Manhwa-ga: JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: May 2009
Synopsis: “Any high schooler on a nerve-wracking first day at a new school is apt to lose his or her head a little, but in Noh-A’s case, she literally does! When she wakes up in one piece with a little help from a mysterious doctor, Noh-A quickly realizes that nothing is as it seems at Amityville High, where paranormal creatures battle for supremacy. Caught in the crossfire, Noh-A may have to rely on the unlikely aid of the most sinister student at Amityville… the deadly Jack Frost!”
Zombies, vampires and a school of super-powered teenagers fighting each other in a high school? Already the stuff unique stories are made of, I know. While the story takes off on a fairly interesting note, when a young girl finds herself the living victim of a beheading, what follows is a visually sharp but ultimately underwhelming first volume that fails to find substantial footing in both its plot and art.
Noh-A has just begun her first day at her new high school… a shockingly unique twist for a story’s beginning! Sarcasm aside, this stereotypical opening is a little easier to forgive when Noh-A is suddenly the victim of a beheading, and one she survives at that. Suddenly walking up in alternate-type reality full of characters drawn entirely different than herself, she’s introduced to the bizarre pastimes of Amityville High where fighting for survival against zombies, vampires and fellow students is the name of this supposed game. Why? After two readings, I’m still not entirely sure.
Apparently there’s some kind of past connection between the school’s most powerful psychopath, Jack Frost, and the way-to-okay-with-all-of-this, Noh-A. So far Jack’s personality ends at crazy-killer but I guess that just leaves more to be explained in later volumes. I hope. I was entertained for a few moments by Noh-A’s enthusiasm at the thought of possessing some kind of special powers. This comes after she’s informed that she’ll play an important role in the world’s battles due to a uniqueness her body possesses. Thus far the only good it seems to do her is the ability to survive anything, which proves useful when your head keeps getting chopped off. Too bad the quirk of seeing her head sitting there screaming on the ground while her butt lays awkwardly, panties-up in the air, wears off pretty darn quick.
The uneven storytelling is also accompanied by a relatively uneven art style. The majority of the characters, from the violent Jack Frost to the Hellsing-lookalike principle, are rendered in a sharp, detailed style that compliments the distinctive inking and mature material. In distractedly sharp contrast however is Noh-Ah, who is drawn in a much simpler style with vacant eyes and rounded features. The environments are as dark and elaborated as the majority of the characters, which though suiting to the setting and story, only serves to further alienate the lead heroine. It would’ve been all well and good without her there on a visual level, but with so much of the story following someone who looks like they don’t even belong there, it proved a constant distraction.
Yen Press’s work on this series gets no complaints from me but it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for the effort when the rest of the book proved so lackluster. There was a lot about the art that I loved, and the cover of the book is especially awesome, but then I was only all the more disappointed by the completely haphazard plot that left much to be desired in terms of characters, plot and general going-ons. The fight scenes were really cool but with no apparent rhyme or reason to them, most of the excitement is lost.
For a book heavy on slick visuals, I hope Jack Frost can pull itself together in future volumes, for as it stands now, I wouldn’t recommend to readers this easily avoided mess of style over substance and sense.