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Web Comic / Yumi's Cells

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Yumi's Cells is a Korean Webtoon by Donggun Lee.

Yumi Kim is a 32-year-old office worker. Somewhat shy and introverted, she has trouble socializing, but likes cute things and still hopes she can find her One True Love.

This is her story, but also the story of her brain cells.

Represented as little blue-suited men and women such as the Anger Cell, Rational Cell and Emotional Cell; they argue, take counsel together, and occasionally fight each other for control. All in an attempt to keep Yumi functioning day-to-day and prevent her from suffering too many embarrassments.

The official English translation can be read here.

See also Inside Out, the Pixar film with a very similar theme.


Contains examples of:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Yumi's Naughty Cell has to be kept in check by the others.
  • Art Evolution: The art goes from universally short and stubby for both cells and humans to more proportioned, even adding highlights and eye colors. strip 399 lampshades this, as Yumi comments that she looks the same as ever while the cells make a side by side comparison to her earlier and newer art to deny that.
  • Art Shift: "The Signals You Get" has Yumi's Telepathy cell send warnings and positive messages to her past selves, with each successive moment drawn in the older art styles.
  • Artifact Title: The story stopped solely being about Yumi's cells as soon as we peeped into another person's brain. In addition, the story is much more about Yumi than her cells anyway, and only increasingly becomes such as the years roll on.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Yumi pines for her coworker Wook and is overjoyed when he asks her out... until he reveals he's gay and is actually trying to set her up with a friend of his, Woong.
    • Babi has a lot of death flags towards the end of Part 2, from mysterious voices telling him to cherish his girlfriend to a shot of his broken cellphone as he narrates his many failings in life. He even gets to watch his life flash as a ghost disconnected from his body...but that build-up leads to the reveal that the car stopped in time and that he was just standing frozen in the street.
    • Part 2 ends with Yumi and her beau returning to the beach where she thought he'd propose to him, this time with a ring in tow. Later on in part 3, we learn it was just a ring he wanted to give her...which turned out to be one half of a set of matching wedding rings.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Mildly zigzagged with her ex Wook. Confidence being his prime cell, he swaggers back into her life, assuming she will fall back into his arms. When she stands up to him and gives a firm "no", he seems to get a grip on himself and backs off.
  • Blind Date: How Wook introduces Woong to Yumi.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Babi and Yumi initially break up because the former had gained a small crush on his employee Da-eun Yoo, on top of lending her his jacket when they both know she's a Smitten Teenage Girl, and stay separated for at least a few months. They get back together the day they meet up again, and are determined to make the relationship work.
  • Bridal Carry: When Yumi collapses with a fever, Woong carries her to the hospital like this. He even thinks "Carry my princess!" as he goes.
  • But Not Too Gay: Wook. While he comes out to Yumi very early into the series and has his own love interest, we never see the guy and Wook is usually playing off of Woong (his buddy) or Ruby (his most persistent admirer).
  • Call-Back:
    • Yumi's first encounter with Babi has him drawn in a deliberately crude and colorless style, showing that she didn't particularly care for him— and when he finally catches her attention, he stops being drawn that way. This scenario happens again when they begin dating a second time, since Yumi's feeling less than enthusiastic about him until he admits what's on his mind and wants to make their relationship really work again.
    • Babi once comments on his girlfriend's eyes, saying in a rhetorical triangle that he likes them most when they're sparkling with interest/love. When he finds Yumi's eyes aren't sparkling around him, he begins to get worried, and thinks in that same rhetorical triangle again.
    • When Woong stays over at Yumi's house, she tries to hide her food by shoving it in an empty space in her book shelf. Years later, she sifts through the shelf and finds those same cookies, but expired.
    • Woong, post-breakup, mentally time travels so he can interrupt his younger self from saying the things that broke his relationship with Yumi and tells her what's really going on in his mind. Later on, Babi does the same thing when he mentally talks to all of the girls in his failed relationships so he can get his record straight.
  • Cassandra Truth: Nobody listens to the Sixth Sense cell. Whenever he tries to warn the rest of the cells about something big, they always dismiss him until the last moment, saying his job's already being fulfilled by other cells and modern technology. They at least start paying attention to him later, but for the most part he's isolated from the rest.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Woong's Joke cell vanishes from his mind in the later series, with no one making a peep about his whereabouts.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends:
    • Eda, after backing down from her crush on Babi, ends up with the glasses wearing coworker that seemed to be into her.
    • Yumi's chief editor and Lihyun fall for each other at first glance, ridding him of his college crush on Yumi and her of her fascination with Babi.
    • Control-Z, who's been out of a relationship for years, and Ruby, who has a hopeless crush on Wook, also fall for each other pretty quickly. This gets rid of their lingering plots, such as his baggage after his long term girlfriend died and her finally getting over Wook.
    • The Flash Forward three years shows that after Babi and Yumi break it off, he gets together with Da-eun and has a child by her.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: There are too many to count:
    • Woong's best friend, Sia, has her feelings for Woong arise again when Woong and Yumi start going out. She and her cells have been hiding repressed emotions for Woong because of fear that it would get in the way for her job.
    • Ruby is pretty hostile to anyone who she thinks is eyeing Wook, and even attempts to get in their way. She stops doing this when she gets over him.
    • Yumi has also shown herself to be this at times. She doesn't like any of her boyfriends looking at other women, and is frequently trying to look into matters to see if her love rivals are real threats or if her beau is cheating on her. Both times she seriously got jealous, she was somewhat right; Sia's case is relayed above, while the other incident involved an employee of Babi's that was a little smitten with him.
    • Ironically, Yumi was on the receiving end of this behavior with the wife of her part time job's manager. Since Yumi is a reasonably attractive girl, the wife drops in regularly to see if Yumi is making a move on her man or vice versa.
  • Cock Fight: Woong and Babi get into one in Part 3 when they meet at the hospital, in true The Missus and the Ex fashion. Yumi puts a stop to it by making clear where her priorities are in love.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: since most cells look the same, their uniform colors are often made different to showcase whose head we're in at the moment:
    • Yumi's (with the exception of her Primed Love and later, Writer when he becomes a Prime) wear a sky blue, whereas Woong has a navy blue instead.
    • Ruby's cells are violet.
    • Babi's are dark green. Sia's are also a deep green.
    • Shin's are orange.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The day Babi really started having trouble with his ex-girlfriend was the day he found Yumi's umbrella. The ex commenting on it makes him go off to find Yumi the next day, leading to their breakup and his eventual get-together with the latter girl.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The "Ruby, Signing Off" series of comics puts focus on Ruby and Control-Z, who begin to get over their respective love dilemmas and fall for each other.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Chapter 95 has Yumi waking up at work and talking about her wonderful dream of a romance with Woong (who is a movie star in a relationship with Sia,) then waking up from that dream. Cue "OMG AUTHOR YOU JUST GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK" comments from the readers.
  • Earned Stripes: A Prime Cell (the person's most important cell who will usually be seen as the leader) will often be marked by a change in wardrobe and slightly in color to differentiate them from the regular cells. Yumi's Love cell turned pink and got a cape, while when Writer cell got promoted, he obtained a green Shakespearian outfit.
  • Emotion Suppression: In general there's a prison made for emotions that are the least help to the main body, so all of those emotions never have a chance to express themselves. However, there is always one cell in particular that does more damage than most, who gets locked deep within the mind and only brought back in landmark situations. In Yumi's case, it' her Inner Feelings Cell; in comparison Babi's Overreaction Cell and Sia's Emotional Cell are their main problems.
  • Flash Forward: "The Signals You Get" shows us flashes one and a half years into the future, and three years into the future via Telepathy cells. In both flashes, we see Yumi becomes a successful writer and a married woman, Control-Z and Ruby are still together, Wook's still got his company, and Babi and Da-eun hook up and get married a year and eight months from the present.
  • Fisher King: The inside of the brain for all sapient beings. When the person's happy, it loses gravity and goes pink; when they're sad, it rains and can even flood, etc.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Yumi's writing hits a slump at one point in her relationship with Babi because he was her ideal man, to which no love interest she wrote could compare. She also got criticism from her artist, Control-Z, for writing relationships he sees as unrealistic. Her writing actually takes a turn for the better when she and Babi break up, since she now knows about more realistic situations.
    • Yumi's jealousy flares up when she sees Da-eun working at Babi's Tteok bokki restaurant. She's right to do so—aside from the New Year's incident, Da-eun proved to be a legitimate love rival due to Babi's fleeting crush on her, eventually leading into them coupling months after she quits working for him.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: For a relatively tame comic, there aren't many "older audience" type gags except profanity. That being said, the comic does put a lot of emphasis on Yumi watching Babi lick the top off of a yogurt cup...
  • Heroic Resolve: When Woong needs to carry Yumi several blocks to the hospital, his brain cells summon this.
  • Hysterical Woman: One of Yumi's recurring cells is Hysterius, a mischievous boy who wants to make Yumi release all of her pent up frustration. Hysterius cells also exist in other people, but it's only consistently been Yumi with one to stir up trouble.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: Yumi sometimes is put into this position. Her getting side-eyes from her bookstore manager's wife gets replicated when she learns Babi's employee has a crush on him, and she gets a little bit of perspective on Woong's coming between her and Sia when she does the same thing to Woong and Babi.
  • Informed Ability: Yumi's writing. While we do learn that she loses a few contests and eventually writes a popular web novel, we don't get many actual looks into her writing style and can only glean from what the others tell the audience.
  • Ironic Echo: Sia's confrontation with Yumi ends with Woong getting in between the two of them when they take it too far, specifically holding off Yumi. In Part 3, Kwoong's on the receiving end of this, as Yumi breaks up his spat with Babi to make clear to Kwoong that he shouldn't be so quick to judge the latter man.
  • I Warned You: One-Step-Behind cells often come at the tail end of a sticky situation, presenting solutions that none of the other cells took and admonishing them for doing the wrong thing. However, they're usually not actually present for said situation, and do this spiel after the worst has passed.
  • Literal Metaphor: Bombs. Whenever a stressful or frustrating situation has occurred, or someone stews over events, the mind starts creating bombs that can be used to "go off" in the real world. Hysterius used to love making them until he got his hands on a malice spreading gun.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Yumi's still single partly because she avoids social activities such as going out drinking with her coworkers.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Woong ends up breaking up with Yumi after a year and four months, due to his old job going under and his insecurities about not being able to provide for her mixed with his silence about his situation and their general growing incompatibility fueling most of the fire.
  • Manchild:
    • The Hunger Cell is a giant building-sized child that is constantly snacking. The others try to keep him under control so Yumi doesn't overeat, but he can get very cranky.
    • Yumi's cells brand Woong as one, describing him specifically as a "sloppy, self-centered person with a boyish heart".
  • Married to the Job: Sia, as a means of trying to suppress her love for Wook. Her Love Cell, as a result, isn't focused on romantic love at all; it's actually a love of her career, while her Emotional Cell is the more romantic one.
  • Meet the In-Laws: Part 2 features Yumi's parents coming to her apartment to visit her and Babi, while the opposite happens and she meets his father (the mother is dead, though). Both sets of parents approve, but it's subverted since she and Babi don't end up together.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: The cells, representing not only mental functions but also bodily functions. Most of them are cutesy, pudgy little guys in uniforms that run around the brain. Only one person's brain is shown with non-cute cells, and they were freakishly muscular.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: In the second Part of the series, Yumi quits her office job to pursue a writing career. She signs on with a publisher, but we don't get to see many other writers other than her.
  • Never My Fault: Yumi's Judge Cell embodies this part of her personality, constantly insisting that other people are at fault whenever she suffers from relationship problems.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Yumi is the subject of at last three unnoticed crushes— with a boy she knew in college (who grows up to be her chief editor), with her boss at the office, and with Babi.
    • Woong didn't know how Sia felt about him for the longest time, since she constantly hid her feelings around him and when she actually flirted he didn't know what she was going for.
  • Offscreen Romance: Kwoong hooks up with a Gamer Girl who also helps advertise their games, but we never see how they end up together nor how they eventually break up.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Yumi's coworker Wook turns out to have the same name as her ex-boyfriend, and it's likely the reason she fixates on him at first.
  • Painting the Medium: Certain characters will always have their thoughts portrayed as a certain choice menu. Woong often organizes his thoughts into a branching Yes/No chart; Control-Z makes Visual Novel style choices; and Babi's is more normal, but he often numbers his thoughts.
  • Passive Aggressive Combat: A favorite in this series. There are lots of times where a person's seemingly nice comment doesn't reflect their thoughts, and many a fight was to be had about it.
  • The Power of Love: Yumi's Love Cell has a special pink costume and is the most powerful of all. Unfortunately, she was De Powered and put into a coma after Yumi suffered a break-up a few years before the story begins. She starts recovering as Yumi finds potential new romance.
  • Punny Name: Most of the characters have one of some sort.
  • Second Love: Yumi went through a break-up and became emotionally withdrawn. She'd like to find romance again and after a false positive with Wook, she does find it in Woong. Later in the story after the two's breakup, this trope applies to Babi for Part 2 to Part 3, before settling on Shin.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: A few times, when a party is kissing the comic cuts away to represent it as the Tongue cells of the two participants going to each others' houses. There's also Yumi's sleepover with Babi, which started with Yumi's Naughty cell wreaking havoc in her mind and ends with the two naked in bed the next morning.
  • Shout-Out: When Yumi's brain cells are arguing over whether to buy Woong a gift of expensive shaving cream, Love Cell flies in and calls for a vote. She asks who the dissenters are while holding a pencil and a Death Note... and suddenly there are no dissenters.
  • Shrinking Violet: Yumi struggles to speak her mind and stand up for herself. After she starts going out with Woong, she does become more confident eventually.
  • Take That, Audience!: In one fourth wall gag, Lee and his wife are shown in bed with Lee criticizing if all women act like Yumi does when it comes to jealousy. His wife and her cells' reaction shows that yes, apparently they do.
  • Third-Option Love Interest: Wook proved to be too immature for Yumi, and Babi while more put together didn't end up working out. Her third love interest, her Assistant Manager Soonrok Shin, is a balance between the two.
  • Unsound Effect: Kwoong's revelations are often accompanied by the sound effect "Ku-Woong!" whenever he notices something important to him.
  • invokedWrite Who You Know: Yumi's debut work, My Love, Muse, is based off of several people in her life. The heroine is based off of Wook, while the male lead is based off of her own experiences mixed with a boy she knew in college.

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