Annarasumanara (2010) – Do You Believe in Magic?

“All grown-ups were once children but only a few of them remember it.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in “The Little Prince“. “Annarasumanara” is a manhwa about… everything. It’s about reality, grown-up, adulthood, dreams, disbelief, memories, happiness, society, creativity, I mean… everything. It’s not like I never read manhwa at all because, in fact, this is not the first manhwa I’ve ever read. Sung Sang-Young’s “The Gamer” was my first manhwa. It loosely based on a fantasy pop culture and RPG video games. But, I always want to find something new, something not only written or created with passion or love. It has to be impressed works. And this is the one, especially when talking about manhwa.

“Annarasumanara”, if you’re curious, means “abracadabra” in Korean, an incantation used as a magic word in stage magic tricks. But, this sentence, along with the times, began to shift. The sentence, on the other hand, can be interpreted as healing powers inscribed on an amulet. From this definition, this manhwa tells about magic and “healing power” on the basis of modern psychology and era. The story is straightforward but it captures all of its mysterious and aspects into one of the most beautiful writing.

Simply put, “Annarasumanara” is about magic but not about supernatural, superpower, or something like which. It’s a beautiful, charming, heartwarming tale about what it really means to be an adult. It’s about a lost memory, about a society that’s slowly killing one’s creativity. Yet, the manhwa tackles so many things, something we often encounter in our daily lives. They are socialism, parental pressure, understanding yourself, the meaning of life, and bullying. It’s about growing up, stop playing around and start participating in society even if you don’t accept the fact you would never be happy.

The story is about Ah-ee Yoon, a smart girl in her class but doesn’t have any friends. All she needs is simple: grow up quickly, have a family, and participate in society. When she met with Lee Eul, it was rumored there was an insane young man. He often asking strangers if they believed in magic. Even though Ah-ee thinks it’s just something small but childish, there is something that makes her amazed. Lee Eul understands her feelings deeply, about something he wanted since childhood.

Thus, Lee Eul is different from other characters and Ah-ee. Society isolates himself because he doesn’t want to be an “adult”. However, there is a reason why he is in the first place. Lee Eul and Ah-ee Yoon are like a coin from a different perspective but sharing one reflection with each other. As a child, Ah-ee struggles to find a comfortable place in herself and as part of the community. She tries to find happiness in this cruel world but also difficult to make decisions.

On the other hand, Lee Eul is just a kid who is stuck in an adult body. He finds what he really wants, what he really makes him happy. But, of course, society still considers him a crazy person. Strangely, what does this really mean? “Annarasumanara” is a tragedy. This manhwa is just deep, emotional, a gripping dark story, a depressing story about truth. But, Ha Il-kwon, the author, never answers the tragedy and problems in this work. He makes this ambiguously as possible, emphasizes what we have left in the first place. You cry but don’t know why. You want to just end this but still, you wonder if there is light at the end of the tunnel. The answer is no, it’s very ambiguous but we all know the real answer.

“Do you believe in magic?” asked Lee Eul to all of the characters to even readers. In this case, the author doesn’t provide a definitive answer about what exactly is “magic”. Is it about creativity? Beauty? Happiness? Wealth? Intelligence? Past? Is this just magic as we know it today or about how the horror of reality and society? Is Lee Eul just a shadow of a supernatural thing in this manhwa? Well, I like it better if this manhwa never answers it. That’s the best thing we have got.

Basically, we don’t really have many characters. There are just at least three main characters: Ah-ee Yoon, Lee Eul, and Il-Deung Na. Il-Deung is Ah-ee’s classmate, having something missing as well after meeting with Lee Eul. His plot consists of how he was considered a genius by his teachers, his parents, and other students. He seems like he exists but he is just a character with a ridiculous design of all characters. Yet, there is a reason why.

All of these three characters are just so realistic in their own way. They have shared the same problem, related in such a way, and we easily connect and root to them. How come I want to be an architect when I was a child, but as we grow up, everything is just meaningless? The art is just amazingly magnificent although it’s hard to describe how. It’s simply a black-and-white, mostly, but there is one part I love the most. It’s the transition when Ah-ee hears a rumor about Lee Eul from his friends but Il-Deung’s character slowly faded appears next to her. The expression, the background, they are all just mesmerizing. There are lots of beautiful details on it.

I read this manhwa in one night and I absolutely enjoy this. “Annarasumanara” is definitely one of the best manhwas from its plot, characters, art, everything. There is a reason why we are still stuck in the past because all we have to think from now on is the future. But, we still want to go back to the past, still enjoy those old-days, remember how you are now not what you used to be. Just thanks for the greatest piece. And for now, I believe what the meaning of “magic” really is.

5 out of 5 stars.