Webcomic Review: Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi

Warning: The reviewed webcomic is disturbing.

When you hear of a mashup webcomic with licensed characters, you might expect a fan-work produced by someone too young to have a web presence. You might not expect a professional artist in his forties who outsources his writing and coloring. The internet has all kinds.

Rather than leave the Powerpuff Girls to Cartoon Network’s slow process of seasonal rot, artist Bleedman (Vinson Ngo) has made them the main characters in a mashup webcomic featuring others CN IPs such as Dexter and Samurai Jack in the setting of a town called Megaville. Bleedman inserts some of his own OCs as well, and if you aren’t familiar with the many CN characters depicted, you might have a hard time telling which is which.

One pleasant surprise that is noticed right away is that the art is actually mostly quality. Noteworthy is that some of the characters, such as Dexter and the girls themselves, were stylized to make them conflict less with the style of the comic. This means that the characters were effectively redesigned, so some amount of creative work was involved in what is otherwise an appropriation of characters not Vinson’s own. Yet, this contributes all the more to a strange suspicion that the artist could probably benefit from directing more of his talents elsewhere.

Compelling internal monologues, revealing the motivations of highly-developed and complex characters.

Considering that Bleedman is competent at designing characters, it’s kinda wasted potential that he didn’t go all the way by developing a cast of his own original characters to tell a story of his own, and in so doing allowing himself the possibility of going professional with this comic by not tying it firmly to intellectual properties that he doesn’t have rights to. I hear he has other comics, but still, he put a disproportionate amount of effort into what is basically a mashup. To what end? I dunno, maybe the ad revenue from his page has been kind to him.

But when we get into the story itself, it starts to become apparent why the comic benefits so well from the familiarity of its characters. The story isn’t that great.

The comic sees the Powerpuff Girls, slightly older, attending a new school. It’s there that they meet other CN characters, such as Dexter, whom Blossom has a budding relationship with (whatever dude, it’s your fantasy). They end up in a revenge-driven conflict with Mandark who’s still obsessed with Deedee whom he had accidentally slain. It actually got pretty dark at times, but the comic would later tone it down. Still, the emotional ante is brought up by the fact that these characters could be killed off, regardless of anyone’s fond memories of them in their respective shows. Kinda messed-up.

After the Mandark story arc concludes, the comic starts to grow dull, and with panel after panel laboring to describe Blossom’s emotional state in light of Dexter’s guilt, it takes a while for the momentum to build up again.

There is a jump-the-shark moment, and that happens when a character is spared being killed off because the grim reaper (yes, it’s Grim) decides not to take her, so a fatal wound is reversed. While a compelling explanation for this decision could play out in a future page, when you know that the heroes have an angel, a grim reaper, and the servant of a celestial dragon working to prevent the heroes from dying, it tends to eliminate much of the tension.

The best armor in all of fictional media is plot armor.

At times, it seems like it’s all Bleedman could do to ensure that the CN assets stay in character, which occurs to various degrees of success. At least with the PPG, he largely gets it, with the exception of Blossom. Considering that she had a leadership role in the original show, her relative lack of confidence makes her seem much less like the same character. While a similar complaint can be made about other (borrowed) characters, it stands out more when it’s what’s arguably the main character.

Another problem with this comic is the psyche-out pages, which are gag pages that make it appear that the story is taking a bizarre direction, but the next page makes it clear that they weren’t really a part of the story. I get the idea that Bleedman is the kind of guy who can drop some disturbing news with a straight face, then say that he’s only kidding. There are also special pages for holidays, which adds little to the comic. They can pretty-much be skipped.

I get the idea that PPGD can be better appreciated in the frame of mind that one would have when they discover anime and manga for the first time, when one might observe that “they’re like those other cartoons, but edgier!” The point is driven home by the fact that “doujinshi” is in the title, but how many people outside of Japan even know what a “doujinshi” is?

If you’re sincere in your belief that blood, angst, fatalities, and pantyshots make for a more entertaining comic, here you go. But much of that was toned down after the Mandark arc, after which other aspects of the comic got dull. Maybe Bleedman’s mom discovered these comics, so he decided to tone them down.

Now for the score. Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi gets a score of 6 out of 10.

The art quality plays a huge part in that score. There are problems with this comic, but the redeeming qualities are there. But personally, I suspect that the artist’s efforts would be better spent on something he has a chance of going professional with.

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