There will be spoilers for the manhwa series If You Hate Me So.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to rape, violence, abuse, drugs, pedophilia, homophobia, prostitution, and stalking as it appears in the manhwa.
Minjae is doing his best to get through school as quietly as possible. Unfortunately, that goes all out the window when he walks in on Hyung-jo doing something… inappropriate while the T.A., Jinhan, is asleep. Hyung-jo is obsessively in love with the T.A., and when he realizes Minjae has caught him, Hyung-jo is willing to go to any length to protect his secret crush from ridicule, even if it means hurting Minjae. Hyung-jo clarifies that he doesn't care what anyone says about him, but he won't tolerate anyone bad-mouthing Jinhan.
If that isn't bad enough, Minjae also develops a crush on Jinhan, but Minjae refuses to back down. Only to make matters worse, Jinhan constantly brings Minjae and Hyung-jo together, forcing the two to interact even when they would both instead do anything but be in the same room with each other. Somehow, while they are fighting each other over Jinhan, Jinhan slowly stops being their focus. Instead, the only people in their view are each other. But, from enemies to lovers, is that even possible?
Needless to say, I love this manhwa. The same creator makes this as Love is an Illusion!, and while it isn't an omegaverse story, this is actually where my favorite tsundere and my favorite daddy came from (Hye-sung and Dojin). The art isn't as good as this came before Love is an Illusion!, but if you enjoyed the drama and romance from Love is an Illusion! there is no doubt you will love this. If that isn't enough to get you to read this, there is actually a special episode in the side stories where Hye-sung from Love is an Illusion! swaps places with the Hye-sung from If You Hate Me So, and that was an entertaining episode for folks like me who went from one to the other in quick succession. Now, I say all this not only to drown you all in my praise of Fargo‘s work but also to let you know that this is going to be biased. Admittedly, there are things I have a problem with this more than I did in Love is an Illusion!, but if you are hoping for a teardown piece, this isn't going to be it.
Now, first off, since I've already talked about the side stories, let me go ahead and praise almighty Fargo, who once again showers us with all of the content. The manhwa ends 3 or 4 different times simply because Fargo repeatedly comes back with more and more content. It's the gift that keeps on giving. So, if you really like long stories with lots of extra content after the main story, then this is definitely one for you. I honestly sometimes hope Fargo will randomly come back and add even more. A girl can dream.
Something else I have also briefly mentioned is the art. It is rough in the beginning but has that unique Fargo-style. It gets progressively better as the series goes on, but if you are expecting Love is an Illusion!-level art from the jump, you might be disappointed. Even so, though, Minjae is beautiful, and Hyung-jo is daddy material (though no one beats Hye-sung and Dojin in my heart). It goes without saying that these are, once again, some of the prettiest men you will see in manhwa.
I've done plenty of praising thus far, but now it is time to talk about some things I didn't really care for this time around, namely, Hyung-jo. He is an absolute toxic rapist, asshole, for no good reason for a majority of this. Even when it is made clear why Hyung-jo is so protective over Jinhan, how he treats Minjae still doesn't make sense to me. I found it totally unbelievable, especially when they go from Hyung-jo essentially raping Minjae to suddenly liking each other. I know Hyung-jo hating Minjae is just a pretense for him to have an excuse to pursue Minjae however he sees fit, but how violently he goes about it just makes it hard to believe they could ever love each other. I also didn't care for Minjae saying he purposefully provoked Hyung-jo to get this kind of attention from him. It felt like sort of an afterthought and a bit of victim-blaming. Beyond toxic, and that is putting it lightly.
Depending on who you ask, something that could be either a positive or a negative is the length of the main story. The main story is relativity short when you compare it to the length of the side stories. I personally loved the side stories, and I don't think I would have enjoyed this work as much if the side stories had not been there (admittedly, because we wouldn't have the lovely character development of Jinhan and because we wouldn't have Dojin and Hye-sung). The side stories are what build out Hyung-jo and Minjae's relationship and the world around them. It humanized Kisun when he made almost no sense as a villain in the main story, and we also get to see the gradual development of the art style, which I love. All the characters become much more grounded and realistic, whereas, in the main story, they might have been too superficial. Ultimately, if you want to read just the main story and be satisfied, I am not sure you really would. The side stories really make this what it is.
Like I said from the beginning, I am heavily biased since Fargo is one of my favorite creators of all time. I enjoyed this, but I feel this probably wouldn't meet everyone's taste. Furthermore, the subject matter is pretty heavy, with a pretty toxic relationship as its focus, so I am not sure that I could readily recommend this to most people. However, if you are a fan of Fargo‘s work and don't mind the heavy subject matter, I have to say this is probably worth a read.
Have you read If You Hate Me So? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!