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You're So Cool, Volume 1

Review

You're So Cool, Volume 1

written and illustrated by YoungHee Lee

Nan-Woo has a crush on the cool and suave Seung-Ha, but then again, so does everyone else in school. When a miracle occurs and Seung-Ha agrees to be Nan-Woo’s boyfriend, she thinks she is in heaven. But heaven quickly turns to hell when Prince Charming turns out to be a first-class jerk. Deep down, though, Nan-Woo can see that something is bothering Seung-Ha. Is it worth it to put up with him long enough to meet the real Seung-Ha, or is Nan-Woo better off getting out of this relationship as quickly as possible? Meanwhile, Nan-Woo’s relative Jay has problems of his own. He’s always been unlucky in love, but now he’s become friends with someone who seems perfect for him. The only problem is that Hyun-Ho is also a guy!

Sassy girls and jerky guys are a classic romance novel pairing --- just ask Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. So Nan-Woo and Seung-Ha’s fighting is nothing new. Reading You’re So Cool as an adult, one might be tempted to think that their relationship is almost abusive, but by the middle of the six-book series, it is obvious that it simply appears that way because YoungHee Lee’s brand of physical humor is akin to comedies like “The Simpsons.” Lee’s characters whale on each other just as Homer Simpson strangles his son in every episode. It’s all played for laughs, though it takes a while for the humor to catch on. By the end of the series, though, readers have realized, just as Seung-Ha does, that Nan-Woo’s family is about as offbeat as they come. This is a major part of what draws him to her, even though he doesn’t realize that at first. Watching the two of them begin to learn about each other and begin to come together as a couple is touching, despite the plot’s familiarity. Nan-Woo has a delightfully spunky personality, and readers will soon be able to see why Seung-Ha feels he can’t stay away from her.

Jay and Hyun-Ho’s relationship is touching also, though much more quiet. Jay is not sure of himself, despite his age, and he has as many emotional problems to work through as Seung-Ha does. Hyun-Ha, for his part, is taken aback at first by his feelings for Jay, feelings he didn’t expect to find directed toward another man. But he’s a strong person and not afraid to face his desires. Lee doesn’t completely gloss over their problems --- several characters address the difficulties faced by same-sex couples --- even though she doesn’t ever use the phrase “homosexual.” This is a romance novel, though, so the realities of relationship building aren’t always what are important in the story. In this case, readers will enjoy seeing two very pretty young men falling for each other and will swoon knowing that they work things out.

Lee’s drawing style shows that she is still a young creator. She has some real problems with body proportions. Heads are too small, limbs too long; it can make some scenes unintentionally humorous. However, she does offer her readers lots and lots of eye-candy: handsome men showing off their abs or their toned backs. She has a way with drawing hair, whether straight or curly, but her faces tend to be a little too similar. This makes for confusing reading when Hyun-Ho suddenly appears with shorter hair and no introduction to allow readers to know who he is. Her color pages are very pretty, though, and she has a nice way with humor, important for a series like this.

The “T/Teen” rating is appropriate, but the series is definitely not for younger teens. None of the sexuality --- either straight or homosexual --- is front-and-center, though a sex scene is strongly hinted at and there are kissing scenes between both couples. The violence is almost all comic, but it can get a little graphic when Nan-Woo and her mother are going at it full force. This short series is a nice choice for readers who like a tiny bit of angst in their humorous romances and for readers who like boys’ love stories, but also want a heterosexual romance tale. Fans of Masami Tsuda’s Kare Kano (TokyoPop) might enjoy this one as well.

Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on June 17, 2008

You're So Cool, Volume 1
written and illustrated by YoungHee Lee

  • Publication Date: June 17, 2008
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yen Press
  • ISBN-10: 0759528624
  • ISBN-13: 9780759528628