Project Jikoku Chapter Two Review


Chapter One of Project Jikoku (which we reviewed here) in some ways felt more like a scene-setting prologue than a complete entry in its story. Told primarily through flashbacks, the story focused on a character’s father and served to set the scene for the world the comic would be set in. Featuring social commentary about humanity’s fear of the unknown, the fact that the actions of a government don’t always reflect the desires of its people and the intolerance of people different to ourselves, it nicely set up the world of the comic, even if at times it struggled to walk the line between tension and humour.

Chapter Two changes its focus and puts us more firmly into the lives of the series’ protagonists, telling a story that’s more concerned with interpersonal emotions than the overarching narrative threat of space pirates or social commentary about the human race. We get to understand more about the romance between Olympus and Eliza that was teased in Chapter One, we get to see the results of their cross species romance, and get a good look at the lives of their twin children, the naïve Helvidius, named by his father after a prophesised hero, and his sister Ysoria, named by her mother for the qualities of intelligence and loyalty she hoped her daughter would grow up to embody.

824631a0f79159be6b64ac5487c7ac6b1806365618After a very well delivered scene of grief amongst the family we’re shown that the voiceovers that have been happening are not from Helvidius, but rather from his sister Ysoria, who seems to be the character most aware of the situation surrounding her, even at the young age that she is portrayed as in this chapter.

What was really refreshing to me was the way the pair of twins were portrayed in this chapter. Most comics will rely on the overused cliché of having the male character be the one taking charge of the situation, with the female character taking the back seat. Project Jikoku is without a doubt positioning Ysoria as the strong, mature character with the most emotional depth, with Helvidius currently relegated to naive side character more concerned with fun than the gravity of their situation. Where Ysoria completely sees through her father’s choices at the end of the chapter, Helvidius takes his father’s word for granted and never stops to question flaws in the story that are in front of his face. Watching Ysoria deal with her issues of being relegated to second place in her father’s view and the way she uses that as motivation to work harder than her brother and surpass him makes for a very interesting dynamic within the family. Even her choice of secondary father figure toward the chapter’s end makes sense narratively and says a lot about her character without having to spell it out.

0c446b34c15d3b038b995be1d9dc4eaa831475744This is where Chapter Two makes its biggest improvement over Chapter One. Gone are the walls of expository dialogue, replaced with scenes that use character actions to portray all the subtext necessary for a story with rich characters that will hopefully see a long life to come.

While tonally distinct from the first chapter, I felt much more of a sense of direction in the comic’s second chapter, giving me a lot of hope for the series going forward. I’m interested to see how the family’s dynamic progresses as the story moves forward and if the positioning of the twins will remain the same or if it shifts. The second chapter also handles the distinction between humour and tension much more skilfully, knowing to keep the emotionally important scenes tense and leave the humour for the right moments.

One of the bigger problems with the second chapter of Project Jikoku, when read online, is the way that every page uploaded to the site is displayed by upload date. While this may not seem like a problem, three times during Chapter Two I had an emotional moment interrupted by a bright and colourful comic strip, unrelated to the main story, advertising that the page was uploaded at Christmas, New Years or Valentines Day. While this likely wouldn’t ruin narrative flow for those reading the comic as updates are posted, for those of you who, like me, wait for the whole chapter to be uploaded before reading, it will disrupt the progression of the narrative if you go through the comic clicking next page to progress.

Having finished the second chapter of Project Jikoku I now have a much better feel for where the comic is ultimately heading in terms of its narrative vision. I’m very interested to see the development of the pair of twins throughout the series and am equally excited by the series’ potential to have a well developed female character take the lead in the story. I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes on Project Jikoku, watching as it hopefully does some very interesting things in terms of how it has placed its narrative.

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