Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday Revue March 5: Heart of Keol

Ladies And Gentlemen! Today, I Bring You 


There's a place where magic reigns. There's a place where power flows like the sea. And it's not hard to get there....but it might be hard getting back.
This is 'Heart of Keol', the creation of Keiiii, and the gate into this fantastic realm is here. Trust me, this is a gate you want to pass through.

The Rating

Beautiful art and beautiful message. A rare bloom.

The Raves

To begin with, FEAST. YOUR. EYES.
Keiiii has the kind of artistic ability you usually associate with animation studios. Every page is a treat (even the ones Keiii complains about in their commentary.)
The powerful color palette and evocative style combine to immerse you in a world brimming with energy. Keol breathes a vivacious energy from every blade of grass and every panel. Every brushstroke and pattern helps create a living environment.  Every character is a living, moving being, evocative in their poses and their gestures. Even sound is a living thing, and the sound effects in this work are some of the most artistic I've ever seen.

And not only is the art exquisite, but the strip remains eminently legible, blending its dialogue into the layout without missing a step.

And then you get into the story.
I'll admit, dear readers, I was never an anime girl. I grew up on Menominee legends, Irish folk tales, Sherlock Holmes and the Greek and Roman myths, so by the time friends tried to show me Sailor Moon my response was a perplexed 'you like this? Is there a point to it?' That continued through high school (Fruits Basket. Tenshi in Tokoyo. The hurt....) until I was introduced to Baccano, Miyazaki and Avatar: The Last Air Bender in college. I still have issue with a lot of anime and manga writing conventions. I tell you this because it will let you understand that Heart Of Keol was working a tough crowd with me. And it won me over completely.
'Heart' has all the wonderful straightforwardness of storytelling and forthright manner of manga, without the over-the-top emotionality common to the genre. In emotional tone and in skill, it's a blend of Avatar and Miyazaki's more reflective works, with wonderfully personable characters who you want to hug and comfort and say things like 'don't worry, it'll work out' to. There's a zen-like state of innocence in the writing style that allows even the troubled characters to be happy people too. And just to spice it up, there's a mischievous sense of humor that plays games with gender norms, culture norms, bilingual puns and everything else people get too used to taking for granted. 'Heart' is great at taking us gently by the shoulder and helping us change where we're standing so that we can see from a new perspective. You're never beaten over the ideological head, and no one tells you what to think, but you are very gently asked to think about the way you see the world and the people who share it with you. And we can all use more of that.

 The story is deeply rooted in Korean culture and beliefs, and that leads me to another thing I loved; with every page, I learned new, informative and often funny tidbits about both the culture Keiiii is creating and the one they are rooted in. It's been a wonderful thing to be given a guided tour of another culture through the eyes of such a well versed host. I felt both charmed and honored as a reader to be respected in this way.

The Razzes

My biggest complaint is that, while the creator respects both their readers and their source material, they don't respect their own talent. Keiiii, love, please please stop apologizing or worrying aloud in your author's comments over whether a scene was good enough, whether it was interesting enough or was perfectly executed. Your work. Is. Beautiful. It deserves love. Please learn to love it like your readers do. It's sad to see such an AMAZINGLY talented person worry with every page that they're no good. You're better than 99 percent of the stuff on the Net right now. Pleeeeeeaaaaaase realize that and stop beating yourself up! You're giving us beautiful art! Be proud.

The Revue

A comic that will open your eyes and warm your heart. A must read.

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