"Manhwa is the general Korean term for comics and cartoons. Outside of Korea, the term usually refers specifically to South Korean comics." in Wikipedia
Buying this was a jump in the dark for me. There was no reviews around here, and I buy all my manga through Amazon. For years. And since Death Note, that I had not seen something so bold!...
Let me get right to the point: this story is brutal and cruel. I know that this is not for everyone, I know people that would be sick with some parts of this book. I myself, was amazed. The plot is cold and mental. For me this is the definite "seme"/"uke" story, the dominator and the dominated, a role here shared between two male characters.
You think this was yaoi? Easy drawn sex scenes? Forget it! Its all about hate for bad people, the attraction for danger, to be on the line, to fear for life, to be seduced by death. This book is a really well written drama shonen-ai, there is the scent of boy love in the air, but its all wrong here, too real to be fun. And its too damn cool!
This is korean, and it was a bit of a shock to me at first. When I realized it, I imediatly thought "it's second grade material, compared to true japanese manga, I'm sure of it"... I'm glad I was wrong. It was hard to me to memorize the dificult names, as they are really diferent from japanese common names (for someone like me at least, manga eating monster), but about the middle of the book, I already had got the hang of it.
The art is right there to justify the plot. The art is beautiful. The characters are not cute, they are real and sexy, but never overdoing it. Theres only one thing overdone and its the violence of the story, but I already mentioned it... and violence can also be sexy. It is here. Main character has so strong convictions, and his acts are so bold, carefree and cruel, that it was the single most important aspect of this manga/manhwa that made me read oh so carefully over a night without sleeping. Yes, it did so. I was crap the next morning, but I loved every page.
Don't be afraid to buy a good book like this. If you can take on people cutting flesh, beating for fun, delinquency, alchool and all the dangerous seduction that comes with it, then this book is here waiting to be read. Its gonna be hard to let Dai.
[I'm a manga reader that likes action, drama, shoujo, shounen ai, and dislikes yaoi and hentai.]
I think when a person reaches certain times in their life, they come across a book or a film that speaks to them, and it leaves a mark deep upon them. In my early teen years, the book that did this for me was Rumble Fish. It was angsty, it was unexpectedly philosophical, and it delved deep into the psychology of adolescent youth. Even today, I recall that book, and recall how it shaped me. It still speaks to me, albeit in a different way than it did all those many years ago. This is one of those sorts of books. While it deals with youths coming of age, it also examines the adults about them and the need to keep growing. Youth will take away many things and grow from the experience, adults will recognise these things and remember, while growing from a bit more from the inner voices contained within.
Won Soo-yeon manages to bring the characters to vivid life using prose as beautiful as his art. The art within the panels is wonderfully detailed, from street scenes to cameo pictures of the characters. His pictures seem to move, so that going from one panel to the next is a natural gesture, making the story flow seamlessly. The plot is well thought out, and Soo-yeon makes excellent use of the ability to share the thoughts of not just one main character, but all of them as necessary, without it becoming a confused, incoherent mess. The result is that we get a full psychological profile of each of the main characters at critical junctures, developing empathy for each in turn, including the seemingly sociopathic Dai. It makes us question the nature of love, evil, and friendship, and explore the concepts of truth and loyalty. Far from being a mere story of friendship and teenaged romance, this is also story about the human condition and makes you take pause to really think.
Let's face it though. It does have romance. Girl has boy>boy sees girl> girl sees boy> boy sees boy, and round and round it goes. But as you might expect from the plot, this is no sugary piece written mostly for girls who are into pink and frilly. No, this is aimed at everyone. It is a frank look at growing up, accepting people and events, and being accepted yourself, or being rejected utterly. It's also about discovering that love has no boundaries with regards to social class or gender where the heart is concerned. It is also about the harsher realities of life and facing your demons. It is simply one of the best novels, graphic or prose, I have read in over a decade.