Annarasumanara is a short Korean manga I finished reading recently.If you don’t know about it and wanna hear my opinion – here it is. Annarasumanara is probably the best comic I’ve read so far. The story is great, and if you are willing to spend a little time thinking it over you get even more from it. Characters, art style, the way pages are arranged, all that is very different from what I’ve seen in manga and anime. Check it out.
The rest of this post is intended for those who have read the manga already, I won’t explain all that happens in the story, just assume you know about it. Sorry ^^’
I intentionally didn’t cut this picture; I think this scrolling down that you keep doing when reading the manga is more or less a part of it and I wanted to bring a little bit of that feeling back :P
What is Annarasumanara about? Korean students’ welfare? Magic? Life choices? In the beginning I thought that it is going to be a story about a girl who wants to grow up as an escape from the kind life she has now. She is being dragged through the mud of adult world, and then through a dreamland of child’s fantasies of the magician. Ai’s story is full of little turns and vignettes that don’t necessarily lead anywhere. Like that episode with a burger. Someone ate a bite and left it, and hungry Ai who was cleaning the tables was facing this little problem – eat it and satisfy her hunger or keep her pride. She ate the burger; and nothing happened. She is a strong person, hurt pride isn’t enough to seriously affect her. You see what I am talking about, this story is just one little episode that doesn’t go anywhere, but at the same time it maybe is the first time writer tells us that “breaking norms is okay”; or maybe it is more like “here is this girl you sympathize with, she just finished someones burger, are you gonna change your opinion about her?”. At the end of the book this is going to be one if the central points. When in the last part of the manga Il Deung breaks the norm (or just breaks a window, depends on how you see it :P), it is being celebrated by changing his appearance, the way he is drawn. From this point on he looks normal, while before his head was deformed in a weird way. You can’t applaud your character in a more literal way.
So what I wanted to say is that Ai’s story is very rich in many ways. But what is even more interesting is the direction it was heading. Look at Ai in the beginning and in the end of the manga. Did she change? Maybe she grew up a little, learned more about life, learned to accept her own desires more; but that is not much. The road she planned for herself had not changed, the way she was heading towards becoming a “boring adult” stayed the same. The manga took us through a very bright and breath-taking period of her life, but it didn’t change anything for her.
Same with Il Deung, he didn’t change either. There was so much talk about him going off his asphalt road to the bed of flowers, he even had this moment of catharsis after witch his appearance changed. But at the end he became a college student, same as Ai, same as he and his parents planned all along.
So what is up with that? I think the answer to this question lies in magician’s character and his back story. See, Ryu is the one who did not fit into this pattern. He did change his ways, back many years ago. And we all know what he became. An outcast, a man who lives in his illusions. Those are beautiful illusions, but never the less, they are not reality. He does “real magic”, but really every time he performs, it is just an act that masks the ugliness of actual reality. I am not judging him, it is fine for him to live the way he wants. But the fact remains that he does not fit into society. And think about this, that kind of life, it is not what Ai can enjoy. She need to take care of her sister, she wants to escape poverty; I’m sure she has other ambitions as well. And unlike Ryu all those ambitions are her own, it wasn’t like others pushed those goals onto her. See the difference? Ai is a real person with real goals and real problems. Ryu is like a fairy tale character, and his life turned like that because of the problems he had in his head, but not in reality. And their ways can’t be the same. That is the message of this story, I think. That if you live on Earth you can’t follow a shooting star. You can enjoy looking at it, you can run the direction it points, but yours is the Earth and its is the sky. It is a message that does not looks all that positive, when you put it this way. I like it though, just as I like everything that is not obvious but makes sense ^^
There is this very nice pair of events that illustrates what I’m saying. Remember this moment when Il Deung snaps at the guy who tried to frame Ryu? Il Deung tries to hit him. And remember how Ryu snaps at the girl who spilled his cards? The two events mirror each other, but how different are they. Il Deung cares about something that happened in reality, something that is an actual problem, a dishonorable act of injustice. Ryu, he cares about a ruined magic trick for a group of children. It is like the two of them live in different worlds, even though at this time the similarity between Ryu and Il Deung was shown pretty clearly.
I liked this story a lot. Very thankful to Shaurya who suggested it to me \^^/ Thank you =)
Till the next time (^_^)/