Let Dai is a Boys Love Sunjeong Manhwa
by Woon Soo-yeon.
Set in a Clockwork Orange
-esque Neo Seoul, Jaehee Yoo was just an Ordinary High School Student
who would buy flowers for his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. That is, until he sees a group of Delinquents
assaulting a young woman. He decides to step in and play hero
. Too bad for him this event will bring him face to face with Dai Lee
, the infamous leader of the Furies gang
and change the course of his life forever.
You know where this is going already, don't you? Another BL series that uses the generic gang violence, shafts every female character in sight and has the boys screw like bunnies. Right? Wrong! Let Dai takes slews of characters
, grinds them in a blender of teenage angst and social rigidities, boils them in a climate of violence and emotional trauma and then serves it as a tragic story of love and freedom.
This series contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Dai's father, but only when it comes to Dai, and to a more emotional extent, his own mother. In a similar way, Eunhyung's father hits and abuses her when she doesn't do what her parents want her to do, but only her and not Yooneun, while her mother stands by supporting the physical abuse with an emotional counterpart.
- Achilles' Heel: Dai is this to his father so much so that he gets Put on a Bus twice.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Subverted. All love is unrequited expect the main couple's.
- Anyone Can Die
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Dai is mean, violent and frequently disregards Jaehee's human rights, but when he decides to show affection it's really clear how much he loves him, and Jaehee, no matter how pissed off he is at what Dai has just done, will always capitulate - usually after a brief if futile struggle to maintain his freedom.
- Badass Biker: Dai
- Bastard Boyfriend: Zig-zagged with Dai. He starts as this, but is actually Jerk with a Heart of Gold, until he gets jealous and gets dumped, so he takes it Up to Eleven, disappears and returns as Jerk with a Heart of Gold. At this point we are in the volume three and only 11 more to go. The zig-zagging tends to get more extreme as time goes on. Mostly because Dai seems to think that his love for Jaehee is inherently linked to beating him within an inch of his life.
- Chained to a Railway: Dai does this to Jaehee after Goohee's gang tries to use him as bait.
- Crack Pairing: in-universe everyone perceives Dai and Jaehee's relationship like this. No one can see why Jaehee - an honour student - is around someone as violent and dismissive of societal norms as Dai, and more than one person is completely shocked at finding out. In the beginning the Furies - before they're disbanded - can't figure out why Dai hangs out so much with a pacifist like Jaehee.
- Big Fancy House: Dai has one that he goes out his way to avoid being at.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: between Dai and Jaehee, to the point where when Jaehee is getting beaten up for the first time, Dai stops to kiss him on the mouth before branding him. Belligerent indeed.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Bishōnen: Jaehee is explicitly stated in-series to be very literally a "pretty boy," and the artwork makes that abundantly clear. It's one of the reasons that so many girls tend to go after him.
- Blame The Victim: Tragic in the case of Eunhyeung's gang rape.
- Break the Cutie
- Breather Episode: Pretty much whenever Dai and Jaehee are together, although the breather only applies to them.
- Boys Love: The Darkerand Edgier Edition
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Volume 15, page 85:
Naru Hagi: Let me introduce myself. My name is Naru Hagi. I'm the most popular supporting actor in "Let Dai," and according to myself, as well as a few other people, the biggest heartthrob in the series. I'm the McDreamy to end all McDreamys, entering as a blonde when the author has time, and as a black haired guy when she's too busy. Should I call myself the male "Candy Candy"?
Goohee Jang: Whaddya you, sick in the head?! I don't get anythin' you're sayin', you crazy ass!
- Caught in the Rain
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Dai. Ladies, Jaehee is off-limits. Seriously.
- Daddy Didn't Show: Dai's father to his mother's deathbed.
- Dark-Skinned Blond
- Despair Event Horizon: Eunhyung
- Disproportionate Retribution
- Crangela... remind me why she had to be brutally assaulted by a pack of teenage thugs again?
- Doubly Subverted with Eunhyung. She ventures into a backroom looking for Jaehee and is almost raped by the Furies. Then Dai walks in and seems upset by their actions. However, when he learns that Eunhyung is Jaehee's girlfriend he tells them "Do whatever you want."
- Dissonant Serenity: Dai can come off as this, especially to other characters.
- Double Standard: Dai can't stand people who act in a hypocritical fashion with double standards, and a lot of his hate for his father comes from the sheer hypocrisy of his actions and the wide spread double standard he applies to his life. One of Dai's core reasons for his rebellion is how he perceives the Double Standard perpetuated by societal norms, and he detests anyone who applies such deception or illusion. On the flip side of this trope, Yooneun herself also slowly starts to enact multiple double standards that become increasingly more obvious as time goes on - her greatest hypocrisies being 1) in blaming other people for situations she herself had a hand in, demanding they take responsibility for their actions while not doing so herself, and 2) not doing anything to help Eunyung at all while telling Jaehee that he should do so, despite being her older sister and the only adult who knows about her rape.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Played for Laughs with Naru, though to be fair he was wearing a wig.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dai is generally very disdainful of anyone who abuses, rapes or subjugates anyone else's freedom, and he'll stand up for his beliefs on this. However, when it comes to Jaehee, it becomes a whole different story.
- Everybody Smokes
- Everyone Is Gay: Averted. Jaehee and Dai are the only homosexual couple.
- Evil Is Sexy: Jaehee believes that Dai is evil . . . but he's still attracted to him.
- Evil Matriarch or Patriarch; Dai's father.
Dai's father: Just because you're my kid doesn't mean that I have to treat you like one!
- The Fashionista: Naru, though all the characters do this pretty well.
- Gayngst: Justified. Homophobia is everywhere.
- Gayngster: Dai. For the first few volume's he's a violent, borderline-psychopathic gang leader - who kisses his victim Jaehee halfway through giving him a beating.
- Good Parents: Naru has this, though it may be because his parents are Happily Married. Subverted.
- Green-Eyed Monster: dear god, Dai! If you want to keep your sanity intact do not go anywhere near Jaehee with a twelve-foot pole. Bad things will happen to you. He's horribly possessive at the best of times, and he even reacted badly to Jaehee introducing Naru as his best friend.
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?
- Idiot Ball: for a college student who prides herself on being more mature than the highschool kids around her, Yooneun can be incredibly stupid sometimes. And all of it falls into the Poor Communication Kills part, unfortunately for everyone else.
- Important Haircut
- Eunhyung gets one after she is gang raped.
- Inner Monologue
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: In the first few volumes, Dai and and Jaehee spend as much time hurting each other as they do treating each other romantically. Dai seems to be under the illusion that severely beating Jaehee, tying him to train tracks and then stealing his wallet means he loves him. Jaehee doesn't exactly agree.
- Jerks With Hearts Of Gold: Eunhyung's friends insult each other, beat up other girls and badmouth each other continuously, but when Eunhyung needs it, they are always there for her, and even though they don't know the details of her rape - they only know that something horribly painful happened to her in the past - they are far more supportive and helpful than her own family (something Eunhyung remarks on in narration). Noting that her family includes Yooneun who knows exactly what happened to her, lives in the same house, and is actually in a greater position to help her.
- Love Hurts: The whole series plays with this. Dai takes it to sometimes very literal extremes.
- Love Martyr: A bunch of characters, but Jaehee stands out the most since he's dating a sociopath who constantly hurts him and people he cares about.
- Masochism Tango: Dai and Jaehee's relationship plays out like this, sometimes to abusive extremes. Most of it revolves around Dai's possessiveness and wanting to completely monopolise Jaehee.
- Meaningful Name
- Momma's Boy: Jaehee to his mother. It's inverted.
- Mood Whiplash
- My Greatest Failure: Jaehee is unable to save the girl from Dai and his crew.
- Near Death Experience: Doubly Subverted for Eunhyung. She jumps off a building, intending to kill herself, but survives the fall. It looks like she may go home, but decides to jump off an even higher building. This time it works.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Dai.
- Open Minded Parent: Completely averted with Dai, doubly subverted with Jaehee and Eunhyung.
- Our Love Is Different
Eunhyung: You and Jaehee... what the hell kind of relationship do you guys have?!
Dai: A relationship you're not allowed to even ask about.
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted. Most of the main cast, for various reasons, try to escape their parents. Dai goes so far as to sleep in the school gym to avoid seeing his.
- Played straight with Jaehee and Naru whose fathers die.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Naru. But wait...
- Poor Communication Kills: Yooneun could have avoided a huge amount of Angst in this series by explaining things to the people around her instead of just letting them believe their incorrect assumptions, doing nothing to correct them. Eunhyung's rape especially could have been completely avoided by telling her the situation with Jaehee instead of acting secretive for no valid reason. This kind of stupidity coupled with the fact that she's constantly in angst-mode and trying to play the martyr instead of actually helping out anyone when she is in the position to do so - particularly Eunhyung when the first thing she should have done after she was raped is told her parents and got her counselling - makes her probably the least sympathetic character in the entire series. And this is a series which includes a borderline sociopath. It doesn't make it any better that she rarely if ever takes responsibility for her part in events.
- Rape as Drama
- Scars Are Forever
- Scenery Porn: Not the most obvious example but it deserves a mention.
- Shoot Your Mate: Or in this case, stab him.
- Shower of Angst
- The Sociopath: Dai doesn't understand empathy or why Jaehee cares about anyone other than Dai and himself.
- Took a Level in Badass: Eunhyung becomes a lot tougher and less naive after she's raped, to the point where she'll stand up to and fight a gang leader.
- Triang Relations
- Yooneun, Jaehee and Dai are involved in a Type 4 with Yooneun in the A position.
- Naru, Goohee and Eunhyung form a Type 3 with Eunhyung in the A position.
- Another Type 3 is played out with Eunhyung and Yooneun with Jaehee in the A position early in the story.
- Jaehee, Eunhyung and Dai are in Type 7 also early in the story with Jaehee in the A postion. The Unfair Sex is averted, because this is in the Boys Love and girls are cockblocks.
- The Unfavorite: Dai
- The Unreveal: Dai does this at least once. The first is a Paper-Thin Disguise, the next may or may not be Mind Screw or a Big Lipped Alligator Moment or none of these.
- Yandere: Eunhyung's friend, Sehee
- "If you're gonna get jealous, do it like you mean it, bitch!"