Publisher: Lezhin/KIDARISTUDIO (@LezhinComicz_US)
WHAT IS IT?
Two clueless best friends try to out-scheme each other instead of confessing their feelings in this new all-ages will-they/won’t-they boys’ love webtoon*.
Think To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before meets How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
High school BFFs Yang Juho and Kang Shinwoo spent every waking moment together. They were so glued to each other that all of their friends swore they were dating! Even when Shinwoo’s creative writing essay about unrequited love wins a radio contest, he refuses to acknowledge the reality of the situation and swears it’s all fiction.
Now, ten years later, Juho and Shinwoo remain close as close can be, but upon attending a wedding for one of their former classmates, the schoolyard taunting returns, causing Shinwoo to go on the defensive and swear they’re only good friends. Things take a turn on the ride home when Juho suddenly confesses he’s dating another man, and Shinwoo finds himself heartbroken over the fact his decade long crush is no longer on the market.
The truth is, Shinwoo has been desperately in love with Juho for years and everyone (except Juho himself) seems to know it. But when Juho brings his new boyfriend around, Shinwoo finds it impossible to continue on with life as he knew it and his heart starts to break. Too bad it’s all a cleverly made ploy by Juho to trick Shinwoo into admitting his feelings. Now the two men find themselves tangled in a web of lies and trickery as they struggle with their inability to openly admit their feelings for each other, leading to a will-they/won’t-they romance for the ages!
SANHO’s artwork is adorable! The soft, warm color palettes and rounded faces of the cast give this an instant shoujo* aesthetic that really hypes up the romcom vibe of the story. It has an endless summer feeling to it that is almost nostalgic, which only enhances the long standing relationship at the core of the narrative.
YUL really nailed the classic fake-dating romcom movie feeling with this story, and the realistic but slightly amped up personalities of the cast make the comedy feel earned and the relationship between Shinwoo and Juho believable. They read like best friends with years of unrequited, unspoken love between them from moment one and you're hopelessly intwined with the shenanigans the moment you realize what's happening.
When it comes to webtoons, KIDARISTUDIO presents some of the best out there and, with Lezhin as a platform, you’re always guaranteed a good read. The quality of the translation and lettering is top notch and clean, with great font choices for both the text and sound effects throughout.
The series has some beautiful textures and lighting effects that add a spark of life to the panels. Each illustration shines with details and personality, also expertly utilizing the scrolling webtoon formatting to showcase pivotal moments, making this a highly enjoyable read.
The series is charming and one of the few all-ages BL stories released on the Lezhin platform in 2023 that's really worth the read. The level of quality in this is leagues above the rest and will become an instant favorite for BL fans both new and old.
I love the addition of character development in Shinwoo’s story of going from winning a contest with his story submission in high school to becoming a storyteller online with a streaming audience, it’s a fun modern approach to the “writer” trope used in many romcom stories and it’s setting him up for some clever moment using his small audience and writing abilities to get revenge/set up Juho.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The series does focus on a theme of manipulation to try and win over a crush, so it can feel a bit childish and may make some readers uncomfortable. There are a lot of individuals with their hands in Juho and Shinwoo’s relationship and, while it never leads to non-con (at least at the current state of the story), it can feel a bit gross to know that Juho is so openly playing Shinwoo instead of being honest with his feelings.
Setting You Up features a commonly used storytelling trope that I, personally, dislike. Instead of establishing the story and letting things play out, the opening of chapter one shows a portion of the story way down the line where Shinwoo already uncovers Juho’s ploy and gets angry about it, which kind of kills the fun of the surprise.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Setting You Up has it all! Friends to lovers tropes, will-they/won’t-they drama, classic fake-dating pranks, and slow burn love all centered around a quirky and lovable cast! This charming new release from Lezhin is the perfect summer romcom about two high school friends and their decade-long secret crushes on each other that will have you both smiling and groaning as they dance around their feelings. Dropping earlier this month, this new all-ages BL title released with a whopping eight episodes that perfectly build momentum and get you invested before hitting new readers with a cliffhanger moment.
This modern, cute story about long standing crushes hooked me from episode one and I can’t wait to add this to my regular Thursday webtoon lineup! It’s cute, quirky, a bit frustrating in all the right ways, and the clever scheming at the core of the story is an absolute classic. The brilliant cast of characters, beautifully textured artwork, and expertly crafted main romantic duo will have you grinning from ear to ear with each new episode it releases. If you're looking for a fun romcom, definitely jump into Setting You Up over on Lezhin!
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All SANHO/YUL characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright SANHO/YUL or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*webtoon is used here in regard to the scrolling style digital comics originating from South Korea, not to be confused with WEBTOON, the publisher/platform.
*shoujo is a classic genre of manga typically focused on romance-based stories and historically aimed at young girls and women.