Tarot Cafe is a seven volume manwha* created by Korean artist Sang-Sun Park. It tells the story of Tarot reader Pamela, a woman gifted with clairvoyance and required to help the supernatural beings who visit her for advice. But Pamela has a secret of her own, which we learn little by little. Will she ever complete Berial’s necklace and receive her reward from Belus?
The cards Pamela uses in her readings are from the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini. The meanings she ascribes to the cards are common, showing that Sang-Sun Park has an understanding of Tarot. The other cards used, such as on episode title pages, are adaptations from real Tarot decks, altered to show the main characters of the particular episode.
Sang-Sun Park’s artwork is beautiful. At times the images are dark and heavy, evoking a gothic feeling. At other times, her artwork is almost ethereal, especially when she draws an innocent character. She is also capable of drawing wonderful little “super deformed” characters that are full of humour.
The stories themselves are a little simplistic, but still a joy to read. She manages a nice balance between dark stories like A Heartless Princess, an Alchemist and a Jester, and light stories like Lady of the Lake. It is often easy to predict the outcome of any particular story, but that doesn’t make them any less fun to read. I particularly enjoy them because I like seeing how Pamela’s Tarot cards are used to further the story. If you are looking for a fun and light manwha, especially if you are interested in the Tarot, I would highly recommend Tarot Cafe.
The series originally ran for four or five issues in Korea before the publisher dropped the series. Tokyo Pop, the series’ North American publisher, as able to eventually make a deal that allowed the series to be completed in North America. It is anticipated that the series will end with Volume Seven, although no definite announcement has been made.
North American Publication dates:
- Volume One – March 8, 2005
- Volume Two – June 7, 2005
- Volume Three – September 13, 2005
- Volume Four – December 13, 2005
- Volume Five – May 29, 2007
- Volume Six – October 9, 2007
- Volume Seven – Expected June 2008
* manwha means comics or cartoons in Korean; it is the same as Japanese manga and Chinese manhua.