Comic Review: Megatokyo Omnibus Volumes 1-3
When the Megatokyo Omnibus dropped in my inbox from Dark Horse’s weekly preview list, I did a complete double-take. Webcomics took off thanks to PvP and Penny Arcade in the late nineties and early aughts. I caught wind of Megatokyo thanks to either a link from PvP or Penny Arcade and instantly became a fan. I loved the manga-style art, the video game jokes, and the madcap adventures of Piro and Largo during their unplanned trip to Japan.
I stopped reading the comic after a few years when it became less like a comic and more like an attempt at shojo manga. Don’t get me wrong, I love shojo manga, but shojo is best told in an issue-like format, not one page twice a week that updates as inconsistently as the weather in Texas. Consequently, I had no idea that the comic was still around until I saw this omnibus, and lo and behold, its story is still going. Good for Fred Gallagher.
Megatokyo started as a collaboration between Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston, but Caston left after the two no longer saw eye-to-eye on the comic. Caston wanted to keep the comic random with obvious jokes in each page, but Gallagher wanted to make it more story-driven, more like a shojo manga. Gallagher won out, and the comic took a rather sharp turn toward a story-focus, where sometimes the pages had jokes, and sometimes they did not; the point was that each page told a piece of the story.
This would have worked out great if Gallagher was able to update maybe 3 times a week, and if every update was part of the story. Instead, he kept a Mon-Wed schedule, but you never knew if he was actually going to update or not. Sometimes it would be Dead Piro Art days, which were pieces right out Fred’s sketchbook, sometimes it would be a filler comic, and sometimes it wouldn’t update at all. Since the story behind Megatokyo was convoluted, deep, and had numerous sub-plots going on, it was nigh impossible to keep track of what was going on.
This omnibus bunches all of the story comics in one section, the filler comics in another, and the Dead Piro Art drawings in another, so for the very first time, readers can read all three volumes of Megatokyo with a continuous mode of story telling. By George, I actually understood what was going on with this format!
The comic’s biggest problem, as I’ve already mentioned, is that several plots are going on at once, and Gallagher often tried to cram in 3 or 4 in one page of the comic. Now that I’ve been able to keep the flow going with the story, these pages aren’t as difficult to read, but back when a page like the one below would post after three weeks of filler art and Dead Piro Days, being completely confused was an understatement.
That’s quite the loaded question. The simplest answer is that Megatokyo is about two American otaku who find themselves unexpectedly in Japan. Largo speaks zero Japanese (which doesn’t matter to him in the least), and has great difficulty in deciphering the difference between real life and MMORPGs. In these volumes, he’s convinced that he’s unleashed the undead in Japan, which may or may not be true, as the stories he tells everyone of his adventures always ends up having some sort of truth to them, not unlike Ewan MacGregor’s movie Big Fish. Piro, on the other hand, speaks fluent Japanese, is the complete embodiment of an emo, and works at a gaming store with a former voice actress in hiding whose roommate is an aspiring voice actress. There’s also Ping, an “emotional doll system” (a/k/a girl robot) PS2 accessory meant to be used with dating simulation games. I know dating simulation games are huge in Japan, but the idea of coupling these games with a girl robot will always creep me out. I pretty much checked out of the comic when Ping became a bigger character. I did the same thing with the AppleGeeks comic when they introduced Eve.
Since I wasn’t a fan of Ping or the whiny emo schtick, I liked the early comics and the random filler comics, like the one below, the most.