Cafe of Dreams

Unemployed college graduate Sunbae is job hunting when she meets, Na Bong Nam, a2016-09-20-1 young man working at the Cafe of Dreams. Sipping her first cup of hope she begins to rethink career plans with the help of the cafe employees. Sunbae’s heart is slowly makings its plans until a beautiful young woman returns to the cafe from abroad. Has Sunbae’s cup of luck gone empty or is this just the beginning to a far bigger journey?

 

My Review (Part 1)

Korean Tea HouseThe teahouses of the East remain a fascinating part of their culture. Reading a manhwa which surrounds one struck the interest of this reviewer. The translators have chosen to refer to the teahouse of this manhwa as a café. Teahouses are usually for the older men in Korea but this one is for meant to be a place for the young people aka the terminology café. Also, this café of dreams serves coffee which is kinda weird for a teahouse but it works best for the story!

Characters

2016-09-20-14Soo Ah Sunbae-College graduate who is downhearted over a lack of job prospects. Her future is changed when a young man invites her to the café of dreams. She is bolstered by the suggestions there but still struggles with self-esteem.

2016-09-20-9

Na Bong Nam– Worker at the café of dreams who makes each unique cup of tea. He is handsome with a charm not lost on Sunbae. Na Bong Nam appears to have a relationship with a former international volunteer.

 

2016-09-20-16Soon Bong– Has a stalkerish passion for Sunbae. He is in the same job scenario as his crush. The café of dreams becomes a place for him as well. Soon Bong sometimes speaks faster than he thinks but at the core is a well-meaning young man.

 

Recently returned from volunteering abroad she has an affection for Na Bong Nam.2016-09-20-19 Sunbae sees her as the perfect girl. She is very pretty and has a lot of passion for the work being done as an overseas volunteer.

 

 

 

2016-10-07-4Computer techie who connects tea-drinking customers to potential job opportunities. He is the counterpart to Na Bong Nam. He lacks the graceful confidence of his coworker even tripping over himself.

 

My Review (Part Two)

Sunbae is a college graduate searching for her first job. She spots Na Boom, who invites her to visit the Café of Dreams. His first recommendation is a cup of hope and a2016-09-20-4 meeting with his coworker opens Sunbae to the idea of a job outside of Korea. Internships abroad offer opportunities which add global to returning candidate resumes. Returning to the café of dreams Sunbae is followed by admirer Soon Bong. He’s got a passion for Sunbae. Sunbae is finding more than hope at the café. She’s starting to have feelings for Na Bong Nam. The return of a beautiful young woman to the café opens Sunbae to the choice to volunteer her time overseas. Meanwhile, she struggles to see this lady standing by her crush. Sunbae will need all her courage to find her path to a future career and her heart.

The Café of Dreams tackles a topic college graduates face every year: what happens 2016-09-20-22now? Sunbae has done the academic work, gained a degree, but now remains at a loss about where the future leads. Na Boom Nam’s invitation to a cup of hope in the Café of Dreams has huge potential to opening a manhwa of infinite possibilities. The humor in the computer techie who stumbles over to help Sunbae is there. The definite potential of a romantic relationship impeded by another beautiful woman is there. Every element is there! The difficulty is the author’s ability to weave them into a powerful narrative. Café of Dreams lacks the intricacy of endearing a character to the reader. This is not about length. There are oneshots which master the art of such a thing.

The Café of Dreams ending could be the opening to a beautiful future. Details skimmed 2016-09-20-24over by the author could have created a journey for the reader. One which would have filled the wonderings of many in the position of Sunbae. Even the possibility of a fantasy series where a cup of tea holds magic for the drinker to manipulate their future. Sunbae’s own dreams deserved to be explored. This manhwa should have been explored. Instead it leaves a reader pondering how such a sweet ending could have been so much more. The possibility remains open if the author were to release a sequel or further chapters exploring questions left unanswered.

 

 

To the Reader

Those seeking a webtoon tugging at the romantic heart strings would be better off with2016-09-20-12 Orange Marmalade. Slice of life fans would be interested in Sunbae’s realistic struggle on deciding just what to do when life transitions from academics to the real world struggles. Comedy fans might be amused by the antics of hopeful suitor, Soon Bong , in his quest for Sunbae’s affections. Those looking for a quick read will find it as Café of Dreams is a brief eight chapters.

 

Final Score: 5.2

 

Details

2016-09-20-1Name(s): Café of Dreams

Author(s): Seok-Woo

Artist(s): Seok-Woo

Chapter(s): 8

Year: 2008

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Slice of Life, Webtoon

Status: Complete

Anime:

Black Wind Pandora

Witches are real beings. Different than humans and hunted by Templars they have been hidden away for

hundreds of years. Kang Woohyun´s best friend begins the revival of the witches. Her death leads to Kang Woohyun being revived by two six hundred year old witches. Witches who are at the center of a death battle between Templars and humans. 

My Thoughts (Half of them)

Witch hunts were the result of a very real fear

I chose Black Wind because the witch theme goes well with Halloween. In real life there are humans who do describe themselves as witches. I was thinking this was what Black Wind meant. Instead the webtoon blew me away with proposing the idea of witches being non-humans. All those witch-hunts of the Middle Ages we dismissed as innocents being killed by superstitions had truth to them. The witch hunters who were able to catch and kill their query did overlook one HUGE detail. In this webtoon witches are more or less able to live forever. They can be revived from their current death state through the blood of a human. The human then is linked to them in a strange relationship where the human cannot die but do not transform into a witch themselves.

Those of you familiar with a book like the Davinci Code may remember the Knights of Templar. In Black Wind the Knights of Templar are also non-humans. They have their own brand of powers used to hunt down witches. If a human gets in the way they get killed as well. The relationship of humans-witches-and Templars are described on the right. Personally I believe we get a shady deal. I get the witches wanting

The human-templar-witch triangle of power

 to kill us in revenge. I can see their angle. The Templars, on the other hand, are supposed to be our Saviors. Yet they don´t think twice about killing a human to keep their existence a secret! I would call them just as much as a risk to humans as the witches. Perhaps more because they definitely fit the bill for psychopathic serial killers. I am on the witches side when it comes to the Templar existence. Take them out before they take us out.

The Characters
The main character is a young man named Kang 

Dana rescues Woohyun from his abusive childhood

WooHyun  who is visiting a childhood friend Dana when chaos breaks out. In the beginning he seems like a happy-go-lucky guy but as the manga goes Woo Hyun´s sad past is revealed. He saw Dana as his Savior. Her death brings out the darker side of him intent on revenge. 

Literal Witch Doormat

Simulatenously he has a great deal of kindness for his new family. Even though Jeanne accuses him of being selfish, beats on him, and treats him like a doormat he never runs out on them.

Jeanne is the witch ´tied´ to Woohyun who was brought back by his blood. Unfortunately her actual

Jeanne explains why she appears like a child

body was swapped with her sister´s. She is pint-size power with an angelic look but devilish temper. Jeanne cares deeply for her sister but remains conflicted over Woohyun´s role in their lives. She is quick to tear him down for being human. Then turns around to guilt him over not treating her sister better. Her sister who had an incident in the past which makes her extremely child-like with zero distinguishable vocabulary. She has a lot of power but acts out to defend those she cares for but doesn´t understand the reality of their situation.

Kyle & Naska

There are numerous Templar characters just like there are other witches as well. Kyle is the highly unusual witch. He is male (clearly) which makes his power work differently. At his side is Naska who is extremely powerful but acts like a bratty younger sister. The two are close in their own way even though Kyle is supposed to be merely the protector. 

Geil 

Out of all the Templars, Geil is the one first met in battle by a witch. She is a powerhouse. Geil can keep up with witches who are out of most Templars leagues. Her power partly comes from an immense desire to destroy the witches who took away her family. No matter how much damage her body takes she is unwilling to give up. Geil is not just muscle. She is a strategist with a high respect for her ´ḿaster.´   

The Art

Kyle fights the Templars

Black Wind is beautiful in so many ways. I am a very big fan of the artist´s use of colors. The backdrops for fights are often done in rich darker shades which contrast beautifully against the white witch. Pages often have a great deal of white which serves to highlight the scenes shown. Scenes which use colors ranging from soft pinks to sky blues to fiery orange.

The white witch first moments after rebirth

 Templars are typically clothed in dark serious colors befitting their ´intense´ job while witches get clothed in pastels which add a pop of color to this dark webtoon.

Colors aside Black Wind does have

its´ share of artistic difficulties. One of the most noticeable (to me maybe not to everyone) was the look of a character´s movements in battle. They appear ´stiff´ at times like the anatomy of them is not quite right for the action. I will try to explain as

best I can how I think of it. When reading a manga fight scene I get the sense of it being very fluid. One move flows into the  next even though they might be on seperate pages. Part of the character´s ´fluidity´ comes from reading a movement through their whole body language. I look at the picture on the left and love the feel of the characters she cut through. They are in mid-movement but Geil herself is bland. She looks like a poorly posed mannequin. Her whole body hardly fits the scene of someone who just slashed apart a hated opponent. The upper arm is supposed to give an impression of using her sword but it´s just stiff with her lower one looking to floppy to do anything. And the pose of her legs just doesn´t fit

the overall picture. In the webtoon the artist usually does an excellent job on the witch battle scenes making me wonder just why Geil is so awkward in battle. 

My Thoughts (Part 2)
I felt extremely rushed at the start of Black Wind. You get an episode in when suddenly there´s crazy fighting, people are getting annihilated, and no one

Because of you we need more info on plot background please

ever explained just what the hell is going on here?! You feel like you missed a chapter somewhere! Agh. One of my pet peeves in mangas is when they immediately start referencing past events without ever indicating what is this character about right now. Black Wind started out like a freaky flash flood. Suddenly all this information is flooding you without so much as a ´Warning´ Seriously Plot Downpours expected

The rushed beginning evens out further into Black

Tsukune moment? Wimpy human transforms to powerful character?

Wind. Unfortunately once the plot downpours have slowed I got a sense the author had lost enthusiasm for his own webtoon. Sink holes in the plot started opening up all over. The characters are fighting but why? Every ´episode´ started to feel like it was trying to rush getting to the ending. The ending which left me wondering if somehow there were more chapters somewhere or a second ´season´ in the making. For having high hopes at the start of this webtoon I felt pretty disappointed with how Black Wind ended up.

To the Reader
Those who enjoy a manga fight or ten should consider

Black Wind a possible read. You don´t need a real plot

to appreciate the action. Readers interested in webtoon art should take a quick look at what Black Wind has to offer. There is a definite beauty to the white-haired witch. Fans of little girls with lots of sass type humor may go for Black Wind´s later chapters. 

***I´ve decided to give a final rating to all manga I read with 10 being mind stunning amazing and 0 being worse than 24 hours of explosive watery stool.


Final Rating: 6.7


Details

Name(s): 블랙윈드 ; Black Wind Pandora; Black Wind
Author(s): Jay-gyuun
Artist(s): Jay-gyuun
Chapters(s): 39
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Tragedy, Fantasy
Status: Complete (?)
Anime: No
Webtoon: Yes

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (Our Happy Hours)

Recovering from her third suicide attempt, Juri is

convinced there is nothing left to live for. Yuu is a death row prisoner continually attempting suicide to atone for his sins. The scars on both their hearts are to overwhelming to handle alone. Forced to meet each Thursday they find themselves learning to embrace the simple hope: I want to live.

My Thoughts

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan is based on a novel which also has a movie. The only movie to ever make me cry. Me. Who gets dirty looks for being the heartless one sitting dry-eyed through even the biggest tearjerkers. When I found the manga I wanted to read it. Not to cry but to see how the emotions of a powerful film could be conveyed through manga. Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan didn’t bring me to tears but it was still damn powerful.

Aunt Monica is the one who cares, the one who sees what Yuu & Juri do not

The characters in Watashitachi no Shiawase are the heart of the story. The manga characters convey a great deal of thoughts which you experience through their first person view. Juri, especially, who is a figure so consumed by hatred close to the point of murder. To the outside world she is coldly beautiful, a wealthy young woman with every advantage. Once a famous pianist she now refuses to ever play again. Juri repeatedly tries to die because she cannot see anything to live for. 

Yuu is an angry young man awaiting execution for the murder of three people. His past is filled with the worst life can give. Left to care for his younger

Yuu’s life has given him no love for pretty words & lies

brother (who went blind from his father’s harsh beatings) Yuu turns to prostitution and eventually crime to keep them alive. One morning he awakes to find his blind little brother has supposedly thrown himself into the street out of guilt for Yuu having to prostitute himself to care for both of them.  Yuu finally reaches a point where his despair in life turns to revenge. Now he awaits execution with nothing but loathing for the ‘do-gooders’ false attempts at comfort.

The artwork in Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan has

The looks say it all. This woman is no soccer mom.

more of a realistic feel then what most imagine in manga. Where many mangas use the eyes almost as part of a personality, Our Happy Hours uses the entire body to convey personality. You see this in how the kind Inoue has softer features while Juri’s cruel mother has a stern almost forboding look about her. Even the clothes speak about them. Altogether it’s why I really love the artwork; also, because the use of watercolor for the cover really stands out in softness compared to the realities inside.


To the Reader

Warning. This manga contains sensitive content which may
bother some readers.

This is a manga for those who can handle the very sensitive issue of suicide. There is a reason one of the genre descriptions is tragedy because Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan has an immense amount of it. Rape, prostitution, and abuse make Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan a manga for the mature reader. 

You may wonder…íf it’s so mature and tragic then

why should I read it? The same reason I reread it. This manga has a way of reaching out, snagging your heart, and making you want to say ‘I want to live for today.’ I want to enjoy the day free from regret, anger, and hatred. Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan is the manga which reminds us it’s never to late to want to keep on living. 

Note: Today, September 10th is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay. This is why I chose to do Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan. Suicide has touched my life. The hole it leaves behind doesn’t go away or close up neatly over time. You can’t begin to imagine how those you leave behind will feel. Reach out to them. There are things in this life worth living for. Sometimes it just takes one person to prove it.


Details

Name(s): 私たちの幸せな時間 ; 우리들의 행복한 시간 ;  Our Happy Hours ; Watashi-tachi no Shiawase na Jikan; Our Happy Time
Artist(s): Gong-JI Young; Sahara Mizu
Author(s): Sahara Mizu
Release: 2007
Chapters: 8
Genre(s): Tragedy; Drama; Mature; Romance
Status: Complete
Anime: No
Novel: Yes Based on Novel
Movie: Yes (Maundy Thursday)

Orange Marmalade

Jae Min is returning home when an unusual girl shocks him with a gentle bite to theIMG_2971 neck. Ma Ri is terrified she has just blown her cover as a vampire. To keep her secret she chooses to close her heart to any chance of love even with the unusual Jae Min. Jae Min is still wondering how he fell so fast for someone so odd. Is it even possible for a vampire and a broken young man to change each other for the better? Or will Ma Ri stay the ‘ice queen’ forever to keep her family safe?

 

My Review (Revisited)

I revisited this review as part of updating my blog to my site and was reminded all over again of the beauty in Orange Marmalade. The webtoon has grown immensely in popularity since way back when I first enjoyed it. Creators have come out with a real life rendition for tv but nothing real people do will match a scene like the ‘first’ bite which brought Jae Min and Ma Ri together.

Orange Marmalade’s unlikely beginnings to a romance

Characters

IMG_2970

Smile Ma Ri!

Ma Ri is a normal looking student with a huge secret. Her entire family are vampires who face intense discrimination if discovered putting a lot of pressure on Ma Ri to keep to her human charade. She does her best to ‘fit’ in but over time begins to let more of herself show despite facing threats from those around her.  Ma Ri is constantly in turmoil over her feelings for Jae Min, the struggle to appear ‘normal’ to her classmates, and having to deal with a not so welcome suitor.

 

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Jae Min

Jae Min: Jae Min is attractive and not used to being confused by a girl acting like Ma Ri. His background is a dark place and he remains estranged from his mother over her new husband. Jae Min’s feelings will be tested when he finds out what Ma Ri is.

 

Orange Marmalade’s Art
I remember being so happy over realizing the whole manga of Orange Marmalade was96567l in color. (Of course it wasn’t a manga, it was a webtoon!) Whatever it was it’s colors were outstanding. The warm tones blending in a watercolor wash of sunset against the solid figures give one a sense of being able to almost reach into the panel.
Manga covers give readers the insight into a full color vision of what the artist envisions.orange-marmalade-3477993 The focus is almost always given to the characters which is logical considering a color page only comes once a chapter or so. Orange Marmalade’s characters are well-done but being a webtoon they get the chance to become something more. In black and white panel, a scene like the fountain would be nice but hardly outstanding. The artist stunned me with the sky’s coloring. To see such a wash of colors makes me long to pick up a brush and paint. Usually a background which looks so realistic is jarring when paired with characters who are clearly anime figures. In the case of Orange Marmalade I find a balance between two which actually works quite well.
Review (Part 2)

tumblr_mmdnf8UOcB1somq4lo2_500The storyline itself was well done. I did appreciate the manga becoming deeper as it went on. Although there were a few chapters where I was very, very, very, tempted to skip to near the end. Romantic manga lovers would find me a bit crazy for wanting to skip the dramatics but I’m a simple girl. Looking back I am so glad I did not give in. Orange Marmalade is a journey which needs all the events to be complete.

 

orange-marmalade-3000217

Jae Min’s childhood memory

What I loved most about the manga was just how much it is able to touch you. There are a lot of sensitive issues which are faced. From childhood abuse, to bullying, and painful discrimination Orange Marmalade takes them on. One of the saddest parts was learning about Jae Min’s past and just how badly it still affects him years later. And his reaction to Ma Ri’s vampirism? If you get teary-eyed easily you might be crying your eyes out at what it leads Ma Ri to do.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-03-at-3.23.15-PM-500x326

Ma Ri tells a classmate

As for the vampire element, I was really glad to see it didn’t take it to a ‘corny’ place. If Orange Marmalade has started approaching Twilight [shudder] fandom I would have backed off immediately. There were times where I felt like saying, ‘That’s like Tru Blood!’ but mostly I found the vampire element extremely well done. Orange Marmalade is about vampires but the elements of friendship, romance, and drama make it more than just another vampire tale.

To the Reader:

Orange Marmalade is no action manga or tale of horror. This one is all for those who like the dramatic, school life, and romantic genre. If you have an issue with one of those types you might want to check out another one of my manga choices. Before you do, take a moment to appreciate the colors of Orange Marmalade. You can find more pictures of this manhwa under the Gallery tab: category Orange Marmalade

Final Score: 9.5

A marmalade worth experiencing.

 

Details: 

Name(s): Orange Marmalade; 오렌지 마말레이드, 橘皮馬末蘭果醬
Author: Seok Woo
Illustrator: Seok Woo
Genres: Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, School Life, Fantasy, Supernatural, Webtoon, Comedy
Year:2011
Status: Complete
Anime: No but it is a webtoon