Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sonichu Episode 3 Critical Review: Eternal President of the Republic of CWCVille
Witness the Work for your Self
Sonichu Episode 3 is an interesting transitional episode, marking the point where Sonichu stops being a children's adventure story and starts becoming the final stand for Christian Weston Chandler's besieged youth. On the one hand, it has a very clear good vs. evil plot, with the villainous Naitsirch ( Christian spelled backwards ) trying to kidnap Pokemon-- a standard plot for the show that contains half of Sonichu's conceptual DNA. On the other hand, it is the full introduction of the stage upon which Sonichu is set-- CWCVille, the city where Chris-Chan is mayor, and holds his office in the shopping mall.
Fan works regarding Sonichu often treat CWCVille as a totalitarian state, dominated by the promotion of its dictator's ego. Later issues of Sonichu will justify this, but for now CWCVille is a haven where Chris-Chan is treated with respect-- he's a benevolent authority figure who has the townsfolk's respect, even if the townsfolk are mostly mutant hedgehogs. But this is also the debut for Chris-Chan's major character arc-- his " love quest ". Chris-Chan is absolutely obsessed with finding a girlfriend, and treats the search for a relationship as a Herculean ordeal. Ironically, at this point he can't find a mate, even within a fictional world of his own creation. But his " son " Sonichu is there to give Chris-Chan words of encouragement. Even though Sonichu's thought balloons show that he doesn't really believe Chris-Chan will be successful, he still admires his creator's courage for continually trying.
At this point, Chris-Chan knows he is not the hero who gets the girl, but the sad sack nice guy who can't get past the " friend zone ". He uses the comic as a means of coping with this problem, by having the hero to whom he aspires validating him. Even though Sonichu calls Chris-Chan " father ", he's more of a good big brother figure here; Chris-Chan watches how Sonichu and Rosechu interact, and he sees the kind of relationship he thinks he should have. It's similar to a sick child seeing an actor dressed as their favorite cartoon character as part of a Make-a-Wish event, and having the actor tell the kid how important they are. Except that Chris-Chan is A.) a grown man and B.) has no serious illnesses.
Sonichu's relationship with Rosechu is another important development here, showcasing what Chandler believes a man-woman relationship should be. Rosechu exhibits every female gender stereotype in existence-- she wears pink, she shops to the point of running up a massive credit card debt, she has Sonichu lug her purchases around like a pack mule, and she's completely useless in an actual fight. This is a common phenomenon in boys' adventure stories, where we are told that the female is just as tough as the guys, but she never actually proves it ( at risk of upstaging the men ). Believe me when I say that the hypocrisy here is NOT an isolated incident for Sonichu; most of the perverse appeal of Sonichu comes from Chandler's extremely twisted conception of " women's rights ". The hypocrisy of trying to telling us that the main heroine is effective while showing her as helpless without her man is just the beginning.
But the story here is still a story that, hypothetically, could be taken as a straight adventure comic. Granted, it would be an adventure comic well below professional standards, due to the unique storytelling methods chandler employs. Chandler makes countless amateur mistakes; he uses Comic Sans MS as a font, his pages are infected with white space, and his panel borders are crudely drawn by hand. This isn't even beginning to describe the many errors present with his anatomy, perspective, reference material, and basic consistency. But since I'm analyzing Sonichu as a postmodern artistic statement for the sake of this academic exercise, I think it serves the story. The childish, Crayola-colored visuals accentuate the fact that CWCVille is an adult-free Neverland, and they make the instances where more mature issues slip in even more jarring.