Story and Art – Yeh Ri Nah
English Label– ADV
Release Date – 08/2004
First Volume ISBN – 1-4139-0067-4
Genre – Comedy, Romance
Age Rating – Teens
The desire for a normal teenage life haunts the overworked and under-appreciated Mi-Roo. While most girls her age are carefree and boy-crazy, she is bound to the gruelling gigs of student, homemaker and full-time babysitter to her siblings. With a mother who’s mostly missing-in-action and a twin brother who’s bent at doing nothing, Mi-Roo is trapped in a constant balancing act of housework and homework. But she’s no superhero-it’s going to take more than a little determination to stay in control of this whirlwind!
At first, I was a bit wary of this title, because of the way it started. Mi-Roo, is the caretaker of the family since her older sister is a budding manhwa artist and her mother is constantly on the road. However, the first thing she does is rebel from this situation. I thought it would be a story about her rebellion.
I was wrong. Not long after Mi-Roo rebels, she comes around in a way that made me fall for the character and start rooting for her. Mi-Roo has had it with her family abusing her, but not long after she rebels by going to live with her sister, Na-Roo, she finds out that her father’s job is at stake. She decides to move back home and set things straight – and this involves disciplining her twin brother Ma-Roo.
Ma-Roo is lazy to Mi-Roo’s responsibility. All he does is lie around and think of ways to manipulate their father for money. Mi-Roo immediately puts a stop to this, and much of the book centres on their very entertaining sibling rivalry. Mi-Roo is cunning and does her best to outsmart Ma-Roo when it comes to spending money and getting to school on time. Ma-Roo has his own sadistic streak, but his timing is always slightly off. The result is hilarious.
As the volume proceeds and the twins begin high school, we are introduced to one of Ma-Roo’s friends (who may like Mi-Roo, which infuriates Ma-Roo) and some classmates of Mi-Roo’s that she winds up making friends with. Her friends are complete opposites of each other, and it’s Mi-Roo’s level-headedness and her willingness to accept both of them that allow them to band together.
My favourite part of the book centres around Mi-Roo, Ma-Roo and younger brother Dah-Ro assist Na-Roo in making her manhwa deadline. Mi-Roo is pretty competent, but Ma-Roo is hopeless. Dah-Ro is still a little boy, and while he is eager, the results are disastrous. Throughout it all, you can see how close these siblings are, and it is refreshing to see. No matter how much Mi-Roo and Ma-Roo fight, when things are down for the count, they will stick together. It was nice to see the entire family at work.
Missing in action is the parents. We see Mi-Roo’s father in the first couple of chapters, but he quickly disappears. Mi-Roo’s mother is constantly on the road, but doesn’t appear at all in this first volume. Considering that this volume takes place over a couple of months, it makes me wonder how having her around will change the atmosphere of the series and whether or not she will make an appearance.
The art ranges from being very pretty at times to extremely rough. Sometimes, when looking at the character’s faces, it doesn’t feel like Ye-Ri had the time to fully complete the picture. Perhaps she had an assistant like Ma-Roo was to Na-Roo. I think a lot of this boils down to the difference between manhwa and manga art. What I did like was the chibi-mode the characters sometimes took. It always makes me smile.
The translation was easy to follow and it’s a solid read. The SFX is subtitled, and thankfully is easy to follow. One of the usual things that the book has is that the chapter title is actually at the end of the chapter and takes the form of mission numbers. It reminds me of an anime in the way that it does it, where the mission title follows the episode. I can’t remember which anime it is off-hand, but it is neat.
50 Rules for Teenagers is a character-driven work, and that’s what keeps this book together. What on the surface appears to be a book about teenage rebellion is actually one about family and friends and the intricate relationships that each have. There’s drama, but it’s not overly angsty like Peach Girl is. It’s got a lot of light-hearted moments and it made reading through this book a joy as I re-read it for the review. For those not used to manhwa, it’s a great introduction to the art style with a shôjo-style storyline.