Dragon Hunter Vol. 1
Mixtures are - more often than not - considered good things. For example, take these combinations: iced tea and lemons, anime and conventions, hot days and swimming pools, Sonny and Cher... Or not, on that last one. Yes, combos are everywhere and in large quantities. So, why not tell a tale about dragon hunting in Ancient Korea? And how can said story become even better? Simple! Toss in ultra-powerful entities, offensive contraptions, and gambling for one spank-happy ride.
Hong-Seock Seo, author and artist, breathed life into Dragon Hunter after reading a novel with the subtext of tiger hunting. But who wants to read a manwha geared toward big-cat killing? Certainly not animal rights activists and your average comic book fans. Therefore, Mr. Seo went with a mystical and Asian-iconic creature.
Dragon Hunter separates itself from the fantasy genre and implements an interesting concept: "mobile units". Mobile units are huts-on-wheels used in dragon slaying. Crafted from wood for swiftness, they function off of bronze steam-powered engines. Hunters launch self-propelled barrels filled with explosives from these inventions. Despite Hong-Seock Seo's wish for a fact-based setting - Korea, 500 A.D. period - I feel most historians would convulse at the thought of mobile units. Either way, they added a refreshing element to Dragon Hunter.
Wait a second, introductions should be arranged! Meet Seur-Chong, also known as Mi-ru-me, legendary dragon slayer. His qualities include greed, violence, bad manners, and an ill temperament. He was cursed by the Guardian Dragon of the Dragon God and now slowly turns to stone. His life quest centers on the acquisition of money. Seur-Chong's sidekicks are both shamans: Myung-Ho and Mong-Yeun. Whereas Seur-Chong wields a sword capable of slicing buildings, they cast spells to subdue and hold the beasts. Let's just say this; their personal relationships are more tempestuous than their working one.
The character designs in Dragon Hunter are conventional and crisp. Easy-to-follow page layouts make reading a pleasure. What brought Hong-Seock's amazing artwork into focus was the amalgamation of Eastern and Western dragons. Their renditions are eye-catching with an apparent ferocity. I, for one, wish TOKYOPOP sold wall scrolls of the dragons themselves. Alas, I cannot always get what I want.
TOKYOPOP, however, slouched on the translation of Dragon Hunter. Dialogues were witty, yet the sound effects sat untouched. They were in Korean writing, and had no subtitles or glossaries. Honestly, how many English-speaking people read Korean? Those who can't decipher it far outweigh those who do. I am glad that TOKYOPOP wished to keep its original format; it is highly applauded by many manga enthusiasts. Lesson learned: if you don't translate the sound effects, then subtitle them or provide a cheat sheet, please.
Dragon Hunter tickled my funny bone and impressed me with snazzy artwork. For those who enjoyed Slayers, Dragon Hunter will surely entertain them. Don't miss this manwha gem! Plus, be on the look out for Hong-Seock Seo.
Otherwise, a hungry dragon might devour you!