KOREAN DRAMA MONSTAR REVIEW:
Well my last check in for this drama was a little rant-ish, and I must admit I haven't really moved much further away from those same ranty opinions since then....which is a bit of a bummer to say the least as I was so ready for some highschool fun and romance!
I really wanted to love this show and was hoping to have the same emotional connection to its characters that I can see so many other viewers have been enjoying, but somehow no matter how hard I try I just am not quite feeling it and so it has never fully got under my skin.
There are still plenty of really awesome aspects to the show that make me look forward to watching every episode and also motivate me to follow through to the very end (I am nowhere near being annoyed at it enough to actually stop watching) but in saying that, it does seem the more I closely inspect my feelings towards the plot and the characters, the more I end up finding personally annoying issues with the storyline and personalities within the show.
And that is exactly all this review is, my personal opinion, and I just really want to make that very clear because I do not want to incite a scary hate mob from all the diehard fans out there....please don't kill me....
I am still enjoying it, I promise, and I also have heaps of nice things to say about this drama.
For instance, my earlier gripe of not having enough of a connection to the main character of Se-yi (formed from Episode 1 through to 5) was basically cleared up within the very first few moments of Episode 6, as I felt she was finally given some true depth and personality beyond just her quirky exterior.
The moment that opened her up to me was when the final piece of her back story fitted into place, being of course the reason why she hates her mother so much, and that finally swayed me into liking her.
The fact that this reason is actually pretty awful and, although I do not agree exactly with Se-yi's impression that because her mother had an affair this means she is directly responsible for the death of her father, I can completely understand why she is as furious and hurt as she is.
And this makes it so much easier for me to understand her character as well and therefore sympathise with her.
The other moment which caused me great relief was when finding Seol-chan's note from class actually changed Se-yi's terrible (mother related) mood to the point where she couldn't help but laugh out loud just by thinking of him.
I absolutely loved this scene because it was the first time in this whole drama that the writers actually made me believe that Se-yi feels anything for Seol-chan other than contempt, and it even gave me the impression that she actually has romantic feeling for Seol-chan, even though she maybe isn't yet capable of seeing that for herself.
In short it gave me hope for the future of their romance because seriously, for an OTP, they have had a severe lack of romantic screen time together, which was not making it easy for me to back their budding love or, to be brutally honest, even care about them as a couple. This one tiny scene gave me some much needed insight into Se-yi's feelings towards Seol-chan, something that I felt was really left too much under the surface of her character, her face way too difficult for me to read any emotions or reactions that could have otherwise been enlightening in regards to her thoughts of feelings.
This means for me, up until this point, Se-yi was still very much an enigma or black hole at the centre of this drama. I couldn't tell what she was thinking or feeling and I couldn't understand her reactions to the two boys.
Even after this point I still struggled to read Se-yi at times and, for example, I am still not sure if she was truly so clueless that she wasn't aware that the two boys had feelings for her (until Sun-woo confessed obviously making it perfectly clear), or if she actually believed the two boys were into each other and not her at all?
Can anyone really be that dumb?
Also Se-yi and Seol-chan's inability to get it together is another thing that drives me crazy. I know they are experiencing a Big Misunderstanding where they both feel the other person doesn't care about them, but it is hard for me to get fully behind a couple whose only real source of conflict is the fact that they aren't being honest with each other.
I know its not easy to put yourself out there and tell the truth about your feelings, (especially as a vulnerable teenager), but seriously everything would go so much smoother if they just talked to each other (and also if Se-yi would stop stringing poor old Sun-woo along when its clear to everyone that she really isn't all that into him).
On the same topic as Seol-chan and Se-yi's inability to be honest with each other, but on the upside of that flip coin, we have the 'almost' kiss, which was actually a huge winner for me.
This was such a truly gratifying moment and in a way was actually much more satisfying and squeal inducing than their 'actual' kiss at the end of Episode 9 which sadly opted for not only a kiss attack by Seol-chan, but also some not very passionate lip pressing. Of course I know this is a teen show and they are certainly not known for their passionate kissing scenes but still, a girl can hope....
Back to the 'almost' kiss though which was far from being disappointing, the tension between our two leads finally making me believe their is actually some sort of 'something' going on between them despite their endless misunderstandings and quarrels.
When Seol-chan grabs her and forces her against the wall it is indeed a little rough (so uncool in real life, but somehow alright in dramas? I am not sure that is PC but it was a guilty pleasure anyway...). The way he gets all up in her space was definitely the fastest way ever for him to accomplish his goal, forcing Se-yi to see him 'as a man' as he words it.
And you know what, I think this scene works really well in getting all of us to see him as man and not just an Idol who wears very tight white pants, let alone Se-yi who I am pretty sure has her socks completely knocked off by Seol-chan's 'take control' attitude here.
All in all the best non-kiss I have ever seen in a Korean drama!
Coming back to the issues I have with this drama (Boo!), my biggest dislike would definitely be the way every single character has such deep emotional scars and issues. This in itself is definitely not a bad thing as I do love to unravel a damaged character and watch them transform and grow throughout a show just as much as the next person, but my problem in this case is the actual root of these characters emotional problems.....as in, I kind of think they are a bit stupid.
The fact that in contrast to most of the other characters, Se-yi's sad history and angst has a believable root and core is a huge relief to me because I was starting to think that most of the characters did not really have any true reasons to be acting as angsty and traumatised as they do. Actually the exact word that keeps popping up in my mind is juvenile.....
For instance, take Nana.
She has deep seated issues and fears of rejection because her father is a big gangster and she is worried she will never be truly accepted by friends or a lover because of this same fact, and therefore she shuts herself off to the world around her.
All fair enough.
Except that she is also in love (at first sight no less) with a pretty boy at school who she has never even talked to and this is the issue that she seems to be most hung up and traumatised about. In fact it causes her so much extreme pain that she is constantly angsting around, crying and just generally being severely depressed.......
I can't help but feel like that right there is a very adolescent teenager problem, as in,' No one understands me and because that boy I hardly know and have never spoken to doesn't love me back I feel like dying of sadness!'
And yes I do know the above is a very real issue for teenagers (I have been there myself would you believe) but at this point in my life I just can't help but want to shout at her and tell her to get the hell over it because her sad pining is kind of boring and unfortunately I have a hard time finding sympathy for her. Because she is hurting she is often rude to some of the other very naive characters, such as Eun Ha, who I admit can be a bit silly but certainly doesn't deserve to be treated badly.
Another character that I have trouble garnering much sympathy for is Sun-woo.
Yeah I know he is very pretty and he volunteers with child cancer patients and all, but at the same time he isn't always a completely nice person (though he certainly shows his best side when he is around Se-yi).
The reason I have come to this conclusion about his character is because of his past association with all the evil popular kids (I am presuming he used to act similar to them considering he was part of their group...how can you be friends with such awful people if you are a good person who takes issue to their awfulness after all....) and also the fact that he always stood by whilst poor 'Radio' was tormented in class.
Although I do believe he has genuine feelings for Se-yi, his ultra weird choice to confess to her whilst looking Seol-chan right in the eye instead of the girl he is actually confessing to really hit home to me exactly what sort of dude he really is. Although his confession may have been in earnest he still used it as a way to gain leverage over Seol-chan and not as a way to express what is in his heart. He confessed his feelings not for Se-yi, but actually in order to feel like he is winning in his fight against Seol-chan, a truly terrible and misleading reason to confess to anyone.
I do believe he really likes her but the question begs to be asked, would he still like her as much if he actually got what he wanted and was able to 'win' against Seol-chan and date her? Or would Se-yi then begin to lose some of her appeal?
And now we come to, in my opinion, the absolute worst of the bunch, Do-nam. This boy is a nasty piece of work with a truly hateful personality. I was totally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his treatment of Kyu-dong, as the show was constantly eluding to some past incident of which Kyu-dong was guilty of, acting like that justified Do-nam's terrible mistreatment of his former friend......but a ten year old Kyu-dong going against his word in a local talent competition and a stumble on the stairs (through no fault of Kyu-dong's at all) resulting in Do-nam not being able to do Judo anymore?
How is years and years of cruel highschool humiliation and physical bullying (to the point where the victim actually tries to kill themselves twice!) at all equal to a ten year old making a stupid choice? I mean, he was a kid! We all do stupid things when we are kids!
The idea that after this backstory came to light I was forced to watch a whole class of students get behind Do-nam's bullying of Kyu-dong was actually disgusting and made me feel physically ill. I cannot understand how this drama can possibly be trying to say that any sort of backstory at all is justification for how this poor lonely kid is being treated and Do-nam should not be accepted into the little happy singing group or immediately forgiven for thinking that what he is doing is okay. He is an atrocious human being who is nothing more then a bully, and how I am supposed to ever feel sorry for him because he can't still do Judo is beyond me.
Kyu-dong (and also Se-yi) are the only two characters in this drama that I do actually sympathise with in regards to their 'dark pasts' with everyone elses 'secrets' just seeming a little pertty and juvenile to be honest.
Seol-chan on the other hand is a character that has been given just enough lonely sad moments for us to understand him and give his character depth, without actually overdoing the emotional scarring angle. I like very much that the writers have highlighted the fact that, because he is an idol and adored by so many fans, he is also polarised and alone in a world full of people with such high expectations of him, such as Eun Ha for example, and I think this character depth has been handled really well in his case.
Eun Ha herself was actually a bit of a mystery to me, as she seems a bit clueless, has a terrible hairstyle, and also seems to have little point to the story's narrative...... until the scene where an ignored Eun Ha turns up at the creepy Ahjussi's house to find Kyu-dong recovering from his second brush with death.
I adored this scene! It was beautiful and subtle, and such a fantastic way to show Kyu-dong connecting with another character who isn't beside him only because they feel sympathy for him. Eun Ha treats him like a normal human being, something I fear Kyu-dong does not experience often, praising him on his limited piano skills not in a condescending way, but with genuine admiration.
The scene where they dance together to the imaginary band of their friends is lovely and suddenly it occurs to me that there is so much more to Eun Ha then meets the eye, bruises aside. Obviously this scene highlights how lonely they both are and how important the others in their group are to them (a sad thing really because they are not as essential to the others, so this importance does not flow both ways) and all in all was a moment where this drama was definitely winning!