There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Room to Room.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to body insecurities, sexsomnia, excessive drinking, bullying, homomisia, ableism (use of r-slur), break up (between main character and side character), disordered eating, sexual assault, violence, blood, PTSD, misuse of medication, cheating (between main character and side character), harassment, stalking, body-shaming, BDSM elements, drugs, manipulation, and drugging, as it appears in the manhwa.
Dowan fell in love with Chamin the first time he saw him. But Chamin is straight, and Dowan is happy to simply live within his orbit as a friend. Unfortunately, this comfortable distance is strained when Dowan, while looking for a new roommate, is overheard by Chamin. As it turns out, Chamin wants to move closer to campus but isn't allowed to live alone due to his parents' worries. Hoping Chamin's parents will say “no,” Dowan gives Chamin all the details.
Unfortunately for Dowan, Chamin's parents were all too happy to approve the move, and now Dowan faces his crush day in and day out. Everything is going well, but Dowan suffers as he sees and hears Chamin talking to and about his girlfriend. He's happy that Chamin is happy, but Dowan's heart aches all the same. Then, the day comes when Chamin's girlfriend breaks up with him. Depressed and hurt, Chamin is all too happy to run into Dowan's arms for comfort, and Dowan is happy to comfort him.
But when Chamin starts coming to Dowan's bedroom at night, asking to have sex, that distance Dowan so carefully puts between him and his crush falls away.
The art in this isn't the best. I wouldn't say it's awful, but there are parts that make me laugh when they shouldn't. More specifically, Dowan's design is so unfortunate. He wears his hair up in this unfortunate-looking swoop, which absolutely does him no favors. It does play a very weak narrative point in that he decided to wear his hair that way to please his ex, but it just looks so bad. From behind, he often looks like a walking Q-tip. Hilarious but not the best. Chamin is pretty cute, but his head sometimes seems too big for his body. It's just not the best. It does get better over time, especially when Dowan starts wearing his hair down, but it's not gorgeous or anything.
Something I was super impressed by, though, is that this is actually a spin-off. I had absolutely no idea, which says a lot about the creator's ability to create cohesive stories that can stand on their own, even when sharing a universe with prior work. I was compelled by the side characters who comprise a side couple, and it turns out they are the main couple from the previous work. It really makes me want to read the first one so I can see their story because they are super affectionate and fluffy throughout the story. I also prefer their designs, which is a huge plus. I plan on going back and reading Window to Window to get the full context, but this works perfectly well as a standalone, which is great.
However, the story itself falls on the weaker side. Chamin's background is fraught with bullying, homomisia, and sexual assault, which are horrible and painful to hear about, but it comes off as superficial and a bit misplaced. It establishes why Chamin feels so strongly about his relationship with Sena, as she was the first to love him for who he was when he was at his lowest. He also recalls those dark times when considering if he wants to be with Dowan. However, as traumatizing as it was, and it was traumatizing, it just felt like trauma for the sake of trauma. Same with Dowan's past and his issues with relationships. Everyone is evil for the sake of being evil, which happens, but I just don't care for that kind of setup. I wish more time had been spent on their backgrounds rather than limited to these short blips of time. The flashbacks just feel so disjointed from the main story, and connecting with them is hard as a result.
Something I did enjoy is the sexsomnia. I've heard of this before in one of those procedural crime shows, and in that case, the victim was the person assaulted by the person with sexsomnia. It was horrific and scary for the person who was assaulted, while it didn't seem all that big of a deal to the person with sexsomnia. I was expecting something similar here, but it's actually flip-flopped here, which was refreshing. Dowan assumes that Chamin is coming on to him because he needs comfort and goes for it. When it is revealed to Chamin that he has sexsomnia, he is horrified, both for himself and for Dowan. It would be so traumatizing to realize you were having sex subconsciously and essentially assaulting someone without realizing it, and in that way, I think this was way more realistic. It's this weird space of feeling raped while also being a possible rapist that I couldn't imagine coming to terms with. Of course, he comes to terms with it quickly, but that's BL world for you. I was just impressed that the creator considered how complex Chamin's feelings might be as someone with sexsomnia and considered him a victim, too, alongside Dowan.
This was alright. I wouldn't say it's good, and I wouldn't say it's bad. It has loads of smut, which is really fun, and the sexsomnia aspect of it is very unique. I'm surprised I haven't read more manhwa with this concept. However, the art and story aren't the best, and even the large amount of smut can't compensate for that. It's as equally fluffy as it is dark, so if you're looking for some balance on that front, this might be worth a go. Regardless, I'm planning on giving the original work a try.
Have you read Room to Room? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!