Webcomic Review: Rain LGBT

not cleverNo, it’s not.

We have yet another one of those. By now, you should know what I mean; yet another wannabe non-Japanese manga artist attempting the manga style.

This one has a very obvious agenda. And no, I didn’t pick this one out just to hammer on something with its subject material. It just happened to be a webcomic that caught my attention.

Rain stars a boy named Ryan, and the story picks up with his first day in high school in which he dresses up as a girl and starts going by the name “Rain”. By the way, I’m referring to Rain with pronouns corresponding to his biological gender, because it’s easier to touch on issues such as this with at least one foot in reality. Because science wins.

And speaking of reality, no, science cannot change a person’s biological gender. The most that a person can do in that regard is have their body butchered to closely resemble a person of the opposite gender. This means that the legend of the “sex change” operation is only a myth. Most trans people who learn of this get discouraged and settle for wearing a dress and accusing those who use their biological pronouns of hate speech.

But hey, this is a webcomic, so there’s pretty much no such thing as too fantastic. They’re expressions of someone’s fantasies, so they can be about any made up thing they want. The author’s fantasy in Rain is that a cross-dressing high school boy happens to find some of the most supportive friends he can happen across, all in one place. In fact, almost the entire cast encompasses the wide range of diversity in sexuality, which would be pretty amazing in real life considering that the school setting for Rain is an American school, where anyone can be picked on at any time for any petty thing.

Because this is the fantasy of someone with an agenda, it should come as no surprise that there are straw men for the heroes to ideologically trounce. And in Rain, the main one is Gavin, who is initially depicted as being a cisgender bundle of toxic masculinity. Gavin was Rain’s childhood friend who finds out that Ryan is going by Rain and dressing as a girl, and he does not take it well. No prize for guessing that we’re allowed to think that he’s a jerk, but he does get over it. There is also the principal himself, who can be called an old stuffy suit.

The conflict in Rain comes mainly in verbal interaction between the characters, rather than physical action. Considering this, special care must be taken to prevent the comic from descending into a collection of talking heads. Care to guess whether this happens? Sometimes, large portions of the comic are dominated by large walls of text, such as this particularly egregious offender.

This is certainly the worst one in the series, though the next page is also pretty bad. When writing a webcomic, it’s best to keep in mind that what you’re authoring isn’t a light novel, it’s a visual novel, and one of the main rules for writing for visual media is “show, don’t tell”. The potential to engage the audience by conveying plot development visually is wasted with walls of exposition. And it comes off as lazy. Even if you take the effort to redraw your characters in each panel, the talking heads approach to storytelling is just bland. Check out this example.

There’s pretty much nothing exciting about it. And it’s the kind of thing that you can look forward to in each exciting installment of Rain.

And speaking of lazy, let’s talk about Rain’s artistic style. As mentioned already, Rain is done with an attempt at manga style. All the tropes associated with manga style are there: oversized eyes, tiny mouths, pointed chins, etc. It comes off as a cheap shortcut, because it pretty much is.

When you criticize someone for using the manga style as a crutch, they usually go on the defensive, and claim that it’s their style. Which it isn’t. The manga style has evolved over the course of decades at the hands of countless professionals including animators, mangaka, and freelance artists. They did not do this just so someone can claim it as their own. And for that matter, why anime or manga style? Why not the style that Jim Davis uses for Garfield? Or the style that Berke Breathed used for Outland? Why do so many people think that they’re being cutting edge for using a style that has been used in Japanese cartoons for the better part of a century? For that matter, why not use the Disney style that inspired it?

I do want to make it clear that I like the manga style, and you’re welcome to try it if you can do it justice. LittleLynn84 doesn’t do it justice. It’s hard to choose one stylistic mistake to pick out as the worst. Such as that the eyes seem just a tad too close together for how big they are. Or how the faces look too elongated, despite having little forehead (note: manga style characters usually have large foreheads, even if they’re covered mostly by bangs). Or the fact that LittleLynn84 doesn’t seem to like to shade. It all adds up.

Ironically, the people most likely to be offended by Rain would be trans people themselves. This is because Rain referred to his condition as “dysphoria”, a word that is used by opponents of the trans movement to point out that “gender dysphoria” is officially recognized as a mental illness by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a disease that usually runs its course in just a few years. And yes, I actually recalled the name of that book from memory. Go figure.

Of course, it doesn’t help the trans cause that it’s being championed by such an insipid webcomic. Because as it is, even a trans person would find very little to enjoy. In fact, I admit that I didn’t even read the whole thing. I got 150 pages in, and after that, I flit about to look for signs of stylistic improvement and to see whether the story picks up. The author uses a different tool for drawing, but that’s about it. Usually, when a webcomic continues for nearly 1000 pages, there’s some sign of improvement somewhere, but in Rain, there is none. Even the storytelling remains just as dull and uninspired. There was so much potential and so much unbroken ground in the subject matter, but it was largely squandered.

Don’t believe me? The last several issues were spent leading up to a prom that still seems far off. If you’re going to build up to something, then the build-up itself has to be entertaining. Otherwise, it’s going to seem like there’s nothing going on in your comic. And that’s Rain in a nutshell. It’s a long, painful, ugly comic where nothing happens.

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of Kagura from Azumanga Daioh, for some reason:

woe indeed

Oh, hold on. That’s not Kagura. My mistake. Here’s the real Kagura:

kagura azumanga

Now to give Rain it’s score:

3.2 / 10

Yeah that’s right, nothing cute this time. Just a number. As I see it, if LittleLynn84 doesn’t want to make a halfway-decent webcomic, then I’m under no obligation to give it a cute score, as I’ve done with the others up to this point.

By the way, the fan art looks awful, too. But considering the source material, the fan artists didn’t really have much to work with. The very fact that something like Rain resulted in such a volume of fan art is sobering in its own sense.

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