Bambi Vol. 1
Not to be confused with Osamu Tezukaís Bambi, this one-shot manhwa is a retelling of the story of the Swan Prince, though truthfully, itís really an appendix to the tale instead of an outright reimagining.
The original story, as explained by Park Young Ha, tells of six princes that had been cursed to live as swans by an evil witch. They were eventually saved by their cunning sister, who tricked the witch into granting them their human forms once more. However, the story didnít end completely happily: the sixth princeís transformation was incomplete, leaving one of his arms as a wing.
Dissatisfied by the way that the mythmaker left it, this particular manhwa artist decided to take the story into her own hands and grant the sixth prince a proper ending. The result is a straightforward yet well-illustrated fairy tale that manages to work well on its own, as well as an extension of its inspiration.
In this version, Arkid is the name of the sixth prince, though this is just as much the story of the title character, Bambi, as it is the tale of the prince. The book begins as Arkid rescues Bambi from drowning, though how she managed to fall into the life-threatening water is not immediately revealed. The trauma ends up giving her temporary amnesia, but Arkid seems kind enough to sincerely want to help get her to safety.
Other interesting characters are revealed, such as a lonely guardian spirit which serves to strengthen the bond between Arkid and Bambi. This is a love story, and there are a few plot twists along the way, however, thereís not much of a chance for the readers to figure out whatís going on before each turn is revealed. Instead of reading the book and wondering could possibly happen next, the author takes her readers by the hand and shows whatís happening piece by piece.
Iím not sure if itís the translation, the adaptation, or the source material, but something just doesnít seem right with the prose. For a passionate love story fraught with murder, intrigue, and magic, the tale doesnít really do as much as one would expect it to, emotionally.
Visually, itís a fine work. Park Young Haís artwork is very pretty, and while the reproduction seems spotty at times, for the most part, her illustrations completely carry the piece. The release has an eyecatching cover showcasing the artistís skill, as well.
The book begins with a letter from the author, which is not too common and serves the purpose of connecting a personality to the writer. For me, knowing at least a little about a storyís creator helps me feel more connected to the tale. Thinking of the person who wrote and illustrated the book Iím reading allows me to get inside their head a little better as I experience their work, and such an inclusion was appreciated.
I suppose with the wide variety of manga available today, Bambi just wasnít all that appealing to me. It was a fun read, it featured interesting characters, and I did enjoy the way it was inspired by a folktale, but it didnít quite come together in the end. Perhaps it was due to the brevity of the piece -- itís odd to read a book that isnít a part of an ongoing series -- but in the end, I can only recommend this tale to those who eat up any love story that can be obtained.