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  • 233 weeks
    The Philosophy of Pie... Or "Things I Learned From Watching Pinkie Pie"

    1. Let your imagination get away from you; it will come back with cake.

    2. Sometimes, you cannot answer the riddle. And sometimes, that’s the right answer.

    3. When it comes to scrapbooking family memories, you don’t find the time—you make the time.

    4. Always ask the important questions, like “Is it ‘glowed’ or ‘glew’?”

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    0 comments · 374 views
  • 239 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: Turnabout Storm Adaptation... Or "The Victim's Autopsy Report"

    From October 2011 to October 2013, a series of videos was released under the unifying banner of Turnabout Storm, a fan-crossover series between My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Ace Attorney video game series, produced by NeoArtimus. The project as a whole was a success as far as fanworks go, inspiring plenty of fanart, pseudo-sequels, and reaction/commentary

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    0 comments · 417 views
  • 245 weeks
    The Cutie Map is Back... (Sequel Announcement)

    The Watchers of the Map are back in my latest story, "The Mission Begins Anew." Check it out here.

    0 comments · 371 views
  • 254 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: Nightmare Night Special... Or "The Creature Double Feature"

    Before the introduction of Thorax in “The Times, They are A-Changeling,” speculation on changelings was everywhere: How did they live; were there many hives or just the one; was love the only emotion they could feed on; did individual changelings have personalities of their own; the list goes on. Luckily, the fandom never stops at simply asking these questions, and with a variety of mediums to

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    0 comments · 457 views
  • 258 weeks
    FiMFic Reviews: The Music of Ponyville... Or "The Alternate AU"

    If you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll know I have a soft spot in my heart for the Alternate Mane 6 subgenre. Stories where the characters we know and love from the show are changed somewhat, if not outright replaced, have a lot of creative potential, giving both writers and readers a chance to explore a new perspective on the same basic outline. And while I could go down the obvious path

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    1 comments · 419 views

FiMFic Reviews: Royal Review... Or "Cartharsis Done Right" · 11:00pm Sep 5th, 2016

Wow, how long has it been since I did one of these? Eh, blame life and laziness; I feel it helps.

We all have that one antagonist that, if given the chance, we probably wouldn’t hesitate to smack upside the head for being as idiotically evil as they are: Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter; Dalia Hawthorne from the Phoenix Wright games; Beast Wars Megatron; you get the idea. Chances are we’ve probably gone into long-winded rants, even if only to ourselves, that we might say to such a character. Such is the nature of the principle known as “catharsis:” an action or feeling that, while considered negative in the broad strokes, makes us feel better about ourselves.

And that’s the kind of fic I want to talk about today, what I refer to as the “cathartic fic.” I’m talking about those stories where the author writes about a certain character getting verbally assaulted for all the idiocy they’ve committed. I’d be lying if I said I don’t understand the appeal of such stories; they allow the author to vent unnecessary frustration (and I say “unnecessary” in the sense of it not being worth holding on to in the long run) and readers who have a similar disposition to do the same.

Sadly, these kinds of fics generally lean toward the rants as mentioned above: fun to have in your head, but not really good material for an entire story, even if it is just a one shot. In fact, “story” is kind of a generous term. Not much happens aside from one character telling off the antagonist while the latter feebly attempts to defend themselves. Heck, some fics go a step further, hijacking a moment from the source material, adding in a new or otherwise not-previously-mentioned character, and turning the entire scene into a mini AU-fic (often without tagging it as such) for no real reason other than to vent some frustration.

But it’s always been my belief that any story concept can work. So, with that in mind, here is Royal Review, by KnightMysterio.

After the episode “Spice Up Your Life” aired, it’s not hard to imagine that a lot of people absolutely despised Zesty Gourmand (and if you can say that without sounding pretentious, I stand in awe of you). Heck, speaking personally, she ranks just below Svengallop as worst pony. So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before the brony community, being the brony community, took up their creative spirits and channeled it into this critical restaurant critic.

This particular story is pretty simple overall. Ms. Gourmand has called upon Princesses Celestia and Luna and Prince Blueblood to conduct a “food survey” of sorts along Restaurant Row, hoping that their “royal, refined tastes” will bring “order” back to the area. Plotwise, the fic doesn’t go much further than that. Much of it is, in fact, dedicated to all three royals sampling the food of the various restaurants. Fortunately, the story is not too repetitive in this regard. We only see three specific restaurants before it cuts to the climax via timeskip/transitional paragraph.

As far as what we are shown, the presentation does make sure that the characters have actual character. Remember, in typical cathartic fics, characters are more of a means to an end, a mouthpiece for the author and little else. Here, though, with each food sampled, we get a brief glimpse into each of the royals, whether it be their personalities, their preferences, or their histories. They don’t just serve as the story’s soapbox delivery; they let the reader in on their experience, making the ultimate payoff more meaningful.

But it’s not just the royals; every character has a chance to make the story feel alive. The author gives each chef a personality and history of their own, which is a nice touch to make the story feel more… populated, for lack of a better term. With each restaurant, the reader is given a chance to actually know their proprietors, to care about the stake they have in Zesty’s scheme. Speaking of Zesty, even she gets some snippets of character exploration. True, it might not be much, not just because of her place in this fic but also due to her attitude in the actual episode, but the story treats her emotions with as much respect as could be allowed. This makes Zesty less of a target and more of somepony who actually needs to be put on the right path. (Besides, being able to actually see her slowly break down until the end on an intimate level is both amusing and far more satisfying.)

This is largely thanks to the writing style of the narration, which is third-person omniscient, arguably one of the hardest narrative techniques to use effectively. This style can basically be called simple storytelling, chronicling events with little regard for point-of-view or singular focus. The story does not follow just one character, but rather just tells a story, only giving the reader as much information as they need to know. Those of you who read my review of On a Cross and Arrow may recall something similar and how I called it a detriment to that particular story. What helps this story make better use of this kind of narration is the fact that it’s a one-shot; with so many characters, each with their own responses to the things going on, it gives the reader an opportunity to understand each character in a short amount of time.

Now, I’ve done a lot of praising of this fic for not being a typical cathartic fic, but that doesn’t mean I’m letting it off scot-free. The biggest problem with this story is the lack of tension. While the restaurant owners are initially nervous upon hearing of Zesty’s plan, readers won’t be nearly as nervous when the royals first show up. As soon as they make their entrance and try the first dish, any sense of conflict on their part instantly disappears. There’s not a single bad thing to say among them throughout the review; even when eating foods they don’t care for, they openly admit it comes down to their own personal preference, and they still call it good enough. This story may be predictable in what the overall outcome is, but this was almost too clean. (Also, while I’m on the subject of the royals, I don’t think even Celestia will forget all decorum and grammar just at the prospect of cake [i.e. “Gettin’ cake, don’t care.”].)

Speaking of the outcome, I have yet to actually talk about ending, don’t I? I understand that this might seem like spoilers to some of you, but if you’re expecting some great surprise or plot twist, then you clearly haven’t read the opening paragraphs. But the reason I waited until now to bring this up is because it involves my second issue with this story. Actually, “issue” might be too strong a word; I personally didn’t have too many problems with this particular feature, but as I see these reviews more as recommendations, I have to take into account how others might feel about this.

I’m speaking of Prince Blueblood.

One other thing I’ve failed to mention up to this point is Blueblood’s place in the story. One would think that, out of all the royals, he’d have the biggest criticisms against the “common palate.” But, surprisingly, he’s right with Celestia and Luna enjoying everything brought to him. He’s even pretty amiable toward the chefs. And, perhaps most surprising, he’s the one to deliver the final speech to Zesty, becoming the author’s mouthpiece against her.

Wrap your head around that: Out of all the characters in this fic, even with Rarity sticking with them throughout the story, it’s Prince Blueblood who tells Zesty Gourmand to get off her high horse.

Admittedly, Blueblood’s always been an anomaly in fanfiction; he’s either the biggest snob you’ve ever met, or he’s just an overall okay guy in need of an attitude adjustment. And to the fic’s credit, Blueblood does explain his actions in “The Best Night Ever” as being preemptively cautious against what he thought was yet another gold-digger, although it should be noted that this remark comes toward the end, meaning his character up till now will seem out of character for some.

I still maintain, however, that this story is probably the best cathartic fic I’ve ever read. Look, I like tearing into characters I despise as much as the next guy. But that doesn’t make for a good story. And that’s what Royal Review is: a story. Even if the story was just the means to an end, the fact that KnightMysterio took the time and effort to write that story puts him ahead of several authors trying to do something similar.

Recommendation Rating: :heart::heart::heart: Some reservations, but still pretty decent. :yay:

Comments ( 2 )

Thanks very much for this review. And, yeah, you bring up a lot of good points.

Thank you very much for the review, and thank you for making it a fair review. :D

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