One of the troubles that writers often face is figuring out who, exactly, they want to be the protagonist. Most good writing will single out one or two characters to carry the plot to a proper resolution; the other characters, while still well-rounded, will play a more ancillary role. While complex tales with a handful of people all affecting each other’s actions is sometimes the mark of great literature, it can also be the mark of a colossal traffic jam if the author isn’t sufficiently careful.
One comic attempting to walk this tightrope is Institute of Metaphysics, by K. Lin. The setting and plot (the lives of supernatural students living at the premier U.S. college for supernatural students) lends itself well to an ensemble set-up, and Lin takes advantage of this. The current cast includes nine characters whose backstories are hinted at so far, with more and more joining the fray with each storyline. And since half of the characters on the cast page have yet to so much as show up . . . well, if all goes well, we’re looking at the potential for an ensemble epic; if not, we’re looking at the potential for a twenty-plot pile-up.
The character art is pleasing (though the constant apologies for no background grow rather tiring), and the writing is pretty tight, with the caveat that a lot of F-bombs get dropped and the fourth wall is pretty darn flimsy. Lin also has a tendency to follow various asides and other distractions, making an already convoluted bundle of plots just a little more perilous to navigate.
My comments here and the shortness of the review may make it sound like Institute of Metaphysics is a terrible comic, but that’s really not the case. (It’s more a side-effect of a weekend emergency that still has my blood boiling. My apologies.) If anything, it’s a pleasant comic that just needs to work out a few kinks and figure out its priorities.
Comic Rating: Three bishounen roommates.