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Latias' Journey was one of the first major fanfics I got into, and this was when I was still in high school. Back them, I could read Doorstopper fanfics. I still consider it one of my favourite fanfics, but as an adult, my jaded opinions have changed a little regarding the more extreme parts of the story.
The basic plot is actually pretty good. Latias rejects the romantic advances of the anonymous "Ghost King", and in retaliation, he destroys her hometown, kills her loved ones, and threatens to murder Ash Ketchum (her crush).
Then, about a quarter of the way through, the whole thing transforms into an epic, where the Unown summon a variety of random Pokemon characters to their dimension, announcing they are The Chosen to battle in a prophecized battle of good vs. evil that will decide the fate of the universe. From there, things soon take a sharp right turn as the story bulges under its own weight with a crazy ultra-violent story that involves the end of the world, and a rather unpleasant reliance on gore and rape to provoke drama.
The writer isn't a bad one, quite good in the descriptive and action categories. However, the story is extremely long, becomes bloated, and quite often the violence, gore, and rape are described in disturbingly intricate detail. The writer often relies on sweeping, unnecessary detail to apparently decry parts of the anime they despise, and go to the ninth degree to leave readers uncomfortable.
Latias' resentment-turned-Reincarnation Romance with Rayquaza now feels a little uncomfortable to relate too, since she completely abandons her hated for him in favour of a school girl crush formed by destiny. At times the character development comes out quite well, and certain fates of beloved characters reflect the surprisingly grim nature of the story. I'll even praise the story for actually ending on an intentionally Ambiguous Ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion-level proportions.
The one problem with that was that several years after the fanfic's completion, the writer returned to the story, incorporating a ridiculous use of Deus ex Machina and the Reset Button to retcon the last fifteen or so chapters to invoke a forced happy ending, and even altering who was the true mastermind of Latias' Doomed Hometown.
A sequel, Brave New World, is an improvement in the writing department, toning down its predecessors more x-rated content in favour of better world building and character arcs. However, for now, it is a Dead Fic.
I will be upfront with this review. The basic plot and dazzling action sequences are the only good things about the story.
In a nutshell, Latias is forced to go on the run because her hometown is destroyed by the "Ghost King". Unfortunately, this basic plot, which had the potential for a high-octane thrill ride, was completely and utterly mangled beyond all repair by Ri2.
For starters, there is the extreme length — over one million words. Most of this is padding and could be done away with. The other issue is that Ri2 gleefully plays Genre Roulette — sometimes multiple times — every chapter. This leads to a disjointed and confusing narrative where the reader is left wondering if they were supposed to be reading a horror story, thriller, Crack Fic or some unholy mash-up of genres. There is also the issue of Ri2's completely random jokes and gags in the story. Humor is acceptable in a story when it presented in the appropriate dosage and location. Ri2 arbitrarily throws in random comedic moments that do little more than confuse the already bewildered audience.
Now a word before I get to the other issue, I have no problem with gore or other distasteful subject matter in fics. However, Ri2 seems to delight in transgressing as many boundaries as possible and disgusting as many people as possible. There is no other way to explain the abundance of Gratuitous Rape scenes, many of which are graphically described; extreme amounts of intense, nearly over-the-top violence and extremely gory descriptions of violence. Eventually, the reader stops caring about the characters thanks to all the horrible things they're put through.
In short, I give this story 0.5 stars out of 5. The half-star is awarded simply because of the dazzling action sequences. I leave this review with a semi-accurate and irreverent description of Latias' Journey: This is Pokèmon written by a meth tweaker after watching a bunch of ultra-violent slasher flicks.
Let me start off by saying this: when I read this fanfiction, I loved it. It was one of my first forrays into fanfiction that wasn't garbage, and this one gave me a tangible story that hooked and drew me in. I saw my favorite characters develop and grow, and was thrust into a gripping and terrifying plot. I even stayed awake into early morning to continue reading. Everything I read seemed beautifully designed, beautifully executed. Perfect
That was years ago.
Now a fanfiction veteran, I can turn my jaded eyes to this fiction, and the first thing I notice were the flaws. I originally sympathized with Latias, with a poor girl who lost her home, her family, and now the boy she loves is hunted because of her. And I felt happy that she moved on and found comfort in the arms of the wonderful guy who understands her. Now, I remember that, spoiler alert, that guy is Raquaza, a.k.a. the Ghost King, a.k.a. THE GUY WHO DESTROYED LATIAS' HOME IN THE FIRST PLACE! Raquaza was severly messed up in the head to onl feel sorry for murdering hundreds of thousands because it made Latias upset, an Latias was severly messed up in the head for forgiving him on account of 3. If I can't sympathize with the heroes, how can I hope to enjoy the story?
A tip to all writers: pick a few genres and stick with them. This story rides the gamut to horror to adventure to comedy to even using multiple genres in the same sentence. Some may like this, but it breaks all feeling of suspense in the horror sense and all hilarity in the comedy sense. I don't need to know how Suicine was raped into a zombie-murderer, or how Evil-Ash cuts off Brock's genitals and shoves them in his mouth, especially not when two scenes ago it was a heartfelt conversation about true love. Moodwhiplash loses its meaning.
Finally, the length. The Length! Years ago, this meant that I had more words to pore over, but this means now there's more junk to sift through for relevant bits. Brevity is the soul of wit, which this fic fails to comprehend. The action scenes were nice and pretty, but I continually found I would skip them to get to dialogue. My breaking point came when I accidentaly skipped two chapters and found I missed very little. Padding doesn't help.
Of course, this is all in the past. But to me, this is a great example that glamour and length doesn't equal quality.
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