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First Impression Reviews: Episode Ten · 9:16pm Apr 29th, 2016

It's back!

Below are two fanfic reviews based purely on the initial impressions provided by the first chapter (or first 3k words.) For an outline of what my reviewing guidelines are, go here. Please do not request reviews!

NOTE: It was brought to my attention that I am, in fact, crazy for picking on people for spaces after ellipses. I will go back and edit my previous reviews when I have more time. For now, going forward it will no longer be something I mention as an issue.

Sunset Slayer by Pen Stroke
Rating: Teen
Tags: Alternative Universe, Dark, Thriller, Equestria Girls
Summary: On the day of the Friendship Games, the veil between two worlds is pierced. The magic of Equestria seeps through the barrier to permeate the world of humanity. Entities begin to come into existence. Lore and legend are gaining flesh, bone, and blood, yielding things both wondrous and horrible. Magic is powerful, but a limited resource. If the world at large discovers its existence, Equestria will become a target.
Thus, seven friends agree to keep the secret, but some things will not be hidden away.
Grammar: 5/5 - It all looks good to me! 

My Thoughts:

It will be hard corralling my thoughts into something intelligible after what I have just read. I’m only supposed to read the first 3k words of any story I do reviews for, but this one was 3,536 words on the nose, and I read every single one of them. My heart is racing. That is how excited I am. How hard I am fan-girling right now. I like fan fiction, but it’s seldom when a work gets me this excited.

Sunset Slayer is everything I wished the Equestria Girls would be. It capitalizes on the one major plot idea that Hasbro seems determined to ignore in favor of churning out more soulless high school musicals to compete with Monster High. The one thing that could make Equestria Girls amazing? Ditch the small-minded school-centered melodrama, and pursue bad ass superhero/magical girl action. The set-up is already there and it’s freaking canon:

Magic from Equestria has entered the human world, transforming it forever.

But what if some of that magic went rogue? We already saw a glimpse of what that could be like in the Friendship Games when Sci-Twi rips open portals to Equestria and becomes Midnight Sparkle. But there are so many other things that could happen. What if some magic fell onto a car, and it became sentient and murderous like in Stephen King’s, Christine? What if the things kids had nightmares about manifested in the real world, terrorizing people?

The way the Equestria Girls pony-up are an obvious nod to Japanese mahou shoujo (‘magical girls’ in English) like that of Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. Why ignore the potential of that connection? (Right, sorry. I already mentioned why. But still.) The EqG could do amazing battles against fantastic enemies, and the great thing is that it could still feel very much like MLP. The world of Equestria has its own menagerie of terrible beasts--what would happen if, say, a hydra went through a portal and started wreaking havoc? Or parts of the Everfree Forest started taking over Humanville? The girls could pony-up, sing a song about rainbows and friendship, and then BAM BOOM POW. If Japan can get away with it, I don’t see why MLP couldn’t. It already has a unique fandom to match the fervor of any herd of otaku this world has seen.

Sorry, I’m going a bit off-topic. (Told you it would be hard to corral my thoughts!) What I’m trying to get across is that that Sunset Slayer pretty much does this amazing stuff in spades. In the first chapter, Sunset and Applejack team up to take care of a murderous monster in a public bathroom. The girls are even organized and freaking funded by the Equestrian crown, with a base of operations, ear pieces, cool gadgets, and--gah! At the chapter’s end, the primary antagonist is named, and we see an ingenious use of one of Fluttershy’s alter egos to great effect. The action is snappy. The suspense builds well. The descriptions are very solid. Characterizations are amazing.

I confess that I’m a little confused as to which Twilight we’re seeing in this story, though. I honestly can’t tell if it’s Sci-Twi or Princess Twilight. I suppose more reading will give me my answer. I’m also wondering why this lacks an adventure tag? It seems a shoo-in for it.

Final Verdict: Amazing, amazing, amazing. This deserves 1k+ likes. This is a very strong start to what looks to be a great fic. (In fact, I intend to keep reading after I finish the next review!) It’s definitely going into my favorites. I know, I know. I’ve been a little more liberal with those than I thought I would be… But I cannot express my joy at having read this fic enough. It’s damn good stuff! Oh, and +1 for writing Applejack without all the crazy contractions, and yet still managing to keep her sounding country. I’m a bit envious.

Pegasi Introspection by NintendoGal55
Rating: Everyone
Tags: Romance, Slice of Life
Summary: After the events of the Royal Wedding, Rainbow Dash seeks the company of Fluttershy on the train ride home. Whether to seek proper closure, or just to be near her, isn't quite clear. As they gaze out the window to the rolling landscape of the night, the two Pegasi best friends have a time for their introspection of aspects of the recent past. An introspection into dealing with certain feelings they may have.
Rainbow Dash has come to a recent revelation, and has finally accepted it. Fluttershy is yet to be sure and if she accepts it. Yet, undeniably, something lingers.
Grammar: 5/5 - Technically, this story has good grammar, IMO. I just have major issues with its formatting choices.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t too enamored with the opening paragraph of this short 1k chapter. First, it feels like a bit like a weather report. If I’m going to get a weather report, I’d like for it to at least feel creative/poetic/stimulating. This is more reminiscent of...well, a report. It details what hour it is, where a train is going, why it’s going that way, and a brief summary of the Royal Wedding episodes. That’s not very exciting and kind of a heavy-handed way of dealing with exposition. I’m also not sure why the author had weird capitalizations. “Royal Wedding”, for instance. Another is “Power of Love”. Is this necessary? It seems a strange emphasis, and it’s kind of distracting.

Then this happened:

Which brings us to tonight.

...Us? As in me, the reader? Am I sitting in a room? Am I a pony? Which pony? Just who is narrating this story?

Let me be perfectly honest--once upon a time during my bachelor degree program, I submitted a fantasy story that had the narrator directly addressing the reader. My teacher made a note explaining to me that this can feel very jarring, spawning much of the kind of questions I just listed off above. I argued that it shouldn’t be changed because it was cool and stuff. (Seriously. I had no real good excuse as to why I should get away with it.)

He left the matter alone, but the exchange stuck with me. Sometime later I looked at the work again… and I realized what the guy was trying to tell me. It does feel weird. A reader can be chugging along, all immersed in the events of the story when all of a sudden the story turns around and includes them in it. Huh, what, you talkin’ to me? Maybe some stories pull that off… But I would bet that these stories make it clear in some way prior to the reader even opening up the story (maybe in the summary or something.)

As I read further, I realized with a wince that I was going to have to deal with a LOT of ellipses. Too much. Everyone knows that Fluttershy can be timid and occasionally stammers when experiencing extreme anxiety and/or fear, but she isn’t inarticulate. She speaks softly, but clearly, and unless she’s really anxious, she doesn’t pause her speech much. Even Rainbow Dash does it. Again, I realize that RD is still capable of being nervous, but she feels overly hesitant and there isn’t much justification as to why.

We sort of stumble through some more awkward conversation, and then the thing that apparently led to Fluttershy avoiding Rainbow is revealed. By that point, I was underwhelmed. Maybe because I just dislike the idea of Soarin being a potential barrier between RD and FS, maybe because I have a hard time enjoying coming-out stories (which this may be).

OR, maybe it had to do with that sea of ellipses I had to swim through…

Final Verdict: If it had been executed differently, I might still have given this story a pass. The idea in summary isn’t bad. It’s simple, but I don’t mind simple. It’s just… I can’t get over the writing. It ruins my immersion. I also dislike the characterizations. It might be a subtle thing to nitpick to some, but for me, it still matters. As it stands, I can’t recommend this story. It’s a shame, as I love me some FlutterDash.

Current To-Read Count: 162/184

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Comments ( 1 )

Hmm, the description of Sunset Slayer does sound interesting. I will have to check it out myself.

EDIT: The story image made me think it was a crossover with Batman or something. Sunset Shimmer in Gotham becoming a Robin would be amusing.

The way the Equestria Girls pony-up are an obvious nod to Japanese mahou shoujo (‘magical girls’ in English) like that of Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. Why ignore the potential of that connection?

I agree, this seems such an obvious connection that I find it baffling that Hasbro ignores it. I mean, yeah, I get they're going after a very specific demographic, but surely there is more crossover there than just occasionally fighting a dark magical girl for a few seconds at the end of a movie?

It’s just… I can’t get over the writing [of Pegasi Introspection]. It ruins my immersion.

I hear you on that. I couldn't get through more than three chapters of the Conversion Bureau because of the huge amount of grammatical, typographic, and formatting mistakes. Mistakes that the authors stated they had no interest or inclination in fixing, ever. It absolutely killed any desire for me to continue reading.

On the other hand, there was an X-Com/Stargate crossover fic I read once which also was chock full of mistakes, yet I manged to soldier through that one. It was painful, though.

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