Title: Nabi the Protoype
Author: Yeon-Joo Kim
May Contain Spoilers
In this collection of short-stories, the reader is given a glimpse into the lives of girls caught up in various circumstances. So-Ryu is the hostage of her father’s political enemies, blinded and at the mercy of her captors. She forges a fleeting bond with the warrior who is charged with watching over her, drawn to him through the quiet moments they spend together. Gyeom is sent to Su as tribute from her tribe, her unwilling escort of two minds about his duty. In Glass Ball, Myo-Un and Ryu-Sang, bound by childhood animosities that draw them together as much as they divide them, must protect the young Han-Ah.
Once again, Yeon-Joo Kim provides stunning artwork, but less than coherent stories. Her character designs are elegant, with reed thin figures clothed in elaborate costumes. Impossibly large eyes dominate faces, as expressions flicker, ghost- like, across the panels. Her characters are stunning, and because of their beauty, there is an emotional distance that yawns between them and the reader. How can anyone be so perfect?
The panel arrangements keep the story flowing, even when the prose on the pages falters. The few action scenes are handled competently, with lines and blurring to give the illusion of movement. Page compositions showcase Kim’s illustrations, each framed breathtakingly within the panels.
That the art is this lovely makes it all the more disappointing that the stories twist confusingly along. The first story, Ash Tree, about the kidnapped So-Ryu, was the best. Encapsulated in less than 20 pages, it ends with a sense of completeness. The others seem disjointed, unsatisfying snapshots whose focus is blurred through the course of the chapters. They all share a restrained, brooding feeling as the characters reflect on their relationships with each other. With a little more foundation to build upon, these would have been gripping stories. Instead, they seemed incomplete and unfulfilling.
Nabi the Prototype will be on store shelves in October.
Rated for Teen 13+
Review copy provided by TOKYOPOP