There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Perfectly Broken Love.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to homomisia, assault, violence, blood, DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), gossiping, being outed, ableism, sexual contact in exchange for favors, PTSD, mental illness, dubious consent (dubcon), excessive drinking, impersonation, obsession, and manipulation, as it appears in the manhwa.
Ma Dongjae loves BL. He reads everything he can get his hands on and swoons over the romantic storylines, hoping to have his own happily ever after someday. Unfortunately, he seems to only be attracted to straight men. Even worse, most of the time, these men turn out to be bigots, so when he confesses, they respond in the worst ways possible. Thankfully, Dongjae isn't one to take any insults sitting down. He has no problem putting assholes in their place, but the latest instance ends up happening in a very public place, drawing the attention of someone nearby. While Dongjae is mourning another horrible rejection in private, the “someone” who happened to see it all go down follows Dongjae.
There, the stranger wastes no time coming on to Dongjae, letting Dongjae know that he's gay and is more than willing to be with Dongjae. Dongjae is beyond turned off by this man's persistence. Thankfully, Dongjae gets away from the pervert without much trouble. Unfortunately, attending his new class, it turns out the stranger is in the same class. Dongjae is trying to come up with some way of dropping out of the class when one of their classmates brings up the recent public rejection Dongjae just experienced. Dongjae is uncomfortable, ready to get into another fight if need be, when Tae-jun, the stranger, jumps in, telling the classmate off for bringing up something like that in class.
Tae-jun seems like a completely different person, and Dongjae finds himself attracted to this new version. But when Dongjae tries to get close, Tae-jun appears to want nothing to do with him, completely counter to what Dongjae experienced only a short time prior. After spending time with each different variation of “Tae-jun,” Dongjae learns that Tae-jun has DID, and while Tae-oh, the personality that initially hit on Dongjae, is gay, Tae-jun, the personality Dongjae actually likes, is not. Brokenhearted, Dongjae is preparing to move on when Tae-oh makes him an offer: I'll help you with Tae-jun if you let me touch you. It's an uncomfortable offer, but one that Dongjae is tempted to accept, imagining all of those BL happily ever afters.
The art in this is super unique. Dongjae's design isn't my favorite, as his irises are very, very narrow and become boxy when he gets very expressive, but that's pretty minor and nitpicky on my part. Overall, all of the designs are very, very consistent, and though it is a sketchier style, it's very soft and pleasing to look at. My favorite design, though, has to be Tae-jun and Tae-oh. They are literally the same as far as looks are concerned, but the artist does such a great job making them still distinct. Dongjae could eventually tell them apart by appearance alone, and I even felt like I could, too. It's in the subtle expressions they wear by default; Tae-oh has a more relaxed and open expression, while Tae-jun always holds a more stoic and cold expression. It's a subtle way of distinguishing the two, but one that not only defines the difference in looks but also their personalities. I love it.
I have to say that I absolutely adore how much of a stone-cold killer Dongjae is. He doesn't give a single shit about who you are, where you are, or what you're about. If you're going to be an asshole, especially a bigoted one, he's going to put you in your place with his words or his fists. We love that. I've read plenty of works with spunky, firey characters, but I feel like it's rare for those characters to be 1. the bottom (most manhwa portray these characters as being submissive in life as well as in the bedroom) and/or 2. open about their sexuality and unwilling to hide it if brought up. Usually, if the character is someone who would fight back, it's only to stop the gossip and hide their sexuality. Of course, being outed without consent is traumatizing, whether you are openly out already or not (I mean, I don't want people talking about my sexuality, and I have no qualms admitting I'm pansexual) as the topic should be brought up by the person if they want to talk about it. Having a room full of strangers be told your business like that without your consent is terrifying, but Dongjae isn't afraid of getting down and dirty about it. He'll expeditiously put someone down for trying to put him down, and that's awesome. I wish I were that strong in such public settings.
What I also love is the love triangle. I don't mind love triangles. Usually, they're not the best thing in the world, but they can be interesting if done right. In this case, I love the concept of a love triangle between two rival personalities. Tae-jun and Tae-oh are distinct personalities, and Dongjae treats them as such, so it truly feels like he's stuck between two separate individuals. Even better, Dongjae ends up in a poly relationship with the personalities. They both know that it would be cruel to make Dongjae choose when he cares for them both, especially since it might cause the other personality to be absorbed and disappear. So, they end up in a place where Dongjae spends time, dates, and has sex with each of them. It's such an interesting look at a poly scenario, and I am so here for it. Dongjae seems to love both personalities as their own person, which is the most important part and allows them all to love each other in their own ways. It's great, and I'm so happy it didn't end with Dongjae having to choose one or that they ended up melding together into a single person.
On that note, I also have to give it to Tae-jun. When he initially finds out that his alter has been pursuing Dongjae, he doesn't try to stop him or persuade Dongjae to stop dating Tae-oh. For someone who has so much trauma regarding same-sex relationships and who has to share a body with someone who is gay, he is really chill about it all. I appreciate that he lets Tae-oh live the life he wants without trying to get rid of him in some way or scare off Tae-oh's suitors. It shows that Tae-jun isn't as cruel and cold as he may appear, just like when he defends Dongjae in front of their classmates when they try to talk about Dongjae's orientation. He's a troubled and angry boy, but deep down, he's a softy, which I love.
I like this a ton. It's a bit too short for my taste (I was craving some side stories or extras, but that's a compliment rather than a detraction), but it's a really good time. It's a unique love triangle and an even more unique poly scenario with a pretty common trope of DID. It was refreshing, with great art, interesting characters, and a good time overall. I am tempted to call it a favorite, but I'm not sure it is quite at that level. I do really like it, though, and I highly recommend it. It's a nice morsel of BL.
Have you read Perfectly Broken Love? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!