Story By Goo-Hwa Huh & Art By Kyoung-Lan Park
Money can turn people into monsters. In this South Korean manhwa series, M.A.X., readers are treated with characters that allow money to take over their lives. As a result, this manhwa is filled with greed, jealousy, and betrayal.
Namu attends a school that has millionaire idols and elites. She meets a transfer student, Tae-hu, who is quickly scouted by the elite crowd. Soon after, Namu and Tae-hu accidentally find the base of a secret organization, M.A.X., which is known for their money-making secrets. The two end up being recruited by M.A.X. and as members, they must help out with the debt that they acquired.
What got me interested in this manhwa is how it shows the sinful nature of humans in a light-hearted and comedic approach. Namu is known for her gluttonous ways of consumption. She spends her time and money on food, particularly meat, which could metaphorically represent the average consumer wasting money on materialistic things. One could argue that at least she is spending money on food—a basic necessity in life—but she eats excessive, selfish amounts that could go to other people in need. Another character that is selfish is the president of M.A.X. (I forgot his name and I’m too lazy to look it up). The president uses Namu for her “hook-eye” skills, which allows her to find expensive items at auctions that could be sold on the market at a higher price. The president may have good intentions in trying to get M.A.X out of debt, but the fact that he treats Namu as an object as oppose to a friend is immoral. Yet as a reader, you may not get so angry with his scheming ways because he has a good-natured and charming persona.
However, I think differently about the main guy of this manhwa, Tae-hu. Like every shoujo lead I’ve seen, he is intelligent, athletic, and good-looking, but also has a bad attitude. The first issue I have with him is that he is too money-obsessive. In the early chapters, he has a one-sided competition with Namu, where he spies on her to see what she is doing to earn maximum profits. His obsession with money leads him to jealousy, anger, and greed. However, his view on money changes when he learns the value of friendship, and that there are things that are priceless and worth more than any item price tag can give. The second issue I have is that Tae-hu couldn’t handle a girl being better than him at something. Tae-hu strives for perfection, but when he saw that Namu has the “hook-eye,” he becomes tainted with jealousy. I make it sound like Tae-hu is a sexist, but that notion of jealousy implies that feeling within me. One shouldn’t be jealous of a person’s skills and abilities. We are all designed differently and have our own uniqueness. So be proud of who you are!
M.A.X has an interesting story line, but it wasn’t elaborated enough within 21 chapters. The ending leaves you with more questions than answers.