There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Placebo - Short Story Edition.
Woo-yeon and Woo-jin are step-brothers and have been since they were young. For the same length of time, they have also had a vitriolic relationship, with Woo-yeon vehemently bullying and mocking Woo-jin any chance he gets. This never dissuaded Woo-jin, who stayed right by Woo-yeon's side, no matter how cruel he might be. Woo-yeon revels in Woo-jin's loyalty, taking every opportunity to pick on Woo-jin.
Woo-yeon doesn't realize that Woo-jin has developed the power of hypnosis and has been using his power to control and dominate Woo-yeon. When Woo-jin finally holds the reins, Woo-yeon will receive every ounce of punishment he has earned over the years. But it isn't in private. It will be in front of the two people he would never want to be seen by: their parents.
First off, I want to talk about why I am reviewing this. I'm super excited that this is getting a full series release, and since it is, I felt it prudent to review the short so we can compare once the full series has concluded. A lot of the gripes I have with this short have to do with the content we aren't privy to, like the parents being hypnotized, how Woo-jin came upon this power of hypnotization, and the meaning behind the ending smile, which I'm hoping the full series will take the time to explore and expound upon.
The art for this is much better than what is in My Purrfect Boss!. It's much more consistent, the characters are more proportionate, and the overall quality is just so much better. As always, this is why I love reading different works from the same creator because it's so nice to see their craft grow and change. It makes me that much more excited about the full series. Now, that doesn't mean this is perfect by any means. The characters feel stiff and awkward, especially in their facial expressions, but it's leaps and bounds better than their previous work, which I feel is worth mentioning and praising.
If you're expecting a rom-com like all of Cuke Soap‘s other work, then you will be very disappointed and possibly scarred. For such a short work (three episodes minus the epilogue and prologue), this is extremely fucked up. It's very fast-paced and doesn't let up for a moment as we are presented with a situation between step-brothers who hate each other. Well, really, one hates the other, while the other just wants to dominate his lifelong bully in some form or fashion. We get the sense that Woo-jin has an affection for his cruel older step-brother. Still, the only way he can manifest it is in revenge on Woo-yeon, hypnotizing him, dominating him, then dropping the hypnotism right in the middle of sex in front of their parents so Woo-yeon is forced to submit to keep from exposing their taboo situation.
The best and worst part about this is the open ending. During sex, when it seems that Woo-yeon has been forced to placate Woo-jin's sexual desires to avoid exposing himself to their parents, Woo-yeon ends up sneakily smiling as if this was his plan all along. I love the idea that he wanted to be dominated, but I wonder how he knew Woo-jin would try to do this. Is he the one who introduced Woo-yeon to the power of hypnotism? Has Woo-yeon been attracted to Woo-jin all this time, and his own fear of that attraction is what made him so cruel? Unfortunately, we don't get answers to any of these questions, so while the ending is interesting, it is hollow and doesn't make much sense since the rest of the story isn't fleshed out at all. The open ending would be much more satisfying if the information on the hypnotism and their relationship wasn't just dumped on us and was more explored.
Despite how short it is, I don't feel like this is worth the money or time. It has a lot of interesting elements, but it just doesn't have enough content around those cool elements to make it a worthwhile read. However, knowing it's getting a full series may make it worth it just to see where the content for the series came from. I plan on reviewing the series, too, once it's complete, and I'm really excited to be able to compare them. If you're just looking for dubcon/noncon, this is the perfect little morsel, but if you want some substance, look elsewhere.
Have you read Placebo - Short Story Edition? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!