Manga Monday

Manga Monday #17: Invisible Roommate

When you start really getting into foreign comics and you’re able to see a favorite work go from a fan translation to being officially picked up by an English distributor–that’s the coolest thing ever.

This recently happened with a Korean series that I actually have already read in its entirety, but that didn’t stop me from doing the happy dance when I saw Webtoon officially publishing it starting the end of September!  We’re eleven episodes into a 74+ episode series, and it’s just as fun to read it a second time.

Invisible Roommate

My Boo
Jeongseo
11 episodes (ongoing)

Originally titled 투명한 동거 or Transparent Cohabitation  (alternatively Transparent Housemate), the decision by Webtoon’s to title it My Boo for the official English release is interesting.  While My Boo certainly works, considering the story, but to me it makes it appear much lighter than it actually is.

My Boo follows Yuri So, a woman who can see ghosts and considers the ability a burden.  She does her very best to avoid contact with them and when she does see them she pretends that she can’t.  Upon her move into a new house, however, she quickly discovers that it’s inhabited by a ghost named Jun Ko.

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Yuri attempts to live in the house while actively pretending that she cannot see her new ghostly roomie.  However, much to her dismay, she slips up and Jun becomes aware that he can see her.

Ghosts, it turns out, cannot leave the area where they died.  In Jun’s case, he died at a graduation party at his house from choking on his own vomit.  He has been in that house ever since–alone–for three years.  Yuri is the first person to live there since Jun’s death and he begs her to stay.  The two make an agreement that they can live as roommates for the year Yuri plans on being there before heading out to study abroad.

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The reason why I think My Boo was a weird choice for the English publication of the series is that the series theme, in the most basic terms, is the effects of isolation.  While Yuri purposely isolates herself in order to avoid unwanted exposure to her power, Jun suddenly loses his life only to be shut away with no contact with anyone else for three years.

My Boo is an easy wordplay title to give to what is essentially a ghost love story, but it’s also a little counterintuitive as the story explores their need for each other as both of them allow themselves to accept the inevitable parts of their lives–for Yuri, the reality of her power; for Jun, the reality of his death.

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Well, regardless of the title choice, My Boo is a beautifully rendered story fit with some fantastic artistry to boot.  Not only is the entire cast of characters fleshed out to startling realism, but the backstories on which they’re built bring a lot to the table as well.  Both Jun and Yuri’s pasts have structured their issues so well that bringing them together creates perfect harmony–so wonderful to watch.

Yuri’s backstory is especially awesome.  While I’ve read and seen a lot of books/movies/TV shows about people who can see ghosts, the burdensome nature of Yuri’s experiences with ghosts–and especially considering the caveat that ghosts cannot leave their place of death–gives way to a strong understand as to why Yuri is so anti-ghost when the story begins.  She explains to Jun early on, when he asks her to stay, “I didn’t want to live just to bear the burden for them [ghosts] because of the ability I didn’t want to have.”

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While My Boo does inevitably develop into a love story between Yuri and Jun, the progression, as well as the ending, is wonderful.  The ways in which both Yuri and Jun push each other to finally accept what they cannot control make for some entertaining and well-rounded story.  Each character that is progressively brought into their tale builds even more strength to the foundation of My Boo‘s premise.

Rather than relying simply on the “star-crossed lovers” idea that a ghost and a human falling in love would provide to a story, My Boo covers so much more, offering up something incredibly satisfying.

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Although the English release is only 11-episodes in, very quickly you’ll find yourself asking questions.  As the lead characters give us tidbit by tidbit, following a well-paced plot progression that gives us just enough to feel satiated.

The harrowing realities of death and acceptance that Yuri’s ability forces on her, even as a young child, in conjunction with the tragic truths behind Jun’s untimely death–all of this leaves SO many questions in the air, bringing wonderful suspense and reality to the development of the tale in My Boo.

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Not to mention that the artwork and styling of My Boo is beyond gorgeous.  It successfully conveys a story of love, loss, romance, and horror, which is an insane feat to accomplish.  I couldn’t find much about the author, Yeongseo, but dude–they know what’s up.  Illustratively as well as writing-wise–My Boo has is all going on.

If you’re interested in letting My Boo‘s hooks get into you, you can check it out on Webtoon, where it’s updated every Thursday and Sunday.  It’s basically the most perfect Halloween-esque romance ever.  READ IT, I SAY.

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