Semantic Error

Ch: 89+
2020 - ?
4.33 out of 5 from 1,715 votes
Rank #242
Semantic Error

Sangwoo Choo is a stickler for rules. So when his classmates free-ride on a group project, he doesn't credit them. But this prevents one senior, Jaeyoung Jang, from graduating. And like oil and water, Sangwoo and Jaeyoung don't mix. Can Sangwoo debug Jaeyoung — a semantic error in his perfect life?

Source: Manta Comics

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As of writing this review I'm at Chapter 50 of this manwha. I inhaled all the released chapters in basically one sitting because it's that entertaining. What makes this worth reading, for me, is the art which is absolutely beautifully done as well as the characters.  Jaeyoung particularly is the type of character I never get sick of reading about. He's popular, outwardly confident, an attention-seeker, but ultimately seems to be a good person. He kind of has the 'asshole with a heart of gold' thing going on. Then there's Sangwoo who is shy, socially awkward, and lacks basic social skills. He's funny in that way that only someone completely oblivious to the situation manages to be.  So far we only have hints about why Sangwoo is the way he is, but along with their developing relationship itself, figuring that out is one of the things keeping me reading.  As for the plot of their romance, it's nothing necessarily groundbreaking. If you're a fan of the enemies to lovers trope (more like slight dislike and annoyed at each other to lovers would be more accurate of a description) this is definitely worth the read! Jaeyoung, deciding that he's had enough of Sangwoo forgetting his name and what he looks like (when everyone else remembers him) makes it his mission to make sure Sangwoo remembers him. This starts by going out of his way to aggravate Sangwoo but eventually turns into trying to win him over. Sangwoo, in turn, finds Jaeyoung insufferable and unpredictable but, unknowingly to even himself, grows to find Jaeyoung's presence comforting.  Because the two leads are so drastically different in terms of personality, social skills, and life experiences there is a bit of miscommunication along the way, and while I personally don't mind miscommunication as a plot device and think it makes sense for these characters in particular, I know some people find that trope to be a cheap way to prolong drama in romance stories, so keep in mind it does happen here and there between these characters. The root of the problem is Sangwoo seems to not even understand his own feelings and that plus his socially awkward nature lends him an inability to express them properly. It is really a story about about two very different people learning not only understand each other but to appreciate the other person for who they are. That said, I wish there was a bit more effort from Sangwoo in trying to understand Jaeyoung because at times that part of the story feels a tad one-sided. But given Sangwoo's background being something that's breadcrumbed I can be somewhat forgiving of that fact and am hopeful that that will be addressed in future chapters. My main issue with the story is that Jaeyoung does cross the line of Sangwoo's boundaries a few times. This includes boundaries of both of his personal space and of his privacy. Sangwoo wears a hat constantly and when Jaeyoung steals it—jokingly, and because he wants to get a better look at Sangwoo's face—his reaction makes it very clear that this was not okay. Jaeyoung sort-of-but-not-really apologizes (he essentially just says, "I didn't know you'd react like that," and moves on) and then does it again later on. There is one chapter in particular that has a trigger warning for sexual assault that happens while Sangwoo is drunk, and then a following chapter where Jaeyoung continues to try to convince (really it feels like coerce) Sangwoo into doing sexual things with him even after being told no repeatedly. (Note: If you have to 'convince' someone to be sexual with you, that is not consent. Do not think otherwise.) After everything, Jaeyoung doesn't even actually fully apologize nor seem to understand the gravity of his actions. To be honest, it was rather uncomfortable to read. While there are stories where perhaps that kind of thing makes sense to include narratively—though, in my opinion not as gratuitously as they're included even in those cases—I don't consider this story to fall into that category. The misunderstanding that happens as a result of this encounter could have still happened with Sangwoo just saying no and Jaeyoung not pushing him but feeling rejected and trying to make sense of where the rejection was coming from. We know Jaeyoung has boundary issues but, to me, this felt beyond the 'he's a slight asshole' boundary crossing of stealing a guy's hat off his head or patting his head without permission.  Taking into consideration that after Sangwoo clearly stated his boundary of not liking to be touched without warning, Jaeyoung did seem to be making an effort to respect this, it makes even less sense from a character development standpoint.  From a narrative standpoint, it completely goes against the developing understanding between the two of them. And yet it is then used to further that exact understanding the next time they see each other. At this point, Jaeyoung swears to not touch Sangwoo without his permission and says he won't touch him at all, in fact, unless Sangwoo initiates it. To me, this is an attempt to show that Jaeyoung finally understands Sangwoo's boundaries. It fails for a couple reasons. First, because he'd seemed to be learning said boundaries anyway before this encounter and if anything the encounter resets that progress. Second, the boundary of what sexual interaction is okay between them could easily have been learned without Jaeyoung crossing it in the first place. Finally, Jaeyoung only makes this promise at all after going on to cross another boundary by looking at Sangwoo's computer after being told not to. It's implied he's only been told not to because of the folder of images Sangwoo has saved of Jaeyoung to his desktop from instagram, which feels a bit like the story saying 'Sure, he's crossed some boundaries, but wasn't it actually good that he did that? It's not a big deal, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯'   I feel bad making half my review about basically two chapters and change worth of content, however, I really don't think that sort of thing should be ignored. To me, I like the rest of the story enough and understand that content such as that is a trope of m/m manwha to an extent—so while I want to solely blame this one story and its creator for this oversight, and I am taking points off the story, I think I really have to blame the genre as a whole—that I'm willing to keep reading. For my own personal enjoyment, I'll probably pretend like that interaction happened in a more palatable way or not at all, because I do like the rest of the story so much. However, whether or not you're able to do that when reading this is something important to consider when deciding whether or not to give this story a chance.

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