Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Megatokyo, Volume 6 by Fred Gallagher

American Otaku Piro and his computer genius friend Largo originally arrived in Tokyo wanting to attend a convention, but their lack of money to leave has left them stranded in Tokyo. Largo got a job at a school, supposedly teaching English, but really in schooling the kids on how to build "uber-l33t" computer systems.

Piro, meanwhile, has a job in a store catering to Otaku, Megagamers. Along the way, he's befriended quite a few people, including a girl with magical girl powers, another girl who is now on her way to becoming a voice actress, and his co-worker, a former voice actress who disappeared from public life when the stress and the attentions of her fans became too much for her.

Now, Kimiko, the girl who has chosen to become a voice actress for a new production, has incited a wave of fan-love that has led to her "outing" as the voice of the fan-favorite damaged girl character and made her be stalked by hordes of clueless male Otaku through the streets of Tokyo. Rumors that the game is to be cancelled has led to a massive outpouring of fan rage, and even more obsessive stalking of Kimiko.

Add to that a Zombie invasion of Tokyo which Largo is throwing himself into fighting against with the aid of Erika, and with Magical girl Yuki, whose only power seems to be stealing stuff really quickly. Of course, her mother, Meimi, is also a magical girl, so it appears to run in the family. Yuki helps Largo steal a Rent-a-Zilla, which is bitten by Zombies and turns into a Zombie itself. Yuki protects it from the soldiers and teleports it to her home, where it is shrunk into a smaller version of itself and becomes her pet.

Meanwhile, back at the Harajuku, Kimiko finds out that the company wants her back to finish the voice acting job, which she quit after she was yelled at for keeping her waitressing job while in the midst of doing the voice-acting work. Her fans, who love her for defending fanboys from the scorn of a radio-show host, all want to see her. But some of them finally seem to be realizing that life is not like the games they so enjoy and want to defend her from the other fanboys who are making her life miserable.

She gets to the event that her bosses wanted her to attend with the aid of Miho, a dark girl Goth whom Largo believes to be the Queen of the Undead. She and Piro have a long history together, and she manipulated most of the characters in an online MMORPG they were in together to get control of their characters. But Largo and Piro found out and turned her in, then killed her character. Piro, who had felt a real connection to Miho through the game, was deeply hurt by what he saw as her betrayal, and it stays with him, even now, years later.

But while Piro and Kimiko reconnect at the event, Yuki, who was a drawing Student of Piro's, wants to track Miho down. Miho was attending Yuki's school, and Yuki thought they were friends. She wants to find Miho, and she wants to affect a reconciliation between Piro and Miho, so she steals his old laptop to help track Miho down, and finds her at a hospital. But why is she there, and what is wrong with her? And can anyone, even a magical girl, bring a reconciliation between two people who hurt each other so deeply? And what about Largo and Erika? Will his continual dashing off to try and end the zombie invasion, not to mention his inability to deal with his own emotions, lead to the end of their relationship?

I've been reading Megatokyo for a while now, but this story seemed strangely out of place. For example, in the events of this story, Yuki gets a pet zombie zilla, yet I have seen that same "pet" in books past taking up space in her room. So parts of the story seem to happen in the past, and part in the future, and I just found some of that confusing. What is really going on? Honestly, I can't say.

On the other hand, it's not necessarily the confused and confusing storyline that I read the books for, but for the characters, which keep me reading. Piro and Largo, their friends, Romantic interests and foes, are what really move the story and keep me interested. Especially Kimiko, who ran all unknowing into the face of fanboy worship and is now dealing with the fallout. But can she move her fans into an understanding that she is *not* the character they are so attracted to, and that life is not like the visual novels and games that they are so addicted to?

That remains to be seen. I also want to find out what really went on with Piro (in his character Pirogeth) and Miho's characters in the MMORPG and what happened afterwards. We've heard Piro's side, but not Miho's, and not Largo's really, either. The ongoing storylines and characters keep me coming back to the stories, and I find myself really loving this series. Highly recommended.

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