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YOKAISHITERU!

A lot of ambition, but sometimes things get ‘lost-in-translation’

By nippoten, author of Entirely Presenting You

Jul 24, 2017: Yokaishiteru is actually one of three serials on the site (with a fourth to come soon). This will be a general review/impression of what I’ve read.

The three serials are as follows:

Yokaishiteru – A story about a group of troubled girls as they form a school idol club.

Checkboxes – A story about a girl who tries to ‘save everyone’ before she dies. (That’s in the description) Set before Yokaishiteru.

Akuma no Imouto – A story of demon siblings who own and operate a bar that’s a popular hangout both for mortals and demons, and the secrets that are shared among patrons.

The first thing that struck me about the stories is that they’re anime inspired. Or, to put it more clearly, Japanese-media inspired. These serials wear their inspirations on their sleeve. From the settings, characters, the way the dialogue flows, mannerisms, in-jokes, it’s all very up front and apparent. If you are really not a fan of what are essentially Original English Light Novels, you might not get past the first chapter of any of the three serials. However, if you are at least familiar, you might be able to find something enjoyable. The writer clearly knows their stuff, and can easily flip typical ‘anime’ tropes on their head.

As far as general impressions go, the three stories are okay. The characters are varied and distinct enough to find at least one you’d want to follow, making me want to click ‘next chapter.’ Dialogue can be awkward at times, mostly because the writer is trying to write as if it’s a translated light novel. Characters usually ‘tell’ more than ‘show,’ and reading out ‘chan’ ‘kun’ and ‘senpai’ in English can be distracting.

There are some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout, though. In Yokaishiteru, the main character is a demon, having learned human culture through watching television, yet refused to believe that the French language was real when she heard it for the first time. And, it’s clear that each and every character has a detailed backstory, with little clues and hints sprinkled throughout every chapter (though heavy-handed sometimes). It’s clear a lot of thought and effort went into these serials.

The three serials are fine on their own, but being clumped together on the same site, by the same writer, presents a few issues. For one, Yokaishiteru takes place in the same school, but some time after Checkboxes. Know that it will come with some huge spoilers for Checkboxes, and a few off-handed references to events that are only relevant if you’ve read that serial. It’s not too distracting, but I would still probably say start with Checkboxes, its plot is more intriguing, and feels more focused.

Secondly, since there are so many serials, each serial is rotated in terms of updates. Meaning, if you catch up to say, Akuma no Imouto, and you only want to read that, you’d have to wait almost a month until the next update. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but it’s something to keep in mind as far as being a reader goes.

All in all, what’s here is interesting to follow, and it’s easy to tell that the writer has a lot of ambition. The writing itself is decent, so if the writer can shed some of the Japanese influences that color their work, and focus that ambition into a single serial, I think we’d have something worth revisiting every week. As of right now, it’s at least worth a look.

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DO IT YOURSELF

Three novels stitched into one

By TanaNari, author of Price

Jul 22, 2017: Kinda appropriate, given the author’s apparent love of Frankenstein lore.

It is a well written piece of work, with some of the best pacing I’ve ever seen in a webstory. Characters are interesting, the story moves forward at more or less the same pace as it establishes in the first chapter ( increasing momentum as you’d expect of a good novel), and you won’t find yourself bored.

Confused at times, absolutely, but never bored.

It is a solid, interesting drama with suspense, heartbreak, and even a couple moments of disgust and horror for the audience to enjoy. All set in the backdrop of a war between two home repair/crafts stores.

It is a hilariously absurd comedy with time travel shenanigans, villainous incompetence, and every form of gag you could ask for. That just so happens to include a botched mind-control-assisted attempted rape. See what I mean about incompetence?

It is both, and that is the problem.

Even in the beginning, it is attempting to be both a humorous parody as well as being a serious drama, and in the process it utterly detracts from both. Words like "Bathos" and "Mood Whiplash" come to mind. Or Cerebus Rollercoaster, for those who like their TVTropes.

Strip away the comedy, and this could be a powerful drama. Strip away the drama (or, at least, make the drama funny instead of serious), and you can have a great comedy. You could also probably keep the dark humor and eliminate the absurdist, and make an engaging story from that.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend any of those to everyone interested in their respective genres. The way this story is melded together, however, serves only to detract from the drama and put you in a situation where you don’t feel like laughing at the jokes, nor are the moments of dark humor timed well.

Also, there’s easily enough characters each getting chapters to themselves to fill the main cast of three or four separate novels, which tends to make it more difficult to care or keep track of them. Especially when some of these characters seem to only exist because the author needed someone to fuel a specific sketch comedy role and nobody else was available.

However, even with those flaws, it was still a good read, and for people like myself who enjoy dark comedy, drama with teeth, and sketch comedy . . . I absolutely recommend it.

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THE UNDYING PRINCE

A Rich Fantasy Story

By thelonewanderer, author of The Open Road

Jul 22, 2017: that is what it gives such weight to the story. To the setting, the magic system, the politics, its characters and their inexplicable motivations. It feels thick, a thing to relish, something to sink your teeth into. (Like Erik is kept being told to).

But there are times when the story stumbles, when one scene transitions to the next, especially in the opening arcs. The timeskips, both back and forward, are not very clearly explained and sometimes you have go back and forth to figure out what is happening. And sometimes the feeling of weight to the story becomes a little too much. It feels like too much packed into too little time. It is probably here, with the narrative arc of story where the story feels weakest. We spend too much time in dream sequences, or jumping from one plotpoint to another without adequate conclusion.

One of the most interesting parts of story was Erik’s conflict with the monster trapped inside him. This is probably a repetitive plot element in most fantasy stories, but this is one that I am personally biased to, so I loved it here. It’s probably not a very different take, but there is a feeling of consequence to way Erik’s life has been changed. It’s not just a prop for the protagonist but a real problem. And boy’s he already got more than his share of them.

The other thing that shone about the story was the world building – it’s heady mix of different influences. I could taste traditional fantasy(I’ve seen another review call this High Fantasy, though I am not sure), some wuxia by the way of the magic system, and deep streaks of grimdark added in, and a dash of Norse Myth . . . and well, doesn’t that intrigue you already? And you’re always left wanting more – there are no weighty expositions, most of it is explained as it becomes relevant to the characters and never before. And despite almost fifty chapters in, there’s a lot still left unexplored. This is probably the part of the story that shines brightest.

I recommend this story very highly. This story has a lot of heart. The amount of effort put in by the writer shows with every word. It deserves to be read. Go ahead and read it right now. It’s worthy of your time.

Note – This is part of a review swap.

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