Short story collections in manga and manhwa are a rare thing and a collection by the talented Hee Jung Park should especially be celebrated.
Writer/Artist: Hee Jung Park
Translator: Woo Sok Park
Adaptation: Jamie S. Rich
What They Say:
From Hee Jung Park comes ten stories of love, sadness, longing and alienation. A young man finds himself continuously drawn into the orbit of future suicide victims, while another finds redemption in an unlikely ally. And an apathetic lover can only enliven his pallid relationship with the crimson color of blood...
What We Say:
The cover for Too Long is fairly subtle. The light-coloured character art on the front and back portray love, angst and longing—in other words, drama. It sums up the manhwa's contents pretty nicely and serves its purpose well. Fans of dramatic material will know exactly what they're getting into and everyone else will know that this isn't the latest issue of Naruto. Tokyopop doesn't offer any extras after the stories, but Too Long clocks in at nearly 300 pages for the price of an average manga ($9.99 USD).
Hee Jung Park has always had a distinctive art style. If you liked what you say in Fever and Hotel Africa, you'll feel right at home. What's more, Park tries new styles in Too Long; each one of her short stories is paired up with a drawing style that matches it. “Crybaby Angel”, told in the manner of a fairy tale, features doe-eyed angels. “The Music Box,” which tells of a child's loss, is thick-lined and innocent.
Hee Jung Park's influx of story-oriented works mean that we've had a rare opportunity to become attached to a manga-ka through both her art and her writing. The translation is adapted well, with characters changing voice depending on who they are and their situation.
True to Tokyopop's standard practise, Too Long's sound effects remain in untranslated Japanese. Occasionally, word balloons get a little cramped and hard to read, but it's not a frequent problem.
Too Long includes ten sort stories that aren't necessarily linked to each other, but contain similar themes of loneliness, alienation, childlike vigour and the experience of simply being alive. The stories range from romance to family ties and even delve into science fiction and fantasy. Despite the fantastic nature of some of the stories, most of them are easy to relate to.
I'm always on the lookout for good manga short story collections. Such collections tend to be as rare as faeries, since the manga format is well-designed to carry on a series for volumes. Hee Jung Park's natural ability to tell a good short story drew me to Hotel Africa and I'm happy to see that her talent remains strong throughout Too Long.
Not every story in the collection is an award-winner, but you'll definitely come away remembering at least two or three. I find myself still thinking frequently of “Eoheulli,” the story of a mother who needs to reunite with her long-lost son in order to save his life. Likewise, “Music Box,” the story of a girl who loses her deaf-mute father at sea, is very bittersweet.
Though some stories, such as the opener, “Blood,” tend to be confusing, Too Long is a must-have for anyone craving a one-shot manga full of humanity.