Manga Village

Sarasah Volumes 1-2

December 2, 2009

High Schooler Ji-Hae is desperately in love with her classmate Seung-Hyu.  She has done all she can think of to win his affection, but to no avail.  When her latest scheme crosses the line, Seung-Hyu decides he’s had enough…and inadvertently pushes her down a staircase! Ji-Hae awakens in the world beyond, only to learn that it’s not her time to die.  But why go back when the love of her life hates her to death!  Touched by her passion, the keepers of heaven send Ji-Hae to her past life to mend the rift between her former self and Seung-Hyu.  But can Ji-Hae keep up the act long enough to find Seung-Hyu and set things right?

sarasah_1By Ryu Ryang
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Historical Romance
Price: $10.99

No, not really…  Sarasah is a modern-girl-gets-sent-to-the-past story combined with girl-dresses-up-as-a-boy-to-be-near-boy-she-loves story.  Neither of these plots are usually appealing, but Sarasah adds a karmic twist to the Ji-Hae’s dilemma. The reason Seung-Hyu hates her some much is because of something that happened in their past lives, and Ji-Hae is given the chance to correct it.  Though, the more I read of this series, the more I wondered if it wasn’t a time paradox, and it’s because she came to the past that screwed everything up.

When we first meet Ji-Hae, it’s in the present.  She’s in love with a boy, who looks more like a girl, but doesn’t act like the typical love-sick girl.  She’s closer to an obsessed stalker.  She spends two years doing everything she can to get Seung-Hyu to like her, but everything she does seems to backfire.  She refuses to give up, and such persistence is usually seen as a good thing.  Not so much with her.  She really comes off as selfish and annoying.  There’s nothing noble or endearing about her attempts to win Seung-Hyu in the present, or her single-mindedness to find him in the past.  She doesn’t try to blend in at all into her new surroundings in the past, and runs around like a bull in a china shop, knocking over people and trampling their feelings with any thought.

The story itself starts to take an interesting turn in volume 2 with the introduction of some political intrigue.  It turns out that the past life of her love, Ja-Yun, is involved with Misa-Huel, a ruthless noble who seems to be building up a military, and doesn’t like that the current ruler of the kingdom is the Queen.  Bub-Min who becomes involved with Ji-Hae by constantly running into, wants to use her relationship with Ja-Yun to find out more about what Misa-Huel is plotting, while Ja-Yun wants to do the same to find out about Bub-Min.  Ji-Hae is stuck in the middle, and finding her feelings getting more crossed the more she sees of Bub-Min.  I find all this interesting because it is all occurring at a time before Korea was united and were still warring kingdoms.  I love learning about the ancient history of Japan and Korea, and regret now not taking classes on Korea in college.

I liked the first two chapters of this series when I first read it in Yen Plus, but after reading through two volumes, not so much now.  Ji-Hae is annoying as is her “love” Seung-Hyu/Ja-Yun.  The more I get to know these characters, the less I like them.  The relationship that is growing between Ji-Hae and Bub-Min is much more interesting, but I like confrontational relationships.  The art is well done, with detail used sparingly, for clothes and such. But the characters themselves are rendered with clean, bold lines.  This title would be an intriguing story if the annoying lead characters didn’t overshadow it so much.

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About the author

Lori Henderson is the writer and reviewer for the manga blog, Manga Xanadu. She also keeps a personal blog at Fangirl Xanadu, and a writing blog at Muse of Xanadu. She contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. As the mother of two teen daughters, she needs all the escape she can get, which reading and writing about manga gives her.

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