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Monday, June 12, 2006

I think the best way to sum up Piro's expression is: "D'oh?"

From Megatokyo.

The love/hate relationship with Fred Gallagher continues. We've gotten missed updates, Dead Piro Days, and even a dreaded Shirt Guy Dom strip in the past few weeks, but at the same time, the actual plotline of Megatokyo has been moving along briskly, and it's been good.

Really good. "Fist shaking in the air at Gallagher for his inability to update consistently" good. If this kind of inconsistency is what it takes to get such quality material, I'll take it, but it really leaves me wanting more, wishing I could count on Gallagher for an update three times a week.


But I digress. Let's talk about Megatokyo itself. For those of you not caught up, in the current plotline Nanasawa has become something of a phenom amongst the Japanese fanboy culture. And she's learning that this means a lot more "downside" in terms of her personal life than "upside". Turns out most of the fanboys in Japan really are perverts with no lives. While perhaps they are deserving of compassion because they're really just socially maladjusted young men and women who desperately need an escape from their pathetic little lives (which all of us need, to a certain extent), they're still perverts with no lives, and this makes it a lot easier to defend them on a radio show than to actually live with.

But really, Nanasawa's little catharsis is nothing compared to the change we've seen in Piro. He went from the weepy "no girl could ever like me, I'm just useless, guess I'll just read shojo manga and wallow in pity" Piro that we've all come to know and love to: "let's really make a difference and help Nanasawa out." He really performed a selfless act in coming to the diner to help out. Piro's not the conniving type who would come just to look better in a girl's eyes. He really just knows how fanboys act and wants to truly help Nanasawa get through the situation.

And at first, Nanasawa was thrilled. She was in over her head, and was about to completely lose it. Then Piro showed up to help and she looked genuinely relieved, surprised, and happy. And I started thinking "All right, we're really going to see some nice advancement in the Piro/Nanasawa romance storyline. Sweet."

But then things started getting bad. Really bad. Piro tried his best to stave off the fanboys, but they proved too much for him. And Nanasawa finally lost it. And in her cathartic moment she saw the essence of fanboy at its worse. She was having an emotional breakdown, trying to get them to understand that she was a living, breathing human being who had feelings which could be hurt, and what did the fans do? They scrambled for their cameras at the opportunity for a panty shot. They completely ignored her feelings.

And in the end, Piro came up big, confiscating the cameras and saving Nanasawa from a great deal of public embarassment. An all-around fine performance by Piro, start to finish. He went above and beyond this time, and really deserves to be rewarded.

Which brings us to today's strip. And the icy glare. And Piro's understandable shock. After all, in his eyes, and in the eyes of the audience, Piro's been the big hero of the day. The other waitress from the diner gives Piro the encouragement that we would give him: "good job, you really helped out, and revealed those creeps for what they really are. Go have fun with Nanasawa now."

But Nanasawa does not. And that's the genius of Fred Gallagher. He's able to put himself into the minds of each of his characters. Most good writers can present their character with a situation and know how each character will respond. Only the most talented can actually view a situation through the eyes of their characters and see how they perceive it, see how it is processed through their lens of reality, and then play out the reactions as the natural result of that processing.

Of course Nanasawa is going to be pissed. She's probably just experienced the worst night of her life. The very people she tried to defend have just proven every negative stereotype ever spoken about them. Not only have the fanboys harassed her and violated her privacy, they've destroyed her idealistic outlook and basically proven wrong all of her beliefs about the goodness of mankind. She hates fanboys right now. Loathes them. She may get over it after having some time alone to think, but as for right now? She's righteously ticked.

And she knows that Piro is a fanboy. She even said it herself earlier in the day. That's why he gets the icy glare. There is literally nothing he could have done this night to make himself look good in her eyes, because tonight when she looks at him, all she sees is "fanboy", and she immediately ascribes every last character flaw of the fans that ruined her life to Piro, simply because he has that label in her mind.

Is it fair? Of course not. Piro's nothing like those pervs in the diner. Is it consistent? Oh yeah. We were all hoping for the Hollywood ending, Nanasawa embracing Piro in thanks and maybe even a bit more... But when you think about it logically, there's no way that would happen. She's just been to hell and back, and it's "his people" that sent her there. And so he gets the icy glare.

And that's just some damn good writing. That's allowing yourself to get immersed in your story and writing real reactions, not forcing your characters to see things the way you want them to see things. And the results speak for themselves.

Fred Gallagher, I owe you a beer.


At 11:11 PM, Blogger Starline said...

I have to say I agree. This storyline actually has me checking the site on update days instead of looking at every few weeks or so.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Fabricari said...

Yes! You really nailed this. I haven't been this excited about the characters in the story in a while, and the characters have a real dynamic - the payoff. And at the same time it felt like alla us "fanboys" were being addressed directly by Fred in this story. I mean, didn't part of the fanboy in you imagine Nanasawa actually going through with the skirt lifting? And didn't you feel bad afterward - in a way. Ok, prolly just me.

Well written article.

At 2:56 AM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

Actually, I didn't think about it until you just mentioned it, fabricari, but a part of me did feel a wave of excitement when Gallagher ended that one comic with Nanasawa about to lift up her skirt, and a part of me did sigh in disappointment when she didn't lift it in the next strip.

Uh, but that was just the drama part of me. I was hoping for some serious drama to arise.



At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Sili said...

Nasty realisation, Fabricari. Now I feel bad.

Gilead, you're going to get into trouble, if you ever hit it big and people start collecting on all those beers.

But to comment on the issue at hand, you're absolutely right. I may be a latecomer to Megatokyo, but lately I, too, have found myself checking on the proper update days, even though I've set up my tabs for TTS to compensate for the notorious lateness.

The Largo-Erika plot development has been excellent too.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Kneefers said...

I was away for about a week, and then got the whole wave of this past week's comics at once. I have to say that Fred Gallagher impressed the heck out of me with the whole fanboy arc.
Also, I agree with sili that the Largo/Erika development of late has been just loads of fun. It's good stuff.


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