“Kiss And Tell” – Kill Me, Kiss Me (manwha) – 8/10 Sunbeams

Life is tough. Love is tougher. Heart breaks are the toughest. ~Anonymous

Mangaka: Lee Young You

Genre: Romance/Action/Comedy/Gender-bender/School/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (5 Volumes/5 volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop, currently unlicensed

Art: For the most part, this has pretty generic character designs, though the mangaka took enough care to make each character easily recognizeable with very different facial features and hair. It has very nice detail on the clothing as well, showing a wide variety of styles. There are a few cases where the art goes sketch-like, looking like it was drawn with a crayon and very little care, and that can be very annoying.

Summary: When Tae Im finds out that her favorite idol star is currently attending the same school as her identical cousin Jung-Woo Im, she convinces her kin to switch places – she will dress as him, attend his all-boys school, and try to get close to her lover boy; he will dress as her, attend her all-girls school and revel in its sea of babes. Flawless? Well, with the bullies, brats and bishounen around, everything can go wrong. (back cover of 1st voume)

Review: The summary is really pretty misleading. The first volume is definitely as stated, with Tae discovering that her idol isn’t all that he appears to be, and finding love in an unexpected place (I heart this author for breaking tropes and traditions with this thing!). Her adventures are pretty typical for a high school romcom, with the boys thinking they might be gay and she wondering if they aren’t gay as well, what with their attraction to her! She ends up falling for a pretty tough gang member, though, with a heart of gold and the desire to protect Korea. It’s all pretty cute. At the same time, the main characters here become completely irrelevant in the next four volumes, so if you thought it would be further adventures of Tae… no.

It instead switches focus to Tae’s cousin, or rather a girl who’s in love with him after protecting him from some girls in a gang. She becomes attatched from a mix of things – worry that he’s going to out her as a fighter when she’s been trying to bury her past with that, but because he’s also got a pretty face and brings out her protective instinct. Too bad she gets caught up with another gang, one who’s leader sets his sight on her! The other four volumes really deal with that relationship, the dynamics between Que-Min and Ghoon-Hahm, with Tae’s cousin as a rather important side character. Que-Min and Ghoon-Hahm have a very interesting chemistry between them, with her attempting to hod the fort on her personality, but him knowing it – and being a gangster himself, that means that she’s worrying over him, having to beat up her own bullies, and dealing with how their lives drag Jung-Woo into danger.

Jung-Woo, unfortunately, makes a very lackluster love interest. He’s pretty emotionless, clueless, and…. boring. I much preferred Ghoon-Hahm, who just comes alive with character. He’s been crushing on Que-Min since kindergarten, when he picked fights with her just to get her attention. And his fighting spirit never let up, getting together a gang of his own (following in the footsteps of his father) which has a really diverse bunch of personalities. Of course, things aren’t just bad with the other gangs trying to move in and take revenge on Ghoon-Hahm, there’s also troubles on the relationship front! I’m really glad that the spoiled girl who wanted to make it a love triangle – and failed massively! – ended up getting pushed off on Jun-Woo. She’s was an unbearably one-dimentinal character, an absolute brat, and getting with the other character that made me pull out my hair ended up being a great blessing.

For all that annoyance, I was still really pleased with how the relationship between Ghoon-Hahm and Que-Min turned out. She made for an engaging heroine, an atypical character thrown into a storyline that also wasn’t quite the normal shoujo. And the relationship deveopment seemed pretty solid, to boot. Except for some instances of some almost-sexist overprotection when he things Que-Min and Jung-Woo are getting too close, this struck a lot of right chords for me to enjoy it.

Overall, it’s a decently done story about tough guys and girls in love.

Recommended: 16+. There are a few fights where you see some blood, and how bad the injuries are happen to be mentioned in passing. What drives my rating up is how often slurs for homosexuals are used (along with some homophobia by some of the side characters) and some slurs for women as well.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Boy of the Female Wolf (magna)

He Dedicated To Roses (manhwa)

Oresama Teacher (manga)

Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (manga)

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