Me, Myself and Eyes
Akyuu's Untitled Youmubutt Adventure
The most common thread this time around: not knowing what's going on. If I can't tell what's happening in your story, I'm not likely to walk away satisfied. I know we all love Fell and Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace, but there is something to be said for clarity, y'know?
The Incident at the Beginning of the Universe - Case in point, I couldn't tell what was going on in this story. Something something Gensokyo is myth, Joseph Campbell namedrop, faceless bunny ears girl, ???? If it's a reference, I don't get it - Black Tewi? Something to do with LoLK's plot? If it's not a reference... I have no idea. The prose feels like mimicry of something artsy too. I'm sure it all makes sense if you're on the exact same wavelength as the author, maybe, probably, but I'm not, so all I feel is confused. Maybe someone else will explain this one to me in the votes?
The Last Offering - Nice sense of imperative here, with the media res opening and all. That style does have a drawback, though, and here that drawback is manifest: Shou doesn't get much characterization, the situation gets no explanation, and I don't feel very invested as a result. This is an origin story, right? Where's Byakuren? What's with the chasing oni things? Why is danmaku even a thing if they aren't in Gensokyo yet? Why "Naz Mousedowser" instead of just Nazrin?
I like the basic execution here, it's a nice chase and character scene, but it feels like just a taste of something that could have been more fleshed out.
Splatoonhou - Great prose. Amazing prose, really! I love the dialogue, the interactions, the sentences and language played with to give dynamics to the events. Bold and italics are used freely, some might say overused, but I think they fit the comical nature of the piece. I want to get invested in every character that appears!
Unfortunately, that's not possible, because there are too many characters appearing for too little screen time each. Sometimes it wasn't obvious whether names belonged to kappa or inklings. In particular I was confused as to whether "Mari" was supposed to be Marie of the Squid Sisters - I think not, but I'm not 100% clear.
Plotwise, well. The scene does follow itself and has a beginning, middle, and end, but I'd still like to know why inklings are here and how the fighting started in the first place. There's just enough detail given to the setting that I think the story needs a little more anchoring, some reason for the reader to care about the fight or pick a side to cheer for, y'know?
Overall great stuff, though!
YOUMU'S SWEET ZOMBIE CHEEKS - Sedoka is fundamentally a dialogue form, and while I do like the reversal of lover's tones into rotting murderdeath, I don't like both stanzas coming from the same source. Should've made one of them from Seiga's perspective, or perhaps expanded to Tojiko. I also have to knock off some points for potentially being unclear without the image, and for having some unimportant syllables. If you're going to enter a prose contest with a short poem like this, I think you need to make the absolute most of your chosen form or risk being seen as a low effort joke entry. All that said, major props for chops. This is a breath of fresh air and you should go write some more in /shorts/ or somewhere!
Okuu's Very Good Day - Cute, and good use of new characters. Decent children's book writing. Plot, though... the plot joins the refrain of "I barely knew what was going on, even after looking it up." Junko should probably be explicitly named, and even knowing the references, I'm unclear on exactly why she wants to burn the Moriyas. Shouldn't she be happy that they found a good host for Yatagarasu? It's funny, sort of, but didn't leave me very satisfied.
Me, Myself and Eyes - Now, this, this is some dark comedy I can get behind. Very nice. Short, to the point, characterful, thought provoking, and evocative. The amount of punch per word is exquisitely high. Could use a little more context, perhaps, but here that feels like me asking too much rather than a genuine lack. I love it.
Feast and Famine - Yarrrr, me hearties, we be sailin' the seas of crack with our ships now! Thar blows a good start to a relationship piece, but a lackluster end. Twas a good setup, with Rinno unable to define why he was uncomfortable, yet in the end, twas no booty to be found in his conversation with Reimu, or really the conclusion generally. Except for oni booty, of which I'm sure there was a-plenty! All in the name of "sport," yarr. A treat for a bedraggled old sailor to read, though the second half be like the sea at quenching the thirsts.
A Puppet With Its Strings Cut - "This must all feel extremely whiny and incoherent." Yeah, pretty much. And it just goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, like one incredibly long unbroken sentence moving from topic to topic and eventually to the incredibly obvious end.
Hey, whoever wrote this, I'll be level, this is garbage. But that's okay. Most writing is, and most good writing starts that way. Go back to the start and think about what you wanted to accomplish, and how to accomplish that. There's some good seeds in here, emotions, scenes, ideas. Take the best of them and start over, carving everything else away. I imagine you're depressed, much like Alice. Much like myself, even - you're not alone. Keep going. Unlike Alice, the red-white isn't going to exterminate you for trying something new. And after a mountain of corpses, you can, you WILL, make a beautiful doll.
A Cold Woman - Feels like there's been a Letty story like this in every contest. Hm. Interesting. Anyway, it's okay. The prose feels very detatched. Lots of plain, declaratory sentences. Like this. It makes it hard to connect to the story. The protagonist has no name and no face. No one else has a name or face either. Just "a girl" and "my uncle" and so on. No specifics or proper nouns are in evidence. Nothing unusual happens either. After the first time, we know "the woman" is going to rescue people, and she does. And "I" go find her. It's very plain. Much like how I'm writing this review. Technically it's complete, but emotionally it's very dissociated and hard to get into. I'd recommend the author read the Splatoonhou short, study what's going on there and try to write more dynamically!
Clinically Over the Moon - Another romance story. The usual setup, a bit of melodrama. As always, I'm not a huge fan of the Touhou elements being minimized to this degree. You could clip off the names, make Komachi an undertaker and this could be any modern setting. In fact, it fits better outside of Gensokyo than inside - I'm really not sure how the human village has needles and junkies like the protagonist to begin with, if Reisen's clinic is the only modern medical establishment. Hits the ol' suspension of disbelief a bit. Character stuff is fine, though the whole thing feels... paint-by-numbers? Good effort, now work on surprising and delighting readers who are looking for more!
Afterschool Adventures - Hm, this is nicely written and off to a good start, I wonder if we're going to get some saucy schoolteacher adv- ... really? No. Just no. I don't even hate ryona, I've played and enjoyed and "enjoyed" ryona games, and this doesn't hit anything that makes ryona appealing to its general audience at all. To each their own, I guess, but this feels more like a troll entry than anything else to me.
YOUMU AND AKYUU, LYING ON A BED, P-O-M-F-I-N-G - Cute, hot, really nice setup. My favorite /at/ type stories have always been the ones that go a bit beyond in creating a fun, hot setting. Reminds me of the Lotus Pavilion concepts, in a good way. I'd prefer even more details there, further attention on the servants and the personalities of the village boys, but hey, /at/ is hard to judge fairly and runs a lot heavier on personal tastes.
Catnip - Hm, this... this might run too far to the other end, yeah. Too much detail, not enough porn. I like the detail! I think I'm really on the high end for loving purple prose porn! And this isn't purple prose, honestly, it really isn't. It's just... a LOT of prose. There's something of a reason why most erotic fiction tends towards a certain length, I'll let you figure it out. I like the relationship, I like the setting, I like the detail, but I don't like it all crammed in here. There's too much and it gets in the way of the naughty fun bits. Especially the end - after all this buildup about getting Chen pregnant, the climax is rather anticlimactic (heh), with the headbutt taking the reader right out of the mood and then a rather abbreviated conclusion. Everyone has different preferences and priorities in ero stuff, but for me the priorities in the writing here were not in line with what I was looking for while reading. If you're writing for general audiences you might want to check that out and keep in mind what the majority of readers care about - often it's not the same as what authors care about!
Hahahahaha, if only.