Melo Holic (멜로홀릭)
By Team Get-name, Aruani, Carnby
Melo Holic is a South Korean webtoon series. At first glance, one may assume that it is just a cute, romantic story about first love, but there is more to it than that. This webtoon has a dark storyline, focusing on jealousy, obsession, mental illness and the blending of reality and fiction. I was tricked by the cover art; in which I thought this webtoon is an innocent romance, but as I continued reading, I was wrapped up in a dark, twisted plot that messed with my mind.
Yoo Eun Ho despises love, due to his special gift. He is able to read a person’s mind and thoughts when his hand touches that person’s skin. Through his gift, he is able to know about a woman’s selfish intentions and sins; hence, he is reluctant to trust women with his heart. One day, Yoo Eun Ho encounters a girl sitting on a park bench crying. Yoo Eun Ho gives the girl his handkerchief, and accidentally touches her hand, which reveals her self-loathing and sadness over the death of her ex-boyfriend. Yoo Eun Ho is concerned about the well-being of the girl, Ji Eun, but his concern turns into an infatuation. As a result, he makes it a routine to visit the park bench in hopes of meeting Ji Eun again. With the help of his friend, he gets the courage to confess his feelings, and the two start a relationship. However, their lovely relationship turns sinister when a stalker tries to ruin it.
From what I encountered so far, some webtoons, like Melo Holic, contain twisted, dark story lines and perspectives. In Melo Holic, the eeriness is conveyed through the colored art. Hence if you factor in the dark, creepy mood, readers can see some really scary images of people hiding behind in the shadows, and also dark, disfigured faces watching you at night. There is one scene in Melo Holic, where the stalker is staring at the ceiling, and he sees an image of a face staring back at him. (I recommend not reading this manga in the dark. There were moments where I didn’t want to continue reading because I had a feeling that something scary is about to pop-up.) Through the use of the plot and art, these webtoons discuss serious mental and psychological issues that can give you the chills.
One of the themes that Melo Holic focuses on is love in various perspectives. For example, Yoo Eun Ho has a pure, innocent first love with Ji Eun. Yet, love transforms into other feelings like jealousy and obsession. For instance, the stalker is obsessed with destroying Ji Eun and Yoo Eun Ho’s relationship because he considered it a mark of betrayal towards Ji Eun’s ex-boyfriend. Melo Holic‘s exploration on this matter leads to pondering questions such as is obsession a form of love or hatred? And could hatred be a form of love?
Another way love is depicted is how it can blend reality and fantasy together. Some readers of YA novels and shoujo manga/anime usually read these genres because they like the idea of how love is described and shown. I, myself, am one of these readers. For example in literature, manga, anime, or film, characters would make grand gestures of love such as serenading a girl in public or writing a cheesy love letter to their crush. As readers, we may wish that these types of confessions or gestures happen in real life, but in reality, it is unrealistic and cheesy. So if they are not real portrayals of love, why do we read or watch this type of genre? For me, I like the ideals and values that these types of mediums share or depict about love. Whether it be about first love or a jealous betrayal, I enjoy reading and analyzing those topics related to romance.
Furthermore, the blending of fiction and reality is interesting in this webtoon because everything that happens in Yoo Eun Ho and Ji Eun’s relationship is being written into a novel. One could question whether their love was real to begin with or actually fake and unrealistic based on a book? In my opinion, I believe that their love was real. Yet another overarching question of this webtoon is are we capable of adapting those same emotions when reading romance fiction to reality? This is also a question to think about while reading this webtoon if you so choose to.
Anyways, Melo Holic is a psychological, thriller romance. If you are interested in those genres, you should check it out.