Mistakes of Youth is written and drawn by one known only as “wildarmsheero.”
"I honestly don’t get why we’re here in Akihabara." I muttered, trying to light a stick of Pocky before realizing it wasn’t a magical cigarette, "We should be heading over to Hokkaido about now."
"Dr. Haus!" The receptionist boy slapped my hand, "You know why we’re here, right?"
"Yeah, yeah. To find my damn cousin who seems to be able to translate these ancient moon runes."
"You really couldn’t just run it through Google Translate, or even send him an E-Mail? Wouldn’t that have been easier than stowing away on an airplane to Japan?"
"No." I stopped trying to smoke the Pocky and instead chewed on it, savoring its crunchy, chocolatey goodness. "Look, we can talk all day about whether it was wise to commit certain atrocities that caused Homeland Security to refuse giving us passports when sending an E-mail would’ve been easier. But we’re here, aren’t we? That’s the important thing."
"By the way, I found this comic over by that store. It’s translated into Engrish, so you can read it."
I took the package from the receptionist boy. The cover simply said, "One does not care to acknowledge the mistakes of one’s youth."
"Who gave this to you?" I demanded to know the answer. Some damn otaku wanted me to review his comic and this was supposed to be my personal mission time.
"That shady white guy over there…" The receptionist boy pointed in the direction of a smaller store, but the person in question had disappeared. Pulling his arm back, the boy turned back to face me and continued, "He said his name is ‘wildarmsheero.’ I know it sounds like some Counter-Strike username, but when I asked him for a real name he just laughed at me and shoved the package into my arms. Can you review it?"
I let out a heavy sigh before coughing on the last bit of a Pocky stick that had chosen that same moment to enter my throat. "Alright, but I better be getting some decent Yen for this shit." After chugging down a clear substance that I hoped-to-God was bottled water, I cleared my throat and flipped through this mysterious comic. Then I started writing a review on the back of the package…
Much like Penny Arcade looks at video games does this Mistakes of Youth comic tackle the world of anime, not so much using the medium to tell a story (hell, most of it is one-shot gag strips) as it is critiquing the medium itself and the fanbase that has grown around it.
Also like Penny Arcade, the humor in this comic is aimed at a certain niche of people. So before I get any further, let me say that with most of the strips, some will laugh out loud at the jokes while others will be consulting with Google before letting out a reluctant chuckle and wondering if their damn torrent has finished downloading yet. Those of you in the latter group should take this opportunity to answer your door before FBI agents (or your country’s equivalent) introduce it to a battering ram.
Okay, for those of you who weren’t arrested after that last paragraph, read on.
There are two main characters that act as the personas for “wildarmsheero” and his opinions on anime. The first is a young dude named Rets (Engrish for Lets? Inquiring minds want to know) who seems to have few qualms about watching anime for the tits, the “underage-in-appearance-but-not-age” lolis, or both.
His foil comes in the form of Tina, a cute girl who also happens to like anime but seems to have the personality of a brick. She exists mostly to give Rets (and possibly wildarmsheero) someone to bounce his rants off of who won’t stare back at him as if he were a Martian speaking in Arabic. Occasionally, she’ll show a spark of identity (in a morbid, violent fashion), but most of the time you get the feeling you could replace her with a picture of a lazy white cat and there wouldn’t be much of a difference.
Okay, so we’ve established that the humor only caters to a certain niche. Even then, the jokes are pretty much your standard “two-gamers-on-a-couch” setup, but with anime instead of video games being critiqued and mocked between the two. So how does the artwork hold up? It’s actually pretty damn good. I guess it makes a crazy sort of sense that a comic mocking anime would try to mimic the art style.
Surprisingly, nearly all of the strips are drawn in full color, and are usually featuring actual backgrounds instead of some grayish blob supposedly representing a wall. The people look…well, I’m not quite going to say realistic from a comic that seems to indulge in (sometimes NSFW) moe and lolicon humor, but you can definitely see the Japanese influences at work here. Still, compared to a wide swath of the world of webcomicry, this comic has some of the best artistry out there.
I guess I was wishing for a little more of a story in this thing. And aside from a few 2 or 3-part jokes, there really isn’t a story to speak of. There’s not much else to say about this comic. In conclusion, come for the art, but if the words Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei sound like some kind of funny-sounding sushi roll, then chances are you probably won’t stay for the writing. And yes, there was a reason the sushi chef stifled a laugh at you before you gave up and just muttered “California Roll.” You should probably apologize to him right now. He’ll appreciate it.
An evil laugh startled me as I finished scribbling down my review. I whipped my head from side to side, but could not locate the source of the sound. Eventually, the laughing subsided and a cruel voice crept along the wind into my ears.
So it is true,” the voice spoke in a malicious tone, “you are like one of us…”
No,” I shouted, “I gave that shit up years ago! I just did some research to understand this comic’s in-jokes!”
You cannot fool me, Doctor Haus. You…like…anime!”
Oh God, it was the Pocky I tried smoking earlier, wasn’t it? It had to be the Pocky! Or maybe the bottled water that tasted a little too tingly. The world was swimming around me. Was the main character of this story going to die, just like in the first and possibly second episodes of Ga-Rei Zero that got subbed a few weeks ago?
I could only pray that my receptionist boy could get the moon runes translated in time.