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Three days and a canceled Neuroscience class later, Minnichi is BACK ON TRACK! ...For how long is questionable, though. But that extra 3 hours from the canceled class was lovely! Anyway, I happily present my commentary this evening on Phantoms by Aritiane, a story that every LoK fan on the wiki should read. 'Nuff said.
The following is retyped from my rebellion against the time-wasting orientation I had to sit through for an hour...and by rebellion I mean that this here picture was was the sum of my meeting activities.
I don't think I've ever encountered a fanon that delves so deeply into the background details of philosophy, schemes, or just anything mind-related in general! It's almost like an Inception-type feeling @_@ This review was most certainly a great way to spend my extra time today, because I want all of you guys to hear it. It was possible for me to hand-write initially because it simply has few enough flaws for me to even write about! Sooo I'm just saying...read it if you like good fanons. Now here we go!
- Plot - 9.0: Aritiane has put together such a twisted yet wonderfully controlled plot that I feel the need to quote Mage here: this fanon rivals Season 2 of LoK. Only thing I will pick at (and a VERY minor thing it is) is that the author should remember that while it's crucial to give every idea the deep elaboration it needs, a story must still move forward. The plot was dragged down just a little when the philosophical sections got lengthy. Keep up the wonderful work, but make sure you still give things a sense of pace and progression - not that the story didn't progress or anything. Just don't let the deep stuff drag it down.
- Organization - 9.5: Once again, a superb point in Aritiane's writing. It's hard to create something with this many background secrets and schemes, but he's done it! Knocked it out of the water. Then there's another "one very small issue" I had: there seemed to be a whole lot of "secret agent/spy" kind of guys, and while their backgrounds and inner thoughts were captured beautifully, how they actually got to the schemes was sorta confusing. I heard a lot of backstory and then..."But those were the old days." Just a little unclear on that point, because their present role seemed not to match their past completely, and I just wondered.
- Creativity – 8.8: Unfortunately this section had to be deducted from since the story is bound very strongly to the canon events (which limits room for ideas). But the author has truly taken LoK and turned it into his own thing! I will point out, though, that Mohandas/Koeni and other highly insightful individuals sometimes sounded a littleeee (miniscule) stereotypical. It was just the way they worded things. I think it'd be best to have them sway from that all-knowing vibe every once in a while, something to make them more human - more than you already have, of course. Just a tiny bit...but overall, I ain't complaining!
- Writing – 9.3 (x3): Anddd I do believe that this is the highest writing score I've assigned thus far (as well as the second person in Minnichi Reviewing history to receive a 9 or above). I thought about it...and thought about it some more...and yup, I'm pretty sure of myself on this. The descriptions never fell short, all conversations were overwhelmingly intense, and it was just beautiful. And now's the point in which I'm happy to comment on the most miniscule of miniscule things - only fanons that make it REALLY HARD to find flaws in the first place would start hearing these kinds of criticisms. SO...the dialogue. Wonderful, wonderful dialogue. I believe that the author pointed out that he left long lines of lone quotations as a stylistic device, and I agree. It has the effect he intended, alright. But there's only so much that quotations can do. "Said" words aren't always necessary, but I strongly believe that dialogue won't reach its full potential until you capture the visuals of the speakers. Showing the entirety of someone's expression is what completes the emotional connection to their words - whether it's in their physical state, facial features, hand gestures, or even the rhythm of their voice. Note that the author does all of these things, but the lone quotations sometimes stretch far enough to lose some of their impact. It's like how movies work; acting talent is judged based on your observation of their voice and their face. Both things have to be there for the conveyed emotion to be perfect - and yes, I'm starting to throw the word 'perfect' around. Author's getting close. Only other thing is related to the plot; beautiful writing is beautiful, but one must know how to control it at times! Every deep description was a pleasure to read, but it's as important to balance it with the flow of the story as it is to write well. Dragging descriptions can be deadly; even classic novels have deterred readers because of this. So final word of advice is to keep the pace and find a way to incorporate those descriptions in a way that they contribute more to the progress. Technically, the author's done everything I said already; "more" is a better word for it. Other than that...I got nothing.
- Character Development - 9.5 (x2) One of the strongest points in this fanon. But here goes: sometimes the characters seem a little too cynical about everything, a little too...hateful. It contributes to the overall theme, but the way everyone treats each other can create an excess antagonistic vibe. I think the darkness of the soul thing could be balanced out a bit, basically. Everyone's bad side is so strong that they sometimes seem similar to one another (MINISCULE, once again). But seriously...brilliant job.
- Action - 9.7: I don't deduct stories for lack of action, by the way (a story's quality is not based on the presence of flying fireballs and punches...) I'm talking about the amount that's present, if applicable. Aritiane's pretty much got it down, though there is a VERY slight "naming" issue that occurs. It's more of an excess than a lack of description, though. The action would flow better if there were less narrator-like words (introductory statements like "he countered, he then attempted a one-two sequence, he tried to take advantage of the opening, etc.") These can honestly be skipped. This is debatable since those words have to be used at certain times, but in Aritiane's case, the fight will do just fine without them! He's added enough description to make it unecessary. Eliminating the narrator-like intros will stop presenting the fight to the reader - it'll grab them and pull them into the battle instead! These words cause a reallllly slight barrier to the action becoming as real as life itself. But I'm not complaining anymore.
- Believability – 9.0: There's nothing in the plot that isn't believable. Perhaps more elaboration on Hiroshi's situation would be nice, but still. Deduction here is related to the cynical character attitude I mentioned. It starts to make people sound a little less like themselves, especially Tenzin. Everything makes sense, but I thought some character relationships on the protagonist end (...or Team Avatar since everyone has a dark side o_o) played on the negativity to the extent of lessoning believability. But I'm most definitely impressed!
Overall Score: 9.29
LIST OF 9.0 AVERAGES: AvatarRokusGhost, Aritiane... *crickets chirping* I know pretty soon it'll be too long to list, though (not to mention most barely missed it just because of that killer writing multiplier). But just sayin.
My advice for Aritiane: Downplay the darkness just a tad bit, balance out the descriptions, and...write. You know how to produce a great story.
Who should read Phantoms? You.