Sunday, July 3, 2011

March Devil

A couple of nights ago, I had a few free minutes so I ran over to Book Off just prior to closing time and started sifting through the shelves title by title in the hopes of finding a rare, out of print manga worth including in my History of Manga section (no such luck). The spine of one particular book - March Story - caught my eye. Paging through it, I was struck by the similarity in character designs with Defense Devil. I checked the cover, and the artist names were in Japanese. Because I really dislike the tendency for modern Korean manhwa comics to emulate (poorly) Japanese design, I was getting ready to write up a commentary and really rip into the artist on Defense Devil.

To me, manhwa looks stiff and pretentious. It's obvious that the Korean artists are mimicking their Japanese counterparts and not pulling it off right, since it's not a natural style for them. I've only been following Defense Devil because I want to see the Japanese reactions to a manhwa that's running in a Japanese weekly magazine like Shonen Sunday. Because DD has wrapped up, I'm looking forward to anyone's comments on the painfully weak ending.

Anyway... Before doing anything else, as soon as I got home I did a net search on March Story. Turns out that the art is indeed by Yang Kyung-il, who also does Defense Devil, it's just that the writer and artist names were rendered in kanji and therefore looked Japanese. The only reason I couldn't find this out in advance quickly is that March Story isn't hosted on Manga Fox like DD is, and therefore doesn't show up in the bibliography for Yang. (Doing a title search on March Story on Manga Fox does pick it up, though).

Bottom line: If you like the artwork on Defense Devil, you'll love March Story. If you're like me, you won't bother with either title. In DD's defense, though, it's not the artwork but the story that I don't like. There's no real plot and the pacing is erratic - slow in the places where nothing's going on, and skipping over parts of the story that demand much longer setups. The final battle against the angels lacked any kind of tension, and just jumps to a "where is he now" cliche ending for no particular reason.

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