Category Archives: anime
It would probably be fair to say that I was too old to get into the whole Pokemon phenomenon. Oh, I watched the episodes when they first aired on the Kid’s WB. I did have a younger brother and sister after all, who, I suspect, actually watched the show semi-ironically.
The magic of the show, too, was that it was one of those rare instances that a young adult or adult can watch a kid’s show without feeling too weird about it. Frankly, I blame Beanie Babies and Tamagotchis… which, for you youngsters, were like NeoPets but way, way more annoying.
However, if you asked me to identify a Pokemon beyond, say, the core 20, I’d probably be at a loss. I would totally fail those infamous “Who’s that Pokemon?” stingers, thus bringing shame to my ancestors. I never played the game on the Game Boy, nor was I part of the card craze, nor am I familiar with the show after Ash, Misty, and Brock disappeared. I don’t remember the name of that lame-o Brock replacement guy. Hell, I was totally befuddled by the whole “Gary F***ing Oak” meme and had to google it just to get caught up. Let me tell you, when you have to resort to “Know Your Meme,” then you know you’ve truly lost the pulse of what makes young people tick these days.
So you’d think that I’d be the totally wrong audience for Mokepon, a webcomic on Smack Jeeves written by someone who apparently goes by “H0lyhandgrenade.”
Au contraire, mon ami! Mokepon turned out to be a surprisingly fun read, full stuff that can entertain even a reader with only a passing familiarity of Pokemon. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Let me take a moment, dear reader, to sing the praises of grape seeds. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, grape seeds contain lipid, protein, carbohydrates, and Alton Brown’s favorite word: “polyphenols.” Grape seed extract contains a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from premature aging, disease, and decay. Extensive research shows that this is due to “its antioxidant effect to bond with collagen, promoting youthful skin, cell health, elasticity, and flexibility.”
Still, many people prefer seedless grapes over the regular kind. Let’s face it: grape seeds are inconvenient. No one likes to spit out grape seeds, after all, because it’s messy and an accidentally chewed grape seed is bitter, somewhat ruining the sweet, delicious flavor.
It turns out grapes don’t need seeds to reproduce. As long as you are not concerned about breeding, you can create new grape vines through cuttings. Commercial cultivators get seedless grapes from three sources, Thompson Seedless, Russian Seedless, and Black Monukka — which, let’s be frank, sounds like a supervillain name.
It’s comforting to know that I am not the only person who thinks about these things. The same thoughts seem to have crossed the sugar-fevered mind of Corey Lewis (or, as he likes to sign his comics, “Coreyyy Lewis”), who seems to have a hidden agenda against the polyphenol-rich goodness of grape seeds. For you see, in his anime-inspired webcomic Seedless, it is the ones with the grape seeds who are cast as supervillians and the seedless grapes who are the heroes.
Before I start reviewing Angela Melick’s Wasted Talent, let’s talk a little about journal webcomics.
The Webcomic Overlook doesn’t typically review journal webcomics. (Out of 150+ reviews, this is only my fourth journal comic review.) To be honest, I don’t think most sites do. Journal webcomics are a tricky thing: part comic, part blog, part diary. I’ll admit this site is often cruel, but more often than not I try not to directly attack the creator behind the comic. The line between creator and creation, though, becomes exceedingly tricky when the the characters in the comic represent an actual person.
There’s the issue of the nature of the comic. Who in the world would want to read something that’s the equivalent of someone’s diary? I suppose a snarkier reviewer would say “voyeurs,” but I should mention that autobiographies have been around since the beginning of time. Those, though, tend to be written after the events depicted have passed, and there’s a certain distance between the author and the narrative. As a counterpoint, I suppose you can say that blogging is no different… yet most of these blogs get very few readers, and the one that do succeed at least have a unique quality about them — like, say, putting funny outfits on a pug.
Among my fellow Philipinos, it’s hard to find people who aren’t anime fans. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s dangerous to make generalizations about a race or nationality as a whole. However, my family, my wife, my wife’s family, friends and acquaintances, people I know living in the country itself … everyone I know born in the Philippines after 1965 is to some degree an otaku, with some taking their devotion to embarrassing levels. (If you’re reading this site, Jansen… Naruto sucks! Grow up already!) I include myself among the anime-devotees, by the way. Several readers take issue with my 5-star review of MegaTokyo. I, however, flat out stated that it was the kind of story anime fans zestfully eat up like it was baby back pork ribs slathered in honey mustard sauce or something. I shall defend that review to my death. It spoke to me. It SPOKE TO ME!
As the laws of nature go, anime fans breed anime-style comics. The most notorious Philipino webcomic creator is Vinson Ngo, a.k.a. “Bleedman.” I’ve covered extensively on this and other sites. However, it should not be forgotten that there are other webcomic artists hailing from the Philippines. One is Honoel A. Ibardolaza, creator of the webcomic By Moon Alone.
Typically, in the great tug-of-war over which is most important to a comic — great art or great writing — I tend to think that writing wins out most of the time. A good narrative will get me through a webcomic any day, while nice art satisfies only but for a moment. But, you know, there’s a chance I’m looking at this debate all wrong. What if a lot of webcomic artists are just poor storytellers?
It’s been said that a picture is of equivalent value to about 1,000 words. Unfortunately, most artists only go up to about 200. I’m a big fan of Jim Lee, especially since, back in the 90’s, his art on X-Men was one of the things that got me hooked into comics. But, you know, these days when I look at one of his comics the only words that pop into my mind are “boy, that girl sure has a nice rack.” That’s only eight words Jim.
On the other hand, there’s Frank Quitely. Take a look at Grant Morrison work independent of him (i.e., Seven Soldiers, Batman RIP, Batman & Robin #4-6). Sure, the stories are high concept, but in the end, they come off as rather pedestrian. But pair Morrison up with Quitely and the combination is transcendent (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, New X-Men). Morrison’s plotting was only, at most, half of the story. The other half was the fantastic storytelling prowess of Frank Quitely. His illustrations alone spoke volumes about emotion, wonder, and action. Batman & Robin #2 opened with Dick Grayson slumped over while sitting on the stairs in his Batsuit, ill-fitted and hardly as intimidating as when Bruce wore it, while Alfred looked on sadly. That single panel was easily the 1,000 word variety… maybe more.
This is probably why I’ve really enjoyed The Meek, written and illustrated by Der-Shing Helmer. The art isn’t just pretty. It’s half the storytelling.
By the way, this webcomic does feature a cornucopia of nudity, so be warned: assume all links are NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
Getting tired of all these reviews of chibi-vampires? Too bad. El Santo cares not about your weariness over comics where the girls have eyes as big as saucers and dress like they only shop at Hot Topic … or designed to appear at at shirt in Hot Topic. Chibi-vampires are gold. Chibi-vampires are boffo. When it comes to vampire women, there is only one dominant strain … the otaku strain … and its examples are legion. There’s Annyseed, for example, a webcomic written by U.K. artist Stuart J. Brown.
In fact, Annyseed is so otaku that it even comes with its own kanji subtitle. How hardcore is that? I will admit, though, that this is a slightly incongruous detail since the story takes place in The Isle of Skye … which looks, more or less, like the British Isles. Celtic runes would’ve been more appropriate.
Although she looks like she’s a pre-teen, Annyseed, our title character, is much older. She became a vampire at an early age, which permanently stunted her physical maturity at the age of 15. We join her in the modern day. Trust me: despite presence of decrepit buildings and characters wearing clothes straight out of Oliver Twist, her diary entry, as well as the bare midriffs on teenager girls, places this comic in 2009. This makes Annyseed 70 years old and eligible for social security if she were a human.
Names carry with them the heavy weight of expectations. Say your name is Charlotte Webb, like the heroine of School Bites. Surely you should be spending your days hanging around in the rafters of some barnyard and spinning words like “radiant” or “some pig.” Not so with Charlotte. Perhaps that was her destiny, but it all changed that fateful day she she found out she was a vampire.
This may be why she changes her name to Cherri Creeper. Sure, it still sounds like she should be a rollergirl with the Yakima Valley Vixens instead, but it can passably be a vampire’s name, too. Plus she’s got a cherry embroidered in her t-shirt. That counts for something.
Speaking of names, School Bites is written by Holly Golightly, who by all rights should be a Bond Girl rather than a comic book creator. I was delighted to find out that Ms. Golightly already had a few comics in print, most with gothic overtones: Nightmare Theatre, Archie Comics’ Sabrina, and Vampfire. When not drawing comic books, she’s apparently living the life and dressing up in skull tees like a real life Abby Scuito (and I think I just might get my ass kicked with that last comment). According to her site, Ms. Golightly also likes to be referred to as “Holly G”, which I won’t be using in this review unless it’s preceded with “The Divine.”
We open Eerie Cuties with a segment called “EC Intro.” I had hoped would be an homage to EC Comics but instead turns out to just mean “Eerie Cutie Intro.” Quelle dommage. A kid, who sorta looks like a young Duke from GI Joe, gets chased around by two cute vampire teenagers in jailbait miniskirts who look like they should be at a convention for magical girl manga cosplayers.
The taller, raven-haired girl is named Layla. She also wears an exasperated look 24-7, to the point that I think a permanent giant sweat drop should be attached to her head next to her living skull barrette. Before you can say you’ve got a natural, natural, natural desire to meet an actual, actual, actual vampire, Layla digs her fangs into young Duke for a morning snack.
Of course, the bite is not fatal. (It’s tough to sympathize with vampires when they’re being emotionally manipulative mass murderers.) Bites only induce a temporary coma and a bout of memory loss. However, Nina, her purple-haired sister and the star of Eerie Cuties, still plays the part of the noble vampire: she never sups on human blood, only cherry filled chocolates. So while Nina is at low risk of contracting trichinellosis, she does run a high risk of Type 2 Diabetes.