I tuned into the webcomic Raruurien after I discovered its creator Ann Maulina on Twitter and immediatly fell in love with her artwork. The series is a unique mix as it's a slice-of-life type story set in a fantasy world and deals with themes of trauma, grief, and family.
The story follows Rien, a witch and a widow who must raise her two sons on her own in a small mountain village. Her younger son Ruu was traumatized when his father died has lost his memory and his natural connection to magic. His older brother Ra doesn't understand why Ruu has changed, and is still dealing with the grief of losing his father and the new responsibilities of supporting his mother with his brothers ailment.
Rien's struggle with keeping their family together while integrating with the village is nicely developed over the course of the series. Technically an outsider, she must balance her attempts of trying to fit in with and supporting the village through her crafts and medicines while also being a role model for her children. This means tending to Ruu's needs for reeducation as he could barely speak after his incident, but also not neglecting Ra's needs as he copes with the changes they've gone through as a family.
I absolutely love the approach of telling a casually paced story of just the struggles of day to day life of a single mother in this unique world. There's no typical fantasy/adventure tension or conflict pushing the plot forward as the plot is just 'life after loss'. Sure, there are subtle mysteries, lore, and world building happening in the background, but there is no rush. Readers are leisurely immersed in the lives of these characters and their struggles, allowing for a more organic experience in absorbing their world and their developments.
Maulina's artwork is lush in its design elements, well balanced in it's color palettes, and fluid with its clean, simple, and sharp linework. Her visual storytelling and compositions flow just as naturally as her character development and scripting, the entire package creating a comfortable and engaging narrative.
The only negative thing I can say is that Raruurien has been on hiatus since Oct 2019. Now it's just a waiting game I guess, but in the meantime I would love to see a print release with nice paper quality and beautiful binding that does the art justice.
I just love having a different tone of fantasy with a strong female lead that features no violence. I want this to blow up more and reach more people because it's just such an engaging approach to a few different types of genres and I want more things like this to exist in the world.