Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by PKMNthiefChris » Fri May 18, 2018 1:35 pm

New to the forum but not exactly new to Downix, having read this over a couple times now I can say it's quite good. Work on your epub is under way just to give an update there and if anyone else here would like their work made similarly feel free to request it. A few phones don't do so well with websites but have epub apps that handle it satisfactorily so the offer is open though conversion may be slow, a lot of the formatting has to be re-added so with work and college placement my time is less free than I'd like.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by ProfAllister » Sun May 20, 2018 9:09 am

Well, you started and finished the entire route in less time than it's taken me to finish a single chapter. While that's probably more a reflection on me than you, the fact remains that you got this up quickly,which is quite impressive.

As always, my standard congratulation for finishing. That's an accomplishment of itself.

First, let's get the basics out of the way:

- I enjoyed reading the story, and was looking forward to reading each new chapter.

- As has been observed, you've got some pretty consistent issues with Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar. Not enough to make the story unreadable, but enough to be distracting at inopportune times.

You've clearly put a lot of effort into keeping track of details and avoiding contradictions. Only really noticed 2-3 detail issues of any relevance:

- You seem to place curfew at 10:00; the VN seems to imply a curfew of 10:30 (only really an issue because you made it one)

- It feels a little odd to have Rika's birthday fall within the window of events, but have nothing happen the day of. Between the relative early date it falls and the behavior of her father, I guess it's reasonable to have had her keep it low-key, especially with the possible discomfort of her having to disclose the extra year. (As far as the extra year goes, it's a logical enough thing, but it still felt like an "all models are 18 or older" handwave.)

- You clearly put Tanabata into July, which isn't wrong per se, but it directly contradicts the timing in Lilly's route (and arguably Shizune's as well). I'd be more critical on this point, were it not for the apparent 700 possible dates of Tanabata celebration depending on where in Japan you are. That and the canon routes have a bad habit of contradicting themselves, to say nothing of contradicting each other.

Which brings us to stylistic, tonal, and thematic issues. Unfortunately, this is where the work seems to falter a bit.

- Your manner of presentation feels almost apologetic at times, as if you're afraid the work won't be able to stand on its own. Don't sell yourself short.

- Tied into the above, you seem inclined to invoke the literary fallacy of "This totally happened in real life, you guys!" Unfortunately, real life has looser requirements of plausibility than what's required by fiction. There are some cases where it's appropriate (e.g., the discussion of medical records forgery), but even then, best to present the case only after being challenged. Also, I don't think I can recall any instance where someone has accused Kenji's rants of being too insane (his actions in a couple instances, but never his rants).

- The confrontation at the end feels out of place and tonally inappropriate for KS. It's not a bad scene per se, but KS has never really been about teenagers putting adults in their place. In another VN it would be fine, but for KS, it just feels off.

- Which leads into another issue - the pacing. I've seen several comments about how the route seems to be unusually fast-moving, or even rushed. And it is, but it also isn't. Each scene seems to go at a very appropriate speed. But what I noticed is that every scene moves the relationship forward. While it's true that every scene should move the story forward, it's vaguely problematic that Hisao and Rika never have any conflict. Throughout the story, I was expecting some shoe to drop, but it never happened. As a result, despite Rika's father casting a shadow across nearly every event, it didn't feel like we ever really got a true conflict.

- And that brings up the biggest issue, in my opinion - Rika has next to no agency. Due to her father, that's perfectly understandable for the first half of the story. But, outside her 24-hour flurry, Rika doesn't initiate anything, and doesn't (actively) precipitate any of the events. There's no real character growth. I'd expect her 24 hours to be the precursor of her realising her unchained self, and learning to assert herself. Instead, she effectively trades out her father for Hisao, giving someone else control rather than seizing it herself. And, to compound matters, no one seems to notice or comment on that lack of agency. I'd almost go so far as to say what you've got here is an Act 2 and Act 3, but no Act 4.

To bring it all together, I very much enjoyed the story. You're clearly a talented and prolific writer (in need of a dedicated proofreader for SPaG). But the story, as written, has significant thematic issues. I really truly want to give a full-throated endorsement, but the apparent lack of any substantial learning and growth makes this feel to some degree like literary junk food.
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Craftyatom » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:44 pm

I had this story on my radar, and got around to starting it last night. Looking at the first post, I figured I'd only have to read a few scenes, then put another story on the list of those I'm following. After all, this route was started 4 months ago - it couldn't've gotten that far. How wrong I was. I took the liberty of putting together a proper chapter index for you (code at the bottom), just so future readers know what they're getting into. Also, I want to say that you should add prev/next links, but I know that those take a lot of work, and this thread is rather dense, so it's not a huge deal.

For some reason I'm wary of stories that start with a slight modification of text from the game - possibly because of one old fic that was basically just the original game with a few words changed. I was also worried by the first few lines looking a lot like script format, because I know that's been problematic in some other stories. Luckily, those both got cleared up pretty quickly, and all in all, I think you handled Act 1 very well. The introduction of Rika was believable and fluid.

My main problem with Act 2 was probably the pacing of the relationship. It felt very fast, especially early on; I liked being able to read such cute back-and-forths, but at the same time, Rika's forwardness seemed uncharacteristic of the way you wrote her (though at times I figured it was just a way of combating how thick-headed Hisao can be). And then, of course, Act 2 ended with Tanabata, which was nowhere on my radar. I think that you probably actually paced the story quite well, even a bit slowly, but that your writing didn't put enough emphasis on the amount of time that had passed. It's easy to misconstrue something like this, since we only see a few hours in any given chapter, but the act can cover a whole month.

Act 3 was incredible, in my opinion. It built well on the foundations put together in Act 2, while adding in enough to keep things interesting. One thing that surprised me was just how much you included other characters - it was almost weird how much time all six of the main girls got, and then also Miki, Suzu, Aoi, Keiko, even Saki and Chisato. It speaks to your theme of Hisao becoming a socially different person, and makes for plenty of interesting story. Also, the "sub-plot" of Rika seeing the world for the first time was amazing, and played perfectly into the relationship between her and Hisao. There was a lot of suspense there, but it definitely helped the romance.

I wasn't quite as fond of Act 4. It certainly tied up all of the loose ends, including those from Hisao's past life, but it almost felt like an entirely different story. The vast range of new settings and characters, including the changes to Hisao and Rika (they seemed to act much more formal here, even around friends), made it all a bit alien - not necessarily bad, just a bit too different (and I fear these changes were introduced as a result of the pacing issues mentioned above). The whole thematic shift from "romance" to "detective mystery" (including, near the end of Act 3, the introduction of Rika's mother) was jarring for me. I'll admit that I would've much preferred a different style for that last act, even if it would've achieved many of the same goals. Also, the ending felt a bit odd: it's rare to see a KS Fanfic end with "but she got better", let alone "she was (sort of) fine the whole time!" Obviously it puts more emphasis on how the characters have grown socially and romantically, but especially for a story about Rika, it felt a bit like it didn't fit. It didn't ruin the story, but it did dampen my enthusiasm a bit.

I was surprised by the number of references to other fics here. You definitely ran with some headcanon, and it showed because of how extensively you used those characters. Miki and Suzu are the best example: you combined elements from the old Suzu route and Summer's Clover with some new ideas, and personally, I think it worked pretty well. The Saki and Chisato from Learning to Fly were a surprise for me as well. You also made some pretty overt canon references (like the Ibarazaki tombstone), which didn't seem too out of place, though they could certainly break immersion sometimes. On the topic of references, you had some big Chekhov's guns (the basketball was almost too obvious), but enough red herrings to keep it balanced (I was convinced that the poolwater scene was Rika losing feeling in her hands due to a heart issue). Noticing these things did take me out of the story sometimes, but I feel that they're worthwhile.

I'll end with my adoration for your romance writing. Regardless of the other elements mentioned above, I loved the way Hisao and Rika were written together. Her waking him up every morning, the way they worked together, the dialogue and the progression, every time they grew thanks to each other... I'm a sucker for romance, and you definitely got me with it. That, along with the sheer amount of work and thought that clearly went into the story, make it one of my favorites, even if I didn't love all of it. You're done some beautiful work here.

Anyways, here's the index I mentioned:

Code: Select all

[b]Act 1: Life Expectancy[/b][list]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131#p239817]Gateway Effect/Enter Stage Left[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&p=239818#p239818]The Caterpillar[/url]
[b]Act 2: Down the Rabbit Hole[/b][list]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239836]The Knave of Hearts[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239845]Bill the Lizard[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239846]Humpty Dumpty[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239849]The March Hare[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239881]The Eaglet[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=15#p239882]Down the Rabbit Hole[/url]
[b]Act 3: Wool and Water[/b][list]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=30#p239895]The Lion and the Unicorn[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=30#p239896]Walrus and the Carpenter[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=30#p239899]A Mad Tea Party[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=30#p239912]Red King[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=45#p239918]Jub-Jub Bird[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=45#p239946]Haddock's Eyes[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=45#p239952]Queen Alice[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=45#p239954]Snowdrop and Kitty[/url]
[b]Act 4: Broken Glass[/b][list]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=45#p239965]Which Dreamed It?[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=60#p239985]Never any Jam Today[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=60#p240005]The Wasp in a Wig[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=75#p240091]The Dutchess[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=90#p240229]Drink Me[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=90#p240298]Bottom of the Well[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=90#p240301]The Mirror Cracked[/url]
[*][url=https://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=11131&start=90#p240332]The Pool of Tears[/url]
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Brief Exchanges, Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Downix » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:48 pm

I had a bit of inspiration to write an Epilogue. I'm also in the middle of some minor tweaks to the story, cleaning up a few issues I've since spotted, and taking the feedback from all of you.


“Are you sure about this?” I ask, fully knowing the answer from the look of determination on her face.

Sticking her tongue out at me, the girl pushes off from the edge of the pool, slowly performing the backstroke she’s been practicing.

Now I am the one sitting and watching from the comfort of the bleachers. So many mornings I ran with her as my audience. Now I can return the favor.

For a moment, I let my mind drift, to a cold day in winter. A dark haired girl had left me a note to met her. That single event led me here, and my white haired sweetheart.

A doll on the shelf, to be taken down and examined before being put back up again, that is what Rika was for so long. A puppet in another person’s play.

And what am I? The boy who fell in love with her. The boy who followed her instructions.

When I become aware of being watched, I don’t even bother looking around to see who it is.

“Hey Rin. What brings you here?”

I feel the bleachers shake as the girl sits down on them next to me.

“I wanted to see,” comes the sedate reply.

I look over at her. She’s watching Rika, only her eyes moving as the pale form does laps.

“See what?” I finally ask her.

“If Rika is at her Rikaist,” comes the response. “When Emi runs she is at her Emiest, so I was wondering if Rika was the same way.”

“And what have you determined?”

Rin’s gaze finally turns to me, her eyes now sweeping over my face. “That Hisao is at his Hisaoist when he is with Rika.”

That brings out a chuckle. “I suppose I am.”

Her statement apparently complete, she returns to watching Rika in the water.

“So, what did you do over the summer?” I ask, trying to get smalltalk going.

Without taking her eyes off of Rika, Rin says “I painted.”

“See your family?”

She shrugs. “I don’t think so.”

“So, why Rika? Why are you curious about her?” I ask, wanting to keep the conversation going.

“I collect people. Emi said that Rika has a different condition.”

I chuckle. “That it is, but I’ll let you ask her.”

“Yes,” Rin says simply.

I remember that day back in June, when Rin “collected” me. It seems so long ago, but it was only three months, wasn’t it? A lot has happened since then.


Her eyes turn in my direction before her head follows, blinking slowly.

“I never got around to thanking you.”

This makes her tilt her head.

“I don’t know what I did you are thankful for, but you’re welcome,” she replies.

I can feel the smile set itself on my face. “For being genuinely curious about my heart. For caring enough to ask if I was going to get better. I guess for being a friend my first few days here.”

With this she straightens her head out and closes her eyes, as if trying to remember that moment. Then a slight smile sets itself upon her face.

“It still would have been more scandalous if you had trouble with your tackle,” she finally says.

“Well, life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, does it?”

She shrugs and returns to watching Rika.

“I’m glad you came here,” Rin says.

I lean back and stretch. “Me too, Rin, me too.”
Last edited by Downix on Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Craftyatom » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:53 am

Downix wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:48 pm
I had a bit of inspiration to write an Epilogue.
Short, sweet, and meaningful. I would've preferred it to be a little longer, but I think that would've been true no matter what. I'll admit I didn't expect a Rika route to end with a long conversation between Rin and Hisao, but it worked - in fact, given your route, Rin wasn't even out of place. Good work!
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:19 am

-ist -> -est

Also there are a few lines of past tense mixed up in here.

As for whether or not the scene works... Kind of? I'm still not sure why Rin would say she's glad Hisao came to Yamaku. They haven't really had enough interaction to justify a reaction that extreme by Rin's standards...
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:15 am

Finally finished reading this most excellent story! I don't really have any criticisms of it. Some lingering spelling/grammar errors but at this point who cares. I enjoyed it, I thought it was great, and that's my feedback! I would recommend anybody to read this!
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Re: Within a Looking Glass – A Rika pseudo-route

Post by NelNinja » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:16 pm

Awesome, read this fic before I found the "original" Rika pseudo-route by Rikabro and I really did enjoy it! I very much enjoyed this upbeat Rika and wish it wasn't as set in stone as it is to make her nihilistic and fatalistic as it is. It works, can't deny that, but having multiple characterizations of the character is good and both ends work.

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