Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manhwa recommendation: Be Heun by Jung Jaehan

Be Heun
Jung Jaehan


There are some heroes whose names you do not know, whose faces you have not seen. They operate secretly, and their actions can make a difference in the outcomes of wars. Be Huen is the story of such a man. To follow his story, one must search in the shadows, for that is the only place you could find him.

Alternative names
Bi Heun, 비흔


Sites for reading online (free)
Manga Fox, Manga Reader

ManhwaIn short, a Korean version of a Manga. There are many similarities in the writing style and art but different cultural references do apply. Read left to right.

Rosy's scrawlings on Be Heun
The thing that interested me was oddly not entirely for the ninja aspect. What interested me was that the illustrations of the town were somewhat of a mix between a full colour Peanuts illustration and some of the newer Korean manhwa stylings. I could almost see the Peanuts characters wandering in at some stage. I also liked the way photographs were used for the sky or some background scenes. They added a depth to the illustrations that isn't usually present in any form of manhwa or manga. Or comics, for that matter.
Then my interest moved on to the quirkiness of this ninja story.
Usually you find ninjas portrayed fairly seriously, with the occasional comic relief ninja story thrown in for a touch of originality and a good laugh. You will also find yaoi ninjas who want to run away from the ninja clan or leaders so they can be together. Such romantic or romantic-comedy story doesn't always end well but luckily for the characters, the escape fairly often and live happily ever after.
Be Heun is somewhat different again although it does maintain elements of traditional ninja story telling. The ninja Be Heun is in post battle days and troubled times are returning but his activities are less for political reasons, as yet, and more for protecting his defeated people. He's a little flippant, laid back and boyish as well as a touch arrogant in his dealings but he always has a good cause and means well. Also, he builds friendships readily and fights for them as though he never wanted to be the lone wolf ninja. Even in the stories of his history you can see he is more a man of honour than the traditional sneaky ninja fighting for money or a master's whim. In other words, Be Heun seems an ordinary kind of guy most of the time but then comes the cause and the reason to fight and you begin to see that this man is not only lethal but missing a few components that other people naturally have from not being a warrior from an early age.
It is Be Heun and those he befriends who hold the spotlight in this story, which sets it apart from the other ninja stories you'll find, which generally focus on a single ninja fighting alone for a cause (the influence of which you'll see in many modern-day avenger stories, particularly within manga and manhwa).
All in all, I found this quite an enjoyable mix between bloody violence, political intrigue and light drama. There's a possibility of romance for Be Heun but who knows what will happen as the romance is subtly written and doesn't follow any standard romantic story guidelines but rather reflects a little of what first loves are like in reality - a tad awkward and slow moving. There's also several possibilities for tragedy as he strives not to live alone. The story is captivating in a way most ninja stories aren't. Instead of being drawn into a story of bloody revenge you'll find yourself wanting to see an awkward but fun guy make a life for himself despite everything.

I'd recommend this manga to: anyone who loves ninjas. So, pretty much anyone. This would appeal to men and women alike for its balanced approach to personalities and what's important in life. Also, the gore is less than it could be (potential is everything here) so it shouldn't turn anyone away in disgust.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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