Mania Grade: B
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- Art Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Text/Translatin Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 216
- ISBN: 1-59532-360-0
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Left to Right
Lights Out (aka: An Evening Something Wonderful May Happen) Vol. #01
By Jarred Pine
September 29, 2005
Release Date: October 11, 2005
Lights Out (aka: An Evening Something Wonderful May Happen) Vol.#01
Translated by:Ellen Choi
Adapted by:What They Say
Gun has always been a problem kid, but after a tearful plea from his mom, he decides to turn over a new leaf. Vowing to abandon fighting and troublemaking, Gun transfers to a new high school, attempts to be a good student, and rents a room at the local coed dorm. There he falls for Seung-Ah, the dorm owner's granddaughter.
However love is not to be for this couple, as sexy Ji-Ae's untimely advances always thwart his attempts to woo the innocent Seung-Ah.The Review
Originally titled ‘An Evening Something Wonderful May Happen’, Rangnarok creator Myung-Jin Lee’s debut work was re-released in 2002 as ‘Lights Out’. Here is the debut volume, ‘warts and all’, from one of manwha’s most successful creators.Packaging:
While the illustration of Gun on the cover looks nothing like the design from inside the book, the cover artwork is quite striking and features some sharp looking colors on the matte finish. I wonder if this piece of art is something that Myung-Jin Lee did when Daiwon re-released this title years later as ‘Lights Out’, so the designs have been updated and refined a bit. I do wish however that the tagline ‘From the creator of Ragnarok’ was just on the back of the book instead of the cover.
The print reproduction looks great, especially when you consider that the art style is really heavy on the black ink and there is no sign of fading. There’s a nice piece of artwork inside featuring Seung-Ah on her motorcycle and the usual volume and chapter title pages. Also in the beginning of the book are a few words from Myung-Jin Lee introducing his work to us. Overall I think the packaging is quite solid for this release.Art:
Myung-Jin Lee’s artwork here is definitely rough around the edges, but there is a certain warmth to it all that I do appreciate. I am so used to manwha being overdone with massive amounts of tones and horribly contrasting characters and backgrounds, that seeing something that relies less on tones and more on fluid strokes is a nice treat. Yes, the art is not very detailed, backgrounds are sparse, and characters are frequently off-model or out of proportion, but it feels warm and that is appealing to me.
I also really enjoy the character artwork. Seung-Ah looks so pure and innocent, but then looks quite hot when sliding around the corner on her motorcycle. Mina Kim’s designs are perfect for her delinquent personality. And I’m sorry, but the heavy metal rocker design for Sung-Rae is hilarious. The soaring hair, “Metal Spirit” headband, studded leather jacket, and Frankenstein face just had me rolling with laughter.Text/SFX:
SFX for the most part are not translated, but there are a few times where they were subbed either in the panel or margins. The SFX are really integrated into the artwork, so leaving them untouched was the right choice, but there needs to be a full effort with the sub work. Signs and other editor’s notes do appear in the margins when appropriate.
The translation reads alright for me, although there were a couple things that stuck out just a little bit, like the ‘WOOT!’ exclamation from a character in the background in one panel. The grades are translated using the American system. There is a good amount of dialogue amongst the gang members that has a street style of vernacular, sentences like "You want we should" and other colloquialisms.Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Gung-Gun Nam, who goes by the nickname Gun, is a 17-year old transfer student who is trying to escape a past filled with fights, expulsions, and all around bad memories. He made a name for himself at his previous school that has elevated his legendary status amongst some of the students at his new school, Northern Arts. Hoping for a fresh new start while making good on a promise to his mother, Gun gets a room for rent at the Lucky Residence, a dormitory that is managed by cute 17-year old girl named Seung-Ah. Life would be looking good for Gun at this point, but having the rabid sex kitten Ji-Ae Lee and heavy metal freeloader Sung-Rae Roh as neighbors with the Northern Arts gang members on his tail is going to make things quite difficult.
Lights Out so far is mostly an oddball romantic comedy that mixes in some elements of the high school gang/fighting genre that is popular in both manwha and manga. Neither element feels very fresh or interesting on its own at this point, but together they seem to distract each other’s weaknesses allowing for a mildly enjoyable story. However, with this first volume I think the focus is less on selling the reader on a strong story and instead is more about introducing a goofy and entertaining cast. Where the plot lacks, the characterizations seem to help fill in.
The romantic comedy is pretty light, mostly featuring Gun getting into trouble and having explosive nosebleeds in almost every chapter. Gun may have quite the status with other gang members, but with the ladies he is completely incompetent. He’s a pervert, but he keeps his thoughts mostly to himself and situations don’t get nearly as uncomfortable as another dorm house manwha, Couple
. When Gun arrives in town, he immediately is taken with the dormitory manager, Seung-Ah, who is very quiet and innocent but also has a bit of an edge to her as she is an avid motorcycle rider. She also becomes quite interested in Gun when he shows up, but immediately becomes jealous once Ji-Ae begins to sink her man-fangs into Gun. Ji-Ae is a man-eater. She really has no interest in Gun other than he is the closest man to her. She gets off on teasing men and driving them into a frenzy, but who knows if she really has any interest in a real relationship. Finally, to only complicate matters, Gun also grabs the attention of Mina Kim while taking care of one of Northern Art’s gang bosses in a game of fisticuffs. Mina Kim may look sweet on the outside, but she is a delinquent that is fresh out of juvenile detention where she spent time for robbing and thieving. With Ji-Ae, Mina, the gang bangers, and the constant pranks of 26-year old dorm mate Sung-Rae, Gun is never going to get to have an alone moment with Seung-Ah.
The other side of Lights Out is the high school gang element that is also kept pretty light, but interjects some fun action scenes in between the romantic hijinks. It is all quite basic at this point; new kid in town draws the ires of the current crew of Northern Arts and they want to prove themselves against Gun. Gun has a bit of a quick temper that he is trying to work on due to a promise to his mother to straighten out his life. However, even if he takes punches, the sight of blood will set him off. The fights though aren’t all serious and filled with posing brutes. There is a lot of slapstick humor and sight gags thrown in that keeps the scenes from becoming too testosterone filled.Comments
I was not quite taken with Myung-Jin Lee’s Lights Out after my first pass, but after successive readings there is something quite odd and quirky about this title that sits quite well with me. The dormitory romantic comedy and high school gang elements are nothing really exciting or fresh here, but the mix of them together seems to help hide each other’s weaknesses. The focus is less on plot and much more on introducing quite an oddball cast that are definitely memorable. I really enjoy the opposing personalities of the characters; Seung-Ah’s pure face while riding a motorcycle in her leather jacket, the sweet-looking Mina who is a complete delinquent, and Gun is quite the goofball on the outside who is trying to run from a harsh past filled with fighting and trouble.
Lights Out so far is not going to bring anything new to the table, but it succeeds with fun characters and a lot of slapstick comedy and sight gags (I’m drenched in blood from all the explosive nosebleeds). The rough artwork might throw one off at first, but I really warmed up to it and preferred this over other over-toned and cold feeling manwha that I’ve read. If you like romance, slapstick comedy, gang fights, girls on bikes, and have an oddball sense of humor, this is something worth giving a shot.