by Choi Kyung-ah; adaptation by Sarah Dyer
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
Snow Drop is Korean, not Japanese, in origin, so it reads from left to right. In general, I’ve found that I haven’t enjoyed the Korean manga I’ve tried as much as the Japanese, and that holds here as well. It’s an interesting teen romance, but its outrageous events prevent it from being top-rate.
The characters are freakishly angular, with huge marble eyes and sharply pointed chins. Their legs and arms go on for miles with little indication of bones underlying the structure. This makes them excellent mannequins for exaggerated outfits, if you’re into fashion, but even though I grew up excessively skinny, I find it hard to relate to these alien-looking scarecrows.
Hae-Gi is a gorgeous teen model who sits next to So-Na in class. She’s recently returned to school after an absence recovering from a kidnapping, since her father is a high-placed politician. Her neighbor and friend, Ha-Da, is the class clown, and his father seems to be some kind of gangster.
Hae-Gi and So-Na have a burgeoning love between them, made more poetic by the fact that Hae-Gi is named after a character in So-Na’s dead mother’s book. Hae-Gi’s younger brother dresses like a girl and has fooled Ha-Da into developing a crush on him which he’s exploiting for financial gain. Meanwhile, Sun-Mi is jealous of So-Na and so tries to drug her into a date rape situation.
You’ll note that everything is exaggerated for dramatic effect. No stories here about well-meaning students just trying to do their best in class; instead, the conflict revolves around when school officials will find out Hae-Gi has been modeling nude to raise money for his mother’s operation. (So-Na decides that she’ll use her rich father’s money to buy out his modeling contract and rescue him. Strangely, it never occurs to any of them that she could just pay for the needed operation.)
There are some fascinating outfits and images here, especially when So-Na puts on one of her wigs, but the plots prevent this from being a favorite. The events seem set up to be titillating for shock value. It’s too unbelievable to be a first-rate teen romance, and there’s too much angst for it to work as comedy. If you like melodramatic soap opera, this could be entertaining, but I was hoping for a bit more emphasis on characterization.