You Hyun – Tokyopop – 2004 – 20+ volumes
I impulse-bought the first volume of this series after I found out the artist was the same person who wrote Laon. Unfortunately, I forgot that there were two people involved with the creation of Laon, and the artist was different. The art in Laon is quite good, whereas the art in Faeries’ Landing is… not quite as good. Mostly it’s just dated, with dated clothing, hairstyles, and character designs. That’s not its fault. But the layouts are a little too chaotic for my taste, too. That might just be a symptom of the age, though. I think the first volume of this series is fairly old, and the newer volumes still come out to this day. I’m willing to bet the art evolves quite a bit over the run of the series, so I don’t want to judge it too harshly on this first volume.
There are… other things, too. On one hand, I really like the main character. Ryang is a pretty great guy. He’s tough without being a punk, he can stand up for himself without being mean, and he’s even a little bit of a ladies’ man without being a creep or romancer. Basically, he’s a better-than-average guy that’s normal in every way. It’s rare to see a character like him without any exaggerated characteristics.
The faeries are a different story, though. There’s Goodfellow, a mischievous deer-man that likes stealing panties and leads Ryang to the Faeries’ Landing as a reward for helping him get away from the police. There’s Fanta, who is a fairly bland spunky girl and the main female character. There’s her loud, obnoxious, annoying rival, that enters at the end of the book. There’s a couple female classmates that are just about the stereotypical bully and nerd (their bonding over a video game character and a grumpy boyfriend saves them from being complete stereotypes, though). So far, none of these characters are a good match for Ryang, or even that interesting. Ryang’s too much a regular guy to hold everything together himself, so I was disappointed that even Fanta wasn’t more fleshed out by the end of the first volume.
The plot… is also not great. After Ryang tears Fanta’s dress at Faeries’ Landing, she’s “stuck” in the human world (something she’d been hoping for) and goes everywhere with Ryang. Turns out that since she’s stuck her nose in his life, Ryang is now doomed to have 108 failed relationships that border on dangerous. But these don’t become dangerous until Fanta’s rival enters the picture and curses Ryang. Now every girl that sees Ryang falls desperately in love with him, so that he has to fight off girls fighting amongst themselves as well as said girls’ boyfriends.
It’s mostly comedy so far, but hasn’t really found a good voice. The humor, like the art, is dated, and most of the jokes are over-the-top reactions that fall completely flat. It does have a strange charm to it, though, and the jokes that aren’t falling flat are measuring instead on some sort of bizarre-o-meter.
I should also mention that the Tokyopop translation is also… a little dated. Ryang calls Fanta “shorty,” and keeps making references to furries and other buzzwords of the late 90s-early 00s. It’s got a really, really punchy adaptation. Normally I like it when so much work goes into the adaptation, but this is a little over-the-top for my taste. I’m guessing it’ll probably tone itself down as the series progresses, though. This literally came out right up until Tokyopop closed down this year, so there’s several years worth of evolution to go here.
But having said all that, I still want to read more. As I said, Ryang’s a really great character, and a non-lame male main character can go a long way in shounen comedy. The series biggest sin seems to be that it came out too long ago (interesting that even Korean series share some of the same elements that date other comics), and I suspect that it will get significantly better as the volumes keep going. It also seems to have a small but very devoted set of fans, and I like to think that there has to be something later that inspires that devotion. Plus, I have a soft spot for fantasy series set in modern times, which this is.
The first volume was a rough start, but I think I’m going to keep reading. I suspect patience will be rewarded in this case.