Hissing 4-5 by Kang EunYoung: B

Da-Eh Lee is an aspiring manhwa artist and takes her work seriously. Her feisty attitude attracts the attention of two highly sought-after boys in school—Sun-Nam, who is kind at heart but tries to act tough, and Ta-Jun, who is listless, taunting, and angsty simultaneously. After many antagonistic encounters, Da-Eh and Sun-Nam begin dating, but just as things seem to be going well, Sun-Nam realizes that the half-brother he’s been searching for (the product of his father’s affair with another woman) is Da-Eh’s little brother, Da-Hwa.

Hissing was a hard series for me to get into at first; I was turned off by the blond and sultry looks bequeathed to practically every male character (including ten-year-old Da-Hwa) and by the disjointed nature of the narrative. Somewhere along the way, though, it really grew on me. Certain things still annoy me—Da-Eh’s reaction to the big revelation of the family connection is pretty nonsensical, for instance—but overall, I enjoy it. Da-Eh and her admirers remind me a bit of Tsukushi Makino and the F4 from Boys Over Flowers, which may be part of the appeal. Hissing can also be amusing, but not so much in these two volumes, which are more serious in tone.

It’s also hard not to sympathize with Da-Hwa. Neglected by his family but solicitously eager to earn their attention, he doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere and always blames himself when things go wrong. Even though he appears less often than the other characters, he really is the heart of the series.

Hissing definitely has its flaws, but they grow less glaring with time. The fact that I disliked volume one but am now eager to read the sixth and final volume is proof of that.

Review copies provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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