Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2012 – 3 volumes

Again, if you haven’t heard, Totally Captivated is one of my favorite BL series. Netcomics recently released 3 physically large volumes of side stories for the series, which you can pick up from them directly. They are expensive, but they are also magazine-size books that run around 150-170 or so pages each. The larger size does help explain the price, but be warned there aren’t really any other frills for the price.

As I said last time, volume 1 is more of a collection of steamy/humorous one-shots, where volume 2 is more like a volume 7 of the series. The drama is back, though the sex and humor are still there. The sex is not nearly as frequent as you might expect from a doujinshi-style work (again, I don’t know the Korean word for this), especially after reading volume one, but it’s there.

The plot is just as depressing as before. The happy family Ewon spotted at the end of the original series falls to pieces when his father dies and his mother becomes suicidal, leaving his younger sister to fend for herself. Nabin has no place else to go, so Ewon decides to take her in, regardless of what Mookyul wants. Mookyul is inclined to go along with it since he doesn’t want to lose Ewon, but having a child around puts a strain on their happy, carefree adult life. Nabin is gloomy, Ewon doesn’t know how to act around her, and Mookyul is still driven crazy by the fact that Ewon won’t say “I love you” and give himself completely over.

So, basically, yeah, more Totally Captivated. The drama is still good, the romance is still good, and it’s everything amazing about the original one more time. Nabin is an interesting complication, but you can almost believe the three can live together as a family at points. The ending is a little unsatisfying and almost doesn’t make sense, but in the world of BL, that’s how it has to be, I suppose? Except Yugi Yamada and Keiko Kinoshita can pull off the family thing, so I don’t know?

Other than saying it’s exactly like Totally Captivated, and I loved every page of that series, I’m not sure I can praise this any higher. It was exactly what I wanted when I bought these, and I did not regret my purchase. If you are a fan of BL, and humor, give the original series a try, because it is FANTASTIC. This is just as good, but again, probably a little expensive. I’m less excited about the 3rd volume, which is a story from the POV of one of Mookyul’s work associates, but I picked that one up too in the interest of completing the set, and I’m sure it will be good as well, even if it is set before Mookyul met Ewon.

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2012 – 3 volumes

I’m saying 3 volumes because Netcomics published 3 volumes of supplement stories to Totally Captivated at the same time, which you can order from their website.

But the important thing to take away from that sentence is that Netcomics published 3 volumes of supplement stories to Totally Captivated. Seriously. I was so ridiculously excited about this. This was completely unlooked-for, and Totally Captivated is one of my absolute favorite BL stories of all time. On a particularly hazy day, I might say that it rates above Let Dai because of the latter’s bad dialogue. But both are extremely good.

These three volumes are basically doujinshi, or the Korean version thereof (not doujinshi, but I don’t know the Korean term for that). What makes these particularly awesome is that they’re still drawn by Hajin Yoo. The books themselves are really cool, too. They’re huge (magazine-size), and they’ve got fancy papers at the front and back and are just… you know, a lot nicer than the usual volume of manhwa or manga.

Volume one is about what you’d expect. Lots of short stories that show Mookyul and Ewon having sex, which was not something that was shown in the main series. They did talk a lot about it, though. And they still do.

Seriously, there’s lots of sex. The first third or so of the book is a story about how frequently Mookyul and Ewon have sex. They have it right away, then abstain, which leads Ewon to many flashbacks of the two having sex. The only way a story like this can end is with the two of them having sex for a long time.

But I’m not easily swayed by sex scenes. What makes Totally Captivated fantastic is that Mookyul and Ewon are such strong personalities that react well together. They’re hilarious while still being a completely believable couple, and it feels like a lot more of the nuts and bolts of that is explored here, moreso than it is in the series. This volume is relatively drama-free, which is really nice.

There are a lot of very short, few-page stories and 4-panel comics. Most end with Mookyul jumping Ewon, not necessarily in a graphic way. All are very, very funny, again, because Mookyul and Ewon are great characters.

One of the longer short stories is about Ewon’s friend Moon from the original series and the day he introduced Ewon to his father. This story is also hilarious. I was not Moon’s biggest fan in the original series, but this story frames him as a deviant whose father is more than willing to kill him. Ewon, however, does everything he can to please his father, and it’s great how much the father likes Ewon and how much Moon spoils absolutely everything. Again, a cute story.

Other stories are… hm, one starts with Mookyul waking up from a fantasy about Ewon and being face-to-face with Killer Bear, and ends with an extensive office sex scene between Ewon and Mookyul. Another story is almost drama, where Ewon runs out in a huff after claiming that Mookyul only sees him as a hole… but Ewon’s friend is right, he’s just bragging about the sex.

So yeah, there’s lots of sex, but it’s balanced nicely with lots and lots of Ewon and Mookyul bickering back and forth and basically being themselves. It’s what I liked best about Totally Captivated, and I’m so happy that this is an entire drama-free volume of it. Volume 2 of these side stories is more like volume 7 of Totally Captivated, which is still a good thing, and I’m not sure which I like better. But more on volume 2 next time.

Totally Captivated 6

December 27, 2009

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2009 – 6 volumes

I’ll be honest and say the end of this series wasn’t what I had in mind, but was plenty awesome anyway.  I think I had imagined a Let Dai-ish ending, with the two fading off into obscurity, but of course Mookyul and Ewon do nothing quietly.  The end twists and turns more than any other part of the series, and Mookyul hits several ups and downs and scares Ewon completely out of his mind before all is said and done.  And if I was surprised by the eventual outcome, it was pretty consistent with how the characters (or at least Ewon) felt, too.

Mookyul, who would do anything in the world to get back together with Ewon, can’t simply stop at rejecting the chairman, but feels obligated to completely give back the good life he’s given, so he goes back to Ewon with a completely clean slate.  Ewon is freaked out, but the two share one of the more intimate scenes in the series.  Then more stuff happens (which is more-or-less the theme with this last volume).  The conflict that has been simmering with Mookyul’s rival in the organization boils over, and there’s messes on both sides of the fight.  It seems like things wrap up nicely… then there’s a whole chapter about Ewon’s parents and how he feels completely alienated from Mookyul.  He tries to end things again, which was incredibly frustrating and felt like it was just lengthening the story, but who am I to turn my nose up at good drama?  Bah.  I liked it.  And it provided just a little bit more closure in Mookyul and Ewon’s relationship.  Honestly, I would have kept reading if it had kept going, because man, those two are a riot as well as being totally passionate, which is an odd but winning combination.

It’s rare that I am as taken by a series as I was by this one (well, it probably happens a few times a year, but given the volume of stuff I read, it is, relatively speaking, rare).  I think Let Dai is still my favorite Korean BL series, but this is certainly a good second place, and still one of the most romantic series I’ve ever read.  I like romance, but let me not sell the humor short, or the characters.  Ewon’s a funny guy, and once you get to know him, so is Mookyul.  The two have the perfect balance and trade just the right number of affectionate barbs that their banter and antics through all six volumes is a joy.

Just… read it, if you’re into romance.  It’s only six volumes, and you won’t regret it.  And if you’re afraid of the BL, it’s not explicit at all, either.  Great stuff.

Totally Captivated 5

December 23, 2009

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2008 – 6 volumes

Because the story was not dramatic enough, here’s all the drama for the 2-volume conclusion to the series.  Things are still going great at the beginning of the volume, and Mookyul and Ewon are still in the middle of their hot and heavy romance.  Ewon even begins to enjoy himself a little and let himself fall for Mookyul completely, which makes for an even prettier picture since Mookyul is so head-over-heels for him.

Then the thing with the director comes up again.  After the two needle each other while Ewon is very drunk, Ewon finds out his worst fears about the director are completely true.  Ewon then tells Mookyul to choose between him and the man who raised him as a father for no real reason.  Mookyul says he is insane and flat-out refuses, and Ewon leaves him, taking the separation quite badly.  They both take it badly, but Ewon is the more self-destructive of the two, surprisingly, and he also uses his friends badly in the situation.  I did feel pretty bad for his friend Moon, who had been carrying a torce for Ewon for years and only gets to be one of several sleazy rebound men.

The humor is still there (one of my favorite things from this volume was that Ewon had entered Mookyul into his phone as “Grade School Bully Eun”), and I still like that about the series, but both Mookyul and Ewon are in a bad way here, which can only mean that they’ll make up and do awesome stuff together next time.  Not before a whole bunch of bad stuff goes down first, though.  Mookyul is being set up for a hard fall in this volume, and his enemies are out to get him professionally here, too, so look forward to that.

Totally Captivated 4

December 21, 2009

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2008 – 6 volumes

This was where things really started to heat up.  I was afraid things would begin to get more dramatic and serious, since some of the major issues in this volume include a bad encounter between Mookyul and Ewon’s friends and Ewon suspecting Mookyul of an affair with his adopted father (which sounds kind of funny in that super-messed-up soap opera way when I write it out).  Fortunately, Totally Captivated keeps its sense of humor even at the most depressing of times, and I was alternately laughing and… I don’t know, completely engrossed in the story this time around as the romance heated up even more and Ewon’s little icy heart began to melt.

It’s the little touches of humor that I appreciate.  The way Mookyul is drawn with a little super-evil face when the style switches to SD for a gag.  The way Mookyul holds whatever conversation he wants wherever he wants, which includes detailed descriptions of his sex life in front of his men.  Ewon’s frequent light touches and random jokes he makes in every situation that are genuinely funny.  It’s stuff like that that makes Totally Captivated better than just a romance.

But there’s the romance, too.  As I said, things got pretty intense in this volume.  Ewon begins to grow nervous and wants some space, but Mookyul is completely in love with him and Ewon realizes that he can’t pull away.  There are some rough spots, as I’ve mentioned before, and the two still fight pretty intensely.  The one thing that always bothers me is that Ewon doesn’t seem to enjoy sex with Mookyul.  Mookyul has to trick him into it, and he always seems to want to get away.  This volume does cross the line to a point, since Mookyul keeps going when Ewon says no, but Ewon doesn’t seem that upset when he wakes up, and is touched that Mookyul stayed up to watch while he slept.  The “I love you” stuff starts after that, too, and that’s handled in a way that only Mookyul and Ewon could do it.

This was my favorite volume in the series, I think.  Really excellent stuff.  Great romance, humor, and pretty much everything I look for in girls’ comics.

Totally Captivated 3

December 18, 2009

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2008 – 6 volumes

Yeah, I flew through all these.  All of it was good stuff.  This volume starts off with lots of drama between Jiho, Mookyul, and Ewon.  I wasn’t sure if Ewon was on to the fact that Jiho was using Mookyul (I was pretty certain this was happening from the start, since Jiho still acted pretty jealous), since he has a thought to this effect while Mookyul and he are talking, but then he acts surprised when Jiho comes out with it in front of Mookyul.  As harsh a guy as Mookyul is, he obviously doesn’t take this very well, though he makes it more than clear that he has no feelings for Jiho.

We also find out that Ewon is a little more distant than he seems.  I like that he’s free to admit to himself why things aren’t working out between he and Jiho, despite the fact that Ewon still clearly loves him.  Despite that distance, he’s still a pretty open guy, and I like that even his tragic downside doesn’t make him any less of an upbeat character.  In fact, Mookyul’s entourage go on quite extensively about how much they like him, his cooking, and how they’d snatch him up if he was a girl.  Everyone likes Ewon since he’s such a great guy, and he’s a big part of what makes the series fun to read.

I wasn’t clear on the relationship between he and Mookyul at this point, though.  Mookyul made his lust fairly well-known at this point, but even through the end of this volume, there wasn’t much chemistry between the two, and it seemed like Ewon might be more physically attracted to Mookyul than… well, actually liking him as a person, since he seems both terrified and appalled by a lot of what he does.  Some of Mookyul’s forcefulness made me wince, but again, there’s no rape in this series (though Mookyul does come damn close sometimes), and I like it a lot for that.

Ewon keeping his distance from Mookyul emotionally is sort of the point of the series, though, and even though I was never quite sure if Ewon was falling in love or not, Mookyul’s emotions are never in doubt when he gets serious, and the romantic parts are… er, very, very romantic.  That’s the most important part.

Re-reading through some parts, I also like how, despite all his toughness, Mookyul really does act like a little kid when it comes to Ewon.  He lets little things bug him, and his petty fights with Ewon, combined with all his groping and fondness when he’s around, make this series the awesome read it is.  Well, yes, the romance, the sense of humor, the way the characters are ridiculously open about everything they do… When Ewon continuously denies Mookyul sex, Mookyul blatantly asks his men how long it took them to have sex with their girlfriends the first time, his intentions clear as day.  Later, after the deed has been done, everyone and their mother knows that Ewon has done it, because he makes his pain more than obvious.  Funny stuff.

Yeah.  All that stuff is what makes this series magical.

Totally Captivated 2

December 16, 2009

Hajin Yoo – Netcomics – 2008 – 6 volumes

So, uh… I pretty much just read this whole thing in one sitting.  It’s so rare when I can do that, and it’s even rarer that I feel like doing that.  But I like pretty much everything about it.  It’s like a BL story crossed with a manic, upbeat Korean girls’ comic with everything I hate most about BL stripped out and a great romance instead.  It completely blew me away.  I’m only going to talk about volume two tonight, but I’ll probably flood the rest of the reviews in tomorrow night.

Coincidental grade school meeting GO!  It was well-advertised in the first volume, and I forgave it for being a common plot device since the story was so funny and Ewon sprung it at one of the most hilarious, inappropriate times possible.  Ewon doesn’t remember the whole thing, and actually lies when Mookyul recognizes him and asks what elementary school he went to, but it’s a good story, funny with a sentimental ending, and we get Ewon’s recollection of the first half and Mookyul’s for the second, more sentimental half.

Mookyul begins his version of courtship after this.  He’s aggressive, surly, and quick-tempered, and never tells Ewon what’s going on.  Ewon puts up with it all with a fair bit of humor.  And as aggressive as Mookyul is, I did like that he took no for an answer.  He gets violent and fights with Ewon to say yes, but he doesn’t go any farther when Ewon flat-out refuses him.  As they… er, do their version of opening up to each other (hilariously, the two are never overtly fond of one another until much later), they have small arguments and bicker back and forth in really funny ways, and the tough guy Mookyul gets his bits of humor in by being surprisingly petty about small things.

Mookyul and Ewon both carry the day through this series.  Ewon continues to be a very funny, open character that says what he wants and never really finds a problem with being gay.  His sexuality comes up every once in awhile (aside from the obvious romantic situations), and I love this series for not making any sort of issue out of it.  It’s exactly like a shoujo romance with gay characters.  It’s magical the way the subject is treated here, and if it’s not going to be a serious story, I would much rather read BL series like this.  Mookyul is also in the free and open camp, but Ewon is a more open character than Mookyul, so it’s easier to relate to him.  Both are quite good though, and I loved them both by the end of this volume, though I still wasn’t quite seeing how a relationship was going to work out between the two.

Another thing I like about this series is that it’s supposed to have this mob-ish storyline, with Mookyul working for a loan corporation with people that call him “boss” and rough measures for people within the company and serious threats (though no violence) to people who try to skip out on their loans.  The story is told with a light touch though, mostly thanks to Ewon, and nothing ever gets too terribly serious.  There are serious situations, but he has the power to offer hilarious commentary and diffuse them in amusing ways.

But yes.  This series was an amazing read.  More on it tomorrow.