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Webtoon Review: Doctor Elise (Queen with a Scalpel) Ch 61 – 65

Alternate Names: Doctor Elise: The Royal Lady with the Lamp, Oegwauisa Ellije, Nǚwáng de Shǒushùdāo, Surgeon Elise, Queen with a Scalpel
Year: 2019 (ongoing)
Author/Artist: Kidarient
Genre:  Fantasy, Isekai, Transmigration, Manhua, Romance, Drama

After Linden arranges a surprise party at the field hospital to encourage Elise to take a well-needed break from her ongoing care of wounded soldiers, the gathering is abruptly interrupted by Michael looking for help with a delicate operation. Yulian’s brother SIr Albert has a grenade bullet lodged in him and only a steady hand and eye can help. Knowing that Michael isn’t at the mastery level needed for such an operation, Elise takes over the operation. (She is a former ER doctor, after all.) Linden tries to stop the dangerous procedure, leading to Michael intervening. In the aftermath, Michael finds himself discussing plans to travel with Elise under the guise of medical research.

Chapters sixty-one to sixty-five sees the emphasis on what is required of emergency medical personnel. In this case, it makes use of a fictional form of ammunition in order to build tension. However, the same could apply with a violent / mentally unstable patient or even a difficult rescue site. In Elise’s case, she could be put in harm’s way by an explosion. However, others could also be placed in harm’s way.
It somewhat reminds me of a school friend of my husband who use to engage in international gymnastics. He had an accident one day and he had to give detailed instructions to another instructor in order to avoid having further damage done to his broken neck. It isn’t something that we typically think about, but using incorrect methods in an effort to help can often do more damage to the person in need.

This week’s chapters also do a great job of showing Michael’s attraction to Elise, which has been building up in recent chapters. He makes for a fascinating side character and it is in moments like the surgery that we see that his public persona as a playboy is not necessarily all there is to a man being pressured by his insane mother to try to become Emperor himself. Having him finally breach the subject of travelling with Elise is something that I’d been waiting for and the knowledge of a previous timeline where the two were close friends does make things complicated for a woman whose fiancee isn’t likely to annul the engagement anytime soon. Or perhaps this is a foreshadowing of something other than a love quartet (Mil Vs Ron/Linden). Either way, I am certain it will be a compelling ride.

If you are interested in checking out this series, new chapters are released each Thursday at Tappytoon (series page).


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Manga Review: Atashi No Banbi

Year: 2013
Author: Ozaki Akira
Genre: Shoujo, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, School Life

Atashi no Banbi is a four-chapter series that centres around the peculiar relationship between first-ranked student Haruko Nanase and hoodlum Hachiya. After he tries to extort money from her after she witnesses him fighting on a train, she runs away. Unfortunately, her peaceful world is put in jeopardy when she learns that he is in the same class. This begins a comedic coming-of-age tale about a nerd and her future boyfriend.

To begin with, this series shares a lot of similarities with the shoujo series My Little Monster in regards to the archetypes of the leads and to some small degree the setup. However, that is where the similarities end. As much as I adore MLM, Atashi no Banbi places higher because of how much more relatable the male and female leads of this series are portrayed. They aren’t unnecessarily “broken” and this is where Atashi no Banbi manages to surpass many in the Shoujo rom-com genre. It also manages to do so without a single kiss or “love” scene. Weird, huh?
Hachiya and Haruko are so adorable together but their growing fondness for each other isn’t dragged on beyond what it takes for them to acknowledge and express their mutual feelings for each other. There is the right amount of embarrassment and anxiety especially from Haruko as she comes to realise her feelings for Hachiya. These two characters are really fun to watch because of how well nuance is balanced with the in-your-face silliness of school life. It is easy to root for this pairing because of the way that the self-professed “idiots” complement each other.
Whilst this series uses the backdrop of study sessions to develop Haruko and Hachiya’s relationship, it provides the right amount of shenanigans to make for some entertaining scenes. They are also joined in their efforts by Misawa Akira, a girl from another class who is hoping to win the heart of her long-time crush by getting good grades. We see major character development for Misawa on account of having two friends who support her. Whilst she still remains a flawed character, seeing her view of herself change is compelling to watch. Sometimes, a simple word of encouragement can turn your life around.
It is through these relationships that Horuko realises that she really does need human connections and changes her priorities in order to be happier in her own skin. Whilst Hachiya has his own degree of character growth, it is nowhere near as subtle as that of Haruko. This is okay because people have different issues to contend with. In any case, this makes for a compelling read that I can foresee reading again in the not-so-distant future.

In conclusion, I really liked this short series. I felt that it said what it needed to say and also delivered on the promise made in the first chapter to change the dynamic between two relative strangers that happened to be on a train at the same time. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a coming-of-age rom-com that doesn’t rely on sex or fan service to tell a compelling story. It is sure to entertain those looking for a short but impactful series as well. So, if this sounds like a story that would interest you, then be sure to check it out.

 


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WN Review: You Are My Unforgettable Love 1 – 25

Year: (ongoing)
Author: Young Master Yan
Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance, Chinese

When paparazzi journalist Qiao Lan’s sibling has major medical issues, she agrees to marry and have a child with an award-winning actor Shen Liangchuan in order to cover the medical fees for his treatment. Now, her boss is asking for her to uncover who Best Actor She’s secret wife is otherwise she’ll lose her job. With a host of people seeking to uncover the delicious gossip, she also tries to navigate the bad blood that she and Shen Liangchuan have from eight years prior.

To begin with, I have to save that this series is entertaining trash. Sure, the sex scenes are a bit troublesome due to the lack of foreplay which sometimes questions how consensual the relations between the couple are, but this is a deliberate choice on the part of the author who is emulating tropes and cliches seen in this genre to good effect. The most noticeable is the use of the “bastard contractual spouse” that is utilised to the nth degree, making for some amusing cliched sequences. These might annoy some readers, but I won’t try to sell you on this as it is completely down to personal preferences.
As for the further characterisation in this series, it makes no apologies regarding the fact that our resident female protagonist has a questionable past. She is not squeaky clean, but the particular act of placing herself in a difficult situation in order to provide for a family member does redeem her slightly. We also learn that celebrity journalism is not her first choice for occupation and that her real dream was crushed due to a circumstance not yet elaborated upon. How much this ties into the conflict with her contractual husband… no idea, but it does provide an element of mystery that leaves me curious enough to continue reading about her. I hope that this turns into something meaningful, but I am not relying too heavily upon it because I have been burnt before.

To the subject of the translation, the group that provided us with the English version of this series have done a pretty good job so far. I haven’t noticed any issues with typoes and the grammar is up to snuff. This makes this series highly accessible to an English-speaking audience unlike the efforts of groups that simply rely purely on software for their translation work.

As you might have guessed based on my comments thus far, I had some fun reading the first twenty-five chapters of this series. It makes good use of the cliches and tropes commonly seen in Chinese dramas, with enough mystery about the history between the male and female leads to leaving me wanting to read more instalments.

If you are interested in reading this series, you can find it on WebNovel (series page).


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WN Review: Release that Witch Ch 1 – 25

Year: (completed)
Author: Er Mu
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, (transmigration) Isekai, Drama, Action, Adventure, Romance

I first came across Release That Witch via a webtoon adaptation last year. Given how much I enjoyed that adaptation, I was intrigued when I discovered that it was based on a web novel. It was a no-brainer to check out a series that reached its conclusion after nearly fifteen-hundred chapters that range between a thousand and two thousand words in length. Yep, that is a LOT of instalments. In any case, here are my thoughts on the first twenty-five chapters.

Chen Yan is a hardworking engineering that finds himself transmigrated into the body of fourth prince Roland Wimbleton who is currently overseeing a backwater border town (aptly named Border Town) as part of a competition between the royal siblings to prove themselves worthy of the throne. As the loser prince, he has one of the worst starting positions. However, the newly reborn Chen Yan sees an opportunity to turn this seemingly bad situation around. He saves a young woman named Anna sentenced to be execution for being a witch and employs her. With her abilities as well as his management skills and knowledge of science, Chen Yan begins to shore up the defenses of the region ahead of the hibernal raid of monsters. This soon leads to him making contact with the enigmatic Nightingale, a member of the Witch Cooperation Association.

PLOT & CONFLICT
This series begins with Chen Yan about to oversee the execution of the young woman who he will later employ. Delaying the execution in order to grow accustomed to his new body, the young engineer begins impersonating Roland using merged memories in order to avoid discovery. He is also curious about the world with his innate scepticism about the nature of a witch and his lack of trust in a church dragging people off to be executed on weak allegations informs some of his decision to employ Anna. The desire for justice and to follow the line of evidence makes for a compelling reason to butt against the system. This inevitably puts the entire region at odds with the kingdom that enforces discriminatory laws as well as the church in the midst of an inquisition.
The first twenty-five chapters put in place several ticking clocks. The first is the five-year deadline for the competition for the throne that pits each of the royal siblings against each other. The second is the upcoming raids of tainted creatures upon Border Town and other nearby communities. The third is the change that occurs to most witches when they turn eighteen years of age – something that will soon affect seventeen-year-old Anna.
The competition for the crown provides its own share of possibilities for future storytelling and I really look forward to seeing how the four candidates compete with each other. The conflict has already affected the lives of many, with something as simple as an egg having a huge impact on those living under Roland’s jurisdiction. A lot of authors take these small details for granted. However, these tell us very human stories in the harsh reality that is the wretched world that Chen Yan has transmigrated to.

CHARACTERISATION
The male lead Chen Yan / Roland 2.0 is a lot of fun to see in action. Chen Yan is essentially trying to “stay in character”, whilst staying connected with his identity as the modern-day engineer with a knowledge of science and progressive ideas such as “three meals a day”. He is a character that follows the evidence rather than being led by the nose. This simple trait makes him an admirable trait because he is appropriately sceptical. He is also a character that looks for solutions rather than wallows.
The female lead of Anna (a flame witch with an eidetic memory) is so well-placed and we see how the little things that her employment offers impacts her life in major ways. Something as simple as a soft bed is a big deal. Chen Yan’s faith in her is rewarded by her trying to do her best. She is a character looking for a purpose and a place to call home. And yet, she is also somebody that tries to adapt to crap situations. Simply complaining won’t get you anywhere, after all. In addition to this is the obvious affection that Anna has for Roland and is becoming more irritated with him as he is treating her as a younger sister. Yep, a bit of an anime/manga convention, but it does a good job of showing rather than telling us that she wants to be his waifu.

The other cast members are impactful, providing information (sometimes flawed), expertise and advice without it feeling convenient or like an infodump. We also learn about the world through the eyes of various side characters. This ranges from the often-anxious finance minister Barov (suggests killing witnesses to Anna’s release early on) to the straight-forward yet just Knight Commander Carter Lannis, Anna’s sceptical teacher Karl to Iron Axe the valiant hunter. These characters have their own strengths and weaknesses that make them feel authentic.
We also get to meet the heavily-motivated (and murderous) third princess Garcia Wimbleton in the first twenty-five chapters. As a major rival to the competition for the throne, she focuses much of her efforts through investment into maritime fleets used for plundering, all the while working on ways to remove any rivals permanently. Whilst we saw a bit of this in the webtoon, there is a lot more detail in the web novel, which emphasises what she is willing to do to win the competition.

MVP of chapters one to twenty-five? If I had to choose then it would hands-down be the witch Nightingale, a woman seeking a safe haven for witches. This desire initially puts her at odds with Roland because she isn’t convinced that he can protect Anna and Nana from the church’s teachings. However, she is also willing to be persuaded, which makes her both a reasonable and caring leader of a witch association.

One thing that I did notice in the web novel is that Roland and Anna have different coloured hair from in the webtoon.

  • Webnovel
    • Roland: silver / grey hair (Wimbleton family trait)
    • Anna: “flaxen” hair
  • Webtoon
    • Roland: brown hair
    • Anna: light orange hair

Whilst not necessarily a big deal, it seems odd to change hair colour for the webtoon adaptation. *shrugs*

Another character that has been treated differently in the web novel is the witch Nightingale. In the webtoon, she is easily brushed over. However, we learn a lot more about her in the latter parts of the first twenty-five chapters of this web novel.

WORLDBUILDING
The worldbuilding for this series provides an expansive sandbox for storytelling, mixing science with magic. The mystery regarding the origins of the witches and conflict pertaining to their persecution offers plenty of room for future conflict. We also see the mystery surrounding how Chen Yan got transmigrated as well. Will this have wider implications for the world setting? I suspect that it will, but I will have to wait and see.
On another note, this series also places great importance on lineage. Whist the more blatant example of this is with the royals, characters such as the hunter known as Iron Axe show how much family history plays a part in how the inhabitants of the kingdom are viewed. It is subtle but it is there nonetheless.

CONS???
Any issues? I only detected a few typoes in the English translation I have had the pleasure of reading. It is well within acceptable levels, not enough to hurt my enjoyment of the story. Apart from that, I haven’t noticed anything else of note.

CONCLUSION
So far, this series is proving to be an entertaining read that blends mystery, smarts and good character development in an interesting fantasy setting. I’d best describe it as “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court meets Game of Thrones” but with more science, magic and romantic elements. If you are looking for a fantasy setting and/or are Isekai trash such as myself, then this series will be right up your alley.

If you are interested in checking out this series, I’ve been reading it over at NovelFull (series page). I chose this site as it is easier to navigate compared to several others I found the translation project on. Also, the group that originally translated this series no longer has it on their website otherwise I would direct you to them instead.

 


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WN Review: Growing Fond of You, Mr Nian Ch 101 – 125

Year: (ongoing)
Author: Leaf Snow, Ye Xue
Genre: Josei, Romance, Comedy, Drama

Luosang and her friends attend Chi Shengxu’s movie premiere whilst Nian Junting tries to help long-suffering assistant Lu Kang “get the girl”. The two men arrive at the same premiere. Junting takes time out to diss his cousin Ye Chuen (the music major with a crush on Chi Shengxu) not once but twice, going into the guiness world records as “most awkward conversation”. [SHENANIGANS!!!]
The two groups head to an after-premiere party. This sets the stage for the silliness to follow as Junting becomes jealous of Luosang’s friendship with Shengxu, wherein Lu Kang is forced to be Junting’s hype-man. [This man-child moment brought to you by Nian Junting the Supreme Overlord!] Not far away, Luosang is dealing with her own problems. She and Yan Su (the friend that Lu Kang is interested in) are accosted by a rich pervert and are rescued by Junting who has been stalking Luosang. Some darker moments follow as Junting scares the p*ss out of the guy. [seriously, this actually happened!]

Luosang soon returns to her coerced work as Zhong Yi’s slave…. I mean assistant… where she interacts with her ex-fiancee more. In the process, she has already begun comparing the manipulative Yi Jingxi with the childish but thoughtful Nian Junting. After finding Luosang with another man’s coat at work, Yi Jingxi throws a tantrum, inevitably leading to Luosang and Nian Junting’s first quasi-date. #richguyproblems

This week sees more screentime for Yi Jingxi and Luosang. As mentioned in last week’s post on chapters 50 to 100, the writers like to emphasis how different Luosang’s life is with Nian Junting in it by using tonal differences depending on whether he is in the scene or not. Whilst Nian Junting is socially awkward, the narcissist is fiercely loyal and wants to protect those that he cares about. Whilst both men are jealous by nature, Junting is still the clear winner due to the way that he treats others.
Getting to see more of Yi Jingxi also allowed us to see more of the dysfunctional relationship that he has with Zhong Yi. Their twisted affair is certainly bizarre and makes me wonder if Zhong Yi has a masochist streak. One word: Wow! That being said, knowing that he was still the one behind what happened to Luosang’s dad Xu Zhengxuan doesn’t put Yi Jingxi in a great light regardless.

The translation is getting worse as it seems that whoever or whatever is doing the work is leaving in more typos and word combinations that you have to reword to make sense in English. It is mildly distracting, but I am still enjoying this silly romantic dramedy.

If you are interested in checking out this series, you can find it on WebNovel (series page).


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Webtoon Review: My Ex, Client

Year: 2019
Author: Hera Kang
Artist: Sujin Kim
Instalments: 47 chapters
Genre: Josei, Contemporary Romance, Drama, Comedy

When Eum Entertainment lands a whale, everyone is over-joyed including Jihyo Min works there as an Account Executive. However, things get complicated when Jihyo realises that she will be dealing with her ex-boyfriend, Jegook Gwon, who she left without saying a word. Jihyo’s plan to avoid him doesn’t go quite as smoothly as she’d like, especially when he has every intention of getting her back.

ART
This artwork for this series takes various forms. This ranges from the art style commonly found in a lot of South Korean contemporary romance webtoons such as Match Made in Heaven (but more attractive) to chibis.

CHARACTERISATION & CONFLICT
Jihyo and Jegook make for a cute couple. However, Jihyo has a lot of baggage to deal with due to her dysfunctional upbringing which heavily affects her relationship with Jegook. On the other hand, Jegook is the most patient man alive and is dead-set on being with Jihyo because he genuinely cares for her. This shows in the way that he teases her and is persistent in chasing a person that fears marriage due to her parents’ relationship.
Besides Jihyo and Jegook, there are four other important characters in this series. Jegook’s sister Mina is an understanding woman who regularly calls her brother out on what she deems as detrimental behaviour. Jihyo’s brother Yung Min is the bodyguard to Jegook’s childhood friend Jejin Han. On top of this is Jihyo’s tomboyish friend Sungshae who is in love with her. These characters are woven into the story in meaningful ways. We only see a cameo of Jegook and Mina’s mother but the short period that we get to see her challenges Jihyo to think of a way to be with Jegook whilst also pursuing her career.

PLOT & PACING
The plot of this series is simple enough but it had enough twists and turns to make for an enjoyable and interesting read. However, I do take issue with the rushed ending, which felt anti-climactic. I didn’t feel sufficient gratification when Jihyo and Jegook finally walk down the aisle because the last hurdle that they faced was just overlooked. I would have enjoyed seeing the plan to gain the blessing to get married because it was built up so much. Oh well…

GENRE
Josei: The series fits perfectly into the Josei category due to how it deals with Jihyo’s perspective of her various relationships (especially with Jegook) and her career.
Contemporary Romance: The premise of the series is backed up by typical story beats one sees in western text-based equivalents such as those from Harlequin contemporary romance product lines.
Drama: There is plenty of drama but the drama is relatable. We see this especially in relation to Jihyo.
Comedy: The comedy works well in this series, particularly in the banter between Jihyo and Jegook which are rich in Jegook’s playful teasing. However, I would also call attention to some of the interactions between Yung and Jejin later in the series.

CONCLUSION
This series was somewhat enjoyable but the ending did feel a bit rushed. That being said, most fans of contemporary romance with a tinge of comedy are sure to enjoy this series.

If you are interested in checking out this series, you can find it at Netcomics (series page). You can also find it at TappyToon (series page).


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LN Review: Armoured Girl Monette Ch 1 – 10

Alternate Names: The Heavily Armoured Noble Girl Monette: How To Break a Curse You Don’t Remember Casting, Juusou Reijou Morenet: Kaketa Oboe no nai Noroi no Tokikata
Year: 2017 – 2018 (completed)
Author: Saki
Artist: Masuda Megumi
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Romance

The day after being called “ugly” during her first meeting with her fiancé Prince Alexis, Monette’s engagement is annulled and her sister gains her former position. She develops a complex, soon covering herself head to toe in armour as she studies magic in an abandoned castle in a secluded forest.
More than a year later, Prince Alexis and his bodyguard Percival arrive on her dilapitated doorstep seeking help with a problem. After trying to redeem himself, the prince is now suffering from the effects of a curse bent on making his life miserable. Even the simple act of sitting in a chair or sleeping in a bed ends in disaster. Desperately, he begs Monette for help.

Monette will soon embark on an adventure to find out the identity of the person behind the curse to clear her name.

This series begins on an interesting premise. What if the female lead was hurt so much that she closes herself off from society? I think most of us understand at least from a basic level how words can seemingly have power over us. In this case, it leads to Monette’s family abandoning her as well. Monette may be a flawed character on numerous levels, but her behaviour is understandable. Whilst I usually prefer characters that are more tenacious, she is still quite likeable.
When Alexis and Percival show up on her doorstep, Monette is p*ssed. She was content living alone with companions such as Robertson the spider and his “fashionable friend”. Seeing how she reacts to these human intruders, especially one with whom she has a difficult history, is entertaining due to the level of snark involved. This is coupled with some funny internal dialogue by all three characters. Through these interactions, we also get some good insight into the world without it falling into the trap of the infamous info-dump.

To the subject of forgiveness, Alexis is a person that is desperately trying to redeem himself because he acknowledges that a simple word held so much power to destroy somebody that didn’t deserve it. Unfortunately, his attempts to make amends haven’t worked so far and he also gets cursed by persons unknown. It is easy to feel for him, just as it is easy to understand that Monette is still p*ssed at him. I have no doubt that Monette’s forgiveness will have some effect on the direction of this series as this seems to be the promise made in the first chapter.

Did I enjoy the first ten chapters of this series? Yes, I did. The humour works well and the tone of the series is playful. It very much feels like it could easily be adapted into an anime series as well, which is another selling point. I liked the characters, plot and premise. Based on what I’ve read so far, I recommend it to anyone looking for a comedic fantasy adventure with the promise of some drama and romance to come.

If you are interested in reading this series, there is an English translation offered by Experimental Translations (series page). Please note that the first seven chapters are slightly modified versions of some translations done by Kamimami.