I swear I had a more generally interesting blog post planned up but I got busy this weekend and for other reasons I’ve decided to postpone it. Instead I want to very quickly talk about Legend of the Northern Blade which is an absolutely fantastic martial art web comic.
The manhwa starts off with a cynical, lonely boy who’s father was killed and his sect disbanded. Due to an agreement with his late dad the folk responsible are not allowed to kill him, so Jin Mu-won laws low, being as misanthropic and lost as possible while secretly studying his sect’s most secret art.
At first glance that sounds like a very standard, commonplace martial arts plot. You’ve got a protagonist who’s been beaten down by the strong and now he’ll stumble onto some secret power and get some revenge, but really LoTNB is so much more.
For one thing revenge isn’t even the main goal of our protagonist. I’m sure he’d want revenge and a big part of him craves it, but it’s not the driving force behind his life, nor is it anything as lofty or silly as “I’ll become a god or emperor”. He is unsure of exactly what he wants, but he knows deep down that revenge isn’t the right path.
Jin Mu-Won is also fantastic because he doesn’t just luck into a magic amulet (with a teacher ghost inside) or a super heaven rendering weapon. Early on, he puts on a very weak facade, but in truth at that time he is actually weak. He hasn’t had a chance to develop any martial arts and only happens to know of his sect’s most secret arts through reading about them.
As the story progresses (and spoiler: time skips ahead) he learns how to fight through long and diligent training. There is no 0% power to 10000% power here, or at the very least it is never made to feel that way. And oh my god, he becomes such a complete and utter badass.
And I think for all the excuses I can make for it, that’s what makes this manhwa really stand out. It is that our protagonist does not feel like he’s a badass because the comics claims him to be one, but rather he demonstrates it both through the art, his fights and just general atmosphere.
God, I love Jin Mu-Won. It is not just that he’s a badass, extremely hot (GOD THOSE HUGE ARMS), but the way he usually carries himself. There’s a calm, almost hermit-esque aura to him that I love.
Jin Mu-Won is not the overly excited martial arts protagonist who picks a fight with literally everyone, nor is he the stereotypical shonen protagonist of old who only finds their true strength last minute.
And Jin Mu-Won is kind too. I am so used to seeing trodden protagonists who become cruel trying to crawl to the top, but despite everything that has happened to him, Jin Mu-Won appears to retain some faith in people. He does have frenzied moments later on, but they all seem to revolve around grievous misdeeds or harm to his loved ones. I really like him.
There’s a level of maturity and reason to him. He acts righteously without concern of powerful people because he knows that sometimes it is the right thing to do. He just carries himself so well.
There’s just a grit, a sort of raw-ness I genuinely love about this comic. It comes through the art especially, which is absolutely fantastic.
Anyway, apologies for the quick post, but check out Legend of the Northern Blade. It is a fantastic martial arts web comic.