Cynical Orange, Vol. 1
by Yun JiUn
Hye-min Hwang is beautiful and she knows it, because she’s been picked on by other girls for most of her life. It doesn’t seem to matter what she does; everything she says and every action she takes is criticized as “uppity”, “slutty”, or “manipulative”. The effect of this isolation has only made the problem worse. Hye-min has no idea how to interact with other people and make friends. Enter Ma-Ha Jang, a guy who loiters outside her school every day when she leaves. He’s really weird – by way of introduction, he asks to borrow her phone and then runs off with it – but he is interested in Hye-min for more than her pretty face. Slowly, she begins to open up to him, and a friendship blossoms between them.
I picked this book up because of the beautiful art. Hye-min has long, straight hair and I just love the way Yun JiUn draws it. With only a few lines, she’s able to convey volume and movement. There’s always one or two strands slightly out of place, which prevents the hair looking stiff and fake. Since I tend to obsess with drawing hair in my own art, and getting it to look just right, it’s one of the first things I look at in comic books. Yun JiUn also does a great job at creating individuality in her characters’ faces…I didn’t use to appreciate this so much, but so many comic books have fairly interchangeable heroes who are distinguished only by clothes or hairstyle. Even if the characters of Cynical Orange were to dress in each other’s clothes, you’d still know who each one was. I like that.
The story itself is a little blah. It’s a fairly typical tale about a girl getting picked on by other members of her high school class, suffering from unrequited love and all the drama that brings.
There was one thing that I just couldn’t decide if I liked or not. Our main character Hye-min is pretty, but she knows it and constantly brings it up. “Guys always think a pretty face means a sweet personality” and “[It’s] all thanks to this damned face of mine…” and even “Are you saying that nothing else matters as long as I have a pretty face?’
As Ma-Ha incredulously asks, “You actually call yourself pretty? What an ego!” It gets old. But at the same time, she is pretty and acknowledging it is better than those Mary Sue-type characters who never realize how pretty they are so all the other characters have to tell them every five minutes.
Cynical Orange looks like it’ll be an entertaining journey of self-discovery for Hye-min as she loosens up and lets her true personality shine through at school. The characters are likeable, for the most part, and they’re strong enough to differentiate a fairly typical story from the main body of translated Japanese and Korean comics. I look forward to seeing where this manga will go.
3.5 out of 5 stars