December 20, 2009

,   |  

Click Volume 1

Written by Youngran Lee
Illustrated by Youngran Lee
NetComics

I grabbed this randomly off the shelf from the library because I wanted to explore some new manga/manhwa. This is probably a good example of why I like to try comics series before I start to buy them.

I knew I was in trouble when the book opened with an attempted rape, which Joonha, our protagonist, attempts to foil. When he separates the pair, the girl responds, and I quote, "Who do you think you are? Why are you butting into my business? I worked..and worked my butt off...to bring him here..."

Hey kids 13 and up! Girls say they don't want to have sex, but they don't really mean it! So just ignore pleas for help, ok?

I should have just stopped reading there, but I figured I'd see if it got any better. The answer, unfortunately, is no. That's the only honorable thing our protagonist does through 177 pages.

The whole premise is that Joonha, perhaps the most unlikeable main character I've ever read, is an arrogant jerk who thinks women are beneath him. This goes on for an interminably long time before we learn that in his family, people change gender sometime in the teens.

Now Joonha, who has turned into a girl, must deal with being a woman. Oh how funny! He gets embarrassed buying tampons! He wears the wrong underwear. He goes into the men's restroom and has to spend the rest of his life sitting down to pee.

But hey, at least he still fights like a man, because no girl could be athletic enough to have that kind of a fist!

I wish I was kidding.

There's just nothing good about this particular manhwa for me, other than the fact that Lee is able to draw very pretty students who could be mistaken for either gender. That works very well with the story being told, but the problem is that the story being told is frankly, offensive.

Domestic violence and verbal abuse pervade almost every page, with Joonha belittling his mother, father, and classmates. There is not a sense of playful fun in these comments, but hateful speech. (I understand that to an extent, that's in the mind of the reader to interpret, but I think it's clear from the visual clues and context that they are hurtful, not playful.)

Click seems to revolve around the premise that the idea of women being treated badly by society is funny and that being a transvestite is embarrassing for the person and funny to those around him/her. Perhaps that plays well with a certain group of people, but that person isn't me.

Just about every laugh line fell flat for me. I'm not above low-brow humour, far from it (I read The Goon, for God's sake!), but it has to be funny. These jokes had terrible set up and characters who I could never relate to as none of them (the childish parents, the clueless friend, the girl who wants the boy who's a jerk) appealed to me in any way.

If Click had been set up as a jerk of a boy who has to learn how to be a girl and realize how wrong he was, I think I'd have been okay with it. But as it stands, the humour seems to be driven by the idea that Joohna is right and girls are icky inferiors to their male counterparts, and transvestites are even lower than girls.

That's just not something I want to be reading. Click just didn't click for me, and I would advise against seeking it out.