DVD reminds me of some various and random things—Ai Yazawa’s NANA, the short-lived and cult favorite TV series Wonderfalls, and the pilot for the BBC show Being Human—while managing to be something fresh and original. It’s true that I have not read a great deal of manhwa, but DVD is the finest example of Korean comics craft that I have yet encountered.
DVD is the story of Ddam Shim, who has been dating handsome Sajang Min for three years, right up until he breaks up with her over dinner, saying there are certain things about her that he just can’t stand anymore. For instance, Ddam sees illusions, from clusters of grapes floating overheard to chatty cows on the train and rebellious shadows that get blown free in a windstorm and run off. She also seems to be incapable of feeling cold, and Sajang postulates that she might not be completely human.
Heartbroken Ddam decides to commit suicide and blows her remaining money on some pretty things for herself. On the tag for a bra she finds a phone number and, after some deliberation, calls it and makes arrangements to spend her last day on earth with that person. The number belongs to Venu, a very handsome guy with a boob fetish who believes his looks to be a handicap and aims to lead as pointless a life as possible. He makes his living by selling story ideas to novelists and manhwa-gas while his best friend DD—an uncouth punk with a thing for long eyelashes—is a DJ. They meet up with Ddam and, in short, begin to change her life.
Venu and DD are fun characters, and their relationship is entertaining. Even though they often engage in immature or violent behavior, they have some entirely random conversations that appeal to my love of the absurd, such as the best techniques for spitting and whether hairy feet would be useful in winter. I may disapprove of some of their actions, but they’re trying to cheer Ddam in their own inept way and that helps to balance their faults. Ddam is far from a cipher, but so far, she’s still numb from all that’s been happening and spends most of her time reacting to events around her.
I also really like the playful style in which the story is told. It lapses frequently into flashbacks, daydreams, Ddam’s illusions, and Venu’s stories, many of which are quite amusing. With some creators, such a juggling act might result in something incomprehensible, but Chon has a sure hand and keeps things on track. The mystery and evolution of Ddam’s illusions are particularly interesting—especially as they begin to involve real physical objects and become visible to others—and the second volume ends on a cliffhanger with a lot of intriguing possibilities.
The art style is pretty angular, with all of the main male characters possessing a set of heavy black eyebrows and everyone receiving highly slanted eyes and pointy chins. I’d swear that Sajang and Venu have nearly the same face, but their styles and expressions are so different that there’d be no chance of mistaking one for the other. DD is also particularly expressive, and I admire Chon’s skill in conveying his feelings and reactions so clearly.
So far, only two of DVD‘s eight volumes have been published in English. With DramaQueen’s currently uncertain status, a future for this title seems unlikely, which is truly a shame. Still, there’s a lot to like in the volumes we do have, and they’re worth a read, even if we’ll never know how it all turns out in the end.
Review copies provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.