“Making A Legend” – Legend of Chun Hyang (manga) – 5/10 Snowballs

Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from. ~Mae West

Mangaka: CLAMP

Genre: Action/Historical/Fantasy/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/1 Volume)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop.

Art: This has sharp features and heavy lines, but the designs are solid and often pretty. For a shoujo, this has a lot ofbackgrounds- often wonderfully detailed. This does have a number of confusing fight panels- thankfully, they don’t occur often.

Summary: In an era when rulers controlled the masses with opression and fear, one young woman would stand against the tyranny and inspire a nation. The Legend of Chun Hyang is one of Korea’s most enduring folktales, and now you can read about her adventures as they’ve never been seen before- as manga! (back cover)

Review: I’m slowly but steadily making my way through the entirety of CLAMP’s works, and while most are good, some are just a little more mediocre than others. Of course, this is a liberal interpretation of a Korean legend- so liberal that the only thing that this girl has in common is the name. This starts off on the wrong foot with a bad translation by Tokyopop- even though the back cover clearly states where this takes place, Korea is constantly mistranslated. It gets a little better, with Chun an interesting and fun main character. She’s willing to kick butt and take no prisoners, something that stands out in  a sea of more passive female mains. She really wants to defend people and protect them from injustice, but her hotheadedness can also cause those people even more trouble.

The rest of the characterization is rather rough. With only three chapters, there are few characters to meet, so it has to focus on Chun Hyang and her travelling companion, an always-eating man who mets out justice in the land. Other than that, only two other girls and Chun’s mother are given any real screentime. The bad guys are very one-dimentional, with simple motivations and rather obvious actions. The main characters that we’re supposed to root for aren’t any better. There’s no development, and they remain shallow characters that we’re supposed to root for simply because they’re good. That doesn’t mean they’re boring or that I don’t like them- it just means that there isn’t much here for someone who likes a little more to chew on than something that’s a simple children’s story.

The plot is just as simple as the characters. They come across a bad guy, have some trouble with them, and defeat them. The third chapter was the best because you get to know the sisters more than you do Chun’s mother earlier in the manga, which makes their story and sorrow more powerful. With three chapters, though, plot threads and relationships are left unresolved. This feels more like an introductory manga to a longer series than any serious effort at a story. That’s where this fails- it does make a good beginning. It’s incredibly average and rather unsatisfying as a one-shot.

Overall, this is something to be read if you’re a CLAMP completionist, but can be passed over for their better works with no need to worry about missing something important.

Recommended: 13+. Chun Hyang’s mother is almost raped, and does commit suicide in order to protect her virtue. There is Barbie-doll nudity when she and her travelling companion walk in on two women bathing, which lasts one panel.

Other Titles You Might Enjoy:

Seirei no Moribito (anime)

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rocklobsterjwt
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:28:39

    Love the Mae West quote. Especially since I know Mae West was such a hot woman back in her time.


  2. Taylor Ramage
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 03:04:08

    Oh, CLAMP. You and your noodle people with awkwardly long limbs.

    I don’t know much of their work outside of Rayearth, Chobits, Card Captors, and Angelic Layer, but I feel like their more popular series are generally their better ones. A friend of mine has some obscure series of theirs–I forget the title, but the art was so bad that it was hilarious. The male character was going on about feeling something in his heart, but apparently his heart was somewhere in his stomach.

    I feel like CLAMP is either amazing or just okay. I used to read them almost as much as I read Watase and Tanemura, but I don’t really remember as much of their stories. Also, your comments about this particular story being underdeveloped echo my sentiments about most very short manga series. Very few actually succeed in being self-contained.


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