Every Saturday I diligently click on my bookmark for Always Human, the queer sci-fi shoujo webcomic I recced on this blog back in January, and catch up with the latest happenings of Austen and Sunati. It’s quickly become one of my favorite webcomics for its love story and its discussion of disability, race, and gender, and so I recently decided to explore Webtoons, the website on which it’s hosted, to see if it had any more hidden gems. After a while, I got caught up in another great story—today’s web crush, Siren’s Lament.
Siren’s Lament is about Lyra, a quiet girl who takes care of her grandmother’s flower shop and is secretly in love with Shon, her best friend’s brother. Shon, of course, is dating someone else, and Lyra fully intends to take her feelings with her to the grave. As it happens, however, when Shon is hanging out with his girlfriend, Lyra takes a bike ride to the beach by her house to cry over him in relative solitude, hears a song, and ends up falling into the ocean. Don’t worry, she doesn’t drown—she just gets turned into a siren.
How does she get turned into a siren? Author instantmiso’s spin on the siren trope is definitely what interests me most about this webcomic. Upon entering the ocean, Lyra is caught by a siren whom she later names Ian, and falls unconscious. Ian is a very conventionally attractive mermaid—er, merman—and when Lyra wakes up, she finds that she and Ian both have tails in the water and legs on land. As Ian tells her further on in the comic, there is a curse on sirens—when there’s a heartbroken human in or near the water, a siren can tell, and can make a sort of deal with the human, whether the human knows they’re making the deal or not. The human gets the siren’s mermaid body and powers, but loses their human memories. The siren gets their human body back. It’s a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle, and to me this is a much more interesting spin on why sirens want to lure people into the ocean—why were they tempting all those sailors to begin with? Surely they couldn’t eat all of them. And I also love that though there are both male and female sirens, the first one we meet and the one with whom we spend the most time is a male siren, shutting down the misogyny inherent in the usual siren stories.
Lyra, however, doesn’t lose her human memories, and Ian is only a human on land, which means that they’re somehow sharing the curse. While they furiously try to figure out why this is and how they can both stay as humans and possibly break the curse forever, Shon is slowly coming to realize that he can’t ignore his feelings for Lyra forever. Unfortunately there is a love triangle in this comic, and it’s easily my least favorite part of it—I got tired of the nice guy next door vs the smexy bad boy trope a long time ago, and I’d much rather focus on the mystery part of the story. However, all the characters are fully realized both as parts in a love triangle and as characters in their own rights, and they all fortunately have conflicts and interests that don’t have anything to do with romance. Additionally, though the story is set in a nebulous location and no ethnicities are explicitly defined, Ian and many of the other characters, like Pele and Tua, are clearly people of color. So although I can’t bring myself to care if Lyra gets with Shon or with Ian, I do still think both the characters and the art are done exceptionally well.