Unbalance Unbalance

AH! You guys thought, “Oh, he’s only going to put out one review this month! Lazy guy!” Look, tap dance class takes up a lot of my time, okay? College this semester is really wearing on me. Sure, I’ve had free time, but school before cool reviews, dudes! Never saying that again.

Speaking of school, how about a school-based manwha? Yeah, “Unbalance Unbalance” is about the love between a student and his teacher, or, at least, I’m assuming later volumes take that direction. What else do you expect? It’s like a typical romance meeting… but honestly, it’s even better.

Hae-Young is just your average attractive woman. Except for one thing: She hates men! Oh, goodness! Does it have anything to do with her father’s abandonment? Nope, couldn’t be. While at the bookstore, she loses her wallet, only to be discovered by Jin-Ho, a nice young man and typical comedy-ish bland protagonist.

Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed internet, that last statement was a total lie. Jin-Ho is anything but bland. He’s not made out to be “Mr. Perfect Pureheart” or something. As it turns out, he stole Hae-Young’s money. You heard it here first, people. Hae-Young, being a decent person, tells him that the money he stole is to be considered a loan and he must pay it back by tomorrow. And the next day, as it turns out, Hae-Young is now Jin-Ho’s teacher! Oh, gracious, that’s a shock! But really, there’s not many options to make that original.

What I find most interesting is the student-teacher relationship in all this. It’s common for the characters to hate each other before falling in love, but I get a feeling far different than “That jerk! He stole my money!” or “She’s so uptight! Why can’t she just chill out?” Gradually, these two DESPISE one another. The very last chapter of the first volume has some reconciliation, but it’s preceded by so much hate and distrust that it comes off as weak when the two try to be friends.

And trust me, these two are not shy about their mutual hatred. Jin-Ho flat-out calls her body “slutty,” which makes Hae-Young slap him until her student bleeds. Yeah, she’s not entirely in the wrong. Sure, we don’t live in that time anymore, but Jin-Ho was asking for it. You do not call a woman “slutty”.

And that’s what kind of ruins Jin-Ho for me. On one hand, it’s great to see a male protagonist who isn’t soft-spoken and scared of women. But that means he’s the other extreme: Unbearably mean-spirited. Okay, fine, he doesn’t want his teacher to get the wrong impression from that one time he saw her panties and that other time he groped her. But his other actions are instigating, stealing, and misogyny, so he doesn’t really have much positive to go on.

From his perspective, Hae-Young is the mean ol’ teacher who wants him to fail because he just “borrowed” some money. But he doesn’t come off as that. The dishonesty is refreshing, but there’s nothing to really counteract that. In a nutshell, Jin-Ho doesn’t add anything positive to make the nebbish protagonist more interesting because he’s the embodiment of what goes wrong if a male protagonist isn’t bland.

And I really wanted to like him. He’s not “a total jerk, but a guy with a gold heart” like Inukami!, nor is he “that just sort of happened to me,” like Guardian Hearts, neither-nor is he “my life is a total joke, even with these pretty girls” like Enmusu and almost everything else. I realize the harem genre and busty-women motif are just fanservice, but there’s so much of it that I don’t feel much originality from them. Just because it’s porn doesn’t mean it needs to yawn.

Hae-Young, being the older-woman character, has more of a grip on relationships than Jin-Ho, but not her anger. I like the contrast between her and her friend, especially since her friend is the antithesis of everything Hae-Young believes in. Honestly, I wish we could have seen more of them together in this volume, but that’s not the main dynamic.

The other characters are… meh. Look, how often do I say “MAN! That side character love interest is super amazing! They should have made her the love interest!” I almost never say that. And I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that about the best friend-type. He’s the same as every other best friend: Balancing out the traits that the protagonist doesn’t have. Jin-Ho’s friend likes women, but Jin-Ho couldn’t care less. But the dean seems alright to me. However, he’s got… a thing. I don’t know, I’m sure it pops up in one of the other nine volumes in full form, but when Hae-Young does something that bothers him, he angrily grabs her arm. She complains, and the dean releases his grip. Yup, that won’t be important later.

I went into Unbalance Unbalance expecting a terrible excuse for fanservice. But honestly, it’s a pretty decent excuse for fanservice. The art is fine, the leads, while Jin-Ho is over the top, do manage to retain interest, and when the drama works, it really works. I think the best moments involve Hae-Young’s relationship with her father. I say give it a go if you want something not perfect, but unexpected.


Romance Papa

I mean… It’s Valentine’s Day next week. I could do a Shojo Month or something, but I’m in the process of planning 4koma Month for April. “Romance Papa” is a deceiving title, as we’ll see soon.

Sangbum is a germophobic plastic surgeon who has just discovered that he has a 13-year-old daughter, due to a sperm bank incident. Myunghae’s parents have passed away, so now it’s up to Sangbum to take care of her. Will these misguided characters get along?

Well… that would be the plot, but it’s horribly overlooked early on. Sangbum and Myunghae have some trouble for like, 25 pages. Then everything’s roses. So what’s the plot now? A LOVE TRIANGLE. No, not between Myunghae and Sangbum. Like I said, “Romance Papa” is a misleading name. Sangbum barely gets focus, as all the attention goes to Myunghae, her boyfriend, and her best friend.

In fact, one might say that the death of Myunghae’s parents serves absolutely no purpose. She doesn’t seem particularly upset about it, and she acts like Sangbum was her dad all along. Now, I’m not a sperm bank child, but really? If your father passed away, would you be so quick to accept someone else in the role? It might as well have been Myunghae living alone.

Also, Myunghae Yoo too hard to pronounce? Don’t worry! Net Comics graciously adds footnotes that tell you the pronunciation! Apparently, when pronounced, it rhymes with the word “famous”. Myunghae Yoo. Famous. I must be missing something here. Also, “Shinja Bae” rhymes with the term “betrayer”. THESE AREN’T HELPFUL!

But enough about minutia. How’s the actual love triangle? It’s… I mean, what do you expect? It’s a love triangle. The girls fight over one guy. Nothing really interesting here. Oh, the best friend was faking her feelings to teach Myunghae a lesson, but actually meant her feelings? WOW! That makes no sense, AND it’s pointless!

This kind of reminds me of President Dad. Title involves a paternal element, but the focus is on the daughter, and the father serves little purpose. Maybe it’s a manwha thing, I dunno.

Romance Papa is only okay. If you want the “how will these characters ever get along?!” genre, there’s much better manga out there. Then again, there’s much worse manga out there. Crossroads? Brrr… We’ll get to that sometime. Like the fifty thousand other manga I promised to get to. WE’LL GET TO THEM TOO.