Author: HaNa Lee
Manhwa-ga: KangHo Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “Chiwoo trains with Ju-Ah to become a better mangnani. Ju-Ah promises Seol-Ha that despite Chiwoo’s struggles, he will become a great warrior in the end. Later, while Seol-Ha continues his search for Bi-Hyun, Chiwoo and his friends confront Yi-Yun to rescue Uncle Wol-Bek. Will both missions succeed? Or is there more trouble in store for these heroes?”
Most of volume four of Heavenly Executioner Chiwoo is a long fight scene and in that way, following what was happening was pretty easy. Dialogue from lead and background characters filled in a lot of gaps readers would have about the who, what, where and why of the story, in preparation for the action sequence that takes up ¾ of the book.
Fortunately the fight scene was a lively one, because without a strong fight scene, the book would’ve been nothing. While at times the pacing of the fight seemed a bit like a back and forth game of pong, I liked watching the different characters pull out all the stops to get the upper hand. I felt the frustration of the protagonist who was just getting fed up with the main characters’ antics and order shuffling and by the end of the volume, was actually rooting for him to win over the often irritating main character, Chiwoo (who is presumably a boy?). It was the secondary characters who really pulled me through and I was disappointed every time they left the pages.
The artwork didn’t do much for me here. While the sharp, simple designs worked well with the story, the lifeless eyes and often out of place comedic expressions were a bit of an eyesore. I found certain artistic choices were distracting from actual events and ruined moments that seemed otherwise pretty serious. Sometimes the style seemed like it would change completely and I kept feeling like I was reading an Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) manga at times with the facial designs.
I had mixed feelings throughout this book. While at times I found I really enjoyed myself, with the fast-paced fight scenes and lively characters, at other times I found the pacing to be really clunky and the artwork lacking in a lot of areas. If I knew the story would revolve around the secondary characters solely in the future, then it might interest me more, but as is, I’m not sure I’d want to read more. Overall, Heavenly Executioner Chiwoo is a fairly energetic mahn-wa that reminded me a lot of reading Naruto and despite not being a fan of the ninja-mayhem series, I did find some scenes I enjoyed here. I’d recommend curious readers give it a go and form their own opinion.