Read it here!
Page Count as of posting the review: 1040
Breakdown of the review, First Impression ("not graded"), Art, Story/Plot, World/Setting, Characters, Tech/Misc. Scale of 1-5, 1 = low/in dire need of improvement, 5 = high/excellent, needs very little or no improvement, a * in the score box means I can't rate it for whatever reason.
A ~ followed by text denotes a suggestion I feel will be helpful to the author/artist. I write this review in a way that addresses both the author/artist AND someone who is simply reading reviews. If the author/artist wishes for clarification on any part of the review or feels some portion of the evaluation was unfair/inaccurate, feel free to voice it so that I may clarify or possibly rectify evaluation as need be.
First Impression: Oh boy.
As an aside, you might want to clean up your pitch since it's a bit on the long side. Removing some of the redundant aspects (such as the focus on sexual content) will help keep it short and sweet .
Art: The author actually runs three projects at once, each with multiple page updates a week, while initially impressive, the art doesn't seem to have improved as drastically as such intensive output would imply since fundamental flaws are still present.
Over the course of 1000 pages, CrimsonChains (CC) manages to find confidence in using her program (appears to be Manga Studio), but at the same time she never appears to artistically challenge herself, backgrounds are nonexistent or very basic - however they appear to be increasing in frequency with more recent pages, but there is still a long way to go.
Other artistic aspects that could be improved would be the camera angles. Characters are rarely seen from an angle other than a straight-on view of their busts and this harms some of the more dramatic aspects of the comic since composition is rarely played with. A few of the sex scenes and the rare establishing shots mix up the camera shots, which, while better than the usual fair, are very rare.
As a result, the comic ends up having repetitive-looking scenes and pages. This flaw is made even more apparently in the more dialogue-heavy pages.
As for the characters themselves, they are unambitious, same-faced generic anime people. There are about two flavors of face shapes, masculine males (brick) and everyone else (heart shaped), as well as two flavors of body type, adult and child.
One notable improvement is that the ears are no longer huge and literally part of the jaw.
However, anatomy is flawed on a fundamental level, this is mostly apparent in the hands and the general posture/structure of people. Clothing, while detailed, does not actually convey that they are cloth.
Some of the other downfalls of anatomy are symptomatic of mimicking anime such as side-mouth, stock anime expressions such as chibis, sweatdrops, etc. and the errant chibi. It should also be noted that characters’ expressions don’t deviate from very generic displays of emotions- everyone has the same manner of facial expressions.
There was also a period of over-reliance on stock screentones for backgrounds, but they seem to have subsided for the most part, hopefully their more tasteful application will remain a permanent feature.
~Crimson you definitely have the work ethic to pump out art but you really need to invest in some proper practice. There are dozens of resource links when it comes to life drawing, I recommend using them and using reference when drawing bodies, hands and the occasional penis when doing your sex scenes. When it comes to faces, you have two characters that have a good reason to have the same face, but for everyone else, break outside of your comfort zone and draw different faces and different bodies. Variety is the spice of life!
For clothing, try looking at how folds and weight works. In terms of camera angles, do some storyboard studies of movies (each time there is a scene change, pause the movie and note/draw what the scene looks like). In terms of screen tones/distribution of values, don't rely on patterns, look at the art and really evaluate the balance of the black, white and grey. For studying actual backgrounds, again, look at references and really dissect how the foreground/midground and background really work in an image.
Overall you should try breaking out of your comfort zone and strengthening your basics, you have the ability to do this, you just need to take the time to build your fundamentals better. There are many resources on the internet, I recommend visiting this thread as your starting point. If you need more specific resources, feel free to ask for them either in this thread or by PMing me.
Story/Plot: Just like it says on the description, ORD is a different take on the Prince and the Pauper story with emphasis on the relationship between two characters, Aki (the Pauper of sorts) and Kaidou, the bodyguard of Ryuuta (the Prince of sorts). While it is good that it is just exactly that, it doesn’t actually do a very good job of actually exploring the relationship.
The main issue stems from how despite how ORD is decent at setting up chapters and having relatively big events occurring, the characters don't change or grow in a meaningful manner.
Something which certainly does ORD no favors is that it is RIFE with “tell”. There is never a point in the story where the audience isn't explicitly told something.
While this can be good for very casual readers, I cannot stress enough how extensively everything is TOLD. Events in the past are told. How characters are feeling presently are told - either through spoken dialogue or through internal monologue. If something is actually shown, it'll have its meaning told explicitly in that same page or the very next page.
However what makes ORD’s plot drop from mediocre to bad is how conflicts, and as a result, the exposition, repeats. ORD also suffers from Idiot Plots and Idiot Conflicts and this is compounded by Idiot Characters to be discussed in the characters section.
For those curious, the reason why they are called Idiot Conflicts is because these problems require that everyone actively avoid having a 30 second chat that would resolve the issue. It also doesn’t help that most of the time these conflicts are self-inflicted and despite how characters say they resolve to avoid repeating the problem, chapters later the same problem crops up again. What makes these Conflicts beyond being salvageable is that emphasis is placed on the wrong things and there is either no payoff of there is no change despite how the events are.
Arguably, this could have been an interesting concept to explore (a character whose flaw is active refusal to change) but this happens multiple times with different combinations of people and often results in an Aesop not unlike afterschool programming from the 90s. And because of how weak the writing is in ORD, whatever meaningful message it is trying to convey comes off as patronizing instead of insightful.
Now, in terms of what’s supposed to be the plot, ORD does a poor job of actually exploring the relationship between Aki and Kaidou since it doesn’t spend any time actually building or elaborating on them as characters much less the substance of their romantic relationship.
Each arc somehow manages to avoid fleshing out the characters and exploring the advertised relationship. An example of how inappropriate the focus is would be when Aki and Kaidou have to prepare for Ryuuta’s parents’ surprise visit. Instead of showing how Kaidou has to teach Aki how to fool the parents, the chapter skips ahead to when the parents have arrived, hang around briefly and then must leave the house for no really well-explored reason. The chapter then veers off to focus on Ryuuta’s tutor molesting Aki- which while a terrible and traumatic event, is poor at exploring the characters and their relationship and completely unrelated to what the previous chapter had as a cliffhanger (the parents visiting) and completely diverges from what the premise of the chapter was (fooling the parents).
This isn’t the first or last demonstration of poor story focus. Over the course of the comic, the two characters simply fall in love and keep parroting how much they love each other without ever demonstrating why they are like that. The closest inference I can make is that Aki has codependence issues and Kaidou likes easy access to an easily manipulated sex dispenser and that is fairly disturbing- which isn't want the author intends based on her chipper comments of the pair.
There are "arguably" four major components of a relationship (let's toss the nebulous definition of "love" to the side for now): Respect, Communication, Trust and Honesty. The leads manage to screw up each one, even thousand pages in and at the "praise" of all other characters, themselves, and the author in the author's comments - Neither character actually communicates with each other, they talk but they don't actually say anything of value or stick to any meaningful commitment (aside from saying they want to be lovers). Neither seems to respect each others' decisions since they are constantly making decisions behind each others' backs, they constantly talk to each other about being honest and trusting each other, but neither actually do it.
The relationship comprises of doing "nice things" to each other and parroting "I love you" to each other. While this could be an interesting dynamic to explore if it were treated like the dysfunctional relationship it is, it doesn’t. They are so well into their "relationship" that they're practically wed. The most missed opportunity is simply having the characters interact on a normal or calmer basis. Each arc in the comic is when the drama is in full throttle, so we never get to see what their actual relationship is like aside from that they like spooning at night.
However there is a silver lining in this. Due to how ORD is structured the story is continuing beyond just the characters hooking up, so while the actual exploration isn’t the best, that the story is attempting to tackle what comes after the hook-up is worth praising.
As an aside, while there are some attempts at character growth arcs, they fall exceptionally flat for reasons that are better explored in the Characters’ section.
In summary, ORD’s problems are that it is “tell, no show”, repetitive nature, inability to explore its own premise.
~CC, you don't seem to understand how causation works in a story or how relationships aren't just built on the biggest events and characters saying “I love you” repeatedly. Lulls are needed between these huge events. It's not necessarily TOO LATE to fix ORD but it's not really worth overhauling it this many pages in. Just understand that you have to take off your "Romance Genre" goggles when it comes to events. Really think about how differently these events would play out if one of the characters were NOT a lover. How would these events change if they were simply really good friends? What about brothers? (The sex scenes are HONESTLY not that important and I still question why they are shown since nothing new about the main couple's dynamics are shown.)
A relatively simple fix is that instead of glossing over "unimportant" events where people get to KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER, you actually SHOW it or at least show it better than a little dialogue box of "And [whatever] happened". Showing is often a lot more entertaining than telling, and sometimes the most “groundbreaking” events aren't the most interesting ones. Show some normalcy in your characters' lives! If everything is always dire then these dramatic events start to lose impact!
Remember, the story is about their relationship, and while it is noteworthy you are going beyond just the characters hooking up, it begs the question of why since its never made apparent why they like each other aside from the unhealthy reasons I listed above.
World: Some very uninformed take of modern Japan? I'm honestly unsure at times. I don't even know what business Ryuuta’s family is supposed to run or what would require a bodyguard or a specialized family that pumps out vassals.
That said, there are some more objectionable hiccups in the setting. Like how Kaidou somehow has a gun. How Aki has access to very anime clothing despite being homeless and taking the place of another boy whose wardrobe consists entirely of formal wear (this is actually said in the comic itself).
Another is how family culture in general works in Japan, the same for how abandoned children are handled. How job licensing works and how job application works in general. Japan has a lot of details that would have vastly changed how ORD was handled if the author had actually done research about it.
The way Japan views homosexuals is either very ill researched, based completely off of anime/manga or made purposely fanciful which begs the question of why Japan was used in the first place if nothing is consistently used from it- even by anime standards.
~It would be helpful for you to do more research about settings like this if you’re going to use them. Or if you don't want to do research, make a universe with its own rules to follow and be sure to structure it properly (refer to some of the resources linked earlier as your starting point).
Characters: Once again this is both a mountain and a molehill. The molehill version is that everyone is a shallow stereotype and suffers the same problems of those stereotypes. The characters are nothing short of a disaster and are what bring ORD’s quality down since what should be the strongest asset of the comic are incredibly mishandled.
Aki is an especially noxious blend of Mary Sue since he manages to sway everyone's hearts with no effort. With the exception of one character, every single named character is won over by Aki’s tragic past and/or how infuriatingly patronizing he can be since he has no faults save for his low-esteem. Except not even that is true since if anyone actually says anything bad to him, he’s there to tell them how wrong they are in a fit of exposition that somehow stuns them into silence.
The biggest problem with Aki is that he is very much a wish-fulfillment character whether he’s intended to be or not. He has success handed to him on a platter ranging from characters to hug-box him, to jobs handed out to him despite being severely under qualified; his only “failure” is that a single adult did not approve of him, but that doesn’t matter since she has no power over the plot and literally any psychological or emotional problems are conveniently solved by the act of being in a relationship with Kaidou (eg: Aki has nightmares that disrupt his sleep, however sleeping in the same bed as Kaidou makes this a nonissue).
There is also an underlying issue of how Aki acts like a damsel and how everyone treats him, and while being feminine isn't a problem, he has clutzy behavior and body language that is identical to a waifish female which ends up looking jarring.
Kaidou can solve any problem that Aki can't, usually by hitting the problems. Kaidou has no real personality to speak of except that he will shower Aki with declarations of love, initiate all acts of sex while also overriding any decision Aki makes because He Just Knows Better. He is of course never called out on anything wrong he actually does due to how the Romance Genre blinders work. Bafflingly enough he is both the most competent and incompetent at his job.
Ryuuta is the young master who runs away from the house. He teases some people, sometimes. He doesn’t contribute anything to the plot.
There are a number of OTHER named characters who don't really amount to anything since they appear very briefly, typically when drama is needed and additional exposition is required.
All characters suffer from being part of the Idiot Plot. Everyone's problems would be solvable by simply having all affected parties be in the same room and having a simple conversation. The truly bizarre part is that oftentimes the drama takes place in the same house, characters apparently just mill about to different rooms and that's how the "drama" lasts through the chapter. Because of this, characters will act completely randomly just to delay the inevitable Talk that will solve all the problems. This wouldn't be bad with a smaller cast, but many characters do it across several different dramatic events and because of this, the characters all bleed together.
~I feel this goes hand-in-hand with the plot. You're too concerned with making sure everyone KNOWS what the plot is while not defining any of the characters. Aki seems to be defined by his low esteem but this trait is highly inconsistent in practice. The greatest problem is that no one has a unique voice or any explored traits. You also have an excess of characters and the tendency to have all the characters tip-toe around each other for no clearly defined reason.
I recommend doing the following exercise: Do a chapter that does not use internal thoughts or has a character verbally describing something going on in a scene or what another character is doing or feeling. This can help flesh out your characters. Try reading your dialogue out loud too - does it sound like something that would happen in a natural conversation? There are many ways to go about this, the first and easiest way is to actually flesh out these characters is to not rely on stereotypes.
Tech/Misc.: All pages seem to have an excess of bleed/gutter (you do this with your other comics as well), you might want to check your page output settings. There is also a variety of small, but easily fixable things such as font choice and little touches that bring down the overall look of the comic.
On occasion there are "thanks" pages interspersed in the regular chapters which sometimes ruin the flow of the chapters, this can be very disorienting during more dramatic scenes.
~Don't use a serif font for your dialogue, find a sans-serif, comic-intended font. You can find a variety of FREE fonts on dafont.com. While handwriting character asides or certain effects can create a nice aesthetic, they are sometimes unreadable due to being in cursive. Try writing them as shapes, not script. I recommend customizing your site a bit more too but I understand if you don't want to since coding can be difficult.
While thanking fans isn't a bad thing, they should be put somewhere else on the site as having a "thank you page" in the middle of the chapter ruins your tone and since you make them lean towards fanservice and/or humor, this can be exceptionally jarring to whatever scene it was interrupting.
In closing: ORD is barely a step above being a trainwreck, even by BL standards it falls a little short since it sticks to clichés and bogs them down with excessive dialogue and lackluster story arcs and characters. The art isn't at a level that more lenient readers can chant "but at least the art is good", however it boasts an exceptionally high update rate.
If the author is given slightly better direction and purpose she could become a formidable force of quantity AND quality. But as it is, she still has a long ways to go. If you're dying for a BL with a large archive and don't mind gobbling down a comic fairly devoid of substance, One Rainy Day is for you.
For everyone else, especially those who have no love for BL/Yaoi, this comic certainly won't change your opinion of the genre for the better anytime soon.
Additional notes - below are spoilers from ORD as well as a more personal reaction to certain choices in the narrative, it is recommended that CC read this.
The handling of Kaidou raping Aki, while it is good in theory is again, not so good in execution. The components of an apology is admitting you’ve done something wrong and working towards fixing it- Kaidou blamed Aki for “being too sexy” and “doing things to him” which is victim-shaming. Aki’s line of how Kaidou can never hurt him, while probably seeming romantic in some sense, comes off as utterly disturbing in this context. “You could never hurt me” despite how in the scene he was screaming stop because it HURT and because this is the SECOND time he is having things done to him against his will.
Kaidou's insensitive behavior is further compounded since he KNEW about Ryuuta's tutor sexually assaulting Aki and then doing the same himself- yet he STILL blamed Aki for making him lose it. There's no other way to phrase how Kaidou was doing some disgusting Victim-Blaming and it's disgusting how Aki is so willing to forgive or trust him again, especially what happens when Aki meets his parents again.
The real frustrating part of this is that Aki refuses to accept the apology from his parents who, have, by all means actually done a proper apology; which is accept/acknowledge they’ve done something wrong and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT (sought rehabilitation). They also offered to do anything to make amends-and even complied with Aki’s creepy request. Aki's reaction is painful hypocrisy, especially considering the tripe he feeds to Kaidou about him and his family.
This isn’t a problem for a character to have these features, but it’s utter bullshit to have NO ONE call him out on his hypocrisy.
Make no mention of how Kaidou goes behind Aki’s back and tells Aki’s parents to fuck off despite how Aki made his decision about he wanted to work better with them. What Kaidou did was indefensibly revolting and the hallmark of abuse. Ignoring Aki’s decision is not respectful, it’s not cute, it’s not protective, it’s rejecting that Aki is capable of making his own decisions.
Really think about how these things pan out, these characters do not have a healthy relationship nor do they have developed personalities that make for interesting exploration because NO ONE ELSE in the comic or in your comments sees it for what it is. I know this all sounds incredibly harsh, but there is no milder way to phrase it-
I also took some time to glance at your other comics and they suffer these same problems too.
If you want to fix this problem, I’d be more than happy to help either point you to resources or step by step if I have to. It’s up to you and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. Do not feel bad of how harsh this review is either, I know it’ll probably hurt but it's better to hurt sooner rather than more later.