I think Keine has the best hat. It's still darn silly though.

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File 171468387113.jpg - (217.89KB, 2048x1152, with koi-koi and bookies.jpg)
with koi-koi and bookies
It’s been a while since we’ve had a general themed writing event. And since it ain’t gonna organize itself and no one else is stepping up, here goes my attempt. I’ve formatted the details in a questions and answer format below for your convenience:

How do I participate?
Write and submit a short story that incorporates the themes in some capacity when the submission period opens up.

How long do I have to write something?
A month from now. A thread for submissions will be created on 2024-06-02 and let’s say that there will be a 48-hour submission period that follows.

What do you mean by themes?
As implied by this thread’s title, the stories ought to incorporate something regarding fate and/or luck (or, more generally, fortune.) What this actually means in practice is up to each writer but I feel that is both vague enough to allow for all sorts of creative interpretations as well as specific enough to allow certain scenarios and things to happen and for the story to qualify.

You lost me or I don’t have much of an imagination. I need more concrete examples.
That’s not a question but I’ll indulge you nonetheless. Here is a list of scenarios and implementations that I’ve come up with off the cuff as that would most definitely count:

• A villager takes a shortcut on their way home one day and has an unexpected encounter that changes their life forever
• A coin flip causes a character to make one of two choices.
• Someone under the effects of a curse goes to extreme lengths to get rid of it
• Wolf tengu drawing lots in order to figure out who gets stuck with escort duty that week
• A rigged game of three card monte costs someone dearly
• An arranged marriage turns out to be a match made in heaven (or hell)
• A character is convinced that a certain person or certain actions guarantee their good/bad luck
• Something invertible, like the flower incident that happens every sixty years, affects the actions/lives of characters

While I could go on, the above should get the point across. You can be as specific or as vague as you like, use any of the stuff I mentioned here, or take a gamble (hah!) on trying something completely different. The point of this is to get people writing and having fun.

Is that really the point?
Well, yes, we’re predominantly a fanfiction community. Writing and reading stories—and having fun doing so—is as basic as it gets.

How long should the entries be?
As long as it needs to be. A couple of paragraphs, ten thousand words, a whole novella…. Whatever you feel like.

Do I have to use a name or only submit a single entry?
It’s probably best if you submit things anonymously as that’s been the traditional way these exhibitions/contests have been done. It allows readers to look at things with lesser bias and enjoy them on their own merits. Writers then sometimes choose to come forward about their entries later.

And, hey, if you can manage multiple fully-realized entries, more power to you. But it might best to just focus on the one thing and make it as good as it can be.

Alright, you’ve convinced me! What do I get for participating?
The undying respect and adulation of your peers? A momentary respite from existentialist dread? I don’t know, I’m kind of assuming that you like THP and the sort of stuff that gets posted … so contributing more to that should be reward enough.

But, well, I’ll at least commit to not only the bare minimum of reading every entry, but offering thoughts and feedback on them. Other people may well do that as well.

So no voting, no picking of a winner?
Not really, no. If you need validation that bad maybe I’ll do something extra nice for you. First things first: finish your chores, champ.

Ok, I’ll try my best!
That’s all I ask. Also, not a question.

Feel free to post any other questions or comments in this thread and I’ll do my best to offer clarifications if necessary.
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Good to see the idea of exhibitions over contests finally getting some exercise. I'd had some notion that we needed another (non-porn) event soon, but I didn't have any real ideas, so cheers for that. I'll try for an entry.

Mmh, bookies...
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Considering there's no votes, is it basically just a matter of everyone reading and giving feedback for however long they feel like after the submission window? What about entries that don't get in on time? Do we just ignore them?
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File 171482765050.jpg - (139.65KB, 1200x1016, buncha rabbits.jpg)
buncha rabbits
This exhibition is just a fun way to encourage people to write, read, and comment. That there is even a deadline and submission period is just a perfunctory way to structure things. I can't say for sure what will happen if, hypothetically, someone posts something an hour late or someone chooses to comment on something weeks or months later. Nor do I think it matters. The submission window is to give people a chance to read over entries think about them before saying anything about them, if they choose to. That's what I'll be doing. The rest I'll play by ear.
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File 171483793950.jpg - (65.55KB, 1280x720, dowatchafeel.jpg)
So, pretty much this. Respectable.
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File 171509683376.jpg - (1.63MB, 2578x2591, mikeitrain.jpg)
Blessings of fortune upon those who participate!
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File 171518922661.jpg - (356.70KB, 2000x2887, queenofbubble.jpg)
Fortune! Fortune! Fortune!
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File 171527607686.jpg - (837.81KB, 1000x1167, heavenlyfortune.jpg)
Rejoice, surface-crawling scum! Set your eyes upon endless fortune!
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File 171547916198.jpg - (687.55KB, 1940x2048, mountainmonke.jpg)
Gather one, gather all, and grasp fortune for yourself!
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File 171555389911.jpg - (478.16KB, 2311x1653, temptingfortune.jpg)
Be tempted into the grasp of fortune!
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Cast in your faith and see fortune come to you!
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miss fortune
Come and turn your misfortune into fortune!
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File 171674370199.jpg - (360.77KB, 1000x800, a game of chance and cheating.jpg)
a game of chance and cheating
About a week remains until the submission thread is up. I hope that you've had good luck working on your submissions and I look forward to seeing your efforts.
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I lost a lot of time due to dawdling and having trouble thinking over my piece. I'm kind of scrambling to catch up. Maybe I can get it done in a week? I honestly don't know.
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Your story doesn't need to be excessively long & involve excessive world building. Good luck :/.
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A week is probably an ample amount of time. You can make it anon!
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It doesn't matter that much if I make it in a week or not, since it's not like submissions will be permanently closed afterwards. I'd simply like to reduce the chances of being ignored after the initial period of attention paid to the thread.

But, well, I'm busy offline and only have so much of an attention span to spare anything, so work is already going to be slow, to say nothing of my need to be quite sure I'm conveying what I intend. There are things I must read in order to (attempt to) understand the style I'm aiming for, and then there's also still a great deal of indecision about the actual story events. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I've spent multiple hours trying to produce singular paragraphs.

Things are as long as they have to be. Also, what constitutes 'excessive world building'? I'm genuinely curious because I can't conceive of what that would involve. I don't think of anything I'm doing as 'world building', generally, but I also don't know what that term means to others.
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It's time! Post your entries over the course of the next two days here: >>/shorts/2884
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hooray moonrabbit
Okay, been about two days and so I'm calling the submission period to a close. Looks like we got a fair amount of entries this time around.

Congratulations to all who participated! I hope you had fun!

Feel free to talk about and discuss the entries as much as you like. You didn't need to wait for my blessings, but you have it anyways. Don't make me shake the woodwork to make you all come out. I'll be taking a while to read things carefully and give myself some time to organize my thoughts about them before doing a more detailed post later on.
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son biten rakkidei
Well, I guess I'll kick things off. First, great job to everyone who participated! I love the contests/exhibitions because you get a thread full of stories that don't require the commitment of a normal THP fic. Lots of good stuff here. Guess I'll go through them all:

Takeo the Lucky:
I liked it. I think it's a bit of a risky move to intentionally write a story in a children's book style, but it worked out okay. I'm biased toward Reimu writing, so it gets another point in my book for that. I like that the hook was essentially that he was lucky in ways that required him to be unlucky first, and it was sweet to see him fight through a typhoon to reach Reimu. I do feel the need to whine about my canontisms, though. Hina doesn't remove misfortune from people, she stockpiles the misfortune that people have removed from themselves. She could help you do a ritual to remove misfortune, but she can't just magically suck it out of you.
All in all, pretty good! Worked in the theme well, and was nice to imagine Kosuzu reading the story to the kids in the village.

Gamblers Delight ~ Bright Fright:
The first of multiple gambling stories here and it's exactly what you'd want in a Japanese setting. High stakes Koi-koi. Sannyo's a character who, despite showing up quite often in Lotus Eaters, doesn't show up much in fan works, so it's nice to see her. Yachie's typically pretty fun to see, too. I like the idea that someone from the Kiketsu Family was stealing their money to gamble with, which really raises questions on how tight a ship Yachie's actually running down there. Makes one wonder if she knows about the other otter spirits who ditched the family in Lotus Eaters...
Anyway, it's a good story. I like the interpretation of the relationship between Momiji and Sannyo, and Yachie's fairly menacing at the start and scattered at the end as I'd hope for her to be in this sort of situation. I can't really see Sannyo as the cheating type, but then again we don't really see her play the games at all aside from acting as dealer. That said, I think she'd just use her tabacco to try and lower her opponent's perception if she were to do it. Her calling the match a 'fun turn of fate' at the start seems a bit strange, since she's more or less playing for her livelihood and realises how close she was to losing at the end. I'm not a Koi-koi player, so a lot of the game went over my head. You've done a decent job at making it possible to follow, but I fall apart easily on stuff like this, so don't take that as a failure on your part.
Obviously the theme is well-represented here. It's possibly a little bit on the nose to head 'fate and luck' and write a gambling story, but if it works, it works, and it works perfectly fine here.

The excessively long & involves excessive world building entry:
It's very long and has a lot of world building. Go figure.
Lots of OCs here, but that's what you'd expect for an Animal Realm story. The setup, and especially the character titles, gave me more than a little bit of a 40K feel. Unfortunately, I never got into 40K, so I could already tell that I was going to struggle.
I'll be honest, it's (as the title suggests) a bit excessive. Excessive in the sense that I think you went too big too quickly. There's a lot of names, titles, and things going on here, and we as readers are just dropped into it. I think this sort of worldbuilding needs to be spread out much further than a THP exhibition could allow, and probably needs someone new to it all who can learn it along with the reader. Once Character With A Lofty Title #5 or so showed up, my head started to spin and I noticed that I was skimming paragraphs more and more.
I feel like the first two posts could have been skipped entirely and the third post would still have been more or less the same. That's the one where there seems to be any particular attempt to stick to the theme, anyway... Except I'm still not certain, because my head was still spinning from all the names and titles and lore factoids in the two parts before it. I think it was revealed that the whole first two parts were just a lore document for a TTRPG that Yuuma's playing, but honestly, by the time I got to it I just wanted the whole thing to be over.
What I'm getting at is I think this could work, but it didn't work on me. Sorry.
I guess the luck theme is involved in the game they're playing, though.
+1 for calling them goasts, though.

Seven Flowers in Sunny September:
Well, I do like Yuuka, so I'm already a little biased. I like autumn too, so I'm even more biased.
I can tell that 'Elly making cider' has come from a certain thread on a certain board, but it's kept relatively out of the way, so I don't have a problem with it.
It's quite leisurely, and while I don't want to seem like I'm throwing shade at the previous entry, I did find it much easier to read. I like when people portray youkai as a little weird, so Yuuka talking to the plants as if they were people was nice to see. The seven flowers that Yuuka comes across were described okay, I think. Could probably have been better, but I got at least some idea. Autumn, despite being the setting, doesn't seem to have much significance here outside of being related to the flowers that Yuuka saw and the poem that it eventually related to.
I think Yuuka was a bit too nice to Hana, though. Even for a little kid, I was expecting that she'd casually drop a threat or two in the conversation. I got more of a sense that she was promising some sort of retribution if the flower shop owner screwed up later on, though. I get the sense that this story was more for the sake of character interaction than descriptions, though. Once Yuuka ran into Tenshi and later Reimu, she seemed far more in her element. Reimu was fun here, and it's always fun to see Yuuka tease her into getting mad. Tenshi was a little bit weak, maybe. Quick to spill her problems, but I guess you've got to get to the point of the story sooner or later. The resolution of the rumours about Yuuka just being 'tell Reimu to investigate it' was pretty weak, too.
I think this was decent. It was a different take on the themes, going for something more like the 'chance encounter' option, though it could probably have come through slightly more clearly.

Another gambling story!
Sannyo's in this one too, but no one's mentioned by name. Not sure about that - It's a good way to switch things up, but I think it deprives the eye of something to latch onto in each paragraph. The whole thing is certainly well-written, though. The game the protagonist plays with Sannyo is interestingly written, and his need to return comes up quite well too. I like the different names the man is given over the course of the story and how he starts to feel the need for redemption.
I do like this one, both for the different take on the gambling story and for the way the whole thing is written, but I feel like I don't have that much to say about it. It does its' thing and ties itself up well by the end. I enjoyed reading it. The theme is pretty clear, though like the other story, I can't help but find it a little on the nose to do a gambling story when the idea of luck and fate comes up.

Daikoku's Injection Control Kit:
Yachie appears once more. Three times in this exhibition, which is fairly impressive. And yet this is the only entry involving the literal luck rabbit, funnily enough.
Involving Tewi means doing fun luck stuff, so I enjoyed her mere presence causing Biten to inhale a fly and get them caught, and then Tewi starting a chain of events that caused her to get a cigarette (which you then referred to as a cigar? These are different things) This one's doing some stuff with Eientei's structure, adding a lot more rabbits and a lot more seediness. Tewi's the kind of character who you could probably see being a mob boss too, so it actually fits in more than I'd expected.
Fortunately, here we have a gambling game that uses something other than cards and dice. That simple bit of world building for the fic's namesake is actually quite effective, and I enjoyed the game quite a lot. Felt like I was reading an alternate 2hu version of Washizu Mahjong.
I liked Tewi's conversation with Yachie too. It felt like a natural sort of thing to have in a game like this, and hearing their outlooks was interesting. Butler seemed a bit fast to chop a finger off, but I suppose it goes to show how seriously he takes it. Funnily enough, this has the most 'Yakuza' feel to it, and it comes from the party that isn't even yakuza.
If there's one thing that threw me a little, it was that Biten knew so much about the medical procedures and tricks used in the story. I guess she could have learnt it somewhere, but it surprised me a little to see her know what a Carotid Sinus Massage was.
I love the twist at the end. I think perhaps you didn't need to spell out all of the hints you'd used earlier in the story, and then I would have had a reason to read it a second time to catch them all.
I know this is an exhibition and not a contest, so there's no need to vote on anything, but this is easily my favourite story of the bunch. I'd vote for it if this were a contest (which it isn't).

So, overall, this whole thing was pretty great! Lots of fun stories here, and I enjoyed reading them! Hopefully this will happen again in the future, because, like I said at the start, it's a good way of getting a bunch of shorter stories that can execute their whole plot in just a couple posts.
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You shook it anyway. But, honestly, I guess I needed a shake, otherwise I would have collapsed under the enormity of the task ahead of me and just not posted anything.

So, yeah, because the point was posed that a post here need not be a massive all-stories-in-one-go kind of affair, I'm going to heed that point and just post impressions as I can manage.

To start off, I decided to tackle the two shorter pieces owing to how excessively long some of the others looked.

Takeo the Lucky [title truncated]

I'm going to be quite blunt here and say that I'm left baffled in general by this piece. Who is this for? Its plot is ultimately a wish-fulfillment romance, yet it bills itself almost as if it might be some kind of children's fable. What was the moral? "Don't worry, be happy"? "Everything will just work out, bro"? Even if you weren't aiming for a 'message' — which most children's stories are — there generally feels to be no takeaway.

And what of the titular Takeo? He's just kind of a 'nothing' character. There are lines that are crammed in his mouth, but he's otherwise just a vehicle for wish-fulfillment. His happiness at the end feels incredibly unearned. After all, how much does his lack of luck really matter? Most of the time, it doesn't seem like it does at all. Early on, he gets his un-luck vacuumed out, then spends the rest of the story just coasting by with things happening to him that, well, ultimately don't matter much.

Like, the troubled structure of this critique, I also feel like the structure of the story is troubled. Why even bother starting off with all of the episodes of Takeo as a child if most of the action is going to be about his eventual romance with 'the Hakurei shrine maiden'? Frankly, all of those could have been omitted and the story, such as it is, wouldn't have suffered for it logically.

Setting the plot and storytelling aside, this also barely feels like a piece of Touhou fiction aside from the rather perfunctory inclusion of Touhou characters. Hina and Keine are plot devices, and Reimu barely resembles anything like her actual counterpart. If anything, it's the latter point that's a bigger sin, because we're supposed to just go with the fact that Reimu is mooning over this faceless guy with barely any action on his part or demonstrated character. It's overly idealised even for a notional children's story. Additionally, the theme of the exhibition is just kind of pasted over the plot, not particularly of any consequence beyond hand-waving the titular character's subsequent actions.

I could gas on about style and other things, but I'm already flagging in my enthusiasm to say anything. How could you have improved this? I honestly don't know. I still don't understand what the hell you were aiming for, so any comment on that matter would be a massive reach at best. Genuinely flummoxed by this.


Easily the best piece in this exhibition. I don't see much on THP that aims to be literary fiction in the way this does. The influence of Meiji and Taisho era writers is pretty clear, and the little comments on Japanese socio-economic realities of a similar period, transposed onto the Gensokyan setting, feel neither out of place nor overbearing. That the principle character is an anonymous village outcaste only adds to the humanity of the piece, though he's also not necessarily a sympathetic character, something I deeply appreciate in a story like this. The story itself feels like a multilayered comment on luck, fortune, and fate all at once without being overly contrived to talk about any one; ultimately, isn't the anonymous wretch fated to end up as he does, given his station in life, no matter what small windfalls chance gives him?

Now, I'll admit overwhelming bias in enjoying the inclusion of Sannyo in a story. However, I will also point to Miyoi and the two barflies from Lotus Eaters also featuring in the story, a point I took great enjoyment from considering their somewhat ancillary role in the piece itself. Back to Sannyo, though, I like how great pains are taken to portray her aesthetically, with strong calls to notions of the 'floating world' involved in how she appears, how she comports herself, etc. At the same time, like the smoke she constantly blows, there is a wispiness, a distance from the solid reality we think we inhabit, to her as a character. We never truly know who she is beyond what she does — and that feels incredibly appropriate to the story being told. All we have to go on are those tantalising hints and intimations in small actions. (I'm getting butterflies just talking about it.)

In all honesty, I don't know how this piece could have been better. Perhaps I'm a little conflicted on aspects of the pacing, the principle character's circumstance adding to the sense of his motivations, and yet his anonymity would have made it quite fine to be a lot sketchier with it, but I didn't feel much of anything was outright extraneous. A selfish part of me wishes it were a full-length story, perhaps a novel, though I'll also concede that notions of pacing and plot substance might crop up at that sort of length. I guess, ultimately, it's a failure of imagination on my part, though. Perhaps a few slightly more concrete interactions between Sannyo and the patrons for a bit of flavour? But, no, that wouldn't be strictly necessary. I'm just reaching to find faults at this point.

Thanks for writing this.

re: Midwinter: Was it really a 'gambling' story, though? Yes, it involved gambling, but was that what it was actually about? I don't believe so. The point was more about the self-inflicted misery of anonymous people who can't escape their stations in life and only hurt themselves worse in chasing what they see as chances, but in truth they're only ever illusions. Far from being 'about' gambling, don't you think?
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Alright, I was a writer so I should also do a roundup here. It was fun to read through everything and see what everybody felt like doing for this event. It was also funny to see most of our minds drift to two characters in particular. Myself included, of course. Now, to get into the gritty for each story.

Takeo the Lucky

I'm mixed on my opinion for this piece in particular. I'll admit that I did feel gushy about the end, but I also am unsure if that's because I'm a sucker for mushy things or if the characterization of the two main individuals were enough to carry the story believably. The narrative structure and prose works for the story, but it feels as though there needed to be more focus towards the beginning or the end. Takeo as the unlucky boy who remains purely optimistic could have been left at his early life just fine, running through anecdotes of his childishness in the face of both large and small adversities, but I can see that that leaves an unfinished tale without some sort of grander event above the rest. Takeo the romantic was not something I could find a foothold to believe. Reimu isn't generally the type of character to care beyond initial platitudes nor be moved to do things for others easily. Were Takeo's story about him insistently vying for the girl's attention until it breaks his body to do so, I would find it more believable. Perhaps Reimu would need some change in opinion or, god forbid, a change of heart from an outside force. That is where I draw the line for a suspension of disbelief. That said, I did feel that Keine and Hina were accurately used, even if it was so small of moments. Both are characters that would probably do things for a human kid selflessly, Keine to take the kid into the woods despite the risks and Hina to outright dive after the kid in the river. Overall that small section stuck out more to me and I enjoyed it more than the Reimu sections. Even if you did put a smile on my face at that corny ending.

Gamblers Delight ~ Bright Fright

Oh hey, that one's mine. Post mortem rereading it I found many simple errors that I didn't like, though the typos weren't atrocious, thankfully. It was more embarrassing to see moments that even I had trouble following along or actually knew were a straight up error in the state of the game (not that I'll tell!). That said, I'll chalk it up more to an attempt to write about a game for the first time and not the direct quality of my writing therein. What I will say about my own writing is that even when I make dialogue heavy pieces because I just like dialogue, I still don't give enough time for describing things. This was something I mainly found myself focusing on when I read through the story "Seven Flowers in Sunny September" later in the chain. I don't even bother to really talk about how Sannyo looks at any surface level detail, and while that isn't heretical, I do think it would have been better to give cursory ideas about those things. My scene work also leaves a little to be desired. I think it was fine at the beginning but I eventually nix all set piece descriptions past the midway point or so. This is more of a self chastising to say that while I have the visual of a scene I need to remember to tell readers that same visual depending on how important it is, because sometimes the decor is nice even is nonessential.

The excessively long & involves excessive world building entry

Very cheeky and on the nose with that title, but also means that the writer was self aware of the... well... excessiveness. I will say there are multiple ideas in there that I thought were very amusing, from every eagle having a hyper specific title causing that eagle to be the 'first something' to the ending having characters play a tabletop game so appropriately complicated they need to have teams of number crunchers to say what happens. I won't give much more quarter past that, however. There were far too many characters named, even if that was the joke, and the perspective changing had too little lead in for me to follow until I realized it happened each divider. I would also argue that the character perspective or focus changing was unnecessary since the narrator is in third person. If I read the story correctly, it's mainly two through threads of plots with one being the fight between Yachie and Yuuma commentated by a single eagle spirit and the small collection of eagle spirits tasking themselves with making... bronze corn kernels from Yachie's scales? Yeah that's silly and I like it. But it is still confuddling to follow! Restraint from wordiness is no sin!

Seven Flowers in Sunny September

I will start by saying this was probably my favorite amongst the bunch, and it wasn't because of melancholic Tenshi, though I liked her too! No, my favor goes to a very nice characterization of Yuuka and the tight scene descriptions. Yuuka can be a one track character at times, so to give her more nuance with the same general personality is not an enviable task. I think there was a good balance between intimidating Youkai and strict gardening grandma that was struck. Her morals being so shifted from those around her really added to the sense of otherness which doesn't mean opposing, and I think it was also the best choice to make the story in third person to keep up that sense of distance from her even when hearing her thoughts. The descriptions of the scenery were also constantly capturing me. There wasn't a moment where I lost track of the world around Yuuka, making it feel like it was a relaxed stroll. The only debatable critique I have for this one is that the story shifts gears pretty hard as soon as Tenshi shows up. This is alright, since bratty, haughty Tenshi is fun to read, but it does leave the first portion of the story to be wrapped up and forgotten almost wholesale. The idea is that because of the events in the beginning, Yuuka rethinks her encounter with Tenshi towards something more positive, but when reading through I felt almost like Tenshi would have been fine if that encounter happened any other time, too. It was only the stinger at the end where Yuuka is shown to be reflective on happenstance experiences, but this wasn't much the case for the resolution with Tenshi. Overall, well written, had me glued to read through the whole thing, only wish there was more tie in from beginning to end. And no, forgetting Elly's apples doesn't count.


This story is good. This story does things right. This story shows extreme competence in both prose and narrative structure. This story is not one that I can say particularly caught my interest. I read it fine, and the flowery prose were fun for the most part, but there is something about the story as a story that couldn't pin me down and convince me I enjoyed reading it. That's the part that really irks me, it's so well written and yet throws me off for some reason. It could be my personal preference for dialogue heavy stories, it could be that I didn't like reading about the main character who was intentionally unlikable for the most part, it's a hard one for me to pin down. The very lucid tone of the whole thing was interesting to sift through. I don't know if I could say the plot was too predictable or lacked intrigue. I just don't know, and so I'll only be able to say that I didn't like it a whole lot. Which is a damn shame, because there was serious effort put into this.

Daikoku's Injection Control Kit

A very odd and very interesting story. I'd say the highlights are the beginning and the end, both of which do everything I could want for their respective roles. The beginning has good foreshadowing, and the story does well with that in general. I am going to say it's not needed to put flashback lines into a literary work, since a reader can easily find the original lines on their own for a story of this length. Even if it were a much longer story, I wouldn't directly inline quote an earlier part of the story and opt instead for paraphrasing, but that's me. As for the story itself, the usage and combination of characters was a pleasant surprise. The Butler was different, but I wasn't adverse to him by the end. The choice of game I have good and bad thoughts about. The lore and mythology aspect of it were excellent, a solid usage of Tewi's likely past as the white hare of Inaba. The game as a game was not much to keep my interest, since it was purely chance based on a player choosing the wrong option, it meant that Tewi would by default always win in the scenario that her power works on herself. And boy did her power work. It worked so well it almost felt like there couldn't be any way to beat it it was so comically omnipotent. Does it stretch beyond my belief in how Yachie won? Maybe. I'm uncertain about the conclusion but that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of Tewi and Yachie as portrayed here. Lastly, someone called my story very much like a sitcom by the end, so I'm going to get out here and call yours an episode of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
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why i'm so great

I'm guessing the full title didn't load for you because the rest of it is "Written by Kosuzu Motoori for the Good Children of the Village." (I know over half of "village" was excluded by the character limit, though.) That part right there is what makes my story a piece of Wolfean art. Or, in layman's terms, why my hacked-together last-minute writings are perfect, actually.

To start, let me explain a piece of The Book of the New Sun. The story is written by three men: Severian, the man recounting his life; GW, the man translating the biography; and Gene Wolfe, the author of the book. Severian is a liar who seeks to raise his readers' opinions of him, and Takeo is a simple-minded villager who tells it like it is. GW is struggling to translate a language that hasn't even been created yet, and Kosuzu is an amateur writer who's just trying to teach kids to stay optimistic. Gene Wolfe is an author who stands toe-to-toe with JRR Tolkien, and I'm literally his true heir's true heir.

Now let me explain the story from Kosuzu's perspective:

Part 1: Takeo learns to stay optimistic from a rabbit youkai (WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT TEWI).

Part 2: The temple school teacher (WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT KEINE) takes Takeo to the misfortune goddess (WHO IS DEFINITELY NOT HINA), and I show that he's learned from his past.

Part 3: Um... Where do I take the story to next...? Reimu's pretty unlucky, I guess...? Okay, Takeo meets Reimu—oh, but IT'S DEFINITELY NOT REIMU—and... he get's injured (because of course he does) then R—the Hakurei shrine maiden takes care of him...

Part 4: ...and then they fall in love! (Because Kosuzu is a girl at that age.)

Part 5: AND THEY GET MARRIED! ...Wait, am I getting ahead of myself...? (Kosuzu takes a deep breath here) Um... Oh! Okay, so Takeo's catchphrase rubs off on the shrine maiden, then... they live happily ever after! Perfect, I guess!

And THAT is why I'm so great.
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Writer of >>17373 here

I'll be honest, I probably didn't give Midwinter the shake it deserved. I wrote my impressions as I read the stories, so I got to Midwinter having just gone through two back-to-back three parters as well as the stories before that, so I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it the way it needed to be read. Fortunately, I've slept on it and given it another shot, and my impressions are much warmer this time around.
The way the man's increasing disinterest with the life he thought he was missing out on is written as he gains more money came through a lot stronger this time around, and I started to properly understand what the author was going for. It definitely is a very well-written story, and the themes are woven in far better than I'd thought they were on my first read.
I'll admit that it isn't a story 'about' gambling, To me, it feels more like the end point of someone directionless. Where you reach that point where the thing you've been putting your time into doesn't bring you happiness, and after you've been forced to abandon it to survive, even getting it back doesn't make you feel any more content. Getting all that money brought him minor and slightly less minor comforts, but in the end it doesn't bring him any real happiness.
I still think it remains my second favourite of the bunch, but I'll concede that I'm just more of a dialogue and plot guy than a themes guy. I think I wind up closer to Poingnant's thoughts on it. I think the best way of explaining it is that I love the way it tackles its themes, but I'm not sure how much I like it as a story.

Sleeping on it has had slightly more unfavourable consequences for Takeo and the mystery of the cut-off title though. I think I was too gentle on it the first time around. It's not that good as a children's story, and it's definitely not good as a story that adults are reading. As a children's story, the theme seems to be something about optimism and pressing on regardless of bad things happening, but I don't really know what kids would take from this? Just keep doing what you're doing because something's going to blindside you regardless? Takeo doesn't even seem to take on board any lessons from his bad luck, so he decides to run through a tornado (apparently his bad luck had the day off, because somehow nothing happens to him during this) and it all just works out.
I think that this story should have been the start of an actual story. Perhaps Kosuzu tells the story, and then the story is about an actual village kid with awful luck trying to put the lessons into action. I just don't think making the children's story the entire entry was worth doing, both for a story and because, to be honest, the children's storybook writing can't carry a whole entry against the competition (And no, don't try and sell me on Book of the New Sun, I'm not interested.)
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>And no, don't try and sell me on Book of the New Sun, I'm not interested.
Fucking thank you. Somebody had to say it.
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Alright, yeah, I blew it, but I'm not gonna admit it. As for making it the start of an actual story, that is a good idea. Maybe someday I'll come back to that and even touch up the original children's story. I will say, though, that I couldn't think of a reason not to write it. I had an idea I was eager to write and show the world, and I feel that "don't worry so much; everything will work out in the end" is quintessential Gensokyo. It was a good, fun experience, and your criticisms will help me to grow. And, at the very least, it was time spent doing something I actually wanted to do rather than watch youtube all day. It being the first story in the thread is definitely a bad thing, but oh well. I've gotten what I asked for doing this.
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Looks like I'll just have something to say about one more story. I skimmed the others and found either things that I didn't like or just didn't find anything to recommend them. Apologies to the writers, but I can't force myself, especially with as limited an attention span as I have right now.

Since you've called yourself out, I'll address this post to you directly.

Gambler's Delight is all right as a story, though I will say it's more functional than exceptional. The narrative overall felt a little weak in terms of having a reason to push forward that wasn't a contrivance. For instance, Yachie could very well have just refused to play cards, and that would have been that. What were the consequences? Nothing. For that matter, what would she have done in any case? Was she seriously just there to menace Sannyo like a playground bully? Already, the foundation is a little shaky.

Then, there's the bulk of the story, which plays out as largely descriptions of playing koi-koi interspersed with dialogue. This is the weakest part of the story, I'm sorry to say. You really didn't have to explain anything beyond the most basic as far as the game went; whether or not the rules of the game made any sense to us as readers didn't matter at all, because the point was the interpersonal conflict between Sannyo and Yachie. And it's largely trying to explain things that bogs down this story and makes it a lot longer than it needs to be. That includes the ending 'twist' which a) arguably comes out of nowhere and b) seems to serve little purpose. Why did we need to know that Sannyo won by sheer luck? Why did it matter that Mamizou was there or not? For that matter, was there really much purpose in Momiji, the faceless beast-spirit with the gambling problem, the henchmen, or most of the other characters being there? There's a lot of cruft that could easily have been cut. Oh, and Yachie is just generally out-of-character at the end, flying into a temper tantrum like that, especially when it's unclear just how of-consequence any of what happened was; how were any of the suggested stakes even enforceable in the first place?

In my opinion, this piece could have started in medias res, with little more explanation as to what was going on than Sannyo and Yachie being engaged in a game of koi-koi, perhaps a few glancing remarks made throughout about why they might be playing included. No need to drag in a whole mess about Megumu that goes nowhere, a random Beast Realm resident with a gambling addiction, and others. Just Sannyo and Yachie locked in a quiet struggle against each other, uncertain of the outcome and straining against transient measures of elation and despair as the game plays out, its details largely glossed over. When it's all over, Yachie having lost and withdrawn with perhaps a few veiled threats, Sannyo laughs to herself, nearly collapsing under the weight of her own emotion as she turns over the cards, presumably — there's no need to reveal this directly, remember — discovering how lucky she was or wasn't. Perhaps this isn't the end of her troubles. Perhaps, in the end, it doesn't really matter that she won the game.

I say all of this not to tear down your effort, because I nevertheless appreciate that you tried. I simply want to offer food for thought. See also: I wouldn't have bothered saying anything if your piece hadn't provoked something, so you should perhaps see that as a kind of success.
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I'd like to call attention to >>/shorts/2900, an entry submitted yesterday. The author probably ought to have announced themselves in this thread, but whatever. Anyway, please read it too.

Over The Mou[n]tain; A Rainbow

So, here's my thing with this piece: I have a lot of quibbles with it in terms of its premise and prose, but much like Gambler's Delight, I would say that it is in firmly 'okay' territory as a story. To borrow words from my impressions on that story: 'more functional than exceptional'.

I'm not really going to call out the issues of prose, because I feel like a large portion are a product of lacking mindful exposure to literature. Please, go read books and try to examine closely how they do things and understand the use of language, punctuation, etc. That may sound like an easy sort of dismissal, but I really can't stress enough that it's hard to be a writer when you're not much of a reader. Incidentally, this particular criticism also applies to others I've looked at critically, so I should hope the writer of this piece doesn't feel singled-out in that respect.

That rather big disclaimer aside, I'll get into what bothers me most about this piece: the premise. In general, I'd say the piece itself strikes me as a Western fantasy story — or, rather, my stereotyped idea of one, as I don't read that genre at all — transplanted into a Gensokyan(?) setting. In truth, I'm not even all that sure if this is meant to be Gensokyo; it feels assumed in some way, but I honestly don't see anything to back up such a notion in the text. All we have to go on is Chimata's appearance in the story, and even that raises certain questions. Chimata as a human? Does that make this an origin story of some sort? On what grounds can it be claimed that Chimata was ever human? On the other hand, if Chimata is lying about being a human for whatever reason, that doesn't make much sense, even in context. Sorry to say, I don't buy it. Even setting that aside, Chimata simply doesn't feel that much like Chimata the Touhou Project character. She swaggers and shows bravado that is a sort of surface-level copy of the Chimata shown in game dialogue from UM, but the actual Chimata is shown in a lot of the background information and endings to be much more of a sad-sack who blusters to compensate for it. Frankly, the 'Chimata' here feels more like another character with a 'Chimata' label stuck on.

Then we get into the dragon character. Overall, there's not much to go on in terms of character for him. He's quick-tempered, seems to be violent, and thunders at every little thing said until the end. There are slight hints at the beginning of some minor differences in point-of-view to that of humans, but it feels assumed that audience might understand already, which isn't ever a good assumption to make. For the most part, he doesn't feel much like a character as much as another 'voice' in the story to play off of Chimata. His contribution to the interplay between them largely consists of going "Do-ho, pitiful human," and "How dare you!" in turn at everything. Then, at the end, he's conveniently swayed to accept the terms of Chimata's 'bargaining' without much clear motivation for doing so beyond "Man, that sure is a shiny jewel." In sum, very thin as character.

As far as it being an exhibition piece, I can't say it ends up serving its purpose. Sure, things about 'luck' and 'fortune', vis-a-vis money and treasure, are brought up as topical matter within the story, but is it really about that? I'd say no. If I had to take a crack at representing what the story is about, it'd be more like: 'notions of civilisation diplomatically triumphing over brutality' or somesuch; you basically have Chimata coming in to convince the dragon of the basic idea that money can be used for goods and services. Considering the majority of the story as given is devoted to that purpose, I don't know what to say in terms of how it could have done 'better' in that regard. Still, as far as thematic content, I don't see a whole lot here. We're given a pretty thin plot about a supposed human telling a dragon to pay for things and convincing him... essentially by default?

To be clear, I'm not saying it's a 'bad' story; I'm saying that it's a flawed story and one that doesn't fit in thematically with the exhibition. You could very well make a similar plot work otherwise, and maybe you could rework it as a standalone piece later. I can't say it's my cup of tea in terms of chosen premise, but that's a whole separate matter aside. Thank for you submitting something, regardless, and I hope my very blunt critique can at least pose points to think about in future.
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Author of Daikoku's Injection Control Kit (DICK). I apologize for coming off late. Firstly first, I want to congratulate anyone who participated here, and I want to give my big thanks to Teruyo for making this exhibition in the first place.

Fun fact about DICK; Surprisingly, the first thing that comes to mind when writing this piece is the acronym, and I specifically built the plot around it so that the name would make sense. Now, I can proudly say 'I am the creator of DICK!' and make it a valid statement.

DICK was supposed to last longer, about six rounds in total. But due to the time limit, I changed DICK so that it would fit and make it climax on the fourth round. I still liked how it turns out, since it made DICK alot denser and easier to handle, I think.

I've actually wanted to write competence porn for a while (which is different from actual porn, to be clear). This piece is mainly inspired by the gambling manga called Usogui, and I was trying to replicate the same thrill I have when I read that manga. I'm happy that someone even compares it with Washizu and JJBA, can't sleep for a whole night because of that.
(That is a joke by the way, I'm clearly not that deprived of validation!!!)
In the end, I enjoyed writing my piece, and it turns out exactly what I wanted it to be. I really want to thank Teruyo for indirectly awakening my love for writing once more.

Moving on to other entries.

Takeo the lucky!

I feel like the dialogue here is a bit too corny, even if it is meant to be a children book. I mean, there's nothing stopping a children book to be enjoyable to adults too, right?

Though, I like the resolve in Takeo during the typhoon. A fairly good end that that'd fit a fairy tale, in my opinion.

I honestly don't know what else I could say about it, not because I don't like the story, but because I don't know what makes a children story to be good. Well, I guess I could say that I enjoyed it.

Gamblers Delight ~ Bright Fright

I liked Sannyo's love for gambling and her laid back characterization, I think it feels natural for her to be so relaxed, despite the high stakes she's in. Gambling's is her nature, afterall.

I have the same issue with the previous post, where I don't really understand the mechanics of Koi-Koi, so the turns in the game doesn't spark anything in me. This is arguably not the story's fault, since the reader can easily pick on a guide and learn it themselves.

I agree that this feels rather a sitcom than a thrilling gamble. I like it nonetheless.

I'd still give my own 2 cents and say that, if it were me, I'd focus more on the strategies of the game, things such as bluffs can be maintained in the game and each character could use their abilities to use the game's mechanic in their advantage. Sannyo can use her smoke to lower Yachie's guard, Yachie making her own gambit by manipulating the dealer, etc etc.

I'd post the reviews on other entries later this day. Just want to shake things first for the people here.
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Alright, gotten around to reading and figuring out what to say about each story. I’ll be trying to focus on what I think are the most important things to highlight. While I’m trying to be constructive, I won’t sugarcoat things either. Do mind that, in the end, it’s just my opinion and don’t place any extra weight to it on account of my using of an identity.

Also, haven’t really looked at the posts here yet, mostly to keep myself unbiased, so forgive me if I repeat things others have said.

Takeo the Lucky, Written by Kosuzu Motoori for the Good Children of the Vi[llage?]

The title and the format make it clear that it’s an in-universe story. But why are we reading this story? Is it a commentary on Kosuzu’s hobbies/talent? Is it an example of the kind of story that’s popular in the village or among children? It seems odd to frame this story in such a way for no real purpose. Why is the audience treated to this children’s tale, complete with simplistic sentence structure, plot and surface-level character portrayal? All those things seem deliberate.

Even a brief bit with someone reading it or Kosuzu finishing writing it or, really, anything might have given it much-needed context and purpose. An introduction of some sort or a postscript could have been used as a device, maybe.

Overall, I was left baffled because as there’s nothing inherently interesting about the plot, the characters, and much less the prose. So the surface-level impression of a bare-bones and barely-serviceable children’s story remains.

Gamblers Delight ~ Bright Fright

Fairly straightforward conceit of high-stakes gambling with a cute and humorous little twist at the end. I’m not sure it needed to be as long as it was, however. The whole beginning bit with the animal spirit was superfluous (could have been done, quickly and retrospectively, when Yachie shows up) and bringing in Megumu into it and the “legal” wrangling also felt unnecessary (Especially since Yachie has an ability that could have been used.) Since the important bit is the gambling, its “value” to Sannyo, and the way she confronts Yachie, I think you could have gotten away with less, ultimately inconsequential, setup.

The description of the gambling action is strong and engaging. I say that despite not “enjoying” it. It’s a personal taste thing and not a comment on the quality. Depictions of games, races, etc in books, eg chemin de fer in Casino Royale or Vronsky on his horse in Anna Karenina, tend to make my eyes glaze over.

I also felt that a lot of the prose felt a little flat. There was also a bit of a jumble in sentences at times with a lot of words that didn’t really say much of consequence. A lot of it is “tell” and not “show” as well which, granted, may be a stylistic thing to an extent given that Sannyo is narrating. Here’s a few examples:

>I glance back to Kicchou, leaning over from her seat with a concerned look. She seems interested in how I could sway this guard so.
>The little thing looked nervous on her first day in the den, so I can tell now that she’s downright terrified sitting next to Kicchou. I release a puff of smoke their way and she loosens her nerves waving the cloud from her face.
>I pause, building up smoke in my lungs, waiting for the gang boss to continue. She keeps a placid smile, clearly waiting for me as well. The man grunts in affirmation and picks the girl up from her seat. >I expect her to be horrified at the possibility of punishment, but she seems more depressed. This must not be the first time for her.

Restated: instead of just being told that someone is concerned, nervous or seems a certain way, show us how they’re behaving. Their body language, mannerisms, tone of voice, and the like. Someone who is very nervous/tense might have their shoulders stiff or even tremble a little, their words clipping out or their voice small.

Just being told that this, this, and that is <adjective> or done <adverbially> tends not to be really interesting or memorable in prose. Take a look at a book you remember enjoying and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean when it comes to descriptions.

The excessively long & involves excessive world building entry

The title is on the mark.

Easy joke aside, I do have to say that I wasn’t sure what it was that I ought to take away from this story. It is competently written on a technical level and it’s easy to follow the (physical) action of fights and disturbances which is a feat not-always-easily-accomplished. Still, for whatever measure of technical accomplishment in terms of prose, it still feels like a muddled and unfocused sort of story.

Am I supposed to care about the eagles and their machinations? If so, the bevy of characters and titles, their larger irrelevance to the action and portrayal of the matriarchs makes their prominence more of a punishment to endure than a cool bits of “lore” or “world building”. Yes, great, it’s all well and “clever” to have not-Goebbels, not-cultural-revolution type rhetoric in abstract when it comes to painting dysfunction and obsession but in practice, due to the burden on the reader to digest all this new information and characters, it comes off as orthogonal to storytelling and, frankly, masturbatory.

This is a general problem with “world-building” (and, for that matter, “lore”) as it’s understood currently in much contemporary media. Story and characters take a backseat to exploring some minor detail or conceit for its own sake. It’s not that these aspects can’t be interesting, or add to the richness of a narrative, but they cannot replace the actual foundations of storytelling as they’ve existed for all of human history. On a practical level, if you must have these elements, they are better dispersed over the course of a novel than a (relatively) short story. On a more conceptual level in terms of writing, you ought to think about what the addition of these details add to the essence of the story—what thoughts and feelings will be invoked in the audience? Will it clarify or reinforce what the story is about? Excise that which fails to have a necessary narrative purpose. In other, trite, words, “Kill your darlings.”

Whatever commentary there might be on the beast realm or human nature failed to make much of an impression on me. And by the end of it, after all that sound and fury signifying nothing, I didn’t care about the not-D&D session between the beasts. I had been worn down with excessive fluff.

Seven Flowers in Sunny September

I had fun with this story. The prose reads well and the tone is well-executed, with Yuuka’s fancy and style of whimsy coming across clearly. I enjoy the depiction Yuuka and her overwhelming youkai moe. There’s a strong sense character and tying it in with the bits of canon that we know of her. Quite a lot of enjoyable fanservice.

… But, I’ll be a bastard and say that that’s also the story biggest flaw. If you’re not already a fan, if you’re not already familiar with things, then there’s a lot of needless bloat to the story. There’s no real reason to care as a reader about Elly and her apples, that Akyuu shows up, or about Shion’s relationship to Tenshi if you’re approaching it as a work of fiction in general. None of that is set up or explained in a way that really truly justifies those particular elements (those seven flowers could have been introduced in different ways.)

I know we’re a fanfiction community and that this exhibition is overtly about fanfiction and so this type of critique is odd. But I think that too often we lean into assumptions about the audience and that can be something of a crutch when it comes to storytelling. I certainly have done in the past, and likely will continue to sometimes do so, so this comment isn’t meant as censure as such. It’s just something that I think it’s good to be aware about—whether you care about it when writing or reading fanfiction is ultimately a matter of opinion—since it does detract from the work when looked at by someone who isn’t as invested from the outset with the setting/characters as the writer.

I think that it’s important to like characters on their own merits in a work, even they are externally established. I know for a fact that some people just don’t care at all about PC-98 things or print works, so neither Elly nor Akyuu would mean much to them. Yes, these plebeians with no taste ought to be shunned. But that’s a whole different discussion. I think that it’s good as a writer to not just pander to those who have bought-in fully from the get-go.

A restructuring of a story would likely have been necessary to make it stand on its own. I’d say that maybe a greater focus on Yuuka and Tenshi interacting and a cutting of the other characters might have been an interesting approach. But that’s needless musing.

I do have a few minor quibbles such as Yuuka being openly recognized as a youkai and embracing it which, I know, is explained and resolved within the story. But it nonetheless runs a little contrary to the mentality shown by both youkai and humans in the village in the manga. Also the reasonability of the premise (and relevance) of the imposter thing. Also, indoor wisteria? A bonsai, I suppose you could handwave it away.

… I’m going to stop myself from saying more because I did mean what I said in that first paragraph and I don’t want to come off as overly harsh or down on what was a pleasant read.


I wrote this. Originally it was meant to follow more the winning aspect and Sannyo herself but I had fallen behind on Lotus Eaters and, when I caught up, I realized that perhaps it felt too close to the newer chapters. The changes in structure and focus were probably for the best.

I’m overall satisfied with how the story turned out and rereading it for this post was an enjoyable experience (not something I can say about many other things I’ve written.) That feeling of shapelessness, of being lost, of definitions having no importance, and of drifting/flowing was interesting to form and express. The important nothings detailed, with every word and sentence being strictly necessary and deliberate, were fun to string together and then to read. There’s a lot that’s oblique and a lot that’s judgmental but the sort of narrator I chose feels dead on and produces a good effect. I worried a lot that the nature of youkai and their relationship with humanity would be a little too subtle but I don’t think I would have enjoyed being more explicit about it. At least to me, the commentary is clear.

I tried something different in some places with the use of language. Yeah, word choice is very deliberate, but the alliteration that comes up isn’t just for its own sake. Likewise, many sentences have a flow that might be more obvious if read aloud. It’s nothing as explicit as with verse, but the sonorous component reinforces many of the thoughts and feelings and adds to the mood. I hoped that the type of sounds made it would come through if only on a subconscious level and perhaps stupefy or help put the reader into a similar state to the failed musician.

Not sure about some of the imagery and motifs and things of that sort. The heat/fire and cold/ice were just about too on the nose and contrived, maybe. While other things like allusions to fluids may have been too dispersed and disconnected.

I think maybe a little less description of Miyoi might have been better. As with my observation about the Yuuka story, it does feel a bit indulgent and fanservice-y. Sannyo is what’s important and everyone else is only purposefully described in the most basic of ways, and the destitute musician not at all.

I’ll have the good sense to stop talking about my own story since it’s probably not interesting to hear me gas on.

Daikoku's Injection Control Kit

I appreciate the selection of characters an the general vibe of a high-stakes match. That said, there’s too much roughness to this piece with fairly basic mistakes in grammar and syntax. Issues like subject-verb agreement and incorrect tenses for verbs abound.

This was clearly written by someone with limited experience with English. That’s okay! Even native speakers struggle with the language and a lot of the rules are difficult to internalize when compared to other languages. I’d advise that you read more books and write more as with exposure and experience you’ll become better at understanding grammar and the flow of things. Whatever other thoughts I might have of this story don’t really matter in light of these more fundamental issues.

Over The Moutain; A Rainbow

Since it’s taken me this long to write up this post, I’ll also include this last story that was submitted a few days later.

Chimata being bold is fun. Her trying to reach a “fair” deal sure sounds about right. On the other hand, it feels weird to have a western sort of dragon complete with a hoard hiding out in a cave. They’re not really depicted that way in Asian media and in Touhou they’re treated like a really big deal as well (see also: Wild and Horned Hermit.)

Chimata isn’t a human, however. But maybe I missed if that was supposed to be a ruse or something.

I’ll repeat some of the things I said about the last story about tenses. Make sure they’re consistent. Comma/punctuation usage is also a little iffy. Also, would say that a little more description would have been welcome. There’s a bit in the beginning but there’s almost nothing about the jewel or the riches themselves which seems odd. Not to mention character actions.

Read more stuff, think about the things you enjoy—highlight paragraphs and type them out if you like. You’ll get it the more experience you have reading and writing and thinking about what you’re doing.

I think I’ve covered most things and hopefully been incisive and succinct while also giving useful feedback. I can elaborate more on things if anyone wants me to so feel free to ask away. I don’t expect it’ll take me as long to get back to you.
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>I think that it’s important to like characters on their own merits in a work, even they are externally established. I know for a fact that some people just don’t care at all about PC-98 things or print works, so neither Elly nor Akyuu would mean much to them. [...] I think that it’s good as a writer to not just pander to those who have bought-in fully from the get-go.
Guilty as charged on this count. I saw PC-98 and what looked like strong assumptions regarding those characters' (and games') relevance and noped away. Too strong a bias to overcome, sorry to say.

>with every word and sentence being strictly necessary and deliberate
I forgot in my gushing critique to mention that I felt there wasn't any bit of prose that really felt wholly 'purposeless' in your piece. It was hard to even feel that anything was particularly extraneous, though I'm sure you have your own ideas.

>the nature of youkai and their relationship with humanity
Okay, going to be honest: I didn't pick up on it. At least, I'm not sure I took away anything I could articulate very well about it.

>The heat/fire and cold/ice were just about too on the nose and contrived, maybe. While other things like allusions to fluids may have been too dispersed and disconnected.
On-the-nose? Eh, maybe a little. Contrived? Not at all, as far as I felt. Nothing felt like it called undue attention to itself, in any case.

As to the fluid allusions, I did notice them and found them interesting. Not the sort of thing that would occur to me to put in writing.

>I’ll have the good sense to stop talking about my own story since it’s probably not interesting to hear me gas on.
Nonsense; I'd love to hear more.
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>I can tell that 'Elly making cider' has come from a certain thread on a certain board, but it's kept relatively out of the way
Unless I am mistaken, both that and half the florist shop sequence are an extended reference.
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Got nothing to add that wouldn't have been bigly biased, but here's a little token of appreciation for my personal favourite of the lot.

You have no idea what it took out of me not to make it an unsubstantiated Elly piece.
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Everyone here is biased, squire. If anything made you react in any way, by ZUN, share. It makes more sense than shuffling around and having a shufty in the shadows.
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I don't have the time for a massive writeup, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to be somewhat short and sweet.

Takeo the Lucky etc etc
Not much more to say about this then has already been said. I personally think that if you can't put in the whole effort required for a full story, it'd be better to just not write anything at all. I'm not sure if this was your intention, but if you were hacking something together just to be first to submit, then...Stop that.

Gamblers Delight ~ Bright Fright
I more or less enjoyed reading it, but I do agree with some of the other points made here. The premise feels a little crowded and could probably be narrowed down significantly, and it would probably be better off for it. Things like the Momoyo stuff, Mamizou's inclusion, and basically everything aside from Yachie, Sannyo, and maybe the girl stealing from the Kiketsu. It would have been probably been easier to write and justify if Yachie was playing to erase the girl's debt, because otherwise I really don't see why she accepted the match at all. I think that if this went through another editing pass specifically looking to kill all your darlings (and probably a grammarly pass, because there were quite a few missed punctuation marks) then you'd have something more solid.

The excessively long & involves excessive world building entry
Much like the first story, I don't have much of interest to say. Very long, lots of world detail, but I feel like I got dropped in the deep end, and thus I don't actually have any reason to care about the world being built. This, to me, is a perfect example of a story that is built to be its own thing starting simple and building up in complexity over time, rather than what feels like a snippet from the middle of a novel. I did like how grandiose the world feels, though.

Seven Flowers in Sunny September
I wrote this!
It started out with very little idea of what it would be before I found the Autumn Flowers poem that I ended up focusing the whole thing around. I almost favoured a gambling story, but I figured it would be too literal an interpretation of the themes, so I went with something else. Plus, I very much enjoy writing Yuuka, Tenshi, and Reimu (The latter of which had no role in this story before she abruptly wandered into the middle of the scene without my knowledge, and suddenly there she was). I tried my best to get the world and the descriptions across well, because I always struggle with that.
I hope the two OC appearances weren't too off-putting. I considered using Kosuzu at one point, but I fretted over her seeming too old for the role I had Hana play, so I decided to just go for what eventually ended up in the story. As for the florist, yes, it was an extended reference, but one I tried to keep at least vaguely obscured so that it didn't feel like it was something you would have to go out of your way to read.

As for the feedback posted in this thread (And thank you for it all, by the way!) I definitely still have a lot to learn.
Teruyo's definitely correct about the story not really standing if you aren't already a fan. That's a tendency of mine to want to include references and even tiny roles for characters according to my whims. I'll admit that I was a little surprised that the LLShus being referenced in one paragraph at the start was enough to turn one person away entirely, but that just proves how important the point about keeping things accessible is. I'll work harder on that in the future. And I probably should have done a bit more research about the flowers in the florist shop. That's the sort of thing I might have caught if I'd done a few more editing passes. As for Yuuka being recognised in the village, I'll admit that I have a bias toward PMiSS when it comes to human/youkai relations, so as time goes on I've just decided that the strongest youkai barely disguise themselves because there's not really anyone to stop them.
I also didn't really sell why Tenshi would have been in danger if this had happened on any other day as well as I could have. The idea would have been that on any other day, Yuuka wouldn't have even bothered asking Tenshi what her plans were, and she would have just immediately come to the conclusion that Tenshi couldn't care for the golden lace and forcibly relieved her of it. It was only with the previous conversations that Yuuka considered asking Tenshi if she was up to the task. But it didn't come through all that well, so rambling on about it after the fact doesn't really change anything.
As for Yuuka being a bit nicer than one person expected...Well, I don't have much to say in my defence. My headcanon of Yuuka is that she is dangerous, but only if you're either dangerous, aggravating, or give enjoyable reactions to teasing. Otherwise, she's too old to get angry easily, and regular people don't produce funny reactions compared to someone like Reimu. And she especially likes it when people care about flowers.
I've yammered on enough and no one really cares about me reviewing my own story, so I'll move on. Before I do, I want to say thank you to >>17397. I love the image!

Very interesting read, and I enjoy how it forces the reader to think. Like some of the other feedback said, I'm a big fan of the feelings of aimlessness and being directionless that come through in this; Of doing things just in the hopes that it'll spark something more. A really pleasing story, overall. I'll push back about Teruyo's own comments though, and say that I don't think there's anything wrong with referencing Miyoi slightly more. While I agree that pulling back from too much fanservice is good, you can just as easily pull back so far that it's possible to confuse this for not being a touhou story at all unless you already knew it was (or saw where it was posted). There's nothing explicitly touhou aside from perhaps Sannyo's tobacco, and barring some minor description changes, you could just as easily set this in...I don't know, a city as an original story, without having to change it all that much.
But, like I said, it's a very pleasing story.

Daikoku's Injection Control Kit
I enjoyed this, and I enjoyed that it wasn't a typical gambling game but something a little more out of left field. Personally, I think you could have gone even further and had the game they were playing actually draw blood. They are in Eientei, after all. Like the other reviewer, I think you shouldn't have spelt out the hints at the end. Other than that, I liked the way the tricks were laid out and explained through the game. Not sure about the butler cutting a finger off for something as simple as getting accused of favouritism, though. Even hardcore Yakuza wouldn't demand a finger for something as small as that.
This could probably have used a pass through grammarly, too.

Over The Mou[n]tain; A Rainbow
I'll be honest, I wasn't really sure what to make of this one. Was Chimata actually a human, or was she lying? Why was there a western dragon? When was this supposed to take place? I suppose I could see Chimata having this sort of persona in the past, before she lost her power the first time, but it still feels a little strange. Like a story that touhou characters have roughly been inserted into, rather than a story designed around featuring touhou characters. It's reasonably well written aside from those issues, but the tenses are a bit all over the place and the descriptions rather sparse (Now I'm just copying Teruyo, so I'll move on). I think something to keep in mind when writing a story like this, and I said it in my feedback for Teruyo's work too, is that while you can pull back on definition so that anyone could enjoy it, it's important that if you're going to write a touhou story, it should be a touhou story. I think you could have just as easily done this story with a regular human worshipper or the market gods rather than Chimata herself, but it would have then been a story about two OCs talking to each other that is maybe touhou related if you squint hard enough.

Alright, I think I'm done. I did enjoy reading through all of these, even if my feedback perhaps makes it sound like I didn't. That's something I'm still working on, too. Thanks to all the other writers and thanks to everyone who gave feedback!
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>if you were hacking something together just to be first to submit, then...Stop that.
I can't say I agree with this point. Events like this exist to encourage people to do things in spite of reservations, doubts, and so on. Telling people to not do things is counterintuitive, especially when THP already has issues with activity. And I say that despite being pretty harsh on the entry in question.

>it's possible to confuse this for not being a touhou story at all
To be quite honest, I feel like this is a bit unwarranted. We are, after all, presumably fans of the Touhou Project, on a website dedicated to fiction thereof. If it were posted elsewhere, sure, perhaps it could be confused for anything else, but that doesn't really matter. The context of the site is what matters here.

Also, in general, I feel like the piece captures a lot of the spirit of the setting that most don't. You really can't remove what happens from a fairly late-Meiji/early-Taisho milieu and expect to have it make a lot of sense. It doesn't have specificity in what it describes, but there is nevertheless a sense of mood and place embedded. Plus, though it might miss a lot of people by, there is extensive influence drawn in from Japanese writers of the aforementioned period and a touch later. You don't have to appreciate that fact, but I should think some of that influence is felt, no matter how vaguely.
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>Events like this exist to encourage people to do things in spite of reservations, doubts, and so on.
Yes, and my point was that if you're going to do that, then commit to it. Don't half-ass it, especially on an exhibition that doesn't, strictly speaking, have a timer attached to it. I'm not telling him not to write, I'm telling him not to hack a half-baked idea together when he had the time to round it out. Hell, he even acknowledged that it was 'hacked-together, last-minute writing.' Again, I'm not telling him not to write. I'm telling him that I think if you're going to write, you should be putting in the effort, and if the choice is between half-assing it and taking the time to get it right at the cost of not being first, then it should be a no-brainer to get it right.

I'll acknowledge that I don't seem to feel Midwinter as strongly as you do, assuming you were also >>17374 and
>>17389. I enjoyed it, and I think it is a very good story. My concern - And the reason I gave the feedback I did - Is that I agreed with Teruyo's feedback on my story about approaching it for someone who isn't a fan of it already - And he even acknowledged that it might seem like a pointless critique for a fanfiction community about a series, which is what you've pointed out in defence of it.

I'm just pointing out that it's easy to go just as far in the opposite direction. Sure, maybe it wouldn't work in a city (though I still think it would with minimal changes) but you could set this in an original setting's Meiji-ish village instead of Touhou's Human Village and the story would be the same outside of vaguely referencing Miyoi and the two male bar patrons in Lotus Eaters because even Sannyo's description is kept very vague. That's what I mean when I say you could confuse it for not being a Touhou story. If you pull too far back from describing anything actually being Touhou, then all you've got to go on is the 'spirit of the setting' as you said, which could mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people.

I'm really, really trying to stress here that I really do like the story. I don't want this to seem like I'm trying to tear it or Teruyo's writing (God knows he's a better writer than I am) down. I'm making a critique of something that I noticed in my reading of it - That with the dressing being left so vague, I felt like I could have been just as easily reading an original story - A very good original story, mind you, but a story that I wouldn't peg for being Touhou without being told outside of the aforementioned references to Lotus Eaters that he already thinks he went too far on, while I don't think he went far enough.

At the end of the day, it might just be an incompatible difference in our writing styles, and my critiquing skills are fairly poor, but I'm trying my best to get my point across. In the end, all I can do is say what I feel.
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>especially on an exhibition that doesn't, strictly speaking, have a timer attached to it. I'm not telling him not to write, I'm telling him not to hack a half-baked idea together when he had the time to round it out.
Sure, though, realistically, how many people are going to bother reading much of anything after the initial submission period? Or, assuming they are read, how many are going to bother commenting? The most recent entry posted only got commented on by three people at most, for instance. Any of the posters who had things to say above could have come back to comment on it, but it's not realistic to expect them to do so. There's not much motivation there for someone to come in late unless they simply want to post it for their own satisfaction.

Don't get me wrong. I think folks should do their best and produce work they can be proud of. I just also accept that malaise wins out more often than not around here, so sometimes it's best to take what can be reasonably expected, because the alternative is quite often nothing at all.
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I think it's pretty valid to want more of the characters, especially in light of the contextual fact that we are a fanficition community. I did, in fact, show the piece to someone without the first notion of what Touhou is and they were able to enjoy it. However, while it certainly doesn't invalidate the feelings of the reader, I want to offer a different perspective: the Touhou-ness of the piece doesn't primarily come from any one character, Sannyo included.

The Touhou-ness of it comes from the conceit that youkai can and do manipulate humans for their own benefit. It's primarily about someone caught in the middle of these machinations and would be analogous to some random villager who noticed the tanuki marks in Lotus Eaters or who maybe witnessed the night parade in Forbidden Scrollery. It follows someone like that and they're not in the know and don't really understand what is happening and why. Were they fool enough to leave the village at night, they might be the victim of night blindness and stumble upon a lamprey-grilling food cart.

From that perspective, Miyoi's role is only really relevant insofar she also is preying on the humans (albeit, in a far more benign form and her patrons also get something out of it) and it's not really important to describe much beyond her attitude and actions. In the original concept she was more prominent and had actual dialogue and interactions with the musician, but I found myself asking "what does it really add?" to the story overall. Yes cute and bully-able stuff (and such impulses remain within me) but ultimately too self-indulgent. I chose to focus exclusively on Sannyo's allure and attitude and how she uses her powers to control situations because that's the how, or the execution, of "what the story is about." The perception of things by a regular villager in a setting full of non-humans behaving in ways that they would and do in various works is what I wanted to express in terms of Touhou.

Again, I don't think what I said invalidates the what you felt. Hopefully, it does maybe add a layer or grants a perspective that might be useful. Forcing the reader to think (and feel) was something I was aiming for a lot and it is pleasing to hear that in your comments.

>God knows he's a better writer than I am
I'll take the indirect compliment since I don't get many. That said, I don't consider myself a particularly good writer, perhaps a somewhat persistent one who isn't afraid to experiment. But displaying modesty isn't the objective of my quoting this phrase. I want to say that having a critical eye, being able to take onboard critiques, filtering out what may or may not be useful, and being able to express such notions coherently and earnestly places you at least a tier above the majority. I would like to encourage you to always do that and to be honest since I think that often enough people (especially on THP) struggle with that. It's useful for both writers and readers to be forthright and thinking about things helps both grow.

As an aside, and not really directed at you, I knew that the story wouldn't be to a lot of people's tastes but was still befuddled by some of the other comments. Being liked for the execution and themes but not as a story? What does that even mean? Stories aren't plot and, besides, if it makes you feel and think something that resonates or you find interesting then that should be more than enough. It's okay if get little from something and don't like it as a result, but I don't think that that's the case going on by what else was said. Seemed to perhaps be a matter of expectations more than anything (perhaps about characters) and, if I am right about that, I'd ask those people to read the story again without being beholden to them. Fair enough if it's the same outcome but my ultimate goal was to have something that you can walk away with and think back on from time to time, which is what I appreciate the most about the stories on THP that I've enjoyed. I want to say that it isn't a matter of ego as such but more along the lines of encouraging the mentality mentioned in the previous paragraph but I don't think anyone can say objectively.

I haven't really responded to the other posts you've (presumably) made in the thread not because I haven't read them but was mostly unsure what to say. I'm glad you enjoyed the story and it is nice to be appreciated. While you're right that there's Meiji/Taisho era stuff in the story, it's not that important to the story beyond depictions of poverty and things like that mostly because Gensokyo is kinda-sorta culturally in that period (see also: Akyuu and Kosuzu's designs.) A lot of the more modern understanding of how youkai operate certainly does come from Akutagawa but, also, is not that important. I didn't really have a conscious influence there or something that I was aping but, stylistically, I think that I would point more to Show-era writers in their sensibilities (or, in fact, non-Japanese writers like André Malraux, Marguerite Duras, or even Carlos Fuentes.) There's more to say there about authors and sensibilities but I find that my free hand is compulsively and involuntarily making wanking gestures; my unprompted pretensions are too much of an uninteresting imposition for most.

>Nonsense; I'd love to hear more.
I did mean to reply to this that I'm more than happy to say stuff but because of feelings of self-consciousness that inhibit me from speaking too much about myself or what I've written, you'll have to say what you want me to talk about or know more about. I could add to some of the stuff that you've noted—I suppose—but, again, doing so without being asked to seems to me like blathering that likely makes eyes roll.
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>you'll have to say what you want me to talk about or know more about

>That feeling of shapelessness, of being lost, of definitions having no importance, and of drifting/flowing was interesting to form and express. The important nothings detailed, with every word and sentence being strictly necessary and deliberate, were fun to string together and then to read. There’s a lot that’s oblique and a lot that’s judgmental but the sort of narrator I chose feels dead on and produces a good effect.
There's a bit that could be unpacked here, and I'm not entirely sure what I want to concretely ask, but I'll try anyway. When you say that you 'formed' and 'strung together' these ideas, what do you mean? Can you give a concrete example? What is the 'good effect' produced by the choice of narrator? What are the 'judgemental' and 'oblique' aspects of the narration? I guess I'm curious as to these things because I don't consciously notice them reading.

>Yeah, word choice is very deliberate, but the alliteration that comes up isn’t just for its own sake. Likewise, many sentences have a flow that might be more obvious if read aloud. It’s nothing as explicit as with verse, but the sonorous component reinforces many of the thoughts and feelings and adds to the mood.
Can you give any example of this that you find illustrative? I didn't really pick up on this element in any conscious way, and I'm curious about it.

>While other things like allusions to fluids may have been too dispersed and disconnected.
What was there beyond the allusions to fluids? What did you mean by them? I'll admit, I only half-noticed that part, but I'm curious about any other things that might not have been readily apparent.

>The Touhou-ness of it comes from the conceit that youkai can and do manipulate humans for their own benefit.
What was the benefit here for Sannyo or Miyoi? I mean, money is a tangible reward, yes, but I wonder if there isn't something more abstract going on.

I shouldn't be surprised, but I was a little bit. What in particular comes from him? What are some works of his that you feel are particularly illustrative?

>There's more to say there about authors and sensibilities
I'd certainly like to hear more about it, but I don't know what I'd concretely ask about. What do you mean exactly when you say 'sensibilities'? Also, I suppose I can understand the Showa connection, but who in particular? What about the non-Japanese writers? What sort of influence do they have? Where is it shown?

I'm sorry if some of these questions are too abstract or demanding. I can't come up with very incisive ways of asking for a better understanding of things. At base, I'm just curious about the piece and what's gone into it.
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>When you say that you 'formed' and 'strung together' these ideas, what do you mean?
The examples sort of are in the quoted bit. Figuring out the specific language to express these things. When to insert things like wafting smoke, the man subject to the current, formlessness, and how to describe those things as well how one thing leads to another. In other words, the execution of these notions, ideas, and feelings that I held and wanted to transmit to the reader in some capacity. I’m not sure if that answers the question.

>What is the 'good effect' produced by the choice of narrator? What are the 'judgemental' and 'oblique' aspects of the narration?
The narrator is very quick to assign a label or pass judgment on the man and others, calling the former a “leach”, “wastrel”, “thief”, “hapless”, and calls the gamblers generally “playing fools”, comments that the on the ruination “as was to be expected” of the man via gambling early in the story. Very unsympathetic if not outright scornful, I think that the lack of sentimentality presents the characters and events in a stark, sharp way that’s interesting. As for “oblique”: no internal monologue and complete thoughts; you are told that something is thought or felt at times but you don’t ultimately know what is going on in the man’s head nor in Sannyo’s, which makes inferring her motivation for the manipulation (or even realizing that it’s happening) more satisfying to think about. At least for me.

>Can you give any example of this that you find illustrative?
I don’t want to overstate the extent or importance of it. But there is a certain cadence or lilt to sentences beyond just alliteration.

>The soothing femininity that could be found in the curling of her subtly-painted fleshy lips, alight with discreet vivacity that contrasted with blanched skin, displaced soreness and unwittingly later victimized the women in domestic roles who were bereft of comparable charm.
>He nursed his drink even more cautiously than usual, chastised and consigned to simply observe the proceedings of the day.
>It was easier to waft and dissolve into the background with the men around him, as with the delicate stream of smoke that was ceaselessly produced.
>A tap on her pipe, still burning, caused the smoke to swirl between them, making the man aware of little else but astringent ash.
>The man’s own actions, the woman’s ritualized ordeal, felt diffused, distant, and made him dispassionate.
>To the fortunate man each of those occurrences seemed as a thin thread of smoke, each as intangible as a recalled memory.

Some repeating sounds, some that may evoke things. Like I said, not a big thing.

>What was there beyond the allusions to fluids? What did you mean by them?
There’s something mechanical to the man and his actions, the other patrons also, while Sannyo gets outright compared to a karakuri. Comparisons to inantgible things and ukiyo generally. Other things too but, dunno, not sure too much literary analysis is appropriate from a writer regarding their own work. Best left to others.

>What was the benefit here for Sannyo or Miyoi?
Also an exercise best left to the reader. But they are youkai.

>What in particular comes from him? What are some works of his that you feel are particularly illustrative?
A certain perspective when it comes to youkai and how they express certain human sensibilities. Mostly Kappa.

>What do you mean exactly when you say 'sensibilities'?
How things are framed, portrayed, executed. How the narrative unfolds, sense of aesthetics, characters are described, the type of narrator, thoughts are handled etc etc.

>I can understand the Showa connection, but who in particular?
It’s not an overt, or at least conscious thing. But I guess if I have to name names, off the top of my head, Yasunari Kawabata, Fumiko Hayashi, Fumiko Enchi, Osamu Dazai. Aspects of some of their stories and how they portray their characters, their thought processes, and reality have stayed with me. One other aspect of many that they have in common is that they are often very unflattering or ruthless to their characters and the consequences of their actions/life situation.

>What about the non-Japanese writers? What sort of influence do they have? Where is it shown?
Of the ones I named, very briefly, Malraux and the way he has dealt with fate and drive, Duras similarly with fate and hope and the struggle to determine things for yourself, Fuentes with compulsion that leads to surrealism. The latter two also have a lot that’s dream-like and ephemeral, reminiscent of wispy smoke (obvious recurring motif in the story.) So it’s mostly themes, mood and imagery rather than prose itself (that said, there’s a sentence or two that I lifted, rephrased and adapted from Malraux's Man's Fate in the story.)

I don’t think it’s appropriate to derail this thread with too much literary blathering. So I hope I did a decent enough job at answering the questions.
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Takeo the Lucky:
This story seems to be written in the style of a story for small children. It unfortunately seems childish in terms of quality as well, with clear enthusiasm but not much technical skill. It's haphazardly constructed in a number of ways, from characterization to prose to dialogue to pacing. The story did have a strong focus on the theme of fortune/luck, but even that was done very crudely. It looks like the writer attempted to provide an explanation of their choices in this very thread, but their explanation genuinely makes the situation even less coherent to me. Regardless, my opinion is that entries should be evaluated as the writers saw fit to present them. My evaluation is that this story is very flawed. Still, the writer did finish an entry that matched the theme, which is more than I accomplished. If nothing else, I hope they enjoyed the process.

Gambler's Delight:
I liked this story a lot. Sannyo, Yachie, Momiji, and Mamizou all felt like they fit the roles the story presented them in, and their interactions in the story felt organic. Focusing on Sannyo as the perspective character, I enjoyed the depiction of how she manages the gambling den, pays attention to her guests, and keeps her cool under pressure. I think the writer did a good job depicting her battle of wits with Yachie both before and during the game. My favorite part of Sannyo's characterization here is her understanding of gambling. She articulates it in response to Momiji's remarks in the first half of the story, which I felt like was somewhat stilted in delivery but might have been point if she intended to signal her resolve to Yachie. Later in the story, as she's playing aggressively with the entire den on the line, I think those beliefs are effectively communicated by her actions. I got a sense of Sannyo being in her element and earnestly playing with a love for the game itself, even with all she stands to lose. That not knowing the outcome of the game is what makes it interesting - That's what the climactic scene seemed to say to me. The bit at the end with Mamizou felt well executed, both for winding down after beating Yachie and also adding another layer to the earlier mind games. I did feel that some of the prose and dialogue was awkwardly constructed at times, but only to a minor degree. Overall, I think that this story successfully accomplished everything it needed to as an entry. Good or at least decent characterization, prose, dialogue, pacing, and thematic consistency across the board.

The Excessively Long... Entry:
Demonstrates competence in technical composition but not overall story pacing or structure. True to its title, I consider this story to be excessively long to the point of exhausting my patience. I did not finish reading it. There is too much information with not enough context to make sense of it, much less take interest. Dialogue seemed spotty but serviceable. Prose was notable as relatively good even considering its overuse for worldbuilding exposition, and I personally appreciated incorporating danmaku into the story. I gave up on trying to make sense of characterization due to the different setting and inadequate context. Similarly, I couldn't pick out whatever the story might have tried to do with the theme. Pacing, or rather structure, of the story as a whole was the overriding flaw that invalidated everything else to me. The overall feeling I have is of the writer telling an extended inside joke that nobody else has the context to understand. From their perspective it's probably pretty good, but nobody else will get it unless the writer can share the context and set them up.

Seven Flowers in Sunny September:
Another 3 part entry, but this one was able to retain my interest through the end. I appreciated the depth of Yuuka's characterization, where she was still a scary youkai who enjoyed messing with others but also someone capable of empathizing and interacting successfully with others. I appreciated the author including detail about plants and their interactions with wildlife to add depth to Yuuka as a garden/plant/nature youkai instead of abstracting it away. My favorite thing about this entry is how it conveys a greater sense of Yuuka's psychology as a youkai. While she can effectively interact with humans, she isn't one of them, doesn't think like them, and doesn't necessarily care about the same things they do. The details about plants reinforce that in my mind, as though she sees the world in terms of nature in the form of specific plants that most humans would gloss over and lump together, with the humans to her being incidental to this landscape. I felt like the luck theme was a little loose for this story, but I don't mind too badly. I still think it's a good story.

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Continued from >>17430
Due to my error I have to retype all of these. Apologies for brevity.

I consider this story to be sublime, at least for the standards usually applied to fanfiction, and am very frustrated with myself for losing my previous writeup on it.

It barely feels like touhou fanfiction. Still, I feel like that reflects more on the rest of what I have read than the story itself. I would rather see more stories that resemble this than have this story rewritten to resemble the baseline.

The story is stylistically distinct. There is almost no dialogue, and the prose is strong enough to tell virtually the entire story. Furthermore, none of the characters are explicitly named, but the strength of the characterization makes that unnecessary.

The thematic choices are well integrated and consistent. Outcaste life in the village and evenings in the bar are juxtaposed with evocative imagery. Life outside is cold, harsh, rigid, concrete, isolating, and impersonal. The bar is warm, seductive, amorphous, companionable, and has Sanyo at the helm. Personally, I feel like Sanyo's smoke is used as a good recurring metaphor for the conditions in the bar, being as obscuring and transient as the comfort it provides, yet clinging to the patrons as they return for more.

The description is so evocative that as a reader I have a sense of inhabiting not just the physical location of the character but the emotional state as well. I think it's a good example of "show, don't tell", as the description is crafted in such a way that it is often not necessary to have the gambler's feelings or thought process explicitly laid out.

Sanyo's depiction is pretty good. There is a lot of detail on her mannerisms and management of the bar, particularly with how she works hard to appear relaxed. She seems to be separate from and above the clientele of her bar in a way that being its proprietress alone feels inadequate to explain. I attribute this to her being a youkai. I think it's appropriate to play up such a gap when the protagonist is not just a human, but among the lowest of the humans. From how she was described by the narration as 'understanding' during the climax of the story, I think she understood his bid for freedom despite what I understand to be her previous manipulation of him. Maybe she even respected him for it. Her extinguishing her kiseru and the resulting absence of smoke that the narration describes as 'clarity' makes me think that she made a gesture of honesty, of dispensing with pretense. It's telling that the narration itself changes its descriptors for the gambler at that point from 'enslaved' or 'imprisoned' to 'liberated'.

The village is a prison for the gambler, but the bar is not an escape. It is a prison as well, and its comfort is only bait. The narration shows the gambler recognized this, and I believe that realization enabled him to escape from his miserable existence in which his life meant nothing to fellow villagers or was at the mercy of Sanyo. By challenging her to a game, betting everything, and never playing again, I believe that he was expressing his refusal to play along with her. The house always wins, after all, so the winning move is to not play. That the outcome of the bet is not revealed is irrelevant; whatever the gambler's fate was, he resolved to seek it out and greet it as an equal. Doing that despite the bad hand fortune dealt him was, I feel, a very thematically resonant choice.

Overall, I consider Midwinter is a very good story in every respect. A lot of thought went into its narrative choices, and that consideration paid off well. There is a lot of depth to this story for those who care about such things, and a lot for me to learn from it as a writer.

I liked the characterization, especially with Tewi. Exposition on various topics such as keratin, neurotransmitters, dive reflex, and details of the titular device felt awkward and interfered with verisimilitude. As with other entries I did not personally care about the details of the game itself and saw it as a plot mechanism. Luck theme was used but Yachie using her power may have undermined that. Decent overall.

Over the Mountain:
I interpreted Chimata's status as a human in this story to indicate an origin story for her prior to becoming a kami in the manner of Kanako. Competent prose and dialogue. Only real complaints pertain to thematic consistency. Story as I understood it dealt with fortune as in wealth and transfer thereof, not so much as luck. Additionally, conversation between Chimata and the dragon seemed in my opinion to be developing towards a conversation on the nature or significance of ownership and transactions. However, it never reached that point and I was left feeling unsatisfied with an anticlimactic conclusion. Of course, this might be me projecting my own expectations that have nothing to do with the writer's intent. I felt that this story would have benefited from greater length to develop ideas. Decent overall.

Overall, Gambler's Delight, Seven Sunflowers, and Midwinter stood out well to me. I personally consider Midwinter to be the best story in the exhibition by a large margin. If I exclude Midwinter, my favorite would then be Gambler's Delight.
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>>17384 Creator of DICK here, here's the continuation of my review.

Re; Gambler's Delight:
Since it took me this long to continue my review, I'd provide more of my share of this piece. I loved the worldbuilding of the Youkai Mountain here, I think it does a great job in building the ecosystem around Sannyo's gambling life, and I don't think there's any necessity to cut those parts out. I'll repeat my point that this story works more as a slice of life rather than a psychological thriller (note that I brought up psychological thriller because most media I know that revolves around gambling usually falls into this category, such as Kaiji, Liar Game, Usogui, Akagi, etc). I understand that the whole bit about Megumu is meant to tell the readers that these characters NEED to do this gamble, because without it there'd be no real reason for them to do this (this is also the same reason I made the butler from DICK cut his finger). It's really enjoyable, and I think it works perfectly fine as a story.

The only real weakness I can point out lies in the game itself. Previously, I argued whether or not it's the fault of the story for the readers to not understand anything about the game, but when I think about it, the story should've made the game mechanics clear enough for the readers to just grasp what the players are doing.

The excessively long & involves excessive world building entry:
I will refrain myself from making the obvious joke about the title. I've read it fully and given each paragraph my unbiased judgment, but I can't help but wonder about the purpose - if there's any - of the overly complicated scenes and descriptions here. The question in my head gradually shifts from "What was the intention of the author?" "What is the purpose of this scene?" into "What am I reading?". In the end, I gave up trying to make sense of anything.

I tried to interpret each scene for its purposes, but I genuinely couldn't break it down. As opposed to Gambler's Delight, the excessive world-building here absolutely needed to be cut down into simpler scenes.

I still have to give credit where it is due and say that the prose is well-written, like what others have said. I'll even admit that the prose is miles better than mine, so good job on that.

The characters were hard to distinguish, despite the many names they have. I think it's more important to show the readers the personalities and traits of these characters, rather than giving them these complex names. There are one or two characters that I can recall, but I remember them not because of their names, but because of the things they did in the story, like the one who kept screaming "TEN THOUSAND YEARS", for example.

Some parts of the world-building caught my interest, like how the spirits imitated the humans and chose their genders based on their status. I also liked how Animal Realm imitates the relationship of humans in Gensokyo, where in the latter, the forms of a Youkai were based on human depictions, the forms of the beasts here were based on their depictions of humans.

Still, it really doesn't need to be this long...

Seven Flowers in Sunny September:
This story is really good, displaying competence in many aspects such as prose, characterizations, pacing, etc. I've read other posts saying that it has too much fanservice or such, but I don't really see it that big of a deal. I enjoyed the little details and references, since they provide more to the immersion than anything else. And I think the presentation for each character is handled well. I think the main problem here stems from the presence of scenes that come off as a little unnecessary. For example, the first few paragraphs were written to establish Yuuka's character and it does a great job at that, but the few paragraphs following have pretty much the same effect. There's no need to show the farmer's reaction when the previous paragraphs have already framed Yuuka as a feared youkai.

This is just a personal thing, but I love that it provides in-depth information about the flowers in the topic, while also not being overly informative that it might turn off some readers. I always enjoy and appreciate things like this, shows how much research the author has put into their work.

I'm gonna repeat an advice a good friend of mine had given to me. In the last part, there's one paragraph written solely to recap the events that just happened. I think this is unnecessary, as it doesn't really contribute anything other than to remind the readers about the theme. To quote the advice, "It just felt a bit lacking in confidence, like you were feeling the need to point out how the work fits the theme". Keep in mind that it's not like this single paragraph ruined the experience for me, but it just felt like a lack of confidence on the writer's part. Be more confident! Trust your readers!

This one is my favorite so far, mostly due to the fact that, in my opinion, it has the most substance out of all the entrees here, despite its short length. I'll repeat my statement regarding the "issue" that was mentioned in my review of Seven Flowers on Sunny September and other posts. I don't really care about the "Touhouness" of a story, what I do care about is if it's a good story or not, and this story proves itself to be good enough that I would be fine to see it as an original story.

I have pretty much the same reaction as the post just before this one. I think the story gets everything right, from the themes, subtext, execution, details, pacing, and especially the prose. Each sentence felt as if there was a rhythm that bound me to keep reading, to the point that even when my limited vocabulary got the best of me, I could still feel and understand the things happening in the story. I wonder if there's a certain name for this writing style? If so, I would like to learn it someday.

I love the fact it has an open ending for its conclusion, since it doesn't really matter whether the gambler wins or not, he'd end up liberating himself either way.

I can't really point out any weakness in the story, due to the sheer difference in my writing style and my limited experience in English (which Teruyo correctly called out lol).

I am really grateful to everyone who has shared their opinion on my story! I'm glad that the characterization is well-received. I tried to give my own spin to Tewi's depiction, where most of the stuff I've seen frames her as this mischievous trickster. I don't want her to be seen as a villain, but rather just an antagonist who hates the concept of "the rich get richer" that is usually present in gambles. I tried to create a dichotomy between the scheming nature of Yachie and the luck-reliant Tewi, where Yachie thinks that success is gained from one's pure effort, whereas Tewi relies mostly on her luck. Speaking of characterization, I want to say that Yachie's cunning character is actually inspired by Madarame Baku (pic related) from Usogui. Heck, the Butler's concept is actually just a reference to the referees that are present in there.

Thank you for calling out the roughness of this piece. Most of the time I used working on this story was spent researching the chemicals and the tricks Yachie would use to lower her blood pressure. I happened to study the cardiovascular system at that time, and I thought that it would be cool if I could use the things I've learned in a story. Speaking of which, I want to say that all the tricks used in this story are real, albeit maybe a little bit exaggerated. These tricks are called vagal maneuvers, which are maneuvers that could force your vagus nerve to act on your heart’s natural pacemaker, slowing down its electrical impulses. There are actually three of these that Yachie has used during the match. Two of them were explained, which are carotid sinus massage and mammalian dive reflex. One of them, called the Valsalva maneuver, was left only as a minor detail since I have no idea how to point it out. Yachie uses the Valsalva maneuver after the second round ends, where she closes her own airway and forces herself to breathe out as she leans on Biten. By doing this, she created pressure on her chest and forced the nodes in her heart to slow down.

I've only started writing this about like seven days prior to the deadline, so the roughness mostly comes from me rushing through completion. I admit this is purely my fault. Still, writing this was such a fantastic experience, I wrote 2.5k in a single day! The whole process felt like fucking magic, to the point that it felt like the characters were acting on themselves rather than me deciding it for them, I don't even know how can I pull off shit like this again.

I can't stress my thanks enough for Teruyo for making me experience the blissful process of writing once more.

Over the Mountain; a Rainbow:
A simple story about Chimata before her goddesshood. I really appreciate the effort you put into this. That said, the story is a bit too simple for me to say anything about it. I think I like how Chimata is portrayed here and the way she outsmarted the dragon, but I think there needs to be more context regarding their motivations here, I don't really see the reason why Chimata is doing all this stuff. The prose is messy and, unfortunately, makes it a bit hard to read. Still, I enjoyed it.
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Anonymous reviewer. My opinions, humbly submitted for your perusal.

Takeo the Lucky, Written by Kosuzu Motoori for the Good Children of the Vi(scounty of Bragelonne)


Nah, Kosuzu wouldn't write like this. I see what you're saying about the metafiction angle but it's distinctly purposeless at every layer of metafiction. Within the story itself it's just "flavourless OC dude gets doted on by out-of-character 2hu girls"; one layer up there's no hint of why Kosuzu would be motivated to write something like this or how it's received in-universe or anything like that; and at the top layer there's nothing being conveyed between you and I by the use of this device except that you liked some books you read that used it and you wanted to try it out for yourself.

Well, if you enjoy the conceit of meta-fictional works being purportedly transmitted to the reader through the author as an intermediary, I'd recommend maybe picking up, say, Don Quixote? Pseudotranslations were rather common historically, both as wink-wink-nudge-nudge sorts of affairs (as in the case of Don Quixote) and as deliberate acts of deception, since "older = better" was the default view on written works for such a long time. As far as more modern pseudotranslations go, there's of course a few famous ones by Borges, and (just off the top of my head) Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead, maybe? Anyone else wanna chime in?

Gamblers Deliᵹꞇ ~ Bꞃiᵹꞇ Fꞃiᵹꞇ

Tell tell tell you're telling too much and not showing enough. I dunno. It's just kind of bland? Like I'm reading "Sannyo REACTS to stuff happening in her gambling den". Stuff happens but I don't feel invited in at all because it feels like someone DMing their own roleplay or something. It feels like the investment is supposed to come from, like, who gets the social upper hand in this exchange of dialogue; who gets the tactical upper hand in this bit of the game; who comes out on top by the end of the whole thing... but the whole tone just seems kind of vaguely self-congratulatory? It probably doesn't help that the dialogue just kind of isn't up to snuff when it comes to portraying "strong, haughty personalities in a pseudo-historical setting". Like it just doesn't get far enough away from "average forum poster voice".

I didn't pay attention to the plot, sorry. It just felt like work, 'cause of everything I said above.

Bsambral's Bsurdly Bstruse & Bsoteric Bsanimal Bspirit Bstory

This is honestly super fucking funny once you start rolling with it, but it took me a few failed attempts before I could actually do so. Other people have probably said enough about the bare fact that it's difficult, so I'll try and go into more detail... It is super funny, but it's a bit like a constant tickle; a kind of undirected stream of farces where they just sort of swoop in and sideswipe you whenever they please and you're not really properly prepared to receive each one. The problem is compounded by all the actual earnest showcasing going on: now, in order to get the funny, you not only have to recognise the farcicality, but recognise it relative to the baseline weirdness of this complex setting, which you're also trying to actively extrapolate at the same time. Not to mention all the varied references to stuff that you just have to recognise on sight.

Now, actually managing to do all of that is certainly rewarding, but given this story in isolation I wouldn't have been able to do it, and it's only because I was primered by some of your other, non-THP stuff that I could get to this point at all. Trying to keep track of the plot or the characters, again at the same time, is a third spinning plate asking to be balanced on a corresponding third hand. I mostly just didn't bother. Not a huge priority for me, you can tell.

Still, again, super funny and honestly very cute as well. Excellent depiction of the animal spirits, which I will pirate an inevitably lossy copy of to serve as my headcanon from now on.

Se7en F7owers 7n Sunn7 Se7te7be7

Okay, so I'll begin by talking about the first half of the story, since I've got a different critique for the second half.

My first impression was, there are about 150% as many words in here as there needs to be—but then I settled into it a bit more, and found that it did seem sort of intentional. There's a quality to the prose, owing to the frequent use of anaphora, anadiplosis, digression, resumption, etc. etc., that really does make it feel like a leisurely stroll with the company of one's thoughts, and puts me just a teensy bit in mind of, say, Robert Walser or W. G. Sebald. Along those lines, then, I guess if I had to offer up a criticism, it'd be that the descriptions, while workable, are often rather direct, and it would be a good next step to go for some more poetical language; some more adventurous use of metaphor. For example, you've got a sunlit field becoming "a field of fire"—that's an okay starting point, but now keep going: What kind of fire? What is the fire doing? What personality does the fire seem to have; what intentions; what goals? It might seem a little ridiculous to go so far for a fire that isn't even literal to begin with, but that's the sort of thing that writers are allowed to do.

Now, the thing is... Once other characters start showing up, and she starts engaging with them more fully, the leisurely quality starts to become a drawback. The dialogue says "it's time to wake up", but the narration is still zoned out. It's a problem of perspective, I guess—when it's just Yuuka out for a stroll, it's fine for the narration to be detached and hovery, but, especially once Tenshi starts opening up about her problems, you sort of have to choose: do you want to showcase Yuuka as viewed from the outside, or do you want to give Yuuka's side of things? And if you're doing the latter, as it seems to me, then you can't really get away with something like "Yuuka thought. Yuuka contemplated. Yuuka considered." anymore. As it is, it's a bit like we're being given a perspective on Yuuka from six inches outside of her head—we're being given a detailed and nuanced view of her, to be sure, but on the one hand it's still kind of fundamentally opaque, and on the other hand we don't really get any external reference points to situate it with.

I guess this is a pretty subtle thing I'm talking about, which means that all the stuff that's less subtle than that is all pretty good. Also, hella herb-lore in this story. Real leaf cred. My man John Ronald Reuel would be proud.
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Hmm. What do I say? There's frankly a lot of, like, uncanny phrasing and word usage throughout that feels like the sentences were worked over with tweezers and stitches rather than a brush, which sort of kills the flow and makes it kind of hard to follow. Like: "a puff from the kiseru twinned with a gesture [...] drew the eye and disabled the thinking mind". Classic garden-path effect—without commas setting off the reduced relative clause, "twinned" is apt to be read as a main verb, leading to disaster when the reader hits "drew". Or "it failed to register with the lascivious levity that was intended in the mind of the dazed man": "in the mind of the dazed man" is of course meant to modify "register", but the closer verb is "was intended", and it again takes a moment to correct the attachment. "deftly damped down on the red embers with fingers moistened by an ashen glob of saliva until it extinguished": "until it extinguished" meant for "damped down", but overtures made towards "moistened" instead.

Or in this sentence: "their focus turning to the >>seemingly<-effortless< manner {that she would turn her head {as if to follow her own enticingly private thoughts or to fix a wayfaring strand of light-colored hair {that happened to find its way across from the >>otherwise< orderly< gathered clump {that flowed from a royal yellow bow atthebackofherheaddownbelowhershoulders}}}}". The parts highlighted with >angle brackets< point out interjected low-content adverbs modifying adjective phrases which in turn are interjected between the "the" and the noun in noun phrases. These are non-trivial syntactic operations, which can be used for effect but which it's better to limit, particularly for low-content applications (unlike in e.g. "enticingly private"). They're kind of everywhere in this piece, and two in the same sentence is already kind of ill-advised on its own, but then there's the lengthy cascade of clause subordinations marked out by {curly braces}, three out of four(!) of which are triggered by repetitions of "that". This level of complexity isn't necessarily an issue, but the way that these triggers cluster together, I find, is. The syntactic awkwardness just isn't worth getting every last drop of context regarding a strand of hair, which is what fully half of this is modifying.

A lot of the first half is just kind of solidly cumbersome in this sort of way; like it's trying full-bore to summarise several-times-its-wordcount's worth of setup by mustering densely-packed complicated syntax. It ends up being very abstract, too; like there's a ton of "this is the sort of thing that happens", but not much "this, specifically, actually happened". "Talk [...] was proffered"; "mollifying discourse"; that sort of thing. I guess that one's part of the house style—it's been hit-or-miss for me in the past, and I guess right now it's a miss.

I see the use of assonance and alliteration and some of it lands, but some of it is just brow-furrowing. This one's my own fault I suppose because I associate that sort of thing with Old/Middle English epic poetry, so for me it misfires as a phantom spur to speed up and get hyped, when the intention seems to be to draw attention and slow down instead.

... The thing is, most of these complaints do sort of fade away on a re-read, once you know what you're expecting ahead of time, and then the themes and imagery have a chance to shine. And they do shine; and the curlicuing quality of the sentences contributes, even, to the effect. Our man is a dreg; our man is ashes; our man is cooled smoke and a last flash of ember in an ornamental dragon's maw, and Sannyo is the sort of pure high-grade narcotic that you can't even so much as taste.

But I think all that could be retained while also giving it some (really very minor) stylistic tweaks, to put up better handholds and give the reader an easier time the first time through.


ESL issues in the prose forced me to speedread a bit so that I could maintain my momentum through the story, so this is gonna be kind of impressionistic. Um. Okay. Some cute Tewi moments in here, but overall it's just weird and uncanny. Keratinised palms? Gambling with blood pressure? Biten mentally laying out the structures of logical fallacies? There's some sort of setting/genre mismatch here. I understand the urge to research-dump; I have to admit I'm fairly prone to it myself; but like it's stated in PMiSS for example that medicines for humans are flat-out poisonous to youkai, and vice versa. That seems like a pretty big hole to me.

All of that aside, the character conflict between Yachie and Tewi is, like... decent in principle, except the actual execution is super shounenshitty. Actually that's it, the whole thing is super shounenshitty. If that's what you were going for, then I guess you've succeeded, but I'm really seriously not into shounenshit, so. Yeah.

The Bear Went Over The Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan

Deathly generic western dragon OC. I'm spent and don't really feel anything about this. Sorry.
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There must be confusion here, the number of people who refer to Chinese characters as hieroglyphs on the internet should be non-singular.

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