Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manhwa recommendation: Demon King by Ra In-Soo

Demon King
Ra In-Soo

In life, Majeh was a gifted swordsman. In death he acts as a reaper for the King of Hell, collecting souls of the dead to bring them to the netherworld. All this changes when a rift opens up between Hell and Earth and evil spirits begin escaping to the mortal realm. Now Majeh must hunt down and destroy these demons before the rift is permanently opened.

Alternative names
King of Hell


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Anime, Kiss Manga, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Demon King
First off, I have to note that reading this was a little frustrating at times merely due to the scan quality across various sites. There is a tendency for the scans to get darker, for one or two to be jumbled in order (still readable though) and then for them to become double page scans which are a bit harder to manage than single page scans. Still, Manga Kiss is proving the most reliable so far so I've settled there for the moment.
Okay, that done, I'll get to the actual manhwa. Stating out, I had some expectation of a faster paced piece or a more violent one, at least from the very beginning. Instead, Demon King was slow and very much like the hesitant and unsure material produced by a new author. But, very soon Demon King gained a quicker pace, snappier comedy and flashier action. To get to this stage you just need to read past the first 10 or so chapters and you're set. After this point, Demon King is quite addictive and it just keeps on improving. So, if you're starting out and you're dissatisfied just give it a little bit of a chance and see.
Majeh is the main character, around which the bulk of the chaos flows. He ends up with a group of friends and foolish side-kicks, including the King of Hell to some degree. The King of Hell is a distant boss who's somewhat ambivalent about helping Majeh and generally only does so to keep Majeh of his back. Still, they do seem to get along to some degree and Majeh is the better of two evils.
Majeh is a tad rebellious for a guide to the souls of the dead as he'd once been the greatest swordsman and fighter of the otherworld. Now, encumbered by a spell that suppresses his powers, he's unwillingly booted out into the mortal realm by the Demon King to chase down some escaped souls. And to top it off, while he's at it he's lumped with more missions by mortals skilled in martial arts and dragged into a war between the different schools, the main enemy being the Sa-Goks.
Majeh is, as you've probably guessed, a bit of an anti-hero. He does what he must but with reluctance. He shows off and tramples over others at times and he's rather disrespectful. Still, he does save the day multiple times and becomes a mentor of sorts to his friends and even the foolish Insane Hounds as they attempt to gain strength and wisdom and to discover or settle their pasts. At this point I have to say that I love Crazy Dog when he becomes childlike - he's so brutal, insane and cute at once. Oh, and Cerberus is a hoot.
The story is long and there are many twists and turns to keep you on your toes. The occasional flashback will have you wondering if the scans are incorrect again but if you just keep reading them in the order they were uploaded they all piece together soon enough. There might have been a possibility of the story becoming tiring if the comedy hadn't been included but as it is there are plenty of laughs to keep you going and an endless flood of gory martial arts action scenes to enjoy.
The art by Kim Jae-Hwan is quite fantastical. Even the most human of characters aren't physically very realistic, with hair starting just above the eyebrows and such, but there is a full range of beautiful to ugly character as well as comical to fierce. There are also automatons, werewolves, zombies and other such creatures (created through dark magics) scattered throughout and they lend the main characters some realism through comparison. The fight scenes are flashy, smooth and powerful. There are plenty of explosions and splatters of gore along with the slashing swords to go with woven magic and supernatural abilities. The light and dark of each is beautifully balanced and the art is almost like that of raw pen and ink, with some smoothing of tones.

I'd recommend this manhwa to: those interested in martial arts stories, ancient Asian civilisations (it covers a few), comical grandstanding and slapstick comedy, explorations in otherworld dynamics and supernatural powers.

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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