- Disclaimer - this review is slightly inaccurate and needs a rewrite.
|Original review author:||The Luigiian and TheSilentOne|
|Webcomic name:||Slightly Damned|
|Author:||"The 'Chu", a.k.a. Raizy|
|Start Date||March 14, 2004|
|Genre||Anime, furry, ironic humor|
|Defining Flaw||There are a bunch. For once, I don't even know where to begin.|
Lacking in fine detail, nicely colored, slavishly devoted to the anime genre. Very typical of webcomics.
Messy-at-times storyline with lots of annoyingly unfunny cornball humor at the beginning and nonstop drama at the end. It shifts itself all right, but don't expect it to be perfect.
Actually not that bad. In spite of the fact that the lead is a weird rat thing called a Jakkai that looks vaguely like a Raichu with a deformed tail, the characters grow on you, eventually emote, and by the end almost resemble real characters.
The artist of this has worked harder than most webcomic artists at this comic, which is not to say that it's very good. Superior to Jack and Suicide for Hire, but it's not as if it's special. Just not quite as damnable as the worst comics out there.
Shockingly, Slightly Damned is only slightly shitty, mostly boring schlock, but possessing in brief spurts little bits of interesting storytelling and plot.
Nearly one month ago, we began the arduous task of looking at the webcomic Slightly Damned, the work of one "Raizy", and quickly forgot about it, possibly because most of the BWW's writers were finishing final exams and also probably because it's pretty much the most milquetoast piece of anthropomorphic copycat anime wankery ever foisted upon the Internet. I'm serious, I've seen copycat comics before, but by God Damned is perhaps the most damnably generic of them all. Not since Yosh! have I seen a comic that seems so much like an anifur concoction of déjà-vu. And not only that, Damned takes much of its storyline from among the worst webcomics of all time, Hopkins' Jack, starting the comic with a Grim Reaper that looks exactly like Jack and a dead child that looks very much like "Fnar, the Unborn". At the very least Yosh! creator Philip Brown had the fucking decency to imitate a passable comic, TwoKinds, which is of course generic and boring and utterly insipid from start to finish, but which was not so bad that one would willingly set fire to the original strips if they ever so much as laid eyes on them. Why in the name of Christ would anybody ever want to imitate Hopkins of all people, in any way, shape or form, is something I will never, ever understand.
What's hilarious about Slightly Damned is that, for all the Hopkins imitation it does, it doesn't even really understand why people liked Jack in the first place. Hopkins is a shitty artist and his work is creepy beyond all reason, but that's exactly why people liked it: It fucked up furries to extremes, violently mutilating them, murdering them, torturing them, raping their innocence, wiping their cute obnoxious little smug glances off like so much snot on an anthropomorphic glass wall. Hopkins draws furries like a paranoid schizophrenic on acid, a furry rapist of the kind that awakened the inner troll in every one of the furry fandom's glassy-eyed yiff-crazy lunatics. Hell, he even awakened the eyes of some of the less crazy furries and anti-furries alike, most of whom knew it was shit but liked it anyway; and, of course, they liked it because there are few, if any, comics as hateful and cruel to furries as Jack.
And yet this comic takes the Jack beginning, where an aborted fetus is sent to Hell to pay for the wrongdoing of his mother, and removes all the rest, replacing it with a generic anime storyline centering around angels and demons. There's not a hint of furry-killing or dark, grim mawkish storytelling from it. All we need to do, really, to compare Jack with Slightly Damned is to compare Jack's first page with the first page of Slightly Damned.
Let's ignore the fact that this strip of Slightly Damned is slightly better drawn than Jack (and saying so is being pretty goddamn accommodating, considering the final panel; apparently Hell had a blizzard or something, what with there being no background or sense of context in the panel). It's very simple: Jack's first panel is concise, creepy, and simple. You know what the fuck you're getting into with that, and it could not be clearer in its intentions. Whereas the first page of Damned is such a fucking mess I don't know where to begin. Graveyard, some casket saying "Rhea Snaketail", then we apparently see Rhea Snaketail "waking up" in Hell. And, oh yeah, we get our first clue as to the inspiration of this comic, as our Devil character looks vaguely like, talks vaguely like, and uses pretty much the exact same font and word bubble style as the Grim Reaper from Jack.
Story and Plot Synopsis
Have you ever read Jack? If you have (God help you), just picture Jack with every ounce of violence and mawkishness removed and replaced with "dark" humor so grating and unfunny that you want to stab nails in your eyes trying to read through it, remove Jack for most of the strip, and replace him with a pratfalling demon, a "big sister" demon, and a "mean" demon, all of whom are obnoxious beyond the imagination of mere mortals.
I'm serious, it's that fucking bad. According to Jack, er, whoever the fuck the antagonist Reaper is in this comic, Rhea Snaketail is a Raichu with a fucked-up tail that did enough "evil" (later revealed to be an incident that basically amounted to her breaking some sacred Macguffin-type idol and running away from home) that Heaven would not touch her, but apparently she was not worthy of Purgatory either, and she was also too good for Hell. So what the fuck does that mean? Well, it means that Rhea Paintbrushtail must go to a "special" place, a strange place with God knows what in it but it is a special place, just for Rhea, because apparently Rhea is neither good, nor evil, nor even neutral. She's like a fourth fucking dimension of morality holy fuck you guys! That is so fucking awesome.
In case you're wondering, no, we don't get anyplace particularly special or unique. What we apparently get is basically Hell (for fuck's sake you have to cross the Styx to get to it, I wasn't aware that ancient Greeks reserved a special place for Raichus with different tails) and this Hell is also pretty much exactly the same as every Hell that has been depicted since The Odyssey. And no, that is not a slam on Homer. Guy was writing for bards and covered a story that pretty much lasted days if sung as is, I wasn't expecting him to depict motorcycle-riding leprechauns or anything, but seriously, three millennia later, you're covering a fraction of the Hell in that story (shit, a fraction of the Hell covered in any other story about Hell for that matter) and you give your readers shit like this? Where's the backgrounds, the scenery of horrors and nightmares? Oh wait, those are only for the bad people. In extra-special Rhea Snaketail land, they don't have room for backgrounds or things that would get in the way of humor like this.
If you've read this far, you may love this comic, in which case stop reading this and do what you really want to do, i.e. just read it and buy another shirt from Hot Topic. For everybody else, I'll try to summarize: This shit is painful. The purple "fire demon" acts pretty much like a mentally retarded big brother to Raichu Snaketail, stepping on her tail, giving her a tour and engaging in comic misadventures like breaking his own skull with a rock.
I thought the point of demons was that they were supposed to be evil. This demon gets afraid of a fuckin' toddler. Where's the evil?
And then big sister comes in to answer me. She's got stitches on her shoulder and lots of earrings and probably tattoos and smokes pot so we know she is the real deal and the living embodiment of terror for anybody under the age of fourteen, even up to as late as 17 judging by the fact that the author was 17 when she drew this. She is dangerous and bad news and can fly, probably to her 22-year-old boyfriend's house to listen to some kickin' rad metal, so of course she is a bad girl.
But before one completely discredits the comic, we do have to give it credit, they do argue that the sister isn't that scary. But yeah, the brother says, I have a big brother that I think is kinda scary. Oh, I could hardly wait.
Naturally, in this comic, scary big bro is the cool one, who Rhea the Raichu is afraid of for some reason. He isn't scary at all, just a boring drunken big brother who probably attends community college or plays on the high school football team or whatever. It isn't necessarily bad, but to put it bluntly, this demon family consists of a little brother who got dropped on his head when he was young, an emotionally maladjusted big sister that flies and occasionally makes snippy comments behind everybody's back, and a "cool" jock big brother. So, like an anime preteen sitcom. In fact, you could make an argument that it's kinda like Inuyasha if the titular character is the stupid little brother. I'm not really sure who the sister would be in this one, since one of Inuyasha's few saving graces included not having a Goth character, but aside from that little trivial detail it's pretty much the same, especially when they escape Hell and go on great quests through the median world between Heaven and Hell known naturally as Medius (spoiler alert).
It's really quite sad. The all-important moment where this child ended up getting on the one-way train to Quasi-Hell Station is so lame and ridiculously un-evil that it makes you wonder what sort of shit you'd have to do to get into Heaven in this world. Really, some dumbass kid breaks an idol (admittedly a sacred idol), runs away from home, gets murdered, and as such gets sent to someplace worse than Purgatory?
In the context of this particular fantasy world, all the demons seem nice and genuinely non-threatening, sweetly befriending this child and almost acting like they feel sorry for her. As opposed to, you know, the God of her hometown, who was such a bitter asshole that he sent a child to a place where the sun doesn't shine for breaking some wooden bat thing. Reminding me again of the opening comic, where all the gravestones have crosses. So, um, crosses in a universe where people worship wooden bat things. I thought the whole cross thing was Christian. Never mind then.
The demons here read poetry from pen pals at the surface, and the midget retarded demon supposedly wouldn't harm a fly. So why in the fuck are they demons at all? Where is the line between Heaven and Purgatory and Hell drawn? Why is the God in this comic such a bitter insufferable asshole? It makes me feel all emo deep down inside by nihilistic soul, which I guess is what the author is going for.
This is an issue with every badly written Hell story out there. There is absolutely no understanding made whatsoever in Slightly Damned about what differentiates a person destined for Hell versus a person destined for Purgatory or Heaven. The demons in this comic are nice, cute and sweet, but somehow they're supposed to be evil. But the flying sister supposedly has done evil while in Hell, so it's supposed to make sense. Daddy comes around to be cute to the kids and coddle them, when he's not apparently in the ninth circle gnawing on traitors or elsewhere sending bees to torture people at the gates. A little consistency would be nice, 'chu!
Then as if it couldn't get any more schizoid, the sister dies (spoiler alert) (revamp) and everyone (all of three characters, the author's self-insert, a being with the intelligence of a rock, and Thaddeus) mourns her. Rhea is brought back to life in her hometown along with the purple demon, and she teaches him how to eat.
That covers, oh, about a hundred and twenty pages. The comic itself, at current, is a little over six hundred strips. The comic has a huge storyline which only for those first hundred or so actually takes place in "Hell". The rest takes place in the real world. So, Slightly Damned; yeah. Not really a great title in hindsight, actually.
There are some commentaries on racism, sort of like Fischbach's TwoKinds anti-racial stuff in that it doesn't really comment much on racism and sort of just hangs there awkwardly. We find out that the blue person/rabbit they find in the real world is an angel, a fact everyone is supposed to get because she wears blue and has pale skin. Which, when you think about it, is also sort of racist.
To get to the meat of the issue with the way this comic handles racism is that it does it by detailing the hatred angels have for demons and vice versa. And yet it's hard for me to feel sorry later on when this hatred leads to drama, because, well, they're fucking angels and demons . That's kind of the fucking point. We even find out later that the demons we met early on are actually special cases taught to be good by a certain character, and all the other demons really are the kind of jerks you'd expect them to be, what with killing angels and torturing people and all that. But the comic tries to tell us how sad it is that humans prejudge demonic beasts and angels go to try to kill the demon, and how we shouldn't judge one another. But telling a story where the author seems to imply that a human shouldn't be afraid of a lunatic beast with giant fucking claws and teeth so sharp they could cut diamond feels incredibly bizarre, especially when the only thing keeping said demon from ripping a new asshole into everything within five miles is a necklace he hangs around his neck with a thin string. It's like telling a lady in a back alley that she really shouldn't be afraid of the large man coming towards her with a knife in one hand and a gun in the other and a disturbing look in his eyes. But yeah, totally, the human characters should feel just fine hanging about with demons from Hell.
These "bad" demons corner the angel and work to kill her, which is only slightly awkward and bizarre, mostly just boring. Were you expecting a rape scene? Silly reader, this isn't Jack! Lead characters, predictably, side with the angel. The angel, in turn turns back into a bunny rabbit and thanks the lead characters for helping him, but as it turns out some horrible things are going on in Heaven and she is cursed. Cursed angel, war between Hell and Heaven, sounds like we've got a typical angels-and-demons thing going on here so far, right down to the mixing of theologies with the classic elemental guardians and pendants that give people special powers.
As a running joke, all of Rhea's friends in the real world always comment on how evil she is. Most of them are human, leading us to question why we have the talking animals in the first place, especially if all the Raichu thing is going to do is basically make the lead seem like a cute little rat thing running about the Damned interpretation of "Medius".
There's so much shit to go on about here I don't know where to stop. Pimp clothes, for example, which I'm pretty sure don't really make much sense in this particular story even as comic elements. We find out the angel's favorite color is purple, no for serious. So they give her the purple pimp clothes for the day.
After page 200, the comic has pretty much forgotten all about the Hell storyline and the way Rhea was murdered and writes all of that out of the comic for a long time, moving into a glacially-paced anime storyline, which is about as jarring as clicking your browser from reading Jack and switching over to TwoKinds mid story. It shifts better than that sounds, and that isn't the comic's fatal flaw, either: what's really irritating about reading the comic at this point is how fucking long it is. It feels like every inch of its six hundred pages, moving from event to event in dozens of pages' time, almost at the pace of an anime TV show.
Like so many webcomics, it feels more like the creator is into TV anime than into movies. It's a serial, meaning it never really has a concise beginning or end, meandering from storyline to storyline over hundreds and hundreds of strips. Let's put it bluntly, it requires substantial dedication to follow a good TV show from beginning to end, and writers of most TV shows know this, making sure a person can watch one episode and still not feel clued out if another episode happens to follow out of sequence.
The only types of TV shows that don't do this sort of thing are anime cartoons, which may be part of the reason why the fanbase of these shows are so utterly fuckin' committed to them. And thus we have the central problem with this comic: It isn't arranged in an episodic fashion at all, even in the typical anime cartoon way where you have to tune in to every single show to understand what's going on. It certainly isn't arranged like any other serial, where you can read these episodes at your leisure, or into chapters, where you can read one in one day and then move onto the other the next. It's one, long, meandering chapter of a story that never ends, an unbroken and impossibly dull sequence of random events.
Reading from the beginning, this isn't too bad, but trying to digest it all after the fact is utterly exhausting. Without any real endings to these chapters, Slightly Damned's storyline completely falls apart, flopping around wildly and without sense like a fish with no vertebrae.
If you've read this far and still like it, I can't say I completely disagree with the sentiment, to an extent. This comic is better written and structured than the worst comics on this site. It's a damn sight better than Concession in terms of having something resembling a plot, for an example. Hell, it even beats TwoKinds. It's boring as shit, but that's because it's simply too long, lacks an engaging premise, and, oh, did I mention that it has no pacing or structure? Because that's it's killer issue. It needs to be arranged into chapters, novellas, or something to arrange these random events into something approaching definition.
Hell, I'll even admit that a lot of the rest of the characterization is all right, too. Characters act realistically. Over time, 'Chu grows enough as a storyteller to give them realistic emotions. The Raichu acts like a child. The angel becomes frightened upon learning the true nature of the demon Buwaru, whose name by now I can actually remember. I'm not sure if it's a case of Stockholm Syndrome from reading through three hundred comics of this, but I even warm a little to the characters. It gets way too sentimental and sappy for my tastes, like something meant for children, but its storyline does give the impression of TwoKinds done without the sex. That alone is decent. That the characters aren't completely fucking dense is also OK.
By comic 401 the comic's finished an arc. There's an enormous plot twist that occurs at around page 425, if you read it up to here, one which has actual impact on the storyline and which will entertain you if you become a fan. The comic has by now slowly arrived at a point where there's actual drama, drama which has all but wiped out the stupid Hot Topic humor of the early strips to my infinite gratitude. It does have a capability to draw the reader in, in spite of its enormous flaws. If you force it on yourself to read this far, you might even enjoy it even if you're not a complete Hot Topic reject, the only complete failure still lingering being the fact that the lead character is a fucking Raichu with a funny tail. Shoulda took more time doing character modeling back at the tender age of 17, eh, 'Chu?
But I remind you, for all the enjoyment you might derive reading all the way to here, it's about 750 pages, and has a long, long way to go. The 'Chu will likely be finishing the comic about the time she hits sixty at this rate. My equal levels of praise and cruel barbs continue; there is some action that's reasonably satisfying, even if the art goes all to shit in some places (such as, in this comic's grand tradition, horrendous ten-second backgrounds) and the action is also lacking in details that might make it more enjoyable, with timing and basic choreography and wooden body posing being the biggest issues. Again, though, not that bad, not nearly as bad as the fact that this comic is fucking 750 pages long . It's decently written, perhaps, even enjoyable at times, but it is definitely not worth reading even this far. You'd have to be the most dedicated fucking anime fan in the world to deal with the insane amounts of text, pseudo-magic babble, and Raichus and ground-based purple people eaters that this comic shoves down your throat.
If you can handle even 430 pages of that shit, then have I got a comic for you! But seriously, go munch 750 pages of "Jakkai" taint.
The weakest link in Slightly Damned is the art, which is anime derivative and desperately unpolished. Raizy “The Chu’s” art is obviously imitative in nature. She clearly learned to draw by drawing other people’s drawings, rather than by doing live sketches, and I would not be surprised if she had never taken a college quality art course of any kind (or an ANY quality PhotoShop course). The style itself (as mentioned) draws heavy influence from both Japanese anime and Western styles.
The perspective is atrocious, any scenes that aren’t flat side-views look like a Picasso painting. The expressions are so flat that they look like post-it notes tacked on to character’s faces. In flashbacks, she likes to leave in the tracing lines, removing the sense of polish from the drawing. It could work, but just looks lazy. Also, the author cannot draw people; most human characters have the proportions and detail of a SNES-era Megaman sprite. If you can imagine a kid that learned to draw by sketching official Nintendo drawings of Pikachu over and over (or more likely, Rai Chu) you’d have a good idea of what the art in Slightly Damned is like. This has a direct effect on non-critter drawings, like horses and humans, which Raizy has not yet learned how to draw. As the comic added more characters, this has become more and more noticeable.
There have been improvements, however, which lead to the worst (but most genuinely interesting) problem the comic has. The comic itself is the author’s learning experience. The author is not drawing their story, they’re drawing a ten year long homework project. Every page includes either an improvement, or a detriment, or a new technique of some kind that has probably never been practiced and looks like ass. It’s obvious that Raizy doesn't do any research on poses before drawing (and has no innate talent), so if a character is doing something that they haven’t before, it’ll look weirdly off until she draws it another four or five times.
I'm going to go on a limb and say the worst part is the backgrounds, from start to finish. Sometimes they could be quite pretty and imaginative, but the 'Chu takes the lazy way out with every opportunity. At first she chose to avoid drawing backgrounds altogether. For most of the comic she stuck to colored backgrounds, dismissively referred to them as “rainbow barf.” But when she finally decided to start stop drawing her characters inside a void of "Fill Bucket" she couldn't do that right either. She was in such a hurry to draw proper backgrounds that she started doing so long before she actually knew how, or perhaps was just too lazy to bother with quality and decided to learn on the go. The end result was her paneling dozens of comics with ugly messes. The backgrounds gradually improved, but even now they remain little more than solid walls of color (or gradient to make it look like she's actually trying) when she thinks she can get away with it, or ugly, cartoonish and flawed on multiple levels whenever she feels like getting off her lazy ass and actually drawing some half - assed background.
The experimentation is obvious from the start. The atrocious beginning of the comic looks like a middle school art student had photographed their own pencil sketches and then inked them with a mouse. The first few pages use hand lettering. The overarching plot is planned years in advance, but individual pages seem to be churned out last minute with no preparation and minimal planning. At one point, Raizy decided to change her entire palette because she didn't like the old one (although it was rather garish) and then again change her shading because she wanted it to be more detailed, resulting in dozens of ugly comics before she actually figured out how to do it.
The comic is full of improvements that were added to the comic without testing to see how well they work elsewhere. In individual panels, you can see odd expressions, awkward posing, and extremely poor perspective. For palette and stylistic changes, this affects entire comics, sometimes as many as five before Raizy figures out what she’s doing. That doesn't include human characters, which are strangely proportioned with simplistic posing, nor does it include backgrounds, which have awkward perspectives and childish texturing.
Even at its best, the style is cartoony and childish, but if you like Pokémon or classic Disney you’ll probably like the art more for that (think Pokémon as drawn by Don Rosa) “At its best” is almost passable, and that will hopefully be fairly consistent when the author finally figures out how to draw scenes with natural character posturing and realistic perspective. Although this review is being re-done at the moment, two years after it was originally posted, and the comic is still not showing any signs of that happening.
I already went over it in the synopsis, why not look at that? To paraphrase if you want to avoid spoilers (or just have ADD): In comics 1-108, we have an annoying "dark" humor formula which is forced and painful at every moment. Characters grate, storyline limps and staggers, and it tries too hard to be funny. Through the next hundred comics or so, it begins to move away from that beginning. Later on, characters begin to grow and the drama takes over, which isn't as bad as it sounds. The comic transitions to an anime-based angels-and-demons plot, which is carried by characters that begin to emote as Raizy begins to grow as a writer. Finally, by around the 400s the comic starts to show off some decent backstory, some interesting plot twists and by the end (around the 500s ish) it all finally begins to gel. The comic progressively slows down as it continues, filling itself up with irrelevant points and still unresolved details to whatever plot there was.
It takes a long, long while though, so if you were the type that couldn't read through my synopsis because you thought it was too long you're probably not going to get into a comic with this much stuff in it anyway. It isn't all good stuff, either, much of it filler and some of it pretentious. Nonetheless, it grows on you. It's no Achewood, that's for damn sure, but it's better than TwoKinds and I won't begrudge you for liking it. Nor will I agree that it deserves the accolades it's gotten or anything, but whatever, webcomics.
Raizy, who prefers to be called "The 'Chu" or "Chu", is a 29-year-old "jet programmer alt webcomic artist" (whatever the hell that means) with an English degree. She started the comic in 2004 out of the humiliation of realizing that she’d only ever written Pokémon fanfiction. Her DeviantArt account is full of Photoshop experiments featuring trite Nintendo fanart and the characters from her comics. Raizy’s influences are (obviously, but also explicitly stated to be) anime in general; the Fox Kids lineup from the early 90’s, which she apparently had in place of parents; and Nintendo (and only Nintendo) video games. Having been raised by Nintendo games and Saturday morning cartoons, the two strongest influences on her work seem to be Nintendo’s Pokémon and Disney’s Gargoyles. The third strongest influence, adorably, would be her friends.
Raizy is a member of a small internet collective that calls itself “The Hive,” consisting of several close friends, several of whom write webcomics (and none of which are notable enough to be included in this wiki, which should tell you something). Every single person in the group is better at some aspect of comics than Raizy, be that world building, dialogue writing, story writing, characterization, sketch work, or PhotoShop. Unfortunately, they're absolutely abysmal in whatever skills they're lacking,* and she seems to follow their suggestions based on whatever they’re worst at.**
Raizy herself is an English/Japanese/English Major (not art) who started writing the comic in High School and works hard to maintain that level of quality. She continued it all through college. Her status as a weeaboo eventually lead to her becoming a schoolteacher in Japan, until she realized that it was never going to be like she saw in anime and she quit. She currently spends most of her time drawing furries, insisting to people that she’s not a furry and does not write a furry comic, and bitching about how fans misspell the made-up names of her characters.
Also, she has a photo of herself over there. If you want to see what she looks like for whatever reason (not going to ask) why not go to her DA and see for yourself. I'm done here.
- Two good examples of this are a comic that contains panels of handwritten text, and a comic that features people standing around and talking, with occasional explanations of what the story is supposed to be. I refuse to link to these.
- A notable exception here is the shading/coloring. The author gleefully changes her coloring as often as possible to prevent anything from getting too consistent, but uses techniques recommended by people who know more than her about it (admittedly not a huge feat). The coloring/shading and backgrounds are the biggest stylistic changes since the start.
I was seriously expecting this comic to be a gigantic piece of shit when I began reviewing, but as it turns out I was disappointed. This comic was surprisingly decent, even likable, much more so than most other comics I've reviewed. This isn't to say it's great, with crappy backgrounds, a too-long run, too much padding, and a grating start, but it finishes smoothly and has an engaging storyline.
In spite of all the shit that fills this comic like untold animal parts ground up in a sausage, I would say this is one of the few comics on this site which one might actually enjoy reading. Enjoying it will be hard, though, because you'll have to read through all of it, which is something I don't think everybody should bother doing.
There are certain comics that I think everyone should read, even if they are long. Lackadaisy Cats is one. Achewood is another. Slightly Damned's appeal depends on how much you like anime. If you despise anime, down to its cliched parts and crappy storylines and never-shuts-up storylines, then you should avoid Slightly Damned like the plague, but on the other hand if you love anime and you love video games and cute little talking creatures and you want to see all of the above in one single enormous pastiche of anime and video games and cute little talking creatures, then by God have at this comic. I will not judge you.
(To your face anyway.)
- The comic for the masochistic.
The forum for those with peter pan syndrome.Removed
- The links page that has links to some of those things I didn't link.