There will be spoilers for the manhwa series The Big Apple.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to kidnapping, suicide, torture, dubious consent/dubcon, sexual assault, assassination, murder, blood, BDSM, and confinement as it appears in the manhwa.
Joachim is in the relationship of his life with his hot hunk, Juergen. Unfortunately, they can't be in a full-fledged relationship because Joachim has a huge secret. As far as his lover Juergen knows, Joachim works at a small finance company. In truth, though, Joachim, codename Sniper, works for the SIA. This secret government agency handles various undercover issues involving assassinations, mafia, magic, and all manner of things the average Joe isn't even aware of in their day-to-day life. Every day, Joachim risks his life as the only sniper in the SIA, and he can't say a word to Juergen without risking his life.
After a particular deadly mission where Joachim nearly lost his life, things are finally put into perspective. Joachim has to leave Juergen for his sake, especially before his next mission, which is pretty much a suicide mission. Joachim comes up with a plan to tell Juergen that he must return to Sweden and, as such, can't be together with him anywhere, though. Juergen takes it well, which Joachim is simultaneously thankful for and hurt by… until Juergen decides to confine Joachim to prevent him from leaving him. If Juergen can't be with Joachim normally, he'll lock him up so he'll never leave. With Joachim's deadly mission coming up, he has to find a way to escape, even if he doesn't want to.
First off, the artwork is gorgeous. It doesn't get much prettier than this. Every person is hot and beautifully designed. However, Joachim, in particular, is probably one of the most captivating characters I have ever seen in any series thus far. Something about his fluffy hair and light eyes makes you want to take care of him. Plus, he has some of the most tantalizing expressions you will ever see during the sex scenes. I find it hard to believe that this was the artist's first go-around drawing sex scenes like this because they are some of the prettiest and sexiest moments I've had the pleasure of looking at. Needless to say, if you like really pretty manhwa, then you can't go wrong here.
As for the story, like with most shorter manhwa in the fantasy genre, I feel like a lot of world-building and character development was missing. For example, it is implied that Joachim had a troubled childhood, and we get a single panel showing pitiful baby Joachim all beaten up, but that's it. Same with Juergen. As a baby, he was apparently abandoned by his mother, the lord of New York, but we don't get anything more than a casual mention of it. I would also have liked to see more build-up around the templars and why they were fighting against SIA. It didn't feel like there was any reason for any hostility between SIA and the templars other than Yvonne was a bit of a bitch. Again, I think there could have been more world-building that would have helped pad out the word.
Now, something enjoyable that we get in this series that I wish more series did is we get to see the story from the viewpoint of Juergen in the epilogues/side stories. Seeing everything from his perspective and getting his thoughts on the situation was entertaining. It was also nice to see Joachim's actions from the side of a third party, as it helped clarify why Juergen might have acted the way he did and why he became so obsessed with Joachim. Again, I wish there had been more character background and world-building during this section, as I think it would have been really interesting to see how a dragon is born and then raised, but what can you do? I'll take what I can get.
The biggest complaint I have is just how short it all is. If a fantasy genre manhwa exists, it has to be at least 100 episodes, or it just doesn't feel like it is padded out enough, and that was the case for this. Don't get me wrong, I loved all of the sexy time we got, but I wish more time had been spent on building out the lore and some of the side characters, as I think it would have made the experience a bit more enjoyable overall. However, if you are looking for lots of sexy time with a little bit of story sprinkled in, then you can't go wrong with this one.
Ultimately, I enjoyed it. I wish I knew where I could read the novel legally/officially because I feel like it probably would have more of the context and world-building I am looking for, but it doesn't seem like it is meant to be. Regardless, this is a beautiful series; if you don't read it for anything else, the art is worth every penny. It also has some of the best sex scenes you'll see in manhwa, so I highly recommend it if that is what you're into. Don't expect a super in-depth story, as that may be where you get disappointed.
Have you read The Big Apple? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!