Moon Boy

25 11 2008

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Moon Boy is a shojo sunjung (thanks Suzu!) manhwa written and illustrated by Lee YoungYou.

The first three volumes were published by ICE Kunion but the series, starting with volume 4, has now been picked up by Yen Press. (A number of manhwa titles from the, now dissolved, ICE Kunion publishing house have found a new home with Yen Press. *thanks*)

This title is rated T (13+).

Moon Boy is a fantasy adventure about a young woman, Myung-Ee who finds out that she is not actually human but an Earth Rabbit – a descendant of a race of Moon Rabbits who enjoyed a happy rabbit life on the moon until they were chased away from their home by the ravenous Moon Foxes. Now the Moon Rabbits and Moon Fox engage in covert battles on Earth. The Moon Rabbits fight to protect their society and the oblivious and helpless Earth Rabbits from the hungry and aggressive Moon Foxes. Both Moon Rabbit and Foxes look like regular Earthlings except in certain circumstances when the Rabbits grow cute ears and the Foxes show their carnivorous fangs.

Moon Boy interprets some familiar manga and adventure tropes slightly differently. It’s enjoyable to see the terribly tired “the one” narrative with a female protagonist who, manifests her talent in largely unexamined and sporadic manner. This characterization stems from Myung-Ee’s temperament as a bit of a loose-canon and a pervert. She is very similar to the unmotivated, unselfconscious young boys that appear in shonen manga and YoungYou doesn’t over burden the character with a lot of complexity or extra attention to her inner life. It hard to explain – and in someways the character could seem underwritten – but it actually just feels like a bit of a relief to read a female character who just crashes through situations and doesn’t worry about it too much.

Much of the tone and humor (and there is a lot of humor) in Moon Boy draws its influence from high school comedy manga/manhwa. The drama and adventure elements are fodder for almost constant humorous riffs on pop culture, battle tropes, high school normative behavior and obsession with video games. It’s fun and refreshing but enjoyably textually complex.

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The art has a unique heavy line weight and energy and the pages are loaded with expressive and funny detail that incorporates a lot of stylistic approaches. The page design is quite bonkers – really, really busy – but very fun to read. YoungYou’s covers and color art are quite beautiful and vivid. (Manhwa has a slightly different set of stylized visual conventions from manga but this doesn’t impede reader comprehension.)

A few good moments throughout the series… Myung-Ee’s elegant new combat trainer show up to practice dressed as Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady – and proceeds to kick her ass. (Trust me – it just looks really hilarious.) In another episode a spy-spell is placed on Myung-Ee so that everything she sees will be conveyed to her opponents. Turns out Myung-Ee spent the whole day constantly checking out boys. Now, that’s a convincingly relatable young woman.

YoungYou, Lee (w,i) and HyeYoung Im (translation). Moon Boy v1 (Nov. 2006), English ed., ICE Kunion. ISBN-10:895274604X

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