Kagerou (first comic) (nudity, violence, insanity, more insanity, also insanity) is a long story-based, usually weekly (no set update schedule that I can see), color full-page webcomic that takes an unapologetically completely insane main character, shoves them into a fantasy world and demands that he go be a hero. Many people have an image of insanity as either psychopathic killers or raving lunatics, but most insanity is much more subtle than that- it’s some strange way of looking at (or existing in) the world that everybody else doesn’t agree with. Often people who are insane can find a sort of logic within their own worldview or limitations, even if it doesn’t make sense to others. Kagerou is a comic that handles that version of insanity extremely well. There’s 724 pages in the archive.

One of the recurring side comments in Kagerou is Kano (the main character)’s persistent belief that this is all part of the worst lucid dream ever. The other personalities within Kano’s head all seem to take the fantasy world in stride and even fit in better than they did in the real world (shown in flashbacks), but Kano himself has stuck himself with the delusion that he’s actually normal, and all this chaos and magic and such is just hallucinations again. He doesn’t refuse to play along- he’ll play along with the rules until he wakes up, but he doesn’t really believe. It’s a delicate tightrope to walk, that delusion of normality while being functional in an insane world, and Kagerou does a merry little jig along it. As the other characters in the world catch on to Kano’s blindness about his own problems, you can see them do the little mental arithmetic that arrives at the “… I don’t think I want to be the person to break this dam open. I’ll let somebody else do it.” moment.

A decent amount of Kagerou takes place in Kano’s head, and a good amount of Kagerou’s character development is affected by Kano’s personalities and their rules inside his mindscape. A lot of these rules don’t get discussed in the comic, just as a lot of the rules of the fantasy world don’t get covered (or covered late), so often moments will be a little confusing as it’s not entirely clear what’s supposed to work how, and who actually knows what they’re doing as opposed to getting lucky. A lot of this just reinforces the concept of the comic, however. If you can enjoy a little bit of creative insanity, or have completely wild and nonsensical dreams and enjoy them that way, Kagerou is an amazingly written comic.

Kagerou starts off a little choppy artistically- some of the panel layouts aren’t entirely intuitive, and the coloring of text for different characters isn’t entirely obvious quite yet. This improves a great deal over the course of the comic, though, to the point where current Kagerou pages are among my favorite artistically. Eventually (by chapter six or so) the writing and art settles down such that Kano’s different personalities are quite distinct by text color, attitude, and body language, although there’s a few moments of Kano getting angry where the text color shifts but does not present an entirely different personality (I’m pretty sure this will get covered in a future subplot/flashback… eventually…). Some of the other characters are also a little confusing - the Teaolin/Tonbo/Fuuka grouping in particular was a little hard to grasp the relationships between, although a lot of that is trying to keep track of the fantasy world’s rules.

Kagerou’s website also has the most entertaining 404 page I’ve ever seen (visible from a link from the main page, or clicking “next” past the last comic available in the archive). It changes every once in a while, and adds a nice bit of surreality and insanity to the internet.

A note on navigating through Kagerou- each page can just be clicked on to go to the next, but the chapter cover pages require scrolling down and clicking on the “1″ page for that chapter.

Kagerou’s an amazing comic, and despite its erratic update schedule, a comic I find myself drawn to read and remember. If you’re interested in a story of insanity, you should give Kagerou a read.

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One Response to “Kagerou”

  1. Jason Says:

    Ha, that certainly was an interesting 404 page. I haven’t given this comic a go yet…but from your review I’ll consider it

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