Freitag, 25. Dezember 2015

SERIES REVIEW: I Remember You (Hello Monster)

Tadaah! After months of thinking about how to jazz up my blog content I'm proud to present you a new segment of mine, in which I obviously will review TV series I've been recently obsessed with. That also includes Korean dramas, since they are rather short and sweet in its length compared to Western series. Just because the language barrier is there doesn't mean I should limit myself to English/German/Malay series; there are plenty of quality K-Dramas out there, that, honestly, should have had a bigger following than some of their Western equivalents. And the eyecandy doesn't hurt either.

Truthfully, I've been on the Kdrama bandwagon since the hype of Boys Over Flowers back in 2009 (it was horrible!), but unfortunately slipped away from the Kdramarama scene morethan just a few times. There were some dramas that got my attention in between (Shut Up! Flower Boy Band in 2012 and The Heirs in 2013), however for most of the time I stayed with the Western TV series adn also Japanese Animes. Th endless boredom during my autumn break caused me to catch up with the latest dramas (Mrs. Cop), and surprise, surprise - I got hooked, but this time I intend to stay. I proceeded to watch almost all of the hyped up dramas of this year, and of course you need to count the masterpiece that was I Remember You (Engl. title: Hello Monster) in.

The Premise
Lee Hyun (Seo In-Guk) is an excellent criminal profiler, but he possesses a spiteful tongue. Cha Ji-An (Jang Na-Ra) is an elite detective. She observes Lee Hyun. They work on solving cases and develop a romantic relationship. - AsianWiki

I must admit, I wasn't exactly intrigued by the flat plot description, which is also why I procrastinated watching the drama until right now, although it did air back in June this year til August. I also wasn't really thrilled seeing Jang Na-Ra alongside Seo In-Guk - I thought their age difference was way too obvious. Also, her big eyes kind of freak me out, because no way she is 34 years old! In the end, my thirst for anything Seo In Guk convinced me, and boy, how do I wish I discovered this drama sooner!

The plot was heavily layered and obviously very well thought-out, since it deals with rather heavy psychological themes than the usual whoissit in your standard cop dramas. Already in the first episode the key question Are monsters born? Or made? is already layed out very well, so that it threads through the episodes like an itch in the back of your head, or consciense in this case. And although there were new cases for our Team Good very few episodes, it seems like every case is somehow tied to the seemingly missing brother of Lee Hyun, who in the course of the drama doesn't seem as monster-like as he was in the first few episodes. With the lines between Team Good and Bad blurring more and more, there are missing identities being brought to light, as well as expected and unexpected betrayals. Seriously, I haven't gasped so much in a drama like in the last few episodes alone.

As turned off as I was with Jang Na-Ra's appearance, I must admit I came to love and root for her character as the plot progressed. Cha Ji An had a rather rocky start in the drama - a stalker of Lee Hyun for 20 years? Really? way to fuel and romaticize the stalker-like obsessions of hopeless romantics - but turns out she had a (albeit weak) reason to do so. She really solidified herself as a badass, but practical female lead, but still keeping herself grounded to her morals.
Her partner Lone Wolf Lee Hyun turns out to be human after all, and with all the traumatic crap he had to go through (to be thought by his father to be a monster and being incarcerated in the basement in his childhood), he indeed got the better end of the schtick than his psycho little brother and the even greater psycho child abducter/serial killer/Itachi Uchiha wannabe/kind-of vigilante Lee Joon-young. He was just straight up horrifying; I still get goosebumps whenever I think of him.
The investigation squad aka not-so Team Good was endearingly funny in a way that most cop drama teamworks are. I adored their dynamic and antics and I was devastated when SPOILER the great betrayal came, I totally did not see that coming! Team Leader was heartbreakingly adorable, and I was really really glad they did not make his puppy love too serious, because I don't think I could've taken a love triangle in this already suspenseful mess of relationships.

SPOILER: The end was... fine. It isn't the best out there, but it tied in most of the plot lines neatly. There are some glaringly open questions swarming around in my head just hours after watching the finale though: What happened during the time skip? If Lee Joon-young is still on the run, what the hell did Lee Hyun do during that time? How did Min survive two stabbings? Why is Lee Joon-young's chick still there? What did Min decide after all? But even with all the questions still there, the ending didn't seem to be open for the sake of rushing it. I Remember You is one of the very few dramas, that I didn't know what kind of ending I wanted it to have, so I'm not exactly displeased either. SPOILER END

The actors were all fantastic and presented overall a very splendid performance. The lack of idol/model actors does wonders. The only idol actor I spotted (correct me if I'm wrong) was Do Kyung-soo from EXO as young Lee Joon-young and he creeped my guts out at least as much as his adult counterparts. I also watched him in It's Okay, It's Love and I must confess, creepy roles does suit him well. Seo In-guk was not only gorgeous, but also captivating - what is new? I only saw Park Bo-gum in the movie Coin Locker Girl before, but here he impressed me so much more. I will never forget his murderous psychotic glare turning into a deer-in-the-headlights look within 0.2 seconds.

It's such a shame the drama never got ratings higher than 5%, even though plot-wise its competitors weren't as thoughtful and layered. But I guess the general Korean audience does prefer light airy chaebols/saeguks than this psychological madness of a masterpiece.

4.6 out of 5 stars.

To satisfy my drama-inhaling needs I just started watching Healer, so I hope to finish it before school starts again. Fingers crossed for me being consistent in delivering reviews or even blog posts during this winter break!

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