Ryu Ryang – Yen Press – 2009 – 5+ volumes
If I pretend the first volume doesn’t exist, this isn’t so bad. Ji-Hae is nowhere near as infuriating with her blatant disregard for everybody else’s feelings. If you forget that being a creepy stalker is what got her into this mess, her steady drive towards hooking up with her “soulmate” is fairly straightforward here, made even better by the fact that Ji-Hae is a strong character that is willing to stand up for herself to get what she wants.
She’s also not shy about meeting new people and trying out new experiences. Bub-Min, the future king, helps her out quite a bit, and puts her on the path to making things right with her parents and posing as a male in order to get closer to and train with Ja-Yun. While Ji-Hae still only has eyes for Ja-Yun, it seems like there’s a possible future connection between she and Bub-Min. That’s always exciting, especially given Bub-Min’s future. And Ji-Hae is acting more like a real person, not so selfish, covering for unusual behavior patterns, and trying to fit in.
This second volume was… just all right, though. I hated the first volume so much that it’s almost like the series is starting from scratch here, and what we get here is a good starting point, but there’s still nothing terribly engaging. I feel like I need one more volume to see how the characters develop, whether the supernatural will or won’t play a role, and how history factors into the character’s decisions. There are many interesting things in play here, but seeing all of the potential wasted in the first volume makes me a little weary of the future.
Ryu Ryang – Yen Press – 2009 – 5+ volumes
Yikes. This first volume was rotten. I picked this up in an attempt to snag all five volumes of a Korean shoujo series, so I could marathon it. Yen Press has an excellent track record, and I think I’ve enjoyed every one of the Korean series I’ve picked up from them. The reason I wanted all five volumes together is that I find myself wishing for more after marathoning two or three, and five is a wonderful length to read the entirety of a title. But the fact that I hated the first volume doesn’t bode well for the rest. edit: actually, this series is more than five volumes, I found out, so I lose all around.
It sounds like it might be good. A girl is hated so much by the object of her desire he causes her to fall down the steps and die. Because of the strength of her love, she is revived in a past life to try and win the heart of her beloved in that time, since she doesn’t want to return to the present and an utterly broken heart.
The problem is that the main character, Ji-Hae, is just… I don’t know, a criminal stalker and really, really stupid? As shallow as some heroines are, there are very few who I have trouble getting behind. But Ji-Hae is one of the few and proud. Her devotion to her crush, Seung-Hyu? He’s turned her down before. And again. And again. He’s actually turned her down repeatedly over the course of two years. She perseveres, offering unwanted comments on his appearance and how great he is, in addition to gifts and other uncomfortable attention. She’s not shy, either, and seems to do this kind of thing frequently, but is not charismatic enough to pull it off. So what we’re left with is a stalking situation, which culminates on Seung-Hyu’s birthday, complete with embarrassing banner on the front of the school, confetti shower, and a note that says “Forever you are mine, you can’t get away.”
Now, if I had told someone for two years straight that I had no interest whatsoever, I’d have to say that this might be the last straw for me, too. He doesn’t push her down the stairs intentionally, she falls after Seung-Hyu steps aside to avoid a running tackle while she tries to apologize to him. He feels quite bad about it afterwards, but yes, it does kill her.
After this introduction, I’ll be very disappointed if Seung-Hyu falls for her in the end. She really, really doesn’t deserve it.
So. Ji-Hae meets the Gods in the afterlife, who take pity on her and bring her back to life, telling her they’d send her to a point in the past where she could make amends. I took this to mean a point earlier in her school career, since at no point are past lives mentioned. So I was confused for quite a bit when the Ancient Korea stuff started. I didn’t understand that she was supposed to make past Seung-Hyu fall for her in this time period until I read the back cover and re-interpreted the words. Bah.
And she’s no less annoying in the past. She immediately cuts her hair, because long hair is not her style. When she grasps the situation, and that cutting her hair is an abnormal thing to do in the past, rather than trying to blend in and say it was an accident or something, she continues to insist that it’s just who she is. She makes no effort to pass herself off as a regular citizen of the time period, and is thought to be insane by the family of the girl she took over. She also makes a nuisance of herself for several people, ignores all the rules of dress and sticks out even more, and when she finally does meet Seung-Hyu, lies to him immediately in such a way that she is found out in less than twenty pages.
So… why should I care about anything Ji-Hae does? Why am I rooting for her? She does nothing to help herself, and cares little about Seung-Hyu’s feelings. I don’t even feel like reading further to see her fail, because I’m sure she won’t. There is one other person that expresses interest in her, and maybe the plot of the series will be about him turning her into a decent person. I’ve got four more volumes to read, so I hope that’s the case.