Saturday, October 20, 2012

It takes a man to kill gumiho

If they don't get "Best Couple Award" of 2012 I don't know who will. But I will forgive you.

   I dare say that The Thousandth Man is one of those little gems that pass below the public attention because of not flaunting stars-studded cast, heart-wrenching revenge or well tailored suits that underline men's but... built. It's a fact, it had two idols as the main cast: Namslut Namstar and Hyomin (from T-tanic drama). And as much as I saw Namstar being a little nervous because of his first acting job, I like Hyomin and I don't care. This drama had me from the first episode. Normal characters (oh yeah, gumiho as "normal", nice standards, E.!), lots of funny situations, yet lots of bitter remarks that looked as if the writer had a beef with so called "real life".

   Also, Arang and the Magistrate came to an end, yet somehow something feels not right with this drama. I enjoyed it throughout the course of it, but couldn't connect to the fullest. I didn't bite my nails as much as with Mijin's last 3 months of her life.
In Arang... I felt some rupture in the flow around the middle of the story. And - it comes from me - I enjoyed Junki's performance here more than Shin Mina's. She's cute and all, but has somewhat limited range of expressions, or just gets such roles she's bound to not show. I don't know.

   Plus, I felt that the whole "save Mother" theme was added later on when probably writers realized they made everyone into flawed characters. Magistrate Eunho was at the beginning pretty indifferent and not caring character, Choi household was just a mosaic of psychosis of different types.
At this point I wonder if God Yoo (yeah, Jade Emperor, whatever) who planned all this just to catch demoniac-turned Mu yeon, planned also Arang's death. Afterall, she was just a usual mortal back then. Rememeber what Hitler said once? Death of one person is a tragedy, death of thousands - just statistics. That somehow fits the situation.
Also, they lost somewhere the clear reasons for ghostly world and its functioning that was my main interest in this drama. Later on it was just shredded to pieces and frantically put back together with missing pieces and some totally out of place. Suddenly it turned out that Mu yeon wasn't able to kick out the spirit of Eunho's mother when possessing her body. Why? She was heavily guarded by talismans, and some of them formed sacred space not allowing spirits in and out, so by this logic, Mother spirit should be kicked out too and locked up. Oh, but we wouldn't get such dramatic decision as to stab his own mother with amulet-pin.
   Another thing that bothered me in Arang...  I do have an unhealthy obssession with time. The drama is set in Joseon times (side-eyeing silver mirror so damn much!), presumably in 17th century. Once there is mentioned that Mu yeong has been the Grim Reaper for around 1000 years. That would take us to... Three Kingdoms period (the end of it, tbh), 7th century. But, in flashbacks showing both Mu yeong and Mu yeon's past we saw them in Joseon clothes. Fact, Mu yeon had clothes from 1000 years before when appearing as an evil spirit, but still...

   This is why I think The Thousandth Man was a better drama. It had tragedy written all over - we knew the main male character, nice and polite (what a sudden change from your usual rude male lead, right?) Eung-seok had the brain tumor. We had Mijin who was one man short of becomming full human. And plot course was pointing out to: a) some twist and happily-ever-after ending or b) Eung-seok's death. In the end, bitter-sweet, we learned that life goes on, no matter what. The end, in my opinion, was the reverted recapitulation of the beginning. There, we witnessed Mijin's husband's death when he protected her. At the end, she saved Eung-seok's life by fox-ball. The history and love finished the full circle. Also, I didn't see any metempsychosis theory shoved in our faces. Mijin stated that her husband looked like Eung-seok, she didn't claim it was him reincarnated, nothing like that, only physical resemblance, which happens. He died for her in Goryeo times, she died for him now. Mijin disappeared. (the lady from a kiosk nearby was lucky cause I had to buy a pack of tissues). We were shown Eung-seok with his little daughter in the zoo few years later talking about foxes and Mijin's family celebrating her (awesome) mother's Birthday.


   Because this is the life. People move over after such events, no matter how tragic and painful. Loss of a beloved person hurts, but we shouldn't go all Werter-like and kill ourselves. That can't bring people to life anyway. So the best we can do is to live and remember them.
There was also one slightly disturbing at the beginning but logical subplot of Mimo. She was completely amoral in the beginning. Contrary to Mijin who believed in love (but couldn't grasp the gist of it), Mimo loved only livers/hearts of men and she fed on those without any scruples. She became human much earlier. And now she became the object of love of a young man. Mimo didn't believe or care for love, but persistence of Wuhyeon (same name, same name, don't kill me) and his true feelings made her yield, we saw her following him with his studies even after few years. Mijin thought she had love, but as Eung-seok brutally explained - that wasn't love. Love is giving-taking procedure, not only taking.

   Arang... beats The Thousandth Man in one department though - music. The score was really, really good. In terms of writing and directing however - the latter drama wins hands down.
As for the comical relief, both dramas had one, but I hope Secretary Park can become a paradygm for new type of characters in Kdramaland, really.
And last but not least - normal characters in normal clothes!! Fact, Mijin was a bit extravagant, but it suited her quirky personality.

Hope you had fun watching those, or will be having fun watching those.