In our first Manga Monday, we touched on how manga–basically Japanese comic books, if you forgot–has branched out all around Asia. South Korea has has taken their manhwa one step further by slapping those puppies online.
What originally began as scanning in and posting in-print manhwa for online consumption, later became a huge hub of online-only publications now known as webtoons. South Korea’s webtoon market is a $368 million industry; webtoons have quickly become some of the most popular source material for television and film in South Korea. You know how is seems like everything we see in theatres right now is based off of dystopian book trilogies and Marvel comics? Yeah, in South Korea it’s webtoons.
Probably due to the increased interest in South Korean culture globally (you know, the Korean Wave), in 2014 the Korean webportal Naver launched their webcomic syndicate, LINE Webtoon, worldwide, offering their comics for free in multiple languages. Luckily for us, that includes English.
The South Korean Inside Out
229 episodes / 224 translated in English
New episodes every Wednesday and Saturday
Yumi’s Cells follows Yumi, a 32-year old office worker who had decided to open her heart again, and her cells that each play different roles as she navigates life. The premise and initial build-up is simple–even the artwork is quite simple. I wasn’t expecting much when I initially decided to read it, but very quickly I was swiping through episode upon episode, giggling in bed next to my husband. It’s an incredibly charming read.
Yumi’s Cells can be compared to Inside Out, only instead of just the titular four emotions, we follow Yumi’s many, many, many cells. And I do mean many. We’re talking Anxiety Cell, Love Cell, Naughty Cell, Fashion Cell, Rational Cell, Hunger Cell, Kindness Cell… and so many more! Badness Cell is a personal favorite of mine.
Each cell holds a distinct personality and roll in running Yumi–and they will all make you laugh. Like poor Confidence Cell here, he’s no match against Hunger Cell.
Yumi’s Cells is an awesome first read if you’re just getting into webtoons. It’s light-hearted, but it builds its own unique world surrounding an idea that’s being explored a lot lately–the idea of the inner workings of our bodies as being something a bit more animated. You not only get a view of Yumi’s cells, but you get to see the cells of her co-workers and love interests as well.
Author Donggun Lee’s artwork also shifts to be more refined and detailed as the story goes on. I love how simple and clean his style is, and even more I appreciate his writing and humor in this office romance.
And, best news ever? You can read all 224-episodes of Yumi’s Cells on LINE Webtoon for free. So you should probably do that. Like, now.
Do you have a favorite webtoon that you’re currently reading? Is there one that you recommend?