Eom Da Da is a special effects make-up artist who has been secretly dating Ma Wang Joon, an A-class actor, for 7 years. After a sequence of incidents that damaged Da Da's belief in her love, she decides to break up with Wang Joon. With a heart barely healed after the breakup, she ends up meeting Young Goo, a humanoid robot programmed to be a perfect boyfriend. Young Goo begins to develop human emotions and gets involved in a love triangle with Wang Joon and Da Da. (Source: MyDramaList) ~~ Adapted from the manga Absolute Boyfriend (Zettai Kareshi). Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
In a society that has been enraptured by the potential of AI and robotics, it’s unsurprising that there’s been a recent influx in dramas that deal with such topics. Despite being based off an older manga, My Absolute Boyfriend is yet another title to add to that list. It addresses the issue of robots assimilating into the human world, a problem that is bound to become increasingly relevant over time.
It all sounds interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone who is in need of a captivating storyline. As is the case with most Korean dramas, the first couple of episodes are all fun and games. The further it gets, though, the faster it tumbles downhill. You’d think that this show should be about the struggles of a robot in human society, and it is…but only in theory. Instead, My Absolute Boyfriend overflows with unexciting conflicts and equally unappealing supporting characters. It’s a romcom that pretends to be intricate and emotional, but lacks any of the proper delivery to make it a worthwhile watch.
Ma Wang Joon is one of the least likable second leads I’ve ever had the bad luck of experiencing, yet he rears his ugly head so many times that it makes for a rather toxic drinking game: take a shot every single time you want to punch him smack in the jaw. His constant, unnecessary interventions in the main couple’s relationship stunt its development so much that it’s hardly satisfying when they’re together. It’s like its own subgenre of jump-scare horror—every time Da Da and Young Goo are having a moment, I’m not enjoying it; I’m nervous, waiting for Wang Joon to poke his head around the corner and interrupt. Diana isn’t much better. Despite her intriguing introduction, she ends up as an incredibly boring villain and contributes nothing but shallow inconveniences to the story. All of the conflicts are uninteresting and oftentimes feel unresolved.
Frankly, the number of episodes does far more harm than good and put the writers in over their heads. The amount of sloppy writing in this show is too much to bear and makes the main relationship a tad unbelievable. Had the drama been shortened to 16 or even 12 hour-long episodes, the story would have been so much tighter and left no room for such plot filler.
What’s truly odd about My Absolute Boyfriend is that the acting is good. While the overall performance of the actors and actresses is nothing to rave about, they’re all pretty impressive, especially for a drama that’s ridden with flaws. I can only sadly imagine what could have been if it were written better. For example, Yeo Jin Goo does an excellent job of portraying a puppy-like boyfriend robot and is exemplary when it comes to showing raw emotion. Yet, his talent mostly goes to waste because the writers have no clue as to what the hell to do with their own main character and just push him off to the side for a disproportionate amount of time. Similarly, Min Ah, Jong Hyun, and Seo Young all have the capacity to act well, but their characters are too flat for their acting to feel completely natural. This becomes increasingly obvious over time, when the writers are so busy trying (and failing) to make the story itself interesting that the characters lose the traits that make them compelling.
Altogether, I would have to recommend a pass on this show. Even if you’re a diehard fan of one of the actors, this can be a tough one to get through (I’ll voluntarily admit that I persisted in watching because of Yeo Jin Goo, and even then, it was a struggle). In an industry that pumps out romcom after romcom, My Absolute Boyfriend isn’t particularly special whatsoever.
(For in-depth review/analysis with spoilers: https://dramavixen.tumblr.com/post/186224304109)
I don't understand the amount of hate and scorn this drama has been collecting from basically before it even aired. I get it might not be your cup of tea, but no need to destroy it without even giving it a chance. [To defend the robot/human category I should write a whole article on its own, but. Ever heard of Bicentennial Man (1999), with Robin Williams? I, Robot? Or, most recently, the tv show Westworld? We've always been intrigued by the possibilities hidden in the A.I. realm, so really, what's so weird or wrong or hateful in a drama that takes this concept and turns it into a love story?]
I really loved the original manga and I've been waiting for a transposition that would do it justice, and honestly, My Absolute Boyfriend did not disappoint (much, but not because of the plot, which wasn't that different from the original material). I mean, this drama didn't pretend to be something it wasn’t - it's a rom-com, cute and light and fluffy, and you'd probably enjoy it much more if you don't start watching it with too high expectations.
Yeo Jin Goo’s ability to jump from a dramatic role (The Crowned Clown) to this one is fantastic, and he tackles the both of them with the same professionalism, despite the raw difference. As terrifying as he was in the role of a psychopath king, he is just as adorable in the role of a newly awaken robot built to be a Dating Companion, and clings to his girlfriend with the same eagerness and enthusiasm of a pup (every time he called her 여자 친구 my heart melted a little). At first he simply follows his code, which is why Eom Da Da doesn't trust him, or his feelings; of course, she's also dealing with the abrupt end of her seven-years-long relationship with actor Ma Wang Joon, so that's why she's cold and tries to keep a distance between herself and the robot.
I didn’t know Bang Min Ah before this drama, but I liked her despite some awkward acting in the beginning – it almost feels like this was her first job and she still needed to get her footing right. But she’s a very expressive actress, and made me cry almost every time she was even a bit sad (she’s either really good or I’m simply too empathetic, lol). It was a bit annoying at first for how she acted towards Yong Goo because instinctively I wanted to protect the pure robot boyfriend, but she managed to grow on me.
As time passes, however, we start to notice a change in Yong Goo: whereas his code should make him act in a certain way, he defies all logic and does all the opposite, to the point where he even manages to 'wake himself up' from a reset that would have supposedly taken all of the memories he had with Eom Da Da – thus preventing from ever remembering her. As his love for Eom Da Da grows, so does his intelligence evolve and advance, making him become self-aware: he wants, he feels, he longs for thing he shouldn’t – he pretends to be loved just as he loves, placing the first stone towards him becoming more human.
[The man who built him used to read him “The Happy Prince” before he was released in the world (something that tells you how this story will end from the start, so you keep watching all the cute and fluffy moments with a bitter sweetness that make them all the more precious), so really, Yong Goo was made to be a hopeless romantic: it’s not surprising that he ended up developing those kinds of feelings.]
Of course, the drama has its flaws. Like the one-dimensional "villain", Diana, who really is nothing more but a spoiled little rich girl; she’s the original owner of Yong Goo, the one who paid for him to be clear, who was however famous for destroying her robots and being generally an awful person. Which is why the man who built Yong Goo kidnaps him and sends him to another owner instead of her – he loves his creation too much to risk letting him end in the wrong hands. Ugh every time Diana appeared on screen I had this urge to hit her, which is bad because I don't like violence, but, you know - one of those sharp slaps that kdramas are so famous for?? That wouldn't have hurt. Instead, we get to watch her act badly and gloat as she hurts people, purposelessly.
And don't get me started with Ma Wang Joon - the personification of Can't-Take-No-For-An-Answer. The guy believed that he and Eom Da Da never actually broke up, so had the nerve to be jealous and annoying whenever he saw her with her new boyfriend, without all the stupid consequences of that behaviour. They were trying to justify him in the beginning with the unoriginal "he's being an ass and a terrible boyfriend because he's being threatened and doesn't want to put her in danger", but you can imagine how that worked out for him. Spoiler: it didn't. Even the writers shrugged and gave up on that storyline at some point, lol.
Some episodes are slower and more boring than others, something that can happen with 40 episodes to fill when one does not have a clear idea of what to do with the characters and the plot as it’s evidently the case with the writers. It’s like that meme – they’re a little confused, but they got the spirit. I personally wouldn’t have given Ma Wang Joon so many scenes with the protagonist: there are way too many episodes with him as the lead in the relationship with Eom Da Da, considering that they didn’t plan to make them go back together – something that it’s very, very unclear up until the last ten or something episodes, by the way and that leaves you with some weird aftertaste because you wasted too much time with him instead of deepening the relationship between Da Da and Yong Goo: it’s as if they did want to make her go back with her ex-human-boyfriend, but changed idea half-way and didn’t know how to salvage that storyline. Letting it just die and – ruining the flow.
So, the plot could have been better developed, no doubts – we could have done without a few characters or some useless plot points – but that doesn't take away too much from the final product. It's a sweet, funny, uncomplicated love story between a young woman who has been disappointed by love and is now a bit cynical because of it, and a gentle, kind robot who falls for her so much that it breaks him, in the end, and makes her fall in love with him in return. Loving her makes him human, and he prefers to 'die' instead of losing all memories of her love to save himself. Damn, the last six episodes made me cry like a fountain, but it was worth it. I never felt like his feelings for Eom Da Da were forced or fake – it’s pretty clear that the poor robot truly loves her, you can’t help but cheering for him. #protectYongGoo2k19
I personally think that the cast made a marvellous job with the (objectively scanty) material they had been given - something that with another crew of actors would undoubtedly be cringey and a bit lame, they managed to turn it into something pleasant to watch and lovely to enjoy. The actors did a good job, and made me watch the whole show without skipping a single scene, keeping me entertained until the end.
I would definitely recommend it, and 10/10 would watch again.