This is a post about how Megatokyo is better than manga

October 8, 2006 at 6:33 am (Fan Culture, webcomics)

I wonder how much deliberate trolling I can insert into every new post title before WP throws me off their server from the traffic.

Actually I read the rant (I love how that word is like the culture standard lingo for any text accompanying a webcomic update) on a recent Megatokyo and it had some things in it that elicited whole entire thoughts from my brain. I follow MT in so much as it’s one of the webcomic links that are in my huge folder of webcomics links that I open periodically to distract me from my actual work (it’s really effective when they incite blog posts like this one).

I’m not sure if this is still as true today as it was a few years ago, but Megatokyo used to be a really central part of AAT fandom (oh shit, I just realized I finally have my computer back up so I can tabulate the results of my Otakon poll to see just how real this concept of AAT/JAT fandom dichotomy is). I think that’s interesting, partly because a lot of webcomics have nothing even vaguely to do with Japan or U.S. anime fandom, but in the con-going fandoms (depending on which con I guess, but Ohayocon and Otakon) English webcomics are all crossed-over into it as well. MT *does* have vaguely something to do with Japan or U.S. anime fandom, so maybe it’s been kind of a subcultural bridge. Or was once upon a time. Or maybe computer nerds just tend to get roped into anime at some point, and are all required to read Penny Arcade if they want to keep up their nerd cred. Who knows.

This week’s Megatokyo comics have featured the two main female characters in their skivvies. I would be very curious to see some traffic logs for the past three weeks for MegaTokyo. Anyway, that in itself isn’t really remarkable, but Piro comments on the pantsu in his rant:

I’d also like to make a quick comment about the content of Monday’s comic. As you know, i tend to be pretty clean with the language and content of Megatokyo. It’s not hard for me, given the way my sensibilities work, so reading MT is no worse in content than watching Friends or a PG-13 movie. I rarely do fanservice for the sake of fanservice… in fact, technically, i never do fanservice. How can i claim that showing the two main girls working on a computer in their underwear isn’t fanservice? Because it’s part of the story. Fanservice is when you do a cut panel showing gratuitous undressing for no reason other than you want to. It is showing a upskirt shot and a peek at undergarments because you can.

I don’t know that fan-service is actually that well-defined. I think there are sort of two-levels to it. You could think of Fan Service in general as any content added more for the purpose of exciting the fanbase rather than contributing to the story. You could call the Samuel L. Jackson lines added to Snakes On A Plane a form of fan-service I think, though that particular instance has its own peculiarities. The more traditional definition limits this to erotic content or nude / near-nude shots. Anime and Manga seem to particularly love the panchira; I think this probably has as much to do with the fact that girls’ school uniforms require wearing skirts as anything else. But there’s also the beach/hot springs episode, and occasional opened-the-door-on-girl-changing-clothes scene. And so on. Amidst all this fan service, I think you can identify some but not all of it as gratuitous fan service. I think a lot of panchira are like this, unless they actually bother to contrive in the plot a reason it’s important that so-and-so-chan tripped in this scene and flashed everyone. Or more what Piro mentions at the end of that paragraph: random camera cuts to go up-skirt for no particular reason other than to do the panchira. Gratuitous fan service almost always annoys me (except in the Adventures of Asahina Mikuru, but that’s cheating because it’s all meta).

Now, MegaTokyo, honestly, barely even needs to defend itself here. Due to the nature of the comic’s evolution, its universe’s continuity is already so screwed up that it is considered standard procedure for anyone working on a computer to disrobe, so this is as much an in-joke as anything else.

But this fan-service disclaimer leads to something more interesting to me. Here’s more of the rant:

I play with anime and manga cliches a lot in Megatokyo, and part of the challenge is to work with them in ways that comment on them and question them.

To which my immediate mental response was “…SERIOUSLY?” When I started reading MT I had barely seen any anime, and I hadn’t actually played half of the games it made jokes on, so I missed basically every reference in the entire comic. I think six months ago I read back through the trades I had and I remember thinking that it was really derivative and seemed like large parts of it were just a pastiche of various shoujo manga cliches. I might have to review the comic now, and keep my eyes open for deliberate subversions. Normally that’s the kind of thing I find really interesting, and a new reading from a different perspective might make the comic a lot more interesting. Probably not, but once or twice in my life I’ve been surprised.

Btw, this post had more content at one point, but I am vewy vewy sleepy.


1 Comment

  1. Crayotic Rockwell said,

    Yeah I read that rant too, and perhaps it was just a poor choice of words, but methinks he may be overselling himself with the “in ways that comment on them and question them” part of that quote.

    And while anime and manga has a lot of cliches, there’s also a fair amount that already “plays” with them as such, so it’s not really rant/noteworthy.

    I enjoy MT, and if he doesn’t want to do service or whatever then that’s cool.. but yeah I can’t really see why he needs to explain himself if he may be drawing something that possibly could be misconstrued as fanservice. Perhaps the blame for that lays morein with people who actually choose to complain about such stuff.

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