How many people wish their life was a video game? Hundreds? Thousands? It’s a popular dream for today’s geek culture, and many different types of media have explored the idea of combining everyday life with the fantasy world of a video game. Isekai manga and anime specialize in this kind of storytelling. Free Guy is a new movie this year that is delving into real-life meets video game storytelling. Webtoon has its own comic that turns reality into a video game for Jihan Han, a typical high school student with an odd superpower. The Gamer by Sangyoung Seong with art by Sang-A is the story of Jihan Han gaining this weird superpower that makes his life into a living video game complete with pop-up boxes that explain things.
Jihan Han has no idea why he was given such an odd power. In the beginning, he has more questions than answers about what is happening to him. He gains experience through actions and completing quests instead of by killing monsters like in traditional games when studies, exercises, or completes quests like chores for his mom, he gains experiences that help him level up. Through trial and error, Jihan Han realizes that increasing his intelligence will benefit him more in his life than strength or other skills. Soon after his odd superpower, the gamer, appears Jihan Han witnesses a supernatural fight, to say the least, but no one else around him sees the events. His superpower thrusts him into a side of the world that he didn’t even know existed. The comic features magic, the power associated with different types of martial arts, mythical creatures, and alternate spaces where these mythical things can exist without disturbing ordinary people. Jihan Han is forced into battle with a black slime, which spurs the creation of new skills he can use to survive because surviving is his drive in this new video game-like world.
He constantly levels up his skills or gets new skills with each new enemy that he stumbles upon throughout the comic. Eventually, he masters teaching himself new skills and surviving in his new reality with a little help from his friends and allies. This was the video game-like world that Jihan Han had wanted to live in. His sole drive was to survive whatever enemy he came across next through this new reality instead of enjoying a normal life. The comic is full of twists with genuine connections between the characters because Jihan Han isn’t trying to be a hero at all when he ends up saving the day. All Jihan Han wants is to survive each ordeal, which makes him grow strong quickly and attracts new enemies. He is the unlikely hero whose world just got dangerous from becoming a video game instead of better like people dream of.
The comic has dark moments and themes, but it is realistic in how it handles each new obstacle for Jihan Han and his friends. There are funny moments throughout Jihan Han’s adventure that positively balance the story. Jihan Han’s skills expand in unlikely ways throughout the series that make for many comedic moments. The Gamer is a realistic take on the classic isekai genre that makes it stand out among the numerous stories and adaptations. For fantasy and Isekai fans, this comic is a solid read that is already in its fifth season of episodes. Each episode is like a comic stripe that equals a chapter in a novel. There are new episodes on Friday on Webtoon.
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Angela Zwolinski is a contributing writer at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Twitter @AngelaZwolinski & @angie_the_author on Instagram.