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Book Review: Megatokyo

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Few things have inspired me to write reviews lately. Megatokyo, the web comic and paperback collection, compelled me to write. The story and art are by Fred Gallagher and co-creator Rodney Caston make an interesting duo.

Basically the story revolves around Piro and Largo. Piro who is a basic fanboy otaku. Otaku is someone who is obsessed with anime and anime-related subjects to the point of learning the language and mixing reality with fantasy (as in Piro’s case). In the U.S., this word is more often taken as a compliment. In Japan, though, it is more often used as a derogative term. Largo, on the other hand, is obsessed with shoot ’em up RPG games (Quake, Halo, etc.), Bioware games, beer (definitely beer), and something called l33t (does anyone know what this is? Can you explain it to me?). On a whim, Piro flies off to Japan with Largo. When they finally sate their game hunger in the gaming stores and figure it’s time to come home, they discover that their credit cards are maxed out. Now they have no money and no place to stay in the wilds of Tokyo. Luckily, Piro, being the Otaku that he is, can speak and read Japanese. What little money they are able to beg (or blackmail) from their friends is quickly spent on more distractions. After landing a job, a series of misunderstandings occur between Piro and the local girls while Largo is busy slaying the hordes of undead that are overwhelming the city (mixing fantasy and reality here?). Anyway, these are a couple of characters that will feel familiar to most people — we all seem to know someone who takes their passions a little too far.

The story also involves some delightful and inventive supporting characters: Seraphim — Piro’s good side conscience (who kicks ass). Dom and Ed — friends to the rescue from the States, playing on the Japanese stereotype that all Americans carry guns and are not afraid to use them. Nanasawa-san — an aspiring seiyu (voice actor/actress) who develops a crush on Piro. Yuki-chan — a high school student who also seemingly has a crush on Piro. Though Piro and Largo are the main figures, the supporting characters are developed at a good rate so they aren’t faceless stick figures in the background.

Now the characters are drawn in an anime fashion with the typical big eyes and small nose and mouth. In the beginning, the panels were cleaner looking because Mr. Gallagher would sketch out the panels then trace and ink them. This took time, time he doesn’t really have to spare, so in an effort to meet the deadline and appease the online readers, he stopped the trace and ink portion. His artwork had improved to the point where it was unnecessary for the comic. I, personally, like the sketchy look.

While Megatokyo started as a web comic, due to its popularity, Dark Horse comics had it compiled into three (so far) “low bandwith” (print) editions. There is also the occasional stand-in for Gallagher, which is a lot of fun. When Mr. Gallagher has writer’s block, is sick, or caught up with real life work, Dom takes over the show with stick figures and amusing accounts of recent events such as their visits to Cons (anime conventions — Otakon and Katsucon were mentioned) and comparing different points of view among the characters (quite amusing). Though Piro often threatens viewers with Dom’s trackball stickfigures, Dom’s rants and musings are entertaining.

For current stories, visit Megatokyo.com. There are also links to past episodes, Mr. Gallagher’s artwork, and other web comics in the works.

Overall, I enjoy Megatokyo. The characters are relatable and the artwork is good. I also feel it’s an inspiration to people who have the talent and imagination to carry the comic/anime industry into new territory or who are looking to make a name for themselves in this medium.

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About Lindsay Beaumont