You may have already read or at least heard of famous webtoons like “True Beauty” and “Lore Olympus,” two webtoons that have been heavily promoted by the WEBTOON app. However, the world of webtoons is so much more than just romance. From slice-of-life to horror to fantasy, there’s truly something for everyone, as well as many new, unique concepts that will be a delight for audiences to read. Here are some webtoons that shouldn’t be missed across several different categories:
“Eleceed” — Action, Comedy
Jeho Son (author) and ZHENA (artist) are famous for creating “Noblesse” and “Girls of the Wild’s” respectively, both of which are fantastic action webtoons and worthy of a look or two. However, it’s “Eleceed” that really shines in this genre.
“Eleceed” is a story about a hidden community of humans with special abilities, such as animal communication, electricity, healing and gravity field manipulation. The title, a portmanteau of “electric speed,” derives from the protagonist’s own special skill, super speed plus a fledgling electric power taught to him by his teacher Kayden Break, a seemingly omnipotent and self-proclaimed “strongest awakener in the world.” The story begins with Kayden landing in Korea, where he temporarily transforms into a cat in order to hide from his mysterious pursuers and recover.
Except, now he’s stuck in a cat form, and isn’t able to turn back permanently into his human form. Jiwoo, a kind-hearted cat lover who doesn’t know about his special abilities and the hidden community, stumbles upon Kayden, and from there, it’s a series of adventures as Jiwoo hones his powers with Kayden, meets new friends and fights against rivals and enemies.
“Eleceed” is an action story, packed with fantastic illustrations of dynamic fights, but what distinguishes it from other works in the action genre is the humor, relatable characters and balanced pacing. The hero is sweet and big-hearted and is still learning how to use his power. Despite being relatively weak, our hero is admirable for his humble nature, his determination to learn from Kayden and his resolve to protect his friends. The hero’s mentor isn’t too overpowered (OP), which makes the battles interesting as the result isn’t immediately predictable.
The plot is also well-paced and doesn’t immediately scale into complex government plots and saving the world by the fourth episode, and even contains interludes centering on ordinary things like playing pranks, hanging out with friends and going to school.
NEW LAUNCH 😺 ELECEED
Armed with Jiwoo’s superpowers and Kayden’s smarts, they’re out to fight those forces who would let evil rule this world. That is if they can stand each other long enough to get the job done. pic.twitter.com/UTQQg5hxux
— WEBTOON (@webtoonofficial) May 7, 2019
“My Roommate is a Gumiho” — Romance, Supernatural
Although the art may seem simpler in comparison to other webtoons at first, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not just as good as other webtoons on the app. What makes this webtoon intriguing is that it uses a successful formula, but with a twist: an immortal being gets entangled with an utterly ordinary human, and they have to learn to work with each other while falling in love along the way.
Except, the immortal being isn’t a vampire or werewolf this time, but rather a “gumiho,” a nine-tailed fox from Korean mythology. These fox spirits are known as mischievous tricksters with the ability to shapeshift into a beautiful woman, or in this webtoon’s case, a beautiful man, in order to seduce men and women to consume their spirits.
In “My Roommate is a Gumiho,” Shin Woo-Yeo, our resident nine-tailed-fox, is on his way to becoming human after draining spirits for the last 999 years, and just needs to finish filling his fox bead with a little more human energy before his 1,000th birthday. An accident causes Lee Dam, a college girl, to swallow his fox bead. They have to work together to get it out by the year, otherwise, Dam would die and Woo-Yeo would never become human.
As a webtoon, it’s one of the better ones, as our protagonist is someone that you can see yourself as: someone who isn’t annoyingly naive, doesn’t fall for the obvious traps and is still relatable in her impulsive nature. The supernatural element is exotic for Western audiences, and the concept of mixing the supernatural with the ordinary is generally exciting and a successful trope in media.
The webtoon also has an ongoing K-drama adaptation, featuring Jang Ki-yong, Lee Hye-ri and Bae In-hyuk. The drama stays faithful to the original work, featuring plenty of dramatic slow-mos, internal dialogue, comedic timing, lingering glances and romantic tensions on the horizon. The show is available to watch for free on iQiyi and Viki.
“The Devil is a Handsome Man” — Drama, Fantasy
Unfortunately, this series was last updated in June of 2019 and hasn’t yet returned (there is an author’s note that “The Devil is Handsome Man will return,” but it’s unclear whether this is just a holdover from an earlier time or if the author will really make a comeback).
Despite the possible abandonment of the work, “The Devil is a Handsome Man” truly is a worthwhile read, both for the striking illustrations and for how the story quickly entangles the reader in its mystery. One such puzzle is what the Devil looks like — a disconcerting black hole sits where his face would be — although he is guaranteed to be appropriately handsome. The readers see the world through Xolia’s eyes, the character that made a “deal with the Devil.”
There is a hidden parallel story centered around Xolia and the Devil’s past life, slowly revealed through the bits of memory that Xolia recovers as they grow closer. It’s a webtoon that will quickly enrapture readers in the exquisite world-building and riveting secrets. Even background characters are memorable because of the fantastic illustration of their quirks and specific features.
“The Devil is a Handsome Man” a modern day, demon-fantasy setting crime-drama. Where everybody has previously had a romance with everyone else. Yes, it’s confusing at times. But hey, so is life. @LINEWebtoon pic.twitter.com/1Tbuc3gJaH
— Angle @ hellothisisangle (@heythisisangle) January 28, 2019
“Sweet Home” — Horror, Thriller
It’s sleep-paralysis-demon-inducing. More than just frightening, these monsters are such that you can’t look away from them as they represent the creepiest manifestations of humanity’s inner fears and desires. From a grotesque, muscle monster muttering “PROTEIN” to a skeletal, scythe-wielding man-spider, these monsters are utterly unique and hideously real.
“Sweet Home” follows 18-year-old Cha Hyun-Soo (Hyun Cha in the English version), a suicidal recluse who moves to a new apartment after his family’s death. He is alone in a world that falls to the “monsterization” of humanity. Trapped in the apartment, with the difference between humans and monsters getting thinner by the day, Hyun Cha finds the will to fight against the monsters while keeping his own humanity alive.
“Sweet Home” is a completed webtoon, and also has a highly-rated drama adaptation available on Netflix. The author is also the creator of “Bastard,” another popular horror webtoon about a boy with a killer dad … literally.
— WEBTOON (@webtoonofficial) May 13, 2020
“Men of the Harem” — Reverse Harem, Romance
A common enough trope in many Asian light novels and webtoons, but rarer in Western media, is the reverse harem. While a harem is usually a man being surrounded by beautiful women, a reverse harem is a woman being surrounded by handsome men. The trope is popular as it subverts the traditional power relationships in imperial courts and empowers women into positions of influence.
The reverse harem shows that even if the main character is a woman and a woman in power, the story can be both arresting and sophisticated. The genre as a whole also proves that a woman is powerful enough to love and be loved by several men.
“Men of the Harem” is a classic example of a reverse harem trope set in the typical imperial setting, but it doesn’t need fancy flashbacks or an uncommon storyline to be enjoyable. The art is fantastic, the characters are beautiful, there is plenty of satisfying revenge and petty intrigue, and we have a strong female protagonist. That’s good enough for me and the other million readers.
“microHUNTER,” “Omniscient Reader” and “The Advanced Player of the Tutorial Tower” — “System” mangas
“System” mangas (or webtoons) refer to works that feature a character reincarnating into an alternate or dystopian version of their reality, with an omnipresent Siri-like “system” that accompanies them along their journey. The “system” may be benevolent, helping a weak main character power up into the strongest hero in their world, or malevolent, throwing the characters into life-or-death situations where they’re forced into making harrowing sacrifices.
After being trapped in a tower for 12 years, forced to battle monsters over and over again, while a pop-up hologram tells you to return to the first level after reaching the 99th level, anyone would go a little stir crazy. Just a little. In “The Advanced Player of the Tutorial Tower,” this is what happens to Hyeonu Kim. Except, one day, he’s released! Now more powerful than any human or monster on Earth, he has to learn how to readjust to society (learning how to use a cell phone! Playing video games with VR!) while investigating the reasons behind his imprisonment and killing hordes of monsters along the way.
“Omniscient Reader,” based on the webnovel of the same name, is the story of Dokja, a mediocre office worker, who is the sole reader of his favorite serial, “Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse.” Suddenly, the world seems to glitch — monsters overtake the streets, and everyone acts in their own self-interests according to the words of their “system.” Dokja realizes that his novel has become reality; armed with this knowledge, he sets out to change his fate in the story, and along with it, the world.
If you thought cockroaches are already bad enough, wait until you are forced to encounter cockroaches triple your size. In “microHUNTER,” Baekhyeon is buying snacks for his infirmed sister when suddenly he finds himself and everyone else shrinking to the size of ants. Suddenly, rats become colossal monsters, linoleum cracks are canyons, and crows are the swooping birds of death. Thankfully, everyone has a superpower and an interface that provides them with data about themselves. Using his abilities and wits, Baekhyeon must make the most out of this big new world and get back to his sister, who now seems millions of miles away rather than just two blocks down.
– “Viral Hit”
– “Your Throne”
– “Ghost Wife”
– “Devil Number 4”