PhD Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B/F
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59532-319-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

PhD Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     March 31, 2005
Release Date: January 11, 2005


PhD Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Son Hee-Joon
Translated by:Sarah Kim
Adapted by:

What They Say
Sang is a fearlessly spunky young girl in search of the Demon School Hades. Fortunately for her, she comes across a group of misfit monsters that are ditching class from the Demon School. She convinces them to sneak her into the class that normally only allows monsters to attend. Mystery, intrigue and high jinks unfold as Sang finds a way to become a monster--and begins a fantastic adventure in a devilish domain!


The Review
Packaging:
The cover art features artwork from the original Korean release, although it has been modified a bit. Sang is on the cover doing her cute pose with Dev and Norta behind her. The background image of the book is parchment paper, attempting to give the book that ancient legend feel. Volume and chapter headers are present, and at the end of the book is a little preview featuring two pages with panels from the next volume. Tones are dark and the print job is a good one.


Art:
For a world filled with devils, vampires, and werewolves, the artwork is very cute and humorous. The characters designs can best be described as compacted, with short bodies, wide heads with big wide-eyes and in Norta’s case wide hips. The line art is thick and dark, which creates a pretty stark contrast with the backgrounds, while also being extremely clean. The designs really get across the fantasy/comedy feel that the manga is billed as. There is some background art, but with a world that is set at a Demon School in Hades, I’d like a bit more to help bring out the fantasy feel. The action art is okay, I actually felt it was a little static although it seemed to get a bit better towards the end.


Text/SFX:
Pull up a chair, this is going to take a while. There are a lot of name changes here. The original title of this manwha was “Master School Olympus”. The following names are the new character names with original names in parentheses: Dev (Des), Fatalis (Deadly), Mordicus (Hyo), Pannus Tyrannus (Tyrant), Lukan (Hook/Fang), Henduh Khyung (Henduh Kyung). The last one is the most confusing as a Korean name was changed to another Korean word because the extra ‘h’ makes that word represent nobility. I also have a feeling that Norta, the sexy female demon, was not her original name. The names have basically been sexed up with derivatives of Latin, Greek, and Persian words, or just changed to another Korean word. I actually like the creativity in picking the names, but the way that the reasons for the new names were conveyed I found to bother me immensely.

At the end of the book is a word from the editor, Paul Morrissey, that attempts to explain the name changes. He tries to pass off this story as some great legend which through the “passage of time” which like all other great legends are altered. There even is an attempt to draw a parallel with the Greek legend of Zues and how the Romans changed his name to Jupiter. Oh, well, if the Romans can do it, so can Tokyopop!! My jaw dropped when I read this. There are then pages that have character sketches of the ones whose names have changed with a summary of why the change was made. The reason for Deadly’s name change evidently can only be understood if you know Latin, because “if you know Latin, you’d realize that Fatalis is the perfect name change..”. Or better yet, the reason for Hyo’s name change is, “It’s arguably creepier and more menacing than his original name”. Thanks for letting me know. I really don’t think I need to go on any further. If this is some joke that I am missing, let me know, otherwise reading this left me feeling insulted.

The SFX are subbed in the margins near the panels the originals were in. I liked this method as there is no extra artwork covered up and I don’t have to flip back to a glossary. The dialogue translation flows along clearly and the humor comes across nicely, but there are a few colloquialisms and phrases that I question. I don’t have the original text or know Korean to compare, but after seeing what happened with the names, I have a feeling my gut is right.


Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
When Sang, a foreign human girl, arrives at the Demon School in Hades, she comes in contact with four monsters who are students. However, they aren’t very intimidating. Dev is a devil with small horns, Mordicus is a vampire who isn’t even a pure blood, Lukan is a werewolf who couldn’t even scare a squirrel, and Pannus is a mummy that has zero scare-factor. She convinces them to take her to their school, but since she is a human Mordicus offers to bite her in order to turn her into a monster so she can enter, although unknowingly to Mordicus it doesn’t really work. After arriving at the school, trouble breaks out as they run into a rival gang of devils who try to bully the 5 of them. But even worse, a couple of mysterious humans wearing white robes show up and start killing off the students, tearing off the horns from the devils and wielding great magic! Now the student monsters must start fighting back, and Sang starts to show off some of her true talents.

I admit I had a lot of fun reading this title. It’s extremely simple, but I enjoyed the cute characters and the Harry-Potter-In-Hell fantasy setting. Sang is a really fun character to watch as she plays the innocent, idiot savant role brilliantly in the beginning of this story. It is obvious that she knows more than she leads on, and they way she portrays herself to others offers a lot of laughs. There is a good amount of humor here with funny one-liners and wise cracks with a mix of super-deformed designs and hyper reactions. There is also plenty of action with all the fights, and things take a quick dark turn towards the end of the book when the two members of the Madosa Guild show up.

Comments
There is a lot to enjoy with this opening volume of PhD. The characters are cute and lively with Sang stealing the show. The fantasy setting in Hades mixed with the comedy makes for a fun and unique setup for a story. There is also plenty of interesting questions brought up about this world and unknown mysteries about characters that I am interested in reading more.

However, the name changes and bogus reasons explained in the back of the book leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. I will most likely never understand or agree with name changes, but I do appreciate it when changes are made that an attempt is made to communicate the reasons for the changes. What I don’t appreciate is being given the reasons for those changes in a condescending tone or having my intelligence insulted. I don’t need to be told that the changes are cool or better. Just a simple note, explaining the reasons why, will suffice.

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