Sarasah, Vol. 1
written by Ryu Ryang
Ji-Hae has been in love with the same boy for a year and a half. Nothing she says or does gets Seung-Hyu interested in her (not that her stalker-like admiration is any help). His rejections are outright cruel, which doesn’t stop the lovesick Ji-Hae. Who hasn’t been in her shoes at some point in their lives? (Though preferably our unrequited love is for someone nicer than her choice.)
She tries to throw a special birthday celebration for him at school, only for Seung-Hyu to decide he’s had it. When Ji-Hae rushes to embrace him, he dodges—or pushes her (the drawings aren’t quite clear) and she falls down the stairs. At this point, rather than getting up and being okay, she has a near-death experience.
In a flowery otherworld, she meets a kindhearted goddess named Gameunjang, who’s willing to give this mortal another chance at love. But instead of returning Ji-Hae to her own body, the goddess sends her back in time. Ji-Hae transforms into a young noblewoman living in Shilla, part of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, which mean she’s now in the first millennium A.D. And she still isn’t having much luck with love!
She does meet a boy who looks just like Seung-Hyu only with much longer hair. She meets another young man she believes might be the famous King Mun-Mu, who united the Three Kingdoms of Korea. There’s also some sort of cute dog-like animal that hangs around her on the command of the goddess. It can look evil when it wants to and does the ungodly thing of stealing from the temple.
So is Ji-Hae going to still be pursuing Seung-Hyu no matter what? The manhwa is leading us to believe Mun-Mu is the better choice (well, especially since Seung-Hyu isn’t a good choice to begin with, thanks to his personality).
The lead character is feisty and outgoing, if uncertain of herself. But if she wants something, she’s going to do all she can to get it. With the exception of her fixation with an unlikeable (but pretty) boy, she has spunk. It’ll be curious to see how she grows in this series.
Sarasah is easily recognizable as a Korean graphic novel. It takes place in Korea, has a clear manhwa style (like the boys who look like girls) and shows its back-in-time characters in extravagant Korean garb. One of the most eye-catching things about these pictures would be its details in the clothes and even the hairstyles. The cover picture gives a hint of what will be found inside. The historical setting is a great instance for the artist to show off skills in how people would dress themselves, making it all the more vivid.
Ji-Hae’s love is obsessive, if real. That’s something we can all relate to. This book’s lovely art and bits of history add to its reading appeal. It even opens with quotes on love from the likes of Goethe and Moliére. It goes to show that no matter what time you’re in, love is going to happen!