The series tells the story of a grim reaper named 444 who is also known as Black, a woman called Kang Ha Ram who can foresee death, a detective, and the son of an important businessman. Together, they stumble upon mysterious murders that link back to a 20-year-old murder case of a prostitute. Black and Ha Ram go against the rules of the heavens and fight to save someone’s life and discoverthe truth about what happened 20 years ago.
Cast & Credits
I'm very picky with my ratings and I rarely give a drama ten points in every category. But because I'm unconditionally in love with this story (even though there might be one or two flaws. I know that many people didn't like the ending which I myself was satisfied with, even though it might just have had a too vaguely drawn explanation), it would be a shame to not give Black the highest score. It's entertaining and addictive as that and it will take some time until I can let go.
It often happens that when you start a drama, it begins with a strong introduction, makes you curious enough to continue watching and then loses all its strengths halfway through while leaving you with the most frustrating feeling ever. Well, Black is no exception when it comes to thrilling starts (and by all means pay attention and don't forget about this one), but it parts from the heaps of unsatisfying story proceedings as it constantly holds its high level of suspense.
To give a summary other than the one above would be risky as it might contain possible unintended spoilers or hints to the plot. And no one wants that, I don't want that - and I don't want you guys to throw me into the fiery pit. Seriously, I'm not that kind of party pooper.
So, what exactly is the magic potion of Black that drives everyone crazy?
The story progress
Let me praise the bigger picture that is definitely existent, even though you can't see it right away. It's hidden quite well, and pieces of the puzzle only appear one at a time which is helping the plot to constantly grow stronger. Receiving clues, getting confused over them, creating the wildest theories until your head is spinning, was so much fun that I can hardly contain my excitement whenever I talk about it. The neat and flawless weaving of secrets and the repeated drop of shocking bombs after almost every episode were some of the main forces why the drama worked so well. Whenever you think you've figured it out, BAM!, twists and turns shatter your carefully formed construct of thoughts. Those new revelations are not just added at the writer's whim but well thought-out right since the beginning. There are hints that are quite obvious from the start while other ones stay hidden until the story wants them to be revealed. Be sure to keep your eyes open while watching this show, or you might miss one or two important things and won't be able to follow the story anymore.
Mixing genres is quite popular these days and Black doesn't stay out of it either. The difference between Black and other dramas though: This one does a stunning job at smoothly merging them. Black is a pretty dark drama, although it might not seem that way at first. It might even look chaotic and/or messy. I don't know about others, but I enjoyed every single scene bar none. The shift from dark to funny was always sleek, making me forget the length of the episode and leaving me startled when it was suddenly over again. The further the story proceeds, the darker the plot grows while thickening the mystery. At this point I do have to warn you though. If you have a sensitive stomach and can't cope well with harsh violence, be careful. Even though certain scenes were not always shown in full scope, sounds and imagination were enough to make me feel the cruelty of the scene. Other ones were clearly visible and thus added to the brutal reality. I do think that the given age limit might be a little light on this one.
The leading stars
First and foremost, Black himself. Grim reaper number 444, the most cold-hearted one among them all. It doesn't matter whether you already know Song Seung Heon from previous dramas or movies, because you can be sure that when you watch him here, it will feel like you're meeting him for the first time all over again. The whole concept of his role is simply dashing. Although I don't want to exaggerate, it's hard to keep it to myself, and I do want to brag about it, about all his captivating treats. The color "black" never suited someone better, his looks are literally breathtaking, his whole demeanor is seductive in every possible way.
May it be the stone-cold grim reaper who doesn't like humans or the inexperienced "newbie" without common sense and blunt responses, finding himself slowly getting attached to the world he doesn't want to be part of, and unwillingly trying to solve the big mystery he gets thrown into.
There is this thing he's doing with his eyes... I don't even know if he is doing something with them, but they are as dark as the deep blue sea and… one fillip and you’ve lost. His whole acting is spellbinding. If there's a list with actors who own their roles, he would be somewhere at the top. Song Seung Heon breathed life into Black, simply put he WAS Black. He and no one else. Pure perfection, as one might say. Compared to the rest of the cast, his role might not be the only one with a big character development ahead, but he was definitely the one that delivered spot on, week by week by week.
I’m rattling on about him, I know… mian!
Go Ah Ra, who is playing the girl that is afraid of people because she can foresee near death, is a rather difficult part to approach (maybe even the only thing I can't brag about). I don’t fancy her but I don't hate her either. And I have to admit that it must be quite challenging and difficult to go on stage alongside Song Seung Heon, especially if he's doing such a phenomenal job. Her impersonation of Kang Ha Ram was... how shall I put it... average and sometimes monotone. Go Ah Ra's facial expressions are quite limited which makes it hard to forget all the prejudice she is receiving. She is just not as good as others, no matter how you look at it. Her acting didn't reach me the same way the rest of the cast did, and it’s poles apart from Song Seung Heon’s. However, she was not a complete failure either. She was okay, her scenes were okay. Her acting was good enough to not get frustrated or disappointed over it. She did have chemistry with her co-star. Even though it was not overwhelming, it conveyed the necessary atmosphere to keep the tension on.
The supporting cast
There are so many people that have to be mentioned that it's hard to keep it short. First of all the second male lead and love interest of our heroine. Although Oh Man Soo was never my favorite person in the drama because he was naive and just too good-natured, Kim Dong Jun did a pretty fine job portraying the rich kid that wants to get a chance and be recognized for his work. I did not always like his actions, nor did I like his innocent look at the world. The inevitable twist though that is forcing him to mature and almost impossible for him to comprehend, is something I wouldn't wish for anybody, no matter how much I dislike them. So, he did get my sympathies when the time came.
Song Seung Heon's love interest Yoon Soo Wan (portrayed by Lee El - who we all know from Goblin) is a pretty foggy character and the drama is only slowly revealing her secrets. I found her character extremely interesting and reasonable. Her love for the male lead was real, and whilst her secrets were unknown, her intentions were always transparent for me.
Black's fellow grim reapers, 007 and 416 look like they only exist for pure entertainment or informative purposes. But the more they got introduced to me, the clearer it became that there was more to them than the unaided eye could see. But oh well, what am I talking about... One of them is played by Jo Jae Yun, so of course I can't do anything else but fancy over him. No matter what he's doing, he is one of the most versatile actors I've seen and it's no surprise that he is owning the role of an ancient grim reaper as well - even though he's relatively reserved in this.
So many crime dramas, so many police squads, so many failures. And again, Black is shining with a unique team that seems to be the loser squad at first but learns to use opportunities and circumstances to rise from the shadows. The team dynamics are just right and a pleasure to watch. After Black himself, they are the comedy perpetrators per se and they are great at it. Each member has a unique and sweet nature what makes them grow on you in no time. Special credits to Kim Won Hae as well. I've already seen him in other dramas but his role in Black is by far my most favorite one.
Kim Jae Young plays the Hallyu star Leo who is after Black the second eye candy of the show (at least for me - I know there will be some people who disagree with me :P). His character doesn't seem to get more depth as the story progresses and you might think he's only there for the looks. Well, as far as I can tell without revealing too much, he does have another purpose as well. I always liked his character, despite the image he had to portray in this. The fact that they didn't disclose so much about him, made me even more curious about his story.
If you look closely, you can see that every single character has a reason to be in this drama. Everyone is connected in some mysterious way. To follow the leads and to try and find out about those threads is one thing that makes the concept of the plot so promising. Another one is the character development that everyone in this drama will go through. Closely followed by visually stunning cinematography and well used supportive background music.
The story is as shocking as it is heartbreaking. Black comes along with so many convincing treats that it will be hard to keep away from it. It's entertaining and funny and mysterious and dark and dramatic and definitely catching you off-guard. You won't be able to leave your couch once you hit the play button. And please, be careful of your nails and your hair.
On that note: Happy watching!
(I wrote too much, mian~)
I gave this show an 8 because it did not fail to entertain me and keep me hanging on to watch the mysteries unravel. I just can't bring myself to lower the score any further even with some of the uneven writing.
This was my first time watching Song Seung Heon, and although I've heard some negative things about his acting, I thought he did a great job in this. Having watched Go Ara a couple of times, though, her acting I would say hasn't improved that much - or the character was just not written as well as they could have. I think the writers could have made her a stronger character. Overall the acting was done pretty well for most of the actors.
I enjoyed the music in this and will probably search out the main song that played.
The rewatch value could go either way. I probably won't rewatch anytime soon just due to the sheer length of this show and for the fact that now I know the plot. However, for some, maybe a rewatch would make seeing the pieces fall into place more enjoyable from the vantage point of knowing the final outcomes.