Saturday, April 28, 2012

Manhwa Review: Boarding House of Hunks

Title: Boarding House of Hunks
Author: Hwang Mi-Ri
Volumes: 17
Available through: MangaFox (Free!)

First off, you need to know that I didn't pay a single red cent for this manhwa. I read it all free through MangaFox, which I'm pretty happy about. I read the entire manhwa, but I didn't overly like it. Why not? Because it's like some overly played up version of 90210, the characters aren't very likable, and the romance between the two main characters isn't really all that great. I think what ultimately irked me about this manhwa was that it was pretty bad, but not so bad enough that I would completely give up on it and move on to another series. After a while I justified continuing reading by saying that I was already halfway through the series.

The one saving grace of this manhwa is that the artwork is pretty nice. There's some weird effects to the art, such as shadows on a character's face resembling facial scarring, but I'm willing to chalk that up to the scanner. Not everything scans well into the computer, so with scanlations you learn to expect the odd feature or two. Overall though, the artwork here is nicely done and pretty to look at. It's also close enough to its Japanese cousin that manga-fans won't get too much of an artwork culture shock.

Then there's what I didn't like about the manga. The characters in it are pretty unlikable. This isn't always a bad thing, as sometimes you can have characters that are unlikeable/unpleasant, but are still people you want to read about. This wasn't really the case here. Jae Yoo is supposed to be this rambunctious and energetic girl, but she really just comes off like a brat. I think I was actually cheering on her rival more than Jae Yoo.

Then there's the romance between Jae Yoo and Ji Hu. It's nice, but seriously... I couldn't really believe that they were all that into each other. It's like watching Itchy and Scratchy try to date. Every once in a while they'd get all googly-eyed at each other, but generally it's nothing but fighting and not even the type that would be endearing to the reader. I almost felt like I was watching an episode of a true crime show where we're told the buildup to how/why one person murdered the other. If these were real people then scenes of their relationship would be exhibit A in the murder trial.

I think what really bogs down the series as a whole is that there's a whole lot of nothing going on and a cast of characters that's way too big. When it initially started, had a humbler plot, and had a smaller cast of characters, it was a lot better. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. Now we have a huge cast and plot points that just seem to repeat themselves over and over again. How many times do we need to see our lovers fight? Do we really need to see them doubt each other again? Is it really necessary to keep every single minor character in the storyline? For that matter, do we really need 17 volumes of this? I can't help but feel that if some of the characters had been trimmed and the storyline condensed, it'd be a much better read overall.

I know that there's going to be people that like this series, but this is really just a mediocre series at best. I know, I know... I shouldn't have expected a lot from a series called "Boarding House of Hunks", but I've read series with stupider names that ended up being a lot of fun. The thing is, I don't expect much from my manga, just that I'm entertained. Not every series needs to be Kare Kano in order to be fun, after all. In the end BHoH is something that I'd only tentatively recommend as a free read and not really recommend as something you'd buy off the shelves.

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