Manhwa-ga: Uhm JungHyun
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “The arrival of Bum-Moo’s step-sister gives Yun-Ook the chance to learn more about her young roommate – the tragedy that dream him closer to his sister, the reason he dropped out of school, and the jealousy that forced him out on his own. As she finds out more about Bum-Moo’s story, a face from her own past takes Yun-Ook by surprise. Forced to confront her losses in love and life, Yun-Ook must decide once and for all how to move forward in response to Bum-Moo’s affections.”
In this second volume of Forest of Gray City, Bum-Moo’s past is revealed in a sombre retelling of old wounds that left and him step-sister to grow ever closer. His roommate, Yun-Ook, is happy to learn a little more about the young man but remains unsure of how to react to his professed feelings.
I haven’t read the first volume of this two-part series, so forgive me if I misinterpreted anything. Fortunately though, I found I was able to get the jist of things pretty fast so I was able to enjoy the read without problem.
I enjoyed the beginning part of this book the best, where Bum-Moo’s past is explained: his mother’s remarriage to his step-sister’s father, an unfortunate accident that left the new siblings alone and the problems that drove him to leave school. The story had such a sombre feel to it, a sad tale told in a way that accomplishes gaining a reader’s sympathy without garnishing itself with needless angst.
Back to the present day, tension was brewing around every corner and Bum-Moo just couldn’t get a break. His feelings for his older roommate, Yun-Ook, were not being returned and his sister’s marriage faced collapse from the jealousy her husband felt for the way she treated Bum-Moo. Bum-Moo himself seems to be a pretty laid back guy personality-wise so I enjoyed the moments of contrast when he took chances and put himself out there, plus how hardworking he was to support himself and his sister. He’s not just some freeloader living on pity (though he could certainly play that card) so I had a certain level of respect for him in that regard, considering his situation.
The ending of the story was nice too. It was a pleasantly brisk moment that tugged at the heartstrings but without conforming to a completely concrete ending. I appreciated the way it ended and I think it suits the mood of the story as a whole pretty well.
Uhm JungHyn’s art left a little to be desired but there were some aspects about it I liked. While at times the anatomy and drawings of things like hands bothered me (a little too inconsistent and stringy for me), I liked how some of the faces were drawn, with very compelling eyes and the females had some nicely rendered hair that fell in a way that felt more realistic to me. My biggest quip about the style, though, would be the detailing on the lips, which made me think this entire book starred a cast of very thirsty people.
Overall, the light and airy feel this book had, mixed with its darker mood, made it a surprisingly compelling read for such a short piece, even if I didn’t find the visuals as appealing. Though I can’t speak for the series as a whole, there was enough here in volume of Forest of Gray City that I’ll be keeping an eye out for volume one on store shelves.