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Manga / Reality Check

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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 Tokyopop for a two-volume black-and-white manga edition.

It takes 20 Minutes into the Future (well, OK, 2012—lampshaded as an Alternate Future), in Los Angeles Lakes, California. Collin Meeks, a young 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 Maiko.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tokyopop 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'.)
  • Jerkass: Rod McFodder, minor nuisance.
  • Playful Hacker: Maiko wants to be this, Lili and Mimi are this, and Catreece and Ranklechick seem like this.
  • Quirky Girl, Quirky Tux: Catreece likes to wear the fishnet variation when performing a musical number. She's both lampshading the star quality associated with the tights version of the tux, plus she's quite the unusual female, being a cat pretending to be a young woman in an on-line virtual world.
  • 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.
  • Resort to Pouting: Cateece seems to think making a "boo boo face" will keep her snow cone from melting. It gives Collin the idea to make magic shoes that change the laws of the universe if you make a sad enough face and talk about what's making you sad.
  • Safe Word: The Title Drop is the command to log off from VIS.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Maiko, to Lili's programming knowledge.
  • Stat-O-Vision: Used to gauge filesize. Also gives a readout on Jerkass 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.