Manhwa-ga: Lee YoungYou
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “Myung-Ee succeeds in enraging the student council – especially Sa-Eun – by confronting them about Yu-Da. But when the Black Rabbit is kidnapped during the school festival, she finds herself transported to a strange place… with none other than Sa-Eun! As an attack from an unexpected assailant forces the two enemies into a corner, will they be able to put their differences aside and fight for their lives together?!”
Myung-Ee confronts the student council about their intent to sacrifice her old friend, Yu-Da. However she discovers that Yu-Da may see her as just a much a nuisance as her enemies do too. That doesn’t stop her from wanting to help however, which is a good when Yu-Da is kidnapped during the school festival.
I’m hopping into this story a good ways in, volume four being my first read, so I’m assuming most of the problems I encountered reading it stemmed from that. Fortunately for me, characters seemed to enjoy reminding readers what had happened in past volumes, and giving general synopsises for the series, with random reminders between themselves, so that helped get me enough up to speed to follow what was generally happening.
The friend-enemy relationship that the lead character, Myung-Ee, shares with the majority of the cast made it really difficult to determine who was on what side of the war that seems to be happening. The lack of a direct line drawn between ally and enemy also made it so the story lacked a real sense of conflict. Hard to take a side seriously when one minute they’re arguing and the next one’s doing the other ones hair. At least it didn’t matter a whole lot when some fighting actually started taking place near the end of this book, when I was more focused on Myung-Ee’s interesting will-based magical weapon than who was actually fighting with who and why.
But despite some of the flaws I found in the story, there were some charming elements too. There are numerous characters, some more focused on here in volume four than others, but there’s a type for everyone. From the wacky and weird to the cold and scary, there’s a balance between drama and humour that switches back and forth pretty smoothly. Undoubtedly I’d need to read the first three volumes to really get caught up on the whos and whats of this cast, but from what I’ve read here, they seem like an interesting bunch at the very least. Myung-Ee, in particular, cracked me up at times with her obsessive-natured crush towards Yu-Da, from nose-bleeding to the thought of him in drag, to rewriting a school play to steal a kiss on the lips from him.
I was a little hit or miss art-wise when it comes to Lee YoungYou’s work here. I often found characters difficult to distinguish from one another and at times there were some little mistakes, like a backward hand or really awkward anatomy, which I found hard to ignore. However, it’s a cute style, reminiscent of many Korean manhwas I’ve read before, especially in terms of the loose inking style. I really loved the chapter illustrations, which were clean, detailed and very stylized, not to mention stylish. Those illustrations were, hands down, my favourite part of this book visually with second place going to the colourful cover.
Overall, I wouldn’t say I was especially entranced by the story I got a glimpse of here, but there was enough that I certainly wouldn’t mind giving another volume a shot. I’d like to see more of Myung-Ee, and get a better understanding of these feuding groups, not to mention the fact there looks to be an interesting underlying plot that’s forming within the target of both groups. After reading this, I’d also love to see some more illustration work by Lee YoungYou due to her attractive chapter covers, but in the meantime, I’ll be picking up another volume of Moon Boy for at least curiousity’s sake instead.