Manga Analysis: Juujika no Rokonin is Trash

All opinions are mine and my opinions are trash, just like the plot of Juujuka no Rokonin.

Juujika No Rokonin is something I regret reading not for the usual moral reasons, but because it’s giving out-of-control train about to crash energy. Alas, like a dog returns to its vomit, so one idiot (aka me) continues reading the equivalent of vomit they’ve already become too invested in.

*Spoilers*

Summary: Trash

Juujika follows my homeboy Uruma on his quest to get vengeance against the bullies that made his life terrible and killed his parents. The plot is essentially Uruma violently murdering all the bullies until he gets to the final boss, Kyou Shigoku. It’s like Saw or Hostel except those being offed deserve what’s coming for them (I guess?) and it had a semi-interesting albeit typical premise. Anyway, the massive amounts of violence and unnecessary edginess is obviously why I was drawn to it (no cap, saw a random panel from the manga on Instagram and immediately started reading it), plus who doesn’t like a good revenge tale?

Anyway, child Uruma is tortured by Kyou and his goons. Since bullying someone to suicide isn’t enough, anti-Christ jr. one day Kyou decides to kamikaze one of his goons by tossing him in front of a car, causing Uruma’s parents and younger brother to get into a car accident and die. Except no, they don’t die. So Kyou lights the car on fire, which seals the deal and consequently torches the younger brother, Kakeru, putting him in an indefinite coma. Mind you, no one is arrested for this, nothing appears to be investigated, nothing happens in regards to what is incredibly extreme bullying either. But let’s be honest, no one is reading this because it’s super realistic and reflective of real life.

Flash forward, Uruma has gone Super Saiyan and is with the only well-written character in this manga, Gramps, who is a straight thug. The two of them decide to get revenge on the bullies and Uruma begins Act I: systematically kidnapping and killing all of his childhood bullies and erasing all the evidence of his crimes. We get a brief “they had me in the first half, ngl” moment with the first “victim” Madoka, who seems apologetic for his past treatment of Uruma only to be faking it. From there on, Uruma snatched Kyou’s goons and slowly tortures them to RIP with the help of Gramps. There are random side characters, but they’re mostly annoying and could be removed from the story without changing anything.

Garbage Plot, Garbage Characters

The plot was always lowkey trash, with poorly written (female) characters, but the first two villains (Madoka and Ushiro) briefly displayed some tepid shades of complexity, which made me think perhaps the next few bullies would be better fleshed out. At this point, I’m beating a dead horse because again I didn’t start reading it for the plot or for character development, but because I wanted to see Uruma kill the bullies. That said, it’s entirely possible to create edgelord trash that pushes boundaries and have well-written characters (like The Boys).

Alas! The remaining villains are variations of Ushiro with somehow less depth than him. The kicker though is once they all die, the plot repeats itself with older, adult goons who are part of the Cult of Kyou and are all willing to die for a child.

The introduction of these adult, cult goons preceded the deterioration of the plot into something boring, repetitive, and somehow even more poorly written than the earlier chapters. The manga should’ve ended long ago with Uruma taking down the last bully, and then Kyou. But even if the author didn’t want to do something so cliché, there are a myriad of ways they could’ve ended the story on a semi-fulfilling note. Instead, the reader is tossed several years into the future, after both Gramps and Kakeru were killed at the hands of Kyou, and Uruma seems to not even remember who he is.

On that note, the villains are all horribly written, but especially Kyou – why are all these people following him? That’s never elaborated upon or even shown beyond a few, sparse scenes here and there. Nothing about him is particularly charismatic or attractive, and Kyou even admits he’s evil for the sake of being evilz. Again it’s perfectly possible to write chaotic evil characters decently (see: the Joker, Ramsey, Johan Leibert, Mado, probably Misa), so it really seems like the author put forth no effort in developing any of the characters.

Juujika No Ronukin is ongoing and normally I’d wait until a manga ends to review it, but I stopped reading not long after that one manager creep was introduced as I can tell the story is going to devolve into a series of introducing random characters and killing them off until Uruma reboots or whatever, and remembers his true goal.

Juujuka No Ronukin Rating: Gramps Cutting His Own Leg Off/10

Webtoon Analysis: True Beauty, A True Disappointment

Spoilers ahoy!

True Beauty by Yaongi is a romantic comedy following the life of Jugyeong Lim, a relatable, young student who’s physical appearance is… well average. Jugyeong is no model, but she’s a cute lady who knows how to work the brush. Make-up brush that is. Her face painting skills allow her to ascend to the upper echelons of society, garnering her friends and male attention she previously lacked.

However, none of her friends know what she looks like without make-up, leaving her insecure and using make-up as a mask to hide her “ugliness”. Jugyeong is always on guard, afraid her carefully curated world as the hot girl summer will crumble once others discover what she looks like beneath the mask.

Then, a wild Suho appears!

A wild Suho!

Suho is conventionally attractive, smart, and sort of rude initially. A lover of horror and comics, he runs into a bare-faced Jugyeong at the comic store and the two eventually bond over their shared love of all things creepy. An interest that soon blossoms into love as Suho is drawn to her “true beauty”: the Jugyeong who’s awkward, likes horror, comics, and late night talks on benches while eating snacks in sweats. A Suho who encourages Jugyeong to be better, to study hard, and pursue her dreams. The feelings are mutual too.

True Beauty was sort of cheesy and not typically the sort of thing I enjoy reading, but it was light-hearted and had a semi-positive message: ladies, find a guy who likes the true you. A guy who shares your weird hobbies, isn’t put-off when you’re just chilling in sweats, and who pushes you to be better. But most importantly, a guy you’re entirely comfortable being yourself around.

Alas, all good things must be ruined by love triangles… and poor writing.

The story introduces Seonjun, who initially is very much your average bad boy type character, clad in jewelry and all.

A wild Seonjun!

He’s sort of a jerk to Jugyeong at first (or his friends are – birds of a feather, if you will) and Jugyeong is terrified of showing him her face. Unlike Suho, Jugyeong doesn’t really have much in common with Seojun. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Jugyeong finds herself interested in him aided by the fact that right as her relationship with Suho was blooming, the author put him on a boat and ships him away. Literally. Suho disappears from the story entirely for vague reasons and then the reader gets what feels like a very lengthy filler episode, depicting Jugyeong’s relationship with Seojun. Suho eventually reappears, but is basically reduced to wangsting over Jugyeong.

Seojun’s introduction essentially marked the end of what little character development Jugyeong was experiencing and what little individuality she possessed too.

Episodes later, Jugyeong never develops beyond that insecure, young lady wearing a mask because she’s terrified of her natural appearance, and her relationship with Seojun seemingly makes her regress into an even more insecure individual, obsessed with looks. And while she quickly grew comfortable around Suho bare-faced, it took her some 90 episodes before accidentally showing Seojun her face. Fortunately, he’s fine with it but still. It’s a terrible way to start a relationship and an unhealthy message to young girls.

Rather than coming to understand what true beauty means, Jugyeong seems to have become a stereotypical “pretty girl”, vain and obsessed with her appearance. And whereas at least her relationship with Suho showed Jugyeong she didn’t need to be all dolled up to obtain meaningful relationships with others, her relationship with Seojun just sort of exists as a plot device to drag the story along endlessly, with no clear ending in sight.

While True Beauty’s not over (and it’s been made into a drama apparently), it should’ve ended long ago. Yaongi seems to have either lost the plot, or is dragging the story on because it’s successful (which get the bag, but personally I do appreciate authors like Carnby Kim who create very tight, well-paced plots without filler (to be fair – those are two different genres, but even compared to “Odd Girl Out”, another ongoing manwha centered around a young woman going through life, True Beauty is lacking as the Main character Nari develops tremendously throughout the story, whereas Jugyeong does not)).

In Yaongi’s defense, the Korean title seems to be “A Goddess Descends” or “The Secret Angel”, so it’s entirely possible English translators set unfair expectations for readers by naming it “True Beauty”. Even still, it lacks character development, the male leads are static, and the story’s initial, more interesting premise about a young girl learning about the meaning of true beauty seems to have ditched in favor of a more stereotypical, love-triangle-ish story about a young women obsessed with looking pretty for the sake of others.

True Beauty Rating: 6.5/10

Manga Reviews: Starving Anonymous Is Weird

*Major Spoilers*

Starving Anonymous introduces us to Ie, arguably one of the most useless protagonists I’ve ever come across. He wants to be an artist and has a photographic memory, making him 5% useful. On a bus with his ride or die Kazu, they’re both drugged and wake up in a facility called “the Cradle” full of nude people being fattened for the slaughter. Literally. Humans are being bred and fed to giant, insect-like creatures for unknown reasons.

Never fear – plot armor keeps Ie alive long enough to be saved several times by Natsune, a six year old grown man who can regenerate his body parts and wants to kill all 1000000+ insects singlehandedly, and Yamabuki, a bisexual genius who gets turned on by people being eaten by those… insects.

What follows is loads of gore as Ie and the squad unsuccessfully attempt to escape the Cradle amidst a slew of corruption and human evil. Of course we have a classic mad scientist experimenting on humans for the evulz who exists solely to add more misery to an already miserable tale, but a good chunk of the bad guys attempt to justify what they’re doing by saying it’s for the good of humanity… which it sort of was.

Pictured: classic mad scientist who is significantly more evil than any other villain for no reason

Anyway, all escape attempts are futile. Ie gets captured, rescued by plot armor Natsune, and eventually things take a turn from the worst after the HBIC of insects manages to free them all and eradicate 40% of humanity in the process. Also Trump makes an appearance, which I found hilarious.

Natsune and Yamabuki (who can give birth to baby Natsunes by eating his flesh?????) hatch a wild plan to give birth to a bunch of… baby Natsunes and feed them to the insects, dooming Natsune to a life of eternal regeneration and pain as he’s eaten alive but effectively sealing all the creatures inside the Cradle because they have an endless supply of… food… It’s incredibly hard to explain what happens, which is why I won’t really bother.

The plan works. The creatures all return to the Cradle once their eternal meal ticket arrives, Yamabuki gives birth until he dies (??) High-key bizarre but at this point I was far too invested in this foolishness to quit.

Ie, who has been useless up to this point, remains in character and leaves Natsune to his fate as forever replicating human meat. The Cradle is eventually destroyed by the government and humanity slowly recovers from the alien insect apocalypse.

Time skip!

3 years later, Ie returns to the Cradle’s ruins still guilt-ridden over how utterly useless he was over leaving Natsune and starts digging up the ground I assume in an attempt to dig his friend out (who definitely couldn’t have liked died of oxygen deprivation or something). He fails, faints, chats with a talking lizard, and has a dream in which Natsune and Yamabuki are alive and well; they explain some weird pseudoscience that eventually Natsune’s ever regenerating body got some disease, which became deadly to the alien insects and killed them all, which was the plan all along. Ie is happy and invites them home, but it’s very clear they’re both dead and he’s hallucinating.

Ie wakes up and his homeboy, Kazu, is like “where were you, bro, I was worried but I knew you’d be here.” The story ends full circle, more or less, with the bus having just arrived. Hopefully, they won’t be going back to another fake nuclear facility full of human eating insects (though apparently there is a sequel…).

Starving Anonymous dances with some interesting themes, the main being is it okay to sacrifice some for the sake of many? Shockingly, the government isn’t completely useless and evil as is typical in fiction and real life, but instead are attempting to appease these alien insectoids insatiable appetites in exchange for preventing global warming and presumably the destruction of humanity. Alien critters whose own greed and bottomless appetites ironically destroyed their own world after they consumed everything on it.

The story is full of several twists, but unfortunately falls prey to “edgy for the sake of being edgy” of which as I read, I was like “Yes, these creatures l o v e ripping people limb from limb and tossing their guts and heads across the floor, much to the shock of the MC who does nothing but gawk. Can we move on to the actual plot now?” Like 20 chapters probably could’ve been cut from this with no real loss given that the plot seemed to lose itself about halfway through.

Furthermore, much of the world building was done via flashbacks, the characters were semi-fleshed out but could’ve all been more interesting. There appeared to be a slight attempt at some sort of commentary on capitalism and the exploitation of a few for the benefit of many, as well as the perils of greed and climate change, but the execution of these ideas ultimately got loss in a festoon of guts, blood, and assault.

Nevertheless, the story ends on a sweetly bitter note that’s oddly satisfactory and if you’re a depraved soul like myself, you’ll probably be entertained.

Starving Anonymous Rating: 7/10.