Monday, August 16, 2021

Thoughts of the Week

This has been a pretty slow week for me as far as watching kdramas goes. It's been a while since I've followed a bunch of shows that are currently airing, so it's hard to transition from binge watching an entire series to just watching 1 or 2 episodes a week. 

Backstreet Rookie DVD Cover

I've been binging last year's Backstreet Rookie in between the following airing shows: Monthly Magazine Home, The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim, and Blue Birthday. I also marathon watched a jdrama for the first time in a long time. 

Backstreet Rookie: Aside from the odd tone (I felt like I was watching a live-action video game) and the covert racism (the blackface Jamaican character), the thing I've taken away from this drama the most is that Jung Saet-Byul is the worst person. We're supposed to feel sorry for her because she had a rough childhood and had to give up her youth to take care of her younger sister, but I can't stand someone who actively tries to break up a relationship. It's even worse when someone does it for the selfish reason of wanting to date that person themselves. Is Yoo Yeon-Joo the best match for Choi Dae-Hyun? Maybe not. But it was horrible how Saet-Byul butted into their lives and purposely did things that would make Dae-Hyun look bad in front of Yeon-Joo. It's shows how immature and childish Sae-Byul is because she's bascially saying, "I like him so no one else is allowed to like or date him" even though he not once showed interest in her before she moved in with his family the second time. I also don't buy that Dae-Hyun is falling for Saet-Byul after he's treated her like a kid from the day the met (and re-met, and re-met again). Trying to force this into the "fated from childhood" trope made the age difference look even worse, because how is a 10-year-old girl falling in love with an approximately 18-year-old guy cute? He's supposed to reciprocate those feelings from a little girl??? That's icky. Please stop. (This has nothing to do with Kim Yoo-Jung as an actress, because we know she can make these summer-winter age gaps work well.) I wish their relationship was more a mentor-mentee relationship, especially since Dae-Hyun reminds her of her father. The fact that Dae-Hyun is steadfast, honest, and looks out for those around him makes him the perfect father figure to help Saet-Byul find herself outside of being a high school drop out and Eun-Byul's guardian. Not her boyfriend. 

Monthly Magazine Home: a.k.a. Why You Don't Date Your Boss. Like I said before, Na Young-Won and Yoo Ja-Sung dating is the worst part of this drama. Ja-Sung hasn't changed at all outside of it relating to Young-Won. He hasn't given up his pursuit of real estate to the detriment of those he deems unworthy (still kicking poor people out of their homes) ...except he takes pity on Young-Won. He doesn't know his employees any better ...outside of guilt from Young-Won. (Which I don't fault him for since he's only been worked there for less than a year, he has employees in other departments, and he's running a business.) He's not interested in other's comfort ...unless it can also be benefited by Young-Won. Young-Won on the other hand has become so insufferable and mopey that I can't stand her being on screen. She was a much better character at the beginning of the drama, but now her life focuses solely around being loved by Ja-Sung. What little she learns after the breakup, such as what she has taken for granted is someone else's dream and the love of her friends and coworkers, is negated by her crying, lack of focus at work, and rejection of her friends' kindness. I liked it when Young-Won said she doesn't want to date someone who lets go of her hand for any reason, but then instantly ruins it by continuing to mope and then running back to Ja-Sung when she feels he didn't let go even though he totally did let go. (Just because he made a comment on your online post doesn't mean he was holding your hand, omg. He still broke up with you for a stupid reason.) So now after all that posturing, she's going to run back to Ja-Sung. Who will still learn nothing because he'll barely get any time to reflect on his actions and ends up with the girl anyway. And we're building up to a reunion with her father (with Young-Won arrogantly forcing reconciliation on her mom), which is probably supposed to make us feel that leaving our loved ones behind with no real explanation is okay as long as you eventually return. Ugh. Thank goodness for finale week. 

Blue Birthday: I had started to think that things were happening a little too easy for Oh Ha-Rin, so it actually made me happy that something went wrong in her time travels. I think she was too narrow focused on saving Ji Seo-Jun that she didn't realize there were consequences to changing the past. Losing her friendship with Do Su-Jin wasn't enough for her to want to change the past, but then Seo-Jun losing his sister was. I think that really brought to light teenage Su-Jin's complaint in the alternate timeline that Ha-Rin didn't really care for her much at all and that Su-Jin was putting forth much more effort in their friendship than Ha-Rin. Although it's super tragic that Seo-jun died in the past again (and it could've been murder?!), I hope Ha-Rin thinks things through more carefully before impulsively traveling to the past and also thinks about who's most important in her life in any timeline. 

The Great Shaman Ga Doo-Shim: This was a great series opener. The childhood portion was concise and filled with meaningful backstory. I love that Student Ghost Hyun-Soo still follows Ga Doo-Shim around. Initially, I thought it was sad that Grandma wasn't able to take Hyun-Soo to say goodbye to his mom, but I like how he connects Doo-Shim to the calling she's trying to deny. And because he's a teenage ghost, he's going to have all kinds of fun ghostly shenanigans to annoy her. Definitely looking forward to watching the sibling-like relationship they have. I'm kinda sad that the kdrama is following the mini-series trend of 15- to 20-minute episodes because this feels like it could be a full-length drama. I'm worried that it won't be able to fulfill my hopes, as I'm already finding the main demon a bit confusing (did the incantation work or not?), and you know how I feel about stories that start at their climax and then rewind to the beginning. But the pacing feels good and the drama feels sure of itself, so I don't think it'll let us down. 

Coffee & Vanilla (コーヒー&バニラ): I haven't watched any jdrama aside from Itazura Na Kiss: Love in Tokyo, but this drama consistently comes up in my suggested to watch list so I finally found some time to watch. Wow, was I in for an adventure. This drama was so... coerced? non-consensual? predatory? possessive? There's one thing to be an innocent candy character, and it's another to be stupid. Risa is a college student with the maturity level of a kindergartner, and was therefore not compatible with an established career man. I was so glad Risa's best friend, Natsuki, basically asked if she was crazy for becoming lovers with this random older guy because that's what we all were thinking. (Although it was weird that she later told Risa she was going to try and steal Hiroto from her?) Also, Risa was supposedly *so* in love with Hiroto, yet she didn't feel at all comfortable when they were sleeping together. If this is the person you love, want to be with forever, and agree to be intimate with, you shouldn't feel shame when it's one-on-one time. I have nothing against dramas with sexual content, but this was beyond uncomfortable to watch and never got better. It's not worth spending 10 episodes watching the lead character get sexually harassed. Hard pass. 

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