|Reviews for Better Strangers|
| Dragon-lover28 chapter 1 . 4/14/2013
sad but good story you have there
| JuJu-chan the Vampire chapter 1 . 3/13/2013
| harinezumiko chapter 1 . 3/20/2012
You're right, I did want to save this one. It's exactly what I was looking for a while ago when I wanted to read something with a real emotional punch.
I think your short, simple sentences do a great job of conveying a masculine perspective. This felt so much more natural to me for this pair than the more florid prose and outpourings of feelings usually associated with yaoi pairings.
Personally, I think Kaiba's long overdue a breakdown. You set it up early on, too, with "couldn't be the same person", so I'm ok with Kaiba crying (although technically, we only have Jonouchi's word for it) - it makes me interested in what had led to that point, for him to be able to be seen to be that vulnerable. To have all his protective layers of ego, anger and hate stripped away. And I'm interested in how Jonouchi's likely to respond once his impressions of Kaiba are that shaken.
I wish there was more, but I thank you for what there is.
| Graces of the Child chapter 1 . 3/18/2012
Okay, I'm going to start with some more minor grammar/stylistic nitpicks. At the beginning especially, the sentences were very short, most of them were sentence fragments, and there were multiple sentence fragments in a row. Now I will say that might just be a simple clash in style - I prefer long sentences and run-ons specifically. When you use multiple short sentences in a row, it does give off a feeling of drama and it does punctuate each emotion conveyed in each. Little. Sentence. Fragment. See, it makes you stand up and take notice, right?
However, you used it so many times that it isn't coincidence, and instead I saw it as a very deliberate, sort of artsy way to create drama - you know, you've seen it a million times in short poems and such. If you limited it to maybe a few uses throughout a fic, it would give more emphasis to the shortened sentences instead of the entire thing feeling like I have to take this big long STOP every time a period shows up and feeling overall very choppy.
I suppose this might've been what you were going for, but along with the shortened sentences, the whole fic felt... short's not really the word I used. Maybe 'clipped' would be better, in that we didn't get to see much from either of their points of view, but only the very surface of their emotions. Again, I get that this was probably deliberate on your part, a way to show that neither of them really are feeling. The fic kind of flittered between Kaiba to Jonouchi (equally, which others have pointed out, which is a great thing and something that is very rarely done in Puppyshipping, since Jonouchi usually has the POV exclusively). While I suppose the point was that they're kind of closed off in their emotions and they're NOT really feeling anything, it left me as a reader a bit unsatisfied, like I am getting only half the story. Which doesn't HAVE to be a bad thing if you want us to feel only some of what they're feeling.
Finally... this is a huge nitpick of mine. Jou. I don't think it's really something that's done, calling a character by part of his last name. If it was done at some point in the manga or Japanese anime (which I don't know, it might have been) I'd be okay with it. But it sounds weird, especially to a Westerner and probably also to a Japanese person, even though they use the last name so much. Again, if it's actually something that's done, I'd be more okay with it, but I don't quite understand how it's spread so far in the English fandom.
What you could do instead is either a) have Kaiba call him 'Jonouchi' for the first time instead of a nickname and make it clear that Kaiba is talking to him like a person (not to mention the drop in the honorific, which is important even with the last name), or b) Katsuya (though probably with some honorific like -san), meaning that Kaiba sees him as more than an average person, but instead as someone special. Which one you choose would greatly set the level of intimacy between them - the Japanese place a high value on calling someone by their first name. I'm assuming since you're using the Japanese names that they're meant to be speaking Japanese. I particularly like the former because it shows that they're both trying to push each other away and not let them get too close by calling each other by their first names. Too many bad Puppyshipping fics have Kaiba say, "call me Seto" at the wrong moment.
Composition-wise, it was definitely interesting. Each paragraph was from a different (though again, limited) POV, something that was very jarring... but also a deliberate attention to composition, which is something that is good for a writer. If you're paying attention to it, it's an awesome step that not many fanfic writers get to, ever. And the actual back-and-forth was very interesting and enjoyable to read - it'd be their style to even have inner monologues in a volleying tennis match I suppose. xD
The characters are surprisingly mature about their pseudo-relationship; well, mature for Jonouchi and Kaiba anyway. It was really a highlight of the fic that both of them were *contemplative* (something rare in Puppyshipping fics and even rarer in canon). They're in a sort of coming-to-grips point, which... is a very intermediate stage of their relationship. Their emotions are great for that point in time, and it's definitely a unique place to set the fic, but one that leaves me grasping for context. It works well on its own as a short glimpse into a particularly awkward moment, but it'd work even better as part of a longer, character-exploration piece. Either way you'd choose, you did justice to capturing that specific pivotal and emotional moment in their development.
I like that some of Kaiba's sentences are in the passive voice. I think that if you were to expand on that, you could use that in a very interesting setup - how Kaiba himself would normally put all of his sentences in the active voice to make him seem like he is always doing something and in control, but when it goes in the passive voice he is only reacting to the world around him doing things. I kind of wished to see more of that, but that's an idea you wouldn't have to implement if you don't have to.
Like another reviewer pointed out, the question of are they friends is more important. I think for Kaiba and Jonouchi, the physical side can come as easily or with as much difficulty as you choose, but their emotional closeness would always be a struggle. You've definitely started their journey, and at a good pace for those two.
The single tear hitting the floor, and Jonouchi being able to hear it drop... well that's a bit (okay more than a bit) cliche and full of narm. Kaiba doesn't even cry when Mokuba's in danger. If you had expanded on why, like saying that his views of the world and himself had been challenged by Jonouchi, then it's a bit more believable, but still a hard sell. Something subtle in Kaiba's demeanor changing would be more effective and more in-character - if he grips and twists the bed-sheet in frustration, or if he bows his head slightly in a motion of defeat.
I will stress that I did like the story though. It was definitely one of the better ones of yours that I've read, and I'm only nitpicking because you kind of asked me to. xD
Also, believe me, I'm nowhere near as detailed with grammar, structure, or composition in my own fics, which is why I need a beta of my own. xD But I don't know, on someone else's fic I just see what can be changed or done differently to make a good story from an AP Language perspective. And I think this may be the longest review I've ever left, ever. Probably longer than the fic. xD
| MostRemote chapter 1 . 11/20/2011
I like your opening line very much. It's very effective at establishing the situation and is quite powerful. I think your brief sentences work well at conveying emotion (I especially liked "something strange about his eyes"), but I'd recommend restricting them to either Kaiba or Jou's POV rather than using them in the same way to reflect both their thoughts. I think it gives a stronger sense of their individual personalities to use a different style when narrating each POV.
I did like the contrast you created between them through their actions and dialogue though; I thought that worked very well. You kept them in character and that made this an effective little oneshot.
| HeroBeater chapter 1 . 10/28/2011
This is really lovely, and it's lovely because I can see Jou and Kaiba reacting like this in this situation (...maybe minus Kaiba shedding any tears, but alternate character interpretation, and all that). They're awkward, and uncomfortable, and the distance between them feels very real.
I like the way you wrote it, too. Occasionally, the choppy sentences feel a bit annoying, but the overall effect is very stream-of-consciousness, and I totally believe that Jou might think like this. You really say a lot with very little.
I also like the question of whether or not they're friends. Yu-Gi-Oh is, at the end of the day, very much a show about friendship, and I like the way that's reflected here. The question of Jou and Kaiba's friendship is equal in importance, if not more important than, whatever they did together the night before, and the way they recognize that is very in-character and realistic.
| yllimilly chapter 1 . 10/6/2011
Oh my gosh.
Beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful.
| Mandolina Lightrobber chapter 1 . 10/5/2011
This one is definitely better than "When it Counts" in that it is more alive and much closer to the nature of both characters. (Or maybe to my own interpretation of them, orz.) It was a very powerful fic, though it seemed to slip up a few times, particularly the Kaiba crying part.
Other than that, it left a powerful impact. Great writing.
| Nagareboshi-Lover chapter 1 . 10/3/2011
awwwww that's sooooo sad! awwwwww *sniff sniff* poor Jou! please write more. i don't want it to wnd like this! make Seto regret letting Jou leave. thank you and good job!
| dancing elf chapter 1 . 10/3/2011
hmmm...want more input
| Ziven chapter 1 . 10/3/2011
Despite there being a few awkward phrases, I really like this snippet.
Both Kaiba and Jou are very much in character, and the awkward atmosphere between them makes this seem more realistic. I love your sentence pacing, your word rhythm, and most of all, the situation that you decided to give us a brief glimpse into.
There's more Jou than Kaiba in here-and I don't mean that in a bad way.
It's very difficult to find the correct ratio of Kaiba-to-Jou commentary in fanfiction. Kaiba, being the more complex character (not to mention the most difficult to write) seems more in character the less you write directly about his thought processes. Personally, I think that's a reflection of the fact that in the anime, while we see pieces of what makes Kaiba the way he is we don't *truly* know how he ticks.
You made that ratio work very well here. There's enough of Kaiba here for us to know how uncomfortable he is, but you haven't spent the entire story attempting to write of the intricacies of his thoughts and decisions. We know what he's feeling, and we know why he's feeling it and why things are different in this situation. That's just the right amount of Kaiba, if there is such a thing. I'm not sure how else to phrase it, but that's just how I feel about writing the two of them together.
And you make good use of Jou here, too. More emotional-but not in a wimpy way. He just *feels* in a greater capacity than Kaiba does. His emotions show in the way that he moves, he thinks, he fidgets and considers things. And I can see it here very clearly.
There's none of the "typical" Puppyshipping stereotypes here. No one's whining. No one's begging. Things happened, and they're dealing with them in a believable way, avoiding the issue but addressing it at the same time.
There aren't enough words to express how much I love this! Keep it up and I look forward to seeing more stuff like this from you!