Review of 'The Flower of Evil' Volume 1

(In Korean: 악의 꽃)


Since reading Goong, Metal Heart, and Love SOS, I've come to think that manhwa is pretty decent. So I started reading The Flower of Evil with a very high expectation, especially since the general response about this manhwa at soompi was positive, and the title sounded cool in Korean ("Aak-eauee Cgot"... by 'cg' I mean the Japanese "k," like "sodeska"). It's been a few weeks since I began, and it took that long to finish because the story wasn't interesting enough to motivate me. -_-

One of the several soompi members who shared my view was happy kudasai, who wrote here:

i admit, i was also sucked in by the art.
it IS really gorgeous[at least the cover art is...]
but the storyline is a bit...annoying.

so, the girl is obsessed, and what else?
the action was so slow, i just gave up.
not very captivating, even if it is dark or whatevs."

Actually I don't even think the art is "really gorgeous" really. It is better drawn than Love SOS, but somewhat worse than Goong; it's about the same level as Metal Heart, although they're completely different in style. Like Goong, the characters in The Flower of Evil are drawn more realistically. For example, the nose is bnot drawn as a <> or / or \, and hair is not the VVV as in a typical Japanese manga.

Seh-wa is the main heroine, and she has a jealous love for her brother, Seh-joon. The first chapter begins by asking the readers, "Would you rather receive love from everyone or only receive love from the person you like. Between the two, which one would you want?" Seh-wa has obviously made the choice to be loved only by her brother and to only love him. Seh-wa is a complete recluse at school (and supposedly she is the hottest girl too... some boys like her even more because she doesn't let them approach her), she always interrupts girls meeting with Seh-joon, and she leaves early for home whenever she pleases. The thing is... the manhwaga (or mangaka) seems to imply that that the two options are related and are mutually exclusive, but they're not! Seh-wa's just making a big deal for no reason.

At least in volume 1, Seh-wa's interaction with her brother is not very entertaining. Seh-wa simply complains and makes a ruckus every time Seh-joon does anything with his girlfriend, etc. Although Seh-wa's face is drawn very expressively, I can't sympathize with her because she's getting annoyed by things that don't matter.

Overall, Volume 1 of The Flower of Evil seems to lack focus. I'm going to read few more volumes to see if if there is anything better.
  • Visual quality: 9/10
  • General plot: 6/10
  • Comedy elements: 4.5/6
  • Action elements: 2/2
  • Romance elements: 1.5/3
  • Mystery elements: 2/3
  • Sophistication: 2.5/5
  • Realness: 4.5/6

Overall: (7.1/10)

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Gusts Of Popular Feeling: Kenkanryu in the Realm of the Revisionists

Although I've been reviewing Goong all this time, I finally hit something completely different: Kenkanryu, the "Hating Korea Wave" (or as the article linked below argues, "the 'Hate Korea' Wave").

"Kenkanryu in the Realm of the Revisionists"

I appreciate Matt for his sincere investigation of this very controversial topic. This Matt is much more reliable and genuine than the Matt of Occidentalism, who sounds pretty much like a typical western Japanophile having set out to defend pretty much anything negative about Japan.

These are his posts regarding Kenkanryu. Compare them with the Occidentalism posts: "Kenkanryu in the New York Times" and "A final word on Kenkanryu."

I liked them at first. They are rather more about the New York Times' article, "Ugly Images of Asian Rivals Become Best Sellers in Japan", by Norimitsu Onishi, than the comic itself. Ok. This was the first thing that made Occi Matt sound a little fishy:

"So who is the writer of the article? Judging from his name, ‘Norimitsu Onishi’,
it would seem that he is Japanese, but I have my doubts about that. I would be
willing to bet that he is actually an ethnic Korean.

Norimitsu Onishi just doesnt hate Japan, he seems to hate the US too. In an article for the New York Times, he described terrorists killed by US soldiers as ‘victims‘, putting them in the same category as innocent restaurant workers killed by terrorists."

Strangely enough, one of the characters in the novel is Norimitsu Onishi (the scanlation could be wrong). Anyhow, occi Matt writes in his 2nd post:

"including the author of the NYT article, hack writer Norimitsu Onishi"

Why can't a Japanese be not be anti-Korean? Or rather, why does someone got to be a Korean if he's an anti-Japanese? Then I guess Hideki Kajimura, who made a very neutral presentation of the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute in his article "The Question of Takeshima/Tokdo," isn't a Japanese? And then he tries to get away with all this mischaracterization by saying it doesn't matter if he's a Korean or not. How pathetic.
  • "'It’s not an exaggeration to say that Japan built the South Korea of
    today!' In another passage the book states that 'there is nothing at all in
    Korean culture to be proud of.'"

"In fact, it is clear from reading the comic that the character means that
Japan had laid the foundation of modern development in Korea, by bringing
modernization, economic growth, and social reform."

Simply it's this. These quotes all sound just really dumb, prejudiced, and uninformed, but as you can see Occi Matt tries to defend them as some sort rational historical arguments.

"Actually, not every character Japanese character is drawn with western features,
so this is a huge exaggeration on the part of the author of the article. He can
only get away with it because he knows that the majority will never actually see
the comic."

Actually, Occi Matt can get away with making this claim (not) because the majority will never actually see the comic (not).

"In the picture below, it may be possible to discern which characters are meant
to be perceived as Japanese and which are meant to be perceived as Korean:"
-Matt (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

"Interesting. Let's make a comparison here. Let's say that it was said that in the comic, apples were all drawn to look fresh, but the oranges were drawn to look rotten. The rebuttal to this? "Not all of the apples look fresh. See? I leave it to your judgement." How can anyone judge when no one is shown any oranges?" -Matt (Gusts of Popular Feeling)
Well, I also want to add that I just really love how all the links (or most of them) that Matt put out for us are "Not Found"; this article's a goner and the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford got rid of Cleansing History, Cleansing Japan: Kobayashi Yoshinori’s Analects of War and Japan’s Revisionist Revival. I'm okay with a blog post or an MSN space disappearing, but definitely not a scholarly journal article from public view. So, here's the exact article that I accessed as HTML by Google in doc format.

Review of 'Goong' Volume 4

(In Korean: )

In the previous post about Volume 3, I showed 3 pages where Yul lost the bet about whether Goong Eunich has feeling for him or not. Well, the punishment that Yul agreed to take for losing the bet is pretty scary: at the school festival, Yul dresses up as a bride and meets Goong Eunich as husband!!!

About the Shin Ramen + egg pun... I said before that I don't like Shin because he's cruel to Chae-gyeong; Yul arranged for Shin to be egged in public, so I don't like him any better. Shin's previous girlfriend, Min Hyo-rin, knows that Yul is responsible for the incident, but she doesn't want the marriage to work out, so she keeps quiet.

The court politics is pretty interesting. Yul was originally supposed to inherit the throne, but because the king died Shin got to be the prince. Yul's mother wants to change that, and, since Shin's father feels guilty about the whole situation, he can be easily convinced to appoint Yul as the new prince. Yul's mother (i.e. formally addressed as Debi-mama) is determined to give Chae-gyeong a hard time so that her life in the palace and marriage will not go smoothly. She asks Chae-gyeong to "stay by her side" when Prince Shin leaves for England, and then she constantly ridicules her (like, just when Chae-gyeong leaves the room, Yul's mother says, "A [princess]... not knowing any English and having translator beside her is so embarassing. How can she hang around with Prince Wililam (who's visiting from England).." - Prince William visits from England). This does have real effect on Chae-gyeong by Volume 5; she stops hanging around William and gets depressed a bit. Eventually she stops eating and loses a lot of weight. Volume 4 ends without having any of the issues being resolved, except that Chae-gyeong and Shin seem to have gotten a lot closer to each other than ever before.
  • Visual quality: 12/12
  • General plot: 9/10
  • Comedy elements: 5/6
  • Action elements: 2/2
  • Romance elements: 2.5/3
  • Mystery elements: 2.5/3
  • Sophistication: 6/6
  • Realness: 6/6
Overall: (9.4/10)

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