Snow Drop Chap. 4: The NPC

The chapters are divided pretty unevenly in the first volume of Snow Drop, and this is the shortest. It starts with So-Na solidifying her role as a Mary Sue by being admired by the boys from afar.

Ha-Da complains to So-Na that he didn’t get Ko-Mo’s number. So-Na, to her credit, tries to tell Ha-Da that Ko-Mo’s a guy, but doesn’t get the chance. Instead, he begs So-Na to get Ko-Mo’s number for him. Since he doesn’t know that Ko-Mo is Hae-Gi’s brother, I don’t know why he thought So-Na would be capable of getting Ko-Mo’s number. So-Na accepts the challenge anyway, and decides that she doesn’t need to talk to Hae-Gi. She goes back to her preferred MO of stalking.

Even her body guard comments that this is weird.

While she’s stalking Hae-Gi, it’s revealed that Hae-Gi is dropping out of school to work as a model full-time. His mother has suffered brain damage, and he needs to work to pay for the surgery that might heal her. I know enough about neurology (and have worked with people with traumatic brain injuries in the past) to say that while it might not be impossible, but it’s extremely unlikely that his mom would ever be 100% herself again, even if the surgery was successful. Of course, as Choi Kyang-ah never gives us specifics of the surgery, or what exactly is wrong with Hae-Gi’s mother, it’s hard to say. But there’s a reason that brain surgery is so difficult. Everyone’s brain is mapped out differently, and…

Okay, I could talk about neuropsychology for awhile, but that’s not why we’re here. Even if neuropsych is one of my favorite things ever.

The other thing that bugs me about this is that So-Na finds out all this from overhearing a conversation between Hae-Gi and another classmate. It’s not that it’s an overheard conversation – as convenient as it is – it’s the classmate that bothers me. We don’t know anything about her. She has no name, no background, and we know nothing about her. I would like to, though. She genuinely cares for Hae-Gi and doesn’t want him to drop out. She knows about his mother and how much trouble Ko-Mo gets into. It’s already been established that Hae-Gi doesn’t have any friends, but it sounds like he’s confided in this girl. She seems sweet and concerned, not manipulative and haughty, like So-Na. This is the girl I want to root for. I want So-Na to drop off a cliff, and for Hae-Gi to date a sweet, sensible girl that doesn’t bring any more drama into his already dramatic life.

That doesn’t happen. In fact, this is the last time we ever see this girl in the series. She’s not a character; she’s a sounding board. That’s really unfortunate, because in the few pages she’s in, I already like her a lot more than any of the main characters.

And that’s it. The final chapter of the first volume of Snow Drop.

It wasn’t that good.

Final Verdict: I don’t know.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: I don’t want to keep these books. I own every volume in the series, and most of them are in pretty good condition, so I’d be okay selling them. The problem with my copy in particular is that it has an ink stain that goes through several pages. I might consider giving this to someone who’s okay with that, but I don’t know anyone my age who would enjoy this series, and I wouldn’t want to give it to impressionable, adolescent minds. Like mine was, when I read it.

Anyone out there want a slightly used copy?

Snow Drop Chap. 3: Brotherly Love

At school later, it turns out Hae-Gi doesn’t remember anything from his drunkfest at Romeo. The next day at school, he tries to give So-Na her nursery key back. Here, So-Na makes a critical mistake: as she’s reaching for the key, she admits that she lost Hae-Gi’s marble.

 I know that characters making bad decisions is important for fiction, but the key is literally in her hand. All she had to do is make a fist, and it would be hers again. So-Na couldn’t wait a whole ten seconds to tell him that she lost his marble. Hae-Gi snatches the key away and gets really, really mad at her. Reasonable, and  we get this one moment out of Hae-Gi, when he tells her that there’s something she still needs to learn.

THANK YOU.

So-Na is so haughty, she’s unlikable and unrelatable. I was pretty glad to see Hae-Gi cut her down to size here. Not that she learns her lesson.

What follows over the next few pages is some verbal barbs and taunting between the two. Because we all know that the foundation for a long, happy relationship is animosity.

Instead of just apologizing and trying not to be a giant dick. So-Na dresses up like she’s going clubbing and stalks Hae-Gi to the store where he works. Her plan appears to be to look good and demand her key back. As you might imagine, she fails.

Hae-Gi is more interested in cutting So-Na down to size, and will let give her her key back, if she mops and helps clean up the store. When she complains that she can’t mop in her high-heeled shoes, Hae-Gi lends her his.

That would normally be a detail I wouldn’t mention here, but So-Na wears his shoes home. When I first read that, I thought it was kind of cute, but now I see a big problem with it.

I don’t think those will fit.

What the hell is Hae-Gi going to wear home?!

I also want to point out that it’s established that Hae-Gi is the “poor kid” who has two jobs to support his family. He shouldn’t have to worry about a girl stealing his shoes when he has money troubles enough. So-Na, you’re a jerk.

But there’s something way more at stake here than just Hae-Gi’s shoes.

Maybe an image like that isn’t out of place in a romance series. At first So-Na thinks that the person with Hae-Gi is a sexy girlfriend Hae-Gi’s been hiding. This is incorrect for two reasons, the first being that the long-haired person is actually a guy.

The second is that that guy is Hae-Gi’s brother.

I wish I could insert a sound effect of brakes squealing, as that image makes my brain come to a sudden stop. Also, that brotherly almost kiss is explained, by…well, like this:

Okay, I get it, it was used for comedy, just to create some confusion for So-Na. But then Ha-Da comes along, sees Ko-Mo, and immediately falls in love. Neither Hae-Gi or So-Na bother to tell him that Ko-Mo’s a boy.

Ha-Da doesn’t find out that Ko-Mo’s male until the fourth or fifth book in the series. Hae-Gi and So-Na let him think Ko-Mo’s a girl for…who knows how long?

What great friends.

Anyway, So-Na got her key back, if anyone actually cares.

God, why am I reading this?

Snow Drop Chap. 2: Alcohol Abuse

Welcome back to Snow Drop, and Ha-Da’s inadequately explored hatred of Hae-Gi. Seriously, there’s no reason for Ha-Da to hate Hae-Gi. Is it because Hae-Gi’s good-looking? As I mentioned in my previous post, Hae-Gi has no friends, so it can’t be that Ha-Da is envy of his so-called “popularity”. Granted, the main characters are in high school, a wretched hive of scum and jealousy, but it just seems so stupid and petty.

Much like a seventeen-year-old, come to think of it.

Ha-Da challenges Hae-Gi to a drinking contest with shots of tequila, which Hae-Gi accepts, for some reason. The only logic I can attribute to this decision is “high school”.

I used to read a lot of fanfiction, and participated in online play-by-post roleplays. Every so often, a writer will decide that their character needs to get drunk, either to show how edgy that character is, or give them a chance to make a fool out of themselves. Nine times out of ten, you can tell that the author’s never had a drink in her life. Characters get drunk after one drink, they puke immediately after getting drunk, they magically sober up when a bucket of cold water is dumped on them…

And, okay, some of those writers might have been me, thinking that I knew what heavy drinking was like from the occasional sip my mom let me have from her wine glass.

10 shots?! That’s enough to put me in a coma.

And I’m not saying that Choi Kyuang-ah has never had a drink, but that’s what this scene reminds me of. Not only because Ha-Da doesn’t get entirely blitzed after several shots of tequila (granted, he owns the club so it’s likely that he has a higher alcohol tolerance than Hae-Gi), but because Hae-Gi wasn’t feeling tipsy before the contest began. Which doesn’t seem like it makes sense, until it’s revealed that Ha-Da spiked all of Hae-Gi’s drinks before the contest actually began.

Wait.

That’s not okay.

Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen.

I’m not sure if I was okay with that when I read these books for the first time, but it definitely makes me uncomfortable now. If Hae-Gi was a girl, or Ha-Da was doing this to take sexual advantage of his rival, there’s no way Ha-Da would have gotten off scot-free. Ten shots of tequila are dangerous enough, especially when you only weigh 90 pounds like our pretty-boys here. Spiking Hae-Gi’s drinks beforehand could do some serious damage. You ever hear of alcohol poisoning?

Good, because I’m pretty sure Hae-Gi’s going to have it.

Fortunately, none of those terrible, terrible things that could easily happen after drinking all that happen to Hae-Gi, because he’s just too pretty to die. He just passes out for a bit, and then gets chatty. So-Na has the opportunity to search the unconscious Hae-Gi for her key, but opts not to. While normally I might complain about So-Na being stupid and missing her chance to get her key back, I’m actually okay with it. The poor guys taken enough abuse tonight, a girl who doesn’t like him going through his pockets would just be adding insult to injury.

Though I will point out that So-Na’s nameless bodyguard, who’s taking Hae-Gi home, thinks that black coffee will help Hae-Gi sober up.

I didn’t want to have to do this again, but take it away, Morbo:

Drunk!Hae-Gi wakes up and starts talking about “touching the sky” for his brother. What he means by this is that he wants to become a pilot. I really like this, and not just because I’m a student pilot. In a lot of romance manga, the characters are singularly focused on one goal, and then their S.O. comes along and sweeps them off their feet. I wasn’t too crazy about the idea of Hae-Gi being a model, because leads being models/actresses/superstars is pretty common in romance manga. Dreaming of being a pilot is something different, so it stands out to me, and gives Hae-Gi more depth as a character.

If only I could start liking the other leads.

Snow Drop Chap. 1: Meet the (Awful) Cast

I’ve decided that it was only fair to go back to manga for a bit, just because I have an absolutely absurd amount of it. I’m certain that I need to get rid of almost all of it. Even if I don’t intend to keep it all, it’s worth one last read-through. A final goodbye, if you will. I won’t subject you to any more Rave Master for the time being, so we’ll take a sharp turn to Snow Drop, by Choi Kyuang-ah. This is a series I started reading when I was fourteen, and religiously bought every book until the series ended, probably when I was sixteen. And for the purists out there, Snow Drop is technically manwha, as it’s a Korean comic. And it couldn’t be any more different than Rave Master.

Snow Drop is a dark, dramatic teen romance about a couple that no one thinks should be together. I’d read a few manga like this in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one as misguided as Snow Drop.

I almost immediately regretted my decision to re-read this book as soon as I opened it. There are so many problems with the series, and you’d think that would be pretty easy material to make fun of. It has an astounding number of things in it that don’t make any sense, like the belief that who you date in high school is who you’ll end up marrying and having kids with. There’s also several things that are pretty offensive but passed off as “true love”…like the female lead dating the guy who tried to rape her earlier in the series.

Holy hell, how did I manage to stomach any of this?

Unfortunately for the blog (or maybe fortunately), none of this happens in the first volume. This is our introduction to our main characters: So-Na, Ha-Da, and Hae-Gi. And I don’t like any of them. I know I should, but I don’t.

So-Na is our female lead,  a rich seventeen-year-old girl whose passion is her flower nursery, named Snow Drop. She’s almost always accompanied by her obnoxious friend Ha-Da, another rich teenager and self-proclaimed Casanova. The manga kicks off with Ha-Da complaining that he and So-Na have been enrolled in high school, as neither of them have been in school for several years. So-Na’s father basically blackmailed her into returning to school by smashing the windows of the greenhouse, and refusing to stop until she agreed to go back. It’s pretty telling for a character that doesn’t even appear in this volume.

My questions already begin to flare up when the two are introduced to their class for the first time. If Ha-Da and So-Na are part of such wealthy and influential families, why aren’t they sent to an expensive private school? One small change would have helped us avoid a lot of needless stupidity in the series.

I also want to point out that I hate the “new kid stands in front of class and introduces her/himself” cliche. This is mainly because never once, in my life, have I ever seen a teacher call a student to the front of the class to introduce them. Especially not in high school. Has anyone else actually seen this happen? Right now, I’m pretty convinced that this exists only in fiction.

This being a romance manga, So-Na’s seat in class ends up being right next to Hae-Gi’s, the most popular boy in school. I would like to make a couple complaints about this.

This is what the cover promises:

This is what we get:

Okay, he’s cute, but that is not the same person. And that beautiful blue-haired man was the reason I became interested in the series in the first place. Though thinking about it now, I actually didn’t fangirl over any of the characters in this series. Maybe I was over squeeing over fictional characters by that point, or maybe it was because they were all in relationships and therefore untouchable. Really, though, I think it’s because all the characters are dicks.

Looking through the series now, I searched for a character that I really liked, without reservation. I found one: So-Na’s body guard, and I don’t think he even has a name.

Even if the cast is full of jerks, though, there must have been something about it that I liked enough to buy twelve volumes of this crap, so let’s read on.

The other thing that bugs me about Hae-Gi’s introduction is that he’s called the most popular boy in school. Maybe this is a translation error, because Hae-Gi has zero friends. By definition, you have to have friends to be popular. He’s good looking, and a model, so I would accept that he’s the coolest kid in school, but definitely not the most popular. One of the nameless students (read: someone who’s not beautiful) even says that he’s standoffish and uptight about his name.

Ha-Da hates Hae-Gi immediately, for no adequately explored reason, and asks So-Na to figure out what Hae-Gi’s sore spot is. As luck would have it, So-Na is actually able to do this. Hae-Gi is short for Hae-Ba-Ra-Gi, or “sunflower”. His brothers, likewise, have flowery names. Those names (along with So-Na’s, short for So-Na-Moo, or “pine tree”) came from a book So-Na’s mother wrote, which is also entitled Snow Drop.

If you’re asking where So-Na’s mother is, by the way, she’s dead. Like all romantic heroine’s mothers.

So-Na, it turns out, also doesn’t like Hae-Gi because he’s not interested in floral language, after she tries to sell him some flowers.

While making his big, obnoxious introduction, Ha-Da invites all the kids in his new class for a party at a nightclub, Romeo, which he happens to own. And proceeds to insult the students that might not be able to go.

So-Na comes up with a game to ensure that everyone goes to the club, and I want to say right now that she’s surprisingly manipulative. You’d think that a girl who spent the last five years with just one friend would be a little more…obtuse when it comes to that sort of thing.

The game is this: you have to find your seatmate’s most precious item and take it from them for the day. The students will exchange everything back at Romeo, but if you don’t show up, then you don’t get your item back. Of course, So-Na ends up picking Hae-Gi’s most precious item, which turns out to be a marble with a feather in it. So-Na, though, doesn’t play by the rules of her own game, until Ha-Da rats her out.

You know, I sort of like Ha-Da better for doing that. I can handle annoying side-kicks; it’s the manipulative main character I’m having a hard time getting past.

Thanks to So-Na’s game, the entire class winds up at Romeo, and So-Na refuses to switch back the marble for her key until the designated swap time at 8 pm, even though Hae-Gi wants to get his marble back as soon as he can. Which is weird, because she really did not want Hae-Gi to get her key in the first place. You’d think she’d be in a hurry to get it back and not linger around Hae-Gi, especially because she doesn’t like him all that much.

As she’s playing with the marble she drops it and ends up losing it in the one place she can’t get it back. I think I’m supposed to worry about So-Na not getting her key back, but I don’t. I don’t like So-Na, and she could have avoided this stupidity had she just exchanged items when Hae-Gi wanted. Maybe if she was more likable I might actually care what happens to her.

God, this is stupid. Why did I choose to read this series again?