Kang Chul is a manhwa hero who can defy death, write his own story, and create his own ending…
…until his creator(s) says otherwise…
…or so i thought.
We’re just slightly ahead of the halfway point, yet the number of twists dropped in this drama is already too many to count. Honestly, i’m not even sure whether those unforeseen plot turns are twists or game changers; every time i thought i’ve gotten the hang of the fiction world’s workings, the existing rules are shaken up, broken, and altered. Maybe there’s only one rule in this dramaverse: there is no rule, that anything can happen.
Who knew a fantasy romance can pack so many confounding development? Thankfully there’s mystery in its vein, since that’s the more compelling element.
Shortly after crossing over to human world, Chul finds himself face-to-face with his 2D version. It’s one thing to hear that he’s a manhwa character, it’s a different thing to see for himself that his entire being and universe are indeed nothing but someone’s brainchild. That everything is part of a setup: his strong personality, his traumatic past, his closest friends. The most devastating discovery about his existence is likely the revelation about the nonexistent villain — he too was a mere plot device to toughen Chul up.
That sounds like lazy writing on Dad’s part. Cuz how can he have no idea about how the gunman looks or who he is when he’s the one who designed that hooded figure, sent him to head-sho0t Chul’s entire family, and drew him to put Chul down in numerous occasions? Nevertheless, that half assed characterization makes years of Chul’s struggles, pain, and frustration utterly pointless — his quest to find the culprit has no end — that he sees no point in continue living.
But the poor hero can’t even end his life the way he wanted/chose to — it’s obviously a good thing his suicide failed, yet viewed from his perspective, not being in charge of your own body, mind, and life must be maddening — because although Dad can’t seem to change “the end”, Yeon-joo is still sucked into the parallel universe after the fact.
There’s a limit to what Dad can do to decide Chul’s fate as he isn’t the original creator — Yeon-joo is. She came up with Chul’s sketches when she was little and then perfected the gun-holding image as her ideal man in her teens. That explains her ability to change the course of story. That’s also the possible reason behind Chul surviving the time freeze. BUT! It’s then revealed he isn’t the sole survivor: faceless killer is too! AND he escaped the frozen world through Chul’s portal. AND he’s running amok in human world!
Like Chul, he’s enraged with the fact that he’s a manhwa character, that Chul dies without finding him, and that Dad leaves him hanging. Unlike Chul, he can’t find a way to return to W and has a superpower that works even on earth. When you think his Death-Eater-ish appearance and teleportation are scary enough, he Disapparates and Apparates from one place to another in search of Dad… or Yeon-joo to serve his role as Chul’s family murderer. Yikes!
Seriously, i gotta pin it on Dad; why created a supervillain but not a superhero? How is he supposed to get caught when he owns an Anywhere Door like Doraemon?
Things go terrifyingly awry (fictional assassin targeting his creator, Chul’s love interest, and random people getting in his way? *shudder*) that the only viable solution is to prevent ’em from happening in the first place. For better or worse, W’s fabricated universe means a do-over is completely possible. It’s like playing a game; when things go south, we can simply reset and start again. In this case, everything transpiring hitherto is turned into a long dream Chul will barely remember upon waking up.
With that, right at the end of episode 8, we’re back to square one: the hospital scene. Only, Yeon-joo remembers everything, and Chul doesn’t. It’s a cruel move for Yeon-joo, cuz her memory isn’t resettable, even if it’s ultimately to protect her. She is no longer invincible in fantasy and is nearly shot in reality after all. That also means the beginning of one-sided angst, since she’s left pining for her ‘amnesiac’ lover. On the other hand, it also provided room for Chul to fall in love with her the second time. Besides, it’s not as if those memories aren’t re-retrievable — a dream is recallable, after all, isn’t it?
Honestly, i’m not that excited at the lovey-dovey scenes, them the ultimate dream-comes-true kind notwithstanding, firstly because we’re yet to reach the appropriate time for that, when the baddie remains on the loose, and secondly because it veers off track from W’s original genre a lot. Whirlwind romance isn’t what i signed up for; it’s giddying and all but the pacing drags when we’re in that territory.
That said, i like that there’s clear explanation for every plot turn. It may feel as if we’re spoon-fed with details, but i’d rather get a grasp of what’s going on sooner than later. Even if it’s equal parts enlightening and frightening. Like the fact that the villain has the same awareness, strong will, and ability as the hero to resist the path written for him. We’re yet to know how he survived the time freeze — is he too someone else’s original creation? — but one thing for sure: he’s a bit too happy to finally have a face.
Drawing Dad as the elusive killer, or rather giving faceless killer his face, was obviously a bad idea, albeit the most acceptable reveal for Chul, but who knew it’d have scary real-life consequences? Gawd, i thought faceless villain was creepy, but defaced Dad scared the hell out of me! Poor Su-bong must have been traumatized for life. He first bumped into Chul walking out of the house post-shooting Dad in the heart, then witnessed hooded man shooting a bullet straight at Yeon-joo’s temple, and now saw defaced Dad coming at him and pleading him to find his stolen face.
Note to comic artists out there: give your mysterious villain proper face and identity lest he’ll come after you!