Author: Yi DongEun
Manhwa-ga: Yu Chung
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “For their next mission, the Nonblods head to the seaside to locate “the tears of the mermaid.” But this mission won’t be a day at the beach… especially when an unexpected rival shows up to kick sand in their faces! But what are the tears of the mermaid and what deadly, ancient secret do they really hide? And the secret that ties Tublerun and Chroma together is illuminated in this final installment of Freak!”
Volume five of Freak marks the end of this series, a story about a group of thieves calling themselves the Nonblonds and a member in particular, Tublerun, who has mysterious powers. This final book begins with a light hearted side story before throwing itself into a darker plot that serves to explain the real origins behind the mysterious runes from volume four and the truth of Tublerun and his rival, Ecliptor’s, existence.
The first half of this book takes the thief group Nonblonds to a summery beach where they seek a nice laidback job and a distraction from the events of the past volume. A caped-character from volume one returns and the Nonblonds find him to be competition for getting to their target first, the “tears of the mermaid.” It was a neat little story with a surprise ending that was a little bizarre but certainly silly in an entertaining way. I’m also a sucker for stories that utilize the tuxedo-clad thieves, so that was fun too.
Moving onto darker stuff like the flip of a switch, a rare eclipse darkens the skies of the world and has adverse affects on some of its inhabitants. Ecliptor goes berserk when the eclipse hits and takes out nearly an entire section of the city. Both he and Tublerun, spurred by their gaps in memory that accompany such bouts of destruction power, return to the strange ruins they visited in the previous volume to find the answer. There they’re confronted by Ecliptor’s father who lays it all out for them.
Admittedly I’ve only read the fourth and fifth volume of this series so my take on the ending is most likely rather uninformed. However, I thought this sudden upchuck of information was a little rushed and definitely lot to fit in one book. That said, the information delivery was paced pretty decently with some fight scenes that kept it from being one long explanatory-monologue. The ending of the series itself, well, again I haven’t read the whole thing but I have trouble believing that fans will find it all that appeasing. Explains a lot, sure, but nicely ties up? Not really. I obviously won’t spoil how it ends but even as a late-comer to the story, I was pretty surprised by the direction the author took.
Overall, I did enjoy what I read of Freak, and despite my having read the last two finals first, I’d probably purchase the first three should they show up on my local store shelves some day. I came to like some of the characters in this short time, though sadly I do feel like this last volume shortchanged them a lot (most of the lead cast just vanished come the final chapters), so it’d be nice going back to the beginning. That said, Freak was a pretty entertaining series and I think what I took away from it most is that I’d like to see more of the artist. Yu Chung’s shonen styling and character designs did a lot for this series and I’d love to see more of their work. So, overall? Nothing spectacular but managed to be entertaining none the less. And the ending? It was a sudden surprise, that’s for sure.