Saturday, December 24, 2011

Manga Review: The Missing White Dragon by Park Young Ha

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Infinity Studios
Volumes: 1

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Missing White Dragon is a wonderful compilation of the most popular Asian folk tales and select portions of history, retold with an exotic touch of romance. Reading this book not only introduces fans to the culture of Asia, but it also gives readers insight to the bedtime stories Asian parents often tell their children at night. In essence, this beautifully written anthology shows fans the influential stories Asian children hear just as Americans children would be told fairy tales such as Goldilocks, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel & Gretel.
I kind of just stumbled upon this at a used book store. I'd heard of Infinity before, but not of this artist or manga. It looked pretty, though, and from the small description on the back, sounded interesting. I didn't realize until later, though, that it's read in the American way (you know, left to right instead of right to left), but it didn't give me as much of a problem as I thought it would. Because, usually, when I read a manga American style, I get all messed up because I'm used to reading it like the Japanese do.
So, this book has five short stories. They're supposed to be Asian folk tales with a romantic twist, but I don't know any Asian folk tales, so I'm going to assume that they are.
The first one, 'The Missing White Dragon', is about a boy and a girl, the boy a human from a high family and the girl a demon, who are arranged to be married. Neither wants to go through with it, and in order to break it off, their fathers decide that they can try to find the missing white dragon statue. They find it in the girls purse, as the boy gave it to her as a proposal after she saved him ten years ago. They're surprised at meeting each other again, and after the marriage is called off, continue to see each other.
This story was pretty cute, but was mostly just alright. Young Ha art is pretty, although sometimes her characters get a bit too exaggerated. I did like how the girl was drawn, though, especially her cat-like eyes.
The next story, 'Hannya', is about a master physician, a girl, who feels like she stole the position from her older brother, who got killed when she gave him a job. She's letting a boy stay with her, who turns out to be the eater of nightmares. And she keeps having nightmares about her brother hating her and wanting revenge. So, he saves her from letting the nightmare kill her and from her self-hate. This story was just alright for me, not amazing. The girl bothered me during the big nightmare scene, actually, because she goes off on her existence and hating herself, and I don't like that stuff.
The third story, 'Dispel Magic', is about a girl who wants to do dark magic, and the boy she's always trying things on. He ends up doing a spell that turns her into a half-puppy, and they have to visit a magician to find out how to change her back. They end up confessing to each other, and the spell breaks.
The fourth story, 'The Romance of the Crying Thunder Sword', is about a girl who steal the crying thunder sword from her father, who was going to sell it, and meets a boy from heaven that controls thunder, and they help a fox demon save his wife. The sword knows her as it's wielder and apparently the boy knew her from a past life, and whatever. Some of the technical things with the boy were a little unclear, but the story was mostly alright.
The last story, 'A Magician's Proposal', is about a magician with no money that has summoned a fairy in an earlier time as his assistant, and the magician tries to court a princess with no luck. The fairy saves him, and she likes him but hasn't told him. And the magician is not getting it and apparently goes after another princess for money. The magician wasn't very smart, but the fairy was, so there's that, at least.
These stories weren't all that impressive, but they weren't bad. The art, at times, was very pretty and almost delicate. But at other times it's a little messy and sometimes blurry. And some of the over-exaggerated points bothered me, with the wide eyes and everything, it just seemed a little dumb. But the author says at one point that it's her debut, and there's obvious potential, so hopefully she got better? I'm assuming she did, because I haven't read any of her other stuff and probably won't get to (unless something else has been published by her and I'm unaware). Oh, also, the thing that bothered me most, would have to be the translations. There were a lot of mistakes in it, and it made it almost hard to read a couple of times.
Also, the stories didn't seem all that folk tale-y, which is why I doubted that it's based off of Asian folk tales. But I don't know any folk tale (at least, I don't think so,) so it's very possible that these are folk tales, and since it says so on the back cover, I'm going to assume that they are. But it makes me wonder how the original tale was told, as they seem a little far off and more character based than as if someone were telling a story.

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