Friday, August 30, 2013

Manhwa Review: Goong: The Royal Palace (1-3)

Another title I was happy to find at the not so local library since I had read a lot of gushing for it over at the Manga Bookshelf but none of the other libraries I had been to had any of the books. Actually it's interesting, after going to so many different libraries over the years you can really tell which ones had a librarian (or more than one) who was really dedicated to buying manga and you can even tell when they started. This library must have started putting together it's collection in the early 2000s judging from the age of some of the books which is fascinating since I remember around 2005 when I first discovered manga my library had a few books but didn't really start getting more until 2009 and even then seems to have stopped in favor of buying more graphic novels instead. I just find all this fascinating, it provides an odd look into another book lover's mind.

Goong: The Royal Palace by So Hee Park

Summary: In an alternate world Korea still has it's monarchy and much like the British Crown it wields some power and has a great deal of pomp and circumstance. With it's crown prince coming of age the family feels the pressure to marry him off and recall a promise the old king made to his friend, to marry his heir to his daughter. Neither of the young people in question, Prince Shin Lee and average girl Che-Kyung are at all happy with this arrangement but neither of them can break it for now and must go through the show of being a happily married husband and wife.

The Good: Well I learned some real-world history but probably not in the way the creator meant to concerning the Korean monarchy (it seems it was dissolved during World War II which, sadly, was way too recently for any of my history classes to have covered) which was interesting. I did like the politics as well, I can easily see how some problems that some characters are starting in these volumes could take quite a while to resolve, but sadly that's about the only part about the volumes I did enjoy and the politics at this point are still only a sub-plot.

The Bad: Let me put it this way, the library had all the volumes so I planned to try and get through them all before I moved so I could have one large review yet I didn't and it wasn't for lack of time. After the third volume I gave up, Che-Kyung was too odd, Shin Lee was frankly an ass, heck I couldn't sympathize with any of the characters except for a few minor side ones, the other prince creeped me out a bit for no specific reason, didn't care about the "romance" and found the humor completely unfunny (part of which had to do with the art style). This was completely not my cup of tea, I had hoped for a stronger focus on politics (which may have come later and there was quite a bit of politics, don't get me wrong there) but the "romance" just killed it for me.

The Art: As mentioned earlier, the art for the comedic moments also really threw me out of the series, for some reason Park decides to use these really ugly chibis so I spent all my time just cringing at them instead of possibly laughing at them which isn't a good thing. The rest of the time the art looked rather lovely actually but the chibis come up pretty often which I thought was a bummer. 

In the end I'm only going to give these three volumes 2.5 out of 5 stars and don't intend to read the rest. I'm sure some people will really like this, and for those who do the series is licensed in North America by Yen Press, but I'm not one of them.