Manhwa-ga: JiSang Shin & Geo
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: July 2008
Synopsis: “A spoiled brat from a wealthy Japanese family, Tsuyoshi is unceremoniously shipped off to Kora by his strict grandfather who tells him the family secret – they’re Korean! Sparks fly when the resentful high schooler arrives at the airport and shares an impromptu cab ride with Be-Rei Kang, a plucky girl who happens to be his new neighbour. Will the two ever get past their differences? And will Tsuyoshi learn to accept his new identity?”
Tsuyoshi is a spoiled teen from Japan who is told by his grandfather that he’s a Korean descendant. To curve his spoiled ways and teach him some long-lost heritage, Tsuyoshi is sent away to live in Korea. Already there, is a Korean-born-and-raised Be-Rei Kang, a spunky teenage girl with an eye for money and a hundred and one ways to save it. These two teens meet when sharing a cab on the way home from the airport, only to discover they’re next door neighbours and classmates.
While I usually reserve speaking about the translation work until near the end of a review, here it played a more pinnacle than usual role (you know, aside from being put in a language I can understand). As the characters in the book speak both Japanese and Korean, half way through the book there’s a note saying that those speaking Japanese will be in a different font. And yet two lines later, the Korean characters are speaking in this font. From that point on Yen Press used several different methods to let readers know someone was speaking Japanese over Korean (since they were in Korea surrounded predominantly by Korean speakers). These methods ranged from Japanese kanji with a translation below it, a different font to writing in English-pronunciation Japanese in with regular sentences (such as “Hai”, the word for yes in Japanese). Not only were these methods erratically used but also the translation notes that would allow most readers to make sense of them were at the back of book. This made reading the book feel uneven and a tad confusing at times.
Story-wise, I like the plot here so far. While Tsuyoshi isn’t very developed as anything but a bratty teen thus far, Be-Rei has already been pretty well fleshed out and I like her creative methods of getting and saving money, even if admittedly I didn’t find her reasoning as satisfying as the methods. This volume was overall an introduction to the characters so it’ll be volume two that’ll really get the ball rolling plot-wise I assume. Much of the verbal humour in this book results from language, which is something else that back-and-forth translation methods and back-of-the-book explanations unfortunately made difficult to appreciate.
The artwork here in Very! Very! Sweet was all right. I like the artistic style of it overall though it does have a lot of technical problems with things like consistency and anatomy. None the less, despite some of it’s flaws, it’s not a bad look and it worked well with the story. As is generally customary in Korean shoujo stories, expect guys who’re a lot prettier than the girls. I still can’t get over the cover though, what is up with his face? I was fearful of the art from the cover quality but I’m glad those kind of glaring stylistic issues weren’t very prevalent inside.
Come the end, this first volume of Very! Very! Sweet is only the opening act of this series and I’m not sure which way it’s going to go from here. However there was enough I enjoyed, despite some of the language issues, to await volume two and I recommend it to fans of manhwa shoujo stories.