Bride of the Water God is manhwa, different from the Japanese manga since it comes from Korea and there are differences in the character designs and un-translated sound effects. Manhwa is also read from left to right, unlike the Japanese and Chinese counterparts, which makes it more accessible to western culture. Bride of the Water God is a superb example of this style of graphic novel and is sure to gain fans and popularity as the series continues.
Bride of the Water God is the tale of Soah, a beautiful young woman who is sacrificed by her village to the Water God Habaek. Convinced that the gift of a beautiful woman will save their village from drought, they send her out alone to face what is believed to be a horrible monster. But the last thing Soah expects is to be welcomed to the land of Suguk by Habaek the Water God, who happens to be a child.
Soah is welcomed into Habaek’s household as his bride, and she spends a lot of her time wandering around the palace. She meets several of the other Gods who are living there, a strange collection of beautiful and slightly eccentric characters that I’m sure will be fun to get to know as the series continues.
Among the people living in the palace is Huye, a man that Soah first mistakes for the Water God. When Soah is attacked by a che, a monster that is similar to a tiger but has the tail of an ox and barks like a dog, Huye is there to save her. Soah hurts her ankle in the process, and Huye carries her back to the palace to the annoyance of Habaek.
Habaek, who can be a bit temperamental, just happens to be cursed. During the day he is the child that Soah knows, but at night he reverts to his adult self. While the rest of the inhabitants of the palace know, no one has filled Soah on this little secret. When she comes face to face with a grown Habaek, she has no idea who he is. Habaek, in response, panics and tells her that he is Habaek’s cousin, Mui.
It gets a little tangled from there and even worse once Habaek’s mother Seowangmo, the Goddess of Punishment and Torture among other things, shows up to inspect Habaek’s new bride. We find out that Soah isn’t the first of his human brides, but nothing is known of his previous wives or where they have gone.
Yun’s artwork is spectacular and amazingly detailed, especially the clothing and the kingdom of Suguk. I was particularly enchanted by the first few pages, which are done in color; delicate and other worldly, they give such a romantic feel and make the perfect introduction for the black and white drawings that follow. Bride of the Water God Volume Two is being released in February of 2008, so you don’t have long to wait for the continuing story. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to it.