My Roommate is a Gumiho managed to endear Bae In Hyuk’s lovelorn second male lead to me enough, that I found myself actually wanting to see more of Bae In Hyuk on my screen.
Therefore, when I saw that Bae In Hyuk’s starring in this little web drama as our titular Kiss Goblin, who’s on a quest to become human – via kissing! HA! – I just had to check it out.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Bansuk (Bae In Hyuk), a 160-year-old goblin, is on a mission to become human. Said mission requires him to kiss 10 humans, and each kiss will awaken a new human emotion in him. He meets Yeon Ah (Jeon Hye Won), an undergraduate who’s disillusioned with humans in general, and she ends up entangled in his mission.
Complications ensue, as more and more emotions enter the equation.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show is a bit of a slow burn.
I found the early episodes a little slow-going, and only really felt my interest pick up at the episode 6 mark. That’s not terrible, considering the episodes are all short little nuggets of about 12 minutes each.
2. The acting is generally decent, but leans a little raw and green.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s far from terrible, but don’t expect layers or nuance.
3. Bansuk starts out a bit cold and robotic,
..but that’s all part of the premise, that as a goblin, he doesn’t have or understand human emotions. He becomes warmer and more likable as we get deeper into our story, and he acquires more human emotions.
4. Show does get rather tropey,
..but with a short little drama like this, I feel that the tropes work like narrative shorthand, almost. Also, Show does a reasonably good job of executing said tropes, so there’s that?
STUFF I LIKED
1. Bansuk’s evolution.
I mainly came into this show to see more of Bae In Hyuk, and I was duly rewarded when Bansuk becomes warmer, sweeter and more dreamy, in our mid to late episodes. Plus, I did like the idea of the goblin learning to become human, one emotion at a time.
2. The growing connection between Bansuk and Yeon Ah.
I didn’t care super much for the bickery meet-awkward, but as Bansuk and Yeon Ah grow to understand each other more, and like each other more, I found myself enjoying their bond very well. I found the hyperawareness bits quite delicious as well.
3. Show stays true to its internal mythology.
Although Show is a short little thing with only 12 episodes of about 12 minutes each, it manages to establish its mythology reasonably well, and importantly, doesn’t mess with it, in order to tell its story.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
One of my favorite tropes is forced proximity via living under the same roof, so I was quite delighted, actually, when Bansuk starts living in Yeon Ah’s apartment, and the hyper-proximity hijinks ensue.
It makes total sense to me, that Yeon Ah would be rather discombobulated, by what feels like a dream life where a sweet, handsome boyfriend serves her breakfast every day, with a smile, heh.
Plus, once the mutual hyperawareness kicks in, and Bansuk and Yeon Ah start to feel little jealousies over each other, I felt my watch experience take on a bit of an extra thrill as well.
What can I say, I’m a sucker for things like this. I liked watching Bansuk and Yeon Ah fall for each other, and struggle to make sense of their feelings.
I didn’t much care for the whole Exorcist thing, since the Exorcist dude (Jang Eui Soo) is quite terribly acted, but I did get a kick out of how Yeon Ah could protect Bansuk by throwing herself on him (snerk).
I also appreciate that the incident where Exorcist dude manages to stab Bansuk, is when Yeon Ah confronts her feelings and admits that she likes him. It makes sense to me, that almost losing him, would galvanize her into being more honest about how she feels about him.
I didn’t quite see it coming (although I totally should’ve!), that Yeon Ah would be appointed as Bansuk’s tenth and last kiss in his quest to become human, but on hindsight, it makes sense within Show’s established mythology.
And, it makes sense too, that Bansuk would lose his memories once he actually becomes human.
Therefore, I can understand Bansuk’s hesitation. He doesn’t want to forget Yeon Ah, and neither does he want Yeon Ah to forget him. Aw.
In the end, I appreciate that while Bansuk broaches the subject of destiny to Yeon Ah, Yeon Ah tells Bansuk that they should just focus on who they are now, and how they feel now, and let their future selves deal with the future.
It feels kind of reckless, yet it also feels like a true commitment to their love for each other, as they lean into the kiss, which could well be their last, ever.
I didn’t mind the one-year time skip, because, well, this also feels like par for the course, for a story like this. I also appreciate that Goblin Queen (Lee Jung Min) interferes just enough, to ensure that Bansuk (now Keon Woo) and Yeon Ah are paired as project partners for the class that they’re taking together.
We don’t get to see them rekindle their romance, but Yeon Ah’s voiceover, which tells us that she just knew, the moment she laid eyes on him, that she would date Keon Woo, is quite enough for me.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A pretty enjoyable little trifle of a fantasy romance.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
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