Fan Work Reviews: toufu’s Manga

A new segment we’re starting on Wynaut? is Fan Work Reviews! The general idea is that here we’ll feature a piece of Pokémon-themed work (be it writing, art, music, a nuzlocke, or anything else creatively inclined) that we feel is worth more attention. If you know of any pieces of work that you feel would qualify, feel free to suggest it, or even join the forums to write up a review yourself! You can even suggest one of your own pieces of work… but note that we’d still need to agree that it’s worth showing off here. Another word of warning is that there’ll be some criticism too within each review. Works here are definitely to be admired, but nothing is without flaws.

To start off our series is a piece of fanmade manga by a Japanese artist. While the downside is that all the text is in Japanese, it’s still something you can follow the general story of. And its art and general quirks are what set it apart and make it worthwhile to read.

[Image: comic_shinx_feelingfine.png]
The Shinx here feels you really ought to check it out. Our advice is to listen to the Shinx.

toufu’s Manga
By toufu (pixiv)
First Chapter
Chapter Listing (click cover images to view)

What is it about?

This manga is based on the Diamond/Pearl/Platinum storyline of the games. It is written and drawn by a sole artist, who goes by the username of toufu on the Japanese art site pixiv. It has been an ongoing project over a number of years, and is still updating frequently (at the time of posting, the latest update was within the last month). The manga is arranged in chapters. You can view the first chapter here, and the entire list of chapters (with the most recent at the top) here. It’s no more violent or mature than any of the official Pokémon manga. As mentioned above, all text is in Japanese, but a lot of the dialogue can be inferred just by paying attention to the art, and understanding the general events – and appreciating the art – does not require a knowledge of the language. An important note to keep in mind however is that, as is typical of manga, you read panels from the (top) right side to left.

The general base of the DPPt games’ plot is there thus far – there’s a main character (in this case, Dawn plays the role of the protagonist), who goes on a journey with Barry, the hyperactive rival. Gym battles are had, Team Galactic are encountered, and events like the Valley Windworks hijacking occur here.

So what makes it so good?

Part of it is down to what the comic doesn’t follow, or simply replicate. Characters are certainly expanded upon greatly beyond what is showcased in the games, and the Pokémon within the story are no exception to that. Furthermore, the Pokémon themselves are no regular starters.

[Image: comic_golduck_wii.png]
Wii Sports can be quite the workout.

In the games, you end up with one of the starter Pokémon (Chimchar, Turtwig or Piplup) left behind in the bag by the good Professor Rowan and his assistant by one of the three lakes of Sinnoh. While that event does happen in the manga, it’s Barry who gets all three of them. Dawn ends up starting her adventure with a Golduck, and a pretty badass one at that. Her interactions with the Pokémon are a source of much amusement, and you have to admit that Golduck is not often seen in fanworks like this sort. And a novice trainer starting with something that clearly can handle itself as well as Golduck can in battles does offer a lot of potential in terms of storytelling.

[Image: comic_coolgolduck2.jpg]
Golduck demands attention.

Despite Golduck’s prowess, it’s not relied on as a auto-nuke button for Dawn throughout the story; nor does it actually manage to be one either. That’s just as well, because that would be a boring way to resolve a number of the plot-lines. Instead, other Pokémon also feature, and how Dawn manages each of her Pokémon in battle and tries to get along with them is a common theme as well. As for the battles, they are full of diverse tactics and attacks performed in a variety of ways, even including the likes of Helping Hand, Pluck, and Attract.

Other Pokémon of note include the Shinx that was in the first picture. She’s got a certain interest in the Golduck, and also showcases a range of entertaining, exaggerated facial expressions. Each Pokémon has their own personality and mannerisms, including those that you only see in a single chapter, such as a Gym Leader’s Pokémon. And then there’s Barry’s Pokémon as well, which show up multiple times.

[Image: comic_piplup2.jpg]
Golduck hopes that you remember to read from right to left.

Barry himself is worthy of mention too. He’s much more than the impatient go-getter he is in the games. Here he has a whole serving of extra personality, and his own worries and interactions with his Pokémon and Dawn feature. They make for an interesting duo, and while the two do have frequent fights, they have a good chemistry and stick up for each other when matters call for it.

All sorts of other characters also pop up, from Team Galactic grunts and admins, to Gym Leaders, to the likes of Cynthia, to random trainers. toufo does well to put their own twist on each of them and set them apart from the game’s portrayal, and make them their own characters.

The art is solid overall. You can see a clear increase in detail as the story progresses – the first chapter was submitted back in middle 2011 – but it doesn’t take long to catch up to its current standing, and even the first chapter has pleasing aesthetics. The battles are really where toufu comes into their own; action is captured in stills with incredible skill by using different perspective, shading and negative space.

[Image: comic_water.png]
Anyone thirsty?

The above picture is just beautifully drawn, and there’s many more to that standard as well which no regular artist could easily draw once. Another clear example of this I feel is the earlier picture of Golduck blasting a truck with water; he’s standing still, but the pose and expression indicates so much more. A lot of different Pokémon and people feature as well, and they’re not always drawn to their exact canon heights (for instance, Golduck appears to be stouter than your regular sort). This all showcases toufu’s skills in drawing. This manga would not at all look out of place if this was a published/official piece of work!

While the art is in the vast majority of cases done in black-and-white, there is the occasional cover of a chapter done in colour, such as this battle-filled chapter:

[Image: comic_catfight2.jpg]
An apt title.

The artist uses exaggeration in a number of places, as showcased in the above panel, or by selectively making characters chubbier/shorter. (Dawn is a clear example of this a few chapters in; she’s certainly a more bulky figure than the one portrayed in the official art and anime). Although there’s no consistency in the exaggeration, this appears to be intentional, as toufu cleverly changes the build of characters to adapt to the situation. For example, in the above panel, Shinx and Purugly get all the detail in portraying them as savage beings, while Dawn and the two Team Galactic characters appear less engaging, appear plump, and are more simply drawn so not to distract from the two cat Pokémon.

In some cases this exaggeration is also used for laughs, such as in Shinx’s facial expressions, or the panel below:

[Image: comic_wrongdirection2.jpg]
The joke: Barry was going to take on the Gym, and then appears to have forgotten which way to go.

The attention to detail is pretty incredible as well. For instance, in one part of the story, a Drifloon is obtained, a Pokémon who in DPPt you can only catch on Fridays. The comic this occurs in was posted on a Friday. Meanwhile, at the time of writing, the latest chapter is full of little mentions of ORAS, the RSE remakes that are fast approaching. Tiny nods like that are neat additions that can go unnoticed at times but certainly show an awareness and dedication.

There’s also a good amount of humour to break up the drama, from amusing facial expressions to reoccurring jokes and brick jokes. The aforementioned Drifloon is a particularly consistent source of the latter, on that note.

Are there any issues?

Well, certainly the fact that this is entirely in Japanese may serve as a roadblock. Once again, I stress that it is still worth examining even if you do not know a single phrase in Japanese, as the general plot and events can be followed from the images alone. The beauty of the Pokémon battles here is that you don’t need to know what the characters are saying to be able to tell how it’s actually progressing, nor what is at stake.

[Image: comic_open2.jpg]
And panels like this don’t require any text anyway.

Nonetheless, one does wish to understand everything that is going on down to the small talk. If the dialogue is anything close to the quality of the art itself, something is being missed out on. Without a doubt, many a fan would be grateful if someone decided to try translating this manga.

I personally do feel that Dawn and Barry’s bickering can be overdone at times though, as well as Dawn’s (over) reactions throughout the story such as punching Barry. While these are often played for laughs (see the previous comment on exaggeration), and at times you can tell cases where it can be pretty warranted for Dawn to act like she does, it does seem to be a tad too repeated a joke, and too extreme a reaction. One does feel sorry for Barry at times. In one chapter in particular Barry suffers a lot, despite the fact that throughout he’s trying to give advice to Dawn. It doesn’t quite make Dawn very likable, although admittedly I may have missed some context due to the Japanese dialogue.

Overall though, this is a very polished piece of work, and one that is worth a look at and seems to still be continuing regularly. Do give it a look, and if you know of any pieces of fan works you’d like to share with us, comment below or on the forums!

[Image: comic_herp.png]
You’d be silly not to check it out!

Written by bobandbill
Contributions by Hoenn and Shinx

Edited by Bay Alexison and Yoda

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Fan Work Reviews: toufu’s Manga”

  1. Says:

    Hey there, Awesome posting.. There’s an issue with your internet site with world-wide-web internet explorer, could possibly test out the following? Firefox ‘s still the market leading in addition to a big area of other people will leave out of the spectacular writing for that reason trouble.

  2. Aurora Says:

    I’ll definitely check it out! Great article!

Leave a Reply