What a cute little webtoon! I read the first chapter of Salty Studio ages ago and thought I’d catch up and finish it, since I really liked what I’d read. It was totally different from what I expected originally, but that’s more of a good surprise than a bad one. Nothing philosophic really stuck out at me, but I loved the deeper look the author gave at human relationships. I’d give it 4/5 on characters, 4/5 on story and 3/5 on Philosophy.
Togeun is an aspiring artist. Well, he’s actually a bit of a chaebol who quits his dad’s company to pursue his artist dreams against his father’s wishes. Now out of money and disheartened, he meets an old friend: Sonagi, the girl he used to run an art club with.She’s an illustrator now, and agrees to teach him how to draw in exchange for shared use of his studio apartment/workplace. Cue the hijinks, romance and more.
With a description like that, I thought I was getting into a fluffy, funny rom-com with lots of cheesy moments and big, blinking eyes. I liked what I got a lot better, though. The story branches out quickly from our two artists (who, spoiler, aren’t living together–he lives there and she works there during the day) to include all of the neighbors in the buildings around them. We meet Cookie, the foreigner looking Korea-born Korean, Willow and River the HS Senior twins, their friends and a few others. And while I occasionally wanted more central romance development (the story tended to spend chapters developing every character), I really appreciated the fleshed out characters. If only it were longer! As everything becomes clear in the end, I was really impressed with how it was plotted out. It’s nothing super new or innovative, but done really well.
Sonagi and Togeun are perhaps the least interesting of the ensemble, strangely enough. I like how they weave through everything, but they’re not the really deep characters. Sonagi is spunky, cute and I love her. Togeun is a little weird, conflicted and the teeensiest bit tsundere, and I love him. But I really love the development put into our side characters. They shine.
Willow, a high school senior, has a conflicted heart over her first crush–it’s all over now and they’re still friends, but things have changed between them.
River, her brother, is a consistent grade A student who feels like he’s lost his passion for life. I relate to him the most as a bit of an overachiever myself.
Cookie is a born and raised Korean, but his family is from a Western Country and nobody believes he’s not a foreigner. And they all think he speaks perfect English (he doesn’t).
There are a few more that have incredibly interesting premises, but aren’t ever really developed, which is a shame–but I loved getting to know this cast. All of their problems felt natural and real, and their emotions really resonated with me.
That brings us to what I’m calling the philosophy of the webtoon–a series of questions raised by stereotypes of different people, and the way the webtoon handles it.
- Why do we always assume that if someone looks very different from us, they must not be from here? I know that’s not always the case, but I felt really bad for Cookie whenever somebody would start their first conversation in English, or talk about him thinking he couldn’t speak Korean and was a visitor. I liked too that the webtoon didn’t always treat it as a bad thing, though. He saw it as an opportunity to really learn English, and improve himself (and occasionally have fun)!
- Can old hurts, old flames, old feelings ever really be forgotten? There’s a couple of really interesting situations presented here, circling around Willow and her friend (theirs gets a lot of development), Togeun’s feelings for Sonagi and her feelings for Togeun–as high schoolers and now as co-working adults. I think I agree with where the webtoon seemed to settle on this one: you can let go, and move on, but things aren’t really the same even after that. It’s hard to settle back into apathy after you’ve left it, for good or for bad.
- Why do people assume overachievers, people who don’t procrastinate or consistently good students (not synonyms) don’t feel pressure? In other words, why do people assume that if you look like you’ve got it together that you never need help? I know this too isn’t always the case, and I think it’s definitely a two way street, we shouldn’t assume about people who seem like they need help… but I’ve had many a friend who’s seemed like life is perfect when they’re really hiding deep hurts. As for the grades thing, that’s something I had to get over myself once upon a time–now I still strive for good grades but realize they’re only a very small part of the person that makes up Cozybooks (if they should really count as a part at all).
I guess moral of the story is this webtoon does a lot to destroy common assumptions people have about people, first love, and what it means to follow your dreams (it’s interesting how it all turns out). If you have an afternoon and want a fairly quick read, it’s only 66 ch. and worth every minute!
Final Rating: 8/10