Sunday, April 29, 2012

Falcon Twin

A lonely, withdrawn high-school girl gets teleported to a magical world where she starts getting impressive abilities and vague hints that she'll shape the destiny of... eh, if that sounds familiar it's because half the Japanese comics and anime industry is based on this setup.

Falcon Twin is a finished webcomic. It is a graphic novel, a single story from beginning to end. It is notable for two aspects. Mainly, it takes that "innocent, unlikely heroine saving the world with devotion and compassion" cliche and tears it to tatters, but it also shows great improvement as the artist progresses from awkward sketches to developing an actual style. Compare: better one or two?

Without running headlong into spoiler country, let's just say that by the end it had given me several kinds of "what the hell?" impressions, as well as a good dose of "but what happens with - ?"
The whole thing has some downsides. It will make a much greater impression on those familiar with the anime and fantasy-world tropes that inspired it. It contains gratuitous nudity and sex and more than enough violence to qualify it as a slasher flick, though the violence at least is necessary for its main effect. If you don't mind spoilers or you're not going to read it anyway and just want me to get to the point, highlight the next paragraph.

The heroine discovers that in the new magical world she's entered, she has mysteriously gained amazing fighting abilities and she is somehow also magically gifted to interact with powerful artifacts. She becomes the warrior in a standard RPG adventurer quartet including a wizard, cleric and thief, and starts fixating, romantically, on the (also female) thief. They begin to hunt down an amazingly powerful magic bauble and get into clashes with the villain representing an evil authoritarian regime. The main 'twist' is that the protagonist is an antiheroine. A lifetime of being the lonely, ostracized girl has obviously left her insecure and with a mountain of rage waiting to spill on whoever gets in her way. Her attempts at making things right are hamhandedly brutish and end up creating only more pain to those around her. By the end of the story, despite her childish desperation to secure the thief's affection and everyone's esteem, she only becomes another villain and dies betrayed and abandoned in a fight with her true pair, the main villain. The magical artifact remains lost, the world is un-saved, and all the story told was the fate of a viciously angry lost soul who broke under the pressure of heroism.

I don't know how much of this was intentional. Certainly the basic setup was present from the start, but the author's own comments point to being forced to cut out much of the plot, as it was growing a bit too large of a project. However, in a happy coincidence, any confusion these loose ends might cause only serves to add to the central topsy-turvy effect of the story.

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