In a world full of manga covering almost anything imaginable, from card games to aliens, it's incredibly hard to be original. Sometimes a manga successfully covers an interesting concept in a unique and fascinating manner, like Iron Wok Jan or Skip Beat. And then sometimes there are the manga that attempt originality by being weird. Moon Boy falls under the latter category.
Moon Boy has no theme. It has a plot, it has characters, but it doesn't have an overarching theme. There's not enough focus on the romance for that to be the theme and the plot itself tries impossibly hard to have no message. So I'll attempt to summarize the manga without spoiling anything.
The manga, Moon Boy, is about two different "species": foxes and rabbits. There's a few different explanations for why that strongly involves reincarnation, but what you really need to know is that the foxes eat rabbits. The Black Rabbit, Yu Da, is a kid with a liver that will grant immortality. Believe it or not, that's not the sole motivation for the foxes wanting Yu Da's liver but I'm trying to avoid major spoilers as much as I can here.
Despite its attempt at a complex backstory, Moon Boy's plot is still simply predator and prey with factions, despite being predator and prey with extremely odd circumstances. The manga focuses around a girl who strangely is determined to save Yu Da from the foxes he lives with. (The weirdest part about this plot element? Later, there's a very valid explanation as to why she shouldn't be defending Yu Da, although it is explained why it didn't affect her earlier.) Once you get past the total weirdness of the character's relationship, it boils down to a simple unrequited love mixed into a love triangle.
The battles between rabbits and foxes range from terrible, confusing and poorly drawn to almost epic, but a bit too concise to reach that level. (I'm not saying I don't like short battles and only think long battles can be epic or that long battles are ever bad, but every time the battle got awesome it just stopped there as if taunting you.)
All I'll say about the ending is that it was weird. I didn't particularly like it, I didn't particularly dislike it, I just thought it was weird. It was definitely new; no manga I've ever read has done something like this before.
For the first seven volumes, Moon Boy's weakness is its characters. Not their originality, mind you, and their characterization is usually fairly solid. (With the exception of a few major lapses used as a bit of a deus ex machina in romantic terms.) What's wrong with them?
It's a minor case of the problem I had with the "cinematic classic" Gone with the Wind. As a matter of fact, almost identical. Don't see it?
The unlikable, selfish protagonist loves the one person out of the love triangle who doesn't love her back but is equally unlikable and the protagonist unfairly manipulates the one likable character's emotions (who, not to mention, loves the protagonist) and THAT character is constantly being inexplicably portrayed as unlikable.
The supporting cast is not much to boast of either, with strangely devoid personalities and flat, unfunny gimmicks that become more than annoying as repeated throughout the entire manga.
By the last two volumes, there are a few characters who are much more interesting but the best character through out is Sa Eun won, the one character who loves the protagonist for no real reason.
The antagonist, sadly, never bites, really. They spend about two volumes going "GRRR" and then they don't. It's a shame, but it does allow for some awesome battles between the "other" legion (foxes aren't the clear cut antagonists, but the manga STILL manages to avoid any moral ambiguity) and the main characters.
The art is mediocre for the beginning with an extrememly exaggerated style and misunderstanding of compisition that makes the story and romance confusing and increasingly harder to follow in the most crucial scenes. By the end, the art has advanced A LOT but still unintentionally screws up aspects of characters that changes a dramatic scene into a silly one. At the beginning, it also ruins otherwise decent pacing.
Moon Boy had some truly excellent parts, balanced out by numerous bad features and didn't have anything else that just pulled it over to quality, instead just leaving the reader with a weird taste in their mouth.
Weird isn't always bad, but weird in this case isn't good, either.
What You'll Like:
One extremely good character.
Developing art that eventually becomes excellent.
Often awesome fight sequences.
Very unique conclusion.
What You Won't Like:
The rest of the cast is more tolerable when they have no personality.
Terrible cast portrayal.
Totally ignoring the hints of moral ambiguity and complexity.
For as unique as it is, it's incredibly cliche.
Terrible art to start with.
Slightly dissatisfying resolution.
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