“Wasteland Wonderland” – Shaman Warrior (manhwa) – 7/10 Pencils

War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man.  ~Napoleon Hill

Manhwaka: Park Joong-ki

Genre: Action/Drama/Fantasy/Historical

Review Status: Complete (9 volumes/9 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this is licensed in the US by Dark Horse.

Art: Stunning in how detailed it is! This uses realistic character designs, and doesn’t skimp on any details, from the prints of the cloth, the chothing designs, the details of faces or hair… it’s simply breathtaking to look at in many places!

Summary: Master Wizard Yarong and his faithful servant Batu are sent to remote desert wastelands on a grave mission from their king. These two mysterious warriors hae yet to realize that a whirlwind of policital movements and secret plots will soon engulf them and change their lives forever. When Yarong is mrotally injured, Batu must fulfill his promise and leave Yarong’s side and protect his master’s child. As Batu seeks to find and hide the infant, Yarong reveals another secret to those who have tracked him down to finish him off – the deadly, hidden power of a Shaman Warrior! (back cover of fiorst volume)

Review: This is definitely one of the more intense manhwa I’ve ever read. From the desert wasteland it’s set in to the characters that inhabit it, this really shows that a lot of thought went into making this on heckuva story! And they succeeded, with this being a most brutal story of a girl raised to be as tough as the lands that she was born into. At every turn her life is in danger; there is no mercy to those who hold Shaman blood, and that means she must go to a place where merely being a child is enough to get you killed. Batu and the girl part ways early, since he’s well-known for his past and is hunted for being both a Shaman and a former infamous wretler, whose name is known across the lands. Her life takes a drastic turn as she’s abandoned to she Slaughter, a training ground for assasins. It’s the only way she can survive in this land, and Bato knows it.

Bato meets with several more characters, from Genji, a woman who’s ties to him are revealed through the series, who is a solid mix of tough-as-nails grit and fighting ability, but has a softer side to her though she would deny it. She stays out of the politics, only seeing to it that the girl is raised, implied to be doing terrible things in order to raise the money to buy the girl out of the muderer’s camp when she’s ready. Another character, Horakaan, aided and abetted by Batu for a time, ends up joining forces with Aragorn, who seeks to drive back he corrupt kingdom that’s killing all the Shaman Warriors. Each one plays a part in the story to come, while even more come into it.

Politics and personal vendettas mix, with multiple factions attempting to wipe out the Kugai Empire for various reasons. Some of them end up fighting one another through misundertandings and political maneuverings by the enemy, which makes things even more complicated. The pacing for the first 8 epsiodes also mean that there was no way the 9th one could end well. Not only are things left unresolved on many levels (does Yaki actually live? What’s the purpose in telling us who her mother is? Does the relationships between her and the general work out? What about that technology that made the Shamans- where did that come from and where did it go since it’s OBVIOUSLY not in play in this story!), it’s done abruptly and very disjointedly. Several parts just seem thrown together, the last section the worst of it all. Everything that this had been building up to came out in a jumbled rush! Honestly, this series needed at least three more volumes, probably more, to really do it justice. Yes, it was enough to severely knock down by score of it..

Overall, while this had 8 fantastic volumes, that 9th really drove me up a wall with how terrible it was!

Recommended: 18+ only! This is another title with gratuitous violence. It’s about war. People die. They are killed without mercy. You see heads hanging, and once a child is struck down. When Yaki is brought to the butcher camps, the wrestlers imply that they want to have sex with her (she can’t be more than 8 at this point!), and at one point nearly do rape her when she’s a bit older- about 13, perhaps.

Other Titles You Might Enjoy:

Vagabond (manga0

Shin Angyo Onshi (manhwa)

Lady Snowblood (manga)

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