MegaGear MegaTokyo Visual Novel MegaGear
Strip 745, Volume 5, Page 11

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< Piro >

just one of the sketches from Circuity dev...

"emotive pull-string security"

Tuesday - July 26, 2005

[Piro] - 14:45:00 - [link here]

A few quick notes, before i prattle on about "Circuity" - I will be giving a talk at the Ann Arbor Public Library wednesady night at 7:00pm . It's a fairly informal affair, and i plan to talk about my somewhat fractured creative process and other pointless and useless stuff. :) It's a free event, but seating is limited so i know they are giving out tickets for admission.

Another thing that is coming up VERY fast is Otakon 2005. This will be our biggest show this year, and we are already gearing up to get ready for it. The show this year will feature live music by a talented (and very capable) friend so you can rest assured that at least SOMETHING will come off right at the show. :) We'll be bringing the MegaGear store with us, and we will even have a few new things to debut at con. If you are coming to Otakon this year, be sure to plan on stopping by.

Oh, and i haven't plugged the MegaGear store recently, but i shall do so now. Go forth, shop, and buy things. All support greatly appreciated. Seraphim has some things in the work that she'll be talking about soon (yes, a long awaited Seraphim rant is in the works :P)

[yet another update... posters are now back online in the MegaGear store. We had to roll the price of shipping into the poster price because of problems with the software (posters all get shipped separate from the other stuff in your order because they go into tubes... you cant just wad up a poster and stick it in a box. I think people might not like that :P)]

---

I've been waiting until i finished Circuity before sitting down to talk about it, and now that it's done, i've been having trouble finding exactly what I want to say. I've been having that trouble a lot lately. It's kind of sad, but it's like the only reliable way i have of communicating my ideas is the comics and drawings I produce. All of my other methods of communicating -- rants, blogs, random sketches, emails, product designs for the store -- are amazingly buggy.

First off, i would like to thank everyone for their patience and willingness to let me stray a bit from the normal fare offered here on the Megatokyo site. In the same way that end of chapter extras (or "Omake" as they are called) usually give creators a chance to do some off the wall humor and laugh a bit at the characters, "Circuity" was an exercise in going in the other direction. I wanted to do something deadly serious, something that would contrast the more serious parts of Megatokyo the same way my last omake poked fun at the more humorous elements of the story. I wanted to experiment and see how well i could do a short mood piece, to see how much i could ratchet things up and still keep it solid.

Was it a successful experiment? To a greater extent, i think so. I learned a lot doing it. It really isn't a very successful short story because it doesn't stand very well on its own. It relies heavily on foreknowledge of Megatokyo and in the end a little too much on Haibane Renmei (the anime upon which it really is a fan-work of.) I wanted "circuity" to stand on it's own as much as possible, to not really require that you understand the world that Abe created, or the inspiration that he took from Murakami. To a limited extent i have done that, but not as much as i would have liked. In the end, a reader will understand things based as much on the knowledge and experiences he or she brings to the peice as much as what we creators can put into it. That may be good or bad when it comes to this omake.

But all of that is really secondary to what i was really trying to do with "Circuity." This is actually an odd reflection and refraction of the original idea, colored heavily buy the characters that play the parts. It's almost like a fan-work of the original concept. :) I ended up going with the idea, and using it because it presented me with some fertile soil to run the characters (and the reader) through some powerful emotive sequences. Understanding the specifics of what happened was, to me, secondary to the emotive content i was trying to create. it's like you know there is a story there, and you just understand enough to get pulled in. Sure, there's all sorts of other things going on - metaphor, allegory, similarities, mirrors, contrasts, strong relational ties to the Megatokyo story... but you don't have to get all of that, honestly. That wasn't it's main purpose.

As i've said many times before, writing and drawing are really little more than exercises in trying to communicate and evoke emotive feelings and reactions from readers. People tend to have a wide variety of security levels on their emotive pull-strings. Some people are very open to having them tugged, and are easily moved. Others guard them very closely, and when attempts are made to pull at them, they laugh and make fun of the attempts. Some are complete gits about it, and refuse to allow anything access to them, including themselves. :P

That, to me, is the difference between a good moving story that rattles something in you, and "melodrama". I tried hard to not let "circuity" fall into the "melodrama" category - not so easy in such a short piece, really. A story like this won't do something for everyone, but i wanted to see how many i could do it for. For most people, getting access to those pull strings takes a lot of care and respect. That's why guys hate 'chick flicks' or refuse to read 'shoujo manga' (when most of the time they don't even understand the term) Emotions are things close to the soul, so we try to protect them as much as possible. If i managed to get access to yours, i thank you for the opportunity.

Regardless as to how well it worked or not, it was a good experiment for me. I enjoyed pulling together a reflection of this world, and a lot of it felt right. I almost chickened out at the end, wondering if finishing it the way i had planned on finishing it was a bit too much, but decided to stick to my guns. The last two pages i think either grip you if you were already hooked, or loose you if you were just getting warmed to the sequence of the first 7 pages... the jumps were almost too big, and i am sorry about that. I just felt that i needed to stick to the schedule, and let Circuity finish along its preordained course.

We all know that i tend to lean towards stories, concepts and moods like this, and sometimes people complain that Megatokyo itself is too tainted by them. Well, this helped me get some things that have been bottled up in my system out, and in a good way. It pointed out one of the reasons why i like to write stories that have a balance of lightness and seriousness to them... a purely serious and dark story requires that you be in that mood for an extended period of time. Sure, i'm a gloomy gus sometimes, but there were definitely days and pages of this omake where i had to bring myself down to the emotive level necessary to do the page. I get too wrapped up in things sometimes, but i guess my work would REALLY suck if i didn't.

Lightness is a necessary thing in life, and i dont think Circuity would have worked as well as it did if Piro, Largo and Kimiko were not who they are in Megatokyo. It's the contrasts that point out the similarities and the differences in things better than anything.

Megatokyo Chapter 7 starts monday. Should be a fun ride :)

---

Oh, i almost forgot - i haven't linked this about Connecticon yet, but it looks like between the time the events happened and me getting a new rant up they've almost raised enough to cover the gap. Awesome stuff guys, and a big congrats to the webcomic reading community for rising to help them out.

< Dom >

Moereru no nara, moete miru ga ii!

"Maid mania"

Friday - August 5, 2005

[Dom] - 09:00:00 - [link here]

I've never been that big on the whole maid fetish--KoreWata didn't interest me when I first perused the manga, for example. My dislike of the fetish is pretty strong--don't ask me why, but there's something that just rubs me the wrong way about the proliferation of the whole thing.

Anyway, on to the point of this rant. I heard in June about a manga that took the maid moe (I'll get around to writing a rant trying to define moe for you guys some time, I swear) archetype and twisted it to a horrific extreme. It was called Kamen no Maid Guy (The Masked Maid Guy), and my perverse nature meant that I had to take a look, at the very least. The fan reviews I saw were mostly positive, and they were from people with the same off-kilter taste I have, so I resolved to pick up a copy for myself.

Unfortunately, it was published by Kadokawa Shoten, which has an annoying habit of grossly underestimating demand for its manga. I had this problem with Chrno Crusade last year, and they got me again--the first volume was nigh impossible to find anywhere, being sold out at the usual suspects, while not carried in the more obscure locations.

So, while my interest in the manga grew, it took me two months to get my hands on a copy. And, earlier this week, I eagerly unwrapped my Amazon.jp package like it was a christmas present. After taking out the CD I ordered and sticking it in the player, I settled down for an hour or two of reading Kamen no Maid Guy, the heartwarming story of a maid-loving rich old man, his almost-of-age granddaughter Naeka, and the musclebound, shark-toothed, mask-wearing freak of a maid he assigns to protect her until her 18th birthday.

And what do you know--the reviews were right on the money. Kamen no Maid Guy is my kind of manga--a mixture of excessively violent (but not gory) slapstick, standard school humor, dirty jokes, and a good sense of when to use which style. Hell, thanks to how hard I was laughing, I barely even noticed that there was random nudity in it--something I'm usually opposed to in the manga I read (don't ask me why, call it a weird holdover from Catholicism). And, just for completeness' sake, I'm wildly amused by the "normal" maid who comes to work for Naeka, AKA the Maid Guy Tamer. While she seems thrown in there to appease maid fans who don't want to stare at Maid Guy Kogarashi all the time (I don't really blame them, I guess), she has more personality than the average anime/manga/game maid. And, since she's funny and likeable (but still a freak), I actually don't mind her--if only more maids in anime had real personalities instead of being subservient twits... but I digress

I think what I like best about Kamen no Maid Guy is how much it reminds me of the comedy side of Full Metal Panic!. They're similar in concept, if somewhat different in execution. You take a normal high school girl with a strong will, and team her up with a loyal but horribly out of place character, and comedy just flows naturally. Take the second half of the equation and change it from FMP's "a career military man who's known no other lifestyle" to "a superpowered weirdo in a maid suit who doesn't know the meaning of restraint", and you have a good frame of reference.

So, yeah. Kamen no Maid Guy. If you're like me, and fond of very weird, very funny things, you'll like it. It's unfortunately only available in Japan, but given the competition between English manga companies these days, I give it about two or three years before someone says "hey, that's weird, it's funny, and it's pretty short, we can probably crap that out pretty fast" and releases it in the states.

Or maybe I'm just full of crap, and this is one of those manga that will never make it out of Japan for just being too weird and niche--but given the range of releases into the American market so far, I'm leaning toward my first theory...

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