Gosu (The Master)
When I stumbled upon Gosu by Ki-Woon Ryu and Jung-Hoo Moon, I was initially looking for something to keep me entertained in between major releases. What I found instead was an amazing diamond many people passed over.
The state of the Japanese manga world is getting better but there was a time when content was primarily trash. It was around the time that Bleach was ending, and all of the good stuff was posted every 10 years, like Hunter x Hunter, Berserk, or even Hajime no Ippo. Ignoring those heavy hitters, there were also authors who decided to publish pieces with no real substance to them. There are countless stories where likeable protagonists and amazing worlds take backseat for an easy harem or fan service outcome. I’m looking at you Fairy Tail. I’m still reading it only to get closure, kind of like what I did with Bleach.
So then, where is someone craving great content supposed to look at? The South Korean and Chinese industries are excellent places to keep an eye on.
You may want to read Yongbi the Invincible as it provides backstory for some characters and events. I personally recommend you read Yongbi, simply because it is hilarious and has the best horse in any entertainment form.
The title of this piece leads the reader to think that this is going to be a simple revenge story. That means it does its job. The only thing it doesn’t do is justice to how the author approaches that common trope.
Gosu starts off with the backstory of Dokgo Ryong the Heavenly Destroyer. For all intents and purposes, the strongest martial artist of his time. We learn that he was so powerful he essentially dominated a majority of the land. His rule was great until the day he suddenly disappeared. The truth, however, was that he was left for dead after being betrayed by his four apprentices. Dokgo survived and took on a new apprentice, a young boy he trained in a cavern to get his revenge.
So far it sounds interesting, right? It gets even better once the boy goes out into the world and realizes that all four apprentices died. What came about was that once they took out Dokgo, their alliance crumbled as they all wanted to be the leader.
So what can our protagonist, who was trained by the strongest martial artist, do at this point?
He decides to work in a little dumpling joint where he can get free food and lodgings. Our boy is a smart man with little aspirations to use his power.
There would be no story, however, so in true protagonist fashion, he gets pulled back into the martial artist world. Murim is the name that world is commonly known as.
As we read more chapters, we find out that there is more to the four apprentices than what Gang Ryong was told.
There’s action, comedy, mystery, and the art is sublime. What else could you possibly want out of a comic?
The main character is named Gang Ryong. He has learned all of his master’s techniques and is a force of nature. Gang prefers to avoid fights and is content living a calm life alongside Yerin, and her mother. Always eating the restaurants’ leftovers is the principal reason he is referred to as fatty by everyone he meets. He is initially portrayed as a funny carefree guy and remains that way until he gets into more challenging fights. When he fights someone, he tends to toy around with them. In later arcs, he has to push himself against the masters of yesterday’s Murim.
Yerin Song could be considered the love interest in Gosu. She works at a restaurant that specializes in dumplings. After coming out of the cavern, she’s actually the first person Gang meets and the one who tells him all four apprentices are dead. Her character is great because she isn’t the typical damsel in distress. Although she knows no martial arts, she can still take care of herself and isn’t whiny.
The last character is Yerin’s mom. She isn’t really her mom but took care of her. Chohyang Song is the source of many gags against Gang or herself. She normally looks old but on her days off she goes around looking young with the power of makeup.
There’s more to each of them but their backstory is slowly revealed as the chapters are released.
As far as main characters go, that’s pretty much it.
There’s a bunch of secondary characters that are arc specific. We have yet to revisit any of the characters aside from the main bunch. There is hope though that Gang Ryong will run into them as he travels.
Normal Japanese manga are done in black and white. What’s great about Korean comics is their usage of color in every single panel. When the color is muted in something like that, we get an even greater sense of impact. It is rarely done but when it is, it is to great effect.
The art style is simple but to the point. It lends itself perfectly to motion and large scale destruction that is oh so common in this. Jung-Hoo Moon does a good job of making you feel exactly what is happening in the scene. The artist does so by drawing all of the important frames of an exchange. In a normal comic, sometimes you can misunderstand what exactly a character is doing, but that never happens here.
Jung-Hoo utilizes black and white generously for the more intense skills characters use. A move that utilizes Ki to produce an explosion is pure white and is almost blinding, giving you an idea of how the characters feel in the moment.
This is definitely a read for anyone looking to experience something new. If you aren’t that kind of person though, read it anyways. It’s that good. I always get giddy when I see that a new chapter has been released, because I know I’m in for a good time. There’s a bunch of chapters ahead if you start today.