In fact, Juhan Shutter, the manga that inspired today's Webtoon, has already been adapted into a television series. Sleepeeer Hit! is a popular slice-of-life drama in Japan about a weekly manga magazine, and you've definitely heard of it if you're familiar with Japanese pop culture. Although it follows a similar formula, the webtoon of the day gives the age-old story a new twist by setting it in the world of Korean webcomics.
SBS's newest drama stars Kim Se-Jeong of A Business Proposal as On Ma-eum, a former judo prodigy who is now sidelined due to an injury. She has a deep appreciation for her favourite webtoons and their artists; she has pictures of her beloved San-ha from Princess Gumiho plastered all over her stuff.
Ma-eum seems innocent and naive at first glance, with her youthful obsession with animated worlds and legendary high-stakes adventures, but her sharper edges show when she gets a part-time job as security at a webtoon festival and dedicates herself to protecting the artists from obsessive admirers.
Today's Webtoon plot is reminiscent of the tropes of Korean dramas in which the protagonist is a vivacious woman who manages to uplift everyone around her and effect positive change, complete with cheesy motivations, juvenile humour, and audience delight that hinges on the protagonist's affability.
Ma-vivacious eum's personality, much like Kurosawa Kokoro's in the original Juhan Shuttai! adaptation, is what lands her a producer position at Neon's webtoon department and ultimately helps her see the department through its difficulties; in one year, the webtoon division will be disbanded if its performance does not improve.
After floundering through numerous part-time jobs, Ma-eum has finally gained entry into a field she is enthusiastic about, only to have this opportunity possibly snatched away from her. The webtoon department is only in danger of being shut down because its staff and artists have become complacent, so this isn't just a convenient plot device.
Ma-eum proves to be an asset to the team by challenging the status quo and offering novel viewpoints. Kim brings depth to the role by showing that, despite her perpetually upbeat demeanour, the character is thoughtful and kind.
Even she has her moments of solitude and has to deal with feelings of disappointment and self-doubt. Kim's performance makes her an instantly likeable protagonist because it's both energetic and realistic. The viewer becomes invested in not only Ma-development, eum's fate, but also that of the individuals she influences.
Ma-eum has a wonderful role model in assistant editor Seok Ji-Hyung. Actor Daniel Choi has fantastic chemistry with Kim as Ma-eum, who restores the jaded editor's interest in webcomics. Goo Joo-young (Nam Yoon-su), who was transferred to the department against his will and initially comes off as harsh and oftentimes disagreeable, ends up becoming an unexpected ally for Ma-eum.
Webtoons of the present day are similarly befuddled by their own premises, beyond re-setting Sleepeeer Hit! for the Korean market. Due to its status as the sequel to a successful manga adaptation, the show had to live up to high expectations while still finding its own voice.
In addition to riding the wave of webcomic success in East Asian countries and creating a new, larger plot to take the place of Sleepeeer Hit! When compared to the original serial format, the modern Webtoon doesn't accomplish much more to bring depth to a well-known story.
There are reassuring, touching moments, such as when Ma-eum goes out of her way to make sure the Neon artists finish and upload new chapters of their stories on time, or when she convinces Joo-young to stay on the webtoon team despite the dismissal of their colleagues ("There's no paradise for you to escape to," she says).
Unfortunately, the series' irregular pacing — there is no consistent speed at which events advance — often overshadows these instances. Sometimes, the tension between two characters or between two situations is drawn out in modern Webcomics. There are certain opportunities for significant character development that are missed.
While it's unfair to judge Today's Webtoon as a poor knockoff of Juhan Shuttai after only four episodes. To make it worth people's time to watch, major changes are needed.
The show's potential lies in its outstanding cast, which breathes new life into familiar characters with nuance and depth. Although today's Webtoon has a formulaic storyline that's been done to death, the unshakable optimism and confidence with which Ma-unwavering eum approaches her job and her employees makes it an interesting read.
Webtoon episodes are updated weekly on Fridays and Saturdays on SBS in South Korea and on Viu in some countries.