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TV Review: Goblin Episode 05

Year: 2016 – 2017
Other Names: The Lonely, Shining Goblin; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God; Prince Maker; Mr. Sunshine
Online: WikipediaMyDramaList,  HanCinemaKoreanDramaAsianWikiDramaFever
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Drama, Romance

After helping out the ghost of a recently deceased student,  Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) is asked by Kim Shin (Goon Yoo) to move into his place. After returning to the bridge where she first met our resident amnesiac Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook), Sunny (Yoo In Na) is finally able to go out on a sort-of date with the clueless immortal. This, unfortunately, results in him feeling more and more out of sorts as he had no name to give her. With Ji Eun Tak’s arrival comes the requirement for both Kim Shin and the Reaper getting a mobile phone for the first time.
Reaper enlists Ji Eun Tak’s aid in creating a name for himself to go by. Over the following days, we see Kim Shin’s growing jealous over the short periods of time she spends with Reaper. It brings to a head an argument between Ji Eun Tak and Kim Shin that adds to Kim Shin’s already difficult problem in being in love for Ji Eun Tak, the Goblin’s destined and the catalyst for his death.

Episode 5 sees the focus moving towards Sunny and Reaper’s relationship. It was neat seeing the awkwardness of Reaper’s character, showing just how inexperienced he is in dealing with living, breathing people. His issues with the forgotten bits of his past life make him a genuinely sympathetic character. He doesn’t know what actions caused him to not move on and therefore cannot make amends. The previous episode also showed that he is capable of being kind to the souls that he acts as a facilitator for. Sunny’s character is still a bit of an enigma but there have been hints from previous episodes that the Samshin Lady has some purpose for bringing the two together. The more that I watch the series, the more that I am convinced that it is less vindictive than I initially believed.
As for Kim Shin, we see his own awareness of his feelings for Ji Eun Tak becoming more and more difficult for him. However, this also makes the choice easier for him. He wants Ji Eun Tak to be happier and the last few scenes of the episode give the audience the impression that there is likely a lot of other stuff that is happening off-screen. We got a glimpse of this during the previous episode as well, with Kim Shin enlisting the aid of Reaper to speak with one of his wards for the last time. I am hoping that the focus on Sunny and Reaper’s relationship allows us a reprieve for a while as Kim Shin’s situation is dragging on a bit.
For the previous four episodes, we’ve seen both Reaper and Kim Shin continually using magic to move around. In this fifth episode, we learn the major problem that both face in regards to the house. Reliance on their magic has resulted in them ignoring simple things like remembering the security code for the house. In Reaper’s case, we also see a steep learning curve when he receives his first phone. As amusing as this is, the odd nature of these two immortals does threaten to distract from some other aspects of the story.

Whilst I enjoyed this episode, some things about it concerned me. This is less about what happened and more about my anticipation about how the writers will address the next half of this series. I am worried that some stuff will be dragged on for too long thus undoing some of the entertainment value of the series so far. I suppose that I will just have to trust that the writers had enough sense when they planned out the main arcs of the story.  Regardless, I will continue watching this series because there is so much to love. It is the attention to small details, the ability for those small details to tell us so much about the characters and their situation.

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TV Review: Goblin Episode 04

Year: 2016 – 2017
Other Names: The Lonely, Shining Goblin; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God; Prince Maker; Mr Sunshine
Online: WikipediaMyDramaList,  HanCinemaKoreanDramaAsianWikiDramaFever
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Drama, Romance

At the end of the previous episode, Kim Shin the Goblin (Goon Yoo) discovers that Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) can see the sword in his chest. He must now deal with the ramifications of this discovery. Where previously he liked the young woman but had resigned himself to continuing his search for the priestess that could remove the sword and put an end to his existence, he is confronted with the possibility that his days are numbered. Both Kim Shin and the Grim Reaper (Lee Doon Wook) begin taking anti-anxiety medication for their woman troubles, with amusing consequences.
As our resident Grim Reaper and Goblin begin tripping balls because of their issues, with Ji Eun Tak being put up in a nice hotel with Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sung Jae) being roped into helping her out. (The young man is still being watched like a hawk by his grandfather’s investigator.) The ghosts that Ji Eun Tak begin helping her deal with the girl that has been bullying her. However, she is getting more and more worried that Kim Shin doesn’t like her as much as she likes him. Eventually, Kim Shin visits her and the two go on some outings together, all the while Ji Eun Tak talks about the sword without realising that the removal of the sword is supposed to end his life.

This fourth episode certainly knows how to step things up a notch. Just when I thought that I had a decent grasp of Kim Shin, we see hiss reaction to the death of man that we met in a previous episode. It gave us more of a glimpse into his character, showing that Kim Shin has affected many lives over the centuries.
We also got to see the ongoing issues with Ji Eun Tak’s Aunt and cousins. We knew that magic had been involved but up until this point in time, it seemed like the gold bars were quite mundane. Between where they came from and the forgetfulness spell put upon the bars, the trio of nastiness and greed will likely be busy for a long time.
Finally, we see both Kim Shin and our Grim Reaper dealing with the implications of love. Whilst Kim Shin has a mortality problem, Grim Reaper has somehow lost the phone number of Sunny (Yoo In Na), Ji Eun Tak’s boss. Of course, he isn’t aware that Sunny is Ji Eun Tak’s boss yet but that will likely happen in the next few episodes. After all, there is only six more episodes to go and pacing dictates that it will have to happen soon.

Anyway, it was another solid episode and I look forward to watching the next. If you watched this episode, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section. Until next time, have an awesome day!


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TV Review: Please Love the Useless Me

Year: 2016
Episode: 10 episodes. JDrama series adapted from a Josei manga series (English sub version)
Other Names: Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai
Online: Wikipedia (Re: Manga)MyDramaListAsianWikiIMDB
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Yes, I know that it has taken me close to a year to finish this series. A lot has happened over this time. I’m not saying that it was aliens… but it might have been aliens. 😉 Anyway, I watched the last two episodes this morning and felt compelled to post my thoughts on the series.

Michiko Shibata (Kyoko Fukada) is a 30-year-old unmarried virgin that is heavily in debt due to some poor choices. When her former boss Kurosawa Ayumu (Dean Fujioka), comes to the rescue with a room to stay in and a part-time job at his new restaurant, Michiko is forced to reevaluate her life. In the process, she makes a bunch of new friends, adopts a cat, and must come to terms with her feelings towards Kurosawa. Also, she has to deal with her fascination with meat.

This series is a live-action adaptation of a manga series that I read several months prior to watching the show. It can be easily described as a romantic comedy but is a lot more than that. I won’t go into such silliness as “it is a way of life” or other such nonsense, but the series leaves a lasting impression long after you’ve finished an episode or read a chapter of the manga. It is a warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you recall a pleasant memory or spend quality time with a loved one.
The casting was excellent. Fukada and Fujioka were spot-on for the roles of Michiko and Kurosawa. They were backed up by a host of other talented actors and actresses, such as Ono Takehiko as Koida Kazuo, Suzuki Takayuki as Terui “Teruii” Manabu and Nonami Maho as Ikushima Akira. Director Hayato Kawai had a lot of talent to draw from during the filming of the series, with the cast of veterans having a fun script to work with.
To characterisation, I liked each character. Sure, each has their flaws, but these flaws also add to their charm and often contribute meaningfully to the story. It isn’t very often that I can say that. In Please Love the Useless Me, characters aren’t demonized or made to be villains just so that we would root for one of the characters. Being a “love rival” doesn’t necessarily make your competition a bad person. And sometimes a character creates their own problems by making poor choices such as not being sceptical of what another person is saying. This approach worked for me.
Whilst there were noticeable changes in the live-action version, these changes were meaningful and managed to hold true to what made the manga a compelling and entertaining read.  One character that appeared in the manga is deceased, creating some interesting opportunities for storytelling which were taken advantage of. Whilst I initially thought that this change was for the sake of brevity, it offered something meaningful to the story. Whilst some changes were actually for the sake of brevity, they still held true to the spirit of the manga, making this one of the better live-action adaptations that I’ve come across in recent years.

Whilst there is likely to be a few things that I missed out on during this review, I have to say that it is one of the best Asian drama series that I’ve seen to date. I haven’t completed Goblin yet but I am guessing that the two series will be on par as far as entertainment value is concerned. In any case, I recommend this series to anyone with a love of romantic comedy and slice of life stories.

Have recommendations for other series? Feel free to drop me a line via the contact page or by commenting. I look forward to hearing from you guys.

 


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TV Review: Goblin Episode 03

Year: 2016 – 2017
Episode: 3/16 completed KDrama series (English sub)
Other Names: The Lonely, Shining Goblin; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God; Prince Maker; Mr Sunshine
Online: WikipediaMyDramaList,  HanCinemaKoreanDramaAsianWikiDramaFever
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Drama, Romance

I watched this episode more than a month ago and never got around to review it. Because I wanted to discuss it with the instalment fresh in my mind, I decided to rewatch it today. It turned out to be just as enjoyable as when I first watched it.

N.B. Spoilers below.

After being kidnapped by debt-collectors of her horrible aunt, Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) is rescued dramatically by Kim Shin the Goblin (Goon Yoo) with the resident Grim Reaper (Lee Doon Wook) in tow. Over the span of the previous two episodes, Kim Shin has taken a liking to the young woman but has to deal with her attempts to not get her hopes up by relying on him.
In the midst of this, the resident Grim Reaper is reminded of his own situation. We also get to learn more about the organization that he works for, including talk of an upcoming Grim Reaper workshop and reunion. As Ji Eun Tak makes sense of how she feels about Kim Shin leaving for Canada, Grim Reaper meets Ji Eun Tak’s boss Sunny (Yoo In Na) at the stall of the magically disguised shaman lady that protected Ji from the Grim Reaper years before, making it apparent that she has her own plans for the pair.

This episode does a great job of kicking the second major arc into gear. Whilst we got to see the old shaman lady in passing over the previous episodes, we now get to see what she is up to. We also know that it has something to do with Sunny and Grim Reaper. There is also an emerald ring involved, something that is likely related to both of their past lives.
We also get to see the developing friendship of Kim Shin and Grim Reaper, after years of being at each other’s throats. We see that both are capable of kindness and that they heavily misunderstand each other. There is some nice commentary from the older of Kim Shin’s servants talking about how the two need each other in spite of their reluctance to accept this fact. Whilst Kim Shin has servants and memory of his life, we see the loneliness and frustration of the amnesiac Grim Reaper. Now, if only they’ll put aside the childish bickering…
As for Ji Eun Tak, we see her grow heavily during this episode. Her attempt to not rely on Kim Shin is endearing as it comes from multiple places: she doesn’t want to be an imposition on Kim Shin and she is also concerned that relying on other people will likely end badly. And yet, she makes a decision this episode that shows a clarity of purpose. She wants to be with Kim Shin. This decision also results in the confirmation of something that we have known for a while, that Ji Eun Tak is Goblin’s bride, the priestess that will be able to remove the sword that keeps him alive.

In conclusion, this episode knocked it out of the park. The character development and plot are moving along nicely, with some genuinely funny moments that add to the story rather than subtract from it. This continues to be an enjoyable series and I look forward to watching more episodes.


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TV Review: Something About One Percent

Episodes: episode 16 of English subbed KDrama series
Something About 1 Percent Online: MyDramaListDramaFeverIMDBAsianWiki
Genre: Romantic Drama

No Spoilers Edition!

After many months, I just finished Something About One Percent, a remake of a series made nearly a decade ago. Quite a few people that watched both series have spoken of liking the early series more. As I’ve only watched this recent iteration, I can’t really comment. What I will say is that Something About One Percent is an adorable yet flawed series.
The casting was spot on but I felt time and time again that the actors and actresses were let down by some odd choices. Sure, the plot was a little contrived but it was meant to be silly. However, the music seemed out of place at times. We see a bizarre image of what people view as the lifestyles of the rich. Some of the sets also seem a bit mundane.
As for the characters, I found it rather easy to watch their story unfold. The drama wasn’t unnecessarily drawn out either, though I found that some characters vanish when their arc is over. This latter feature resulted in me feeling little in the way of gratification but is common in some drama series. There was the occasional bit of foreshadowing but I found one of two events in the last couple of episodes could have been foreshadowed because it would have allowed them to make more sense.
In spite of the numerous flaws in Something About One Percent, I came back episode after episode. The fact is that I tend to weigh character more heavily than plot as a general rule. Sure, the plot is important, but the most basic component of any story is the character. If you fail at having characters that the viewer or reader can identify with and/or care about then the storyteller has failed.

In conclusion, whilst this series is flawed in some respects the characters are likeable. If you are looking for a romantic drama with some comedic elements then you should give this series a watch. However, isn’t necessarily a good entry point for KDrama.


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TV Review: Something About One Percent Episode 15

Episodes: episode 15/16 of English subbed KDrama series
Something About 1 Percent Online: MyDramaListDramaFeverIMDBAsianWiki
Genre: Romantic Comedy

After a long hiatus, I have returned to finish the remaining two episodes of Something About One Percent. Today, I will be discussing the fifteenth episode of this series and will try to finish up next week.

After Kim Da-Hyun (Jeon So-Min) and Lee Jae-In (Ha Seok-Jin) finished up their contractual dating period in episode fourteen, we see them dealing with the emotional fallout of no longer being together. With some mild deception, Min Tae-Ha (Kim Hyung Min) is blackmailed by Dada’s best friend Hyun Yin (Im Do Yoon) into getting Lee to address his feelings for Kim Da-Hyun who happens to be showing a brave front but is actually quite depressed. It also leads to a decision on Lee Jae-In’s part.

Episode fifteen spends a lot of time showing us what Kim Da-Hyun and Lee Jae-In internal musings via flashbacks. We also see Dada falling prey to misunderstandings of how Lee Jae-In was dealing with their separation. All the while, Lee has been set up on various dating interviews. It finally comes to a head with Lee’s decision.
This latter part also avoids the “last minute dash”, wherein the story tries to finalize the main arc and every single loose thread in the final episode. It appears that our couple’s own relationship status has been acknowledged on the part of both of the main characters. How the remaining threads play out is predictable, but I am looking forward to seeing a happy ending for Kim Da-Hyun and Lee Jae-In.

Until next week!


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TV Review: Something About One Percent Episode 14

Episodes: episode 14/16 of English subbed KDrama series
Something About 1 Percent Online: MyDramaList, DramaFeverIMDBAsianWiki
Genre: Romantic Comedy

*slides in from the left* Hello, again! I am back with a review of the fourteenth episode of the weekly TV series.

Kim Da-Hyun (Jeon So-Min) and Lee Jae-In (Ha Seok-Jin) share a few more dates before the end of their dating contract but both appear to be grieving the time when they won’t be together anymore. The day of their last date, Jae-In’s grandfather collapses and is rushed to the hospital for that nasty medical problem that has been “hinted” at for the past few episodes. Now acting as Executive Director of the SH Group, Jae-In feels himself slipping in a cycle of misery again and misses Da-Hyun greatly. The feeling is mutual. Da-Hyun has her own medical emergency and is helped by her best friend Hyun Yin (Im Do Yoon) who enlists aid from her brother Jung Sun Woo (Choi Sung Jae). When Hyun Yin goes to confront Jae-In about Da-Hyun, she mistakes his cousin that he just retrieved from a dancing audition for a new girlfriend. More feels ensue.

This is what one can easily view as a “feels” episode. It does this by also making good use of flashbacks. However, there was not anywhere near enough Attorney Park Hyung-Joon (Kim Sun-Hyuk) in it. In any case, we now have two episodes left in the series to give our main couple the happiness that we want for them. I am curious as to how cheesy they will make it.
At least the writers have pointed out what living with a director of a big company such as SH Group will mean for their spouse. Yes, it does sound like a crap experience and one that I am tackling with a fiction series that I am currently plotting. Living with somebody with money has a cost in time, privacy and security. This will no doubt impact the level of happiness of such a coupling. So, is there a way to make it work?

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you guys again for the final reviews of the series over the next fortnight.