Is this desire for freedom the very thing that entrapped us.
Let Dai is a tragic tale of forbidden love and unforgivable betrayal. Set in a soulless neo-Seoul ruled by young punks and pleasure seekers, an amoral teenager named Dai is the living embodiment of the city's beauty and cruelty. As the leader of the vicious Furies gang, Dai seduces everyone who lays eyes on him, only to blind them to his own barbaric nature. When an honest schoolboy named Jaehee rescues a beautiful girl from being mugged by the Furies, he can't possibly realize how this brief encounter will plunge him into a downward spiral of unbridled passion and unfathomable pain. From his brutal gang initiation to an unspeakable act committed against his girlfriend, Jaehee wavers uncomfortably between revulsion and fascination. And in Dai he finds a tender, caring friend one moment and a heartless sociopath the next, awakening strange and unhealthy desires in Jaehee that he could never before have imagined.
I'm sitting at my desk with my Oxford Thesaurus, because I've realized that I need cool synonyms for 'awesome' in order to write what I think and feel about Let Dai (and to make it clear, I DO NOT take out my thesaurus lightly). It is a deep and pensive story about teenagers growing up in what we have come to perceive as the 'normal' world. It is a story that makes you realize that there is no such thing as 'normal' and that the only way you can experience happiness is to find someone you'll love, a friend or a lover, who will support
you, and share your misery and pain. The story, the way in which is told, the angst and despair that emerge from every line on the paper, only slightly interspersed with dashes of hope and bliss, is absolutely (referring to her thesaurus) formidable.
It reminded me about how fucking difficult it is to live in a world in which you don't matter, in a world that cares nothing about you or your pain and anguish. Despite its seemingly ridiculous and unconvincing beginning, Let Dai becomes painfully realistic and insightful and you start feeling sorry for how much sense it actually makes.
It reminded me about my teenage days, about how difficult breathing was. It also reminded me that the thing we like to call puberty, when we feel all the world's weight on our shoulders, isn't a period in which we come to realize that world is not such a bad place – it is a period in which we come to terms with the way it is, because it's the only way to survive. And we cling to each other, desperately, to our rules and norms, convinced that those are actually rooted in reality.
If this review is not convincing or clear enough for you to pick up Let Dai, I’ll throw in a few more of those cool synonyms I’ve found. Let Dai is alarming, amazing, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, extraordinary, grand, impressive, incredible, intimidating, magnificent, majestic, mind-blowing, moving, overwhelming, , shocking, ,striking, sublime, stunning, stupefying, wonderful,.
I know this might not seem like a review. I guess it’s more my enthusiastic attempt to capture and publicize my impressions on this manhwa, its story, and the themes it deals with. I apologize for the vague and pseudo philosophical nature of this homage.
In the end, I really, really hope that those of you who had ventured to read this whole review will also venture to read Let Dai, because it is a beautifully written, story, poetic, even. And don’t take it lightly. Because it is not just a story about two pretty boys falling for each other.
I have to thank tarator for referring me to thin manhwa. I masochistically enjoyed every single minute.
This manhwa doesn't lie. Love is painful. Love leaves you with a scar- a tragic but beautiful reminder, which is pretty much the very essence of Let Dai.
At first I thought this was just a story of a gang leader who picks up some random guy and makes him his lover to psyche him out. I was so wrong. It is SO MUCH more than that.
When Jaehee first meets Dai he is the leader of the infamous Furies gang and a terrifying yet charismatic monster. But that is the very thing that attracts Jaehee: his
unpredictable attitude and because Dai is everything that he isn't. Their attraction grows more powerful until it eclipses everyone around them. Eventually everything from the most shallow of characters to the most steadfast of relationships is tested because of their undying love.
You won't find any gimmicks here. No cheap conclusions where everything comes together happily and easily. Even plot lines that you thought would have been concluded long in the past come back and rear their ugly head. Nothing is really surprising in the story, there's no OH SNAP plot twists that fly at you like a deus ex machina climax. And, while there are a few moments that you might not see coming, you usually find yourself hitting your head because you didn't realize what was happening sooner. In other words, this story manages to pull off its stunning and emotional quality with its own strength and doesn't rely too heavily on anything that could distract from that.
Likewise, the characters are all true to life. So much so that its painful to see them hurt sometimes. Their interactions are perfectly understandable and, given the context, believable. Every character is enthralling and the manhwa does a perfect job of providing even the most mundane and loathsome characters with development. However, where the characters really shine is in their relationships to one another. We are introduced to so many different types of relationships, cementing the statement that love comes in many forms: from the family structures which are pushed to their brink by rebellious children, to the inexplicable love of Dai and Jaehee, and even the comic yet tragic love of Eunhyung and her would-be lovers. We also have the friendships of Naru and Gohee who bond through tragedy and Yooneun supposed rebound with Dai's older brother. Every one of these relationships is tested somehow and not all of them get desirable conclusions. Keep a tissue box handy.
The art only enhances these characters. Although a little rough in the beginning, it soon evolves to the point that, with just one glance, you can tell the character's deepest emotions. Also impressive is that the characters have unique styles and often change that style based on their moods. Their clothes, their hairstyle are all a representation of who they are and the manhwa really pulls this off expertly by having the characters reinvent themselves in body and soul. This effect may seem jarring, but it only strengthens the characters' believability and shows the versatility of the artist.
Also versatile is the feel of the manga. Themes of suicide, homophobia, rape and its aftermath all get the spotlight. There are brutal scenes of violence as well as quiet moments between lovers. There are explosive family confrontations and heartwarming coincidences that bring friends together. Where there's tragedy there's also hope and where there's hope there's also love. Especially pertinent are the philosophical musings throughout the narrative, which serve to give more insight into the characters and their state of mind.
When it boils down to it, this is a love story, where love is examined as both the greatest source of joy and the deepest sense of pain. The manhwa illustrates this realistically, where even the reader feels the pain and ennui of separated lovers and the ecstasy and satisfaction of reunited ones. It is very hard to get bored of a story like this one and even someone like me, who hates the inner ramblings of romantic monologue, found myself hanging on every line.
There isn't any manga or manhwaa that has left me with the same impression as Let Dai. It drew me into the character's and their stories so that it felt like I knew the characters on the most intimate of levels, yet still left their actions unpredictable and stimulating. Dai and Jaehee's relationship is the most convincing of its kind that I've ever seen in a work of art, and I truly lack the words to describe a love as true as their's. I knew from the moment I got hooked to this story that I had found something very rare- a piece of art that doesn't candy coat love but shows it as the raw, destructive and lasting form that it is. That's why I liken this story to a scar. It just sticks with you as a tragic yet beautiful testament to the trials of love and of life.
- Before reading any further into the review, I recommend that if you can't stand (disgusting) rape, (cruel) torture, (disturbing) suicide, and some gay romance, then this manhwa is not the right story for you. This manhwa is not for children, or pure-minded people. (^o^ makes me wonder why I read it) -
This manhwa is certainly a "different" romance story, in the way that it's not a cute, funny and honest romance, but rather a dark, toxic, and violent romance. It’s a series that doesn't make love seem like the beautiful happiness that people often dream it is (Like I dream about how romantic, pure
and happy love will be for me in the future, but...); love is capable of giving you hope and filling you with the warmth of happiness, but simultaneously capable of bringing you to your knees in the greatest despair you've ever felt. The harshness of reality is tragic and painful. Let Dai is a tragic tale of forbidden love and unforgivable betrayal between two tragic boys.
Set in a neo-Seoul, an area ruled by young punks and pleasure seekers, a psycho-pathic teenager named Dai lives in the embodiment of the city's beauty and cruelty. As the leader of the vicious "Furies" gang, Dai seduces everyone who lays eyes on him, only to use them to his own barbaric nature (torture). When an honest schoolboy named Jaehee rescues a beautiful girl from being mugged by the Furies, his encounter with the furies plunges him into a downward spiral of unbridled passion and unfathomable pain. From his brutal gang initiation, Jaehee wavers uncomfortably between revulsion and fascination. And eventually in Dai he sees a tender, caring friend one moment and a heartless sociopath the next, leading Jaehee to start having a strange and unhealthy desire (gay love) in Jaehee that he could never before have imagined. But that love story isn't the entire story. The theme of "harshness of reality" is symbolized throughout the manhwa through the portrayal of what the affect of a person's environment or society on a person's behavior (bad behavior). Even if a person doesn't want to act a certain way, sometimes it's inevitable; the situation/environment calls for it: inescapable evils of reality. Is there truly a right/wrong way to live? To wrap it all up, the ending of the manhwa is just... (insert cliff-hanger + super sad word here).
So if you're wondering how that kind of gay love story could possibly be any good, I'll say that the story is tragic and rather attention-grasping with all it's plot-twists. I'm sure lots of guys are turned off by the gay-love, but to any girls out there, it's truly a romantic, touching and surprisingly innocent love between two very "troubled" boys that just melts your heart and makes you tear up from time to time. The story was sad to the point where I had to stop reading, and relax my mind in order to prevent my emotions from overwhelming me. Dai and Jaehee's romance opens up the path of debate for what the concept of "love" is, and the path of right/wrong. It's honestly also a coming of age story where the two main characters, Dai and Jaehee realize the harshness of reality, and what they must do in order to achieve their dreams. Exactly how predictable is life? Throughout the manhwa, there are moments where completely unexpected turns cause the entire plot to just... take a 360 flip. Truly a piece of poetic art; the plot is surprisingly amazing.
The story seems to primarily focus on the 2 main characters, Dai and Jaehee, but that's not fully the case. The point of view is cycled among like 5 - 6 characters: the teenage boy (Jaehee) who pursues a gay relationship with Dai, the girlfriend who rejects her femininity after she’s been gang-raped by the Furies gang (Eunhyung Song), the best friend who bandages his enemies even after he’s been beaten senseless because he refuses to release his idealism (Dai), Eunhung's sister who has feelings for Jaehee but is never able to show her true emotions (Yooneun Song), and a close friend of Jaehee who falls in love with Eunhyung, but tragically fate tears them apart (Naru Hagi). Perfection in developing the character's character and emotions.
The art is pretty neat. I loved the portrayal of the characters, especially Dai. The art provides all sorts of realistic descriptions, and that sort of realism really drives the darkness of this comic home and makes the entire story seem more disturbing, dark, and tragic. Keep in mind that this manhwa was written from 1995-2005 so don't expect the super beautiful, bright art.
This is one of the most intense, dark character dramas you’ll ever read. If you’re mature enough (why did I even read this...?) and you want something emotional and quite disturbing, this manhwa is certainly one that does things that most pieces of writing wouldn't dare to even attempt. But, for those of you that proceeded to read this review after reading the warning at the beginning of the review, I'm going to assume that you guys are all okay with the disturbing things in the manhwa, and I'm going to full-heartedly recommend you to read this truly dark and touching manhwa.
Let Dai is a classic case of 'much better than it sounds'. It's easy to look it over, dismissing it as one of those mangas that romanticize abusive relationships between a violent seme and a docile, spineless uke. Yet to pass it up on those grounds would be to look over a powerful manga about being young, being different, about love and family.
The story revolves around the relationship between Jaehee and Dai, two boys who feel an immediate attraction to each other when they first meet. Their first meeting also ends in Jaehee being brutally beaten by Dai's gang. What immediately sets the story apart
from more generic takes on the tale is that their initial attraction doesn't go anywhere. Both Jaehee and Dai struggle with their mixed feelings of hatred and attraction for each other.
Let Dai is a fairly long series at 15 volumes and the story is well-paced throughout. The story contrasts nicely between the beautiful moments the two boys share when alone and the troubles they face when amongst others in society. And it also gives time to the secondary characters, not falling into the trap of having developed main characters and nothing else. Each character has their own story, their own personality and aspirations. And they will surprise you, from the comic relief thug turned hero, to the comic relief best friend turned tragic. The ending is so brilliant it literally left me speechless, I had to read it over several times to let it really sink in.
Let Dai is a primarily a romantic drama and it has the habit of being melodramatic and quite over the top at times. Characters over-react and spend many chapters lounging about and angsting. Panning city scapes to lines of poetry may come across as cheesy, particularly when the English translation is a bit weak. However, if you can immerse yourself in the angsty atmosphere and the dark events of the story, they work well.
What made it all work for me was Dai himself. He has that Heathcliff, or Iason quality if you will, of being a violent character, almost an antagonist, who, against all odds, remains sympathetic. The story takes great lengths to show you how and why this privileged young man became what he is.
Jaehee shines as well. Not merely the pure-hearted, kind boy who tries to save the world by being nice, Jaehee realizes through Dai's influence that there is more to life than following rules, that he can be true to himself and still be a good person worthy of his mother's love.
All in all, Let Dai is a truly worthwhile read, not just for fans of boy's love but for anyone looking for a good teen drama. It discusses weighty issues like gang rape, violence, prejudice, sexuality, family and society's influence on the individual's life. It doesn't just gloss over the boy's homosexual attraction to each other, but shows how their families and others butt in, trying to end its 'abnormal' nature. And it does it all well, balancing the highs and lows of life, keeping the story fresh at all times. Highly recommended!