Manga Digest: Korean Webtoons – METANORN

Manga Digest: Korean Webtoons

KWTHUMBNAIL

Something a little different for the new year~

Hello everyone and welcome to an extremely overdue manga digest! This post has literally been sitting in my drafts for what seems like a thousand years, getting edited and re-edited because I couldn’t focus on any sort of theme. Not to mention I’ve been buckled down with all sorts of things these past two years, so I couldn’t devote much to time to this (or any posts really). Because of my absence, I want to apologize in advance for my rusty writing and reviewing skills; it’s been a long time!

Anyway, once upon a time, one of my first manga digest posts was on Korean manhwas, and I remember adding a webtoon or two in there. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot more into Korean webtoons, especially thanks to LINE’s neat Webtoon app. Being a huge fan of manga/webcomics, etc, I’m always up for supporting licensed and legal distribution of English translations of manga and webtoons in the US so we can get more (and better *cough*) content in the future. So when I heard about LINE’s app, I had to check it out and now I’m in love. It’s totally free for both Andriod and iOS (as well as on the web, but it honestly looks better on mobile), and you can read a decent number of webtoons in English. One bummer is that the chapters update only once a week (with the rare exception of some webtoons who get 2-3 updates a week, depending on their popularity), especially since I’m used to reading these in bulk from scantalation groups. But with Naver seriously cracking down on who’s translating their stuff, it’s getting even harder to find webtoons in English, so I’ll take what I can get.

I mean, Korean webtoons in general are too awesome to pass up. It’s the vertical format that really makes it for me, because it’s a much easier reading experience. There’s no interruption from turning pages as you simply have to scroll, and if the artist really utilizes the format, they’ll hardly leave any white space and take the whole page to create awesome illustrations and unique panels that you can’t get from reading manga or other comics. It’s not that either of these formats are better than the other, but if you haven’t read a webtoon, or comic in the vertical format, it’s certainly an interesting reading experience.

Distant Sky (Simyeonui Hanuel) // Inwhan Youn & Sunhee Kim

i193496 Genre(s): Action, Drama, Horror, Mystery
Status: Season 1 Completed / Season 2 Completed / Season 3 starts up in March
Year: 2014
Summary: Gangnam in complete darkness…”Am I the only one alive? What’s going on?” A boy wakes up to find himself in a building full of dead people. No cars, no electricity and no stars in the sky… Not only Gangnam, but the entire city seems deserted.
When I talk about webtoons utilizing the format to create neat panels, my favorite example (and probably the best example) is Distant Sky. It’s that technique that creates the suspense and overall eeriness of this comic because in Distant Sky, there is no white space. The good reason being that this entire series takes place in total darkness, and the only real light we get is from light sources the protagonist has. It’s hard to say much without spoiling, but there’s definitely the equivalent of jumps scares in certain panels because of the darkness. Of course, the story evolves to more than just our lowly protagonist fearing for his life. It’s always that question of “How did things end up like this?” in an apocalyptic type story that hooks you, and Distant Sky is definitely one that keeps you reading.
PREVIEW: Show ▼

 

Tales of the Unusual (Gigi Goegoe) // Songdae Oh

i202167 Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Psychological, School Life, Shounen, Supernatural
Status: On-going
Year: 2014
Summary: A collection of short mysteries and scary stories.
This series was on hiatus throughout the majority of winter and for some reason I was really sad about it. I mean, Tales of the Unusual isn’t all that scary or terrifying, but it’s a lot of fun to read. Instead of one story, this webtoon consists of different stories that last a few chapters and deal with the supernatural and all sorts of spooky stuff. Usually each story ends with a neat twist, which has come to be my favorite part of this comic. It may not be the most scary webtoon, but it’s definitely a lot of fun to read.
PREVIEW: Show ▼

 

Girls of the Wild’s // Hun & Zhena

i202166 Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Drama, Harem, Martial Arts, Romance, School Life, Shounen, Sports
Status: On-going
Year: 2011
Summary: Wild’s High has a 42-year history as a fighting specialized, girls only, private high school meant solely for the elite. It is also the place that Wild’s-League is held: the most popular event in the country and the only place in the world where teenage girls have brutal fights with their lives on the line.
One year the school changed from a girls only school to a mixed gender school. The only male student, Song Jae Gu, has been granted a full 3-year scholarship regardless of grades. Being someone who had to spend every moment either working or taking care of his younger brother and sister, he accepted.
But after meeting Queen, the bloody champion of Wild’s-League, drenching her in coffee, calling her a monster, and getting caught seeing her while she was taking a shower… his scholarship could prove fatal.
I admit I’m pretty biased with this series for two reasons, incredible art and an abundance of kickass female characters. The art, from the fighting/action scenes to the chapter title illustrations, is crazy gorgeous and coupled with the fact the majority of the characters are females specializing in martial arts, boxing, etc., it was love at first sight for me. Anyway, whle Girls of the Wild’s starts like typical harem series, where one guy ends up as the first male student of a previously all-girls school and has a number of female admirers, it hardly focuses on any romance. We get snippets of it here and there, especially in the later half of the series; yet those scenes are usually comedic, and if not, they seem disjointed, even a little forced (at least to me). Thankfully the focus is on the protagonist’s own problems and the girls who end up helping him through it. And of course we get chapters of girls in super long fighting scenes, which unfortunately drags on the story at times (like how the current chapters are going), but hey, its kickass girls doing crazy cool fighting moves so I usually don’t complain.
PREVIEW: Show ▼

 

Cheese In the Trap // Soon Ki

i164885 Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Josei, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life
Status: Part 1 Complete / Part 2 Complete / Part 3 On-going
Year: 2010
Summary: Having returned to college after a year long break, Hong Sul, a hard-working over-achiever, inadvertently got on the wrong side of a suspiciously perfect senior named Yoo Jung. From then on, her life took a turn for the worse – and Sul was almost certain it was all Jung’s doing. So why is he suddenly acting so friendly a year later?
While Cheese in the Trap is on the Webtoon app, Odd Squad Scantalations actually has a neat way for reading their translations of this series. They use an overlay method that puts their translations directly over the ACTUAL webtoon on Naver so it gives the author the views she needs for her comic, which is incredible AWESOME. I wish this type of thing could be used everywhere, but alas…life does not work out that way. Anyway, Cheese in the Trap starts out quite ordinary, but the more you read, the less ordinary it seems. It’s hard to describe exactly what Cheese in the Trap is. It’s not really romance, it’s not just slice of life, and there’s definitely some suspense and mystery going on. Yet because it has so many elements (and the art style is nice) it gets to be pretty entertaining. The characters are pretty complex themselves, and it’s fun uncovering more about them as the series goes on. Unfortunately this series also has the tendency to drag on, but it’s the characters that keep me going (like with a lot of series…). It’s also apparently being turned into a drama, so like with any good comic or novel, definitely start reading it first!
PREVIEW: Show ▼

 

Studio Salty // omyo

i190602 Genre(s): Comedy, Josei, Romance, Slice of Life
Status: On-going
Year: 2013
Summary: View the delightful everyday life of a sitcom consisting of NEET, college applicants, couch potatoes, and a Korean who acts like a foreigner.
Originally I wasn’t going to include this webtoon in here, but every time I go to read a new chapter I feel bad for ignoring it. Anyway, Studio Salty is definitely the more light-heartened read out of this post. Occasionally it’ll get to you as the characters go through certain real-life problems from creative strife, to unrequited love, and even a bit of discrimination. Yet, there is quite a bit of comedic relief, and the cute, simple art style is very…relaxing. Personally I like this webtoon better than the author’s other webtoon (also on the app) ‘Story of Someone We Know‘. The other focuses more on romance, while this one focuses more on other sorts of problems in life, which makes it somewhat more relateable and interesting (then again I’ve never been that into romance stories).
PREVIEW: Show ▼

Of course there are a ton of other series on the Webtoon app besides the ones I’ve decided to showcase on this post. Some other favorites of mine that I didn’t include are New Normal: Class 8, The Sound of Your Heart, Witch Hunt, Wind Breaker (because EXTREME bicycling), and Magical 12th Graders. Tower of God is also insanely awesome, but I felt that it was popular enough that people would already know about it in some way, so I neglected to add it. I’m not a big fantasy person, but it’s a story that I eventually got hooked on (which I still haven’t fully caught up on because it’s so stressful). Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you found something new to enjoy for the rest of the new year~!

About

A tired, over-dramatic 20 year old college student who likes manga and cheesy Korean boy bands. Prone to succumb to laziness and refuse to work for hours on end.
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23 Responses to “Manga Digest: Korean Webtoons”

  1. skylion says:

    I just put this on my Nexus 7. Made a bee-line to Salty Studio…looks pretty darn cute…

  2. bobob101 says:

    I had only heard of Girls the Wild, I didn’t fall in love with it (get it, cause there’s a harem) but the solid art made it enjoyable.

    I have read a bunch of other webtoons on this list that I highly recommend though:

    Tower of God: this is an amazing series, it has shonen jump esque battle progression, Kaiji style “games that are simple but are made to be incredibly ridiculous,” a memorable cast, and one of the most unique worlds ever. A must read.

    In Full Boom: a great historical fiction piece with a intriguing plot.

    The god of high school: best fighting webcomic out there

    The gamer: so this kid is a video game character and everyone he’s ever known is part of the supernatural underground that secretly controls the world. That part is pretty dumb, but in execution its great.

    All in all, there are many great webcomics out there that deserve to be read.

    PS: Fuck Noblesse

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Yes Tower of God is definitely one of the best things I’ve read. I’m only up to Chapter 83 because it’s so stressful LOL. And I also have never gotten so angry over a betrayal in a comic in all of my life, oh man. I was reading it in class and I’m almost gasped out loud lol.

      I’ve read The Gamer too, but I kind of got bored with it. His powers were really interesting to read about though.

      Yeah I couldn’t get into Noblesse either…

      • BlackBriar says:

        Yeah I couldn’t get into Noblesse either…

        I started that some time ago but was reluctant to continue after the first chapter because there was a huge number of them that followed.

        • Hoshi says:

          ~Noblesse and Tower of God have so many chapters; it’s certainly daunting. But I like the challenge lol…

          • BlackBriar says:

            The number of chapters combined with the length of the vertical pages, I don’t think that’ll be easy to handle.

  3. zztop says:

    Structure and theme-wise, how do K-webtoons differ from their Japanese counterparts?

    • BlackBriar says:

      A good question. Apart from the webtoon pages being longer, there’s hardly a difference in my opinion.

      • Hoshi says:

        ~Yeah I thought the same. It seems though that webtoons are more favored over print comics. From the article I linked below: Show ▼

        Print manga however is such more rooted into Japan’s culture so you don’t find as many webtoons (though One of OnePunch Man has done most of his stuff online and look how popular he’s gotten lol).

        • skylion says:

          They mangaka that did Tsugumomo started off digitally…then it got popular and went (I think exclusively) to print…

        • BlackBriar says:

          Print manga however is such more rooted into Japan’s culture so you don’t find as many webtoons

          Not surprising. Even if something new and interesting comes along, it’s impossible to just go ahead an old habit that’s been around for a number of years. I, myself, haven’t adjusted to webtoons yet and still prefer the traditional manga style. These things take time.

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Well, the obvious structural difference is that each chapter is vertical, instead of the normal
      ‘turn the page’ method. Other than that it’s the standard panels and talk bubbles, but depending on the artist they’ll blend the panels together so there isn’t many ‘blocks’ on the page (as I like to call them lol).

      Theme-wise, I can’t say much because I’m definitely not an expert on either webtoons or manga (and I’m from the US so my thought process is definitely going to be more Western than Eastern). I think they’re both similar in that there’s a lot of different genres to them. However, I believe there’s more of a counter-culture aspect to webtoons because a lot of them deal with getting away from the ‘normal’ or changing what’s ‘normal’, and the main characters are usually people they can sympathize with or root for. There’s an article here from a Korean university that talks more about them, and this thread post talks (theorizes??) about them as a ‘counter-cultural rebellion’.

    • bobob101 says:

      Don’t forget that some webtoons have embedded music that plays at certain points on the page. Some like DR. Frost have that if you read the webtoons on Naver, where most are originally published (in Korean)

      • Hoshi says:

        ~Yeah I’ve heard! It’s sad I can’t get that on the app, but I guess if I had a broswer open on Naver on my computer and had my phone in hand I could LOL. One day, one day…

  4. BlackBriar says:

    Interesting list of names. The thing is I’m not as keen on webtoons as I am with regular manga. It can be daunting at times because when you think a page is finished before turning to the next, you realize there’s another panel just below.

    • Hoshi says:

      ~I’m pretty lazy so for me it’s like “I only have to scroll down!!” instead of dealing with turning the pages and zooming in on them like with manga reading apps on the phone. But webtoons definitely are harder to read on the web because of their vertical length. So for me it’s manga on the web, webtoons on the mobile.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Old habits die hard so I still pretty much prefer the turning page method, it’s short and sweet. And anything manga related I’d read on a computer or if I have a manga in hand.

        Soon there’ll be many more things and so many different outlets to watch them.

        • Hoshi says:

          ~Definitely. I’ve read some articles that Japan is slowly moving manga and manga magazines online or on apps since print is slowly dying…which is the same pretty much everywhere I think. I myself still prefer print over e-books/digital, but for comics I somehow don’t mind (probably because art gets to expand even more digitally).

          • BlackBriar says:

            Print won’t die out so easily since everyone is still buying licensed Light Novels. Yen Press comes to mind who recently licensed the novels for Durarara!! and Strike the Blood. You can beat the feeling of actually turning the next page of a book.

            Funny, for a second there, I sounded like Shougo Makishima defending the relevancy of books.

  5. Kyokai says:

    Thanks for the post, hoshi! Downloaded the app and it’s quite user-friendly. My first experience was Nowhere Boy and I loved it so I’ll definitely check out more.

    • Hoshi says:

      ~Woo! Yes, please do. I’m sad Nowhere Boy isn’t on there, but maybe one day…

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