Laon Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Kate O'Neil
Review Date: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laon: demon or deity in training?

Creative Staff
Story: YoungBin Kim
Art: Hyun You
Translation/Adaptation: Woo-Sok Park

What They Say
Laon’s musical tail gave Heri his big break, but the teen idol is about to discover that fame comes at a price…Following the sound of her tail’s voice, Laon abruptly ends Heri’s career, taking back her tail and its power. But Laon still lacks the strength to grant Tae-Ha’s wish, and time may be running out for his lost love!

The Review!
Technical

LAON matches up with most of the Yen titles on the market in size and quality. The paper is of standard quality and the inks are solid, the gradients clean. The front of the cover features a mostly monochromatic Laon, in red, posing in a field of black with her latest victim below. The title font matches the tone of the story more than the artwork, which is deceptively cute in style. Meanwhile the back seems more sinister with the colors reversed and the text blurb overlaid on top of the dark shadow.

The artwork is closer to shonen manga style than any manhwa I have read, with the only noticeable difference being the layout of the pages and sound effects. The characters are drawn with a wide range of variations in their faces and bodies. The artist makes heavy use of tone throughout the book, leading to a dark ambiance.

The translation seems solid with no noticeable errors. There is a glossy color page starting the volume featuring some artwork and a summary of events so far. Which, along with a small set of translation notes at the back of the book, provide a nice reminder for returning readers. (It’s also appreciated by reviewers jumping in late.) A few humorous extra sketches round out the book.

Contents
This volumes picks up in mid sequence as Laon is in pursuit of the next of her missing tails, her singing tail. It’s granted it’s possessor with an inhuman singing voice and Laon is frantic to recover it. Even if it means almost taking out her semi-unwilling partner to do so. Laon doesn’t quite have the human act down pat, and attacks a speaker in her fury to get back her property. The reporter and his young inhuman charge make a narrow getaway from the concert they stage crashed.

The musician that was on stage, Eunbi, doesn’t seem particularly shaken, probably because she has bigger things to worry about. She’s convinced her friend and fellow singer Heri must have found some artificial means to become such a good artist. Eunbi’s background is the typical tragic rise to fame via whatever means necessary, while Heri seems to have been blessed by the gods. That blessing turns into a curse when Laon finally tracks him down.

Laon is an interesting character to watch. She’s more of a force of nature, with no human morals holding her back. It’s unnerving to see her running around without pants for the duration of the story, written off as a means for making way for the fox demon’s tails. Laon fits the frame of ‘creepy horror movie girl’ almost too well.

It’s hard to care about Eunbi and her selfish ways, but Heri seems a more genuine and tragic case. Both are just a means to an end though, and the author doesn’t linger on their tragedy for very long.

Laon has no qualms about taking back what is hers, much to the conflicted horror of Tae-Ha. As he watches the bloody spectacle that Laon creates he finds himself seeing visions of his missing friend and falls ill soon after. The aftermath has his reporter friends giddy with their latest scoop, while Tae-Ha feels like time is running out to find the lost Young-Yoo.

When Tae-Ha gets back on his feet his more determined than ever to make some progress, but all of the hwan demons seem to be avoiding the hungry Laon. Suddenly they’re both dragged off with another reporter to a prominent politician’s house. A member of the family disappeared, and it sounds like a hwan is responsible. While the current lady of the house tries to put the moves on Tae-Ha, Laon is drawn away by otherworldly forces from her own intergalactic battle.

In Summary
LAON is an interesting beast. Behind the cute lies a deceptively disturbing horror story. It takes the cute monster cliche and reminds the readers that the cute doe-eyed girl just might rip your liver out if you stand in her way. The artwork spills to the edges of the page yet remains clear while the story twists and turns underneath it. It’s a solid and intriguing tale, one I want to see play out. My only concern is how this story is supposed to wrap up in two volumes when Laon only has only recovered two of her nine tails. It feels like the story in only just beginning.

 



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Yen Press
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9780759530553
Size: B6
Orientation: Left to Right