Manga: Shin Angyo Onshi
Mangaka: Young In-Wan(Story), Yang Kyung-Il(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen(Germany)
Original Publisher: Shogakukan
Published in: Sunday Gene-X
Price: 6,50€
Released so far: Volume 1-6
Release Schedule: Volume 7: January 2008
Additional Information: Completed with 17 volumes.

The sixth instalment of Shin Angyo Onshi finally found its way in my cold dead hands…wait, wrong quote. Anyway, I finally got off my lazy butt to purchase the manga together with Kyoko Karasuma volume 3 at my local comic store, which had remodelled its layout, arrangement and shelves. It looks pretty neat now and has much more space available; after all there will be more and more manga published. I actually forgot to take the manga with me and had to go back and fetch them, truly an annoyance. Now, after this random musing, I guess I should talk more about the actual manga and its contents.

As usual for Carlsen’s Shin Angyo Onshi release opens with a few coloured pages. This time they contain a smiling Sando and the baby bat of her first love (see volume 1), a content page with character profiles, a magnificent double colour spread, and one actual coloured ‘panel page’. All of them look splendid but I want to emphasize the colour spread. It’s probably the best of the spreads so far, even better than the volume 4 colour spread. This volume, as always, closes with the extra pages. I always find them very entertaining and somehow informative. To conclude, the last page holds the character profiles of Young In-Wan and Yang Kyung-Il themselves.

Story-wise, volume 5 ended when they were on their way to the blacksmith recommended by Miss Fang to repair the destroyed Ma-Hai. On their way they met with Ajite’s sando and the three quickly were facing each other in a heated battle. However the bodyguard retreats after Sando saves her twice from Mun-Su’s interference, given her desire for a fair fight and thus being acknowledged by Mun-Su. That’s enough recapping; let’s go on with volume 6.

They finally arrived at the described mountain in ‘Tschilgabusan’ and also quickly manage to locate the respective blacksmith, whose name is Mito. He, however, is rather reluctant in helping Mun-su without further proof of his abilities. That does not do any good what with Mun-su’s short temper and his already bad mood nearly explodes after being provoked by the enigmatic blacksmith. Mito seems to know about Mun-su, while the opposite is not the case. That sounds a bit illogical as Mun-su, being a general in the state of Juushin, would surely have known of one of the founders of Juushin.

Yet the focus of the actual story does not directly lie on the blacksmith but rather evolves around the princess of a small state which had belonged to Juushin when it still existed. To prove himself and acquire a new Ma-Hai, Mun-Su has to grant her ‘real happiness’. Mun-Su is rather perplexed by this unique mission and at first thinks of it as an easy task. He manages to intrude the palace and introduces himself as a novel writer to the princess. He wants to record the story of Pyong Gan, the princess, and her soon-to-be husband Ondal. However Mito explicitly stated that Ondal and Pyong Gan are not allowed to marry under any circumstances, if he wants to make her happy. This is just one of the many mysteries that puzzle Mun-Su. After half of the volume he has no solid clues what exactly is going on and how he’s supposed to grant her happiness, let alone ‘real’ happiness.

Naturally, the latter half brings Mun-Su closer and closer to the truth. Slowly, the threads of mystery begin to unravel as he finds himself in great danger. No new characters are introduced, but instead we are presented hints and information on all of the starring ones and later receive plot twists worthy of Shin Angyo Onshi. Even though volume 6 explains most of the secrets, it still ends on a horribly suspenseful cliff-hanger.

Back when I reviewed volume 5 I was not able to compare it to the earlier published volumes, but now that I look at, for example, volume one, two and even three I can clearly spot the development of Kyung-Il Yang. His already refined, but somehow still rough style, from volume 1 becomes very fluent; round and flowing. I might go as far as saying that he partly changed his style to a more eye-appealing one. Reasons for that might be the Japanese audience, who might prefer this, or that he has more practice now, compared to the first three volumes. This improvement includes the black and white art as well as the coloured pages. To those who might’ve thought of the art as harsh and murky, be sure to check out the volumes, as the art really improves around the end of volume 3.

Story: 8/10 – A great story with suspense and plot twists; however I find it hard to follow the reasoning sometimes.
Art: 9/10 – Great coloured page, great art, nearly perfect.
Enjoyment: 9/10 – The story gets better and better; plot holes were a bit distracting.
Overall: 9/10 – I basically said everything above. I liked the volume and I’m craving for the resolve of this arc in volume 7 in January!

Comment on Carlsen’s release: On the expected quality level, nothing to negatively comment on. The translation was good and the typesetting too; maybe they could bring in more variety, but that’s just me.