시맨틱 에러 (Simaentig Eleo)
Angy (art), J. Soori (original story)
Webtoon – Boys’ love, romance
27 Chapters (ongoing)
Sangwoo is the type to be very strict with himself and others, and he’s not about to give credit to people who didn’t participate enough in a group project. Especially since the fourth member never even showed up to class! Turns out that Jaeyoung can’t graduate now because of this, and rumors say he is quite upset. But Sangwoo is just going to ignore the gossip and concentrate on his passion project: making a game. So that means meeting his new artist…
BL fans could be making a big error if they don’t keep an eye on Semantic Error.
Now, I’m going to go off-topic for a minute: if someone isn’t doing their part in a group project, tell your teacher or supervisor. And always keep messages as proof you reached out. Don’t have to come across as a whiner or tattletale, but get it on record that you are having difficulties with another team member.
But whether Sangwoo truly deserved all the credit or if his inflexibility deserved some blame doesn’t matter. Two did some work, but they ended up not appearing on presentation day for one reason or another. The fourth member, a senior named Jaeyoung, didn’t just not show up that day, he never had any class discussions with Sangwoo or anyone else despite his attendance showing he was there. That leads to Jaeyoung not being able to graduate since he had someone else fake checking-in. Sangwoo is a little concerned for his safety when he overhears others discussing how angry Jaeyoung is, but Sangwoo knows he’s right. Besides, he has other things he wants to do besides schoolwork… things like making a mobile game!
Unfortunately, his artist has to back out of the project and sends a classmate instead. Guess who that classmate is.
Anyway, long story short, while Jaeyoung is late and makes Sangwoo cross, the latter is soon impressed by Jaeyoung’s skills. When they agree to work together, the fact that this Jaeyoung is one and the same as the man who has been sending excuses and threatening texts to Sangwoo makes the wannabe game designer run off in fear. Then he’s a little shocked when Jaeyoung tries to act casual and meet up, but Sangwoo has no intention of letting a jerk work on his precious game. They keep bumping into each other and bumping heads, with Sangwoo believing he’s in the right and Jaeyoung annoyed by the other’s attitude. So Jaeyoung makes a decision, which Sangwoo assumes it’s a physical threat, but well, Jaeyoung has other ideas in mind.
Now, this is the kind of series where initially, both leads are… well, less than endearing to readers. For being in their mid-20s, they still have some maturing to do. Jaeyoung is pretty obvious — he decides he has more important things to do and wants credit for a class he never showed up to, let alone did any work for. Then, when he gets his just desserts, after not getting an apology from someone who indirectly called him out on his behavior, he decides to essentially stalk and harass Sangwoo without breaking any laws. That includes signing up for all his classes, sitting in his favorite spot, and buying up all of Sangwoo’s favorite coffee so there’s none available.
Meanwhile, Sangwoo has an absolute right to live his life the way he wants. But when you tend to have your life so perfectly scheduled to the point where people can easily pin down the minute you arrive… well, beyond the safety issue, it’s generally not a healthy way to live. Humans need stimulation after all and the ability to adapt to changes. For those wondering, Sangwoo reports that a doctor said he doesn’t meet the full criteria for OCD, but that’s surely not the only diagnosis the doctor should consider. He just seems to avoid human contact and relationships. At one point, he says love (specifically, romantic love) doesn’t exist since he’s never felt it before. You’d think by his mid-20s he’d have met at least one couple who would be a good example of true love.
Sure, he has his game, so even though he does things like insult the school festival, it’s not like he’s a misanthrope with no hobbies. But it’s no wonder others jokingly wonder if he’s a robot. At best, he forms a sort-of friendship with a young woman named Jihye, whom he met recently and is now a classmate. She’s a bit talkative, so the opposite of Sangwoo, but he doesn’t find her too annoying. A part of that is just Jaeyoung ruining Sangwoo’s day so much Jihye is a breath of fresh air. She’s the outgoing sort, but she’s likely looking at Sangwoo with a deeper motive besides being just friends or acquaintances.
But despite Sangwoo’s understandable fear and anger at Jaeyoung for messing with him, Jaeyoung has a charm that takes Sangwoo aback. For readers, there are chapters from his point-of-view, and we can see buds of interest were planted long ago. The adage that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference is probably something Jaeyoung would agree with. Because more than anything, he’s irritated that a nice, talented, popular guy like him has been ignored — and by a guy who somehow sticks out to him.
Still, disappointment that someone didn’t want to form a relationship (platonic or romantic) with you is no reason to be a jerk. It takes quite a while to move out of that antagonistic phase, and even then, I can’t blame Sangwoo for being hesitant and on guard. Even when Jaeyoung stops appearing everywhere Sangwoo goes, he’s still hypervigilant. But soon, Jaeyoung’s on his mind for a different reason.
Right now, the webtoon is at a point where Sangwoo is trying to tackle with his own emotions. Sangwoo definitely has never been attracted to a guy before, and Jaeyoung is unlikely to have been. The latter, though his initial anger and interest would seem to be more indicative of falling for the other first, may surprisingly be progressing slower — or at least differently — for him than Sangwoo. Maybe it isn’t surprising considering Sangwoo is finally becoming emotional and not relying on strict logic. Those little gestures and touches start to reverberate in his mind — and his body. These are college students, so there were some adult and/or crude conversations, but now the so-called robot is experiencing desire (much to his consternation). I have little doubt the series will get into risqué content, and I’m sure readers will so be looking forward to that.
But as Sangwoo and Jaeyoung become something close to friends, it’s a familiar but still likable dynamic. This is not a series where you look at the two leads and immediately go, “Wow, they are so cute together! What a match made in heaven!” because of… well, you know, the whole stalker thing and the other at least considering whether his partners had good excuses for seemingly dropping the ball on a group project. I mean, you know a couple is going to be born sometime, but you want them to have some significant personal growth before pairing up.
I was taken aback that the game isn’t what brings them closer together — if anything, it’s a comedy bit made for class to practice speaking that helps the most. (I must admit I didn’t quite get the jokes, but maybe that’s because the whole skit wasn’t shown and/or because I don’t know much about Chinese culture.) Anyway, we have the confident, cocky, outgoing one, and the calm, rational (maybe overly rational) one, and you can see how both Jaeyoung and Sangwoo need each other’s influence in their lives. Going back to the comedy routine, Jaeyoung gets them actual costumes, and although they look ridiculous, he still manages to get a selfie with Sangwoo. While he barely shows any expression in the pic, it’s the fact he allowed that picture to be taken at all that represents progress.
But most of all, when this bond truly starts to form, the art feels like it starts taking more risks. The title, as you may know, refers to a computer programming bug in the programming. For Sangwoo, Jaeyoung’s existence that messes up his strict routine that he follows (his “coding”, in other words). My favorite scenes are these rainbow-like mental “glitch worlds”. The rest of the art is nice, with some good reactions from the gloomy, cap-wearing Sangwoo and emphasizing how Jaeyoung can dress up for his job but still attracts attention no matter how he looks. Yes, even with his occasional dark side coming out, and the chapters flow smoothly even with the awkwardness that is Jaeyoung’s wanting revenge to wanting friendship. But at times (moreso in the current chapters), the more simplistic panels full of whitespace are doused in color and computer rectangles. They’re just so striking, and I hope we see more of them as Jaeyoung causes Sangwoo to short circuit.
There are some old-school video game bit art in some chapter intros and exits, and I’d love to see more of those scenes as well. Like, video game heart health gauges to represent affection; that’s always fun to see. And I do want to see how the two (presumably) work on the game — will the webtoon show the game’s story/testing with the two of them as avatars? Also, there’s a bonus monochrome Christmas chapter unique to the webtoon, so there may be more of those coming. I was a little taken aback by the sudden manga-ness, and since it’s a story about the past, it can be read anytime. So maybe it could be a starting point for readers like me who aren’t typical webtoon fans as a way to get in the vertical scrolling groove.
Semantic Error has the potential to be a great BL webtoon, even though this is the type of “how did you two meet” story that any parent would hate to hear about their child and new partner. But with a bit of the traditional The Odd Couple vibe and gaming/tech aspects that could add a lot of visual flair, romance fans may want to give this a chance now that things are changing between the two leads.