Alchemy of Souls Part 2 (2023)

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Drama: Alchemy of Souls: Light and Shadow (환혼: 빛과 그림자)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 10
Release Date: December 10, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:10

Plot:
Three years after Mudeok dies, Jang Uk has been on a mission to kill all soul shifters as ordered by the King. Lady Jin has been hiding the fact that she retrieved Mudeok’s body, and revived her daughter, Jin Bu Yeon’s soul, but taking on the face of Naksu. Jin Bu Yeon, who doesn’t remember anything about her past, is arranged to be married to Seo Yul’s uncle, but she got away and met Jang Uk. Will they be able to find their way back to each other and can they fight the evil forces of Jinmu once and for all?

Main Cast

Review
I liked the chemistry between Jaewook and Youn Jung more than with Jung Somin. Maybe that’s why I liked part 2 more than part 1 (although I admit without the love story in part 1, part 2 wouldn’t work that well). Mudeok and Jang Uk to me felt like Master-Student while Buyeon-Jang Uk felt like the real thing.

I missed the original Naksu shadow assassin (GYJ looked soooo different as Jin Bu Yeon – the hair, light eyebrows etc) so sometimes I had to stop and think if this was really the same actress or not. Cho Yeong’s evolution from the young girl, the teenager that Seo Yul met, to Mudeok, Jin Buyeon and back to Yeong was amazing. I’m still a little bit confused how this all happened, though it somehow made sense, but I love that she will spend the rest of her life as Cho Yeong. She may never take up the sword again, but with her powers, she and Jang Uk can fight together for good.

I also love how much Jang Uk has grown since part 1 episode 1, esp now that he is the most powerful mage in Daeho. You dont need to be the king to be the most powerful, as long as you do your job and your passion well. I hated that Go Won was always threatened by Jang Uk when he never made any intention known that he wanted to be king.

I didn’t however, like that there were a lot of flashbacks that could have been skipped. I also didnt like that Go Won had many scenes that were unnecessary and the turtle squad, trying make their scenes funny like in part 1. Good thing the turtle actually had a purpose in the story.

Park Jin and Kim Dojoo are too funny!! I miss Danggu’s blonde hair and he didnt get a lot of cute scenes with Choyeon. Of course Master Lee is always all knowing.

I also never liked Seo Yul and Soi’s “relationship” from the very start. Soi has caused so much pain to Seo Yul and almost died because of her. and Soi dying trying to save him doesn’t justify her actions or make her a better person. Even she didn’t give him the blood parasite, none of this would have happened in the first place. Plus Seo Yul is so nice and virtuous, how can the writers pair him up with Soi, plus his one sided love with Naksu! how cruel! I was hoping he gets his own love interest at the end, but i guess, his heart is with the mages. I also was so annoyed with Yun Ok. Why is she even in this drama? She was catty for no reason, and put her nose in every place she didn’t have to be.

It’s always hard to write a great ending for fantasy dramas so was very happy that this show ended with quite well!!

Overall part 1 and part 2 could have actually fit in 20 episodes if they removed some of the draggy parts at the start, but also ok that they separated part 2 to give time for people to get used to the new actress/character and the 3 yrs later part of the story.

Rating: 8.5/10

Alchemy of Souls Part 1 (2022)

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Drama: Alchemy of Souls (환혼)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 20 (Part 1)
Release Date: June 18 – August 28, 2022
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:10

Plot: A skilled assassin shifts her soul into a blind servant and meets Jang Uk, who is looking for a teacher who can unleash his powers trapped by his own father.

Main Cast
Lee Jaewook – Jang Uk
Jung Somin – Mudeok/Naksu
Yoo Junsang – Park Jin
Oh Nara – Maidservant Kim
Hwang Minhyun – Seo Yul
Go Yoonjung – Naksu
Shin Seungho – Crown Prince Go Won
Arin – Jin Cho Yeon
Yoo Insoo – Park Danggu
Park Eunhye – Lady Jin Ho gyeong
Joo Sangwook – Jang Gang

Jo Jaeyoon – Jin Mu

Review:
The first half was so boring, I didn’t know why people were raving about this show when it came out. I struggled to finish the show. The drama got interesting only starting ep 12. I think this should have been 16 eps and not 20.

I like the whole fantasy part about soul shifters and spells. Reminds me of Harry Potter since this drama also had different teams, except they used swords instead of wands, and Uk is like Harry Potter who didn’t know he was the boy that will save them all (or the boy with the King’s Star)

I like Mudeok/Naksu though sometimes I got annoyed when she uses her accent. She is brave and ruthless but she also learned to mature and love instead of becoming an assassin. I’m still confused about Buyeon, how can 2 souls reside in 1 body. They say Buyeon is controlling the body and yet when Naksu heard the bells, Buyeon couldn’t do anything. So I feel like writer is using Buyeon if they need a plot device. Will we ever get to meet the real Buyeon? Will people finally found out that Mudeok is really Buyeon and is the proper heir to the Jin tribe? I really wish Lady Jin meets her because she has been tormented long enough.

And why no one has ever suspected Mudeok to be Naksu when there are so many red flags about her! For supposedly powerful mages, they were all stupid except for Uk and Yul. And they can’t even capture Jinmu who is always one step ahead of them!

I love the master -pupil pair of Mudeok/ Jang Uk more than as lovers. I didn’t feel the romantic chemistry between Mudeok and Jang Uk, even when they finally confessed and kissed on episode 19 I didn’t feel anything. The only scene that stirred me was the end when Naksu stabbed Jang Uk and he died and Mudeok woke up and realized what she has done.

I think Naksu/Yul’s story were much better in terms of tragic romance. I think they had better chemistry than Uk. There were also several unnecessary side stories and too many characters. Like the thief girl. Yul is too pure to have even some sort of love line with her and she gave him the blood parasite!! I think it was supposed to keep him alive but the pain that he felt and she never even bothered to tell him so they can find a way to get it out of his bloodstream!

Cho Yeon/Danggu brought the cuteness in this show, as well as Park Jin and Maidservant Kim’s cat-dog relationship.

It was also a little unbelievable that 3 guys were fighting over Mudeok esp with the Crown Prince butting in all the time. He didn’t know she was Naksu and thought of her as a mere servant but kept stop meeting up with her. I also didn’t like the Crown Prince although I think he was meant to be arrogant. I also don’t know if he is going to be bad in part 2 since it looks like he has some sort of jealousy / competition with Uk. What will happen if he finds out Uk is the son of the late king?

I’m excited for season 2. I really hope it finishes the story well or else I will really be disappointed.

Rating: 8.25 (8 for first half, 8.5 for second half)

Yonder (2022)

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Drama: Yonder (욘더)
Network: TVING
Episodes: 6
Release Date: October 14, 2022

Plot: In futuristic Korea, euthanasia has been passed into law and a mysterious company is offering people the ability to design their own death.

Main cast:
Shin Ha Kyun -Kim Jae Hyun
Han Ji Min – Cha Yi Hoo
Jung Jin Young – Dr. K
Lee Jung Eun – Seiren

Review:
Spoilers alert. The drama opened an interesting and controversial topic to discuss and debate on, which is about life after death. Or specifically, designing your own death.

From episode 1 i already knew the potential danger that may happen with the premise. By N By was exploiting people’s grief and manipulating them through religion (souls going to heaven after death) and science (creating data from memories) to follow their dead relatives. I think they should be arrested for inciting mass murder/suicide. But the story was left open in the end and didnt have proper closure.

I thought the dying people who chose Yonder were very selfish. Like the lead’s wife. She couldn’t bear that the husband will forget her when she dies. Instead of wanting their family and friends to move on, they are also encouraging them to join them in “heaven”. And a lot of them did with false hopes of happiness, which is very sad. Like the girl killing herself to be with her dad, and the father to be with his family.

I also feel bad for those who wanted to grieve, and were led on by By N By. I mean the it was created by the married scientists who were grieving for their dead daughter and wanted to create their own alternate universe by bringing everyone else into their metaverse. It’s psychotic and chilling. I was disappointed with the sudden change of Jaehyun from a non believer upto ep 4 to suddenly joining his wife in ep 5. But am glad he was able to “wake up” and let go and also have friends who were able to bring him back to life.

The visuals were gorgeous, like the drama was supposed to be a movie but got extended to 6 episodes.

I personally favor euthanasia like if I were dying, i would like to choose when I would die rather than wait until I cant handle the pain anymore. But i would rather that memories remain in my heart and not create a new life after death. I’d rather be left at peace than have my brothers mourn me forever. Like Jaehyun said, “The reason beautiful moments are precious is because that moment can never return”. And the memories were built from data that maybe real but are remade for illusions.

I did wish the drama was 1 episode longer to explain where Yonder is and what happens after and to everyone else. I’m assuming it is some form of metaverse so I’m surprised people were not able to find out where it is located (eg. Server or IP address), and raid the company.

Rating: 8.5/10

Love Between Fairy and Devil (CDrama) (2022)

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Drama: Love Between Fairy and Devil / Cang Lan Jue (苍兰诀)
Country: China
Episodes: 36
Aired: Aug 7, 2022 – Aug 29, 2022
Aired On: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Original Network: iQiyi
Duration: 45 min.

Plot:
A fairy from a rival tribe unknowingly sets free the devil lord from the Moon tribe imprisoned for 30,000 years and swaps bodies with him. She ends up putting a curse on him where he can feel every thing she feels emotionally and physically. Devil Lord needs to keep her close and find a way to release the curse, but what happens when they end up falling in love?

Main Cast
Dylan Wang – Dong Fang Qin Cang
Esther Yu – Orchid/Xian Lan Hua/Goddess
Zhang Ling He – Lord Changheng/Xiao Run
Xu Hai Qiao – Lord Rong Hao
Cristy Guo – Chidi Woman
Charles Lin – Shang Que
Hong Xiao – Jie Li
Wang Yue Yi – Fairy Danyin
Zhang Chen Xiao – Xunfeng

Review:
I’ve never watched a xianxia- I always thought they looked fake and I’m not really into immortals and fairies. But I saw that this drama has Didi and Esther as the main leads so I thought I should check this out! And boy, I’m so glad I did! This drama totally surpassed my expectations!! I was just looking for a light cutesy romcom drama but I ended up having so much more.

Gorgeous visuals. How much did they spend for the CGI because every scene was so beautiful! The Arbiter Hall, The Moon Palace, the Memory Loss River, the Immortals Realm, etc. Even that scene where Changheng went inside the painting with Rong Hao was so good.

Beautiful costumes. Orchid was always wearing beautiful flowy dresses and her hair accessories are so pretty. DFCQ’s costumes are also splendid, so are Lord Changheng and Ronghao’s costumes. Their wedding costumes in Lucheng were also so gorgeous. The only cringy items are their acrylic looking or gold looking hairpieces that look cheap.

Grand display of power. I loved it every time DFQC used his blue Hellfire – it didn’t look fake and you really feel that he’s the most powerful being in the realm. Even the glazed fire was so shocking. Also everytime DFQC shows up in the earlier episodes to rescue Orchid was wonderfully done. The Goddess of Xilan, when she finally showed her powers to rescue DFQC in one scene, and to stop the battle between the Immortals and Moon Tribe was awesome.

Romantic Comedy. In the first half, Orchid was cute and adorable while DFQC was the unsmiling jerk. There were several light and funny scenes, like when DFQC had to count flowers, laugh and cry while Orchid was laughing and crying. The body swap scenes where Orchid in DFQC’s body was forcibly trying to kiss DFQC in Orchid’s body to swap bodies.

“Not only will I not kill you, I also won’t allow anyone to hurt you. If anyone dares to touch you, I’ll cut their skin off and make a human lantern out of it. From now on, you’re mine. Your life belongs to me. Your breathing belongs to me. Your heartbeat belongs to me. Every drop of blood in your body belongs to me. Without my permission, don’t leave my sight.”

Eternal Love. By episode 20, Orchid and DFQC are still not together, but not because they don’t like each other, but because of their current situation. DFQC’s mission is to kill everyone in Shuyuantian to avenge the wrong treatment of Orchid and to restore the Moon Tribe like he promised his father and his tribe. Orchid is from Shuyuantian and even though she loves DFQC, she doesn’t want him to start a war and kill her hometown. The angst. Omg! I was crying whenever they had to argue about this. And that scene where DFQC put the bone crushing thing inside his body which causes him pain every midnight until he is able to release the frozen Moon Tribe and Orchid’s helplessness in the situation.

The argument scene when Orchid wants to take the 3 day punishment in DFQC’s place to show the people that she deserves to be the Moon Queen, and DFQC pretending to drink the tea and secretly vomiting it so that he feels the same pain as Orchid. I was bawling like crazy!! I’ve never watched a drama where the main leads were really fighting for each other and willing to sacrifice their lives.

When Orchid learns of her true identity and tries to pretend she doesn’t remember DFQC but makes a mistake of doing the Smile gesture that gave away the truth, and DFQC kissing her like there’s no tomorrow.

Ugh!! I still can’t move on from the final episode where **BIG SPOILERS AHEAD** DFCQ sacrificed himself. Such a significant character growths for both the main leads. Of course, I wasn’t too bothered with the sacrifice. They are immortals, so I thought they can just come back / reincarnate or whatever. DFCQ carefully planting and taking care of Orchid’s seed and Orchid taking care of DFQC’s moon spirit until he comes back (after 500 years but that’s fast considering they’ve lived for more than 30,000 years).

Noble Second Male Lead. Lord Changheng was so nice, I wouldn’t have minded Orchid being with Changheng without DFQC. Changheng also had a sad fate. He is engaged to the goddess that he has never seen, falls in love with Orchid, and hiding his feelings for her because he is engaged to the goddess, not knowing that they are the same person!! When he finally founds out the truth, Orchid has already fallen in love with DFQC. Later when Orchid is the Goddess and wants to pushthrough with their wedding even if Changheng knows she doesn’t love him. Aw poor boy can’t catch a break. And his best friend Rong Hao betrays him and everyone in Shuyuantian.

Wonderful Bromance. DFCQ and the loyal Shang Que. DFQC and the mortal Xiao Run which later became a bond with Lord Changheng. Lord Changheng and Ronghao (tragic but still a good bromance). DFQC and Xunfeng.

Rich Side Stories. There were so many other stories aside from the main leads’ story, which extended the episodes into 36. We have the love story between Shang Que and Jie Li, which I honestly do not approve of. I think Shang Que deserves a better girl than Jie Li, although I also like Jie Li’s dilemma of following Haishi or protecting her friends.

The Lu Cheng episodes where the immortals all went down to the mortal realm were a huge treat. Chidi Woman and Orchid’s friendship. Chidi Woman’s crush on DFQC. I think the poem came true, that Chidi was supposed to meet DFQC that night, get married and was killed by DFQC. She wasn’t meant to be with Changheng like they all think. I think Chidi woman had the saddest story of all the characters (Changheng comes second).

Changheng and Danyin’s friendship. I was hoping they end up together but I guess they are really just friends. Plus Li Yuan’s big reveal about Danyin being a half Moon Tribe (which she never knows) and finding out Danyin and Jieli are sisters (they look so different from each other though – aren’t they supposed to be twins or something).

Evil Bad Guys. Show’s not complete without the villains. For the most part, the villain is Rong Hua/Lord of Haishi City who has been wreaking havoc across the realms to reincarnate his beloved mentor Chidi woman. I liked in the first half because although he is bad, you can sympathize with him and his mission of wanting to bring back his beloved at all costs. But I think what he did in the latter half was too much and the last episode spent a lot of time on him and Chidi woman was unnecessary. We want less Rong Hao, more Orchid/DFQC scenes and he just took most of the time away from the could have been a very happy ending.

I also think Lord Yunzhong is a big annoying immortal who keeps abusing his power and blaming every mistake to Changheng or Orchid.

There’s an even bigger baddie in Tai Sui which serves as the climax of the drama.

Of course, there’s no perfect drama and LBFD also suffered slightly from this. i already mentioned what I didn’t like – Shang Que and Danyin, too much screentime for Rong Hao in the last episode (we didn’t need to know his background story and we don’t really care). The last scene could have been extended for maybe 10 more minutes so we could have seen Orchid and DFQC happy and possibly with kids in the future. We didn’t get the best ending but I’ll just go back to that previous episode when they DFQC was in a dream that he and Orchid were happy and pretend like that’s the real ending.

This is showing in Netflix today so please do not miss this wonderful drama!

Rating: 9/10