under the oak tree webtoon poster image

Under the Oak Tree, Season 1-3

Writer: namu, Seomal
Artist: P
Original Story: Suji Kim
Localization: Manta Comics
Publication Date: January 30, 2021
Rating: All Ages
Genre: Webtoon (S. Korea), Romance, Fantasy

Under The Oak Tree is a Manta-exclusive romance series from P, namu, and Seomul. Adapted into a manhwa from the web novel of the same name, written by Suji Kim, we travel back to the period of kings, princesses, knights, magic, and castles. Unlike many fantasy stories, our starting point is where most romance stories end: the “happily ever after.” Maxi and Riftan are already married and will soon learn how much effort it takes to make such a relationship work.

Born with speech impairment, Maximillian, or “Maxi,” is the oldest daughter of the Duke of Croyso, but the treatment she gets is appalling, to put it mildly. When faced with joining a campaign to kill the mighty red dragon, he marries Maxi off to a lowly knight, Riftan, who he dispatches instead of himself on the morning after the wedding. However, when Riftan returns victorious three years later, the king offers him his talented and dazzling daughter Agnes, granting him the right to divorce Maxi, the talk in the Croyso Castle. These rumors are taken at face value, and Maxi is baffled as to why Riftan is still taking her to his hometown, Anatol. What could he mean by spouses spending their whole lives together? Surely, he won’t let a chance like Agnes slip by and keep a forced marriage with a “stuttering, useless woman” like her, right?

“Stuttering, useless woman” is Maxi’s impression of herself, and these self-deprecating thoughts seep into her thought process whenever the matter concerns her. She’s timid and quick to doubt her self-worth, assessing her experiences through the lens of whether she is “useful” to others. Early in the story, the reasons behind Maxi’s low self-esteem are made obvious. The reader witnesses firsthand and through flashbacks about the physical violence and humiliation she endured during her time in the Croyso Castle.

One of the main concerns of Under the Oak Tree is Maxi’s personal journey and her work on accepting herself. Her character reads more down-to-earth, as it’s difficult to bounce back from such parental neglect and abuse. However, a slow, gradual shift in her mindset and demeanor makes witnessing her story worthwhile. It’s impossible not to like and root for her!

under the oak tree webtoon maxi
Photo: Manta

Along the way, we meet the Remdragon Knights, who operate directly under Riftan. They are quite a colorful, rowdy bunch. When they are away from the battlefield, the knights are often seen at the dining hall, eating and grabbing a drink together while retelling past achievements—that is when Riftan isn’t working them to the bone on the training grounds. Everyone in the castle treats their lord with respect and slight fear, as he is known to be a temperamental man. However, the knights especially have a lot of free reign in treating Riftan like a close friend, and in turn, they make sure never to cross the line.

The Remdragon Knights don’t solely consist of swordfighters. One of the members is a mage named Ruth. He lives in one of the towers away from the castle, can be found to have fallen asleep among books in the library, and is excellent at controlling mana. He becomes an important supporting character after Maxi settles a bit more in Anatol and is a personal favorite of mine.

After season 3, the male love interest in Under the Oak Tree, Riftan, is still, in part, shrouded in mystery to me. The reason for this became clearer when I sat down to describe his character for this review; apart from the initial details given through his interactions with Maxi, we don’t know much about him. Sure, we know he spent his time on the battlefield from a young age, slaying one monster after another, and he’s not the best at communicating his thoughts or feelings and has a short fuse. And, sure, we know that he loves Maxi. However, that’s practically it.

When a character is not communicative, and their inner thoughts aren’t presented to us in any way, there’s a danger of the character coming off as one-note or the reader filling in the cracks in the character’s motives. This is a result of weak writing. However, as Under the Oak Tree is ongoing, there is no need to lose hope or jump to that conclusion, as we might still get his backstory and his side of the events or interactions with Maxi. However, as things stand, there’s not much to underline. Apart from that, it’s cute how awkward the knights feel when seeing Riftan publicly show intimacy because it’s such a foreign sight.

under the oak tree webtoon riftan
Photo: Manta

What Riftan lacks in backstory, he makes up with his gorgeous body. He’s the definition of eye candy, and with his wardrobe consisting mainly of blacks or greys, Maxi shines all the more with her flaming red hair and gorgeous dresses. Her wardrobe is full of bright colors and dazzling, intricate ornaments, and she adorns stunning, lavish jewelry that probably left a small dent in Riftan’s pockets, though I think me and Riftan are on the same page that she deserves everything and more! There’s not a single panel where she looks less than perfect.

Verdict: Under the Oak Tree is waiting for you in Manta’s library to be discovered. The art style significantly improves as the story progresses, and once you get to know the characters, especially Maxi, you want to accompany them, and the chapters fly by. If you’re interested in reading a romance series concerned with self-growth, size difference is a trope you enjoy, and want a webtoon to binge on your next day off, then you’re at the right place!

Under The Oak Tree updates every Sunday and is now available on Manta. The novel is available to purchase in English on Amazon.