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Series / Extraordinary You

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Extraordinary You (어쩌다 발견한 하루; Eojjeoda Balgyeonhan Haru) is a 2019 Korean Series, based on the webtoon July Found By Chance (어쩌다 발견한 7월), starring Kim Hye-yoon, Rowoon, Lee Jae-wook, Lee Na-eun, Jung Gun-joo, Kim Young-dae and Lee Tae-ri.

Ordinary High-School Student Eun Dan-o has it all: money, friends, and a place at the prestigous Seuli High. She is also engaged to her childhood crush, Baek Kyung, who belongs to the A3 clique which practically rules the school. Apart from her chronic heart condition, things look fine.

Until one day, she starts noticing something weird going on: sometimes she finds herself in places and situations with no memory of how she got there; at other times, she does and says things against her will, as if someone is controlling her from the outside. Eventually, she finds out the truth: her world is not real, but a romance Manhwa called Secret. Outside the scenes, or in the “Shadow”, she can do and say whatever she wants; but inside the story, the “Stage”, she’s bound to the will of the omnipotent Writer. Her new self-awareness means she can remember what happens in the Shadow, but she can’t change the story.

At first, it doesn’t seem so bad: after all, there are worse fates than being the protagonist in a high-school romance. But soon she discovers the awful truth: she’s not the protagonist at all, but a third-tier extra, and the Writer’s plans for her don’t seem encouraging. Undaunted, she sets out to change her fate with the help of a mysterious new student.

Extraordinary You contains examples of:

  • The Beautiful Elite: Most of the school, but especially A3.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • In-Stage, Nam-ju (Veronica) and Do-hwa (Betty) to Ju-da’s Archie.
    • Kyung would have been the Veronica to Haru’s Betty and Dan-o’s Archie if she had any feelings for him whatsoever outside the Stage. He still tries.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ju-da. Once she becomes self-aware, she quickly gets sick of her status as a passive character to be bullied or fawned over, and starts giving as good as she gets.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Past Haru and Dan-o in Trumpet Creeper, although technically he's Prince Kyung's bodyguard, not hers.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: In-Stage, Nam-ju with Ju-da and Kyung with Dan-o. Subverted in the Shadow, where Dan-o isn't romantically interested in Kyung and the real Ju-da is not that gentle.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: It’s a romance manhwa or not?
  • Central Theme: Repetition. Do story tropes become cliches because writers lack imagination or is it because the tropes are timeless?
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: The basis for Kyung and Dan-o’s engagement, although the involvement of their families makes it more akin to an Arranged Marriage.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: As the comic wraps up, several characters (including Haru) are erased by the author because there is no satisfactory ending for any of them.
  • Cute Mute: Number 13/Haru, initially.
  • Daddy's Girl: Dan-o is very close with her father, who dotes on her.
  • Damsel in Distress: Ju-da needs saving a lot.
  • Death of Personality: The fate of self-aware characters who die in the Shadow. It causes one’s ego and self-awareness to disappear, along with all related memories, leaving behind only the original "programmed" character.
  • Declaration of Protection: Haru to Dan-o. In-Stage, Nam-ju to Ju-da.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of romance manhwa tropes.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Nam-ju’s and Kyung’s in-story character arcs. Played straight with Nam-ju but subverted with Kyung.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dan-O and Ha-Roo were both main characters in "Trumpet Creeper". In "Secret", Dan-O becomes a minor character while Ha-Roo is just an extra. They both become extras in the next comic.
  • Elaborate University High: Seuli High. Not being real helps.
  • Entitled to Have You: Kyung treats Dan-o poorly and claims she annoys him, but is furious when he discovers her real self loves Haru. In his mind, the fact they are a couple in-story means he has an exclusive right to her love.
  • Eternal Recurrence: How Dried Squid Elf describes the characters' existence within multiple stories. He doesn't quite say the words "all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again", but it's something very close.
  • Evil Matriarch: Nam-ju’s mother, both in Secret and in Trumpet Creeper (where she was Dried Squid Elf’s mother.)
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Kyung in Trumpet Creeper.
  • Fairytale Motifs: Ju-da is often compared to Cinderella. She even has scenes of the "love interest fitting her with shoes" variety, because the Writer isn't terribly subtle.
  • First-Episode Twist: Dan-o is not the female protagonist of the comic, Ju-da is.
  • Five-Man Band: The self-aware characters.
    • The Smart Guy: Dan-O figures out that something is different about her world and tries to change her destiny.
    • The Hero: Ha-Roo is the most self-sacrificing of the characters.
    • The Lancer: Kyung butts heads with Haru and just wants things to stay the same.
    • The Heart: Do-Hwa's story arc is only romance related.
    • The Big Guy: Ju-Da is the most aggressive and most comfortable on the Stage.
    • Tagalong Kid: Joon-Hyun (Baek-Hyun's little brother and his body guard from "Trumpet Creeper")
  • Flower Motifs:
    • The trumpet creeper, symbolizing waiting or yearning, crops up a lot.note 
    • Kyung brings Dan-o pink roses, which mean “only you know how I feel”.
  • Freudian Excuse: Kyung’s abusive father seems to be behind most of his issues, along with the death of his mother.
  • The Generic Guy: When Haru is brought back after disappearing, he becomes a character whose defining trait is “that guy who follows Kyung around”.
  • Gold Digger: Ju-da is a rare relatively sympathetic example. Even though she has a closer connection with Do-hwa, she ultimately chooses Nam-ju who can provide her with more money and influence in the school. Given the fact the she has to support herself and her ailing grandmother, this is not unreasonable of her. She also generally likes Nam-ju, despite his limited functionality, and believes he needs her more than the self-aware Do-hwa.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: All over the place in-Stage. Nam-ju is particularly fond of them.
  • Green Thumb: Ju-da cultivates flowers, in accordance with her sweet personality. She loses interest after she becomes self-aware.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sae-Mi, the mean girl of "Secret", becomes the main character of the next comic.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Unusually for this trope, Do-hwa knows that the story is stacked against him being with Ju-da, but tries to woo her anyway, hoping against hope he can change something.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Lampshaded. “I have a heart disease, why am I coughing?”
  • Instant Fan Club: The A3 boys each have a gaggle of female admirers who follow them around, as well as some male lackeys. Haru also starts to develop one, although he mostly just brushes them off.
  • I Will Wait for You: Haru and Dan-o.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Constantly. Characters complain about their cheesy lines, cast doubt on the Writer’s skill and hate their own clichéd in-story personalities.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Soo-Hyang was the girl that Dried Squid Elf loved in "Trumpet Creeper". She is introduced even though "Secret" is in its final act.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: All the characters who are not self-aware, by nature of their condition. Especially evident for Nam-ju: by the end of the series, both his closest friends and his love interest are self-aware, and constantly talk over his head while he can only blink at them and stick to his lines.
  • Love Martyr: Dan-o is slated to be devoted to Kyung no matter how mean he is to her, presumably leading to him eventually becoming a better person. However, the real Dan-o doesn't like to be treated like garbage and cools off to him as soon as she gains self-awareness.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: A variation with Sae-mi, who is a Rich Bitch bully who torments Ju-da in-Stage but a nice enough, if ditzy, girl outside of it. Since she is not self-aware, she doesn’t notice the incongruity, but expresses regret for her in-Stage actions a few times.
  • Meaningful Name: The names Nam-Ju and Ju-Da translate to "male and female main character". Dan-O wonders why she was not just named "heart condition" by the author.
  • Medium Awareness: The entire premise of the show.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Kyung’s mother died when he was young, which caused him to develop extreme aversion to sickness and hospitals.
    • Dan-o’s mother is also deceased, although we’re not told what happened to her.
  • Mr. Exposition: Dried Squid Elf is in charge of explaining the rules of the world to the newly self-aware characters. He even has a little puppet theater ready as a prop.
  • Nice Guy: Do-hwa, both on- and off-Stage, although his actual personality is more outgoing and goofy than his sensitive and somewhat angsty character.
  • One Head Taller: Haru noticeably towers over Dan-o. Their regular hanging spot at the bridge has a box for her to stand on so they can talk eye-to-eye.
  • Only One Name: Haru never gains a surname.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: Ju-da is the sole Scholarship Student in Seuli High. She still needs to work in the evenings to support herself and pay her grandmother’s medical bills.
  • Plucky Girl: Dan-o’s real personality, contrasting with her more timid character.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Haru's role as extra was given to a different character after he becomes an Ascended Extra.
  • Riches to Rags: Dried Squid Elf was a king in Trumpet Creeper; in Secret, he’s a school cafeteria worker with barely any lines. Not that he seems to mind much.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Do-hwa’s designated role in Secret and ultimately also in the Shadow.
  • Screw Destiny: Dan-o's driving motivation.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Everyone! But especially Nam-ju.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The Writer isn’t too invested in making up original characters. Quite a few of the characters in Secret already appeared in previous period piece Trumpet Creeper. Dried Squid Elf suspects this habit facilitates self-awareness in the recycled characters.
  • Shout-Out: The finale contains a shout-out to Martin Heidegger, of all people. The series echoes themes of meaning and authenticity typical to existential philosophy.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Dan-o's incredibly vague but fatal heart condition.
  • Title Drop: When Dan-o tutors Haru in English, explaining the meaning of the word "extraordinary".
  • Weirdness Censor: Characters ignore weird things that happen in the Shadow (floating items, clocks running backwards, etc.), as well as the fact that they don’t remember anything that happened between scenes. Suddenly noticing the weirdness is one of the first symptoms of developing self-awareness.
  • Wham Shot: The closeup with soft focus, which happens when a self-aware character is thinking while onstage, is used on Ju-Da after Sae-Mi steps on her shoe.
  • You Are Number 6: Number 13 (his class number; initially, he doesn’t have a proper name).
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Dried Squid Elf and later Joon-hyun try to dissuade the other characters from trying to change anything, since they both remember how badly this ended in Trumpet Creeper.
  • You Must Be Cold: Happens a lot. Early on, Dan-o has to explain to poor Haru that he doesn’t need to take off both his jacket and shirt to do this.
  • You're Not My Father: Kyung despises his stepmother and refuses to acknowledge her as family.