Title: Totally Captivated
Artist & Writer: Hajin Yoo
# of volumes: 6 volumes (additional material also released)
Totally Captivated follows commitment-phobic Ewon Jung, a warm-hearted college student working hard to get by in life, one that has actually just become more difficult. As payback for his infidelity Ewon is forced by ex-boyfriend, Jiho, into a job, working hard for no pay and no benefits. Now working for Jiho’s new lover, Mookyul Eun, a Mafia leader who insists he’s a legitimate business man, Ewon’s days are filled with enduring dangerous situations, running errands and, not to mention, the more-than-just-occasional sexual harassment from Mookyul.
I first came across Totally Captivated in a comic store here, and I won’t even begin to tell you how difficult it is to come across great titles in terms of manga and manhwa here. Strangely enough, when rummaging through the boxes the thing that enticed me to pick up Totally Captivated was not that I recognized it as a BL title. The delicate artwork and vivid colours are what really stood out to me.
Even briefly looking through it each character leaves an impression on the reader. After some time I had gotten tired of reading manga/manhwa in which someone would show up and I need to ask myself, ‘who is this again?’ due to everyone looking so similar or some of the more minor characters looking so sketchy. Not here though; each and every person, whether a major or minor character, stood out as someonememorable. Whether it was in the details or the bit of personal style they were each given you always remembered who they were. The details and symbolism in this was quite impressive; I could probably spend ten minutes decoding the cover artwork symbolism alone.
The characters in this story, either in terms of appearance or personality, all seem to be very appealing. Now if this means their personalities and appearance combined are liked or disliked, it again tends to depend on the reader. The reason for this is simple; each character is as realistic as possible, and just like real people we’re forced to decide just what our views of that person are despite everything, including their faults.
Ewon Jung is probably the most complex character, or at least the one I found most interesting through each volume, and this is probably because, like any other person, there are plenty of layers to him. Ewon’s warm and friendly nature makes him naturally loved by a lot of people and gives him the ability to get along with just about everyone. But even through that he doesn’t let people get too close to the real him.
From a young age he learned to do everything himself, becoming independent, and learning the meaning of hard work and good education from his insistence that it will help to make him happy in the future. This attitude means that he doesn’t let himself get attached to anything and doesn’t fall in love; fearing that he would lose everything. So he closes off his heart, keeping people from getting too close, knowing that it would hurt more if he got attached, and stimulates the end of all his relationships with infidelity in hopes of getting abandoned for that reason and no other.
For me, that was something extremely impressive to find in this manhwa since when I first started reading it I didn’t expect something so in-depth, with a carefully calculated difference between what Ewon says and does, versus how he feels and what he keeps to himself. The subtle details of Ewon’s personality are something that you’re always discovering.
Mookyul, on the other hand is quite opposite, but he’s also extremely unexpected. As a natural leader he is bold and aggressive, with his quick temper intimidating everyone and keeping their work organized. Even though going against him would be suicide we often find that his employees truly are loyal to him for reasons other than the fact that he scares him; he actually has a very generous and understanding side to himself. Of course, this is a side of him that they had only learnt of upon devoting themselves to working well for him, but nonetheless most continue to work hard because they’re able to see sides of him that he cannot show when it comes to business.
Life growing up was no harder for Ewon as it was for Mookyul, and the thing that got Mookyul through was the memory of the young boy from his elementary school that reminded him that he would never be alone. This same memory motivated him in the same way Ewon was motivated with to work hard. It’s only after the two of them meet, and Mookyul realizes the importance of the other that things start to progress, so to speak, and that Ewon slowly learns to realize that he has always wanted someone to love, and someone to love him back.
The storyline, to me, seems to be one of the more unique ones. Most people go into mafia-related BL stories with at least a few presumptions and whether those are good things or bad things often depend on peoples tastes. Totally Captivated is not much different, but it’s certainly not because it follows a mafia-BL equation.
While gang-related troubles certainly do show up, this story deals most of all with the people involved, rather than just the business that Mookyul is in. At its core, the story deals with its characters sorting their own lives out. Due to Ewon’s fear of commitment and Mookyul’s brash and insistent attitude there is always some back and forth between the characters which can make things both complicated and exhilarating to read, pushing one to prepare to turn the next page while still engrossed in the previous one.
For a manhwa that can definitely deal with some very grave situations and compelling feelings, the humour in there certainly helps to keep things light at times. Even amongst the terrifying situations, the sadder or more touching moments, or the romantic ones, there’s always going to be a bit of humour in there which makes the whole thing quite a laid-back read all together.
This story keeps your heart beating fast from beginning to end with the suspense, a real need to find out what happens with hope that things will work out in some way. In the end this well-drawn and well-thought story evolves into something far more important and way more fulfilling than some other romantic comedy.
Unique and detailed art style
Well-rounded realistic characters
Believable and heated chemistry
Totally Captivated, until the end, really did leave me just that.