Redrum Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Michelle Ramonetti
Review Date: Friday, September 29, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ya-Seong Ko
Translated by:Woo Sok Park
Adapted by:Jordan Capell

What They Say
When a group of seven young college students goes off to enjoy a weekend getaway at a remote mountain villa, secrets that haunt the friends are unveiled "revealing bizarre love triangles, tragic relationships, and deadly betrayal. And when hallucinations and strange disappearances begin, their dream vacation turns into a nightmare . . .

The Review
Packaging:
On the front cover, black from the top subtly blends with red from the bottom, contrasted by the title (spelled "Redrumthreetwentyseven") in splattered, red letters at the top and the author's name in similar, smaller black letters at the bottom. The Tokyopop logo is stamped sideways in white beside the title on both ends of the spine. A glossy, negative imprint of one of the characters, Taein, runs down the right. On the back cover is the same color gradient with the title reprinted in the center and the summary printed above it in white.

Such cover art is both sinister and sophisticated, but a bit too sparse. It is hard to see the glossy illustration without looking for it.

Extras in Redrum327 Vol. 1 include a summary of the next volume and ads for Beck, Grenadier, Afterlife, and Voices of a Distant Star.

Art:
Overall, the artwork is beautiful and rich, with intricate backgrounds and handsome/beautiful character designs, especially for the esteemed beauty of the group, Gahui. Her clothes strike me most in their detail and stylishness, down to her low rise jeans, fringed tie belt, and sandals that wrap around the toe. But the artwork also leaves me with mixed feelings because it is not altogether consistent. The style of the page that introduces Gahui is more realistic, but also makes both girls in it, Gahui and Hyeri, loom large with thick, masculine necks. Pages introducing each chapter are drawn in a more attractive style, though the type of realism exclusive to those pages often makes it difficult to recognize the characters. On the other hand, realistic, rather than cute, exaggerations are used in funny moments, but despite their ugliness they work for showing humor within such a dramatic story.

SFX/Text:
Korean sound effects are retained, but translations are added in small lettering within the panel. This is actually my favorite method of translating sound effects, since covering them can ruin the art, but using an appendix can be cumbersome. The translations are unobtrusive, too, so the overall effect is tasteful.

Nothing has apparently been Americanized, since the translation kept references to Korean food and culture. It would be nice to have side notes defining what some of these Korean references are, but the absence of these does not make the story less enjoyable. Also, because it is translated from Korean, the manhwa reads left to right like English.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Despite its "horror" label, so far this is more of a suspense thriller than a horror story. A group of rich college students travels to a mountain villa for a weekend of rest and relaxation with a new addition: a med student, Gahui, who stuns them with her beauty, mystery, kindness, and seeming perfection. Gahui has a dark past of mental problems, however, rooted in a childhood victimization only hinted at in this volume. The simple activities of eating, drinking, and ghost stories at the villa loosely veil darker tensions within their seeming friendships and, as several of the men begin to fall for Gahui and the women begin to resent her, we learn that Gahui's past may be tied to theirs. When Gahui shatters her crystal image by betraying her friend, however, the tensions finally boil over in violence.

Comments
At first, this story may sound recycled from horror tales of masked killers in the woods attacking mountain villas, but it is not. Also, despite appearances, there is no gore in this volume. Instead, the manhwa takes time to introduce its characters, mostly giving us scenes of them hanging out. These laid back scenes establish the quiet, woodsy atmosphere and reveal background information and romantic conflicts, but grow tedious during the first chapter's detour when one of the characters, Jeongun, tells a horror story that takes up thirteen pages. In fact, without the violence, Redrum327's plot might resemble a realistic, yet creepy soap opera. For all that, however, the building tensions drive the plot and make it a veritable page turner.

One minor point about content: toward the end of this volume, two characters embrace each other with great emotional intensity, but do not even kiss. It is surprising, then, how the other characters interpret it in more indecent terms, like "getting busy" and "making out". It could be a matter of Korean culture, or that the other characters did not see what really happened before making their own conclusions, but it comes off as a little strange.

Overall, this volume is enjoyable, with good artwork and a compelling storyline that tugs at the heart with its flashbacks of childhood cruelty. The story may be unfolding slowly, but the series shows much promise and a knack for suspense.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-59816-506-2
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left