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Webcomic / Crystal Heroes

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Don't be fooled; none of the monsters on the cover play a role in the actual comic. It is also only occasionally black-and-white.
Crystal Heroes is an Urban Fantasy Webcomic based on Eastern RPG tropes incorporated into a society not unlike our own. Basically, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to modern America.

The story follows Marina, a young woman going to Wyrmcaller University, which may seem like an Extranormal Institute, but is just a normal college in their extranormal world.

The plot starts when the university's librarians accidentally misplace a book she needed for a literature class into the Forbidden Section, an RPG dungeon, Magical Library-style built below the completely ordinary school library.

To undertake the quest to retrieve the book, she recruits her friend Isaac, a mages' rights activist; Garrett, a stoic jock with Hot Blooded Sideburns; and Ayanna, a shy girl who joins to live out her favorite video games.

The comic started in early 2017, and went through a lengthy hiatus before returning in 2018. Afterwards, it continued in fits and starts, but was ultimately cut short by the end of 2019, with a rather abrupt ending scene. The comic's website went offline on January 18th, 2020, but luckily, the entire comic has been preserved through the Internet Archive by then. This even includes the two interactive battles, which were created as an RPG Maker MV attachment.

Crystal Heroes contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Subverted. Marina readily charges into the dungeon but responds to the party's first battle by freezing up and bursting into tears.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The party's first battle is with a swarm of flying books.
  • Antimagical Faction: The dominant religion of Ramecia appears to be one, though they practice White Magic themselves.
  • Animesque: The art style has something of a 70s/80s shoujo look to it, especially after the...
  • Art Evolution: Zig-zagged. The webcomic begins with detailed, full-color art, but the absolute majority of it is black-and-white. The two game sequences obviously look very different from anything else in the comic, while the high-resolution, full-color art that occurs in the comic's last dozen of pages looks different to both the usual black-and-white fare and the artwork in the opening. The ending scene, however, is black and white like the majority of the comic.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: What Garrett is during the gameplay sequences.
  • Black Mage: Isaac, though he seems to prefer the term "elemental mage."
    • Playing with Fire: During the actual battle sequence, his two main skills are Fire, and Shimmer, which is a Damage Over Time burn spell (and which is largely useless in the first battle, since the Book Swarms don't have that much HP and you are better off destroying them quickly with Fire or Ice.) In the second battle, he also gains Fire 2, which is his most powerful offensive spell, though it'll burn through his MP quickly as well, and since there's only one mana restoration item left, you better not give it to anyone else!
    • An Ice Person: Isaac has an Ice skill as well, which is a Herd-Hitting Attack. It's useful in the first battle against the two Book Swarms (he'll deal 6 damage to both instead of 9 to one), but irrelevant in the second, where there's only one boss.
  • Black and White Magic: In typical Final Fantasy fashion.
  • Black and Nerdy: Ayanna, who is first seen by the group reading a book at the park, and who is a huge online rpg nerd.
  • Books That Bite: The first battle is against two literal Book Swarms. They have a normal attack, a slightly more damaging paper cut, and a rush forward that deals limited damage, but to everyone in the group.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The religion of the setting itself involves worshipping a goddess, and the Christ figure is a stereotypical RPG party, but the trappings of the religion and its position in modern society resemble Christianity.
  • Damager, Healer, Tank: With Marina as the tank, Garrett and Isaac as the damage, and Ayanna as the healer.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The majority of the comic is done in black-and-white; hence the cover art above is one as well. However, there are sizeable sections that are in full color.
  • Distressed Dude: Marina decides to actually go in the dungeon when her boyfriend Tom goes inside to fetch her book and never returns.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Isaac joins Marina's party purely because he think's Garrett's hot and wants to spend time with him if he's going. Then grows to dislike him soon after, and states he would go for Marina's sake anyway.
  • Dumb Jock: Garrett. Or, at the very least, more concerned with parties and girls than his homework.
  • Dungeon Crawler: Both in the sense of what the plot is about, and in that the gameplay segment actually is one.
  • The Empire: The books in the library mention multiple, including the one that colonized Ramecia.
  • Everyone Is a Super: One of the books in the library states that all humans are capable of using both white and black magic, most just choose not to, and some are better than others at it.
  • Expy: Garrett looks like if Kenshiro or Jotaro tried to dress and act like a modern jock.
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The plot is kicked into gear when the characters go into a Magical Library RPG-style dungeon to get a library book that Marina needs for a lit study class which got put there by a clerical error.
  • Faceless Masses: Background characters tend to range from nebulous silhouettes to literally faceless people.
  • Freak Out: Marina bursts into tears and tries to run away from the dungeon when the party badly loses their very first fight.
  • Genki Girl: Marina acts like one, anyway and Ayanna, to an extent, at least where her interests are involved.
  • Green Aesop: Invoked in one of the final pages of the comic, where we learn that apparently, the emission of fire magic to run much of the world's technology has effects equivalent to global warming in real life.
  • Hot-Blooded: Garrett switches between this and The Stoic on a dime.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Garrett has them, but they're drawn fairly realistically.
  • Inelegant Blubbering : Marina does this, complete with wailing and trails of snot, when the party's first battle goes poorly.
  • Low Fantasy: Low, low fantasy, almost to the point of Magical Realism.
  • Magical Library: Though it's implied that it's a pretty normal library by the characters' standards.
  • Manly Tears: Parodied when Garrett bursts into them while telling a story in which nothing particularly tragic happened.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Nobody regards monsters, magic, or dungeons as anything more than slightly uncommon to deal with. Nobody is surprised about their existence, and magic has been scientifically analyzed over the years, as opposed to being thought of as physically impossible.
  • Mysterious Past: Tom and Marina are stated to have been in an adventurer party together in the past, and imply that he did something to get hurt for her sake at some point, but nothing else has been revealed beyond that.
  • No Name Given: No one's last name has been mentioned so far. We do know, however, that Tom's starts with an S.
  • Opening Narration: Parodied. Not only does it make the setting look more like a Standard Fantasy Setting than it really is, it's also being delivered by an evangelist preaching on the university's campus.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: Played with. Though there's not much more to read than normal for this trope, the books the player can read in the library are stated to just be excerpts of single pages, rather than entire books.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Ayanna's staff is very clearly electronic in nature, and there are books in the library about the scientific study of magic as a biological process.
  • The Quiet One: Ayanna. She has the least amount of dialogue throughout the comic, and her dialogue during the optional conversations in the first game sequence is mostly ellipses. This is subverted during the second such sequence, where she bursts out with a long about her past, and apologizes afterwards for loading up everyone with her problems. Marina responds by saying she should be talking more.
  • Retraux: Not the comic itself, but the two RPG scenes are done in a pseudo 16-bit style.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Marina. Though how sweet one finds her is up to personal interpretation.
  • Role-Playing Game 'Verse: The setting is intended to be a play on RPG settings. However, though the characters may refer to black and white magic, bosses, and dungeons by name, it's nothing so in-depth to make it a RPG Mechanics 'Verse.
  • Significant Anagram: To drive home the "modern fantasy setting" point, Ramecia, the country the story takes place in, is an anagram for America, rearranged to sound more fantasy-y.
  • Shout-Out: Tom is introduced having a long argument on the phone about Scooby-Doo, even though the comic doesn't take place in the real world.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: Or used to be one, anyway. It has now undergone its own industrial revolution (that was still powered by magic), and so everyone uses technology essentially equivalent to the modern day.
  • Sudden Video-Game Moment: The beginning of the library dungeon. Except, in a Medium Blending way, the video game moment is actually playable. The later boss battle occurs in the same
  • Turn-Based Combat: The two playable sequences are fought in this manner.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Marine gains "(Fake?) Tears" skill during the comic's second and final interactive battle, which reduces the enemy's offense.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: There was a deleted bonus page where Ayanna was shown to be reading yaoi underneath the book she's introduced reading.