Sang-Sun Park

Manga Review: The Tarot Cafe'

The Tarot Café is a manga written and illustrated by Sang-Sun Park. In these books, you meet Pamela, a shop owner who reads tarot cards. Not too unusual of a story. However, her clients are very unusual. After midnight, she receives visits from many patrons of the supernatural world. Vampires, fairies, dragons, magical cats, and other mystical creatures come to Pamela for a reading, some tea, and advice. There is also an underlying plot about Pamela, and how each one of these supernatural guests is to pay her in pearls from a necklace. Once she gets all the pieces, it will lead her to find out the truth about her past. You will not be disappointed by the art which is a mix of goth loli, punk, and fantasy. Each volume has its distinct style. The first volume mixes art-deco art reminiscent of Erte’ with punk images. Now anyone who can do that successfully has to be on the right track. Every character also has a very distinct and original style. Whatever story the character is telling pulls you in so that when their reading is done, you’re wondering if they could be their very own manga star.

Volumes 1-5 are excellent. Reading these, you will meet many of Pamela’s interesting guests as well as learn about the café staff and some loiterers that always hang out there. Volume 6 threw me for a loop. Pamela leaves the café in search of some deep dark secret of her past. Because it is so different than the other books, I didn’t like it at first. Judged on its own, it is an interesting story, but pulls you out of the café into unknown, sometimes confusing territory. Volume 7 reined me back in with an excellent end to the tale, taking you through the underworld and a resolution to Pamela’s secret. The art in Volume 7 is amazing. You will see the underworld and all the creatures that thrive there including pits of bodies in pain, demons, and the pretty evil ones too. Each chapter is introduced with Gustav Klimt-style art work.

The Tarot Café series is very enjoyable as a story and a must for any artist. This full series is available at