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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/23/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Heaven Above Heaven, Vol. 1"

Heaven Above Heaven, Vol. 1
by Kang-Suk Kyun and Joong-Won Jeon
Publisher: TOKYOPOP

Review by Tom Good

"You . . . Morons!" says Bakhong, "You've ruined the moment . . . a moment I may never get again in my life!" Filled with rage, the young man turns on those who disturbed him, and whirling his staff he takes on three Volcano School swordsmen in a wild battle. But what was the moment they disturbed? Only Bakhong's attempt to peep through a hole in the bathhouse roof to catch a glimpse of a beautiful naked woman below. (The bathhouse voyeurism scene seems to be a common stock element of manga, much like the chase scene with fruit cart in action movies.)

Heaven Above Heaven combines martial arts action with comical mischief, almost in the style of a Jackie Chan movie such as Drunken Master. Even when Bakhong makes a mistake like dropping his staff, his opponents think it must be a trick or secret technique. But the main story concerns a prophecy about a cursed child who will bring about unimaginable destruction. Martial arts masters who knew of the prophecy tried to kill the child in infancy, but were defeated. Bakhong meets this child and is unaware of what she is, but for how long?

Heaven Above Heaven is drawn in a style full of sweeping parallel lines, acrobatic poses, and detailed textures. As is typical with a Volume 1, a lot of the material here just sets the scene and establishes characters, but Bakhong's encounter with a gambler running a three card monte scam is especially amusing. Danshula, the girl who Bakhong spied on, turns out to be the daughter of a local martial arts teacher, and it looks like she will be a recurring character. This first volume is a quick and funny read, but it is too early to tell whether the story will reach its potential.

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