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(this has been crossposted from the forums)
right, it's been about a year and a quarter since this comic ended.
i'm going to tell you: go read supernormal step
"but tvtroper immortalfaust, why are you necroposting on a 6-year old thread with three posts that never got any posts after the first day?"
i hyperfixate on this shit work with me
why should you read supernormal step?
firstly, it's an isekai that feels realistic. the magic world confuses and frustrates our protagonist, not-se-everywoman fiona dae. even after almost a decade of run time, she never just accepts the strangeness of the supernormal world, and her only motivation, even with the friends she makes, the people she meets, and the choices she decides on, is to get the hell back where she belongs. as was pointed out, fiona isn't exactly a likeable protagonist. ninety was right, many of the supporting characters are more likeable than dae, but i believe that m. lunsford made her not a likeable protagonist, but a good one. fiona has various shades of asshole in her character, it's true, but it's motivated by her upbringing (as pointed out, a crazy-prepared, pseudo-militia-organizing, off-the-grid vigilante father does strange things for a person), and her stance on things supernormal- magic makes people do some weird, weird, dumb shit. stuck in a world so much like our own, but decidedly not, she's never at ease and that feeling never goes away, to lunsford's credit.
secondly, again, pointed out, the supporting cast is interesting. the main trio of akaela, van, and jim all offer different temperaments to balance out fiona's own melancholic humor. as much as she is both frustrated and confused by the world, she still manages to find some amount of kinship with others. navigating the supernormal world is made far easier as she learns to open up...even if just a little.
thirdly, it is fun. it is a story that gets darker as time goes on, but the first few years have that je ne sais quoi that makes it feel very much like a result of the early 2000's internet culture, from the art, to the humor, to the storytelling. we're lucky as an audience that it started in 2009 and as such had a far better starting art style than something like penny arcade or questionable content. i would go so far as to say that the later art suffers from being a little too "graphic novel realistic" rather than keeping the more cartoony style lunsford started with, though given the tone shift later in the comic, it still feels appropriate to the gravity of the situation and can't be written off as "bad"- i am a nostalgic person.
unfortunately, as lunsford themself has pointed out, they never went into the comic with a clear ending, and it shows later, especially with the ending. it feels abrupt, as if tying up loose ends would be too concrete or satisfying. suffice to say, the journey is the point, not the destination.
ending spoilers in this next block:
the ending of the comic results in the two worlds, once a single entity, reintegrating as the barrier between the two breaks down (far as i can tell. the comic is without dialogue at this point, but the title page for chapter 22 makes things pretty clear). fiona, after mastering her magical ability, destroys all magic (magic being the root of literally every problem in the series) and picks up her life literally where she left off- looting an old gas station for useful items. she talks to no one, has no closure (by far the most damning detail, perhaps) and rides off into the distance. however, lunsford has stated that "It's not the cleanest bow to put on the series, but this is where we stop following the characters. Finally you can assume whoever is left will get some rest, free from my torment. The world is a mess, but they'll probably get through it." fiona learns through her time in the supernormal world that doesn't get closure, no recognition in the ending that feels empty given how bloody much she's been through. but the world is whole once again. perhaps her driving into the unknown isn't an ending, but a new beginning. the world is a much stranger yet less scary place for fiona dae, and she'll return, very soon, to real friends; both once-strange and always-mundane, and live a far more interesting life than any one author could hope to write. i'd like to think so.
while the ending of the comic is the weakest point, given the creative direction lunsford took the comic, i actually likeit. it could have been cleaner, yes, but at the same time, everything fiona does to save the world just makes sense. she's someone who runs away, and her solution, in my interpretation, is to make the world "run away" from the problem- magic. there's also the question of how much she's justified in her actions- she certainly doesn't have the right to just...erase magic. however, fiona just does what she does. she's not the hero the world deserved, but the one it needed. for all the manipulation mr. kite and henderson put her through, at the end of the day she refuses to play by anyone's rules but her own.
i have to offer one contradiction to my previous statement. she tells us, the audience, that she's not afraid, utterly sure of herself. even if she's running away from the problem at the end of the day, the comic doesn't feel like it's the end. as quoted above, lunsford tells us as much. she's grown a little. fiona dae does not bloom at the end of the comic, no world-shaking epiphany of the self, but i cannot help but believe on my own, even with lunsford's reassurances to us, that she'll be just fine.
if i've convinced you to give it a try, excellent. i'll understand if you're not wild about it, it's not a comic for everyone. it certainly wasn't as popular as it could have been given what was happening in the world of webcomics in 2008. i won't pretend to think it was objectively the best, or groundbreaking in any genre-changing way.
but i think that for everything it had going for it, it succeeded in a weird, wild, wacky way that hits just right.
hope you'll take the step.
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