About a week ago a guy at my job — 0173 — tipped me off to something pretty interesting. Knowing that I have a penchant for online comics and anime (especially after seeing the background on my desktop based on Run, Saga, Run), he showed me the online comic Misfile, which is produced by another co-worker’s brother-in-law, Chris Hazelton, and which I’ll review here.
There’s this guy, Rumisiel, who’s actually not a “guy”, per se, but an angel (even though the only differences between him and humanity are wings and supernatural powers). He’s been suspended from his job as filing angel in Heaven (which runs like a giant bureaucracy) for being a lazy slacker. The problem is that just before he is suspended, he ends up misfiling a couple of files, those of Ash Upton and Emily MacArthur. By misfiling their files, Rumisiel ends up turning Ash — a male, 17 year old high school student and racer — into a girl, and making Emily — a female, 18/19 year old high school graduate to be who just qualified to get into Harvard — two years younger, thereby erasing the past 2 years of her life, including all grades and entrance exams. He introduces the two and they start a rather strange friendship whose only glue (at first) is that they’re the only ones aware of what’s going on. (Rumisiel explains why they’re the only ones that can remember what they were before the change.)
Throughout the story, Ash is getting used to being (and apparently, all his life having been) a girl, including his acquisition of breasts, estrogen, and looks from guys who just want to get into his/her pants. All this while trying to remember that “she” is actually a “he”. Emily, on the other hand, is discovering why it was she wanted to get into Harvard in the first place, and realizing more and more that her life has not necessarily been her own, but rather deeply controlled by her mother’s expectations. And of course, there’s Rumisiel who’s trying to do whatever he can to get back into heaven before someone up there catches his mistake and makes the changes permanent. (Oh, and did I mention he used to date Lucifer’s niece?)
Thoughts and Impressions
My first impression when I saw the comic was that it was going to be another supernatural/drama storyline with more than enough attention paid to boobs and sex. Sadly, I was right. Some of the themes dealt with here are definitely “R” rated. (I tend to be a bit of a puritan prude, so most people would tell me it’s actually PG-13, sexual innuendo and tension not withstanding.) Still, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The comic has a great style and feel to it (in the manga style), something which will likely be enjoyed by most most fans of anime and manga.
Marvelous artwork aside (and, if nothing else, this is enough of a reason to enjoy the comic), the story line is pretty solid, generally witty and enjoyable. The combination of great artwork and good story-telling is enough to make Misfile strangely addicting, especially if you enjoy manga/anime/comics that don’t involve mutants and aliens in tights. To put it another way, Misfile has a bit of a Love Hina appeal to it, with a scaled-down Ah! My Goddess feel, so if you liked either of those, you’ll probably like this.
While going through the comic I was very impressed by the detailed references to street racing and car engines. (That’s not really saying much, considering my severely lacking depth of knowledge on the subject.) If nothing else, you’ll learn a thing or two about auto-work from reading Misfile. In addition, unlike with most manga of this style, it’s surprisingly easy to put yourself as the reader in the shoes of the characters, something which personalizes them and greatly enhances the reading experience.
On the downside, I find the emphasis on sexual tension and innuendo — the lowest common denominators for humor — to be a distraction sometimes. (Yeah, yeah: Ash, a girl, has the hots for Emily, we all get that, and since he used to be a guy it’s… uhm… well, it’s… uhm… yeah.) In addition, I find that there’s a lack of depth in the theological realm, something I’d really like to see more of. One very notable exception to this is Rumisiel’s illustrated explanation of the fall of Lucifer, which is a pretty good (and slightly, but not detractively, embellished) synopsis of the Biblical account of the whole ordeal. (CEOs aren’t mentioned in the Bible, right?) Overall, however, we get the usual humanizing of theological creatures, even though angels DO tend to be a bit one dimensional and not generally smart in most theology. (At least the “not generally smart” part is portrayed correctly here.)
Luckily, neither of these “flaws” really detract from the story line, which is great.
Note: A tip to Chris: Read up on a few holy books from the Middle East, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the books of the Apocrypha, and the Lost Books of Eden. I think you’ll find more than enough ammunition there to add some theological depth to the heavenly hosts.
As I wrote this, I noticed that it’s 6/6/06, a numerically (but not otherwise) significant day in the world of Biblical theology. Coincidence? I think so. Total coincidence.
In any case, I find Misfile to be an extremely entertaining manga with a great story line, pretty good character development, and great art. Although I have a bit of hesitation about the theology and constant sexual tension, here’s my biggest beef with the comic: it has an addicting story line, one that makes me want to flip the pages to find out how it all ends. Since Misfile is still being written, and therefore hasn’t ended, that can only lead to the eventual frustration of reaching the end without reaching a resolution (something I, to my dismay, have already done). For that, I have no choice but to say (in the spirit of the topic at hand):
“Damn you, Chris. You’re a filthy, manga-crack peddling bastard. And like a crack addict with his drug, I hate loving Misfile as much as I do. But please… keep drawing.”