Sunday, April 30, 2023

REVIEW: The Boxer (manhwa, vol. 1) by JH, translated by WEBTOON

The Boxer is a sports series originally serialized online. I bought my copy of this volume new.


K, a legendary trainer of world champion boxers, has gone to a certain gym in search of his final student. At first, he thinks that person might be Baeksan Ryu, a naturally talented young fighter whose unpredictable and fluid movements allow him to hold his own against larger and more experienced opponents. However, then he sees a group of bullies beating up a boy outside, and something in that boy's empty eyes tells him he's looking at something above and beyond any fighter he's ever trained before. Unlike Baeksan, Yu doesn't feel any sort of need to dominate others or be better than them - he simply exists, and is bored with that existence.

I don't feel like I've seen enough of this series to really judge it yet. I'm not even sure how many of the characters in this first volume will be series regulars - the Yu of this volume was a teen, but in the cover image he appears to be an adult, so it's possible we'll never see Baeksan or Injae again. 

I'm intrigued enough by Yu to want to read another volume, but he'll need to be more than just a mysterious empty vessel to really hook me. So far, we know almost nothing about him, other than that he's beaten up all the time and doesn't seem to care about anything, and that he appears to live alone in almost entirely bare surroundings. He's not one of the bullies, like Baeksan, but it's unclear whether that's because he simply doesn't care enough to try to harm others or because there's any sort of decency in him.

For a very brief amount of time, just a few panels, Injae did his best to befriend him and get to know him better. Yu did nothing to either encourage or discourage him, and there's no way to tell, at this point, whether his actions at the end of the volume were in any way inspired by Injae, or whether he was just curious about the things K told him earlier.

The artwork was good - the fights were reasonably clear and easy for me to follow, and you could tell who the characters were and what they were like at a glace. Injae: idealistic and determined (and completely unaware that his father, a former boxer, was trying to nudge him towards staying out of fights he was doomed to lose). Baeksan: a bully with a driving need to prove that he's stronger than everyone around him. And Yu: a terrifying void.

I'll give this another volume to see how it works for me. 


A 2-page boxing glossary.

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