Tuesday 26 June 2012

[KLN Review] Dawnbringer: The Story of the Machine God v01

Hey look! A white-winged loli with ample breasts!

Basic Information
Korean title: 기신전기 던브링어
English title: Dawnbringer: The Story of the Machine God
Alternative title: 神機傳記 던브링어, Kishinjeongi Dawnbringer

Author: Jung-Hoon Hong (홍정훈)
Illustrator: KKUEM/Cheol-i (꾸엠/철이)

Genre:  Action, Mecha, Military Sci-fi, Space Opera

Publisher: Youngsang Note
Publication date: 30 May 2012
Pages: 358pp
ISBN: 8-965-26960-1

In a nutshell: Our heroes gets rolled back to Level 1 and lose their equipment. A boss fight in 3...2...1.

In general, Korean light novels of science fiction are pretty rare. There have been a handful of them over the years in the unforgiving market, but none had the popularity or sales to compete against the heavy hitters from Japan. As is often the case with unsuccessful series, they were either axed on the spot or killed off silently with the passage of time. Despite all the sci-fi titles that have fallen into the dark abyss of failure and oblivion, Youngsang Note ventures into the genre of science fiction at the most opportune time during the prevalence of Korean light novels with their publication of Dawnbringer: The Story of the Machine God— the work of famous fantasy writer Jung-Hoon Hong, renown illustrator KKUEM and rookie illustrator Chul-i. And boy, they invested some serious money into this series! Aside from its A-team, it was given: Teasers, limited pre-order goods, a promotional video, a special homepage and an event-only calendar. Some of the stuff I previously mentioned can be seen below:

Pre-order goods: Buttons.

Pre-order goods: Booklet and bookmark.

Waning: Engrish in PV! Their every wear!

After all their efforts, did the series remain afloat or sink into its watery grave? We'll have our answer at the end of the review, so let’s get started and examine the newest entry in the genre of science fiction.

In the year A.D. 2120, the human race discovers the ‘shadows’ of Letix Oldone on Mars. And 80 years later, they attain hyperspace navigation through their encounter with the hyperdimensional lifeforms and their Alter Cores. But as the human race begins its exploration into the infinity of the universe, a different and hostile race of Letix launches an unstoppable assault against Earth. In order to protect the human race from complete annihilation, the Uberlord of the Letix Oldone gives birth to eight Kishins (Machine Gods)—the first Alter Armors—to fight against the new threat. However, no human being is able to pilot the Kishins. To solve this problem, the Letix Oldone create the First Applicants— a new race of humans that are capable of piloting and communicating with the Kishins. In the final battle against the hostile race of Letix with the fate of humanity on the line, the Space Federation sends Commander of Dawn Corps Lezirth Dawnbringer, one of the last surviving First Applicants, on an all-or-nothing mission. He somehow manages to defeat the Letix with pure willpower and returns to Earth safely, where he is put to coldsleep on April, Universal Year 69.

The novel begins with our main character Lezirth Dawnbringer awakening from his cryogenic sleep alone on April 4, Universal Year 189 in Iphis-2, a planet under the direct control of the Space Federation. Unbeknownst to him, the hardliners in the military have deleted his actual records from the Space Federation’s system and replaced them with fabricated history. While Lezirth was asleep for 120 years, the Space Federation had become an exploitative bellicist—colonizing distant planets, enslaving and abusing other alien species and replicants, and simultaneously waging wars against four enemies: the Letix, the Asa, the Elcro, and the Rebel Replicant Forces. After few comical incidents here and there, Vice Admiral Lezirth Dawnbringer is re-enlisted into the military as a mere recruit and meets up with his fellow First-Replicant Admiral Luise Maynard, and then both of them are assigned to the Special Care Platoon headed by Ensign Liu Meihowa and Petty Officer First Class Aroha Pereira. The platoon is composed of expendables: half-bloods, replicants, and misfits from the Space Federation. 

While the story follows the formulaic harem setting and antics of our seemingly adolescent protagonist, it often touches upon the dark and sinister nature of mankind. That’s nothing unusual; however, it really struck me when it was presented through one of the half-blooded characters. Being born as an illegitimate child of a high-ranking human officer through enslavement and rape, she was stigmatized and treated as a plaything throughout her life of confinement. It was all too heartwrenching hearing the rest of her confession. But thankfully, Lezirth’s humorous and considerate personality lightens up the mood and uplifts those who are lost and disheartened. And he’s still one hell of a badass protagonist. 

The actual premise of the story is rather simple and straightforward: Lezirth works together with Luise and the platoon to restore his Kishin—Sacred Sword of Justice Dawnbringer—and his tainted honor. But this happens at a snail’s pace on a local speed limit. Mostly, you’re there to enjoy the interactions between the characters and their comedic military life…while it lasts. Oh, that and our pettanko Luise. HNNNG.

From the left: Lezirth Dawnbringer, Luise Maynard, Liu Meihowa, and Aroha Pereira.

Are those garter belts? Whatever, they're sexy!

Lezirth Dawnbringer (Vice Admiral)
Despite how he looks, he is actually 220 years old. With a height of 182cm, he’s the legendary war hero who saved humanity from the brink of extinction.  As one of the First Replicants, he was the pilot of Kishin Dawnbringer and the Commander of Dawn Corps. He possesses telekinetic and teleportative powers, which are legends of their own. Although he is now officially a recruit, he still acts like a Vice Admiral and uses familiar forms to other NCMs and officers. Nevertheless, he is honest and sincere at heart.

Luise Maynard (Admiral)
Born earlier than Lezirth as a First Replicant, she is only 159cm tall.  Emotional and kind, she has the appearance of a naïve and pure maiden. But there is a rather frightening side to her. Formerly the Chief of Staff and pilot of Kishin Tetragrammaton, she’s the genius computer engineer that created the Space Federation’s military system. She possesses clairvoyant and telepathic powers, which she sometime uses on Lezirth in secret…for personal reasons.  Lezirth has a high regard for Luise, and treats her with the utmost respect and reverence, much to her dismay. Poor Luise, she just wants to be seen as a normal girl!

Liu Meihowa (Ensign)
An 18 year old half-blood between human and Elcro, she volunteered for nonbattle service at a military academy to escape persecution and her pre-arranged marriage. Although she was supposed to have graduated from academy summa cum laude, she was denied of her honors because of her mixed blood. With a medium height of 170cm, she's the new officer in charge of the Special Care Platoon. Her favourite food is crabs, and she's a fervent fan of old movies and documentaries. Stern and strict, she later opens up to Lezirth and places great trust in him. Her major weakness is her wings— they are sensuously sensitive. 

Aroha Pereira (Petty Officer First Class)
Slightly taller than Meihowa by five centimetres, she’s a 19 year old half-blood between human and Asa. She volunteered for military service to become independent from her adoptive parents and the Pereira family. Although her circumstances are similar to Ensign Meihowa, she harbors a hatred for Asa’s civilitazation, culture and custom, and doesn’t feel burdened by the fact that she might have to fight her own kind someday. Feminine and attractive, she knows how to handle men and is enjoying a rather easy life in the military. Despite her promiscuity, her dream is to become a good wife and a wise mother.

This book has two illustrators: KKUEM, cover and character design; and Chul-i, illustration and mechanic design. Do you see the colored pictures above? Nice, aren’t they? They are drawn by KKUEM, and those are pretty much all he draws for the book. What’s worse, those character illustrations are only included in the booklet. If you didn’t pre-order the limited editions, you would’ve missed out on them. Still, I have to hand it to him for creating such wonderful characters, especially Luise and Meihowa. Kudos to you.

Now let’s take a look at Chul-i’s illustrations.

Sexual harassments?

 Kishin Finisher: Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions!

It's hard to believe he is a rookie with his level of skill. Although the art style lack smoothness and fine detail, it has a certain flair that gives it its own unique feel. It's quite refreshing for a change.

He's also quite damn talented when it comes to mecha. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them.

Bio-mecha in my science fiction? Yes please!

Despite being lackluster and coarse, his color illustrations fit rather well with the novel.

"Looks like you have a loose screw or two..."

From eating rations to dying on the battlefield.

As expected of famous fantasy writer Jung-Hoon Hong, he does a brilliant job of worldbuilding.  Maybe a bit too much at the expense of a complex story and pace, though. The progress in the first volume is so slow, and it is made even slower by an unnecessary interruption with a trip to the "beach"… Um, say what? Aside from those, it is a pleasant read and the joyful characters keeps you entertained with their distinct personalities. With a second volume on its way on August, this series definitely managed to stay afloat.


  1. Maybe EFS 엑스마키나(EFS ex Machina) is another piece of Korean sci-fi LN, although its next volume (vol. 3) isn't out for at least 2 yrs :(

    1. EFS ex Machina is a pretty hardcore military sci-fi light novel. The amount of technical endnotes and acronyms the series has is a major turn-off to many people. Regrettably, it has been killed in action.

  2. Nice review!

    I'm not much into novels that have military theme as background, but it seems not to be the case.
    To me, it's like a character development story more than plot development story.

    The last thing I read in Korean was Phantom King vol.3, so I have lost track of the new trends there.
    Is Dawnbringer getting famous between readers?

    Last, it kinda reminds me some Japanese titles as FMP, IS (for harem), Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (future, sci-fi, awesome MC), etc =D

    Well, hope to read another review from you!

    1. Thank you, Ariel! I was kind of worried since it was written as a mix between introduction and review.

      The series is nowhere near as famous as some of the most popular Korean light novels, but it's getting there one volume at a time. The book is very easy to read, thanks to the author's penchant for seamless writing.

  3. Heyo! Sounds like it's up my alley. Do you know if any groups are translating this, or, more unlikely, it being ported to English.

    1. Glad you like it. Sadly, however, there is no group translating this series and the chance of it being officially ported to English is nil.

  4. Interesting, how many Korean LNs are there and what are the most popular ones right now?

    1. There are about 60 titles, give or take. The most popular ones right now are: Me and the Tigress, Welcome to the Overhuman Alliance, and Clotaku Club.

    2. Will you guys be doing reviews for them? I kinda want to hear what is the plot for them.

    3. Yes, but it will take time.

    4. No mention of Miyal series? : D
      If I remember right, everything Otsen does instantly becomes a great hit.

    5. I should have, along with other great titles like Singleness of Dark Desires, Please find my tail! and The Devil King on the Manuscript. But I went with what was most popular right now.

      It seems that you read Korean light novels as well. Do you have any favourites?

  5. The Dog and the Princess is my most favourite, although the art could be a lot better. Counting both art and story, Timid Revenge Agency (?) is my current favourite. I'm buying the second volume as soon as it's out.

    I always thought about reviewing or translating these books, but I didn't think there would be a big enough English-speaking audience that would care for it. Maybe I should try before I give up, eh.

    1. Oh, meant to be a reply.

    2. I personally like Cu-rim's art style, but it could really use some quality control. Anyway, do you live in Korea? Just curious since importing burns a major hole in your wallet.

      It'd definitely be great if you started reviewing or translating some Korean light novels, regardless of whether people would care for it or not. You should give it a go if you're up for it.

    3. I ship to Canada every 4 month or so to save the shipping costs, so I can just pay once for 10~20 books. To get all the pre-order bonuses, I have someone in Korea holding the books for me until the end of the fourth month.

      I would like to do reviews and such, but I don't know where to start. Also, isn't it incredibly difficult to translate things completely alone?

    4. I envy you for having a personal courier in Korea. It's just like ordering from a local Korean bookstore, sans the middleman. And those per-order bonuses and limited editions... You really can't resist them.

      As for where to start, aside from starting a blog, it'd be preferable in your case to begin with books that are most recent and shortest in volume count. If you want to do reviews that are more visual, it'd be best to start with those that you have at hand.

      And yes, it's a Herculean task to translate Korean light novels alone. Typically, they are around 300~350 pages, but once in a while you get those that are 400~470 pages long... Now, factor in the horizontal writing... It is a pure nightmare.

    5. I'm enjoying reading 소심한 복수 사무소 (Timid Revenge Agency) as well, if you could try reviewing/translating or the sort would be pretty sweet.

  6. Found this website when i google "imouto tentacle hentai". A pleasant surprise, this novel is very cute, thx for translating... look 4ward to ur releases...

    1. Sekaimo is indeed quite cute... and dangerously so.

  7. thanks for the review! also thanks to this blog, I'm starting to learn Korean as well (although at very slow pace) just to read KR LN.
    I'm starting to see a new lights to Korea now :)
    any new reviews or info would be appreciated and once again, thank you very much for the review ^_^

    1. Good to hear that you're learning Korean, Pershe. It'll definitely be worth it.

      If you'd like to see teasers and releases for Korean LNs released by D&C Media, follow these links: Teasers, Releases.

      Novel Engine has some as well: Website.

  8. I think novel 3 is already out:)

  9. the first KN LN ive read(and still am) is probably legendary moonlight sculpture but this has definitely grabbed my attention thxs for the hard work :D and keep it up

  10. Would you have any recommendations for other sci-fi or fantasy Korean LNs? Right now I'm just reading Dawnbringer and everything that's on Japtem heheh.

    1. For fantasy, I strongly recommend the following: Queen's Knight Kael,MonsPanic, and The Singleness of Dark Desires.

    2. I should've mentioned this before but novels that might be found translated to English X-X.

      Ofc, I will keep the ones you mentioned in mind to recommend to Korean friends, thanks. :)

  11. a bio mecha...nice idea for mech (but still its mecha lookalike from RF Online's Accretian on High Leveled Full Armor)

    nice review on this one

  12. I was looking for the raws and I ended up here.
    I did not expect anyone to be translating this.
    Nice job.

    BTW The illustrator is KKUEM. Not KKEUM.
    And it's a SHE, even married.

  13. What are the machines names, like Lezirth's?

  14. so which half blood was treated as a plaything?

  15. Very nice review, altough there are some minor spoilers here and there.
    I really enjoyed the read, finished the whole thing (up to volume 2 part 2) and im waiting for the next part and see how meihowa and aroha will react when they learn that the federation has been feeding them up lies upon lies and even trying to remove a hero....
    And i find it odd that they didnt kill him and just put him in cold sleep.... thats a hole in the story that really needs to be cleared.... no, really, why they didnt kill him?? o.O dosnt makes sence


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