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for Faster

12/31/2020 c1 1Mr.L-GreenThunder
The unicycle though...
7/9/2020 c1 13Nubushi
Hello, I'm here from the WA review game.

This is a powerful piece that really tore me up emotionally-but I'll share some thoughts that are more or less in order, then add some general thoughts at the end.

Paragraph 1 was great, as you start out with a line that gets at the conflict and the theme at the heart of the story right away.

There is just a little bit of a hiccup in terms of pacing towards the very beginning, though. It's understandable that you want to summarize a little bit to try to get to the real point of the story as quickly as possible, but paragraphs 2 and the very beginning of paragraph 3 have a bit of "telling." Looking at it a second time, I think maybe if you expand with even a little bit of showing instead of the cliche phrase "I made short work of Metal," that would help a lot. Just some sort of more sensory description of the key moment of the battle, or Metal's defeat, maybe.

As a reader, I know that the death of the woman on the bridge is coming, but it still really hits home. Having been in Japan when 2011 disaster hit and seeing all that news footage, and having been on that pedestrian walkway the woman fell off of, probably makes it hit home even more for me, but I think even without that (i.e. for a reader who doesn't have those experiences) the scene would still convey the shock and horror of watching something like that happen. I think it's the way that you focus in on that specific moment, of seeing the woman's face as she falls, that makes it so effective; also, humans tend to be more emotionally impacted by individual stories than by statistics of how many people died in what disaster, which might be why the theme of this one woman, which Rock keeps returning to throughout the story, has more of an emotional impact than the later events where more than just one person died.

The ironic thing about Rock's reflections on life, and on his feelings, starting in the paragraph "There are a lot of things about life . . ." but also continuing in the next section below that, is that they actually come across as very human. This is not a complaint: the fact that Rock isn't human is what allows him to reflect so honestly, and with such naivete, on things that humans also think about, like why everything just keeps going on as usual after something horrible has happened. This sort of reflection, the "I don't get it" feeling and the rawness of the reflections, works very well with a non-human character because the fact of their being non-human allows them to look at and reflect on the human experience from an outsider's perspective.

The other line that came across as extremely human and painfully easy to relate to was this one:

"It's much easier for me to do my work if I just bottle up my feelings until I get home."

Because there are so many people who cope with things that are emotionally difficult with this very strategy.

Also, the part where Rock asks Dr. Light to make him faster just kills me emotionally. In terms of story pacing, not a lot of text has gone by since the moment of the woman's death, so with that still very fresh in the memory, Rock's request is very easy to relate to: without having to tell readers, we can really understand his anguish and how badly he wants to be better so he can prevent this sort of thing happening in the future, as an attempt to ease his pain over the woman's death.

On the other hand, there was one place where I couldn't quite buy the "because I'm not human" rhetoric, and that was this one:

"But no matter how many times Dr. Light tells me something, if I really don't want to believe it, then I don't believe it… that is, until I experience it for myself. Maybe that's another quirk of mine which I can chalk up to being a robot rather than a human being."

Here, again, Rock is actually talking about something that's a very human thing to do (things like selective listening, or that thing where people ignore any evidence that goes against whatever the conclusion is that they decided in advance they want to believe). I think the reasons why this passage didn't work for me, whereas the ones above worked so well, are as follows:

1. In the ones above, Rock is saying there's something he "doesn't understand" about being human, that "I don't get it" feeling, whereas here Rock is naming a tendency in himself that's actually a human tendency, but saying maybe he has this human tendency because he is a robot.

2. I don't see any reason why being a robot would make Rock fail to process something that Dr. Light says. (If anything, it's the opposite; we tend to have an image of robots just blindly following their orders or their programming or whatever.)

You might be able to fix this by going into more depth with an explanation for why Rock doesn't believe Dr. Light, for example, he has _(#) examples in the past of Dr. Light understating something. Therefore, the balance of the evidence from the past makes it seem more likely that Dr. Light is understating than that he is being literal.

"What I wanted was a measurable, quantifiable solution - the solution which I'd already decided would help me."

With this, I'm back on board. The "measurable, quantifiable solution" sounds in-character for Rock being a robot, and having a conclusion that he has already come to is, again, a very human thing (like I mentioned above), so for me this line brought back the pathos that runs through the whole story.

Paragraph starting with "...My heart?": This felt like it was supposed to have more emotional impact than it did, for me at least. I'm not sure exactly what Rock's mental age is supposed to be, but it seems like humans using the word "heart" metaphorically would not be that hard to have caught on to in however many years he's been living with Dr. Light. However, later in the paragraph, when Rock is talking about being impatient, having a plan already, and wanting the conversation to be done, that all really solidifies Rock's characterization. Not only is he physically fast, but mentally fast, already having moved on to his next idea, and also the sort of wriggly kid who doesn't want to sit still and listen to long, serious talks. All of this makes a lot of sense and helps me get a better understanding of Rock's character.

"the principle that if "a little" is good, then "a lot" must be even better…": This is so naive and child-like, it really makes my heart go out to him.

I'll also note here that overall, throughout the story, Rock has a narrative voice that makes sense to his character and is believable. His simplicity and child-likeness come through well in lines like the ones I mentioned above.

Skipping down to the fight with Heat, the first paragraph does a great job of conveying Rock's exhilaration in his increased speed.

During the rest of the fight, and the part where he is running away, Rock has a lot of conflicted emotions; I feel like it should have a bit more emotional impact than it actually does, though the vision of the woman from Rainbow Bridge really hits hard. It might be because the emotions are kind of a muddle (shock, pain, shame, disbelief), or maybe because of that thing again where one individual's story has more of an emotional impact than the death of a mass of faceless strangers.

Following that, it's interesting that Rock sinks to an all-time low not just emotionally (wishing he had never been built) but also in terms of physical location, as he drifts to the bottom of Tokyo Bay. This works well, as the physical location dovetails with Rock's emotional state. I also found his thoughts about how his spirits lifted and things got better as soon as Guts arrived to be very true to life.

Paragraph starting "Suddenly I couldn't endure being in that crowd any longer": This paragraph had some effective metaphors, as well as a nice reference to Rock's thoughts earlier, wanting to go back to being a person, not a machine. I did slightly feel, after those descriptions of explosive emotion, that Rock got off easy by *not* having an emotional outburst in front of everyone, but this is more of a nitpick, not a major problem.

I like that the things that help Rock feel better don't simply make the pain go away, and that it is a slow and gradual process for him. The moment with Roll telling him not to die had a lot of impact-and so did Rock's daydreaming about the woman on the bridge.

I have mixed feelings about the last paragraph. The idea of things still seeming strange to him is a nice tie-in to his earlier reflections. But, on the other hand, I kind of feel like the last paragraph undermines itself, as well as the rest of the story. (Rock first says he's resigned to not being able to go much faster, but then immediately you turn around and talk about the time-stopper making him faster than his surroundings.) The whole story is sort of an Icarus fable about how trying to reach for too much has disastrous consequences, so the last line feels like it sort of erases the reality that Rock had finally learned to accept. ("There are limitations that I have to accept . . . sort of, but not really.") I suppose the time-stopper is a canon thing, but maybe this, too, could be something reserved for a different story, so that you can allow this one to end with the pathos and the hard-learned lessons that are central to it. May be personal preference, but I felt like the story might have been stronger as a whole if you had left out the whole final paragraph and ended with "I'll just stick to my own story."

Overall, as I see it, you have two main themes going on in this story:

1. The impact that witnessing death has on Rock (particularly, the death of the first woman)

2. The disastrous consequences that result when Rock takes things into his own hands (Icarus fable)

2 is a direct result of 1, so of course these two elements are intertwined with each other. However, as I've mentioned already, I found that pretty much anything having to do with that one woman who died falling off of Rainbow Bridge had much more of an emotional impact on me. (The two moments in the story that hit hardest for me were Rock's line "I need you to make me faster" and when Rock was imagining the dead woman while he was drifting towards Tokyo bay; tears were streaming down my face at both of those parts of the story.) I like what you do with having her come up again and again in the story, with Rock's imagination of her changing based on his mental and emotional state (shining and peaceful like a bodhisattva; a frightening vision of her corpse; imagining a life story for her at the end). On the other hand, I feel like 2 needs to be a train wreck of things falling apart more and more; and there's a sense of that to some extent, and it's not like it doesn't have any emotional impact, but I feel like it would be good if that sense of the train wreck, or things falling apart, or the disasters becoming worse and worse, could be strengthened. Unfortunately I don't have any great concrete suggestions for how to do that. Maybe some additional metaphors (the ones about Rock's feelings when he felt like he was about to explode were good). I also kind of have a sense that this story would benefit from being just a little bit denser and more focused, kind of like a good lyric poem. But it's not as if there are any unnecessary scenes or moments, so I can't help a lot with identifying spots that could be made more concise.

This is a great story to begin with, but I hope this all is helpful in identifying some ways you can further strengthen it. Thank you for writing this emotionally raw and honest story. To borrow the words of another user, this story made me feel something, and a story that does that is always worth reading.
6/29/2020 c1 85Bryon Nightshade
The textbook example of "knowing just enough to be dangerous": having the ability to change a limit, but not the knowledge of why the limit is there.

Perhaps it's just me, but I'm particularly struck by the reimagining or re-remembering of the first encounter. It's nice to be able to create a fantasy where the bad thing didn't happen, but it doesn't set us free.

Rurouni Kenshin made a major plot point of the question "how selfish do you have to be to do good?" The idea that one can be too selfless seems to appear in more Japanese media than American (based on my microscopic sampling).
5/30/2020 c1 11Seeking7
Hiya, Kaguya! I would like to preface this by saying that even though I’m mostly fandom-blind, I did take an hour or so to educate myself on Mega Man lore. While most finer details and references will go over my head, I think it’s safe to say that I more or less have an understanding of who the characters are! Let’s begin the review, yeah?

Right from the get-go, you’ve opened up with a very interesting sentence…”I could never stand seeing people die.” You’ve managed to set up the premise of this fic very early on in a way that’s both pithy and poignant.

(Suggestion: I would recommend that you change the last word of the second sentence from “worst” to something a little bit more intense. While the word choice is not bad by measuring stick at all, a lot more could be communicated with a word that has slightly darker connotation. Just a suggestion, however!)

Regarding the scene with Rock helping with the bridge evacuation effort, I found it to be very well written! You informed me very well on what was going on and what exactly our protagonist was doing, as well as the sights and sounds of everything around him.

(Suggestion: Perhaps a little more introspection here could make this part even more interesting. For example, what’s going through Rock’s head? What is he feeling - if anything at all? How are other people feeling? But this is far from necessary. I get the feeling that you’re trying to prioritize the action here and get straight to the point, so I understand why you might not see this suggestion as entirely useful.)

This quote “that’s when I saw her, floating face-down, not moving. Not a person anymore. Just a body.” Ooooh, I got chills just reading it. These short, intense telegraphic sentences effectively communicate just how jarring this realization is. Great work!

Rock’s overpowering, almost debilitating obsession with becoming faster was beautifully, beautifully depicted. When Dr. Light tells him that his “the goodness of his heart” is what made him special, his mental reaction to the statement is very well written. His guilt at leaving Roll in the dark and nightmare/dream about finally saving the women all leave the reader with a very bad feeling about what’s going to happen next... once again, great work here!

The reflection on the nature of fire was also extremely interesting. Rock’s strong moral compass comes through here, his insistence that only if fire could choose what it could burn, everything would be so much better. The idyllicism of this statement is balanced out with Roll’s level-headedness and acute diagnosis of the human condition. Now I have something serious food for thought to mull over. :D

The fallout of Rock’s decision is also very well written. It just keeps piling up, first with the fiasco of a confrontation against Heat, then the disaster that came with the four days Rock was out of commission. I felt guilty on Rock’s behalf and felt the pressure of inadequacy weigh on my own back - that’s a marker of fantastic writing!

And Rock’s final conclusion about the nature of mistakes at the end….*chef’s kiss.* Beautiful. This sentence in particular really got to me “when I make a mistake now, I learn from it and keep going.”

What I see here in “Faster” is exactly the brand of fanfiction I adore reading: it deals with extremely heavy topics but also offers a solution. It’s angsty but it’s not angst - it’s a journey. Very well done. I didn’t catch any SPaG errors, but maybe that’s because I got so engrossed in the story itself. I can’t put into words how honored and lucky I am to have bumped into you and your writing. :D

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