There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Butler.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to power imbalance, social gap, relationship between an employee and employer, cheating, sexual assault, gossiping, invasion of privacy, harassment, health problems, drugging, attempted forced abortion, child neglect, corruption, infertility, and male pregnancy, as it appears in the manhwa.
Seo Yian is a butler at a prestigious hotel where the elite of the elite frequent due to their unmatched service, but more importantly, for their all beta staff. Yian is just another one of those betas, serving as a personal butler for VIP client Yoo Jekwon. Yoo Jekwon is an alpha and a CEO of his own company. He is on a whole other level to most people, but especially to Yian, who feels lucky just to be in his presence every day. Jekwon is mysterious, pretty much living at the hotel. But Yian isn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth and instead takes full advantage of Jekwon's odd living situation.
To take their working relationship to the next level, Yian offers some “special services” to Jekwon. Though Jekwon is initially surprised, he happily accepts, and the two spend many steamy evenings together under the guise of a master-and-servant relationship. Unfortunately, after spending Jekwon's rut in his bed, Yian takes in a lot of alpha pheromones. This has the unfortunate side effect of forcing Yian into a transformation, causing him to manifest into an omega. While this would give Yian the chance to be with an alpha like Jekwon, it means he can no longer work as a butler, a job he adores. Jekwon is more than happy to take responsibility, but with Yian's pheromones being unstable, their relationship status undefined, and the threat of Yian's identity being exposed to his job, Jekwon has his work cut out for him.
All of this is only made worse as Jekwon's stepfather is determined to find any weakness Jekwon might have and exploit it to force his stepson to work in his company.
The art style is very unique. I simultaneously love it and hate it, and even now, while looking it over to write this review, I find myself flip-flopping on whether I like it or not. It's very plastic-like. Everyone shines, literally. It also comes off much more cartoony than I like, but it's not terrible. I don't think this is ugly by any means, but it's just one of those styles that I'm unsure if I like or not. More than anything, though, I am not a fan of the poses and bodies. They tend to be very inconsistent and stiff, which gave me pause for all the wrong reasons. I'm also not a huge fan of Yian's hairstyle, which I know is super nitpicky, but I think it is worth mentioning. Again, I don't think this is bad art-wise, but it's definitely not my favorite.
I usually don't mention the platform I read from in my reviews beyond in passing, but there is something significant about this particular platform that affects the quality of this series. The translations and localization of INKR titles are extremely poor. It's to the point that a lot of the series on this platform are near-unreadable unless they are using a translation from another platform or publisher, which is why this is the first one I'm reviewing because this is one of the better quality titles by leaps and bounds. It's very stilted and awkward, but it's readable, which is more than I can say for many titles on this platform. The series on this platform are also often fraught with errors, and it gives the vibe of illegal translations even though this is an official platform with series I paid for. I usually try to give the benefit of the doubt with translations, assuming it might be the writing in the native language, but this platform has a vast catalog with numerous writers, only to end up with the same issues. Even if I end up recommending this series, it's hard to recommend it on this platform. If you can get it (legally and officially) anywhere else with a different localization, do that. This one isn't as bad as many others on this platform, but that's a very low bar, and I am not fond of sending people to a platform I don't trust.
Enough about the platform. I'm sorry I went off on a tangent that's much broader and out of the scope of the work itself, but I feel quite strongly about this. With that out of the way, let's discuss the story. We are dealing with a good old conglomerate family drama backdrop, which feels rather convoluted. The brother, the heir of the company, starts as the main antagonist, going after all of Jekwon's partners due to his own insecurities. However, Jekwon has made it clear he has no interest in the company, going so far as to create his own. Then we switch gears to Jekwon's mother and stepfather being the main villains, trying to leverage Jekwon's love for Yian and his precarious position at work to steer Jekwon in the direction they want. It ends super satisfying, with everything falling apart for the stepfather and his son, but it all came apart through the mother, who was secretly working behind the scenes to expose their corruption. That made no sense, especially since the mother had been doting on the stepson over her own son since they were children, and she pretended to go after Yian and threatened her son. It just made no sense that she would be playing that long of a game to clown on her husband and stepson.
I must mention how much I love the “spin-off” (side stories) at the end. It tackles some of my favorite elements of omegaverse, specifically male pregnancy. I love that we get to see Jekwon and Yian as parents, but more than anything, I love that Jei, their daughter, gets some development. I've been reading a bunch of series recently involving male pregnancy where the pregnancy is announced with no reveal (sad), where the baby is born, but we don't get anything beyond the initial birth or baby reveal (also sad), or the baby is nothing more than a silent accessory (uber sad). But here, we actually get to see the daughter age and develop her own personality, which moves the plot of the side stories forward. It's refreshing and, in turn, helps to develop and grow Yian and Jekwon as individuals but also as a couple. It's super heartwarming, and if for no other reason, I think this is worth reading just for the side stories.
This was interesting. I wish another platform had picked it up because the localization could have been better, but here we are. The conglomerate storyline is convoluted, and I think this would have benefited from either paring down that aspect or removing it altogether, as I think the manifestation of Yian's secondary sex was strong enough on its own to create conflict, but those plotlines did serve to develop Jekwon, so it wasn't all needless. I wouldn't say this is great, but I wouldn't call it terrible, either. There are some really strong family aspects to this that I enjoyed, and there is plenty of smut for my degenerates out there. It's just not the best story in the world, but if you're desperate for a new omegaverse story, this one might be worth a perusal.
Have you read Butler? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!
Click here to read it for yourself! (Please note that each season is split into its own series on the platform. This is only the first season.)