Lee Sang-eun – Tokyopop – 2008 – 7 volumes
I believe this series was another casualty of the schedule upheval Tokyopop experienced last year, along with other Korean series like Hotel Africa and Martin & John. Those two were better than this one, but there was something about the description for this that made me pick it up even while knowing I’d never get to read the rest.
The premise is okay. Basically, a girl has amnesia, and is trying to get her bearings back. This sounds a bit cliched, but when I thought about it, I couldn’t recall another series that opened with the main character as a blank slate like this (other than… well, Blank Slate, but that was an action series and completely different). It gets better when the two girls that insist they are her best friends are obnoxious and unlikable, a fact commented on by the main character herself. Wacky shoujo hijinx occur when they shove her into the locker room in pursuit of a mystery boy (something she’d written about in a diary, the only clue she had to her old personality), and she winds up accidentally stealing the underwear of a hot boy and gets chased around the school by him. Better still, this activity ceases when she encounters another hot boy (who could also be her mystery boy) who seems to loathe her very existence.
As the facts come forward more and more, we realize that Se-Lim was a horrible, vindictive harpy that enjoyed manipulating and blackmailing people to get what she wanted. Her two friends are actually her minions, scared that she’ll turn evidence of their wrongdoing over to the teachers. The boy who hates her is the subject of one of her more public humiliations, where she outed an affair between him and one of the teachers. The only thing missing is her “account book,” which seems to work exactly like Hiruma’s book of threats from Eyeshield 21, a fact that amused me to no end.
Se-Lim is rightly horrified by all this. She decides to set her life down another path. And then the volume ends.
There are lots of strange plot threads that started here. One of the more bizarre is that both she and her brother have a weird undercurrent of a relationship going on, which could mean that he’s not actually her brother. He’s a nice boy, though, not at all like the kind of person you’d expect to hang out with the former Se-Lim. One of her blackmail victims gives her the cryptic remark that he’s only under her power until he gets the operation. And the rich boy that was trying to seek her out for stealing his underwear finds out that she’s the one person he’s been ordered to keep away from. Also, the boy who had the affair with the music teacher… I had briefly imagined an affair between him and Se-Lim’s brother when he said something that sounded very much like “I don’t date girls,” but that was probably just hinting at the fact he liked his older music teacher.
There are also really nice touches of humor scattered throughout. The book opens with an introduction describing the perfect boy, who is literally unattainable. Se-Lim’s banter with her friends frequently and hilariously runs to the question of why she would ever hang out with these people. One of the friends has a really long and embarassing name. Little things like that. The worst thing about it, other than the fact that there aren’t any more volumes, is that all three of the boys featured so far, and sometimes even her brother, look exactly alike. There are some scenes where this is a serious problem. There’s not even different haircuts to distinguish them. They are just the same boy. It’s sad, really.
It’s not so good that I’m wishing someone else would pick it up, but I would certainly read the other volumes if I was given a chance. This is yet another one of those cutie Korean series, and another from the pages of Wink, and these are almost always instant favorites for me, probably because the characters are vindictive and horrible in ways that they never are in Japanese shoujo manga. But whatever. It’s good. Not the best, but still very, very good.