Today’s Webtoon: Episodes 3-4
The life of a webtoon producer isn’t an easy one, but through its rollercoaster ups and downs, our protagonists inspire growth in both themselves and others. They may stumble, but it won’t faze them; they’ll get back up and keep running ahead.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Joon-young’s revelation about the webtoon team’s future (or lack thereof) weighs heavily on Ma-eum, but she doesn’t let it get her down. Instead, she resolves to work even harder, treating this job as a valuable opportunity.
Thankfully her day gets better from there — the webtoon artist she’s assigned to is none other than Kang-nam! Ma-eum is over the moon, and Ji-hyung has to remind her to keep a cool head, haha.
The entire office is endeared by Ma-eum’s excited enthusiasm, except for Joon-young. To his chagrin, he’s been assigned to the last person he wants to work with — the stuck-up writer Pomme (real name Kim Ji-seon).
Fed up, Joon-young requests for Man-cheol to transfer him to another department. Man-cheol agrees to look into it, but he leaves Joon-young with a word of wisdom from a famous manga — “There’s no paradise for you to escape to.” In other words, if Joon-young keeps running away, none of his destinations will ever be a paradise.
Before his transfer gets approved, Joon-young still has to carry out his duties, so he ends up at Pomme’s house yet again. After roping him into carrying her mountain of delivery packages inside for her, she admits that she specifically requested to have him be assigned to her.
Joon-young assumes she just wants to boss him around some more, but in an unexpected moment of honesty, Pomme confesses that she’s lonely. People jump at every chance to spew hate at her, so she has no choice but to close herself off and stay cooped up in her house. All she wants is someone to talk to. (Well, maybe you’d have more friends if you were more considerate.)
Several days pass, and Man-cheol invites Joon-young out for drinks after work. Having heard from HR that he could turn down Joon-young’s transfer request, he intends to do just that — he wants Joon-young to learn and grow in his team.
Frustrated, Joon-young confronts Man-cheol about the webtoon team’s impending dissolution, but Man-cheol chuckles at his naivete. That’s exactly why the higher-ups assigned an elite employee like Joon-young to the webtoon team — so he could learn the tricks of the trade. If Neon forms a new webtoon team after the current one is fired, Joon-young’s poised to lead it.
Meanwhile, Ma-eum’s facing troubles with her assigned writer. Kang-nam still hasn’t submitted his draft despite only a few hours remaining till the deadline, leaving Ma-eum with no choice but to pay him a visit at his studio.
It turns out Kang-nam’s girlfriend JI HAN-SEUL (Jin Ye-sol) is upset at him for not answering her calls while he was busy working on his webtoon, so she packed her things and walked out on him in yet another temper tantrum. Kang-nam’s preoccupied with finding her, so in a last-ditch effort to get him to focus on finishing his draft instead, Ma-eum ends up promising to find her in his stead.
Racing through the streets on her scooter, Ma-eum arrives just in time to save Han-seul from a pair of drunk men with her signature judo throws. Han-seul helps out by knocking one of them unconscious with Ma-eum’s helmet, and before long, the two are on their way to being friends. Aw, Han-seul pouts that she’s just jealous, since Kang-nam seems to pay more attention to his webtoon protagonist than her.
Reassuring Han-seul that Kang-nam treasures her to the point of almost missing his deadline out of worry, Ma-eum takes her on a stress-relieving ride. They return to Kang-nam’s house in good spirits, and Ma-eum even gets Han-seul to promise that she won’t leave home like that again.
All this is witnessed by Joon-young, who was sent over to Kang-nam’s studio by an anxious Ji-hyung. Seeing Ma-eum’s sincere diligence first-hand seems to move Joon-young, and he recalls her words from before.
In response to his pessimism about the webtoon team’s future, Ma-eum had declared her determination to work even harder. The future isn’t fixed, and they have the power to change it — so rather than worry about what hasn’t even happened yet, she’s going to keep trying her best.
That sparks a shift in Joon-young’s mindset, and the next day, Ma-eum returns home to find Joon-young in her family’s comic book cafe. He’s here to borrow the manga series that Man-cheol quoted from (Berserk by Miura Kentaro), though he’s still considering quitting the company.
Ma-eum’s perceptive as always, and she says that she doesn’t think Joon-young’s running away, just like she isn’t running away from judo. Still, she hopes that he’ll stay on the team — she doesn’t want to lose her fellow newbie! Aww.
Embarrassed by her own forthrightness, Ma-eum laughs it off as a bit of a selfish request, but it makes Joon-young smile. Out of all the reasons people have tried to convince him with, most of which sound like unfounded optimism, hers is the most sensible and sincere one.
Joon-young winds up reading the manga series all the way till the next morning, and when he meets Man-cheol at work, he’s filled with a renewed resolve. Admitting that he was arrogant, Joon-young asserts that he’s never once tried to run away — and so, he’ll do his best to change the team’s fate. Aww, Man-cheol has the proudest dad smile on his face.
One hurdle has been conquered, but another soon pops up to take its place. Ma-eum receives a harsh wake-up call when Kang-nam’s webtoon views take a sharp nosedive; readers aren’t happy with the extended flashback chapters. Ji-hyung dishes out some tough love, chastising her for allowing such a decline to happen under her watch.
Realizing she needs to work together with Kang-nam to revive the webtoon’s declining quality, Ma-eum heads to his studio and insists that he revise his latest draft — as his loyal reader, she knows he’s capable of much better. Her earnest faith in Kang-nam reinvigorates him, and after a long all-nighter, Kang-nam delivers a vastly improved chapter.
Aw, Ma-eum stayed up all night too, in solidarity. When Ji-hyung comes into work the next morning, he sees the pages of brainstorming that Ma-eum wrote in an effort to improve Kang-nam’s webtoon, and he beams with pride.
On a rainy day, an elderly uncle trudges along with his cart of scrap cardboard, followed by a young man with a frenzied look in his eyes. Sketchbook in hand, the young man ends up blocking the elderly uncle’s way in a desperate attempt to recreate his features on paper.
Ma-eum comes across the pair, and she pulls the young man aside so she can help the elderly uncle wheel his cart away. We’ll come to know the young man as SHIN DAE-RYUK (Kim Do-hoon), a hospital orderly who draws webtoons as an escape from his bleak reality.
It’s time for the team’s annual Webtoon Camp, where aspiring webtoon authors gather for an overnight retreat to hone their skills. Dae-ryuk is amongst the selected hopefuls, and he continues drawing late into the night, long after the other campers have gone to bed. Recognizing him from their encounter, Ma-eum strikes up a conversation with him.
Oh, my heart — the reason he goes around observing people and drawing their faces is because he’s a hospital orderly, constantly surrounded by the dead and dying. At a loss as to how to depict the facial expressions of those who are alive, he ends up trying to capture them in real time through his sketches.
Dae-ryuk’s webtoon story is intriguing, but his current art skills aren’t up to par. It earns him a round of mockery from two arrogant campers, who accidentally-on-purpose knock over a bottle of water onto Dae-ryuk’s tablet.
It escalates to a physical fight, and one of the guys raises a fist to strike Dae-ryuk. Joon-young intervenes, but the guy smacks him away and shoves Dae-ryuk to the floor. He advances menacingly upon Ma-eum, and that seems to trigger something in Dae-ryuk; his vision clouds over, and dark tendrils begin curling their way around him, just like the monster in his webtoon.
Oh nooooo. We’ve barely met Dae-ryuk, but I already feel for him and his silent perseverance. Life has dealt him a tough hand, and judging by the way he flinched from Ma-eum’s touch coupled with the brief flashback of a frightened child, Dae-ryuk seems to be struggling with childhood trauma as well. Drawing his webtoon is a cathartic outlet for him, and I hope Neon will be a safe and supportive environment for him to heal.
I’m glad Ma-eum recognized Dae-ryuk’s potential, since he appears to have a burgeoning talent for storyboarding; he just never had the right resources to hone his skills. Hopefully, Ma-eum and the rest of the team can inspire Dae-ryuk to have a brighter outlook on life and pursue his passion.
On the flip side, though, trouble seems to be brewing on the horizon. There’s JANG HYE-MI (Nam Bo-ra) from a rival webtoon company, who seems to be Ji-hyung’s… friend? Frenemy? Ex? It’s not clear what exactly their relationship is yet, but there’s definitely history there.
Then there’s Neon content head CHIEF HEO (Ha Do-kwon), who disparages the webtoon team at any chance he gets. Not content to wait till the webtoon team’s eventual disbandment, he insinuates to Joon-young that he ought to “dispose of the bomb” himself — i.e. sabotage the team from within. Ugh.
I’m relieved that the seeds of hope seem to be blooming in Joon-young, though. Ever since Man-cheol and Ma-eum nudged him towards the right track, he’s been willing to eat humble pie, and it’s been such a breath of fresh air for him.
Joon-young may not see it yet, given how disillusioned the unforgiving corporate world has made him, but he’s a lot more capable than he thinks. Not only was he able to convince Pomme to participate in the webtoon camp as a mentor, allowing her to realize just how many people look up to her, but his tentative advice also gave a nervous writer some much-needed courage.
The way Joon-young lights up whenever he receives recognition for his hard work is such a delight to see, and I’m looking forward to watching him build a healthier sense of accomplishment and self-worth in the webtoon team.