Tag Archives: manhwa

Priceless and Ouran High School Host Club

Priceless by Young-you Lee 3/5 stars (amazon)

For whatever reason almost every manhwa I’ve read features an absent mother. Either they’re running off to Europe (I.N.V.U), pursuing their career as a musician (Queen’s Knight), or in the case of Priceless, running away after being busted for selling illegal Chinese dietary supplements. Lang-bee lives alone in a shack after her mother abandoned her, and she supports herself by working a variety of odd jobs – she sews stuffed animals, works in a cafe, and makes extra money at school by doing chores for her classmates. When she was young, her mother read her palm and told her that she was destined for a lifetime of happiness with a young husband. Now Lang-bee just wants to marry someone rich and old, who will die quickly and leave her all his money.
Lang-bee’s normal existence is interrupeted when a random teenage boy shows up at her shack calling her “daughter”. Evidently her Mom has decided that the prophecy was meant for her, not her daughter, and she’s sent her future husband Jimmy to live with Lang-Bee. On top of everything else, now she has to play host to a father who is young enough to be her brother. Lang-bee’s also captured the attention of Dan Won, the richest boy in school. He goes everywhere accompanied by a bodyguard. Won spends his spare time writing horrible poetry.
The art in Priceless features somewhat angular character designs, and it frequently switches into super-deformed style. The storyline is ok. I have to say that I wasn’t bowled over by it, but it was diverting and the series is only three volumes so if I decide to get the later volumes it won’t take too long before the story comes to a resolution.

Ouran High School Host Club 3.5/5 stars (amazon)

Haruhi attends the exclusive Ouran High School as a scholarship student, wearing a ragged haircut and a baggy old sweater. One day when looking for a quiet place to study Haruhi enters what looks like an abandoned music room only to find the Host Club, a group of boys who entertain other students (male or female) for the right price. When trying to fend off the attentions of the host club’s leader Tamaki, Haruhi breaks an expensive vase and has to work for the Host Club to pay off the debt. Although Haruhi is the newest male host – she’s actually a girl. The host club’s other members are the egocentric Tamaki, quiet and calculating Kyoya, mischevious twins Hikaru and Kaoru, perpetually cute Hunny, and the strong and silent Mori.
Although other gender switching manga tends to play up the drama/romance angle, Ouran High School Host Club focuses on comedy. Haruhi seems fundamentally uninterested in gender distinctions, she doesn’t at all mind being taken for a boy, and she remains disinterested in Tamaki’s attempts to bring out her feminine side. Her primary motivation appears to be food, but she also seems to be amused by having girls pay her attention in her guise as a boy. The over the top actions of the host club are heightened by the boys’ addiction to teardrops to look suitably emotional, the twins’ interesting take on the idea of “brotherly love”, and Tamaki’s tendency to sulk in a corner whenever Haruhi tells him that he is annoying.
I actually started watching the anime adaptation of this series first since Cathy was blogging about it so much, and in some ways I prefer the anime just because it brings out the slapstick elements of the story a little bit more. Still this is a funny manga, and a great choice for Viz’s lower priced Shojo Beat imprint.

More Queen’s Knight

I’m glad I’ve been sticking with the manwha series Queen’s Kight. I enjoyed volume 1 and volume 2 but in the back of the mind I was wondering a bit about what was going to happen because Rieno the darkly handsome yet temperamental semi-immortal Knight (who seems to specialize in kidnapping young girls, locking them up in his castle in the wintry land of Phantasma with a plentiful supply of sleeping “herbs”, all in order to bring spring to the land) and Yuna (kidnapped spunky schoolgirl whose emotions seem to control the weather, spring comes after she falls in love with Rieno) have been living a rather isolated existence. I was wondering when I would start to see some of the plotting, backbiting, and drama that I expected after reading Kim Kang Won’s other series I.N.V.U. It all became clear in the third volume of Queen’s Knight as Yuna is shipped off to the main palace — she’s going to have to negotiate the trauma of dealing with court politics! Yuna is assigned 3 new Knights (the aristocratic Ehren Furst, fighting hothead Leon Per, and the harpist Schiller Licht), she endures her coronation as Queen, meets the scheming hereditary princess of Plantasma, and is surprised when Rieno randomly shows up in her bedroom. The nobles at the court are plotting to bring eternal spring to Phantasmia by interfering with Yuna’s feelings towards Rieno. Will their love (is it love) survive? Will Rieno be less moody? How will Yuna manage her knights and what is going to happen at the upcoming tournament?
I am liking the fantasy setting of Queen’s Knight, and I find the whole storyline about Yuna bringing spring to a wintery country with the power of her emotions amusing because of the thematic similarities to the Persephone and Demeter myth. It’s a nice light read with attractive art.

Love Manga’s News Round-up covers all the stuff that happened last week.

I read Cromartie High School and it is a great High School Fighting Manga that is a parody of High School Fighting Manga. It features a studious guy, Takashi Kamiyama, who through a quirk of fate has ended up attending the worst high school for juvenile delinquents in Japan. Takashi is always looking to the horizon, about to burst into an impassioned speech about the value of pacifism or studying while his classmates torment him by eating his pencils. It really skewers stereotypes about the style of fighting manga characters, and hey, it features a stoic character who looks suspiciously like the flamboyant lead singer of of a classic British rock group, so what’s not to like?

two magical girls and their dreams

I’m a sucker for magical girl shoujo manga, recently I’ve read the first volumes of From Far Away (Kanata Kara) and Queen’s Knight (Amazon), both of which feature heroines who dream of other worlds.

From Far Away tells the story of Noriko, a girl who has been having haunting dreams of a strange land. One day she gets blasted into an alternate reality and wakes up in a strange world. She’s menaced by a giant insect, but is rescued by a man who seems to be almost superhumanly fast, strong, and is very handy with a sword. His name is Izark, and he seems to be a classic reluctant hero — he doesn’t seem to like the idea of helping out a strange Japanese girl who doesn’t speak his language who may be the fulfillment of a horrible prophecy, but somehow he can’t stop himself from helping out.

This manga was written in the early 1990s, and it shows in the art which has a retro look to my eyes (very round eyes, not very defined noses and tiny mouths). Noriko at first seems very tentative about being transported to a world with deadly giant insects, but she starts to fight her initial fears and decides to start learning Izark’s language. This might end up helping her out in the long run, because his motivations for watching over her seem a little ambiguous.

I knew I’d probably like Queen’s Knight, because the other work I’ve read by Kim Kang Won (I.N.V.U.) was totally hilarious. There seems to be a theme of maternal abandonment in Kim Kang Won’s works — in I.N.V.U. the heroine’s mother suddenly decided to go to Italy, leaving her daughter with a credit card and sending her to live with a strange family.

Queen’s Knight focuses on Yuna, the youngest child in a family with three older brothers. Her mother is studying music in Germany, leaving the family behind. Yuna is haunted by dreams of a mysterious knight on her first day back from school after her winter break. Yuna had a somewhat traumatic vacation as she went to Germany to visit her Mother, went for a walk, and and fell into a gorge and broke her leg. Back home, her brothers refuse to take her to school even though she’s still wearing a cast, so she gets a ride from a classmate, Kahyun. The storyline switches back and forth between the current troubles Yuna has in school with backstabbing girls, her crush on Kahyun, the knight that invades her dreams, and her trip to Germany. Strange things happened back in Bavaria, because after Yuna’s accident, she was rescued by the strange knight she continues to dream about.

Although Queen’s Knight certainly has the elements of the fantastic that you’d expect to find in a manwha of this genre, the real strength of this title is the humor and the interactions between the characters. Yuna bickers with her brothers, tries to deal with their strange interpertations of how to cook a family meal, and struggles with school. There are so many storylines being juggled in this book, it ends up being very entertaining.