There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Unintentional Love Story.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to corruption, homomisia, prejudice, assault, blood, manipulation, chronic illness, cheating, self-loathing, and sex in exchange for a product, as it appears in the manhwa.
Wonyoung's successful career is put on hold after his superior gets caught in a scandal. The company, Taepyung Group, is unsure if Wonyoung played a role in the scandal, so to hedge their bets, they fire him. Needless to say, Wonyoung is heartbroken. His parents were beyond proud of him for getting a job at such a prolific company, so he can't bring himself to tell them about his situation. Rather than finding a new job, he desperately wants to get back into Taepyung Group. To gather his thoughts and wait out the ensuing investigation, with little hope that he'll be brought back, Wonyoung leaves Seoul for the countryside, where he tries to relax.
While checking out the area, Wonyoung happens upon a pottery studio and store where a potter sells all manner of bowls, cups, and the like. It just so happens that the man who owns this store is none other than Yoon Taejun, the chairman of Taepyung's favorite potter who has been missing for a long time. However, he isn't going by Taejun anymore. Instead, the name he answers to is Joohun. Is this the same guy? There's no question in Wonyoung's mind that it is, but why is he hiding out in the countryside?
Seeing this as an opportunity to win back favor with the chairman and get his job back, Wonyoung relays Taejun's location to his former coworker, who talks Wonyoung into getting close to Taejun in hopes of winning an exclusive contract with Taepyung. While Wonyoung feels this is unethical, his desperation pushes him forward.
Before we start, it is worth noting that while I did mark this as explicit, that is only due to the side stories. The main story itself does not show explicit sex (it's softcore), but the side stories do. I review the entire completed series, side stories included, and if a mature version is available legally, I will always opt for the mature version. You can read this entirely, side stories included, as softcore, but you can also choose to read the explicit side stories. The explicit side stories are listed separately on Lezhin, so you must search for them. This review is for the main story and the explicit side stories. With that being said, let's get started.
The art in this is just as cute and wholesome as the other PIBI work I've reviewed, I Have a Boyfriend. However, this is far more consistent than I Have a Boyfriend. Taejun is daddy material. His character design has to be my favorite of all the characters PIBI has designed. He's tall, has long hair, and has a cold and broody look to him… it doesn't get much more my type than that. It's also nice to see someone without the big wide PIBI eyes. That's not to say I don't enjoy the standard PIBI eye style, but it was just refreshing to see something different. Everyone is super cute, though, except maybe Hotae. Due to his super short haircut, his head shape is much more prominent, and from certain angles, it looks bizarre, but that's not a big deal.
Just as with the previous title by this creator, where this really shines is in the story. It's a very down-to-earth level of drama, which is always refreshing when most of the BL that becomes mainstream is fantastical or has unbelievable scenarios. Not that there is anything wrong with those. I love them just as much as everybody else, but it's nice to have something more realistic occasionally, and this one really stands out in that regard. The drama that does exist is heartwrenching. Seeing Wonyoung fall to the floor, sobbing because he regrets lying and manipulating Taejun after Taejun came clean to him about his real identity, is stunning. It makes me want to cry, but it's still stunning all the same. Definitely worth seeing.
One thing that did irritate me but is integral to the story is Wonyoung's ignorance. He's rather bigoted in his thinking toward gay people and how they are depicted in media. I'm mostly bringing this up because I know some people may be triggered by such content. It isn't discussed as problematic outwardly, but it is framed so that Wonyoung is in the wrong. It's not a joke from what I picked up from the few scenes this happened. It does serve to establish wonderful character growth from Wonyoung as he realizes loving someone of the same sex is no different from loving the opposite sex. Seeing Wonyoung grow in that way is so lovely. I wish he had gotten a bit more of a verbal smackdown, but I still like that his ignorance wasn't treated as a joke when this kind of thing is prevalent and certainly isn't a joke to those who might be affected by it.
What I really love, though, is that Taejun doesn't just forgive Wonyoung. I find that it usually only takes a few days, some heartfelt apologies, and maybe some spice for the hurt party to forgive the other. That is not the case here. Taejun's past is fraught with betrayal from a partner that was with him just for his connections and nothing more, so his reaction to Wonyoung's lies is totally believable. I love how strong he is for himself and his ability to protect himself. I wish I were as strong as he was because, after some of Wonyoung's desperate attempts to reconcile, I have no doubt I would've given in. I, of course, did want them to get back together, but Taejun deserved to see how much Wonyoung cared for him and how he deserved to be wanted.
PIBI is so underrated. I've loved both works that I have been able to purchase. I wish there were more because they truly have a talent for storytelling, and their art just gets better and better. It's wholesome and dramatic but not overly so, and it has just the right amount of spice not to overshadow the plot. This piece is well-crafted, and I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't read it. Definitely one of my favorites.
Have you read Unintentional Love Story? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!