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Love as a Foreign Language Vol. 3
Review by Kerry Garvin

Love as a Foreign Language Vol. 3

J. Torres
Eric Kim

Oni Press
Softcover Original
Publish Date
August 2005
Cover Price
In this third issue of Love as a Foreign Language we find Joel still loathing his life in Korea. Besides his infatuation with Hana, he still isn’t enjoying anything about his time teaching English in a country so far from home and everything he knows. Luckily though, Joel starts to make some progress towards having Hana notice him. This could be where life starts turning around for Joel.

This issue is the turning point I’ve been anticipating. It just wasn’t possible that Torres could stretch out Joel’s complete and utter misery for another entire issue. I could only stand Torres’ torturing of his main character for a little bit longer before I was about to give up on the series. Thankfully this is his strongest effort thus far. We start to see a real shift in Joel’s attitude and, with luck, that will carry over to the next issue.

Torres script just keeps getting better and better. He slowly introduces us to the intricacies of Korean culture including a comic shop and some popular dishes. The fact that he drops little bits of this information throughout gives a little more meat to the story. While the focus is on Joel, his frustrations, and feelings for Hana, these are welcome points of distraction.

After three volumes, I’m still impressed with Kim’s work. He captures the manga style with thin lines, varying textures, and big expressive eyes on all his characters. The book isn’t straight up manga, however. It is more like a meld of US and Japanese comics. Kim’s style is a hybrid. He keeps bodies proportionate and facial expressions realistic. Without a doubt, this is a beautiful book.

Kim’s biggest strength is how he portrays Joel and Hana. All their characteristics are easily conveyed through Kim. Joel is slouchy, nervous, clumsy and unhappy while Hana is shy and beautiful. He is best when depicting Joel as clumsy and unsure. Something about the way Kim draws these actions is very realistic. Maybe it is just that as an extremely clumsy person, I can relate to Joel here. His actions look wholly appropriate to the experienced eye.

There isn’t much to complain about here. They only thing a little strange is the octopus that Kim draws for one of Joel’s nightmares. It looks too cartoony considering how Joel dreams of it. I do wish Kim had the chance to draw more backgrounds and scenery; I’m interested to see how he fairs with nonhuman subjects. This book is definitely not the vehicle for that, as people fill a good portion of nearly every panel.

Final Words

Love as a Foreign Language continues to be a great series. The story is definitely picking up just in time for volume four as it is starting to look like Joel might actually have a chance with the lovely Hana. I recommend sticking around to for more of the touching romance.

Highly Recommended

Kerry Garvin (email) is a total nerd. She once made a robot out of tin foil for a boy she loved, but was too shy to deliver it. Kerry can also be found rambling at The Comic Queen and A View From the Ham.
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