/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

Shining Armor's Isekai Adventure, but From Celestia's Point of View and skipping a lot because that's how these things seem to go in light novels so that's how it goes here also shining is a cuck but not really and is this even Shining? I'm not sure!

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 500819/shining-armors-isekai-adventure-but-from-celestias-point-of-view-and-skipping-a-lot-because-thats-how-these-things-seem-to-go-in-light-novels-so-thats-how-it-goes-here-also-shining-is-a-cuck-but-not-really-and-is-this-even-shining-im-not-sure

Published: Aug '21

Review in No. 39449779
This story really puts the "gross" in "engrossed".
I wasn't sure what I expected going in. Sure, going with the theme of the Schizo/secreter book club I figured I was in for a wild ride. And here's the thing. If the fic had played it straight and just made a wild romp where some random weeb gets reincarnated as Shining and has lots of wackt and lewd adventures in Equestria, it probably would've been fun. Crass, but fun.
However, what makes Shining Armor's Isekai stand out is that it plants you squarely in Princess Celestia's point of view, and that layer of dettachment forces you to analise what's happening through a critical eye. Yeah, we all know it's messed up to do the stuff characters in this kind of stories do, but grounding it in fantasy lets us consume it without remorse. When that's gone, and you're forced to acknowledge Shining as a manipulative rapist and his victims as real beings robbed of their personality, independence, and dignity, it can be pretty horrifying.
I guess the most outstanding feeling in my mind after having read it is not horror, but rather sadness. Sadness at having seen so many characters fall pray to the fiend in Shining Armor's skin.
On that note, I suppose the one negative I can mention is that we never really get to see more of whatever it is that lays beneath the surface of SA. We got a few hints early on that it was a bit more than just a huge weeb, what with him admitting he was genuinely evil. It does make thematic sense for nopony to be able to peek behind the mask, but I still would've liked something.
Also, I'm suppose the whole Discord thing would've clashed too much with Shining, since he was already a force of chaos, but it did seem like a wasted chance.
Overall, I'm glad I've read this story. It was an experience that had me mentally and emotionally engaged, it awakened strong emotions in me, and offered a view I haven't seen elsewhere.
It may carry a laundry list of caveats, but I do think it's a story worth recommending. If anything, at least to improve its rating.
Review in No. 39449786
(Fillyanon, 1/3)
'Shining Armor's Isekai...' is a thirty thousand-word horror shortfic. An isekai protagonist messes with FiM's timeline, horror ensues.
This is perhaps one of the most unique stories I've read yet. It's satire, it's comedy, it's smut, it's horror, it's plain gross, and somehow it manages to be all these things at once and present itself as a mostly coherent and continuous narrative. Before I'll get into the actual plot, a word of warning: The description and tags don't lie. If you are particularly susceptible to reading about (sexual) abuse, much of this story won't be a pleasant ride for you. It sure wasn't for me and there were times I considered dropping the story for its debauchery.
So why did I push myself to see it to the end? Simply because until the last one or two chapters the tension and uncertainty were so strong, that I simply felt like I had to know how the story would end. Would Shining succeed? Would Sunhorse prevail?
Without delving into spoilers, my experience was ultimately a mixed bag. I recommend this story for those who wish to read the unapologetic depiction of a kind of evil most authors (including myself) would shy away from. However, I believe the story loses its focus by the end and its insistence on doubling down on smut ultimately did it more harm than good. It still provides a serviceable ending, but it falls far from what it could have been.
This is your chance to drop the review and experience the story for yourself, before I delve into spoilers.
Instead of dealing with the individual chapters, I'd like to discuss the rest of the fic through its characters:
Shining himself was a really compelling villain. Even though he acts with utter politeness whenever Celestia is around, it is never a question that he is truly and wholly evil. The entire world is his game and he is oh-so-happy to toy with its denizens who don't even realize they're mere playthings. Every time Celestia decides against obliterating him feels like a slap in the face. And the worst thing is (which in this case is a good thing) that he is a bored god, who more or less sabotages himself at times because it'd be "too easy for him" otherwise. Or that is just what he'd like you to think, because by the end it becomes not just plausible, but likely that he never intended to play "fair" (as fair as having future-vision and basically god-mode on could be) and rather just bode his time while his plan came to fruition. I also like how the author used his "character tweaking" power to elegantly lampshade the fact that not a single pony has an issue with what he's doing.
Review in No. 39449788
(Fillyanon, 2/3)
Speaking of the number one victim of this power (though she doesn't get nearly as much focus as her sister) Luna's characterization felt quite fresh as well. The author chose to go with the fan-favorite "Moonhorse speaks Old-English" headcanon, but instead of just throwing in a bunch of "thou"-s and "thine"-s, he really took the effort to make her way of speech feel genuine. Or at least that's how it felt to me, as I'm not proficient in Old-English. Her not-so-slow descent into depravity was also morbidly entertaining to see as well.
Before I deal with the main star of the show, a few words have to be said about Twilight as well. Despite appearing relatively rarely in the story, this interpretation of Bookhorse's anxiety and social awkwardness is probably the most heartwrenching I've read yet. She is so thoroughly broken, that she doesn't even think there is anything wrong with her. Tragically no matter what Celestia does for her, she is so deeply infatuated with Shining that she basically lacks her own will, even after she seemingly becomes a lot more social and healthy. I also greatly enjoyed how the story reinterprets everything from her getting her mark, to Celestia being absolutely appalled that Luna is not only saved, but saved by Twilight and co. specifically.
Right, now that we got these out of the way, the highlight was definitely Celestia herself. On the usual scale of "Sincere Loving Mother Goddess" to "84D-Chess Playing Immortal Trickster" this Sunhorse definitely falls closer to the former, but she does occasionally act like the latter, which gives her character a very engaging duality. She has to act cold and impersonal, which completely fucks with her warm, caring side. I really enjoyed seeing her growing interest in Twilight and her frustration that she never quite seems to be able to outgrow her abuse. This is already a compelling theme, but what makes this hit so hard is the fact that not only do we see everything through her eyes, the author really does not shy away from details. I was thoroughly disgusted through the first few chapters of the story and really feeling for Celestia, who felt completely and utterly alone despite supposedly being in control.
This is another thing the story accomplishes exceptionally well — There are few fics that manage to both have Celestia be seriously challenged and not depower her or make her far dumber than she should be. In fact this story turns the latter fact into a weapon which is constantly pointed at her (and in extension the reader). Celestia is more than capable of obliterating Shining, but, because of the latter's cruel machinations, she is helpless.
Review in No. 39449791
(Fillyanon, 3/3)
So when her inner narration began to imply that the situation was getting under her skin and she was beginning to start having feelings for Twilight, I was at the edge of my seat. The story had no trouble thoroughly shaking me so far and I was ready to see her slow descent into despair, ending in either a bittersweet restoration of normal order by murdering Shining or becoming even worse and "claiming" Twilight in a fit of perverted jealousy worse than what even the isekai protagonist felt...
Only for the story to take a complete 180 and deal with Twilight's ascension using a time-skip. Suddenly Celestia is (seemingly) broken and Shining won. It is really quite frustrating. Not because this isn't a logical followup to what came before, but because it's the most obvious (and, because of that, boring) outcome that could have happened. We get a few chapters of eye-rollingly debauched smut between Sun- and Moonhorse, Shining flaunting his victory (and horsecock), and then a short scene where the reader is treated to a figurative and literal grotesque BDSM creature made up of ponies as an extremely on-the-nose metaphor for how fucked the world became after Shining's influence took hold.
Is this ending bad? No, even if I'm quite disappointed by it, it is perhaps the most "logical" conclusion to the fic. The author's goal was to show the fallout of the worst aspects of Isekai stories and he succeeded at it. Hell, it even has a glimmer of hope in the darkness, as Celestia is implied to shake off the shackles of Shining's hold (along with a nice little bookending about pastries). However, I cannot help but feel like the fic had a lot more potential that was simply squandered.
The moment it was clear that the slow pacing, the inner turmoil, and the battle of wits between Celestia and Shining was out of the window, the story lost me and I was unable to be immersed anymore. Sure, the way the two sisters had princest was perhaps even more shocking (objectively speaking) than Luna's BDSM sessions with Twilight and the eldritch sex cult flesh pile is a very 'I Have No Mouth'-esque, but by that point I couldn't take the story seriously anymore, so I was left sadly unimpressed.
Overall: 5/10 I hate giving the "average" score to this story, because it is anything but average. And yet because it didn't take a risk and took the "safest" ending after breaking so many unwritten rules of writing, I feel a lot less enthusiastic about it as I could have been, had I never read beyond Chapter 11. It is truly a 'shining' example of revolting horror being done right, however, it also serves as a reminder that without moderation what was once horrifying can easily turn silly and trite. I still recommend the story, but I wish I could do it with more heart.
Review in No. 39449931
Shining's Isekai, which is how everyone calls it because they can't be bothered to type out the whole title, is one of the ballsiest, most hard hitting fics you'll probably ever read, and yet it's also exactly what it says on the tin, tags and title and all. It's a story that plays its premise fully straight and goes all the way through with it, and it does so with a maturity rarely seen. A story that has no right to be as good as it is. It's also got some extremely fucked up shit.
The term deconstruction gets thrown abused in modern media talk, but I think it applies here. Shining's Isekai is a power fantasy, a very sexualised one, seen from an outside perspective. It takes all the messed up stuff you take for good in a fetish work and grounds it in reality and the results are often chilling, often thought provoking. It's written from a place of knowledge about the subject too, which means it hits the mark on any aspect it tackles.
Of course it wouldn't be nearly as effective if it didn't have such strong characters. Everyone who gets a speaking role is multifaceted and believable, and it's always engaging to see them interact. "Shining" is a refreshingly self aware villain, Twilight is a far more complex and tragic character than you'd think, and Celestia as the POV protagonist is a joy to read. The way her feelings and thoughts come across is very well executed.
The fic also does a really good job at justifying many of its elements as it unfolds. It consistently toes just on the line of believability and manages to make it all click in time. It's also, on top of an engaging plot, an engaging read in its own writing and pacing. Some have called it a pageturner and it is just that. I was hooked the first time I went through it and read it all in one go. It keeps you on the edge.
It is also really fucked up. Like really fucked up. There's emotional abuse of disgusting depths and extent in this story and it's played out masterfully, and it makes your skin crawl. It's disgusting without ever feeling excessive, and I love it on an artistic level as much as I hate everything about it. I'm one of those people who enjoys getting this kind of feeling out of art, but I'm aware it might not be the same for everyone.
The ending, though I don't want to spoil it, is a gut punch. It's also, in my opinion, the natural endgame for the story as it is. If Fimfiction still allowed more than three genre tags this thing should be a tragedy too. But I can't think of an ending that could have been better without being a cowardly choice.
I do think there are a few blemishes on the story. An admitted lack of proofreading means there are some unfortunate typos around. The pacing gets wobbly for a moment near the end. It maybe leans a little too much into its porn aspect. Still, I can wholeheartedly, fully recommend it to anyone who has the stomach to put up with it. 8.5/10
Review in No. 39560625
It's quite a short fic. Only about 30k. It's got mature tags but only a chapter or two qualify as actual porn and you won't be able to fap to any of it. The fic is allegedly focused on Shining, but I think Celestia's slow realisation that she was wrong about Twilight is the (emotional?) core of the fic. There are several such scenes, e.g. the scene where Celestia begs Shining to tell her that he needed to abuse Twilight, when she finds out Twilight adores her, when she finds out that Twilight thinks she finds her disgusting, her slowly realising the original timeline's path, or her realising that the Mane 6 did almost everything that Twilight shares the credit for. I think that those scenes are all that I'll remember the fic for. They pluck at the right emotional strings, so I have to give the fic credit for that. I can't call it a great fic, but it certainly did those well. As for what it did wrong, there are two big things. The first is that Luna's dialogue is much harder to read than she usually is in fics. The second is that the fic timeskips over a point that the fic has spent most of its chapters building up to. We skip right from the moment where Shining's victory or defeat is only a few days away from being determined, all the way to what ought to be the epilogue. I appreciate the final few chapter's attempts to show how much of a monster Shining is and I like the general mystery over what he actually is, but that mystery never gets resolved from Celestia's PoV and Twilight is so much the fic's focus that it's hard to care about Shining. Overall, I could maybe recommend it to those who want to read about abused children, but I think you'd be better off with an actual book for that. I think Cathy Glass is popular?