Sweety Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Monday, September 18, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, July 01, 2006
Writer/Artist: Park JaeSung/Kim JuRi
Translated by:Je-wa Jeong
Adapted by:Je-wa Jeong
What They Say
Looks? Average... Grades? Average.... Personality? Average?!
But one day, an all around average guy is bombarded by advances by the prettiest girls around?! Being handed this unlikely bounty of luck, how should our perplexed hero react?! On one hand there's the cutest and most mature young lady, and on the other, there's the most beautiful coveted daughter of a gangster boss... wouldn't you agree his worries are trivial?
Infinity has to be the one publisher that gives me the most headaches. On one hand they have trouble releasing manga. On the other, through 2006 they might have some of the best production values in this business. They have fixed their super-bright paper issues. They are continuing to use original Asian specs as far as trim size and cover treatment go. And they provide some tasty extras.
The cover art you see is on a full color dust jacket. As you can see the piece is horizontal and maintains the original logo. The cover features a close up of one of the leading ladies - JinHae. The color scheme is bright but it is exactly the same as the Korean version. Open up the book and on the flaps there are mangaka bios. The actual cover itself is in blue tone. Immediately after that there is a postcard and bookmark you can cut out.
That is followed by a solid looking print done on relatively thick white paper. The alignment is not perfect but the print looks much better than anything I saw from them this time last year. And at the start of the second chapter, readers are treated to a handful of color plates!
The end of the book features an atogaki from the mangaka, the assistants and a preview of volume two.
Kim's art is an interesting mix of shojo and shonen elements. The shojo is mainly from the manpu and the layout. There are moments when the characters are big-eyed rosy cheeked. At times you can almost see the flowery backgrounds when they are at their most passionate. At the same time, the layout also employs many shonen elements to it. Particularly when it presents comedy. The characters go into SD occasionally. But when the mangaka is able to change perspective and use FX to be active with the characters their feelings of dispair and desperation really come through. There is also a good mix in of action that works much better than most romance-comedies. Here the characters are seen giving their beatdowns in a very comical way. So while the emotions are there, the reader can still understand the purpose is mainly to lighten the mood.
Character designs are great. The girls have a great range of designs in regards to body shape and style. I was really impressed by how Kim-sensei was able to mix in school uniforms, casual wear and traditional korean costumes into this title while making each one functional and appropriate for the scenes they are in. The guy's designs are more generic and that's appropriate. These guys are not very attractive and they do not have many redeeming qualities so its best to leave them as simple as possible. The designs are relatively to scale - neither too long or too bulky. And for the most part they really play the role well.
Once again, Infinity proves that it should not be lumped in with ComicsOne/DrMaster in regards to its production values. The packaging is stunning. The translation is error free, and on top of that, it sounds good. Personalities really stand out, which is important for there are some extreme characters in this title. Infinity also does something that seems natural to manga but might be new to manhwa - they keep Korean terms in the dialogue. Infinity keeps terms with notes placed in the gutters. I think this is a great idea that gives readers a closer look at the language and culture. I think I learned more casual Korean through them, than I have with my self-taught hangul lessons.
SFX are really nice. SFX are subbed with translations that are smaller than the original to preserve Kim's nice art. With all of the action in this series, seeing small subs is a perfect way to keep readers into the art and not frustrated by clutter.
Romance was never easy to come by. Sometimes it might seem like it comes once every 18 years and then all of a sudden it comes in threes. High school senior MyungHo's very own love story is about to kick off with a pair of nightmares. On one side he has his neighbor's 12-year-old daughter JinHae who "just became a woman" and has declared herself MyungHo's lover! The newspapers would love to find out about this relationship. Then there is the stunning JuRi. She should have fallen in love with real life freak according to her ultra accurate fortunes, but she choose MyungHo instead. Now MyungHo has to deal with YuRi's kang-peh father or he has to be his sweetest self possible and not break little JinHae's heart.
If MyungHo plays his cards right, though, he might end up in a great situation. Just getting any attention from a woman might be worth the headache he is bound to experience. Furthermore, even though his moments with YuRi and JinHae have been brief snippets of hell, he is still picking up more pointers about women and romance than he has ever in his 18 years of loneliness. And everyone knows that along the way in every romance there are going to be bumps along the road. So why not get those out of the way early right!?
The true test for MyungHo is going to be making a choice between unconditional friendship and going out with the school idol. Before he gets broken by the cops or the kang-peh (korean yakuza), he better make up his mind about what he wants. The girls know what they want and they are going to fight the laws and fight destiny to get it!
Another shonen romance comedy, but this one from Korea has an edge to it that never takes itself seriously. Honestly even with old concepts, this title with hard slapstick, stupid humor and a cool mix of shojo and shonen art designs have caught my eye. I almost give this the nod over Suzuka, GatchaGatcha and maybe even Pastel. Add Infinity's dust jacket, two sets of color plates, postcard, bookmark and omake pages at a price of $9.95 and I think this title becomes very tempting.
This title is not just about the superficial though. There is something to Korean comedy that seems to resonate with me. The humor is not only biting but the slap-stick takes me back to manga of old. At the same time it reminds me of Japanese sitcoms and how those characters (many of them played by former/current comedians) tend to use exaggerated facial expressions, wild body language and on occasion the obligatory blow to the chin. But in this series, those moments are much more obvious. The art is focused on that. And it is apparent from the SD and the layout.
The story to Sweety is honestly sweet from start to finish. There are moments where I had to wonder what it was trying to cover up with that sugary facade, but even those twisted moments are all done in jest. Essentially this is the story of people falling in love. The main characters want to be in love so bad they do whatever it takes to make it happen. One will fight destiny and the other will fight society's norms. Both will cause the guy they want tons of trouble. Sounds like life huh? And caught in the middle is a guy that doesn't deserve either... Because the good guys shouldn't get nice girls like this.
Sweety has won me over because it knows how to avoid the traps that this genre has set for it. It doesn't create harems. It doesn't rely on guys falling into laps or bosoms. Instead, it tries to present the biggest issue people really have with their love life - communication. And I think this manga is saying the right things to me.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Infinity Studios LLC
Orientation: Right to Left