Saturday, 5 January 2008

Phallic metallic: Build your own boyfriend

The original premise of build your own boyfriend looks at first glance of the title a childish extension of the Japanese robot fantasy, a lecturer at a university dissatisfied with her love-life builds a robotic companion, it's a collection of the worst stereotypes imaginable with only an inversion of the typical male pervert role.

From the beginning however, this is a strip that is willing to playfully skewer the robotic genre, there's no real manga background here , just the basis of a low-key yet interesting strip willing to ask questions about romance and human consciousness.

Most of cyberpunk's existence has been posited around questioning what posits essential humanity, a robot with something approaching consciousness fits within that bill, the only fantastic element within a sleepy campus.

Gwen Anderson decides to take her love-life into a whole new zone by going DIY. One interesting element is the pretense that Owen is a human and all the lies and half-truths that needs to keep the cover story going.

This is also an in-depth examination of modern gender roles in the west, Gwen has been let down by men, she tells us, ' The engineer in me had to wonder, why not make a better version'. This 'perfect male' is also attractive to other females.

Admittedly, the scene where Gwen glowers at her competitor is standard practice in rom-coms, the inclusion of the robot here is a clear twist in the tale. 01 or Owen is not just a pliable sex-slave but someone possessing free-will and this is where the story gets interesting because it veers inadvertently into questions about human consciousness.

 There were earlier prototypes but Gwen fails to see the point of creating a lover be-smitten with her, romance, she tells us, begins with a challenge. This is a short sweet story and there haven't been updates for some time, even so, this is an worthwhile examination of romantic need.


Jason said...

Hmm...this looks like an interesting read, though I admit, it does sound like something the Japanese would write. I might give it a shot, so thanks for the find.

Tapio Peltonen said...

To me it looks and feels a lot like a character oriented shoujo ("girls'") manga, although quality-wise clearly above the bulk level. So, very Japanese-like, more so than most of the mangaka-wannabes in the western world write and draw.

Add a twisty plot involving a murder or a suicide to this premise, compress it to forty pages, and you get a Keiko Nishi story.