Dec 12, 2012

[K-Drama Review] Arang and The Magistrate

I followed this drama faithfully while it was airing in Korea but it took me almost two months to write a review. You know that thing called laziness? It can strike any time. My love for Arang prevailed and it's better late than never!

Arang and The Magistrate is that drama that has a solid plot based on a Korean myth, a fascinating tale that was written carefully for maximum audience satisfaction, a great cast and lots of pretty but still came out underrated. It may be underrated but for me, Arang is a gem in this year's drama offering.

I knew what went wrong there. It was up against Gaksital and then against Nice Guy. Dude! Going against dramas that stars Joo Won and Song Joong Ki? Flower boys of this generation? Good luck with that. If only Gaksital and Nice Guy were horrible dramas, maybe Arang stood a chance but the whole of Kdramaland knows that's not really true. In any case, I'd still write a review for this drama because, ultimately, it brought back my love for sageuk. Yeah, it was lost along the way.

I'm not sure what was the driving force that made me watch Arang and The Magistrate but I'm pretty sure it was not the cast. Although Lee Joon Ki and Shin Min Ah were both great actors, I am not their fan. I hated Lee Joon Ki in My Girl and I've only liked Shin Min Ah in movies. It's not also because of the fushion-sageuk genre because after all the shit that Dr. Jin and Faith pulled out earlier, I thought I needed a break from sageuk. I guess I was bored that time and I'm itching for out of this world drama that I pulled an all-nighter to watch the first episode of Arang. When the end credits rolled out I was pretty certain I am hooked.

What I liked about Arang and The Magistrate is the rich world they have created for the drama premise. It was a drama promoted as "based on a Korean folklore", so I Googled around to get a head start on the story and expected it to follow that story line. But it didn't! It explored deeper into the mythology world and created its own fantasy story. My current myth-wired brain did a happy dance for the references to Hades and the Underworld, River Styx and the Well of Forgetfulness, and of course my favorite Grim Reapers.

With fantasy comes mystery. Personally, I think Arang hit it home with the mystery. The guessing game of whose really the bad guy, whose really the culprit and what really happened to that person are what kept me engaged. Then when you start getting frustrated with the game or in my case it just creeped the hell out of me that I refuse to watch it at night, they drop the bomb without hesitation leaving you satisfied and antcipating the next episode. I love that in a drama.

I think this is also the first drama that I didn't care that there's a serious lack of romance. If you expect mind-blowing, life-altering, epic kind of love story here, there's none. Of course, Arang and Magistrate fell in love along the way and made their own sacrifice for love at the end but as a whole it seriously lacked the giggle-worthy and I-have-too-many-feels kind of sageuk romance. Looking back, I am quite content with the way things turned out with our main couple because the possibility of a ghost and a human having their happily ever after is really moot and the way the drama resolved that issue was acceptable. But Shin Min Ah and Lee Joon Ki really looks good together.

Arang and The Magistrate is one of those dramas that really doesn't require you to struggle with yourself if a plot machination makes sense in real life. Because you know it's purely fantasy and that whatever illogical thing they come up with is not based on what rings true in this planet. I can't say that with the dramas lately that gave me big headaches and high blood pressure because, seriously, nobody does that in real life for crying out loud! Arang kept me sane during those times. I just sit there, play the guessing game, creep myself out and enjoy!

Over-all, Arang and The Magistrate is a fun fushion sageuk experience. I would recommend it to everyone who has wild imagination and generally loves the arcane world.

My favorite threesome in Arang!

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