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Webcomic / Always Human

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Austen (left) and Sunati (right).

Always Human is a scifi romance webcomic set in the distant future, focusing on the developing relationship between Sunati, a VR environment designer, and Austen, a university chemistry student.

The most prominent scifi element in the story is the ubiquitous use of "mods", applied nanotech body modifications capable of practically everything from cosmetic changes to improved memory. Austen, due to an irregular immune system, cannot use them, which present no end of difficulty for her when everyone else has access to easy fixes for everything from hay fever to needing a memory boost for a test.


Always Human contains examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: A few characters have mods that give them outlandish skin colors, although not nearly as many as have outlandish hair colors. Austen's Daidí appears to have had blue skin when Austen was younger.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Several supporting and background characters are this on account of the readily available body modifications, relaxed gender norms of the setting, and general aesthetic of the character designs. Yasel mentions possessing breasts to go with an outfit as one would suggest putting on a different hat.
  • Animal Eyes: Rae, a friend of Sunati's, possesses a mod which gave her cat-like eyes.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Yasel, who shows up unannounced to stay with Austen.
  • Art Shift: Particularly emotional moments are rendered in a more watercolor like style than the norm.
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  • Augmented Reality: AR lenses are standard for the setting. Austen has a jailbroken, heavily personalized one, which she uses to make up for her lack of memory mods.
  • Bio-Augmentation: "Mods" are used by nearly everyone. They can provide some rather drastic changes in appearance, such as modified ears and eyes; important medical upgrades like cancer resistance; and specialized features like zero-gravity adaptation for space travelers.
  • Blessed with Suck: Austen has "Egan's Syndrome", an oversensitive immune system which prevents her from using mods.
  • Celibate Hero: Rae doesn't have any apparent interest in sex or romance. Doesn't stop her from trying to look good.
  • Distant Finale: The series ends with Sunati heading off to Enceladus, with the epilogue set after she returns, fourteen months later.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Sunati does this whenever she goes to the gym with Austen.
  • Exact Words: Rae doesn't tell Austen information she's been forbidden to divulge; she does, however, give her a train ticket and tell her that there's something important that Sunati isn't telling her.
  • Fictional Disability: Austen's Egan's Syndrome is an autoimmune condition that leaves her unable to use the Bio-Augmentation mods that are ubiquitous in the setting. Being ineligible for mods like memory boosters and physical augments forces her to put a lot of extra work into her studies and her health, and being thought of as Inspirationally Disadvantaged is a major pet peeve for her.
  • Has Two Mommies: Austen and Yasel have two fathers, whom they refer to as Papá and Daidí, Spanish and Irish (respectively) for "dad".
  • Hereditary Homosexuality: Austen, see above.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Due to her lack of the extravagant mods other characters use to change their appearances, Austen doesn't think of herself as attractive despite being cute as a button. This has been the case for her since childhood.
  • Important Haircut: Austen, after changing her major.
  • Innocently Insensitive: A significant part of the drama in the story comes from Sunati praising Austen for managing without mods, and not understanding what a massive frustration it is for the latter.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Sunati has this view of Austen's inability to use mods. While her feelings are positive, Austen finds it intolerable.
  • Loving a Shadow: Austen accuses Sunati of this after being praised for not using mods, asserting that it isn't strength, she simply can't do it.
  • Mistaken for Profound: While Austen is having a crisis over whether to change majors, Sunati's mumbling in her sleep while dreaming about a virtual reality game gives her enough confidence to switch.
  • No Periods, Period: A side comic suggests that there's a ubiquitous "stop menstruation" mod, as Sunati finds the idea intriguing while Austen resents her.
  • One Head Taller: Sunati and Austen, as the page image shows.
  • Polyamory: Vish is the third in Sunati's parents' relationship. He's referred to as "their boyfriend".
  • Queer Romance: The main pairing is two girls, while there are other background pairings of many ambiguous genders.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After working up the nerve to ask for a day off so she can go bush-walking with Austen, Sunati channels Undertale and becomes "filled with determination".
    • Amy and Oliver from Space Boy make a brief cameo at the university.
  • The Singularity: Humanity appears to have passed it, with safe, easy to use nanotechnology practically everywhere for things as mundane as hair dye, though there is the odd person unable to use it.
  • Space Elevator: At least one exists, anchored near Singapore.
  • Transhumans in Space: Astronauts get a suite of specialized mods to protect them from the stresses of space travel. One person en route to Enceladus is disappointed that the process requires some of their cosmetic mods to be removed.
  • Weight Woe: While she's barely curvier than anyone else, Austen occasionally mentions needing to get to the gym or that she feels pudgy. This is due to her not being able to use mods in order to stay fit like most people.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The story takes place primarily in "Kaku City", which is located somewhere in the western half of Australia. A Fourth-Wall Mail Slot comic lampshades it by poking fun at the author.
  • You Just Told Me: Rae once went behind Sunati's back by encouraging Austen to confront her about her potential job on Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, against Sunati's wishes. Sunati tells Rae she figured out what she did in this manner.
  • Youthful Freckles: Rae has ones that glow gold. Austen has them as well, but normally her makeup covers them.
  • Zero-G Spot: Austen and Sunati, right before Sunati heads off to Enceladus.