Manhwa-ga: YoungHee Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2009
Synopsis: “Though they’ve settled into an easygoing, playful relationship, Seung-Ha’s still far from opening up to his goofy girlfriend, Nan-Woo. But keeping his emotional cards close to his chest might not be the best idea when past tensions are once again stirred up by his family… Meanwhile, a sudden incident endangers Hyun-Ho’s life and forces Jay to examine his feelings. Will Seung-Ha and Jay be able to overcome their very different demons?”
After a rocky start, Nan-Woo and Seung-Ha are finally dating, becoming without compare the most unexpected couple in their high school. First Nan-Woo couldn’t wait to get away from the two-faced Seung-Ha but now she’ll do anything to be at his side. From cheery cell phone calls to her first visit at his home, after weeks of trying to avoid him she has a lot of catching up to do.
Despite having read each volume as soon as it comes out, I still feel as though I’ve missed something now that Seung-Ha and Nan-Woo are dating and everything the series has built up takes a big stumble in the opposite direction. Nan-Woo is now head over heels for Seung-Ha and the two are nearly inseparable. Though she still finds his aloof attitude and egotistical smirks to be infuriating, she loves to watch him open up to her as his feelings for her begin to blossom as well. Though it’s sweet reading about Seung-Ha’s emotional dependence on Nan-Woo, it’s still a little hard to accept, like the story has taken off in this direction because the writer deemed it so more than achieving a sense of natural progression. I think the story could’ve benefited from a friendship between the two before leaping straight to dating.
On top of the sudden romance, an issue he hasn’t had to deal with in seven years also confronts Seung-Ha: the return of his Mother. We learn something that, while not surprising, at least proves semi-explanatory as to Seung-Ha’s outlook on life. Just when he believes he’s come to a definitive answer in regards to his feelings for his Mother, a new piece of information is dropped like a ton of bricks on the final page and it promises a lot of backlash drama in plot to come.
Art-wise, I still find Nan-woo’s design fairly unappealing. More often than not her wide-eyes, shapely lips and big ears serve to make her like a monkey in appearance. Still, I’m not complaining that we have a spunky lead character who is intentionally average in appearance, it’s just the style that I find fairly hit or miss when these features are intentionally emphasized. I’ve also come to expect the male characters being consistently prettier than the girls in manhwa and thanks to this fact the chapter pages make for some great eye-candy full of piercing eyes and trendy clothes.
With unabashed sincerity however, my favourite part of this series, in regards to both art and plot, remains Nan-Woo’s older brother Jay and his quickly evolving relationship with a young man named Hyun-Ho. In this volume Hyun-Ho is honest about his feelings for Jay, both to himself and to the vulnerable object of his affection. But things take a dramatic turn when Hyun-Ho falls ill and Jay is horrified at the thought of losing him. Things don’t fall into place as neatly as straight-up boys’ love stories may have left readers expecting and Jay must face his own inner demons before he’s willing to try loving another. Jay is still adorable and noticably effeminate, traits that Hyun-Ho can’t help but notice, but he’s also troubled and scared which serves to make him all the more endearing of a character. Hyun-Ho, on the other hand, is much more of an enigma in that the story never follows him as closely, but it doesn’t make him any less interesting.
Though Seung-Ha and Nan-Woo have been the series’ focus since the beginning, I don’t find them as entertaining as I was once did now that they’ve begun dating. Looks like the journey really was more interesting than the destination. Still, with more than their share of troubles on the horizon, and Jay and Hyun-Ho keeping my interest piqued for at least half the book’s worth, I still look forward to the next volume of You’re So Cool with enthusiasm.