The drama is definitely romcom, and the story is fantasy. For ALM:L, the fantasy components work well with the comedy but lacks synergy with the romance and drama as a whole. Even though the titular character is an angel and L is listed first on the cast list, Shin Hye Sun’s human character seems to be the more “main” character and is the catalyst for most of the emotional development of the characters.
I understand that dwelling more on the fantasy components makes it harder to write a coherent story, and this drama suffers from this as it shoehorns/retcons more and more fantasy elements throughout. So, we are left with fantasy which works well as a comedic relief (i.e. Dan’s social ineptitude with humans) but is used poorly as a plot device.
Similar things can be said for the antagonists of the drama. They are almost comically evil to the point where the characters themselves don’t quite understand why the antagonists behave that way. Like the overall story, the antagonists could have both been more logical and fleshed out.
The messy mix of these elements creates multiple visible flaws throughout the story, and viewers may need to think overtime to try to buy the romance that does develop between the main leads. The plot and antagonists more-or-less force the two characters together rather than the two characters finding/understanding one another.
Still, the main leads’ cute moments together highlights the childlike joy that they bring to each other and showcase their chemistry. Just don’t expect to find mature characters or romance. But there is some growth, especially given the extremely immature characters in the first couple of episodes. So on the other hand, don’t be completely turned off by the character in the beginning.
In conclusion, the story starts off with a promising premise and immature characters, but the show struggles to stay coherent through its fantasy setting and under-delivers in meaningful character development and believable romance. ALM:L tries to mix up the classic romcom formula with fantasy and melodrama, but instead leaves the cast struggling through a chaotic plot.
I’ll mention that this is actually my first drama review and judging this aspect is my weakest area. A quick glance through MyDramaList shows that I focus mainly on romance/romcom dramas, so hopefully I can leave a fairly relatable review here.
Overall, I rate the acting better than the story. However, I do think the story enables the actors by 1) having relatively simple characters and 2) drawing a parallel on and off the ballet stage. The first point is more of a kudos to the cast on their portrayal of the characters. Especially, the antagonist characters lacked depth, but the actors & actresses dutifully conveyed intent with their actions and gave off the impression that there was more underlying their character, which may not always be the case unfortunately.
The second point really enables the acting theatrics in the drama. In another context, Shin Hye Sun could be critiqued for “over acting”. However, the foil between the “story within a story” gives the viewer a different perspective. Yeon Seo’s hysteria does not seem as hysterical in comparison to the ballet that parallels their story. Rather, her “over” acting really connects what is happening on and off the ballet stage. Unfortunately, L gave a weak performance in comparison, although one could attribute it to the weaker writing surrounding the angel. Overall, it is difficult to rate the acting any higher given the limitations of the writing.
I enjoyed the direction they went with the music because they did not try to sound like a “ballet” (or what I think of as classical music). It stuck to more modern trends, and I have no qualms with it, given my love for kballads. I also like it when a cast member contributes to the OST.
However, it felt like the show relied on the ballad OSTs to convey emotion through its weak writing, which was a disservice to the music. Given the artists that contributed and the quality of the OST, the drama once again under-delivered on using the music to its full potential.
This drama is sufficiently sweet that it may warrant a rewatch on a slow day. However, there are definitely many dramas I would rewatch over this. If you want to see some really immature characters going through more character and romance development, I would recommend “30 but 17” (bonus shoutout for featuring the same Female Lead). Otherwise, it would be hard to rewatch knowing how the story under-delivers and falls apart as it comes to a close.
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I will be honest and say the story outline is similar to SitR, focusing on a relationship that is heavily critiqued by the leads’ friends and family. I believe there are 2 key differentiators which are the strength of the supporting stories and the methodical pace of character development. The supporting cast gets a fair amount of development throughout the drama, and they, themselves, change instead of folding into 2D one directional characters. This actually adds to the “slowness” of the drama as precious time is diverted away from the main leads.
However, I do not find fault in the slow pace. I admit the 16 (32 halves) episode format changes the standard for pace, but I also believe that there is a range of acceptable pace in kdrama. I find bigger fault when the writer/director strays away from the slow pace to try to close certain plot points or make characters behave erratically, which OSN does not suffer from. If anything, OSN is not shy in leaving interactions with little explanation and limited expose/monologue.
This may make it harder for viewers to buy into the relationship between the main leads, but I thoroughly enjoyed the romance that resembled something out of real life rather than a kdrama. One lead doesn’t have to save the other or be connected via childhood past to develop feelings for one another. OSN is the closest example of a life-like relationship in a Korean drama; any more and it would be no fun as a drama (you know you’re trying to escape reality watching kdramas).
I applaud the director/screenwriter for running it back by producing such a comparable drama within one year. They improved on all areas of the plot from SitR and remained true to their style instead of bending to every criticism levied at SitR, which I still ranked at 7.5. I look forward to their next projects with a small longing for something more different.
Let’s begin by looking at the Male Lead since, again, it's easy to compare to SitR. Jung Hae In’s acting is markedly improved from SitR. This may be due to his growth as an actor, the improved writing of OSN, the chemistry with the cast, more trust from the director, or some combination of all of the above. He displayed a wide range of thoughts and emotions throughout the drama, and I was especially impressed with his acting when facing the second Male Lead.
Similar compliments can be said for the Female Lead, Lee Jung In. And her chemistry with the male actor was amazing. The biggest evidence of this being how electric the dialogue between the 2 felt; Their conversations conveyed more chemistry than any of their skinship scenes. The acting of the 2 main leads really complimented the direction of the drama, which heavily focused on interactions rather than monologues.
The supporting cast also performed admirably. For example, seeing the FL’s mother in OSN can be quite a shock after watching SitR (or vice versa), but she still nailed both roles and truly deserved to be part of this cast. The FL’s sisters were also great and their acting really conveyed how their characters were shaped by their shared upbringing (and I have a soft spot for “sismance”).
Funnily enough, even a good chunk of the OST is sung by the artist who contributed to SitR, Rachael Yamagata. Although English in Korean media is improved, it does not compare to having a native English speaker. This should significantly improve the drama viewing experience for international viewers given that some subbers do not sub Korean lyrics.
The actual music works very well with the story and pace. I thought each of the songs in the OST carried tension, even the “happy” song. This tension is well utilized because the story does not have the outrageously tense moments of a thriller or typical melo, so the combination of the story and song was important in conveying conflict and emotional resolution.
There is a high rewatch value for this drama given that it covers a multitude of nuanced issues. Even as a native Korean speaker, I plan to go back and rewatch the drama to better understand and enjoy the conversations and chemistries between all the characters.
The next episode previews were the worst part of this show, so I look forward to not having to deal with them now that it is fully aired.
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