Megatokyo Vol. #06 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The simultaneously absurd and serious Megatokyo gets more intriguing, even as the story focuses less on Piro and Largo.
Writer/Artist: Fred Gallagher
What They Say
American "otaku" Piro and Largo are now more or less settled into their lives in Tokyo, where the lines between fantasy and reality sometimes blur. The city boils and churns under the threat of impending d00m, led by an invasion of Zombie hordes. Fanboys gather to protest the rumored cancellation of a long-awaited game featuring Kimiko, their new favorite Idol. Piro races to save Kimiko from both the fanboys and a mysterious benefactor whom he does not trust. Largo enlists the aid a novice magical girl who is still trying to understand herself, her powers, and what exactly she should wear.
This volume collects chapters nine and ten of the online series, including both UnMod and Full Megatokyo Panic short stories, as well as additional artwork and one-shot comics.
Megatokyo brings up some interesting ideas, like the realness of characters and looking past what you want to see a person as and seeing who they really are. The problem is how long it takes for him to get to the point. Kimko spends much of her page time in chapter 9 explaining why she wants her "Sight" character to live and how she wants her fans to stop seeing her as a person that she's not. While this is interesting, her explanations and justifications get so wordy that it's hard to follow or even find the exact point being made. Gallagher seems to be at least somewhat aware of this, though, as Kimiko's fans are confused by her answers, and Sayuri tells her she shouldn't make an "event" out of every question.
Miho is probably the most mysterious character in Megatokyo, and a little bit of the curtain is pulled back in chapter 10 through Piro's backstory. By talking to Kimiko he reveals his and Miho's relationship both in the online game "Endgames" as well as outside the game. We see a softer side of Miho, a girl who is sick and trapped, but we also understand how hurt Piro after being betrayed when he'd put so much energy into caring about this girl.
More minor characters, like Kobayashi and Junko, gain importance through these chapters. This gives Megatokyo more depth, but it's also burying the main characters, Piro and Largo. The comic is starting to feel like it's not about them, but about the people they interact with - Piro even says in one situation that Kimiko is the "protagonist," not him. Piro doesn't even have a conversation with his conscious in these chapters. Not that he has no moral dilemma, but it's not the focus in this part.
Characters tend to mope or be flustered, but Gallagher manages to inject his comic with some pure fun. Megatokyo shines in its absurdities, from robot girls to zombie attacks. A zombified rent-a-zilla is given a bow and turned into Yuki's cat-sized pet, and Yuki discovers that her magical girl ability is the power to...steal things. Moments like these are what keep you amused when the rest of the plot seems ready to weigh you down.
One of the best parts of Megatokyo continues to be Gallagher's art. A side-by-side comparison with comics from volume #01 proves on sight how much his art has improved. Both the backgrounds and people are heavily detailed, yet still refrain from looking cluttered. There were problems in early volumes of some female characters looking too similar, like Erika and Kimiko, but the designs have improved so that even with the ever-growing cast everyone has a distinct appearance. And I simply love the sketchy look of Gallagher's drawings. Despite not being inked in, the drawings don't look unfinished, instead leaving us with images that are soft and oftentimes more emotive than the actual dialogue.
Reading through this volume, I started to remember why I fell out of reading Megatokyo online. No matter how much Gallagher tries to put into one page, it doesn't keep the comic from moving at a slow pace (each chapter covers only a day). Read page-by-page, Megatokyo is agonizing for a story that has become so plot heavy. As a book, it works better. The characters' tendency for introspection clogs up the story from time to time, but otherwise the volume has a pretty even flow. We're left with a little more of an understanding of some characters in this volume, but there's still confusion about what's really going on, like with Miho - why is she in the hospital, and what kind of game is it that she plays with people? I'm beginning to wonder if Piro and Largo will ever actually make it back to America, but if it takes them a while longer that's fine. As each character reveals a detailed past they, and the story, become so much more interesting. There's a notable lack of Dead Piro Art Days and Shirt Guy Dom strips, but the lengthy chapters and two Omake stories fill out the book nicely. This volume is an obvious pick up for fans following Megatokyo online, and for that fell out of sync with the story this may be a good time to pick up the comic.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: CMX Manga
Orientation: Left to Right