“Sign” by KER

One of the first manhwas I ever read, Sign written and illustrated by Ker is available officially on Lezhin.

The story is so beautiful and simple that it has made its way into my heart and still occupies ample space, so much so that every time I read any other manhwa I end up comparing it to Sign. The comparison is not limited to the storyline, but also to then the art style or the dialogues and the smut. The story is just the perfect combination of fluff whilst dealing with some of the darker themes. It handles especially disability responsibly. The fact that one of the main characters is deaf is not just there to serve as plot point, but is of vital importance. It serves a purpose, and the author has used it with a good heart. Not once was it shown that his issues came before his work. There is a dialogue in which the protagonist says that “I am fine, I just can’t hear”; this shows the sensitivity that the writer has shown.

Yohan, one of the protagonists, is deaf and does not like to speak, as he thinks it is awkward to not listen to his own voice. He is the owner of a cafe where everything is fine except the coffee, which is worse than stones in water. Kind of ironic since it is a cafe. Another interesting fact is that the regulars do not order from the menu. The other protagonist, Soohwa, is a twenty-six-year-old unemployed man looking for an easy part-time job. In all honesty, he is barely making it. We can say that he is actually at rock bottom. His laptop recently broke, he was not able to afford his gas and electricity bill and if he misses that month’s rent, he might be homeless as well. Things start to work out for him when he has a chance encounter with Yohan and suddenly finds himself working at the cafe. But since Yohan does not like to talk a lot, Soohwa has to learn sign language in order to communicate. Yohan most graciously offers to teach Soohwa. The only catch here is that every time Soohwa hears Yohan’s fantasy-inducing voice, he cannot control his bodily reactions. Soon, Yohan also discovers Soohwa’s condition and extends a welcome hand (yes, pun intended!), which again is enthusiastically accepted by Soohwa. But he might not have a lot of control over the situation, anyway.

Soon Sohwa finds himself wondering if it is just him or is Yohan attracted to him. He gets in over his head thinking that Yohan has taken pity on him and is doing what he is because he feels sorry for him. He gets his answer soon as he realises that Yohan faces the same issue when Soohwa uses sign language. Yohan also cannot control the reactions of his body. They soon start a relationship of sorts, where they mutually benefit from each other. That is a very crude thing to say actually, considering they actually start developing feelings for each other. But even though they are doing everything else, they do not kiss each other for a good twenty episodes. They only kiss when they confess how they feel about each other, which has a greater impact because the entire time while reading I kept wondering why they did not just kiss. It made the gesture more intimate.

Gyoon is one of the side characters who is almost as important as the main characters. He has an interesting (violent) personality and his only weakness is Yohan’s puppy dog eyes. Also, his relationship with Soohwa is one of the twists which made the story more amusing. Gyoon often has a dialogue he specifically uses around Soohwa, “I will bury you.” Of course, he does not mean it literally, but one time when Soohwa gives a sassy answer to Gyoon he actually does starts digging in the backyard where Yohan stores all his plants. Soohwa has to beg him to let it go. Poor Yohan is left so confused when he sees the hole in the ground. Their interactions seem out of a comic book. The story then delves deeper into more complex issues like, how did Yohan lose his hearing? Why does he keep receiving plants so often?

When Yohan is first shown, Soohwa compares him to a bear, that is how physically huge he is. But he should rather be called a teddy bear because that’s how his personality is. From the first day, we see that he has developed a soft spot for Soohwa. He is the one who convinces Gyoon to give Soohwa a part-time job at the cafe. He was the one who first extends the helping hand and when he gets to know that somebody broke into Soohwa’s apartment, he readily offers his living space. Even orders a bed, cooks for him and cares about him. Yohan is the cutest character which would make you go uwu in real life.

The story follows a natural and obvious flow. A very smooth transition from one scene to another. The art style is also exceptionable. There are many moments which would melt you from inside. The character development though we cannot say is much because the only ‘problematic’ character is the antagonist Byung and he is not all that scary. He is the reason why Yohan lost his hearing, so we cannot ignore that fact. He is also the one who drives each of Yohan’s friends and potential relationships away from him; usually by opting for drastic measures. Gyoon is the only one who sticks with Yohan. And after him, Soohwa is the one who decides to stay, even after knowing the consequences. But as a villain, Byung misses the edge and the oomph because his actions are almost childish and bratty. And since he has a rich mother who is always ready to clean his tracks, he never even considers that his actions could be wrong or have consequences. In fact, he blames Yohan, saying that it was it not because of his actions that he lost his hearing but it was Yohan’s own fault that he never returned his feelings. So to grab his attention, he does what he did. Yohan, being Yohan, never fights back. But things go out of control when Byung hurts Soohwa. That is the only time when Yohan fights back and though the scene doesn’t look like something out of an action movie, it does seem very realistic, very normal.

In a nutshell, this is definitely a must-read if you are into BL and mature scenes. Not at all safe while you are at work, but something you read under the depths of your blanket and squeal.

Rating- 4 out of 5


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s