Hard Boiled Angel Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: CPM Press
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 320
  • ISBN: 158664939-6
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Hard Boiled Angel Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 03, 2004
Release Date: September 01, 2004


Hard Boiled Angel Vol.#02
© CPM Press


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hyung Se Lee
Translated by:Huiman Alex Choi & Soomin Lee
Adapted by:

What They Say
Detective Jiran Ha is a hard-hitting female cop in a city filled with crime and corruption. Dealing with mistaken identities and investigating strange murders on the beach are everyday tasks that seem almost mundane to this cop who's seen it all. But when criminal from Jiran's past escape prison intent on revenge against her, she faces the decision of a lifetime: sacrifice her own life to stop him or let dozens of innocent people die.

Tough as nails stories by HYUN SE LEE, Korea's most renowned Manhwa creator.

The Review
Packaging:
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 color image of the main character Ha Ji-ran in a crouching shooting position. The image is on a purple and green background with a target placed to her right. The opposite cover features the green silhouette of a character introduced in chapter two. The silhouette also happens to be the frame for the very short volume description, as well. Pretty interesting design. 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, Mythology of War, Armageddon and Black Jack.

Artwork:
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.

Text/SFX:
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 reads well. It continues to be one of the better translations I have read from CPM recently. 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)
There was a time when most people thought women should not take certain jobs in society. In my part of the world, women were not regulars in the police force until the seventies. Women were not in the fire department until the eighties. Now in my town we have a female chief of police and fire chief. We have two female senators and our House rep is the minority whip.

Jiran Ha is the first woman in Seoul's violent crimes unit. Before she reached this point, most women in the force worked in administrative offices, they were counselors or traffic cops. Nevertheless, it would not be fair to say that even a counselor or a paper pusher is not worth recognizing and respecting. Jiran Ha will show the brass why women are important to the department in this volume... both of them will.

As counselor Ha does her business supporting the hearts and minds of the youth of Seoul, Detective Ha has to dig into her soul to relate with those whom she is investigating. Crime solving is not only restricted to stakeouts and car chases, sometimes confronting suspects face to face assessing and improvising is the only choice. Preventing crime and supporting the community do very well for the police department. There are times when one overshadows the other... actually crime prevention is usually ignored by the brass. Imagine if counselors did not prevent crime, work for everyone else would increase in an already dangerous city.

Getting into the mind of a criminal is much harder than it sounds. Weeding through lies and delusions can bring emotional and mental confusion that could wear on an officer especially if the investigation depends on such an analysis. Often the fear and anger can lead to brief moments of paranoia that could impede the justice process. Detective Ha gets to experience these first hand in two stories. In one, she was she come to terms how she was not that different from a criminal herself. The other had her assessing madness to confirm guilt. Both will test her mind in some ways, bringing back memories that she would rather not recall and they will show how cruel life is to change people into potential monsters so easily. As a woman, Detective Ha knows how harsh life is, but she appears to be one of the lucky ones despite her experiences.

Comments
Crime, and how it is dealt with, continues to evolve as society changes. However, there are still some constants that have not changed through history. Life is difficult and sometimes people are permanently damaged by the harshness of life. Murder, rape and abuse are harsh truths that some people have to live with in some way or another. Yet, when people first experience these realities, their lives are often changed dramatically. Sometimes society will decide to help those who live through these experiences; more often than not people will have to deal with this internal change on their own. The results are what Lee-sensei has drawn in this volume. A memory from one's youth began a chain of theft, delusional schizophrenia and murder. Another memory turned nightmares into reality and almost cost that character their life. A twisted perspective on relationships sent another character through the darkness until he realized how he had become a monster and how there were monsters like him out there. For two of these characters their time had run out and life had robbed them of hope and a future. The other would have to expand and grow from these experiences, as hard as they are.

Some people can be turned off by cruelty and violence and Hard Boiled Angel is never short on either, but this is easily the best writing I have experienced in a manhua. There are many other good points to support this title. The wide format gives readers more manga for their money. Despite the chapters being episodic, the stories average 80 pages in length so there is plenty of time for stories to develop. Best of all it is a good example of seinen comics. This title is a good mix of everything good in seinen: comedy, drama, adult characters and themes. There is not enough of that available right now and this fills the bill perfectly.

Hard Boiled Angel is nothing but honest, however only a special artist can make something so cruel be so good.

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