I've been meaning to write these down for some time, and since I'm bored as hell and still a bit weird from my nap, I suppose now's a good time.

What this is, in question, is the first part of a list of the best fanfiction I've ever read. I'm not a fic reccer and this isn't anything official, nor anything associated with any community. This is just one person's opinion.

I'll probably place it somewhere formal eventually. 

You may notice many of them are Neon Genesis Evangelion stories- this isn't a bias. I really, truly have seen a majority of the best fanfiction I've ever read in that fandom... though very few of them are on ff.net. Strangely, a majority of these stories are rather old (2000 and before). Perhaps there has been a decline in quality...

But that's not my place to decide, nor my intention at the moment.

Higher Learning by Strike Fiss (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
"A tale of love, combat, trust, and growing up.

... because life is worth living for."
-Quote from the cover page.

This is, by far, the best romance epic I've EVER read. Not just for the Evangelion fandom- for ANY fandom. Each of its chapters is incredibly engrossing, and deeply personal- you get to know Shinji, Asuka, Misato, Kaji, and Rei (and to a lesser extent, other characters) on an incredible level, and often in philosophical dialogue. Shinji and Asuka's relationship deepens with a few simple moments, and very quickly is put to the test as they continue to battle the Angels. There are several heartbreaking moments between the two, and gives this massive story the personal connection to the reader.

This also holds my personal vote for the best Original Character ever created, Kaoru Miyazaki. Simply put, he is just a brilliant character who drives the plot of the story without ever overtaking the story or overshadowing the original characters. He fits in with them seamlessly, and does it in a neglected portion of the Evangelion world- the school. He acts as the father Shinji needs but never got, the guide to humanity Rei never sought, and an extra support for an Asuka who thought she didn't need it.

This story takes the original plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion and twists it at several key moments- keeping the spirit of the story, but in the end, allowing for the happy ending that the original series could never posses.

The Best Laid Plans by Ryoma (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

If Higher Learning holds the title for best romance epic in my heart, this story very well competes for my all time favorite story. Seven massive chapters unfold a tale of pranks, love triangles, and a brilliant mastermind who makes things right. The humor of the story is subtle, and even now, when I go back and reread the story, I often find myself catching references to episodes found later in the original series. However, this is more than just a humor story- it's all one complicated plot to place a single character, Asuka Langley Sohryu, in a critcal point in her emotions where she has to make a choice.

Characters switch relationships practically every chapter, and the plot twists and turns at every corner. One of the key moments where the real plot takes over is never seen and is barely noticeable- the first time I read it, I never caught that scene.

Sadly, the sequel to this remains incomplete, possibly forever. Still, enjoy the lemony epilogue!

Children of an Elder God by John Biles and Rod M (Neon Genesis Evangelion/H.P. Lovecraft)

If you've never heard of H.P. Lovecraft (and shame on you if you haven't), then this is a brilliant way to get acquainted. If you have, then this is an even more enjoyable experience for you.

Children of an Elder God is basically THE best fusion story I've ever read. The Evangelion and Lovecraft worlds blend seamlessly together, and weave together a macabre, but at times light hearted, plotline. Everything about the two worlds is meshed together, and it simply makes for a genius story.

The characters too, are both similar and different. Rei is creepier but somehow, mellows out a bit- until Asuka comes on the scene, and then a small love triangle between her, Shinji, and Rei is formed, which is woven subtly into the plot of a play they rehearse in chapter 9. Characters form relationships that are deep but not always pleasant. Shinji grows closer to his father, but Gendo still retains his icy image.

Be warned, this story is for mature readers. A yuri scene involving the rape of one major character by another, blood, gore, and character death are all parts of this story. Disturbing things can, and will happen. Characters will die.

Unfortunately, the last update for this story was October 2004... so it's fate is uncertain. Still, it was at the final stages of the plot- perhaps one day, we will see the (most likely very violent and dark) conclusion to the story.

The More Things Change by Rod M, and its (sadly incomplete) sequel, The Pursuit of Happiness (Ranma 1/2)

This is The Best Laid Plans' competition for my all time favorite story (yes, I am a sucker for romantic comedy), Rod M's masterful romantic comedy, The More Things Change. The author takes the very core of Ranma 1/2, boy meets girl, boy has multiple suitors, girl has multiple suitors, boy has several enemies, the boy has a curse, the girl is violent... okay, so the core of Ranma 1/2 is more than a little complicated. But still, it is this core that is taken, and then the strangest thing happens.

Ranma and Akane, the boy and the girl, are removed from that chaos and find their happiness.

Thus is the plot formed.

But the story isn't about Ranma or Akane.

It's about Ryouga Hibki and Ukyo Kuonji, both of whom are now heartbroken by the loss of their respective loves (Akane to Ryouga, Ranma to Ukyo). It's about how they find their own happiness in each other over the course of several months... only to find that Ranma's luck seems to have rubbed off on Ryouga.

Mysterious rivals, crazy girls trying to marry him, suddenly Ryouga becomes the new Ranma... and its not a good place to be. Ukyo's relationship with him is as muddled as Akane's was, and to make things more interesting, she has a giant spatula to hit him with. 

This story keeps closest to the crazy spirit of Ranma 1/2 than any other Ranma 1/2 story I've read. It's absolutely masterful, and has several moments when I have fallen out of my chair in laughter. 

Its sequel, The Pursuit of Happiness is even more like the original series, and furthers the relationship between Ukyo and Ryouga from "we're just friends, really!" to "maybe, just maybe..." The first arc comes out slow, but the second arc, a Tournament arc, comes out swinging and delivers brilliant humor and action, as well as the first time you may not be happy with the ending of  a tournament arc. 

The third arc remains frozen at its first chapter- sadly, we may never know what will become of Ukyo and Ryouga's relationship.

Relentless by Grayson Towler (Ranma 1/2)

A stirring drama about revenge and hard, hard choices that people have to make sometimes. Though there's a bit of a demonization of Happosai and Pantyhose Taro, it is perhaps earned in this story. 

Ranma becomes engrossed in an old vendetta against Happosai, and suddenly finds himself and everyone he cares about in danger of a supernatural force that has never been defeated. The story itself is magnificent- characters will stir your heart as they take a stand for what they believe in and what they care about, even knowing they may end up dying for it. It's different from other stories because of what they're fighting- the creature, Relentless, fills you with this uncertain terror, because you know it will simply return again, more powerful than before.

Once again, Ukyo and Ryouga's relationship is a high point for me. In this, it evolves in a classic adventure story way- the more time they spend together, they grow attached to one another, and grow closer and closer. The climax of their portion of the story is shocking, heartbreaking, and leaves you gripping the edge of your seat. And their personal epilogue is both touching and satisfying.

Akane's own arc is smaller, but no less important. You watch a girl become a young woman who wants to stand behind the man she loves and help him in any way she can- even if she has to die for it. And her final act of the story is chilling, to say the least.

Yet, like many stories in the fandom, this is about Ranma, in the end. He grows, he adapts, he learns. He is forced to mature in a few months and become a man. He takes responsibilities, makes mistakes, and generally becomes a character that you would really like to see alive at the end of the story.

Which, I believe, is Towler's intent. 

The One I Love Is... by Alain Gravel (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Higher Learning may hold my heart's trophy for best romance epic, but this is it's extremely close runner up., while holding the titles of best romance drama and best love triangle.

But what it does better than Higher Learning is the inclusion of a serious love triangle- one which is treated with humor is most stories. 

That triangle is one between Rei Ayanami/Shinji Ikari/Asuka Langely Sohryu. Normally, I despise love triangles because they are filled with overangst and annoyance. But this is different. Here, the characters are human. They make choices. They make assumptions. They make mistakes. There is angst- but there is also love, there is also fluff. 

The relationship is started simple- Rei decides to give Shinji a Valentine's chocolate- and Asuka explodes. Suddenly young Shinji is caught between two of the most important women in his life, and he is paralyzed by that fact for most of the story. He makes no moves, which is understandable, lest he hurt one of the girls. Yet in the end, he makes his choice, because he understands that it's unfair to leave them hanging. 

But the love triangle doesn't stop the world. The Angels continue to come, and the drama only increases because of this relationship. These three young pilots have to handle giant supernatural beings while still trying to sort out the complicated mire of their relationship.  And it serves to drive this relationship, to push it into new situations and to test it severely. 

Shinji himself is a sympathetic character, since its his POV that the story is narrarated from. You cannot help but feel his anguish as he watches the girls fight over him, feels divides in relationships, and ultimately his pain when he makes his choice about who he really wants to be with.

Because that's a choice that all of us will have to make eventually.

The Tears and Rain Saga by Gabi-Hime (Rurouni Kenshin)

The touching, wonderful romance between Seta Soujiro and an Original Character named Kuri. If Higher Learning and Toili are the best romance epic and best romantic drama respectively, this is possibly the best romance, period.

Kuri is Kaoru of Higher Learning's direct rival for best OC title. She's not the usual sweet and innocent but fiery girl you oftne see paired up with bishounen like Soujiro. She's a girl with insecurities and flaws, which is why she's so likeable. Soujiro's interactions with her are lovely- he tries his best to hide his true nature from her, while keeping her best interests in mind.

Soujiro himself is wonderful. He tries to rebuild himself, and find his own identity away from the ideals of Shishio. His personal tragedy is only exemplified as he tries to carry on, and keeps himself from having what he wants and needs (i.e. Kuri) by thinking she needs to be protected. 

It's wonderful. If you have even the slightest love for Soujiro, read this. 

Card Captor Sakura Altered World by Kinomoto Sakura

This is the wonderful world of CardCaptor Sakura... only aged a few years. 

Now, this really shouldn't be a problem... or so you'd think.

But what's changed, makes things some much more different.

Syaoran is no longer just plagued by a feeling of love for Sakura- his hormones are on overdrive, and Sakura's new costumes are... more than a little problematic for Syaoran's hormones. Mature concepts are dealt with- Tomoyo's unrequited love, for example. 

Possibly the best CCS story you'll ever read.

The Little Tokyo Cafe by Jessica Tsunehiko (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

This was the potential successor to Toili (The One I Love Is...),  which sadly, remains uncompleted. Still, the few chapters it does have are so good they deserve mention nonetheless. Much like Toili, it focuses on the idea of a love triangle between the three Children- Rei, Shinji, and Asuka. This time, it is Shinji who first makes a move toward Rei, Rei who reciprocates. But Asuka is still volatile nonetheless. 

It's a masterful, and humorous work that is still capable of being very touching. 

Shinji the Casanova by Strike Fiss (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

One of the longest one shots you'll ever read, which is why it's here. Funny, fun, and just generally a good time. Once again, it takes an outside influence to deepen the relationship between Shinji and Asuka- and this time, Cupid literally takes the wheel on this one. Humorous misunderstandings and touching moments, the bread and butter of romance, are key to the story. 

It sort of craps out near the end, when Shinji and Asuka's relationship resolves, but nonetheless, its definitely worth reading.

Wake by Hotwire (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

How good is this one shot? Let's put it this way. 

People have claimed they can't read anymore Shinji/Asuka stories because this story has put their expectations too high. 

Others have said its the best Post End of Evangelion story ever written. And while that's debatable, yes- it is that damn good. This story shows what many have failed to capture- Shinji and Asuka's struggle to rebuild the world... and their relationship, shattered by mutual misunderstandings and betrayals.  They pretty much have to try and start again... but that's what makes it good. They are forced to deal with the idea that they may very well be alone, and neither one of them likes it. Shinji makes a misunderstanding, and Asuka is forced to search her soul to save him from himself.

Read it. 

Ascension of the Lamb by Dante Abbey (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

CoEg (Children of an Elder God)'s competition for best mature drama. The story features a Post-End of Evangelion world that is in the same vain as CoEG. Much of the previous cast returns- but those who don't are replaced by Original Characters who meld into the background.  The drama is probably even more mature than CoEG's- violent descriptions of disturbing scenes are mentioned. 

It's sometimes a bit too dark for me, and it remains incomplete- but like everything in this list, it is more than worth your time.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time by Arxane (Legend of Zelda)

Take the original, wonderful masterpiece known as the Ocarina of Time- and then hand it over to a wonderful fantasy writer. The writing style is mature, and you really get slammed with Link's path to growing up. His adventure is more mature and more believable than the rest of the novelizations out there. When he battles a boss, when he kills an enemy- each of these becomes so much more than you think.

And this time, when he wakes up from his 7 year nap- things don't get better. 

Link faces personal tragedy after tragedy- and, unlike other characterizations of the Hero of Time, this one doesn't deal so well. He actually throws down the sword and refuses to fight- only a near death experience for Malon can force the reluctant hero back into his quest. 

There are more I could name, but since I'm sort of wanting to eat dinner, I think I'll leave it at that.

Part 2 will be up later.
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