Chocolat, vol. 1

Kum-ji is a huge fan of the boy band DDL, but because she became a fan late in the game, their fan club is already filled and there is no room for her. But she has a plan: she’ll join the fan club of the band Yo-I, a rookie group who always seem to be playing the same venues as DDL, so then she has more of a shot at getting close to her idol, Jin. At least that’s the plan, before the boys of Yo-I start messing everything up.

This was the first Korean comic, or manhwa, I picked up and I was interested in how it would differ from the manga I had been reading. To my relatively untrained eye, the differences are minor. The names are obviously Korean, the sound effects look different, and the foods mentioned are Korean staples, but other than that I was still reading a fun shojo story. The nice part about this story is that I got to find out more about the Korean pop music industry and the role fans play in it. The creators use the fan club device and a family connection Kum-ji has to make her frequent encounters with pop royalty seem more believable. There are plenty of humorous situations and the interactions between Kum-ji and the boys in the band are fascinating. I found myself laughing out loud or having to pause to think about things E-Wan (a sarcastic, thoughtful, troubled member of Yo-I) would bring up. The characterizations are strong and, while the creators may start with slightly stereotypical characters, they quickly begin to flesh them out into three-dimensional beings. The art is nicely drawn, well laid out, and full of bishonen, though I got a little tired of characters calling Kum-ji an ugly girl when she isn’t. Definitely recommended for libraries, but there is some language and some discussion of sex. In the end, though, it is a fairly tame comic and handles issues such as bullying and the cult of celebrity uniquely and interestingly.

Chocolat, vol. 1
by JiSang Shin and Geo
ISBN 9788952744531
Yen Press, 2005

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