Xiu, and hope that her soul can find some kind of forgiveness in the distant future of karmic cycles. And that means incredibly much to me.

Above anything else, I’m so glad that our discussions about this issue a few years ago have paid off, and come together in such a beautiful, emotionally powerful chapter. To be credited in the opening, and to see my own perspectives all over this chapter and many of my worried and questions addressed, is a gift I will be forever thankful for, Nieve. Above and beyond anything else, thank you so very, very much *hugs*

Btw, KFP2 was good, but ADL will always be the true sequel to the first movie for me. And when it comes to portraying the Kung Fu Council, heh, there’s no contest for me :D
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