Gadirok Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, April 14, 2005
Release Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004
What They Say
The Hwan-Woong dynasty is in turmoil. General Hae-Mo-Soo has taken control of most of the land without any resistance or struggle. His only opposition is Prince Chi-Woo, who is not proving to be much of a threat, because he is unable to overcome the hardships suffered during the Revolution. Severe melancholy has taken hold of the Prince to the extent that he can hardly function—never mind any attempts to lay claim to power. It is only through the efforts of his dear friend Gat that the Prince can even escape from the hands of General Hae-Mo-Soo’s soldiers. The Prince and Gat must journey together, enduring heartache, bloodshed and death along the path to reclaim the Prince’s rightful place on the throne.
Since this an uncorrected galley proof, there will be no packaging grade.
Jeong-Ho definitely has some talent as an artist. The character designs are quite strong with thick black lines and a fantasy appeal. The costumes and ancient garb that the characters wear are really exquisite and well done, even if I’m unsure of their place in the storyline. There is a good amount of background art that is really clean and strong. The action scenes are pretty dynamic and violent, and the nightmare scenes of Chi-Woo are pretty gruesome and horrifying.
The SFX are translated and appear next to the original ones on the page. Now, I didn’t say they were subbed, because this is not a subbing of SFX. The new SFX try to mimic the originals, sometimes even bigger, creating a lot of really cluttered panels. The translation seems to flow very nicely even if I am unable to understand what is going on with the story, but it is not the fault of the translation.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The story opens up with what seems to be an important scene as Gat, with huge sword in hand, is infiltrating a city building in order to rescue Prince Chi-Woo, who has now become deranged and is consumed with nightmares of his comrades deaths. Chi-Woo is brought back to the temple of General Tai-Gong-Wang, but almost immediately the temple comes under attack. One of the attackers is an assassin named Bahron, who evidently is a “traitor” according to Gat. The main attack is a group of soldiers led by General Mari of the Soo-Ra family. All these attacks seem to be ordered by Lord Hae-Mo-Soo, a mysterious character with blank eyes who seems to be doing everything from the shadows. During the attack, Chi-Woo escapes with Tai-Gong-Wang’s daughter, Lady So-Ah, and they go into hiding at a café in the city. However, both Gat and So-Ah become wanted criminals and their presence is recognized by some soldiers at the café. Gat is drawn away from the café and taken to some remote location where he is confronted with his past and a group of assassins, who seem to be mad at him because of what he did with Yernia, the café owner who evidently Gat didn’t know worked at the café he was just at. The café comes under attack by Duke Geh-Ru, riding some sort of fictional animal called a garion, who captures Chi-Woo, So-Ah, and Yernia. Gat must then rush back to the café and rescue the prince who he lives to serve.
While reading Gadirok, it becomes quite apparent early on that Jeong-Ho’s strongpoint is most definitely not story writing. The transitions between scenes are rough and there are a few scenes that make little sense because of a lack of background information, like Bahron’s death scene. There is a strong cultural and historical aspect to the story which, even with the character notes provided at the end of the chapters, becomes very hard to grasp and fully understand. I get the feeling if I am supposed to already know many of these characters based on historical personas, but since I don’t it just comes off as a convoluted mess. Without any mention of some sort of back story, the events that occur do not hold any weight and I spent most of my time scratching my head in confusion. I also don’t understand why some people are dressed up in ancient costumes when they are living in a modern city, and then there is that strange fantasy animal that Gen-Ru comes riding in on that feels even more out of place.
The first volume of Gadirok is a frustrating read. There are a lot of events unfolding, but they all reference past events that are unknown and unexplained. This creates a confusing scenario where character motivations are not understood and setting details offer little help. The strong historical and cultural aspect adds even more confusion with all the talk about ancient families battling it out for power. It is also unclear as to WHEN this story takes place, with the mixture of modern city buildings and people with ancient costumes, fantastical creatures, and historical references, almost as if the present is colliding with the past is some twisted parallel world. I found it hard to get a grasp on this story and everything just feels completely convoluted. There are some nice action scenes with strong artwork that are quite violent, but I still had no idea why there was any fighting going on in first place! I am hoping the next volume will fill in some of the holes in the story, otherwise this is not going to be an enjoyable read.
Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Left to Right