The first episode was kind of awkward, but it was easy to get into it and follow it loyally till the few last episodes. The drama likes to play a lot on the contrast between Tae Woon and Ji Na which worked till up to episode 10 or so, however after that I felt like the plot started to drag out considerably. The tone of the show was not as colorful anymore and I found hard to feel for Tae Woon's situation. They started to pull out a lot of excuses and issues that were never actually a problem, also apologizing and taking blame for something that was not even in their power to stop and I really feel like episodes 12 and 13 were a complete waste of time. The story only got up to 7 for me because it attempted to be fresh and entertaining for most of the time, but in the end it just bit itself with it.
Character and cast wise, I feel like No Min Woo did a really good job. It was a new role for him that I think he handled perfectly, no matter how badly written Tae Woon might have been. However the rest of the characters tend to shine for a while and then bite themselves and going back to be simply "cliche'd troupes"; of the genre. Ji Na was a brilliant character that through the last few episodes just started to act like a dead fish, letting the people around her monologue their pains to her and she being completely ambigous about it. They turned an initially ambitious woman in a Marry Sue that can't tie two thoughts together and don't tell me that she had a reason for it because the drive and bluntness she had in the beginning couldn't have just jumped out the window. It was a complete waste of potential. Kang Hee Chul is also one of the strong points of the show in the beginning and safely stays as one till the last 10 minutes of the last episode, he completely took the spotlight from Tae Woon more than once, he was intriguing and I really liked his inner struggle between his feelings and his ambitions; a complex character that in the end just didn't deliver because of the "second main guy" barrier and because I guess the plot demanded him to. About Hye Mi, she also surprised me in a pleasant way, I didn't expect her to be that likeable and I feel it's the first time besides maybe Bride of the Century case that I really felt for her and I hoped she will get something good out of it all...but that too backlashed at her when she started to act too much like a pain and a badly used cliche. However the actors didn't disappoint. This drama actually made me curious in following Jung Yoon Hak. He wasn't perfect, but I find him to have a very fascinating charm that other actors miss.
Soundtrack wise it was...alright I guess. Average. Forgettable. I usually do pay attention to these things, so this time I really didn't feel like any of the songs stand out. Some were nice and funny, but that's really all.
You know? I really wanted to give this drama a 7 but in the end counting all overall problems that I had with it in the last 6 episodes, I just couldn't bring myself to. 7 is still a Good rating for me but it was more closer to Fine (6) due to its trying to be original and I chose to value that.
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This review may contain spoilersYou know what? I really tried. Some of you might raise eyebrows that somebody is able to drop something when there's only one episode left, but seriously, I do not even care anymore and I'm going to explain exactly why.
Ugly Betty. Which actually made it interesting for the first 10 episodes; also, having worked in this setting before, I was engrossed into the whole editing team problems and how hard is to actually write a successfull magazine. That's till the main characters kept being more focused on their cheesy love story, rather than their overall lives, which almost made them look like a bunch of teenagers that sway at the sight of their other half instead of 30 years old adults, till the last few episodes where the setting was once again picked up, which signed some enjoyable moments overall, but a bit late for me to not feel deeply annoyed about most things at that point; everything was rather unbalanced. But turning back to the romcom part, based on the title, "She was Pretty", I expected a love story about a guy that turned handsome and a girl that turned "ugly" (even though Hye Jin was anything but ugly, more like uncared for). I expected them to fall in love despite their very different priorities and very different styles, to learn to accept eachother for what they are, which they did at one point, but the message was never properly delivered in the end; "She WAS Pretty" had no meaning in the end. As you know, Korea is a society that focuses on looks to the point of obsession, the drama was initially good at showing us that, if you have messy hair and don't apply make up, people are going to look at you almost with disdain, if you're fat, it's even worst, alienation and bullying is going to await you; well, unfortunately, drama didn't manage to keep to its own theme. During the last 6 episodes, it barely even mattered anymore; I felt like I was watching a different show entirely, which was a real pain for me because I really enjoyed it overall up to halfway through. What could have turned out as a memorable fashion-related-setting romcom with the good message of "looks into a superficial world don't necessarily have to matter", fell into the usual troupes of its own genre.
Mostly superficial. Bland. Nobody saved itself, besides Shin Hyeok. And let me get this straight. There have been attempts of giving them deepness and character development. I liked Seong Joon's condition, I liked Hye Jin's self sacrificing personality, I liked Ha Ri's inner struggle, but they went nowhere. By episode 15 of the show, Seong Joon turned into a hopeless romantic, Hye Jin turned into an observer, just simply answering and reacting to what was happening (typically romcom heroine), as for Ha Ri, useless tragedy and convenient reason to drag the plot, but I did appreciate her resolve to start doing things on her own, without any help. The rest of the cast? Forgettable, despite being lots of developing potential through the editing team characters as well, but just ignored for the sake of romance. As for, Shin Hyeok, he was the only character that knew and had any shades of "greys". And no, for any one of you that is starting to assume, no, I am not a Siwon fangirl, I didn't even consider his existence till this drama. And no, I did not exactly ship Hye Jin and Shin Hyeok; to be sincere, I did not ship anybody. He was just the character that connected them all and that, in the end, tied them all up and motivated all of them up. If there's a reason why the characters managed to reach that little character development that they had, is exclusively because of Shin Hyeok.
Hwang Jung Eum. Oh, Hwang Jung Eum, you are only sweet when you stop overreacting, sweetheart. Comedy doesn't mean overreaction; no, let me rephrase, comedy doesn't mean yelling and hiding under tables, dropping everything in your way and act as if you're on crack 90% of the time. It's the problem that I had with Kill Me, Heal Me comedy as well, when she was involved. For the rest, I must praise Siwon, of course. I don't know if he improoved or not from his last role, but I really liked to witness his famous "derp faces", as well as his funny to bittersweet expression changes. It was very warming. As for Park Seo Joon, I must compliment him when he had to deal with his post-traumatic condition, but besides that, not much else. The rest of the cast was pretty much average, didn't really made me care about their performance.
Forgettable and limited. I can't remember any of the tracks up to now.
Tools/Storytelling/Execution (because I consider them important enough to mention now)
For once I didn't feel that spammed by flashbacks as I usually do when I watch Korean dramas, which is good. The filming was also deal with pretty nicely, I guess. I at least have nothing to complain. What I do have to complain about though, is the storytelling and execution. There are lots of points that are ignored from episode 1 of the show, which people tried to assume, but till an official answer, it just stays as that: assuming. For example (jump over this if you don't want to read SPOILERS), we have Hye Jin complaining and saying that she wished she had Ha Ri's face and body, yet, as the best friend and "wife" Ha Ri is supposed to be, did she try to help Hye Jin? No. Did Hye Jin ask for help? No. Explanation? None. Another one, Hye Jin is asked by the director to be more Most-like and she tried to apply make-up, which she fails horribly. Why did that happen? Pride because she had no intention to ask for help? Then what about later? Somebody that has no idea how to even apply eye-shadows, suddenly becomes able to. How? Errr....And there are more but I'm just going to END SPOILERS HERE.
You might say that nobody cares and these are just me picking on unimportant details; well, I must bring to your attention that these "details" makes the "execution". I do not take a story seriously, when the details just don't match or are skipped over. It's a superficial way of storytelling and execution that I will never aproove of, unless its intent IS clear to be superficial to begin with and have a completely different goal than me focusing on the story.
It was painful. The reason why I dropped it when I only had one episode left, is because it was so painful to think of what it was and what could have become, that I couldn't bear my frustration anymore. I don't usually drop series. I watch even what doesn't particularly interest me; a good show can be good even if I'm not emotionally invested in it or I can't care less about the topic. I even keep watching it, when I find it bad, but at least I can have fun to point out everything wrong with it. In this case, I couldn't even have the pleasure of laughing at it, for how frustrated I became. If it rode on Kill Me, Heal Me's popularity? Maybe, yes. But I don't count that as the only factor why it failed. And I didn't even like Kill Me, Heal Me either.
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In short (if you don't want to read the big text below)- > The characters make little sense and there's a bunch of plot twists for the sake of shocking the viewer rather than them having any justifiable sense for most of the time.
Good? ok. Now let's start.
Some of you might say “This person is an elitist!”, “This person is nitpicking!”, however I do not consider myself a fiction elitist nor am I trying to nitpick; I just don’t watch/read any type of fiction for only my entertainment. I say this because I know most of you watch dramas (or any type of fiction) mostly to fill in a “fun” factor or you watch them because you want to get all the “feels”, then the rest is mostly superfluous as long as you can manage to find a justification for it. The difference between some of you and me in the way that we see fiction became very clear as I was watching Empress Ki.
What is my point with this? If I would have managed to shut my brain and watch Empress Ki only to discover who is going to get backstabbed next and who was going to die next or who was going to get framed next, only for me to cheer or be sad depending of the situation, then yes, I would have said Empress Ki did its job and a very good one at that.
However, my brain kept questioning and demanding consistency and logic from its world and characters. Empress Ki is mostly an up and down of plot twists for plot twists; doesn’t matter whether the characters are even able to do what they do, the drama will find a reason for them to pull the plot twist even if it makes little sense. The story progresses mostly in this manner, there’s no time to just breath and let everything settle in because somebody will start plotting something else the moment the last conflict is over. I just can’t enjoy these types of fast-paced executions, mostly because I feel like even with 50 episodes I wasn’t able to even remotely “care” about most of the characters and that’s a big issue for me.
I must also question the random mood switches, being serious, then the next moment switching to comedy, without taking into consideration the bittersweet feelings that I was supposed to get right before that. It’s only normal that I’d be confused in what I was supposed to feel anymore when I have to face such contrast in moods. Is this a k-drama thing? I guess I could notice a pattern, but then it becomes a formal issue directed to the whole genre.
There are also several time skips that I would have wished to have never been there. Mostly during the last time skip where most of the changes occurred. It almost seemed like an easy way of not showing us how everything came to that conclusion, which was quite convenient, not to say lazy.
Empress Ki also doesn’t seem to know if it wants to stick to being a “realistical” (for how much realism it portrays…) pseudo-historical or a fantasy, because there’s this arc where they actually use magic and, in my bafflement, it was actually working and perfectly able to hurt somebody in real life. Just what are you doing, drama? I understand that at the time they believed in magic and whatnot, but from praying to actually making it work? Don’t bulshit me. They could have killed the entire royal family with those methods if it were that easy. *breaths in* *breaths out*
Also, just putting up a fact here, Empress Ki is far from being a historical. If it happens in the past and some of the characters actually existed in the past, it’s not enough to make it a historical when most of the story itself is only LOOSELY based on real facts and most of what happens in-between is purely fictitious. Empress Ki is a pseudo-historical. Common misconception.
I can pretty much copy-paste what I wrote in the story section. Characters were mostly one-dimensional.
I can put an exception flag on Togon and Nyang over here, but Wang Yu? I’m sorry, and this doesn’t have anything to do with me shipping TogonxNyang, but Wang Yu was entertaining for the first couple of episodes and then he became such a drag to follow that I was happy everytime he was gone. Why am I being so salty? Because he’s the valiant hero that’s too good for his own good. And that’s literally everything that’s up with him. His story resumed in Goryo! -> Nyang -> GORYO!! -> being a hero -> Nyang ! boohoo! -> Throne! -> no throne! -> Nyang! - > Nyang – THRONE-> no throne again etc. I could go on forever and I hope you got the point: it was painfully repetitive.
Is Wang Yu the only one guilty of repetitiveness? Haha, not even remotely. Tanassiri, the Dowager, El Temur (guilty of openly shaping and breaking the laws and rules like butter and nobody calls him out on that too), Bayan, bitchy maids, please all shake hands and join the circle of repetitiveness now.
But going to much happier stuff: Togon! He is the character that managed to come through the most, though sometimes he’s affected by the same incoherences and random “instincts” because “plot demands so!” like the rest of the characters, Nyang included. But he’s still way better written: arrogant, egocentric, selfish, sometimes cute, sometimes hateable, sometimes fully understanding of his role and position and actually pained by the reality of it all and his inability to escape. The feeling of always getting used, no matter in what situation. He is ultimately the character that I “felt” the closest to me through the whole drama and I was quite sad about him.
Nyang………She has her ups and downs. Sometimes I am pleased with her, some other times she tries to make sense but fails horribly. I really preferred her when she used to be into genderbent and stuff were actually simple, but she kept being this ambiguous character which I feel like I could never be able to completely get to know. She's stuck between a romance drama and a political drama. She just never seemed to know what she wants: one day she would be just fine with protecting something, then the next moment she’d want to rule the world. I am really not sure how am I supposed to take that.
For the rest, it’s really pointless for me to talk about, since I’d just repeat myself. With one exception…Tal Tal. Now, Tal Tal has been the character that, while still mostly one-dimensional, was able to bring the story and its characters back on the right path in more ways than one. He was my ray of light and voice of truth. He’s supposed to be a very smart and rational person, who is able to see through mostly every situation, but limited by his own loyalty. He gets some sort of development when he crosses paths with Nyang, but unfortunately, his character wasn’t even remotely explored further which was a shame. And the last episode really treats him unfairly. That’s all that I can say.
Acting & OST & Scenography
Well, I had nothing major to complain... besides Wang Yu and Tangqishi’s actors which I was trying to forget, but I really particularly liked Togon’s actor, maybe part of why I liked his character so much as well.
The soundtrack, unfortunately, while pretty, it gets repetitive very fast and there’s not much good use of it when it was actually needed.
The costumes were just gorgeous! The settings too, though overall repetitive as well, they were beautifully decorated and the make-up (as in wounds), as well, definitely better than what I’ve seen till now. See? I do have some stuff to praise !
Even though this review is quite bad and I really don’t want to take anything back, I am still sorry. Most of you might be outraged, but I really couldn’t enjoy it safe for the entertainment that it provided when it stopped being serious. Maybe if I wouldn’t have watched it with a friend, I wouldn’t have even been able to ever finish it.
Whether I recommend this? Eh, I do actually, but just if you watch dramas for entertainment purposes. If you’re like me and tend to take it from a formal point of view in terms of writing, then just run away. Really.
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Acting wise, I have nothing to really complain about Jaejoong. He isn't the best out there, that's for sure, but he was good enough for what he was trying to bring out in Shin Jae Joon: mystery, angstiness, puppy faces. I wish that his past would have felt more as "a fact" rather than just an add, however. I didn't even once have the impression that he changed because of Ha Na, nor that he was ever the way he was portrayed in his flashbacks. I just didn't see this development he went through, maybe because of the time limit. I can't say. Now, I had a very big problem regarding Ha Na's actress and that's her acting. I felt that her reactions were very forced, her crying were just sounds with no tears and her laughing was simply unnatural. I don't know if that was for comedy purposes but it failed eitherway for me, I'm sorry to say...
I think that part of the OST was written by Jaejoong right? I felt like I could hear his voice during one particular song in the moments that mattered and I can say that it did a pretty good job.
I might rewatch it just to be able to understand more the things that happen in the second part of the movie, I guess it's adviced if you really like these type of stories. I'm sure that there is always something that we might have missed.
Overall, a 7 is what it deserves. I hear people say that it's overrated. Maybe a bit, but it's not horrible either. There is a certain sweet almost bittersweet feel that keeps lingering even after the ending. I hoped for it to have been a bit different, but as an incurable romantic, I can't say I disliked it.
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It's a topic that I'm very emotionally involved in. If you spent enough time on Youtube like me you must know that freedom of speech is always questioned on one side and preached on the other. Everybody wants their opinion heard, however while we want our opinions to be heard, sometimes we want to block opinions that contrast our own. That's called "censoring";. As an extention, everything that is considered "immoral"; "unethical" "too violent" "too sexual" etc. causes controversy because it is believed these types of media provoke further violent/sexual/immoral/unethical behaviour in human beings that are easily manipulated by what they read/see (among other reasons, of course). So..are we better off without these pieces of material just because it contrasts our own views or for some reason believe that they raise criminal rates? I definitely am of the opinion that we aren't. "Censoring" is not a solution. Blaming any type of media for anything happening in the word is stupid. Everybody has the right to read/watch/play whatever they want. Live out of their monotous lives for a while and returning back to it after a couple of hours. Nobody can have the right to take our right of escapism and enjoyment away from us.
Library Wars manages to convey this feeling perfectly while showing us the extreme of what would happen if "censoring" becomes a law. As I said, the story is quite fast paced though; at one point I wished for a little bit more introduction, some details, which I just had to assume in the end. Also, while I understand the motivation of the main girl driving her towards the LDF, I don't really think that it fit the context of the story, however her love for books and ideal of defending them came through, so I stopped complaining.
As a consequence of the fast pace, many scene skips are incoherent: Dojo almost seems like he's always paired up with Kawahara even though they have no reason to be the only pair. I never saw him with somebody else, and besides Tezuka and his partner, i don't believe I ever saw him interact with any other of his squad mates which I'm kind of disappointed about.
Talking about Tezuka, I don't understand his character at all. Again, consequence of the fast pace.
Main pairing was adorable though, I just couldn't help but root for them. I didn't really feel like rooting for any couple in a while from the stuff that I'm watching right now, so that has to mean something!
Lastly, Dojo is a freakin ninja !!!
Great! Just great ! I really feel like praising the martial arts work on it. It left me breathless at some points, though I question their aiming skills sometimes in other parts. Anyway, the cast was great and acting, not much to complain.
Fine. Not really memorable, but did the job.
Overall, I didn't expect to love this movie as much as I did, and the only reason why I'm giving it an 8.5 is because of the fast pace that I don't usually appreciate.
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I TRYED to like it. I liked it during the first few episodes, then I started to TRY and like it. When you realize that you're desperately trying to find something to save a story then that's when you have to eventually come to terms with the fact that what you're watching is not as good as you hoped.
I must say that the story started out great. I adored the main guy's irresponsible, sarcastic and laid-back behaviour and I loved the concept of the heroine, I generally love fantasy romance stories just for the supernatural element which I always find refreshing and limitless in potential...But that's where this drama dies and gets burried for me. It's clear from around episode 5 or 6 that it'll be a heavily repetitive storyline, with the same issues coming up over and over again, only to get once again into the same damn issue formulated in a slightly different way. It gets dragged to the limits of the word "dragging" and I had to stop around episode 9 for a loooong time before picking it up again, just because it turned out so ridiculously boring and predictable. Then around episode 10 I started to stop even caring what was happening with all the new problems and ridiculous roundabout solutions just for the sake of melodrama. Even the comedy starting turning really annoying in the end; when you keep insisting on the same pun over and over again, it'll just stop being funny. That combined with the absolute nonsense and convenient ending made out of it an absolute chaos that you either choose to buy because of guilty pleasure or you just don't and move on.
Characters wise, there's nobody that particularly stands out. The two main protagonists were nice at the beginning, but as much character development that they got, they keep being bi-dimensional personas and stereotypes in the end. I liked Dong Ju to an extent though, that before I realized that the director probably liked to see No Min Woo looking mysterious, while repeating 100 times the same damn lines and always appearing in front of the main characters to announce the start or the end of a certain event. If it was because he thought we forgot the situation as viewers, then I'm sorry, I don't think we're that stupid. If he tried to be the sexy, mysterious guy, then okay. I give him that. He managed to be sexy! Though that might be plain subjective from my side, since I really like No Min Woo overall. It kind of bothered me how his character tried to act as a type of puppet master through the show, but in the end he failed because he kept pulling out random solutions when at first there were supposed to be none. He just kept discrediting himself....The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable: the always oblivious friends, the evil second girl, the comedy relief, AND I want to concentrate on the extra comedy relief couple, Min Sook and Director Ban, or the "action couple" They were really the only thing that I kept enjoying to follow from beginning to end and managed to bring a smile to my face despite the rageful red that I kept seeing in all the other parts in the second half of the drama. Oh and I have to make a honorary mention that goes to Go Mi Nyu and Jeremy from You're beautiful ! It was nice seeing them again as appearances, since I really liked that drama and my love for Hongki is quite big.
The OST is nice in the beginning, but as I went on I realized that it has no shades whatsoever. They put on repeat the same songs over and over again and I first noticed it with Dong Ju's theme song, Trap. Despite loving the song to death, it can't be that I have to listen to it everytime Dong Ju is on screen, completely ignoring his own state of heart. I found it to give a very bad atmosphere of how am I supposed to feel. And no. Knowing about his feelings or anybody's feelings doesn't necessarily make me feel bad for anybody if I keep hearing a song that has nothing to do with the actual feeling I'm supposed to get. It just contrasts it, so automatically I feel less emotional.
Overall, I'm sorry but besides the concept, the acting and the general ost (not the use of it), there aren't many things I enjoyed about this drama...Just wanted it to end.
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This review may contain spoilersI came across this drama particularly because of Hongki. After meeting him in You're Beautiful and actually starting to love him and FTisland I was especially curious to see him in a different role than what Jeremy got me used to. Bride of the Century was the top pick, also because the plot seemed like something that I would awfully enjoy. And it didn't disappoint.
Storywise, Bride of the Century is what you would call a classical poor girl x chaebol romantic comedy mixed in with a paranormal trigger, as well as a type of The Prince and the Pauper story. I was hooked right away, not expecting in the least the amount of complots, plot twists and good delivery this show had. It sincerely was a long time from last when I got the same feelings of anticipation of what was going to happen next. It's a story that uses its tools nicely, every plot twist gets revealed carefully, but it also make it seem like they threw you a bomb. The pacing in the first 8 episodes or so was great but then my attention started to considerably drop, unfortunately. Episode 8 or 9 were the first ones that I felt disappointed in mostly because I didn't like where the romance wanted to go. It felt sudden, way too cheesy, it was like kicking out all the good parts and convert it into a type of classical love story where all that matters is eachother and both of them able to die for eachother, which can give its share of sweet, but at the time I couldn't help but cringe. By the way of the romance aspect, there's also the second main guy I would like to concentrate on. While I liked him a lot and I tend to get those "second guy syndromes" of pain and despair a lot because I rarely like main guys, in this drama I didn't get feel like that. I shipped Doo Rim with both Kang Ju and Yi Hyun at one point, but then I leant more towards the main pairing. They're just so charming overall! Also, I appreciated that they didn't stop with just "main girl ends up with guy", BUT also dealt with the cruel consequences of that and it happens after episode 12 when the story picks up again. There were some general issues I had, mostly related to the characters reactions and decisions as well as some minor details, but the drama was able answer all questions and tie all loose ends nicely, big achievement for a story that tried to open so many doors. The ending though, had something I consider a major issue in terms of character developing and here I'm not reffering to the main couple but Yi Kyung and her mother. In three words: ";it felt forced."...in order to get a certain result... Also, I dont understand why they had to give a paranormal explanation to the doppelganger issue in that specific way. It was really not needed. ...
The characters in their complexity were greatly dealt with. It was one of the character developments I felt most satisfaction towards lately. Even the side characters got their moments of spotlight, their moments of great achievement and moments of great pain. They were just so roundabout that they felt real, there wasn't any character that didn't change somehow from when the drama first started. I was particularly pleased with the development that Roo Mi went through. I very much disliked having her on screen most of the time, but then my distaste turned to like. It's just the perfect example of what I look for when I value characters: their constant change. I feel like I want every story to give them something to keep and not make it obvious that they were simply used as plot devices or a way to loose time and drag out the episode. Bride of the Century dealt with that amazingly. The only issue I have would be Yi Kyung and her mother, as I mentioned earlier, and that's just because I felt like they were there to be evil and that's it. No other shade, no other issue. I liked how they both managed to destroy eachother by holding on their spite but in the end...I did not feel satisfied with their final decisions. There might be two reasons for that:
1. The sudden-ess.
2. Would be a spoiler. (But please, take note and try to figure out the second reason. If you can't, then fine. Doesn't matter.)
In terms of acting, there were some bad things that I could notice particularly about the crying with no tears (but I could as well call that a minor detail) and a deaf person understanding what its told to her without her looking at the person in order to lipread. ( I don't know if that was an acting mistake however or a miss.) The one I have to praise the most here is Yang Jin Sung. She managed to give her touch both to Doo Rim and Yi Kyung and somehow made it obvious who was who only by looking in their/her eyes. It's something that I very much appreciated. As for Hongki, maybe because I was too used to Jeremy, I found it a bit hard to get used to him in KangJu's role. Maybe he was a bit edgy at first too, but I have to praise him! By the end, I could feel how he started to be more and more at ease with Kang Ju compared to the first episode and I very much enjoyed how he made the role HIS by adding certain expressions that are very typical of Hongki.
The OST is one of the best that I heard till now in my limited k-drama experience. It really made my feelings be on edge everytime one of the songs or instrumentals came up. The atmopsheres were very much accentuated by the ost and that's a great plus. My 10 is no joke! Some k-dramas (at least of those I watched/am watching) tend to overuse the main theme song or just have a very limited number of instrumentals but this one didn't disappoint me.
Overall, I recommend this drama to everybody that likes unconventional romantic comedies mixed with a serious side note and nice plot twist delivery. I'm sure that if you like the paranormal you might not get disappointed too on a certain extent. While it might not be what you might think, the whole idea behind it shows a great care of details and is never shoved to a side. You might like it even though you're not into paranormal, just for the way that they deal with it. That said, I hope more of you will enjoy this drama and be able to make their own opinions and interpretrations of it.
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While I liked the concept of the genderbend plot and the way it was used, I felt like sometimes it tried to be too "draggy" and some situations were questionable. Why?
1. Go Mi Nyu's being a "nun in-training" didn't manage to excuse her overall Marry Sue-ish dullness. I understand up to innocence, naivety and inexperience, but a naive and innocent person doesn't particularly also need to be dull. Sure, I can believe it up to the point she believes all of what she is told and is easily manipulated (which was a pretty funny element and lead to interesting situations in her case, actually), but I can't forgive her lack of deduction and connection skills where "information" is served to her on a silver plater. I found it an incoherence in her character to be able to "read" between the lines in certain situations, but not in others, maybe more important ones.
2. Go Mi Nam's character. Despite him being the cause and trigger of all the following situations presented in the drama and he presumably cares a lot for his twin sister, I found it disappointing that he never made a "proper" appereance where we actually could have been able to figure out what he thought and where he stands.
3. Shin Woo's relationship with Go Mi Nyu. While I do like Shin Woo's character, I never got an actual "genuine" feeling from his relationship with Go Mi Nyu. I kept feeling that he was getting "used" throghout all the drama to trigger certain events or simply to make us feel sorry for him... Which.. wasn't very nice thing to do...i don't think Shin Woo got a very big character development, which is a real shame. (Yonghwa FTW though)
4. While definitely part of the comedy and it was hilarious most of the time, Tae Kyung's self centered attitude was also often annoying (exclusively) in the last part of the show, simply because the situation didn't require his sassiness.
5. Most of the scenes in the last 2 episodes felt "useless". I did really appreciate it's attempt to close up all unresolved issues, however, but I didnt find necessary the whole dramatic dispute between the main pairing of the show. BUT, in the end I was able to forgive it because the last 10 minutes of episode 16 made me fall into a deep case of giggling and fangirling. *wink wink*
Now the good parts ! As I said before, "You're Beautiful" offers a type of comedy that can't possibly not make you end up giggling in a corner, but it's also not only about that, It has an involving plot regarding other serious issues too, how kpop idols live and maybe a bit of reality on kpop fanclubs and how idols have to deal with the reporters, which was a very nice inthrough.
Character wise, Tae Kyung definitely got the most character development, and I never imagined it any other way around. It's funny now when looking back to the first few episodes. While I did complain a bit about Shin Woo, however, I do consider Jeremy also had his share of development, despite being a comic relief, and was able to provide us with his own moment of "maturity". The side cast was also extremely enjoyable for their roles.
The cast was great. Excepting when Park Shin Hye seemed to have ler legs tied when walking, I don't even know who even came with the idea of making her walk like that...xD but even she did a good job on portraying what she needed to portray. And I always remain fascinated by her sobbing skills at least in this drama. Jang Geun Suk's acting was probably my main source of entertaining alongside Hongki's. JGS's evil smirks and jealous sulky expressions and Hongki's laughs and weirded out, desperate faces made me not able to look at them without cracking a smile. I don't really know what to say about UEE, but she was good enough to make me believe in her He Yi's "bitchie" attitude.
The OST is amazing. enough said.
And my final vote is 8.5. I would have really wanted to give it more, but because of those things above that quite bothered me in the end I couldn't be THAT biased and lean towards the 9. But 8.5 is still a pretty good rating ! I recommend it to everybody, or at least all of you who like romantic comedies or are into "otome games". You'll understand what I mean, after you watch. *wink wink*
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Storywise, it started off intriguing, no use denying it. In the adverse setting of the Korean Annexation to Japan, there's a Korean man working for the Japanese police force, against all odds, a Japanese man that wished to be a teacher for the Koreans, a Korean woman that tried to do everything in her powers to make a difference and, finally, Bridal Mask, the supposed-central image of the rebellion. I was excited, I was pumped up for what there was to come...then episodes 3-5 came, which quickly managed to shatter the show's own originality and any type of logical sense and consistency of the characters with it. The plot turned sloppy, full of plot holes, full of plot conveniences, only for two main reasons: fanservice and melodrama. Characters kept being forced to turn conveniently stupid and conveniently "intelligent" (sometimes there was no way for a character to connect one event with another, they just randomly did) to keep the plot dragging or moving depending of the situation; some other characters had no point whatsoever and were there just for the sole purpose of pretending the plot was more complex than what it really is (or just be decoration to distract us fangirls... Yes, I'm looking at you, Katsuyama), only so these so-said characters to either get completely forgotten or ignored, in the end, when it was more convenient, or just simply remain decoration. Main characters even forgot things they were supposed to know only for the "omg, I'm so shocked" moments later on, where I seriously started questioning if they were being serious or came to hope that I was wrong and remembered things wrong...Well, nope. Unfortunately, I wasn't wrong. The plot also likes to go in circle a lot, all revolved around the capturing and releasing of ONE single character and that goes on for the first 10 or so episodes continously or them just pretending to do something, going back and forth different locations, when in the end it rarely even matters. Also, the characters are rarely careful, even Bridal Mask himself; I still question how the rebellion managed to go on through 28 episodes without being destroyed by their superficiality (going in and out of a secret camp without any control, bringing inside the camp whoever without any control, Bridal Mask revealing his identity to people without thinking if that person can by any chance turn into a traitor etc.). The lack of details is horrible as well and the sense of time and space felt simply broken. I feel justified to say that Bridal Mask's plot has turned into a running gag by the end.
Talking about the main characters, I remotely liked them for the first few episodes, then their personalities started to get twisted and contorted for some reasons that I did not see. Usually, when there's a plot twist, a character takes a certain decision or reacts in a certain way, the questions that I first ask myself while watching are: who? why? how?. In Bridal Mask, I barely managed to answer one of those questions to make all three have some type of cohesive logic, unless I was either generally biased and ignored the parts that didn't fit or assumed things that I had no reason to believe. Starting with Kang To's detective skills going up and down and his general insensitivity to the death of two people that the drama wanted to make us believe he was close with, continuing with Shunji presumably "confused" (to me he was simply one of the worst written characters I have ever seen in a media), Mok Dan's conversion to damsel in distress with the sole main purpose of writing 100 Ways On How To Get Captured guide for future damsels in distress (forgive my sarcasm, but try to understand) and ending with the rest of the side characters which were completely one-dimensional (safe from maybe Rara, but she has as many issues as Kang To and Mok Dan have combined, even though she's more likeable than Mok Dan). The number of characters, that besides being one-dimensional were at least consistent,even though also conveniently stupid/ignorant/cheesy/decoration, can be counted on the fingers of one hand: Abe, Goiso, Katsuyama, Konno, and they had almost to none development, but maybe that was good, I'm scared that if they had any, Goiso would have ended up turning into a monk and Abe into a serial killer.
The show also had romance, something inbetween a love triangle and a love square, but I'm not really certain that I can consider it as such. I was hyped up by what was supposed to be the main pairing, but then that died and got burried when I realized that it was all false. Mok Dan only loved Bridal Mask because he was Bridal Mask, stubbornly clinging to the ideal of "prince charming on white horse that would bring justice";, combined with the fantasms of her own past. Something was definitely missing. Genuinity. Not Mok Dan and none of the people involved in the romance had genuine feelings, but just loved an image from their past that they remembered, or an ideal, or both, but not what they saw in the present. It was too much fanservice. They ignored the present and avoided at all costs to make questions, as well as refused to develop. As for the side romances, most of them had as little essence as the main romance, but I give credits to Katsuyama and Rara's relationship, as the only one that I cared for in the end.
Acting wise, you might have noted how I didn't give it a high rating either. This is not me hating on everything related to this drama, it's the truth that I only remotely liked Joo Won (Kang To), Han Chae Ah (Rara) and Shin Hyun Joon's (Kang San) acting. As for the rest of the cast, they were completely forgettable, even though I recognize Park Ki Woong (Shunji) and Jin Se Yeon (Mok Dan) for some moments of brillance. It might not have even been their fault, their characters were just bad and they had to somehow make it look legit, but it was impossible even for them. Nice try though. I have to also condemn some of the acting and scenography/make-up work when it came to the torture scenes and after effects. They were cringily bad: the whip looked broken (clothes didn't rip, whipping wounds appeared in places they weren't even hit on,only to change position when the scene changed again), they generally still looked way too pretty and clean for having been tortured the way the drama suggests (unless they were unimportant characters that didn't have to look pretty and surprisingly, those made it look actually more realistic in reactions too), wounds randomly disappeared ( ex. Mok Dan's naked back was flawless despite her clothes being full of blood), the nail cage looked as light as a feather and the burning iron only left out steam and nothing else. Bombing, stabbing, blood and shooting effects were also cringely bad, almost looked done by an amateur. Another thing I have to give credit for, though, is that Kinpei and Katsuyama actually had some very good martial and swordmanship skills, they almost looked professional.
The OST gets the highest rating for me. There's more diversity than what I heard in any Korean drama I have watched and all tracks are fairly beautiful; if it's one thing I'll remember of Bridal Mask, it will be the Bridal mask theme. Definitely.
Overall, Bridal Mask is inbetween a Horrible and Very Bad Show, but not really categorizing in any of the two grades. So that's why 2,5. I realize how my opinion won't be in the least popular considering Bridal Mask's positive ratings, but I can just theorize that the show simply managed to trick most number of people into believing that it's something more than just a mess, or you probably just liked to assume what it could have been, while the drama plays heavily ambiguous and doesn't give you a "yes" and neither a "no". I am aware of what Bridal mask was supposed to be, I can assume it as well as anybody else, but as I said above, I, personally, have not enough of a reason or proof to reach that assumed conclusion, unless I covered my eyes and pretended that everything that I really saw was a lie. And that's impossible, since I just continued it in order to see what level of bad it could have reached and it was entertaining to point out the sins till the last 6 or so episodes when I started to hope it would just finally END.
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Story - 7 (Good)
I must be honest, this is actually my first J-drama and, while I know that Flowers for Algernon was adapted after an American novel with the same title, I think that Japan managed to give it a real emotional touch with how it managed to portray it. At first I was going to say that it was rushed, but then I looked back at it and it really isn't. The original novel has only more or less 300 pages, there was nothing else to say besides the main point of it: the life vision of a person affected by phenylketonuria,( or in common terms, a literally "stupid" person), as well as the people around him and questioning what would happen if this person suddenly became intelligent. What is the barrier between a stupid, a normal and a genius? Can these people get along with eachother or there will always be something that stops these people from caring for eachother and others that are different from them? I don't know how common this theme is in Japanese fiction (animes have a lack of these types of themes in general from my experience, I don't know about books or dramas), but I found it really refreshing from a general point of view; it's not something I usually encounter often in other mediums either.
I must start this with mentioning that in our lives, we tend to always be pushed to strive "normality". Society demands it. Most of us don't have a particularly high or low IQ, so sometimes what's common is accepted as "how things should be". But when you think of a person that is put in the position to not even be able to strive for that "normality" that connects most of us, then he or she is going to be treated as an outcast. No matter how one tries to change things, it has always been like that. Most people have a hard time to deal with people that are "different".: some think they're a bother, others don't know how to act, others just simply don't care. Flowers for Algernon is exactly about that.
However, while I can praise how it dealt with the topic on one side, some other times I don't think it did very well. While I understand that it tried to say that "being stupid" should be generally accepted (idealistically) and it's not a shame to have this problem, some other times it seemed almost selfish to say that. Maybe the point was exactly that: to leave that aftertaste, but it's a still difficult to deal with this topic and I don't expect it to manage to do it all perfectly. There will always be other stuff that you can say, other stuff that just don't always come right even if you never had any intention to make it sound bad. It's one of those touchy topics. So, I'm going to put up a disclaimer as well and mention that whatever I say in this review is not supposed to be discriminatory or offending or taken in any way other than what it is. Ok? Great! Moving on...
My main issue comes with the "side-stories" of this drama. I don't know if it's the thing of the actual novel too (someday I will read it and maybe come back here), but in the drama they looked almost like they tried to shove romance down my throat when it wasn't even remotely needed: Yanagawa and Mai were like that comic relief couple that were just there to talk about stuff and when it all ended, they weren't needed anymore. Hiyama and Rio were even worst with Hiyama getting this over the top, fast attachment to Rio after only seeing her 3 times in his life (believe me, being near a person in her condition is something difficult even for people that have been with that person for a lifetime. You can't tell me that a crush solves all that, unless Hiyama had this "hero" syndrome and felt in debt to mourn her when nobody else did). For me? They were both plot conveniences. Because they needed to do something for themselves, only for drama to be able to say "see? they have feelings! Now feel bad for them!".
The main couple quite annoyed me as well. I don't care that Sakuto is a really handsome guy, I would never be able to see him as a man, in a sexual way, after having to deal with him when he was "stupid". And if that sounds discriminatory, again, I'm not trying to be. I sometimes WORK with these people too and from my experience, i would never be able to look that way at a person that I'm taking care of as a mother and as a teacher. Or if I could, then definitely not as fast as it happened in this case. So again, though subjective, I felt like this romance was needed only as plot convenience for "feel bad for me even more!". Sure, it worked, it was really sad, but not as sad as it could have been if they kept the "motherly" feeling of the relationship only. But it was still nice how it tried to say that love and kindness doesn't always solve everything, despite being Sakuto's main philosophy. Life is just not that easy and it can't turn well for everybody.
Characters - 6 (Fine)
Besides Sakuto, Sakuto's mom and Hachisuka, I can't really praise anybody else. From this point of view, the drama was lacking. Maybe I can't even praise Sakuto till the end, but Sakuto is simply "Sakuto". There was nothing else to say.
Who impressed me, however, was Hachisuka. He is an ambitious man that started off by treating everybody as his tools towards success. A genius that arrogantly thought was above everybody else because of his intellect. But ultimately, there's no barrier between a genius and a stupid, not if you let it be one. Hachisuka realized that sometimes love is enough, letting go and giving up is sometimes needed and expected. It's no shame to give up, never too late to stop what you realized as wrong. His last scene, with the team accepting everything and going back to him despite him thinking he had enough, was simply very well executed and emotional.
As for the others, welp, I personally had a soft spot for Yanagawa, but not anybody else. Hiyama and Rio? Didn't really care, though I did like Hiyama in the beginning. I just thought he didn't grow as a person as well as he could have and it all revolved around Rio's condition way too much. Mai? Who even is Mai? Haruka? Eeh, I guess? Haruka was selfish till the end to me. Can I blame her? Not really. In her own way she was also one of the characters that maybe grew up the most, but just fails to impress. She doesn't have a breakthrough, she just goes with the flow, stubbornly holding to her own believes, sometimes selfish, sometimes rightful; it might be subjective from me that in the end i was kind of "meh" about her.
But going back to Yanagawa? I might have fallen for Kubota's charms here, but he seemed to be a more roundabout character than most, even if it doesn't come out as that. We didn't really have a solid background besides a mention, he didn't have a very important role and sometimes he doesn't even appear a lot, but everytime he does, I thought that it mattered. I felt like he was that normal person we needed to relate to and that he was useful in order to set the bar to what's "normal" between all those "differences". Let me explain. If Algernon-Sakuto represented the "genius" and Sakuto represented the "stupid", then Yanagawa represented the "average". Yanagawa was always that model of "normality" that Sakuto always yearned for, but both Sakuto and Algernon-Sakuto were never able to feel that "normality". Also, while Yanagawa used to use Sakuto, maybe not always with good intentions, once he was faced with the reality of it, he couldn't just pretend the issue doesn't exist, though he was painfully aware of his inability to do anything about it, because he was an "average person". He finally was able to feel what Sakuto felt for all his life: incompetence, not being able to do anything even when you desperately want to.
And then, I must speak of Algernon. Some of you might not even consider him a character, but this mouse just played with my feelings way too much. Maybe because he's just an animal, maybe because it was just portrayed in a very bittersweet way, but he was the character that I cherished the most. Like Sakuto, i thought Algernon was not just a mouse. He was a main character and shouldn't be ignored or forgotten.
Acting/Cast - 7 (Good)
I was initially almost looking down on it because I thought Japanese acting was kind of over the top for me, but in this drama it wasn't. it really wasn't.
I have some minor issues with Yamapi's acting as Sakuto, but I can't really blame him. it was a tough role and he didn't really fail, which is still commendable. He wasn't afraid to look funny or like an idiot and this is everything it was about, so i still praise him. Then, yes, Kubota is a very charming actor. He might not be the best, nor the most handsome, but he has that "something" that impressed me.
Music - 4,5 (Bad to Average)
Repetitive. The main song was pretty, sure, but everything was overall repetitive and very limited.
Overall - 6.5 (Fine to Good)
I suffer for the wasted potential when it comes to the execution of it. Story-wise, it did everything that it could do (if we don't count the side romances), but I can't not penalize the feeling of dread that I felt through episodes 6 to 8. It was almost painful to go through it and when it was all over, I didn't feel accomplished. Like "Yeah, this was one great story. One great drama that I'll always remember,". Nope. I just couldn't. I know that I'm not going to forget it because of the themes and it because it's my first J-drama, but it's also true that it didn't really leave me too emotionally attached. And that counts in the long run. Am I being too severe with it seeing everything that I have wrote? Probably. But this is also why I wanted to explain my rating; it was very subjective in the end. I wanted something more and I didn't get it and that reflected onto it. But don't think of it as a bad rating or a bad drama, on the contrary, it was so good, that it just couldn't help but not being able to match up to everything happening around it.
Do I recommend it? Definitely. There are not "but"s and "if"s. Just watch and see for yourself, then judge for yourself and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to see the world with different eyes.
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Let me start by saying that I don't have a lot of k-drama experience (and by that I mean that I have not watched many of them), yet, even like that, I was quite mostly un-pleased and unsatisfied with the popular picks on MDL that I saw till now, safe for few exceptions. By that I don't mean that they did not fit my tastes, on the contrary, they did, but they were ruined from a formal point of view. K-dramas to me are a medium that's too "glamored" up, pretends like giving a story, but then progresses by riding on plot conveniences, obvious plot devices, random mood switches, limited OST, wrong use of tools (flashbacks, transitions), sometimes lazy camera-work and lots of the same tropes that, particularly in romantic comedies, lean towards cliché. They (k-dramas in general) tend to overly-complicate themselves when they don't need to and by doing that, they cover it up with "plot twists" which most of them made me sigh and roll my eyes for appearing more leaning towards wanting to shock the viewer, rather than being justified from a writing perspective, yet the characters involved are considered deep and complex by some of the k-drama fans regardless, which to me makes absolutely no sense. Blame my overly-rational personality that doesn't seek only entertainment, but also good writing. I don't know, but what can I expect when some of "the best" just failed to impress me? Maybe if I were able to get into stuff before starting to overthink and be more mainstream, this wouldn't be a problem to begin with. But anyway, the difference here is that I read/watch lots of different mediums, so I’m not stuck on one particular type of fiction and/or try to apply its rules to every other. I actually seek to learn from all mediums: different ways of story-telling, different styles of creativity, different perceptions etc., K-dramas simply have not impressed me, besides the care that they put in the costumes and the skill of some actors which is indeed a shame to not fully recognize.
But Dramaworld however, despite not being completely a k-drama and just a short collaboration... well, it impressed me.
It's funny. This is a parody. And I have seen that some of you actually don't have your ideas clear on that and you confused it with a normal comedy, which is quite different from a parody. A parody is a work created to imitate, make fun of, or comment on an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation. So in other words, even while most parodies are mostly made with a comedic purpose, they're driven by a lot of irony and sometimes exaggeration for the purpose of irony, rather than just making jokes and/or unfortunate funny situations.
The story is quite simple and sometimes utterly ridiculous, but remains totally justifiable seeing the genre. It's filled with k-drama tropes, stereotpyes and clichès which Claire has to learn to adapt to, but failing miserably for taking stuff way too seriously than she actually has to for most of the time. It's actually very interesting to note more styles intertwining into one: a k-drama one, a parody one and a westernized perception. The simple fact that it doesn't follow a certain formula that most of k-drama fans might be used to, leads to it being completely underrated in terms of the brilliance that this show represents, which I expect to be the case in the long run.
Overall, I’m quite sad that this drama wasn’t longer; this being a concept that’s done quite uniquely and if pushed further, it could have been even better than how it already is.
They were all as one-dimensional as their stereotypes are and ultimately they don't really develop as people a lot, but is that an issue? For some of you, I'm sure it was/would be one of the aspects that you'd find lacking and pointless, but let's remember that this is a parody. They aren't supposed to mean more than you already see. There are just 3 characters that are "more": Claire (for obvious reasons), Seth (for also mainly obvious reasons) and Joon Park.
Claire is the hardcore k-drama fan that lives and breaths k-drama, till she is put into the situation to live one herself. Her character focuses more on her perception of how stuff are supposed to go, simply because it's a k-drama and that's the "rule", even though she's proved wrong by same world because of her impatient, almost forceful ways. My only regret with her character is that, ultimately, she became more involved into her own reality, but at the same time, I don’t think she learnt very much else. Was she supposed to? Not really, it wasn’t remotely the point, though it would have been nice.
Seth is…the plot convenience incarnated lol Actually, he is both a plot device and the simulation of a typical k-drama plot twist. I personally really liked him and what he was supposed to represent, though he should have known better in the end. But it’s safe to say that I never enjoyed the “plot twist” character in a k-drama the same way that I did in this one. It was just brilliant!
Joon Park is probably the unpopular pick here and most of you might be asking me: Why? He’s as “wooden” as a piece of board. He is…but he’s not. You see, he represents the arrogant, perfect main lead and he is such in every context of the k-drama he is part of, but when put next to Claire, well, stuff change. He still keeps his main lead behavior, but drops a good bunch of arrogance and actually tends to listen to her when he’s supposed to listen to nobody. Now, THIS right here is already a k-drama rule that was broken, which makes Joon Park standing on the line between k-drama and reality just by simply interacting with somebody that’s not part of his world. And that’s very interesting from a writing perspective.
Here too I must point out my regret how the characters could have been pushed further if only we got a longer and more proper version, but I should keep what I have.
Acting and OST
I don’t understand those that say the acting was mediocre or cringy. I think that Claire, Seth and Joon Park in particular were actually quite good and what was cringy for these people might have been the whole contrasts: reality vs k-drama, Korean vs English, the whole parody/exaggerated aspects. After all, those mentioned and those that I didn’t mention just had to do with playing “stereotypes” and “tropes” with no much personality than what they are, so I’m lead to believe that the acting was in this particular manner on purpose and not because the actors were bad.
The OST was limited, but it’s way more than what I expected out of such a short drama. And there are some songs that I really really liked and waited for them to finish before moving on to do other stuff. So that gets a high vote from me too.
Dramaworld deals with the parody-aspect actually quite beautifully.I really must praise the writers for managing to identify most of the tropes and issues of a k-drama (mostly romantic comedies) and bring out both the bad and good parts of it in a way that's quite enjoyable for how true it is. Does it do it perfectly? Of course not, unfortunately, but nothing ultimately does. There were some points where I started questioning, thinking that some characters should know better (like in Seth's case), but it wasn't something groundbreakingly major to ruin my experience.
Dramaworld has been the only drama in general that I've followed with dedication and even hyped it, impatiently waiting for the next episode and being actually sad now that's all over. That must mean something so I chose to put some more subjectivity into this than what I usually would. (regardless it would have gotten 9.5 at worst anyway)
One last thing that I want to mention here is that, from what I wrote till now, it almost seems like I'm saying that Dramaworld is a drama that "criticizes" k-drama and this is why I like it and maybe that's why some of you didn't like it and considered it completely far-fetched and exaggerated or maybe you just started taking it this way because of my displeasure with k-drama in general in this review. But I want to clarify this aspect. Dramaworld is a short drama that was made in collaboration with Viki which, even while “making fun” and overly-simplifying k-drama aspects, it was made by people that actually LOVE the genre. It wasn’t made with the purpose to insult. And I’m not taking it with the purpose of shoving it in everybody’s faces either to make them look at the reality of it. EVERY genre has its tropes, its clichés, its issues,all in different ways and a parody is to be taken light-heartedly. I actually recommend this to everybody that is able to not take things too seriously and I can promise that it will be a satisfying experience for the most part and if not, it might just be able to make you show a few smiles.
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