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MUSIC MASTERS

A Teen Hero Cartoon In Prose

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Jan 5, 2019: Michael is a disco-loving young man who’s passion for music leads him to discover a mysterious power: by focusing on certain songs, he can manifest various superhuman abilities for as long as the music plays! This discovery very quickly leads to encounters with others like himself, and he is soon thrust into dangerous adventures within the secret world of Music Masters!

The main analogy Music Masters makes me think of is a teen adventure cartoon in prose. The conceit of the series is a very specific gimmick that all the characters use. The cast is a mix of very distinct character personalities into your classic Four Man Band of youths aided by an older veteran hero. The main overarching antagonist is a powerful organization with increasingly stronger soldiers to send against the protagonists, even as other independent enemies occasionally enter the fray. Every character has very distinct and colorful manifestations of their powers that would be very visually appealing if animated. And more so than most serials I’ve read, each Arc of the story feels like an individual episode to a series, with each major character having their own spotlight adventure, though the overarching plot continues throughout the series, and consequences persist from one Arc to the next. All these elements capture that formula of the "super teen adventure series" quite well.

Music is the theme of the story, and Hejin goes all in with the theme. Arcs are named Tracks, Books are called CDs, and the characters literally gain their powers through music. Specific songs will grant each character specific abilities, allowing fights to have an endless variety of creative challenges and solutions. Most chapters have links to songs used by the characters in battle to act as the story’s soundtrack, as well as each Arc having its particular theme song which it is named after.

Adding to the multi-media experience of the site is the Art. Each chapter introducing a new Music Master has Character Art to add some visual flare to the new arrivals, and cement an image of the character in your head. Hejin has a clean, cartoony style that adds to the aforementioned effect of the story having a cartoon feel: I can very easily picture the story animated in my head in the style of Hejin’s art, backed by the soundtrack provided.

As for the story itself, the writing is solid, and every Arc is well paced. Action scenes are very creative and intense, and there are plenty of them. The character chemistry is on point, with each character having a distinct personality that plays off the others. New Music Masters are introduced every Arc, but this too is paced so as not to overwhelm with the ensemble. Readers will quickly find a favorite character or three, and probably a villain they love to hate.

My criticism, I suppose, is largely a matter of personal taste. As I said, this feels like a cartoon in prose, for a teen audience. The downside to this for me is that the characters, especially some of the villains, can come off as rather archetypal and the main conflict rather basic. With web serials, I’ve gotten used to more complicated narratives with heavy world building and stories with "twists" and lots of "gray" morality, that I kind of forgot what it was like to read a story that just is a teen hero genre story, and fully embraces that with its own distinct theme. I don’t mean to imply that the story is formulaic, just that it felt like a type of show I used to watch when I was younger, but haven’t for a long time. It made for a flat first impression for me, but after a few Arcs, things clicked, and I think its one of things that makes the work stand out compared to the other darker serials I’ve read up to this point.

The story is well done, and you can see the passion Hejin puts into the work, making it an enjoyable read. Older readers might find it a familiar experience, but whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to their expectations. Overall, I would recommend this to fans of young adult adventure novels, superhero cartoons, and shonen anime.

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