Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: June 2009
Synopsis: “It was love at first sight. The moment Hee-So’s eyes met Won-Jun’s she knew it was meant to be. Their relationship took off when Hee-So confessed her feelings on national TV, but less than a month later, Won-jun is ready to call it quits without any explanation at all. Hee-So’s had a lot of boyfriends — Won-Jun is number twelve — but being dumped is never easy. She’s not ready to move on to the thirteenth boy just yet.”
After professing her love to Won-Jun on national television, Hee-So is crushed when he breaks up with her after only a month. Stumped to the reason, she searches his wallet only to discover numerous secret images of someone else, and it’s certainly not who she expected to find! But even this won’t deter the stubborn Hee-So, who is positive that Won-Jun is her true love for whom destiny has decided for her. Girl likes boy and tries desperately to win his heart: it likely doesn’t strike any first-time bells for readers, but don’t pass this manhwa over as being just your typical shoujo-fare.
Hee-So’s overzealous enthusiasm for Won-Jun doesn’t win her any prizes but at the very least it’s amusing. In contrast to her personality is that of Won-Jun, whose very laid back nature suggests that he initially went out with her because it was the easiest decision to make when surrounded by television cameras. In retrospect, I can’t say I blame him and his sincerity serves him well in the role of being the lead’s ex-boyfriend right off the bat. His best friend, Whie-Young, is a consistent character throughout, and though relevant to the story in some thus-far predictable ways, I look forward to more exposition of the actual friendship between him and Won-Jun, especially after some mid-way discoveries in the book come to light, along with back-story foreshadowing lightly sprinkled overtop.
Though 13th Boy thus far may sound like your typical fluff stuff, it throws in some weird extras that are sure to blindside any reader for at least a moment. Magic powers, a talking cactus and whatever the last page constitutes as. They threw me for a bit of a loop, especially a scene where Whie-Young helps Won-Jun hide in their classroom with an unexpected tactic. It’s too early in the story to say whether or not I feel these surprise attributes help or hinder the story, but if the last page is any indication, it certainly seems like they’re about to play a bigger role in volumes to come.
On the flipside, I didn’t find the artwork offered anything especially unique to the story but it’s still sports an easily likeable look. Also, Whie-Young can hop into my manhwa reading any day. His jet-black eyes and hair contrast nicely amidst the other characters, which makes him both easy on the eyes to readers such as myself, and easy to tell apart from everyone else. Yen Press continues to support their reputation for simple, quality work, sporting some eye-catching designs and a larger cut size than most English-released manga. The paper is also of a very good quality for such a large print, something I’ve started to appreciate more and more as other companies begin trimming costs.
The combination of magical what-the-hecks and charmingly misdirected shoujo romance made 13th Boy an enjoyably fun read. I don’t really know what to expect next, which makes volume two something all the more worth looking forward to.