Unicorn Jelly is a webcomic by Jennifer Diane Reitz. The comic is known for its retro-style computer art. The comic was drawn entirely in D Paint 2, a paint program from 1985.It starts off as a cute little thing about a Lupiko Kazemahou, a young witch; Uni, her pet jelly, and Chou Yaru, Lupiko's crystalline-human hybrid adopted daughter. Then it gets weird. For starters, it's slowly revealed that isn't set on Earth or an Earthlike fantasy world, but rather on a triangular world-plate with crystal life-forms which is about to be destroyed. The alchemists and witches are fighting, there are murder plots and spaceships, and sometimes alternate universe comics are drawn as well and linked under the main comic.The comic usually deals with issues related to homosexuality, feminism, transgenderism, existentialism and the acceptance of minorities.Unicorn Jelly has ended, but Reitz is drawing an independent sequel, Pastel Defender Heliotrope (now also completed), and a related Alternate Universe story, To Save Her (now also, also completed). These comics all share a common... multiverse, a Science Fiction setting made up of many worlds, each with completely distinct physical laws and in no way similar to the others. (And then each universe has its ownparallel worlds, which are subtly different, and... it gets complicated). Our own universe is occasionally mentioned as the original home of humanity, but is never visited in the comics.
Apocalypse How: Class X-4. Tryslmaistan "scrolls" on a 4th dimensional axis, meaning if something falls far enough it appears right above where it fell. Humans in Tryslmaistan destroyed a worldplate, and the debris caused a chain reaction that literally destroyed the universe. Fortunately humanity has the technology to survive this.
Better to Die than Be Killed: Chou, at the end, centuries after the events of the comic, right as her crystalline cybernetics finally win the battle and start eating her alive.
Big Damn Heroes: Chou, who, upon realizing that the human government is going to repeat the same mistakes — again — on the new worldplate, and that they are rapidly running out of time (and spare Worldplates), goes across the sea, infests the majority of the plate's Slime population turning them into her own personal hive mind, and shows up in biological mechs just in time to prevent the main characters from being put to death by the corrupt government.
Completely intentional in this case, though. The whole thing was definitely planned to go this way. Comic #0000 specifically says UJ is "A philosophical and metaphorical science fiction story with a definitive beginning and ending". The cute beginning mostly serves to introduce the world and characters before the world-shattering events take place.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The title character, at least in-universe. It's implied Chou used him for... parts. Uni returns in To Save Her, though. For a little bit, anyway.
Doing in the Wizard : All the "magic" seen in the beginning eventually gets un-magicked. Except maybe the unicorn, and even that is deliberately left ambiguous, as the original vision occurs around a hallucinogenic flower.
Emotionless Girl: Chou, whose mind has been replaced by the crystalline version of cybernetics.
Foreshadowing: Lots, especially in the author notes. One particularly poignant example was when the author pointed out that shattrel (a form of crystalline weather) was as static and regular as everything else in the world, literally letting people time their clocks by it... unless something is horribly, horribly wrong.
Future Imperfect: The Tryslmaistan humans have only fragmenary knowledge about their origins, and some of that is wrong.
Genre Shift: It goes from a low fantasy comic about a witch and her pet slime and ends up in a multiverse spanning scifi epic that covers time travel, alternate universes, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and the singularity. This was apparently all planned, to boot — note the comic's first page called it a "Science Fiction Epic with a definitive beginning and end".
Green Rocks: Vlax, necessary for human all "red" life but mutagenic in high doses.
Karma Houdini: Too many to count, but Texto/Virtue, Chou, Pho, and Kaye stand out.
Logic Bomb: The Jellies, having evolved in and for a static universe, do not handle change well. A major part of Chou's plot involves dissecting KayWai, who is a mutant and hybird red/green organism, and learning how to infect the various slimes with the ability to adapt.
Manipulative Bitch: Chou. She intentionally fakes emotions to keep Lupiko from stopping her, goes out and creates an army by mindraping the entire Jelly population of her new worldplate, and, when confronted by Redcloak about how much power she's aquired, simply retires — since she's going to live for a very, very long time, she can simply wait for them to die of old age. Also Kaye Haychold.
Meaningful Name: Chou's name means "Butterfly." Redcloak and Fodderman were supposed to be jokes on Red Shirt, which was then subverted in the comic.
Mr. Seahorse: In exchange for Wai-Wai (a transgender man) being able to legally live as a man, he has to carry a child to term.
Mundane Utility: The accident that turns Chou into ...what she was is eventually duplicated safely to produce hyper-intelligent precognitive navigators.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The alternate universe version of KayWai in To Save Her. Subverted in that her plan isn't to save Chou like it appears at first but rather to save the alternate reality KayWais. Since KayWai dying to create the hybird slimes that can survive in a dynamic universe was so vital to saving humanity, she explicitly is trying to kill off humanity.
Shout-Out: Many subtle and not-so-subtle references to classic and contemporary movies, comics, and video games. In one comic, a military commander is shown ordering his squad to "Take off every (fighter)! For Great Justice!. In another, a bit of alien speech is rendered as "klaatu barada nikto".
Shown Their Work: The physics of the various universes have been worked out in great detail.
Single-Stroke Battle: Sort of, seen in Millian's flashback to when he went to the Overseas Colony Project.
Viewers Are Geniuses: You pretty much have to have a brain like Chou's to follow the massive plot complexity and transdimensional physics of what started as a simple story of a witch and her blob.
At one point early in the comic's life, the author revealed that everything that had been shown so far would be enough to guess at what the overall plot was going to be, and she invited readers to e-mail her their guess. A few fans got it exactly right.