Reviews: Dreaming of Sunshine
Starts well enough, doesn't continue as well
The start was interesting enough, quite a bit of world-building initially, and I liked the explanation of fuuijutsu and the Nara clan jutsu. However, from the time around the chuunin exams and after that it has become stagnant, mostly because it insists in going through EVERY.SINGLE.NARUTO.FILLER.EVER. and since the fillers fall well into YMMV, the fanfic also falls quickly into that category. The fact that the inclusion of Shikako has changed absolutely nothing of real importance so far is a serious downside to this fic. As the previous reviewer said, it's just Naruto: Sakura's replaced by a Nara and nothing else changes.
Naruto: Sakura's Replaced By A Nara And Nothing Else Changes!
Dreaming of Sunshine isn't a bad fanfic. That much is certain—characters are in-character, the plot's coherent, it's got a likeable main character, and it's pretty long too. But at the center of all these decently good features is a plot that Never. Departs. From. Canon. Despite splitting off from the Naruto universe before the Kyuubi attack even happened, the story still follows the rails of the original so faithfully it's almost painful. Where you would expect larger and larger changes to spiral out from the initial point of departure (as with every other for-want-of-a-nail story ever written—see Lost Soul or People Lie), this self-insert instead affects precisely nothing. She makes the smallest of changes (ex: the Wave Arc proceeds almost exactly the same as canon, except instead of dying at the end, Haku and Zabuza live to walk away and never be seen again), but anything larger—anything that would make the setting or overarching story different from canon—never happens, usually due to some bizarre memory lapse. For example: she's been in the Naruto universe about the same number of years as it's been since the first episode of Naruto, yet she doesn't even remember what happens between Naruto and Mizuki that night. So instead of taking any action whatsoever, she just heads home, eats dinner, and goes to bed. Recent developments (~60 chapters in!) have started to change things a little (Sasuke's kidnapped, not running away from Konoha), though it remains to be seen if this will actually escalate into large-scale change or just fade away into canon like most everything that's happened previously in the story. Well, for all it cribs shamelessly from the original, this fanfic's at least decently well-written. Nothing special, but maybe worth your time if you don't mind basically rereading the plot of Naruto.
Warning: Causes Death Due to Awesome
Words cannot describe this work of art. It is beautiful, it is imaginative, and it does all of this while being a self-insert fic. First of all, shut up. Just because it's a self-insert doesn't mean it's bad. Second of all, Shikako Nara, the author's reincarnated form, is a bloody fantastic character. Not only is she supremely well balanced (talent and skill wise) for a Team 7 Character (characters that tend to fall into Mary Sue within two chapters of their formation), but Sasuke and Naruto grow realistically and start from positions that actually make sense. It is a joyous thing to see a fanfic author who has actually thought out her story. And not in the "I have an outline" method, but in the "I have meticulously planned every single constituent detail" method. Plotholes are filled, all aspects of the continuity that may be effected by an OC have been examined and accounted for, and the events that DO happen have an appreciable impact on the rest of the universe in a way not unlike the butterfly effect. It is clear that a lot of time has been spent figuring out what's going on where and when it's going to happen. Characters are all spot on, and Naruto's annoying obliviousness is played off so well as comic relief that it totally works. Furthermore, the ability of Sasuke to stop being an asshole and Naruto's ability to stop being idiotic while either is in battle is made clear and kept from becoming a one-off deal, as would make sense due to their extensive training in the Academy and, after several chapters, under Kakashi-sensei's tutelage. Basically, everything is awesome. Note: As of the writing of this review, the fanfic is still a Work in Progress. Any subsequent increases or decreases in awesome are not accounted for and it is up to the reader to determine how much they are willing to accept this review. Frankly, it seems unlikely that anything less than an increase in the excellence of this fanfic will occur, as the story has been on a constant upward slope since the beginning.