Manhwa-ga: Lee YoungYou
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: December 2009
Synopsis: “When Hee-Ju’s hostage negotiations for Ya-Ho with Ha-Eun, Yumei and Mi-Woo go south, the tragic result of his failed attempts leads to heartbreak for Myung-Ee and company. And to make matters worse, those on Earth aren’t the only ones on the move. The leader of the Moon Foxes is about to make a trip to the Blu Planet and mete out heavenly punishment to those who get in his way… that is, if he can stay awake long enough!”
Tears are shed, pasts are hinted at, the supposedly dead come back to life and foxes continue to hunt rabbits and rabbits continue to hunt foxes. While a reread of previous books allows a semblance of clarity to the book’s still-growing cast and multi-faction plot, it leaves one to question if this should be necessary every time a new book comes out.
Moon Boy has always been a bit of a mess and sadly it doesn’t seem to be fairing any better as the series progresses. It’s a shame because when the art is good, it’s pretty charming and when the story is good, it can manage to be rather moving. But that’s the catch – when – and when it happens to be good occurs far less than otherwise. There’re too many characters doing too many things that simply aren’t presented in a manner coherent enough to be effective at storytelling. There are almost a dozen characters in this book, and with the possible exception of any hardcore Moon Boy fans out there, most readers would be hard-pressed to remember most of them after the fact, let alone keep track of their relation to each other.
Some parts of the volume do manage to stand out to the contrary, notable on an emotional scale that rings back across the series. There’re just enough of these scenes to keep it readable from start to finish. The book begins when Myung-Ee finds herself between Yu-Da and Sa-Eun as they face off in a battle that’s been long in the coming but just as long in the dreading. The two have been together under the pretence of being each other’s best friend for so long and though the reason was ‘business’, it’s clear that they’ve still gotten attached to one another. It’s all the more painful now that they’ve come clean about their opposing teams (despite both knowing for some time) and they’re simultaneously hurt by the others’ betrayal and guilt-ridden by their own.
It adds a whole other level of drama to the story when Sa-Eun openly admits that he likes Myung-Ee, fully aware that she still holds strong feelings for the now absent Yu-Da. It’s entertaining seeing Sa-Eun forcefully exclaim his feelings to her verbally, finding a way to continue his habit of talking condescending to her while concurrently trying to be honest about how he feels. As for Myung-Ee, she’s entirely against his advances – one part love for Yu-Da, another part common sense and two-parts pride. However nothing in the book is as poignant as when Myung-Ee confronts Yu-Da with her own feelings only to realize the true depths of his loneliness. It provokes a short scene with Yu-Da on his own that’s bound to at least tug on a few heartstrings.
As a whole though Moon Boy still remains far too scattered – multiple characters are hard to keep straight and the uneven pacing of the constant back and forth switch-outs make the broader issues fall short on reader expectations and attention spans. It’s too bad because when the series takes a moment to stop and focus in on its drama, it does a great job. Regrettably these moments are swimming in a sea of clutter that we can only hope at this point take the time to tidy themselves up before things wrap up in volume nine.