When webtoons first came on the scene, they were mostly a platform for Asian creators to promote their own creations, such as various manhwa. But in a more accessible, digital platform, which was where the humble beginnings of apps such as Line WebToons happened. And coming to the West, it’s easy to see the appeal now, with more AAPI creators getting a spotlight on their work inspired by their own heritage. One such work that comes to mind is the webtoon My Dear Cold Blooded King. A mouthful of a title, but a bingeable story, nonetheless.
Despite its very Manhua-inspired setting; My Dear Cold Blooded King is not a fully Chinese-influenced webtoon. If anything, it’s much closer to Japanese culture, from the names of its characters to the use of Japanese memorabilia such as Katanas and intricate Yukatas. But it’s easy to see how the two cultures are blended together to create this homogenous East Asian aesthetic, mimicking the kind of Wuxia dramas that are steadily becoming popular outside of China.
But that just speaks of the influence Asia has had on the world of graphic comics and novels in general. Sure, you have big comic industry giants in the west such as Marvel and DC Comics still. But the true dominators when it comes to sheer popularity are manga, which is closely being followed by an influx of Korean manhwa and Chinese manhua. You see their influence all over the WebToons app, both with stories created by Asian contributors and non-Asian ones too.
But how does My Dear Cold Blooded King fare when it comes to these inspiring stories? Is it a run-of-the-mill love triangle? Or is it a bad rendition of cultural appropriation? Do we have something that meets the eye with this comic? We won’t know until we try it ourselves. So, let’s get on with the review!
A Story Fit For A Chinese Drama Adaptation:
I’m a romance sap so it’s no wonder why I gravitated to this story. But the story is actually much more well-written than you’d think.
The central core is around this legend of the ‘Blood Kings’, who are these ruthless rulers at face value but are actually a decoy created to keep the ‘True King’ safe. During the events of the webtoon, we meet two men that are both the Blood Kings: The first is the silver-haired Asukai Katsu, who is shown to be the king our heroine is engaged to. And the second is Ryusaki Hayate, the lieutenant-general for Asukai’s army and head of the Blood Core.
Our main protagonist is Mei Kihara, a strong and capable young woman who came from humble beginnings. But after her brother, Daisuke, went MIA (Missing In Action) as a soldier, she had to take the helm up to support her family and got appointed as the assistant physician in the Royal Court.
And it is at this court where she encounters her future love interests, the Blood Kings. The story that follows is full of deceit, suspense and hidden feelings, with Mei caught in the middle of it all but one thing is for sure: the Blood Kings aren’t what they seem. And there is a huge secret just waiting to blow.
My Dear Cold Blooded King: The Breakdown
This is everything a teenage girl discovering the magic of historical k-dramas would love. It’s got really pretty visuals which definitely add to the appeal but surprisingly? The story isn’t half bad either.
Mei is a deceptively strong character. A little Mary Sue-esque, maybe. But it was still nice to see a female character not taking all the dirt flung at her by the male love interests and them getting away with it scot-free. It starts off very stereotypical, with both male characters being absolutely infuriating with how they treat Mei. But the story actually mellows out pretty nicely, becoming more and more streamlined and less tropey. Also, the romance flip flops beautifully, with both love interests growing equally to be better to the main female lead.
It’s that growth that makes the story flow organically instead of being another toxic love triangle. And in the end, loose ends get tied up nicely enough.
Is My Dear Cold Blooded King Worth Reading?
I’m just glad this webtoon was a complete work by the time I got around to finishing it. Because I could not have the patience to wait with how suspenseful things got in it. A love triangle is best savored finished, so you don’t have to wait for a resolution.
This story was clearly inspired by romance manga that is centered around the Edo period, which explains the heavy-handed Japanese references. That doesn’t detract from the story, however. As I said, the art does end up working to not be cliché. Nor does it end up romanticizing the ‘Orientalism’ one expects from stories like these.
All in all? A pretty solid read if convoluted romance and political intrigue are your thing!