Love oh love, it can be cherry cute rainbow puppies happy. One flies to the heavens above, dances in the cotton fluff clouds, sees nothing but the best and ideal of the other..etc. Pure bliss. But one does not forget, in hindsight, that love can also be painful, bittersweet and heart-rending, esp when things are thrown in the unknown end. It can crush your fragile heart, tear you apart, as the giver, the receiver and the one-sided cherish-er.
The Hong Sis have done it again, albeit a bit differently this time. BIG maintains the sisters’ trademark cute and funny, the formulaic OTP set-up, the dramatics..etc. But some elements are noticeably different and so obviously un-HongSis. The vibe and their touches on story and character – they’re more focused and refined. They’re not as superficial and shouty as before. None of the characters are realistic, by any means (Hong Sis never do realism). The plot caricatures in term story and characters, they’re still there. Strokes of histrionics created for the sake of drama, there. They’re glaring obvious, but I’m not annoyed or turned off so much as to be bothered the whole day, BIG is somehow connecting with me really good. Quality or not.
BIG isn’t the funniest or most flutter-inducing HongSis drama I’ve seen. It’s adorable and cute, but it doesn’t make me laugh out loud like usual. It’s romantic in a fun way yet it doesn’t make me go gaga or awwww over the OTP, like usual. I’m such a sucker for both, I’d seriously flip to have both funny and romance combined with perfection in my drama. The story and character set up here can be vapidly unoriginal in the eyes of many, but strangely, it strikes a very harmonic chord in my heart. I’m allured. Intrigued. And fascinated. The characters are interesting tho barely original. The relationships are refreshing and genuinely endearing. And most importantly, Kyung Jae. Can you have a more wonderful character portrayed by Gong Yoo? Such spot on, emotionally (and physically, you’ve gotta admit that body of his is created by the heavens *&%$#^)&)(*$(&), balancing between the adult and passive Yoon Jae and the adult-wannabe Kyung Joon, with such near perfection of myriad of expressions. I’ve never been this impressed.
To be very honest, I’m not as enraptured and enamoured by the OTP Da Ran and Kyung Joon/Jae as others and as much as I’m expecting myself to be. Don’t get me wrong. GY and LMJ are 2 gorgeous people (tho many would argue with me that GY isn’t the typical looker, he’s got a charismatic face, and certainly knows his best angles), who have palpable chemistry together. They’re not the best HongSis OTP I’ve ever seen, in that they do not trigger the hearty flutters of mine as much, but it is their friendship and growing understanding of each other which pawns and wins me over every single time.
I’m happy that Hong Sis are not rushing to make DR fall in love or feel for Kyung Joon in spite of him bearing the outward appearance of Yoon Jae, and instead give more time for them to learn about each other more. Thru DR’s help, Kyung Joon is able to experience adulthood in the most bizarre way ever. And whenever he’s thrown in the deep end of this world unknown to him, he will always have DR to turn to. OTOH, DR learns a lot more. Kyung Joon may be a kid, but he has eyes and intuition as sharp as a hawk, and helps DR by pushing her to acknowledge the truth rather than to bury herself under the sweet lovely lies. The beauty of their relationship (up until Ep 5 t least) lies purely on the fact that they help each other as kindred spirits, as teacher student, premised upon genuine appreciation of each other as individuals, and not as romantic partners. Nothing to call home here, but when the heart is touched, you know when drama works for you.
The thing about soul-switching, it’s a genre which needs to be handled very carefully. It’s a whimsical and purely fictional concept, nothing can possibly explain it in the RL. But it needs to just hit the logic button in my head, and I’m all good. I don’t need it to be real, I just need it to feel “real” when I’m watching the drama. This very second, I still am unable to see how the magic works around this whimsical element. I’m pretty sure KJ and YJ have a very unique bond unknown to both of them, drama does make this somewhat clear, but it’s the mechanism which bothers me (not necessarily a bad thing, it just means I’m curious and I want to know what’s behind this magic loop). If YJ and KJ are really brothers, where does DR lie between both? If they aren’t, why are they the chosen ones for the soul-switch?
Everyone says this is a brilliant shot of the newly returned Kyung Jae, I cannot agree MORE. There is a HongSis pattern that will never grow old, time leap. It’s something that bothers when writers run out of ideas to spawn continuity. They’ve been using the trope in almost all of their previous dramas, it honestly gets tiresome. But the time leap here’s perfect in its most imperfect way execution wise. It’s ridiculously silly (I cannot see how Kyung Jae’s able to master everything about YJ’s medical profession in a year alone, but this is HongSis and Kdrama, yer know?), but it’s also awesome! Because Kyung Jae has matured, and came back with a lil bit more understanding of how the world works. He may have the soul of a 19-year old now, but his perspectives are different now – he has a brain of a 30-year old doctor, and is eager to be one. It’s sheer brilliance to have that thrown into the drama because it allows us to see past the childish Kyung Joon, and infuses us into his world as Kyung Jae – the boy trapped in an adult’s body, who wants so much to grow up mentally, for himself and for his Gil Teacher. All of a sudden I miss the old Kyung Jae, who could just act in self impulse out of his inner 18-year old self. But on the other hand, I welcome new reformed Kyung Jae with open arms. His innocence and naivete are still evident, obviously covered in pretense of a matured and broadened outlook of the world. He may not be as playful anymore, but ultimately, he is still the Kyung Joon we know.
I think it’s great that Kyung Jae’s taking the initiative in his relationship with his beloved teacher a bit more right now. At least he pushes her to give things a deeper thought and triggers growth and display of her inner strength. She’s not a favourite character atm TBH (Se Young is an exception, she’s a cardboard cut-out), I think she lacks a spine and crumbles upon defeat a bit too easily, and is somewhat a damsel in distress in need of protection all the time. Kyung Joon protected and helped her a bit too much in the past, I think it’s time for a change – for her to do things on her own accord and fight for what she think is right. Even if it means going for Kyung Jae, I think she needs it.
The reason why I love and want to protect Kyung Jae of all characters (he might end up being one of my fav HongSis male characters), other than the fact that GY is kicking everyone’s asses by playing him so wonderfully, is that he is such a genuinely insecure and lonely soul. I want to hug him, embrace him and pat him on the head (*pervy me also wants to do notty stuff to him hehe*). His falling for DR proves my point, she is the one and only person who knows and understands. She is the only one who can alleviate and ease his dilemma and plight as Kyung Jae even it does no practical help to his situation. And worse, love blooms amidst this. Aigoo.. I can totally imagine the conflicting gush of emotions in Kyung Joon – he who owns the face of the person whom DR cannot bear to look at anymore (but still yearns strongly for) – and he who likes DR. Love oh love, why must you be such a torture for Kyung Joon?
I’m sure many will agree with me, GY is stealing the show. Every single minute of it. With his looks, his body, his mannerisms, gestures and his wide range of emotions. One thing about Hong Sis, they always manage to create at least one outstanding and fascinating character in their dramas. Kyung Jae obviously, is the ONE in here. GY plays him and YJ with so much comfort and ease it makes me cry of happiness and joy. Esp during sad lonely moments you see the brilliance of acting perfection in GY. He nails, and hits them damn hard, right thru the floor. He is just that impressive in here. LMJ is a potential starlet, but she is obviously the weaker one compared to her counterpart, by far miles. I actually adore her, I really do. But her performance in BIG doesn’t impress me a lot, in fact it’s rather middling it kinda bothers me. She can be really good, in emotional scenes especially, but she can be really bad too (obviously her OTT hamming up antics). She has to thank GY for being so damn good in there, because he’s all I’m focusing on most of the time, even in the sweetest romantic OTP moments, I find myself loving because GY kills me. He has to do everything from childish, crazy and to angsty (OTT included), but he nails almost all of them if not most with near perfection. He doesn’t kill it all the time, but in 99% of them he’s mostly spot on. LMJ has her moments of perfection, but they’re a scarcity few compared to the lot that GY has. He is just wonderfully precious, and is the best of the best I’ve seen of his. This coming from a non-GY fan who’d failed to see his Han Gyul charm in CP 5 years ago. Guess MS do churn out better actors huh?
Jang Hee Jin’s boring, most probably because SY’s a boring hackneyed character, the type that we’re supposed to hate in all HongSis dramas. Suzy is surprisingly good in here, tho a bit redundant and typical of her past stereotypes (in DH and IntroToArch), she gives Mari a vibrant and quirky vibe,and makes the drama a lil bit more fun than usual. She can be annoying at times, but at least she doesn’t make me wanna throw stones or eggs at her. Baek Sung Hyun, he’s a good actor, and is a bit too underused in here IMO. Guy should be leading his own drama by now, and not play brother like characters in dramas anymore.
Direction and music are both average at best. Some editing glitches and transitions can be improved with better polishing. Overall, the package is quite solid and entertainment value enhanced with splashes of heart and subtlety in interactions. The reason why people are saying BIG doesn’t feel very HongSis to them, there.
6 episodes and it’s 6 letters – H.O.O.K.E.D. Certainly not mindblown or spellbound dumstruck hooked, but hooked is good enough for me. Currently BIG is the only weekday drama I’ve resumed out of the bunch that I’d left off before my trip. I really really really hope the HongSis will stay with the newfound writing approach, stick to the nuanced and heartwarming and not do drama for the sake of drama. It’s always been normal for them to be awesome daebak in the first half, and then lose steam like speed of light in the latter, rendering major distaste in the end.
What I want for BIG, for now, for Kyung Jae to pursue DR at his own accord. To help DR realise that she can be a stronger and better person. And also, to have Yun Jae and Kyung Joon’s relationship and soul switch explained. I really do not want some lousy excuse for Kyung Jae and DR to end up together, altho admittedly that is my ideal option. Give me a reasonable development of all events happening, a logic closure, and more than anything, more bare GY (hehehehe), drama you’re on your way to WINWINWIN!
credit pictures: KBS/ as labeled