THE SHORT VERDICT:
Starts out as a cute rom-com peppered with physical comedy gags, and turns into a sweet, epic romance.
I was expecting this to stay in comedic territory all the way, so the epic-ness of the romance took me completely by surprise.
It was a little uneven here and there, but overall, I have to say that I liked this drama a lot.
THE LONG VERDICT:
A lot of the early comedy arises from our Joseon 4’s fish-out-of-water reactions and antics.
I found it laugh-out-loud funny and highly entertaining. The writers managed to pick some of the most mundane everyday things from modern life and turn each one on its head from a Joseon point of view to bring the funny.
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
One of my favorite bits is when the Joseon boys go to a mini mart and encounter modern money for the first time.
I totally didn’t expect them to fall face-down on the floor in reverence, upon seeing the image of the king!
That was a stroke of pretty clever writing, I thought, because when you think about it, the Joseon boys’ reaction is perfectly understandable. Yet, I never saw it coming. Nicely done.
[END MINOR SPOILER]
Of course, some of the gags are more successful than others, but really, I was very amused at the Joseon boys and their various misadventures.
I mean, seriously, who doesn’t see the funny in something like this?
Park Yoo Chun is royally imperious to hilarious effect, and he and the rest of the boys bring the funny with their reactions to everything, which are in turn horrified, puzzled and just plain confused.
Han Ji Min provides a nice foil to the comedic antics, and grounds the story from becoming too slapstick.
I really enjoyed some of the quieter story beats that were between Yoo Chun’s Yi Gak and Han Ji Min’s Park Ha.
They would tend to start out bickering and comedic, but would often turn into a sweeter, more quiet moment.
The chemistry between our OTP was very good, and I enjoyed their scenes together very much.
One of my favorite motifs between our OTP is the whipped cream, which represents comfort.
When it’s first introduced, it’s innocuous, and even has a bit of a sight gag flavor, with both our leads looking adorably ridiculous with mouthfuls of whipped cream.
But that turns into something sweeter and more meaningful when he brings her whipped cream again in a later episode when he realizes that she’s upset.
Another thing that I found very endearing was how Park Ha and the Joseon boys became a family.
Through all the funny and also in the midst of all the evil plotting by the bad guys, the bonds among this motley crew continues to grow and strengthen, and lends such a heartwarming flavor to the show.
I love how they take this photo together, which comes off looking more like a family portrait than a photo among friends:
Rooftop Prince is a show that was a little uneven here and there, and some of the plot mechanisms were flat-out flimsy. I mean, so much rested on how lousy a villain Tae Mu (Lee Tae Sung) turned out to be? That required some serious suspension of disbelief.
But, there is a lot to like in this show.
The funny is underscored by warmth, and then the story evolves into an epic love story that transcends time.
The last few episodes were especially poignant.
When Yi Gak started to have his fading fits, a sense of sadness and inevitability underscored the romance, which had blossomed by then.
One of the visuals that really got to me was this one:
That he was looking lovingly, right at her, while in the same moment, she was stunned speechless as she watched him fade in and out of sight? That just got me right in the heart.
But it was the end of episode 19 that moved me the most.
The wedding scene was so moving and so poignant. In that kiss, their tenderness and wistfulness was so strong that you could practically touch it. It was so real and in the moment.
The entire scene was lovely and bittersweet and beautiful.
I have to agree with everyone else that Yoo Chun’s acting has improved tremendously with this role. He was a lot more confident and faceted compared to his outing in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. He got to play so many variations of the same character, which demanded a lot of nuance from him, and he delivered. I was pleasantly surprised.
I also have to agree that he grows on you.
By the time we were nearing the end of the show, I really liked him. Not in a fangirl crush kind of way, but I really did like him.
Han Ji Min and the rest of the cast were also very good. Lee Tae Sung was rather stiff, but that didn’t bother me too much. I was most taken with the love story of our OTP, so I could overlook a little stiffness from our resident villain.
Rooftop Prince started off centering around the Joseon boys but ended up really being about the love between a Joseon prince and his true lady love.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
MY THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
The ending was vague but there were leading details included to help viewers find their own conclusions.
I like to think that at the end, it was Yi Gak standing before her.
And yes, perhaps somehow he’s Tae Yong too, but in this world, they have already established earlier that whether past or present, the soul is the same person. Yi Gak had repeatedly referred to Bu Yong when speaking with Park Ha as “you” but in the past tense. Like, “You weren’t so noisy in the past.”
So I think that’s to prime us as viewers to accept that regardless, it’s the same soul.
Yet, I do think the little clues were meant to show us that Tae Yong’s really a lot more Yi Gak now. Like, how he stands with his hands behind his back like Yi Gak always does. And no more glasses too. And his way of looking at her, with a knowing look.
And then what he said, “What took you so long? Do you know how long I’ve waited?” seemed to hint at the 300 years. And the fact that they joined hands immediately and tears started to run down their faces. That’s a bit of a clincher.
It would make no sense for Tae Yong to behave like that, so it’s more plausible that it’s Yi Gak standing in front of her. And then he stands before her in his kingly robes.
I like to think of it as Yi Gak managing to find his way back to her 300 years later, as a testament of their love.
Someone also said that Yi Gak’s mission when he time traveled was to marry Park Ha, to join their souls together, so that he could find her again. I like that take as well.
Although he thought his mission was to solve the princess’ murder, it really was to meet Park Ha and be joined to her for all of eternity. So even though Bu Yong had died to save him, he still found their love in another dimension, and found his way back to her side eventually.
That is how I choose to look at it, because I like to think that their love was that epic.
Rooftop Prince lingered with me a little. I found that it wasn’t as easy to move on as I had expected when I first started this show. The sticky quotient is definitely there for me.
When all is said and done, it’s a show where you get to make up your mind about the ending that satisfies you. There are flaws that need to be overlooked, but if you can bring yourself to do that, you might just find a little gem of a love story that takes your breath away. 🙂
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Flawed, but serves up a poignant, pretty epic romance.
FINAL GRADE: B+