Megatokyo hits highs and lows with these 3 volumes, but does the series really have legs away from its web-based roots?
I've always loved Fred Gallagher's artwork - sketchy but somehow exacting, with a cast of very distinctive, fun characters riding the Emo wave through girls, guns and rent-a-zilla's. The pop-culture nature of the series shines through, but unlike other online strips, such as the excellent Shortpacked, it doesn't rely on them to get the laughs.
Gaming nutter Largo and emotionally sensitive Piroare still stuck in Japan, now living above the shop where Piro works. Whilst the story largely revolves around them, we gradually see the main cast grow and develop good chunks of their own plotlines, which eventually interweave into a larger, loosely hung together whole. This looseness isn't by any means a weakness, and is perhaps deliberate, but by not sticking aggressively to one plotline, the strip gains a nice variety. Volume 4stumbles a little here, with what feels like an overlong seige on the store by a bunch of obsessive fans, but on the whole the strip is engaging and entertaining.
Perhaps one of the best testaments to Megatokyo, and Fred's art in particular, is the obsessive fandom that has grown around it. It's almost ironic that people will copy Gallaghers work in an attempt to develop a manga style, which considering he's American is quite an achievement. People also cosplay as the characters, which is a sure sign that Megatokyo strikes the fanboy/girl chord with frightening accuracy. It's also comforting to know that, apart from the extras, the whole thing is still free to download from megatokyo.com.
Where the series goes from here is anyone's guess (it's still too chaotic to predict, and I guess that's the point) but I hope Gallagher has enough imagination left to keep up the pace - it would be a real shame if the series fizzled when it deserves to shine.