Whilst my review of The One doesn’t make me want to cry quite so much as some of my other earlier reviews, it is brutal in its brevity. This is a phase when I was trying to get two or three shorter reviews out a day, and didn’t realise that I hadn’t really done much more than a plot summary, with a yay or nay and a justification attached.
Cane Lele is finally going to try and make it big in the modelling industry. For years she has resisted the pull of her dead parents’ profession and the entreaties of her Aunt, thinking it a frivolous, easy job; but a photo of one of the biggest stars in the industry, Angus Lanson, has finally persuaded her that fashion photography and modelling are art-forms in their own right. Nevertheless, nothing was ever given to anyone on a silver platter and Lele has a steep learning curve ahead if she wants to break out of Taiwan, – however that’s nothing compared to the weird and wonderful people she’ll meet along the way, and the situations she’ll be pulled into as a result. But nothing is going to stop Lele in her quest to become… THE ONE!*
One advantage I have over when I first reviewed this is that it’s actually finished now. Huzzah. So, I actually have a better overall perspective and I’m not in thrall to “what happens next?!” syndrome. Double huzzah. My opinion on the artwork is basically unchanged, it’s still absolutely gorgeous and utterly unique to Nicky Lee and she uses it well to create the atmosphere and feel that she wants for each part of the story. Something I noticed over the course of re-reading is that Lele’s character design does change subtly over the course of the manhua, beyond superficial changes in hair length and image; Lee actually allows Lele to physically grow up. She allows for the fact that we are essentially seeing a young woman between the ages of 15 and 23 (I think) develop from an elfin androgynous teenager, to a certified badass supermodel with curves and muscles. You’d be amazed how rare it is for artists to actually reflect the ageing of the characters, unless there has been a massive time-jump.
One of the strengths of the story is its strong characters, Lele being chief among them. Her physical growth is mirrored by her growth as a character throughout the course of the story, however whilst she does change and develop and grow stronger, she remains recogniseably the Lele we were introduced to in chapter one.All of the supporting cast are quirky and memorably-designed; however my one criticism is that any antagonistic characters become outright two-dimensional the minute they become “evil.”
The story does suffer a little towards the final arc from being artificially prolonged by a conflict which feels equally artificial, and has the air of being an excuse to keep the main couple seperated just a little while longer, – just whilst Lee fulfills the last few chapters that her contract requires. But, it’s still a solid ending and I would certainly recommend giving it a read, particularly of you like plots where the romance is integrated and not the only thing going on. There’s also a lovely little Easter Egg at the very end to confirm to long-time Lee fans that all of her works really do take place in the same universe, and not just the two music-themed ones.
*I’ve always wanted to do that,