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Nabi: The Prototype    by Yeon-Joo Kim order for
by Yeon-Joo Kim
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Nabi: The Prototype contains six stories from Yeon-Joo Kim that relate to her upcoming series, Nabi. All very ephemeral, they provoke an emotional response, whether a conclusion is reached or not.

Most revolve around Myo-Un, Ryu-Sang, and Ah-Ru at various stages of their lives. They are all orphans who live with and work for some mysterious master. Their relationships are long and complex, but never fully explained here. Two of the stories, Snow to the Flower and Glass Ball, start with the same flashback that is never commented on, except in a fleeting reference in thought passages. Also, the stories' time periods are never really set. The first, Ash Tree, seems modern, whereas the second, Star-Crossed, appears to be historical. These two do not tie in as well as the other four, but even the last four seem to take place at varying times.

Kim's biggest artistic talent lies in drawing eyes. The characters all have such expressive eyes, that their emotions come out loud and clear. She also puts a lot of detail in their hair and clothing, but not so much in the backgrounds, which is a little more usual in manhwa than manga. The writing is average, although a good example of postmodernism. However, the writing in the story I am Ah-Ru falls flat, as the main character/narrator constantly refers to herself in the third person, which causes the story to drag.

Most graphic novels provide fast-reading entertainment. Nabi: The Prototype is more heady than that. Yeon-Joo Kim's stories make you think, especially since they lack a clear resolution.

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