Saturday, January 16, 2016

First Take: Moorim School

When I first saw the Moorim School poster, I could sense the potential fun that will come in our future. While last year I had a particular aversion to high school dramas, I think this particular one might be my re-entrance. How could it not? It features a magical school teaching martial arts. It's genius. Let's see if they will manage to keep the campy-ness till the end.

Moorim School is as mentioned above a magical school that teaches martial arts. And no, it's not some sort of Harry Potter. Yes, there is the boy (idol star Yoon Shin-woo, portrayed by Lee Hyun-woo) who has magic powers beyond his means, though he doesn't have his Gryffindor Posse. Wang Chi-ang (Hong Bin) is a stuck up heir to a conglomerate whose problem solving skills involve his father's money. Shim Soon-deok (Seo Ye-ji) is a girl from a simple background who can't help but intrude in other people's problems when they are in trouble. Completing the main characters is Hwang Sun-ah (Jung Eugene), daughter of the headmaster, outwardly cool and chic but is secretly the biggest Shin-woo fan girl ever. Speaking of the headmaster, Hwang Moo-sung (Shin Hyun-joon) doesn't seem like the average magical martial artist. He seems to be the founder of Moorim School, created by United Nations (?) to help restore justice to earth. Moorim School is located in the middle of the woods and only select and magically-able people can enter. That is until the two newcomers, Shin-woo and Chi-ang, unexpectedly broke the invisibility barrier. Hyeah.

Just from the first two episodes alone I can already tell where the story is going, at least in the journey of the four main students. It's basically like every other high school drama out there. Maybe more like Master of Study and less Dream High, is what I'm thinking. The two bratty boys are probably going to learn a hard lesson and become good and also end up being the best of buds. The girls probably won't have too much character growth (so typical *rolls eyes*) and will be a source of many fights between the boys. I hope I'm wrong in this, but I wouldn't be surprised if I were right.

While it is super predictable, it was highly enjoyable. The young actors gave a lot of brightness and energy that few older actors can emulate. Sure they might be greener, but there's a lot of benefits to youth. My personal favorite is Seo Ye-ji. I've read criticism on her works of the past, especially from Night Watchman's Journal, which I didn't watch. But I remembered her as the spunky youngest daughter Noh Soo-young from daily drama Potato Star 2013QR3. I'm glad to say that Soon-deok is on the same wavelength as Soo-young. It gets especially hilarious when the usually arrogant Chi-ang follows her around like a love struck little bunny, and her blatantly rejects all his efforts. I get the impression that they won't be the OTP sadly, but I'll savor the moments. I'm also looking forward to Jung Eugene because her performance in Because It's the First Time was almost perfect.

One thing I'm looking forward to is the big baddie, because all this drama needs is the ultimate antagonist. I'm thinking it's going to be in the form of Shin Sung-woo's character Chae Yoon who hasn't appeared yet. Right now, the biggest nemesis is Yub Jung (Alexander) whose motive I don't understand. Is he just the relegated school bully? Isn't Moorim School supposed to be a school that promotes peace? It doesn't make things easier that he's not exactly the best at acting.

I do wish Moorim was campier. The setting is there and there's inklings of it, but it doesn't cross the line quite yet. I don't think it'll get campier, sadly, but maybe even more conventional over time which is sad. KBS isn't known as a channel that pushes boundaries *cough*Producers*cough*. But I like the effort. I think. I like that magical martial arts is set in modern times, which is mostly rare. I like that there's plenty of action, and hopefully even more. I like that a UN school is randomly located in the middle of the woods South Korea, with international students speaking fluent Korean. Good for them?

I have many hopes for this drama. I hope it keeps staying fun. I hope the characters stay as bright as they are. I hope there will be plenty of bromance. I hope it won't trap itself in a hole of desolation. I hope it'll be a drama that I'll come back and say "this was good". I hope it will be good.

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