Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dong Hwa Kim (The Color of Earth Trilogy)

As I've said before, I don't often review the graphic novels or comic strips that I read. This one, however, was for book club, so I feel a bit obliged.

Having a bit of knowledge on the history of manga graphic novels, or at the least a vague understanding of where they started and how they've spread, this particular selection was, um, different. I know there are all types: samurai-based, tween love, erotic, heck there's even one based on the life of Buddha (and it's fantastic). I know Japan is the motherland, but that the style has branched into other Asian countries and definitely to our country.

What you expect in the first few pages-- another tween love tale, but told traditionally-- becomes surprisingly explicit. The drawings themselves are not, but the dialogue frankly discusses the sexual awareness of a young Korean girl living with her mother in a tiny town long ago. This part feels very real. This also, however, showcases a connection between mother and daughter that does not feel real.

The agenda of the book is the future of this girl: slated for marriage, hopefully to a nice man, bound to live with her in-laws for the rest of her life. Honestly? I can't relate. And the falling-head-over-heels-for-any-guy-who-looks-at-her, which might feel right for a young girl, doesn't sit right in conjunction with the mother who blatantly encourages this behavior. Wouldn't a considered opinion work better for everyone? Even in that day and age, I would have thought this would be of considerable importance.

The art itself is stellar, especially the sweeping countryside panels. Unfortunately, the story stuck in my throat.

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