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In the war ravaged Sengoku Era, a masked woman stumbles across a nameless child with an abhorrent power. But where others would have seen a threat that required immediate elimination, she saw a potential that only she could take advantage of...
And thus, Dirge was stripped of her identity and molded into a living weapon for war. A cold-blooded, emotionless assassin that never asked questions, or thought twice about her orders. She became the perfect Shinobi...
A/N: This is a Dark LitRPG inspired by videogames such as Sekiro, Bloodborne, and Nioh. This story will contain fantasy elements mixed with historical, along with heavy body horror, violence, traumatic scenes, and tragedy.
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I checked this story this morning to see if another chapter was posted and I saw something that always hit my buttons: a review where the reviewer spouts word vomit about a story but thinks it's justified. So, this review will be the anti-thesis to it, with vivid reasoning as to why it's a load of bull. I even backtracked chapters a bit to make sure I wasn't confused.
First, accusation of 'cultural appropriation' is NOT relevant to a review and is NOT allowed. The race of an author shouldn't dictate what story setting they choose to write in. Whether it's in Sengoku Japan, Middle Ages Europe, or Colonial America. As long as you have knowledge of the culture and setting, you're allowed to write about it. To think otherwise and attack an author over it should revoke review privileges. Anyway, moving on,
STYLE - The main gimmick of the story is these things called Sacred Spirits which are low tier deity that soulbond to certain people called Remnants. Sacred Spirits endow mythical protection and powers to a Remnant.
Dirge, the MC, has a Sacred Spirit that is sort of 'alien' compared to others. While most Remnants have stability with theirs, Dirge's is volatile, and unreliable. It forces her to adapt to situations far more than other Remnants, and it makes her stand out as an MC should.
Her power does NOT make her invincible. There are SEVERAL instances in the story already where her powers fuck her over and she has to adapt, sometimes even running away. THREE TIMES!
There is literally only ONE genuine instance of her being OP and it consequently bites her in the ass at the end of the latest chapter. To call her an invincible force of nature not only proves that one didn't pay attention to the ENTIRE chapter where Dirge didn't win anything without running away, but also is disrespectful to put in a review with a low score. I hate seeing word vomit 'subjective' (wrong) reviews like that. But anyway. . .
GRAMMAR - Damn near perfect as the other reviews have noted. No complaints.
STORY - Contrary to the word vomited 2 1/2 star review, Shinobi DOES have a story that is CONSISTENT. It follows Dirge after she was ripped from death and trained to be an unorthodox 'secret weapon' in an era of civil war. Her master uses her like a chess piece along with other Shinobi to play the game of war.
In regards to the incorrect assumption that Iewasu made a stupid deal. Well, spoilers below,
So they instead SELL their skills to Daimyo and HELP Daimyo do war in exchange for profit. Raven sent Dirge to HELP Todoyoshi take from Iewasu as an EXAMPLE of her skills. Raven's Shinobi CANNOT fight alone. WHY would she betray a tried and tested warrior like Iewasu and take his lands? She'd have control of it for less than a fucking day. Iewasu is proven effective at keeping territory while Raven is proven effective at HELPING Daimyo take territory.
If Raven swore to not help a Daimyo take Iewasu's lands in exchange for Iewasu's resources and his PROTECTING the land, how is that nonsensical? It's only nonsensical if you didn't fucking pay attention to the blatant conversation they had.
As I said before, that 'subjective' review by precinct is nothing but word vomit made to look like it's saying something.
CHARACTER - The last thing. The MC Dirge is a traumatized child snatched up to live a life she wasn't ready for. She was bred to be an unorthodox weapon, which likely took a toll on her relatability. Which is the POINT. She's currently a weapon, not a person. The Raven has MADE her a chess piece and we're seeing it in action. The author delivers the vibe of a living weapon splendidly as intended. I'm interested in seeing her eventually change, maybe?
Dirge reminds me of Danny from UNLEASHED (great movie with Jet Li). She's set up to have development later. But if you're coming into this fiction hating on stupid shit like the setting being Sengoku Japan or a man losing to a woman, then you'll never get to experience the journey.
The last gripe from Precinct about emasculation is him being mysoginistic. Can guarantee if the people he spoke of were women he wouldn't be whining about it. What a weird thing to even comment about!?
Overall, to those reading this I strongly urge you to read the story for yourself. And if you review, don't spout a bunch of irrelevant bullshit and call it 'subjective'. That's not what a subjective review is. Cheers!
A very enjoyable opening so far. I'm looking forward to see how this develops.
The writing us good. No complaints regarding grammar or style so far.
The story is just starting, (mostly action sequence so far) I will update this review later for characterization and plot after a few more chapters.
Before I begin let me stress this by saying that this story has clearly been trolled by trending with its overall rating. Do not let that keep you from reading this. Seriously.
Shinobi is a bloody and fantastically edgy piece of historical fantasy that has everything you could ever want from the Sengoku period and more.
The style is the strongest part of the story for me. The scenery is beautifully broody and dark and the fight scenes are bloody and savage. Dirge is fun to watch in battle, especially with her stats fucking with her and forcing her to adapt on the fly (the battle against Ittogawa was hype af. That Mikiri fucking counter tribute made me scream).
The overall prose is also very interesting for those especially interested in ninja and their history. Dirge is a true Shinobi: she prefers to ambush and stalk her prey for a swift kill instead of fighting them head on like some shit you'd see in Naruto. She is a cold blooded and ruthless killer with something clearly off about her upbringing, which is detected by those around her, and sprinkles life to her character indirectly. It's a delicate approach that the author has pulled off quite well. The depiction of an emotionless killer is well done, and the portrayal of the Daimyo are also historically accurate (they were a bunch of power hungry jackasses).
The grammar is pretty much pitch perfect to me, so there's nothing to talk about there.
Overall this story deserves to be in top ten of trending; it is an intense and bloody Sekiro inspired Shinobi thriller. I don't know why that one review with 65 downvotes even exists. But I guess that's why it has so many downvotes lol. Give it a try.
Shinobi is a LITRPG that implements some of my favorite concepts.
It has a macabre theme and tone. The main character is the trainee of an assassin, and her introduction greatly reminds me of Yerin from Cradle.
After recently reading Jay Kristoffs Nevernight, I've had an unscratched itch for more professional assassin action which this definitely satisfies. I'm excited to rread more and see the character progress.
The biggest sell for me though is Dirge's disobedient weapon, and how, throughout combat, it does its best to sabotage her, her stats lowering as she fights.
I tried to write a review earlier, but realized I wasn't logged in as I read the story lol. Oops. Anyway, Shinobi is a pretty brutal and gory dark fantasy story that reminds me of the movie Ninja Assassin along with a heavy nod to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Except instead of a sword and being male, our protagonist is a female with a scythe who is more machine than person, at least initially from what's happened so far.
The overall tone of the story is very dark and bloody, accentuated by the descriptive abilities of the author. This story excels at painting a vivid image of the type of grimdark you'd expect from a civil war during the Sengoku period of Japan. There's blood, lots of it, dismemberment, body horror, and intense atmospheric undertones everywhere you look. The fight scenes are hella stylish and creative also. It feels like I'm watching a movie sometimes.
While the story doesn't really seem to be "there" for the moment, the overall pacing and implied prose is still enough to pull you in while the main gig gets set up. It's a time of civil war and everyone is trying to get as much land as they can. The war has dragged on so long that Shinobi have become a staple that work in the shadows to sway the tides of war, and Raven has come to monopolize on it.
Dirge is a woman trained from child to be a cold-blooded killer with all of her emotions basically stripped away. She's like a husk that does what she's told without question, and everyone else notices that about her. It's a difficult archetype to pull off when people are generally too impatient to relate to a character, but I like it. The recent chapter with her nightmare helped me get a feel of what goes on inside her head when the outward stoicism is no longer available. The latest chapters hint that things are going to take a turn once it's all over.
Aside from the MC, the rest of the cast seem to fit in pretty well with how history writes Daimyo. There's not much of a dynamic cast of characters so far, but the people in question have distinctly different personalities. Like Mido and Iewasu compared to the more mysterious and elusive Raven.
It's not a lot going on right now that's complex, but, there's definitely a set up coming for a sharp change in direction. Looking forward to seeing how and if Dirge manages to gain an identity for herself, and how the warring period will be portrayed!
This is still early on, so obviously may change as more chapters get released. This is a fairly dark and bloody tale of ninja violence and action, with .
There's a pretty strong sense of style - everything is dark and rainy, interspersed by flashes of lightning, highlighting lethal steel and the clash of blades. Limbs are severed, life is cheap, war is ever-lasting. There's not much explicit world-building, but it largely doesn't need it (and the MC wouldn't know it) - it's fairly lightly defined, but doesn't need much more.
There's not much that's happened yet - Dirge (the main character) has been established as bonded to a wierd spirit that shuffles her stats around, seemingly at random, and has a probably-mysterious past, and has been trained enough to at least partially compensate for her stats pinging around all the time with some ninja tricks and skills. It's pretty consistent on tone (dark, bloody, generally nasty) so I suspect there's going to be a fair amount of 'Dirge gets sent on a job, nastiness ensues', hopefully with more of an on-going plot developing.
The writing is generally quite clear. There's a few sentences that could do with a re-work to improve the flow and meaning, but it has decent flow and patter to it. There's some nice layout with clear section breaks and the stat-blocks are simple enough to be quick to read, without needing a lot of time to decipher exactly what's happened to Dirge's stats this time.
There's not a great deal of character yet - Dirge is a murder-waif, her spirit is there to shuffle her stats, the Raven is a fairly distant enigmatic boss, the various lords don't have a great deal of personality. It does seem to be building up to a conflict of some kind, but at the moment it's very much Dirge fighting, showing off her skills and ninja tricks and gear, before the meat of the plot starts and opponents that last more than a fight, and hopefully Dirge will get some characterisation and personal motivation.
Shinobi by Apocryphal opens the gate to a war-torn Japan where the legendary Shinobis and their magical properties define the tides of war. Dirge is a child with destructive power that people are terrified of and want to have her dead, but it seems like her master, Raven, has another agenda.
The story has a very solid plot. Dirge is a remnant, though she's a slightly different kind. She's very strong, but she's just a child and has weaknesses. It would be kind of wrong to make a child blatantly OP, so her power level is most appropriate for this stage of the story. Her personality reminds me of Sekiro, in that she seems very stoic and doesn't have too much inside her soul. It's very clear that Raven is planning something big, something she's so confident in that she's willing to rig the game and betray war generals to get it. This bridges well into the characterization of people in this book, too. The dialogues feels very much appropriate for the characters and their status, and you'll see many values that are important to the Japanese pop up in their speech and action.
The writer's style is really solid. It's a distinctive, descriptive, detailed style that brings the vividness of the world alive. His style is especially effective in fight scenes where the action just comes alive in front of my eyes. Reading through them reminds me of playing through Sekiro, barging through waves of enemies to reach to the boss. The grammar is nearly flawless, although some sentences are a bit too long for my liking.
One thing I really like is the use of status screens in this story. They only come up at key points, mostly to tell us the changes to Sacred Arts and Sacred Abilities, and get us to understand more about the nature of Dirge's power.
Overall, this is a great story for fan of wartime Japanese setting, great action and possibly grander political ploy. I'm looking forward to more of the same!
I'm not an expert on the Warring States period, but the author appears to be well-versed, so you feel like you're actually in the era. The MC, Dirge, is a bit of a shell, like a broken human barely going through the motions of being alive, blessed and cursed by her sacred spirit. So far, she's a weapon, but you get the sense that something more than the chaotic war is going to affect her soon.
If you're searching for something with more depth than just +10xp kill monster, I'd highly recommend checking this out.
Complete review's title:
An ode to wars’ monstruosities, waste and pointlessness from the eyes of a third party.
Some comma and rewritten sentences could be welcomed but, overall, the style is good.
Nothing to say.
So far it’s mostly exposition, even from a story point of view. What has been written up till now is mostly used to set the setting, to burn in your head the world in which this novel is taking place, which isn’t inherently good nor bad, just a specific way to start a story.
So far the main character is hollow, and by that I don’t want to say she is not characterised well, I am saying that she is literally hollow. However, this hollowness is used to draw mystery little by little, with a peaceful rhythm that fit the setting and the fantasm of a shinobi.
Other characters are well described with simple yet elegant brushes of exposition or actions, so I can’t complain, but this is not the strong point of the story.
Pretty good, if lacking content for now. Read it now, then see it as a serial: come back and read the daily chapter. This way of reading it is adapted to the overall style of the novel, I think.
(It’s both binge-readable and daily-readable, which is a good quality imo.)
- Stray thoughts :
I love the idea of colour-coding the text. I may even steal it mufufu~
The story is surprisingly well-presented, the formating is really good, and that’s always welcomed.
I very much disliked the infodump the author does in its pre- and post-chapter notes, but that’s a question of taste.
At first I thought that the litrpg system was pointless, but deeper in the read it makes sense, now I like it ^^
I am certain that I'm not the right audience for this piece of writing and that others might feel very differently about it, but I've tried to be as objective as I can.
Shinobi is hyperbolic Japanophile WuXia LitRPG with the aesthetics of a manga that thinks that enough cool images will compensate for a lack of plot or character. I happen to think that it's wrong, but at the same time it's hard to argue that there isn't a market for this sort of thing, so who am I to say...?
It's also pretty blatant cultural appropriation to no particular purpose. The Japanese stylings could easily be removed and replaced with West European ones without losing anything from the imagery and I'm 99% percent sure the author isn't Japanes. If I'm wrong, I retract this criticism.
The style is hyerpolic and focused upon set-piece action sequences of stylized combat. The LitRPG aspect seems to make no difference as the protagonist (who bizarrely has an English name when everyone else is apparently Japanese) just seems to have whatever "stats" will make for the most interesting exchange (tbf, there is a plot device to explain why her stats go up and down at random, but it definitely feels forced).
The grammar is fine. The incorrect use of the word "shined" (transitive) instead of the correct "shone" (intransitive) is annoying but fixable. The use of the word "exuberated" in the very first paragraph nearly had me give up on the spot, but the work as a whole is much better than these fundamental errors would initially suggest.
As far as the fiction has gone so far, there is no story to speak of. The Raven's deal with Iewasu is nonsensical, imo. She clearly can't be trusted not to go back on her word so the lord would be mad to enter any agreement he couldn't break. The Shinobi - at least as portayed by Dirge - appear invincibly unstoppable and utterly untrustworthy. The only logical response would be to treat them as forces of nature rather than as humans who can be negotiated with.
Iewasu's decision to test Dirge one-on-one is equally illogical (her plot-appropriate easy win notwithstanding) because Iewasu shouldn't be employing a Shinobi in an infantry role. That's not what they're for. Raven implies that Dirge is a step up from other Shinobi, so Iewasu should be well aware that the test is pointless and not a fair reflection of Dirge's utility.
But the ultimate problem with the opening chapters is Dirge. She's a blank slate. She's hypercapable and superpowered, but we are given no reason to root for her or to care about her fate. If Iewasu lopped her head off and the fiction ended there... so what? Nothing of any apparent value has been lost.
The other characters are even flatter and mostly seem to be there to be angry males whose only role is to be emasculated by Dirge.
As previously mentioned, I am obviously not the target audience for this fiction and I would be unlikely to read it any further even if everything above were addressed. However, my impression is that the author (who is also a rather good artist, it would seem) has painted a series of very cool manga-esque images in their mind and then attempted to string them together in a fiction.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea, and a cool image is a great starting point. But the beats of a fiction must serve the plot. And at the moment, in Shinobi, the plot is merely there to serve as a framing device for a series of cool images.
I would advise:
1. Let Dirge have a personality.
2. Let Dirge fail.
3. Let Shinobis be less than omnipotent.
4. Let other characters succeed.
5. Maybe set it somewhere not Japan?