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YMMV / The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum

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  • Anvilicious: The main fic and the side-stories are not exactly subtle.
    • For starters, it really likes to hammer in the fact that the Solar Empire is pure evil, with the xenocide, the various experimentations done on humanity, and the Mind Rape it regularly subjects its inhabitants to, not to mention how Uncanny the whole land is. So horrible, in fact, that Princess Celestia (you know, the picture of Reasonable Authority Figure in the show) literally almost goes insane just from knowing what happened. And she's not the only one who reacts as such.
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    • The story also likes to hammer in that Violence Is the Only Option. For example, the Newfoals being so mentally disabled and its original human soul subjected to And I Must Scream that Guilt-Free Extermination War is the only real option to use against them. Or the TCB Mane Six, TCB Twilight specifically, begging to be killed.
  • Author's Saving Throw: As of the "Sons of Legacies" arc, the writers are clearly trying to fix the issues listed under Base-Breaking Character, Draco in Leather Pants and Ron the Death Eater.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Prime Discord became this for some readers. Detractors label him as a Creator's Pet (although Redskin122004 has repeatedly claimed this isn't the case), while fans believe he's simply written pretty accurate to his depiction in the series. Not helping is how he repeatedly insults Celestia (see Ron the Death Eater), even though he is really in no position to criticize.
    • Prime Chrysalis also ran into this territory, with one part of the readership feeling that her cynically derisive attitude towards the Alliance she's nominally part of makes her unbearable, while others consider her to be one of the most entertaining and perceptive characters in the story. Unusually for the trope, the writing team itself has members on both sides of the issue.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The middle part of "The Writes of Passage" starts out with TCB Scootaloo experiencing surgery, only for The Power of Love to cause the Scribe to appear and provide exposition on TCB Equestria's history and how it affects the plot, as well as give everyone present, pony or human, alicorn powers... and then that scene gets derailed by an angry Discord and Pinkie Pie, who demand an explanation from the authors, before declaring it a cop-out and promptly hitting a Reset Button which turns the tone back to serious. Many a Flat "What" was had that day.
    • A scene in Chapter Nine of the Asia Side-Story has Yon-Soo interacting with a very odd old man that seems to know way more than he lets on, before the man literally disappears off the train they're riding on and leaves only a piece of paper behind. Might be a subversion, as Kizuna Tallis stated that the scene does contain foreshadowing for the Shades of the Unsung side-story.
    • During the short period of the interviewer's absence, Stellar abruptly bursts singing.
      • Earlier on, he mentions humanoid robots in St. Paul's cathedral. This is never touched on again.
  • Broken Base:
    • TCB Trixie acts as a Drill Sergeant Nasty towards Prime Rainbow Dash by impersonating her father, which utterly hoodwinks Dash, prior to non-lethally pinning down her wings with knives. This just after Dash already had her wings damaged by Marcus in the first chapter. Readers are generally split as to whether this was an effective way of highlighting the difference between Trixie's hardened nature as a TCB!pony and the more innocent Mane Six, or was just pointlessly cruel to them.
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    • The "Writes of Passage" Gag chapter was a sore point to some readers. Supporters say it was a comedic breather to an otherwise bleak story, with hilarious Deus ex Machina and Breaking the Fourth Wall moments, while detractors label an unnecessary break from the narrative. Luckily, the authors addressed this issue and split off the gag parts from the main chapter.
    • With the split of the Spectrum Team in May 2017, readers are divided between those that support Redskin and those that support the co-writers.
  • Catharsis Factor: Watching the PHL beat Queen Celestia's Mirror Pool Clone is incredibly satisfying to watch.
  • Crack Pairing: It's mentioned in Chapter 6 that TCB!Lightning Dust and Rainbow Dash now work together as leader and wingpony; rumors abound that their relationship is more than professional. Uh... huh. There's so many reasons that doesn't work. Justified in that things in TCB!Equestria played out very differently from canon, so TCB!Lightning and TCB!Dash likely met under much different circumstances, plus TCB!Dash hasn't been in control of her own body or actions, thanks to the Bag of Tirek.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Evidently, DoctorFluffy's mention of Stalwart Heart (the ponified form of Marcus' little brother) giving TCB!Twilight a Rusty Venture.
  • Designated Hero: Marcus Renee. For a grown man who has lived through the hardship of war, Marcus frequently exhibits a belligerent attitude that goes well beyond the typical Shell-Shocked Veteran. While attacking the Mane Six at the start of the story is understandable considering the circumstances, it's much harder to justify him assaulting Celestia after being given proof she isn't an enemy, and it doesn't get much better from there. On top of that, the character practically lives by the mantra "Violence Is the Only Option", which the story attempts to depict as I Did What I Had to Do, regardless of how many alternatives are in fact available. All in all, rather than a world-weary yet kindhearted warrior of mankind, Marcus comes across more as a petty, snide and downright abusive Jerkass.
    • And per various instances of Word of God both prior to and after the original story's cancellation, this could have been much worse. The co-writers, beginning with TB3, would periodically attempt to tone down Marcus' behavior or have him face consequences for his actions. While these efforts would yield results in the short term, they never really stuck, and it'd soon be back to square one. The Massacre of Defiance in The Light Despondent, where Marcus would have shot a pregnant female HLF member, came to be widely considered as a "point of no return" for the character in the eyes of the co-writers.
      • For clarification, this last statement does warrant a little nuance - the idea of Marcus shooting the pregnant woman was initially put forward by JedR as a way to throw some shade on the character. However, Redskin proceeded to write Marcus giving the surviving HLF a "Reason You Suck" Speech over the woman's still-warm corpse.
    • Marcus' most redeeming trait is easily his care and concern for Lyra Heartstrings, but even this is not without its own fair share of problems, as the story itself acknowledges that Marcus has not followed Ambassador Heartstrings' legacy for the PHL as she might have wished, pushing for a militarization of the organization where, once again, Violence Is the Only Option.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Discord had shades of this earlier on in the story. It gets toned down later on, presumably due to negative feedback and some new co-authors, but how well his character has been handled remains very debatable amongst readers.
    • According to Sledge115, Prime Chrysalis' early characterization ran into this problem, as Red downplayed her worse actions during the Canterlot Invasion to make her a more sympathetic figure (at Prime Celestia's expense no less).
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Sint Erklass and his granddaughter, Elsa. It's the reason why they got a whole short story dedicated to them.
    • Viktor Kraber, due to him being a vicious Take That! at one of Chatoyance's most controversial stories and an extremely nuanced character for all his indulgence in over-the-top violent antics. For perspective, in the (now-deleted) original fan group for the story, every other member of the writing team listed Kraber as one of their favorite characters.
  • Growing the Beard: The first few chapters of the main story have certain problems, mainly in the departments of characterization and grammar. But the story does gain in quality as time goes on, the tipping point generally agreed to be situated with the introduction of the Man Behind the Man and the overarching Myth Arc of elements from G1 MLP. Whether this is sufficient to outweigh the issues surrounding the depictions of the heroes and villains and the mishandling of canon characters - both in terms of Ron the Death Eater and Draco in Leather Pants - is a question of personal taste, yet it's enough to suggest there's more to The Other Side of the Spectrum than a simple Take That! to The Conversion Bureau.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • It is eventually revealed that the Bag of Tirek is the The Man Behind the Man for the whole xenocide plot. Cue Tirek appearing as the villain for the Season 4 finale.
      • For bonus harshness Discord ended up siding with that version of Tirek, which puts his Shut Up, Hannibal! towards The Bag of Tirek in this story in a more depressing light.
    • Also counts as an in-universe example: when Porter and Yon-Soo first meet Hyong-Jin in the Asia side-story, Porter states that the only difference between a newfoal and a North Korean would be that a newfoal would at least get a good meal three times a day. Then Chapter Two of the Calm Before the Storm side story rolls around, revealing that they are just as famished and impoverished.
    • One has to wonder if the show's creators are aware of this story (or of The Conversion Bureau in general), as the fifth season premiere shows the Mane Six finding a town full of ponies with large, forced smiles and Pinkie Pie remarking that something is seriously off about them.
      Pinkie Pie: I don't like it! I don't like it one bit! All those false smiles? They're just not right.
    • Early on in the story, Prime Twilight goes off on a detailed rant explaining how impractical it is to just transport the country of Equestria and plop it down on planet Earth. Not only would it cause problems for Earth itself, but it could also lead to apocalyptic consequences for the rest of the Equestrians' home world as well (in particular, she brings up the question of what would happen with the sun and moon without the princesses there to control them). Then along comes The Negotiations-verse, and Twilight's points become Ascended Fridge Horror.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Moe: Both versions of Comet Tail and Frost Wind are so sweet, sympathetic (TCB versions mainly) and adorable, it's nearly sickening. And then Kizuna and Sledge shipped their prime counterparts together.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Tirek's whole plan is to use Equestria and the ponies to carry out his plan to conquer the multiverse and enslave every living being to his will while spreading suffering everywhere for his own twisted pleasure. His first action is to get revenge on all of humanity as payback for what Megan did to stop him before.
    • Caballeron's gangsters manage to vault right over it in "The Board is Set", just the second chapter after they're introduced. Not only do they stuff their former comrade Short Fuse into his kiln, an act which, though cruel and disloyal, isn't liable to earn the audience's contempt on its own since Fuse was hardly blameless, their motive for doing so is to punish his outraged defiance of their plan for cutting up a poisoned Discord and selling his powdered remains as drugs on the black market. And then they contemplate throwing Fuse's wife in the kiln with him for no real reason other than For the Evulz. All this makes watching Minus, Fluttershy and Rarity beat down the first wave of thugs tremendously satisfying.
  • Narm Charm: In theory, the idea of an apocalyptic war driven by xenocidal ponies who transform their victims into mindless copies of themselves is this, but no amount of Lampshade Hanging relieves the Nightmare Fuel involved...
    • ...That said, in one of the later chapters of Calm Before the Storm, for the first time ever, ponification is shown to involve the transformation victim vomiting up mutilated organs while the potion grows new pony-specific organs inside their bodies. In theory, it's quite squicky. In execution, quite a few readers thought it just seemed silly.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Frost Wind from Joy to the Worlds. He only appears once, near the end, but the scene manages to hammer down how the war affects normal Equestrians without dragging on too much. He becomes an Ascended Extra in Other Side of the Mirror.
    • Believe it or not, Viktor Kraber. Or at least, he was this before his cameos in any other story.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: As of the chapter "Of Broken Pasts", Prime Blueblood is given a more sympathetic depiction and a chance at redemption.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Not counting the TCB versions of anypony (which is justified in-story as they were all brainwashed), this is applied rather liberally to Prime Celestia. There is an odd amount of emphasis on how she was never supposed to be the ruler of the ponies in the first place and how flawed her decisions are. Even when compared positively to her nightmarish TCB counterpart, the other characters can't resist taking shots at her. It's mitigated a little by the fact that the character who makes the most pot-shots at her, Discord, is clearly at fault for plenty of things as well, though he refuses to acknowledge any responsibility until finally getting forced to rethink his position later on, plus unlike most other instances of this trope, Prime Celestia is never portrayed as evil or even as a Jerkass, making this more of a case of "Ron the Nice Guy who just made some poorly informed decisions that seemed like good ideas at the time."
    • Fortunately, Word of God has confirmed that Princess Celestia will be depicted in a more positive light in the reboot.
  • Rooting for the Empire: The HLF are essentially the KKK repackaged as hating ponies instead of non-white people. The PER is a group of human collaborators of the Solar Empire that every anti-Solar Empire human and pony wants to see dead and buried. Chances are, you'll find yourself rooting for the KKK expies... or at least, find them a lot more sympathetic than the PER. The ''Case Files" side story even states that the HLF, even at its worst moments, never sunk to the depths of depravity the PER did.
    • VoxAdam (the Spectrum Team's Devil's Advocate), makes no secret in the comments section about his sympathies for the Loyalist perspective, pointing out that with a few tweaks to the scenario, most notably the humans simply lying about what Queen Celestia's done to them, it would be "ridiculously easy" to recast a small group of undersupplied misfits faced with a far more powerful, better-equipped and frequently aggressive opponent as the underdog heroes in another story. He also expresses his distaste for the inherent Protagonist-Centred Morality behind wishing violent retribution on antagonists who've done little that's genuinely villainous and wouldn't even pose much of a serious threat without the assistance of Weaver, a far more guilty party.
  • Squick:
    • Though we don't get any explicit descriptions (until "Training Days: First Days, Part One"), the story has several human/pony relationships. It isn't bestiality, since the ponies are sapient creatures, but any readers not into xenophilia may well be grossed out.
      • In the Europe Side-Story, Peter, one of Stephan's comrades, talks rather frankly about being in a relationship with Sapphire Shores. Stephan begs him to stop... then goes on to fall in love with TCB!Trixie.
      • Again, without going into too much detail, several scattered moments in the story make it pretty clear that Marcus and Cheerilee do have sex. We also get a full sex scene between Stephan and Trixie.
    • Although all participants are ponies, we get a closer look at a "flesh pit" run by TCB!Royal Guards in Chapter 9 of Last Train From Oblivion. The story goes into just enough detail to scar you for life before it mercifully fades to black and other story developments take our attention away from them, and the ponies face each other to have sex.
      • In the same chapter from Last Train, there's a scene of TCB!Flash Sentry ordering a Pretty Private with the ability to shapeshift to look like Twilight Sparkle before he has sex with her.
    • The transformations into Newfoals are rife with Body Horror and Transformation Horror.
    • "For Whom the Bell Tolls" has an especially Nausea Fuel-laden flashback of TCB Twilight testing early versions of the ponification serum on captured humans.
      • The horrific conditions which the actual TCB Twilight has to endure within her mental prison are quite nauseating too.
    • In "Sons of Legacies, Part 1", Prime Sombra Mind Rapes Marcus by forcing him to see the people that died in the war. Of note are the half-ponified bodies of Jacob and his fellow soldiers, TCB!Lyra as a broken statue, and Nurse Sutra Cross's very mangled (and talking) corpse.
    • According to Doctor Fluffy, Stalwart Heart has given TCB Twilight a Rusty Venture. Take that in whatever you think it is.
    • Doctor Fluffy in general is vivid on the graphic descriptions of Gorn, to the point that the other co-writers have joked about it and call him the "Nightmare Fuel Master". Redskin has also (jokingly) referred to him as the "Super Fun Murder Time Master".
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Marcus and Celestia give Blueblood a very brutal and well-deserved verbal beatdown in Chapter 11, before Discord turns him to stone temporarily. Also, TCB!Blueblood is revealed to have been turned to stone and smashed to pieces by Queen Celestia because even she couldn't stand him.
    • PER agents Michelson and Morely of the eponymous story by Chatoyance were virulently hated for being huge Designated Heroes. Kraber's backstory and his ruthless hunting down of human collaborators serves as this for them. Sure, Kraber's methods are brutal and extreme, but it's hard to shed any tears for those on the receiving end.
    • In the Calm Before the Storm side story, TCB!Big Mac reminisces giving Diamond Tiara food poisoning after she called Apple Bloom the product of incest.
    • Last Train From Oblivion reveals that TCB!Suri Polomare died as well.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Prime Comet and Frost's Puppy Love relationship. Kizuna Tallis admits that she and Sledge115 agreed to pair the two together simply for the cuteness factor.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: According to Vox and Jed, Redskin found the idea of anyone wanting to redeem or even sympathizing with Queen Celestia laughable, despite the fact that Queen Celestia is possessed by Tirek and isn't fully in control of her own actions. The other writers disagreed with him since they (and the readers) found her to be probably the biggest victim in the story.
    • The Continuity Reboot SPECTRUM aims to avert this by showing that Queen Celestia still has part of her original good self left in her.
  • The Woobie: So many, it has its own page.


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