There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Crash Into Me.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to suicidal ideation, physical and sexual abuse, rape, violence, blood, homophobia, slut-shaming, coercion, PTSD, suicide, obsession, death, dubious consent (dubcon), and BDSM as it appears in the manhwa.
Seung-chan has had it rough for a while. Work has been stressful enough as it is, but now he can't even relax at home as every night is interrupted by raucous lovemaking in the apartment above his. He's at the end of his rope when he sees Hyesung smoking out of the window of that very apartment. Hyesung doesn't look like the kind of guy who would make so much noise, but before Seung-chan can even begin to question him, Hyesung seems like he's going to throw himself out of the window.
Seung-chan can hardly believe it and screams to stop him, only to find that Hyesung was just playing around and didn't intend to throw himself out like that. Naturally, Seung-chan is neither impressed nor does he find this display funny. Even so, he can't help being intrigued by his mysterious upstairs neighbor. However, this intrigue becomes more of an obsession as Seung-chan runs into Hyesung only to find him battered and bruised. Seung-chan desperately wants to say Hyesung, but how can he save a man who doesn't want to be saved?
Let's talk about the art first. The cover really just doesn't do this any justice. It's much prettier in the work itself, over the cover art. That doesn't mean it's perfect, but it is pretty. It gives me Fargo and Like vibes. If those two decided to collab on something, I feel like this is what it would look like. More specifically, Hyesung looks like Chowon from Love is an Illusion! and Ah-In from Blind Play had a baby together. With all that being said, I think this is very pretty, and I wish there were more works from this artist out there because I'd buy them up in an instant for the art alone. It's a shame this is primarily black and white because the color panels are stunning.
Now, while the art is certainly to my taste, the story is a bit less so. I really like Hyesung's story of being wracked with guilt over his first love's death and, as a result, putting himself in the line of fire for the deceased brother to exact revenge on him (unwarranted, in my opinion). What I don't care for is how quickly Seung-chan falls in love with Hyesung and how obsessive he becomes over him to the point that it's toxic. I totally get him wanting to save Hyesung, but how he goes about it feels just as dangerous and aggressive as the aggressor. I wish Seung-chan had been more fluffy and calculating in trying to protect Hyesung rather than being that strong-willed, aggressive type. I wish Hyesung had been the character we followed from the beginning, as I think it would have helped Seung-chan's character.
Hyesung has had a rough life, and he definitely plays that stray cat type, which I love. Seung-chan is meant to be this loving, puppy-dog character, but I think it leans into it to an extreme to the point that he is nearly as bad as the abusive rapist Hyesung lives with. I think we're supposed to forgive him for being obsessive and controlling because it comes from a place of love, but that's not the case for me. I found him to be annoying and creepy, especially when he fantasizes about his own rape scenario with Hyesung just because Hyesung ends up returning to the abusive asshole. Yes, he doesn't act on the fantasy, but it was still disturbing to see when he was supposed to be the puppy-dog male lead we're rooting for.
Hyesung is stuck between a rapist and an obsessive asshole. I love Hyesung so much as a character, which doesn't bode well for Seung-chan since Seung-chan is cruel to him sometimes. Now, their relationship isn't all bad or toxic. Seung-chan does take care of Hyesung and protects him. I also have to say that I love that the rapist actually does have consequences in this. I can't tell you how often rape occurs in BL, and the rapist just gets away scot-free (if he doesn't end up becoming the love interest, for that matter). In this case, the rapist is caught and persecuted, which feels great.
I like this, but I am unsure if I would readily recommend it to most people. This is another one I hate not to recommend because I like how pretty it looks, but it's just not that great story-wise. It had its high points, mainly when Hyesung was the focus, but Seung-chan, as our main character, wasn't ideal. I have re-read this twice now, once for the first time and a second time for this review. I'd say this might be worth it if you are in between reads at the moment and need to fill a gap, but otherwise, you may want to wait for something better. I do want to read more from Re-run as an artist, though, because they do create some beautiful panels.
Have you read Crash Into Me? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!