Category Archives: Media Review

To Be Shared (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: clotpolesonly

AO3 ID: 2212308

Status: Complete (19 Chapters)

My rating:  4.5 of 5

Rated T for violence; otherwise, no warnings

Arthur is mortally wounded when their small hunting party is attacked, and the only way for Merlin to save him is to use magic–openly for the knights accompanying them to see. Not even a choice, in his mind, between staying safe himself and saving Arthur, his best friend and his destiny rolled into one. But, being Merlin and having a great deal of raw power but very little training in using it, he basically shoves his magic into his injured friend. It works . . . but it also leaves Arthur with magical powers himself, a warlock in his own right. Now they have to deal with not only Arthur’s reactions to finding out Merlin’s secret(s) and the knights’ reactions but also must keep Arthur’s condition from the king and teach him how to control his magic–fast!

To Be Shared was a unique and very enjoyable fanfic that I would definitely recommend. As the author mentions, it’s rare to find stories in which Arthur has magic, and I think both the concept and the execution of it in this particular fic is wonderful. The author does a great job balancing the shock and emotional conflict with the easy bromance and friendships that are present within Merlin and Arthur’s small inner circle. Add in the tensions brought by Morgana’s dark presence and the fear of discovery by Uther, and you’ve got quite a nice plot going–very engaging, and balanced by enough humor and warmth that it makes for a pretty great read. Seeing Arthur’s reactions to magic, both Merlin’s and his own, was very fun and in character. I loved how the relationship between Arthur and Merlin was handled too–“soulmates” of a sort, but NOT slash. So you’ve got that warm, supportive Arwen dynamic going on, coupled with this intimately close brotherly connection between Merlin and Arthur; let’s just say that it works really well and is also pretty consistent with what you see in canon. On which topic, it should be noted that this is a bit AU from canon right at the start, and gets moreso the further on you go, but in a way that works and is logical considering the plot development. Honestly, my sole complaint for this story is that I wish that author used clearer section breaks; you go from reading about one scene and the next topic is a completely different section, only it’s not indicated visually, so it took me a moment to recover and figure out what I was looking at a few times. Other than that, To Be Shared is a really great story that I would definitely recommend to Merlin fans everywhere.

Note: You can find To Be Shared at https://archiveofourown.org/works/2212308/chapters/4849671.

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Pick-Up and Chase (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: SKayLanphear

AO3 ID: 7568518

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating:  4 of 5

Rated T – some language and slight innuendo

During a random conversation between Ladybug and Chat Noir (while she’s teasing him about his goofy pick-up lines and flirting), Chat brings up the fact that in most relationships, guys do most of the work and it would be nice for girls to initiate sometimes. Not that she immediately agrees, but the conversation does get Marinette thinking–everything she’s tried to get close to Adrien so far hasn’t worked, so it’s worth a try, right? She starts off covering for a trip by saying she’s “falling for him,” and it goes on from there, Marinette pushing past her awkwardness to deliver smooth pick-up lines, and Adrien puddling into a blushing, stammering mess. And when Chat comes to Ladybug complaining about this girl in his class who’s flirting with him, leading her to discovering his true identity, well, things get even worse. After all, turnabout is fair play, considering all the awkward flirting he’s put her through!

My, but Pick-Up and Chase made me laugh. It’s cute and funny, almost bordering on crackish but not quite crossing the line. The banter between Ladybug and Chat Noir is spot on. Love the characterizations here just in general; they’re quite well written. And seeing the role-reversal when Marinette takes the initiative and messes with Adrien’s head is pretty amusing–especially when you add Alya and Nino’s reactions into the mix. We get some cute Ladrien vibes here, too, made all the more amusing since to the outside observer Marinette and Ladybug are competing for Adrien’s affections. Basically, this is just a really cute, funny, and oddly romantic story that I enjoyed a lot. Warnings for bad puns and pick-up lines.

Note: You can find Pick-Up and Chase at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7568518/chapters/17218156.

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Supernatural (2005- TV Series)

The CW

Status: Ongoing (13 Seasons)

My rating: 5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience/rated TV-14

Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, travel the country in the 1967 Impala that is more home to them than any building has ever had the chance to be. They start out searching for their father who has disappeared while hunting the demon that killed their mother years ago. Along the way, Sam and Dean hunt as well–fighting monsters, ghosts, demons, the stuff of nightmares, and saving people from horrors they can’t even imagine. Sometimes their efforts go utterly unnoticed; other times, they meet incredible people who help them on their journey. Regardless, they always have each other, except for those rare, horrible times when they just don’t. And somewhere along the line, hunting simply becomes who they are–it’s no longer just a revenge mission or a search for their father. Sam and Dean are, quite simply, hunters; they save people, they save the world. A lot.

I’ve put off reviewing Supernatural for, like, 2 years now because I love it so very much, and I know I can never do it justice in a review. So know that first, before I delve into details; this show has my heart in a crazy way that almost no other story ever has, and it has continued to consistently for years now. I couldn’t say exactly what makes this show so incredible, largely because it’s a lot of little, subtle things combined. I love the characters, first and foremost. Jensen and Jared do such an amazing job of getting in their characters’ heads and of portraying them deeply and transparently, as do the immense number of wonderful guest cast members. So much so that, although this is at times a monster-of-the-week kind of show (much less so as you get to later seasons), it manages to be highly character driven. The characters grow and experience a lot of internal conflict over the course of the series as well, which is another thing I love–the show evolves as it goes, so that just when you think they’ve done it all (I mean seriously, we hit the biblical apocalypse in season 5) you find yourself seeing things afresh, finding new frontiers. And the writers do such a great job keeping the balance between all the angst (and yes, here there be angst) with family support and outright humor (e.g., recently in the midst of this big series of episodes focusing on busting into an alternate dimension to save family members–lots of angst and tension–we get a random crossover with Scooby Do that, while darker than typical for the cartoon, is brimming with laughs and fun as well). I guess what I’m trying to say is that Supernatural somehow manages to be a lot more than hot guys fighting scary monsters and saving the world, although yes, it’s definitely that. It’s family and understanding and acceptance and so many things that I long to see more of, and I highly recommend this show.

Created by Eric Kripke/Starring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, & Alexander Calvert/Music by Jay Gruska & Christopher Lennertz

 

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The Big Reveal (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Anonymous

AO3 ID: 237304

Status: Complete (14 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

The cast of Merlin are filming a scene deep in a cave, working up to their upcoming scene where Merlin reveals his magic to Arthur. Unexpectedly, the lights go out, and Colin and Bradley find themselves alone together in the dark. When Bradley uses the magic he secretly has to light a candle, they discover that all the filming equipment and such is gone, and upon exiting the cave, it soon becomes apparent that they have been transported to the world of Merlin–and everyone there believes them to actually be Merlin and Arthur! Meanwhile, the real Merlin and Arthur find themselves in the baffling modern world where everyone thinks they are famous actors, not that they really know what that entails. Now they’re all going to have to play their parts until they can figure out a way to get home. At least Merlin and Bradley can finally reveal their magic to their best friends, right?

The Big Reveal was my first experience reading RPF (real-person fic), and I have to admit I’m still a bit conflicted as to how I feel about that. Because reading fictional stories about actual present-day people feels a bit . . . intrusive, to be honest. But, for this particular story, I felt like the discussion of these individuals was handled appropriately and with respect. A lot of the concepts and characterization used were pulled from publicly available sources like interviews and the YouTube videos they’ve posted. Of course, some bits are pure fiction as well, like Bradley’s having magic . . . but that did make a nice parallel to Merlin and his reveal, so it worked really well in this story. Merlin and Arthur’s characters were handled well, too–just in general, the characterizations were quite well done. The story was well written as well, again with some great parallels, solid plot development, and a good sense of balance between humor and poignancy. The final result is similar, in some respects, to something like “The French Mistake” in Supernatural, and it works surprisingly well. It makes me kind of sad that this was released anonymously, because I would read more by this author.

Note 1: You can find The Big Reveal at https://archiveofourown.org/works/237304/chapters/363763.

Note 2: If you don’t know what the fic is referring to when it talks about Colin and Bradley singing, please, please check out this video. It’ll make you smile. 😀

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The Ladyblog Comment Section (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: DragonsandInk

AO3 ID: 8255729

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating:  5 of 5

Poor Alya! She’s so utterly committed to her work writing the Ladyblog, but the fact is she just doesn’t always get her facts right . . . and who better to set her straight than the two superheroes to whom the blog is dedicated, Ladybug and Chat Noir? Only, instead of coming right out and correcting the Ladyblogger, these two troublemakers create ambiguously-named Ladyblog accounts and begin commenting on Alya’s posts. They maybe go a little crazy, actually. Hijinks ensue, and more is revealed about these two trolls than either of them originally intended.

The Ladyblog Comment Section was such a fun and amusing fanfic to read! As in, I seriously wouldn’t recommend reading it in public if you want to avoid embarrassing yourself by laughing aloud while reading. The whole premise of this fic is borderline crackish, and yet, considering the characters, it’s also just believable. As such, it manages to walk that fine line between the possible and the absurd that makes it absolutely hilarious. I love the way the body of each chapter is split with part of it being actual excerpts from the Ladyblog comments section–complete with Bugaboo and MrWhiskers  flirting, trolling, and playing tic-tac-toe–and the other part being real-life character interactions–mostly Alya bemoaning her troubles and Marinette and Adrien trying to hide their involvement. Very funny, all of it. This is a reveal fic, and I love the way the author handles that . . . because Nino is way smarter and pays more attention than he often gets credit for. I do have to warn that if text abbreviations, terrible spelling, and emoticons bother you, you may find parts of this story annoying; the author does a great job of making the comment section realistic in that regard. But seriously, if you’re interested in a funny (punny?), cute ML fanfic, The Ladyblog Comment Section is a fantastic choice that I would highly recommend.

NOTE: You can find The Ladyblog Comment Section at https://archiveofourown.org/works/8255729/chapters/18916784.

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Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984 Anime Movie)

Kitty Films & Toho

My rating: 3.5 of 5

The kids at Tomobiki High School are all gearing up for the cultural festival, preparing shops, fitting costumes, and getting into their usual hijinks. They’ve been so busy, they’ve even been staying overnight at the school! But wait . . . how long have they actually been working on this? Once they start paying attention, more and more things don’t add up. Parents don’t answer the phones at home. When a staff member goes home, he finds the place covered in layer upon layer of dust. When the students go out of the school grounds, they find the city oddly deserted . . . and find themselves mysteriously re-routed back to the school. Someone should probably freak out or do something, right? But it’s kind of fun just hanging out together without a lot of responsibilities, isn’t it?

Beautiful Dreamer was just recently re-released in a beautiful collector’s edition, making this classic film once again readily available to the general viewer. Not being particularly familiar with Mamoru Oshii’s directing work, I can’t specifically comment on how this movie compares to his other work; however, I have heard others say that this is an excellent example of his early work, for those of you who are interested in that. The animation and story content do certainly show the age of the movie to a certain extent, while still being pleasant and enjoyable. For those who have watched or read Rumiko Takahashi’s Urusei Yatsura, I think Beautiful Dreamer will definitely strike a chord. While somewhat dated, the art is also undeniably classic Takahashi, giving it a timeless quality that is quite endearing. The story is classic for the series as well, full of hijinks and strange, unexplainable occurrences galore. Also, Ataru chasing girls and Lum shocking him for it. There’s actually a nice focus on a large number of classic cast members, which is fun. But this movie also manages to be more pensive, to delve into Lum’s mindset and Ataru’s relationship with her . . . it’s just generally a bit more thoughtful and philosophical than the rest of the series. Surprisingly, it works well and I found the movie to be enjoyable. Fair warning, those unfamiliar with the series would probably have a difficult time jumping directly into this movie, but for those who have enjoyed Urusei Yatsura in the past, I think Beautiful Dreamer would be a nostalgic and amusing choice.

Written and Directed by Mamoru Oshii/Produced by Hidenori Taga/Based on Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi/Music by Masaru Hoshi/Voice Acting by Fumi Hirano, Toshio Furukawa, Akira Kamiya, Kazuko Sugiyama, Saeko Shimazu, Machiko Washio, Mayumi Tanaka, Shigeru Chiba, Akira Murayama, Shinji Nomura, Issei Futamata, Kenichi Ogata, Natsumi Sakuma, Michihiro Ikemizu, Masahiro Anzai, Tomomichi Nishimura, Ichirō Nagai, & Takuya Fujioka

 

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Endless Summer (Visual Novel)

Pixelberry Studios

Status: Complete (3 books)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Along with a group of fellow college students, you find yourself on a plane heading for a Caribbean island paradise. Sounds just about perfect, right? Only, before you even land, things begin to go awry. There’s an extra person on the plane, and no one can figure out which of you isn’t supposed to be here. A freak storm nearly causes your plane to crash. And when you arrive on the island, instead of a bustling tourist resort, you find . . . nobody. Eerie in the extreme, but also kind of tempting since you’ve got a huge resort stocked with food and booze, nice rooms, beaches and pools, and a fun group to hang out with. Only, how long can you have fun before the strangeness of the situation begins to have larger repercussions? And will you be able to find the clues you need and make the choices you have to in order to survive?

Endless Summer is another choose-your-own-adventure style visual novel that’s playable through the Choices app. And the first thing I have to say is, quite simply, play it. It’s a lot of fun, it’s well thought out, and it’s engaging. The art style is unique and in many places quite beautiful–especially the island scenery, of which there is a lot. This story is largely character driven, and they manage to create characters who are interesting and fun to interact with. Of note, a lot of what goes on in this story is driven by your relationships with the other characters, and those relationships are impacted by your prior choices. So choose wisely. The initial plot lands you on this seemingly deserted island with a group of fellow students, but the plot quickly spirals in an ever-expanding whirlpool of mysteries, time travel, strange people, and evil plots that somehow manages to remain unified and coherent in spite of the strange paths it takes. I also feel the need to note that this story is absolutely rife with geeky and pop-culture references–not that you can’t play without a good knowledge of these, but stuff is definitely going to go over your head. Personally, I thought this aspect of the character development was absolutely marvelous. The sole reason I don’t rate this visual novel a 5 of 5–and this is significant–is that a lot of major choices and story paths require diamonds (i.e. real money, in most instances). It’s possible to play, enjoy, and complete the story without spending any real cash–I did it and had a blast doing so. But you should know going in that there are lots of major things you just aren’t going to be able to do, or you should go ahead and purchase a set limit of diamonds before going in, if you choose to spend anything . . . otherwise the spending is just going to get out of hand. But despite that, I would highly recommend Endless Summer to anyone looking for a fun choose-your-own-adventure story that’s a bit off the beaten path.

 

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