100% Perfect Girl, Vol. 9 | By Wann | Published by NETCOMICS | Rated 13+ – Jarte is the monarch of a small but economically robust city-state called Roinne, and Jay is a Korean high school student who dreams of being an artist (against her family’s wishes). The two meet by chance in Korea, and Jarte finds himself so enamored with Jay that he pursues her until she agrees to become engaged to him. Though he appears to love her, Jarte is overprotective and extremely controlling. At first, Jay is unhappy with his overprotective nature, but over time she begins to truly fall for him. Unfortunately, just as she realizes she actually loves him, she is involved in an accident that causes her to lose her memory, placing her in the hands of a beautiful but bloodthirsty mafia don who will do anything to keep her.
Subsequent volumes follow Jay as she is shuttled around between three obsessive, violent, tyrannical men: Jarte, whose intense obsession with protecting Jay somehow renders him entirely unable to do so; Luigi, the brutal Italian mobster who takes hold of Jay while she is suffering from amnesia; and Clarence, a vicious arms dealer obsessed with destroying Jarte. Thanks to her involvement with these men, through the course of the series Jay becomes a victim of kidnapping, assault, abuse (both verbal and otherwise), and attempted rape, eventually becoming so broken and depressed that she attempts to take her own life.
In volume nine, despite having finally freed herself from the shackles of the men in her life and finding herself on the brink of real notoriety as an up-and-coming artist, Jay is dragged back into the muck by a plot to ruin her family and finds herself crawling back to Jarte to offer herself to him in return for clearing her family’s name. Jarte takes her up on her offer, but unfortunately time and loss have turned him into a true monster, and as the price for what she wants, he imprisons her and forces her to agree to a loveless marriage. A look into Jarte’s thoughts reveals that he is acting mainly out of fear of losing her again, but that doesn’t stop him from treating her like a cheap possession and forcing himself on her repeatedly. Weak and heartsick, Jay falls ill, forcing Jarte to face the terror of losing her once again. But will his remorse come too late?
By this point in the series, Jay has become so deeply damaged and Jarte such a beast, it is nearly impossible to find the will to root for their relationship, despite the fact that the story seems to be continuously demanding it. The excuses made for Jarte’s behavior have become so old by now not one of them holds up, and Jay is so hopelessly drawn to their destructive relationship it’s hard to maintain sympathy for her, even as she is made the victim once again. The sense that all of this is somehow meant to be romantic on some level is quite disturbing, though the author undeniably displays quite a bit of insight into the broken psyches of these people. As difficult as it is to like any of the characters, it is equally difficult to turn away from the emotional and psychological train wreck that Wann has created.
It is also difficult to know if the oppressive atmosphere of this volume is truly as intended. Volume eight was, in many ways, a breath of fresh air. The freedom that Jay felt having finally escaped eternal captivity back into the light where she could truly become herself again (even regaining her ability to paint) was palpable and brought sudden meaning to the series. She had even found someone to trust who didn’t want to own her or possess her body–something which had seemed impossible in this story. Seeing her now in a position to once again lose herself to the man who essentially brought her to ruin is honestly horrifying and disheartening on a level that seems deeper than Wann could have possibly desired.
Wann’s art is lovely, and all the characters are devastatingly attractive, making the visuals a definite highlight of the series. The panel layouts, too, are full of expression and quite wonderfully creative, evoking a sense of freedom and artistry that is unfortunately lacking in the storytelling itself. With less than two volumes left to go, time will tell if the story can manage to pull itself out of the depths of bodice-ripper romance to match the quality of its visuals.
Though the first seven volumes of this series are available in print with more to come (volume eight is due at the end of this month), the real value is at NETCOMICS.com, where each chapter (released simultaneously in Korean and English) can be viewed for $.25 apiece. The endless melodrama and misogynistic overtones will be a fatal turn-off for some readers, but for those with a love of soap opera and a stomach for violence, 100% Perfect Girl provides an attractive package at an unbeatable price.
Digital access provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.