Saturday, March 18, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen!
In my hands I hold a box
that can unlock your every desire


...At a cost!

Re:Set is an anime inspired webcomic by azureXtwilight about Michelle Vinson, a lonely and unhappy girl, who oneday opens Pandora's box and unleashes demons back into the world. She makes a deal with Sloth and it changes her world and ours.


Get ready to have your expectations reset!



Michelle curses like a sailor and wants to fight demons. It's a stark contrast when we meet her in chapter 3 versus the first one. When she's introduced, she seems to play to a lot of anime tropes: twin tails, chibi faces, and school uniform. All of these tropes are subverted by chapter 3 when she really lets loose. At first it felt out of character, but I was glad to see my expectations shattered in this regard. My only issue with Michelle: I don't understand her motives or goal in making a deal with Sloth.


The art is colorful, lush, and beautiful. It isn't without its flaws -- there are some bodies that are anatomically stretched and distorted in odd ways, but every effort is made to make Re:Set appear cinematic and full of motion and action. It feels very anime even down to the occasional use of chibi faces for a chuckle or two.

Vibrant reds in this scene. Lots of cool cinematic effects throughout the comic.


In fact...

Check out the trailer for Re:Set, I thought it was really cool to hear voice actors portray the characters and see motion graphics for the characters.

Use of Audio

I know folks generally hate having random audio pop up when they're viewing a website. I didn't expect it towards the end of chapter 2, but it worked. The audio combined with the imagery really made it come alive in a way that you couldn't do in a traditional manga. Webcomics have the luxury of an infinite canvas, bits of animation, and even the use of audio to give life to the story the author is telling, and it's used effectively here. The music track is anime or visual novel inspired and fits with the comic pages well.

My only issue was that it had to start itself over on the next page. From a technical standpoint you'd want the audio to be able to continue across pages. This means you'd either have to use AJAX to load pages or have the audio sit in some pop-up window or iframe. AJAX loading of pages would be a very custom code solution. Pop-up windows and iframes might get AdBlocked ruining the effect.

BTW, another page in the comic uses audio too, but one drawback: if I'm reading the comic fast, it may not give the audio a chance to load. I only noticed that another page in the story had audio because it had fully loaded in time for me to hear it while I was deciding if I wanted to crop that image for this review.

Valentine's Day Special

I liked this one shot comic V-day comic from the serial. You will have to read through the comic before you read this, but it's worth it.


Disjointed Storytelling

From Chapter 1

The first three chapters shift in tone and made them feel disjointed. In chapter 1, Michelle gets the box and ends up making a Faustian deal with Sloth, the demon in the box. As the chapter progressed, I like how Michelle knew the potential consequences of her actions, and it seemed to be a twist on the usual morality play between mortals and gods. She shuns her guardian Gerald. She knows that the contract will probably cost her something dear, but she does it anyway. Seemingly because anything is better than a neglected life.

That is a really good question, Michelle. (From Chapter 2)

I'm not sure where chapter 2 takes place. The colors shift from the dark tones in chapter 1 to bright blues. There's a lot of fighting with some zombies and at the end Michelle greets Gerald by calling herself the "future world empress," which, if nothing else, is very anime, because I don't know what else it means.

Is that her goal? Is that part of the deal she made with Sloth? She ends up making a deal with Gerald though, which left me scratching my head. At the end of chapter 1, I was expecting the story to be about Michelle and Sloth. This chapters makes me wonder even further why she made a deal with Sloth from the get-go.


In chapter 3, the tone and genre of the story seems to shift to something more urban fantasy/paranormal. Chapter 3 onward, Re:Set introduces a ton of characters -- magicians and minions alike. There's a lot more combat, and it takes on a plot to retrieve various artifacts before they can combat the seven deadly sins who have been released into the world. Everything feels coherent as we now have an ensemble cast that we can bounce between and hold a longer story with a McGuffin plotline.

Each of these first three chapters felt like the start of a new story and not a continuation of one narrative. I suppose you could say these changes reset one's expectations as my expectations changed chapter to chapter: I thought it was a snarky, twisted morality play, but then it ended up being a McGuffin hunt in a paranormal urban fantasy anime. There's nothing wrong with any of those genres. My own work even has some sudden and jarring shifts like that in the first few chapters, but having done that and looking back at my own work, I think it hurts it, because I'm not sure where my expectations as a reader are supposed to be. If I find myself latching onto an idea only to have it tossed in chapter 2 and again in chapter 3, then I might bail on the story.

tl;dr: it's a long wind up to get to the main story.

Big Ensemble Cast

New character are introduced to pull the story along. Characters have henchmen characters. There isn't one guy after a McGuffin but teams of magicians.

One issue with all these characters: I don't feel any attachment to the majority of them, but chapter 6 appears to be a bit slower, so maybe we can get a moment to breathe and learn about a few of the characters.

Typography and Speech Bubble Issues

Early in the story, chapter 1 mainly, there are some typography issues I had. Sloth's font face is difficult to read and blends into the background color. I understand the idea of using a different font to show her otherness, but it should be readable at a glance.

There are several bubble placement issues in earlier pages. They would float between panels making it difficult to discern who the text referred too or which order to read the text in. Later on in the webcomic, these issues mostly seem to go away.

Art: Unintentional Sharp Angles, Unnecessary Rimlighting

Art-wise, when drawing bodies and clothing, sometimes they appear to have hard planar surfaces or sharp edges because of how they're rim-lighted. One example is the abs on Gerald early on in the story.

They're smoothly shaded, but then there's a hard, white rim-light outlining part of his pectoral and abdominal muscles and this makes them appear very sharp looking -- like there's a hard crease between the light and shadow.

The same style of highlighting is used on clothing making it appear blocky and planar.

I know adding a bit of lighting around the edges can make a feature pop, but since most of the work in Re:Set appears painterly it might help to have the highlights blended in with the rest to avoid the odd angular appearance.


If you're fans of anime serials like Inuyasha that go on for hundreds of episodes, you may enjoy this webcomic, because it has plenty of demons, magic, and enough McGuffin chasing and demon-slaying to last that long.

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