If Mass Effect 3 taught me anything it’s that just because you spent £40 on a rising art form from a company that has a multi-million budget, a crack team of writers and reputation for the best writing in the industry, does not you won’t be walking away more disappointed than the people who think video game testing is the most fun job in the world. I have taken this important lesson to heart and instead went to the fans. When a franchise has a large fanbase, you tend to get one or two creative bonces in the fanbase and these fans will occasionally use their skills to show off how much they love their show. I’ve spent a while looking at the things fans have been doing and have prepared a review of three works I believe are worth talking about.
Before I start though, I must point out that I originally was going to do nothing but fan-fiction, but I was struggling to find anything actually worth mentioning that was of any good. I’ve also pledged not to do anything Mass Effect related because we’re all frankly sick ofMass Effect talk on these forums.
NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: RE-TAKE (DOUJINSHI)
Okay this time I swear that this is the last review of anything Evangelion related until the third Rebuild film comes around. While I waited for that I read the doujinshi manga for Evangelion entitled Re-Take. As natural with doujinshi manga, this was not written with express permission from Anno, anyone at Gainax and is strictly a fan made thing. I was shocked to learn that doujinshi are actually very common in Japan and nearly ever franchise has their own fan who decided to add their own piece to the franchise, but I’ll get back to that.
Oh hey, an Eva character having fun. Isn’t that weird to see?
The story focuses on Shinji around half way through the series and how he seems to dream the events that happen for the rest of the series and in End of Evangelion. At first dismissing what he saw as mere dreams, he notices correlation between his dream and real life, and so he vows to make sure that the events that would normally transpire, don’t. Most of his focus seems to be in protecting Asuka as Shinji feels like he didn’t exactly treat her well, so he wishes to make amends while also changing the course of time. This is a basic setting and there’s plenty of twists in the story that surprisingly make it stand up as if Anno himself wrote it. It touches various themes and looks at various subjects throughout the show and even has it’s own moments that are so dark and grim it’s almost maddening, so the stroy manages to capture the feel of the series perfectly.
However there are issues with it, notably some of the writing. In case I didn’t make it clear in the summary, this is a shipping novel through and through, between Shinji and Asuka (the smart if dangerous option in Shinji’s ridiculous love life) and while there’s nothing wrong with that, some of the dialogue seems forced in some of the more “love-y” areas. It’s a shame as the author seems to keep the all of the characters of the story in the personalities that they have in the series, but romantic dialogue is hard and unfortunately it was near impossible to make it not seem forced in this series.
I do have more complaints, but they’re mainly due to the fact that this is a doujinshi rather than a big manga from an experienced writer or artist. The action scenes are very hard to make out in the first 3 volumes, and some of them look very traced from the actual series. I know the Eva-series and the Angels are complex in design, but it’s often very hard to tell what exactly is going on in these scenes, so you might as well skip it and go to afterwards to get the results. This is solved in the final volume where the author seemed to have gained a lot of drawing experience, especially compared to the first volume.
I must add one more thing and that’s a recommendation to read the “all ages” version of Re-Take because a staple of doujinshi is that there is sex in it, and I’ve already told you who it’s shipping, so no prizes for guessing who the sex scenes entail. I didn’t actually look at the other version, but I’m told that the “all-ages” version only removes the sex, so the swearing, the heavy amounts of violence and the really complex plot stay intact. Plus you get some bonus scenes, so that’s a nice incentive for preserving the character’s dignity.
In summary, this is something that is most definitely worth your time. The art improves massively by the final chapter, rivalling Sadamoto’s Manga for the series, and the story is really good. If you want to see the arc in it’s original and pure form then by all means, read the original, but for those that don’t want to see this sex, check out the “all ages” version. This is something that every Evangelionfan deserves to see.
Oh and it made End of Evangelion feel a lot more cheerful. Just going to leave that shocking fact there.
DIGIMON TAMERS: TAMERS FOREVER (FAN-FICTION)
Before I get started, this is another shipping fan work but the next one isn’t. I’m not shipping crazy and this one was recommended to me by another user on the site. This fan-fiction is actually the main inspiration for me to do this review collection and I believe it’s worth that I give it a mention as this is something I really wasn’t expecting when it was laid out for me by the Mr Reccomendation man.
The basic idea for the series, for a short while anyway…
Tamers Forever is a fan-fiction by Daneel Rush and is set after the Tamers series and everyone is living their lives. To not give away any of the plot points later in the series, I’ll say that the basic premise in the series is that this is a Takato and Rika shipping fan-fiction that turns into a major Digimon story. Tamers Forever’s premise already starts off on a very tight wire with that premise alone, as Jeri in the series serves as Takato’s crush. Takato even tells her at one point how he feels about her in a very heart melting moment, and while Tamers Forever acknowledges this and offers an explanation for Takato’s apparent change of heart, it does seem rather forced. That’s a problem with shipping in general and it is incredibly hard for someone to make a scenario that doesn’t seem overtly forced. The writing doesn’t seem too forced though I’ll get to that in a bit.
The story does go extremely in depth and has many themes in it I would not really expect from a Digimon fan-fiction, some of which are actually rather nightmare inducing. Tamers was most certainly a dark series, but I was not expecting this. Treat as either good because it expands on Tamer’s dark tone, or bad because it goes possibly too far with it. It really feels that this element is subjective, and some things just feel out of place in a franchise designed with kids in mind, even if this particular series is described as “Evangelionwith mons”.
Another surprising factor is that the writing is pretty good. It’s not quite to the standard of a major best-selling author, but it’s serviceable and is (mostly) pleasant to read. The author also delivers some genuinely funny, scary and heartfelt moments when they want to, so I was surprised so see something that resembled a jewel in the fanfiction world where Sturgeon’s Law most definitely applies.
To mention the grating part of the writing now is a must because while it is mostly sound and doesn’t feel so forced, there is a groan inducing element that this author needed to wrap around his head is that Rika calls Takato something other than “Gogglehead.” That was just a nickname that she occasionally said, and she did say “Takato” a few times in the series rather than an endless stream of her saying Gogglehead in every sentence. I believe this is called “Malfoy” syndrome, where a character will often use a nickname for a character in every sentence whether needed or not. However, while Malfoy’s constant stream of “Potter” was done mainly to irritate Harry, the stream of Gogglehead feels more down to bad writing. It gets better though as the two go on, but it was still the most annoying part of the series. Another annoying part would be that the author would occasionally make the characters do things out of character for reasons I’m not sure of, with an early and baffling example being Takato apparently being a Kleptomaniac in the first part of the series.
Overall, the series is good yet flawed, and some of the nightmarish aspects of it may put some off. I know Digimon liked to cover really tough issues that some people have to face, like discovering you’re adopted, parents getting divorced and sibling responsibility, but what is shown is something that is very much a good read. If you like Digimon and aren’t so uppity on some annoying writing moments, then consider giving this a read, though I hope your stomach is strong.
GURREN LAGANN: DOUBLE K (WEBCOMIC)
Okay, this one isn’t finished and is still an ongoing thing, but my god I love it too much to not talk about it. My feelings of Gurren Laganncould be best summarised as something I would play to my kids and say “Children, I want you to grow up and be as good as them.” I consider the series to be something that makes you feel you can take on the world and beyond, one that will make you believe that anything is possible. Believing anything is possible is good because now the characters are all set in an alternate universe set in a buddy cop style setting like Miami vice if Miami vice occasionally decided to go above and beyond being believable and having action that can be seen as either really cool or really stupid.
I’ll give out points to those who spot the few that DON’T BELONG THERE!
I just laid out the setting for in that paragraph and it is done ridiculously well. Every character pretty much has their entire personality transplanted into this other universe and all their charm, lovableness and general bad-ass level is kept intact despite we’re moving down from super giant robots that break the very fabric of time and space, to being the local drug busters in some city. Not only that, but we some characters interacting in different ways but being eerily, like the villain in the first part ofGurren Lagann is now Simon’s and Kamina’s boss who actually gives Simon a lot of proverbial hair tussling, and yet he still feels like the same man that I knew from the series.
Now, this is a web comic, so I wasn’t expecting the art style to be on par with the series, and it isn’t, but it comes bloody close. The drawings feel alive and you can tell just how manly and awesome a character is just by looking at him, which is fantastic considering it’s all in black and white. Truly you know something is drawn well when it jumps out at you and feels lively even when it is devoid of colour.
Now, I have to get onto the writing, and this is hard to judge for a webcomic that I’d safely wager isn’t even a quarter of the way through the story it wants to tell. As unfair as my judgement may be, it’s good. It’s got nothing bad about it, and it has quite a lot of very funny parts as well as a few well done moments that make you want to pump your fist in the air, which is probably every moment that Kamina spends with Kittan, which I guess is good as the title implies that is going to be the main focus of this series. However, the author could at least hurry up and make Simon consistent as either having balls or not, as he seems to flicker between the two (In more ways than one!)
As this is an ongoing webcomic, I need to judge it on it’s uploading pace. MegaTokyo might have intricate and well thought out characters and a deep plot but you forget it all because of how long it takes for the author to update it. While Double K certainly updates more than MegaTokyo it is still a bit on the slow side. I don’t expect 3 pages a week as if you were penny arcade or XKCD, but one strip a week would be nice. Right now updating is slow as the guy in charge is working on a print version that he did a Kick Starter for and got his money, which is disappointing, as I really want to find out what happens next.
Really, this is a beautiful webcomic and a must for every fan of Gurren Lagann for it is so keeping with the series and just such a delight to read it deserves recognition. I’d also love to know what inspired the author to actually make this, as for all the Alternate Universe scenarios I’d place artists putting an anime franchise’s characters in, a High school would be my first bet, followed probably by the military, based on this franchise’s testosterone levels alone. All in all, a damn good read.
Honestly, 3 works were recommended to me and 3 were great. I’m thinking about making this something to fall back on, so if you know any other fan works you believe deserve looking at, why not send me a message. Just don’t send me any purposely bad ones. They’re never as funny as they’re meant to be.