There will be spoilers for the manhwa series On or Off.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to prostitution, homophobia, and corruption as it appears in the manhwa.
College, for some people, is a time to live it up and have fun before going out into the world and settling down. In the case of Yiyoung and his friends, it is their chance to start their own company. More specifically, they form a game development company, initially led by Yiyoung's oldest and dearest friend, Mina. Unfortunately, due to a family issue, Mina has to leave the company to help support her family. Still, she leaves it in the hands of Yiyoung to manage the rag-tag group and make it a success with minimal funds and very little time. The goal for the company is to create a game for SJ Corporation, one of the biggest companies in the country, but they have to present the game to the company leaders, and for most of the team, social interactions aren't their strongest suit.
In comes Yiyoung, the bubbly and affable leader. Confident in his presenting abilities and social skills, he goes out to SJ Corporation, ready to sell them their game. While preparing for the presentation, in walks Director Kang Daehyung, and he is everything Yiyoung could want in a man and more. But, unfortunately, he is also the man who has the final say on whether Yiyoung's game is worth picking or not. Now full of nerves, Yiyoung fears the worst for the presentation but ends up starting strong. As luck would have it, though, his computer starts going through an update in the middle of the presentation. With time out and the leaders frustrated, Yiyoung is excused from the meeting with no hope of being chosen.
Disheartened, Yiyoung is prepared to call it quits and beg for forgiveness, but a sudden stroke of desperation sends him scrambling to fix his mistake for his team members. He writes up a proposal with a link to the game, sneaks it into Director Kang's office, discovers from his calendar where Director Kang will be that evening, then “coincidentally” runs into him at the bar, where he begs for another chance. Director Kang, suspicious of Yiyoung's intentions, throws out some bait to scare him off: sleep with me, then I'll consider your game proposal. Much to the director's surprise, Yiyoung takes the bait. But just how far is Yiyoung willing to go for his friends? And will he be able to face the director again after their night of passion?
First off, let's talk about the art. I avoided reading this for a long time due to how the art is depicted on the cover. I find that the two leads look like they are pasted together from two different series. However, once I got into the series, that wasn't the case at all. The characters do have that yellow undertone, which isn't going to be to everyone's taste, I'm sure, but it doesn't bother me at all. I found it to be pretty easy on the eyes, and it helps Yiyoung's light features stand out. What does bother me, though, is Director Kang's eyebrows. He is so hot, minus those eyebrows. Otherwise, though, I really love the art. Yiyoung, in particular, is beautiful and precious, and he's got that bubbly extrovert personality that I love.
Just to note, this review is based on the mature version, the TappyToon version, and the recently released physical copies from Tokyopop. I say that because I want to note how nice it is to read uncensored mature BL, which you can only see in the physical copies. I've linked to TappyToon since that is the first version I read, and the physical reprint is currently ongoing. Still, the physical variant is worth it for the uncensored version and the additional side stories exclusive to the Tokyopop reprint. Both are great, so I don't imagine you'd be disappointed with either of them. I am a happy owner of the TappyToon version, the Kindle reprint from Tokyopop, and the physical copies from Tokyopop. If that doesn't tell you how much I love this series, I don't know what will.
Now, let's talk about the story. I am so happy that Yiyoung is the character we follow throughout the story. I've already mentioned it briefly, but I must reiterate how bubbly and positive Yiyoung is. But it's because of this bubbly and fun personality that he gets into as much trouble as he does. I can't tell you how often I cackled at all the awkward and clumsy situations he put himself in, but he is so expressive it's hard not to love him. On the other side is Director Kang. While I dislike the man's eyebrows, he has major daddy vibes. I started off hating him, which is intentional based on how he treats and misunderstands Yiyoung, but once he begins romancing Yiyoung, he becomes a fluffy teddy bear.
This will be a weird point, but I love that Director Kang already knew how to perform anal. A common trope in BL is the top fumbling around or being a bit rough having sex with a guy for the first time or questioning it like it's some big mystery when women have assholes, too, and you can't tell me some of the bisexual or straight tops haven't tried it before. Director Kang has all the experience, which makes him very talented, and I love seeing that confidence in a top who hasn't had a male partner before. It was just a really nice change of pace and helped establish that confident and sexual dynamo energy we get from Director Kang from the jump.
Now, I have sung the praises for this on pretty much all fronts, minus daddy's eyebrows, but I do need to warn everyone: if you are prone to secondhand embarrassment and can't handle the cringe, then you might find yourself uncomfortable in this. One of the main reasons Yiyoung becomes CEO of his gaming company is because his friends and coworkers don't have very high social or emotional intelligence. So, he plays the frontman. The friends made me so uncomfortable so many times in the beginning. Thankfully, they are in the background for most of the series, but the early episodes feature them pretty heavily, resulting in some significant cringing on my part. It's worth going through because the sex and fluff from the rest of the series are so amazing, but you do have to go through it. Otherwise, though, this is an amazing series, and I would definitely call this a BL classic.
It probably goes without saying, but I adore this series. I hate that it took me so long to read it, but I am so glad I ultimately did. Please don't let the cover art or the art in general turn you away from this. I promise you will miss out on some of the sexiest and sweetest BL you can find. I also think it's worth reading just to meet Yiyoung. He's precious. This is definitely cemented in my top ten for life. I hope it will be one of yours, too.
Have you read On or Off? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!