“The Yellow Brick Road” – Dorothy of OZ (Manwha) – 8/10 Beach Balls

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. ~Martin Buber

Genre: Comedy/Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Ecchi

Review Status: Incomplete (4 Volumes/5 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manwha is licensed in the US. However, Udon cancelled it at volume 4.

Art: Bold lines for everything- there is rarely a weak or non-existent line to be seen. This isn’t a bad thing- the art is bold, and it suits. The colored pages are brightly colored, and there is great contrast between the blacks and the whites.

Summary: When Mara Shin’s dog Toto gets lost one fateful day, she goes in search for him along some yellow brick road and ends up in the wonderful land of Oz! Everyone starts calling her Dorothy, but these aren’t the cowardly lion, scarecrow, and tin man adventures you remember! This fantasic fairy tale features familiar characters… but with a definitely action animated twist! (from back cover of the first volume)

Review: Mara has been to this land once before as a child. She no longer remembers it, though she has seen the Yellow Brick Road. As her dog Toto decides to go barking down the road she follows- and finds herself in a world that she could never have imagined. This is not the Oz that most people are familiar with- the Witches are actually advanced scientists, at war with each other. Each witch has their own forces and ways of trying to take over, from the clones from the South that have psychic powers (one of which is codenamed “Scarecrow”), to the androids from the North (one of which is codenamed “Tin Woodsman”), and the magic boots of the witch of the east, which age her body ten years but help her access her magic.

It’s a dark, funny, twisted take on the tale. OZ is being ripped apart from the inside and attacked from the outside. All the witches of the Four Points are at war with each other, using their armies, while a force from the outside is insidiously gathering power from others that want to rule. And the Wizard is the worst of them all- someone with real magic and the original owner of the glove that Mara brought back from OZ when she was a child.

It plays with things that we know from the story and other common anime tropes. For instance, Mara -nicknamed Dorothy early on due to a belief that she is the key to a prophesy that isn’t really explained- ends up with magic boots when the Witch of the East dies (and she definitely does not die from a house on her head!). Those magic boots give her a Magical Girl transformation, one that she is fully aware of, as are her enemies and friends. Mara’s friends are all bishies, which is played with since she seems to have a small crush on Abee (the shortened version of “Scarecrow” in Korean). Jokes and crazy situations abound. In the first volume, though, we get a glimpse of the darkness that is taking over OZ, and know that things won’t be pretty. People die left and right, some of them innocent, others not so much. Interesting and violent creatures abound, putting our hero’s lived in danger.

Through it all, they manage to keep a brave face on. I deeply regret that this manga was cancelled early in Korea, at 5 volumes, and wish that Udon would have printed that last volume.

Overall, this was a great twist on a familiar story.

Recommended: 16+. There is some rare language (no f-bombs). There is some perversion from side characters, and of course Mara is self-aware about the magical girl transformation. All the important bits are covered by strips of floating cloth or her hands, though you might see some bare bum. Other characters obviously see the change, though. Some of the outfits for women can be pretty stripperiffic. Tick-Tock ends up in the hands of dwarves, and she starts getting stripped due to the dwarves planning on melting her down for scrap metal. The violence is pretty solidly there, though. People are stabbed, shot, crushed with stones… most of it is off-page, but it’s obvious what happened. You do see dead bodies, but it’s never graphic- just them in their clothes with some blood around them.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Toto: The Wonderful Adventure (manga)
Yureka (manhwa)
½ Prince (manhua)


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