A man unjustly burdened by the curse of a demon’s spirit through his brother’s treachery struggles to survive a life of blood and rejection.
Writer/Artist: Kim Sung-Jae and Kim Byung-Jin
Translated by: N/A
Adapted by: N/A
What They Say
In a time of chaos and war, a godforsaken era, twin sons are born to an emperor. But legend states that the son of the emperor shall be born a demon! But twins? Who is the demon, and who shall reign as emperor?
Chunchu is the story of a young man saved from death by his mother, banished by his people, hunted by his brother, and tortured by the demons within. Living and fighting with a low-born warrior tribe who can never trust him, Chunchu lives a life of blood and violence, every day a struggle to survive. But something mysterious lurks within his cold exterior; something that could be awakened by the touch of a woman.
The front cover features an illustration of our ill-fated hero, Chunchu. Against a bright white background, Chunchu faces forward, holding his sword before him in both hands. Entirely covered with splashes of blood, he has an unnervingly calm look on his face and looks ready to draw his sword to shed more blood. The title logo, rendered in blood splattered capitals, is centered towards the bottom. The artist and author names in English are placed at the lower right hand corner in white letters. The title, artist, and author in Hangul are placed at the top right hand corner along with the volume number.
On the back cover is a close-up, profile illustration of Chunchu. He is also covered in blood in this picture and has a more contemplative expression as he looks upon the sword he holds before him. This drawing takes up the top third of the back cover. Below it, against a black background is a story synopsis in white lettering. At the very bottom are the publisher's icon and ISBN. Interestingly, this manhwa does not include an age rating on the cover.
The print job and binding are satisfactory, but the paper has a somewhat fragile feel to it. Extras include splash page drawings and ads for other Dark Horse manhwa titles.
Chunchu contains some of the most impressive action sequences that I've seen. Not only are they well paced and laid out, but the artist also makes great use of blurred backgrounds and speed lines to really convey a sense of motion and depth. The plot contains a lot of violence, and the artist is unsparing in the details of body parts being cut off and blood flying through the air. However, there is quite a bit of variance in the quality of the actual drawings; lines are smoothly drawn in some panels while others look like sketches scribbled out in a hurry.
Adult character designs quite reminiscent of Western-style character designs. Male characters tend to have an overly muscled look to them. Some illustrations of Chunchu's bare chest were so overly defined I wasn't sure if it was his actual muscle or if he was wearing some sort of strange chest plate. Women tend to be tall and willowy. In certain scenes, characters’ facial expressions get distorted beyond recognition, but they can always be easily distinguished by their outfits. Despite the overall dark tone of this story, there are some lighter moments, and chibi versions of characters are used for these scenes.
Regarding the overall style of the Chunchu fantasy world, the artist uses a mix of Asian and Western folk/traditional styles. So, in certain scenes, soldiers wear Asian style armor, and Chunchu's father wears an Asian style robes. However, there are also places where you have European styled stone castles and clothing. Interestingly though, Chunchu's himself wears goggles and what looks to be a modern styled tight leather outfit.
Sound effects are translated side-by-side the originals in a style comparable to the original SFX. Most honorifics have been changed to English equivalents; but there is at least one place where the Korean honorific was maintained in the translation, and a footnote is provided to explain the meaning of that honorific.
Regarding the translation, interjections appear to be direct transliterations of the Korean and may take some getting used to for those unused to Korean (for example, "Wooaak!” and “Hu-gug!”). Dialogue translation sounds awkward in places. For instance, characters sometimes refer to other clans without the definite article, which sounds a little strange ("We must end this thousand-day war with Yoong Clan!").
In the Yeman Empire, a prophecy is made that a demon shall be born to the Emperor. However, everything is thrown into confusion when the Empress gives birth to twins. A demon rock is used to determine which of the sons is cursed by a demon's spirit, and in a moment of opportunity, the demon-possessed child forces the demon rock onto his brother. Thus, Chunchu is wrongly branded a demon's bastard and forced to bear the scorn and hate of those around him.
Spared death through the intervention of his mother, Chunchu is banished by his father to the Mirmidons, a low-born warrior tribe. It is hoped that the harsh life of the Mirmidon Clan will cause Chunchu to meet an untimely death. However, Chunchu manages to survive, partly due to the astounding regenerative powers of the demon rock he is cursed with.
Years pass, and Chunchu's brother, Woolpaso attains the throne. You would think that he would be satisfied knowing that his brother is living a life of misery, ostracized by the people and mistrusted by the members of the clan that has adopted him. However, it is not enough for Woolpaso that Chunchu bears his curse. He wants him dead so that the demonic legend will die with him. And so an unbelievably high price is set on Chunchu's head. However, Chunchu is determined to live that he might one day see those who abandoned him and those who made him suffer...
If this manhwa has taught me anything, it is not to judge a book by its title and cover. With a blood-splattered cover illustration and the title "The Genocide Fiend," this manhwa looked like it would be about some demonic, psychopathic killer out to destroy the world. Now, there is plenty of violence in this manhwa, but Chunchu is anything but a mindless killing machine. If anything, he's painfully aware of how killing eats away at his humanity, and therein lies his struggle. So this story isn't simply page after page of gratuitous violence; depending on how this story ends, Chunchu is shaping up to be a story of redemption or revenge or possibly both.
Chunchu isn't a killer who has forgotten what it is to be human, and the author makes it clear that Chunchu is human in two ways. First of all, Chunchu is actually burdened by his fate and the suffering it causes others. Secondly, while he is widely held as an object of hate, he is not without those who sympathize for him. Interestingly, all these are women (Passa, Amil, his mother), the main female characters of the story. Considering the focus of the story is blood, backstabbing, and curses, I don't see much chance of anything romantic springing up for Chunchu, but the possibility isn't zero. At any rate, it is his humanness that makes him relatable, and that's what ultimately makes the story a compelling one.
The story is not without its weaknesses though. One of the critical elements of the story and also one of the least understood is the "demon rock" that gives Chunchu his regenerative ability and insane drive to kill. This rock was originally supposed to indicate which twin was the demon child, and the actual demon child makes Chunchu seem like the evil one by shoving it into his chest. So if Chunchu was a normal child to start out with, then all his accursed power stems from that rock. That begs the question of why the infants weren't more carefully supervised when something so dangerous was brought in. It also begs the question of why the blame is placed upon the child and not the rock. However, if you can accept or overlook these points, Chunchu is a very engaging story with plenty of action.
If you like Berserk, Claymore, or fantasy stories where the hero does not fit the knight in shining armor model, give Chunchu a try. The only thing is that you'll have to get used all the Korean names.
There is no age rating, but I would probably rate it as 16+ due to lots and lots of violent images and profanity.