Friday, June 29, 2012
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho Review
To be honest, I'm not always a fan of the Hong Sisters' dramas. This drama had been on the back burner for me for a long time—I had some desire to watch it, but needed a little push to start it. That push came (happily) from a combination of my current frenzy over Big and a newfound love for Lee Seung Ki after watching King 2 Hearts. And I'm glad I finally got that push.
It's not a perfect drama, but despite that, I really enjoyed it. How can you not swoon over Lee Seung Ki's adorable dimples? How could I resist the delightful twist on a Korean fable/fairy tale? (I'm a total sucker for good fairy tale adaptations, even if I'm not very well versed on the story.) And the Hong Sisters are generally quite good at writing comedy. I also loved the mystery interwoven throughout the story, which added a nice tension and some conflict to the plot.
One of my favorite aspects of this drama was Shin Min Ah's performance as the titular Gumiho, or nine-tailed fox. This bodes well for the upcoming Arang and the Magistrate. I don't know how many actors can portray being a wild animal so perfectly while still being absolutely loveable at the same time. I never once forgot that her character Mi Ho was a fox-in-human-form, and yet I was always rooting for her. I was fascinated by an interpretation of a fox not as a sly, cunning, thieving and wicked beast, but as a curious, naive and playful creature who wanted to be loved as much as she wanted to be human. She can also be menacing at times, but it's judiciously used, and almost always for comedic effect. Also, I love Mi Ho's delight in eating beef and that her favorite color is brown because "it's the color of cow".
And while I felt that Lee Seung Ki hadn't quite grown into his acting chops (he's better in King 2 Hearts), he's quite good at playing Cha Dae Woong as a self-absorbed yet likeable cad who experiences quite a lot of growth over the course of the series. One of my favorite scenes involves him envisioning ways to escape Mi Ho via various apparatus in the action school only to fail miserably both times. I love the image of his imaginary self completing each task in a complicated set of gymnastics, including swinging himself up on a high bar and using a fly system, and then seeing the actual Cha Dae Woong flounder and flail about helplessly. Great physical comedy!
Another thing I loved about this series was the secondary couple of Cha Dae Woong's spinster aunt Cha Min Sook and his boss Ban Doo Hong, who have so many awkward encounters, and are extremely dorky at times. They own it. Another great moment involves Ban Doo Hong thinking he knocks down a brick wall just by peeing on it, and how the owner of the wall has him arrested for being a pervert.
The worst part of this drama (and so many other kdramas) was the last two episodes. There is so much angst and melodrama, and not much comedy in those two episodes. Mi Ho loses much of her effervescence, and never quite recovers it. But there is definite tension up until the very end, and it's worth getting through those two episodes to see the resolution of the (too-short) ending.
Overall, this drama has a good story, decent pacing, cute acting, and an overall fresh feel. I'd give it 8.8 out of 10.