13th Boy, Vol. 3
By SangEun Lee
Published by Yen Press
A volunteer outing with the Scouts gives Hee-So a new opportunity to get close to Won-Jun, but a blatant demonstration of Won-Jun’s devotion to Sae-Bom gets things off to a painful start. It would seem that revelation is the theme of the day, as Whie-Young finally forces Hee-So to remember the details of their childhood together. Later on, the full moon offers cactus Beatrice to the chance to seek out some answers about his supernatural origins, leading to some shocking truths for him as well as for his unwitting creator.
Love parallelograms are all well and good but there is no question that this volume’s real excitement is The Truth About Beatrice, possibly the weirdest and most wonderful bit of manhwa eccentricity I’ve encountered so far. Even as no more than a talking cactus, Beatrice was an undeniable highlight of my comics experience, but with the stakes raised and secrets peeling away rapidly, it’s hard to imagine what could top him. Also, though the series has positioned Whie-Young as Hee-So’s destined love since the very beginning, I really can’t help myself. I’m rooting for the cactus.
Fabulous whimsy aside, what really makes this series work is Hee-So. Though she is self-centered, pushy, and occasionally conniving, unlike some other boy-crazed manhwa heroines (Sarasah‘s Ji-Hae springs immediately to mind), she is also funny, oddly practical, and above all, immensely likable. Her most attractive characteristics are also her most contradictory, which is honestly half the fun. She is incredibly stubborn, yet open-minded enough to accept some fairly outrageous realities. She believes deeply in fated true love but has been through twelve boyfriends on her way to find it. Even in her most self-involved moments (and there are many of them), she’s able to consider questions such as whether or not her cactus might be going through puberty. She’s a complete mess, but she’s a mess with a mission and I find it impossible not to love her.
Just three volumes in, this series has become a real favorite for me. With its mix of supernatural oddities and quirky romance, 13th Boy offers something for both fans of cracktastic ’80s shojo manga and modern romantic manhwa. Highly recommended.
Review copy provided by the publisher.