Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"A rumor goes around school about an abandoned amusement park and a magician who lives there that can make someone disappear for good. Yoon Ah-ee, a girl struggling to feed her sister and herself everyday will experience her life change as she meets a mysterious magician."
My feelings for this are kind of all over the place, just as the story isn't as simple as it turns out to be. I think a lot of the enjoyment you get out of reading something like this hinges on whether or not you are the kind of person who either relates to the story or likes stories with a lot of symbolism. On my part, I don't think I mesh well with stories that are more than what they are at face value or have outright strong messages (hence why I like fantasy).
Starting with the art style, I usually prefer for my graphics to be in full colour, which is not the case for this webtoon. The design is mainly monochromatic except for some small colour details at times. I would have been fine with this mix if it wasn't for the fact that, for the most part, when colour was introduced, it was in the form of an actual image and not a digitally designed one. The mix of mediums just threw me off and I didn't find it aesthetically pleasing.
I also found that the use of patterns, as well as the sideways panels, hurt to look at.
That being said, there were still some interesting design choices that I thought were well-executed. In particular, I am talking about the design for Ildeung. At first his design was a bit strange as his head looked like the top of an exclamation point, but once you realism its symbolism and as his character develops, it makes a lot more sense. The transition from clean-cut to a more rough style sketch when a character is losing themselves was also well-done.
In terms of the writing, I thought that the name choices only added to the overall symbolism of the story (in a good way). Each of the characters names is a direct reflection of their personality or arc. For example, Ildeung means 'first place' in Korean which suits him as his character arc is all about him aiming to be first place in his school. In order to catch this though, you'd have to pay attention to the translation notes or know some Korean yourself which was how I made the connections.
As I said in the intro, this story is much more than just 'girl meets magician who asks you if you believe in magic.' This webtoon is more so a social commentary on a lot of subjects which are listed below:
the pressure to succeed in life
familial pressure to do well in school
the human capacity for selfishness
expectations of being an adult
fitting into stereotypes otherwise, you will be a nobody
As you can see, this story covers a lot of topics that many people can relate to. My issue here is that I couldn't really relate to these messages on a personal level which thus disconnected me from the story. I couldn't relate to Yun Ai and her need for money due to debt, or Ildeung and the pressure to be successful. I can see why a lot of people really liked this, but it wasn't really something that spoke to me.
Because of the focus on all of these themes, I also found myself wanting more. This was made a bit worse with the ending as not every storyline was tied up nicely. If open ending don't bother you then you should be fine, but I am not a big fan of them...
Our main character, Yun Ai's, arc focuses on her struggle to stay afloat after her family went into debt. Again, I don't personally understand her struggles, so I wasn't able to connect with her character. I also found her to be a bit bland as well. The magician's character as well, ㄹ(r or l in Korean), was a bit all over the place as you are stuck in the space of whether or not he is an actual magician.
Out of everyone though, I think that Ildeung had the most interesting character development. You were able to see, sometimes physically, his growth as a character and as a person.
If you are looking for something more on the fantasy side, then this probably isn't the webtoon for you. If you are looking for something that is more on the meaningful side and reflects the reality of life and the downsides of societal pressure, then this might be right up your alley.