Flash Review: My Holo Love

If you’re on the market for a light, simple romance with some A.I. leanings, and you’re not fussed much at all, about suspension of disbelief or stretches in logic, and don’t mind having some more of Dramaland’s recent favorite affliction, face blindness, on your screen, then this show might be for you.

I decided to check out this show coz I’d seen quite a few of my drama friends remark that this one is a short, sweet little show that they enjoyed quite well, and were glad to have checked out.

I.. am quite sure I enjoyed this in a more.. shall we say, moderate fashion than most, but I will also say that after a slow burn to start, I did eventually enjoy my watch more, in Show’s last third or so, and now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I can honestly say that the ending was satisfying enough, that I don’t regret checking it out. That’s.. not bad, overall?

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: THE VIEWING LENS

If there’s one thing I wish I could’ve done better during my watch, it would be to manage my expectations better.

..Which is why I’m here to help. πŸ˜‰ Here’s my advice, to maximize your enjoyment of this show.

1. Show is fairly predictable, so keep your expectations low on that front.

2. Show requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief. The technology issues are often explained in emotional terms than technical ones, and it’s weird, but it helps if you can roll with it.

3. All our key characters fall in love quite suddenly, and there’s honestly not enough context for that emotion to feel believable. For example, Nan Do (Yoon Hyun Min) is shown to love So Yeon (Go Sung Hee) quite suddenly, and no proper explanation is ever given, for how he gets there. So if you can just believe that he just does feel that way, and all our other characters also just feel the way that they do, it would help prevent a lot of viewer angst.

4. Show can be inconsistent, especially when it comes to the details. If you can keep your expectations low on that front, it helps too.

It took me about 8 episodes to get into the groove of not asking too many questions about Show’s internal logic, and once I did that, I found myself enjoying my watch quite a bit more. That’s pretty late in the game though, for a 12-episode show. I’m guessing that if you manage to get into that groove from the start, you’d enjoy this show a lot more than I did.

OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to the songs as you read the review. πŸ™‚

STUFF I LIKED (QUITE WELL)

I thought I ought to clarify upfront that I never loved this show (if that isn’t yet clear πŸ˜› ), so the items in this list are things that I liked fairly well, and sometimes, not quite right away either.

Yoon Hyun Min as Nan Do / Holo

I thought Yoon Hyun Min did a solid job of his dual roles.

To be honest, I wanted more restraint and nuance in his delivery of Nan Do and Holo, in that, I found it a touch flat. What I mean is, to Yoon Hyun Min’s credit, I could easily tell at any given moment, whether it was Holo or Nan Do on my screen, but I also felt like they were two extremes on a continuum – Nan Do is consistently prickly, and Holo is consistently pure and sweet – with not much color or shading in between, to make them more interesting or faceted.

[SPOILER] However, I was suitably impressed with Yoon Hyun Min’s delivery of the additional Holos in our late episodes. For example, I liked how he pulled off Original Holo and Reboot Holo; they both feel like artificial constructs, but they are distinct from each other, with Reboot Holo being more distant and robotic than Original Holo. And then in Show’s last stretch, there’s also how he delivers Evil Holo, and then also, Evil Holo feeling Original Holo’s feelings. Really nicely done, I thought. [END SPOILER]

Go Sung Hee as So Yeon

I have to confess that I came into this watch feeling quite uninspired by Go Sung Hee as an actress. I had found both her performances in My Beautiful Bride and Suits quite underwhelming.

HOWEVER. I’m happy to say that Go Sung Hee is very decent in her role as So Yeon. Somehow, this role doesn’t cause her acting limitations to come into play, or perhaps she’s actually grown as an actress; I found her quite likable and believable as So Yeon.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. Even though I feel like I’ve had my fair share of characters suffering from prosopagnosia, I find So Yeon quite likable, in that she doesn’t make a big deal of out it, and just does her best to truck along and deal, even though her condition has caused her to fail to recognize colleagues and thus alienate a lot of people. I kind of like that So Yeon doesn’t allow herself to treat the prosopagnosia as a handicap, even in the face of this, and just forces herself to do the best she can, with what she has. There’s a resilience there that appeals to me.

E2. I like that So Yeon is quite guileless. When Holo instructs her to fake all kinds of stuff in order to lure Sunbae (Lee Ki Chan), she can’t bring herself to do it because it’s too fake. I like that about her.

E3. I was about to call Show out for having So Yeon pretend to be something she’s not, when she’s said that she doesn’t want to lie to Sunbae, but Show solves it by having So Yeon call herself out it, admitting to Holo that she’s being self-contradictory. I’m mollified. People do weird things like that, for sure, especially when they’re insecure in their own skin and eager to be liked by someone, and I like that So Yeon’s self-aware enough, to admit her inconsistency.

E6. It was very amusing that So Yeon saw Nan Do in the nekkid flesh, and his shocked reaction was to alternate using his towel to cover his body and his face. Ha. How gullible of So Yeon, though, that her first reaction is to think that she’s so in lust with Holo that she’s hallucinating his face over her neighbor’s nekkid body. I will rationalize though, that the possibility of there being a human that looks just like Holo is so far out of her mental realm of possibility, that she just won’t reach the conclusion easily. Kinda like us believing that pigs just can’t fly, and then seeing a flying pig outside our window.

E7. It’s ridiculous that Nan Do thinks that he’ll be able to successfully impersonate Holo for upwards of two weeks, with So Yeon living at Gio Labs. It does help to know that So Yeon’s gullible and trusting, because just him sitting on the bed made me nervous. I thought, Wouldn’t she be able to see him, y’know, sinking his weight into the mattress instead, like a real person with real weight? Apparently she doesn’t, because she’s just that trusting and gullible, but it does help to make the ruse somewhat feasible.

[END SPOILER]

So Yeon and Holo

I find that I was faster to get on board with So Yeon’s connection with Holo, than So Yeon’s connection with Nan Do. More on her connection with Nan Do later, but I liked that I could see the development of their connection from the start, and therefore could understand the growing bond between them.

Holo was always helpful to and supportive of So Yeon, and I could understand without difficulty, why So Yeon would grow fond of him, and not want to lose him.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I kind of like how Holo is always at the ready to help, and is always kind of observing in the background, to see how he can improve So Yeon’s situation. He basically solves her prosopagnosia problems for her, by identifying everyone around her for her, as she meets them. Every drama character with prosopagnosia should have their own Holo.

E2. It’s sweet to see So Yeon becoming happier in general, as she gets used to having Holo by her side. She’s so much more bright and cheery, and there’s a pep to her step, like she’s enjoying life, finally. And Holo is filling her desire for companionship very well; he’s always just a glance away, and he’s supportive and encouraging, and demonstrates a genuine desire to learn about her, and from her. As Holo seems to grow his own feelings and responses to So Yeon, I’m beginning to feel protective of this friendship. If this were a movie, Holo would be romantic endgame, and So Yeon would forsake her entire world, to enter his, and they would live holographically ever after.

I’m pretty sure Nan Do is romantic endgame in this show, and right now, I’m mostly concerned with whether Holo will make it out of this without getting shut down or destroyed. Don’t hurt Holo!

E2. HAHA. That scene when So Yeon asks Holo to take a sip of his holographic beer like how they do in beer commercials, and Holo busts out in full beer commercial mode, complete with tropical beach background, is just hilarious and perfect.

E2. I like that as So Yeon talks about life, and humans, and feelings, that Holo is learning and, in a manner of speaking, becoming more human.

E3. So Yeon being so distraught at the thought that Holo’s left, is, again, perfect for if Holo was supposed to be romantic endgame. I can believe that she’d be so attached to him, though. He’s been really caring and kind, and has been there for her and helped her out, and just kept her company.

[END SPOILER]

Special shout-out:

The connection between Yoo Jin and Chan Sung

Again in contrast to the connection between So Yeon and Nan Do, which I had trouble getting into (more on that soon), I foundΒ the angst between Yoo Jin (Choi Yeo Jin) and Chan Sung (Hwang Chan Sung) more organic and believable.

[SPOILER] She is drawn to him but feels betrayed by his knowledge of Magic Mirror’s scheme to steal Holo, and then she feels conflicted by his attempt to make good. He is drawn to her, but feels conflicted by his father’s (Nam Myung Ryul) expectations of him to play dirty, and then is stuck in between the two, with DadΒ sneering at him for giving secrets away to Yoo Jin, and Yoo Jin still uncertain of what to make of where he stands. [END SPOILER]

I found that this angst popped more for me than the angst of the main loveline, perhaps, again, because of the fact that I could understand the context within which this angst existed. That, plus the chemistry between Choi Yeo Jin and Hwang Chan Sung is quite sparky.

Sure, things didn’t always make sense in this loveline, but then, neither did a lot of other stuff in this show (more on that later, too). Overall, this little side potential loveline essentially gave me more believable and consistent feels than the main OTP.

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Show leans quite predictable

I think this is a case of “your mileage may vary,” because while I found this show pretty predictable, I can imagine this feeling much fresher to someone who’s newer to kdramas and therefore hasn’t seen similar plot points play out (quite literally) a hundred times before.

To my eyes, however, everything mostly felt predictable, and therefore, for me, Show felt far from fresh and interesting. I was able to guess all the major plot points in this show, [SPOILER] from the childhood connection between Nan Do and So Yeon, to Nan Do getting swayed by So Yeon, to Holo going a bit rogue and developing his own will, to Chairman Baek being the one who killed Nan Do’s mother (Kim Soo Jin), and being the cause of So Yeon’s prosopagnosia. [END SPOILER]

It doesn’t help that Show is a compact 12 episodes, and therefore, a lot of things feel skimpily handled.

Handling of the OTP relationship

Like I alluded to in other sections of this review, I did not feel this OTP connection very much. I think a lot of the fault lies with the writing.

This show, in its painting of relationships in particular, feels like a production operating on a bare bones basis. Like a business in an emergency might have to operate with a bare bones version of its usual staff, and is unable to provide its full suite of services, this story feels like a bare bones version of a kdrama, unable to provide the usual amount of context required in order to bring the feels properly.

By episode 6, I gave up on Show ever telling us why or how Nan Do has such strong feelings for So Yeon; I decided that that’s just how things are.

[MODERATE SPOILERS] Sure, Show indicates that Nan Do absolutely knows who she is, but, how did he go from angry (“Why did you pick her, of all people?!”) to sacrificially smitten (“I must protect her and her Holo love at all costs”)? He reacted to her crying once, and then, everything just.. changed? [END SPOILER]

I can rationalize his feelings for her whichever way I see fit, BUT, the fact that I’m even asking the question shows that Show doesn’t do a good job of helping the audience understand Nan Do’s feelings.

However, I will say that by the late stretch, when I’d really and truly given up on expecting anything from Show in the way of emotional resonance or relationship context, I managed to enjoy this OTP significantly more. So.. maybe this might be fixed with a lens adjustment?

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. I struggle with Nan Do’s evolving feelings towards So Yeon. Did he always remember her, and just pretend not to? Coz that would make him quite a nasty jerk, since he was far from pleasant with her. Did he forget her and then remember her? Either way, that was poorly executed coz it remains completely unclear to the viewer. And his words about Holo’s malfunction being the same as his own malfunction, is really weird. ALSO. This sudden declaration akin to love is like out of nowhere. When did he grow all these strong feelings? I get that his reaction to So Yeon’s tears are quite key, but I’m clueless as to the significance.

E6. The amusement park date with Nan Do was rather nice. Nan Do is less angry this episode, and I find him more likable as a result, and therefore I’m more willing to accept that there is no reason for him to like So Yeon as much as he does; he just does.

E8. I did find it slightly hokey that they had to retrace steps in the real world in order to jog Holo’s memory as if he was a real person, but that did make for some nice moments between So Yeon and Nan Do, as they reluctantly worked together. And since they’re working together towards a common goal, they’re not antagonistic towards each other anymore, even though they’re still rather awkward. But that ceasefire and forced teamwork allows them to see each other differently – well, more So Yeon of Nan Do – and that was nice.

E9. I did not care for the forced kiss where Nan Do suddenly grabs So Yeon and kisses her, mid-argument. That was not swoony at all. And I’m mollified that Yoo Jin tells Nan Do that he should apologize. At least Show acknowledges that it wasn’t appropriate.

E9. So Yeon kissing Nan Do at the end also feels insufficiently supported by context.

E10. Nan Do could’ve told So Yeon what was going to happen to Holo, but instead, he chooses to break off their maybe-relationship and just disappear on her, while allowing her to be faced with the shock of having Holo abruptly deleted and rebooted. Um. How is this caring or helpful in any way? It’s not even noble idiocy, since there’s nothing about this that actually helps So Yeon. Tsk.

E11. Nan Do goes really fast, from “I must disappear; it’s the only way; don’t look for me,” to kissing So Yeon, to “If we’re gonna go, we’ll go together,” to “I will surely come back for you.” Hahaha. I find this very amusing. There’s definitely not enough context to hold up his emotional development, but I’ve stopped requiring logic from this show. And by not requiring logic from this show, I’m reasonably entertained this episode.

[END SPOILER]

Sometimes logic links are weak or non-existent

I know I said that it’s better to just let go of your need for logic with this show, but, just for the record, here are a collection of things that just didn’t make sense, to me.

Up until the point where I threw my hands up and just threw away my need for cohesion and logic, I’d felt frustrated at the writing in this show because there seemed to be a lot of dropped threads and missed points. To my eyes, Show’s narrative felt hastily put together instead of lovingly conceived, and I felt kind of, well, insulted as a viewer. Like, did writer-nim really think I wouldn’t notice, if they did a poor job of the writing?

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. Nan Do commoditizing his best friend is a really weird concept, I realize. Holo’s been his friend all his life, and now, he’s making plans to sell Holo to users? Why? I mean, he doesn’t exactly have a version of Holo for himself, now that he’s got So Yeon beta testing Holo for Gio. The version of Holo that So Yeon is testing is Nan Do’s Holo. Why do that to your only friend?

E4. If Nan Do’s existence is such a secret, why use the avatar that looks like him, at the demo to investors? We’ve seen that Holo can take the shape of any number of different avatars, from old lady, to young child, to older man. If Nan Do needs to lie low coz he’s dead on paper, then it seems rather stupid to choose the avatar that looks just like him, to show to the investors?

E4. Holo’s always had freedom of movement, as long as So Yeon’s got the glasses on. So it doesn’t make sense that he’d ask her, “Can we go closer?” when they’re at the beach and he’s looking at the waves.

E4. Where is the female colleague who was shown to be canoodling with Sunbae, in our first episode or so? It’s weird that we don’t see any female colleague seem a least a little bummed at Sunbae’s sudden transfer to the US?

E5. If Detective Nam (Son Jong Hak) really had walked past the site of the incident, where the cars were hacked into, to protect So Yeon from the kidnappers, then he surely wouldn’t have just walked away, especially with him being a detective and all. He would’ve walked towards the incident to investigate what was going on, and he would have found Nan Do trying to resuscitate So Yeon. Instead, all we get is a flashback of him walking past, and a link to the mysterious hacker who orchestrated it. That makes no sense.

E5. On a more macro level, it makes no sense to me that there is only one Holo. The whole idea was for Gio to sell Holo to any user that paid the money, so that everyone could have access to their own Holo. The technology obviously exists within Gio, to duplicate Holo for commercial purposes. If that’s the case, all the drama about sending Holo to So Yeon falls flat, because what’s stopping them from just creating a whole bunch of other Holos for the launch?

E5. It annoys me that So Yeon keeps talking to Holo like he’s a normal person, and nobody around her seems to bat an eye. Only that one supermarket lady reacted, but that’s not enough. I can buy the idea that So Yeon’s so sucked into the idea that Holo is real and right there with her, that she doesn’t care if other people see her as a crazy person. The key though, is, we need to see that other people see her as a crazy person. At least have the extras in the menswear section give her weird looks. That doesn’t take 2 seconds. Why doesn’t Show do that?

E6. It’s silly that Holo couldn’t just tell So Yeon that she was being followed at the amusement park, since he’s told her stuff like that before, and since it’s for her safety. And it’s silly that Holo has to run ahead like that, when he’s teleported so often in the past.

E7. How does Show expect me to believe that Nan Do’s phone, which he’d retrieved and put in his pocket, and from which it looks like he called Chief Programmer Jin Seok (Jung Young Ki) to ask for help, end up in Jin Seok’s hands in the apartment next to So Yeon’s, while Nan Do was still en route to the location? Surely they don’t have teleporting technology in this show?

E8. That whole thing about Nan Do telling So Yeon it would be faster if he carried her – and then the scene cutting to them taking a leisurely walk with her on his back, is so ridiculous. Ha.

E10. Lots more suspension of disbelief needed this episode. Like how Holo could’ve sent So Yeon a message to her phone, when she didn’t pick up. That way, So Yeon’s cut-off from Holo could’ve been cushioned, but of course Show wouldn’t want that. And smaller details like how, if Nan Do’s ID could still work in Gio Labs, then it means they haven’t updated the security stuff yet – but yet, Chairman Dad’s handprint is registered, which allows him to access the inner room. But, as always, logic isn’t this show’s strength.

E11. I thought it was quite implausible that So Yeon would be able to pick up Nan Do’s characteristics,Β  and Holo, who’s known Nan Do all his life, and is a powerful A.I., can’t.

[END SPOILER]

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]


Given Show’s genre and my varying satisfaction levels with it during my watch, I knew, going into this finale, that we would get a happy ending. I just wasn’t sure how satisfying that happy ending would be. Now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I’m happy to report that I managed to enjoy this finale reasonably well.

Was the ending quite predictable? Yes. Did I have to suspend my need for complete logic? Again, yes. Did the finale manage to feel quite sweet and complete, in its own way? Happily, also yes.

As expected, Chairman Baek was the one who killed Nan Do’s mom, and she’d never intended to abandon or leave her son.

As an aside, I was surprised to learn, this episode, that Nan Do had been a non-verbal child, and that Hello had helped him make his first verbal request of his mom. It makes a lot of sense why Mom had been adamant about keeping the technology for her son, since it had helped young Nan Do achieve such a significant breakthrough.

However, I honestly would have preferred to have known earlier in the game, that Nan Do had been a non-verbal child. I feel like I would have developed sympathy for him a lot earlier, if I hadn’t viewed him as simply some tech genius who’d decided to fake his own death and live off the grid, but rather, as a person who’d struggled with a developmental disorder, and was striving to find his way in the world, in the only way he knew how.

Anyway. I thought it fitting that Chairman Baek was outed by the very A.I. that he’d been scheming so hard and so long to steal, and I found the way Chan Sung broke off his relationship with his father suitably handled as well. It would’ve gone against deep-rooted Confucian values held dear in Korea, for him to have hit his father or even stood by, as his father got hit. Instead, he breaks the cane, announces that their relationship is henceforth severed, and walks away. That felt like he was making a stand, without being vindictive, so I thought that was the perfect note that writer-nim chose, for him to end his relationship with his unrepentant, villainous father.

Sadly, but also predictably, Holo decides to delete himself, as a way to protect Nan Do and So Yeon, since he’d hacked into national servers, and disappears.

A year later, at Yoo Jin and Chan Sung’s wedding (where, in a cute turn of events, Chief Programmer Jin Seok turns out to be dating detective Ji Na), So Yeon spends time at the beach wearing her Holo glasses and talking to Holo, on the off chance that he can hear her, and Nan Do tells her that there’s still a tiny chance that Holo will come back, even though the files have been deleted. And sure enough, when everyone gathers for a group photo after the wedding, there’s Holo in the photo, alongside his favorite people. Aw.

I’d predicted that Holo would be deleted, but given this show’s genre, it feels fitting that Holo would find his way back to Nan Do and So Yeon. Sure, we don’t know whether Nan Do will be able to bring Holo back properly, or how that might even be possible, but logic has never been one of Show’s strengths anyway, and I’d like to think that Holo, in all of his advanced evolution as an A.I. being, will get to continue growing in his own way, while spending time with, and learning alongside, the people for whom he cares most.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Simplistic, predictable and a bit of a slow burn, but a pleasant enough watch if you’re able to suspend your need for logic.

FINAL GRADE: B-

TEASER:

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31 thoughts on “Flash Review: My Holo Love

  1. Mike Mundy

    I turned the dubbing on the other day, just to hear what it was like. Although it was, indeed, bad, I’m wondering if any dubbing using Western actors is going to sound right. The voice they used for the main actress sounded to me like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I don’t want to be too dogmatic about dubbing though . . . maybe it could be done right?

    Reply
  2. A Reviewer

    Thank you for the detailed reviews that you write. I hope at some point these will show up as links on imdb.

    I think I watched Holo after I got an email about the review being posted, but before I read the review.

    Where do I begin… Holo is in some ways similar to Memories of Alhambra, romance and technology mixed up. Both require suspension of disbelief to enjoy them. Holo is more about the romance between the two leads than MOA was. In Holo, technology facilitates their romance.

    β€œAll our key characters fall in love quite suddenly, and there’s honestly not enough context for that emotion to feel believable.” – hm… I thought, Holo was the vehicle through which Nan Do fell in love.

    β€œwith not much color or shading in between, to make them more interesting or faceted” – they together form a whole, separately are parts of the same being. Holo was created to fill the gaps in Nan Do’s personality, so to speak. While the mother’s intention was to build a friend, Nan Do takes it to different plane altogether – Holo can do things β€˜naturally’ that Nan Do can’t.

    β€œHolo, in all of his advanced evolution as an A.I. being, will get to continue growing in his own way, while spending time with, and learning alongside, the people for whom he cares most” – this about AI scares me in real life.

    My wife and I have been watching a few of K-drama since CLOY. CLOY, MOA, SitR, Holo, One Spring Night and just finished Camellia Blooms. CLOY still ranks the highest in what I liked, followed by SitR, MOA, then Holo. I completed both SitR and OSN, but wife thought they were just plain romance, nothing more to them. Not sure where Camellia fits, but definitely not at the top of the list. I guess I might be a little biased toward Ye-jin Son.

    Reply
  3. LZ

    My Holo Love. This one made me sit up and really realise how far gone into kdrama i have become. I stopped watching this a few.minutes into ep 1 because the English dubbing killed it for me. I went away a few days before I discovered (quite dumb of me, really) that I can turn off the dubbing, listen to the original audio and turn the subs on! I enjoyed the plot well enough because it’s light and short. It’s the OST that stayed with me, though.

    Reply
    1. A Reviewer

      We found the English dubbing, turned it on, and turned it off within minutes as the dubbing was so horrible and annoying. We enjoyed the dram a lot better once we went to subtitles.

      Reply
  4. Kay

    Glad you found this one at least moderately enjoyable πŸ™‚ It really was a simple and sweet little drama. Definitely requires some suspension of disbelief (I’m a pro at that, hehe) and just sort of going with it, but the story and romance were so nice. Sometimes an easy drama is just what’s needed πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hehe, yes you are definitely better at suspending disbelief than I am, Kay! πŸ˜† I know you liked this one better than I did, but I don’t regret checking it out, which is quite something. I thought the ending was sweet and uplifting, despite the underwhelming parts of the drama as a whole. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi Gabrielle! Hm, I’m not sure which ones you’ve seen, so here are my personal favorites: Life is Beautiful, Ojakgyo Brothers, Father is Strange. Five Enough (aka Five Children is also very solid). I hope one of these will work for you! πŸ˜€

      Reply
  5. Lee Tennant

    Probably no surprise to anyone that I dropped it.
    It’s not just that’s it’s a candidate for Trope Bingo, I am so tired of immature female leads who shriek and flail and behave like five year olds. I barely made it through the scene in her house where she first sees Holo. I did not last when I found out that GENIUS male lead who’s never been kissed was spying on her without her permission.
    I feel like a few years ago I would have watched all of this and just rolled my eyes at how bad it was and marvelled at how Korean shows seem to have no problem with technology being used to invade women’s privacy. Now I’ve lost all patience.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hee hee! I’m not at all surprised you dropped this one, Dame Holly! πŸ˜† This doesn’t strike me as your kind of show, by a long shot! And you should absolutely drop a show, if it’s trying your patience! You did the right thing! πŸ˜€

      Reply
    2. marj lorenz

      haha. it’s not surprising at all that you dropped it. me too, after few episodes, i decided to put an end to my watching.

      Reply
  6. rainmakermelody

    Ooh I was glad to see this review because I keep seeing it pop up on Netflix, but its ratings have made me put this show on the back burner. The premise seemed interesting, but I only know Go Sung Hee from My Beautiful Bride and Mother, and like you, I didn’t really notice her much or focus a lot on her acting. So I guess I wasn’t looking into this drama because of the main leads. I think I’ll look into it when I’m in the mood for a shorter kdrama that won’t take up too much brainpower (gotta suspend disbelief I see).

    I just finished A Piece of Your Mind and Are You Human, Too, so I don’t know how I’d deal with another AI drama (although this one at least seems more lighthearted)! After seeing other reviews for A Piece of Your Mind, I’m starting to feel like this is another one of those controversial dramas where people have mixed emotions about it (it seems people that liked WtWiF disliked this one). Have you ever liked a drama a lot despite seeing some of its plotholes and shortcomings? Because I, for one, felt it was a decently nice drama. There are unexplained events/reasonings and some character traits I’m not quite a fan of. However, something about this drama, despite its sad tones, felt warm, like sitting by a fire reading a book. I really enjoy the OST too; it’s quite fitting for the drama, which had a really nice um, glow to it? The colour tones were amber-y and soft (I’m not that descriptive!). The music has an indie vibe, and it’s quite soulful. The piano is so nice; on Spotify, they linked the artist Nam Hye Seung, and they also credited some OSTs from CLOY on his page! I think this drama REALLY required me to just enjoy it at face value and not analyze it too much (so I don’t know how to rate it really. Somewhere between C+/B, a pretty wide range for me). I heard this drama was cut down because of low ratings, but I think keeping that in mind also helped me through the latter bits, because they did the best they could. I actually looked forward to plugging myself into an episode every night after a tiring day surprisingly. Maybe I will follow the AI train after all πŸ˜…

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there rainmakermelody! πŸ˜€ Always great to see ya! πŸ™‚ Yes, this one is definitely more for when you’re in the mood for a low brain-power drama-lite, as it were.

      I just sampled E1 of A Piece of Your Mind today, and.. I’m not sure how I feel about it, so far. It’s quite opaque and obtuse, in the first ep, I think. I ended with way more questions than is my usual at the end of a show’s first ep, so I’m not sure how this is going to pan out for me. Reading your thoughts, I’m thinking that I need to approach this with less of an analytical lens, and more with a general atmospheric appreciation for the show as a whole? So far, I like Weather a lot more, but I’m hoping to see the light, in terms of why this show’s fans love it as much as they do. πŸ˜…

      Reply
      1. rainmakermelody

        I think those low-power moods come and go for me, because sometimes I’d even pick up a good action show to excite me (but maybe then I don’t actually catch every detail πŸ€”) I dropped the super tropey and cliche Cdrama (Girlfriend) I was watching because it started getting TOO predictable and annoying. I was about 8 eps to the end and I lost interest (but I was also watching their releases every week on YouTube, so it could also be that I didn’t like waiting). I read some of the ending eps and [**SPOILER: apparently the lead guy gets diagnosed with cancer and decides to break up with the girl to spare her emotions but it turns out to be a false diagnosis and of course he wouldn’t tell her he’s dying so I’m guessing he was mean to her to hurt her feelings so she wouldn’t miss him**]. I just CAN’T, there’s a threshold for my cliche tolerance, and I didn’t sign up for makjang. I think this is why these kdramas with 12-16 eps just fare much better for this genre, because we know it’s cliche but it’s just enough to satisfy your time. This Cdrama was 36 eps instead of 24, and they really seem to drag things out. I also read some of your spoilers about the OTP relationship, and I feel like I would find it not to my taste, but I would pin that on the writing not giving us an idea of how the relationship evolves.

        Oh yes, A Piece of Your Mind made me feel I was dropped into dramaworld, but I think that made me more intrigued and want to keep watching (to each their own!), trying to peel back layers of the story like a mystery. Although I still questioned motives and scenes, I just let the drama take me for a ride passively rather than trying to actively guess all the time like “oh how are they connected and what’s the underlying story?”, if that makes sense. It’s a slower drama (melo-ish?), like Weather, but I’ll admit I liked Weather with their more interesting characters’ backstories. To me, Piece had lighter and more… relatable backstories. Weather has intense backstories that shape our characters, and while I could sympathize, I didn’t feel emotionally affected like I did in Piece. Piece in general has a lighter tone and isn’t completely melo like Weather. However, I’ll say writing in Piece didn’t always make me satisfied with their explanations and flow. I definitely still have questions about characters’ whys (like why act this way, why do this, why are they here), but I’m a bit satisfied it was left at 12 eps. Overall I’d still rate this drama pretty high surprisingly. I enjoyed Weather when I was watching, but not to the extent of all the good press I heard about it? Hopefully you’re able to WEATHER (haha) the episodes that made me lose interest!

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          Oh yes, I really struggle withe high episode count of C-dramas, especially for the rom-coms!!! Who needs 46 eps for a rom-com? Or even 24, for that matter? Although, I concede that 24 is MUCH better than 46! πŸ˜†πŸ˜† I’m not clear on the details, but apparently the shows earn per episode, it benefits them to have more episodes than fewer. Which means, of course, that everyone would be bloating their stories as much as possible. 🀯 I heard that there was a clamp down on this, so hopefully this will lead to more reasonable episode counts on C-dramas, but I haven’t seen a significant downward trend yet, so I think it might be a while yet, before we see some change! πŸ˜›

          Thanks for the tip on Piece.. I’ll try using a more passive, less questioning lens, and see if that helps! πŸ˜€ As for Weather, I’m halfway through at the moment, and I still like it! πŸ˜€

          Reply
          1. rainmakermelody

            I think I heard China limited drama eps so we don’t get those 60 ep dramas again, but they found some way around it by creating multiple seasons (like how Joy of Life and I think Ashes of Love are getting second seasons now). I didn’t know about the payment per episode thing, but it does make a lot of sense how some modern-day Cdramas just HAVE to drag things out. For period dramas I tend to not notice how many episodes it’s been because at least there are engaging storylines and action (or at least it takes me a lot longer before I lose interest)! But I feel like a lot of modern-day Cdramas try too hard to stretch out an already paper-thin plot πŸ˜… I’ve probably dropped a decent amount of these Cdramas because the plot feels like it goes in circles, and it gets frustrating watching characters keep going on and on when they could’ve finished the drama in half the episodes! Honestly if China had more series similar to what Netflix does to some kdramas (Kingdom, Chief of Staff, and Hospital Playlist coming to mind), where they do two seasons but shorter number of eps per season, I might actually be more inclined to watch! My mindset tends to go “oh this has fewer eps, I can finish it a lot sooner than a 16-ep kdrama”. Although I probably won’t like the wait/cliffhangers πŸ˜ͺ (on that note, I’m not looking forward to the Hospital Playlist finale since I know there’s a second season next year and I’ll have to wait that long)

            Reply
            1. kfangurl

              Yeah, I only realized that the episode count counts for so much in C-dramas when Tribes and Empires happened. Apparently, it cost so much to film, that the director ended up bloating the second half of the drama by including all kinds of footage that would’ve otherwise been cut, and the watch experience slowed to an excruciating crawl. All this, because he was trying to maximize the amount of money the show could make, because they’d spent so much. After learning about that, ALL of the C-drama bloat started to make sense. I honestly struggle with the high episode count, especially with the rom-coms. I can deal with a high episode count on something meaty like The First Half Of My Life, but something like Go Go Squid or Meteor Garden 2018, the high episode count is quite ridiculous. πŸ˜›

              I don’t actually want them to split into several seasons, if each season is just full of the same bloat. I mean, it was hard getting through Go Go Squid coz it felt like quite a bit of filler, and it they’d just taken the show as it is, and split it into 2 seasons of about 20 eps each, I don’t think it would’ve made me feel the show was any better made. 😝 Ah, the perpetual conundrum of balancing artistic vision with commercial pressures. 😝😭

              Reply
              1. rainmakermelody

                No wonder! I always felt that a lot of Cdramas started out promising and engaging, but towards the end I’d be glancing at my phone for half the episode because I felt nothing was happening. It can depend on the genre, but there’s always a few eps in a Cdrama I feel I could skip and not miss much. I think the longer formulas worked for plots that had meaty storylines and well-rounded characters so that every episode had substance and contributed to the development of the story. The First Half of My Life had lots of couples to follow with their individual growths, and suddenly the show was over (but I recall seeing on MyDramaList there’s a season 2 potentially coming out also??) If I’m thinking of recent Cdramas I completed, Find Yourself comes to mind, and although it was pretty long also, it felt bingeable and easy to follow; even though it was a bit rom-com, there were good lessons to learn. I definitely agree with you though, the multiple season thing wouldn’t work if it was a drama that was already mostly filler! Like there’s still only so much ~drama~ you can really create in those genres, and a lot has been done before. (Maybe this is another analysis post: what dramas you think would fare well/would’ve made you more interested with seasons and what wouldn’t πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚) If you want to follow that light tone, it’s hard to stretch things out to 40 eps and maintain audience interest. I saw reviews for another recent Cdrama on my watchlist (Forget You, Remember Love), and some are also saying it felt they went in circles and could’ve done without some eps.

                I think seasons work for American shows because well, for the shows I enjoyed watching, they’re usually a case per episode with an overarching storyline over the seasons. The format would be so different for rom-com C-dramas that I don’t think would work! It’s working for me right now with Chief of Staff and Hospital Playlist because it’s similar to the American-style shows, and they don’t feel super draggy because their seasons are 10 and 12 eps, respectively. I also had little to no problem waiting a week for eps to drop for these types of shows because they weren’t SO connected that if I hadn’t watched the previous ep recently, I’d forget the main plot (if I followed Taiwan’s schedule of an ep a week for their 13-ep dramas, I’d prob forget so many details!). Sure there’s always the end-of-season cliffhanger, but you’d expect that regardless. I think in this way, despite American shows having multiple seasons, I watched through a lot of my faves years ago because you get an action that begins the ep and then for the most part, it’s concluded by the end of the ep and the characters move on to the next case.

                I’ve honestly had Go Go Squid on my watchlist since it came out because of the ML, but slowly I’ve been debating removing it completely because for something that looks cutesy, I don’t think I can deal with 40(?) eps! My mom did give me a short summary while she was watching as it aired, and I read your entire review when you posted (which led me to keep it on my watchlist), but I don’t know how I’d fare with cutesy-ish storylines for that long nowadays. In Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, I had ended up fast-forwarding a lot of Dilraba’s scenes towards the end because I got annoyed at her character (also her dub was so high-pitched, but I watched the trailer for her new drama about clothing design, and apparently that’s her actual voice, and it’s much more tolerable!) Although you did mention it’s not super romancey, and I do want to see the teamwork, but I don’t know if it’s enough to make me commit to the “Play ep 1” button!

                Reply
  7. merij1

    This is another show where I find it’s best to skim through or edit out the lame parts and try to focus only on what works. Or as you put it, “manage your expectations” in advance and focus on the parts that work.

    The best part of this show was the endearing setup of the love triangle:

    1) a sweet-natured woman still suffering from severe childhood trauma
    2) a genius man already on the autism spectrum even before his own childhood trauma made him more anti-social
    3) a sweet-natured AI created to help that child manage his autism, who therefore only wants the best for everyone and ends up being the bridge that facilitates the other two opening their hearts to each other

    The worst part was the C- grade implausible action plot taking way too much time starting around 2/3’s or maybe 3/4’s of the way through. I can easily ignore implausible explanations for an emergent AI, since this is ultimately a fantasy show. But I have no interest watching stupidly written action plots.

    I also don’t mind predictable K-Drama tropes, because the reason they became tropes is that they often work. It’s lazy writing intended to appease corporate suits who only want to sell what’s already sold well in the past. So I certainly don’t admire it. But I can handle tired tropes if they’re kept fresh with solid execution.

    So yeah, B- is about right. My only disagreement with your review is that I’m grateful they didn’t stretch it out to 16 hours. I honestly don’t think they’d have used that extra time to good advantage, so keeping it shorter was the right call.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Y’know, the moment you said that this show probably wouldn’t have used extra time to good advantage, MeriJ, I knew you were right. πŸ˜… Given what Show served up in 12 eps, it’s very likely we would’ve gotten more of the same, instead of a more solid context, or better explanations for things. I’ve seen other shows do excellently with 12 eps (like Go Back Couple 😍 – have you seen this? I think you’d like it! Kinda like Familiar Wife, but not), and this one just doesn’t have the same caliber, unfortunately. 😝

      Reply
      1. merij1

        And there was no good reason for Kill Me Heal Me to require 20 episodes. We loved that show and it’s creative use of the multiple personality setup, but 16 eps and fewer melo flashbacks would have been improved it considerably.

        We’re watching a show called Vida right now, on the Starz network. A full season consists of only six 30-minute episodes. The next day, when I think back to what we saw the night before, I can hardly believe it was only a half-hour long. Ditto for each full season.

        A short story writer makes careful use of every single word. Whereas a successful writer of a book series — for example, the guy who wrote Game of Thrones — can become too powerful relative to his or her editor, leading to bloat.

        Reply
        1. kfangurl

          This is true.. I loved Kill Me Heal Me, but it could’ve done a more compact, clean job with 16 eps instead of 20. But they probably felt they had enough to fill 20 eps, with Ji Sung having so many personalities to channel! πŸ˜†

          In an ideal world, writers would write purely for the sake of their creative vision, but with so many external factors to deal with, drama writers often have to compromise, and sometimes, very heavily, when it comes to how the actual writing pans out, versus their original vision. I’ve become more forgiving of drama writers, but, I still very much appreciate it when a story is efficiently told, in spite of all the external pressures! πŸ™‚

          Reply
      2. merij1

        Huh, re-reading my own comment I just realized they pulled a facial-blindness/autism reversal.

        Even though he’s only a little ways out on the spectrum — somewhere in Asperger’s’ territory — he’s still the one who’s autistic and yet she’s the one who can’t read faces. Clever.

        Reply
  8. Snow Flower

    For me this show was like eating instant noodles with a friend. Very tropey and predictable, but still enjoyable. I liked the idea that technology can facilitate human interaction, but can never replace it.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Aw, that’s a nice analogy, Snow Flower! πŸ™‚ I guess this could count as drama comfort food, for those in the mood for instant noodles with a friend. πŸ˜‰ And yes, that’s a pretty nice idea that Show ended on, that nothing can duplicate human interaction. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Rokuro74

    Hi kfangurl. Actually saw this coming along on Netflix a while ago, but I’ve progressed a bit in watching kdrama and felt it might be a bit to ‘wishy-washy’ for my current taste. Seeing your review, well, maybe fine to watch when in a drama slump I guess…

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Rokuro! πŸ™‚ Yes, this show definitely can feel on the underwhelming side to the more discerning / experienced drama eye.. but if you’re in a slump & just want something kinda mindless and sweet, it might be a contender πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  10. phl1rxd

    Good day Fangurl! I was wondering on whether to watch this or not. I may stick my toe in the pool a little to see. Great review as always and so appreciated.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi phl!! Thanks for enjoying this quick little review! <3 If you're looking for something that is kinda sweet and you don't mind a whole lotta illogical, I can see this being an enjoyable little diversion. πŸ˜‰

      Reply

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