Editors Note: We have been getting a lot of requests to cover a bit more than gadgets on the blog, with a wide range of suggestions ranging from the ridiculous, (Gossip and Political news “from a tech angle”–whatever that means) to sports. One of the recurring suggestions have been comics, Anime and Manga series, and we think it does make sense as those are areas that intersect with tech and a techie’s life more often than not. So here is a sneak peek of what you should expect in the coming year under the new section. Lets us know what you think!
At present interest in Japanese comics, also called Manga, is at best a niche hobby. They contain fantastical settings, characters that are way out there, and plot points that either have you scratching your head or risk a brain aneurysm at the complexity of it all. In short they are just weird but that is part of their charm in my opinion. The shounen genre is a great gateway into manga, which is why most have heard whispers of Bleach or Naruto. I recently got a recommendation to check out a title, not out of Japan, but from Korea, they are called Manwha over there. They differ, mostly on cultural references but the feel is familiar. This is the Breaker!!
The Breaker is a Korean Manwha written by Jeon Keuk-Jin and illustrated by Park Jin-Hwan under the name Kamaro. The series was serialized in Young Champ’s magazine between 2007 and 2010 and it must have done well because its sequel “The Breaker – New Waves” is currently ongoing on Daum Communications’ online comic portal.
The story of The Breaker follows Shi-Woon Yi, a timid high school freshman at Nine Dragons High School, who in common fashion for the genre gets bullied constantly. As expected he’s comes off as weak, cowardly and totally clueless on what to do about his situation. He’s basically at his breaking point!
Enter Chun-Woo Han, a substitute teacher who’s unorthodox, to say the least. He’s generally laid back, a brash womanizer, very unprofessional and doesn’t command any sense of respect from his students. He takes a marginal interest in Shi-woon’s predicament, meaning he ridicules him.
As fate would have it, on the night of their first meet, Shi-woon would come across his teacher about to be pummelled by some undesirable elements only to bear witness to Chun-woo’s superb fighting prowess. Seems everything we’ve seen from him at that point might have been an act, maybe not the womanizing part. Ends up that Chun-Woo Han is a member of the secret martial arts world of Murim and has earned the title of Goomoonryong and is regarded to be the strongest martial artist under the heavens.
After unwittingly saving his student from a probable suicide, Chun-woo gets a request from Shi-woon to take him on as a martial arts disciple. To the point of blackmailing him with a video of his fight. He sees the highschooler as a constant annoyance but after several incidents to show his resolve, including jumping off a bridge, he agrees to train him.
But it seems Chun-woo’s tenure as a teacher is merely a cover for a very important mission given him by his Elder. Add to the fact that he becomes a suspect in the death of a prominent master and maybe he’s under protective custody. Either way it makes for an interesting turn in the plot.
Now the main story of The Breaker isn’t something new, in fact we’ve seen this plenty of times. From story like the Karate Kid or the manga Kenichi World’s Strongest Disciple, just to mention a few. It’s basically the story of an underdog who goes under the wing of a professional to train him to become a better person. What differs in my opinion is that it seems the center a lot on the teacher (Chun-woo Han) and not as much on the student (Shi-woon). But being an introductory volume, it would make sense to focus on the more interesting character, all Shi-woon seems to do is get bullied a lot. The first volume does a good job of introducing the characters that matter as well as making us familiar with their personalities. The story progresses quite well, there is great exposition of future events and the ending is quite something.
First thing I noticed about Park’s art is the um….. ah…. curves? Now, I’m not against fan service, far from it. Done right it gets my stamp of approval. But as a lead in to a series it could leave the wrong impression. At first glance one could mistake the Breaker for an Ecchi series, with some awesome fights in it. The ladies are drawn like runway supermodels, even Shi-woon’s mom who’s probably intended to be drawn plain looks like she might take off her glasses and spin to do a wonder woman transformation for all we know.
That being said, the art is beautifully done. The breaker is a visual feast, with great composition and very smooth panel transition. Even during fights it is very easy to follow the action sequences which can be difficult to pull off in the martial arts genre.
Facial expressions show a great range of emotions, from Chun-woo’s indifference, to Shi-woon’s helplessness and even the sinister glare from his bullies are well communicated. The eyes do tend to look very cat like at times though! One of the things I like is the shift to chibi style art used to express comedic moments. This almost borders on self parody and shows how the series is unashamed of its very juvenile tendencies. While this aspect could potentially distract from the more serious moments, they definitely earn a few chuckles here and there. I mean look at Shi-woon’s perception of Chun-woo’s fight in contrast to how it really happens.
Based on the first volume, I’d say the breaker is a coming of age story, if it didn’t focus too much on Chun-woo, but with the whole bullied weakling overcoming his shortcomings and becoming stronger theme it seems to have built up it can’t be anything but. Shi-woon is about to enter a hidden world of martial art and be taught by the best. He’ll face many trials and probably find himself wanting in a lot of them. Will he eventually triumph over the tribulations of high school life, what kind of trouble is Chun-woo hiding from or bringing along with him and how will his new disciple be swept of in it?
Check it out and you might find out in future volumes.
Here’s my video review of The Breaker Volume One for you to check out: