Reviews for (Side Story) A Triumph of the Heart Volume 1
PSVT chapter 38 . 7/29/2013
I hope I'm not sounding overly repetitive when I say this latest addition is brilliant, but it truly is. As a head's up, this review will be shorter than my previous ones, as I don't think there's much to point out in terms of errors that other people haven't already caught and there weren't many of them anyway. Beyond that, I especially enjoyed two things about First Mission. The first was the sense of just how truly alone Paolo and Dina are as their jobs essentially mandate. Paolo was correct in stating that there is no such thing as friends as a handler, and though Massimiliano D'Acampo might be the closest such thing, in reality not even that relationship would count. For Dina, it's how she had to give up someone she considered as her first friend (after becoming a cyborg, although her past wasn't much different). Having said that, I wonder how Dina considers Priscilla. And that brings me to the other part I really liked, which was Dina's gradual and unwitting recollection of tiny elements from her past life as Alessia. Given her closeness to Priscilla, that makes it all the more depressing, yet in a good way for me as a reader. It truly makes me wonder what would occur if or when Dina fully realizes that she is Alessia, what would happen to her psyche, or to Priscilla's. Beyond that, what would happen physically to Dina and Paolo? I doubt the SWA would willingly allow her to continue to live as a cyborg after that, and I presume Paolo would not be any better off. In any case, I'm certainly interested not just in these long-term questions but in whatever else happens next in this story as you write it. Thanks once again, and I patiently await more.
Chronic Guardian chapter 34 . 4/24/2013
You're using every part of the story! Such good writing! I wasn't ever expecting this group to come back, but since having them already know her under a different name is just-! Well, suffice to say this was a brilliantly done move. Particularly with the irony of this line:
"Dina tried to imagine what Gina would say. A denial? A make-believe story?"
For a moment I thought "just be yourself!" but then... would that truly be the same person anymore? And of course, she doesn't know the difference.

While we're on the subject of alternate identities and all, though, you might want to look over section two. Rosalina calls Dina "Dina" twice, a name they don't know her by. Unless, of course, you're stressing the closeness of "Dina" and "Gina" (so close that Rosalina is getting them muddled up from another "Dina" she knows) but in that case I'd suggest some sort of contrary statement like Maria correcting her. At any rate, it's there.

Section 1, paragraph 3, sentence 6: "'But Signora Pacelli,' I said, 'Why not move you there yourself?'"
Mayhaps this is dialect or something, but otherwise I would suggest removing the 'you' between 'move' and 'there'. If it's just something with the woman's speech pattern then that's fine. Again, just so you know it's there.

Section 4, paragraph 7, sentence 2: He reached over and hugged her, but it was like hugging a statute - unyielding and solid.
I'm pretty sure you meant 'statue'; unless I'm terribly misinformed on the definition of statute, this is a very odd metaphor.

Concerning the letter... did Favianne ever use her real first name with Rosalina's family? It would seem a bit odd considering she changed her daughter's name for the duration of that period. I mean, if it's already set, it's set; just a stray thought is all.

I love how this is developing, how Dina just can't seem to break free of her past. You do a great job of making the characters continue to grow under a fixed lens, but you also have some good cameos, like Amadeo and Ferro. The focus you exhibit is admirable and engaging; may it serve this story well.

Your faithful reader,
-CG
Chronic Guardian chapter 26 . 4/4/2013
Interesting that Paolo lets Rabello do the training. Almost have to wonder how much of it sinks in when it isn't the assigned handler giving the pointers.

You're developing Dina and her thought process nicely, how she doesn't quite "get" all of it (like how she mistakes Paolo's willingness to lie for her as an ability to lie in general).

'Tis a bit disorienting to move from Section 2 to Section 3. I mean, we assume that the attack subsides, but it is still kind of odd that we go from Dina collapsing to Dina assembling her gun in record time. Of course, mayhaps you meant it to show her focus, in which case it works well.

Section 1, Paragraph 12, Sentence 2: Dina raised stopped studying the tiny buckles on her shoes, received the weapon from his hand, reseated the empty magazine and ran into course.
Mayhaps I am mistaken (which I have been on numerous counts), but I don't think that "raised" is supposed to be there. Also, there seems to be a "the" missing between "into" and "course".

Section 3, Paragraph 18: "I didn't ask for that! I told you to have fun!"
I almost feel like he would pause half way through the second sentence. Of course, that he doesn't realize the irony of the statement works just as well.

You're doing a great job of making a fratello. While we are yet in the opening stages I suppose there are many common problems to be overcome, but I look forward to the increased inclusion of defining instances that make this a unique addition to the SWA.

Reading more in little increments,
-CG
Chronic Guardian chapter 24 . 3/22/2013
There's a lot of good tension coiling up around your central trio. Well... more for Paolo and Priscilla than Dina since the conditioning is sort of downplaying her ability to participate in such things.
A mix of duty, fear, and perhaps compassion mark well Paolo's driving thoughts. I feel that his character is still being established at this point in the story, but he is forming well and is by no means a stagnant piece.
The guilt complex that Priscilla is forming is interesting. She works well as an unexpected puppet master type, pulling the strings to get just the right handler for Dina. One can only wonder if her obsession with paying Favianne back will go too far eventually.

Criticism that is hopefully constructive:
-Internal dialogue sometimes feels a bit scant. You may be doing this purposefully for a "closer to the manga" feel where the characters can be very opaque at times, but I think just a little more may be beneficial. Please don't take it harshly when I say that ordinary prose is obviously not the same as an illustrated story; take advantage of your medium. There are things a manga can do that prose can't and vice versa. Thus, although I laud your perceived efforts to transpose the feel of the manga, I would also suggest a little more elaboration at times.
-Section 3, Paragraph 4: Priscilla blinked. "I mean, how did get here?"
There's a "you" missing between that did and get if I'm not mistaken.

Things are developing nicely, and you do a good job of not introducing stray elements. May you find joy in writing this tale.
-CG
Chronic Guardian chapter 20 . 3/19/2013
You are as skilled as ever, Taerkitty. The way that you navigate dialogue, only saying what needs to be said and saying it in a distinct character "voice", is always enjoyable to read.

Negatives:
One thing:Paragraph 9, Sentence 2:
They all seemed identical - long, tan, like a trench coat, but with any visible pockets or belt.
Is that supposed to be "without" by any chance?

Positives:
It's cheating to say everything else, so instead I'll hit the highlights:
1. Nice expansion of Rabello! He's a crusty 'ol soul who doesn't have many confidants, but Paolo's past with him makes this rare exchange possible. It is very interesting to see the captain's perspective on his coworkers, particularly when he isn't afraid to be negative. It's going to be tough on Paolo if Rabello's fate remains the same... but that's both far off (hopefully) and a great chance to expand on Paolo.
Two questions on this line of thought: Didn't Jean used to work with Captain Rabello? And if so, did he ever work with Paolo? I know, their employment wouldn't necessarily overlap, but it's still an interesting thought.
2. Your description of Rabello's jacket, for whatever reason, caught my attention. Somehow I came to the conclusion that it was an analogy about the characteristics one acquires while in the SWA's employ that they would rather deny the existence of. Even if it wasn't meant that way, it certainly worked well for me as possible ominous foreshadowing.
3. The gun, a synthesis of new and old elements, is a perfect symbol of this Fratello; especially when it's the grips that were retained and the action and body that are new. Again, I'm probably just off in my own little world of analogies, but I think it very significant that you included these details.

You're an inspiring writer, if I may say so. You've mimicked the style of storytelling of the original quite nicely AND added your own touch to it. Though it may not be soon, I look forward to the next time I sit down to read this story.
Bishop.AG chapter 30 . 2/2/2013
That was quite a way to end a chapter. Well done.
Thescarredman chapter 30 . 1/30/2013
I absolutely love the ending of this arc. Paolo has none of the normal handler's ambivalence about whether his cyborg is a child or a tool; the Agency is right to distrust him.

I'm guessing the ritual involvement of the handler in this calculated cruelty didn't extend to Hilshire; I can't imagine any argument that would convince him to do this to 'his Triela'. And I can't help wondering whether his student's act accelerated Raballo's disaffection and break with the Agency.
PSVT chapter 25 . 1/21/2013
I really enjoyed reading the "Dina" arc of this story as much as all of the others, if not even more. For one, we finally get to see Paolo and Dina/Alessia interact, and it is in a way heartbreaking to see what the conditioning drugs has done to her personality, especially when compared to how Alessia behaved. She seems to operate at the far extremes of emotion, and I can see how Paolo is unnerved and how Priscilla is saddened by that. It's especially true for Priscilla given her past relationship with Favienne. Overall, what I'm saying is that they way you describe the interaction between the characters resonates well on an emotional level. I know there will be better times (and, given the canon, far worse times) ahead for the new fratello, but I can't help but to feel sorry for the characters pulled into that mess.

As for Paolo, it's quite clear now he did not know exactly what he had signed up for when he joined the SWA. How you further handle his adjustment to the idea of children, albeit as cyborgs, being used as assassins for the state is something I'm looking forward to a lot. There's one thing that confuses me, and that is the conversation between Paolo and Priscilla when he learns that there's no refusing the job. She says that he knows his brother is still alive. If so, that would certainly be quite the twist given the end of the "Paolo" arc and of Volume 1. The other is the fact that she manipulated the lie detector test so that he would pass. I'm trying to figure out why. She had a relationship with Favienne, and through that one with Alessia/Dina, but none such relationship exists with Paolo that I remember that would explain her actions. There might be a reason down the line for that, and given the quality of writing and of planning you've demonstrated so far, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a more clear-cut reason presented downstream. It may also be the case that I just flat missed something important in reading, which has happened. But, as for now, that one part left did leave me perplexed.

Lastly, though the writing was excellent overall in my opinion, there were a few typos. The most egregious was that you said in "Waking Up" that Dino's hair was yellowish-brown, yet later in "Paying Up" you state that her hair was black. Of course, the handler could request any hair color he wanted and the surgeons could make that happen, but I thought it was a process that occurred with the rest of the surgeries. Beyond that, you used "here" for "her" once (Quote: "Her handler knelt down on one knee and talked with here." in Signing Up). And, you forgot a period in the last sentence of this chapter. But, those are very minor errors overall.

In all, many thanks for this wonderful work, and I await more of it whenever it's ready.
PSVT chapter 18 . 1/17/2013
This section, with the opening chapter you gave us, leading to the twist at the end is just a brilliant display of both character development and plot presentation. No, I won't spoil the twist at the last chapter for the sake of new readers. But, in all, I liked how you set up the initial similarities between brothers Paolo and Dino, and then showed how horrible circumstances in their upbringing ultimately caused the divergence in their characters. At the same time, before the very end, they still clearly cared for one another as family. But, as is so often the case in life, and triply so in the world in which you're crafting your story, love for family is either the prime motivator for evil (e.g. Jean and his irrepressible desire for revenge) or the cause of one's downfall (e.g. Favienne). But, at the end of the day, Paolo presents himself as a very compelling prospective handler, with a history certainly worthy of the job.
PSVT chapter 12 . 1/17/2013
And now for poor, poor Alessia, here having to masquerade as Gina and face so much terrible bullying from her classmates. If there's only one shining light its her roommate Bobbie. It might not have been the high-strung action common of Gunslinger Girl, but the more sedate scenes in which you portray Alessia's attempts to survive the mental torture and remind herself of who she is does so much more to reveal her character. It's also extremely compelling to read. Then comes the near revelation of her true identity as Alessia, one that is derailed just in time by Priscilla. The aftermath lifts her spirits in such a way that what follows is even sadder than what Favianne had experienced. To find out that she really did, in a sense belong at that school, then to find out that her mother was killed, and on top of that the people who killed her mother are trying (almost successfully) to kill her. Of course, such misery is very much within the spirit of Gunslinger Girl. And, of course, it allows Alessia to become our newest cyborg in this tale. Yet, at the end of the day, I was left amazed at how courageous Alessia was in sacrificing herself to save Priscilla, her last words being, "It's okay. I promised my mom I'd be brave."

All in all, you display wonderfully strong writing throughout this story.
PSVT chapter 5 . 1/17/2013
I try to review stories with a critical eye, but it's hard for me when the only ones I ultimately end up writing reviews for are the ones that I especially enjoy. This story is no exception. Certainly, if something stands out I'll tell you about it, but otherwise prepare for a lot of positive statements in this woefully late series of reviews.

First off, the family you've set up for us in the first chapter, and effectively had tortured through the effects of terrorism, is quite precious. There's just enough back story to know how much they love each other, especially given that the story opens on Mother's day. Then, wham, the father and son are taken all so suddenly. You did not provide gory details of the explosion and immediate aftermath, and you did not have to. In fact, I think the simple statement at the end was more than sufficient.

From there, both Favianne and Alessia are subjected to a new sort of torture. For Alessia it's a more straightforward case of bullying by classmates who don't like the fact she got into their prestigious school on merit instead of payment. That is, in a sense, ironic, given the family's previous stature. But, more on that later.

Now, for Favianne, her torture is more subtle, represented by a her fervent desire for revenge that gradually overtakes everything else (save her love for her daughter). It culminates with the botched assassination attempt and her very physical torture at the hands of Jean. Again, there is an element of irony here because it only failed because, though her morals had degraded to the point of being willing to kill, they had not slipped so far as to make her a true equal to her terrorist brethren and kill other children. (Though, to bring the unfortunate circumstances for her full circle, two of those children were SWA cyborgs). Between all of that, the atmosphere is very tense as they go about planning and carrying out the assassination. The ending, with Jean nonchalantly killing Favianne, who effectively became a terrorist in order to kill a terrorist, and yet was not nearly as evil as the people the SWA hunt on a daily basis, is the true kicker and brings this section to a very depressing, and yet wholly satisfying conclusion.
Thescarredman chapter 25 . 12/20/2012
So. The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end. Hope Dino and Paolo manage to experience a great many adventures in the next five years.
Bishop.AG chapter 19 . 12/16/2012
Wow. What a rollercoaster to this point. You're a damned good writer and you've got a knack for tying together a plot. I have to say though, that Dino / Paolo's story was very compelling, but the constant switches of time were a bit difficult to keep up with.
Bishop.AG chapter 1 . 12/15/2012
Somehow I knew something so happy and idealistic couldn't stay afloat considering the nature of GSG.

But its probably the mark of you being an excellent writer that it was very hard to read that last sentence. The lead up was easy to read and characterized well. The second to last sentence was a heart-wrenching touch to the ending of the chapter.

Very good stuff. I'll have to keep up with the story.
Thescarredman chapter 16 . 10/16/2012
Wow. What wonderfully drawn characters the Di Tomaso brothers are.

The thing that most impressed me about this arc of the story, aside from your usual wonderful scene-painting, was the way you managed the flashback sequences. You left just enough clues along the way to quickly show the reader where each segment fit into the story. Can't wait to see how the passing years and their different paths changed their relationship - and how Paolo's going to get out of the farmhouse alive.
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