The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


141 Comments

Dear kfangurl: What are some dramas with excellent OTPs?

Reka writes:

Dear kfangurl,

thank you very much for your answer to my previous question, the one about strong and nuanced women 😀 I already started watching “The Story of Minglan’ and I am loving it so much! (Btw it’s also one of my first C-dramas, so thank you for the new experience!)

This time too, I have a similar question about couples. I love romance and I’ll never have enough of it, but many times it seems to me that the characters end up together just because it’s a “plot requirement” and because we expect them to get together. So there may be no chemistry at all, or plot holes about their coming together, things can feel clichéd and may lack of depth.

I read your review of “Crash landing on you” and since you appreciated the OTP, I went to watch the show and yes! The OTP was marvellous! They were very believable and engaging. Thus I ask for your advice once again xD

Can you recommend me some dramas with believable couples and good chemistry?

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22 Comments

Flash Review: This Guy Is The Biggest Mistake In My Life [Japan]

Do you guys remember when I dropped Graceful Family because I felt like it wasn’t quite hammy or makjang enough to be truly glorious to watch? I’d wanted it to achieve heightened pinnacles of blithe makjang-ness, trucking out trope after trope of juicy makjang nonsense, kinda like The Last Empress, and because it didn’t, that show kinda fell flat, for me.

Well, this is almost sorta the same thing, except what I’m wishing for, from this show, is more weirdness.

I know that sounds, well.. weird, but hear me out.

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25 Comments

Review: At Eighteen [A Moment At Eighteen]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Thoughtful, understated, and yet so full of accurate teenage feels, At Eighteen is the youth drama that we didn’t know we needed, but which we absolutely deserve. You don’t even need to generally be into youth dramas to enjoy this one, methinks, because this is arguably the most “grown up” youth drama I’ve seen yet.

There’s no hyperbolic cutesy here; growing pains and teenage euphoria are portrayed in such an organic way that it makes me feel like these writers remember exactly what it’s like to be a teenager growing up, and with amazing attention to detail, to boot. Show manages to create a world that feels real and raw, while still retaining enough pretty and polish to give it that drama lift. The entire cast does an excellent job, but extra kudos goes to our young actors, for making their characters come to life in such an organic-feeling manner.

As a bonus, the music in this is by turn breezy-heartfelt, tinkly-ethereal and gently poignant; all astutely applied just so, to give the watch experience that extra dimension of immersion.

Quite excellent, all-around.

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73 Comments

Review: The Secret Life Of My Secretary

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show doesn’t reinvent the drama wheel by any stretch of the imagination, and I’d even say that Show’s got some flaws that I find hard to look past, BUT, this drama shows a nice chunk of heart for a good stretch in the middle (it started slow for me and I’m not completely satisfied with how the ending’s handled), which is very pleasant indeed.

Kim Young Kwang’s the meltiest I’ve seen him yet, Jin Ki Joo manages to be endearing despite some questionable characterization, and Kim Jae Kyung is a complete hoot as the feisty, unabashed, world-of-her-own Veronica Park.

A solid easy-breezy marathon, for when you just want to give the ol’ brain a break.

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37 Comments

Dropped: Love And Destiny [China]

I think it’s time to admit that this show really isn’t working for me, you guys.

I tried with this one; I really did.

You might remember that I was in two minds about whether to keep going with this one, when I wrote my 2019 year-in-review. In all honesty, I’d been quite ready to drop it, just 6 episodes in, coz I’d wandered off and hadn’t felt the urge to go back. But then, AvenueX mentioned that even though this drama didn’t bring anything really new to the table, that it was one of her favorites of 2019 because of how real and believable the OTP chemistry and interactions were.

..which reeled me right back in, coz I did like this OTP. But now, many more episodes later, I finally realize that even though AvenueX and my own sister and maybe lots of other folks love this show, I just won’t end up loving this one. Everr.

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16 Comments

Flash Review: A Sharply Graceful Girl [Japan]

When you need a bit of a drama lift and somewhere to escape to, but don’t have the mental bandwidth to commit to a full-length drama, it’s short little dramas like this one, that tend to hit the spot best. At just 4 short half-hour episodes, A Sharply Graceful Girl provides just enough continuity to give you a sense of commitment, without feeling overwhelming, because of its bite-sized servings.

Also, Show is constructed mostly to be a pretty and informative travelogue of Kyoto, Japan, with a bit of a romance sown in, for good measure. Given the current global situation where almost everyone’s under lockdown and country borders are closed and you basically can’t travel anywhere, this show just might provide a bit of relief for any pent-up wanderlust.

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37 Comments

Flash Review: Stove League

Let me get what I think are the two biggest questions out of the way: No, you don’t need to know a thing about baseball, in order to enjoy this show. And no, you don’t even have to like baseball, in order to like this show. Would you get more enjoyment out of this show if you actually already love baseball? I’m not sure, to be honest. Sometimes knowing too much can be a bad thing (if you’re a doctor you probably roll your eyes at the details in medical kdramas, and so on), but I’m guessing that understanding how baseball works would probably help you appreciate the nuances that I missed.

I went into this show without much knowledge or interest in baseball, and I’m coming away with only marginally more knowledge about and interest in the sport, and yet, I found myself enjoying this show very well, and wholeheartedly rooting for our characters, often without actually truly understanding the full details of what was happening on my screen. That’s quite an accomplishment on Show’s part, I’d say.

Also, for the record, I’ve felt rather neutral about Nam Goong Min for a while, even as everyone else has grown hearts in their eyes for him, and here, I finally actually really like him.

Lots of happy surprises overall, yes?

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21 Comments

Review: Find Yourself [China]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A show that’s light, breezy and really rather slurpable, with a nice handful of thoughtful nuggets thrown in for good measure, Find Yourself might not be the kind of Amazing Drama that shifts the world under your feet, but it just might be the comfort food marathon that you need.

With a rather charming noona romance at its center, and endearing friends and family to round it out, this drama world feels a little bit like a family drama with romcom leanings. Our noona romance starts off pretty heady and cracky, but eventually gives way to an emphasis on soul-searching and finding your own truth. In the end, this gives us a story that feels nicely balanced, I think.

Even though the fangirl in me would’ve loved to have stayed in heady, cracky territory, the comparatively more muted later stretch, allowing our characters space to figure themselves out, is what makes this story and our characters feel more real than fairytale. And, who doesn’t need a down-to-earth fairytale right now, right?

PS: Did I mention there are cute pups in this show? And that they make repeated appearances? ❤

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228 Comments

Review: Crash Landing On You

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show really is everything that many of us have come to love in kdrama. It’s gorgeous to look at, our actors are pretty darn capable all-around, our characters are mostly endearing, there’s amped-up, epic romance to be had between an OTP that shares solid, sparky chemistry, and, well, Hyun Bin is appealing in this, to a rather staggering degree. Flail. As a bonus, Show possesses a cheeky sense of humor around drama tropes, even as it revels in them. In addition, the glimpse into North Korean life feels fresh and novel as well, and is a major highlight.

On the downside, there’s a bit of drag in the mid-to-late episodes, which is compounded by rather heavy-handed narrative angst, and Show’s long episodes. That can feel a bit or a lot hard-going, depending on your appetite for angst.

Overall, though, Show does a great job bringing the feels, and is well worth the watch.

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14 Comments

Flash Review: Nemureru Mori no Jukujo [Sleeping Jukujo] [Japan]

It’s been a hot minute and a half, since I last watched a Japanese drama, not because I dislike them or anything, but because my drama plate’s been overflowing, just with Korean and Chinese dramas alone. When my dear friend Timescout mentioned this one to me, though, my interest was immediately piqued – enough to entice me to check it out quite quickly even, which is a Rather Big Deal, since my watch list is neverending, and my good intentions towards dramas often remain just that.

The topic of a mature woman restarting her life and finding her lost mojo is one that is near and dear to me, and I have a big ol’ soft spot for dramas that shine the spotlight on this particular female experience. I loved both C-drama The First Half Of My Life and kdrama Romance Is A Bonus Book, and I was immediately intrigued to acquaint myself with a Japanese take on a similar story.

In short, the J-treatment is unique in its own way, and.. I rather liked it.

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