In Kaku City, everyone has mods. From memory mods to help with schooling to fashion mods that push the boundaries, anyone who looks normal is simply… plain. But when Sunati sees a girl without mods at the train station, she is intrigued. With everyone else always changing their looks, a girl who never changes stands out. Working up the courage, Sunati approaches the never-changing girl, Austen, and asks her out on a date. However, even in a world where technology is ever-present, navigating love is daunting at best. But Sunati and Austen are willing to make it work.
Set in a futuristic Australia, Always Human is about a society where using enhancements is as common as flying cars and hover trains. But while technology, social standards, and even the very terrain may change, one constant is falling in love and the highs and lows of following your heart. Written by Ari (walkingnorth on the host site Webtoons), the story itself is not unique, following two people who meet and navigate an unusual relationship. But unlike other comics, Ari publishes her comic in episodes, each episode accompanied by its personal music track. Said episodes consist of panels set in a vertical column, differing from the usual format where panels are side by side, moving down as the episode progresses. This change-up in format lets the reader experience comics as if following the natural timeline, instead of a second-hand experience from a graphic novel. There is very little action as the story lines focus on character interaction and internal reflection, but the chemistry between Austen and Sunati is effortless, even when awkward.
Ari’s art is soft and ethereal, resembling watercolors. Backgrounds have less distinct forms, while characters are in sharper detail, though with minimal lines. The art has contemporary manga and anime overtones, but where possible, realism is used, such as anatomy and size-relations. Because the premise is people can buy modifications—from tails to ears to wings— anyone can look like anything. Though overall human, there is no telling what a person will look like, which is half the fun in reading the comics, seeing the different background characters displaying their mods. The main characters themselves do not go for extreme modification, remaining generally humanoid, which curtails distractions. Even in their “reverted” state, characters are diverse, following the spectrum in all areas of life.
As mentioned, each episode is accompanied by a music track. Besides bringing an additional sense into play, the music’s tone matches the episodes tone. The music helps set the mood for the episode, complementing the actions and emotions displayed by the characters.In Episode #3, when Sunati and Austen have coffee, the melody is upbeat and peppy. In Episode #17 the music is otherworldly, evoking the wonder Sunati feels at experiencing the Outback at night.
Always Human is a beautiful comic about two girls falling in love and all the fun and tears that comes with it. Read the story at AlwaysHuman.com.