You know, I can pretend to be this connoisseur when it comes to the media I enjoy. A true artisan of anime, a master at finding the finest manhwa and manga around. But really, I’m just as basic as the next person, and sometimes I enjoy shallow plotlines with nothing more than fan service to offer. But not always. Sometimes, a manhwa can be too stereotypical, even for my low standards and I have to sit there and ask what went wrong.
Look, I’m not saying I don’t have any criteria when it comes to webtoons and manhwa. Of course, there are just some things that are leaps and bounds better than anything else on the market. I adore stories that move me and compel me to think. There are stories out there that have consumed me, mind and soul. But sometimes I go in with expectations of a lighter plotline to just enjoy casually and end up with something so clichéd and boring that, well, I don’t see the point in continuing it.
There is such a thing as being too basic, where it isn’t even average. Instead, it ends up disappointing you. You know the type, where you go in expecting at least a little bit of fun, even if it’s cringe or stereotypical, only to realize that it didn’t even deliver a bit of entertainment. Imagine writing something so bland, that it circles back to straight-up awful. You wasted all this time reading, for 0 payoffs and all the regret in the world.
But that’s exactly what we are here to help you with. Today, we are going to take a look at what I consider the most stereotypical manhwa I have found so far. These are the manhwa that might’ve been hyped at one point until you read them and realize just how basic and cliché, they ended up being. These are some of the most overrated examples in their respective genres, so let’s dive straight in!
The Devil Duke’s Little Bride
You know, out of all the fantasy romance manhwa listed here, this is probably one of the tamer ones. Sadly, that doesn’t make it any better to read through, but I guess it’s a comforting thought.
The Devil Duke’s Little Bride has all your tropes – a flailing female lead, Ariel, that is supposedly pure but vapid, that is caught in a love triangle where one of the love interests is a heavily Tsundere Duke named Austin. Oh, and an arranged marriage, as if it couldn’t get any more predictable. But here’s the catch. The love triangle? It’s between two brothers. For in, one of the brothers hates the female lead because he thinks she’s going to steal his brother away from him. Despite being the one married to him!
I mean, if you want to laugh at how bad this manhwa is, go ahead and give it a read!
Ironically enough, I watched the live-action for this before I got to the manhwa. And like all romance between high schoolers, it was meh. A little toxic, a little cute, you get the drift. It’s the stereotypical bad high school romance.
And somehow, all of the worst bits from the show are amplified in the manhwa. Love Alarm is about how an app exists that can let you know if people in your immediate vicinity have a crush on you. It’s got plenty of fluff potential, the perfect romantic setting. And yet it falls short thanks to a cocktail of terrible characters and unlikable meek leads. Like, genuinely unlikable. I have no idea why the female lead is putting up with her supposed love interest’s BS, but I guess that’s typical for some of the romance manhwa out here.
If you want guilty pleasure and bad k-drama vibes, this is the manhwa for you.
Cheese In The Trap
I remember thinking Cheese In The Trap was oddly cruel for a casual webtoon. Like, for the male lead was so awful to the female lead at any given moment.
And it’s like, she didn’t even do anything to deserve it? It’s your typical story starring Hong Seol, a hard-working but poor female student, who comes back to university and finds herself in the company of Yoo Jung, aka Mr. Perfect. But we learn that Jung is pretty manipulative and rude, specifically to her. And so, she drops out, exhausted by it all. Only to get a call back on a scholarship that was intended for Jung, but he gave it up for her? And from there we start an uncomfortable romance.
It’s fine. It’s okay. But there are better enemies-to-lovers out there.
God Of High School
Look, I already know what you’re thinking. The God Of High School is stereotypical? Overrated even? And the answer to that is, well, yes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good high school showdown as much as the next Shonen fangirl. But Jin Mori is about as bland as protagonists get. Yes, I enjoy the fight scenes in it, and I can appreciate them for the action. But the overall story is just so boring, which aren’t words you should expect when it concerns a battle royale between OP and hell martial artists who happen to be high schoolers. The slapstick humor gets old, really fast and once you’re done with the fighting, there isn’t much substance to keep it going.
I don’t know if it’s popular and I get that. But there are so many other manga and manhwa out there that did this concept better.
Yet another stereotypical arranged marriage, who had that on their bingo? But what’s said with Lucia is that, despite using the same old tropes as other fantasy romances out there, there was a genuinely compelling premise. But it failed to capitalize on it.
Lucia was the manhwa adaptation of a popular web novel of the same name. It follows the story of Lucia, a princess who had seen her sordid future in a dream. In an attempt to change it, she marries Duke Hugo Taran, widely known as being a bit of a ladies’ man. But is that enough to stop the inevitable from happening? Turns out, it doesn’t matter because the art alone can turn you off from trying to read the manhwa.
Okay, maybe I’m being unfair here. The story is just extremely overrated, with nothing to offer beyond steamy scenes and angst. And if that’s your thing, there are plenty of manhwa out there that did the whole ‘falling in love with your husband’ thing more cohesively.
Who Made Me A Princess
If nothing, this manhwa wins the award for the most WTF main coupling I’ve ever seen. Because honestly, how are people reading this and not cringing?
Imagine reading about a magical prince that killed his children, and then waking up to see you have now been reincarnated as his daughter. Well, that’s exactly what happens to Athanasia in Who Made Me A Princess. And like, if that wasn’t messed up enough, the manhwa starts setting up this father-daughter duo as a future ship? It was fine when she was just trying to escape her fate, helping her father from being a stereotypical villain. But it just went places that would’ve worked with a traditional couple, but not here.
Listen, this is borderline incestuous. And there is nothing special that pulls it out of its cliché.
I saved this one for the top, for a reason. I have never seen a manhwa that fell as hard as True Beauty did. And it isn’t hard to see why. It is possibly the worst manhwa I’ve ever read, without it doing anything offensive. Like, comically bad manhwa can at least be entertaining. But True Beauty is like empty air.
It’s so, so boring. When I first started this, it had so much promise. Jungyeong reminded me of myself, with her insecurities about how she looked and her love for all things macabre. But it went from a story about inner beauty and being liked for who you are vs how you look, to whatever bastardization the climax ended up as.
It became something about catfishing, I think? And a love triangle that went nowhere between Suho and Seojun? It just dragged on for so long, that even fans were frustrated. And don’t get me started on the art, which became so downright bad and overproduced, trying to capture and conform itself to what the artist considered pretty.
True Beauty did the impossible: it went back on its ideals and said, nope. Outer beauty does matter, ugly people can suck it. That’s the moral. It isn’t even worth a hate read!