Manhwa-ga: SangEun Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: October 2009
Synopsis: “With fierce determination, Hee-Soo continues to follow her heart — not to mention her beloved Won-Jun — everywhere! When she discovers Won-Jun is a Boy Scout (and that pesky Whie-Young too, boo!), she wants nothing more than to be a Girl Scout, especially so she can take part in the joint Scouts campout and be by Won-Jun’s side! But the other girls won’t let her get away with it that easily! Sheer willpower may not be enough to get Hee-Soo there…but maybe a little magic might do the trick?”
Thankfully for our abounding curiousity since the end of volume one, this second volume of 13th Boy picks up right where we left off as far as the resident plot-oddity is concerned. Return of the talking cactus! Who turns into a pretty boy once a month for 24 hours. Why? We’re not sure yet but it’s so silly and out of no where that I’m too entertained to bother being critical about something that’s just meant to be fun.
The majority of this volume follows Hee-Soo on her mission to join the Girl Scouts in order to follow Won-Jun on their annual camping trip. She manages to pass, loosely put, the impossible test standing between her and membership and then it’s out into the wilderness for another shot at love. Unfortunately Hee-Soo’s skills at finding ways to stay by Won-Jun’s side are far greater than her self-sufficiency so expect some humour at her expense in the breezy outdoors.
My favourite moment of the book was without contest a dramatic interruption of Hee-Soo’s first kiss, offering up a moment both amusing and endearing as the love triangle continues to flourish – despite the majority of the three not knowing about it. That said, things are remaining pretty shallow on the romance side which isn’t really a bad thing in this case. Hee-Soo is so busy being obsessed over Won-Jun that I question whether she truly loves him or merely the notion that she loves him. Meanwhile Whie-Young’s feelings for Hee-Soo are both obvious to readers and well concealed to others which makes me eager to see how they’ll eventually come forward.
Sae-Bom, returning with growing relevance, continues her role as a sweet but rather unaware girl who’s a classmate of Hee-Soo. Other girls in their class see Sae-Bom’s dazed cuteness as an act to attract the boys and her habit of speaking to her stuffed animal doesn’t garner her anymore support. But when she comes across Beatrice freaking out in the schoolyard garden, her nonchalant reaction suggests there may be more to what she says than people think. Thanks to some brief flashbacks she’s also poised to make 13th Boy’s love triangle a romantic quartet.
Most interesting to me however is Whie-Young, who falls into the category of snide-acquaintance-who-actually-likes-the-lead-female. Thankfully he wears the role well and doesn’t feel like just any stereotypical schoolboy fitting into the role. He’s unpredictable, straight to the point and fairly honest with himself (though not as much with others) – oh, and let’s not forgot the magical powers. Like Beatrice the talking cactus, there’s still much to be explained about these odd abilities but it’ll be worth seeing if the author feels inclined to justify these supernatural inclusions with a cause or instead to just letting them continue to play out as amusing ‘what the heck’ moments.
But it’s the latter that’s so far really helping the story which is just so unapologetically fun with compelling romantics that don’t play out like your average mush, not to mention the great entertainment value when slipping in some magical elements to this crazy cast, just because they can. For a series that’s so far been chock full of energy and laughs, 13th Boy earns another thumbs up and leaves lots of reasons to look forward to volume three.