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Webcomic / Anecdote of Error

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Anecdote of Error is a webcomic by morganicfoods. It can be read here, here, or on DeviantArt here, which is the most frequently updated.

Atshi Sonel wakes up one day to find out she has been accepted to Mityaitimai Tshetshume School. Little does she know that she was only let in due to a clerical error, and as such she is at the bottom of her class. But when her school is under attack, she finds herself in the middle of a war.

This webcomic provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Mom: Atshi became a housekeeper because she wanted to invoke this trope as an adult. The other characters imply that is an unrealistic expectation.
  • Adults Are Useless: Shimei bullies Atshi right in front of their teacher, who does nothing. Averted when it comes to the war, for obvious reasons.
  • All-Loving Hero: Luntsha. Nothing less would even consider breaking a dangerous enemy combatant out of prison, after they assaulted them, just because they think they showed a little hesitation.
  • Almighty Janitor: Yensha seems at first to just be the museum’s security guard with a chip on her shoulder about students sneaking in, but it turns out that she’s a bona fide war hero, who killed the most ruthless war criminal among the Dalgysume.
  • Alpha Bitch: For the first part of the comic, Shimei seems to have devoted her life to giving Atshi as much grief as possible. All her lines consist of talking down to her in the most passive-aggressive way imaginable, and is always backed up by Nishkose and Kezaua. After her Hidden Depths are revealed, she actually gets worse, as it turns out her mocking of Atshi for being a housekeeper is due to bigotry, not opportunism. But despite this, she can’t stand to let other people get physically hurt if she has a chance to prevent it.
    • Academic Alpha Bitch: Shimei shows off her knowledge every chance she gets, in order to stick it to Atshi whose grades are terrible even on non-magical subjects.
    • Beta Bitch: Nishkose joins in on Shimei’s taunts, and is even worse once we see them alone and learn how abrasive she is to her own friends. She doesn’t even have Shimei’s few redeeming traits.
  • Armies Are Evil: Alemi’s armed forces, the Dalgysume, commit war crimes as a matter of course. They consider a school full of children to be a legitimate military target, and their founder was known for killing his captives by tearing them limb from limb. As a result, his killer is honored as a hero everywhere except Alemi. But in Alemi, people believe his victims deserved it, which completely disgusts Yensha when she hears this.
  • Art Evolution: The characters start off looking rather squished and Off-Model, with characters sometimes contorted into anatomically impossible positions, but steadily improves as the artist gets more experience.
  • Art Shift: Whenever Atshi reveals part of her backstory, it’s illustrated the way she draws her own doodles.
  • Asshole Victim: Having one’s heart ripped out is an absolutely horrible way to die, but since it happened to a man who tortured his prisoners to death, nobody feels bad for him.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Atshi pulls one off on page 98. To get past a soldier guarding the school, she tells him that she and Shimei were sent to the town by Litasha to get supplies, when in fact they’re sneaking out to the Paves Forest to help Luntsha on the spying mission, completely without permission.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
  • Big Sister Mentor: Once Atshi arrives at Mityaitimai Tshetshume School, Luntsha pretty much replaces her actual big sister as her only friend and confidant, whom she spills her heart out upon after getting bullied. Then Luntsha gets expelled, and Atshi loses it.
  • Bishie Sparkles: They appear when Fulik tells Atshi about his journey. Atshi’s reaction is underwhelming. Luntsha also sparkles when first introduced.
  • Boxed Crook: After getting expelled, Luntsha avoids further punishment by being recruited by Yensha to press Zeya for information. Immediately thereafter, she turns this trope on Zeya, volunteering to accompany her and Yensha to make sure Zeya doesn’t try anything.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Every character has distinct facial features, though this is only really noticeable in crowd shots. This is the case despite how inexperienced the creator was at the beginning.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The fact that four chimes mean the school is under attack turns out to be vitally important knowledge.
    • Page 51 opens with Luntsha using an eyedropper, which goes unnoticed until page 59, when she reveals to Zeya that the eyedrops were magic, and let her find her way in the dark.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yensha first is introduced at the school orientation, but afterward doesn’t appear at all for three dozen pages until her Big Damn Heroes moment, and becomes an important character after that.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Shimei calls Zeya foolish for not attacking them because they’re kids, and fires her arrintay at her, over Luntsha’s objections.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Atshi suffers from a recurring nightmare of a fiery demon dismembering a girl who looks just like her, and even has these visions while awake, but this has gone on for so long that they no longer affect her anymore.
  • Conlang: The author created several fictional languages that the characters are “really” speaking, and all the in-universe text is written in them, and can be decoded.
  • Constructed World: Complete with its own languages and detailed backstory.
  • Crapsaccharine World: It seems like a cute story about a girl at a magic school, right? Then you get to the oppressive caste system, and the ghastly dismemberments, and the women forced into domestic servitude, and the brutal war that’s been waging for years between two sides that are both guilty of war crimes, and you realize the setting is really fucked up.
  • Cute and Psycho: Shimei attacks Zeya after the latter calls a truce, and calls her a fool for letting her guard down. Zeya dodges it, but Shimei was aiming to kill.
  • Death Glare: Yensha gives one first when she finds the kids and Zeya in the museum, and then again when Luntsha is defending her decision to bust Zeya out of jail.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Batea is clearly a different culture. For one thing, women aren’t allowed to have children unless they become housekeepers, who are not allowed to leave the house without an escort.
  • Double Standard: Shimei feels very strongly about housekeepers knowing their place, and not trying to better themselves by getting an educationnote  and as such belittles Atshi at every turn. Yet she holds Luntsha in high regard, despite Luntsha also being a housekeeper, and even less submissive. Word of God says Shimei tolerates Luntsha because she isn’t a failure at magic like Atshi is, but that just raises the question of why she is so angry that housekeepers attend the school.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: A Platonic example: Luntsha decides to rescue Zeya, after meeting her just once while they tried to kill each other, because she doesn’t want to be responsible for Zeya getting executed. She does this despite knowing that, if caught, at best she’ll be expelled and at worst she’ll be killed.
  • Energy Weapon: An arrintay is a container for tshetsha used to fire a Beam-O-War. And they give this stuff to teenagers, though the students’ formula is altered to be less dangerous.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Aside from a few non-speaking cameos, Shimei first appears on page 14, bullying Atshi after her kipzlada blew up, and treating her like a small child. She is the first person to mention housekeepers, in a tone of total contempt. Nishkose looks on while smirking, establishing her as Shimei’s follower.
  • Exact Words: Luntsha tries to pull this on Yensha, when the latter tells her she doesn’t make deals with schoolchildren. Luntsha points out that she just got expelled and so isn’t a schoolchild anymore, but Yensha practically tells her to fuck off. Luntsha manages to make a deal anyway using Reverse Psychology.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: In Batea, marriage is not necessarily between one man and one woman. Rather, it's between one man, one housekeeper, and one non-housekeeper.
  • Extranormal Institute: Mityaitimai Tshetshume School is where children of this world are taught to perform magic. It also has a museum and a dungeon, and is concealing magic that is vital for the war effort.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Every Batean child chooses a rite that will determine their rights and privileges for the rest of their lives. Atshi and Luntsha’s rite is the Housekeeper, and housekeepers are treated like second-class citizens, not being permitted to go anywhere without an escort and expected to stay home, do all the chores, and look after the children. Since housekeepers are designated long before adulthood, there technically isn’t a rule prohibiting them from attending school, but they are looked down upon if they choose to do so. Shimei treats Atshi like crap for this reason, and Atshi’s hopelessness with magic only makes it worse.
  • Fatal Flaw: Atshi absolutely cannot handle failing, or even being perceived as a failure. This causes her to ignore warnings that the school is under attack, and to try to take out the invaders herself, only to fail miserably. She also absolutely will not allow anyone else to risk their life on her behalf, even if they are much better equipped to deal with the problem than she is, which culminates in her sneaking out to Luntsha’s espionage mission in the middle of a warzone.
  • Framing Device: The story opens with a note written by Atshi years after the fact, explaining what the heck happened to their world.
  • Free-Range Children: Exaggerated in Atshi’s backstory. Her sister Mishmai took her halfway around the world to another continent all by herself, to get her medical treatment from a healer friend free of charge. Mishmai was twelve and Atshi was five at the time.
  • The Gadfly: Nishkose. When Shimei finds out she can manifest pins, she suggests that Shimei might have some Alemi ancestry, knowing that this will piss her off because their country is at war with Alemi. Then when Shimei retorts that she is purely Gahadelian, Nishkose asks if she’s inbred, to Shimei’s annoyance. Then she accuses Shimei of having a crush on Luntsha, since Shimei was going to ask her for advice.
  • Gang of Bullies: Nishkose and Kezaua spend most of their time as Shimei’s subordinates, bullying Atshi.
  • The Ghost: Luntsha’s boyfriend Ikal has been mentioned a couple times, but has not appeared in person yet.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Shimei straight up shoots Zeya with her arrintay, not even trying to listen to what she has to say. But her target dodges the attack.
  • Great Offscreen War: The comic opens in the shadow of a war between the countries of Batea and Alemi, but the main characters start off unaffected. Eventually, however, the war expands in scope and they cannot ignore it.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Doubly Subverted. The soldier guarding the school grounds doesn’t fall for Shimei’s claim that she and Atshi are just students visiting the town, on account of it being the middle of the school day. But he lets them go when Atshi makes up a lie on the spot that they are getting supplies for their teacher, despite the unlikelihood of this and despite Shimei giving Atshi a worried look.
  • Hammerspace: After breaking the vase in the museum, Luntsha and Shimei gain the power to produce small objects from thin air by willing it, which is an old Alemi form of magic.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Talshko has a bad habit of ignoring it. She assumes Atshi faked her magic score on her application, despite Atshi’s insistence that she didn’t. It isn’t until Litasha produces the application form, and sees the score is 14.9, and was rounded up to 15 (the minimum entry requirement) by mistake, that she lets Atshi go.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: As far as Atshi is concerned, she is not good enough, and never will be good enough.
  • Hidden Depths: Shimei is the school bully, but also quite capable in a firefight. Despite Atshi being her favorite target, it’s implied that she really does care for her deep down, or at least enough that she doesn’t want Atshi in mortal peril.
  • Humiliation Conga: Pages 21 through 23. Atshi fails the arrintay test, then explodes her kipzlada again even after correcting her prior mistakes, and Shimei throws the teacher’s words back at her in a demeaning manner. Then Atshi answers a history question wrong, Shimei gives the right answer, and Nishkose loudly laughs at Atshi’s stupidity. Then she causes more explosions that knock her to the floor, and Shimei helps her up only to push her away and call her hopeless to her face. All these events are finished in about one panel each, giving the impression that they pass by in rapid succession.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Despite Mityaitimai being coed, the only male characters are Fulik, Miak, who only appears in classroom scenes, and Kezaua, a member of Shimei’s Gang of Bullies. Only Fulik is of any importance.
    • This is particularly improbable considering that Word of God has said that the majority of girls become housekeepers and don’t go to school.
  • Inept Mage: Whenever Atshi tries to use tshetsha, even for the simplest applications, it blows up in her face. Literally. It turns out that her magic potential is too low for her to have legitimately been accepted to the school, in fact, pathologically so, but was admitted by mistake because of a rounding error. This winds up deconstructed, as Atshi willfully rushes into danger over and over so that she can save everyone and prove that she deserves to be there, but just makes everything worse.
  • Jerkass to One: While Shimei is something of a jerk to all housekeepers due to her bigotry, she singles Atshi out for particularly bad treatment since Atshi had the nerve to enroll in a magic school despite having no aptitude for magic.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The school is under attack, and everyone is told to make their way to the shelter where they will be safe while security handles it. So what does Atshi do? Run straight to the scene of trouble to try to stop it herself! Of course, she is way out of her depth, and if it hadn’t been for Luntsha and Shimei getting dragged along, who knows what could have happened to her?
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: On the one hand, Alemi is led by a bunch of psychopaths who kill their prisoners in some of the most horrific ways possible, who invade boarding schools while children are present in order to gain the weapons inside, and whose soldiers brag about all the cities they will sack once the tide of the war turns in their favor, and claim that someone being torn limb from limb is an appropriate response to being held and questioned. On the other hand, Batea is a place where children are sorted into unequal castes once they reach a certain age, and can be drafted into wars, and housekeepers have very few rights, and the faculty of a boarding school decide to summarily execute an enemy soldier without thinking twice, and the teacher who explains this thinks that it will make the children she is telling it to feel better, and is hinted to have alienated the entire rest of the world such that they are willing to ally with Alemi in spite of all its crimes against humanity. A lot of readers want both sides to lose, but if forced to pick, would want Batea to be victorious, not just because the protagonists are from there, but because Batea is merely an oppressive tyranny, whereas Alemi is a fanatical horde that will destroy for the sake of destruction. There are a small handful of Alemi citizens who aren’t this bad, but not enough to classify the conflict as A Lighter Shade of Gray instead.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Yensha claims to have relished in Dolvyn Dal’s screams when she killed him, though considering what kind of person he was, and that she is interrogating an enemy soldier when she says this, it is unclear whether this is true, nor can one feel bad for her victim if it is.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The school exclusively teaches magic derived from dust called tshetsha, and the classes consist of the students learning how to mix it to produce the desired effect. Then subverted when the heroes gain the inherent ability to manifest household objects just by willing it, an old discipline taught in Alemi which has since been forgotten.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Nishkose jokingly calls Shimei “Shimei Salen”, instead of her actual name, Shimei Laka Alefi, despite her protests.
  • The Millstone: Despite Atshi being the first to fight back against Zeya during the invasion, she is still the same Un-Sorcerer in danger of flunking out of school she was earlier that day, so when her attack backfires, it weakens the locked door enough for Zeya to escape to her targeted room in spite of bringing a knife to an arrintay fight. The MacGuffin is this close to falling into Alemi hands, so Atshi is less than useless.
  • Mood Whiplash: If a given page is mostly comic relief, there’s a better than even chance that the one immediately following will be horrifying:
    • For instance, on page 9 Atshi is amazed that bunk beds exist and says she wants the top bunk so as to be like a bird, and page 10 opens up with Atshi’s recurring horrific hallucination. Mitigated by the fact that she has no reaction.
    • Page 16 is a beautiful shot of the school grounds. Then on the next two pages Atshi and Luntsha discuss their regrets, making a somber turn. Then the page after that, Atshi hallucinates the fire-demon again, staring at her menacingly. Unlike the first time, Atshi freezes in terror, exclaiming “My… mistake…” and sporting a Thousand-Yard Stare. The Rant indicates that she is having a panic attack.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Atshi had never seen a bunk bed before enrolling at boarding school.
  • The Napoleon: Downplayed with Luntsha, who is sensitive about her height, being a second year who is shorter than all the first years, and is overjoyed to find that Atshi is the exception.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Whether or not the reader thinks this applies to Luntsha getting expelled for freeing Zeya depends on whether they believe that Zeya is redeemable or not. As far as Talshko and Yensha were concerned, she had just committed treason out of naïve sentimentality.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Granted, the comic is set in a fantasy world with no connection to Earth, but you’d think the classrooms would have some kind of barrier in place to prevent students from getting hit by exploding tshetsha if something goes wrong. Particularly since that can easily happen if the formula is messed up.
  • No Sense of Direction: Atshi starts headed out exactly the opposite way to her destination, before Shimei stops her.
  • Painting the Medium: Page 25 begins with an unidentified character saying “I don’t understand,” in reference to part of a conversation, directly over a sign written in the Batean language, which the readers naturally cannot understand.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: Zeya dares Yensha to kill her, since it won’t impede Alemi’s plans to any significant extent. This shows how much she is willing to suffer for her cause. Yensha decides not to, since Zeya is giving away information with her Evil Gloating.
  • Predecessor Villain: Dolvyn Dal, the head of the Dalgysume, would kill prisoners of war by tearing their limbs off. Yensha killed him by tearing his heart out, but his successors continued his policies, including the war with Batea.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Luntsha accidentally knocks over a museum exhibit while everyone is trying to restrain Zeya, which causes it to shatter into smithereens, and giving everyone present the ability to manifest objects from thin air.
  • Principles Zealot: When Atshi sneaks out to infiltrate the Dalgysume hideout, Shimei insists on coming along despite knowing how dangerous and illegal it is, and that she will gain nothing in return, just because she refuses to let a housekeeper wander without an escort.
  • The Rant: Each page on the DeviantArt version has a few lines delivered from the point of view of an unspecified character, sometimes putting the events in a radically different light.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite having a fan reputation of being a hardass, Talshko qualifies. She keeps Atshi in the school after they find out that she is a housekeeper and doesn’t actually have enough magic to make the cut, and just lets her off with a warning after she confronts the Alemi soldiers who attacked the museum. But she does have her limits, and expels Luntsha for breaking Zeya out of jail. Her brutal treatment of enemy combatants is meant to be shocking because she is otherwise able to be negotiated with.
  • Red Right Hand: Shimei has a huge scar across her right palm, which she received as part of her initiation ritual. She keeps it covered with a glove, though. This is why she uses her left hand.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: The Dalgysume used to be a group of pirates before seizing control, and Zeya muses that this technically makes her one.
  • Scenery Porn: Starting on page 16, the backgrounds start getting really detailed, but only in outdoors scenes. It takes quite a bit longer for the rest of the art quality to catch up.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Luntsha breaks Zeya out of her prison cell awaiting her execution because she doesn’t think she’s a bad person, since she spared them during their attack. She gets expelled for this.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: After the guard blocking the way to town calls Shimei’s bluff, Atshi steps in and adds some more details that actually make the guard believe it, namely, that they are leaving the school grounds only on their teacher’s permission.
  • Shrinking Violet: Atshi’s sister, Mishmai, is hinted to be one of these, since their mother tells Atshi that her attending boarding school is a good thing, as it will force Mishmai to talk to other people while she is absent.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Zeya tells Luntsha that believing there is good in the enemy is naïve, while Luntsha is freeing her.
  • Slasher Smile: Yensha does these during interrogations.
  • So Much for Stealth: Atshi and Shimei follow Luntsha, Yensha, and Zeya into the Alebata Forest, in an attempt to convince Luntsha to come back with them before the Dalgysume find them. Eventually, they make it just behind them, and try at first not to be noticed. Then Yensha hears their footsteps, so Atshi just says "hi" when they turn around, not even bothering to hide in the underbrush.
  • Splash of Color: The comic is usually in black and white, but gains blue highlights whenever Atshi gets her visions.
  • Taking the Heat: Luntsha takes all the blame for the museum incident, citing that she should have stopped Atshi before it got to that point, so that Atshi would not be expelled.
  • Talk to the Fist:
Zeya: I don’t wanna hurt you guys.
Shimei: Then why are you here?
  • Time Skip: There is implicitly a short one between pages 29 and 30, as the scene abruptly cuts from Atshi playing with Luntsha in the pool, to Atshi alone meeting Talshko and Litasha in the headmistress’s office, without the scene of her being called there ever being depicted.
  • Translation Convention: The dialogue is all written in English, but since the setting is a Constructed World, the characters are “really” speaking Batean to each other.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When Talshko tells Atshi to shape up and prove herself, she means that Atshi had better improve her studies lest she get expelled. But Atshi interprets it to mean, “Run headlong into danger to try to save everybody yourself.” This leads directly to Luntsha getting expelled, and it’s a miracle that no one gets seriously injured.
  • Wham Line: This exchange from pages 77 and 78:
Yensha: There’s no way Olyak would send just three soldiers to steal our magic items. [...] This was a distraction. […] So, I have a question. A distraction from what?
Zeya: They’re already here.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Luntsha gets this from everyone who finds out that she freed Zeya. Even Atshi is shocked.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Zeya tells Shimei that despite them being on opposite sides of a war, and them brandishing potentially lethal weapons at her, that she has no intention of hurting a bunch of children. Considering that she was ready to throw a knife at Atshi a few pages earlier, it’s unclear how sincere she is, but it convinces Luntsha that Zeya isn’t a bad person, and springs her from jail.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Old Alemi magic is not based on tshetsha, which most people have no idea about, so the builders of the school’s dungeon didn’t take that into account, and so Luntsha can free Zeya effortlessly, by summoning the key.
  • You Go, Girl!: Luntsha is a housekeeper, but is headstrong and outspoken instead of submissive to other people. She even sneaks out at night to bust Zeya out of prison before she can be summarily executed. It’s implied that she is one of the first housekeepers to attend magic school, and this is still very rare by the time Atshi, who is also a housekeeper, enrolls.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: While in detention for breaking the vase in the museum and trying to stop an Alemi soldier by themselves, Shimei flips out and says this is what happens when housekeepers are allowed to play with magic. (Never mind that it was at least partly her fault as well.) When Luntsha, who is a housekeeper, hears her say this, she replies, “I’m sorry, WHAT?!” Then Shimei goes on a classist tirade. Ironically, Shimei is the setting’s equivalent of black.