When eight-year-old Si-Joon, the spoiled son of a senator, is lost in the mountains during summer camp, he meets a strange woman who tells him that he must marry her (literally) pig-faced daughter to atone for the sins of his ancestors. He stupidly agrees to participate in the wedding ceremony just so he can have something to eat. (Well, he is only eight!) It’s such a strange adventure that he grows up thinking that it was only a dream. But on his sixteenth birthday, his bride shows up in his dorm room, ready to consummate their marriage, and Si-Joon finds himself in a very awkward situation.Pig Bride is a sunjeong manhwa (the Korean equivalent of shojo manga) that superficially has a lot of things going for it. Though Kim’s art won’t necessarily be to everyone’s taste, it is well executed. The character designs are intricate and distinctive–this is not one of those series where all the light-haired characters look exactly alike–but the details never overwhelm the page. The action and paneling always remains easy to follow. Meanwhile, the premise is ridiculous, but also ripe for the type of romantic hijinks that readers find in the best sunjeong manhwa and shojo manga.
Unfortunately, much of this promise is undercut by the characterization of the two leads. Si-Joon is an annoying twerp at age eight, happy to flaunt his father’s influential position, and he does not improve much with age. This would not be a problem if so many characters weren’t inclined to worship at his feet. Alas, Mu-Yeon, his unwanted bride, spends most of the book being blandly sweet and protective toward him despite his lack of interest of her. By the end of the volume, I wasn’t rooting for the lead couple. I was actively rooting against them and hoping that Mu-Yeon might show signs of having a personality or spine.
The most interesting characters in the series thus far are actually Ji-Ho, Si-Joon’s best friend and roommate, who has already shown himself to be rather perceptive about other characters, and Mu-Hwa, Mu-Yeon’s sister and bodyguard, who likes eating cake when she’s not busy waving her sword at people’s heads. There are some hints of a potential Ji-Ho and Mu-Hwa romance down the line, which I suspect could actually be fairly entertaining.
The book features a foldout color insert of the two leads wearing traditional Korean wedding costumes, and the English lettering avoids the overcrowded look that sometimes mars other licensed comics. The original Korean sound effects in Hangeul remain intact, and small romanizations and translations appear next to them on the page. Normally I would cheer this sort of production decision; however, the romanizations here are very sloppy. They don’t conform to any of the accepted systems and are also internally inconsistent. Let’s hope the copyeditors do a better job with them in future volumes.
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
Review originally published at MangaLife.com