Ari wants to protect the man she loves – but is that something she can, or even should, do?
Writer/Artist: Ryu Ryang
Translation: June Um
Adaptation: Abigail Blackman
What They Say
Ji-Hae continues her mission to mend her broken ties to Seung-Hyu in their past lives, but posing as a boy to get close to him may prove more complicated than she first expected. For one thing, Bub-Min isn’t fooled for a moment by her disguise and recognizes her as Lady Ari right away. But there’s no way Ji-Hae’s turning back now, not when Ja-Yun seems just as eager to deepen his friendship with Ji-Hae’s male alter-ego (though his motives may be more selfish than she suspects) as she is to get closer to him. But even if they do become friends, won’t he always see her as a boy?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Ari’s quest to get closer to Ja-Yun is endangered now that Bub-Min has recognized her. He wants her to return to her worried parents, but she can’t quit now. Later, Bub-Min warns Ari that Ja-Yun’s future may be in danger because of the man he currently serves: Misa-Heul, a cold-hearted person who could toss Ja-Yun aside at any moment due to his low social standing. Determined to keep anything bad from happening to her beloved, Ari returns to playing the part of a boy so she can protect him. Ari still wants to eventually win Ja-Yun’s love, but her feelings run so deep that she would put his needs before her own desires. Ari’s earnestness is her most endearing trait, something that Bub-Min notices as well. He even encourages her not to give up when Ari discovers Ja-Yun already has a lover and provides her with an opportunity to leave the house without causing suspicion or worry in her family.
Despite all the love Ari is ready to give Ja-Yun, our heroine’s love interest isn’t proving himself to be the most commendable of characters. While not actually cruel, it becomes blatant that Ja-Yun is only becoming friends with Ari’s male alter-ego in order to further his own ambitions. He sees that Ari is close to the powerful Bub-Min, and decides to use this connection to his new “friend” for his own gain. Ja-Yun even purposely puts Ari in danger, presumably so he can save her and look good in Bub-Min’s eyes. Bub-Min seems more like the typical male lead – a handsome, snarky man who picks on our leading lady but also tries to help her. And at the end of this volume, when he yells at Ari to stop crying over Ja-Yun, it’s become apparent that he’s reluctantly falling in love with her.
Introduced in this volume is Misa-Heul, and as far as villains go he’s excellent. His sly, abrupt actions make Ari uncomfortable with him right away, and his punishment for the undercover girl, to sew up the wound she accidentally inflicted, is gross and just cruel. I hated him, and loved doing it – as much as I enjoy Ari and root her on I’m excited to see what other shocking and wicked things he does in the future.
Coming in at volume 2 of Sarasah, I’m having trouble figuring out what’s going on in some cases, like how Ari and Ja-Yun are connected to each other. Then there are the modern-day references made by Ari that other characters find confusing. This could be a joke, but one image in the first chapter leads me to believe that Ari is in a Fushigi Yuugi-esque predicament of having somehow traveled back in time. This volume does nothing to explain or make things clear, not even providing a quick recap to remind (or clue in) readers as to what’s going on. But explanations aren’t entirely necessary with the love story Sarasah presents, a familiar tale of wanting to preserve and protect a love. This causes the story to be predictable, but also comfortable and easy to slide into at a later point.
Sarasah contains a classic love story that most readers will be familiar with, and while using such well-known plot ideas could be boring, this manhwa is still interesting because of the characters. Many of their actions and reactions are predictable – of course, Bub-Min will fall in love with Ari – but the way Ryu Ryang has created them makes them fun to read about. And there’s still some uncertainty, as it’s unclear whether or not Ja-Yun will stop being selfish and eventually realize his love for Ari. Now that the villain’s been introduced there’s definite anxious on behalf of the lead characters, anxiety that’s needed for enticing readers to pick up the next volume.
Content Grade: B Art Grade: B- Packaging Grade: B+ Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+ Released By: Yen Press Release Date: November 17th, 2009 MSRP: $10.99
Angela has been writing about anime, manga and comics for the past few years, and her work can also be found on Manga Bookshelf and Creative Screenwriting. She recently received her MFA in Creative Writing for Young People from Lesley University.