Seduction More Beautiful Than Love 1
July 22, 2010
Lee Hyeon-Sook – Tokyopop – 2008 – 2+ volumes
This was one of the titles that came out during the great Tokyopop manhwa meltdown of ’08. Better titles than this lost their forward momentum (Hotel Africa, for one), but this one sounded pretty hot and heavy, and when I saw it on sale recently I thought I’d give the two volumes that came out a spin.
It is pretty intense stuff, and is one of the only series I’ve read that I’ve forgiven for being a teacher-student relationship. Daoun, a new teacher, begins to come under heavy and creepy courtship from Ryumin, one of her students. She brushes him off vigorously, but he comes on strong, sometime skewing his aim to keep her guessing about his intentions. He’s a mysterious boy, and gets along “well” with at least one of the female students. Daoun is smart enough to know to stay away, but the lingering pauses after Ryumin’s occasional acts of kindness, combined the artful way the panels are composed that screams “romance” lets you know that things will likely escalate. Realistically, it seems that Daoun has no feelings for Ryumin whatsoever, but all the nuances scream otherwise.
Complicating things (as things must be complicated) is a former college classmate of Daoun’s showing up to teach at the same school. He’s carried a torch for Daoun since he met her, but she has absolutely no feelings for him, either. He also manages to anger Ryumin, who begins acting jealous whenever he sees the two of them together. This character is rather hopeless at this point, but he’s interesting for what he brings out in Ryumin.
Ryumin’s an interesting character. He plays a genuinely mysterious beau whose real intent is completely ambiguous at the end of the first volume. At this point, if things were turned around and Ryumin was really just an aggressive creep, it would still fit. But he does a variety of nice things for Daoun anonymously, and Daoun seems to do her part by keeping Ryumin company at key times and listening to his various problems.
Ryumin is also a true romantic, and as I said, the nice art with excellent composition helps turn his various acts of kindness into something with a lot of hidden meaning. From loaning out his coat to lending an ear to tricking Daoun into a tutoring session, Ryumin has a number of approaches he uses. He is a little bit of a creep, but that hint of danger, combined with just a hint of silliness from Daoun, helps balance things out well.
But… after the first volume, other than nailing the atmosphere and artwork, nothing else about it really stands out. As interesting as they are, neither Ryumin nor Daoun is particularly likable at this stage, and no interesting plot developments have taken hold yet. There’s also not really a strong voice to the dialogue or storytelling, so there’s not much to keep the reader going. It’s pretty, but there are far better things out there. I got about what I expected, but my thresholds are pretty low.
I’m curious to see how far the story gets in two volumes. Is it an epic that goes on for ten more volumes? Maybe it wraps up in three? Maybe it’s a typical 5- to 7-volume series? I have no idea, but it’s interesting enough that I’ll probably read the second volume tonight.