Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Jul 6, 2009

Pig Bride Vol. 1 - KookHwa Huh / SuJin Kim

Serialized currently in the magazine Yen Plus, Pig Bride is a Korean manhwa.

Synopsis: The first volume released in April 2009, begins with the main character Si-Joon Lee, lost in the mountains on his summer trip at eight years old. He wanders to a stream and there he finds a young girl wearing a pig mask. Hungry and tired, he follows her further into the woods hoping to find a way home. Soon they arrive at a house where Si-Joon is told that he must marry the girl in the mask to release her from an ancient curse. Willing to do anything to get to eat the huge feast in the next room, he hurriedly agrees and then realizes what he's done once the food has settled. The young girl gives him an item and ...he wakes up from what seems like a dream. Having had these dreams of the pig mask girl all his life, Si-Joon, now sixteen, shrugs it off and heads to school. Only today happens to be THE day that strange things start happening on campus, and guess who shows up...the pig mask girl. Eight years later the forgotten bride has now come to claim her groom. Si-Joon's parents agree to house the girl, Mu-Yeon, at their residence so as not to cause a scandal for his father, who has a sensitive political career. Yet there is another girl on Si-Joon's radar. Powerful Doe-Doe Eun wants Si-Joon all to herself and is willing to do just about anything to make that happen.

Review: An intriguing premise, Pig Bride offers a sprinkling of fantasy, mystery, humor and romance. Though Si-Joon can be irritating with his impulsiveness and obliviousness to others, Mu-Yeon, his opposite, seems intelligent and quirky. With the mask, she is actually easier to judge by her dialogue, and though surrounded by her traditional appearance and mannerisms, it is apparent that she's much more than a strange girl in a pig mask. Her insistence to try and consummate the marriage whenever she and Si-Joon are alone together, provides some comic relief and evidence that she is a normal hormonal sixteen year old girl. Although, I believe her purpose for making the marriage official is driven by more logical reasoning than just hormones. Of the male characters, I actually found myself liking the supporting cast member Ji-Oh, Si-Joon's best guy friend, better than Si-Joon. He is more resourceful, and a better judge of character than Si-Joon. While Ji-Oh is accurately assessing the personalities of Mu-Yeon and Doe-Doe, Si-Joon is emotionally reacting to circumstances, and misses some obvious leads as to the true character of Doe-Doe, and the purpose of Mu-Yeon and her female ninja companion, Mu-Hwa. It just makes you want to hit him upside the head and yell, "Get a clue, already!" This annoying character trait is not resolved by the end of this volume, however, I know from reading later chapters that Si-Joon will eventually come to his senses. The writers aggressively make you hate Doe Doe, and have no qualms revealing her true personality to the audience. As Mu-Yeon's rival for Si-Joon's attention, there's no doubt that Doe Doe's personality will eventually tarnish her cute appearance.

The art work is detailed and very well balanced. Although I find the faces somewhat distorted, with the eyes, nose, and mouth placed low close to the pointed chins, the expressions still easily convey mood and emotion. You would think that since Mu-Yeon wears a mask, the artists would make her body language more expressive, but I view it as somewhat stiff, forcing readers to rely mostly on dialogue. I'm not too keen on Si-Joon's pink eyes and hair, but that's just personal preference. The colored pieces that are included in the volume are nice but not exceptional. It's the panels that really speak for themselves and show why we're getting to read this fun and mysterious story.

Assuredly, this is a series I'll continue to read, as I'm too curious now not to find out the conclusion. I really want to know what Mu Yeon looks like, and I'm sure that most readers will feel the same. If you're looking for a new fantasy series, definitely give this one a try.

Romance Rating: Cuddly - Though married, Si Joon and Mu Yeon's relationship is just starting, so not much romantic action yet. Though, with Mu Yeon's insistence on consummating the marriage, I believe that the rating will eventually change.

Media Status: Pig Bride is available in one volume from Yen Press, with volume two being released in August 2009. You can read the most current chapters in Yen Plus magazine.


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