Manhwa-ga: YoungHee Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: January 2008
Synopsis: “When Seung-Ha’s jealousy threatens to make everyone miserable, Nan-Woo gets fed up with his attitde, and their standoff affects the school athletic meet… for the worse! Then a run-in with a contentious member of Nan-Woo’s family leads to a series of tests to see if Seung-Ha is worthy of being her boyfriend! Is being perfect really not good enough?!”
Though the thin veil seperating their boyfriend and girlfriend status has fallen, nothing can change the tooth-and-nail attitude that rages between Nan-Woo and the seemingly perfect to everyone else, Seung-Ha. Unable to cope with his jealously over Nan-Woo’s shared attention, Seung-Ha makes the lives of fellow students a living nightmare as Nan-Woo angrily tries to apologize for something she doesn’t even know happened. But even when all is said and done, nothing sets up the potential for more disaster than the inevitable confrontation of Seung-Ha with Nan-Woo’s family.
First and foremost, a certain family member of Nan-Woo has a family status revelation in this book and its one that positively floored me. I love a good surprise, when something can be so cleverly hidden until its ready to sneak out and become shockingly relevant, but this was just bizarre. Are they really who everyone says? Are they really ‘what’ everyone says?! I’ll avoid spoiling it to keep the confusion factor present for readers but suffice to say, I was taken back and I’m still not sure how much I accept it. That’s right, despite the numerous character back-up and afterword by the artist themselves, I shall stubbornly refuse to accept! Even with all known stereotypes of such works backing it up.
The story itself is much the same as it has been. Nan-Woo and Seung-Ha spend the majority of the book bullying eachother with all the clawing, biting and glaring that they’ve engaged in since the beginning. I did enjoy seeing Seung-Ha’s true nature coming out to his classmates under such emotional diress (over concerns regarding Nan-Woo of course), but the constant banter between the two is starting to wear me a little thin. I never thought I’d miss the simple, unarguable ‘I love yous’ that so many shoujos rely on but at the times I wish the two of them would just back off already!
Admittedly my fangirlish heart remains a flutter for the sidestory of Nan-Woo’s uncle, Jay and Seung-Ha’s friend, Hyun-Ho, who continue to have an adorably growing friendship. Hyun-Ho has accepted his attraction to the effeminate Jay but remains focused on the whys. I look forward to seeing how the ‘what nows’ play out in their little tale and enjoy having it so neatly woven into the rest of the story. While I still find Jay as cute as a button, Hyun-Ho remains more an enigma that I continue to look forward to learning more about as a character on his own as well.
One qualm I continue to have with the series however, is the artwork. Sure I find the occassional overdramatized facial expression to be amusing and some of the artwork to be very pretty (pictures of Jay and Hyun-Ho inparticular seem tailored to appeal to the pretty-boy fan in me), but there are some other aspects of the art that I just can’t get over, namely the main character. I’ve long since gotten accustomed to a Korean archetype of the lead female who is inevitably less attractive than the majority of the men and fellow females in the story, but Nan-Woo to me looks like a monkey. I could forgive her character design if it didn’t suffer from very repetitive paneling and expressions of which various shots in this book alone have a very copy-and-paste look. I’m all up for style consistancy throughout a series, but at times You’re So Cool! has proven to me that it can be taken too far.
While the story’s begun to wear itself thin, I still find there’s enough here to keep me looking forward to future books. Sure my anticipation is almost entirely due to the hope of more Jay and Hyun-Ho focus time, but I maintain some patience that Seung-Ha and Nan-Woo’s vicious dance of misplaced emotion will end up on a path more interesting. At the very least, there series still manages some random laughs and highly-suspect shock value.