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You know, cleaning up spam comments is actually kind of fun, because they're always so positive. "Wow! This article was insightful and informative! The internet needs more dedicated people like you!" began one particularly glowing one, before dropping a link for "FREE V1agrR_a." Aw, spambot, you're too kind.
Below the break, my review of Wodashin's Hold the Line: Tales from Magic Kindergarten.
Impressions before reading: The description says this story's based on a WKUK (Whitest Kids You Know) piece of sketch comedy. My knowledge of sketch comedy pretty much starts and ends with Monty Python's Flying Circus, so I don't know exactly what I'm in for here. I think "over-the-top" is probably a pretty reasonable expectation, though.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: When Twilight is called upon to lead her kindergarten class to recess, she swears not to fail her charge. Silliness ensues.
Thoughts after reading: After reading this story, I did something I don't usually do: I went and watched the thing (a semi-improvised sketch, in this case) which the story was based on. The reason I did this was to confirm what I already knew: this story is just WKUK's "Line Sketch," in written form and with Twilight as the protagonist.
Here's my dilemma: the sketch itself is pretty funny. It's a classic example of dramatic incongruity, no less amusing for being tried and true. Other than a few minor writing hiccups (Wodashin has a tendency to mangle speaking verbs), the construction of the piece is solid; the writing is crisp despite maintaining a tone of dramatic grandiosity, never bogging down and letting the joke run overlong. The narration nicely mimicked the pompousness of the dialogue. In short, I enjoyed reading it.
But, but, but... is that enough? This is literally the "Line Sketch," with the dialogue quoted verbatim throughout. I've talked about stories being "pony enough" before, and this is a clear example of a story that fails that criteria by any conceivable count; replace the pony names with human ones, maybe change a few "hoof"s for "hand"s, and you would have a short-story version of the WKUK bit.
It's tempting to say that the addition of ponies is valid in and of itself, because it heightens the irony (chivalric militarism plus cute pastel ponies is a recipe for incongruity, as many fanfic authors have shown in the past), but I don't buy that argument. The sketch already applies this dynamic, using age instead of species (and cartoon-ness) as a means of creating that cognitive divide. The addition of ponies to the mix doesn't really add anything, and since that isn't incorporated into the story in any way, I'm left to ask: in what way is this a pony fanfic?
Star rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
Although a one-star from me doesn't necessarily (or even usually) mean that the story in question is unforgivably awful, it's generally a solid indication that I didn't particularly enjoy reading it. As it happens, I did like Hold the Line quite a bit. But the problem is that what I really like is the WKUK sketch. If you replaced the ponies with hobbits and Twi with baby Bilbo, I'd still have like it. If you replaced the ponies with fairy-tale monsters and Twi with lil' Dracula, I'd still have liked it. If you changed the ponies back to humans and made Twi and her opposite Obama and Romney (the early years), I'd still have liked it.
In the end, I don't see a pony fanfic here, or even a fanfic at all; all I see is a literal retelling. It's a competently written one, to be sure. But that's all it is.
Recommendation: If you want to see some funny sketch comedy, check out the sketch (here's the link)--it's quite good for what it is. If you like it so much that you want to experience it again in a written form, read Hold the Line.
Next time: Substitute Harmony, by blayzekohime