Biggest Bullshit Moments in Snow Drop, Part 2

Unfortunately, Snow Drop doesn’t end with So-Na getting away from her horrible father. Instead, the story only goes downhill from there, bringing us bigger and bigger moments of utter shit. Watch out, it only gets worse.

Volume 7: Easily Forgiven, and True Love

Watch out, this one’s a two-parter. Volume 7 is a tribute to bad decisions. Hae-Gi and So-Na return to her home, so Hae-Gi can ask her father for permission to date her. So much for that independence she was trying to achieve. Dear old Dad finally reveals why he’s so against their relationship: Hae-Gi’s brother, Gae-Ri, was the one who kidnapped So-Na years before. In retaliation, So-Na’s father had Gae-Ri and his accomplices killed.

You’d think that would be enough to break up Hae-Gi and So-Na, or at the very least, make them re-think the relationship. While So-Na does show some hesitation about moving forward, about five minutes later Hae-Gi says that he doesn’t care what happened between their families, just that he loves So-Na. I love my boyfriend, too, but if his parents killed my sister, I don’t think we’d continue seeing each other.

It doesn’t matter, though, because So-Na and Hae-Gi run away together. I used to think that was romantic and brave, but now I think it’s really dumb. So-Na clearly has a death wish, as she keeps saying that as long as she and Hae-Gi can die together, she’ll be happy. What?

But even more than that, what bothers me is this “one true love” nonsense. Remember, Hae-Gi and So-Na are seventeen. They’re in high school. Think back to the people you dated in high school. I became enamored with the first guy I ever dated when I discovered that he was a Lord of the Rings fan, just like me. Or the second person I dated in high school, who I was first interested in because he was an anime fan. Because clearly liking the same thing means that you’ll be together forever. The idea that you’ll find the person you’re meant to be with forever in high school, to me, is a load of crap.The first person you date is most likely not going to be the person you’re going to marry, and they’re definitely not going to be worth dying over.

Volume 8: So-Na Dates Hwi-Rim

Or, put another way, So-Na willingly dates the man who tried to rape her

There are so many problems with this. I’m not even sure where to start.

Rape in fiction is a quandary, and we could argue all day about using it as a plot device, as a way to show character, and whether or not it’s okay to use. It may make me uncomfortable, and I may not like to see rape used in fiction, but does that mean it should never be used? I believe – and this is just my own opinion – that if rape (or in this case, attempted rape) is used in a story, it has to be necessary; it can’t just be for shits’n’giggles. That is, it should propel the story forward, reveal something new about the characters involved, and not trivialize the victim’s experience.

So-Na’s kidnapping traumatized her for years, and left her reclusive and depressed, and she admits to being suicidal before the series began. Sure, it’s not the happiest backstory, but her reaction to it, I think, is normal and expected of someone who’s been through that. However, Hwi-Rim’s attempted rape doesn’t have that same effect on her. Even if it So-Na didn’t suffer long term effects from it (which she didn’t), I don’t think she would want to be anywhere near Hwi-Rim, let alone dating him. This is what I mean about trivializing the victim. The attempted rape is all but forgotten, and the only hang-ups she has about dating Hwi-Rim is that he’s not Hae-Gi. And the reason Hwi-Rim tried to rape So-Na in the first place was because he loved her.

For some context, Hae-Gi and his family were exiled to America, and So-Na wants to date someone to forget about him. She chooses Hwi-Rim because…well, I don’t know. If she wanted to date someone, she could have gone out with, say the class president who asked her out, and by the way, hasn’t tried to fucking rape her. 

I think the lessons Snow Drop is telling us is that:

1. Rape is an expression of love.

2. Attempted rape has no lasting traumatic effects on the victim.

3. A romantic relationship with your would-be rapist is okay and probably healing.

I just…if I had a week, I couldn’t tell list all the reasons that explain how fucked up that all is.

Volume 9: So-Na Has No Identity Outside of Hae-Gi

This book is much more mild than the last few, but there’s still one thing in it that really bothers me. So-Na is now going to a different school and has made friends with the “delinquent” girls. This is supposed to show us how depressed and self-destructive So-Na’s become since Hae-Gi was exiled, but I think it misses its mark. It doesn’t make me pity So-Na; in fact, I think it makes me dislike her a lot. I think this is just my own mentality, though. Maybe this hit harder for other readers, but I’ve always been the girl going, “I don’t need no man!” I hate when a girl loses her lover, and falls to pieces. Part of that is because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the reverse – a man losing his lover as well as the will to live – but I hate how tied in So-Na’s mental health is to Hae-Gi. When she’s strong, it’s because she has Hae-Gi’s support. When she’s weak, it’s because he’s gone. Her dependency on him for her own happiness and well-being is cringe-worthy at best, and falls into “Bella jumps off cliff to see her ex-boyfriend” territory at worst. This is exactly why I said I didn’t want this series falling into unsuspecting hands. It’s not romantic, it’s not tragic; it’s a teenage girl making bad choices because she’s going through a break up. So-Na, just get a dramatic haircut or something and move on with your life, like a normal eighteen-year-old.

Oh well. At least no one was sexually assaulted in this volume.

Moment of Redemption: Hae-Gi and So-Na’s Reunion

At this point, Hae-Gi and So-Na have not seen each other in at least a year. So-Na travels to America with Hwi-Rim just so she can see him. Literally, just to look at him. Because she swore that she would never see Hae-Gi again, So-Na has no plans to interact with him. When she does get a glimpse at him, though, she’s so overwhelmed she has to run away. Hae-Gi spots her and chases after her, and the couple finally meets again. It’s sad and romantic, and I love the artwork in this scene.

Volume 10: Ha-Da Rapes Ko-Mo

It’s not graphic, but I still don’t want to put a picture up. Please enjoy this royalty-free picture of inter-species friendship instead.

I’ll try to make this quick, because I’m not sure how much more I can stomach. Ha-Da accidentally gets Ko-Mo high as balls (it’s a long story), and has sex with him. That’s bad enough, especially considering that Ko-Mo has spent most of the series trying to get Ha-Da to leave him alone. But, because Ha-Da is a “hero” in the story and we’re supposed to be cheering for him, Ha-Da having sex with a drugged up Ko-Mo can’t be seen as a villainous thing. We’re supposed to like this guy, after all. Instead of Ko-Mo being horribly scarred or attempting to kill Ha-Da (which he’s done), he falls in love. Ko-Mo falls in love with his rapist.

You here that, fellas? If they keep saying “no”, what they need from you is a good dicking.

Fuck. That.

This is even more troubling to me that So-Na dating Hwi-Rim. Hwi-Rim’s attempted rape of So-Na was portrayed as monstrous and violent, but Ha-Da’s rape of Ko-Mo was portrayed as romantic. All Ko-Mo needed to finally say yes to Ha-Da was a shitton of drugs.

This might be the worst thing I’ve ever read. And I once read a graphic fanfiction about Princess Leia and Optimus Prime.

Volume 11: Snow Drop Just Keeps Going

At least Romeo and Juliet stayed dead.

Snow Drop‘s tagline advertises the manhwa as “a Romeo & Juliet style romance”. I’d say that’s accurate, as both works feature feuding families and teenagers making stupid decisions. It really looked So-Na and Hae-Gi were going to go the same way as the original star-crossed couple, when they are shot and stabbed by their own family members. As they lay dying in the hospital, So-Na sees her mother and Hae-Gi in the afterlife. They are amazingly happy, but decide that they want to live together. They don’t die, their families forgive each other, and even Ko-Mo returns his feelings for Ha-Da. It’s a happy ending for everyone!

Except it doesn’t end there. The second half of the book looks like it belongs in a completely different series. The big conflict is that Hae-Gi wants to marry So-Na, but she thinks they’re too young. Finally, she says something sensible. Had I been the creator, I would have either killed them off, and let the second half of this book be about their families, or I would have ended it with Hae-Gi’s and So-Na’s happy ending.

Volume 12: Choi Kyuang-ah Just Gives Up


Choi Kyuang-ah is the creator of Snow Drop, by the way.

I’ve got nothing against happy endings. I think real life needs more happy endings. Even after such a dramatic series where everything is doom and gloom, it’s nice to see So-Na and Hae-Gi succeed, and eventually get married, with their parents approval. In fact, one of my favorite moments comes at their wedding, with So-Na’s father and Hae-Gi’s mother respectfully bowing to one another. But it just drags on and on after that. In fact, most of the book doesn’t even focus on Hae-Gi and So-Na. A good portion of it is dedicated to Hwi-Rim finding love (with a high school student…), and glamour shots of Hae-Gi and So-Na kissing and declaring how much they love each other. The only thing resembling a plot towards the end is So-Na being upset that she likely won’t be able to have children. Flash forward, and we see her, Hae-Gi, and their new baby.

Everyone getting what they want and living happily ever after isn’t a bad ending, but there are two things that bother me about it. First of all, a lot of this really feels inflated and unnecessary. It makes me wonder if Kyuang-ah actually intended for the series to end this way, or if there was some sort of contract stipulation that said “you need to create X number of chapters”. In one of the bonus comics illustrating her life, she even says that the ending was originally going to be much darker. I have to wonder if she gave us the light and fluffy ending because she wanted to, or if it was a case of editorial meddling.

The other thing that bugs me about the ending is that it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the series. Snow Drop is convoluted, violent, and over-the-top dramatic. This ending is so happy, and comes to the characters so easily, makes it feel like it was ripped from a completely different manga. It’s just…too happy, and too neat.

Final Final Verdict:

If you haven’t lost your lunch yet, I’ll be back on soon with The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis.

Snow Drop Chap. 1: Meet the (Awful) Cast

I’ve decided that it was only fair to go back to manga for a bit, just because I have an absolutely absurd amount of it. I’m certain that I need to get rid of almost all of it. Even if I don’t intend to keep it all, it’s worth one last read-through. A final goodbye, if you will. I won’t subject you to any more Rave Master for the time being, so we’ll take a sharp turn to Snow Drop, by Choi Kyuang-ah. This is a series I started reading when I was fourteen, and religiously bought every book until the series ended, probably when I was sixteen. And for the purists out there, Snow Drop is technically manwha, as it’s a Korean comic. And it couldn’t be any more different than Rave Master.

Snow Drop is a dark, dramatic teen romance about a couple that no one thinks should be together. I’d read a few manga like this in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one as misguided as Snow Drop.

I almost immediately regretted my decision to re-read this book as soon as I opened it. There are so many problems with the series, and you’d think that would be pretty easy material to make fun of. It has an astounding number of things in it that don’t make any sense, like the belief that who you date in high school is who you’ll end up marrying and having kids with. There’s also several things that are pretty offensive but passed off as “true love”…like the female lead dating the guy who tried to rape her earlier in the series.

Holy hell, how did I manage to stomach any of this?

Unfortunately for the blog (or maybe fortunately), none of this happens in the first volume. This is our introduction to our main characters: So-Na, Ha-Da, and Hae-Gi. And I don’t like any of them. I know I should, but I don’t.

So-Na is our female lead,  a rich seventeen-year-old girl whose passion is her flower nursery, named Snow Drop. She’s almost always accompanied by her obnoxious friend Ha-Da, another rich teenager and self-proclaimed Casanova. The manga kicks off with Ha-Da complaining that he and So-Na have been enrolled in high school, as neither of them have been in school for several years. So-Na’s father basically blackmailed her into returning to school by smashing the windows of the greenhouse, and refusing to stop until she agreed to go back. It’s pretty telling for a character that doesn’t even appear in this volume.

My questions already begin to flare up when the two are introduced to their class for the first time. If Ha-Da and So-Na are part of such wealthy and influential families, why aren’t they sent to an expensive private school? One small change would have helped us avoid a lot of needless stupidity in the series.

I also want to point out that I hate the “new kid stands in front of class and introduces her/himself” cliche. This is mainly because never once, in my life, have I ever seen a teacher call a student to the front of the class to introduce them. Especially not in high school. Has anyone else actually seen this happen? Right now, I’m pretty convinced that this exists only in fiction.

This being a romance manga, So-Na’s seat in class ends up being right next to Hae-Gi’s, the most popular boy in school. I would like to make a couple complaints about this.

This is what the cover promises:

This is what we get:

Okay, he’s cute, but that is not the same person. And that beautiful blue-haired man was the reason I became interested in the series in the first place. Though thinking about it now, I actually didn’t fangirl over any of the characters in this series. Maybe I was over squeeing over fictional characters by that point, or maybe it was because they were all in relationships and therefore untouchable. Really, though, I think it’s because all the characters are dicks.

Looking through the series now, I searched for a character that I really liked, without reservation. I found one: So-Na’s body guard, and I don’t think he even has a name.

Even if the cast is full of jerks, though, there must have been something about it that I liked enough to buy twelve volumes of this crap, so let’s read on.

The other thing that bugs me about Hae-Gi’s introduction is that he’s called the most popular boy in school. Maybe this is a translation error, because Hae-Gi has zero friends. By definition, you have to have friends to be popular. He’s good looking, and a model, so I would accept that he’s the coolest kid in school, but definitely not the most popular. One of the nameless students (read: someone who’s not beautiful) even says that he’s standoffish and uptight about his name.

Ha-Da hates Hae-Gi immediately, for no adequately explored reason, and asks So-Na to figure out what Hae-Gi’s sore spot is. As luck would have it, So-Na is actually able to do this. Hae-Gi is short for Hae-Ba-Ra-Gi, or “sunflower”. His brothers, likewise, have flowery names. Those names (along with So-Na’s, short for So-Na-Moo, or “pine tree”) came from a book So-Na’s mother wrote, which is also entitled Snow Drop.

If you’re asking where So-Na’s mother is, by the way, she’s dead. Like all romantic heroine’s mothers.

So-Na, it turns out, also doesn’t like Hae-Gi because he’s not interested in floral language, after she tries to sell him some flowers.

While making his big, obnoxious introduction, Ha-Da invites all the kids in his new class for a party at a nightclub, Romeo, which he happens to own. And proceeds to insult the students that might not be able to go.

So-Na comes up with a game to ensure that everyone goes to the club, and I want to say right now that she’s surprisingly manipulative. You’d think that a girl who spent the last five years with just one friend would be a little more…obtuse when it comes to that sort of thing.

The game is this: you have to find your seatmate’s most precious item and take it from them for the day. The students will exchange everything back at Romeo, but if you don’t show up, then you don’t get your item back. Of course, So-Na ends up picking Hae-Gi’s most precious item, which turns out to be a marble with a feather in it. So-Na, though, doesn’t play by the rules of her own game, until Ha-Da rats her out.

You know, I sort of like Ha-Da better for doing that. I can handle annoying side-kicks; it’s the manipulative main character I’m having a hard time getting past.

Thanks to So-Na’s game, the entire class winds up at Romeo, and So-Na refuses to switch back the marble for her key until the designated swap time at 8 pm, even though Hae-Gi wants to get his marble back as soon as he can. Which is weird, because she really did not want Hae-Gi to get her key in the first place. You’d think she’d be in a hurry to get it back and not linger around Hae-Gi, especially because she doesn’t like him all that much.

As she’s playing with the marble she drops it and ends up losing it in the one place she can’t get it back. I think I’m supposed to worry about So-Na not getting her key back, but I don’t. I don’t like So-Na, and she could have avoided this stupidity had she just exchanged items when Hae-Gi wanted. Maybe if she was more likable I might actually care what happens to her.

God, this is stupid. Why did I choose to read this series again?

The Supernaturalist, Chap. 4: Cringe-Worthy Cosmo

I love the beginning of this chapter. After a long night of blasting Parasites, the heroes return to their warehouse base to eat and rest for their next escapade. And Cosmo does something that we’ve all done before: 

‘I thought we did okay tonight,’ he said. ‘No one got hurt, and we blasted a hundred of those creatures.’

Cosmo, it’s your first night out. How do you even know what a good night is for them?

Stefan threw down his army-issue spoon. ‘And tomorrow there’ll be two hundred to take their place.’

Cosmo finished his food in silence, chewing slowly. “You know what I think?”

Stefan leaned back in his chair, arms crossed.  ‘No, Cosmo–what do you think?’

Cosmo, no. Cosmo, stop.

‘I think that if we could find out where they lived, then we could do some real damage.’

Stefan laughed sharply, rubbing his face with both hands. ‘For nearly three years I’ve been doing this, and I never thought of that. Wow, you must be some kind of genius, Cosmo. Find out where they live. Amazing.’

There you go, gentle readers. Your daily cringe. Something like this has happened to me more times than I can count. I think it’s most likely to happen when you’re the new guy, but even moreso when you’re the new guy who doesn’t want to be the new guy. You give a suggestion to prove that you’re competent, and it’s immediately rejected. It’s even worse when they make you feel like an idiot.

This chapter is also the first without a lot of action in it. No rooftop falls, no sick teenagers, no Parasite blasting. I’m not complaining, though. The book’s moved at a breakneck pace so far, and now the characters – and the reader – get a breather.

That doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. Along with seeing what Satellite City looks like during the daytime, we also learn more about Mona. It’s been all but outright stated that she was in a gang, and it’s confirmed when she and Cosmo go to her home turf of “Booshka”, named after the slang term for car theft.

I think it’s a little funny how audiences respond to scoundrels. I’ve always liked roguish characters. I’ve written plenty of stories (of varying quality) with a criminal as the star, and like to play the less than law abiding characters in roleplaying games. We cheered when the crew of Serenity stole medical supplies from a hospital in Firefly, but look at it from a different perspective: a bunch of freelancers, with a history of breaking the law, robbed a hospital. Whatever the context, however quickly the hospital could be resupplied, if someone robbed a hospital in real life, we would not be so forgiving.

That’s just one of the things I love about fiction. People we would hate in real life become the ones we cheer for in books and movies.

I bring this up because real life gangs are violent and frightening, and Mona’s old gang, The Sweethearts, seems more along the lines of West Side Story than Sons of Anarchy. They’re not about smuggling drugs or guns, they’re about illegal drag racing.

Now that I’m (in theory) a grown-up with a better understanding of the world, I’d say that’s not so bad. Much better than drug smuggling, at any rate. Reading this now, it seems pretty light, but this book was also written for teenagers. You can argue all day about what is and isn’t appropriate for kids to be exposed to, but I’m glad that it didn’t get much darker than this when it came to the gangs. They play a relatively small role in the overall novel, and a more realistic version may very well have scared the shit out of me.

Even so, I enjoyed Mona’s description of the other gangs in the area.

‘Those are the Irish I’s. They specialize in truckjacking from the docks across the bridge. [. . .] Those tall guys are the Zools. Body guards mostly, they all learn some kind of African martial arts. One of those guys throws something sharp at you, and it’s all over.  [. . .] Those men with the piercings are the Bulldogs. They can strip a bike down in seconds. You turn away to tie your bootlace, and when you come back, your bike is just a skeleton.’

I like the variety, but these descriptions, and other small details in the narrative, really flesh out Satellite City.

When she was a Sweetheart, Mona was the gang’s mechanic. The girl mechanic trope isn’t exactly an original concept at this point, but it’s one I’ve always liked. I like being handy when I can, and it’s good to know what to do when your toilet breaks and you can’t call your dad for help. That said, I rarely figure out things like that without guidance, and at this point I’m much more likely to pay someone to fix things for me than do it myself. Maybe the reason I like this archetype so much is because it’s what I’m not. Hell, maybe that’s the reason I like criminal characters, too.

I keep looking for more of Cosmo’s character to stand out, and it’s finally starting to. At least, his timidity is showing. As he and Mona walk through Booshka to get parts for the Supernaturalists’ vehicle, he shrinks, stares at the ground, trying to make himself small and invisible. Mona, on the other hand, tells him that he needs to walk tall, or the gangs will eat him alive.

C’mon, Cosmo, I know you can do better than that.