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As of the last decade, manga has grown stale, focusing on strange, cartoony characters and kids, failing to present profound stories for mature teenagers and adults to delve into. After finding that there were much deeper stories in manga that didn’t get made into anime because of what is considered popular to Japanese people, I left the world of anime. Over time, it became rare to find good manga, and I got tired of the headache of looking at things in black in white. Enter our Saviors’: Manhua (Chinese) and Manwha (Korean). Digital manwha and manhua, in comparison to digital manga, is a Godsend!
The first drastically different thing that typically stands out about Manwha and Manhua is that most digital ones are published in color, giving a vivid depiction of the environment and drawing the reader into the characters since everything has more depth to it.
Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint, Kim Dokja in the belly of the beast
Secondly, there is the integration of digital computer-generated backgrounds, items, and lighting that really make this genre shine! The use of a single frame on most pages makes everything so much easier to read and keeps the reader connected to the world's reality.
Kim Dokja subway surprise
Lee Jihae murdering her friend
Finally, the depth of the characters and stories make this genre a superior form of illustration over manga. I present three different titles that share different takes on gaming and the implementation of gaming characteristics into a story: The King’s Avatar, Global Martial Arts, and Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint.
The King's Avatar:
While I stated earlier that most have colored illustrations, the first example is of a black and white manhua called The King’s Avatar. This way, we can compare apples to apples and see that the drawing style is visually sharper with more detail in a manhua than a manga.
Then there is the difference of a mature story involving an aging gamer who has been with an esports team for seven years. Ye Xiu is known as the best player of the PC MMORPG Glory. Now he is experiencing a monumental shift in his life of being let go from the team. The story deals with Ye Xiu needing to find employment for himself with what skills he has, teaching others in the ways of Glory to form a team and reclaim what is his. It is a showcase of how the choices made affect those around us and impact people to varying degrees. Many people are currently going the pro gamer route and never did anything other than that to prepare themselves for making it in life, so this is a very relevant story for this day in age. In comparison, when browsing through manga, there are so just many fluff stories that have volume upon volume printed of them while mature masterpieces rarely are supported. The King’s Avatar may not have been finished yet as a manhua, but it was made into an anime, then transitioned into a live-action Korean drama series.
The Two faces of Tyrannical Ambition attempting to solicit Ye Xiu's services
Ye Xiu's ability to dodge bullets
The artwork of The King’s Avatar brings the game world and the gamer playing it to life. The comedy is hilarious. Ye Xiu is often depicted outwitting other characters on the battlefield and making deals for resources. The story is filled with details on MMORPG fighting and techniques, including guilds, servers, and dungeons. For more on The King’s Avatar, including the anime and live-action version of it, see the article: “The King’s Avatar, Manhua Masterpiece to Self-Endangering Anime to Live Action K Drama Legend!”
The King's Avatar Manhua, increase input speed
Reaction to Ye Xiu killing a Boss on the New Server
Global Martial Arts:
Global Martial Arts is a new manhua that progresses in quality as the chapters are released, showcasing a full-color graphic novel's creative possibilities. As the manhua is building in popularity, it is getting access to more resources to improve its quality. Global Martial Arts is the premier showcase of the significant difference in visual quality between reading a manga and a manhua/manwha.
Teacher Lu Fengrou
Global Martial Arts takes a different, mature approach to gaming. The main character, Fang Ping, is now in a parallel world to the world he initially was in; he has a system that somehow is integrated with him that he can interact with that no one else can see. This system allows him to upgrade his body and store money and goods. Interestingly it duplicates the money he has if he receives real money, so whatever he spends within the system does not affect his real money. He is actually ten years older, but he has been transported back in time to his younger self as a high school senior. In this world, the red carpet is rolled out for those who excel in martial arts. Those who are mediocre or who have no martial arts ability will not climb very high in life and have very few privileges.
Fan Ping having to say goodbye to his family to set off for University
Everything is about potential and making the right choices at the right time to get maximum return on investment of time and resources. Due to Fan Ping retaining his memories of being an adult, he knows how to work his newfound abilities to make a better life for himself and his family than he previously had. Since Fan Ping did not have martial arts talent previously, he is not all-knowing, so he is not living the typical reincarnation story that is now very popular to create.
Surprise Aerial Attack cause girls are Viscous!
A misstep can cost you your life
Fan Ping is very much so on the brink of life and death, now walking the martial artist's path. The story quickly progresses from being in high school to being in a university and learning the difference in access to knowledge and resources that attending a prestigious university gives you. Fan Ping sets about developing multiple streams of income to continue progressing and take care of his family. This is a more serious manhua that doesn’t spend much time and effort on comedy and focuses on the harsh reality of limitations created by lack of resources and the need to improve one’s lot in life. The story is still exhilarating as the visual depiction keeps the reader riveted!
New housing for the family
Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint:
Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint is a new manwha that focuses on a 28-year-old office worker named Kim Dokja, who graduated from a third-rate rural university and works as a contracted worker of a major company’s subsidiary (Yeah, he is supposed to be that pathetic). His hobby is to read webnovels on his way home from work. He is currently the sole reader of a novel titled “Three ways to survive in a ruined world.” Reading each chapter as it was posted. It was what motivated him to keep going through the grind of his daily life. He read this novel over a period of 10 years. This novel had over 3000 chapters, and it turns out that this text is a premonition of what is about to happen to the world.
Yoo Joonghyuk's psychopathic personality
This is the setup for the horror scenario that is about to occur and how Kim Dokja will survive and even thrive due to the hack of being able to look back through the novel and seeing how to get through various scenarios as they unfold. Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint is a cerebral story that plays on human emotion, morality, and ethics—bringing up questions of what one will do when presented with a scenario where people must fight each other to determine who will survive within the time given. Who will form allegiances, and who will crack under pressure?
Kim Dokja will use his wit and background knowledge to outplay the scenario creators called Dokkaebis (which are magical imps). The Dokkaebis are sick twisted creatures creating these scenarios for the amusement of the observers called Constellations, who gamble on the death and outcomes of those involved. The Dokkaebis' magical abilities are so fantastical that they can manifest their desires at will. Creating forcefields, confining people, summoning monstrous creatures, deconstructing the world, and teleporting anywhere, wreaking absolute havoc!
There is a game system implemented in what is supposed to be the real world. After the Dokkaebis take over and start creating scenarios, everyone involved can access a menu system that is only visible to themselves. There they can store items, attain things, and perform transactions. People can attain magical abilities or strengths by spending the points they earn from their actions within a scenario and by completing the scenario itself. Constellations are the judges of the actions taken within a scenario, viewing the experience remotely and awarding contestants points at will. The core of this horror survival game manwha places a significant emphasis on choices and consequences.
Kim Dokja running for his life, (below).
As can be seen above, the digital graphics implemented in this webnovel are stellar! It is like looking at a current high-quality anime in still form. The points of view are excellent; the pacing is top-notch, and the characters have depth and intrigue.
Evolution of Content:
Technology and internet access are evolving, and the results of that evolution can be seen in the forms of digital manhua and manwha. Places that were closed off and distant to the global reader previously are now presenting the treasures that they harbor. Now is an excellent time to start exploring other forms and sources of inspiration and perspectives. Currently, the best way to read digital manhua or manwha is with a tablet. With its longer vertical aspect ratio, it allows the illustrations to truly pop!