One Thousand and One Nights 9

February 9, 2010

HanSeungHee / Jeon JinSeok – Yen Press – 2009 – 11 volumes

Hooray!  This is one of my favorite Korean series, and I’m very happy to see the story reaching its conclusion.  I knew it would take a little time with this series, due to its nature of telling a story that parallels its own, and with two volumes left, there are some pretty catastrophic-looking goings-on in the main storyline, along with a translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms given to General Macleod by Sehara.

I… was shocked, to say the least, by the fates of Shahryar, Shazaman, and Fatima in this volume.  Jafar finally unearths the secret of Fatima, and it is very disturbing, to say the least.  I need more perspective on it, actually, so that I’m sure of what was happening.  Elsewhere, Shahryar and Shazaman face off in the middle of a bizarre storm, and their fight is cut with scenes from their childhood.  At this point, Shahryar is the “good guy” and a completely sympathetic character, which is an amazing feat considering how many women he slayed at the beginning of the story.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that at this point I’m not sure how the story will put the pieces back together for a happy ending.  I’m not going to complain either way, and I’m looking forward to the surprise that looks to be in store.  I’m hoping that the next volume will give more hints to the finale, but it may just contain a lot more of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story.

I was a little worried when that tale started, because I’ve tried Romance of the Three Kingdoms before, and just could not get into it.  Too many characters, and the author points out in the end notes that it is a very masculine story with masculine motives.  Hilariously, the writer also points out how homoerotic these stories can be because of that, and puts a rather unambiguous spin on two of the characters for the retelling here.  Like we didn’t see that coming.

I read over the introduction to the story three times, but I’m still not positive of all the character relationships.  Basically, we have Jo.  He’s… uh, King.  He’s also currently host to Woo Kwon, an ally of one of his enemies.  I think.  Woo Kwon is grateful for Jo’s hospitality, but is only staying until he can find his allies again.  Jo is rather enamoured of Woo Kwon in a shoujo manga way, and makes this pretty plain, but Woo Kwon only has thoughts for his allies.  Lots of fights and stuff take place.  There is also a close advisor to the King that helps him try to catch Woo Kwon’s attention and who hopes to replace him when he inevitably goes back to his allies.  As confused as I was by some of what was going on, I can still see what’s going on, and I’m curious about where the second half of the story will go, since it stopped in a pretty good place.

Again, I absolutely love the storytelling techniques and the characters in the main storyline of this series.  I can’t get enough of it.  It’s been one of my favorites for years now.  The last two volumes just can’t come fast enough.

15 Responses to “One Thousand and One Nights 9”

  1. […] Book of Friends (Tangognat) Connie on vol. 37 of One Piece (Slightly Biased Manga) Connie on vol. 9 of One Thousand and One Nights (Slightly Biased Manga) Kristin on Phantom Dream (Comic Attack) Michael May on Talking to Strangers […]

  2. […] Connie checks out volumes one, two, and three of Pig Bride (Yen Press) as well as volume nine of One Thousand and One Nights (Yen […]

  3. Moon in Autumn Says:

    But I also don’t want it to end! Arrrggghhh! That’s the problem with good manga series that are finished, I guess.

  4. Connie Says:

    True, but I love stories like this that are plotted out from the beginning, rather than the ones that are designed to be as long or as short as necessary depending on their popularity. I love a well-told story, and I really like it when there’s not a lot of filler, like in this series, so I’m always happy to see the end of something like this.

  5. Cy Says:

    I am totally with you, Connie! This is probably my favorite current series (at least, currently in the midst of being published in the US), and one of maybe 2 or 3 manwha I’ve ever tried (the first I REALLY liked). I’m just so impressed by the maturity and skill of Jinseok Jeon’s storytelling, and Seung Hee Han’s artwork is just jaw-droppingly amazing. It really makes me sad that this series isn’t more popular. They do such a good job with the translation/adaptation too…

    But yeah, despite all these good elements and my love for the series overall, I was pretty confused about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story. I also tried to go back and re-read the beginning several times, and all I could get was what you described above. I was surprised that they just welcomed a hero of an opposing side into their camp (but, well, I guess heroes changed sides all the time during this war?), and that they all seemed to know each other despite being in different people’s armies, but… @_@; Maybe the battlefield was a lot smaller/more personal back then. Hmm…

    In any case, volume 10 (just read it! KYAAAA!!!) continues the story. I was hoping, despite my confusion, that JSJ would pull out some amazing, poignant ending to the story that would make all the confusion worth it, but… well, I’ll let you read it. It was okay, I guess. =\

    Now that OTAON is sadly coming to a close, I need something else to read and it looks like my taste is pretty close to yours. May I ask for your recs (like, your absolute FAVORITE manga of all time? :D).

  6. Connie Says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one a little lost during the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story. This series is normally so good about making these stories easy to follow, regardless of country of origin or period of history, that I was a little disappointed that I was having such trouble. I am looking forward to the second half, though, and I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion of OTAON the volume after that. It’s been a pretty great read all the way through.

    Haha, you know, my absolute favorite manga are all series that are completely different from OTAON. One Piece, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and From Eroica with Love are my top three, but I like them all for being really funny and extreme rather than having really developed characters (though, in the case of One Piece and Eroica, the characters are a huge part of why I keep coming back).

    But I could give you some recommendations for stuff based more on OTAON. If you like unusual storytelling, you might try Record of a Fallen Vampire or After School Nightmare. Record of a Fallen Vampire starts off as a pretty typical shounen vampire action story, but the story gets much weirder after the first volume, and then takes about a thousand perfectly executed twists and turns before coming to a close. It’s anything but what a general summary makes it sound like, and I loved the constant changes in perspective and sides that everything goes through. After School Nightmare is interesting because it’s very character-driven and a little bit of a cerebral read. It really digs into the identities of the characters and their weaknesses, and the characters play through all this in a bizarre symbolic dream world as a pre-requisite for “graduation.” “Graduation” is left ambiguous and becomes more and more sinister as the series progresses, but when the nature of the school is revealed in the last volume, it’s one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever read in a series. I don’t know if I liked it that much, but it was incredibly original and unexpected. As high-minded as it is, it’s also very much a shoujo romance, with a main character split between a male and female love interest throughout the story.

    I love Dokebi Bride, which uses Korean folklore in modern times to tell the story of the sad life of the main character, Sunbi, and how being gifted with traditional spritiual/shamanic powers has done her no favors in life. The inter-weaving of fantasy and reality is very similar to OTAON, and the story is well-told, so it’s definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, the story has been stalled after volume 6 for a couple years.

    If you like the angsty romance aspects of OTAON, there are a few series that you might try. Let Dai is another Korean male/male romance, and one of my favorite series of all times. I always warn that it is extremely violent and deals with really uncomfortable subject matter, but for all the terrible things that happen, there is an answer for them later. Also, the main character is prone to bouts of ridiculously lyrical meditations on the nature of his feelings, but the result of the violence and flowery declarations of love makes for the most perfect combination of romance and angst ever.

    Have you tried Goong? I always think of it together with OTAON because they are both from the same publisher and both really pretty Korean romances. Goong is about a fictitious modern Korean monarchy and a regular girl that suddenly finds herself married to the prince set to inherit the throne. Far from being a silly romantic fantasy of becoming a modern-day princess, Goong’s heroine finds herself in a palace completely devoid of any love and compassion, with scheming relatives and a very cold husband. The artwork in this series is very detailed and pretty, especially when it comes to the royal costumes, though the characters look younger and younger as the volumes go on. There are also touches of ridiculous humor that always make me laugh, even with all the drama.

    Goong has a similar look, art-wise, to OTAON. There are several series published by Yen press that have the same kind of gorgeous artwork with lots of detailed clothing and dark-eyed handsome types, but most are more contemporary romances. If you’re really into the art, you might also check out You’re So Cool and… maybe Pig Bride and Very, Very Sweet? Those last two are a little more cutesy than handsome, though. I like Pig Bride a lot, and was completely addicted after the first volume, but it’s a contemporary romance-kind of story with Korean folklore mixed in, and is a lot more silly than OTAON, so I’m not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for.

    Also, for absolutely gorgeous art, you can’t go wrong with Evyione: Ocean Fantasy, a retelling of The Little Mermaid with a merman and a princess and European period costumes. This one does come highly recommended, because both the storytelling and the art are gorgeous, but unfortunately only one volume has come out so far. Udon has promised more, but I think it wasn’t very popular and they’re looking to publish stuff that pays the bills first.

    I tend to read a lot of You Higuri, and she’s had quite a bit translated into English, including Gakuen Heaven, Seimaden, Crown, and Cantarella, but the series that made me a huge fan of hers was Ludwig II. It’s a strange, fictitious retelling of the life of Ludwig II of Bavaria. It takes the idea that he was “mad” and goes about rationalizing all the strange things he did, like pouring his country’s money into the operas of Wagner or building all sorts of elaborate castles. He’s portrayed as extremely romantic and very sympathetic, and when his madness encroaches more and more in the second volume, that’s handled well, too. Higuri is a big fan of stories rooted in history and stories that lean a little on boy’s love. There are both male and female romantic interests for Ludwig, but the primary love interest is male, and the story is set in late 19th century Europe.

    And for the heck of it, I’ll throw in a recommendation for Paradise Kiss. It’s tied with Let Dai as my favorite romance story of all time. It’s set in the present, and is about a girl who attends a very prestigious school for academic types running across a group of fashion designers that attend an art school and getting caught up in their world. There’s romance flying around with all the characters, and the climax of the story is a fashion show in the fourth volume that all the group’s work leads up to. Mostly it’s a kind of coming of age story for the main character, Yukari, and about her finding a place where she belongs. It’s drawn by Ai Yazawa, one of my favorite artists, and she has a knack for capturing all the eccentricities and little embellishments that go along with being fashion students in an art school. It’s only five volumes long, and I’ve probably read it about a dozen times over the years.

    Hope that helps, let me know if you wind up trying any of these!

  7. Cy Says:

    Thanks for the recs, Connie! :D Wow, I feel like I’m in the presence of a true manga guru (well, considering how many series you’ve read and reviewed here, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised! ^^).

    You know what’s funny? After posting my first comment, I poked around the tag list running down the side of your blog and randomly clicked on a few titles to read your reviews. I actually hit on Record of the Fallen Vampire (coincidentally, I’d read the first volume in Japanese and didn’t realize it was that! Will definitely go pick it up upon your rec & reviews~) and Evyione myself! :D Hearing your additional rec, I will definitely be checking those 2 out.

    After School Nightmare sounds AMAZING. Have you seen the Utena movie? Don’t give away the twist at the end of ASN, but from your description, it sounds a bit like what the Utena movie was attempting to do. If you haven’t seen it, please do–after you get past the “that’s impossible!” shock factor and realize that the academy in the movie is not the same whimsical-but-real/existing-in-the-real-world place as it was in the anime series, you can see what genius the movie is. It’s like the most subtly told mystery-wrapped-around-more-mysteries story ever~

    I’ve seen a bit of the Goong K-drama (my parents are pscyho K-drama fans, lol~), but the manga sounds like it might have a better chance of hooking my attention. Paradise Kiss I found interesting b/c it’s very well-written/executed, but not really the sort of subject matter that interests me.

    Ludwig II and From Eroica With Love (another one of your reviews I randomly clicked on the other day) definitely sound interesting! I really liked Higuri You’s “Seimaden” (wow, it’s officially translated now?! :D), so I”ve always wanted to try another of her series. And Eroica sounds really funny (also, the art looks old skool cool… like El Halcon or BeruBara or something~).

    Ah, “Let Dai” sounds like another must! I luvs me mah BL, and sometimes, that mix of angst and raw emotion with a happy ending (I hope? ^^; Though if it’s a “happy ending” like Godchild’s, I’d be happy too) makes the most satisfying of love stories~

    Wow, now I have a LOT of manga to read. :D Thank you so much for the recs!! XD

  8. Connie Says:

    No problem! I’m glad you’ve found them helpful.

    I have seen the Utena movie! It’s been several years, but the scene in the flooded rose garden always sticks in my mind. I watched it without having seen any of the Utena TV series, and was pretty confused at the time, but I loved how it looked and watched it over and over again. After School Nightmare is a lot like that, but it gets its theme across a little better in the end, and is a little more concrete than the Utena movie. Though it is a lot less pretty.

    I watched a bit of the Goong K-Drama after liking the manga so much, but I couldn’t get into it, either. The K-Drama was a lot slower than the manga, and even knowing where the story was going, I couldn’t get through more than three or four episodes. The humor works a lot better in the manga, too.

    From Eroica With Love is one my favorites of all time! I can’t get enough of that series. The first volume or two are way more slapstick than the rest of the series, but it settles into a nice groove after that. I can’t get over how well the humor’s lasted all these years. If you’ve read El Halcon and liked it, you might like Eroica too, since it’s by the same person. El Halcon is a kind of prequel, and I think was written as a backstory for a painting featured in the second chapter, “The Man in Purple.” Tyrian is the ancestor of Major Eberbach, one of the main characters in Eroica.

  9. Cy Says:

    Whoa–Eroica and El Halcon are written by the same person?? Seriously? LOL! No wonder the artwork looked similar. ^^;;; To be honest, I haven’t read El Halcon–I only know it because I’m a big Takarazuka fan and they did an awesome musical adaptation of it a few years ago (and used the gorgeous manga artwork on the play poster! :D). Lol~~ Wow, small world. ^^ I ordered Eroica volume 1 yesterday and am totally looking forward to seeing Tyrian’s “cameo” in the painting. LoL~~~

    Ah, and thanks for the reassurance about the drama version of Goong. I like the art I’ve seen of the Goong manga but was refraining from getting it because I found the K-drama a little lackluster. But now I will be sure to give it a chance once I finish Eroica, Let Dai and After School Nightmare.

    Speaking of which–I was just thinking about that dance scene in the Utena movie today! It really is one of the most beautiful, romantic scenes in all of anime (all of anything, really) I’ve ever seen. Just the image of those red, red roses gushing over the edge of the garden and streaming down against the dark night sky (especially in the shots where it’s framed by the darkened windows)–SO beautiful. *__* That movie didn’t get the acclaim it deserved, seriously! LoL~

  10. Connie Says:

    Ooh, I remember seeing ads for that Takarazuka show. I think one of the El Halcon stories they adapted was “The Tempest,” the magazine that Eroica runs in came bundled with a special supplemental volume that had the old story in it, but with flashy Takarazuka photos on the back cover and a couple inside. The show looked pretty awesome, and it was great to see those characters brought to life in that way. Wish I could’ve seen the show.

    Yes. That scene was absolutely amazing. I remember being lost through much of the first part of the movie, but it was that scene that made me watch it again and again. I just couldn’t get enough of it. It really is very, very lovely.

  11. Cy Says:

    Yes, “El Halcon” is one of my favorite shows from this troupe in Takarazuka (Star Troupe). Here’s the exciting opening number that introduces Tyrian, Hilda and Red (note the smexy Captain Black standing next to him in his number~ Haha, those two really played up the slashiness between them ^^):

    I didn’t get to see it live either, but I got the DVD. Luckily, someone else has already uploaded most of the numbers on youtube. Huzzah for net piracy~ j/k~~~~ Takarazuka is so hard to get a hold of (and VERY expensive — their play DVDs are 11,000 yen each! @_@; ) A very exciting “summer high-seas adventure” sort of show~ ^^

    As for the Utena movie, I once saw a really beautiful amv for it to Dido’s “Here With Me” that set parts of the dance scene (to wonderful effect!) to the slow, melancholic last strains of the song. I wish so much I could find that amv again. No chance you’ve seen it, is there?

  12. Connie Says:

    Ooh, thanks for that! I had been very curious about the show when it came out, but it hadn’t occurred to me to search for clips after the run was over.

    While I hate internet piracy most of the time, Takarazuka is truly one of those things that isn’t designed for an audience outside Japan. I knew the DVDs were expensive (I think a lot of Japanese DVDs are, for some reason), but 11,000 yen is a lot higher than I would have guessed, and I think it’s hard to justify that kind of price unless you saw the show and knew you really, really loved it, in Japan or otherwise (unless you collected the shows from the particular troupes, I guess). This might be one of the few situations where internet piracy helps, but only because a casual watcher really wouldn’t be the type to pay that much for a DVD. And watching it in any format isn’t the same thing as going to see it, at all, so it also doesn’t seem like it would hurt ticket sales. I also imagine Takarazuka having a really small, devoted community that would want to support it however possible, which is always a good thing.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the Utena amv you mentioned. Sorry. ^_^;

  13. Cy Says:

    Yes, I know–those DVD prices are pretty insane, even for Japan. The average DVD prices I saw over there were 5000 – 7000 for normal DVDs like anime, etc, but the Zuka DVDs are priced like that, I think, because they are a small/limited print (like you mentioned, just for their own fan community–though it’s surprisingly large in Japan even if not mainstream. You can find their official goods store Quatre Reves in every major city and then some!), and also, the price of a front-row ticket is the same as the DVD, which arguably has better “views” of the lead actors than even a nearby seat (plus, you can watch the DVD over and over! :D). But as you said, really–nothing compares to the excitement and energy of a live performance. *__* I’ve seen a few live during every trip I’ve taken to Japan, and they just never fail to impress~~

    Lol, sorry to babble your ear off about Takarazuka (random tangent on a manga blog!). Thanks again for the recs–I’m still waiting for B&N to deliver the Eroica and Let Dai I ordered (such a loooong wait! =__=). Can’t wait~~~~ XD

    P.S. Are you reviewing Maid Sama! 4 anytime soon? I’m excited to read your review~

  14. Connie Says:

    Haha, no problem! I keep stumbling across Takarazuka every now and again, but it’s a super-interesting topic I should definitely know way more about.

    Ooh, I forgot I had Maid-sama 4, I think it came with some other books a few weeks ago. Yeah, I’ll probably read it this weekend, I like that series quite a bit. ^_^

  15. redcrest Says:

    Me, too. ^^ ♥ I translated it, actually (well, at least up to volume 5; then it got to be too much work with all those millions of asides :P). Volume 4 is pretty fun–we finally see Misaki in non-Oni-Student-Council-President Mode and she’s surprisingly–kind of funny? After reading this volume, I understood why Fujiwara-sensei commented in one of those author columns that she likes idiots and, in a way, her entire cast are idiots. Even Misaki. Lol~ Anyway, hope you’ll like it! ^^

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