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It must be time for the NFL playoffs, because everyone's wearing their jerseys to work. Speaking of football, and in case any of you were were curious (I know you weren't, hush), my fantasy football futility record is unbroken. Four seasons, zero playoff appearances. Go me!
Behind the break, my review of AbsoluteAnonymous's Shipping Goggles.
Impressions before reading: Another shipping/comedy story! Looks like this one is going to be heavier on the comedy angle, if the tags and description are anything to go by. Judging from the cover image and the addition tags ("Shipping is serious business, guys"), I'm worried this might stray too far into meta- territory for my tastes, but we'll see.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Rarity sees budding romance everywhere--even in strictly platonic relationships.
Thoughts after reading: As far as my fears of excessive meta-comentary were concerned, I'm glad to say they went unrealized. That isn't to say that there's no extra-story subtext here--it's easy to see shades of your (least) favorite obsessive shipper in Rarity, and plenty of the comedy here derives from that point of comparison--but it never becomes so blatant that the comparison overwhelms the fic. Rarity's obsession is grounded within the context of MLP, thankfully.
That said, her obsession is pretty much the joke. This is a very short story (less than 3,000 words long), but even taking that into account, there's not much substance here. That isn't to say the story drags or becomes tiresomely repetitive. It doesn't. My point is simply that the joke here is that Rarity sees forbidden love in every friendly interaction--and that's it. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's funny enough for what it is, but the end result is a very insubstantial.
In terms of writing, there's nothing to complain about here. Well, that's not true; I can always find something to complain about. Let's see... a-ha! Towards the middle, their's a shift to Fluttershy's perspective when the rest of the story is third person omniscient, with occasional forays into Rarity's inner thoughts! If the scene had been restructured somewhat, it could be made to fit slightly better! Take that, AA!
In all seriousness though, writing quality throughout is exceptional, and the narrative voice is clear and succinct--a good fit for a quick, comic romp. Characterizations are also quite good; Rarity is a natural fit for the role of Obsessive Romantic, and the other ponies are vivid and recognizable despite the brevity of the story.
One word of warning: there is a stinger ending which I found somewhat tasteless. Not because it was particularly graphic, lewd, or otherwise beyond the pale, but because it was a significant tone shift away from the exaggerated and adultified, but still recognizable, show-style humor of the rest of the story. As such, it didn't really fit tonally, even if thematically it was, if anything, expected.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆ (what does this mean?)
This was certainly a well-written and entertaining, if ephemeral, bit of fanfiction. I can't help wondering if it would have been better off as a scene within a larger story--as it is, Shipping Goggles is basically just one joke. But that's not to say the joke isn't funny, or that it overstays its welcome, and that's what's really important.
Recommendation: Anyone looking for more than a one-off gag in their fanfics will want to look elsewhere, but readers seeking a quick and breezy bit of light entertainment (and who aren't repulsed by the mere concept of shipping, obviously) will probably find this to their liking.
Next time: Daring Doo and the Shiny Crystal, by Unlucky Roll