Manhwa-ga: YoungHee Lee
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2009
Synopsis: “Having delivered an angry ultimatum to his mother, Seung-Ha wanders the rainy streets aimlessly, only to end up sick in bed at Nan-Woo’s! But after a night of feverish dreaming in the Jung house, he walks out with what seems like a plan… a plan that doesn’t involve his family or Nan-Woo! Jay, on the other hand, is still on the fence about Hyun-Ho… even though Hyun-Ho isn’t quite ready to take no for an answer. Will Nan-Woo follow Hyun-Ho’s lead and follow her heart?”
Confronting his ailing birth Mother, Seung-Ha sets down his final words before taking to the typhoon soaked streets. Fever-ridden and depressed, he’s taken in by girlfriend Nan-Woo and her overzealous family. After a one night heal and a day of flipping off his own family, Seung-Ha has his eyes set on America to run away from that which he doesn’t want to deal with at home. To make sure he severs all ties it also means he needs to ensure that the feelings he’s managed to cultivate between himself and Nan-Woo are promptly squashed.
Unfortunately for the story’s attempts at dramatics, there really was never much to cheer about in regards to Nan-Woo and Seung-Ha being together in the first place. They had some amusing moments, and in some ways he treats her better now overall than he had in the past, but seeing the two break up proves more a relief than it does an upset. Really, the guy rarely does anything but talk down to Nan-woo, insult her and ignore her feelings and now in a bout of treating Nan-Woo worse in a condensed situation, that readers know even more than her is purely selfish, we still have to sit back and watch her wallow in sadness about it. Yes there’s some sympathy for Nan-Woo as she was broken up with but the want to give her a good thwap on the back of the head to wake up and see the angst-ridden, destructively egotistical doom cloud over Seung-Ha is too overwhelming to let the empathy kick in.
This fifth’s volume near-saving grace is the same one that’s been holding the series up by a thread since the get-go and that’s the relationship, or attemptive relationship, between Nan-Woo’s brother Jay and Seung-Ha’s friend Hyun-Ho. In the previous volume Hyun-Ho opened his heart to Jay but it wasn’t all instant joy and rapture. Jay is unsure of how he feels about the other young man, and as someone heavily ruled by his emotion, Jay is in contrast holding them back now as he tries to sort out how he feels. The two have had a great chemistry since the beginning and seeing this spark between the two finally begin to ignite, it’s easily the most worthwhile part of the story. It’s such a pity then that it falls so far in the background.
Other elements of the story remain as confusing and thus distracting as ever including, and most notably, Jay and Nan-Woo’s ‘mother’ whose gender still seems in question. Clearly they appear to be a man – but has this actually been clarified? If Nan-Woo didn’t look so much like a young man herself, it probably wouldn’t be such an annoying conundrum. At least the artist takes a little play in this aspect of their art style, including a short comic at the end of the volume that outlines the story if it actually played out a tale of boys’ love from the get-go.
With an art style that seems to remain jiltingly unpolished, plus some disturbingly unlikable lead characters, You’re So Cool is a difficult series to keep attached to past Yen Press’s quality English-adaptation, which includes a number of full colour illustrations and large trim size. Reasons to keep reading are growing few and the only that seem to exist past cheering for Jay and Hyun-Ho consist of celebrating the departure of Seung-Ha. Going to America and never coming back? Good – go! Sadly for our cheers it’s still a romantic series that obviously wants Nan-Woo and Seung-Ha to find some sort of resolve but may it take a brave and saving path and see them find peace in accepting that they’re just better off apart.