Manhwa-ga: Ha SiHyun
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: August 2008
Synopsis: “Patrick’s coming up on another deadline,, and Alice is all set to step in and help. But before she can give Patrick much thought, Alice’s musings are interrupted by a terrible announcement – Sangmoon High has gone bankrupt and will merge with the all-boys school, Seomoon! For the other girls, combining with Seomoon is a fabulous chance to meet hot guys. But for Alice, moving away from her familiar classrooms and teachers – not to mention having classes with Patrick! – is painful.”
As if dealing with the seemingly heartless Patrick isn’t bad enough, it’s even harder for young Alice when she has to deal with both him and his upcoming mahnwa deadline! She offers him her help and finds herself promoted to his official assistant. But even a bump from intern to assistant couldn’t help lighten this aspiring manhwa creator’s spirits when she learns her school has gone bankrupt, leaving them no choice but to merge with the all boys’ school next door.
The power of the ordinary made entertaining never ceases to amaze. Teens going to school, dealing with the everyday trials and tribulations, plus sprinkle in creating popular manhwa on the side for good measure, and you have yourself a really fun little package, though it’s the characters who really bring this story to life.
Alice is a pretty stereotypical character for her position: spunky, lively and a little naive, plus her hate-you-kinda-like-you relationship with Patrick comes as no surprise. Despite the seeming lack of uniqueness to her, I found both her and Patrick charming as characters and I liked watching them interact both with each other and their friends at school. With the two schools now colliding, there’s bound to be lots of random characters showing up. This volume saw the introduction of a few, including the dangerously flambouyant and feminine looking, Edward (or “Edward the Scissors” as he calls himself).
Another important character to the story is Daria Kang, the school’s student council president. Gorgeous, intelligent and usefully manipulative, I thought she’d be another one of those queen bee types, an antagonist to the lead. Seems I was wrong however and I’m really liking her as a part-time focus of the story. Her beauty and talent has left her partially alienated by her peers, with Alice being one of her few friends. She’s been nothing but kind, genuinely so it seems, and I liked a scene with her and Patrick at the book’s end. It does suggest a future love triangle and I hope the personality of hers I’ve gotten so fond of her doesn’t let me down and allow love to corrupt her negatively! It’s too easy assuming the stereotypical events in situations like these, but he’s hoping Comic surprises me with future events as much as it did with breaking character stereotype molds here.
Ha SiHyun’s art style was a nice treat too. It’s not especially unique or notable but that doesn’t stop it from being fun, fresh and full of life. The characters are easily distinguished from one another and she utilizes expression, body language and smooth panel layouts to tell the story in a way that’s pleasantly timed and makes for a quaint, enjoyable read. My one quip would be the cover art which I really don’t think does the series justice. It’s much more vibrant and colourful than the cover image gives it credit for and I would’ve liked to see it showcased more like the few full colour pages presented at the book’s opening.
Yen Press did another quality release job with this third volume. While I did run into a few instances where text seemed a little oddly placed in bubbles, leaving needless spaces and gaps, overall it was a tidy package. I especially liked the English pop-culture references tossed in which I’m assuming where chosen by Yen Press and not direct translations (very well chosen English pop-culture equivalents if this is the case!). I had some good well-intended laughs at some moments thanks to Yen’s attentive translation work.
All said and done, this third volume of Comic was a lot of fun. It’s a great example of simple school life as only manhwa can so entertaingly dramatize it, a visual treat with a dash of soap opera. The manhwa drawing profession is certainly a fun angle for the story to go from as well. From the weird to the wired, I really came to care about each character by the time I’d finished reading this one book and I eagerly await getting my hands on another volume and enjoying it just as much.