Yeah, things got off to a pretty amazing start in this volume. After some preliminaries where the boys fool Buok and introduce themselves to one another, the actual training to be idols gets underway. Aside from being innately talented, none of them know the first thing about making real music, so they start out several steps behind everyone else in the competition.
Most of this volume is spent introducing the eccentricities of the characters… most of the focus is put on Raeyong, the youngest member. He’s pretty extreme and more than a little nuts. He frequently goes off on tangents, has random outbursts, and does things like wear newspaper hats to school. This is explained in the book as a manic-depressive personality, but it seems to go far beyond that. Dal Bong and Mickey hit it off right away despite the fact that Mickey is mistaken for a woman, and Chul sits back and watches everyone do their thing. Their roles in music don’t come up until the very end of the volume, but their collaboration on their song of choice (a fictional concept album called “Swan Song,” which features a song that builds on itself until it finishes with an amazing flourish that culminated in the band members committing suicide immediately after). They all squabble and go back and forth about other songs, but they all four agree that Swan Song is the one they absolutely must perform for the first leg of the competition.
There are other complications, too. Myung-Ja has been blacklisted by most of her music industry contacts by Dukchool, the one who stands to take control of the company if she fails to fulfill the terms of her father’s will. As a result, the group can’t get real insturments and doesn’t get a new recording studio. But it seems like the boys are pretty happy with what they had in the end.
The only complaints I had were, surprisingly, with the art. I loved Chon’s art in DVD, and I didn’t notice so much in the first volume of Audition, but she uses a lot of techniques/bad habits that took me years to learn to stop doing. One of the things that bothers me most is “high hair,” women with hair that is laying down, but it’s laying down on a skull that is much higher than it should be. There are also likely intentional abnormalities with the positioning of the features on the face that bother me. There are lots of art faux pas that I forgive, but non-stylized anatomy blunders are a big no-no for me.
But I’m dying to see the boys in the competition and where they go musically from here. It’s clear that Big Stuff is in store, so I hope that volume three sees the light of day somewhere, somehow.
I’ve wavered about buying this series for years. On one hand, I really, really liked DVD, Kye Young Chon’s other series. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s a very good chance that volume 3 and up will come out in English, which is unfortunate. Curiosity won out in the end.
This one is… kind of weird, but not as weird as DVD. It starts off with two women who were friends/enemies in school. Buok runs a (rather unsuccessful) PI business, and is nonplussed to see her old classmate Myung-ja walk in. Myung-ja confesses that her eccentric father, head of one of the largest music production companies in Korea, left a stipulation in his will for Myung-ja’s inheritance. He vaguely describes four boys he met over the years who were musical geniuses in different ways. In order to inherit the company, Myung-ja has to track down the boys through the poor notes that her father kept in his diary, get them together in a musical group, and win a gigantic nationwide American Idol-like competition. Not just place, but win. If she can’t do this, she doesn’t get a single red cent of her dad’s money and can’t touch his music business.
This is actually pretty ridiculous, and it gets even weirder when the hints for each boy are things like “Met him on the train tracks in such-and-such town. He told me about hearing certain notes in nature and matching up the sounds into complex chords. He ran off before I could get his name. Amazing.” Also: “Saw a boy nearly drown while I was on the beach at such-and-such location. He had an incredibly loud voice. Didn’t get his name.” The two girls are, of course, successful at finding each of the boys, and it’s kind of fun to see them pick up on little details. For instance, the boy who nearly drowned had a rare blood type that they tracked him with, and some of the hints for the boys send them bouncing around from place to place interviewing all sorts of people that slowly reveal the life and background of each boy.
None of them really agree to Myung-ja’s plan, however, and the book ends a few days before the audition deadline for the prelim competition. One or two of the boys are considering it, but the outlook is grim. Since this is a fictional series, I’m pretty sure that we can count on all four of them gathering next volume, but I am extremely curious about the structure of the series from there. The story is unusual, it’s got a great sense of humor, and admittedly, I like series about boy bands. Hopefully volume 2 will offer a peek into what the rest of the series will be like.