Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Vitani's Dare" - Lion King Fanfic Review

Next fanfic from my old favorites list is Lion King fanfic "Vitani's Dare", by Agent Ninety-Nine, posted November 26th, 2001--February 15th, 2002. It takes place when Kiara, Kovu, and Vitani are just cubs, working on the premise that the cubs would escape their parents' watchful eyes to play together despite Zira training Kovu to take down Simba. One day, Vitani dares Kovu and Kiara to spend a night in the elephant graveyard.

The story's main theme is one that I don't particularly care for: that the kids are helpless without their parents and should respect authority. Kiara going against her father's wishes to accept Vitani's dare is foolish, and she learns the lesson to respect his advice. Likewise, Vitani's overconfidence gets her treed and dependent on adults to save her. While Simba's dislike of the Outsiders is portrayed as irrational, his role as a father is treated with respect.

On the other hand, perhaps it could be seen more as the value of respect for one's family. Kiara is at fault for disobeying her parents because they have wisdom she lacks. When the magic of the elephant graveyard gives her a vision of her parents' own dangerous adventure in the graveyard as cubs, she realizes the value of listening to them. On the other hand, Zira is a horribly abusive parent, so her character growth is in learning to appreciate her daughter Vitani.

Another theme is Zira's self-destructive hatred, which, of course, was in the movie itself. She's so gorram aggressive that she wrecks everything she touches. She disrespects the Circle of Life and eats aardvarks, thus leading to the termite infestation problem of the Outlands. This is an extension of Scar's destructive behavior, and I like that this suggests a reason for Scar's people wrecking the kingdom besides a vague "God doesn't like it" as with the drought in the first movie.

I like how the elephant graveyard continues the mysticism of the Lion King universe. While just designed as a creepy place in the movies, "Vitani's Dare" conceives of it as a magical place. Kiara is worried about ghosts, but the magic local to the graveyard appears quite benign. The elephants went there to die peacefully, knowing the way through ancient magic, and the place was then corrupted by the appearance of carnivores. It is these carnivores that make the area dangerous, while the ghostly local magic helps out Kiara, similar to Rafiki's magic helping out Simba.

Unlike with some of the fanfics I've been reviewing, Agent Ninety-Nine clearly knows how to write. The characters are fairly deep, managing to expand upon the Simba's Pride characters while still staying true to the themes of the film. The scenes in which the cubs are threatened by predators manage to be suspenseful even when it's obvious that everyone makes it out alive, as the fanfic is a kind of "Lion King II 1/2". "Vitani's Dare" is a pretty decent little fic, but its main theme of respecting authority is not to my taste.

I think I partially found this fanfic appealing when I was younger because of my submissive/masochistic nature. Kiara being a touch uneasy around Kovu and Vitani has this engaging vibe of "I have scary friends." Kiara being in danger because she listens to Vitani gives Vitani an aura of attractive dominance. My tastes have evolved to be more complex since then, though, and I more clearly see the fanfic as just about kids and their relationships with each other and with their parents. I'll be taking this off of my favorites list because it's not to my taste, but it's certainly a good story.

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