Thoughts re Bolar Wars Extended

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Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:29 am

  • Dear Mister Eldred,
    I heartily enjoy the Bolar Wars Extended webcomic. I look forward to the remaining chapters. However, I also think there’s a little room for improvement. My critique follows.
    Likes:
    • Talan’s personality, and his role in the story. There’s almost a dash of James Bond to that guy.
    • The whole cloak-and-dagger plot element regarding General Keeling’s treachery. Ditto the tensions between the Gamilons and Galmans. I like the reversal and deception versus deception elements; they build tension nicely.
    • Likewise, the treachery of Flash’s dad, Johnathan Contrail, is interesting; both the Terrans and the Gamilons are facing sneaky enemies from within. The whole intrigue angle provides more variety than yet another “evil space Nazi empire attacks Earth and the heroes have to defeat it” storyline.
    • The romantic subplot between Sandor and Tomoko. It’s nicely developed, and provides more “screen time” for a significant supporting character. Also, you wrote some great lines for Tomoko: “Do you know what it’s like to get planet bombed by obstetrics?” ;)
    • The development of Mariposa’s character, her amnesia issues, and her eventual recollection of her identity. She’s more of an actual character than, say, Starsha.
    • Your execution of the battles between Admiral Gustav’s forces and the Argo. Lots of stuff happens, various characters get to have their moments, and your illustrations of space combat scenes are very action-packed and exciting.
    • Desslok isn’t that redeemed. Yes, he’s not attacking Earth, and he’s developed respect for the protagonists and for Terrans in general, but he’s still got a Doctor Doom-sized ego complex. It makes him a somewhat morally ambiguous character and provides an interesting alternative to the usually clear-cut bad guys and good guys.

    Dislikes:
    • Chapter 6, part 1: It’s been established Derek’s/Kodai’s relationship with Nova/Yuki has been suffering because of current events. When Derek’s off duty and looking to blow off some stress, you’d think he might try to arrange some “us time” alone with Nova. Instead . . . he gets involved in a floating craps game! Seriously? This guy has NO sense of priorities. I know that it’s a common trope for anime heroes to be idiots when it comes to women/girls, but come on—by this point, Derek and Nova have been an item for some time, and he’s just ignoring her? (Okay, he’s not ignoring her while she’s around him, but you get the picture.)
    • Related to this, if there’s anything I would have liked to see more of in this webcomic, it’s a bit more development of the Derek/Nova relationship. When I think back to the original franchise, it doesn’t seem to me like that relationship was ever very well developed, as opposed to the hero-heroine romantic relationships in some other anime such as Escaflowne or Full Metal Panic, or the Sandor-Tomoko relationship here.
    • Chapter 6, part 2: When Talan and his supporters escape from Keeling, why doesn’t Talan grab a gun and shoot Keeling instead of just decking him? Or try to use him as a human shield? By now, Talan knows what a ruthless traitor Keeling is.
    • Mariposa’s mystical deus ex machina powers, as demonstrated in chapter 4, part 3 and chapter 6, part 2. It reduces the element of suspense when the protagonists have someone around who can conveniently unleash a can of divine whup-ass at the most desperate moments. It also makes the protagonists seem less significant when they’re suddenly reduced to being bystanders rather than active participants.
    It might have been better if Mariposa could “only” do something relatively limited, like give the Argo enough juice for a single ultra-powerful wave motion gunshot, extra power to the shock cannons, etc. Then the main characters would still be doing something (like aiming and shooting their guns) instead of passively relying on an alien goddess to pull their fat out of the fire.
    In contrast, when the Argo crew and Mariposa go up against the Gardiana planet-construct, they work together to overcome their adversary, which makes the action more interesting.
    On the other hand, since Mariposa’s “I can do anything” power only kicks in twice, it’s not a huge problem.
    • Chapter 9: Von Feral says the “only” crime Smeardom committed was to send imperial ships to attack the Argo with lethal force against his emperor’s wishes. What? Smeardom disobeyed his emperor—his supreme leader—by doing something that Desslok had specifically forbidden him from doing; in other words, he violated the chain of command. (Both von Feral and Smeardom are career military men, so that should mean something to them.) He also ordered an act of war which put people’s lives at risk, and injured and/or killed who knows how many Terrans, including Derek. He did it without any prior provocation from the Terrans. He did this without informing his emperor in advance, in the name of “surprising” him. Heck of a thing to qualify as “only.” Seems like one of the Terrans present would be inclined to point that out to von Feral.

    Mixed:
    • The “too big to fail” reference is an amusing bit of social commentary (at least, I’m guessing that’s what it is), but it also seems slightly out of place. Almost two centuries into the future, how many people (besides Flash’s big-business dad) would remember that saying? (Then again, people today remember centuries-old slogans like “Give me liberty or give me death,” so maybe I’m nit-picking. And, of course, if nobody else remembers it, then it makes a good password.)

    I want to emphasize that, in spite of my gripes, I really like Bolar Wars Extended. I’m grateful for the effort you have obviously put into this labor of love. I look forward to seeing the rest of the story.
    Cheers,
    David Mitchell
    davidbmitchell42
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Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:43 am

  • Thanks, David! Very happy to see any kind of feedback - it's been extremely rare with this project. Chapter 10 is underway. If I'm lucky, I'll finish it in time for the December 15 update. January 15 for sure if that falls through.
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    Tim Eldred
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