Dokebi Bride Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Netcomics
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 186
  • ISBN: 1-60009-039-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Dokebi Bride Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     May 20, 2006
Release Date: March 01, 2006

Dokebi Bride Vol.#01
© Netcomics

Creative Talent
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:

What They Say
Born into a shaman family, Sunbi has inherited the power to see and communicate with spirits just like her grandmother, a notable shaman and savior of their little fishing village in the South Sea. Early on, she sees things like an imposter shaman being thrashed by a dragon of the deep, and doesn't understand that none of her schoolmates can see such things.

Her powers make her the amorous target of hedonistic demons even as a child. Long shielded from the reality of her power, she finally learns the secret of her mother's death, and why her grandmother was never able to leave their village.

The Review
As part of the second wave of releases from netcomics, Dokebi Bride features some of the better production values of any standard manhwa title I have seen in a while. I say standard because manhwa has changed quite a bit over the last few years but that is a different review (the Great Catsby). Anyway, starting off with the positives, the cover is beautiful. The cover art features a female shaman in traditional garb. I found the flatness of the art and the contrasting color from the costume stunning. This was one of the rare titles I picked up solely because of its cover. Flip the book over and you'll see the actual art for the manga in a close-up portrait of main character before a sky filled with spirits. Got to say, I wouldn't have been hooked if I saw the back cover first (not the design but Marley's art is monstrous).

Open up the book and one should notice the traditional yellow paper. Used throughout Asia for manga and light novels this type of paper is thick, easy on the eyes and does not bleed through. This paper really holds the print well, because I was able to distinguish the tone and line work clearly.

If there was any big weakness to this title it has to be the art. Don't look at the cover. If you do, erase that image from your brain and expect some old seinen manga. Not the fun stuff like initial D or Ai yori Aoshi but early Berserk or maybe even Oishinbo. Don't expect pretty characters with big shojo eyes and do not expect detailed costumes with flat designs on light penciling. This title has thick lines on chunky characters. Bodies are short and stumpy looking. Faces are drawn with a specific type of detail - to express unique characteristics and expressions. So Marley draws in a lot of shading giving characters huge cheeks, cracked lips, broad noses and wrinkles. Every character is ugly but in all truth these characters are supposed to be ugly on the inside. Costumes are plain and boring. The only time there is any detail and variety comes when Marley draws in demons and gods. This is why I made the Berserk/Oishinbo reference. Early on these two titles did not have the best looking cast, but their specialties - monsters and food (respectively) - looked great. Take a look at one of Marley's dragons and you almost wonder why the rest of the characters cannot look half that good.

The layout is simple but manipulative. The panels come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They tend to really set a pace that is generally quite slow. But considering the type of story this is I felt that was appropriate. The perspective is very good as well, though at times I had a hard time with dialogue placement. Manpu and color/shading really made an impact on mood. And for the most part the backgrounds that were drawn in gave a good look at the old world Marley's characters live in. Very nice.

This is possibly the third netcomics title that I have read and man do they differ from translator to translator. Some can be atrocious and others just funky. The translation for Dokebi Bride is one of the better ones I have read. While it does read a little stiff and some of the colloquialisms are awkward, at least it does not have the grammar or spelling problems that other titles are plagued with. Right now the biggest issue is the lack of feeling. It is really tough to distinguish voices here. So everything sounds the same - from cultural note to dramatic moment at a burial.

SFX are completely retouched and overlaid. The retouch is great. The work is very clean and does not seem to compromise art much. However, the fonts used are very loud and did not feel appropriate for this subdued title.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As our lives become more complex and we move away from the traditions that created our nations and our communities, the past begins to die. The history of our communities - the resources, the old farming and fishing towns, the religion, the festivals and the spirits who have protected all of that for centuries are fading away. With each person that moves to the big city a bit of the traditional life is lost. Eventually those villages and towns will dry up. The families that once lived there for generations working the land under their god, will soon scatter across the land leaving their ancestors behind. And with every new citizen in the metropolis, the culture of that city changes as well. Foreign influences, new religions with their own gods begin to erode the fundamentals of the old communities. The gods that care take the local land, the seas and air will someday be completely forgotten and they will turn their back on humanity drying out fields and killing fish stock.

The age of shaman and monks might have died years ago, but the spirits are still around. The gods might not come out as much any more, but the dead and the demons certainly do. Unfortunately, society refuses to notice this until it begins to suffer without the gods guidance.

Sunbi is a part of the past. She might look like a modern girl who lives in Seoul, but she was raised in the villages off the Sea of Japan. She got to see the connection between the gods and the land. And when the people began to forget the importance of the shaman then the gods and dokebi began to leave the land for heaven. Sunbi will never forget. She knows their significance. She can see them and understands their feelings. But now that she is no longer living among them she worries that they will eventually never return. The gods and her village is Sunbi's family history and a large part of her personality. Her home was separated by level of belief. She lived in isolation because of her belief. And when she is forced to move away she knows something is missing.

Sunbi knows there is no need to fear the shaman. These people are just more sensitive about their world than the rest of us. However, as Sunbi realizes, when the gods and dokebi are gone and there is no one to turn to but the shaman for salvation will those who turned their back on their history accept what they have left behind? Possibly not. Modern times does not allow for looking back to the past, even if it provides powerful solutions .

In Dokebi Bride, Korean artist Marley focuses on how the majority of modern societies have forgotten their culture. She presents a community that has thinks first about themselves instead of their nation as a whole. This is a culture that discards history and family in favor of ambition and self-preservation. There was a time when people of all lands respected nature and their heritage. The Earth, the Sky, the Water along with god and demons were all respected for what they provide man and all living beings. But now only a handful of people can see that - the shaman. But Marley also knows that only a few of them remain as well.

Very much like a folk tale we see the connection between the gods and the lives of the characters in this title. Told through the life of a young shaman named Sunbi, this story chronicles her life as she learns the significance of spirituality in people's lives and in their community. Spirituality encompasses much more than religion. It is history and culture but when you consider pagan beliefs like shamanism then it is even more significant. The connection to life itself is critical and Marley-sensei clearly illustrates how the gods/demons and the land have long been considered one.

Marley's story is filled with nostalgia for a part of culture that is disappearing. It also is filled with a sense of community, yet Sunbi's character is struggling with loneliness. The themes are very powerful as the story are universal. And the pacing and overall sense of drama really feels as if there will be a great tale that will unfold in the future. Where this story will lead its readers as it moves from the village to the big city has me intrigued. But what I found more alluring was how personable this story about gods and demons is. Maybe we should pay more attention for those things in our lives, huh?


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