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Awhile back, I was mentioning a bunch of manga that I wanted to list and talk about. I only mentioned one, being "I Am A Hero," which just released two more volumes and continues to blow me away at how the character is fleshed out.

I found two more volumes that I wanted to mention; one I didn't mention because the second series isn't as appealing to me as the first and the other I kept forgetting the name of.

The first is this manga called The Breaker.

In all honesty, it's a fairly generic manga in terms of story. Boy gets beaten up and abused on a daily basis, inadvertently encounters an unlikely mentor, and ends up becoming a part of a world he never realized. In this world, the flip coin side to our real world is that of Murim: which is a martial arts alliance that allows superhuman strength and abilities that go beyond normal human limitations. But that's not what interests me about it either.

What makes this manga so good is that it's a genuine underdog story. From chapter one until the near end the main character is a pure kid with no real power. In contrast, a significant number of people in the story are dicks. There is a major identity issue of only the ambitious becoming the powerful from both the real world and the Murim one, and you can really sympathize with the characters along the way as a result.

The other is art. While I sometimes see the tinge of fanservice normally expected in this kind of thing, the art is genuinely gorgeous and portrays the fights surprisingly cleanly despite all the effort to show the power of what is happening. Artist Park Jin-Hwan understands the way to use the panels to his advantage and doesn't hesitate to show things that way. Most artists rarely understand how to give the sense of motion without it becoming messy, and a fair number of American comics suffer from it as a result. The Breaker is one of the few out there that I genuinely shake my head at how beautiful some of it comes out.

Despite its popularity around the internet though, it still is not seeing any potential distribution overseas, which is shocking. Although I don't know if I'd feel comfortable having a shelf full of his works, I would genuinely buy them anyway as appreciation for putting so much love and attention to his art and in trying to maintain the storyline.

One other thing I should add that I find is a good point of contention is that with his second series, "New Waves," the writer has done one things very few authors for these type of stories managed to do: he managed to find a way to maintain tension with the main character despite the hopeful future of the previous story without it getting bigger and bigger until it became an endless wang-sizing competition. Most authors can not seem to do that, and for this, I give Jeon Geuk-Jin a lot of credit.

The second volume I would like to mention is a Chinese manhwa named Knite.

Surrounding the theme of a polluted China that continues to fill their skies with smog, Knite is a story of a protest of sorts through kite running along the poisoned skies. The pacing of the story leaves much to be desired despite the original story, but there's one thing about it that keeps me mentioning it.


While the visuals tends to lend itself to spreads and recycled backgrounds, the watercolor tones and fisheye-style visuals lend itself to be more art book than manhwa. And the thing is that this isn't just isolated to single spreads: the art page by page is utterly gorgeous and bears a cinematic quality to it.

I would normally not bother with this kind of title just because of the script, but even if the dialogue bores me, it's a well-made title that still leaves me wanting to look at what other pieces Yan Wenqing did along this way. To be fair, maybe it's slow going to begin with and will pick up as I continue further, but I still can not help but gape at the imagery.

So there you go, two more titles I think very highly about. I've got a few others that I think pretty highly of, but I'll save that for another day.
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February 2014

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