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13th Boy, Volume 2


13th Boy, Volume 2

written and illustrated by SangEun Lee

In some ways, Hee-So is going through typical teenage problems. Her boyfriend broke up with her and she’s devastated, and not even willing to tell other people about the breakup. Nevertheless, there are other things most unusual about her. Like the fact that she has a talking cactus named Beatrice. (Yes, you can see Beatrice on the cover, and she doesn’t look happy.)

But, wait, there’s more. Besides being loudmouthed and communicative, the cactus turns into a human boy every full moon. All of this is only given the smallest of explanation, and Hee-So acts very nonchalant about her magical cactus situation. The whole turning-into-a-boy feels like an afterthought. Be that as it may, she doesn’t want other people to find out about it.

Hee-So thinks about boys more than she thinks about talking cacti. Namely, she thinks about the boy she just broke up with. She’s had a lot of boyfriends (referenced in the title), but this time she thinks it’s true love. There’s another boy named Whie-Young who’s interested in her, but she’s too into the former boyfriend to notice. It’s the audience who’s telling her to wake up and see what Whie-Young offers. Hee-So believes strongly in destiny, and it might be her destiny to partner up with Whie-Young, though she’ll be the last to admit it.

13th Boy is a bubblegum teenybopper series, but it also has some weirdness and magic thrown in. That definitely makes it more interesting. The art has a distinctive manhwa flavor and all of the boys are very pretty, especially Beatrice in her human male form. Hee-So herself has eyes that take up much of her face and wispy, detailed long hair. She can be overly perky and a little dense, often for comic touches, yet her best moments are when she pulls through and does something smart or heroic. (Then again, when she saves someone’s life and has a near-death experience, not only does it teach her nothing profound, it has her thinking more about boyfriends.)

13th Boy isn’t a sophisticated or deep series, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to be carefree and goofy, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s still too early to know if that talking cactus is going to really have a big impact on the story, or if she’ll remain at the side just being an anomaly of quirkiness. Either way, 13th Boy has some aspects to it that differentiate itself from the many other manhwa series aimed for teenage girls. Oh, and did I mention that Whie-Young has some magical powers himself? Yes, there’s more magic here than just a talking and transforming cactus. And who knows what there will be next?

Reviewed by Danica Davidson on October 27, 2009

13th Boy, Volume 2
written and illustrated by SangEun Lee

  • Publication Date: October 27, 2009
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yen Press
  • ISBN-10: 0759529957
  • ISBN-13: 9780759529953