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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Let Dai Vol. 1 by Won Sooyeon 
11th-Nov-2006 11:11 am
In the Interest Full Disclosure, a Disclaimer: I have opinions about everything and like writing reviews. You can always expect me to call it as I see it, and I'm not going to sing anybody's praises when they don't deserve it. Besides, I'm inherently blunt by default. ^_~ (Oh, and I did in fact buy this book myself long before I ever started rewriting this book for the second printing.)

Won, Sooyeon. Let Dai. Vol. 1. Trans. Jane Choi. Jersey City: NETCOMICS, 2006.
          Summary: After rescuing a girl who turns out to be his girlfriend's elder sister from gang violence, the gentle Jaehee garners the attention of the cruel but charismatic young thug Dai. The mutual attraction between the two boys soon becomes irresistible, and Jaehee finds himself falling headlong into Dai's sinister yet oddly liberating world. However, when Dai refuses to save Jaehee's one-time girlfriend Eunhyung from gang rape at the hands of his flunkies, Jaehee realizes that he cannot forgive Dai and leaves him.
          Comments: Though I was dying for the chance to read this series after seeing it in Korea, I was underwhelmed by CPM's release of Won Su-yeon's previous major title Full House, which subsequently dampened my enthusiasm for the rest of her work. Only recently did I have the courage (spurred by necessity) to pick up Let Dai--and I sincerely regret that I did not do so sooner! Its intensity is rivaled only by Banana Fish, with which it has both gang violence and homoeroticism in common. Yet, unlike Yoshida Akimi and her unelegant, almost shounen stylings, Won Su-yeon's artwork is a sunjeong extravaganza. In fact, the juxtaposition of pastel cover artwork and tender, ingenuous-looking motifs with the twin themes of enraged, youthful rebellion against mainstream society and forbidden/homosexual romance makes this gripping tale even more unnerving, if possible. Moreoever, each and every one of the large cast of characters is distinctive and fascinating...though given the large volume count, it wouldn't surprise me if Dai's stubbornness and Jaehee's waffling quickly becomes tiresome. (Make no mistake: Despite the rather unfortunate choice of cover art made by the author for the volume, this qualifies as a boy's love title in the US; it's all about boys who love--and lose--each other.)
          Interestingly, this book is an excellent example of the difference between a good translation and a good adaptation. Of all of the early NETCOMICS releases, Let Dai Vol. 1 boasts the most natural, fluid English text (provided you can ignore the occasional typo). However, there are a few places where entire sentences from the Korean text are missing or where the translation is misleading. 'Course, you wouldn't know that unless you'd compared it line-by-line with the original, and it in no way interferes with a reader's visceral enjoyment of the book. (The manhwaga is not one of the most meticulous of writers, anyway, and there are lines in this story that flat-out don't make sense, period.) Still, if it matters to you, hold out for the second printing. But either way, you'll be getting an awesome manhwa that you simply can't afford to miss.
          Notes: B6 paperback, 1st American edition, 1st printing; first published in Korea in 1995
          Rating: 8.5/10 - An unforgettable emotional rollercoaster ride. If you start following one new manga/manhwa title this year, seriously consider making this one.
17th-Dec-2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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