Category Archives: Reviews

Webcomic Review: Addanac City

addanac city miserable

One of my favorite comics while growing up was Calvin and Hobbes. It was about a boy, a stuffed tiger that seemed real to him, and it had tons of social commentary.

Being a kid, I didn’t immediately understand what Calvin and Hobbes was about. To me, it seemed to be about what a bad kid Calvin was in spite of his intelligence, and the misadventures he could get into when his imagination would run away with him. It wasn’t until later, when I had grown up and long after the comic had concluded that I realized just how much of it was clever criticism of commercialism and syndication of the comic industry in particular.

Of course, I was a kid, so there wasn’t much expectation that I’d understand just what Calvin and Hobbes was really about. But imagine if someone not only missed the point of the comic, they made a comic that attempted homage, claimed the original as its inspiration, did everything that the author of the original pined against, and failed in just about every way imaginable.

You really don’t have to imagine such a thing, because Addanac City exists.

addanac city hank

Addanac City features Hank (pictured above), the worst possible thing that could happen after a night of drunken sex that you don’t remember. But while Calvin misbehaved but was generally relatable, George Ford (the author of Addanac City) went well out of his way to make Hank out to be a horrendous child with no redeemable qualities. So yeah, Addanac City goes the Allen Gregory route in storytelling where the main character is so abrasive and rancid that it befouls just about everything else that the comic is attempting to do. Not that it was doing any of it particularly well to begin with.

Addanac City is supposed to be a gag-a-day strip. It fails every single time because the jokes are so horribly repugnant that it’s almost as though someone were struggling to make something bad on purpose.

I was going to post an example here, but I decided to instead post a link to the archive. Go ahead and pick any one at random. There isn’t a single one that won’t prove my point.

Speaking of the “bad on purpose” thing, people can quit it with the whole “make-something-that’s-only-ironically-likable” dealie. I know that it seems easier to win a race to the bottom, and thus stand out as being the worst at something. But there are so many people running that race that it’s an actual challenge now and takes some effort to “win”. Because of this, it’s harder than it’s ever been to plod along with a minimum of effort. So, why not put some effort into making something that’s actually a positive contribution? Besides, Sonichu exists, so you’d already be beat, anyway.

Because it’s classified as a gag-a-day strip, George doesn’t have to bother with something called “plot”, freeing up his precious little effort for characterization. But he didn’t bother with this either, because the personalities of each of his characters are various degrees of fulminating rectum. Even Susie Derkins Christie, one of the victims of Hank’s antics, has her moments.

As far as art goes, each of the characters are to the eyes as farts are to the nostrils. It takes someone with some funny preferences to not be totally disgusted. George takes the concept of cartooning to mean that there’s no need to consider either anatomy or consistency. While it’s acceptable for cartoons to have colors that are vivid, George makes them so stark that they’re an attack on the eyes of the person who views them.

Another example is not being posted here. Here’s another link to the archives. You can pick any one; the art hasn’t improved at all since the comic’s inception.

There is an inconsistent use of gradients for shading, which makes everything that’s not shaded look flat, and in some cases, clothing textures are Photoshopped in for some outfits, but not for others. It’s as though George wanted to use some Photoshop effects for his comic, but neither knew how to use them properly or consistently. The result is a comic with a mish-mash of improperly applied effects with bright, painful colors.

Okay, fine. Here’s an example:

addanac city bad

See all the problems? Now you know why I don’t want them on my blog. I don’t want George Ford’s content dragging mine down. I also don’t want men blaming me for erectile dysfunction or women blaming me for not self-lubricating.

Everything about this comic conspires to make it terrible. What makes it even more of an insult that he’s comparing his work to Calvin and Hobbes. If any humorous irony can be had from this, it’s that the author is so inept that he doesn’t recognize his comic as being the very thing that his source of inspiration warned against comics becoming: a bunch of illustrations for bad jokes that can be completed to the author’s satisfaction before lunch.

If you want to see something really interesting, here’s a YouTube video of George having one of his comics read aloud:

What’s interesting about it? That he got a woman to read it with him. And that woman is his wife. HIS WIFE. Something to think about if you’re one of those lonely men who find themselves wishing for a woman with low enough standards.

Now for a score that reflects how this comic holds up against my own standards:

0.2 / 10

You know how I usually find something funny in the comic to use as it’s score? Not this time. I just don’t want to go back there. Jack was a better webcomic than this. Vegan Artbook was a better webcomic. Even Boss Rush Society holds up as a better webcomic. Addanac City is just a mess.

Review: Metroid: Samus Returns

metroid samus returns

If you like cheesy sports games, you might want to sit down for this one, because believe it or not, there are game series’ out there that only release a new entry when someone can think of an idea or few that would make a great game, not just to tweak some rosters a bit. One of them is Metroid.

The Metroid series is one in which the game makers usually put in a monumental effort to make something enjoyable to play, and most gamers just sit it out even as those who’ve played the game rave about how great it is. Once again, those passive sit-this-one-out types are missing out while those of us who like Metroid games are once again enjoying one of the most immersive, atmospheric, and enjoyable games that gaming has to offer.

Metroid: Samus Returns is a retelling of the story of Metroid II: Return of Samus. Calling it a remake doesn’t do it justice, because the entire game has been redone from the ground up, leaving just the basic scenario intact. What this means is, having already played Metroid II doesn’t mean you’ve already played this game.

Samus Returns starts you off as Samus Aran, who has just landed on the planet SR388, tasked with the job of exterminating the metroids there. Apparently, at this point, the Galactic Federation has found the metroids to be more trouble than they’re worth, so they’ve decided that they’ve just got to go. What better way to exterminate a bunch of dangerous super-monsters than to send a lone bounty hunter to do the job, with no backup whatsoever.

This game is huge. Because the caverns you’ll be exploring are so immense, it helps to have plenty of tools at your disposal. As one might expect, typical Metroid series upgrades are here, including High Jump Boots, the Varia Suit, and the Spring Ball, which is to be expected because they are in the original. The Spider Ball is included as well, which is welcome because it definitely adds to Samus’ mobility and makes tons of areas accessible, and itself is available early on. So much freedom is given to Samus’ movement, that Samus Returns doesn’t feel like a typical platformer. Whereas in most platformers the walls are obstacles, in Samus Returns the Spider Ball makes them feel like a tool that can be used to reach new areas. Because of this, one can imagine the care that must be taken to take into account Samus’ abilities as each area is designed to keep the game balanced and consistently challenging. This is something that developer Mercury Steam succeeded at. What’s more, there is a real sense of empowerment in the number of options Samus may have in overcoming an enemy or obstacle. It really feels as though the player is in charge, and that if something can’t be reached, then the player simply wasn’t intended to access it just yet.

However, power-ups aren’t the main keys to progress in Samus Returns. Samus progresses by collecting metroid DNA, which can be obtained by slaying metroids that Samus comes across. This DNA is then scanned with a statue, which removes progress-blocking acid once Samus collects enough, and there’s just enough metroids in the area to do this. One could ask how an ancient race can know just how many metroids will be in an area and their exact DNA compositions decades in advance, or just what they’d have to gain by roadblocking an exterminator that wasn’t even born yet. But hey, it’s a video game, what matters is that the game is mechanically sound.

Samus does get some new abilities that weren’t present in the original, which add to the uniqueness of the experience of Samus Returns. Among these is the melee counter. This is achieved by quickly pressing the X button as an enemy charges you (easy to tell, because they’ll “glint” a certain way just before they do it). This stuns the enemy, giving you the opportunity to kill them while they’re stunned. If you respond with blaster fire quickly enough, you’ll automatically lock on to them and kill them with a single shot. As much as I’ve played Samus Returns, I’ve found this satisfying every single time.

Taking advantage of this isn’t a bad idea. Because otherwise, the enemies in this game are tough, taking more shots than I remember similar enemies taking in most other Metroid games. What’s more, the enemies in this game are very aggressive. Some of which will charge you on sight, which is usually right when they appear on screen, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to use this fun new mechanic. Thankfully, there’s no cheesing it like the sensemove mechanic from Other M, so your timing has to be on point.

One welcome new mechanic is the inclusion of Aeion abilities, which are pretty powerful, but their use consumes an Aeion bar, which gets replenished by pick-ups, and its maximum is increased by Aeion tanks that can be found throughout the game. There is variety in these abilities, which can be switched on the fly due to them being mapped to the control pad. There’s an ability that helps offensively, one that’s defensive, one that just about renders the Speed Booster obsolete (how’s that for cryptic?), and one that’s controversial because it makes exploring the huge map much easier. In my opinion, it really didn’t take anything away from the game, and was great to have considering that the maps in Samus Returns are huge. The Aeion meter depleted faster than I would have preferred, but that’s fine, because these abilities would be broken if players could constantly use them as a crutch.

Another great ability that’s welcome is the ability to “analog aim” by holding down the L shoulder button. Doing this causes Samus to stop in place and you can aim her gun using the control slider. Because of this, Samus is no longer limited to the 8 traditional directions to aim her weapon (though this can still be done while moving), and you can now aim with more precision. This might take a little time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great to have, as you no longer have to reposition Samus to hit certain targets, and can be used in boss battles to get more attacks in.

In the original, the boss battles were the metroids themselves, and there were a few dozen of them. The original was repetitive because the variation in experience between metroids of the same form was supplied by the environment you fought them in. In Samus Returns, however, that repetition mostly vanishes for several reasons. For one thing, there’s more variation in the obstacles the environments provide. What’s more, the metroids themselves are no longer straightforward in their attacks. Each one will usually have several attacks, which call for different responses. Better still, metroids also have attacks that can be melee countered, giving you the opportunity to deliver some serious damage.

Speaking of boss battles, there are a couple new battles in there to change things up, one of which has some pretty significant implications for the Metroid series continuity. It’s a welcome addition, especially for fans of the series.

Amiibo Corner
Would you be missing anything if you didn’t use Amiibos? Yeah, but whether it’s a big deal would depend on who you are. Amiibos supply backup tanks for health, ammo, and Aeion energy, but they really aren’t game breaking and don’t count towards your item collection rate. There are more post-game bonuses, such as gallery images and a music room, but whether these are a big deal will depend on whether you care about such things.

The really big Amiibo to own would be the squishy Metroid one. During the game, it gives you the location of a metroid in the area. This can be a big help, but not always. It doesn’t always give you the location of the most practical one for you to find next. Still, this comes in real handy considering that otherwise you might be spending a lot more time combing these huge maps. But even more significant would be the post-game bonus that it provides: an extra mode that provides even more challenge than the Hard difficulty.

That’s something to think about right there. This game’s normal mode is already hard. Which is just how I would have wanted it. Each of the games challenges are just hard enough to offer a sense of satisfaction upon overcoming them. Then there’s a Hard mode, in which enemies do double the damage. The difficulty level offered by the Metroid Amiibo is Fusion Mode, in which the enemies do four times the damage, and you see Samus in her Fusion suit, serving as a reminder to watch your step. Having this hardcore difficulty behind an Amiibo paywall may upset some players, especially considering how difficult to find these Amiibos are right now. And we certainly don’t like the idea of rewarding Amiibo scalpers for what they’re doing, which is taking advantage of those who weren’t able to get their Amiibos on day one.

If you’re one of those gamers that don’t own a 3DS just yet, it would be worth going out to buy one, even if just to play this game. It’s that good. How many stars would I give it? How about a galaxy out of ten?

galaxy out of ten

Which is a 10 out of 10. This game deserves it, and so does developer Mercury Steam. This game offers tight controls, atmospheric visuals and sound, high replay value, and novel gameplay mechanics that only add to the experience. The only catch is, you gotta buy it. Which I did. Twice. I did my part to encourage excellence in game design. How about you?

Welcome back, Samus.

Webcomic Review: Vegan Artbook

soThe moment you realize that only the first two letters of that rebuttal are necessary.

If smugness had an official webcomic, that webcomic would be Vegan Artbook. The sheer amount of arrogance we are dealing with here would take Satan aback.

Vegan Artbook is about a group of vegans and their interactions with non-vegans. Those interactions boil down to how vegans are such great human beings, and how non-vegans are the cruelest, stupidest, most short-sighted monsters that the artist can imagine.

You could attempt to contact the artist directly and let her know that she’s wrong, her positions are all oversimplifications, many of her “facts” are misleading, and throw numerous scientifically-supported facts firmly grounded in nutrition, biology, and physiology, with supporting documents from reputable sources that can be checked with Google Scholar, etc. Then you’d read a few of her comics and come to understand that she’s aware of these facts, and just doesn’t care. If she cares enough about what you have to say, she’ll draw a caricature saying it which will usually have squiggly arms, buck teeth, acne, or whatever she can think of that would make you seem like a monster. Then she’ll honestly wonder why her webcomic has critics.

To her credit, however, she actually does delete some of her comics if someone can succeed in convincing her that making them was a terrible idea. Here’s one that was edited:

vegan artbook spot the differenceOld, left. New, right. Can you spot the difference?

Or this one, which was deleted from her page altogether:

vegan artbook 79 strawman deletedGather around! Vegan Artbook is going to teach us what a straw man fallacy is.

So, let’s not give up on the artist altogether. Let’s keep going! With enough persuasion, she may just delete every single one of her comics, and finally come around to being a decent, normal human being! But let’s not get our hopes up.

Vegan Artbook does have a cast of characters, but calling them characters is unfair to any other comic that has characters and to the definition of the word “character”. While there are different personages with distinct appearances, each of the protagonists are mouthpieces for the artist’s agenda with no deviation in the slightest. There’s a girl named Dolly that starts out as a meat-eater, but shortly into the comic, she changes sides and loses any aspect of her character that differentiated her from the rest of the protagonists, besides the color pink.

The antagonists are portrayed as varying degrees of insane, and they usually only serve as faces to say whatever argument that the artist feels like arguing against on that day, whether it be a ridiculous straw man argument or something that the artist doesn’t realize sounds reasonable and rational. But by the end of the page, they’re usually reduced to being unable to argue further, often by the counter-argument the artist wanted to convey or some quick zinger.

The art in Vegan Artbook seems competent at first blush. It’s so cute, that I just wanna huggle the entire cast, even as they call me a vicious monster! But then you realize how wrong you are for liking it because Priya went to the Ctrl+C then Ctrl+V school for webcomic art. Because of this laziness technique, she only has to draw each character once, and if she gets it right the first time, just modify the facial expressions, and it’s smooth sailing from then on out.

While most webcomic artists improve with time, the art style in Vegan Artbook is one of the few to have actually gotten worse. While her earlier comics were vibrant and colorful, Priya’s latest comics (which star a self-insert, tending Vegan Artbook towards Sonichu territory) are done in a monochrome with brown. This is somewhat reminiscent of old sepia-colored photographs, but is entirely inappropriate for a webcomic done in a Sanrio style. I’m puzzled as to why she would choose to do this. My guess is that the artist thinks that this is somehow more eco-friendly, but that would only matter for the printed books in her online store (which are still printed with bright colors), not for something transmitted as data and displayed on a monitor, which uses no ink or trees.

Then, with no warning, the comic hits you with gore. Some panels are filled with photographs of gory images that the artist uses to show just how ugly the production of meat is. This comes with no warning for those who happen to be reading her comic at work, which can actually make her comic a disservice to the careers of its intended audience. As you could probably imagine, some of the images used are discredited photographs that were once used in PETA propaganda.

For most of this review, my focus was on the webcomic itself. But for a moment, I’d like to indulge by taking on the author’s philosophy, seeing as it takes center stage in her comic. Like many SJW comics, not every page of Vegan Artbook is a comic page. Some pages are “splash pages” or “pin-ups” that convey distilled smugness. The following summarizes the purpose of the author’s personal philosophy pretty well:

IMG_0587

Vegans and vegetarians alike bloviate about how it’s their mission to limit suffering, harm, or whatever they choose to call it. When you talk to one enough, you’ll find that that’s what their position pretty much comes down to. However, their entire endeavor is self-defeating, which becomes obvious when you make the following observation:

Suffering is an intrinsic part of life.

Think about it. You suffer day after day. You suffer because some jerk cut you off on the highway. You suffer because you slave away with MS Office in a cubicle for 8 hours a day working with people who have no idea what you do and therefore assume that you have no value. You suffer because congress votes your constitutional freedoms away while shooting down any solution that could make anything any better for the rest of us. You suffer because your teenage children think that they know better than you, even though you’ve been around at least twice as long as they have, and they’ve spent half their time alive soiling their undergarments. And none of this is unusual.

Then you look at livestock. They never have to worry about paying the bills or having their property repossessed. They never have to worry about starving, or being hunted by natural predators. They have it well until the day that they’re slaughtered and made into someone’s food, which is done with a manner that’s quicker and far more humane than a natural predator would. Livestock have it so well.

In spite of this, the suffering of livestock matters more to vegans than the suffering of their fellow human beings. This is what makes them so reprehensible. But there’s more to it. They say that they’re in it to limit suffering, but they always draw the line when things get too difficult for them.

There are two things that vegans could do if they really wished to limit suffering. I wouldn’t even bring these ideas up if it weren’t clear that I disagree with them (which I do). I bring them up because I want to make it known just what veganism and its underlying philosophy leads to when followed to their shared conclusion. Here they are:

  1. Stop procreating. Throughout a person’s life, even if they’re vegan, they consume plenty of resources, including the indirect deaths of numerous insects, small mammals, and other animals that are killed in an effort to bring these resources to you and your children. This includes the numerous rodents that are directly or indirectly killed as a result of grain harvesting.
  2. Taking your own life. If you do this, you’ll immediately stop consuming natural resources and stop causing indirect deaths that make vegan diets possible. Also, numerous insects and microbes get a free meal, so there’s that.

I could also bring up the possibility of going on a shooting rampage, but some vegans would probably actually consider it, and it’s not necessary to go that far to point out how morally moribund that the vegan philosophy is.

But I don’t just dislike Veganism for what it becomes when it’s followed to it’s conclusion. I hate it because it propagates through dishonesty. Veganism makes more vegans by preying on the under-informed, including those who are unaware of the necessity of iodine and B vitamins in neurological health, resulting in the brain damage of those who adhere to the vegan diet, and starting a vicious cycle which makes the vegan’s victim more likely to accept anything that they say.

Vegan Artbook lies to you all over the place to try to sell you veganism. That’s why this comic upsets me so much. Vegans themselves should stop and reconsider what they’re doing. If it’s necessary to lie to get people to accept what you’re trying to sell them, perhaps you shouldn’t believe it, either.

Take the comic’s opening salvo:

1ONLINE

It’s a popular belief that Calcium is all that’s needed for strong bones. Calcium’s absorption into the body is aided by vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium. All of the above vitamins and minerals are in milk. This makes milk pretty much ideal for bone health.

Now, look how that comic is numbered. Yep, this is Vegan Artbook number one. That’s the artist’s commitment to research and starting strong with statements supported by facts.

Oh, by the way, Priya actually compares meat-eaters to Hitler. You know, the most infamous vegetarian in human history?

And there’s more. Lot’s more. This review could have easily turned into a point-by-point rebuttal of every stupid and naive claim that’s made in Vegan Artbook. But then it would be super-long and not really be much of a review. Still, it bears mentioning, considering that Vegan Artbook is one of those webcomics that is made with the intention of teaching, in which case it matters all the more that she gets the facts right. It doesn’t help that her idea of teaching is to repeatedly call everyone who disagrees with her stupid until they stop.

And speaking of stopping, I’m going to stop this review and give the webcomic its score, which is a the-reason-I’m-ending-this-review out of ten.

VV57Notagain

Which would be a 0.8 out of ten. A person can only take so much of this. Besides, I’m going to head out and see whether spite makes hamburgers tastier.

UPDATE: It does. The fact that I get vitamins from it that vegans only get from BS sources if at all is icing on the cake. Carnivores have more fun.

Webcomic Review: Jack

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I’m aware that there is another webcomic by the same name that came before, and that it’s somewhat stylistically similar. But that’s not the strangest thing about Jack.

This webcomic is classified as “horror” on The Duck, but I really don’t know how to classify it because most horror comics demand that it be taken seriously. Otherwise, it’s a particularly sick comedy. But hey, it doesn’t do particularly well at either, so whatever frame of mind you get into as you read this, you’re not bound to enjoy Jack very much.

Jack stars the title character, who is a man in a hockey mask who was supposedly a fugitive of some sort. Jason Voorhees would find this lame. The comic starts out with Jack on a stake, being threatened by a man leading a lynch mob, with Jack and the lynch mob trying to talk the man out of killing Jack. There is a highly unrealistic conversation about the legal consequences of killing Jack coming from Jack himself, because apparently it’s completely realistic to expect that a raving lunatic with a lynch mob at his side would be dissuaded by the legal repercussions of what he’s doing. From then on, Jack is released and sets out to avenge his kidnapping with homicide. But, as it turns out, Jack was actually killed, and Jack was telepathically tasked with rescuing the corpse of the alligator that ate him from the guy who left him to drown by the alligator itself.

Confusing? This comic is only getting started.

In the next story arc, Jack goes to a bar. A prostitute offers him some fun for some money, and Jack refuses. The prostitute does not take this well, so her pimp has him kidnapped in retaliation.

Fast fact: generally speaking, prostitutes don’t get upset if you don’t feel like having sex with them. They’re in it for the money. If they have bills to pay, and you don’t want their services, they’ll just move along and find someone who does.

So, what does the couple do with Jack? They rape him. No really, that’s what they do. We’re already past the point of “what-am-I-even-reading”, so it’s amazing that this comic can further continue its plunge downhill. But it does, and the hero is rescued by some random furry who happened to be walking by.

You read that right. This comic has furries. The author wants you to take it seriously as a horror comic, and it has furries. And you’re supposed to take it seriously. And it has furries.

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Where was I? Oh yeah, after this, Jack goes to jail, where he’s allowed to keep his mask, because it seems like standard procedures are suspended in this comic that you’re supposed to take seriously. It’s there that Jack meets someone who knows the people he just killed, and he somehow cuts his ears off when they’re behind the straps of his mask, and Jack does nothing to stop it, even though no one is holding his arms down.

00209491Is it too much to ask that he struggles or does something more than look slightly peeved that he’s being disfigured with a knife?

That’s not an anomaly, either. That’s just how fighting is handled in Jack. Every blow is taken directly with usually no effort on the part of the assailed to practice basic self-preservation. An enemy can be completely upon his victim, with every perceivable advantage, but it’s still the victim’s turn to attack, and the assailant won’t so much as resist until their opponent has finished their attack. Because of this, the fighting in Jack is so stupid that it’s fun to read in a way the author probably didn’t intend.

Yes, I know that the point of all this suffering on the part of Jack is to show how he’s breaking down to the point that he’s the psychopath that he ends up becoming. I know, but I don’t care. This comic is so stupid and poorly-executed that what’s supposed to be tragic instead comes off as funny.

In Jack, there isn’t really one consistent art style. Jack comes off as an experimental comic in which numerous artistic styles are tried, but nothing is really stuck with. The result comes off as something that some high school student drew to show his friends how crazy he/she is so they don’t mess with him/her. Then they honestly don’t understand why they’re still being relentlessly made fun of.

There are parts that are mostly monochrome. The exception would be the blood, which is colored in red, as though we’re supposed to have our attention drawn to it. Aside from this indulgence, this is easily Jack at its best-looking, as it shows that the artist is competent at shading.

Other parts of the comic are full-color, but the colors are bright and garish, and appear to be colored with Crayola markers or an equivalent. Crayola markers are terrible for coloring, and are usually only used by children who don’t have a more sophisticated option available. It’s super-easy for strokes to overlap, which in the case of Crayola markers, results in darker colors where it happens. Someone who is masterful can take advantage of this to create depth, but this isn’t a skill that the author of Jack appears to have.

Then there’s the anatomy. Most humans are skeletal in appearance, which can probably be sold as being stylistic to go with the punk-metal horror style. However, you also notice how muscle tissue is misplaced in such a way as to interfere with a sense of depth, and you know that this comic is drawn by someone who is terrible with anatomy.

Being a furry doesn’t get you off Scott-free. The author only knows how to draw wolf snouts, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t still attempt to put other animals, such as rabbits, into her comics. Behold:

00102927Is it a rabbit? Is it a dog? No! It’s just ugly.

This comic starts out confusing, and then descends into unintentional sick humor. Or was it intentional? It’s hard to tell. Maybe the artist is some kind of super troll, and everyone who points out this comics numerous flaws is playing into her hands in some way that can only be done by making a hilariously bad webcomic. Sounds like an airtight explanation, until you figure that there’s no perceivable benefit to doing such a thing. It’s just easier to say that she’s a bad webcomic artist. Hanlon’s razor and such.

Anyhow, on to the score, which is a there-there out of ten:

there there out of ten

Which would be a 3.3. Because it’s not all bad, right?

I get the idea that this comic is intended to be enjoyed when in a certain frame of mind, which would be achieved by playing heavy metal from your speakers, drinking Kentucky bourbon, and banging your head while making a goat sign. But you could enjoy all that even more by not having this comic have anything to do with it.

YouTube Channel Review: AngryAussie

AA

What YouTube angrymen become in a decade.

Suppose you’re in the mood for some righteous indignation. Some frequent, scheduled YouTube content where some guy shouts at the camera about random topics. Then you stumble across an old channel called “AngryAussie”. You watch a few videos and say, “No thanks”, then you keep searching.

That’s pretty much the entire AngryAussie experience.

However, suppose you were to stick around and poke about his archives. That’s when things really start to get interesting.

For one thing, you find out that the channel is old. Really old. Some of his videos have been around for over a decade, so he got into YouTube shortly after it got started.

You also notice something else: there was a time in which the guy was skinnier. Much, much skinnier. He does take his efforts to hide it. His avatar is of himself from back when he was skinnier, and his newer content shows him from the chest up, whereas the content from when he was much skinnier showed him from the waist up. While he’s going to these pains to make a better image for himself, he’s apparently not taking the effort to lay off the donuts.

Why does it matter? When you spend time in front of the camera, your image is part of what you’re doing; your face is how you make your living. And, as it would seem, time has not been kind to AngryAussie.

This is true in more than one sense. While his older content from shortly after he got started had viewcounts numbering in the thousands and even tens of thousands, his newer content only has viewcounts numbering in the hundreds. Yet, he keeps going, with a certain persistence that one would only have if it didn’t matter to them that no one is interested in their content any longer.

And that brings us to the main problem with AngryAussie’s channel: the content.

AngryAussie’s videos can best be described as going on angry tangents about whatever is newsworthy or whatever random topics just happen to catch his ire. When I say “angry”, I don’t mean “angry” as in “tee-hee he’s an internet comedian with his fair share of clever zingers”. I mean “angry” as in “aggressively beats you over the head with whatever point he’s trying to make”.

Unless your opinion is completely in lock-step with whatever point he’s trying to make, you’re bound to come away feeling at least a little condescended. This already does plenty to limit AngryAussie’s appeal. But it gets worse: if you leave a comment telling him that you disagree with him at all, prepare to see your comment deleted, and your account possibly being banned from his channel.

AngryAussie seems pretty sincere in the belief that freedom of expression should belong to him, but not to the people who frequent his channel. One could argue that this made him very early to the SJW movement. However, when your content has very limited appeal to begin with, it’s a bad idea to block whatever few viewers that you have over petty disagreements.

Want evidence of this? Go back to his earlier videos. At one point in time, he replied to most people who commented, and it’s interesting to sort them by date to see him replying to comments that are no longer there. Of course, it would be much easier for him to respond to each commenter now, seeing as he has so few. The fact that he blocks those who argue back likely has something to do with how few viewers he has.

If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out to begin with. In fact, critical feedback is a good thing, as it provides insight on how to improve. It’s not unusual to run into criticism that has no purpose other than to tear you down, but the solution to that is to carry on unfazed, and grow some thicker skin, if need be.

Let’s take an example of his content to see just what we’re dealing with. The following video is titled “WAINGAFAT? Koran quoting bigots!”

Your first question may be “What is a WAINGAFAT? Some kind of Australian slang?” No, it’s an acronym which is short for “What Am I Not Giving A Fuck About Today”.

His choice of topic is one that I agree with, because I too get tired of seeing bigots use the Koran to advance their sordid agenda. Let’s examine what he has to say.

INTRO WARNING: Content starts at 0:17

“Who am I not giving a fuck about today? Random losers who go around online and prove that Islam is evil,”

Wow, there goes my expectations! As it turns out, the people who he thinks are losers are those who are critical of a religion. This happens to be something that AngryAussie himself does, by the way.

INTERNAL CONTRADICTION WARNING: He does it in this very same video.

“putting out random, out-of-context quotes from the Koran, saying ‘THAT PROVES IT!'”

It does prove it. If a fanatical ideology that kills people has a proclamation calling for the death of non-believers in it’s very charter, that is proof that it is a violent ideology. QED.

“…A quote from the Koran doesn’t prove a fucking thing.”

This would get quite a response if it were instead directed at Muslims. They’d wonder just who this man is that he thinks that he’s in a position to tell them what their religion is all about. They’d call him a religiouly-ignorant rattling cap. And they’d be right.

“Something is lost on you because you’re not capable of a logical sequence of thought.”

Apparently it’s not logical thinking to point out what a book says as the reason behind the behavior of those who take it seriously. Also, it’s apparently not logical to look for reasons why a particular ideology turns out a disproportionately high number of violent fanatics.

“You do not actually LISTEN to other people. Listening involves understanding what the other person says. Not just waiting for your next turn to spout some shit.”

From 0:55 to 1:07. That’s the point in the video in which he completely demolishes everything that he’s ever done on YouTube. Go ahead, watch it. If you’ve seen any of his other videos, or just this one for that matter, you’re going to laugh so hard.

In just 12 seconds, he destroyed his entire YouTube career.

“I can give you quotes from both the New and Old Testament that justify murder, rape, and slavery. Does that mean that all Christians and Jews are terrorists too?”

No, you can’t. Murder and rape are endorsed nowhere in the Bible. In the Old Testament, slavery was merely tolerated, and heavily regulated to the point that it wouldn’t have been considered attractive to practice. The New Testament discouraged slavery in favor of a brotherly relationship between believers, which was the entire point of the book of Philemon. The Christian world would eventually use New Testament reasoning to call for the abolition of slavery in the western world altogether.
Source: Every reputable theologian and Bible scholar ever.

On the other hand, Muslim countries still practice slavery, and some are actively involved in the African slave trade to this day.

“Um, Atheists, don’t bother answering that, because I know what your answer will be.”

AngryAussie himself is an Atheist, and therefore assumes their response. I don’t, but that’s because I believe that most Atheists are better people than AngryAussie.

“But where they do start to shit me a bit is when they say ‘you should read the Koran, then you’d know’ as if they’d read the Koran. And they will bald-faced lie and say that they’ve read the Koran.”

What really starts to “shit him a bit” is when someone not only presents evidence, but invites him to see the evidence for himself. It’s easier for him to just say that they’ve never read the Koran, and then never bother to look into it. This is called, “being lazy.”

As an aside, I’ve read the Koran. Extensively. In fact, I’ve spent thousands of hours researching Islamic ideology to see just why Muslims do what they do, and whether the desire of their fanatics is actually supported by the Koran. And it is. It didn’t even take a few hours to arrive at that determination; the reason why I’ve researched it so much is because Islamic theology is fascinating. Muhammad was the Chris-Chan of the 7th century.

That fact isn’t preventing AngryAussie from doing no research whatsoever and then acting like he has any idea what’s going on.

“This is the same kind of moron who pulls a quote out and says ‘this proves gay marriage is evil and wrong, homosexuality is bad’ because it’s described in the Bible as ‘an abomination’. Yeah, in Leviticus, the Jewish book of law. So, if your using that, saying ‘ooh, that’s God’s word, that’s absolutely it’, Leviticus also talks about keeping Kosher! Do you keep Kosher, right along with saying that man-on-man sex is an abomination?”

It’s amazing how, with every word, AngryAussie proves that he doesn’t understand a thing about Christian or Jewish ideology. For one thing, homosexuality wasn’t just denounced in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, it was also denounced in the New Testament book of Romans. There is New Testament justification for the Christian position on homosexuality. The key difference is that the NT doesn’t call for stoning people for being gay. The reason for that is because the command to stone them is understood to be limited to Israeli national law, which is why Christians and Jews don’t practice stoning.
Source: Every reputable theologian and Biblical scholar ever.

Incidentally, Islam not only actively teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but actively calls for the death penalty for those who practice it. If you think that they’re wrong, find the Koran passage that tells them that they’re wrong, go over to ISIS, and show them. They claim to take the Koran seriously, so let’s see how they take it. It would probably be an eye-opening experience for them.

“And, Orthodox Jews? You don’t have to answer that, because I know what your answer will be.”

I suspect that it would sound something like, “You just mocked what we stood for. Don’t act like we’re friends.”

In the end of the video, he does admit that some “dodgy” things are done in the name of Islam, so by that point, he’ll have insulted every religion that he mentioned in his video. He wraps up by saying that he isn’t interested in any resultant backlash that may result from touching on this topic, which is what you’d expect from an internet angry man who can’t take it as well as he dishes it out. Want proof? Scroll down and try finding the comments of the commenters he insults. Can’t do it? That’s because he deleted them.

Of course, that regrettable pile of crap was from 8 years ago. What’s AngryAussie up to today? If you answered making fun of Donald Trump and calling right-wingers Nazis, then that groan of “Of course. Another one of those.” probably came from you.

So yeah, AngryAussie is currently competing directly with the corporate mainstream information media, and pushing the SJW narrative at a time when the SJW movement is going through its backlash phase, during which it’s seriously not cool to be an SJW. And if the SJW movement is anything like the punk or hippie movements that preceded it (it is), the whole thing is only going downhill from here on out, and in just a short while, the dead-enders will be the only ones left.

I’m getting tired of this guy, so it’s about time to give his channel it’s score, which is censorship out of ten.

berlin book burning out of ten

Which is a zero. That’s what you get when you get on a platform that gives you a voice, call everyone else stupid for not having your worldview, then delete the comments from those who respond in kind. Enjoy having a platform that YouTube grants you totally free of charge, while denying that same platform for your fellow users.

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.

Webcomic Review: Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets

save yourself

Can we agree at this point that randomness alone doesn’t make something funny? I understand the mechanics of humor: it involves building up a person’s expectations and then presenting them with an unexpected outcome. Randomness involves unexpected outcomes. But when randomness is the only element used, it loses its effect.

The webcomic we’re looking at today is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets. My first problem with the comic would be its name. Hot Pockets suck. I’ve spent much of my adult life living like a Spartan, so for me, something like Hot Pockets was a “too-rich-for-my-blood” kind of thing. But one day, I tried them, and I was disappointed. They come with those weird cardboard boxes that are gray on the inside, likely to use to attempt to heat the things evenly. They fail. Usually, one bite can be as cold as ice, but the next is so hot it burns your mouth so that nothing tastes right for days. And if you made the sad mistake of getting the kind with pepperoni, have fun having the skin on the roof of your mouth stripped away by the hot oil.

hot pockets yuck.png

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets doesn’t star Yuyuko. It stars a couple self-inserts named Xephious and Dzelda. That’s right, this comic has two authors. When we get into just what this webcomic is made of, it’s going to be apparent that the authors were sabotaging each other every step of the way, and the result was Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets.

One of the authors has their age as 28 on their profile, so at least one of them was college-aged when they started on this webcomic. The profile of the other one includes the following tidbit:

dzelda's profile

That’s an endeavor that definitely failed. And considering that her webcomic is Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets, it’s safe to say that she’s done enough to contribute to it.

Yuyuko Likes Hot Pockets takes place in the fictional realm of Gensokyo, which is the intellectual property of ZUN of Team Shanghai Alice, the creator of the Touhou Project series of video games. Obviously, the authors aren’t going to go professional with this, but it is a common mistake among webcomic artists to believe that they can go professional using someone else’s copyrighted material. What’s more, characters from Touhou are also used, further anchoring this webcomic to an intellectual property that the authors don’t have rights to.

clone cap

The picture above should give you a good idea of what to expect from this comic’s artistic style. While the chibified anime style comes off as a cheap shortcut to begin with, this comic uses what appears to be the same template for every individual character. I feel I’ve seen the same style used for Touhou characters before, which makes me further suspect that the authors are using yet more properties that aren’t their own.

Like I’ve said already, this webcomic is random. There’s practically nothing in terms of storytelling. There’s something about clone capsules and Utsuho having her arm cannon stolen, but that’s about it. There’s even a random demotivator thrown in there for good measure. May as well; just about everything else about this comic is template driven, just like this meme was when it was relevant over a decade ago. I have my doubts that the art used for it was their own, though that part doesn’t seem to be from any cut-and-paste template I’ve ever seen.

Failed storytelling aside, the wordbubbles suffer from “tiny text syndrome”. I’ve found myself using the zoom function on my browser to try to figure out what the tiny text says, but Xephious has found another solution on this page: to provide a transcript in the comments section. That’s nice, but how about getting the word bubbles right while you’re still in the process of editing your comic? Not that I’m expecting much in the way of technical expertise from someone who asks in the comment section “how to compress an image without stretch/skewing it”.

It’s about time to give this comic its score, and I give it a Nitori’s frog out of ten:

nitori's froggy

Which would be a 1.6. And I think I’m being generous with this one.

Review: Pentel Twist-Erase Click

pentel-twist-erase-click

When it comes to office supplies, people tend to think “work”. That’s understandable, but just because you’re working with something on the job doesn’t mean that you can’t work with the good stuff.

I’m not writing this review because I’ve been sponsored by Pentel, because I wasn’t. I see it as my way of standing for quality in writing utensils. I know that I’m not the only one who went years writing with those cheap BIC pens that are a couple dollars for a dozen, then later discovered how much more joyful writing can be with a quality rollerball and not want to go back to the cheap BICs.

There is a high-quality mechanical pencil that is affordable, and that’s the Pentel Twist-Erase Click (PTEC, for brevity). I’ve liked mechanical pencils for a long time, and favored them over old-fashioned wood pencils due to the wood pencil’s many unpleasant features:

  • They get dull, necessitating sharpening after just quick bursts of writing,
  • You can get thin wood shavings all over your desk or other writing surface after sharpening,
  • Also, sharpening them is seriously inconvenient.

While those with wood pencils are taking trips to the pencil sharpener, those of us with mechanical pencils can keep writing like champs, keeping the momentum going with pencils that don’t get shorter. That’s even better for the PTEC, because the clicker is on the side of the pen, rather than on the top and housing the eraser, so there’s no need to perform hand gymnastics to keep pumping the graphite and writing efficiently. You can keep the flow of graphite going in the same position as you would be holding the pencil.

Oh yeah, speaking of the eraser, that’s the PTEC’s stand out feature. You know how most mechanical pencils have stubby little erasers that wear down quickly and are difficult to pull out and replace, provided that the pencils even come with replacement erasers? The PTEC comes with long erasers that can be mechanically drawn by the pencil itself. Meaning you can have a mechanical pencil with a convenient eraser that lasts longer than just a few assignments.

And better yet, the eraser isn’t one of those cheap erasers that have dyes that change the color of your paper when you try to erase something. Does anyone actually like those pink erasers? While the eraser that came with my PTEC was already pretty good, Pentel makes a quality high polymer eraser that erases very well that I would have preferred was in the PTEC. So I went and performed a modification to my own PTEC by trimming one of those erasers to shape using a box cutter, so I made some long cylinders that would fit in the PTEC and enjoyed the benefits of having a great mechanical pencil with a great eraser.

Not only is the PTEC a blast to write with, it’s made of some rugged stuff. I purchased it as I was beginning a 2-year college course, and it didn’t break until I was taking the final exam of one of my courses towards the end of the second year, so I finished the test with an inferior pencil. Noticeable difference. I still passed, though. There is more to getting a great grade than having an excellent mechanical pencil, though it doesn’t hurt. I liked my PTEC so much, that I fixed it with Gorilla Glue and kept using it.

There is one minor complaint I can think of, and that’s that the thin button protrudes noticeably towards the bottom. This can make the pencil appear as though it has a mechanical flaw, even though it’s just fine. However, even this turns out to be an advantage, as it allows for an easy tactile indication of the button’s presence when it’s time to draw out more graphite.

If you think that I made a good case that the Pentel Twist Erase Click is a great mechanical pencil, perhaps this will help you out: a link to an online store where you can buy it. Or you can choose another retailer, if you prefer. As of this posting, the listing contains the message “not sold in stores”. It’s upsetting that such a great product is not getting restocked, perhaps because it wasn’t being supported by purchases or because people are simply ignorant of just how good this mechanical pencil is. I know that there are some out there who just go with what’s supplied to them at the office, and resign themselves to either writing with cheapo stationery and whatever pens that their ultimate-cheap company managed to pilfer from a nearby bank. If their company isn’t going to get better office supplies for them, why shouldn’t they at least invest for themselves in making their time in the office at least slightly less miserable?

Score: 9/10

There might be better mechanical pencils on the market, but I think that the Pentel Twist Erase Click is among the best that are still affordable. It may not be perfect. As far as I know, there is no mechanical pencil out there that has a feature that summons a team of scantily-clad ninja women to make you a sandwich. But this mechanical pencil is great for getting the job done, and because it gets so many things right.

Webcomic Review: Classes

classes webcomic 1.png

I did not alter this.

Today, I did something painful. I’ve read through another bad webcomic. This one is called, “Classes”. It’s a name that’s strangely fitting, because it’s one thing I can recommend to its author.

Classes is easily the whitest webcomic I’ve ever seen. Don’t believe me? Read any page of the webcomic for yourself. Such as this one, which happened to be the most recent one as of this posting. Then do your eyes a favor and return to this page, quick.

I can assume that the reason why this webcomic is so white is because the author is trying to make it stylistic. Most pages don’t use panels; the comic reads from top to bottom with sequential drawings. It’s an interesting idea, but the result is a webcomic that hurts my eyes. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded narrowing the many super-wide margins, because as it is, Classes is like staring into an LED flashlight.

classes webcomic 2

He’s not alone.

If you’re a non-Japanese artist and you want to draw in the manga style, go right ahead. I don’t mind it. I’m not one of those super-snooty weeaboo freaks that think that only the Japanese can do the style right. But be aware that not everyone who attempts to draw in the manga style is good at it. In fact, there are people out there that draw in the manga style for the wrong reasons.

When some people see the manga style, what they see is something stylistic and visually appealing that they’d enjoy drawing and that their audience might enjoy seeing. They would be the people drawing manga for the right reasons. When other people see the manga style, they see a formulaic and easily-replicable art form that they could use as the visual vessel for their poorly-written stories with minimal effort, which they can sell by saying that they’re being stylistic. They would be the ones that decide on the manga style for the wrong reasons.

Yes, I know that there are high-quality manga out there. Some of the best ones have a simplistic and messy style, such as those drawn by Ueda Hajime, while others pay heavy attention to anatomy and composition. Those manga aren’t a problem. What’s problematic is when the manga style is used as an excuse to put less effort forward.

A novice artist might discover the manga style, then start drawing his characters with rounder faces that look flatter when viewed head-on, and drawing pointed chins that often disappear when a character’s profile is viewed. Part of the style. But then you notice that they’re drawing each of their characters in the chibi (simplified and child-like) style, and you suspect that they’re cutting corners, as Japanese artists typically only use the chibi style in certain circumstances. Even that can probably be sold as being stylistic (not that Teen Titans Go is off the hook).

But look closer, and you’ll see the mistakes. Okay, you probably don’t have to look close. The art has a rushed look to it, like manga is going out of style, and someone is in a hurry to make a quick buck off of it, even if they don’t know how.

One of the biggest mistakes that novice manga artists make is drawing the eyes as blank and shallow. Unless the character you’re drawing is in some catatonic state, the eyes should always look deep and expressive, even when it’s clear that everything else about your character is heavily chibified. Consider this example:

Umaru eyes

To make your manga characters really pop, you get the eyes right, even if you get nothing else right. There’s a reason for this: when people look at other people, their gaze is naturally drawn to the eyes. When looking at a person’s eyes, it’s easy to determine their mood and sometimes even their intentions. Because of this tendency, manga style is easy viewing because the eyes are larger and easier for viewers to find.

How does Classes do eyes? See for yourself:

classes webcomic 3.png

If you’re curious, that’s how the eyes for characters in Classes look by default.

I’ll give the author of Classes this much: she does choose her colors very well, and the shading is okay. Still, it’s pretty obvious when an artist chooses a semi-chibi manga style to hide the fact that the artist has a difficult time drawing things such as clothing. Yes, I know it’s challenging to keep track of things such as pressure points and how they would affect how a fabric wrinkles. But if a person doesn’t bother with that, the clothing can look like it’s skin-tight, or even floating in place.

As for the story, Classes is about a group of children who join a military academy that uses elemental magic. It’s about as cliche as it sounds, but because it’s in the anime style, there’s bound to be an extremely dangerous and competitive shounen-style field examination led by a severely disinterested proctor. Is that in there? Yep.

And while we’re discussing worn-out conventions, this thing where the characters are color-coded by the elemental magic types that they use is beyond stale. Sometimes, I suspect that writers do this to keep things straight for themselves. Is it too much to ask that writers express the creativity necessary for their characters to deviate at least slightly from the standard archetypes? Even the personalities of the characters seem to follow the color-coded conventions. For example, one character uses the ice element and has blue hair. No prize for guessing that she’s aloof and distant, that would be too easy. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s not much of a leap to imagine that she’s an overpowered child. It’s almost as though Classes was optimized for TV Tropes.

The main character is Kiwi, a young girl who is unrelatably irresponsible. If you thought Giga from Boss Rush Society was bad, Kiwi will make you wonder how even a fictional universe can host a creature so prone to bad decision-making.

I know that giving your characters flaws can make them more relatable, but going too far with the flaws can have the opposite effect. To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Kiwi missed her own graduation just to goof off, and ended up missing out on gaining magical powers. She was allowed to graduate anyway, and was allowed to take the field exam without them, which goes to show that some people wanted her to die. She was also responsible in part for a huge disaster during the exam, wherein she was provided with just the substance needed to do so by chance.

Also, to give you a heads up, the narrative is sometimes broken without warning by non-canon sequences featuring the dog doing things like gender-swapping experiments. It’s tricky enough guessing the genders of some of the characters already, so these sequences didn’t help. They add nothing to the comic except to pad it out, which can really hurt if you just want to get it over with so you can get to writing a review about it.

I think it’s about time I got around to giving this webcomic its score. I’m a little surprised that I went out on it as much as I did, but Classes made some mistakes that brought to mind some problems that I’ve been noticing in creative communities, so I took an opportunity to vent a little bit. I know what some of you may be thinking: “But Raizen, webcomics like this are free. You get what you pay for, right?”

You know what else is free? Malware. And malware does take something away from people: their time. Time is something that a person only has so much of, and once they spend it, they don’t get it back. If someone doesn’t enjoy something, they feel like their time is wasted. A moment enjoyed is not wasted. Based on this criteria, I can give webcomics like Classes a score that reflects how I feel about the time I’ve spent with them. And on that note, here’s the score for the webcomic: Angry out of ten.

angry manga out of ten

Which, if you prefer numbers, would be a 3.2.

 

Webcomic Review: Boss Rush Society

giga kay

It seems like there’s someone out there that has me beat when it comes to confidence. There is someone out there who likes what he likes, and is not at all ashamed of saying so. That person is TokenDuelist, the author of the webcomic Boss Rush Society. TokenDuelist posts to his DeviantArt account with furry lesbian art, MLP characters (at least one work of which being lesbian art), Pokemon fan art of a ten-year-old with huge breasts, and a bare-breasted woman pawing at a blurred-out banana. That he is a male should be evident considering the nature of the DeviantArt material described. He also posted a picture of himself using the same DeviantArt account. That’s some confidence, there.

As mentioned already, he is the author of a webcomic, and that’s what’s primarily getting the attention in this review.

Boss Rush Society stars Lucas (a.k.a. Giga), a young man who enters a battle tournament, but shows up late, and the tournament starts without him. When he does show up, there’s only one contestant remaining, and he’s permitted entry, leaving him only having one weakened and tired opponent to trounce before being crowned the winner of the tournament. Which, predictably enough, he does. Isn’t that every layabout’s fantasy? Getting the prize just for showing up and saying his ABCs.

The art style can be likened to a combination of manga and the work of Phil and Kaja Foglio (but not in a good way). There is an obvious problem with proportions, and that is particularly evident in the first panel of this page, where the claw game is taller than the woman standing in front of it, but the woman is much taller than the arcade machines right next to them. There are other, similar problems, but I think you’d see them if you were to read the comic for yourself.

Also, almost all the female characters have huge breasts, except for one, which was probably a character that we weren’t supposed to like. Again, it’s obvious that the author of this comic is male. He has this thing for huge, swollen, gravity-defying breasts. What the obsession is with oversized breasts, I don’t understand. When they get too big, they sag and can actually be pretty gross.

Usually, small expressions of sexual immaturity can be ignored as a quirk in some webcomics, but that’s really hard to do when it’s used as a punch line in the very first issue. An example of this can be seen on this page, where one of the characters, apparently the main character’s girlfriend, shrugs off that she could have seen the main character almost nude. After he throws her out of the room, she starts pounding on the door. Not only does Giga get an easy tournament victory that he didn’t deserve, he also has a nymphomaniac girlfriend. What a guy.

There are a couple reasons why tournament battles are a recurring concept in so many shounen manga: the arranged battling environment allows for matches that otherwise might not easily occur in the flow of the narrative, and it’s very easy to write for. However, the concept is hindered in Boss Rush Society by several problems:

  • Too much meta humor. The main character actually stalls during his only tournament match to explain his weakness to spikes using video game logic. Yeah, you probably already figured this out, but Boss Rush Society has a video game theme. Not only did Giga show up late to the tournament and only have to face one tired opponent, he called for a time-out as a stall tactic to charge his energy. Perhaps for his next match, he can take on crippled girl scouts.
  • Too much exposition. One of the elementary rules of a visual medium is “show, don’t tell”. The first few pages established nicely that the backbone of the plot would involve tournament battles, so one would assume that any other dialogue would serve to set the stage for the next tournament battle. An excuse can be made for this for character development, but that leads to another problem:
  • The characters are seriously annoying. Every single character in Boss Rush Society is needlessly grating. Because of this, I wanted to see every character lose every match, regardless of which side they’re on. TokenDuelist needs to get the memo: you only portray a character as annoying when you want them to be perceived as annoying, such as when you don’t want your audience to like them. There isn’t a single character in Boss Rush Society that comes off as likable, the main character least of all. The single action of taking advantage of a weakened opponent for an easy tournament victory is more morally reprehensible than anything that the “bad guys” are ever shown to do.

Boss Rush Society is an excellent example of what can go wrong when someone who is not Japanese and plays lots of video games and watches lots of anime attempts to draw a manga of their own. Japanese manga and anime artists are better at it for a reason: they typically go to an art school where they do lots of practice drawing manga and anime before going on to become professionals. At that point, they can work shifts as long as 16 hours animating, get paid about as much as fast food employees, and some of them don’t even have homes because they’re allowed to sleep at their desks. It’s usually by about this point that many of them realize that they’ve made a mistake. Weeaboo artists typically aren’t aware of what being a manga/anime artist is like, otherwise, they’d probably stop trying so hard to be one.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take much more, I’ve read the entire series. As of now, there’s less than two dozen pages. One might think that this is because TokenDuelist is just getting started, but his archives indicate that this isn’t the case. He only releases his webcomic one page at a time, with updates as far as several months apart. TokenDuelist had nearly two years since the inception of his webcomic to carefully craft it’s 23 pages into a masterpiece, but it seems like he waived this so he can draw lots of furries on DeviantArt, and what we got instead was Boss Rush Society.

Worse yet, the spaced-out timing of releases for pages of Boss Rush Society suggests that, for each page, he carefully considered it’s content, and deliberately decided that they were worthwhile additions to his series. There is a reason why most suicides are quick: otherwise, a person might realize that what they are doing is a bad idea, and not go through with it. TokenDuelist gives himself as many as two months at a time to review the content of each page before making the conscious decision to add it to his webcomic.

Like I said before, TokenDuelist is confident. So confident that he actually links to his webcomic on message boards. Obviously, he thinks his webcomic is great, otherwise, he wouldn’t have such confidence.

I think it’s about time to give Boss Rush Society it’s score, which is a Robbie Rotten out of ten:

robbie rotten out of ten

Which is somewhere around a 2.3.