A Korean Hanadan? That Guy was Splendid by Kim JeaEun & Guiyeoni (shoujo manhwa review)

That Guy was Splendid volume 3 front cover (ID)

can come up with some doozies to throw couples together and that is part of its charm. My recent purchase of the three-volume (after Honey Mustard and Be My Sweet Darling precedents) only proved that even after actively resisting shiny Oooh! Bishounen! lures that resistance is futile.

Am I pleased about it?

Was That Guy really that splendid, that cool, that wicked?


And no.

He was Splendid, He was Cool: What more do you want?

Based on online novelist phenomenon Guiyeoni's Internet novel (also adapted into film as He Was Cool AKA 놈은 멋있었다 Geunomeun meoshiteotda in 2004), the manhwa follows the romantic travails of and , both 18-year-old high school students.

The story opens in media res, with YeWon and her best girlfriend KyongWon scrambling to escape from something. Or someone. We immediately find out that YeWon is running away from Ji EunSung's gang. Why?—we are not yet told. A convenient brick wall presents itself and the pair rush towards it. As YeWon clambers up and triumphantly leaps down (this is a service shot; the "camera" is placed at a low angle), her inner monologue hints at the state of things to come: «This would be the biggest mistake of my life.»

First kiss For YeWon doesn't achieve a perfect 10 landing; a guy with bleached hair is in the way and YeWon slams into this male body and accidentally locks lips with him.

Of course, bleached guy is none other than Ji EunSung.

After a flashback that explains the none-too-cordial meeting of the two (they first traded cheap shots over an internet forum and finally faced off while YeWon was in a salon getting her hair straightened), we return to the present action. As that was EunSung's first kiss, he is now demanding that YeWon take responsibility and marry him.

Will she? The manhwa coyly stops short of explicitly answering this question.

My Thoughts: The Korean Hanadan Wannabe

NOTE: I worship and am not feeling particularly generous. If you're an avid fan of That Guy Was Splendid, skip this.

The novelty of a teenaged guy's insistence on marriage or bust aside, the manhwa illustrated by zooms off hyperdrive fast after that first kiss. Other reviewers have also observed this. The whiplash pace felt as if , mindful of her teenaged fanbase, couldn't wait to haul out the trite heavy artillery in her tropes arsenal and shortcut a way to popular success. This is not bad per se; in fact, I would have ignored it, had not the almost non-stop cramming of everything plus the kitchen sink in the first six chapters shrieked of impatience so loudly nor been so obtrusive.

In other words, the plot development was classic forcing the issue; coercing something to grow with unnatural haste. If this hurried superficiality is a trademark, it may explain criticism of 's plots in particular and the internet novelist in general.

But getting on the soapbox to pontificate about instant gratification is equally tired and not at all my main point about TGWS. What struck me more as I strafing-run-read this story was its unsettling similarity to Kamio Yoko-sensei's Hana Yori Dango.

Without any warning, EunSung and YeWon transformed into Tsukasa x Tsukushi wannabe's, albeit without the yama-san of money the Doumyouji scion possesses. Like Tsukasa, EunSung is the leader of a school gang (the (F)4 Heavenly Kings of Sang High School). Like Tsukasa, EunSung's first love is YeWon. At the outset, YeWon like Makino Tsukushi is targeted by this gang headed by the love interest and again, similar to the heroine, YeWon initially favors another Heavenly King, Hanazawa Rui Kim HyunSung but ends up falling for EunSung anyway. So much so that (like Tsukushi), she tries to stop a rival gang bent on beating him up. Those are just the obvious correspondences. The physical comedy, even YeWon and EunSung's bickering have that Hanadan/TxT flavor.

Marry me One key difference is provided by 's art. Tsukasa, Tsukushi, and Rui never looked this good, even on Kamio Yoko-sensei's best day (sorry, Sensei ^^;). But then pretty art is one of manhwa's strongest points so it's understandable. And in Hanadan's defense, the comeliness (or lack of it) is ultimately irrelevant to the story and Kamio Yoko-sensei's character designs could never be described as vapid, even on her worst day.

That I'm ambivalent about TGWS should be overdone by now. Guiyeoni succeeded in getting me to read, but as with the case of junk food, there was no cerebral sustenance to be had. You may argue that if I wanted an intellectual orgasm so much, I shouldn't be turning to graphic novels but I don't believe the genre should be satisfied with its perceived (correctly or not) lowest common denominator status. I think Guiyeoni was attempting to do exactly this with a clumsy attempt at working AIDS into the TGWS story.

As for that similitude with Hanadan, I can only say that Hanadan, at least, achieved surprising depths. TGWS remained boilerplate. Successful, yes. Inventive no.

Would there be an alternate reality in which I would choose not to read That Guy was Splendid? Probably not.

TGWS is destined to become memorable. And I don't mean in the (shudder) Kill Me Kiss Me, Moon Boy or Really?! way—something for which I am eternally grateful.

To reflect both my gratitude and ambivalence, I rate That Guy was Splendid:
5 of 10 accidental kisses

~nik AKA 花木兰03 who prepares to duck the rotten fruit that might be lobbed in her direction

That Guy was Splendid is © 2004, 2005, 2006 Kim JeaEun & Guiyeoni. First published in South Korea by Hwangmae Publishers Co. Indonesian translated edition published by arrangements through Shinwon Agency Co. and © 2006 PT Elex Media Komputindo.

invaluable resource(s)

Shinwon Agency


Anonymous said...

Uhhh... aku suka banget ma komik satu ini. Honestly, inilsh komik yang membuat aku jatuh cinta pada komik korea ... Ya, sejak saat itu aku fall in love with korean comics. Apalagi that guy was splendid tuch gambarnya kereeennnnnnn bangetttt dech. SUERRRRRR. Ji eun sung gileee cakeeeeepppp beneerrrr, ye-won juga ganteng, pokoknya semua tokoh dalam komik ini kerennn banget.. Geng Empat Raja Langit emang COOOLLLLL.
dari : Mrs. street

huamulan03 said...

@ Mrs. street-san,

Satuju! Cowok-cowok di komik Korea emang pada keren-keren ^^ Apalagi si HyunSung...

Aku juga suka banget juga ama manhwa. Kapan keluarnya Promise lagi? Uda gak sabar nih ^^

Trims uda mau comment!

Anonymous said...

ne komik sumpah keren abis !!. so sweet ^^

huamulan03 said...

@ Anonymous-san,
Aku anggap ini masih Mrs. street, kalo bukan tolong kasih tahu namanya ya? ^^

Nah kalo emang Mrs. street, aku jadi kepengen baca TGWS lagi - siapa tahu berubah pikiran ^^ Sampe sekarang Promise, Chiro ama Pretty masih Top 3.


gambarnya memang oke2, tapi agak kurang puas dengan ceritanya yang masih mengambang antar ji eun seung dan han ye won????

huamulan03 said...

Mangka itu aku cuma kasih rating 5/10... Sengganya TGWS gak senyebelin Really?! yg menurut aku lebih ngambang endingnya.
Thanks for commenting ^^

Anonymous said...

gila sumpah,gara2 komik ni w jd suka ma komik korea,w suka banget ma seunppyo walaupun ceroboh tapi lucu........... tapi ji eunsung masih nomor satu.baca 100x pun w g bosen sampai kebayang-bayang ma kisah cintanya ji eunsung n han yewon. but endingnya kurang memuaskan.masih penasarannya ma kim hansungnya.

Anonymous said...

GiLA Eunsung cakep bangetzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
luph luph forever....
kok yang nomor 3x Lon da di kota q seh ???

huamulan03 said...

@ Anonymous-san (yang pertama setelah WINDRA FITRI-san), Emang endingnya rada gimana gitu. Tapi ya, ceritanya menarik. Waktu baca aja bisa selesai dalam waktu tiga jam kurang (belom termasuk Kyaa-kyaa!-nya ^^)

@ Anonymous-san (yang kedua),
Yup. EunSung ^^

huamulan03 said...

Buat yang mau comment di review ini,
Tolong dong kasih tahu nama ya? Da kebanyakan "Anonymous-san" nih! ^^


Anonymous said...

=O Where did you purhase the manhwa? I've been looking around for it online but it has many names and alot of the websites are in Korean.

huamulan03 said...

@ Anonymous-san,
The manhwa was published in Indonesian and released in Indonesia--that's how I snagged my copy. I'm not sure if it's been licensed for English by anyone yet.

Anonymous said...

sumpah niw komik biarpun dibaca berkali2 tapi w gak pernah ngrsa bosen cuz eunsung`a keyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeendddddddddddddddddddddddddhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh buangeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttttttttttzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,,,,


huamulan03 said...

@ tieh-san,
Yay! Another EunSung fan! ^^

mY gRaTiFy said...

aqw lebih suka ama eunsung...

cool bgt...heheheheheh

klw bisa tuh cerita diperpanjang tapi jgn yang boring.....

huamulan03 said...

@ mY gRaTiFy-san,
Jadi? Mau petition manhwa-ganya untuk lanjutin ceritanya? ^^

Anonymous said...

ada pelemnya ga siy???

Anonymous said...

i like all about korsel

Onny Melani said...

aduuuhhh .... nggak puas cm baca komiknya aja ... ada yang tahu tempat buat download series-nya nggak ? ...

hiks hiks ....

Anonymous said...

HAI gue ska bgt ama nih komik gue p'tama x bli komik ya komik ni, aq masih penasaran sih dgn kisahx... gimana cinta Kim Hansung(klo masih da lanjutan kisahx)oh y d mn bisa bli versi film ???? love u Ji Eunsung

yanyalun35 said...

Where do you get That guy was splendid by Kim JeaEun and Guiyeoni? I can't find it ANYWHERE.

huamulan03 said...

I got That guy was splendid - the Indonesian edition. I don't know who else has licensed it. (Tried to google it but no luck...)

Anyhoo, thanks for commenting ^^

dizzy said...

emg bagus ni komik... ceritanya khas Guiyeoni dtambah artnya Kum jea-eun mantap dh! heheh
ni komik dh pernah dipelmin kok! jdlnya 'he was cool'... ni ceritanya kan novel yg dbuat pelm trus dbuat komiknya...^^
*gw jg heran napa gada scanlationnya yaa...-.-"

Anonymous said...

i realy want to read this manhwa online.
because i lost 1st and 2 volume.
i read this manhwa in junior high and that was so long long ago.
and until now i like it


huamulan03 said...

Have you tried onemanga or manga traders or mangafox?

dera said...

andaiiiii aja ji eungsung hiduuuup.....
gue di suruh tanggung jawanb nikah,,,langsung de gue nikah d tempattt....'
asli kereen abis!!!!!!!!!!1

huamulan03 said...

So I guess you like... EunSung? ^^

Anonymous said...

aku pernah baca dan ini oke banget,keren! :D
aku juga uda nonton filmnya, n membuat aku amkin jatuh cinta! he..he..he..

btw, ada yg tau dimana bisa baca online komik ni?
aku uda cari2 tapi gak ketemu.. ==

kalo ada yg tau please kasih tau..
THX ^^


huamulan03 said...

Have you tried onemanga or mangafox?

Anonymous said...

di onemanga ato mangafox pun ga nemu..~~
tp untungnya ku uda dapet filmnya.
lumayanlah sbg pengganti..


huamulan03 said...

happy for you ^^

Alien's turn said...


halo semua! aku baru kenal novel ini kemaren pinjem punya temen, tp sayang dia cuma punya vol.1-nya aja makanya skrg aku penasaran jd search di semua website but still couldnt find it anywhere! sayang bgt mangafox cuma upload vol.1 huhu, any suggestion where to read, folks? thank you :)

huamulan03 said...

@Alien's turn-san,
Thanks for sharing. Peeps, anyone can help out Alien's turn-san?

Raiziel Lovyce said...

What language are you all speaking in in parts up there?? im going to try to find a version online but, so far, no dice. :(

huamulan03 said...

@Raiziel Lovyce-san,
Indonesian. And yup, I don't think I've run into an online version yet.

Thanks for commenting ^^

Anonymous said...

mau nanya dong,ada yang tau cara baca online that guy was splendid seri 3 gak?udah di cari2 gak ketemu-__- kalau gak yang download juga gpp deh..bagi info nya yaa,thx

huamulan03 said...

Don't think there's any online version of That Guy was Splendid.

Thanks for commenting.

melia tsuzumi B) said...

ada yang tau dimana bisa baca komik That Guy Was Splendid2 dan 3 , aku beritahu donk ? plizzzz

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When commenting, kindly leave a name, make one up, whatever. I would like to call you something other than "anonymous-san" ^^

Arigatou gozaimuchness,

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