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Manhwa / PHD: Phantasy Degree

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PhD: Phantasy Degree (original title: Maseuteo Seukur Ollimpeuseu, lit. Master School Olympus) is a horror-themed comedy/action-adventure manhwa that focus on the adventures of Sang, a young human woman who travels to Demon School Hades in hopes of becoming a student there. As the series goes on, we find out there is more to Sang and her motives than meets the eye.

Licensed and released in the United States under Tokyopop. Ten volumes of the series have been published; however, the story is currently on hiatus and it is unknown whether the creator will continue it. He seems to have moved on to other manhwas, such as Dorothy of Oz.

The series provides the following tropes:

  • All-Ghouls School: The series starts in the demon school, Hades. Sang had to turn herself into a vampire so that she can infiltrate the campus.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cho-Hyun lost one of his arms when the Madosa Guild attacked Zeus. This doesn't stop him from being a good fighter, though, as he managed to battle his 4 students and easily curb-stomped three of them (the last one was forced to surrender at this point).
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Gelpa the ninja. Despite being a member of the Madosa Guild, he had helped saved Notra's and Noel's lives on Chang-Chun's request.
    • Chang-Chun the leader of the Madosa Guild is a kind-hearted old man who tries to save Chun-Lang and the others from Madosa's attack when he isn't wearing his power rings.
  • Arcane Archer: Iris normally fights using a magically conjured bow and arrow. Hexion can also use her hair to create magic arrows.
  • The Archmage: According to the Master Tower guardian, a mage who is sufficiently advanced in their magical powers is upgraded into a "wizard", and the only existing Wizard in the continent is Sang.
  • Ax-Crazy: One of Sang's personalities is a Hair Trigger Tempered Blood Knight who would readily use his magic to destroy everything in his way.
  • Badass Teacher: All the teachers introduced in the Manhwa are more than capable of fighting monsters and lower-ranked Madosa Guild members. Justified as all the schools they teach in (Hades, Zeus and Athena) specialize in fighting.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Gyo-Hee from Athena is classified as a "Monk" and fights without weapons. Noru, one of the survivors from Zeus, is similarly a hand-to-hand combatant — though he is never explicitly stated to be a monk.
  • Berserk Button: Most of the main characters, especially Chun-Lang, holds a deep grudge to the Madosa Guild. Mentioning them cause them to go to a berserk rage.
  • Can't Catch Up: No matter how hard the students try they just can't seem to become powerful enough to take on the Madosa Guild. Averted in the 10th book were Chan-Chun sees a glimpse of the future were the student finally take down the Madosa Guild.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the first volume, Notra complains about being tied in an Arranged Marriage with a powerful demon. Later, in volume 9, her fiancĂ©, apparently the white-winged demon that Noel's mother formed a contract with, shows up to save her and Noel from the Madosa Guild.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Dustis sees herself as Dagger's lover and accuses him of "cheating on her" when they encounter Sang in the Master Tower. The scene is played for laughs and their "relationship" is never brought up again.
  • Costume Inertia: No matter how many times it is torn apart or otherwise lost, Sang is almost always seen wearing a pink hoodie and black pants. She briefly changed out of it during her stay in Elf Town, though.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The chapter cover illustrations of the book often feature characters that has not been introduced in-story yet.
  • Elfeminate: Henduh notes that, since all elves are effiminate looking, male and female is almost interchageable. This is apparently how Hexion managed to disguise herself as a guy for so long.
  • Eyes Out of Sight: Ryushi has long hair and bangs that covers his eyes. He is also the most mysterious of the Zeus survivors, and is the only one who didn't get curb-stomped by Cho-Hyun during their battle training.
  • Fan Disservice: When Dev shoots Mahalisa through the chest.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: Apparently, the students in Athena and Zeus are divided into such classes. When she meets a group of Athena students, Sang was introduced to a Knight, a Monk, a Thief and a Mage. Later, she was recruited by the remnants of Zeus survivors, which consists of a monk, a swordfighter, a mage and a healer.
  • Forceful Kiss: Sang, while in "his" Ax-Crazy personality, sees a female Chun-Lang tame a Gigantes, immediately falls in love and kisses her. Chun-Lang did not take it well.
  • Gender Bender: The power rings introduced in the series allows the characters to switch gender whenever it is worn.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Sang and the Madosa guild are seeking to collect as many power rings as they could for reasons that has yet to be revealed.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When Iris tries to shoot at Hender in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Stonia uses her power to turn the magic arrow back on her.
  • Identical Stranger: Chun-Lang and Chang-Chun with his power rings on look exactly like each other to the point Hwee-Young mistakes Chun-Lang for him.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Stonia is in awe everytime she sees Henduh's power.
  • In the Hood: Sang in the first book, Chun-Lang in his introduction and Second rank Spear.
  • Kudzu Plot: The story only manages to raise more questions than it answers them as the series progresses. Who is Sang, and what's her relationship with Chang-chun and the Madosa Guild? What are the Madosa Guild's purpose and why do they need the rings so much? And what does the rings do anyway? Why do Sang's and Chang-chun's Ring of Power give them split personalities? What is the relationship between Chang-chun, Hwi-young and the rest? Really, just about every plot point introduced in the series is left hanging by the 10th volume, and the author doesn't seem interested to continue it anymore.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sang loses memories of her identity after being hit on the head by an unnamed Madosa assassin, and was given a new identity "Limbo" by the residents of Elf Town. She seemingly regains her memories in Master Tower, but a brief time skip reveals that she can only recollect her experience from Hades onwards, and remembers nothing of her past before that.
  • The Load: Notra hasn't done a single useful thing since she was introduced. Iris and Oedipus as well.
  • Magic Pants: Initially averted. When Sang first uses her Ring of Power and transforms into a larger man, her clothes gets torn apart. However, the next time she transforms, her clothes remained intact, and this fact did not go unnoticed by one of the author's assistants, who calls Sang's clothes "suspicious".
  • Mysterious Waif: Despite being the main character, Sang qualifies. She's powerful, enigmatic, has a Mysterious Past, is deeply connected with the Madosa guild and possesses at least 5 of the 9 rings they were desperately searching after.
  • One-Gender School: Athena is an all-girl school, while Zeus is an all-guys school.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: After having "her" first kiss stolen by a male Sang (as noted in Forceful Kiss), Chun-Lang goss berserk and goes on a murderous rampage, trying to kill Sang.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The group of monsters Sang meets in Hades — consisting of a devil, a vampire, a zombie and a werewolf — are a group underachieving, borderline drop-out students.
  • Revenge: Chun-Lang, Noel, Notra, Dev, all lost at least a loved one to the Madosa Guild are hellbent on exacting revenge on them.
  • Running Gag: The series mainly revolve around people hunting for magic rings, and people have exploit this by pretending to toss the precious MacGuffin to a distance for another person to catch, only to later reveal that the thing they've thrown is just a pebble.
  • Split Personality: Sang's personality switches whenever she activates her power rings. Her "default" character is a childish Genki Girl Idiot Hero who is prone to causing trouble. Another personality is an Ax-Crazy Blood Knight who uses explosive magic to cause as many destruction as possible. There are also the adult male and female forms who are calm and cool-headed. She also has two more personalities whom she has never transformed into.
  • Stripperiffic: Of all the female characters introduced, Notra and Stonia wears the least amount of clothing.
  • Super Gender-Bender: Inverted. The rings swaps the user's gender, but at the same time, greatly decreases his/her power.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Dev activates his when Henduh kills his brother Fatalis.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Hexion is a female who spent the majority of her appearance in a male disguise. When her cover is blown, she looks decidedly more feminine.
  • Taking the Bullet: Oedipus dies protecting Iris from a magic arrow.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After training in the Master Tower, the Athena students re-emerges much stronger than before. And the previously "left-behind" student manages to almost take down both Henduh and Stonia before the Madosa Guild's reinforcements arrive, and kills them all anyway.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Sang often behaves like a selfish brat who likes to order people around, force nicknames on them, and generally does whatever she wants without considering others. Unsurprisingly, Chun-Lang and Notra complains to her about this.
    • Chun-Lang gets called out on this by everyone when he tries to kill Sang.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Iris is usually very disrespectful towards Oedipus, always calling him "stupid" and "useless". The only time she called him "older brother" was when he was dying after protecting her from a magic arrow.