From left to right: Kimiko, Erika, Largo, and Piro. Back row: Ed, Junpei (hoodie), Ping (pink hair), Miho (purple hair), Seraphim (wings), and Dom (tie).
"You see, nothing in the real world will ever live up to what I feel inside. I came to terms with that a long time ago... Maybe it's because the feelings I have work only in fantasies, not the real world. That's why I want to be an actress. It's a way to live what I feel, even if it is just part of a story."
One of the most successful webcomics around, and one of the easiest to find in brick-and-mortar bookstores, Megatokyo is also one of the most confusing. The story starts off when two American video game otaku — Piro and Largo — hop on a one-way flight to Japan, then find themselves unable to get back after a credit-card-maxing shopping spree.Piro meets an aspiring voice actress called Kimiko and awkwardness ensues. Largo becomes steadily more demented and awkwardness ensues. Kimiko's flatmate Erika has to deal with her past as a popular Idol Singer and awkwardness ensues. A schoolgirl called Yuki gets a crush on Piro and awkwardness ensues. Piro gets stuck with a Dating SimRobot Girl called Ping and awkwardness ensues. And a mysterious goth called Miho stirs things up for her own amusement, leading to awkwardness for all concerned.Has gained a great deal of infamy for its erratic schedule, along with the Dead Piro Days (DPDs) and stick-figure Shirt Guy Dom (SGD) comics (a takeoff on the "Shirt Guy Tom" comics from Sluggy Freelance).Has been called the Lost of webcomics for its complex plot line and character histories, most of all the enigmatic Tohya Miho. Has also been called The X-Files of webcomics, for the same reasons, but not as positively. Quite intentionally, it includes a number of anime tropes. Interesting to note, however, is that it is one of few works who take flak for being Trope Overdosed, despite it having a trope count of around 243.
This comic contains examples of:
Abandoned Info Page: "I'll finish this section when I feel like it." Currently the quote for the trope page.
Above the Influence: Piro, when Ping comes onto him during Kimiko's radio show, whether or not he still saw her as a machine.
"We'll set some brush fires on the west coast, cause a major earthquake under an orphanage in New Delhi, and then announce a recall on the American PS2 machines."
Art Evolution: Just compare the early strips to the current ones. Everyone looks much more detailed now.
Artifact Title: Rodney Caston originally bought the megatokyo.com domain and used Largo as his handle because he was a fan of Bubblegum Crisis. The comic is essentially named after its domain name rather than being a Shout Out.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Rent-A-Zilla is a Godzilla-like monster that can be rented (by the hour, paid for in pork rinds), and Gameru is a Gamera parody who occasionally goes on drunken rampages.
Begone Bribe: At one point, Largo is being surprisingly nice to Erika after her past has caught up with her. However, she assumes he wants something from her, so just bluntly asks him "If I sleep with you, will you go away?"
Broken Bird: Erika named this trope, and embodies it perfectly.
Brother Chuck: Tsubasa being the main example, being ostensibly their excuse for being in Japan and promptly written out of the comic. However, with the combination of Schedule Slip and Cast Herd, you would be forgiven if you honestly don't recall most of the major players outside of the main 4 - 5.
Bystander Syndrome: At least one magical girl (probably Miho, but she may have had help) can produce this effect, hiding a house and causing other people to just walk right by it. This isn't Invisible to Normals, either; it worked fine on a Magical Girl.
Parodied when Junpei uses Keyless Enter to break open a door.
Cerebus Syndrome: Started out as a gag strip with a plotline before a falling out between the original author, Rodney Caston, and Gallagher led to the latter taking full control of the strip and quickly removing almost all of the gag elements in favor of one long continuous serious plot. Funnily enough, a strip right before this happened could count as a Reverse Funny Aneurysm by depicting what would happen if only one of the two authors controlled the output. Gallagher's version is identical to what the comic turned into. Although the comic has taken a turn for the dramatic and emotional, it still packs enough hilarity and madcap moments to remain amusing.
Real Life example: This happened between Caston and Gallagher, depending on who you ask. As can be surmised by the fact that they started the comic, the two were pretty good friends. The point at which Caston left is where the story differs-Gallagher maintains that it was a fairly amicable exchange because Caston wanted to move on to other projects, while Caston's side of the story holds that Gallagher handed him an ultimatum: if Caston didn't sell him his share of the rights to the comic, he'd drop the whole thing; Caston says he complied because he felt it was more important for the comic to get published than for him to be a part of it.
Characterization Marches On: Hard to believe an early strip had Largo ponder giving up gaming and leading a more productive life, only to have Piro argue that the "real world" sucks.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Largo, especially now that he's in a relationship. Him and Erika are talking about clubbing — she's talking about going to a nightclub, he's talking about beating people with blunt objects. (Oddly, their conversation is mostly coherent with either meaning.)
Meimi. Full, freaking, stop. She's the most out-there conglomeration of magical girl Charm Points that exists. And her magical girl power? Magical theft. She takes magical girl tropes Serial Escalation.
There is some evidence that she actually is insane, but most of the time she gives the impression that she's playing it up for whatever reason. At the very least, it's pretty clear that she does accidentally steal things all the time.
Department of Redundancy Department: Yuki would often refer to Piro as "Mr. Piro-san," and also gave Largo both "Mr." and "san." Ping at least once addressed the school nurse similarly. Though it's become common in eastern pop culture to (incorrectly) use -san as a term of endearment. Adding the 'Mr.' both translates it and makes sure that the right translation gets through. So it may be justified.
Dojikko: Kimiko, usually when she's carrying a coffee pot at the Anna Miller's.
Yuki's halfway there, though she manages to be one while pulling off ridiculous acrobatics at the same time.
Emotion Eater: PossiblyTohya Miho and other Magical Girls. Based on some of their conversations, it seems that they need to "feed" off of emotions, which they seem to do by inciting these feelings in others. This doesn't seem to cause any damage to the victim (other than the discomfort of having their emotions toyed with, that is).
It also Mind Screws the hell out of them as recent comics make it seem like Miho is unable to think that she's loved due to her repeated reference to relationships as "Games" and lovers as "players"
Fan Verse: MegaTokyo has spawned at least three Fan Verses to date. The oldest is the MegaTokyo: the Clans game that started in 2001 on the MegaTokyo Forum, and which is STILL going (look for threads labeled [Mt:tC] in the RP subforum). More recently is the Story Discussion Fanworks game that is hosted off site in its own dedicated forum. Also the energetic Megatokyo Campfire Story that can be found in the sites RP forum.
Filler Strip: Dead Piro Day. Also, there are short "omake" stories using Megatokyo characters in popular anime or original stories Fred wrote himself. The most recent one strongly insinuates that the "omakes" are Ping's dreams.
Mumu is a professional genki girl. "No sad girls on MY show!"
Genius Ditz: Largo. He seems completely insane at first glance, seeing everything through the lens of various action games (primarily shooters), but in the few times we've directly seen his thought processes, he's figuring out some of the comic's more complicated elements. Unfortunately, everyone else is a little bit to used to tuning him out when he talks.
G.I.R.L.: used straight, inverted then inverted again. Miho struck up a relationship with Piro's female alter ego online, using a male avatar. She revealed her true identity, letting him see photos of her when she was ill, then broke up with Piro by claiming she was a man after all and the photos were of someone else. Bad form, Miho, bad form.
Piro: Who was that guy anyway? Please tell me that was photoshopped.
Miho: Phil's the janitor at the Cave. He's a sweet guy, don't be mean.
This is most likely a reference to the Weirdness Censor anomaly present in the comic as a whole, combined with Refuge in Audacity. The idea that a ninja would go around, obviously dressed as a ninja, in the middle of public, with an armband that says "Ninja," would seem so ridiculous to most people that he literally would be written off as a nut and ignored completely. They literally wouldn't see him because he doesn't "Fit" reality.
Idol Singer: Erika used to be one, Kimiko is becoming one. Though Kimiko has problems with the singing part.
I Have the High Ground: Miho does this a lot. It's a long time before it's explained what she's doing on top of light poles and such.
Important Haircut: Various references have been made to Miho's hair being "hacked mercilessly short" sometime prior to the start of the comic. It is unclear what this actually means, but no less than three characters (Piro, Yuki and Miho herself) seem to consider it significant. It apparently happened during her hospitalization, as she told Piro at the time the nurses were upset about her cutting her hair.
There are many instances throughout the comic where the state of a Magical Girl's hair is implied to be connected to the state of her power.
Impossible Thief: Yuki after she awakens as a Magical Girl. She stole a zilla. This page could probably manage to double in size with the list of things Yuki has stolen. More recently people have started going over strips in great detail looking for differences between frames when Yuki is known to be around. Watch the laptop...
Improbable Hairstyle: The author once remarked about how people who tried to emulate Miho's hair style complained about how very hard it was to get the ribbons to stay like that. The comic itself has implied, the presence, absence or state of that ribbon is an indicator about how in-control Miho is. The fact that it stays in at all is a statement.
Japanese Honorifics: Obviously. There is an odd one though; Yuuki (and later Ping) will refer to people as both "mister" and "san" at the same time (ex: Mr. Piro-san). It's unclear if this is a little bit of Gratuitous English or some odd translation choice.
Kuu Dere: Miho. Although she toys with it frequently, so it's hard to tell if she really is one. She currently seems to be in "tsun-vulnerable" mode. Possibly due to the fallout from Ping's 'uploads'.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Most likely averted with Piro and Largo; Piro's only experience with women is in dating sims (and Miho), while Largo generally thinks all women are insane and not worth the trouble. Erika certainly thinks this of Piro, at least.Word Of God states, however, that all main characters have enough sexual experience to know what they're talking about. Even if they're too awkward to talk about it.
Meet Cute: Piro and Kimiko. Three times. Yuki and Yutaka. Two times.
Meganekko: Kimiko when she isn't wearing contacts, Yuki when she's in her maid uniform or zombie riot gear, and Ping briefly.
Memetic Mutation: invoked In universe, Ping caused this when she uploaded several thousand pictures and videos of a missing Miho. Piro even mentioned that it "turned into a huge viral thing." Of course, in comic it's been less than a day, so it might die down.
Mind Screw: The comic has been descending into this of late, particularly whenever Miho or the other Cave-Of-Evilers get involved.
This seems to suggest that Miho's something like a cross between an idol, a Servant, and Shonen Bat, to which the terms "dead" and "alive" may not be applicable at all. And whatever she is, she's "the real thing" that the EDS units like Ping were supposed to be able to replace.
Another way of thinking of it seems to be this: You've heard of projecting the surface of a 3D object onto a 2D plane, like a world map? And you've heard of a 2D complex? She's what the 2D girls are projections of. But only those of a particular "type," meaning she's unlikely to be the only "analogue."
Fred has suggested on the forums that the majority of the comic (including Kimiko in her entirety) may be nothing more than a fantasy of Piro's.
More generally, the whole comic is, in a sense, the combined fantasy of every character. See "Weirdness Censor" below.
Not Quite Dead: Ed, who can simply be regrown in a tank has survived being thrown out a window (and clipping a concrete column with his head), being hit by a giant turtle, and a direct hit from an orbital laser strike. Miho too.
Note here, where she describes an old and unopened bottle of alcohol as "almost older than I am." Depending on what type of alcohol it is, that could be very old indeed.
Balmenach 17-year single malt scotch, which is probably a Connoisseurs Choice batch. (The label's not identical, but that's the only equivalent available to the Asian market which this troper could spot. There's a lot of 16-18 year old batches in that range.)
Only Sane Man: At first, that role belonged to Piro. But as he's slowly been pulled into the web of general insanity that is the main plot, he's been replaced by Junko.
Only Six Faces: An extreme example that only got worse over the years. For example, there is almost no way to recognize Miho with her new hairstyle compared to Yuki or her mother.
Reality Ensues: Yuki Sonada is revealed to be a Magical Girl, with many of the associated superpowers. She travels quickly across the city with a male classmate in tow, and he ends up suffering severe injuries in the process, since he does not have any superpowers.
Rule 34: Early in the run, Fred (in)famously said that if he saw porn of Megatokyo characters, he would stop producing the comic. As it turns out, this declaration only dissuaded his fan base, whereas it served as incentive for the sizable population who dislike Megatokyo.
He has apparently since dropped this threat ever since A) it became clear most of the folks doing it were just trying to get him to cancel the comic, and B) his own NSFW artwork was brought to light.
Piro's head is removed rather often in stick-figure comics. Apparently all you need is a bit of duct tape and he's as good as new.
Schedule Slip: There's a reason Megatokyo fans are widely considered some of the most patient and forgiving people in the webcomic world. Megatokyo is in the running for the distinction of being the most notorious still-ongoing webcomic example of the phenomenon, especially since the birth of Gallagher's son.
Most recently, this is due to the diagnosis of Sarah having a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. You can read Gallagher's rant on it here and Sarah's rant on it here
This might come to an end, or so Piro (and his readers hope) according to his rant about a little discovery in his production process...
As detailed as it is, a common complaint is that much of the backgrounds are very messy, and covered in scribbles and scratches.
Secret Test of Character: Once Yuki's dad finds out about her "boyfriend," he spends ten minutes (and three strips) yelling at him, threatening him with grievous legal and physical harm, and concrete, as well as insulting the very fiber of his being...then hands the phone to his daughter.
Sonoda: He didn't hang up.
Serial Tweaker: Gallager seems to be an artistic version of this; next time you watch the live stream of him drawing the comic, try and count all of the time he goes back to redraw some minor detail that he's already drawn multiple times before.
Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Sony programmed the "tsundere" trait a bit too well. Junko has a moment of Fridge Brilliance, when realizes why Ping never has to worry about her end users getting a little bit too hands-on, especially considering that she isn't programmed to give sex.
"Fsck!", a unix command that finds and fixes any hard drive errors. note fsck is being used as a generic swearword by unix sysadmins since epoch 0. Since Largo is skilled enough to use a beowulf cluster as workstation, he qualifies.
Miho also refers to sex as "completionism" and long-term relationships as "replay value." This fits in with her treating people as games.
On a similar note to the above bullet, Mugi refers to Their First Time as "the big level up." It's unclear if she was speaking literally.
When you think about it though it makes some things awkward. Though time passes nowhere near as fast as us for them, the technology around them seems to advance at the same rate as reality. Its often very jarring.
The same is true for anime references and products sold in the store where Piro works.
...I didn't deserve that. This fits as an even better one. First time Piro actually stands up for himself, and it's to the girl he likes (discounting the fact that she's a bit on the hysterical side of irrationality at the moment, as well as being emotionally off-balance due to the events of the evening.)
In Erika's defense, she truly could not comprehend Largo's behavior at any point via the lense through which she had already learned to view the world around her. As soon as she realized that he actually meant everything he said and did, she decided to date the "total nutjob" (to quote the ninja order that's been observing him).
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Maybe not so lame after all: Largo initially assumes that the Magical Girls gain their power from love similar to how ninjas gain their power from honor, but Junpei quickly corrects him, explaining that honor is far "safer" than love, and that the latter should never be underestimated. Considering the Tokyo Police Cataclysm Division's reaction to an unregistered Magical Girl (pure panic), as well as some of the powers they've demonstrated, this seems justified.
The reaction actually says a lot about Japanese culture, and what it values, if you think about it: Magical Girls believe in a completely separate law/code of behavior than the culture they are born into, and the strongest among them might well be completely uncontrollable except by their fellow members.
Wishful Projection: A character finds Piro's sketchbook, creates a fantasy about what he must be like, and then gets hostile when he fails to live up to it.
Write Who You Know: Not only Piro and Largo, but also Fred's girlfriend (now wife), "Seraphim," plus friends Dom, Ed, Asmodeus, and Tsubasa.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: One character has purple hair; another's changes from gray to pink to blue green. Though the latter is a sort of subversive joke, since the comic is mostly in black and white; hair color can only be determined from occasional colored strips or when a character points it out.
Junko: ...blue-green hair. How do you get away with this? Is your mom like, color blind?
Zettai Ryouiki: just about every female character has had an A-grade at one time or another. And if you've clicked all the links on this page thus far, you've probably seen it for about half of them already (heck, Kimiko's got it in the page image here). Here's one more for you.