Author: JiSang Shin
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2009
Synopsis: “Tsuyoshi and Be-Ri’s charade has Grandfather convinced, but it’s just a bit too convincing for Erica and Mu-Hyuk. Forming a coalition of their own, the pair is determined to prevent Tsuyoshi and Be-Ri from becoming anything more than business partners. Meanwhile, Gyu-Ri and San-Ne are on the rocks as Gyu-Ri’s unfaithfulness becomes increasingly apparent. Be-Ri watches their relationship crumble before her eyes, her heart filled with concern for the suffering San-Ne.”
Be-Ri and Tsuyoshi’s plan to appease Tsuyoshi’s Grandfather seemed to be working smoothly but every façade needs to come to the surface eventually… and yet, not so for this pretend-couple just yet. With their childhood friends, aka other prospective love interests, bent on seeing the two separated and Tsuyoshi’s Grandfather sceptical after only a single meeting, the two have more work on their hands to be convincing. But how far will a lie go before it starts becoming true?
No idea how far yet because Very! Very! Sweet is taking its time heading down that seemingly inevitable road, but to no complaints from me. Admittedly I find Be-Ri and Tsuyoshi have great on-page chemistry, and I’d love more reasons for them to interact. But a rushed romance isn’t my preferred direction. I’m still appeased by reading about their individual personalities more. The two in combination is just added bonus.
Consistently warned of this impending manhwa plot-device by my resident manhwa reviewer, Marsha, I was both entertained and a little surprised at the revelation that two of the lead characters are in fact blood-relatives. One of the two is Sam-Sik, the one character I have repeatedly forgotten or mistaken for another since the series began. With much of this volume following Sam-Sik, I felt guilty that he still managed to keep slipping through the cracks of my attention span. I guess it sort of suits his personality and purpose however, a quiet manservant/adopted son to Tsuyoshi’s Grandfather who is never one to seek the limelight.
I had a similar problem with Be-Ri’s sister, who though she and her boyfriend Oppa have had more forefront attention since the beginning thanks to Be-Ri’s crush on Oppa, here they swiftly take a more emotionally invested role in the story with some personal problems of their own. I was surprised because, though I always knew they were there, I didn’t expect them to suddenly step forward. It also made me realize how quickly the object of Be-Ri’s affection, usually an arch-type character that would remain potently relevant in a shoujo series, was quickly left to the shadows. Just an observation but something else to add onto my list of reasons to love Be-Ri: naturally resisting the trap of female lead love-blinders.
Be-Ri’s also one of my favourite parts of the series artistically. Her mop of a hairdo pushed up into clips is so lovable! Overall I do still find the series nice visually, even if the killer sharp jawbones still irk me on occasion. I think the artist has been getting stronger as each volume progresses and I was pleasantly surprised at some of the sharp chapter covers and dramatic full-page spreads. More than once my eyes stopped to linger over a nicely handled image.
Back to the volume at hand, a real surprise addition to the story, one that threw me off in a different way, was the Grandmother of Be-Ri. In a coincidental meeting, she and Tsuyoshi’s Grandfather take the same transportation to their respective family’s homes (which are next door to each other) and during this time she begins to vocally assault the stranger for being Japanese. While a series starring Japanese students in Korea has of course had its share of cultural comparisons, this is the first time the subject of racism was taken head on, and thus far it doesn’t shine very fondly on the Grandmother regardless of past-generational discretions.
Intentional negativities aside (or perhaps including), there’s still plenty to like about Very! Very! Sweet. My only real complaint about the series falls to the inconsistent focus on characters that later leads to the confusion I faced here, suddenly expected to feel connected to characters thrust into the spotlight who had never been given solid bases in the first place. And yet I suppose for characters like Sum-Sik and Be-Ri’s sister, this could just the beginning of their evolving relevance, and I do appreciate the more adult-oriented issues they bring to a story populated by a majority of younger teens.
But, really who am I kidding in saying that I enjoy Very! Very! Sweet for struggling character depth. I take pleasure in reading about these characters because they manage to be so entertaining. I still find amusement in Tsuyoshi’s disjointed speech and Be-Ri’s stubborn penny-pinching. Even the stereotype-ridden childhood friends who won’t take a hint still offer their own kind of charm to the story as they struggle to win the hearts of their crushes (notwithstanding the fact that one goes a bit far in this volume). I always have fun reading Very! Very! Sweet and will continue to look forward to subsequent volumes for this series that’s both generally undemanding and enjoyable.