Café Occult Vol. 1
Suh Rin, typical book-loving schoolgirl heroine, runs into Café Occult to escape a sudden rain shower. Inside, she meets the owner/bartender, a woman simply called Master, and a mysterious and very intimidating man in black. Scared, Suh Rin runs out of the building, just in time to meet her accidental death and to become a ghost.
After her demise, Suh Rin finds herself hunted by a gang intent on capturing her for their master, Kain, for unknown purposes. The only one who stands in their way is our hero in black with a hidden past, Young, who has the power of Holy Inverse Bullets. However, Young knows that there is someone else with the same cross-shaped gun and skills as himself, only this person wears white, while Young wears black. Young and Master work together as bodyguards for spirits, with Master working in the cafe while Young does the menial work.
Café Occult, as it turns out, is a rare place where ghosts and humans can interact physically, and it is the only place where Suh Rin can be safe. Apparently, Master is a spirit of great power, as no one tries to break the sanctuary of her domain. But Suh Rin doesn't want to be a burden; she wants to help out Master and Young, her patron and savior, respectively. The first volume ends with on a well-illustrated kick, as we see perhaps why Kain is so intent on possessing Suh Rin, or rather, her soul.
Infinity Studios is a relative newcomer to the manga publishing business (just over one years old), and Café Occult is my first manga experience with this company. This book was printed right-to-left, which felt a little odd, as the general consensus seems to be moving more towards the left-to-right format. The paper quality and translation reminds me of ComicsONE titles; I found some glaring grammar errors and the paper thickness is thinner than usual, with tone bleeding through the pages.
Despite these problems, I found Café Occult to be a solid book. Ahn No-Uhn's artwork is very detailed and could easily fit in with other popular supernatural action series. The character designs remind me of standard video game fighter characters, but they do add a sense of heavy unrealistic action to the series. I also like how the panels are laid out for dramatic effect, with characters often literally stepping out of the panels.
Oh Rhe Bar Ghun seems to have a good handle on the story; the plot itself is quite interesting, and I will definitely keep an open eye for the next volume; this is the first Korean title to really appeal to me. However, as Infinity Studios' distribution seems to be restricted to comic and specialty stores and Infinity Studios' own webstore, I think that I will have a hard time finding Café Occult in bookstores.
If you do come across Café Occult during your manga shopping adventures, be sure to give this title a quick look and purchase if you enjoy action-adventure thrillers with a supernatural setting.