JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Starts Tomorrow!

“If you have a taste for cartoon satire, magical girls, and bloody violence, then you may find this story is for you.” —Starbat

jake_and_the_dynamo_finished_by_starbat-da08stb
Cover by Starbat

In the near future, most of the universe has decided that humanity needs to die. Decimated by alien invasions, primordial monsters, demons from hell, and abominations from beyond space and time, mankind’s last remnants have gathered together under the protection of the benevolent Moon Princess … but what was supposed to be a last refuge is instead a perpetual war zone.

Fortunately, the forces of goodness have given us a small advantage—by granting random superpowers to emotionally volatile young girls.

In the midst of these upheavals, fourteen-year-old Jake Blatowski just wants to live a normal life, but fate will instead place him in the path of the city’s most electrifying protectress, Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo. Worse yet, the monsters’ formerly random attacks have begun to exhibit a pattern: they’re all aimed at him!

Now all that stands between Jake Blatowski and certain death at the hands of ravenous monsters is an eleven-year-old girl.

And that’s just too bad for the monsters.

JAKE AND THE DYNAMO

4 · 25 · 2016

Not Sure Where, but Beautiful

… and maybe creepy.  This is a life-size statue of Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion from Sailor Moon, somewhere in Kawasaki, courtesy of @tiffako.

First version I’ve seen where it looks like maybe, maybe, Tuxedo Mask has finally learned how to wear white tie correctly.

Addendum: Tiffa informs me it’s a whole Sailor Moon exhibit in Roppongi Hills (so not actually in Kawasaki if I’ve got the geography right; that’s apparently a mistake in the geotag). I’d love to see that myself, but I’m nowhere near Japan.

Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 4: Tuneless Ramona

CODENAME: Magical Girl Tuneless Ramona
ALTER EGO: Ramona Kawasaki
FAMILIAR: None
CURRENT AGE: 12
THREAT LEVEL COMPETENCY: ∞
MAGITECH: Musical

“With the power of incredible songs that would make me a world-famous pop diva if only someone would recognize my talent!”

There are only two things that can frighten a citizen of mankind’s final city. One is a monster attack. The second is Magical Girl Tuneless Ramona.

Ramona Kawasaki is an unusual magical girl: she has no familiar and no contract. One night, she went out with her friends and sang karaoke. Her singing was so horrific, she spontaneously generated a powerful field of negative musical energy that transformed her into Tuneless Ramona.  She has never transformed back. Continue reading “Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 4: Tuneless Ramona”

Art Saturday

Title unknown by タンネ.

I’m behind on reviews, but I’m busy today putting polish on the twelve existing chapters of Jake and the Dynamo before starting in on the thirteenth, and I also need to finish up that essay on The Powerpuff Girls and read Herman Hesse’s Demian before I dive into my attempt to discuss Revolutionary Girl Utena. So I’m busy. Have you some artwork I stole.

Design Your Own Called Attack

You know those stupid birthday games? This is one of those stupid birthday games, courtesy of Utah’s Anime Banzai. I remember Anime Banzai from years back. Good times.

How come mine is boring?
How come mine is boring?

I get “Glistening Mirage Wave,” which is surprisingly intelligible, if rather mundane. What do you get?

I’m rather fond of magical girls’ called attacks. The sheer audacity of creating a move for your character by flipping open an English dictionary and grabbing random nouns and adjectives delights me. Unfortunately, a lot of creators have never bothered to think about exactly what these attacks do or how they work, so we in the audience are often stuck watching the characters throw sparkly lights at each other while wondering what the heck is going on.  Of course, there are other titles that have addressed this issue or simply dodged it.

 

Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 3: Rifle Maiden

CODENAME: Magical Girl Rifle Maiden
ALTER EGO: Unknown
FAMILIAR: Bossy the Holstein
CURRENT AGE: 15
THREAT LEVEL COMPETENCY: 6.4
MAGITECH: Gunnery

“Magical Girl Rifle Maiden atcher service.”

Not much is known about Rifle Maiden. Armed with a rifle and a pair of revolvers, she can fire explosive bolts or stun blasts, and apparently never runs out of ammunition.  However, her energy consumption is quite high, as she has difficulty sustaining power in prolonged combat without a steady supply of juice boxes.

Rifle Maiden is most effective when she teams up with other girls; fortunately, a sunny and straightforward personality enables her to befriend her fellow magical girls easily. In recent days, many have observed her working closely with Voodoo Queen Natasha. Continue reading “Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 3: Rifle Maiden”

Alicia Joy on the Folkloric Roots of Magical Girls

I stumbled across this article, “Witchcraft in Japan: The Roots of Magical Girls” by Alicia Joy the other day. I make no particular comment on its accuracy, but I find it interesting because it attempts to find roots for the magical girl genre within Japanese folklore regarding witchcraft.

A typical essay on the origin of the magical girl genre will typically link it to the American television series Bewitched, which directly inspired both Sally the Witch and Himitsu No Akkochan, which are typically considered the first two magical girl series.

Joy attempts to find some parallels between a few of the genre’s common tropes and elements of Japanese folklore. Since witchcraft is more-or-less universal in folklore, this isn’t particularly difficult. Still, with the broomsticks and pointy hats that often show up amongst magical girls of the “cute witch” variety,” bowdlerized Western folklore is clearly a strong influence.

The genre evolved from that mostly via infusions of tropes from science fiction and superheroes. The girls’ familiars these days are often space aliens, and it’s typical for magical girl series to explain its phlebotinum via appeal to science fiction concepts such as nanoprobes, though little if any real science will be evident.

Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 2: Grease Pencil Marionette

CODENAME: Magical Girl Grease Pencil Marionette
ALTER EGO: N/A
FAMILIAR: Takumi the hologram
CURRENT AGE: 16 (simulated)
THREAT LEVEL COMPETENCY: 5.1
MAGITECH: Artistic

“A girl robot infused with hopes and dreams and the power of imagination!”

Magical Girl Grease Pencil Marionette is a fully functional magical girl simulation system. She is the creation of a genius scientist who dreamt of a day when an army of robots might protect the city from monsters and thus leave its young girls to live their lives in peace. Alas, he died upon activating her, so she is the first, and most likely the last, of her kind.

Whereas most magical girls must only serve until their eighteenth birthdays, Marionette does not age. She has fought for the city for over two hundred years now. Before the Ascension, she was even a personal friend and confidant of the Moon Princess, who often referred to her as “my pet.”

Although the magical girls are officially under the command of the High Priestess, Grease Pencil Marionette, as the oldest active magical girl, has become their de facto field commander. She is almost solely responsible for the communication network that makes the girls so effective at repelling the constant threats to humanity’s continued existence. She encourages the girls to support one another, and she practices what she preaches: rumor has it that she has recently formed a close bond with Magical Girl Card Collector Kasumi, and their relationship has been the subject of much speculation in the press.

But Marionette does not relate so well to girls who step out of line: in recent days, she has butted heads with the mysterious Magical Girl Pretty Dynamo, who has garnered a reputation (and much popularity) as a maverick who plays by her own rules.

Marionette’s magic is the power of imagination. Anything she can imagine, she can draw, and anything she draws with her magical grease pencil becomes real. She often uses her power to create for herself weapons or vehicles, though she cannot create anything that fires projectiles, as such projectiles inevitably revert to mere grease. However, her pencil is unbreakable and can punch through any substance, since she can simply imagine what it touches becoming fragile.

Because of her lack of ranged weapons, Marionette is most effective as a melee fighter. Do not let her modest competency rating of 5.1 fool you: threat assessments are for individual monsters only, but Marionette has effectively battled multiple enemies simultaneously.

Not only is she extremely deadly at close range, but Marionette also has significantly greater stamina than an ordinary magical girl. Equipped with a fusion reactor in her chest, she can operate for long periods on only a little water and does not, like other girls, require juice boxes to replenish her magical energy.

As a simulated magical girl, Marionette has no true contract. Instead, she has a simulated familiar, Takumi, an independent AI program. Takumi is sub-sapient, but contains a complete set of Marionette’s ethics algorithms and data on previous engagements, so he is able to advise her both morally and tactically.

In order to give her the ability to use magic like a real girl, Marionette’s creator had to program her with desires and dreams she can never fulfill. Marionette would like most of all to settle down and dedicate her life to her art, but duty constantly calls her back to the fray. However, the Moon Princess told her that there was a slight chance—very slight—that if she served faithfully throughout her long and weary existence, Grease Pencil Marionette might one day acquire that which she desires most of all: a human soul.

Meet Your Magical Girls! JAKE AND THE DYNAMO Bio 1: Pizza Margherita

We’re currently on track to begin serializing JAKE AND THE DYNAMO as early as next week. And thanks to my artist (you know who you are). Here’s the first of our featured characters.

CODENAME: Magical Girl Space Princess Pizza Margherita
ALTER EGO: Margherita Della Mozzarella
FAMILIAR: Pepper the dalmatian puppy
CURRENT AGE: 20
THREAT LEVEL COMPETENCY: 7.9
MAGITECH: Culinary

“Evildoers beware, for I toss the dough of justice, and justice is never half-baked!”

In an age when humanity faced the prospect of extinction at the hands of man-eating vegetables, comfort food came to the rescue.

Member of the fabled Mozzarella crime family and a direct descendent of Benito Mozzarella himself, Margherita can make you a pizza you can’t refuse. While working as a waitress at a pizzeria, she fed a stick of pepperoni to a starving puppy, only to find that the dog was actually a visitor from Planet Italia, who rewarded her for her good deed by anointing her princess and granting her the Power of Pizza.

Armed with a Vorpal Pizza Slicer, Pizza Margherita could fire boiling tomato sauce from her hands, hurl razor-sharp pepperoni slices like shuriken, fire gooey cheese whips, and toss dough without ripping it. Flying over the city on her Pie in the Sky, she was ever vigilant against the forces of evil.

It was no doubt fated that King Tosser, the caesar of the nefarious Salad Soldiers, would become Pizza Margherita’s nemesis. After his latest act of wanton destruction, Margherita could often be seen standing in the smoking ruins, shaking her fist at the sky, and crying, “Ooh, that Tosser!”

Her most famous (and destructive) battle occurred in Anno Principis 238, when a giant, tentacled bell pepper attacked city hall. Bravely standing her ground even after several other magical girls had fled the scene, Pizza Margherita shouted, “You can’t fight city hall!” and leapt into the fray.

She successfully sliced and diced the killer capsicum, but not before the nasty nightshade had exacted its due: the final count of those dead or missing was three hundred and twelve. During the funeral that followed, the High Priestess of the Temple of the Moon Princess famously and poignantly intoned, “Ask not for whom the bell pepper tolls. It tolls for thee.”

Margherita at last confronted her final boss on the eve of her eighteenth birthday. Their battle stretched across thirty stories of a downtown highrise and ended on the stroke of midnight when she landed the fatal blow with her Vorpal Slicer. When it was over, that Tosser lay dead, and Margherita was a mere mortal: like all eighteen-year-old girls, she had lost her powers. She thus ended her career with a respectable competency rating of 7.9, Tosser’s official threat level as determined by the city’s Threat Assessment Board.

Margherita publicly revealed her secret identity shortly after her retirement. Though no longer in service, she remains active in the magical girl community and has often been seen braving even the fiercest battle zones to replenish the girls’ needed supply of juice boxes. She currently runs her own pizza parlor.

In spite of her years of service to the city, some now regard Margherita as a nuisance on account of her political campaigns. Her attempt to instate Vegetable Awareness Month and Pizza Appreciation Day met widespread derision, as did her anti-vegetable “Toss Dough not Salad” billboards. After she petitioned the City Fathers for a restraining order that would require salad to remain at least a hundred yards from pizza at all times, she was banned from attending any further City Council meetings.