Webtoon Review: Dokebi Café

Today’s webtoon review is on a comic called Dokebi Café, published by NETCOMICS (a webtoon/digital comics platform and publisher of Korean and Japanese comics based in South Korea and the U.S).

I was hesitant to read this webtoon because, I confess, I was judging it by its cover. Not to say that the cover was a bad one, it’s just that the style of the cover art gave me the impression that it was a manhwa instead of a webtoon. Although manhwa and webtoons are almost the same thing (minus the fact that one is printed media and the other digital media), there is still usually a difference stylistically and technically, so I like to keep to webtoons only on the blog here. It is likely that Dokebi Café was a manhwa originally based on the format I saw. If you look on their site, NETCOMICS had also published a “webtoon edition” of a manhwa called 100% Perfect Girl. That manhwa had been colored and edited for “mobile view,” essentially made into a webtoon. When I started reading Dokebi Café, I immediately saw that it was colored and had possibly been edited to utilize a general use of the vertical panel layout found in webtoons. So even if this comic had originally been a manhwa, it had been changed into a webtoon. Not to mention it still continues to be published online by NETCOMICS weekly like all webtoons. So, I will count it as one. (Additionally, the comic is categorized under the “webtoon” tab on NETCOMICS).

Title: Dokebi Cafe

Author: Yoonhee Lee (story), Yunjeong Kim (art)

Platform: NETCOMICS

Genre: Fantasy

Status: Ongoing

Synopsis:

“Gangeun is a poster girl for bad luck. She’s a magnet for accidents small and large.Just when she’s getting used to her eventful high school life, she encounters a strange “boy” named Mooyoung in front of a new cafe. What is this curious place? Who is this mysterious creature in the form of a boy? Bad luck seems to have left Gangeun but there’s so much more that awaits her.

***

I honestly don’t know what to say about this webtoon (of its episodes out so far). Gangeun, the female lead, is surprisingly optimistic despite her bad luck. She has an independent and strong personality yet almost always needs a man to save her when she’s in danger. The development of her character is there but not complete (which makes sense because the webtoon is not complete). Gangeun isn’t terrible. In fact, she’s a nice character. However, despite being 67 episodes into the story, I as a reader feel no attachment to her. The male lead(s) are not much better off.

Dokebi Cafe, Ch 1
©Yunhee Lee, Yunjeong Kim ©NETCOMICS, netcomics.com

First, the cover art seems misleading at the current rate the story is progressing. With Gangeun on the cover is presumably the “dokebi,” a Korean mythological/folklore creature and an important character in the webtoon. One will assume, justifiably so, that he is the male lead and Gangeun’s lover. But readers will come to understand within a few episodes, that is not the case—there is another character with a closer and more important role connected to Gangeun than the man on the cover. Counting these two characters and another named Mooyoung, there are at least three important male characters. Although, perhaps Mooyoung can be ruled out from being the male lead because his interactions so far with Gangeun seem to suggest the forming of a strong friendship and nothing more. The interactions between Gangeun and the dokebi hasn’t been anything romantic either but the confusing cover art keep seeming to suggest otherwise. What clearly doesn’t help is that all three male characters have important backstories and only one has been revealed thus far. That is not to say each of their backstories should be revealed immediately one by one, but the progression of the webtoon is slow and not for impatient readers. There are multiple side stories with side characters used to set up the plot of the main story. Although interesting, these side stories are almost tedious to read because they seem irrelevant to the main characters and plot. I think these side stories are what derails from a wholesome development of the main characters.  I personally would just love to see more focus on the main characters without any interjection from side characters and their many problems.

Of course, there are good points about the webtoon as well. It is always interesting when a story incorporates allusory elements. Clearly in its name, Dokebi Café plays with Korean folklore, putting a twist on classic folktales. Even more, it’s not just Korean folklore but also Western ones as vampires are thrown in the mix and an Aesop fable is even introduced. The overall webtoon is slow to read (because of its slow progression in the main plot) but each episode is actually generally paced quickly, therefore a fast read in that sense. Dokebi Café is likely a webtoon one would read just to pass time, perhaps perfect on a rainy day. Would I recommend this webtoon? Yes, if you have a lot of time and patience or simply ran out of other webtoons to read. The biggest flaw of this review is that this webtoon is yet finished. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see where the webtoon goes.

If you’re interested in reading Dokebi Café, you can find it here.

Have you read Dokebi Café?

What are your thoughts on the webtoon?

Comment your thoughts below!

*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the comic for an honest review*

Feature Image © NETCOMICS, Yunhee Lee, Yunjeong Kim

Bibliography

Lee, Yunhee, and Yunjeong Kim. “Dokebi Café.” NETCOMICS. Netcomics, Inc. netcomics.com/comic/dokebicafe. Accessed 26-28 Nov. 2019.

NETCOMICS. Ecomix Media Company, 2016, dev.netcomics.com/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2019.

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