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- "And I Will Touch the Sky" - by Kouri & Karasu - You know what the problem with on-line original fiction is? There's no draw to it. Why I chose not to read original fiction (on-line, that is) has nothing to do with quality of the writing or the characters or anything to do with the story's execution. I don't read original fic because I have no reason to care about the characters. When I read, I want to read about the characters I already care about, I want the writing to scratch the itches the series itself didn't get to. Original fiction is all about the universe the author sets up, and the chances of that world being intruiging enough to draw me in are very slim.

But let's say the original writing was quite good and the author could make me care about the characters/setting/etc. I still probably wouldn't read it. Unlike an anime, where you have a multitude of things to draw you to a particular series, writing just doesn't offer the same things. The most it can offer you is good writing, and I spend enough time trying to catch up on fanfiction that offers me both good writing and that itch-scratching. Give me a choice between a fluffy character-based fanfic and a well-written, comprehensive original story, and I'll go for the fanfic every time.

'Cause lots of people write fanfic. There's almost always more just around the corner to keep scratching that itch. Original fiction is pretty much solely based on the author, and one person can't write all that fast.

So, why did I go ahead and read 'And I Will Touch the Sky' by Karasu and Kouri? Because those two have written a ton of X/Tokyo Babylon fiction and I love their work. I love their sense of humor, so I knew that would be present in their original work, and nothing draws me like good humor.

That was one of the points I was eventually getting to in my little rant above. The one thing that'll get me to override almost all of my other preferences is humor. If something can make me laugh, I'm all over it. I worship clever dialogue.

And it turns out I was right. 'And I Will Touch the Sky' was /loaded/ with clever lines and managed to suck me into the story completely in about five chapters. Seriously. I started late one afternoon and I read nothing else (with the exception of a few Bakuretsu Hunters fics) until early the next afternoon. All 1.14MB of it. (Waaaah! Want more! Sequel? Want it! *stomps foot*)

And, sure, while I want more of the characters, because it was long enough that it was satisfying, well-written, fun characterization, and quite funny; very easy to just sit down and read. The characters evolve during the series itself, so it's not like you're thrown into the middle of a group of pre-made situations and relationships--the characters' stories start with the beginning of the story itself. The cast is a bit large and occasionally you may get one character mixed up with another, but it'll be rarely. And I was impressed with how different all the characters were from each other, each having their own distinct personalities.

My only real criticism is for the realism of the characters' reactions (especially to Nicky and Andy's situations), but while I reading, I found I didn't really care. It overrode all of the reasons I don't like reading original fiction, so I highly recommend it.

Even if you're like me and almost never read original fiction.

- "Borderline" - by Kouri & Karasu - Well, it seems I've been bitten by the origific bug; after finishing "And I Will Touch the Sky" yesterday afternoon (and reading the first five parts of the sequel the next morning), I started in on "Borderline" and I figured I'd babble a bit about it, too. I wasn't expecting to like "Borderline" all that much, I didn't think lightning would strike twice and all that. And if I had to choose, I would indeed choose it over "Borderline" but that's probably because I'm such a gayboy fangirl. ^_^;;

That said, I enjoyed "Borderline" a lot. There's not such a huge cast in this story, so it's easier to focus on the individual characters, which is good for this story, since they're going through some serious Issues. And I like them all, which really surprised me.

I kinda suck at this whole reviewing/rec'ing thing, and I'm about out of ways to put my thoughts into words. So, uh, yeah. You should read. Good writing, clever dialogue, and you'll like these people pretty quickly.

- Original Manga/Fiction - Project: Unigenitus by Lara Yokoshima - I've been on a bit of an original fiction kick lately because I want something nice and long to sink my teeth into and I've been running out of fanfiction epics. I was randomly surfing yaoi sites, and came across a link to Aphrodisiac and wow is the author's art amazing. I've haven't really gotten into her fic yet, but I went through the galleries and probably drooled on myself like an idiot. My favorites are the KenjixEnji manga (I love that pairing! The KamuroxNikolai was niiiiiice, too. Mmm.), but all of the art is stunningly gorgeous. (Warnings: Very explicit yaoi.)

- Webcomic - Arcana - I was surfing for a Yami no Matsuei image gallery last night when I came upon the link to the artist's fan art gallery, poked around, loved the art, and saw the 5/21/02 comic and decided I had to read the comic. I showed the link to Dian as well and we both gushed and gushed about how gorgeous and hilarious and fun it was. As she says, it's really cool to watch the evolution of the artist's style in such a short frame of time.

I've already been caught up in the characters and their stories, which is amazing considering she's only been doing this for a couple of months and I breezed through the archives in about an hour. But this is going into my daily visits section. (Yaoi/Gay-centric.)

- Original Art - Fairy Tale [ Japanese Art Site ] - Normally, I don't go surfing for original stuff unless I'm in a mood, but I clicked on this one by random, and oh my god, this art is stunning.. O.O Just... wow. Pretty boys and girls with magic and prettyboy elves and boys with wings and mermaids.... Gorgeous. (A little bit of nudity.)

- Original Art - Watercolors [ Japanese Art Site ] - And it looks like the hunt for pretty original art is on. >_< Actually, I'm not entirely sure this is just an original art site, since there's a Kenshin image in there, but I didn't recognize any other characters, so I assume it's an original art site.... Anyway, fantastic use of colors, just absolutely gorgeous. My favorite is probably this one, it's just so lovely.

- Original - Metropolitan [ Thai Art Site ] - There are people who can use CG fairly well. There are people who can kick ass with CG. There are people who suck at CG. Then there are people like the artist of this site... who are truly awesome (and I try not to use that word lightly). I have so many favorites that I don't think I could pick out a few as examples (except the one that caught my attention: Gemini), they all blow me away. The colors, the poses, the hair, the clothes, the skill involved... damn. +_+ (No warnings.)

- Original - Wind of Destiny [ Thai Art Site ] - Okay, I adore the art, but, OW! That midi was loud. >_< *ahem* Anyway, more pretty original art (I especially adore the elf illustration), with those soft, pretty colors and nice drawings that I adore so much! *_* And while I like the CG work, the hand-drawn illustrations are wonderfully detailed and colored. Just... lovely. (No warnings.)

- Saiyuki/Too Many to Name/Original - lethe - the legend [ Thai/English? Fan Art Site ] - Goodness. This is why I like to surf for original art sometimes, becuase you can come across illustrations like this, that just seem to sparkle and glow. *coos* Kirei na.... +_+ It's also why I'm terribly glad I'm not an artist, because I'd very likely want to chop off my own hands after seeing some of these. There's some fanart mixed in, including some beautiful Lord of the Rings and Saiyuki stuff. *drools on self* Just... wah. Shorts out my brain trying to think of descriptions.

- Chobits/Hunter x Hunter/Saiyuki/Hikaru no Go/Harry Potter/Original - Quality Season [ Thai? Fan Art Site ] - I wasn't entirely sure what catagory to put this site under, since there weren't a whole lot of any one particular series, but I wanted to rec it because the art here is very cute. It's more of a sketchy quality than a lot of fanart I see, but the colors are soft and pretty enough to make it one of those styles that really works. There's only one or two for any given series I've mentioned (plus a lot I haven't), but since I like the majority of them, this site is great fun for me. *SQUEAK!* And +Anima fanart!!!! XD (No real pairings/warnings.)

- Original - RAMI's web site [ Japanese Art Site ] - Damn, this is some cute artwork, beautiful details, lovely colors, and cutecuteCUTE girls! XD I'm very fond of the eyes and hair on the girls and the concepts of the illustrations, but it's the detail on the clothes and the soft, shining colors that really make this art style for me. There are a couple of illustrations of girls with butterfly wings in the older art section that are just... beautiful. +_+ (No warnings.)

- Star Ocean 2nd Story/Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - *squeaks* This site has one of the cutest Leon (from Star Ocean 2nd Story) illustrations I've ever seen!!! XD XD XD The art on this site is very cute, but what I fell utterly in love with are the beautiful colors. I've seen a lot of art by now, and this kind of coloring never ceases to amaze me. (But, then, it's a favorite of mine, I love those soft, almost glowing, sparkly colors. +_+) Hell, I even went through the Angelique (which I know nothing about) gallery, I liked the art so much. (No warnings.)

- Original - Blackwall House [ Japanese Art Site ] - Another artist that knows how to use CG quite well, to create lovely pictures. This is the kind of CG I really like! While some of the images look a little off or a little plain, the more fantasy-esque ones (like elves or wizards) have much more detail to them and look fantastic. So while not everything here was to my personal taste, I definitely recommend this site for the prettypretty fantasty-style illustrations. (No warnings.)

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - You know, I'm not even sure how to describe this art style, except to say the usual that it's very soft and pretty. And really frelling CUTE. XD What I really love about the art is the vaguely "antique" feeling to it that I just adore. Augh, okay, I give up. Really pretty art. I like a lot. Is good. (No warnings.)

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - Whoo, more gorgeous original art--this time with the occasional cute bishounen! ^_~ The first thing that struck me was the detail of these images, some of the objects (usually pieces of clothing) are beautiful and elaborate... and when this artist does wings.... *drools* +_+ There's this one with the most amazing dragonfly-looking wings.... *coos at the pretty art* (No warnings.)

- Original - Plastic Moon [ Japanese Art Site ] - I resisted wanting to rec this one at first, because I've been through (what feels like) a million and one original art sites this morning, and I was getting to the point where the art had to be really stunning for me to rec it. I liked the art at first, but then as I kept clicking through the gallery, the art got progressively better and better and I just fell in love with it (#20 is just gorgeous), the artist makes fantastic use of CG and soft, almost romantic colors (I don't mean the pictures are about romance, but that's the best thing I can think of to describe the colors) that I just adore, and amazing details. Once again, this is why I check out original sites, for art like these illustrations. (No warnings.)

- Original/Vampire Princess Miyu - [ Japanese Art Site ] - Augh! Another site I valiently, but vainly, tried not to rec, because it's mostly cute girls looking... well, cute, and I've seen enough of that for one day. And, once again, the gorgeous artwork has won me over, with the lovely hair, the pretty eyes, and gorgeous colors. *sigh* With art styles I'm only lukewarm on, I'll only click randomly through a gallery, hoping to happen to stop on some of the best... but with sites like these I go through every last illustration because I'm such a sucker for pretty art. *_* Which led me to the Vampire Princess Miyu art. *hyuu* I don't think I've ever seen such pretty Miyu art! +_+ (No warnings.)

- Cardcaptor Sakura/Chobits/Original - [ Japanese Fan Art Site ] - .......damn. This is some really good CG work, to the point that some of them could almostalmostalmost pass for official art. The focus is on Sakura-chan, but I found myself not minding too much (I would have liked to have seen their take on other characters more) because she's just so damn cute in these illustrations. Just... damn. I know there must be a higher power out there to keep this kind of talent out of my hands... because the Universe knows I would use it for various nefarious purposes. >_>

*clickclickclick*drools* ..... *pause* .... CHIIIIIIIII~! SO CUTE! *squeaks happily* Chobitsu~~~! ....god, I'm a geek. -_- But an incredibly happy one. +_+ There are only a handul of Chobits fanart, but they're some of the best I've seen. (Well, all the Chobits fanart I've seen so far has been amazing....) (Some graphic content, but you have to specifically look for it.)

- Saiyuki/Too Many to Name/Original - lethe - the legend [ Thai/English? Fan Art Site ] - Goodness. This is why I like to surf for original art sometimes, becuase you can come across illustrations like this, that just seem to sparkle and glow. *coos* Kirei na.... +_+ It's also why I'm terribly glad I'm not an artist, because I'd very likely want to chop off my own hands after seeing some of these. There's some fanart mixed in, including some beautiful Lord of the Rings and Saiyuki stuff. *drools on self* Just... wah. Shorts out my brain trying to think of descriptions.

- Original - RAMI's web site [ Japanese Art Site ] - Damn, this is some cute artwork, beautiful details, lovely colors, and cutecuteCUTE girls! XD I'm very fond of the eyes and hair on the girls and the concepts of the illustrations, but it's the detail on the clothes and the soft, shining colors that really make this art style for me. There are a couple of illustrations of girls with butterfly wings in the older art section that are just... beautiful. +_+ (No warnings.)

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - You know, I'm not even sure how to describe this art style, except to say the usual that it's very soft and pretty. And really frelling CUTE. XD What I really love about the art is the vaguely "antique" feeling to it that I just adore. Augh, okay, I give up. Really pretty art. I like a lot. Is good. (No warnings.)

- Original/Miscellaneous - Shee's Cafe [ Japanese Art Site ] - Damn, that is an incredible amount of detail, what with all those images. *_* (There's this one of a woman on a horse in the gallery that's just stunning.) I'm having trouble describing the style of this artist, because it's a little bit different with each image. It's more CG work, but the kind that's really, really well done (at least I think it's CG work, there are a couple I'm not sure of.... At least the Original Gallery is CG, I think, I'm not sure about the Secret Garden.). And, ooh! Pretty boys! *hearts*

- Yami no Matsuei/Original - [ Japanese Fan Art Site ] - Dian pointed me towards this site and just... damn. That's an incredible amount of talent. +_+ The colors the artist uses are more of an earth-tone theme and it makes the illustrations lush and gives them... I'm not sure how to describe it. But it's terribly difficult to achieve, much less on this level. The illustration of Touda that's currently on the main page is just drop-dead gorgeous; I cannot say enough good about this site. *hearts* .....and I'm just going to go ahead and rec the artist's original art, too, because it's just that damn pretty. Though, whatever you do, AVOID the comic strip thingie gallery... only pain awaits you there. (No pairings/warnings.)

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - Okay, I can't help it, the art here is so frelling CUTE! *hearts* Lovely colors, cute chibis, pretty wings and hair and eyes and it's just... all... so much FUN! Lots and lots of tasty, tasty eye candy. (No real warnings.)

- Yoroiden Samurai Troopers/Original - Himuro no Sakura [ Japanese Fan Art Site ] - Eeeeeeeeee! Tachibana Kaimu-sensei's page!!! (I think, I don't think it was a fan page...?) No matter how many other artists I see, I will always have a special place in my heart for her drawings, becasue they're just... gorgeous. The colors, the hair, the eyes, the delicate look (without being all skinny-stick-spider-freaky).... *happy sigh* Most YST fans know her from her work in those Laim Company anthologies, which is where I first noticed her work as well, but her work is beautiful enough that I really, really, really want to get into her original manga more. From what I understand, not only is she incredibly talented, she also has a wicked sense of humor, which makes me wish more people would translate her work. *hearts*

Here's how much I love her work... I headed directly for the original work first before delving into the fanart/doujinshi work she does. Even though there's YST illustrations here. +_+ *browsing through* ..... *GASP!* PRETTY SEIJI/TOUMA ILLUSTRATION!!! ....okay, I'm a dork, but I'm a dork who's happily staring at a beautiful illustration of one of her absolute favorite pairings by one of her absolute favorite mangaka/doujinshika. Like I care. ^_~ (No warnings.)

- Original - Sea Route [ Japanese Art Site ] - I think this is a mangaka site (hard for me to know), but even if it's not, the art is up to that level--it's beautiful! It's... very shoujo-y, but without the sugary-pink-little-girl element to it, which is probably my favorite art style. *_* There isn't an absolute ton of art here, but the site is easy to navigate (pretty, even) and the color works in the gallery are so very, very worth it. The details in the images are especially wonderful, as there aren't just a lot of details, there are a lot of good, well-drawn details along with gorgeous colors, soft, pretty hair, and lovely eyes. *hearts* (No warnings.)

- Hikaru no Go/Original - Moon Light Garden [ Japanese Art Site ] - I really don't have a lot to say about this site, other than I just like the style--the softer lines, soft colors, and faded edges. I'm especially fond of the softer-CG look of the eyes and hair for a lot of the characters... it reminds me of some mangaka/series, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Kinda like somewhere in between Takaya Natsuki (Fruits Basket) and Nakajo Hisaya (Hanazakari no Kimi-tachi e).

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - Again, an artist whose style is somewhere between Takaya-sensei and Nakajo-sensei's style, only with a lot more detail and sharper, cleaner lines. Gorgeous work here, just lovely. And, you know, I understand why artists do their own original work, but every time I see really beautiful illustrations like this, I wish they'd do more fanart of the series I like. *pouts* (And I've gone through the gallery twice now and I'm still not sure if the little pink-haired thing is supposed to be a boy or a girl. I could have sworn s/he had boobs, until going through one of the comics where s/he was either a boy or flat as ironing board....)

- Hikaru no Go/Original/Miscellaneous - [ Japanese Fan Art Site ] - I primarely went to this site for the Hikago art, but wound up staying for that and the original/miscellaneous art, because everything on this site is so pretty. Gorgeous, gorgeous boys and gorgeous girls and soft, pretty lines and soft pretty colors, and cuteness! I really don't ask for more. This is one of those sites where I've wound up clicking through every last illustration 'cause I liked 'em so much. +_+ (Some Isumi/Waya.)

- Original/Miscellaneous - [ Japanese Art Site ] - Okay, so anytime I don't recognize a batch of characters (which is rare, given how many pies I have fingers in--I'm not very familiar with most series, but I can usually at least recognize the major ones), I just assume they're either some obscure series or that they're original. Either way, for me, pretty art is pretty art. ^_^v I love the colors this artist uses, very soft and pretty and the details are lovely, very professional looking. (Well. Let me clarify--they're not like what you would see released for a series, but the character doodles a professional mangaka would do when sketching out their characters/universe.) The series of illustrations of dragons are cool and the wings on the bishounen and bishoujo are amazing, just... wow. (No real warnings.)

- Original - KAGAYA [ Japanese Art Site ] - I just... I randomly clicked onto this site because the banner looked pretty and seeing the top illustration I knew the artist was incredibly skilled. And going through the gallery... I'm not sure how to get across how amazing this art is, because it just stops me dead in my tracks whenever I see art this incredibly beautiful. The colors are amazing, the details are amazing, the poses/positions/concepts are amazing, everything is just absolutely amazing here. Each illustration is one you could stare at for half an hour and not get bored with, I think, that's how incredibly detailed the art is. It's the kind of detailed that could literally almost be a photograph if places like that could exist in nature, I think. *is in love* And there's so much of it here--I think the Zodiac profiles were my favorite (God, Libra was just AMAZING), but I'm also in love with the starry sky stuff and the beach/island stuff and... just... just... everything on this site is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. THIS is the reason I continue to surf original sites, because it turns up art like this that takes my breath away. *__* (No warnings.)

- Original - PenZenIciNyo [ Japanese Art Site ] - This is another one of those original art sites where I just could not stop clicking on the illustrations because they're just SO PRETTY. I know this sounds a little pretentious when I say it, but, well, erm. I tend to have higher standards for original art because there's not the same connection as there is with a pre-existing character, so the art has to really blow me away before I feel fond of it, rather than I feel fond of it because a fanartist captured a particular aspect of a character I liked. So, I tend not to rec a lot of original art unless it really blows me away and I'm just... I like this kind of art. The amount of detail the artist puts in is incredible and the strength of her lines is fantastic. Her colors are LOVELY and she really does an amazing job with the fantasty-style stuff. There are all these... it's not quite SHOUJO, per say, (for almost every girly image there's a very boy-ish one, too) but there are lots of long, swooping lines or beautiful eyes or beautiful flames or incredible detailed wings... just all of that stuff that totally makes me fangirl. (Certainly illustrations on this site just stop me in the middle of my clicking to just STARE at the pretty art. *__*) Plus, there's a LOT of art here, so you should all go see despite my crappy rec of this prettypretty art. ^_^;; (No warnings.)

- Naruto/Saiyuki/Original - Kine in [AQUA] [ Korean Fanart Site ] - When I first clicked onto this site, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of the art, because it was very... hmm, the best way I keep thinking of to describe it is that it almost looks like the artist could have been from Ribbon; very beautiful colors, delicate lines, very shoujo-y. And normally for series like Naruto or Saiyuki that doesn't really work for me, but somehow... the more I went through this artist's gallery, the more I just absolutely fell in LOVE with her art. The early stuff is a little shakier, especially with the lines around the eyes, but as she goes along, her skill gets stronger and stronger and it really... just looks like some of the prettiest Ribbon art out there. The colors are incredible, these soft, beautiful shades, the lines and details just amazing--each illustration is FULL of smooth, clean lines, the artist very solid in her style. She just... she does these amazing SasuNaru and KakaIru illustrations that I... I kind of know I shouldn't like Ribbon!SasuNaru/KakaIru, but... it WORKS here. And her Saiyuki fanart? BEAUTIFUL. Just... wow, I'm in love with the details and fine lines for the illustrations. I also had to chuck this rec into the original art section because as pretty as her fanart is, the original art is even more gorgeous. Just... go and see the pretty art! *__* (SasuNaru, KakaIru, no real Saiyuki pairings.)

- Original/Miscellaneous - [ English Fanart Site ] - I was browsing dA awhile back and just randomly checking out favorites by people and happened to stumble across this artist. I don't normally do much seeking out of original art, there's so much of it and it's hard to catagorize and look for what I like, but when I stumble across something with colors as pretty as these, I can hardly resist it. The artist is really talented, she puts in a lot of really nice details and I really like her lines, but it's the pretty, almost glowing colors that I keep coming back to. Like with this one, where I just adore the shades of blue used and the feel of the art. One of those that I was just happy to stumble across. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Original - Emerald Tiger by Shinju Yuri - I don't very often read original fic, especially not shorter stuff that I can't really sink my teeth into, but Sakki's illustration convinced me to give it a shot, as well as I know I like the author's work. For one thing, omg, I love Sakki's art for the story, it's gorgeous and immediately intrigued me. So, okay, I'll read the story. It immediately sucked me in with the sharp, cute, clever, genuinely likable main character, who is vaguely cranky, but not totally boring about it. And, zomg, the seme mage painting on his back was exactly the kind that made me vibrate with happiness and he was just as clever and immediately likable. Which is one of the great things about this story, you don't have to have a background knowledge to jump right into the story, it's likable right from the very start and... well, okay. I wanted more because I liked the story a lot, but it's not incomplete, it works the way it is. And the smut? Good lord, that was gorgeous. It fit into the story, it highlighted the characters brilliantly, and was hot as hell all at the same time. I highly recommend this story if you have a few free minutes, it's utterly worth it. ♥ (Rather graphic content, hovering somewhere between R and NC-17.)

- Original - [ English Fan Art Site ] - It's been ages since I've recommended original art, which is largely because I've taken on so many new fandoms that my time to look for it has dwindled. But I was browsing around deviantART, happened to catch an FFVII illustration by the artist, then noticed she had some incredibly detailed and just plain gorgeous original art. The strength of her designs and details is amazing, they practically glow on the screen and there's almost no part of the image that isn't covered by hair or jewels or clothing or staffs or swords or something. Yet the images aren't cluttered, they're the kind that make a gorgeous whole even when you step back or you can focus in on the little details. This is seriously professional-quality stuff. *__* If you can look at this and not go, "Holy shit, that's gorgeous. *__*", I don't want to know what's wrong with you. :P (No warnings.)

- Original - [ Japanese Art Site ] - As if I don't have enough to keep up with just looking at fanart sites, I have to start looking at original art sites again? It's been awhile since one caught my eye, but I just couldn't resist this site, the colors were too vibrant and glowing for me to not. The level of detail on the images is really amazing sometimes, down to the finest little thing, the lace and beads on a gown or the curls of hair falling down a girl's back or a suit of armor. The characters here are beautiful, some of them incredibly intriguing, I'd love to see a manga or original story about a lot of them. (No warnings.)

Fairy Tales: Fire, Measured By What Doesn't Burn by Luna - I originally planned to just stick to the fandom stuff, but this one kind of called to me, with that many reviews, it probably had to be pretty interesting. And I was curious as to how it would play out, I was actually expecting something more traditionally fairy tale, but this was a modern day twist on the twelve dancing princesses and I didn't expect to sit down for 13,000+ words of fic, but the writing and narrative just flowed from one scene to the next so brilliantly. The pov of the main character, the pain of coming back from the war, but not really coming home at all, it was done beautifully and the connection and pull between these two characters was fantastic. This piece really achieved everything it set out to do. Both as a story on an emotional level and on a meta level as a reworked fairy tale, this fic was a fantastic read. (No warnings/pairings.)

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