Updated: Jul 30, 2021
As promised straight to the ninjas.
Super-Deformed Anime is an obvious nod to the ubiquitous chibi but also to local (to me) anime and comics shop Lost World of Wonders. They’re both in a strip mall and in my head they’re laid out the same which you can’t really tell but it was useful for me when staging the action sequence that’s about to kick off. (If you thought this book had a lot of action to this point you haven’t seen anything yet.)
This story doesn’t just lean hard on action it also leans hard on genre tropes as we see right away with the nameless Ninja in a Trench Coat (a staple in the sort of anime that I enjoy) and the also nameless Mr. Miyagi knock-off. Unlike prior RL stories where I was mostly riffing on things I loved and not acknowledging it this time I knew exactly what I was doing and was intentionally using stock characters and situations just to knock them down.
In walks Locke. Right into the reluctant hero falls into chaos trope. Getting Locke motivated was always the hardest part of writing Reckless Life stories. Usually I’d find some way to get under his skin and make it personal but in this case I went for the tried and true “hero walks into trouble” move. However, Locke is going to spend the rest of the story trying to worm his way out of said tropes.
Locke’s eyes in panel 2 are definitely prime Reckless Life. We have left proto-Locke far behind. At the same time his reaction as he says he’ll come back later is the writing finding it’s final form as much as the art. Yes, 2004 Tim has made the bold choice that his predecessors only dabbled with: Reckless Life is definitely an action comedy first from here on out, not a crime drama. If Locke’s stifled laugh wasn’t enough his claim of “not interloping” should close the deal for you. Locke is getting in on the joke.
The “ninja attack” panel at the end of this page showed up in a LOT of preview articles back in 2004. It’s not that great a drawing in retrospect but people DO like ninjas and it did the job.
Here’s the official introduction of Locke’s bo staff. Of course it telescopes like Gambit’s because that’s just cool. I wasn’t going to do a ninja story where Locke wasn’t in some melee fights.
This arc leans even more heavily on speed lines and other manga art elements than RL usually does for obvious reasons. I wish I’d thrown in some over the top anime reactions too but 2004 Tim wasn’t a fan of that. No accounting for taste I guess.
As there is a LOT of action in this one, Las Vegas Ninjas also has a lot more sound effects than the average Reckless Life story and I can definitely see myself improving in that arena even in these early pages. Some of these SFX are out of the box stuff I bought from Comicraft but just as many are homemade in illustrator. The canned effects may look better but it’s a step in the right direction.
And of course the McGuffin de jour is hidden behind the Cowboy Bebop poster. It’s since been dethroned as my favorite anime by Hellsing Ultimate but it was what got me into anime and was my favorite for the longest time.
Nothing says “boss ninja” like yelling “GO!” and then the herd of ninjas takes off.
Again, Locke is not at all interested in playing the hero here. The threat to his person has passed so he’s over it. Also: 2004 Tim is getting some nice mileage out of that door “jingle” gag.
So I guess the story is over?
NEXT TIME: The story is not over.