Anthro Kai


URL: anthrokai.smackjeeves.com
Creator/s: "Raxki Yamato"
Run: 1/11-current
Schedule: About twice a month
Section/s: Pp. 1-5, 31-50

Website: The dark layout, with its black background and red links, looks too goth and angsty for such a lighthearted comic. A light-blue layout might be ideal considering that the comic has a lot of ocean scenery.
The cast page should definitely have pictures of the characters. The best-looking ways to add them are to either code the cast page in a table format, or to use divisions with the "float" style.

The creator should move his fillers, guest comics, and whatever other miscellaneous content out of the comic's archives and into a separate part of the site reserved for bonus material. This makes it easier to read the comic in big chunks while also helping the site stay organized.

Lastly, there should be more consistency with the updates, although the creator seems to already be aware of this problem.

Writing: Like the last webcomic I reviewed, Boy with a Secret, this one's by an American creator but its main characters are Japanese. The comic alternates between touching moments and goofy ones, but the 16-year-old creator's clearly not experienced enough yet to handle writing either of these aspects. His principal mistake's that he doesn't manage to make any of his characters interesting, nor does he give his audience enough of a reason to care about what happens to them. This element would be somewhat less crucial if the story had more of a plot, but seeing as how it's entirely character-driven, having poor characterization's a pretty big deal. The pacing's also too slow, which seems to be a common problem amongst webcomics that try to be funny while simultaneously having a serious storyline going on.

While everything I've seen has exclusively been about middle-schoolers doing dopey stuff, the comic's site indicates that Anthro Kai also has a science-fiction backstory involving a Japanese scientist who created human-animal hybrids. I can't help but wonder: How come the comic's genetically-altered freaks are so easily accepted by society? According to the "About" section, hybrids were only first created about 60 years ago, yet humans (who are rarely seen in the comic) seem to treat their existence as being totally normal, and even have sex with these furries (...?). It's clear to me that changing all the comic's furries to humans would have zero effect on the narrative. Personally, I don't really care if a creator provides an explanation for why his or her characters are furries, but I find Anthro Kai's underdeveloped science-fiction concept to be a lot more interesting than its failed attempt at comedic drama.

The creator links to and praises several notoriously awful furry webcomics, including Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Better Days, Exterminatus Now, Furthia High, Las Lindas, and Twokinds. I haven't personally read any of these webcomics, so I don't know if they're really as terrible as their reputations make them out to be, but nevertheless, it's alarming to me that a young webcartoonist would choose these particular webcomics to idealize. I also think it'd be a good idea for him to read more non-furry webcomics in order to get a broader perspective.

Lastly, both chapters start the exact same way: a one-page flashback (1 and 2) followed by someone waking up the protagonist (1 and 2). The creator should try to be more creative with his story structures, especially since having the main character get woken up is already a very clich├ęd opening.

Art: The comic starts off being unreadably juvenile, but in just a year's time the creator's improved substantially, to the extent that I initially thought the more recent pages might've been drawn by a different person. The characters and environments are rendered much more competently now, with the creator even managing to pull off a fairly difficult action shot in the top panel here. Compare this messed-up beach background from March 2011 to this similar background from December 2011 that's done much better. And there are some impressive vehicle illustrations lately as well, as seen here and here.

Some of the more challenging scenes show that the creator still has a lot of room to improve, though. Reader "Meleeman" (whose webcomic, FML and FTW, I reviewed a little while ago) correctly points out the major flaw in this panel's perspective, writing, "The camera is pointing at Hiro moving away from us, and the tall building, well it seems like it doesn't fit or there are 2 pictures in one." The top and bottom halves of this page have totally different perspectives, which gives the impression of there being two images. The characters in the bottom panel here are huge compared to the beach they're standing on, making it appear as if they're 40-foot-tall giants. And for here and here, the purple clouds are a poor substitute for a proper crowd scene.

Facial expressions are another problem area, and it doesn't help that literally every person who appears in the comic has long bangs that cover part of their face. Almost every page of Chapter 2 has somebody making one of those ridiculous manga faces, which I don't have a problem with, but in the sections I read, I wasn't able to find a single panel that had a decently drawn expression in it. It's one thing to draw deformed chibi figures because they're cute and funny; it's another thing if the creator does it because he can't draw faces properly. The comic also has a flaw common in manga webcomics of showing its characters' mouths on their cheeks. As "Covenmouse" of Wind Spirits explains in her review of How to Save the World, "The whole mouth-on-the-cheek convention has a very specific, very lazy reason for being: it's easy and cheap to animate. That's it. There's no deep rational, no stylistically sound reason for thinking it makes sense that a human beings mouth is on their cheek." Some practice with realistic figure drawing might help the creator be more competent here.

Overall: It's nice to see a young creator emerge on the webcomics scene with this level of diligence and talent, and I hope he has the humility, integrity, and patience needed to succeed as a webcartoonist. Anthro Kai isn't a good comic by any means, but I'm more interested in what the creator's work will be like five years from now than in how it is today. The most important thing he can do at this stage is to practice a lot, and to just read a ton of comics.

2.5/5

2 comments :

  1. Seems to be finished now. Author posted a note on 2015 April the 1st (!!!) that he wants to remaster the comic and delete the old pages... then in September, he explains in broken 'engrish' that he has "emotional stability issues" and won't continue. From those grand total of two comments, I think not many people cared.

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    1. What I remember the most about reviewing this webcomic is that it was surprisingly good for something made by a 17-year-old.

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