Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guilty Pleasure of the Month: Chocolat

Warning: Read this at home. If you have an aversion to terribly clichéd plotlines, over the top moments and cheesy lines, I suggest you don’t read this in public. Do not read if you are prone to tearing your hair out from frustration with silly characters. Side effects include loud cursing, eyes bleeding, nostrils flaring and mild-to-strong cases of sheer exasperation. Addiction may also be unavoidable. Do not operate heavy machinery after reading this manga. You have been warned.

Whoever’s read this manhwa already – don’t criticize me! Some of you out there might absolutely LOVE this and wonder “Why is it a guilty pleasure? We have open love for this!” and some of you more sceptical readers will think “Oh, really? You’re reading THAT?” but hear me out. It’s called ‘guilty’ for a reason – and it’s also a pleasure, so don’t look at me like I’m not enjoying it! (I actually really hate it, but I can’t stop reading it. Is this making any sense?)

Chocolat is a manhwa that I came across and thought, will I regret this? I did, in a way. Because, against my will, I got hooked. It’s a guilty pleasure because it’s one of those typical shoujo plots. And somehow, I have an aversion for girls who are after idols and pop/music stars. That’s why I couldn’t read Skip Beat! (Which I know is one of the most popular shoujo mangas out there, and people are going to hate me for this, but I just couldn’t get past the first volume!) It’s a plot that’s so terribly out there, and idolized too much. I felt the same way about Sensual Phrase, which I dropped too. But I’m not here to be speaking about other manga – let’s stay focused!

I’m not really going to review the story too much, but as Guilty Pleasure of the Month (of June! I know we’re in July now, but I was a bit late) I’m going to tell you what I hate, and what I love to hate, which led to my sick sick addiction to this.

What I hate, like I said, is the fact that it’s an idol chase. This little series put-together is another manhwa for your plate, and it’s basically about Kum-Ji, fangasming over DDL, a boy band to end all boy bands. However, the fan club’s full, so she figures she’ll join the rivaling band’s fan club (Yo-I), because they bascially play at all the same venues. This is her ploy to meet the love of her life. So far so good? WRONG. E-Soh, one of the band members Yo-I finds out, and basically takes advantage of the situation.

Kum-Ji meets other members of Yo-I, finds them strange, unappealing and maybe JUST a little messed up. She has an encounter with her beloved Jin Ryu of DDL only for it to be ruined by E-Soh. You can easily see E-Soh having a thing for Kum-Ji, and that’s just dandy. The idol falling for the fan, every girl’s dream, bla bla bla.

When E-Soh finds out Kum-Ji’s secret, he threatens to expose her and ban her from the club – unless she does his bidding. Isn’t that so unbelievably typical that you’d pry your eyes out with a spoon? (Read the warning again for further information. If you lose your eyes, Mho-Shoujo will NOT be held responsible) To top it off, SHIN Ji-Sang had the nerve to pull out one of the most cliché lines ever. Upon blackmailing her, E-Soh opens up his mouth, and spews the most annoyingly common control freak line: “Okay, but I own you now.” GAH! It’s almost as bad as the “He stole my first kiss!” line! I wanted to do more than scoop my eyes out. I wanted to play golf with them at that point.

This manhwa takes fangirling to a whole ‘nother step. I mean, what are the chances that any of this happens to this one fan – in a million? And that she’ll magically catch everyone’s attention, become the source of other fans’ hatred and jealousy, and will become helpless (but more desirable) in the idol’s eyes? You know what? I’ve read way too many of these. I bet you 10 bucks she’s going to get bullied by other fans, be rescued by the asshole, who will be so gentle with her she’ll be surprised by his ‘other side’ and start falling for him. She’ll hate him in the beginning for being a controlling bastard, but it’ll wear off in time. You can just see where this is going. The whole “I’ll follow your every command, I’ll resist at first but in time I’ll succumb to your LURVE.” situation. I can SMELL it.

However, I DID cheat and do a bit of reading on it. Seems the story is not so conventional, and to ruin it without spoilers, that’s not exactly the track it takes. In fact, it takes a completely different track altogether. I’ll have to admit, I’ve only read the first volume, but I enjoyed it, and enjoyed hating it. I think the fact that the plot won’t be so predictable renewed my faith in this. Because Kum-Ji’s character is that typical ‘I’m going to be outraged by everything that idiot does! And maybe later fall for him!’ type of girl, you really can’t stand her. All she does is whine about the other characters, and especially E-Soh. E-Soh is your typical dominant male who plans to control everyone because he’s just fabulous like that. The other characters have yet to make more of an appearance really. You have E-Wan and Eun-Sung (also from Yo-I) who I think for the sake of the fangirls (in AND out of the manga) are rumored to have some secret or not-so-secret yaoi relationship. Broadening the horizons? I don’t know. I’d love to see how they play THAT one out.

I can’t give this too much credit or too much reprimanding since I’ve only read the first volume, but I hope you can see where I’m coming from. Right now, it looks way too cliché to me – but I wouldn’t be a shoujo reader if I didn’t secretly enjoy it :D I’m going to close off before I gush more about how much I dislike this. So all you readers out there shaking your heads in dismay: you know you love it.


(Images © SHIN Ji-Sang. None of these images belong to me)