Carnby Kim’s work explores various themes of revenge and redemption; the latter is explored even for those who are da worst of the worst.
Kim’s first work, Pigpen, poses the question of whether or not a murderer (the MC with remarkably few survivor subtly skills) can be redeemed, but the answer is left up to readers to determine. This idea is followed up in Bastard, where Jin is an actual murderer albeit mostly because of his terrible, serial killer father. Ultimately, Jin too is redeemed in the sense of both forgiving his father and going to prison to atone for his own sins. Though this redemption doesn’t come without a little bit of outside help.
Sweet Home deals with redemption more loosely with Hyun going from a bullied, bitter trash-talker to a literal knight in not-so-shining amour who saves everyone, eventually laying down his life for his friends. His monstrous form resembles a knight because Hyun’s greatest desire was to protect those closest to him (and see Maria in The Sky lol).
Shotgun Boy is the perfect follow up to Sweet Home, focusing on the terribly bullied Gyuhwan. Being it’s prequel, it centers around a bunch of kids sent to a woodland retreat who are attacked by tentacle monsters (not that way, you heathen). Monsters that seemed to have escaped a government laboratory.
Gyuhwan is bullied relentlessly by HBIC Seongbin, who has negative zero redeemable traits and is actually unhinged even before his slow descent into a monsterhood. Almost, because Seongbin does show occasional shades of being not utterly awful, such as not sacrificing his ride-or-die. Alas, of all the monsters in Shotgun Boy, he proves to be the most troublesome.
Shotgun Boy is full of literal monsters out to kill the main characters. Why? In part, because humans treated them terribly via experiments and other torture for dubious reasons. In a way, it was the monstrosity of humanity that led to the monster’s current behavior and their desire to instill terror in humanity simply for the sake of it. This monstrosity exists in the form of Seongbin’s violence towards Gyuhwan and everyone who doesn’t do what he says, but also in the indifference of the teachers, and others, who are simply glad they aren’t on the receiving end of Seongbin’s bullying.
This is probably best illustrated in the form of Zero, the HBIC of monsters. Zero is out to eliminate what he sees as a disease of humanity, something that manifests in the story as a blackness over the human heart. Yet, it’s only after observing Gyuhwan, and the complexity of humanity, does he change his tune. Even going so far as to sacrifice himself in order to save the others.
Horror stories never end happily. However, Shotgun Boy does see the majority of our main characters live to see the apocalypse in which monsters slowly take over humans, feeding off their true desires, and turning them into the things they’ve always desired.
Desire can be monstrous, quite literally. However, the achievement of it can lead to a rebirth or metanoia of sorts in which a persons true nature, for better or worst, is revealed. In Shotgun Boy, Gyuhwan becomes the very thing he dreamed of at the start of the story – a kid with a shotgun; the one with all the power.
Initially, he desired to use this weapon to off Seongbin and all those that looked the other way during his bullying. But when he gets the very thing he wanted, he uses it to protect even those who harmed him from the monsters. When given the chance, Gyuhwan doesn’t immediately put a bullet through Seongbin’s skill but opts to fight him one-on-one. It’s this selfless attitude that ultimately helps Zero realize that humans aren’t all bad, all the time. Rather, they’re complex creatures with the potential for both good and bad.
Shotgun Boy Rating: 9.2/10