01/12/2009. Contributed by Jill Roberts
pub: Titan Books. 240 page graphic novel. Price: £ 5.99 (UK). ISBN: 1-84576-476-5.
check out websites: www.titanbooks.com and www.megatokyo.com
'Megatokyo' is an on-line web comic that that started in 2001 and is the story of Piro and Largo. Two American boy gamers who flew to Japan on a whim and stuck there as they don't have any money for the airfare home. Volume 4 reprints of Chapters 5 and 6.
Piro is currently working in a shop called Megagamers selling anime and games-related merchandise to get enough money to pay their airfare back to America. Largo is teaching English at a school Piro and Largo live in a flat above the shop. Their boss at the shop is Mr Yanjawaya who is letting them stay in the top floor apartment.
The two boys have made friends with several people over the course of the story so far. Kamiko - a young voice-over actress, who is currently recording her lines for Kotone, one of the main characters in a new game called 'Sight'. Erika, a fellow employee at the Mega Gamers shop along with Piro. Ping, a female-form robot (play-station accessory) who is friends with and lives with Piro and Largo in their flat. Hayasaka, who visits Piro and Largo at their flat, because she likes Largo who, being such an insular games nerd, doesn't realise this.
Erika was the voice-over for Moeko, the main character in 'Girl Phase', an extremely popular anime from three years ago. With Chapter 5, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, fans learn that Erika is working at MegaGamers and totally over-run the local area and the shop itself, trying to catch a glimpse of Erika or get her autograph. It gets out of hand and police turn up to dispel the crowds. The following day, the fans turn up at the shop in a more orderly fashion.
With Chapter 6, Largo talking to Erika about the Internet, computers and about how to build her own computer from scratch. Largo dismisses off-the-shelf pre-assembled computers as an abomination, likely to contain inferior parts.
As with the web-based strips, these panels are in black and white. The book has a wrap-around cover illustration in colour, so that we have some idea of what the characters look like in the flesh so to speak.
Throughout the book, there are lapses into Gamer Fantasy Land and there are also two trainee angels - tiny, six-inch tall creatures with wings - and a seraphim, that appear from time to time on Piro's shoulder and talk to him, acting a conscience.
Largo is a serious Linux O.S. geek who communicates in gamer language, he doesn't know any Japanese and can be quite a nuisance. Piro speaks Japanese and plain English and is not as much of a gamer nerd as Largo,
This book is produced in the style of Japanese anime, pocketbook-sized, easy to carry around, but is formatted in Western-style, reading from left to right.
My initial impression was that the panels seemed to be very crowded and cramped, but in comparison to the panels posted on the website, this is not really the case. Just seems that way because of the very narrow, sometimes non-existent page borders. The standard page layout is a nine panel grid, with the occasional 8 or 6 panel grids. Often the panel are open rather than boxed in.
There is an introduction at the beginning of the book and several short stories at the back as extras which may or may not be of interest to the aficionados of the comic. This book reprints panels 526-742 (each posting is called a comic).. New panels are posted on the website every few days, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In this story line, a conversation is not just a simple one-to-one. Sometimes, there is another conversation going on in the background, that goes on at the same time; sometimes another person butts in on the main conversation. The sort of stuff that often happens when talking in a group.
I found it to be an enjoyable and unusual read. I used to take part in the old-fashioned board and dice RPGs (role-playing games) but these seem to be more the modern computer/games-console based RPGs.
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