Nov 3, 2015

Posted by in Manga Reviews | 2 Comments

The Tarot Cafe: Manhwa

Preface: Manhwa is a word for manga that comes from Korea. I will use the word manga from here forward because I’m more familiar with it, but just know this is technically a manhwa.

Tarot Cafe Vol 1 CoverThe Tarot Cafe by Park Sang-sun (박 상선) is by far one of my favorite manga on my shelf to this day. It’s a story that I followed as it was released, and that was a long time of following. Even though the series only consists of seven volumes, there were some long gaps between the last three volumes being released (we’re talking several years here), which made it difficult to keep up with. I’m very grateful that I did though, because you’d be hard pressed to find another story so beautifully put together!

I made only one mistake when I first read these, and that is that I didn’t go back and re-read the previous volumes every time a new one was released. This caused me to actually not enjoy the story much the first time I read it, because it didn’t make sense There seemed to be a lot of plot holes, and things just generally didn’t work out smoothly in my mind.

A few years later, I was working in the mall and the season wasn’t right for shoppers at a mall kiosk. I could read about one manga an hour, and over the course of an eight-hour shift (where the mall was dead because it was September and no one needed a calendar yet) I re-read the entire series. Wow! What a difference that made! By reading everything in order, in rapid-succession, the story fell together beautifully and this went from a dusty old series on my shelf that was “eh, to a series that I still periodically take down and re-read because it’s that good.

On top of having a fantastic story, the artwork in it is just absolutely stunning. Park Sang-sun took painstaking care to make sure that every little detail was included, and holy smokes are we talking a lot of detail! The art style will blow you away just as much as the story does.

The Tarot Cafe follows Pamela, a young woman with a seemingly big heart. People of all walks of life visit her shop to have their cards read, and in this manner she assists them through whatever issues seem to be plaguing their life. It’s not all that it seems though, as Pamela is hiding her own dark secret that is slowly coming back to haunt her. Just what does she have to do in order to move on with her own life, in the way she is helping her clients?

Sound interesting? Good, go read it! Well, that’s if you can. The manga is actually pretty difficult to find, because if I’m not mistaken it’s actually out of print at this time. Which is a shame, because it’s a fantastic series.

What’s particularly interesting about it, to me, is how it ties into religion so nicely, without preaching. That’s right, I’ve never seen something do this as well as Park Sang-sun’s manga does. You will not be disappointed, even if you’re an atheist.

So if you have some time, and can track it down, definitely give The Tarot Cafe a go!

  1. I need to borrow these from you some day…

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