Another guest review by contributor Olivia Wylie of The Strip Show: A Webcomic Revue, and creator of the comic Parmeshen.
The laundry isn’t done. There’s a pile of dishes in the kitchen that may be spawning new forms of intelligent life. And why? Because I’ve spent the morning immersed in another world; the world of Kamikaze.
Alanis Obomsawin, an Abenaki from the Odanak tribal reserve, watched the land of his Canadian tribe changing back in 1972, and he had this to say:
When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.
Kamikaze is set in that world. And it’s a wild one. It’s created by the trinity of Alan and Carrie Tupper and their partner Havana Nguyen (interviewed by Dan here).
The story begins on an adrenalin rush, and it never lets up, though it evades the pit trap of becoming just another shoot ’em up extravaganza. You get a strong sense that these are people dying here, people with family and friends, people who will be missed. Death isn’t a writer’s toy here. It’s real. And so is the dismay, agony and difficulty on every side.
The premise is one we’ve all got lurking in the back of our heads these days. There’s very little arable crop land left, and what there is is jealously guarded. Humanity has returned to a state of wondering where its next meal is coming from, protecting clan turf and trying to survive. Not pretty.
And this is where we meet Markesha Nin:
She’s fast. She’s tough. She’s also a woman trying to pay the rent, take care of her family, and get ahead in a world with slim chances. She’s not ‘our heroine’. She’s better than that. And she may just get a chance to do what she hopes…..we’ll have to find out. But it’s going to be a wild ride.
The team intends to get this piece made into an animated series, and when (not if, WHEN) they do, I intend to mainline every episode like an addict. If you’d like to do the same thing, there’s a chance to support them on their site.
What I Love:
It’s not often that I find a story as well rounded as this one. I don’t find myself focusing on the art, the story, or the characterization as the star of the show. Kamikaze is holistic in its skill. Nothing falters. But I’ll start with the story, in as far as it’s gotten. (we’re just beginning to get into the meat of the story)
You could describe this story a lot of ways. The site describes it as ‘an animated sci fi drama for grownups’ and that’s a good synopsis, because this IS for grownups. Not in the usual sense of the term; there’s no gratuitous guts and grinding. This really IS for mature audiences; audiences who expect subtlety, deft use of emotional portrayal, and something more than one more Schwarzenegger knockoff. If that’s what you want, Kamikaze is it. There’s NO expositional paragraphs, no on the nose dialogue trying to get you ‘informed’ Everything you learn about this world is contextual, and that, to me, is one of the strongest points. You learn as much by what’s not said as by what’s said, and that takes some skill.
The characterization is also a strong point, and when I say characterization, I mean a 360 degree character, each with their own very expressive body language, expressions and movement. Our main character shows so much of what she’s feeling in the slump of her shoulders, the tilt of her head, the movement of her arms, that very few words are really necessary, especially when she’s in the more intimate scenes talking to her father.
The action scenes are beautiful, but in my opinion the interpersonal scenes with the boss, the landlady, and Father are the real show of skill, because every conversation has an authentic ring. These conversations can be held by real people with real problems. That has me fascinated.
Oh, and did I mention THE ART?
THE ART! THE ART!
The palette is rich, rusty and gritty, and from the opening action scene you’re captivated by the craftsmanship of the layouts, the backgrounds, and the character poses. There’s a strong and constant sense of movement created by well-crafted panels;
a hand grabbing, a body moving, a landing, each exquisitely posed.
The detail, from the texture of a wall that should have been painted a long time back to the grit of concrete and the grain of wood, allows you to sublime any sense of dislocation. The sense of the surrounding world is palpable. You can almost smell the dust in the streets, taste the tang of concrete and dirt. And as I said before, the character body language is invariably spot on.
What Could Be Better:
So far I have only one complaint; the site created is gorgeous, but it’s a little less responsive than it could be, and at times doesn’t load too well. And if I’m stooping to nitpicking site design to find something to mention, you KNOW it’s good.
(Dan would add that the lettering/balloon placement and coloring can sometimes be confusing. Balloon ordering is sometimes unclear because of where they are placed in the panels. Something to pay attention too for future pages.)