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The Daily Read: 1/11

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I work part-time as a moderator at the website FatWallet. My duties include making sure members play nice in the forums – no swearing, no spamming, and no fighting – and honestly, it has its perks. Tracking down spammers, especially, feels like a job for Batman – filled with enough research to fill the Bat-Cave. And while I have no delusions of grandeur, it’s hard not feel a sense of fulfillment every so often. This isn’t to say my job isn’t without its headaches. If you think a forum nearly devoid of political content is somewhat flame-proof, well, you’ve never seen a socio-economic argument spin out of a conversation on DVD players.

I bring this up because the webcomic A.Illusions follows kind of the same plot. There are moderators involved, fraught with the same kind of decisions: how to remove a post, how to keep the forums moving efficiently, and how to interact with the community at large. It’s completely the same . . . except that it’s a manga . . . with extravagant costumes . . . and strange animals.

Okay, so A.Illusions isn’t entirely the same as my job at FatWallet. The story exists as a dramatization of actual events in an anime forum. The results are a real-life anime counterpart to Reboot, and open to same kind of digital perils: viruses, worms, and of course, hackers.

The web manga blends quite a bit of action and intrigue into what could have been a common melodrama. The manga art is extremely professional, and the design, by harking back to several established anime, combines well with this to illustrate and evolve the personalities of the characters involved.

If this webcomic has one flaw, it’s that the piece is so entrenched in its anime community that a flood of filler art greatly interrupts the pacing of the story. Most webcomics place filler art all at once, usually as an appetizer during hiatus, but A. Illusions has fillers, ranging from much-needed story explanations to cosplay illustrations to even birthday notices, throughout the story arcs. This leads to much frustration while reading through the archives. Creative team Columbia Kho and Allan Lianza should probably place their filler art in the body of their update text instead of in the middle of their stories as it interrupts the pacing so much that it becomes more pain than prize.

A. Illusions isn’t for everyone. The heavy manga stylizing might throw off some webcomic audiences or attract others. But for what it’s worth, A. Illusions is a bold experiment dramatizing simple forum talk into something epic and something meaningful on the World Wide Web.

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