Pig Bride might not revitalize the “Beauty and the Beast” genre, but it does provide a likable cast and some light, romantic entertainment.
Writer/Artist: KookHwa Huh and SuJin Kim
Translation: Jackie Oh
Adaptation: Jackie Oh
What They Say
Si-Joon has a recurring nightmare about being eight years old and lost in the woods. In his dream, he is forced to marry a strange girl whose face is obscured behind a pig mask. Unsettling as it is, at least it's just a dream... On his sixteen birthday, though, the girl with the pig mask appears in his room -- declaring that she's come to share their first night together as husband and wife!
Pig Bride’s packaging is undeniably… happy. The cover shot of Mu-Yeon and Si-Joon is lovely, and done in a mix of pastels and bright colors, which wraps around to the back cover. The back side of the book, aside from the traditional summary and continuation of the front cover artwork, has a cute SD illustration of the two main characters that sums up much of their interaction throughout the volume. Yen has included a fold-out color illustration at the front of the book which, although pleasant, doesn’t compare with the bright and lovely cover. Paper and ink are the same high quality found in most of Yen’s releases. The SFX translations are a little strange, as each effect is subtitled with an English gloss, but only the first of any given sound effect is translated on one page. It does mean that slightly less of the artwork is obscured, but it’s a switch from the usual.
The artwork, like most shoujo romances, is character-focused; while all the teenagers are attractive, the older and younger characters look more like caricatures than anything else. Backgrounds are usually non-existent, but there is plenty of flowing hair and sparkly eyes to make up for it. Even the frame layouts, which are mostly nothing out of the ordinary, have their flashes of quality. Rather than being bad, it’s merely uneven, with some truly lovely pages and some mediocre ones.
Si-Joon Lee has long been haunted by the same nightmare: he’s eight years old and at a boring summer camp, when he wanders off, gets lost and hungry, and then is blackmailed (with food) to marry a strange girl in a pig mask, all because their ancestors were once married and he‘s the only one who can break the curse that‘s been placed on the girl! Thankfully, his real life is nothing like that; he and his best friend, Ji-Oh, are the most popular boys in school, and he’s nursing a crush on Doe-Doe, a sweet, beautiful girl in his grade. It’s no surprise to the reader, though, when the mysterious girl from eight years ago shows up--still masked--and wants to consummate their marriage. Yes, it’s a “Beauty and the Beast” set-up we’ve seen done many times over, but it works here, thanks to Si-Joon’s understandable panic and Mu-Yeon’s cluelessness.
Things get more complicated, as they always do, when Doe-Doe starts to show a more distinct interest in Si-Joon, who desperately wants his newly appeared bride to leave him alone. Ji-Oh takes it much more in stride, and strikes up an uneasy, food-based friendship with Mu-Yeon’s protector, Mu-Hwa. But high school romance isn’t the only problem that our hero faces, as he finds himself being targeted by a demon who claims to have 500 years worth of grudges against him. The odd duo of Mu-Yeon and Mu-Hwa come to his rescue, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly going to give into this “marriage” thing. Unfortunately for him, his parents seem fairly insistent on the idea, too, when they find out that if Si-Joon doesn’t marry Mu-Yeon, he’s likely to die within the year… What’s a guy to do?
By the end of Pig Bride’s first chapter, you’ll know where the romantic half of the story is headed. Sure, there’s one obvious love triangle, and another one brewing by the end of the volume, but the end results are clear. The fantasy elements provide some more mystery to the plot, but are not strong enough to carry the volume. However, it doesn’t need to. No matter how predictable the overall plot might be, the character interactions in Pig Bride are the main attraction. None of the characters are incredibly developed yet, and most of them fulfill basic stereotypes (the beautiful, odd samurai, the emotionally distant best friend, the school’s “queen bee” that is far more than she seems), but they’re all quite endearing. The author and artist manage to make even Mu-Yeon, with her tragic past and unwavering devotion to Si-Joon, likable, and watching Si-Joon and Ji-Oh soften towards the two strange girls is a treat. I’m not ready to declare this series a classic yet, because it just hasn’t done enough with the plot, but it’s a good start to what looks to be a cute fantasy-laced romance.