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Manhwa / Shin Angyo Onshi

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"A long, long time ago in the east, there was a country called Jushin. In Jushin there lived secret agents known as Angyo Onshi. Angyo Onshi were special envoy designated by the king. They disguised themselves and roamed the country correcting corrupt governments and brought people to justice. However, Jushin has been destroyed, but there is still one Angyo Onshi wandering..."
— Opening lines

Shin Angyo Onshi (or Tale of the Phantom Blade Master) is the story of Munsu, one of the few surviving men of the fallen empire Jushin. He also happens to have been one of Jushin's Angyo Onshi, operatives who wandered the countryside in disguise, righting wrongs and triumphing over evil with the power of his magical medallion and an army of phantom soldiers. Despite the destruction of Jushin (by his own hand, so the stories go) Munsu carries out his duty out of a sense of loyalty to the king that he supposedly killed and a burning desire for revenge against the man who masterminded everything - Aji Tae.

The comic was serialized from 2001 to 2007 in both South Korea and Japan (running in Young Champ in South Korea and Monthly Sunday Gene-X in Japan), and was adapted into an animated theatrical-release film in 2004 in a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Japan and South Korea. In 2007, an English-language version of the film was released in the United States by ADV Films under the Market-Based Title Blade of the Phantom Master. In 2008, the anime became one of over 30 ADV titles transferred to Funimation. As of 2017, the manhwa is being re-released serially on Naver as a fully-colored Webtoon (but only in Korean for the time being).


Well known for its almost gratuitous level of World of Badass. Has a character sheet.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sando, Marlene von Lucid and Miss Hwang.
  • A God Am I: Aji Tae. Well, he is pretty close...
  • A Father to His Men: Munsu. Every one of his subordinates held respect for him, and many wanted his forgiveness after they turned evil
  • Actually, I Am Him: Subverted in the first chapter when the character the audience is led to believe is the Angyo Onshi is revealed to be the Evil Queen, and the Jerkass Munsu is revealed to be the the Angyo Onshi in disguise. Given a very disturbing and dark twist later on with Aji Tae and Munsu's friend the King.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Movie follows the first three to four chapters of the Manga, and tells almost nothing about the actual plot of the series.
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  • Anyone Can Die: Anyone remember Mong Ryong? Also the final battle.
  • Anti-Hero: Munsu is perfectly fine with lying and stealing, yet he's loyal to his true companions and is devoted to fighting evil and injustice.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Dorso. Subverted in the fact that he Doesn't think he can beat Won Sul after Won Sul beat his two friends in one swing
  • Ascended Extra: The prince from chapter three.
  • The Atoner: Munsu, for his effect on the death of Hae Mo Su and Kye Wol Hyang
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Munsu when he was a general, Aji Tae, General Urias von Lucid.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Subverted in the final fight when Eul Paso, Hwang, and Su are all surrounded by Aji Tae's Forces, while they do win, in a moment of pure Badass, two thirds of them are killed in the resulting explosion
  • Badass Army: The Phantoms, and the Phantom women.
  • Badass Back: Won Sul never looks back at his dead opponents. and Aji Tae Kills many without even looking at them
  • Badass Boast: "The Legendary General Munsu will wipe you clean off the face of the earth," Said to a guy who destroyed an entire kingdom because he felt like it. See Throwing Down the Gauntlet.
  • Badass Cape: Sando and Lou.
  • Badass Longcoat: Munsu and Won Sul. The two of them standing next to each other is just so freaking cool. Munsu's was actually a plot point later on.
  • Badass Long Robe: Aji Tae
  • Badass Normal: Munsu, who is a man with Asthma who has no real supper powers other than his Mahai. However, he still is able to Kill a giant Snake Sorceress, fight against monsters much more powerful than him. The young ruler from chapter three who later reappears with a sword and a rifle and almost sacrifices his arm without flinching in order to kill Lou also counts.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Hwang and Sando.
  • Battle Butler: Sando in a sense.
  • Beast Man: Aji Tae's Panther Girl bodyguard.
  • Berserk Button: Don't Mention Munsu's former lover or best friend in a negative light, or praise Aji Tae, or he will kill you.
  • Berserker Tears: Won Sul.
  • BFS: Sando's sword is bigger than she is.
  • Big Bad: Aji Tae.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ondal deflecting a bullet aimed at Pyeonggyang, made awesome by the fact that he doesn't even exist.
  • Big Fancy House: Pyeonggang's house.
  • Big "NO!": Munsu, when Aji Tae kills the nameless soldier
  • Bishōnen: Many of the characters could qualify for this trope
  • Bittersweet Ending: Aji Tae has been defeated and the world can begin to try and rebuild, but the fight came at the cost of Munsu and a majority of the supporting cast.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Sando has one on Munsu and later, on Aji Tae
  • Body Horror: The giant boob dragon that Won Hyo summons, Won Hyo himself when he is half demon, and Won Sul when he is monsterfied, and even to a lesser extent before that. Also, anything Lou does.
  • Break the Cutie: Bang Ja.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Munsu.
  • Cain and Abel: Aji Tae and Munsu
  • Came Back Wrong: Won Sul, though he is still badass.
  • Cape Snag: in the very end of the final fight arc, Aji Tae's cape got snagged under Munsu's boot. This caused him to react too late to Sando's attack from behind.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Munsu after he heals himself from almost dying.
  • Character Development: Have you read the series. One time characters get freaking development.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The needle with the mandrake extract on it. Who knew it would save his life when he most needed it. Also Aji Tae's cape, which got stuck under Munsu's heel in the final fight and ultimately cost Aji Tae his life.
  • Chekhov M.I.A./Chekhov's Gunman: Aji Tae, though he does appear pretty quickly.
  • The Coats Are Off: Averted. Munsu does look pretty bad ass without his coat, but he never takes it off, and Won Sul becomes a giant horrible monster when his coat is removed.
  • Colonel Badass: Munsu, the famous General.
  • Cool Mask: Won Sul. Turns out it is necessary.
  • Crapsack World
  • Cultured Badass: Lou and Aji Tae. Strangely enough, the heroes never seem to be cultured.
  • Dark Action Girl: Aji Tae's shapeshifting bodyguard Mago. Depending on how you view them, Hong Gildong and Marlene von Lucid can count for a bit. Also, later on: Sando
  • Darkest Hour: The end of the Hong Gildong Arc and the Final Fight
  • Deadpan Snarker: Munsu
  • Deal with the Devil: anyone who deals with Aji Tae is doing this. Lou and Gallimard do so pretty literally.. Of course, Hae Mo So and Munsu may have done it in the past...
  • Death Is Cheap: Despite the high number of casualties, characters have a tendency to come back to life or be Only Mostly Dead. Subverted in the case of Kye Wol Hyang when characters speculate she might be alive, but it turns out to be her half-sister.
  • Delicate and Sickly: Munsu's former fiancee, Kye Wol Hyang.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Munsu does this a lot to Aji Tae
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Munsu to Aji Tae, the first time literally punching the black out of his hair.
  • Doomed Hometown: Jushin
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: This happens a lot later on.
  • The Dragon: Lou Ells fulfills this role for Aji Tae. At one point, so did Yeong Sil and Sando does later on, before her Heel–Face Turn back to Munsu's side.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Munsu.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Possibly one of the most triumphant examples, with one of the highest stake endings to be seen in a manga.
  • The Empire: Old Jushin.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Tae Yu. Originally, he was just a fast swordsman, before becoming an all powerful summoner after training under Mito. Won Sul also counts, being just a simple badass swordsman before breaking his sword and making his own from willpower He then ascended again when he became an immortal zombie
  • Eye Scream: Munsu getting his eye blown out by a sadistic powerhouse.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Sando. Also Won Sul, Won Hyo.
  • Fallen Hero: Most of Munsu's old comrades in the Kaidaten war crossed the Despair Event Horizon after Jushin's collapse, and by the time our story happens they've become underlings of Aji Tae, ironically the one who was responsible for the country's fall.
    • Also the three legendary generals of Jushin, one of whom even had his giant statue erected in the capital, who return to life to fight as Aji Tae's underlings. Now they're all Blood Knights, who finds pleasure and satisfaction in fighting.
  • First-Episode Twist: Munsu is the Main character
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Before the final battle. Just about everyone seen throughout the series arrives to battle Aji Tae's army.
  • Handicapped Badass: Munsu, who suffers from asthma through a majority of the series until he starts dying of course. Lou can't see out of one his eyes, and Miho can't see at all
  • Heartbroken Badass: again, Munsu, who had to kill his own lover even after taking on her incurable asthma, before proceeding to punch the black out of the bad guy's hair. Won Sul also fits as heartbroken after killing the tiny child that he played with when he was a child. the coming back from the dead after his best friend was killed didn't help either.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Won Sul, Eul Paso, Yeung Sil, Sando...
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Munsu dies to give Sando time to strike a final blow on Aji Tae at the end.
    • A better example would be Kye Wol Hyang after getting resurrected by Aji Tae, who tells her the only way to receive true death is to kill Munsu. Then she sees that Munsu has already given up in defeating Aji Tae and she proceeds to commit suicide just to make him snap out of it. After a brief mourning Munsu starts with his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Hero Killer: Aji Tae, he kills everyone.
  • Honor Before Reason: Sando pulls it once when she prevents Munsu from shooting Mago in the back. Munsu slaps her in the face for it.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Nongae was sold into prostitution to pay for her family's debts. She's one of the kindest, sweetest and nicest people Munsu meets in his travels.
  • Humiliation Conga: Won Sul can't catch a break, ever. He has a horrible family after his close brother dies and his father believes that he is a hollow comparison, believing he should be the one who died, He kills the tiny little girl who he played with in a field when he was young. He kills former friends when they turn on him after the war because they can not get used to peace. Then he works with the lord only to discover he is Aji Tae. He then turns against him, only to be turned into a pin doll, then watch everyone be killed, and then to be banished to the other end of the country. Then he is brainwashed to work for the man he most hates, dies, and then is pulled back to become an immortal zombie who can not die no matter how much he wants to, then he is blown up again, and has the rest of his body turned into a giant rampaging monster, who is finally killed. And that's the short version.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: 'The Attack of the Yojin Tribe' demonstrates why you should never ask a Master of Illusion to do this.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Double subverted with Munsu, who has the cough of death, but survives, only for it to be revealed that he will soon die anyway.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Munsu
  • Light Is Not Good: Aji Tae. His Light kills people.
  • Mad Scientist: Yeong Sil. Sure he means well with his inventions, but....
  • Manly Tears: Won Sul after being blown up by Aji Tae, and again after being blown up again by Munsu.
  • Monster Clown: Munsu's Phantom Soldiers definitely have this vibe. As does Dorso.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mong Ryong.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Most of the cast are named after and based on historical figures throughout Korean history, usually just with their surnames removed such as Munsu being derived from the 18th Century Angyo Onshi Bak Mun-su. Sando is the only notable exception to the naming convention as she is based on Ju Non-gae.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In volume 15, we finally get to see Munsu beat the everloving shit out of Aji Tae, reducing him to a ranting, screaming wreck of a man in the process as he struggles to understand why his powers aren't working on Munsu. Given the truly monstrous stuff Aji Tae had done in the preceding few chapters, it is extremely satisfying to see.
  • Not Me This Time: When Munsu first encounters the Hwalbindang he immediately assumes they must be working for Aji Tae, but they've never even heard of him. Although it later turns out he's indirectly and inadvertently responsible for their existence - his actions are what drove Kye Wol Hyang to suicide and Hong Gildong blamed Munsu for her death, which inspired her to start the group.
  • Please Wake Up: Munsu, said by Bang Ja
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Munsu's gruffness contrasts with Aji Tae's charismatic demeanor.
  • Post-Rape Taunt
    Aji Tae: When I was Hae Mo Su, do you know what I enjoyed most? It was... when I held Kye Wol Hyang.
  • Rape as Drama: Subverted in the first chapter, where it appears the local guard's corrupt commander has had his way with one of the prisoners. It's Munsu, who used his time alone with her as an excuse to break her out and have some very consensual sex in the process.
  • Revealing Hug: Aji Tae delivers a spectacularly creepy one to Sando.
  • Sinister Minister: Gallimard, one of Aji Tae's henchmen. A demonic former priest.
  • Slasher Smile: Aji Tae.
  • Stripperific: Sando's outfit. Hwang tends to wear revealing clothing, too.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Apparently Tae Kwon Do practitioners were among the elite of Jushin's forces.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Aji Tae meets Munsu.
  • The Unreveal: We never learn Sando's true form, even though Munsu sees it.
  • Wicked Cultured: Aji Tae, Lou, and Gallimard.
  • World of Badass: Obviously.