I knew there was another significant day in between Pi day and St. Patrick's. It's the Ides of March again already! This year we had a drama slump and watched a lot of old movies, but it may have been because many of the airing Korean dramas were dark or violent, and we prefer our shows to be cheerful. However, there is a new batch of fun shows, and now we are enjoying Business Proposal and Twenty Five Twenty One. I'll let you know how they turn out next year. This year we watched 13 Korean dramas (including a rewatch of Healer) and 9 Japanese dramas along with 5 Japanese movies.
Navillera was a surprisingly touching show about a young male ballet dancer and a retired man who had always wanted to dance and was never allowed to. Now Grandpa wants to take lessons, and over the course of the story, he wins over his family as well as the young dancer and the audience at home. Very heartwarming, with some beautiful dance scenes. *****
Suits is a show from a few years ago. It's about a young man who couldn't go to college because of money problems but who studied law on his own. He gets a job even though he's not licensed, because of his knowledge and his perfect memory, and has to keep everyone from finding out. It's worth watching for Park Hyung Sik and Jang Dong Gun. **
So I Married the Antifan is one we watched because we liked Soo Young in Run On last year. It'a about a reporter who loses her job and gets talked into making a documentary with a pop star who she had clashed with, and it had made the headlines. Guess what? They slowly get to like each other. She was still fun, but the plot was lacking and the villain was way annoying. **
Hyena is about a woman lawyer (Kim Hye Soo from Signal) who will go to any lengths to win a case. She is very smart, and gets hired by a big firm. They think they can use her as a scapegoat, but she has a big twist of her own she is hiding. The first part is better than the last. **
Startup is about young people trying to start their own tech companies. There is a contest where the winner will get help from a larger group. There is a genius guy (Nam Joo Hyuk), a scrappy girl (Suzy), and her grandma who helps another older guy (Kim Sun Ho) who makes it big first. Kim Sun Ho was much loved by the audience and fondly called Good Boy. ***
On the Verge of Insanity was perhaps the best drama of the year. It's about a home appliance company that is doing poorly and laying off employees. The HR team leader (Moon So Ri) has to carry out the layoffs, and a senior engineer (Jung Jae Young) tries to keep his job as well as help all the development teams. Great characters, a lot of humor, and a dishwasher that catches on fire! *****
Hospital Playlist 2 was not as good as last year, but still fun to watch because of the characters we have become fond of. This season follows the love lives of our five doctors, with an especially cute storyline for Kim Dae Myung and Ahn Eun Jin. We also have a variety of weekly hospital cases. ****
Kimchi Family is an older drama we found, also known as Fermentation Family. It's about a family who runs a traditional restaurant on the outskirts of town, the father who disappears, and the two daughters who struggle to keep it going. They have an "uncle" who helps, and an ex-gang member who has childhood memories of the restaurant and tries to discover his past. ***
Hometown Cha Cha Cha is a fluffy drama about a female dentist (Shin Min A) who loses her job and relocates to a small town on the sea. She and her hygienist meet colorful local characters such as a handyman with a secret past (Kim Sun Ho again), a shy policeman, and a spunky sushi restaurant owner. It is mostly just fun to watch for the small town and the scenery. ***
One the Woman is a comedy about a chaebol daughter-in-law and a crooked prosecutor who look alike and are mistaken for each other. Honey Lee is amazing in both parts, and also good in the fight scenes. The chaebol daughter-in-law disappears, there is a mystery, lots of shenanigans, and a little hand-waving to achieve a satisfactory ending. ****
Healer is a classic adventure show that is reminiscent of the Bourne movies, with parkour scenes and fights where the hero can beat up anybody. He gets involved in a mystery about some rebels from a generation ago, and a child who disappeared then and is now grown up. His sidekick, Hacker Ajumma, almost steals the show, and the now-grown-missing-child and her adoptive dad are heartwarming. Still excellent as a rewatch. *****
Dali and Gamjatang is one of those shows that forgets it's supposed to be a comedy but you keep watching because you want to know what happens to the characters. Dali is a woman from a rich family that suddenly loses its money. She inherits an art gallery and tries hard to keep it going while remaining polite and elegant. She tangles with a creditor who is from a lower-class family which suddenly became rich, and retained their loud vulgar ways. ***
Ghost Doctor (picture at the top of the post) is about a genius but irritable doctor who goes into a coma and is able to take over the body of a slacker intern. They are played by Rain and Kim Beom, and they are hilarious together. There are other ghosts, pranks and tricks, some heartwarming side stories, and a satisfying conclusion. Very fun show. ****
In-House Marriage Honey is a very sweet show about two people who get into a contract marriage for different reasons and unexpectedly find they work at the same company. While trying to keep that a secret, they grow to like each other, and it's very believable how their relationship moves ahead in a different way from people who are dating. ****
Danger-less Detectives is about a couple of detectives who try to slack off and stay away from danger, but keep accidentally coming across clues to their cases. Very silly and fun, a relaxing watch. ***
Lock On Love is a teen movie about a high school guy who is good-looking and thinks he is irresistible to girls, and yet the one girl he asks to be his girlfriend is not interested in him. Very cute, and with the nicest loan shark ever seen in a show. ***
Kiseki - Sobito of the Day is a movie about the real-life story of four dental students who become a popular singing group. They conceal their identities, at first to not upset their parents, and then to not jeopardize their dental degrees, or their dental practices. Still today their identities are not known. *****
Heavenly Forest is a movie about a man who meets a sweet, childlike woman in a forested area near town. For a while they go there a lot to take pictures and then they get separated. There is a mystery about her, and the ending is somewhat bittersweet. **
Again is a wonderful movie about second chances. It's about a college student who helps her professor organize baseball games for adults who had played in high school and college. She is interested because her father had played baseball but has died. She tries to find out more about him by interviewing some of these ball players, who had been his friends. ****
Fukuyadou Honpo: Kyoto Love Story is about a family that has run a traditional sweet shop for 400 years, which is in danger of closing down because there are no sons to carry on the family line - or the family business. The mother tries to get the daughters to marry someone who can step in and keep the business going. The daughters object. Lots of nice pictures of the scenery around Kyoto and traditional activities. ***
Tremble All You Want is a movie about a girl who seems popular and friendly and has a crush on a boy. You think the story is going a certain way, and suddenly in the middle there is a twist that changes everything completely. It was getting a little dull until the twist, and then it was fascinating. ***
One-Page Love is a 6-episode drama about a teenage girl who falls in love with a guy who visits a vacation resort run by her family. He says he will return in four years but doesn't, and she goes to the city to try and find him. Turns out he works for a loan shark and things get kind of sketchy for a while - we almost dropped the show. Then it seems like there are three men who like her, and the story improves and ends ok. **
An Incurable Case of Love is a rather cheesy story about a girl who gets a crush on a doctor she sees once, and becomes a nurse so she can go find him and marry him. She gets a job at his hospital, and right away blurts out that she likes him. The staff all tease her about it; she makes lots of mistakes from nervousness. **
You, Me, and Bach is a very heartwarming drama about three people who are all at a low point in their lives. At a mall they see a promotion for violin lessons, decide to change their lives by doing something new, and sign up for lessons. This unlikely group becomes friends when they get put in a class together, and support each other through learning to talk things out, keeping confidences, and deciding if a relationship is love or not. *****
Super Rich is about a woman from a wealthy family who loses everything when she starts her own company, and tries to make a comeback. Her employees admire her for different reasons, but some seem to be trying to pull a takeover. Rather disjointed story, unconvincing characters, lots of plot holes. **
Three Star Bar in Nishi Ogikubo is about three friends who are all at loose ends. One is an author with writer's block, one is a chef who lost his sense of taste, the other is unhappy with his job. One of them inherits a neighborhood pub and they decide to keep it going for a while at least. Different patrons come in each episode, with their own problems. Nice pleasant watch, 5 episodes.****
Tokyo Noodle Factory is a cute 6-episode show about a small cafe that is already short of staff when they get a new manager who doesn't know anything about food service. They have problems but make do, everyone pitches in, and things seem to be going better until we get an unconvincing ending. ***
Boring - Sometime we drop shows because they are slow and boring, or just because there is something else on that interests us more. Secret Royal Inspector and Joy is one of these, and Would You Like a Cup of Coffee is another; we watched 4 or 5 episodes of each and just quit. Racquet Boys got one episode, and so did Yumi's Cells. Deliveries from the Heart got a couple. I don't know if Captivated By You was more boring or just didn't make sense. Sisyphus was perhaps more confusing than boring, but it was also annoying for things like the hero taking forever to program a car to start or to make bottle rockets, while the bad guys just stand around and wait.
Violent or suspenseful - Usually I can tell by the synopsis whether a show is violent, and I'll just avoid it altogether. Sometimes I try it out and decide it's not for me, as with Alice in Borderland. As for Kairos - if there is a kidnapped child, I'm out. Vincenzo was one I dropped when a favorite character got killed off, but tried it again later and dropped again when I heard that the ending was very violent. The Silent Sea also got one episode, after watching that ship crash, and seeing Bae Doona stare down the stairs to creepy music.
Annoying - I've had enough of villains that are evil just for the sake of a plot. I dropped Doctor Romantic 2 after a couple of episodes because we had gotten rid of a really annoying villain in the first season and they brought him back. Our Beloved Summer just recycled the main couple's spats, and neither one could talk things out. Forecasting Love and Weather had completely unlikeable people that fought all the time. The one Chinese drama we tried, Go Ahead, was dropped because of the awful mothers who deserted their families.
Racy - I am more comfortable with family-friendly type shows. A lot of the Japanese dramas that show up on Viki are more racy than I like, such as LDK Two Loves Under One Roof. There are quite a few that pair a student with a teacher, like A Story to Read when you First Fall in Love. Some are just creepy, like My Fair Prince. Some try to make sexual harassment look romantic, like Love is Phantom and also Can't Run Away from Love. I screen them by the synopsis, try them out, and sometimes drop them in just a few minutes.