Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Feb 8th 2003
Gaming fans Piro and Largo visit Japan, only to end up being stranded there. While they work (correction, while Piro works) to get back home, they encounter other characters that end up being a large part of their lives. In the meantime, they come to realize that their individual conceptions of Japan are drastically different. Will they be able to obtain what it takes to survive in Japan and fly back home?
Megatokyo started out in the latter half of 2000 as a webcomic that immediately gained a large fan base. Two and a half years later, it's still online for readers to enjoy free of cost, and it's still being updated rigorously for the entertainment of readers. The only changes? Since its debut, Megatokyo has grown into one of the most popular webcomics on the internet, and its pages are now available to readers in print. Published by I.C. Entertainment, the first volume of Megatokyo includes “chapter 0,” as well as a few “Dead Piro Art Days” that have been collected in the back. One of the nicest things about this compilation is the first half of the book. When printed to a standard rectangular page, the earlier, square, four panel stips leave a significant empty space at the bottom of each page. In order to fill this space, Piro wrote new commentary for each page. The commentary provide readers with some insight into the comic, as well as the answer to a few questions that have been brought up by the fan community.
The art in Megatokyo is one of the characteristics that have given Megatokyo so much high regard. Fred Gallagher is an extremely talented artist who brings as much life and originality to his comic strips as he does to his equally remarkable stand-alone art. As Megatokyo progresses, it is nice to see how his art matures, as well as his style, which is manga-influenced but still highly distinctive. The characters' facial features are drawn expressively, and altogether, his art is something that can only be admired. The first volume also contains all of the Shirt Guy Dom strips that readers have come to admire/tolerate/hate. While the efforts of Gallagher are commendable, those of the other contributors also make Megatokyo an amusing tale to read. This collaboration allows the characters to “come alive” through the personal asides taken by the authors.
Perhaps what gives Megatokyo such an appeal to anime and manga fans alike is the personal tone in which it is carried out. Readers often find bits of themselves or their friends in a few of the characters, who manage to retain a distinctive fan-made air due to the various anime and gaming references in the story as well as the humor. Readers are also able to feel closer to the artists through the comic's website, where the authors post “rants” on what is happening in their lives, or on thoughts that pop into their head. Such openness can only bring the readers closer to the artists, once again keeping that mood of a webcomic made by gaming and anime fans for other gaming and anime fans. Despite the professionalism of the printed comic, or the quality of the contents, the allure of Megatokyo will always be the friendly and casual feeling of a fan-made production.
One of the greatest points of Megatokyo is the characters. Relying heavily on the characters to carry the story, Megatokyo is able to accomplish a feat not often found in the webcomic scene. Each person in the comic has his or her own very independent personality, and a clearly defined one at that. It's also interesting to see how vastly Piro and Largo vary from one another, and how differently they view the same world in which they live.
Another important element of the comic is its humor. Geared largely towards gaming and anime fans, there are jokes that some will find funny, and ones that will annoy people. While the humor isn't sophisticated, it's still amusing to read and look forward to. It makes each comic able to stand on its own, but still has the story and characters to push it forward. There are also times in the comic when the story will get moody, which to some people, adds to the drive of the story. While some viewers will enjoy the humor as well as the serious tones, others will find it either obnoxious or uncharacteristic, respectively.
Like most manga and anime, Megatokyo will not charm everyone, but it gives credit for being one of the most popular webcomics on the internet, and justly so. In the ranks with other fan favorites like Penny Arcade and Real Life, Megatokyo is a well crafted story that deserves the recognition it has. This printed volume is able to offer fans the chance to read the story as much as they want without having to wait for pages to load. With the addition of the other features, like the commentary by Piro, and some of the extra art, it's well worth it for Megatokyo fans.
Story : B
Art : A
+ The popular Megatokyo in print!