There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Behind the Desks.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to a devastating car accident, manipulation, toxic relationships, codependency, self-loathing, PTSD, and military/war imagery, as it appears in the manhwa.
Lee Taesung just got a job at his former high school. Naturally, he's a bit nervous about returning to a place after so long, but he's also nostalgic as he walks through its familiar gates. One key memory that still brings him joy is when he was in the infirmary, slacking off and napping. He woke up briefly to find a stranger sitting by his bedside. The stranger covered Taesung's eyes, keeping his identity somewhat vague and prompting Taesung to fall back asleep. From then on, Taesung was in love with this stranger, and even today longs to reunite with him.
To his surprise, while trying to find the main office for his first day, he runs into someone who looks very similar to his first love. He's not totally sure it's him, but he can't help but feel drawn to this fellow teacher because of their similarities. The teacher's name is Seo Sunny, also part of the science faculty (Taesung is the physics instructor, and Sunny is the chemistry instructor). Whether or not Sunny is the man Taesung has longed for all this time doesn't matter in the end. Taesung wants Sunny and will do what he can to get close to him.
Before we get too deep into the review, I want to note that this is exclusively for the mature version of this manhwa. There is an all-ages version, but I have not read it, so I can't discuss their differences. With that out of the way, let's start where we usually do: the art. One of the best things about the art style is that everyone looks their age. I feel like it's pretty common that everyone is smooth-faced or baby-faced, which doesn't really align with reality. Not that that is a bad thing. This is fiction, after all, but in this particular series, it's super satisfying to have working adult characters that actually look somewhat like working adult characters. They are still stupidly hot, but it's nice to see characters with bags under their eyes, looking tired most of the time, etc. I feel that.
However, while I have praised the art for the most part, I have to admit that I am not a massive fan of it overall. It's nice, don't get me wrong, but it's pretty inconsistent. The eyes look odd from certain angles, often appearing to come off the side of the character's face. There are some awkward poses and postures, their bodies form upside-down pyramids with little stick legs coming off of them when clothed while they are thiccc in the nude, and some of their head shapes go a bit wonky. It can also feel a bit stiff and sterile. It's a unique style, and I do like it. It's just not my favorite out there.
While I'm not the biggest fan of the artwork, I'm fond of the story. Love triangles and unrequited love aren't for everyone, but I'm a fan. This has several love triangles, with Sunny being the object of the main one between Taesung and Sunny's ex-boyfriend Kwon Young. However, there is also one between Sunny, Taesung, and Hosung, with Taesung being the center of it. Then there's the college friend, the ex, and Sunny, with the ex being the center. Finally, there is a love triangle between Sunny, Taesung, and another college friend, with Sunny being the center. There is a ton of unrequited love, which sets the foundation and pushes the story further. Everyone's goal is to get with someone else or to protect the one they love, which can be annoying or repetitive at times, but I tend to like those motivations, so it didn't bother me all that much.
I also have to mention how much I love some humor in my smut (The Devil's Temptation is still the pinnacle of comedy for me), and this is no exception. This has some super cute and fluffy humor, especially with the students. It has a lot of the fun we see in high school-focused work but without the high school main characters and, in turn, the high school romance. It's a mature romance with a backdrop of high-school humor and fluff. I love that combination so, so much.
This isn't a favorite, but it's very ok. I think it's nice to look at for the most part, it has some super sexy smut, and it made me giggle a little bit. I don't think everyone just has to read it, but it's a nice little story to pass the time with some lovely smut to satisfy the degenerates out there. I'm glad I read it, but not sure if I'd readily recommend it.
Have you read Behind the Desks? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!