Today I examine a new manhwa release, Pig Bride volume 1, to be released later in April by Yen Press and first serialized in Yen Plus.
I was torn on Pig Bride, by KookHwa Huh and SuJin Kim, when I read it monthly in the pages of Yen Plus. Now that I've read the entire volume, I think the story holds together a little better as a shojo comic (or the Korean equivalent of shojo), but I'm still not entirely on board with its (so far) anti-feminist message.
Our story begins when eight-year-old, spoiled brat Si-Joon gets lost in the mountains and comes across a very strange little house in the woods. He's rescued and is offered food by a mysterious woman...but his delicious banquet is contingent upon him agreeing to marry one of the little girls of the house, whose face is carefully obscured by a pig-mask. He's told a kind of fairy-tale, in which their union is destined thanks to family-lineage-blah-blah-blah & curse-blah-blah-blah. Si-Joon, little genius that he is, agrees, eats the food and is pretty much screwed.
Flash forward 8 years to Si-Joon's 16th birthday. Privileged, handsome and adored, Si-Joon actually isn't quite as terrible as one would expect of someone so annoyingly blessed. He comes from a rich, powerful family and in spite of that he's almost kind of normal except for the fact he detests girls who are aggressive, probably thanks to the fact that girls from his elite school are always trying to get our little prince's attention. At 16 he focuses his romantic attention on a beautiful & demure-appearing girl named Doe-Doe, which is a problem when his "pig-bride" reappears. She still wears the pig-mask and represents a traditional, subservient girl, so much so she has no first-hand knowledge of the modern world. Si-Joon rejects his new "bride," in spite of the fact his family, fearing the potential blow-back (they're warned by a monk that Si-Joon could die if he doesn't accept the union) pressure him to accept her.
This first volume sets up a potential supernatural curse & unexplained forces hovering on the horizon if Si-Joon doesn't accept his bride, but it isn't clear yet what exactly dangerous forces are lurking in the background. What is clear is that Si-Joon's desire for a sweet, docile girl is kind of gross. Luckily, Doe-Doe is actually a bitch on wheels in disguise and his new bride is carefully protected by her sister, one scary-ass ninja who could completely tear him in half if he doesn't mind his p's and q's. In other words, even if Si-Joon's bride is defined only by her relation to him, there are other women out there just waiting to make his life a living hell. I so completely look forward to seeing that happen. The mystery of the bride has not captured my interest but I'm willing to give the story another volume to see where it goes -- if only in the hopes that the bride develops some kind of personal will instead of leaving her fate up to forces beyond her control.
The art is fairly standard for shojo manwha -- it is certainly attractive and clean, but not particularly distinctive. Lots of emphasis on clothing, particularly of the traditional outfits of the Pig Bride and her sister, as well as Doe-Doe's very elaborate Arina Tanemura-esque outfits. Each figure is nicely distinguished from each other, though, and except for our masked bride, their personalities shine through quite nicely. Let's just hope our "bride" develops her own personality as soon as possible.
Review copy provided by Yen Press.