Yu-Rang Han – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2011 – 14 volumes

Because I am a 27-year-old teenage girl, I couldn’t resist this one. It’s manhwa, which I had no idea Seven Seas published, and it’s also floating ambiguously somewhere between a regular girls’ comic and a BL comic. Not that I mind.

It is weird. The story opens with Gene, the main character… uh, dying. He then comes back to life, and realizes he’s somehow morphed into a girl. Then the story goes back a month in time to explain things a little better.

Gene is a very pretty boy. He constantly gets mistaken for a girl, asked out, and hit on. Because he hates this so much, he’s gotten into the habit of beating up all the boys that mistake him for a girl. One day, however, his best friend Saul asks him to pretend to be a girl in order to get a rather persistent female fan off his back. Gene hates the thought of this, but it was Saul who helped him hone his fighting skills, and he would do anything for him, so Gene agrees. While venturing over to Saul’s school, Gene encounters… strange people. They have a strange way of talking and forcing themselves on one another, and they’re also tough as nails. Gene’s attacks have no effect on them.

Later, Gene helps out a gang at his high school in much the same way, by pretending to be a girl in order to lure out a serial killer as well as a gang that has invaded their turf.

Without going through the plot of both volumes, that’s about as much story summary as I can offer. In this omnibus, the story catches back up to the prologue, and explains a smidge of what’s going on, but doesn’t get much farther than that.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this book. The vampires are a random element here, and the fact that Gene suddenly changes gender is another rather… odd twist, which is only made stranger by the last pages of the volume.

I don’t have much more of an analysis to offer past that. I feel like I just watched the first thirty minutes of a movie, one that I can’t quite make heads or tails out of, and I need to see more before I can pass judgement. The story is still not clear to me, and the characters still aren’t quite developed enough to comment on (the volumes are a little shorter than normal, the whole book is about 320 pages).

Even the art was… a little off. It almost felt like very good webcomic art. It was functional, and there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with it, but the figures and actions were all very stiff, and it felt a little plain for the usual girls’ comic. Stranger still, the artist seems to be a manhwa veteran, and has been drawing girls’ comics for at least 25 years. She has a huge body of work.

So where does the BL/girls’ comic aspects of the story come in? Well, Gene is an unwilling object of affection for all the guys in his life (and there are quite a few since he goes to an all-boys school). There’s also the barest hint of romance between Gene and Saul when the latter wishes that Gene was really a girl, because he can’t find anyone that can quite match him. Later, there’s a pair of vampire brothers who are all over Gene. So far, Gene is 100% male and rather offended by the advances. I could make a prediction if this was a regular girls’ comic. It might bear a resemblance to the excellent series Click (also Korean), where the main character, very male, suddenly finds himself female and has to slowly come to terms with that. But this series… may take a different turn. I don’t want to spoil it, but again, the last few pages of this book put a rather interesting spin on the usual gender hijinx. Hopefully.

I… I don’t know. I don’t know what to make of this. It was just weird. The good kind of weird, though, and I definitely want to see more, just to satisfy my curiousity. I can’t say I’m really convinced of either the story or the characters at this point, but it’s just so bizarre that I feel like I have to continue reading. It’s less generic than it looks and sounds, and is probably a pretty good October/Halloween read for any fan of girls’ comics looking for something that’s… maybe just a little off.

This was a review copy provided by Seven Seas.