Manhwa-ga: Kim MiKyung
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “The Sword Master of Black Iron is kicked out of the magic guild when he’s unable to follow an order to destroy the beautiful doll called Fiona. Then one night, Fiona comes home with a letter for him. What are the contents of this letter and why is Fiona so afraid to present it to her Master? Also included are Kim Myung’s early short stories Strawberry Children, Alien House, and The Reason Why I’m Poor and Burdened.”
Despite being presented as a side-story sequel to the series, 11th Cat, those who have not read the series need not worry when picking up 11th Cat Special. The ‘side story’ takes up a mere 22 pages in this 176 page. Following that are several unrelated short stories ranging from aliens, ghosts and fantasy kingdoms that come together for an interesting collection of chapters.
Having not read 11th Cat, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy what this sequel book had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this wasn’t the case and even the story relevant to 11th Cat was pretty easy to follow as its own stand-alone. I liked the different stories Kim MiKyung put together for this compilation and was amused by how random they were. While one story stars a starving teenager and a cute, round little food-vacuum alien he becomes stuck with, another follows a boy seeking help from a mysterious problem-solving philanthropist for his death-bringing hand.
One thing that left me disappointed with this assortment of tales was that rarely did I ever feel satisfied upon finishing them. While a well-written short story can sum itself up in a neat little package, the stories here felt more like opening chapters to longer stories. In some cases, I wish that were the case because I found myself really wanting to know what happened next!
It’s hard to say anything too definitive about Kim MiKyung’s art style because it changes so drastically throughout the book. While there are some styles I really enjoyed, there were others that I thought were very attractive but more suited to illustration work over full comic treatment. It was interesting having the style change and more often than not, the styles suited the story they were telling.
All combined, there are a lot of attributes about 11th Cat Special that make a real treat to read. While the stories aren’t so impressive as to warrant a blind recommendation to anybody, I would certainly recommend taking a flip through and seeing what you think of the artwork. Combined with the storytelling (despite the cut-off endings), it makes for a pretty entertaining read.