The first 100+ strips in the Megatokyo webcomic have been collected in a volume available from well-stocked comic stores, or online sources such as the official site or ThinkGeek. Unlike most of our comic reviews, this has nothing to do with superheroes.

General Information

Title: Megatokyo: Chapter Zero
Credited to: Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston
Original Publication Date: December 2002 reprint of material first published in 2000
ISBN: 1-929090-30-7
Cover Price: $9.95 US
Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca
Official Site: http://www.megatokyo.com.

Premise

A gamer and an anime fan find themselves stuck in Tokyo with no way to
get back to the United States.

High Point

Largo and Boo. Those two crack me up every single time.

Low Point

The binding and page placement of the strips sometimes means that
dialogue is obscured in the middle of the book. There’s even the odd
time that letters run off the page and get chopped off. It can get
irritating.

Book versus Website

Yes, the entire run of the webcomic is still available online. However, books use less
bandwidth, and loading time of the images simply isn’t an issue.

Also, the print volume includes introductions and commentary to most
of the volume. The one-shot jokes, Shirt Guy Dom, and Dead Piro Day
strips are pulled out into their own sections so that the story
section is a story section, while the unrelated stuff has its own
place to live. It’s a nice organization that isn’t present on the
website.

The Scores

This seems pretty original to me. Maybe I’m just sheltered,
but I haven’t read a comic about normal guys stuck in a normal place.
Their remarkably different perspectives of the same city is something
that I have only seen in Calvin and Hobbes comics, and it’s
handled in a very different fashion here. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork on the characters is often very good. However,
the backgrounds are occasionally lacking detail. I give it 4 out of
6.

The story starts to become interesting about half way through
the collection. The early strips were mainly one-shot gags that had
some implications, but very little in the way of direction. Once the
characters start spending time apart, we start to see to two different
stories developing. Piro is generally involved in introspective
stories that result from his lack of confidence, especially around the
opposite sex. Largo, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to know where
video games and monster movies end and reality begins. The fact that
these two very different stories can interact with each other on any
level is impressive. I give it 4 out of 6, hampered by the early lack
of direction.



The characterization improves as the volume develops. The
early strips had two similar people with some different interests, but
by the end, the different characters are completely distinct within
their own worlds. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response varies through the volume. The Shirt
Guy Dom strips don’t appeal to me a great deal, so that section took
effort to move through. On the other hand, most of the regular strips
(such as the ones with Boo in particular) still have me laughing out
loud, even though I’ve read them all online. The book also allows me
to get pulled into the dramatic storylines more easily. I give it 5
out of 6.

The flow is pretty good. There are no real high-action
seqeunces like you’ll find in superhero comics, so there isn’t really
a problem trying to fit the dialogue around the action. There is
never a problem following the action from panel to panel. There are
times when subsequent strips don’t seem to mesh well, particularly in
the beginning of the book. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable collection. Once things
start to find direction, it really picks up, so you can expect
subsequent volumes to be better than this one. I give this package a
4 out of 6.

In total, Megatokyo: Chapter Zero receives 31 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

I plan to review all volumes of the Megatokyo books. Part of
this is guilt; I visit the site and read them online often, but I
never click on the banner ads. Buying the books is my way of
supporting the site, especially since Fred Gallagher is now doing this
full-time. The second is due out in March.