ages after it finished, but really gotta say it: bro it sucked baddddd. ok maybe not that bad, but I don't think it deserves the 9+ stars it has - honestly felt like it dropped to around 3/4.
gonna be rambling based on memory since the webtoon has now been locked behind daily pass which I'm not gonna pay to read as a cheapskate so apologies for misinformation or lack of information. many thanks to the wikipedia page for listing the order of the arcs otherwise i don't know how i would've done this.
Beginning was not too bad - did a good job at establishing what was going on and although I felt the CEO abuse was over the top, it was something I could brush off as the author making new narrative choices. Another thing was that I felt Jun and Jaewon became friends a bit *too* quickly, considering one has deep trust issues towards other people, and the other, despite being nice, is shy and struggles to assert himself. So it felt a bit off with how quickly they became close but, again, I gave the benefit of the doubt thinking the author just wanted to move it along so the Canvas/Discover readers weren't bored.
Minyoung arc was done pretty well - I think putting more weight on the body dysmorphia was an interesting touch and really gave nuance to her character. It was also a pretty good way for Jaewon and Daehyung to get closer + good to see Jaewon standing up for himself against the CEO for once.
Stalker arc went well - I think author did a good job of showing how dangerous and creepy the situation can be/plus a way for Jaewon to reach out to another member (Dongho) and rely on them for once. However, the resolution came off a bit iffy... At this point, I'm not expecting Jaewon to have massive character change and suddenly be able to stand up for himself, so it was still in character for him to not press charges against the stalker, but the way it was kinda of implied that forgiving the stalker and letting them go was the best choice of actions started to kind of raise my alarm bells. I mean, the stalker almost killed Jaewon and would have harmed the policeman or Dongho if anything went wrong. I feel like that should've been pointed out to him, and make him consider if "forgive and forget" is always the right choice. Sure, she was probably mentally ill and pressing charges would upset her family or something, but seriously, she endangered so many people - actions need to have consequences. What if she decides to do this again to a different idol: would it have ended up as nicely as it did now? Some people just need to have a taste of reality to understand what they're doing is wrong, or get some help so they don't endanger society again. (ok, I tried really hard to be open and understanding here, but I'm not good with words, so if I accidentally come across as condescending or "mentally ill people bad", that was not my intention and my bad, I was keeping in mind this specific situation in mind)
Next was the sports arc where we have the conflict between Minsoo and his older bro. I have bitter feelings about this arc ngl. For starters, the archery event was removed entirely: so for those who don't know, in Canvas, Jaewon randomly selected to do an event which ended up being archery. Everyone booed at him for trying to show off/looking down at others, but obviously, like every battle shounen protagonist, he fumbles the first two shots, and then gets a bullseye on the last one. But what I liked about this scene was that after the first two shots, Jaewon decided to ignore the criticisms and how everyone else was looking at him and decided that he was going to shoot this for himself and this last shot was solely just to prove to himself that he could do it. Which was a nice scene to show him growing a bit braver and finally doing one thing for himself rather than always being considerate to others. So you can imagine how gutted I was when it was removed, although I'm very understanding that the writer perhaps thought that it was bit too much and unnatural. So now he only does the wrestling match - which gets taken away from him due to his mom's phone call: so basically he does absolutely nothing during the sports festival except just kinda cheer on between the two brother or something.
And as for the bros themselves - the older bro definitely got off way too lightly. It was understandable that he was also a victim under their mom's pressure, but really? To take your younger brother's hardwork and steal his credit, then later bully him for not singing anyway was a Low Blow. You wanted him to work hard and he did - to take that hard work and turn his efforts futile, screams nothing but petty jealousy. And even after that, he long continued to act like a jerk towards him. Although I am happy that Minsoo didn't immediately forgive him, they got close together way too quickly because it's a bit hard to let go of resentment that's built up for a few years. Again, it should've been a gradual process with older bro putting in a LOT of effort of winning that trust back.
Aight, so now the meeting with Jaewon's mom. Really heartwarming/outstanding. One nitpick I would make is that her beloved son was slandered against yet she doesn't show much anger towards this? She just kinda accepts the situation and is "ok whatever you want son <3" and that's it. As a loving mother, would she not feel more complicated emotions and sadness over the fact her son has a ruined reputation? yh she can still support him, but y'know, if someone close to me was slandered like that, I'd be raging. So yh, soft and touching arc, but too much softness and not enough rage.
As for the rage: there was a severe lack of it from Dongho towards his mother. I understand as his mom, he'll still hold that bit of affection, but he was so quick to become friendly with her again. Shouldn't there be more resentment between the two, and gradual warming up between the two? This is also the same thing that happens between Jun and his mom - years of resentment just gone just by a simple "sorry". (Why is it also always the mothers too? I know Jun's dad is a separate issue, but where was Dongho's dad in all this? What about Minsoo?
Finally the most boring character enters the stage: Ahra. Really her characterisation is all over the place, it's actually so hard to tell whether she's a good or bad person. Ok she talks to Jaewon and makes friends with him despite him being the bullied loner so she's nice; but then when she fins out Jaewon succeeded for an idol program behind her back, her outburst is so over the top. I understand that she felt betrayed and Jaewon definitely fumbled by not being honest with her, but to completely cut him off and not hear him is way too overboard. You know his personality, and how to contact him, so even if she was initially upset, she had every chance to go and get an explanation for him. But she ended an entire relationship over an misunderstanding. (Jaewon would not have gone to her since she told him "she didn't want to see him again", and knowing him, he definitely would've taken the words to heart).
Well after all that, now she uses His name to get a foothold into the industry, which, I guess is understandable if you're desperate, but come on, this is clearly in bad taste. And then Jaewon keeps telling her its dangerous and to leave, yet she stays anyways - again, her desperation is completely understandable but its hard to be sympathetic towards, especially considering her later actions. All in all, she just comes across as selfish and desperate, and not a supportive childhood friend like I presume the author was trying to get across. It doesn't really help that they barely have interactions outside of work as well so her character seems a bit like "what are you here for?"
Onto the absolute trainwreck that is the Minseok arc - where do I begin? For starters, he was Minyoung's main bullies that fed into her dysmorphia which I think is already a serious offence. Then he takes advantage of Koko's loneliness and manipulates her for his own satisfaction before ending things off in horrible way. Bro then harasses and assaults Daehyung making him sustain a head injury that could've been fatal, and then chokes Jaewon which could've also killed him even if he managed to break out of his grip. And then he had the audacity to pin everything on Jaewon.
Nothing is wrong with these sequences, rather it is the aftermath which infuriates me to no end - Jaewon, again sticks up for him (despite the fact his friend was almost killed) out of sympathy, which again, come on, your friend almost DIED. Then Koko and Minyoung and Daehyung are able to forgive and forget "oh we get it why you did it, we're sorry we didn't understand", but he almost KILLED YOU??? Or even had caused disabilities. So he gets a slap on the wrist despite his malicious actions because "uwu sad boy". At least the CEO never killed anybody, what kinda double standards are this???
An aside: it was pretty annoying that there weren't more netizens coming to the realisation that something was iffy in the consistency of the stories. It did come up slightly but it felt a bit lacking that more people did not start to pick up something was wrong. Yh Jaewon's public opinion improved, but it barely did anything to help him in later chapters/incidents
Skipping to the end, oof that trainwreck still frustrates me. The conflict between Jun and Jaewon was annoying - I could understand Jun begin to have doubts due to CEO's manipulation, but the argument starts to fall apart when you consider 1) one is your nice friend who always puts other before himself, and the other is your scheming father who ran from home, and 2) Jun was the one who initiated the friendship in the first place. Sure, Jaewon was the one being nice towards him, but it was Jun who officially said they were friends. so you kinda played yourself there buddy. But the worst is afterwards he realises he was wrong but doesn't apologise to Jaewon because for some reason his dad will do something otherwise?? At least clear up the misunderstanding with him.
And then afterwards, Jaewon/Ahra gets assaulted by CEO (that was a mad goofy plan btw in ways I will not elaborate), and pins the blame on Jaewon. The members start to doubt Jaewon which I guess is understandable since they never really properly had that conversation, but come on, this guy has saved your lives and was always there for you in your lowest points. He's always acted nicely and the one time he begs that they just believe in him..... they push him away. And the reasons are stupid because Dongho decides to listen to Jun's plan and kick him out of Mayhem, so they can gain evidence or something, and because Jaewon doesn't have the strength to leave for himself. But his plan is absolute rubbish because logically, if they kick Jaewon out, its just kind of implying his guilt, and second, Dongho has been around Jaewon longer and would probably more understand how mentally fragile Jaewon is and how terrible of a blow this would be for him. If he couldn't leave by himself, why not leave with him???
After this, the most painful scene - the [attempted] suicide scene. The build up was done pretty well, but I can't understand how reporters came to the scene so quickly, and started whaling on him. Then after falling, he changes his mind (nothing wrong with this, heard it frequently happens with jumpers), but he's somehow able to swim to shore unscathed despite the fact it must be freezing so his muslces would'ves cramped up, and he just came out of the hospital with a head injury. But the way how it's completely unacknnowledged afterwards and NO ONE apologies to him really grinds my gears. Your actions pushed a guy to committing and no apologies??? I'd be be begging on my knees for some ounce of forgivensss - actually I don't think I'd be able to show my face to them if I did that to someone. Honestly, at this point, I was hoping Jaewon would fight against the CEO, collect his cash, pass GO, live his best life, never to meet with anyone again for the utter lack of respect and acknolqedgement from anyone. This was this webtoon's saving grace yet nope, more buffoonery.
Ending: courtroom scene was an absolute mess. Jaewon's lawyer did absolute nothing, everyone talked over each other, and whatever whatever whatevr. Didnt expect complete realism but it was just a complete mess that it was hard to find the entire exchange as very boss battle-like. Ahra also showed her selfish side again: she was supposed to be good, yet had to be convinced to actually defence her friend??? See, I wouldn't have any issue with her character if she was asserted to be a morally gray person, but it feels like the plot keeps trying to force me to feel sympathetic towards her, which is hard to do since she has not done anything for me to like her so far. And mister manager really got off free despite the fact he was complicit in allowing Jaewon's abuse to happen, nothing to congratulate him about. I hope he does not get Nari as a "reward" for doing the bare minimum as a decent human being.....
and then Jaewon forgives them all and they live happily ever after yadda yadda yadda....
It feels like my feelings were wasted - Jaewon suffered too many wrongs and there was no outlet for the reader to vent their grief. Every conflict is tied up with a pretty pink bow with little to no regard to conflict and characters are forced to act however the author sees fit.
Guys, calling out people, and punishing them for their wrongs is the way to go - yes, you can forgive and forget and that's fine in some circumstance, but the world is full of nasty people like the CEO who don't care about the pain they cause. If they are willing to harm you, chances are they are willing to harm others as well. Do not accept injustice - challenge it and don't let people step all over you.