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Hey Kids! Manga!

Ask any fan of web comics, “What is Megatokyo?” and you’ll probably be stared at as if you just asked what a light bulb was.

For those of you who are scratching your heads, “Megatokyo” is the brainchild of Fred “Piro” Gallagher and Rodney “Largo” Caston. It started out in 2000, as a whimsical idea of Caston’s. He had come up with the idea of starting a web comic, and wanted to enlist Gallagher’s artistic talents to get it going. Gallagher wasn’t interested initially, but complied only to get Caston to leave him alone. Four years later, that whimsical idea has turned into one of the most popular web comics on the internet, with thousands upon thousands of fans all over the world, and has turned into a full time job for Gallagher.

“Megatokyo” has reached such a high in popularity that Dark Horse Books has picked up the publishing rights, and has published Chapters 0 through 2 of the comic, in two volumes packed with extras. And the actual concept of “Megatokyo” lends itself well to publishing in a manga format, much thanks to Gallagher’s need for a consistent and storyline.

“Megatokyo” tells the story of Gallagher and Caston’s alter egos, Piro and Largo. They are gamers of the extreme sort, living their life to indulge their fandom. Piro is more fond of the Japanese dating simulation games, while Large enjoys anything that involves a weapon and possible bloodshed. After an unsuccessful attempt to sneak into the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), chaos ensues, and the pair find themselves stuck in Tokyo, Japan, with no money and no way of getting home again.

Book One tells Chapter Zero of the story, with the details of how then end up in Japan in the first place, their attempts at finding a space to live and their utter failure in saving money to get home. A lot of Piro’s storylines deal with his inability to interact with women. Most of Largo’s storylines deal with his inability to interact with reality. Piro’s assisted in his moral dilemmas by his winged guardian angel, the ever-cute Seraphim (based on his then girlfriend, and now wife, Sarah), while Largo has Boo the Hamster, the angel sent by the temp agency. The cast is rounded out by Kimiko, one of the girls Piro is trying to deal with, and her roommate Erika, the buxom booth babe, and overall attitude queen. There is also Ping-chan, the robot PlayStation accessory made by Sony for use with dating sim games, who ends up as an awkward roommate of Piro and Largo.

Book Two covers Chapters One and Two of the comic. Piro gets a job at the local gaming/anime store, while Largo ends up teaching English at the local high school. More drama ensues between Piro and the girls, while Large fights a battle against zombie hoards attempting to take over the world, starting with Tokyo (they always start with Tokyo). Kimiko self esteem is withering, but she manages to still audition for voice acting jobs hoping for work, while Erika provides humourous attitude, mixed in with logic and wisdom. We’re introduced to a ‘devil’, Asmodeus, Seraphim’s opposite, and Ping-chan starts to become friends with Tohya, a strange, mysterious girl who seems to know both Piro and Largo, but they don’t know how.

I’m leaving out a great deal of storyline, and even some characters, but there are some things you should find out yourself. And it’s worth it in these books.

Book One was actually first published by I.C. Entertainment, but that initial printing didn’t have as good a quality, and was actually republished by Dark Horse after they published Book Two. Book One shows an excellent representation of how Gallagher’s art style improved greatly over the first 133 strips. In the beginning, Gallagher and Caston stuck to the standard four box strip, trying to aim for a gag in each strip. Two-thirds of the way into Chapter Zero, Gallagher switched to a more comic book/manga format, without the standard sized boxes, and that’s when the storyline really started to flow. Since the first comics were very square, Gallagher uses the extra space on the page to explain some bits and pieces of the story, and give behind the scenes information regarding people, places, and events. Almost like a director’s commentary, it’s something you can go back and read later, after going through the comics, or read during your perusal.

Before the switch to the manga format, there is a small section of “Shirt Guy Dom” comics, stick figure comics that Gallagher’s friend Dom Nguyen drew with his trackball mouse, sometimes with about five minutes notice for times when the comics weren’t ready yet. They are very different that the regular humor in the comic, being very sarcastic, macabre, but highly funny. And if they annoy you too much, they are in a special removable section. Also rounding out the extras in book one are scans of some of Gallagher’s earlier work, with commentary by him, as well as the drawing for the Dead Piro Days: days when Gallagher was sick, or busy, and he would post simple sketches.

Book Two was the first Megatokyo book out by Dark Horse, and it really shows the much better quality of printing they are capable of. It’s the continuing adventures of Piro, Largo, and everyone else, and the print quality is excellent. All of Chapters 1 and 2 were done in the manga format, so there isn’t the string of commentary by Gallagher at the bottom of the pages, but there is a detailed intro by him. There are just as many extras Book Two as in Book one, with the same tear out section of Shirt Guy Dom strips, as well as the collection of Dead Piro Days, and also the omake (one-shot) strips that had nothing to do with the actual storyline. The major bonus in the back of the book is a short story written by Gallagher regarding Piro and Largo’s gaming alter egos, Pirogoeth and Largo, in the gaming world. It’s a bit hard to read, as the language is much more formal that in the manga itself, but it’s still very interesting, and worth perusing.

Overall, both book are excellent versions of the popular web comic in published form, with a great, readable format, and good storyline. If you’ve never heard of the web comic, but like a good manga, I highly suggest this. The manga is available at all bookstores, in the anime and manga section. As always, you can find the actual web comic, with updates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All the archives are located there too, and are available to everyone.


Erin Frost


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