Sunday, July 26, 2009

Goong, vol. 2

The story: This volume starts off with the elaborate wedding of Shin and Chae-Kyung, with all its ceremonies and rituals. But, once they get through that, there's their first night together and plenty of other firsts for the couple. When they pay an extended visit to Chae-Kyung's family, Chae-Kyung is horrified to find herself physically attracted to her husband. Meanwhile, Shin shows moments of caring. It's just too bad that they're only moments, and not long-lasting change.

Reaction: It's somewhat painful to watch the interaction between the new royal couple. It's like Shin's just learning how to be a "real" person and Chae-Kyung's forced into teaching him. It's a lot like teaching an old dog new tricks -- Shin's stubborn and nearly impossible to educate on the particulars of caring for another. On the other hand, I was still suspicious of the relationship Yul is trying to build with Chae-Kyung. Overall, this is another hard volume to read, but there are small, bright moments, too. Oh, and I can't possibly ignore the hilarity of Chae-Kyung discovering her lust for her new husband!

Deep thoughts: In this volume, the eunuch Kong is introduced. Evidently, he's the last of his kind from the Chosun Dynasty. For those unaware, eunuchs are castrated men and often served in particular social functions in past society. For reasons unknown, Kong was castrated at a young age in order to serve the king. I found this kind of surprising, since castrated males are often kept as servants to women, so as to not become sexually involved with them. Anyway, the castration seems to have arrested Kong's emotional development, as he's a ridiculous caricature of a lovesick boy, despite his rather advanced age.

Artwork: Park SoHee's art is a nice change from the manga style I'm used to. Here, body proportions are more realistic, and young characters possess a long-lashed, wide-eyed look and glossy, pouty lips. Again, the near-grotesque chibi style employed here, both in comedic moments involving Chae-Kyung and used for older characters, such as Kong and the Queen Mother, are hard to appreciate, though.

The verdict: Highly recommended. While this is a quietly sad story this time, I did enjoy a great portion of it and enjoyed its lighter moments. Of course, I could have done without the unnecessary, throwaway jokes with Kong. Thankfully, it didn't take up much of the book. Goong is available in the U.S. from Yen Press.

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