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Annarasumanara – Ha Il Kwon

It takes a couple of attempts before you can say the title…

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At school there is a rumour of a strange man who claims to be a magician who lives in an abandoned fun-fair; however Yun Ai, an extremely poor honours student, does not have time for such nonsense. She is far more concerned about where she can get the next meal for her and her sister from and the compromise between buying rice and replacing her hole-ridden tights. If anything, she wants to grow up faster so that she can escape the situation. That is, until one day she stumbles into the  fun-fair and she is asked the question: “Do you believe in magic?”

Okay, let’s start with the basics. This is a Korean webtoon and the artwork is freaking brilliant. It embraces what it is and uses the fact that it was created on a computer to its advantage, instead of pretending that it’s just a colour manwha with computerised buildings in the background. As well as good use of effects and patterns, the entire thing is in black and white with splashes of colour used for dramatic effect (Ai’s lips and L’s postbox) that really underlines the delicate and distinct draughstmanship of the characters themselves. I also love how each character’s personality/mental state (even relatively minor ones) is reflected in the use of lines – this makes more sense the further you go along in the story. There is absolutely no way in hell that you could mistake Annarasumanara for anything else, it has its own truly distinctive style – which something very few artists in this field ever achieve, see Yuki Kaori and Lee Nicky other Far Eastern exemplars, so hats off to Ha Il Kwon for joining this distinguished band. With a webtoon, of all things.

The story has quite a nice pace to it, but there is at least one character change which takes place a bit suddenly and events do escalate and resolve themselves in the denouement equally suddenly. Otherwise, it’s a very affecting tale about trying to control your own destiny and the value of childish things in a constricting world controlled by faintly sinister adults. It’s about the constant fight of the eccentric individual against a conventional and narrow-minded society that fears and attempts to destroy what it doesn’t understand; against this backdrop, the personal stories of the three protagonists make perfect sense and become all the more affecting. Watch out for the character of Na Il Deung, his transformation is very effective and is one of my favourite moments in the story.

4 out of 5, on account of dramatic pacing issues where events and character development are concerned. But all the same, read it. It really is very good.

Tune in next time folks!

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