Manhwa: Annarasumanara Analysis
Those who ended up here must have been under R’s spell. I’m one of the victims too. This is one of the manhwas that makes you think about life. It will make you stare into nothing and think, what happened? You will regret nothing after reading it because it’s just that wonderful. You’re here to find answers.
Maybe some of you are contemplating whether to read Annarasumanara or not. Let me tell you this, you should. Come back after you read Annarasumanara because you wouldn’t want any spoilers. All I can say is that manhwa will be amazing and enjoy the ride!
Author: Ha II-Kwon
Summary: Yoon Ah-ee is a student who’s struggling to support both her and her sister. After an encounter with the magician in the abandoned theme park, Yoon Ah-ee desperately wants to follow her dream.
Even though it’s a manhwa, Annarasumanara is done in black and white style. As you know, manhwa is usually colored but Annarasumanara is not. However, the comic is better off without color since it accentuates the main character’s miserable life and gives it a surreal feeling. There are moments where the scenes are colored however. Important scenes that need emphasize. What’s more, the art is done beautifully with the right choice of colorization. It will leave you speechless. Annarasumanara is truly a masterpiece!
At first, I was confused with the title. What does it mean? Random words the author came up with? After much research (one that involved Google Translate), I finally found an answer. It’s similar to the word “Abracadabra” but in Korean. Yes, of course, why hadn’t I thought of that?
Brief explanation about the characters in Annarasumanara.
It depends on the versions you’re reading. It’s Yun Ai for the LINE official version. The pronunciation is the same though. She is the main character of the manhwa. She is a high school student who’s struggling to support her and her sister. Her parents left them and Yoon Ah-ee must work part time jobs to survive. She wants to grow up fast, gets a scholarship and becomes a normal adult with decent salary. But when she bumps into a magician in the abandoned amusement park, she begins to remember her childhood dream.
A mysterious, surreal existence that lives in the abandoned theme park. There are rumors going around the town that he is violent and insane. One day, he runs into Yoon Ah-ee and the mysteries surrounding the magician is slowly unraveled. His catchphrase before performing a magic trick is, “Do you believe in magic?”
Na II-Deung will certainly leave a deep impression on you because of his abnormally long face. He sits next to Yoon Ah-ee in the class. He is also the top student with Yoon Ah-ee being number 2 and considers Yoon Ah-ee to be his rival. Well, Il-Deung means number one or first class after all. It is stated several times that Na Il-Deung is handsome. He comes from a wealthy family and his parents set a high expectation on him. Later on, he becomes interested in Ah-ee and that causes him to cross paths with The Magician as well.
Who's your favorite character?
Interpretation and Symbolism
There will be spoilers ahead so skip this part if you’d like to read the story first.
Now, there are lots of things that you’re confused about. So what happened at the end? Did they reunite? The ending felt bittersweet and you long for some answers. The ending also leaves you pondering. Reading the manhwa was a magical journey to me. Simply just reading through it won’t do. Let’s take a look at the symbolisms shown through the manhwa.
Ah-ee is a Korean word which means child. What does one think of a child? Pure and innocent. Ah-ee’s appearance also looks pure and innocent, the kind of girl that’s clean and nice. You know, the kind-hearted, honest girl in fairy tales who faces hardships but remain kind, no matter what. Finally the girl and the prince lived happily ever after. Contrary to her appearance, she isn’t always the pure, sweet girl. She repeatedly steals like the burger and the money on the floor, claiming that she is the one who’s dirty, not the object. But who can blame her, really? Hunger and poverty bring out the worst in you. She needs it to go on living. It’s the reality. There’s no sweet, kind-hearted girl like you find in fairy tales. Are you disappointed that Ah-ee is not the innocent girl you usually found in stories? This is the author’s way of telling that it’s the reality, deal with it.
I also believe she is named after the word ‘child’ because it’s such a stark contrast to who she is. Reality is often ironic. She is a child who’s forced to grow up because of the condition. A child who has to abandon her childhood dream because of irresponsible adults. She strives to become a responsible adult with decent salary, living a normal life. As a child, I remember wanting to grow up fast and do the things I wasn’t able to do. I think it’s similar to what Ah-ee is feeling.
Na Il-Deung’s Head
You’ll notice him right away because of his long head. Throughout the manhwa, it is said several times that he is handsome. Even Yoon Ah-ee said so. Is this a joke? Not only Il-Deung’s head, his parents’ are also long as well. Why’s that? There are several explanations about his head but the most common of all is his arrogance. Big-headed is a metaphor used to describe someone’s arrogance but it seems like the author took it into a literal concept. As you know, Il-Deung’s vain, often boasting his achievement and wealth. There are other explanations for Il-Deung’s long head which you can see in the Asphalt Road part.
It might be an odd approach to the manhwa but this is my interpretation so feel free to disagree. Ah-ee stated several times that she hates an irresponsible adult like her father who never grew up. She also stated that she hates The Magician who continues to live in his own fantasies and calls him pathetic. The Magician is the kind of an adult she’d like to avoid. Yet she can’t and she comes back, time after time. Even, it is hinted that she develops a crush on him. One of the proofs is when Ah-ee gets disappointed when she saw a pregnant woman coming to the tent. She can’t imagine dating him but the feeling is there. Perhaps, even though her conscious mind is denying it, she subconsciously wants to understand her father. Also, there’s an unresolved problem with her father. That’s why she keeps coming back. Another thing to note of is the fact that The Magician is older. According to a research, we are attracted to the ones who resemble our parents.
As I’ve said above, The Magician is a mysterious, magical existence. He is otherworldly and throughout the story, you wonder whether The Magician is a fantasy being. You also wonder whether The Magician can do real magic as he claimed. You want him to be the real magician. You want to believe him. At first, you might believe him because the magic seems real. But as the story progresses, you start seeing the lies behind the magic – it’s all a trick! You start feeling disappointed because Ah-ee has been right all along, that he is just a pathetic man. He is not a magical being. He is just a person with problems of his own. He is a man who’s not in touch with reality. He doesn’t have a clear line between reality and fantasy. The author is perhaps telling us to suck it up, it’s reality. The idea of a person might be different from who he is.
He functions as a character that makes the other characters a better person. The Magician who breathes magic into people’s lives. In this story, everyone becomes a better person except him. He is the only one who doesn’t change. We know what happen to everyone except for him. He just disappeared, like the magic trick Ah-ee performs at the end. Unlike the others, he doesn’t need to change. He is a pure existence with childlike innocence who’s happy with his life. He is the only real person in the corrupted society. Once his job is done, he is gone.
Il-Kwon’s artwork is amazing. The avant-garde black and white style is suited to the story. The use of 3D drawings in the story create emphasizes. For example, the use of real money (dollar or won, depends on which versions you’re reading) in the story makes you realize how much we rely on it. How much we all chase money. How much we respect people who are in great possession of money like Il-Deung’s family.
The magic is also sets apart from the black and white style. When the magician performs a magic trick, the scenes turn colorful and magical. But in the end, the magic is no more than illusions that The Magician sets up. At first, we believe it because the magic looks so real but as time goes, you realize that it’s all just an illusion. The colors help distinguishing fantasy from reality.
The asphalt road metaphor is used several times through the manhwa. It’s a simple metaphor so anyone might’ve figured it out. It turned out to be Il-Deung’s deepest thought that he never told to anybody. Yet The Magician knew about it. The asphalt road is cold but Il-Deung will keep rushing towards the end, if there’s an end at all. Because at the end of the road, he’ll be happy like the adults claimed to be. He will be rich with bright future ahead. So just follow the path. Hence the reason why his head is long like the asphalt road. He doesn’t have a sense of identity and he just does what others tell him to do. But The Magician breaks the idea by saying that the Asphalt Road is cold and lonely. Il-Deung’s breakaway from society’s expectation is signified by him smashing a chair to the window. His face stops appearing long in the manhwa since then. As for the flowers on the side of the road tells us to enjoy life instead. It seems that The Magician has the same thoughts as Il-Deung. That might explain why The Magician is helping Il-Deung. Because Il-Deung reminds The Magician of himself. And so, Il-Deung doesn’t go insane like The Magician.
The Abandoned Theme Park
The abandoned theme park is the place where The Magician resides. Like the theme park, The Magician is a person who doesn’t fit into society and is abandoned. Perhaps, the theme park is used to symbolize the place that is used to abandon things.
Butterflies are shown numerous times in several occasions. Butterfly is used to symbolize rebirth or transformation. Butterfly is a creature that undergoes metamorphosis which explains why it symbolizes rebirth or transformation. Maybe it’s a symbol that is used to symbolize Ah-ee’s transformation. There are two types of butterflies shown in the manhwa, the pink ones and the yellow ones. The pink ones apparently symbolize not to take life seriously or to be yourself. The Magician tells Ah-ee several times to embrace herself and she should do things she likes instead. Another thing to take into account is the pink butterflies only appear when Ah-ee’s present. The yellow butterfly will be explained down below.
The Color Yellow
Nearing the end of Annarasumanara, we see lots of yellow adorning the manga. To be specific, during the tale of The Magician’s past. There is one panel where the color is yellow. The Magician is also seen chasing yellow butterfly. Why is that? The color yellow is associated with insanity. Van Gogh, the famous painter, painted with lots of yellow before he committed suicide. Perhaps you know the famous Fifteen Sunflowers painting which is dominated by the color yellow. Moreover, Albert Einstein’s favorite color is yellow. So, yellow signifies insanity. Butterfly signifies rebirth. The yellow butterfly implies The Magician’s descent into madness.
The Falling Snow
At the end of the manhwa, snow falls in the city even though it’s summer. Is it another trick or magic? Perhaps it’s supposed to indicate that the magic is real after all. That magic does exist though it’s in other forms, in the simplest of things. Perhaps, it also implies that The Magician is going to disappear. Ah-ee stated herself that the snow remains unexplained. One thing is for sure, The Magician will live in their hearts forever.
What do you think of the interpretation?
Annarasumanara tells the message that we must stay true to ourselves and embrace who we are. To break free from the expectations of others on us. It also depicts one’s struggle in life. Be yourself. But at the same time, the manhwa stays realistic. Ah-hee and Il-Deung enter college, just like they intended to. However, Ah-hee follows her dream instead of abandoning it. As for Il-Deung, I think the fact that his face doesn’t become long is enough proof that he manages to be his own person.
The ending is bittersweet. It isn’t exactly a happily ever after but not sad either. It’s life. We don’t know for sure if Ah-ee and The Magician reunite. However, at the end, there is an invitation card in the red mailbox so perhaps, they are to reunite again? Open ending has its own charm.
So, do you believe in magic?