Please be advised I received reviewer copies of On or Off vol 1, 2, and 3 from TokyoPop in exchange for an honest review. This review also contains spoilers.
Trying It Again
It is no secret to anyone that I struggle severely with reading or watching things that give secondhand embarrassment. It sounds silly, but I’ve walked away from shows, movies, and manga because I could not handle what was going to happen next. I realize though that sometimes these feelings, as uncomfortable as they make me, need to be felt.
I initially received a reviewer copy of On or Off volume 1 and 2 in September and I jumped RIGHT in. However, a particular scene in the beginning of volume 2 caused me to set it down and never come back. I knew eventually I would finish so I decided to give the entire series a reread, since I had received volume 3 recently.
I won’t sit here and pretend it was easy. There were more than a few moments I had to put my iPad down and just BREATHE through it. I wanted to melt away into a puddle. I realize things hit me hard when I’m consuming them because I easily swap myself in as the main character. My brain decides these things are happening to me personally, and I can’t carry on.
On or Off
On or Off is a Korean comic, or manhwa, written and illustrated by A1, and published in English by Tokyopop. In it, Yiyoung Ahn is a college student who has taken part in his best friend’s Mina game startup with a bunch of other misfit college students. The story starts us off right before Yiyoung is set to make a presentation at a big company to pitch the game for marketing. This is where he meets Director Kang.
At the presentation, Yiyoung’s laptop forces an update and ruins all their efforts. Devastated by his failure, Yiyoung pleads with Director Kang’s secretary to drop off the presentation in Kang’s office. It is there that he sees a time and place for Kang’s plans that night and decides to jump into action.
When Yiyoung arrives at the bar, he approaches Kang and asks him to read the file. Little does Yiyoung know, Kang was just broken up with which fuels his next “power move.” He proposes that Yiyoung sleeps with him to read the file. Kang is trying to call Yiyoung’s bluff and teach him a lesson but was so surprised when Yiyoung agreed, that Kang goes along with it.
One Thing Leads to Another
Yiyoung and Kang have a pretty intense one-night stand, except Kang was acting like a complete jerk. Kang ends the night saying that they would never see each other again, even though he promised to read Yiyoung’s file.
What happens next is a textbook case of “This made me feel gay things but I’m not ready to admit it yet” on Director Kang’s part. He sees the file the next day and realizes it’s actually pretty good. He decides to present the game himself and they hire Yiyoung’s company. Hijinks ensue.
Both Yiyoung and Kang cannot get the encounter out of their heads and end up having a second “one-night” stang. Kang realizes he was being a jerk and completely flips the switch on Yiyoung, making love to him passionately. However, he makes it known this is a one-time thing, never to happen again. For the girlies who hate conflict (aka me), he also clarifies that he truly did hire the company based on how great the app was, not because of the first one-night stand.
Let’s Make it Official
Yiyoung, our preciously delusional king, believes Kang meant it about this never happening again. However, he is so confused moving forward by Kang’s actions. They are more than cordial, Kang is borderline flirty and interested! But he said there would be nothing more, so Yiyoung doesn’t know what to think. In a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, we finally learn that Kang definitely has feelings for Yiyoung too! They confess, clear their air, and decide to be together officially.
At the time I’m writing this, I’ve only read volumes 1-3, while 4 was just recently released. I believe 4 is the final volume that showcases them together as an official couple.
Get Your Man
In hindsight now that I have finished reading, these events are hilarious and truly make the story. But man, that first read-through had me in shambles. When I say that Yiyoung is a delusional king, I mean it. He lets his imagination get ahead of him and super reads into Kang’s actions.
It isn’t until volume 3 that we see Kang’s inner thoughts and motivations from the second hook-up forward so we are left just to see Yiyoung’s delusions. Funny and sweet as it is, I was cringing head to toe. Jokes on me though as Yiyoung wasn’t so delusional after all! HE KNEW his man wanted him, and you know what, I am glad!
Yiyoung is a great character because he is delusional! He knows he is a catch so OF COURSE Director Kang would be interested. Hello, why the hell not? He’s cute, smart, professional, young, and hilarious. He can lead a team of misfits to develop an amazing app. He’s not afraid to go for what he wants and follow his heart. Yiyoung is the total package.
On or Off About Love
I mentioned in my BJ Alex review that I definitely have a hang-up regarding one person being super into someone who isn’t into them. To add context, I’m also an Aquarius. We are labeled the more aloof of the Zodiac. I am a super direct person. I will always express my feelings verbally and have been known to shoot my shot romantically. However, I absolutely draw the line at acting a fool over someone who doesn’t seem interested.
I also have a high EQ and really put myself in the shoes of characters when I’m reading. All this to say, when I see Yiyoung acting delusional, I really think it’s me and it gives me so much anxiety. But I’m learning that I truly need to separate myself from what I read and just enjoy the story as is.
I’m glad that On or Off challenged me to push past my discomfort and archaic views of romantic pursuit. The journey to love can be deep and passionate, but it can also just be highly unserious and fluffy. It can be manifested off delusion and vibes and still be a story worth telling.
On or Off volumes 1-4 are available for purchase