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Review: Hissing (Vol. 04)

Manhwa-ga: Kang EunYoung
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating:Teen (13+)
Released: July 2008

Synopsis: “While Da-Eh and Sun-Nam take baby steps into couplehood, Ha-Ra has no intention of giving up on her ex. Intent on bringing Da-Eh down, she and her cronies corner the budding artist and prevent her from making it to her little brother’s fateful reunion! But why do Sun-Nam’s brothers show up instead?! To make matters worse, Ta-Jun’s regularly scheduled harrassment of Da-Eh leads to a confession!”

Hissing stars young Da-Eh, a girl dreaming of becoming a manhwa-ga (Korean comic artist) alongside her best friend Sung-Chul. As they walk through life, seeing everything as reference material, the real world gives Da-Eh a slap in the face. That slap in the face is Sun-Nam, an attractive and kind hearted guy trying his best to become a horrible person (and failing at it). At first they fight, and they fight a lot, but as time passes they grow accustomed to each other and start dating.

There are two obstacles in this relationship: one is Ta-Jun, an overly attractive egotistical emo-pest, and the second is Ha-Ra, a crazy psycho chick with blood thirsty sights set on Sun-Nam. As Sun-Nam and Da-Eh are pulled around by these two crazy people, we dig deeper into their family tree to discover what ‘might’ be a shocking secret.

In volume four, both Da-Eh and Sun-Nam seem to have forgotten to study for exams and they have collectively failed. The contest deadline is also coming up and she has almost finished her entry, that is until Ha-Ra steals it to lure Da-Eh into her trap. She tears all of Da-Eh’s hard work to pieces and locks her in the school storage room for the weekend. Meanwhile, Sun-Nam is wasting time walking the streets searching for a part time job so he can buy Da-Eh a cell phone, but once he gets a good look at a clock, he can’t bring himself to skip out on his family reunion. Rushing to the meeting, he sees the face of little Da-Hwa and all hell breaks loose.

Once escaping the storage room, Da-Eh runs into Ta-Jun, who tries to push her buttons by being his usual suave self so she socks him one and forces him to buy her food. He confesses to her about his broken heart, saying he should fall for someone like her. The next day, Sun-Nam gives her the cell phone he bought her with his brother’s credit card, and later on Ta-Jun tells him about his plans to steal Da-Eh away. Da-Eh takes a quick trip to the corner store and ends up at a nightclub with Ta-Jun! Seeing him in his element, she starts to understand why so many girls like him (short of being a total hottie) but is completely unaware she’s being watched.

It has been confirmed that the not-so-well-kept secret plot twist is that Sun-Nam and Da-Eh are related. Surprise! If you’ve made it this far I congratulate you, because you are a dedicated manhwa-lover. The plot is weak and most of the characters are pretty boring. Odds are I read most of these while I was half asleep because if I were totally awake I never would have bothered to get more. Though the series as a whole is a stereotypical manhwa, it has one saving grace; Da-Eh and her friend Sung-Chul are hilarious! They are so off the wall, and out of the loop, you just have to keep reading to find out what weird stuff they’re going to do next. As you read you know how the story should go: she gets into a situation which has happened a million times in a million stories but then takes the other road. This is usually done through violence, like hitting or yelling at someone at a totally unexpected time. She’s got a strong personality, which easily draws you in.

I have a few beefs with the art, mainly Sun-Nam and Ta-Jun looking exactly the same! One has flippy hair and the other straight hair (most of the time) and this is ‘not’ a good way to tell people apart (heaven forbid someone puts on a hat). The characters constantly suffer from monkey head, toss that in with gangly arms and hands/feet, which are often far too big, and you’ll be lucky to keep track of who is who.

On to my second biggest problem with this series: blank speech bubbles. Sometimes they make sense, like in a memory where the character couldn’t hear what was being said, but knew people were talking, but other times their in the middle of a page and have no apparent meaning or significance. It’s possible I just don’t get it, but after reading the book eight times and still not knowing what it’s there for I highly doubt that. A Yen Press error?

To sum it up, I’d have to say Hissing would be most enjoyed as your first manhwa experience, before you find out that discovering you’re related to the guy you like is ‘not’ uncommon in manhwa. The main character is funny and the plot is just confusing enough to keep you reading, even if you do so for no reason other then the hope of figuring out what the heck is going on.

Review written July 22nd, 2008 by Marsha Reid
Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

Marsha Reid

About the Author:

Marsha Reid is a self-proclaimed manhwa nut – "It’s my not so guilty pleasure and my one true love." She has a group called Anime@ Large, which has become much like a full time job to go along with her full time job at a local theater. Marsha likes fluffy animals (even though she's allergic), manga/manhwa, anime, and make Lolita costumes in her spare time.

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2 Responses

  1. I had the same issue with the speech bubbles, i asked about it and apparently the blank bubbles were blank in the original korean versions as well.

  2. Kagami Han'ei says:

    thank you for finding that out, it was totally driving me nuts!

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