Seyoung is an ordinary 17-year-old schoolgirl who plays mediocre roles in her school's drama productions. Her real-life drama develops as she finds herself falling for her childhood playmate Hyunwoo, who he is drifting away from her and toward a TV star schoolmate named Hyemi. When Seyoung works up the nerve to profess her feelings to Hyunwoo, he thinks she is merely working on her acting! Seyoung lives out her youth as if the entire world is a stage, but as she basks in the bright lights of innocence she seeks someone in the audience to recognize the light within her.
Seyoung is easy on the eyes, but she isn’t a knockout. She’s logical, but she doesn’t always get the best grades. And she’s skilled, but not overly talented. Seyoung is a person, to say so in the least, but throughout the series it becomes clear that she never wants the word “normal” in front of it. If there is a future that cannot be known, how could you say an individual is “normal”? If there are endless amounts of possibilities and futures in this world, then how do you know you wouldn’t be “different”? In the eyes of Seyoung, an existentialism-angsty teenager, she faces the
the world with two, contradicting philosophies: free-will and fate. Is the tangible world (or intangible relationships) governed by our choices, or coincidence alone? And where does Seyoung fit into the bigger picture?
“Like this, I am in the middle of life, where there is no beginning or end. Identical days, yesterday is like today, today is like tomorrow. Everything will somehow keep on going. But sometimes, there will be things that end. I’ll soon end my 17th year and turn 18. Soon.”
Narration Of Love At 17 is something very peculiar. At first glance, it is a very poor story consisted of no definite plot, however, it’s deep undertones live up to the title. There will be a day where you ponder the meaning of life and existence, and for Seyoung, it is when she is 17. It is one of first manhwas Kang Kyung Ok has ever written, but looking at her other titles, you can see that she has taken a big step outside of her comfort zone. This is a philosophical/slice-of-life manhwa, and unlike her others, it does not rely on an elaborate story to pull the plot along. It is an incredibly honest portrayal of an ordinary person who just so happens to be 17.
Firstly, I would like to say that Seyoung is one of Kang Kyung Ok’s finest characters: a person so normal suffering from the “I Just Want To Be Special” trope. Her persona as a ‘normal teenager’ is portrayed so accurately through many characteristics that are true to her age: insecurity, passion, immaturity, indecisiveness, and (most importantly) naivety. She has a one sided love, a best friend, a rival --and yet Seyoung’s relations always feel genuine and non-cliche. And she, just like any other teenager, is quick to make new social groups (which is where the story begins). Seyoung has no real character development, seeing as there is no obstacle in this story she must overcome, but she is a very solid character just by existing. Through her, Kang Kyung Ok expresses so many human sentiments. The supporting characters, however, are very bland, and aren't as fleshed out as Seyoung is.
The pacing in this was incredibly slow, somewhat sombre and dull. As I said, there is no real meaty-plot to this manga, but it just chronicles Seyoung’s 17th year. It began as something awkward and tedious that screamed ‘teenager’, but it slowly transforms (no, not works up) into a prose-heavy coming-of-age story. The narration, too, was wonderful, cutting into the prose with heavy realism (something that makes it even more pragmatic and thought-provoking!). There were some flaws concerning the narration in some lighter scenes, but it truly shines Seyoung is self-reflecting.
The atmosphere is never really clearly set; it goes from seriously dull, to invigorating, to melodramatic, and then to mystic. This might relate to how Seyoung is inconsistent with her moods, but they sometimes feel out of place. I also found that the setting wasn’t effectively used to it’s full potential, as there weren’t many panels with a full landscape. When the atmosphere and setting were used simultaneously and to their entire ability, it was prime. But when it wasn’t, the manhwa felt clumsy and lazy.
And I don’t rate on art, but it is something I must discuss. It was a manhwa made in 1991 --I wouldn’t expect a super-conventional art style. In fact, Kang Kyung Ok had such fondness for 70’s shoujo, her artwork and style is similar to Hagio Moto/Takemiya Keiko’s. Kang, however, doesn’t have the experience/refinement the two shoujo pioneers did, and her art can look extremely androgynous and even unappealing. The characters bodies can also look gawky and unskilled sometimes. It can hinder the reading experience, depending on how much importance you place on artwork.
So Narration Of Love At 17 was good, and in the end, it stayed true to it’s title (a narration being a message that tells the particular course of events). I would have loved to say that it was 'great', but there were obvious flaws concerning the atmosphere and setting. Seyoung, however, was incredible at being an accurate portrayal of a teenager, and her relations were realistic. Kang Kyung Ok's unique way of story-telling is refreshing, and different from other shoujos concerning a teenage girl. But because of the amount of noticeable flaws, I’m only going to give it a 7.5 / 10.0. If you feel up to reading a different shoujo, then look no more.
“But I am only 17 years old. And yet...”
(I also recommend either buying this online, or in paper-back copy because the bad, public translation can really hurt the reading experience.)
"But right now... I can't see past the world of a 17-year-old."
Narration of love at 17 is a well crafted shoujo series that centers around a teenager named Seyoung. The series sets itself apart from the usual and tired concept as most of the case in shojo stories by being somewhat philosophic and melancholic. It focuses more on the main characters emotion and thoughts rather than having characters face hardships and such unwanted obstacles.
I must admit I wish for a rollercoaster heartbreaking drama between the main characters but rather the series was straightforward. The story is simple and was rather written realistically. As readers we
get to learn the thoughts of Seyoung as she is experiencing love, heartbreak, rivals, and friendship etc. in the mindset of a teenager. There is nothing dramatic in this series, it's all about how would you react to what others feelings. Its like a memory of a teenager's first hand experience about love.
I found myself lost in some of the characters interactions. It's definitely more mature when it comes to dialogue. I enjoyed the interaction between Yunho and Hyunjung they have such cunning chit chats. It contains so much philosophical views about relationship and feelings. I like how Sayeoung analyzes her actions, thoughts and her reactions. Sayeoung's idea about wanting to be special to someone, and some comments about doing something to someone you like are all there. How is someone is special to you but then are ordinary for others. The series is like a study of relationship.
Its quiet but powerful moving tale. The series moves in such narratively manner. The art is pleasant to look at, it captures the series overall tone. I felt as if I'm reading a manga rather than manhwa because of the art. The art reminded me of the series Swan and Rumiko Takahashi's early works.
By the end of the series Seyoung was developed into someone who came to an understanding. She slowly realizes that she's only 17 and she'll experience alot more things as time passes. Anway it was just good.
Although as a reader I can't help but to think "what if" between Seyoung and Hyunwoo. Lol.