Following the great Lezhin boom of 2017, BL manhwa skyrocketed in fame and official translations were made readily available for every other new work out there. However, delving into this industry as a person with morals is as exhausting as the eternal search for decent manga with LGBTQIA+ content. You’ll have to go through dozens of webtoons that are terribly-written, over the top, fetishize LGBTQIA+ folks, or all of the above.
Thankfully, I’m here to get the ugly work done so that you don’t have to!
Korean Name: 2반 이희수
Genre: BL, Shounen Ai, Fluff, Cavities
Chapters: 79 (2 Seasons)
Heesu is a “plain” boy who is self-aware of his standing as an extra in Chanyoung’s story. Heesu has never stood out in anything and only blended in the background of Chanyoung’s life, who is his crush and best friend. Chanyoung is athletic, handsome, sociable, and popular. Heesu has liked him for a long time and has built his entire life around him. Thus, Heesu himself remarks that although people are usually the heroes of their own stories, his life is actually Chanyoung’s story.
Nonetheless, his first love is straight. Heesu has come to terms with this fact and is satisfied with standing on the sidelines of Chanyoung’s active romantic life. Despite the fact that Chanyoung has dated many girls, his relationships never last long because of his lack of investment in them. That’s not to say he breaks up with all of his girlfriends – rather, they’re the ones who break up with him. This arrangement is good enough for Heesu, as Chanyoung doesn’t have anyone he really loves.
Heesu’s daily life as an extra is thrown off by an outrageous rumor: Heesu in Class 2 can fix anyone’s love problems. Unbeknownst to him, this rumor marks the start of his journey as the hero of his own story.
One of the strongest points of Heesu in Class 2 is definitely the composition of its narrative. Its main objective is to show the reader Heesu’s growth from an extension of someone else’s existence to an individual who can leave his mark in the lives of others. Initially, Heesu is someone who exclusively interacts with Chanyoung and has no other significant platonic connections. Over time, he makes new friends, falls in love again, and successfully quits the role of a mere “listener”.
The first season as a whole is the superior half of the story. The main focus is Heesu’s development through his friendships and the progress of the wholesome slow burn romance between him and Seungwoo. The events that take place, the friendship squad, and the introduction of each of the two leads’ family come together to complete a picture that will heal your very core. “Love is not dead,” you say, as your faith in humanity is restored.
The second season isn’t as solid as the first, but it’s still enjoyable. The protagonism mildly shifts from Heesu and friends to introduce a secondary couple that hogs a lot of the spotlight. The main problem is, not only is the secondary couple not as interesting as our main couple, but they also completely snuff out the focus on Chanyoung and Jiyu, who were charming and lovable parts of the core cast. The friendship squad ghosts us for well over 30 chapters and then miraculously appears again in the ending. The narrative would have benefitted much more from showing glimpses of Chanyoung and Jiyu’s personal lives, addressing situations such as Chanyoung’s struggles finding a meaningful romance. Instead, their plot relevance is discarded to introduce the two new characters who… really weren’t necessary. At all.
This problem aside, though, the progression of Heesu and Seungwoo’s relationship is so endearing and soft that it’s the kind of rewarding content authors often leave out of their stories, leaving it up to fans to write in the form of fanfiction. These two are an exemplary portrayal of a healthy relationship. Despite my aversion to parenthood, the motherly feelings these two stirred in me are stronger than the light from a thousand suns.
One of the webtoon’s strengths is its characters. Our protagonist, Heesu, is a sweet, kind boy who comes from a large and loving family. Heesu in Class 2 begins with Heesu embracing a reality that features him as an unremarkable side-character with a one-sided crush. Seungwoo’s intervention in his life helps him come out of his shell and speak up for himself instead of passively listening to everything Chanyoung says. Heesu’s true personality is diligently dug out of a ditch by Seungwoo, and he naturally flourishes into a social butterfly in turn.
Not only is Heesu one of the most adorable characters you’ll encounter, but he’s also one of the most relatable ones. Both his contentment in an unbalanced relationship and his newfound confidence following the joy of a reciprocal one are situations many can relate to. Since Heesu had never experienced any sort of platonic connection that involved mutual support, he was unable to miss something he never had. His admiration for Chanyoung eclipsed every other necessity, leading him to a lonely lifestyle. After opening up to others and attaining meaningful platonic and romantic connections, he gained both ambition and empathy. Was Heesu’s growth satisfactory? Damn right it was.
Seungwoo is a shy and reserved boy who has liked Heesu for a long time, yet couldn’t muster the courage to speak to him. The rumor about Heesu’s matchmaking finally gives Seungwoo the perfect excuse to approach him. Over time, he demonstrates that he’s a great listener and caretaker. He loves listening to Heesu ramble and looks after him in the same way Heesu looks after Chanyoung. Thanks to his two beautiful mothers, Seungwoo’s very open-minded and caring. Getting closer to Heesu makes him drop his cold and distant demeanor while encouraging him to open up and become more approachable. A few chapters will be enough to add Seungwoo to your ever-growing list of children. Going into Heesu in Class 2, you certainly need to be prepared to mother all of its cast.
Chanyoung is a surprisingly deeper character than Heesu would have you think. Although he’s perfect in Heesu’s eyes, he’s no big shot in the eyes of the reader. Heesu’s narration gives off the impression that he’s your standard popular guy who can’t get a hint, and he also comes off as a bit of an asshole because of the one-sided dynamic their friendship has. Nonetheless, later chapters will prove your initial judgment wrong and prompt you to love and respect him. He’s not happy with the one-sided nature of his relationship with his best friend, either, and he’s determined to change it.
Jiyu’s characterization is such a refreshing breath of fresh air that it’s impossible to dislike her. She’s not your classic feminine girl nor Heesu’s love rival. In fact, she’s Seungwoo’s best friend who, much like Chanyoung, is determined to help Heesu and Seungwoo get together. Jiyu is funny, charming, kind-hearted, and even motherly. Her off-the-charts chemistry with Chanyoung also gives off the vibe that they could’ve dated, which might have addressed Chanyoung’s incapability of falling in love with anyone. Alas, the author probably didn’t go through with her plans because of Heesu in Class 2’s BL genre. Fuck the ratings, give me that quality narrative!
Heesu and Seungwoo both belong to healthy and loving families. Heesu’s three sisters are down-to-earth and witty, and their individual personalities are so strong that you might end up picking a favorite. On the other hand, although they’re not in-frame as often, Seungwoo’s mothers set an example of a quiet and happy family. The environment of Seungwoo’s home isn’t as boisterous as that of Heesu’s messy house, yet it gives off a peaceful vibe. Everyone is great at reading each other, which is why words are often unnecessary. The contrast between the two households is similar to the contrast between the two boys, and it works.
Heesu in Class 2 features sketchy linework and soft, glossy coloring as its signature style. Throughout the manhwa’s publication, the character designs experience huge improvements that polish the cast’s appearance and successfully enhance your motherly feelings towards them. In general, the art is aesthetically appealing, albeit with some downsides. The sketchy aesthetic of its character lineart can occasionally look too sloppy, and its props… well, you be the judge with the example below.
The faults in presentation won’t hinder your overall enjoyment. Still, even if it pains me, they’re worth noting. As a side note, I began noticing these faults towards the end of the webtoon. I’m unsure if I just started paying more attention to the aesthetics, or if it was a recent problem possibly caused by the author’s run to the finish line.
Heesu in Class 2 is a refreshing read in an industry that is, unfortunately, brimming with unhealthy portrayals of LGBTQIA+ relationships. This gem made all the bullshit I browsed to get to it worth it. So much care is put into its universe that even the “angst” is so adorable. You will feel happy every second spent reading about Heesu’s adventures. The writing is so overwhelmingly sweet that it will heal your heart at every little gesture. All of the characters come together to present to you a big and supportive family that you won’t want to part ways with. It’s a must-read for any avid or casual webtoon reader, even for newcomers looking for a light-hearted work.
- The main cast is criminally likable. You'll walk out with 40 million children.
- The main romance is an amazing representation of a healthy relationship with good communication and mutual care.
- There are no dragged-out cliché misunderstandings nor any negative tropes. This means no love triangles, no toxic jealousy, no dubious consent, etc.
- The start of the relationship isn't the end of the manhwa.
- The second season wastes time introducing an unnecessary and unmemorable secondary couple.
- The art, although good, can be too sketchy at times. This is mostly seen in props, as the artist prioritizes the characters in her drawings.
- It ended. Why did it have to end? I got too attached to these characters please save me.