The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: I’m Not A Robot

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I’d be the first to admit that when it first became apparent that Robot Romance was going to be dramaland’s Next Big Trend, I was.. not terribly excited.

I don’t have a pre-existing love for robot stories, for one thing. On top of that, the thought of the potential problems arising from a human-robot romance made the genre feel even less promising. Happily for me, though, neither of these concerns applied in this show, woot!

Not only is the romance in this drama between two very real humans, the two humans are played by Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin, who are – for lack of a better word – Super Stinkin’ Cute together. I could watch these two just make googly heart-eyes at each other, all day long. ❤

STUFF I LIKED

Show is not without its flaws, so this section might look like it’s made up of fewer items than the other sections in this review combined. Let me just state upfront for the record, that even though this is the shorter list, Chae Soo Bin and Yoo Seung Ho, individually and together, made this watch more than worthwhile.

Chae Soo Bin as Ji Ah / Aji3

Chae Soo Bin’s struck me as a solid actress from the first time I laid eyes on her, in 2015’s Sassy Go Go. I mean, she took a Mean Girl character, and made her pop – but not in a hateful way. That takes skillz, and Chae Soo Bin’s got it in spades.

It’s not surprising – but still completely impressive – that in a few short years, Chae Soo Bin’s now firmly in leading lady territory. Well deserved and well done, I say. Not only does Chae Soo Bin make Ji Ah feel warm, relatable and completely real, she’s solidly good as Aji3 too – the real Aji3, I mean.

As a character, I found Ji Ah earnest and likable right off the bat, possibly because our introduction to her is of her being nice to the random schoolgirl next in line, but not hesitating to stand up to the random jerk who then tries to cut in line. She seemed to me, to be genuinely keen to do a good job, and sassy enough to fight for what she feels is rightfully hers.

I liked her even more, when I realized that her hardworking earnestness wasn’t just applied to what looked like a part-time job; I loved how enterprising and creative she was, and I admired her for fighting to achieve her dreams, [MINOR SPOILER] even when her Oppa (Seo Dong Won) was angry with her for not getting a proper job, and threw her out of the house. [END SPOILER]

I loved how Ji Ah never lost her sense of warmth – or her sense of feisty independence – through it all. I also loved that Chae Soo Bin delivered all of Ji Ah’s moments with an emotional resonance that felt real and believable.

I will talk about the more emotional scenes later in the OTP section, but for now, I’d like to highlight two of the more lighthearted moments when Ji Ah shone a little extra, to my eyes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E9. This episode, Baek Gyun (Uhm Ki Joon) and Min Kyu (Yoo Seung Ho) end up fighting over who should get to take Aji3. The two men go back and forth for a bit, with neither party looking at all ready to back down. I kinda love that Ji Ah decides to take things into her own faux-robotic hands, announces that she’s out of battery, and pretends to go into sleep mode, right there in the middle of the squabble. I thought that was cute, and also, pretty clever, that she was able to find a way to interrupt the petty antics of the boys, without blowing her robot cover.

E11. In episode 11, Min Kyu refrains from patting Aji3 on the head, because of his promise to Baek Gyun to not touch Aji3. I kinda love Ji Ah’s disappointment – because it shows how much she actually is enjoying getting closer to Min Kyu – and even more, I love her annoyance at Baek Gyun for making that decision for her, when it’s her body he’s talking about. I love that Ji Ah is so clear on her right to personal agency, even while role-playing a robot.

[END SPOILER]

Yoo Seung Ho as Min Kyu

I’ve been a fan of Yoo Seung Ho’s expressive broody gaze and impossibly warm smile ever since I saw him in 2012’s Operation Proposal, and I was super pleased to have him cast as our romantic leading man.

As I expected, Yoo Seung Ho did not disappoint. He breathed layers and nuance into Min Kyu, and delivered with such range and depth, that there were more than a few times that I felt completely sucked into Min Kyu’s emotions, even while my brain protested the logic lapses in the drama world that surrounded him. Plus, every time Min Kyu smiled, I felt like the hearts in my eyes were exploding in fireworks made up entirely of pint-sized puppies, rainbows, sparkles and unicorns. ❤

It took me a couple of episodes to get a good sense of Min Kyu as a character, because while there were times that Min Kyu seemed super likable and amiable, like when he drives into the grounds of his home and waves to his butler (Kim Ha Kyoon), there were other times when he appeared unnecessarily cold, [MINOR SPOILER] like when he pronounced that the stray employee who’d accidentally appeared in front of him, would get a pay cut. [END SPOILER] Until my sense of Min Kyu settled into something more positive several episodes into my watch, it was Yoo Seung Ho’s personal charm and irresistible smile that buoyed my feelings towards Min Kyu.

Once Show painted in the details of how Min Kyu lost his parents and how he’d developed his first allergic reaction, however, it wasn’t long before my heart completely went out to Min Kyu. Add on the flecks of innocence and fear that Yoo Seung Ho injected into Min Kyu’s gaze, and I was completely drawn in to root for Min Kyu for the long haul.

There are a couple of scenes that Yoo Seung Ho killed it extra, he was just so amazing. Here’s the quick spotlight on my favorites.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E13-14. Min Kyu goes through a rollercoaster of emotions this pair of episodes, from joy, to disbelief, to anger, to peace, back to anger, to fear, to despair. He is so angry that Aji3 can’t seem to remember the kiss, and that leads to other realizations; that for all that Aji3 says and does, it’s all not supposed to be real. The reality of her being a robot is sinking in, and it’s destroying him, because he is so devastated that every emotion that they’ve shared isn’t real.

That last scene, of Min Kyu’s drunken admission, is so raw. His wounds feel so fresh; I feel like I’m gazing at his tattered heart even as I look upon his face. The single tear that runs down his cheek feels like it comes from such a deep place in his heart.

Oof. Poor Min Kyu.

E21. I find myself completely sucked in to Min Kyu’s emotions as he gazes on the face of his beloved Aji3, when he comes face-to-face with Ji Ah. There is wonder at seeing the human inspiration for Aji3, and there is a rising joy, at seeing the face that he never thought he would, again, and there is inner conflict, as his brain struggles to process what is before him. Yoo Seung Ho kills it, and I feel like I’m so in tune with Min Kyu’s emotions, just by watching his eyes.

E24. Yoo Seung Ho truly is the master of the expressive soulful gaze. The scene where Min Kyu finds Ji Ah on the beach is so good. From happy and relieved, he quickly transitions into disbelief and shock, then horror and sorrow, as the realization that Ji Ah had deceived him sinks in. He barely needs to say anything; his face says it all, and so eloquently too. Wow.

[END SPOILER]

Our OTP together

There are times when Shows cast two talented actors opposite each other – only to end up with an OTP that just doesn’t pop, because of a lack of personal chemistry. This is so not one of those times. In fact, Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are so cute separately and together, and share such a warm, easy, natural chemistry, that I feel like Show’s casting director literally hit the jackpot with this pairing.

From the bickery scenes, to the playful teasing scenes, to the meaty emotional moments, and everything in between, there never was a moment when I felt like Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin didn’t belong together. I loved having them share my screen, regardless of what their characters were doing, and where we were in our story. I just always looked forward to more of them together, which is a sure sign of a winning OTP.

When you peel away the fancy robot layers, our OTP set-up is essentially one of forced proximity and the resulting connections and feelings, which is simply one of my favorite drama things, ever. I very much enjoyed seeing Min Kyu enjoy Aji3’s company more and more, and Ji Ah growing to care for Min Kyu, in spite of herself.

As our OTP becomes more and more fond of each other, the emotional resonance in their interactions deepen as well. This organic growth, combined with the excellent, nuanced delivery of both actors, made it so easy to get sucked into this OTP journey. These two had me grinning goofy grins and choking back sympathetic tears in turn, and it was altogether pretty glorious.

Here’s the quickish spotlight on my personal top 3 OTP moments.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The re-set

Min Kyu’s pain at the reset in episode 18 is so well-played and believable. It feels like a truly heartbreaking moment, because to him – to his heart – it’s not just a case of erasing shared memories; it’s basically killing the one that he fell in love with. Aji3 will no longer exist, even though her shell will remain. That’s why he sobs so heartrendingly, and that’s why I can’t swallow away the lump in my throat.

The parting words he and Aji3 say to each other, are so poignant as well. They each thank the other for all that the other has done for them, and how the other has made them feel; they each apologize, and it’s all so poignant and beautiful. Poor Min Kyu. He really believes that he’s causing the love of his life to cease to exist, by the willful action of his hand.

In episode 19, the whole goodbye scene is even more heartrending the second time around because Show paints in more context. The goodbye date is so poignant, and the “I love you” even more heartbreaking, now that I know that Min Kyu had pushed Aji3’s reset button as he’d said it.

Augh. So moving and so painful, in just the best way.

The warehouse lock-in

It is entirely tropey that Min Kyu gets sent to the warehouse with Ji Ah at the end of episode 22, and that they get locked in there without much cell-phone battery left between them to get themselves out. On the upside, though, I really liked what Show did with the time spent.

Instead of the usual rom-com hyperawareness sort of hijinks, we get heart-to-heart conversations and honest confessions, spoken freely as to a stranger who will presumably become a memory with the dawn. I enjoyed the heartfelt words that both Min Kyu and Ji Ah spoke, especially the ones that conveyed veiled gratitude. I particularly love that Min Kyu knows what Aji3 would say – “You did well” – if she saw him now.

So much catharsis and honesty in the air this scene, and I love it.

The reconciliation

I freaking love episode 27, it’s so lovely.

I love that the meteor shower announcement triggers in both Min Kyu and Ji Ah the memory of the promise they’d made previously. And I love that we spend pretty much all of this episode in honest conversation between Min Kyu and Ji Ah. For a show where there are so many lies, the level of honest conversation is really impressive. And what a bonus, that Ji Ah is so endearing, while she’s being honest. She’s shy, yet candid, and I love her for it.

Min Kyu relaxing, and allowing himself to enjoy the moment as Ji Ah answered all his questions, was really nice to see as well. And his decision to stop things where they were, before he judged that it would become too intense of a memory for him to handle, is understandable as well. He doesn’t know, in that moment, whether he would ever be able to have a normal relationship with Ji Ah, and that’s why he backs away from the moment. And I appreciate that he’s honest about it. I love that the honesty is reciprocal.

Even more, I love that Ji Ah doesn’t allow him to just walk away. She calls out to him, and tells him what she came to tell him, that she loves him. OMG, the feels, as he walks back to her, holds her face in his hands, and kisses her. All of that context, of emotional honesty and catharsis, really comes together to make the moment truly special, and I flail. ❤

[END SPOILERS]

Special shout-out: Aji3 herself

Even though Aji3 spends a lot of time being in the background of our story, I found myself growing very affectionate of her, by the later episodes.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I love that Aji3’s a smart robot, which we first see an indication of, in episode 24, when she creates the backup folder as a response to Ji Ah’s promise to Min Kyu, that she will remember everything forever. In episode 28, we see again how smart she is, when she’s able to tell that the people around her are sad, even though they are all saying happy words. Plus, there’s the way she basically breaks out of prison, to go home. How badass and smart is she? ❤

When Show spent a lot of time on the corporate machinations in the later episodes, I was most interested in Aji3 being out and about, and interacting with people, in her quirky, clever, robotic way. I felt a little thrill every time Aji3 did well in an interaction, and made the world around her a little bit better.

..Which is why I was so upset when writer-nim wrote the Santa Maria team as retiring Aji3 and making a new robot in her stead. I mean, couldn’t they have kept Aji3 around AND made a new robot? After getting all attached to Aji3, it felt to me like they were killing her. *cries*

[END SPOILER]

STUFF I WAS NEUTRAL ABOUT

Well, perhaps I should say, neutral-tending-towards-positive. Coz while I didn’t love these parts of the show right off the bat, at least one of these things kinda grew on me by Show’s end.

The Santa Maria team

Right from the moment that I met them, I felt that the Santa Maria team seemed kooky and kind of lame. Their bumbling antics didn’t seem to jive with their scientific smarts, in my head, and I found myself zoning into neutral every time we spent time with the team in their lab.

That said, however, these kooks did grow on me by Show’s end. As their relationship with Min Kyu grew, my affection for them grew as well.

[SPOILER]

In episode 19, it was heartwarming to see this bunch of socially awkward nerds do their best to make Min Kyu feel less alone. Staying up to wait for him, making him porridge, and playing games with him in the middle of the night; it’s all so awkward yet so very sincere.

Perhaps most endearingly poignant of all, is the scene in episode 26, where Hok Tal and Ssan Ip (Song Jae Ryong and Kim Min Kyu – ha, that really is his name, isn’t that the darndest thing?) literally fall over their own feet chasing down Min Kyu’s car, because of the sliver of hope that he would reconcile with them. Aw.

[END SPOILERS]

Show’s sense of humor

So I’m not saying that I never found Show funny; it’s just that, whenever Show reached for broad comedy as its idea of funny, I found myself not really laughing alongside, more often than not.

[SPOILER] For example, the extended scenes in episode 8 involving the bumbling Santa Maria team trying – and failing – to deal with the army of tiny crabs that Min Kyu had sent them. We even see Baek Gyun and Jin Bae trying to have a serious conversation while attempting to ignore the critters that are literally crawling over them both. The scenes are played for comedy, but I just wasn’t feeling it. [END SPOILER]

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE 

The corporate stuff

I outright disliked the corporate machinations in our story, and whenever any of the scheming conniving characters came on my screen, I found myself zoning out. The corporate politics in this show managed to be both ridiculous and boring at the same time. That’s.. quite a feat, I suppose.

It felt like the scheming people were taking themselves way too seriously, and thinking themselves to be way more important that they actually were. On top of that, the English-speaking characters that these schemers got involved with, were delivered in terribly stilted and stiff fashion (sadly, as usual), and that just added to the unintended comedy and my eye-rolling.

[SPOILER ALERT]

For example, there’s a scene in episode 28 that stood out to me as extra ridiculous. The whole scene where President Hwang (Kang Ki Young) is threatening Jang Doo Sam, makes so little sense. Not only does Kang Ki Young play it OTT, with theatrically large expressions, Jang Doo Sam doesn’t even seem to actually know that the accident was a set-up, and so, in the scene, it’s Hwang who basically informs him of the set-up, while giving him money to go away. I actually laughed out loud, it was so dumb.

[END SPOILER]

The arc with the other human allergy patient

The other thing that made me cringe was the side arc around Johnny Brown and Tilda Morton, the other human allergy patient and his human savior. The entire thing is so stilted, obvious and awkward, in the writing, the acting as well as the overall execution. It was all extremely uncomfortable to watch. Yikes.

For what it’s worth, while I never liked the Johnny Brown arc, I understood its purpose: to give Min Kyu’s case a point of reference. Still, I can’t help thinking that this could’ve been handled in a better, more organic fashion.

JI AH’S HEART LAMPS [SPOILERS]

Shout-out to blog regular Dame Holly, who first mentioned to me in a comment, that she found a lot of meaning and significance in Ji Ah’s hearts, which then made me pay a little extra attention to the heart lamps during my own watch. At around the episode 16 mark, I finally started to see at least some of the lamps’ significance.

It is Ji Ah’s warmth – her human touch – that lights up her own heart lamp. To me, this refers to her passion for life, as well as her kindness to people. Ji Ah’s warmth lights up her own heart, which in turn lights up Min Kyu’s heretofore cold and spark-less heart. And she needs to do it for him, because he can’t do it on his own.

In episode 17, the emphasis on the heart lamps being shared with a special someone – and only one special someone – is brought out, with the add-on that touching the lamp will bring to mind that very special someone. Min Kyu touches the lamp and it brings Aji3 to mind, and his feelings for Aji3 finally shift into focus. In this sense, the lamps help to literally shed light on your heart.

Additionally, it occurs to me that the lamps are different from other ways of creating connection with your loved one because the lamps literally bring warmth as they light up. It warms a heretofore cold heart, and it brings light to a heart that heretofore was in darkness. I find that a very sweet metaphor, and I thought that the heart lamps brought a very nice touch to our characters and their story.

MY TAKE ON THE ALLEGED MISOGYNY IN THIS SHOW

I saw at least one tweet that said that there’s a lot of misogyny in this show, and the writer of the tweet stated that she had issues with the way women are treated in this show.

Having seen the whole drama now, I have to say that I personally don’t quite see the same.

It’s true that Ji Ah gets treated less than well by Min Kyu, but it does make a difference that Min Kyu thinks she’s a robot and therefore not a real human. Therefore how he treats her has nothing to do with how women are treated. She is, to him, basically the same as his other household appliances.

Of course, one could argue that Aji3 didn’t have to be made in the likeness of a cute girl wearing a short skirt, and didn’t have to be programmed to greet her master with “I love you.” The “I love you” thing is a cultural quirk, I believe, coz if I’m not mistaken, even call center employees greet their customers similarly. I can agree with the short skirt thing, but am willing to look past it. And, I guess you could say that Aji3 did have to be made in the likeness of a cute girl, otherwise the entire premise of this show would be shot.

In Show’s defense, the Santa Maria team is pretty fair, since they make their next robot look like a man instead.

Also, the whole, “I’m her master” vs. “I’m her creator” thing at the end of episode 9 can feel problematic if we think of Ji Ah as human, but in the context of our story – and context really is everything here – she is supposed to be a robot, a literal object. And therefore, again, I didn’t take issue with the master vs. creator angle of the scene.

The bottom line, I think, is that if you’re determined to take issue with how Show handles itself in this area, you’re perfectly entitled to do so. But.. if you choose to do so, you’d be missing out on a pretty awesome OTP, in my opinion. 🙂

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Not gonna lie; I found the press conference decidedly cheesy and I also didn’t care too much about the love triangle angst between Hok Tal, Ssan Ip and Sun Hye (Lee Min Ji).

But, on the upside, there is quite a bit of cute, and that made up for just about everything.

I love that Pi (Park Se Wan) asks Baek Gyun if he’d like to date, and I love even more, that she doesn’t flinch even when he laughs nervously and is unable to look her in the eye. They make a cute couple, and I was pretty happy to be able to follow them on their first date. More than actually seeing them together, it was refreshing to see Pi being so much more confident around Baek Gyun.

It’s also really heartwarming to see that Min Kyu and the Santa Maria team have become a found family, with them sharing a dinner table on what appears to be a regular basis, and talking and laughing together, and supporting one another. What struck me most at seeing this unfold on my screen, is how much these people appear to genuinely like one another. Seeing that Min Kyu now has the warmth of a family dinner table to enjoy made me happy.

More than anything, Min Kyu and Ji Ah are just really cute whenever they are together, and seeing them laugh together, and support one another, and hold hands and kiss and generally be the epitome of Couple Cute together, was enough to give me goofy grins for days.

My favorite couple moment these two shared in this finale, is hands-down the moment that Min Kyu surveys all of Ji Ah’s notes on her various inventions, and turns to smile at her, saying, “What should I do? I like you even more.”

Flail. I just love that he loves her inventions, and that this inventive streak in her impresses him so much that it fills him with wonder. And, I love that he’s literally bought every single one of her inventions, before he even knew her. Gah. These two are just meant to be, is what. ❤

I usually am not too hot on time skips in finales, but this is one time that I actually found myself rather enjoying Show’s 2-year time skip.

First of all, we see that the Santa Maria team has a new robot to introduce to the world. I’m still sore at them for basically killing off Aji3, but I appreciate that the new robot is a boy. (No but seriously, how cute would it be, if they’d kept Aji3 around, and then made the new robot to look just like Min Kyu? We could have an actual robot romance on our hands, which, in my opinion, would be pretty darn cute.)

Second of all, we see that Min Kyu has completed his military service, which is something that was impossible for him in episode 1. What a nice call-back, to demonstrate just how far he’s come. And what a bonus, that we are reminded of just how dreamy Yoo Seung Ho looks in military fatigues, heh.

Third of all, it’s great to see that almost everyone in this drama world is happily and anxiously looking forward to Min Kyu’s return, and that they all hurry to his house to welcome him home. For someone who started our story so alone in that big ol’ mansion, it’s feels lovely to know that this time, he’s going home to a whole bunch of people who love and appreciate him.

Last – and possibly best – of all, I love this call-back to our OTP’s earlier umbrella moment. It’s so similar, but so different. The way Ji Ah loses her balance; the way Min Kyu catches her in his arms; the way their eyes lock, with the umbrella overhead – that’s all so déjà vu similar. But the teasing smiles they share; the sparkle in their eyes; the familiarity of the way they touch; and the languid, happy, delicious way they drown in kisses, reminds me all over again, of how far these two have come. Love.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Suspension of disbelief is required in pretty big spades, but our OTP is so cute, that for them, it’s easy to throw logic out the window.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

47 thoughts on “Flash Review: I’m Not A Robot

  1. Another great review! Yes, I enjoyed this show very much. I also think both leads have a great future ahead. And, did we see the three laws of robotics in action? Yes we did – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm etc…

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    • Hi sean! Glad you enjoyed the show – and this review! 😀 I absolutely agree, both Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are very talented, and I can’t wait to see more from the both of them 🙂

      PS: That’s cool, about the laws of robotics! Thanks for sharing & pointing it out, coz I wouldn’t have known otherwise 😉

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      • Thank you for your kind response. I am currently watching Misty (very, very good), Radio Romance (nicely done), Iron Ladies (one of the better Taiwanese dramas to come along of late), finished watching Spring Has Come (recommended) and just started BG – Bodyguard (which is the sort of Japanese drama I like). I also finished Mr Right (Chinese drama which was fabulous for the first 28 episodes and then lost the plot for the next 17).

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        • Wow, you’ve been super productive on the drama front, Sean! 😀 I’ve been hearing excellent things about Misty, which hadn’t actually been on my plan-to-watch list. It’s now firmly on the list, thanks to all the raves I’ve been hearing! 🙂 I’ve already got Radio Romance on my list, and have now added Spring Has Come to the list as well.

          I’m bummed to hear about Mr. Right, coz I was hoping it would be good. I was so taken with Jin Dong after watching the amazing The First Half Of My Life, that I was looking forward to seeing him in his next project, which was Mr. Right. Dang. I might dip my toes in for the first little bit, since you did say that the earlier stretch was good! If you haven’t seen The First Half Of My Life, I highly recommend it! 😀

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  2. For me this show was a 9.5 out of 10. I loved, loved, loved it.

    I thought it was so amazing I must have written 10 essays on it on various blogs and boards over the last few weeks. IMHO, it’s one of the best kdramas ever made and is definitely an early contender for ‘Best Show of 2018’.

    I do (and will) have a few grumbles about the final episodes. It wouldn’t be a kdrama if it didn’t meander to its ending and I also didn’t like them suddenly retiring Aji3. I found it odd they were so determined to rescue her and then promptly scrapped. It was the one narrative decision they made that I didn’t like.

    But overall this was one of the best TV shows ever written. The script, acting, direction and cinematography were all nearly perfect. Its use in particular of visual metaphor was so beautiful. It was so heartwarming but also extremely clever – nay genius. If anything, my issues with the final episodes are a product of its near-perfection. It built my expectations far too high for any mere TV show to meet.

    The last few weeks have been such a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I’m so sad it’s over and now need to nurse my feelings for the next little low-rated nugget of perfect to obsess over.

    PS: It wouldn’t be INAR without a reference to random Tilda hate. That became my favourite thing ever.

    I believe I promised (threatened?) essays that I wrote along the way. You will now be in receipt of them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Firstly, I find it very strange that anybody could accuse this show of misogynism. This show has to be the most feminist thing to come out of Korea – ever.

      It reminds me of Do Bong Soon. Of course, that show got derailed by the OTP and didn’t follow through on some of the main themes. (It was a great OTP though). But before it threw those themes out the window, it was examining a lot of the same issues.

      So when our show begins we have a much-older man entranced by a child who, when she has the audacity to show autonomy and break it off, builds an obedient, docile robot version of her. The scene where he first saw her she is particularly child like: dressed like a doll and enthusiastically eating.

      Then we have a man who can only handle people he can completely control. He’s becoming obsessed with a robot girlfriend because he’s too scared a real woman will hurt him. His motivated reasoning at the beginning of the show was extraordinary and the whole ‘Pretty’ thing is just outstandingly sexist. There are some interesting articles on why A.I. is female and this is clearly referencing that.

      On top of this, we have a brother whose success is utterly dependent on him receiving preferential treatment for being born a man. He gets angry at the female lead whenever he can’t control her and wields the financial advantage he has to force her to his will. The only time he’s seen to defend her is if he thinks her form is being appropriated by another man.

      And all of this? Is in a show called “I Am Not a Robot” about a female object bought and sold and generally treated like a commodity.

      And the female lead? Is definitely *not a robot*.

      It’s genius.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love your take on this, Dame Holly! 😀 You are so right, our female lead was ABSOLUTELY not a robot, and showed everyone so, during the course of our story. She was strong, creative, independent, and not afraid to stand up and speak up for what she felt was right. And so it is, that Min Kyu, who has every expectation that he’s receiving a robot designed to do his bidding, discovers that Ji Ah is SO much more, when he gets to really know her.

        I’m with you, in not quite understanding the accusations of misogyny that were leveled at this show. I definitely remember smatterings of those sentiments on Twitter, though I didn’t pursue them. I rationalize that those were possibly gut reactions to the sight of Ji Ah being dressed up as Aji3, and required to do her master’s bidding. Once you put in the context, and once you understand the full story that Show is working to tell, though, I can’t see how anyone would insist that the show is misogynistic.

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    • This is not an essay but I wanted to add to the feminism discussion (that I am mostly having with myself but, whatever!).

      You mentioned the scene where Jia gets angry about the Professor telling Min Kyu not to touch her. I love, love, love that episode. Basically, every male spent the whole episode arguing over who would get to touch her or own her and it was only the female scientist who pointed out that the issue here was fraud. They were committing scientific fraud and is Min Kyu was being lied to.

      Her conversation earlier in that episode with the Professor was so amazing:
      Him: You don’t have to do this ( pretending to be Aji 3) if you don’t want to.
      Her: Do you know this is the first time you asked me?
      Me: Is the entire point. I mean, the guy built a robot with your face to obey him completely.

      I also thought there was something really interesting going in with Ji A in that episode. That in a way she found the robot persona liberating. She could kiss the guy she clearly likes and then put it down to her programming. “Oh, this is the part where I was told we should kiss. So I will kiss you.” It’s like she was using the Aji 3 persona to be free of her social pressures and just do and say what she wants within a cultural framework that still frowns upon women making the first move.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Again, so true. Baek Gyun never even asked Ji Ah for permission to use her face for Aji3, come to think of it, which is a glaring big deal. If he’d had any awareness of respect for personal boundaries, he should have thought of asking for permission to use her face. But I guess if he’d done that, we wouldn’t have a story on our hands, heh.

        Also, what an interesting observation, about Ji Ah finding the robot persona liberating! That’s basically her using the context that was created to confine her, to be strong, independent, and even romantically forward. Ha! I love it! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ji A’s hearts: An essay

      Jia built her hearts while she was dating the Professor. They were designed to represent two hearts in perfect sync. The Professor didn’t treat her hearts with respect, which led to the end of their relationship.

      It took four years after the break up, but she finally got the hearts working again, right before she met Min Kyu. She then submitted them to a competition run by his company and they saw the value in her hearts but Min Kyu shut the competition down. She then agreed to pose as the Robot in the hope that she could convince Min Kyu of the value of her hearts.

      Her brother broke her hearts when he threw her out of his house. But then her ex-boyfriend finally recognised their worth and repaired them right around the same time that Min Kyu’s reinstated the competition to assess the worth of her hearts.

      She entered her hearts into the competition and although they didn’t win, it didn’t matter because Min Kyu asked for her hearts anyway. He had both until he was finally ready to give her one so now she and Min Kyu both have one of her hearts, connected across time and space no matter where they are.

      Just don’t ask me about Min Kyu’s house of cards because I don’t want to appear like too much of a crazy person…
      I think that’s enough for today

      PS I hate Tilda.
      PPS I actually don’t but random Tilda hate is the funniest thing this show gave us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, I love how you’ve laid out the context for Ji Ah’s hearts, Dame Holly ❤ Now that you've laid out the map for it, the connections appear so clear and meaningful. 😍 It's also significant that all the men in this context eventually grow to appreciate and respect Ji Ah's hearts – the very hearts that they once scoffed at. Again, a nod to the feminist streak in this show. 🙂

        PS: I really would love to hear what you have to say about Min Kyu's house of cards 😉
        PPS: Random Tilda hate really is one of the funniest things to come out of this show. Considering how cringey Johnny & Tilda's arc was, that's quite the silver lining indeed! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think Min Kyu’s house of cards is the show’s establishing metaphor.

          He started building the house of cards when his parents died. By the beginning of the show, it was a castle that mirrored the castle he lived in, the giant facade he put between himself and the world. It was so huge that it blocked out the sunlight and the room he lived in was dark. When Jia arrived, she knocked down his house of cards. At first he was upset, but then he realised the hall was now bathed in sunlight.

          And that’s the entire show right there. His life is a house of cards. She will bring it crashing down. It will be painful but in the end it’ll let the sunlight in.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Aw. Reading your analogy made me smile. Thanks Dame Holly! 😀 I love your thoughts on Min Kyu’s house of cards. It really is a great metaphor; thanks for unpacking it for us so well! I feel like if/when I rewatch this show, I’ll appreciate it more, after reading all of your lovely insights. 😘

            Liked by 1 person

    • Let me just state for the record, I am SO glad that you and your big love for this show are here, Dame Holly. ❤ Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts and insights, it really adds depth to the drama discussion on this page. There is no such thing as outstaying your welcome, ESPECIALLY if you're sharing such lovely insights and perspectives with the rest of us! 😘

      Thanks for sharing all these lovely essays with us – now I'm gonna respond to each of them, coz you just can't lump all the thoughts and insights into one, now, can you? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all… thank youuuu for the review. I know it’s been ages since I’ve popped up and that’s cause I’ve been k-MIA basically. No mood for anything and also no time.
    However, I did marathon IANAR over a few weekends and I enjoyed it, in almost exactly the same bits as you and rolled my eyeballs practically in unison with you on the corporate intrigue bits. So meh.
    But … I found the crab scene hilarious! It made me chuckle so. I have a thing so dumb scenes played straight I think. So were the early Aji3 – Kim Min Gyu Test scenes. The perfume-catch was pretty silly, as was the death by metal boob.
    So on that bit we were a bit different! Still I am glad u caught IANAR and I got a chance to say hi again!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Webby!! ❤ It's always lovely to see you around! 😘 I completely understand the lack of mood – and the lack of time! I'm watching far less drama now than before, but thankfully, the mood's in a reasonably good place. I find myself enjoying at least some dramas rather than none at all, so that's always a good thing! 🙂

      Heh, that's fun, that you enjoyed the crab scene! I knew what Show was going for, and I was trying to get into it – but I failed miserably. I guess I wasn't in the mood? Lol. But I did find the early Aji3-Min Kyu test scenes rather amusing, so it wasn't all terrible for me, on the funny front! 😉

      Like

  4. Oh one more thing. IANAR has a hinted at depth that I wish they had explored more. It spoke to a human anxiety today about being replaced by robots/artificial intelligence.
    I am not a robot – I, the human being, will and cannot be replaced by a robotic incarnation of me.
    I am not a robot – I, the robot, am not just the sum of my mechanical parts, but the product of the human input that surrounds me.
    I am not a robot – I, the robot, am only the vessel by which you humans express yourself, and your fears of a robotic future are only an extension of your awareness that you have not been good stewards of your intelligence.
    I am not a robot – I, the human being, will not bow to those who would dictate to me, but instead rebelliously cling to illogical humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your post reminds me of Aji3’s amazing “Kaja Jib-e” at the end of episode 14 (I refuse to call it episode 28). When she was told she was going to be a military robot and her “job was being owned by a man” she just went, “stuff that!” and left. I loved it. That was one of my favourite scenes of the whole thing.

      Agency – esp, female agency – was such a strong theme of this show but if a robot could be seen as a metaphor of the commodification of people then Aji3’s “Kaja jib-e” was such a powerful message of self-determination for people generally. Even a robot isn’t going to tolerate being treated as a robot for long.

      I admit I was a little bummed they followed that up by scrapping her (!?). It was such a weird resolution to the whole thing. It’s the one plot point I didn’t like.

      Like

      • Yeah I liked that entire Aji3 arc a lot because it did have a lot to say about the general trend of thought about the future of intelligent systems. I like that it feels like the press is done scaring us about our pointless future against robotic overlords and is now thinking about possible synergies. Korea, with their national Go defeat against Watson, is probably contemplating exactly this issue, which makes IANAR’s gentle message quite lovely.
        Hence the loss of Aji3 herself was felt, but maybe we can take a page out of WallE and Baymax’s resurrection scenes, and just figure – the next version came back better for the lessons learnt. :))

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just wanted to butt in here and say, the very fact that Aji3 wanted to go home, made it all the more tragic, that they killed her off. I DON’T UNDERSTAND, WRITER-NIM. WHHYYY?? 😭😭

        Liked by 2 people

    • So eloquent and so well-put, dear Webby! ❤ Yes, this show definitely had hints of depth, but those were basically gentle nods, and Show didn't delve deeper or go meatier. It's a pity, but I suppose the priority was to focus on the human relationships. One second thought.. perhaps they could've used the corporate setting to delve into these issues more, instead of the silly machinations we got instead.

      Like

  5. Our streak continues. I loved this show for the same reason that you did and had the same problems with it that you had. I agreed 100% with the finale review on DB and that we SHOULD have seen him in his home with all those people in the final scene. I loved seeing all the characters rush to see him but then felt cheated that the scene didnt happen. I wanted so much to see that clean, cold house filled with warmth, laughter, and hugs. But I can imagine it. You have done another wonderful job on this review. As always I appreciate all you have done and as Ji Ah would say, “you did well.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi5 Amy! We really do seem to have amazingly similar tastes and reactions to our dramas! ❤ And you are so right, it would've been more meaningful to have actually witnessed Min Kyu going home to the people waiting for him, rather than have that happen offscreen. They probably either ran out of screen time, or decided that they just really wanted the final scene to be the umbrella call-back kiss. I could've used an epilogue of everyone gathered in the house though! That would've been great. 🙂

      PS: I literally went “awww!” when you wrote, “you did well.” Thank you 😘😘❤

      Like

  6. My final I Am Not a Robot essay (I promise)

    I wrote this around the end of episode 14 (28) before the final episodes that unfortunately just sort of meandered. But considering where all our female characters ended up, apart from Aji3, it still applies.

    Today’s subject is the commodifying of women through the characters of Ji A, Aji3 and Ri El and the various attempts by all three of our female leads to attain self-determination in a hyper-patriarchal culture.

    Aji3 is, of course, a simulacrum of a women who is literally being bartered over: sold and traded and threatened with physical harm. In this episode, she gets told outright her job is to be owned by a man and to do what she’s told. She then breaks free and heads home.

    Ri El is the real woman. The one who is definitely ‘not a robot’. And she is fighting against *the exact same thing that Aji3 is* – despite being a human being. I have to repeat that because it’s a really important point. Ri El as the “real” human woman in this text is being treated exactly the same way as the literal object, Aji3. And she’s also tired of it and also fighting back.

    What’s most interesting here is JiA. She has been both human and object throughout this whole thing and she’s the only one who’s truly attained her autonomy. Therefore her happiness becomes the happiness of all women because it’s a happiness built on being allowed to be completely herself. She is, as she’s said from the beginning, not a robot.

    The End

    Or not… I have to update this a bit because as I said I was a bit confused by them scrapping and updating Aji3. It’s possible it was done for purely mundane reasons (she was played by Chae Soo Bin and they didn’t have the budget to have her play both parts in the same scene) but I have wondered if they were making a final statement that Aji3 was definitely an object and shouldn’t be confused with a person.

    In such a quiet, small way what they did with Ri El was really lovely. This show refused (mostly) to bow to tropes and having an awesome second female lead gave them scope to explore some of these issues with a “real girl”. They even called her Riel (real). Every single female character was a layered, three-dimensional person and I can’t remember the last time a kdrama did that.

    And I have definitely outstayed my welcome now… Adios!

    I have 35 more episodes of The First Half of My Life to watch in payment for basically hijacking your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your insightful reflections on this drama. I agree with all you’ve said x10. I felt the same of RiEl, but didn’t catch the name until you so brilliantly pointed it out. As to Professor Hong having AiJi3 look like JiAh….didn’t he say something about wanting to try to figure out why she broke up with him and that he hoped to understand her better was the reason why he did the look alike? Wish I’d paid more attention to what he said. Do you remember that and where it was in the drama? So love Uhm Ki Joon … such an amazing actor. From crazy psycho brother killer in Defendant to nurdy professor looking for love !

      Liked by 1 person

      • He did say that was the reason he created her – to Min Kyu in the last episode I think. I just didn’t believe him. In the same way he was talking about “reverse Turing tests” when he sent Jia to pretend to be Aji3 but he was mostly concerned with his funding and reputation.

        I mean, he created e created an android version of his ex who greets him with “I love you, master”. Understanding her was not his greater priority.

        But I have to give him credit for his character growth. He had more growth as a character than Min Kyu and that’s saying something.

        This is a guy who started off the show with “this is my dumb ex” and “this is my obedient android girlfriend, she’s way better than you”. And by the end he’s saying things like, “Leave it to Jia, she’ll handle it,” and “don’t underestimate your sister, she’s really smart”.

        I really loved that he basically sat Jin Bae down after the competition and said “fyi we’re both jerks”. And Jin Bae didn’t care that he was a jerk but the Professor *stopped being a jerk*.

        Like

        • I do agree with Prof Hong’s character growth. And I think there was considerable character growth in all of our characters….even big brother. His perhaps not as grand as the others….but he did come to accept his sister’s unique self. And he did take back his resignation. Seo DongWon is an amazing character actor who seems to show up in all my favorite dramas.

          Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great observation about Ri El being treated like an object, just like Aji3, even though she was the REAL woman! I do appreciate that Ri El stood up for herself and didn’t allow herself to be bartered off by her father. Ji Ah also gained recognition, independence and respect. But poor Aji3 got retired, sob. I guess that was possibly the point, that if you’re human, you can fight for your independence and your rights. You have a different set of rights, and a different future, from even the best robot, who gets retired &/or scrapped regardless of her will.

      PS: I sure hope you’re enjoying your watch of The First Half Of My Life! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I watched the first half of the drama as it aired and liked but didn’t necessarily love it though it killed with the chemistry between the leads. I got busy and took a break and the drama had completed when I jumped back in. It was a few episodes before he found out the truth and I whipped through the last half very quickly. I appreciate that the drama didn’t spend a lot of time on secondary characters, there really wasn’t much of a love triangle for either lead, and I found it easy to skip most of the corporate shenanigans which were pretty lame.

    I hate love triangles and what happened with the scientist ex-boyfriend worked so much better. The moment he realized why she broke up with him and that he basically dissed her kind of common sense smarts over his PhD smarts was well done because I’ve seen people have to deal with this kind of snobbery in real life.

    This has been one of the few times the time jump worked for me and I actually appreciated that he went and did his service because it showed that he really had healed and was better even if she wasn’t right by him.

    Basically this drama worked so well because the leads are so dang good together. I have always liked the actor but dropped Imaginary Cat, stayed away from Remember and planned on watching Ruler until 9 out of 10 reviews hated on it so much so the last thing I finished with YSH was Arang and the Magistrate! (I’ve never tried Operation Proposal) I don’t know what to think that the dramas I’m not interested in do great in the ratings and this one not so much.

    I think chemistry between actors is a roll of the dice and glad it worked so well this time around.

    PS: I really think they could have skipped a lot of the side stuff and done a really fast paced 12 episode drama but that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re probably right that this drama could’ve been shaved down to 12 episodes. We could have ended up with a more consistently charming watch, with none of the corporate shenanigans. Kinda like how Something About 1% was handled. This drama was really carried on the charms – individual and combined – of our leads. So a 12-episode version focusing just on that, would’ve been truly lovely, I think! ❤

      Most viewers didn't take to Operation Proposal when it aired, as I remember, but I personally really enjoyed it. I think it really helps, to think of it as a melodrama rather than a rom-com. I think the promos were slanted more in the rom-com direction, and that didn't help viewers' expectations. I went in not knowing what to expect, and came away enjoying the show as a whole. I even found it mildly thought-provoking. It was the very first review I posted on this blog, ever, so it's very rough around the edges, but if you're curious, you can find that review here. I hope that helps! 🙂

      Like

  8. Pingback: Year In Review: 2017 | The Fangirl Verdict

  9. Thanks for your review and I totally agree with you!!! This show hit the jackpot with the pairing — Chae Soo Bin and Yoo Seung Ho have perfect chemistry on-screen! Maybe it’s because they are around the same age (Seung Ho is just a year older). And these two actors are really good and they act with so much depth.

    And I have to agree with you on the reset scene. Feels hit me straight to the bone! Both actors delivered well and I really like that after Min Kyu pushed Aji 3’s reset button, a tear fell from Ji Ah’s eyes. I can’t. I was sobbing during that scene. Perfectly executed.

    I also liked that there was some sort of a ranking to Min Kyu’s personal appliances, haha. That was so funny. The robot cleaner was Aji 3’s sunbae. Haha.

    I just feel sad that this show had low ratings in Korea. I felt bad for the actors and all of the production team because their efforts weren’t recognized that much in Korea. But still, they were a hit internationally, so I hope they get awards/recognition for this drama! It was really worth the watch.

    I’ll give this drama a 9!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this one as well, Steph! Indeed, Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are perfectly matched. The casting director deserves an award, I think, coz together, these two really made my screen explode with cuteness. ❤ And not only that, they brought the feels, so well. That reset scene made me tear up too, it was so well done. ❤

      Lol. Min Kyu's ranking of his appliances was cute. To think that he even celebrated their birthdays! 😂

      It's sad about low ratings.. but I've come to accept that ratings rarely tell the full story. I rank Healer as one of my favorite kdramas of all time, but it suffered dismal ratings in Korea. The injustice of it all! 😭

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: I’m Not a Robot (2017) – KDrama Feels

  11. I didn’t really like this show, but that was because of my personal taste. I’ve seen just a few episodes though, and their acting is very good!

    Like

    • Personal taste definitely counts for A LOT, in drama watching, so it’s perfectly ok that you don’t love a show, even if everyone else loves it! 😀 I do agree, Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are both excellent in their deliveries 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have soooo much feels in this kdrama. thank goodness and I read your reviews. and I was like.. This is what exactly I wanna say! its soo addicting that I watched it for the third time! 😁😁 I never knew Yoo Seung ho that’s why I googled his name and find out that he’s the prince chunchu of the historical kdrama Queen Seon deok! and of course chae soo bin of love in the moonlight. I am not a robot is the only kdrama that gives me a roller coaster ride of emotions. I enjoyed it! daebak!🙌

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed this show, jinny – and thanks for enjoying the review! 🙂 Yoo Seung Ho really is lovely. I enjoyed him very much in Operation Proposal, which isn’t a rom-com, but more of a time-travel melodrama. I thought he was very good in that. Might be worth considering, if you’re hungry for more Yoo Seung Ho 🙂

      Like

  13. Pingback: Flash Review: If We Were A Season [Drama Special] | The Fangirl Verdict

  14. I finished this! I agree on many points! I have a horrible cough though right now so I can’t concentrate but I will come back when I feel better.

    Like

    • Yay that you finished this one, DF!! It’s totally not your usual thing, but yay that you liked it! 🙂 Also, I hope you’re feeling better now. I had a horrible cough for about a year(!!!), so I totally feel you on this one! Hugs ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I agree with your reviews. I really like this show! You are right, Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are so perfect together, their chemistry on screen was overflowing. I wish to see them on another drama (but sadly, kdramas rarely repeat pairings). Their acting is so great!

    I love the reset scene as well, it is so heartbreaking. And the heartfelt confession during the meteor shower. But aside from the scenes you highlight, I just want to add two more that struck me.

    First is on the episode 12, when it was raining and Min Kyu shared the transparent umbrella with Aji3, telling her how the umbrella made him feel and how he wanted to meet the inventor. The way she looked at him is just melting, her eyes sparkling with myriad of emotions (literal *heart in her eyes*), you can really see on her eyes how she is amazed and grateful that for the first time in her life, someone appreciated her invention, and I think she just fall in love with him right then and there (that’s why she lost control and kiss him) That’s a stellar acting for Chae Soo Bin.

    And another one is the heart shattering outburst/monologue of Kim Min Kyu on episode 26. That was perfectly done. The height of emotion on that scene was overwhelming, you can really feel the pain and suffering Min Kyu was going through for all the lies and deception of the woman (and the people) he learned to love and trust. More than anything, he is so scared that Jia just might just really used him and didn’t love him (of course, we know it’s not true). And I love how Jia just listened and accepted it understandingly and patiently. She didn’t try to resist or explain, she just stood there, and let him burst out his anger, and I think that’s nice. Because what Min Kyu needed the most that time is for him to release all his anger and frustrations. He was deceived, and he has all the right to be mad. I think Jia knows it, too, so she just let him. That scene was so well-done and well-delivered.

    And another: when Jia’s brother gave Min Kyu his resignation, and Min Kyu learned that his trusted subordinate is Jia’s brother, the way he said “get lost” was heart breaking, his voice was cracking, and I just want to give him a hug.

    Yoo Seung Ho is really a brilliant actor. and Chae Soo Bin is really good, too. They delivered the emotions perfectly. When they smile, I smile. When they cry, I cry, When they were hurting, I feel like I was hurting, too. And making the viewers feel what the character is feeling is what a good actor should do.

    I love this show, and I feel slightly disappointed with the ratings. But then again, the rating says a little about the quality of a kdrama. I already watched some shows that has low ratings but turned out to be a good drama I won’t forget, and also dramas with high ratings that didn’t turn out as good as I expected.

    More shows for Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin ❤❤❤

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed this show – and this review, joy! 😀 I really enjoyed the scenes that you highlighted as well – those were very well done also. I didn’t love all of this show, but one thing this show had, was heart. ❤ And a pair of super cute leads, heh. 😍😍 I'd love to have more Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin on my screen too. 😉

      Like

  16. Pingback: I'm Not a Robot Review by Top Korean Drama Bloggers

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