Manhwa-ga: SangEun Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: February 2010
Synopsis: “Hee-So’s stuck with Sae-Bom on cooking duty at the Scout’s joint volunteer outing at a local orphanage, ruining her chances of showing off in front of Won-Hun! And Sae-Bom’s no help either, ‘cose she’s too busy making lunch for her dearest Whie-Young! Suddenly, it occurs to Hee-So that making lunch of Won-Jun might not be such a bad idea. But when the two girls go make their special deliveries, a dangerous accident threatens both their lives. And in the heat of the moment, Won-Jun, who witnesses the accident, takes a most unexpected course of action. Has he gone and irreparably crushed Hee-So’s dreams? Will Whie-Young be able to pick up the pieces?”
Love-triangles are nothing new to any story containing a sliver of romantic drama. Two boys love the same girl? Two girls love the same boy? No biggie. But 13th Boy pulls off the far lesser utilized love-cluster – the dreaded love-square. If you thought things were already looking shaky enough for Hee-So’s love life, wait until you see it all laid bare in this third volume.
Stubborn Hee-So craves stoic Won-Jun; stoic Won-Jun’s world revolves around spacey Sae-Bom; spacey Sae-Bom crushes on temperamental Whie-Young; temperamental Whie-Young loves stubborn Hee-So. While this quadratic-conundrum had already set itself up fairly well in the previous volume, this book delves into the lines of fate that actually connect them together.
Things kick off with Hee-So dragging Whie-Young to another Scouts event. Volunteering at an orphanage seems like a new and hopefully perfect opportunity for Hee-So to impress Won-Jun. However things take an entirely different turn when a construction site accident reveals where his true (and debatably only), loyalties lies. But, meaningful as this incident is, it falls to the background when an adorable kiss scene between two grade-schoolers opens the floodgate of Hee-So’s memories and leads to Whie-Young to fill in the blanks for her.
Thank goodness for the sanity of both plot and readers that it doesn’t rely on the often overused vice of ‘everyone-loves-the-main-character’. Loud, obnoxious and self-centred, Hee-So’s not exactly what you’d consider someone’s ‘perfect girl’. Watching her do one thing after another solely to further her chances of being close to Won-Jun, despite their not-so-recent break up, gets to be more than a little trying. At least she’s honest about her intentions.
There’s only really Whie-Young vying for her heart but even then he certainly isn’t going about it in typical fashion. He doesn’t seem to like her enough as a person to outwardly seek her company and isn’t possessive enough to want a complete monopoly on her either. He does however go out of his way to protect her using the magic powers it’s easy to forget he has and confronts her with his intentions in a very forward, if not dangerously cheeky, manner. For these reasons and a few more he continues to be the series’ strongest thing-going.
Though Whie-Young does have some competition for that rank. Too odd to be allowed to whither in the background, 13th Boy’s resident talking cactus Beatrice takes a day out in search of the one who originally gave him life. Bound to please those who can’t help but love a magical pretty-boy, Beatrice meets-and-greets his ‘master’ and two come to somewhat of an understanding. Beatrice’s affections for Hee-So also garners its own respective place amidst the series’ love square, though earns tag-along status as a matter of soul sharing over independent-infatuation.
By the volume’s end readers are offered a look at Won-Jun’s past where an accident involving Sae-Boom connects the two for life. Hee-So quickly learns she’ll need to do more than keep in Won-Jun’s face to earn a place in his heart. With the ways things end up, it isn’t entirely evident where these new developments will take her – though the sudden onslaught of bully attacks and best-friend desertion should at least garner lots of opportunity to learn humility.
13th Boy continues to prove itself an erratic little love story that’s often as shrill and animated as its lead. Much like the artwork that compliments it, certain moments of the story can be a little too thickly emphasized for the sake of comedy. But, when it steps back to deliver some detailed glimpses of the characters and a sparsely sprinkled background, it really knows how to shine. Fanciful and fun, 13th Boy clearly still has some tricks up its frilly little sleeves.