Hard Boiled Angel Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: CPM Press
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 258
  • ISBN: 1-58664916-7
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Hard Boiled Angel Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     August 17, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004

Hard Boiled Angel Vol.#01
© CPM Press

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Lee Hyung-se
Translated by:Keo Melvin Lee
Adapted by:

What They Say
Detective Jiran Ha is a hard-hitting female cop in a city filled with crime and corruption. Heading the Hard Crimes Unit, she faces crazed stalkers and murderous criminals on a daily basis. When a rash of serial murders terrorizes the town, Jiran must delve deep into society's seedy underbelly to crack the case and bring the killer - or killers - to justice.

The Review
CPM's packaging is pretty good. They have packaged this title in a tall B6, oriented left-to-right (which is standard for manhwa). On the front cover there is a black and white image of the main character Ha Ji-ran in her what seems to be her uniform (obviously not for traffic officers or top brass) on a dark blue and red background. The opposite cover has a few manga panels in red/black tone above a silhouette of Detective Ha where the volume blurb is framed. Inside the printing is okay. This title does not use a lot of screen tone, so it is a little tough to tell, but the inking looks sharp and the alignment is great. CPM Press has also included a few nice extras. Besides their usual character intros, there is a letter from the mangaka (manhwa-ka??) and a short biography of Lee Hyung-se. There are also a few ads for the Nambul War Stories manga and Alien Nine, Black Jack, Gall Force -New Era- and Domain of Murder DVDs.

Lee-sensei's artwork reminds me of a few of my favorite mangaka. Tezuka Osamu comes to mind when looking at the facial expressions and cartoonish feel that these characters have when they are not acting hard. In close ups, I am reminded of Saitou Takawo's (Golgo 13) stoic faces and powerful but simple eyes. While neither fall into my taste, the designs are pretty unique and make for an interesting look especially for such a serious crime drama. Lee's solid art also shows on the backgrounds and layout for this title. The background is often very detailed. With this being a crime manga getting to know the scene and how it will play in the story is important and Lee-sensei does a good job presenting the dark world his characters are in. The layout gives readers good sense of perspective and actually is active in the mystery by occasionally making scenes look a little misleading. Really effective work.

SFX are all translated with subs. The retouch is pretty good, but I have to also say that Lee doesn't use a lot of SFX either so that might have helped as well. CPM uses subs that are about the same size as the original SFX so in some scenes they could be covering up art, but CPM avoided that in most of their panels. The translation really sounded good. If I were to compare this with a few other CPM Press titles, it has to be the best I have read from them in a while. I do not have the original to compare with (and I don't read Korean) but the story flowed well and really kept me caught up in the story. I was a little disappointed that they decided to use Dollars instead of Won as the currency for this series, as it takes away some of the credibility to their translation.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Crime in Seoul has changed over the years. There was a time where crime was cut and dry, evil for the obvious reasons - revenge, power, and fear. Now crime comes in so many forms it may sometimes not look like crime at all. However, there are also legal actions that should be considered crimes to the public that occur on a daily basis but will never come to trial. Life is like that in almost every metropolis nowadays, but few have someone on their side like Detective Ha Ji-ran.

Codenamed "Blue Angel, Lt. Ha is the first female detective in the Seoul Police Department. In many ways she is a product of modern times - violent, aloof, and efficient. Her actions blur the lines between good and evil, but in essence she is the perfect modern day cop and that is why she is in charge of the Department's Hard Crimes Unit. In her time with the force she has seen it all while on the beat and in the office. Being a woman has had its hardships, but she tries to go about her business without having to lose herself to the corrupt system. She runs her unit like a lioness, catching her prey and leaving her men to do the clean up and paperwork. She will often abuse of her crew, calling them pigs but she respects them all for the work they do (though her rough housing might make readers wonder about that relationship).

Recently, Detective Ha's cases have been a little too personal for her taste. First, she runs into a stalker that appears to be after her! Then she gets a request from an old friend, asking her about a love that appears to be going sour with age. Another old friend makes a rare appearance. Her ex-boyfriend is briefly back in town and with him comes the threat of a psycho-terrorist, an old Mayan god of death and a string of serial murders. Finally, Ji-ran is kidnapped when searching for the leader of a youth gang - tied up, drugged and filmed on tape. Crime sure has changed recently.

After reading these long self-contained chapters there is no wonder why Lee Hyung-se is considered one of the fathers of manhwa. His writing style is powerful, showing emotion and the current difficulties of the modern era. At the same time, like Japanese mangka Tezuka Osamu, Lee adds slapstick comedy and a feel of naivety to give his characters a twisted sense of realism. In his short interview, Lee describes his feelings about crime in modern times. He compared it to colors: with blue once meaning freedom and black once meaning evil. Nowadays, crime has changed so much that it has changed from black to blue, and in this title crime definitely has the freedom to become anything and involve anyone. Luckily, Lee also created a character that is as free to cross the lines of good and evil to counter all that is bad out there. Ji-ran may at times come off a little cold, but in Lee's Seoul that's possibly the best way to survive.

Good art, decent stories and some intense action scenes make Hard Boiled Angel on of the better crime drama's I have read in a while. With that crime drama market being rather weak in North America, Kindaichi being one of a few, a title like Hard Boiled Angel fills that void very well. The designs and Lee's comedy may rub some people the wrong way, but this already, one volume into the series, it is one of the better seinen dramas available in English.

Recommended for mature readers


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