There will be spoilers for the manhwa and dating sim series Invitation of the Mystic Messenger. This review is exclusively for the manhwa, but because the manhwa is based on the dating sim, there is a likely chance this will spoil both.
Trigger Warning: There will be mention of suicide as it appears in Invitation of the Mystic Messenger.
Hana Kang was not having a very good day. She gets fired from her job, her rent goes up, and as a result, she loses her home. So she goes out into the world with her few possessions, lost and alone. Out there, she runs into a beautiful blond woman who comforts her and asks her to be her friend one day. Naturally, Hana wants to be her friend, too, and after they part, Hana finds that the mysterious woman has left her phone, which gives her the perfect opportunity to seek her out.
However, upon checking the phone for information on the mysterious woman, Hana finds nothing except an app called Mystic Messenger. When she uses the app, she gets a response from someone named Unknown, who points her toward an empty apartment. Little does she know, the apartment and the app are being monitored by members of a group known as RFA – Rika's Fundraising Association – and because Rika has passed, her role in the group is opened, and they all offer it to Hana. So, with a new job, a new apartment, and a gaggle of attractive suitors at the ready, Hana sets off into the unknown.
The art is so cute. I love it so much. The love interests are all super cute, and they each have such a distinct look and design that it is very easy to distinguish what kind of character they are just from their look. I really rooted for everyone to be Hana. There was no one I felt particularly strongly against based on their look, which is usually my first indication of who I ship and who I don't.
I did, of course, end up with my favorites. Zen, Jaehee, 707, and Yoosung were my favorites in that order. I was really hoping Hana would choose Jaehee by the end because I was so cheated in The Makeup Remover with Heewon, but I wasn't disappointed with her ending up with 707. Zen and Jaehee were just so heavily pushed from the start, with Zen being the first one Hana verbally confirmed as requiring feelings that I thought he was the man.
However, it was very clear that 707 was her ideal choice by the end. They ended up with the most in common, and they ended up having some of the cutest interactions among all of the possible couples. I was very pleased with who she ended up with.
The worst part is the mystery aspect of all of this. It is never revealed who Unknown is. We have no idea who sent her to Rika's apartment and why. Perhaps there were subtle suggestions as to who it was – maybe it was Rika's ghost? The fact that I have to question it so much makes me feel like the mystery side of this was not executed very well.
I feel a bit disappointed by the ending, not just due to the lack of resolution on the mystery aspect but the romance is severely lacking. This is an extremely short series (41 episodes on TappyToon, including the prologue). Considering there are five (six if you include V, whom you only see in person twice) possible love interests, it is impossible to give everyone a chance to establish themselves as potential romantic partners. Jumin, in particular, is cheated. I wouldn't even consider him an option, similar to V, because of how little we actually see him with Hana.
Even the ones that did get a lot of spotlight felt pretty superficial overall. We don't really get 707's background until the last few chapters, which makes their romantic growth feel so rushed by the end. While I do feel he was the ideal choice, I felt their romance was cheated because of how little time they received. All of the possible partners were limited by how much time they had.
Something else that suffered due to how short the series was the subplot of Rika and the RFA itself. We don't get any clarity on Rika's background, her mental issues, why she committed suicide, why V is keeping her apartment, why Hana isn't allowed to go through her drawers, etc. It felt like such a useless piece of information, which is unfortunate since suicide is something so earth-shattering not only for the person but for those around that person that to have it be such a minute part of the story that it felt almost offensive. Furthermore, there was no resolution to any of it, and it felt like the RFA was a big nothing burger, seeing as Hana leaves at the end. There is no mention of what happens to RFA after her departure, nor is there any indication as to what the results of the party Hana had been working for throughout the series. It was just a lot of nothing, which was a major disappointment, especially since the romance side was also underwhelming.
This was, unfortunately, pretty disappointing. It is an extremely quick read, so if you're just looking for something quick with very little substance, I'd say this is a good read, but for anyone who is looking for an in-depth romance, I would recommend skipping this one. I am glad I read it, but I would not readily recommend it to anyone, especially if it is your first move into manhwa.
Have you read Invitation of the Mystic Messenger? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!