Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bride of the Water God, vol. 2

The story: Soah is drawn deeper into the mystery that is the dual existence of Mui and Habaek. And while the other elemental gods and goddesses are her only acquaintances, can she trust what any of them say? She's unsure of whom to trust and has no one to whom she can turn. When Habaek's mother visits Suguk, Soah becomes even more worried and nervous about her precarious position as Habaek's bride. Things are also becoming increasingly complicated between her and Mui as she wonders why Mui pines for Habaek's first bride, Nakbin. While she realizes that she's falling for Mui, she's unaware of his feelings for her. Meanwhile, Huye continues his quiet flirtation with Soah. Will things ever become clear for Soah, or is she doomed to an enigmatic and lonely existence in Suguk?

Reaction: Things have seemingly become more puzzling as the romantic entanglements mount. Conspiracies are afoot and it made me wonder how interwoven the plans may be. While there are small comedic moments, mostly supplied by the doctor Tae-Eul-Jin-In-Nim (yes, that's really his name), the story mostly focuses on the tragic love that the water god seems to have experienced with Nakbin and, now, Soah. Unfortunately, I found myself flipping back and forth a bit in order to reconnect names and situations to one another. While the first volume was fairly solid, the complications in this volume seem to have convoluted the storyline and, at times, I found myself wondering what was going on, or if I had skipped a page.

Deep thoughts: As evidenced by one of the goddesses, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." While she's done her best to wait patiently for the water god to return her affections, Murah no longer possesses the willingness to endure the situation. While this kind of sabotage is my least favorite characteristics of high school romance stories, I admit that I can't help but be drawn to it. Murah, who is an enchanting goddess, is not used to being ignored by men and I think that her liking of Mui is based more on the fact that she simply cannot have him. We always want those things (or people) we are forbidden to have.

Artwork: Again, the artwork here is amazing in its detail and elegance. Even those characters one would deem ugly, like a dog-like demon, are drawn with an inherent and undeniable attractiveness. The long-limbed gods and goddesses are also a great contrast to the few nearly chibi-esque characters, such as the angelic messengers employed by Habaek's mother. Lastly, the lush and beautifully colored opening pages made me wish that more of this manhwa appeared in something more than black and white.

The verdict: If only... After reading the first volume, Mi-Kyung Yun set the bar rather high. This story is still intriguing, but it's become muddled with too much conspiracy and is hard to follow at times. While I know I'll read the next volume, I can't say that this met the expectations I had. Bride of the Water God is available in the U.S. from Dark Horse.

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