THE STARRY NIGHT is the third book in NetComics’s Manhwa Novella Collection, following 9 FACES OF LOVE. Each of these books is done by a different person, and this is Kimjin’s volume. It contains four short stories that add up to about 250 pages.
The first story, “The Starry Night,” is about a smart young girl whose interests are astronomy...and a certain boy. However, there’s another girl bringing competition. Since the characters are young, it never really gets into a love story; it’s more about childhood yearnings and unrequited feelings.
The second story, “Toy Soldier,” starts with a girl receiving two dolls as gifts. One is of a man and one is of a woman. It soon becomes apparent these dolls have an enchantment to them, or that the girl who owns them has very vivid dreams. The dolls come to life and, in some ways similar to The Nutcracker, battle enemies and take the human girl to a land of magic.
“A Good-Bye in Autumn,” the third story, is the standout. The main character here is a boy (who looks like a crow in the human world) with the task of taking souls into the afterlife. He’s not actually a boy, but a spirit from heaven. His latest job is to take the soul of a young girl with a terminal illness. Once he meets her, he doesn’t want to do the task he’s been assigned. While shorter than it could be, “A Good-Bye in Autumn” is heartfelt and soul-searching.
The final story in this volume is “Shine Like a Star.” In it, a man finds an abandoned little boy and lets the child stay with him while the police try to find his parents. This is a melancholic story like the one before it, albeit not to the same degree. The boy is bratty and precocious, though the man caring for him learns to see the good in his young and unexpected tenant.
THE STARRY NIGHT is rated “All Ages.” The characters are mainly young, and I think this could be a good manhwa for older children. It isn’t cutesy and doesn’t pander, so it’ll be for kids with a more mature appetite for books and outlook on life. Older readers, including teens and adults, can also enjoy this, but the age level of the characters might give it that extra boost to entice readers who are around 10. Still, the rating leaves it pretty open for just about anyone, and it is a little difficult to peg this manhwa as mainly for one audience or another.
Reviewed by Danica Davidson on November 14, 2006
The Starry Night