An OEL Manga
by Rikki Simons and Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons (better known as Tavicat), originally as a full-colour comic book before being picked up by Tokyo Pop
for a two-volume black-and-white manga edition.
It takes Twenty Minutes into the Future
(well, OK, 2012—lampshaded
as an Alternate Future
), in Los Angeles
Lakes, California. Collin Meeks, a young Hollywood Nerd
, finally has bought his Virtual Internet System helmet, allowing him to finally get into Cyberspace
. He's got a rather lacklustre family, of course, as well as slacker friend Erk and would-be Hacker
And a cat, Catreece. Cats, of course, get into everything. Hilarity Ensues
. Especially when Maiko's sister shows up, as well as a few friends that don't exist offline ...
The comic started as a six-issue comic; it was then picked up by another publisher, and the first six were reprinted in colour along with another six with their own Story Arc
Tropes featured in Reality Check include:
- Artificial Intelligence: Ranklechick and Pumpernick turn into these, as refugees from their television show. They don't know that they're in the Internet. Riggi Rabbit turns into one as a refugee from a video game. He DOES know he's on the Internet.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Riggi is definitely not just another video game rabbit, as events unfold. Much to his programmer's dismay. Mr Bunwah also seems pretty self-aware.
- Acceptable Targets: In-universe, Mr Bunwah, the lawyer. Riggi's Mooks are programmed to laugh at his expense. 'He's a creepy bunny.'
- Brain Uploading: Riggi Rabbit was meant to be just a character, until programmer Simon Rosenberg adds a bit too much of himself. (The file is said to be 5 terabytes..) Ranklechick and Pumpernick don't have that excuse, though.
- Cat Girl: Catreece's Digital Avatar, of course. Justified by how all the Applied Phlebotinum works. Mimi's the same, for the same reason.
- Computer Virus: The Puffy Cat virus. Its creator at least actually was a highly-trained programmer. Fridge Logic asks why he had one of those at his work computer.
- Cyberspace: The Virtual Internet System, accessed via Total Virtual Reality (TVR) helmet.
- Digital Avatar: Always you, how you are, as the TVR helmets analyse your body (somehow) before using that as your avatar. Justifies why Catreece's avatar is a Cat Girl.
- Digital Bikini: The original comics had Catreece subject to Furry Nudity to start off, although later she keeps normal human clothing habits. The Tokyo Pop release has her always dressed—fully in most scenes, an actual swimsuit in a beach area. Noticeable most when Collin thinks back in chapter 6 to his memories of Catreece—those images (in hazy distortion) are NOT altered. (A lesser example of the censorship principle is where a martini later on becomes an 'olive beverage'.)
- Furry Fandom: A bystander wonders if Catreece is part of it, given her fuzzy appearance.
- Jerk Ass: Rod McFodder, minor nuisance.
- Pandaing To The Audience: Maiko makes panda costumes up for the cast once they become a small squad. Simon's made one too.
- Playful Hacker: Maiko wants to be this, Lili and Mimi are this, and Catreece and Ranklechick seem like this.
- Refugee from TV Land: In a way, Ranklechick and Pumpernick. Eventually their show is presented to them as a show, and they live in the other parts of the VIS.
- Sibling Rivalry: Maiko, to Lili's programming knowledge.
- Stat-O-Vision: Used to gauge filesize. Also gives a readout on Jerk Ass Rod. File name: Jerk head. File size: Jerk size. Description: Jerk.
- The Television Talks Back: Implied with 'Interactive TV'.
- Uplifted Animal: Catreece, although she claims to have always had that level of intelligence. The TVR helmet just lets her interact on a more even basis with humans.
- Virtual Celebrity: Ranklechick and Pumpernick. Mr Bunwah is a Virtual Pet Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: There's normal time, and 'VIS Quicktime', letting you live about 8 hours online for every 1 hour of reality.