Please, Please Me by Kisun follows three single women living in Seoul, South Korea. Aeri Goo is an illustrator who can’t seem to land any man, much less the right one. Her roommate Nagyung Kang is a stylish career minded woman who isn’t afraid to work hard, but whose pride stops her from finding true love. Jumsoon, an old friend of Nagyung, has no problem finding men – and using them for their money. Will any of these women be able to find love – and themselves — in the bustling Korean capital?
Please, Please Me, while not the most memorable series ever, is a breath of fresh air in a world crowded with super heroes and high school romances. A Korean manhwa of the “josei” variety (is there an equivalent Korean term?), the series portrays some of nitty-gritty of playing the dating game at the tail end of your twenties. The first two volumes are generally episodic and focus on the (mostly funny and relatable) dating mishaps of the three women, with the initial story focusing on Aeri.
Emotional, self-doubting, and quick to fall in love, Aeri is constantly fumbling up her dating life. Whether she’s literally getting herself caught in a guy’s belt buckle at a club, misreading romantic signals from a client, or declaring every potential blind date “a loser,” she has got her work cut out for her. Aeri’s defensiveness and naivety about her choice in men, and how she interprets their feelings towards her, is her most annoying but most realistic quality. When she develops a (obviously one-sided) crush on musician client of Nagyung’s, Aeri reads through the lines of every conversation, convinced her crush is head over heels. Anything her friends say to convince her otherwise falls on deaf ears. Aeri gets so caught up in her romantic mishaps that her work (and her bills) suffers, but things may look up when she finally meets Mr. Right…
Nagyung, the other hand, seems to have her head screwed on straight, at least somewhat. She balances work and helping Aeri though her consistent messes, but still lacks a fulfilling love life. Her life in the office is hilarious and reliable, though: there’s water cooler gossip, the age old dilemma of “where do we have lunch?!” and good old fashioned office politics. It’s hard to discuss her love life without spoilers, but her story picks up in the later volumes–though she has a hilariously funny episodic chapter involving a date, sushi, and…diarrhea–as she hits it off with a much younger coworker. Throughout the series, Nagyung is forced to confront her feelings about age, family, career, and the sacrifices one has to make for love.
Nagyung’s old classmate Jumsoon enters in a little later than the other women and doesn’t hide the fact that she has a 50-ish year old sugar daddy. Jumsoon doesn’t add a lot to the dynamic between the women themselves (though Aeri and her initially hate each other over, you guessed it, a man), mainly because she’s off courting men with money. That’s not a slight to her character: Jumsoon’s relationships are interesting in that they explore questions of age difference in relationships, coming to terms with your true self and your past, and finding happiness outside of relationships. The reader quickly realizes there’s more to Jumsoon than meets the eye, but it’s hard to get to know her until the last volume of the series when everything comes unraveled. Some of her motives are a little cliché, but given how episodic the series originally starts, it’s nice to get a little bit of depth to at least one of the characters.
Despite heading into some slightly darker territory in the latter half of the series, it never feels too overly heavy. Because the characters don’t have a ton of depth, drama in the later volumes keeps the series moving. I’m not sure episodic chapters would have carried the series four volumes, honestly. Thankfully, the series wraps up nicely, save for Aeri. Given everything she’s been through by the end of the series, Aeri isn’t shown to have changed much — one major disappointment, in my book. Overall though, this is decent series to check out if you have some free time and are looking for something targeted towards older readers. The series full color art looks good on Netcomics digital reader and at 20 cents a chapter (to read for 48 hours) the price is a steal.