should win the nobel prize for evil (nayami) wrote in destati_reviews,
should win the nobel prize for evil
nayami
destati_reviews

Week 1

THE KEYMASTER

Title: Stalemates
Author: surestsmile
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
Description: hint of AkuRoku, genfic with Demyx, Axel and Roxas
Reasons: Rare characterization of Roxas


So much can be said about this piece. We'll start out by saying it's not your typical AkuRoku fair. There's no mention of the leaving scene, Axel confronting Roxas in Twilight Town or Axel's dying scene. There's also no snuggles, playful banter or fluff of any kind. The piece is told through Axel, with perfect characterization, showing his deception around the Organization ("He pays lip service with a smile and a snarl, fingers flying like birds whenever he talks, and perhaps if one had bothered to decode their meaning they might have learnt more about Axel than they ever thought they would."), his interest in Roxas for being such an enigma and his view on his/Roxas/Demyx's place in the grand scheme of things. Axel never mentions his famous catch phrase and his interactions with Demyx are mostly mischievious rather than overly friendly or cruel as some would write them. Dialogue is nonexistant and everything must be shown, making it easier to focus on Axel's thoughts.

Through this view, we get Roxas: the very definition of a Nobody, one who doesn't appear to feel or care. A great comparison between Roxas and Zexion is made, describing Zexion as pretending to be emotionless while all his true rage waits beneath that blank visage. ("Roxas isn't like Zexion, Axel thinks. Zexion feels like the undercurrent of a river, on the surface it's mirror-smooth, deceptively so, but underneath it's boiling and churning and if you're not careful and you break that surface he'll pull you down quietly and drown you like it's a nobody's business.") Axel's friendship with Roxas is introduced slowly, even though the fic is a one-shot, and shown through casual encounters. One of the most gripping is the scene of Roxas touching Axel's tattoo just before being embarassed and scared off by Demyx showing up. ("Somehow along the way Roxas had already begun recipocating, in his own terribly, terribly subtle way, so subtle Axel actually hadn't expected it when it happened, the touch of a gloved hand on his face, lightly tracing the blue tear tattoos under his eyes.") The imagery is not overdone and lets the power of the scene itself do the work. From there, the work does not topple into more cheesy/romantic encounters between the two and instead explains Axel's trepidation with taking things further, unsure how Roxas will react. An interesting move for Axel, who can be both calculating but also terribly reckless when enslaved by his "emotions." But it works because the reader can still feel how important Roxas is becoming to Axel. By the end we get Axel's more defiant attitude, telling himself and the reader that Roxas has potential to be more than he may seem.

As this piece also takes a look at Demyx, I should mention several of my favorite interpretation. One is the wordplay about Demyx acting younger than Roxas due to their personalities. ("He leaves the castle-building to Demyx, who sings of distant lands and skies and seas and stories of made-up people with hearts to anyone who would listen like a true bard, and Axel can see that Demyx truly believes with the simple faith of a child. It's funny, how Roxas is like the man and Demyx the boy, and Axel isn't sure where he fits in this equation anymore, though he doesn't care to think on it for long and wraps the two in his arms, Demyx's breathless laughter mixing with Roxas' silence.") We also get the usual metaphors with the elements of the trio but done in a way that's neither pretentious or corny. ("They don't belong here, they're not children of darkness, and while they're not children of light either, Axel is fire and Roxas is light, and Demyx reflects them both because he's water and surely all of that has to count for something, even if they don't have hearts.")

The style lends itself well to stream of conscious prose. It also manages to paint images that reflect so many emotions without telling you what those emotions are. ("Sometimes he's tempted to drag Roxas to a mirror and dig fingers into the corners of Roxas' mouth, pull the pale lips up, and hold them there in a grotesque parody of a smile, and then they'll grin at their reflections, except that both their smiles are just as fake as their lives.")

Overall, it's a wonderful testament to the fact that AkuRoku doesn't always have to be about the angst or the smut or even the snuggles. It can just be about people. People who are dealing with a situation in the only way they know how.


THE NOBODY

Title: Good Imagination
Author: checkmatey
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
Description: Sora sees a new side of Riku
Reasons: Potential for a great canon-manip but falls short with lack of explanation or details
Spoilers


This is basically a short conversation between Riku and Sora that hints toward Axel being Riku's Nobody and existing within him in the same manner as Roxas with Sora and Namine within Kairi. When I first read the summary for this fic, I was excited. One of my major guilty AU pleasures is the concept of Axel being Riku's Nobody because I like the idea of each trio remaining together. However, I am aware that it would be difficult to place within canon because Riku never technically loses his heart like Kairi or Sora; it just gets consumed. I still believe that with effort and ingenuity, the idea can go places. I cannot be terribly upset with this piece for not living up to my extreme expectations; it is a one-shot and a small one at that, a handful of paragraphs. It also suffers from a mild touch of Kairi bashing in that Kairi throws a fit because Sora wants to spend time with Riku. This aspect could be worse so it doesn't completely destroy this fic. But because it still ruffles my feathers that fangirls feel the need to bitchify Kairi to produce Sora/Riku, it is a minus. The dialogue and writing style isn't too noteworthy and the lead-up is arbitrary. The ending may also be slightly too clever. But the concept is what gives this fic its ranking. I only wish that the idea might be taken up once again and possibly expanded to its true potential.


THE HEARTLESS

Title: Medorthophobia
Author: loser_no_jutsu
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
Description: AU about problems in Riku and Sora's sex life, also includes Axel and Roxas as their best buds
Reasons: It's an AU that mentions "penis" frequently and I LIKE it.



As said, this is an AU that doesn't mention any of the storyline of Kingdom Hearts, has the characters existing as normal people, has Axel and Riku discussing Sora's fear of penises and ends with Axel and Roxas sexing it up on the counter. Every part of my self-righteous soul demands that I hate it. But the characterization is too good for that. As bizarre as the situation is, the characters are still distinctly themselves. Riku is snarky but with his usual self-doubt, Sora is a dork easily confused by his friend's strange behavior, Axel is teasing, twisted and completely manipulative and Roxas is very serious and used to Axel's ploys. I'll even forgive the minor submission on Roxas' part at the end since the ability of an AU to retain characterization astonishes me. Now, I still prefer the fics that work within the KH storyline and use past experiences to build characters. But this was damn funny.
(“Um. ‘Hey, how come you looked like you’d seen the boogieman in my pants when I molested you last?”
“…See, this is why I don’t ask you stuff"
)
Now I'm not saying it's not crack because it IS, but it's a hybrid form of crack that manages to hit buttons I wasn't sure I had. I'm not going to do an extensive review on this one because it truly has to be read to be understood/appreciated or maybe just believed.

~*~*~*~*~


Nayami recommends:
Every one of these contains spoilers for KH2.
1. Jericho and Smile: More AkuRoku from this week's Keymaster.
2. Beautiful Broken Boys: Riku/Sora/Kairi genfic from this week's Keymaster.
3. Fairy Tale Stuff: Demyx-centric
4. Hard Hot Home: Riku/Sora
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