Tales of the Unusual
It was a dark winter night when I stumbled upon Tales of the Unusual by Seongdae Oh. With a thriller genre, it was very different to the content I’m used to reading. Something about its description and the art just called out to me though. As they so often say, curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. In this case I was the cat. This webtoon approaches storytelling in such a unique way; you can’t help but continue scrolling down until nothing remains. Think of your favorite thriller or horror movie and this comic will give you those same feelings.
What makes Tales of the Unusual so interesting is that it isn’t one coherent story. It’s instead split among plots with different stakes, lessons, and genres.
For example, there’s a story about ghosts, another one about demons, and another still about the dangers of greed. Oh is an expert at creating stories out of nothing or changing your view on things like illnesses or plastic surgery.
My favorite segment is called “My Wife’s Memories” about a ghost. The basic plot is a man starts seeing his diseased wife after she passes away in a fire. It, however, isn’t the traditional version of ghosts we’re used to in entertainment. Turns out that what he’s seeing is actually the memory imprint of his wife around the house. What follows is a sad yet heartwarming tale about a man learning to accept his spouse passing away before him.
The first time I read that part it hit me right in the heart, leaving me a broken mess for the rest of the night. I still sometimes think back and it makes me smile. It was a nice break to the normally foreboding atmosphere the manhwa brings along.
The other stories could be classified as horror like “Kiveiru’s Library”. The gist of it is that people have started enchanting books to enter a dream world where you take a test. If you fail, you never wake up again. If you pass, you gain the knowledge of all the books inside the place and can wake everyone else up. I don’t remember the last time I was absorbed by a story to the point of having to take a walk afterwards to unwind.
If “My Wife’s Memories” makes me smile, “Kiveiru’s Library” made me nervous before sleep. The latter was especially true around exam times.
The main characters vary according to each story. We get an impressive roster ranging from scumbag dog hater to beauty obsessed young lady. They all fit within their story nicely and their moral fiber is often the cause of any misadventures. That isn’t to say that all of the characters are terrible human beings, it’s just that most are.
The art style is crisp and conveys emotions and actions amazingly well. It is a bit rough at times, but the art is a bonus for this comic. The stories are strong enough to setup the atmosphere nicely on their own.
Oh’s style lends itself nicely to the more shocking scenes he draws. His usage of black, white and more toned down colors for most of the comic is great and contrasts nicely with the brighter colors like red when he decides to use them. Bright colors are used sparingly enough that they pop and come at you when used.
Oh also finds the time to slip in cameos or Easter eggs in each story, which is cool.
If you’re looking for something different to get your heart pumping, Tales of the Unusual is it. You never really know what you’re going to get out of this so it’s a bit like playing Russian roulette. If you’re a thriller or horror story fan, you’re definitely going to get a kick out of it. Even if you don’t like those genres or you feel like my review wasn’t good, I urge you to at least read “My Wife’s Memory”.
The entire comic can be legally read for free here.