Lee Nicky, also known as Li Chongping, born Yilan County, Taiwan and the mangaka responsible for giving us The One, Youth Gone Wild, Paradise City and Provence. After Youth Gone Wild, Lee embarked on another manga based in the fashion industry and a female lead, thereby giving us one of the best fashion mangas till date – The One.
The One tells the story of Lele, born to top models of the fashion industry. Unfortunately, their death in a airplane crash when Lele was only 5 years old leaves her with distaste towards the industry and she sees it as superficial and unnecessary. After being raised by her maternal grandmother, Lele is sucked back into the industry by her aunt (mother’s sister) who is a former fashion model herself and now works as an agent.
Still averse to the idea, Lele changes her beliefs when she visits the photoshoot of popular American model Angus Lanson and realises the art behind the images. With the help of her aunt, Lele is launched into the industry and gets the oppurtunity to meet Angus Lanson, but is unaware of his twin brother Eros Lanson.
A chance encounter, some misunderstandings and wine later, The One turns into a wild roller coaster ride of billowing gowns, scandalous gossip, mysterious pasts and blossoming relationships. And all in a good way!
Also, does Eros remind anyone else of Takumi from NANA? No? …Okay.
With a promising premise like Skip Beat!, The One deals with small arcs of Lele learning to pave her way to New York City Fashion Week while falling in and out with the twins. The twins themselves have a past they are loathe to talk about. With her aunt at her heels, Lele’s quest to be the top model also becomes a quest to find what’s best for herself in the process. The side characters aren’t neglected and each one is given a unique personality and life of their own.
After a point, the plot seems to drag on only because it seems Lee wants to give everyone their preferred happy ending. All bad guys redeem themselves (sometimes suffering from amnesia because that makes it so much easier). The backstory given to Angus and Eros to fit them into handsome-male-lead-with-sad-past goes slightly overboard and somethings remain unexplained. How necessary was it for Eros to commit the acts he did? It did seem like he had ways out, which he chose to ignore.
Angus’s anguish, though understandable, again feels like a forced trope driven n between only to create a wedge between the male and female lead for them to reconcile over. The addition of several LGBT characters is a bold move, not seen before in Lee’s works.
Several characters are introduced in various and almost all are adapted as a part of the cast instead of only serving the purpose of their own arc. Recurring characters (especially one special life-changing appearance) are abundant and add to the life-like character of the manga. The path to the top is steep and Lee doesn’t shy away from making the lead fall a few steps down the ladder.
Lele comes across as a strong lead with a much sense between her ears. The manga has its tear jerk moments with Eros often breaking her heart more often than not. Misunderstandings seem to form a core theme, but none of them drag long enough to turn this into a Mexican telenovela. Comic relief characters abound and the manhwa mostly is a light breezy read that you can come back to again and again.
Considering the huge twists and rides in the centre, the ending does seem to fall flat. But it is happy and redeeming so can’t complain.
As the manga progresses, Lee’s art undergoes drastic changes. Lele changes her hairstyle every couple of volumes as does her aunt. The manhwa begins with an art style eerily similar to Youth Gone Wild but as it progresses, the figures get longer and more “high fashion”, and more attention is given to the clothes. Apart from Paradise Kiss, The One is perhaps the only manhwa with such detail to fashion imagery. The coloured pages are a sight to behold in themselves.
The chibi art is endearing and utilises recurring themes. For eg: Angus’s undying (literally *wink wink*) for his brother turns him into a koala every time they hug.
Overall, the art style is feat in itself with even crowds given individual faces. The characters are in the josei-style.
The One certainly deserves a drama adaptation and it’s sad to see that it never got the recognition it deserved, seeing how popular the manhwas released today are. Perhaps it was before its time.
Foxy Turnips gives it a rating of 8 Turnips out of 10!
No. of Chapters: 118
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