Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Kanme Studio's Boom Shaka Webcomic Is A Refreshing Read

The realm of webcomics is like an unfiltered pool of digital creativity. Ever since the medium's boom in the 2000's, there has been a growing number of formats and titles published. Readers can decide if they prefer the snappy one panel web comics, or those that are written as an on-going series, like those Hong Kong TV serials you grew up with. Since most webcomics are published independently, there is a wide range of genres out there to cater to a smorgasbord of tastes, especially if you are looking for something really niche.

Kanme Studio is one of those creative collectives who have started publishing webcomics. The studio is founded about 3 years ago by American writer named Yam. The collective's core includes usogami, who mainly takes care of the web-related aspects, and local freelance artist Alan Bay whom Red Dot Diva has gotten to know in recent years. Alan Bay has also done worked in the games industry, and drawn for a number of books including the recently published SACRED GUARDIANS comic (Asiapac Books) and ONCE UPON A SINGAPORE... TRADERS, a finalist for Book of the Year at the Singapore Book Awards 2019.

BOOM SHAKA is the latest web comic published by the Kanme Studio team, and it is off to a promising start. As of now, there is a Prologue, Chapter 1 and a few pages of Chapter 2 available at a very reasonable price on their website, via Gumroad.

The story begins with Kenji Rodgers, a teenager of American and Japanese heritage. Usually, Kenji keeps to himself and desires to be professional beatboxer. On one fateful day, he decided to step in and got into a fight defending his schoolmate Christine from bullies. Kenji was expelled from school and his estranged father put him on a plane back to his mother's homeland - Japan. At the small town of Amagawamachi, Kenji is reunited with his stern older half-sister Mikuya, who did not lose time in getting him initiated to her family's legacy of exorcism, the source of their powers called the Radiance, and a team of young skilled warriors adept at fighting off the forces of evil.

There are a few things that Red Dot Diva really liked BOOM SHAKA. Firstly, the tone of the web comic has a breezy Pan-Asian feel. It is like well-made fusion cuisine, a mix of Asian aesthetics and supernatural beliefs with a dash of Americanised bluntness. The product is a story that has a punchy dialogue and is refreshing to read. The characters introduced so far are easy to like, and Red Dot Diva already has a favourite - Hime, a friendly 350-year-old yokai who loves taking on the form of either a goth Lolita or a white cat. Plus, the webcomic is in full colour that features Alan Bay's trademark colourful drawings. It is a joy to see how he puts a cutesy stamp in the panels with the way he draws anime-style actions and facial expressions.

The only detracting and slightly uncomfortable point about BOOM SHAKA is the evident shift in catering to the male gaze for one character in particular. Maybe it is meant to be an anime/ manga trope. Or maybe, that is how the studio is able to get more attention for the new web comic. In any case, this issue can be easily resolved if there will be equal opportunity, gratuitous buff bods for the female gaze in future chapters. Fair is fair, right?

Up to this point, there is still more secrets and back stories about Amagawamachi, its supernatural background, and the Radiance's powers yet to be revealed. After being introduced in the first few pages of Chapter 2, Red Dot Diva is also eager to find out who and what the new supernatural-fighting team members are like.

The BOOM SHAKA web comic is a perfect palate cleanser if you are tired of the usual superhero stories, and want to expand your comic book reading. It is not costly at all. The first chapter is only USD 1.99 and comes packed with the prologue, interesting character profiles and promo art. So, it could be worth your while to consider supporting the creators, and checking out BOOM SHAKA. Or, you could gift it to your friends who love this type of fun, supernatural action stories!

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