Trial by Tenderness is a massively long Fan Fiction based on the Anime & Manga series Ah! My Goddess (created by Kosuke Fujishima). The Fan Fic is (at face-value), about a man from Hawaii named Cevn who makes a wish to a Goddess. That wish then drives over a hundred and sixty (as of 2011) chapters (!) worth of material, ranging in genre from Horror, Comedy, Period Piece, and everything in between. It's tipped towards the cynical end of the scale, but it's also very moving in what ordinary humans are capable of. There are many mature topics covered (drug addiction and recovery; sexual and physical abuse; mental illness challenges; and spiritual and societal alienation, just to name a few) that wouldn't normally appear in the original source material. This expanded range of topics mainly comes from the Author's real life addiction problems, but with a liberal application of artistic license thrown in.
Oh and just to clear any doubt, this story is a definite Door Stopper. How long, you might ask? OVER TWO MILLION WORDS; As one recent review put it: "If we take each novel to be 120,000 words, currently your story can be divided into 18 books."
From the author's introductory notes: "Okay...if you dare yourself to read this fanfic, you will be in for a wild ride."
Spoilers abound below. Needs more examples!
Trial by Tenderness provides examples of:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Happens during the Tokyo 2050 Arc.
- All There in the Manual: Having previous knowledge of the Ah! My Goddess universe isn't needed but it definitely helps.
- Alternate History: In one section, Keiichi and his cousin are sent back in time to feudal Japan and eventually construct a fully working bamboo car which then shows up in a cave hundreds of years later still somewhat intact.
- Assimilation Plot: Mentioned directly as Instrumentality, might be a Shout-Out to Evangelion.
- Badass Adorable: Skuld, her children, heck even Belldandy.
- Bad Future: In an alternate future, 'Toyko 2050' has anti-gravity cars and other notable inventions stolen from Skuld; This bad future culmunates in all of the nuclear reactions on the planet simultaneously breaking down, starting The End of the World as We Know It. Thankfully, everyone recovered, we think.
- Big Bad: Isilblius
- Bilingual Bonus: Given that the setting is primarily in Japan, there is some gratuitous Japanese thrown in (natch) but there are also examples of other languages which add a bit of flavor to what they are saying.
- Body Horror: Cevn as a cyborg is implied to be this.
- Breather Episode: In respect to the overall work, the International Race Keiichi enters is pretty much this. There is still drama and tension, but not nearly to the degree that other chapters might exhibit; Also happens during the more romantic-driven events such as Keiichi and Belldandy's wedding and Urd/Cevn's early romantic fling.
- Came Back Wrong: This happens to several characters (Cevn, Urd, etc.,), including at one point, DEATH ITSELF.
- Chekhov's Gun
- Dark Fic: While there are moments of genuine romance, humor and off the wall weirdness, this is definitely darker then its source (Rated M on Fanfiction.net for example) and touches upon a lot of mature subject matter.
- Darker and Edgier: Along with it being a Dark Fic, this fanfic has the Author's character become blind, a robot, heartbroken, dead, an amnesiac and so forth at different points in the story, that's not counting what happens to the other characters!
- A Day in the Limelight: This happens to Skuld's Children, for example. Belldandy has this when she goes incognito in the middle east during her to-be-husband's trial.
- The Determinator: Keiichi, Cevn, hell ALL of the characters show a remarkable will to live/love/fight/win whatever metaphorical or even literal battle they are engaged in.
- Door Stopper: Weighs in at 2.1 million words. That is almost 4 War and Peace lengths.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: When the Big Bad regresses to a form that is incomprehensible and no longer even remotely sane (Still evil, but not calculating), the main characters collectively attempt this.
- Driven to Suicide: Happens to Urd.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Cevn has gone through more ordeals then the combined history of several entire nations. If he doesn't get a happy ending, I expect there will be rioting in the streets.
- Fanservice: Some of the lemony-parts could be seen as this, but largely its done for the sake of drama.
- Fate Worse than Death: When DEATH itself is taken out of the equation, this is what happens to the recently deceased, among other things.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Skuld and Belldandy switch bodies at one point inadvertently.
- From Bad to Worse: Let's just say the Big Bad earned his name and reputation very deservedly, and the characters go through hell, literally even.
- A God Am I: Cited as the reason for not giving mortals God-like powers.
- Lemony Narrator: Cevn sometimes isn't quite all there, especially during the Cyborg Arc.
- Long Runner: The story was first written in late 2000/2001: despite a hiatus of several years, the author has recently resumed writing and the story is STILL going; It is now 2011. To put it another way, this Fan Fic has been written over the course of ten years.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Implied at several points to be happening to Cevn, although given the nature of some events, we're never entirely sure if its All Just a Dream or not.
- Mad Oracle: Cevn becomes this at point I believe, Urd half-way does this too, but her predictions are clouded by Word-Salad Humor.
- Malevolent Architecture: Much later in the fic, Skuld's kids travel to the Demonic equivalent of Yggdrasil and their Divine nature causes the scenery to look repulsive to them. This is strongly implied to be a function of keeping the two halves (Divine/Demonic) separate.
- Manipulative Bastard: Isilblius, naturally.
- Meanwhile, in the Future...: At one section, the story is revolving around events happening in 2050 Tokyo, but it switches back to 1351 Feudal Japan at the same time, showing updates in both places at the same time.
- Mood Whiplash: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be furious, you'll be confused, sometimes all in the same chapter!
- Next Sunday A.D.: This Fan Fic was started in late 2000 or 2001 and the story itself took place a couple years after that, although the 'Present Day' slowly moves forward.
- Which actually gets rather funny because in chapter 69, it's 2007, and Sony is demonstrating a beta of the PlayStation 5. In Real Life, the PlayStation 4 came out in November of 2014.
- Oh, Crap!: Too many moments to name just one, but many plot twists and personal revelations occur.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Big Bad does this to Cevn, feeding on his internal self-doubt and many many psychological issues.
- Reset Button: Happens In-Universe with the protagonists undoing the hellbent destruction of the Big Bad and his many minions... but unfortunately, Isilblius doesn't stay down for long.
- Self-Insert: The author says this is what the Fanfic is right on the first page, and even mentions the 'Death of the Author' movement from the 1970s as a way to read the story if you don't care for Self Inserts.
- Shout-Out: All over the place, but its usually subtle. Typical references could include other Anime series, classical literature and even Poetry.
- Shown Their Work: Google Maps + Wikipedia and a dictionary is almost required when reading through if you want to have any idea of where everyone is going or what the author might mention offhand.
- Unreliable Narrator: Cevn can be this.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Cevn gets this from the other characters, Belldandy does this to her Parents.
- Word-Salad Humor: Played alternatively for laughs and drama around chapter 50.