Le Diable

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Warning: This comic is so bad it's good
This comic is so fucking stupid it's actually fun to read. Decide on your own if you want to read the review and ruin the surprise.
Original review author: SpazzticBunnyhood
Webcomic name: Le Diable
Author: Ki Hiwatari or Hiwatari Ki (Hiwatari being the family name) (courtesy of SmackJeeves)
Start Date: Sep 20, 2010 at 11:19 pm
End Date: Ongoing, but updates veeerrryyyy slowly
Genre: Urban Fantasy…or that’s what it SHOULD be
Defining Flaw: High schoolers, absurd leaps in logic, and undynamic frames! Oh my!

Rating Summary
Art: Wiki.pngWiki.png

It’s the same art style as Contradiction.

Storyline: Wiki.pngWiki.png

It had potential.

Characters: Wiki.png

Way too many names to keep track of, and new characters are introduced all the time. Our leads have basically the same personalities as Contradiction’s.

Miscellaneous Details: Wiki.pngWiki.pngWiki.pngWiki.png

The hilarious leaps in logic return! Hooray!

Overall: Wiki.png

Would have worked better if Ki Hiwatari weren’t afraid to step outside his comfort zone.



Background

I originally found out about the works of Mr. Hiwatari through the article on this site by crookedglasses dedicated to Ki’s Webcomic Contradiction. I loved the article so much that I HAD to check out the comic, and it is still one of my favourite articles here. However, when I finished reading the comic, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness after such entertaining insanity. Either that, or it was indigestion. But, lo and behold! In the sidebar is a list of other comics by this insane little mastermind! And so, out of morbid curiosity, yearning for the insanity that was Contradiction, and a bit too much boredom, here is my binge read of Hiwatari’s Other Comics!

Also, I don’t know where to say this, so I’ll add it here. I thought the name of the comic was supposed to be El Diablo (Spanish for “The Devil”), not Le Diable. But I just Google Translated the name of this comic, and apparently it’s French for the exact same thing. But why would you name your comic Le Diable when you could have named it El Diablo? Sure they mean the same thing, but when you’re going to translate “The Devil” into any language, why French? The word “Diablo” is a lot more recognizable than its French counterpart. Also, considering spoilers later, shouldn’t it be La Diable, not Le Diable—okay, you know what? Never mind. Let’s keep going.

Downfall

When it stopped focusing on the supernatural and focused instead on high school life.

Story and Plot

Our comic begins with a “Coming Soon” picture. My, how pretentious. I mean this is a really awkward way to start the comic, and an awkward place to put a picture like this. If Mr. Hiwatari were to use a “Coming Soon” picture to advertise Le Diable in another comic (which he already did), that would be fine. But putting a “Coming Soon” picture at the beginning of said comic is just sloppy and a little bit pretentious. How much hype do you think you’ll have for this new website? How much hype did you even have for the IP in general?

Okay, whatever. Our story begins in proper with Hiwatari Ki—I mean this dark haired dude who totally isn’t Ki Hiwatari, looking over the city and—AHHHH! IT’S THE LITERALLY-PSYCHOPATHIC CREEPER FROM CONTRADICTION! HIDE YOUR DARK HAIRED ANGSTY DUDES! Oh, wait. That’s a different person? I looked it up and, yes, this glasses guy is supposedly a completely different person than the glasses guy from Contradiction. Either that or after the events of Contradiction, he took on a new identity. Guess his crimes in Setsuyamachi finally caught up with him.

Anyway, Aritaka Haruyama’s new identity is Takeshi Akitsuke, who is a reporter. He’s upset about not having a good story for his paper when, suddenly, the dark-haired, totally not Ki Hiwatari saves his butt from a mugger. How, you ask? By flat out murdering him! :D No. Seriously. A reporter is being mugged at knife point, and then a guy with a sword stabs him for no apparent reason. But you’ll be familiar with this gigantic leap in logic if you read Contradiction.


Gimme Money.png


So, the dark haired dude is like “whelp; job well done”, and claims to be the Devil (ha) so “Takeshi” makes it his mission to find out more about this mysterious stranger.

Cut to this random high school girl waking up. What? You thought this story was about a reporter investigating someone claiming to be the Devil? NOPE! This is a story about Yuki Kasaki, an average high school student, who’s totally cool and just so misunderstood by everyone ‘cause she’s a loner, yo! Sound familiar? I’ll go into it more in it later, but for now, I’ll just say she’s this comic’s Hiwatari Stu.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE DEVIL?!

Anyway, the story follows the typical high school shenanigans and clichés:

And then a nuclear explosion goes off in the city.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we found the spiritual successor to Contradiction. :D

Little Miss Angsty Face’s Spidey Senses tingle, and cut to a fire that reporter dude just happens to be at! Yaaay! The plot came back! Then he stumbles across a “burnt human corpse” that looks perfectly fine to me. And just when things get interesting, we cut back to those stupid high schoolers. Nooooooo…! The plot…! It’s floating away…! D;

Screw it. I'm skipping this High School Section. So, reporter dude watches the news and only NOW thinks to tell his female coworker that he was at the scene of the crime—wait, that’s a guy? And then OH MY GOSH! NOT THESE IDIOTS AGAIN! As you may have noticed, I’m skimming the High Schooler Shenanigans because they are just plain boring. Also, Pages 19 and 20 are the exact same page. And there are two Page 25s.

Little Miss Angsty Face starts to angst about how terribly drawn her parents’ hands were, which she unfortunately inherited. When, suddenly, demonic forces start trying to seduce her. Bad touch, Yuki! Bad touch! Then she transforms into the Devil. Reading this the first time, I thought that her "embracing the darkness" was happening in real time, not in her flashback. This made me think that there was this Devil Cult Conspiracy thing where the Devil could possess anyone at any time to make said person commit his murders for him. But, nope! It’s just Yuki because she’s ~~speeecciiaaalll~~. This makes more sense as to why the story keeps cutting to the high schoolers, but I still think the story would be better if Mr. Hiwatari stepped outside his comfort zone and stop putting his main characters in high school.

Cut to new characters. Are you bloody kidding me.

Will this be on the test?

Okay, joking aside, this guy is apparently the guy who killed this unscathed corpse. You can tell by how he mentally wrings his hands because he’s so dang ~~eeeevvviiilllll~~. The guy’s car is stopped by this…sword wielding bounty hunter, I guess? Who…gets…paid…in…souls…? I’m sorry. I have no idea why she’s important. Soon Little Miss Angsty Devil comes, knocks the empowered woman unconscious (because dat devil gai is so ~~cool~~), lets this evil murderer off with a warning, and bounty hunter chick wakes up with her boss (I think) watching over her.

…We go back to those bloody high schoolers again. And let’s have another page repeat while we’re at it. Anyway, Not-Devil Friendzone Guy tries to escape the friendzone (whoop-de-doo) when the comic ends. For now. But, if you’re super bored, then you can buy the first three volumes and inflict yourself to more of these high schoolers who keep hogging the spotlight! :D


Please don’t.

Art review

That is a HUGE bed!

This comic has all the proportion issues found in Contradiction. In the interest of not repeating what crookedglasses already said, I’m going to focus on a different aspect of the artwork. Mainly, the Awkward Framing.

Just to clarify, I am not talking about frame layout. It’s very much like the traditional Japanese Manga, which I have always preferred over the always rectangular grids of North American Comics. And, quite honestly, I think Mr. Hiwatari’s got that down better than I do. No, what I’m talking about is what is IN the frames, not the frames themselves.

Like, most of the time they look fine. But then you get crap like the reporter sitting awkwardly on this couch made of wooden planks, this frame of Not-Devil Friendzone Guy trying to run dynamically but failing, and this guy sitting at a totally different angle than the Mercenary Chick. I think the best/worst example of this is the bottom panel from this page. It’s supposed to be this super dramatic and cool moment, but it just looks so weak and mediocre. Or this panel of Mercenary Chick angrily, yet lazily, lifting her arm only to tap against Little Miss Devil Dude’s sword in the next frame! I mean, just look at every “action packed” scene from this comic and you’ll see what I mean.

For those of you who don’t really understand what I’m getting at, allow me to explain. In Scott McCloud’sbook Making Comics (a must read for every aspiring comic creator), he explains that during high tension scenes, the artist should go for intensity over clarity—meaning you should strive for more dramatic angles than panels just showing what’s going on. With that said, Mr. Hiwatari goes for clarity every time. Even in his more “dramatic” panels, they’re still way too mundane. Say what you will about frames from weird angles that have awkward proportions (I’m sorry, but that was the best example I could find), but at least THOSE comic artists were trying to create the right effect and stepped outside their comfort zone. Mr. Hiwatari would rather show boring poses from boring angles than try and make the scenes have the right tone.

The Characters

So...what kind of characters are in this story? Let's take a look:

Our Protagonist:

Yuki Kasaki (Little Miss Angsty Face) – It was during my first read of this comic when I noticed a pattern in Mr. Hiwatari’s work. There’s always this dark haired, mysterious loner dude who embraces the darkness, and the main chick falls in love with him despite his cynical behavior. These are what I shall refer to as the Hiwatari Stus. You might think that Le Diable’s protagonist is an exception to this rule, seeing as Yuki is a girl (and blonde), but she transforms into a dark haired dude by night, so...no, she’s a Hiwatari Stu too.

Anyway, the problem with making the “mysterious loner” the main character, and giving the audience the ability to read her every thought, doesn’t make her mysterious anymore. Yuki, on paper, would have been a great side character. And, yeah, a loner character can be compelling, but not if you keep idealizing the situation and making the other characters constantly fawn over how awesome she is. Need I remind you that this is set in high school? The time of life when people are the most shallow and judgmental about anyone different?

In media, I am naturally drawn to the Loner archetype. Kratos Aurion, Razer, Carmen Sandiego (to some extent)… I relate to the loner character because I become that person every time I step away from the keyboard. If I had an active social life, then I wouldn’t be doing a Hiwatari Ki Comic Marathon, would I? And that’s why it angers me so much when I see this character written poorly. (I’m looking at you, The Chronicles of Loth.)

The reason I bring this up is because I think Mr. Hiwatari is also a loner too, hence why the collection of Hiwatari Stus always have that “cool loner” trait thus far. Thing is…while it’s nice to think you look cool hanging out in corners, truth is, to the average person you come across as weird and creepy. And if you act all bitter and sarcastic to people, they’re likely going to be bitter and sarcastic back. As the saying goes, “treat others the way you want to be treated” and I’ve found that there is a LOT of truth to that. I mean, I never had a guy follow me around like a lost puppy when I gave people the cold shoulder. So when Mr. Hiwatari writes these super-duper cool loner dudes (and, in this case, dudette) it just reeks of wish-fulfillment.So…yeah; no. In reality, Yuki wouldn’t have a BFF, and definitely wouldn’t have some hot guy wanting her number.

The Other Characters:

Megume Akabe (Yuki’s BFF) – Let’s face it. She’s only there because Mr. Hiwatari doesn’t know how to write Yuki’s interactions with Not-Devil Friendzone Guy without being having a bubbly girly-girl around. …Also, giving Yuki a Best Friend kinda undermines the whole “loner” thing, doesn’t it?

Nagisa Yukihiro (Not-Devil Friendzone Guy) – No. No; no; no; no; no. A guy like this would never hit on a girl like Yuki. (I speak from experience.) His existence in this story is both wish fulfillment and exemplifying how Mr. Hiwatari only really knows how to write three types of characters: The Loner, The Bubbly One, and The Boy Next Door.

Takeshi Akitsuke (The Reporter)HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE MAIN CHARACTER! For heavens sake! Sure, he wasn’t the best character ever written, but he was relatable, full of energy, charismatic, and, above all, motivated. Plus, him investigating the mysterious events going on around him means that the audience could have figured out the mysteries alongside him. He would have made a great protagonist! But…no! Bloody stupid high school stereotypes take that spotlight away from him.

The Devil – Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha—no. If he’s the Devil, then I’m Princess Di.

Author biography

For Turbulence, I didn’t really say anything about Mr. Hiwatari that hadn’t been said already. However, NOW I’m going to give my two cents.

See this page? Seems like a harmless contest, no? Well, scroll down and read the Artist’s Comments. More specifically...

“I will not be updating any pages on Le Diable until I am able to sell a few more copies of the volumes ;v;”

You. Little. Sell Out.

Okay, okay, that may come across as a bit unfair, but hear me out. By this point in time, Chapter 1 has just ended. The only thing that is worth noting is the characters were introduced and a fireworks factory exploded. The audience has been given nothing but stereotypes, stock phrases, and mild cliffhanger, and Mr. Hiwatari expects the audience to be jumping at the chance to find out what happens next? Gimme a break! Look, I know trying to make a living as an artist is hard, but come on! If you want your audience to buy your merchandise, then you have to give them something they can sink their teeth into first!

So, just to recap, Mr. Hiwatari’s mild delusions of grandeur made him think he’s hooked his readers after giving them basically nothing. As a result, he decides to punish his fans by withholding more pages until he sells enough hard copies of his books—in essence, locking them behind a pay wall.

My Verdict: Sell Out.

Conclusion

This is a comic you have to read a couple of times to understand. I mean WOW. I mean it had some promise, but then it threw some stupid high school plot into the mix. That, to me, is the weirdest thing about this comic. It’s set up as this dark, supernatural urban fantasy, but then cuts to the humdrum shenanigans of three random high schoolers. Sure, it’s revealed that the loner chick is that Devil Dude, but apart from that spontaneous plot twist, the high school set up feels completely out of place.

What would have been more natural is for the reporter dude to notice this high school student as he’s investigating this Devil Guy. The reporter has a couple of conversations with her to establish that she’s weird but important, and THEN reveal that she was this Devil Dude all along by having her transform in front of him. This would have kept the reporter as the protagonist, kept the girl as this mysterious entity, and kept the audience engaged in the mystery the story presents. But as it is, it feels like two random stories have been smashed together and only our Hiwatari Stu being the one thread linking them together.

But, I won’t lie…this comic is kind of amusing. I mean, it’s not nearly as badly translated as Contradiction, but I did find myself snorting every once in a while at the mood swings this comic suffers from. So bad it’s good? Probably. But I still say Contradiction was a funnier read.

Also, I just found out this guy has a Fiction Press Account where he posted written versions of both Contradiction and Le Diable which are listed as being complete.

Mwahahaha! >D I think I found my reading material for the next while…

Other comics by this person reviewed on this site

Links