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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
MASCA Vol. 1 by Kim Young Hee 
22nd-Nov-2006 01:38 am
A late (or is that early?) edition of "Manhwa I've Always Wanted to Read in English"...!

Kim, Young Hee. MASCA. Vol. 1. Trans. Bochan Kim. New York: CPM Manhwa, 2004.
          Summary: Asarella, apprentice to the venerable archmage Eliwho, descends into hell to confront the Devil of Sibilla...and ends up with the Devil head-over-heels in love with her!
          Comments: This Seimaden clone is quite a contradiction in terms; on one hand, it has breathtaking fantasy-laced artwork and heart-stopping bishounen to rival CLAMP classic RG Veda, yet, on the other, it's just another wish-fulfillment "perfecter-than-thou heroine" shoujo manga. Much of the incongruity stems from simple (yet, perhaps on the basis of such a polished final product, shocking) fact that this is the manhwaga's very first ongoing professional endeavor. As such, you see plenty of false starts and dragging of narrative feet while the author falls pathetically back on lowbrow humor. In fact, the fifth chapter should probably come second, not last, in the volume. The story never really attempts to build any momentum at all...save for some some shared homoerotic(?) history between Eliwho and the Devils of Sibilla and Rakne.
          Which, alas, comes to naught in the first volume, and only in later volumes and side stories does CPM's blatant choice of cover art (NOT, I might add, anything close to the original Korean edition) become truth in advertising. Though the English adaptation is quite readable, CPM's production values are, as always, abominable--anyone who has seen the gorgeous A5+ sized Korean editions will scream TRAVESTY! Of course, CPM didn't know what they had in a license like MASCA and pissed away any opportunity they had to market their manhwa right. If you want to read the subsequent eleven volumes, I suggest bugging NETCOMICS. (Won Su-yeon is currently gearing up for a legal fray with CPM to pry their sticky fingers off of Full House, and they've already lost a couple of manhwa licenses to NETCOMICS outright.) Anyway, trust me when I say that Asarella's tale gets better from here on out...but at least we got one volume in English. That's waaaay better than nothing, especially if, like mine, your standards when it comes to quality control for licensed manga and manhwa is still depressingly low.
          Notes: ~B6 paperback, 1st American edition, 1st printing; first published in Korea in 1998
          Rating: 5.5/10 - A bare-chested, long-locked bishounen extravaganza. If that sentence makes you drool, the artwork of this incredible series will have you enthralled for hours.
17th-Dec-2006 01:08 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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