Geungsi by Sean Lam: How to survive as a meek undead salaryman

geungsi manga cover
Geungsi (Image credit Sean Lam)
Geungsi (Image credit Sean Lam)

Official Synopsis:

“After the triad war with the undead in Hong Kong, Meng, a Geungsi slayer, move to Singapore where he met Shaun, a young salaryman who got turned into a Geungsi by a young mysterious. Their intertwined fates got entangled into the conflicts of a dark underworld far beyond their imagination.”

 

Tags and themes:

#action #horror #supernatural #fantasy #drama #thriller #Singaporeanelement #Hongkong #monsters #zombie #vampire #seinen #manga 

What’s it about and why should I read it?

Setting an action fantasy story in Singapore is challenging: our densely populated public spaces leaves little room for epic battles, and attempts to incorporate everyday Singaporean elements with fantasy often results in awkward cultural chimaeras, exemplified by the Singlish-speaking, mixed race working class superhero. Fortunately, Geungsi managed to overcome these challenges and avoid typical Singaporean troupes in a genre-blending story involving geungsi (an undead zombie-vampire in Chinese folklore) and geungsi slayers roaming familiar spaces such as the MRT, HDBs, CBD and ERPs. Yet despite its recognizably horror cum shonen manga-esque visual aesthetics with ample action scenes, Geungsi is more of a psychological thriller geared towards mature audiences. 

Comics for adults are not just about coarse language, sex and gore. Lam explores humanistic elements through the premise of fantasy: Geungsi exposes the exploitative interpersonal relationships between terrified individuals traversing unfamiliar territories. The protagonist of the story, Shaun, is an archetypal milllenial freshly out into society: slightly naive, having a hard time juggling work-life balance, desparate for sex and romance, somewhat burnt-out and anxious, but still having to put up with living under his family’s roof. On top of the banal, Shaun also has to deal with: A) a mysterious romantic interest (Alice) who turned him into a geungsi and wanted him to be part of her clan; B) a geungsi-slayer from Hong Kong (Meng) who wanted to kill him and is now his tenant; and C) his own subtle physical transformation which he has to hide from his family and colleagues. Uncertain about the true motives of Alice and Meng who can easily overpower him, Shaun needs to be deliberate with choosing the right ally in order to survive. In other words, Geungsi can be read as a symbolic Singaporean coming-of-age story about a young adult’s inability to gain full control of his life despite having to face new challenges alone.

Geungsi (Image credit Sean Lam)

Stylistically, Geungsi may not be easy on the eyes at first: dominated by agitated lines and dense hatchings that create tones and textures, the figures and backgrounds seem to reverberate with nervous, restless energy. Lam purposefully chose this aesthetic which differs drastically from his previous commercial works, in order to create an intense atmosphere for a thriller genre. There are plenty of exciting action scenes and horror elements to speed up the pacing of the drama, but they are secondary to the main plot which is essentially about politics: Geungsi or not, there will always be clashes of interests between different factions who are suspicious of one another’s motives and believe that eradication and domination is the sole key to survival. 

Where can I get it?

Basheer Graphics, Kinokuniya and other bookstores that carry comics.

You can also find the book in libraries.

Format:

On-going manga series. Physical publication.

  • Geungsi: Geungsi in the house, Volume 1 (2021): 150 pages x 1 volume. monochrome inner pages.

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