Hey, Renny -- here for the exchange! I have seen this pop up in several review exchanges over the past few months, and I've finally had the chance to read it for myself, which is very neat. Right from the start, the premise for this story is extremely original. I've heard of a few (but not many) fic set in other countries, but never one in Japan, and never one that really world-builds like you've already done here. If you were hoping to make your story stand out from its counterparts, then you have by and large succeeded!
I think probably the thing that struck me the most about this chapter is the depth of the research you've clearly put into it. I really appereciate that as a reader, because it goes with what I said above about world-building: It creates an atmosphere, and it's nice to know that you care enough about your story to put that sort of time and effort into it. I love feeling like I'm there when I'm reading, original fiction or fan fiction, and this was one of the stories that made it easy to picture exactly what you wanted to reader to see.
There was a lot of description in this, too, which contributed to that (I know I'm kind of stuck on that, broken-record style, but that's truly what I got out of this story, how thorough it was!). One of my favorite lines:
The purple, clove-scented smoke flew away from him to join the final great puff of steam -- I have a thing for smoke and mist! And that was really elegant, somehow -- I enjoyed it. The description of the smoke as being clove-scented puts that smell immediately in mind, too, which was great.
Your tying in Pottermore and the cherry-and-dragon-heartstring wand, and the Japanese magic school, and Snape's ancestors... That was perhaps what impressed me the most. Again you ground your story in such thorough realism, and again I'm blown away! I know it's been ages (let's not calculate how long) since I've read The Dream of One Night, but of course your love for Snape isn't ever far from you, and I think you're doing your AU Snape storyline much credit here.
Anyway. I think this was a bit more rambling than I intended, but I hope you'll forgive me for that. :) Great job with this, and do keep doing what you're doing! I'm glad I got to exchange with you at last!Author's Response: Yaaay! I'm so glad we got to exchange finally too! Same here... it's been, ugh, FOREVER since I last read "In the Black" :( I can't believe you're almost DONE with the trilogy! (way off topic, but one of my favorite bands, the lead singer being the guy I base my own Severus's appearance off of, came out with a song called "In the Black." I always think of Beth when I hear it :D) I wish I had had a tenth (no pun intended) of your dedication and creativity when I was in school. I cringe when I look back now at all the time I used to have and how I spent most of it playing video games or something stupid. Anyway, I'll always appreciate the reviews you left me for my own story :) I more than anyone know sometimes you just can't get back to a story to finish it. I have so many amazing stories here on HPFF, yours included, that I started in the past and know I just probably won't ever get to finish, especially since we'll probably be adding to our family again in a couple years, just when the first one's in school.
Anyway, thanks for this review :D I think the sheer amount of research and time I put into this first chapter is what's taking me so long to get back to work on the second one. I'm pretty familiar with modern Japanese pop culture, but know almost nothing about this specific time period. So it was literally write one sentence then spend twenty minutes researching the next sentence.
It would have been nice if I could have done a canon-Snape, but then I wouldn't have been drawn to make up this whole other magical tangent. I can't see the Princes as being people who had enough money to travel the world, unless Eileen Prince married WAY below her station. So that's been fun, doing an almost completely OC story with a nod to canon here and there.
Ok, I'm finding myself growing rambly. Is rambly a word? Google Chrome seems to disagree with me. Thank you again for the review, and I'm stoked we got to be paired up! Good luck with your many, many writing projects!
~Renny Report Review
I'm really happy I paired you with me this month! From the beginning, I thought this was a very fascinating story in a brand new atmosphere which built up some excitement for me. Usually I'm stuck with the setting at Hogwarts or in some part of England. To be fair, I do write it myself. Anyway, I love your choice of location.
Edmund Greyadder is a very intriguing man. He steps off the train in a seemingly different atmosphere where he's an outsider. Fair hair and grey eyes, like you've described him; in this way, you've created some conflict already. Beside the internal conflict, the country is at war and soon, the rest of the world will follow. I love it. Brilliant time placement!
The background to this magical world was lovely. You continue to set up a very realistic premise to your story, one I hope you'll continue.
I like the fact that you included Japanese words within the story to make it feel more…real, and it's not at all jarring. Certainly some authors set their stories in exotic parts with different languages, but some of them forget to include aspects of that place to make it sincere. I like learning about new places as well.
Setting and description on a grand scale were well done. I can see Edmund and Atsushi walking along the street while the young maiko giggled (I giggled too!).
I'm curious to find out why Atsushi was so wary at any mention of 'home'. Obviously something is amiss, and I'd love to find out what.
LiaAuthor's Response: Hi Lia! I'm really glad we had this pairing, too ^.^ I definitely enjoyed your Snape story and am super grateful for your feedback on my own chapter.
I was so excited with this setting because I love Japan and have always thought given the level of magic in their culture, even today, that it would be great to take a stab at what the wizards would be like there. JKR never talks much about magic outside of Europe, besides a mention here or there during the Quidditch World Cup, but I figured, knowing her, she probably had tons of ideas in the back of her mind she didn't have room for. Discovering that bit about Mahoutokoro on Pottermore was fascinating for me.
I'm glad the Japanese vocabulary wasn't jarring or overly complicated with the notes I had to add. I was a little worried about that but also felt, like you said, a little bit is necessary to make it believable. For instance, I tried reading a fiction book set in Japan once but the author didn't use any of the honorifics when referring to character names. I couldn't keep reading it because it didn't seem realistic to me since the honorifics are such an integral part of Japanese speech and custom.
I really need to get back to work on this story. I was trying to work on my novel-length for NaNo, but that sort of fizzled out. Maybe taking a break from that one and getting back to Japan will help on both fronts :) Thanks so much for the review! It's great to know I'm headed in the right direction. I figured since it was so different from most fan fiction, people would either love it or totally not understand it. Thanks again! ~Renny Report Review
Hello, I'm here with your requested review! And I dearly apologise if I am a bit late; Nano has come in the way of everything last week. But anyway...
First of all, I must applaud you for the amount of apparent extensive research you've made for this story. The only two Japanese words I know are 'chan' and 'sakura' and I got everything perfectly. You're basically showing us a completely different side of magic and everything is so prominently original, so I really enjoyed the aspect of 'exploring' magic in this first chapter.
Your descriptions are absolutely wonderful. Although I had the words and translations open in a note, there were times I didn't really have to look at them because I could get what you were talking about through the context clues. Other than that, it just made everything quite colorful. Once they were into the village, I could practically see the place and I really, really liked that.
At the beginning, it felt like there was a bit too much information and too little dialogue, and that's completely understandable because you want your readers to understand what's being said and at the same time make the cultural aspect obvious. Eventually, I felt myself actually start admiring the pace at which things were going and how you were able to introduce new things into the narration. I do hope, nonetheless, that in the next chapter we'll get to see more things happen.
Your characters are, so far, very interesting. I'm rather curious as to why Edmund had been taught in Japan to begin with and I cannot wait to see what's going to happen in the ceremony.
Oh, and a comment on the summary!
"...with an unwitting English wizard caught in the middle."
This line struck out to me a little because it reminded me of Nick from the Great Gatsby. I can't wait to see what part he's going in this war.
To me, this story is unique and very different from what people would generally venture into, as a writer or a reader. Nonetheless, you've written an exceptional first chapter and I'm quite intrigued to see how matters are going to progress.
Good luck with the following chapters and thanks for requesting. Feel free to re-request whenever! :D
-MannoAuthor's Response: Thank you so much for coming to check out my story, Manno! And please don't apologize at all. I never would have requested this close to NaNoWriMo if I'd been thinking clearly. So I extra appreciate this review since you probably took time out of your own writing to read mine :)
I think I'm going to have to go back and reconsider the dialogue for sure. In my mind I probably didn't see the imbalance so clearly because the next chapter might be dialogue-heavy. But obviously a reader can't know that! There are probably some things I can add, more inconsequential small talk since I don't want the conflict Atsushi is hiding to come out right at the beginning.
The reason for Edmund's Japanese education will definitely be explained in the next chapter. I referenced it very briefly in the story that this one is a spin-off of, but I'll need to do it again here because it obviously needs to stand on its own. I can't expect people to read 50,000 words into another novel to find out the reason there, hahaha! So thank you for the reminder! It's very helpful to have fresh eyes look at a story since I often take parts of it for granted, having had this information in my head for so long.
Thank goodness the summary seems ok! Half of the reason I put off posting this story was because I just couldn't seem to come up with a summary. I really hate those things.
Thank you again for the review! Good luck with your own writing this month and I'd love to re-request in the future when I'm done with NaNoWriMo myself and able to get back to working on this story :) ~Renny Report Review
Thought I'd check out your new story (though I don't want to encourage anything that takes away from Snape/Avrille!:-) )
Wow! What a lot of research and creativity went into this! I'm ignorant enough of Japanese culture and history to be not quite sure where real life stopped and your invented magical world began.
I loved your descriptions of the magical village ... I could just picture it.
Wonder why Edmund studied in Japan??
Oh, and a cigarine?? Some kind of cigarette, I'm sure, but I've never heard of it.Author's Response: Oh! What a lovely surprise to see you "over" here! Don't worry, this story is on the back burner for the moment (even more than "Southanger Abbey" which has practically been in the freezer for months :P) for a big November Severus and Avrille push. But I'll definitely get back to it! It's been really fun working on something totally different and in a weird way, very historical.
Thank you for reminding me I'll have to address why Edmund went to school in Japan in the next chapter! I had Severus mention in "Nothing Else Matters" that it had been the fashion at the time for rich young wizards to have a foreign education (maybe the standards at Hogwarts were slipping slightly before Dumbledore took the helm?) but I'll make sure to reemphasize that in this story since it obviously needs to stand alone from the other one. I guess it was really just my excuse to write a HPFF about Japan.
I, ahem, stole the "cigarine" word from author Tanith Lee, who uses it in one of her books (I can't remember which, it might be "The Silver Metal Lover" but I should really hunt it down so I can give her credit.) I liked how it was a completely made up word, but the reader could still know instantly what it was. I also had a bit of fun referencing J.R.R. Tolkien's pipeweed in the other story along with the cigarine again. I'm weird and like to throw things like that in to see if anyone gets the reference.
Thank you so much for the review! I'm going to push myself to get a lot of writing done this month. You and my other wonderful readers have been so patient with me. I'm really so lucky. Thanks again! ~Renny Report Review
Hi there! It's me from the forums with your requested review.
Wow, you have very clearly researched your fic before writing, which is admirable. The amount of work you put in to the vocabulary and end notes is very astounding. I just browsed over them before reading and am glad to have them available, as somebody who knows very little about Japanese culture.
Wow. I have only read the first chapter and can already sense that you are an incredible storyteller. I love that Edmund always forgets to bring matches when disguising himself as a muggle.
I am speaking as somebody who has not been exposed to much Japanese history, particularly around the WWII era, but the idea of Japan being more "lassez faire" about their politics... I just think about Sakoku, and even though that was the seventeenth century I had always thought that a similar air of austerity had remained in Japanese politics. Of course I am uninformed on the whole matter and hope to not come across as offensive--and this is such a small part of the story. It's just something that struck me.
You have achieved the perfect balance of imagery and storytelling; describing the purple smoke and the sleek black train creates such a great visual image, yet does not detract from the story with overuse of metaphor, etc. You also do very well with weaving information about Japan's history into the narrative without overloading the reader on fact.
I liked the exchange between Edmund and the Geisha. Nice touch of humor amidst all of the formalities and politics.
Something that I, and probably other readers, would like to see more of is dialogue. Because you are doing so much explanation and back-story and introduction of setting, it reads almost like nonfiction (which I certainly mean as a compliment.) But some more dialogue to get a better feel of Edmund's character and not just the political state of wizarding Tokyo would add a nice touch, I think.
The ending was nice, too. I like that Edmund has a wife somewhere. These are very unusual OCs for HPFF and I think you're doing a wonderful job with this story. Thank you for asking me to review!Author's Response: Thank you so much for stopping by! I really really appreciate your taking the time to look at this chapter for me and give me feedback.
Yes, I spent way more time researching this fic than any other piece of writing in the past. I'm fairly familiar with modern Japanese pop culture, but very rusty on my history! It's been a while since college. Hahaha. I'm glad to hear the notes were helpful. I had to remember when writing this that not everyone would, for instance, know and read the honorific system instinctively.
"Of course I am uninformed on the whole matter and hope to not come across as offensive--and this is such a small part of the story." --Not offensive at all! On the contrary, pointing this out was incredibly helpful to me! I don't know if you're the same way with your own writing, but sometimes I get so stuck in my head with a chapter that I don't notice really obvious things I write that contradict other things. That was a great observation you had. Maybe I'll change it to something along the lines of the Japanese people being more open to the idea of magic and the supernatural combined with the chaos of wartime makes the magical government turn a blind eye to small infractions such as lighting up with magic? Hmm, I'll have to think of a way to word it so it makes more sense.
I'm going to have to think about the dialogue aspect. I personally find this funny because usually dialogue is what I like to do best, so I really had to push myself to NOT use it quite as much in this story to give it a more historical feel in this first chapter :D But having not enough where the reader feels something is missing is definitely not a good thing either. I'll definitely take your suggestion to heart. I'm expecting the next chapter to be very dialogue heavy. I'm attempting to make this story follow the format of a noh or kabuki play with five acts (chapters) and the idea of jo-ha-kyuu where there story begins slowly and auspiciously, followed by a building of tension and drama and ending swiftly with a rapid return to peace. So... that's kind of why the first chapter is a little heavy on the info :)
Thanks again so much for being my first review! Your comments and suggestions were really just so helpful. I'd love to re-request with you sometime in the future when I'm able to find time to write another chapter :D ~Renny Report Review
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