There are certain manga and manhwa series that have grown in popularity over the last few years, and the reincarnation genre is one of them. In these, typically the hero or heroine is reincarnated, aware of their past, and use that knowledge to move forward. With Yen Press’ See You in My 19th Life, we get a story from Lee Hey that expresses the exhaustion of such a thing, as well as a reignited desire.
See You in My 19th Life actually begins with Juwon Yun’s 18th reincarnation, rather than the 19th we’re hearing about in the title of the manhwa. It sets the stage by showing the detachment that comes from living so many times and remembering each experience, as well as it making her rather well known for her maturity and intelligence. She seems fine with coasting through things, especially as this time she is a daughter in a wealthy family. However, when she’s 12 she meets a spirited little boy named Seoha Mun, as her mother is friends with his terminally ill mother and she’s brought to spend time with him in the hopes her maturity rubs off on him.
Things start off in a really adorable fashion, because Juwon comes across as somewhat jaded and disconnected. Meanwhile Seoha is a typical young boy who is precocious, smart, and dealing with the knowledge is mother is dying and he’ll essentially be alone due to an absentee father. So seeing the relationship building between the two in the first part of the manhwa, until it reaches the point where they’re important to each other, is absolutely captivating. The pacing is perfect.
So much so that it really hits hard when Juwon experiences the end of her 18th life. Spoilers aside, the events of that life leave her with a sense of purpose for her 19th. Jieum, formerly Juwon, is determined to get close to and meet Seoha once again. Which means the latter half of the manhwa shows just how helpful knowledge of reincarnation can help in a comic or manga such as this. We get insight into what she’s done, how she did it, and the very beginnings of her plans to trigger her chance to see him again.
It also means a fascinating look at Seoha’s life. After all, we’re seeing his past connection to Juwon, what he does with himself when he’s completely alone, and his eventual interactions with a woman determined to get close to him. Again, it often defies expectations for these sorts of series.
All in all, See You in My 19th Life starts out strong and feels quite different from some other reincarnation manhwa and manga I’ve read before. Juwon/Jieum has a different mindset and outlook than other heroines at the outset of the story, and seeing her focus and how she approaches things later really makes it compelling. Seoha’s situation is also very heartfelt, and it makes you want to root for him.
Volume 1 of See You in My 19th Life is available now, and Yen Press will release volume 2 on April 23, 2024. The K-drama adaptation is available on Netflix.