Manhwa-ga: JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2009
Synopsis: “All hell breaks loose when gangs from schools all over Amityville erupt into an all-out war for supremacy. Bt even as they battle one another, these distracts all have the same goal – to be the grave soul who defeats Jack Forst and claims the title of Amityville’s greatest fighter. Jack has a mission of his own: escorting Noh-A, the much sought-after mirror image, to a place where a great evil was sealed many years ago.”
After she begins to have nightmares of a girl she can’t quite remember, Noh-A comes to realize that she has no memory of her life before coming to this world. But it seems to bother her just as little as the vast amounts of violence around her and she soon sets out with Jack Frost to investigate some unusual activity at one of Amityville’s most important sites. They’re not the only ones on their way there however but just as many who are there to investigate are there to battle the infamous Jack Frost for title of Amityville’s strongest.
The dark motif of the art as a whole is really great at achieving mood. It has a distinctly Hellsing-inspired look to it with emphasis on dark shading and extra-exaggerated features to add to any intended horrific moment. Some inhuman beasts introduced in this volume are particularly chilling to see each time they appear. Alongside them, sharp character designs, with the exception of the continuously out of place Noh-A, make for some eye-catching panels and the action sequences they partake in are pretty impressive when enjoyed on an individual basis.
Unfortunately that’s where the series’ worth seems to end because what you’ll find you have is a whole lot of style but next to no substance. There is a plot, and it seems to be escalating in some sort of direction, but it lacks a much needed coherence. The relevant characters are distinct and their personalities laid out pretty clearly, but their connection to one another in the grand scheme of things just falls flat of being compelling because it never seems clearly laid out enough. Is it that it’s too dull to follow or too confusing once you do? It’s hard to say. Either way there’s something about the series, a flaw that carries over from the first to this second, that makes it a drag to read from start to finish.
Individual moments have their own eerie charm at the very least. No-A finds herself plagued by the memory of an old classmate who lost her life during No-A’s deliverance to Amityville. The deceased girl confronts No-A, seeking vengeance for being trapped in the role of a sacrifice for the beginning of No-A’s story. By the end of the volume, No-A continues her role as predominantly a third-wheel viewing the happenings around her and watches as a hunted animal is beaten down to reveal they may be more to it than originally surmised. Taken on their own, these moments prove fairly interesting but ask how they fit into the whole of the story, and you may find few have an answer.
The boon of the series really is its art and from that visual perspective there are some notably enjoyable new elements to the story here in volume two. A pair of fighters, one a silent young girl and the other a steely-eyed young man, set out on a mission-of-sorts laid in place for them. The two are efficient killing machines and though the whys of their travels aren’t always that interesting, seeing the young girl snap kick a man five times her size in the neck before annihilating an entire group of fighters with barely a back flip, you can’t deny there’s something worth staring at on these pages.
Yet ultimately Jack Frost is still a predominantly boring read to get through, and even if exactly why that is isn’t as easily deduced as the notion of the dullness itself, it still doesn’t make it any less disappointing. The style’s here but until the substance can catch up, Jack Frost will continue being a lack-luster read.