|Reviews for The Final Problem|
| chdez81 chapter 21 . 6/26
Holy crap! You make me miss the bus stop while im was going to work in the morning with the figthing natsuki, skipping meals, skipping sleep, almost skipping work (well i try, but no). Long time i wasnt soo freaking trap reading since games of thrones!
| Gold And Silver Bullet chapter 21 . 3/8
(I thought about writing a review for every single story in the series, but I thought that that'd be kind of gratuitous and overwhelming, so I'll stick to just reviewing this one- because it's the real climax of the series- and Empty House)
I think the most annoying part about writing this review is that the main problem I have with the story isn't really your fault, per se.
When you're developing a romantic relationship- particularly over a series- it's typically going to be a gradual thing. You start off small, perhaps having them develop a friendship. And then as they get closer and closer they begin realizing that they love each other (or the protagonist realizes something that the other love interest knew long ago.) And then, at the climax, one of them confesses their feelings for the other, and then you have your resolution.
You do the first part of this just fine- Natsuki and Shizuru develop a stable friendship that I completely buy. You place various subtle hints throughout the first three main stories (and the works that aren't part of the main series) that Shizuru might care for Natsuki in a way that extends beyond a mere friendship, and slowly signs emerge that Natsuki might be starting to feel the same way.
And then this story happens, and the subtext becomes much, much thicker and blatant on both sides. The issue is that it's somewhat jarring- there is no real transition between the more subtle relationship building of Deep Waters (and the admittedly less subtle, but still pretty subtextual Masques), and here where the true nature of their feelings is clearly intended to become much more obvious to the readers.
There is no real bridge between "Natsuki views Shizuru as a close friend (maybe a bit more), and Shizuru probably has feelings for Natsuki but she relegates it to slight remarks and playful teasing." and "Natsuki begins to show signs that she has much deeper feelings for Shizuru, and Shizuru begins clearly showing her feelings for Natsuki, and Natsuki has clearly developed feelings for Shizuru, even if she doesn't quite realize it herself yet."
And Part 4 could have acted as a great transition between these two states, with Natsuki and Shizuru becoming even closer. It could then make sense for Shizuru to start being a bit more open about her feelings, and for Natsuki's feelings towards Shizuru to have grown strong enough that the interactions between them to have clearly begun to change. But because we can't see that, that portion of the story just feels awkward.
And the issue is that the Natsuki-Shizuru dynamic is a pretty huge part of the Final Problem. It isn't the entirety of the story, but the way their relationship is changing is a recurring issue that culminates in the twist at the end, which reveals that Shizuru's feelings for Natsuki were, in fact, the key to the solution. So on some level, the fact that it feels somewhat awkward and it feels like a chunk of the development of their relationship is missing (which is because it, by necessity, is) just really hurts the moments that focus on their relationship often feel awkward or fall a bit flat. And, again, that is key parts of the story.
But that's really my only complaint, so let's talk about what the story does right.
On a technical level, the story is decently done. There's some typos here and there and a couple cases of missing words, but my understanding was never really significantly hampered. You do a great job at using language to set a tone and build tension- I often genuinely felt tense during this story, which doesn't happen all that often; particularly since Natsuki and Shizuru were obviously in no real danger of being killed. The story flows fantastically from one event to the next in an incredibly fluid fashion and the pacing is consistently great, the tension never getting shattered due to you choosing to focus on irrelevant trifles.
Given that this is more a thriller than an actual action story, it's kind of impressive how well you describe the fight scenes; that's something that is really easy to screw up and turn the battle into a poorly choreographed mess, but your descriptive language is good enough for me to be able to visualize exactly what is going on quite easily.
You're also quite good at emotive language- I genuinely could feel the pain of the characters, which is really important in a tense, character-driven story like this one. Those last few lines alone were incredibly powerful and just fantastically done.
If I ignore the issue of their relationship, the characterization is solid as always. Natsuki and Shizuru play off each other quite fantastically, and ignoring my complaint about their relationship, there definitely is solid chemistry between the two characters. You also both manage to show that these two characters care for each other, and explain why they care for each other so deeply, which really does count for something. Aside from Natsuki and Shizuru most of the minor characters don't really get much time to shine, but they manage to remain interesting and don't feel particularly one-dimensional.
Although I feel like it was a bit weak in the beginning, the dialogue is pretty solid throughout. It's punchy, the comments are witty, and the way things are said often tell us so much about the characters and their current mood states without you really having to say anything at all.
Even though this is more than a thriller than a mystery, the murderer is still excellently clued; there's so many little things about Shizuru's behavior, and facts about the cases themselves, that make perfect sense given Shizuru being the culprit. I feel like the Kanzaki twist is a bit less clued, but it still doesn't NOT make sense, which is really what matters.
So yeah, I feel like this story was really good, and there's just one big problem that was really out of anybody's control that keeps it from being outright great.
| Syein chapter 21 . 12/14/2014
I gave myself a medal for guessing (yes, it's a guess, not a deduction) that either kanzaki or another biggest villain that often being portrayed in mai-otome fanfic: Tomoe will be the herald or the obsidian prince- well they are both pretty much the main villain in both episode anyway (though Kanzaki being possessed).
Plus, since you already sent Nagi into prison, I excluded him. Of course sometimes I think maybe he broke out of the prison or something and resume back to his wrongdoing.
I never knew the obsidian prince is someone that completely unrelated to the mai-hime character lists. After knowing that Tomoe is the herald and Kanzaki as an ex-herald, I couldn't shake off the feeling that Kanzaki is lying and he might be the obsidian prince- But wow, I was so wrong!
Nice twisted btw, I didn't expect Shizuru to do all that. Though knowing how you seemed to be a sticker for staying in character, I figured Shizuru wouldn't just sit still and let Natsuki head into danger. I was expecting Shizuru to followed Natsuki secretly, but I didn't know it would turn out like this. *slow claps*
| y1fellas chapter 21 . 10/5/2014
Yeeeeesss. Shizuru is best when she's a crazy yandere sociopath. For a long time I thought this story had done what a lot of other Mai HiME fics had done and 'whitewashed' Shuzuru, but... nope. I love how nicely this reflects what happened in the show.
I can't help but feel I should have seen that twist coming, though.
Ah, now I really can't wait to see where Belladonna Lillies is going, your other Victorian era mystery story.
Seriously though, yeeeeeeeessss.
| annoyingLONER chapter 20 . 1/7/2013
wow... really wow. i'm mindblown
| Mars chapter 1 . 1/6/2013
You are such an amazing writer!
| annoyingLONER chapter 12 . 1/6/2013
| according2Angie chapter 21 . 10/28/2012
Thank you, DezoPenguin! I'm not familiar with the Holmes stories so I didn't expect this ending - getting hints from the title of the story. It is excitingly surprising with the appearance of mad Shizuru confessing to murders and casting TOC secrets (alone with herself) to fire! How would Natsuki react in the aftermath? Thank goodness the final story is already available! On to the final chapter!
| Guest chapter 1 . 8/27/2012
the final problem
| Michael S. Repton chapter 21 . 7/27/2012
Beautiful final chapter - the confessions tied everything together beautifully, including the entire series up to this point (which I really wasn't expecting). It adds up to a story with a real emotional impact, and the description of the fire and Natsuki's feelings was perfect. A brilliant and very satisfying ending that somehow manages to work even though - perhaps even *because* - it's pretty damn obvious that she'll be coming back in "The Empty House". Well, it's half past two now so I must sleep, but I'm very glad that I'll be able to see what comes next in rather less than eight years ;)
| Michael S. Repton chapter 20 . 7/27/2012
"I'd screamed that last line, loudly enough that anyone could have heard me from three rooms away regardless of thick walls and closed doors. The guards on the far side should have been pounding on the door, shouting to see what was wrong, but I took no conscious notice of their silence."
That was when I worked it out, I think. There had to have been more guards in the house than the two Natsuki already took out. And there wasn't really any other possible conclusion from that point. Truly epic.
| Michael S. Repton chapter 19 . 7/27/2012
Oh yes. Epic climax indeed. The way Natsuki and Shizuru's development was rounded off was absolutely perfect, and leaves me hoping for a really heartwarming conclusion - though I'm more apprehensive about the ending to this one, because it is "The Final Problem" and we know how the original story ended. Still, it will be intriguing to see how you twist it - because things are very different here, with Natsuki being the one who has the vendetta - her entry to the house was marvellously written, with some lovely atmospheric descriptions, as well as showing her skill without making her superhuman, and ratcheting up the tension throughout. Can't wait to see what comes next!
| Michael S. Repton chapter 17 . 7/27/2012
Very smooth. First, suitably for the climax, that was a really good long fight scene, keeping up the suspense nicely by having the advantage seem to fluctuate from one to the other throughout the fight. (I felt it went on a little bit too long, but maybe that's just because I've overdosed on this story :P ) And the revelations about Reito were excellent, wrapping things up nicely while leading on to the final confrontation, AND simultaneously establishing even closer links to Mai-HiME than I was expecting. Pure artistry :)
| Michael S. Repton chapter 15 . 7/27/2012
At last :) Some really dramatic action, nice development of Midori Hudson, a very intense interrogation scene that answers just enough to keep us satisfied with the chapter but still hungry for more... and of course the wonderful moment when Natsuki lets everything out at last, and Shizuru's reaction perfectly brings together the development in their relationship up to this point. Not many chapters left now, so it's great to see everything starting to come together and lead up to what I'm sure will be an awesome climax.
Racial slur? If you meant "Chinaman", then at the time that just WAS the word for a person from China; no more offensive than "Englishman". Indeed, over here at least, it's not a word in use any more, but still not really offensive, hence my slight confusion.
| Michael S. Repton chapter 12 . 7/27/2012
Yeah, as predicted I've just been absorbing this too fast to leave reviews for a while. Besides, I've already gushed enough about how I love everything about this story; I'd just be repeating myself. But it really does just get better and better. Particularly Natsuki's exploration of the meaning of her revenge. Can't wait to see the climax where she has to make a decision, and how all this build-up is going to pay off. Because I know it will: I know by now that you're much too good a writer to let us down :)