This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Learning to Love at Your Feet. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to blackmail, BDSM, and kink-shaming as it appears in the manga.
In this world, there are secondary genders and sex characteristics known as dynamics. As part of dynamics, there are doms, subs, switches, and normals. Doms are those who wish to control, praise, and punish. Subs are those who want to be controlled, earn praise, and be punished. There are exceedingly rare switches, and they can take the role of either a dom or sub during play. Then, there are normals, those who aren't inclined or in need of any dom/sub play. Kippei is a sub but would like nothing more than to be anything else.
Kippei has lived his life trying everything he can to avoid the fact that he is a sub. He's relied on medications to keep his needs at bay, but unfortunately, the time has come. He's developed a resistance to the meds, so now he needs to find a partner. He's not too keen on hunting for one organically, so he signs up for a government-run matchmaking service. What are the odds that the person he is matched with is his coworker Sota? With his secondary sex exposed, Kippei agrees to establish a partnership with Sota in exchange for his discretion.
Over time, Kippei begins to learn the joys of being a sub, but as he grows closer to Sota, he wonders if Sota sees him only as a sub or as something more.
This is super, super cute. I love the artwork. It's pretty and super consistent. I don't care for all the character designs, though. Unfortunately, our leading man Kippei's hairstyle is grating at times. Thankfully, it gets better as it goes on because he wears it differently while off work, and there are times when his hair is wet from bathing, so it isn't bad all the time. Plus, his dom Sota is really cute. I was actually a little disappointed by how much of a cinnamon roll Sota looks since he is a dom, but then in the last chapter, he lets loose his dom tendencies, and his facial expression changes to match. Super hot! Regardless, the artwork is solid, so if you care heavily about that, then never fear here.
Sota is the real hero in all of this. He is so sweet and gentle with Kippei, even when Kippei is less than kind or forthcoming. He holds himself back and does it at the expense of his own health, which is not good but romantic. I do wish his background for loving Kippei was built out more. It's relegated to approximately two pages, showing Kippei giving Sota his seat on the train because Sota wasn't feeling well. It just feels a bit superficial. Having a more meaningful reason would have, in turn, made the relationship more meaningful, but this is still so fluffy, sexy, and sweet that I'm not bothered by a bit of superficial background. It is worth noting that Sota does blackmail Kippei a bit, which I hate because it is the one smudge on an otherwise perfect dom/top, but I do want to note it because it'd be disingenuous otherwise.
Something else that I love is the excellent representation of healthy BDSM and dom/sub relationships (shout out to Alien in My Wardrobe for doing the same). Sota is really patient with Kippei and actually explores parts of BDSM that aren't sexual in nature, which is a really nice angle I've yet to see explored. Of course, this ultimately leads to sex, which is as sexy and fun as one would expect with all the soft and consensual romance that builds up beforehand, but we wouldn't have that without the trust built up between Sota and Kippei through platonic play. It helped me see and explore a whole new kind of BDSM play I had never been exposed to before. Love, love, love.
Finally, I have to say how in love I am with the Dom/Sub Universe concept. As someone who is a big fan of Omegaverse, this is right up my alley. I've read a few different works in this universe, and while most have been really fun and interesting, this is the best beginner-friendly introductory work I've read thus far. It explains the world well, isn't excessively dark or broody, and is super sexy. I love it so much, and I hope we get more officially licensed manga, manhwa, manhua, and novels in this universe soon because it is quickly becoming one of my faves.
I love this so, so much. It shows a fluffy and fun side of BDSM that we don't see very often due to some of the darker tropes in BL and yaoi. Of course, there is sex, so if that's what you want to see, you won't be disappointed there, but the focus is definitely more on building trust and the fluff. I highly recommend this one if you have yet to see anything in the Dom/Sub Universe. It is great!
Have you read Learning to Love at Your Feet? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!