An action mahwa that boasts a bumbling hero, a womanizing sidekick, demons, magic and armed nuns. In other words, nothing new on the scene.
Writer/Artist: Eun-Jeong Kim
Translator: Soo-Kyung Kim
Adaptation: Che Gilson
What They Say:
When Lord Dahn-Guh "accidentally" unleashes powerful demons unto the land, he orders the fool Ondal to recapture them! Unable to fulfill the task on his own, Ondal is accompanied by Hae-Moh-Soo - a legendary, foul-mouthed warrior who helped to trap the demons in the first place - and... David Copperfield?!
Along the way, they come across quite the interesting array of characters: a gang of armed nuns, the mysterious Samson with singing powers, the twins Pai and Pai, and so many more!
What We Say:
Aspirin's cover has a light pink, strawberry-milk colour to it, which might deceive interested buyers into thinking its story is shojo/romance instead of shonen/action. Ondar's baby face, purple hair and red eyes might likewise fool readers into immediately believing Aspirin is a story for girls. Of course, Aspirin can be enjoyed by both boys and girls, but its story doesn't have many shojo traits. In fact, Ondar sitting on the cover and staring at the world might also give the impression that Aspirin is somehow a quiet, somewhat serious manhwa when in reality it never stops moving.
There's no bonus content in Aspirin other than a half-page text summary of the next volume.
Aspirin's character designs don't stand out much from the manhwa standard; eyes are huge, hair is untamed and cigarettes dangle from everyone's lips. Weapons are lovingly detailed and the backgrounds are passable. Also true to manhwa's style, there's a lot of “chibification”--characters are drawn normally one minute, then super-deformed the next, often as a setup for a physical joke. One thing that does set Aspirin's artwork apart is its heavy inking, which is suitable for a world full of unpredictable (and often malicious) gods.
As per Tokyopop's “tradition,” the sound effects in Aspirin are untranslated. Though Aspirin is an action manhwa, it's heavy on the humour. The writing is the story's strongest point; though each joke has certainly shown up before in other fantasy-action manga, it's hard to keep a straight face through every page. The characters, particularly Ondar's lusty companion, Haemosoo, have traits and dialogue that keeps them amusing enough.
Ondar, a boy who's a little lacking in the brain department, is framed for the release of a deluge of demons. Dan-Goon, the King who actually freed the demons through a clumsy mistake, charges Ondar with returning them. The legendary warrior Haemosoo is forced to accompany Ondar when the King calls up an old debt (he let Haemosoo take back a move in a chess game). The road to restoring order isn't easy, nor is it necessarily normal: demons demand battles, nuns are packing heat and Haemosoo stops the caravan every ten minutes to sleep with someone.
Aspirin reads like an old joke on a Bazooka Joe wrapper. Obviously it's a bit more raunchy than what you'd find on a comic wrapped around a piece of gum, but the draw is very similar: you know the characters are going to say mouldy things and perform crazy antics that stopped being cool when you were six, but you can't help reading the comic, anyway.
What's more, there's no denying that Aspirin will entertain you. Psychotic nuns hefting firearms is a cheap, overused way of getting laughs—but it's overused specifically because few people can resist laughing at a Sister getting increasingly irate—nay, scary—as she demands that the cast acknowledge their Lord and Saviour (“And who the hell is YOUR Master?”).
Aspirin succeeds at being typical and bizarre at the same time. If you want something that's familiar but completely around the bend, it's worth a read.