Manhwa Review | Lover Boy by ZEC



There will be spoilers for the series Lover Boy.

Content Warning: There may be references to , divorce (not between the main couple), underage drinking, , sexual assault, excessive drinking, mentions of bullying, child neglect, dubcon, pseudo-incest (brother-like relationship from childhood), obsession, depression, violence, child abandonment, mentions of cheating (not between the main couple), break ups, a relationship between student and teacher (not between the main couple), self-deprecation, self-hatred, blood, gossiping, manipulation, mentions of military service, homomisia, strained familial relationship, domestic abuse, offers of sex in exchange for a place to stay, sextortion, betrayal, , and , as they do appear in the manhwa.


Eunho has loved Jaeha since he was a child. They've known each other for the majority of Eunho's life, but Jaeha, being so much older, moves forward in life, leaving Eunho behind. Yet, no matter how far Jaeha goes, he always seems to find his way back to Eunho. Unfortunately, that changes when Jaeha announces he's getting married. As much as Eunho loves Jaeha, he accepts that they will never be together in the way he wants. So, he swallows his love and sadness and congratulates Jaeha.

Years later, Eunho is now in , and though he's dated someone else, he still longs for the love that could never be with his childhood friend, Jaeha. By seemingly fate, they happen to run into each other. Jaeha is now running his own art studio, providing classes open to the public. But more importantly, he's now divorced. Eunho had to let Jaeha go before, but with this new opportunity before him, he has no intention of letting Jaeha pass him by. Jaeha, however, has had a turbulent past, and though he cares for Eunho, that care and love he has makes him afraid.

He's afraid of hurting the one most precious to him. Will Jaeha be able to find happiness? And can Eunho break through the cold walls Jaeha has built around himself?


Random, maybe fun, probably sad fact: I own two of the extra episodes of this on Lezhin, and I've owned them forever, never having read where they came from. When I first started reading manhwa, I was still learning how Lezhin works and all that jazz. I saw this with only two episodes, bought it, and then realized there was a whole story that just didn't exist on Lezhin anymore. So, I've been spending all this time waiting for it to appear on another platform so I could finally get the full context. Lo and behold, Tapas picked it up, so this was an auto-buy. I also learned that this is actually the new remastered version, so I was looking forward to seeing if there are any differences between the special episodes I already own on Lezhin and what is on Tapas.

Cover art for Lover Boy on Tapas

And even just between the two episodes, there are obvious differences. The original Lover Boy on Lezhin is much more in line with 's other title, The New Recruit. The original has both the super boxy features for Jaeha, the bottom in this title, while Eunho has the weird and inconsistent narrowness seen in the top from The New Recruit. Really, other than the coloring choices, the tops and bottoms from both series look pretty identical. However, in the remastered version, really leans into the squareness. Everyone is much boxier, though with much more pleasant proportions than in The New Recruit, which I appreciate. But more specifically on the art, I don't know what it is, but Jaeha reminds me of Dojin from Love is an Illusion!. In looks, not personality. This makes me extremely partial to him, but we'll get into that more once we talk about the story. Overall, the art style is inconsistent, black and white in the main story and some full-color extras, but I think this is the best showing of ZEC's style than in other titles, which was a great sight to see.

Now, onto the story. This is angst on angst on angst, and it really hurt me for most of the story. It does a bit of a bait-and-switch, with Jaeha and Eunho getting together pretty early on. They are super fluffy and smutty, which is a great combo and does the heart some good, only for Jaeha to break up with Eunho out of nowhere on a romantic vacation. Understandably, it is traumatizing for Eunho, and it was for me, too, seemingly coming out of nowhere and being completely nonsensical. Then, we spiral into a long, neverending arc of pain and suffering from both sides. I'm not going to lie; there were times during this arc when I nearly dropped this story. I can't imagine what it was like reading it as it was coming out, as I don't think I could've handled it. It's a bit of a slog and comes off as an unnecessary excuse to cause and lengthen the story.

However, after the main horrible arc, the story takes its time, revealing Jaeha's backstory. Most of the early story is filled with Eunho's backstory. We see everything from their past through the eyes of Eunho, whose view, of course, is mostly rose-tinted. It's all sweetness and fluffiness, as Eunho was simply entranced by Jaeha and was far too young to understand or even pick up on what was happening in Jaeha's life. Now, we see that Jaeha's life was filled with betrayal, cruelty, and uncertainty. While his actions with Eunho are still painful and nonsensical, why he might react that way becomes clear. Eunho and Eunho's family has always been a safe place and a bright light to him. Yet, everything he seems to touch, seeking his own happiness, has ended horribly. He doesn't want to taint what is precious to him. Unfortunately, running from Eunho as he does has the opposite effect, but it's understandable why he thinks leaving Eunho when he did would be the best to protect what little bit of goodness is left in his life.

A lot of people complain about misunderstandings and miscommunication in stories, often begging that all tension be resolved immediately through communication, which, to them, would be an easy resolution. Admittedly, I complain about that, too, and while Jaeha could've resolved a lot of this with clear communication, real life doesn't work like that. In the moment, many of us might be too scared or unable to clearly share our thoughts and feelings. Humans are fallible and make mistakes based on our experience and background. Granted, misunderstandings and miscommunications are harder to swallow when there is no apparent reason given in fiction for it to have occurred, but that's why it's so well done here. We are given a clear picture as to why Jaeha feels he can't be honest and upfront with his feelings, as doing so has only hurt him and those around him his whole life. Why would he want to tarnish the one thing he still has that is whole and precious by sharing what he perceives as selfish wants and feelings? The immediate poor communication is frustrating, but once we gain that insight into Jaeha's past, it becomes much more understandable. I really appreciate the time that's taken to develop Jaeha, even if it does hurt.


This one hurts but has one of the best payoffs. It will give you whiplash, starting with something sweet and smutty, crumbling away to a desolate wasteland, only to regrow into something more beautiful than before. It was a treat in the end. A spin-off of this has already been announced for the sex friend, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out (fingers crossed that it gets licensed). This is an emotional and smutty journey, but one that's really worth taking, I think. It was worth the wait for me, anyway.

Have you read Lover Boy? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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