Thursday, February 16, 2012

K-Drama Review: Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 5-6

Read episode reviews for:
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 1-2
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 3-4
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 7-8
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 9-10
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 11-12
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 13-14
Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 5-6

The sound you hear is everyone's jaws dropping as this show continues to get better every week.

Ji-hyuk opts to save Suah from dangerous thugs instead of competing with his band, Eye Candy, for a musical practice room at school. Since the thugs keep coming around Suah's place, Ji-hyuk suggests that he and Suah change apartments. In most dramas, they'd end up moving into the same apartment which would lead to wacky misunderstandings, but it's somehow cuter that they're separate and highly uncomfortable in each other's respective apartments.

While things are going badly for Suah, things are looking up for the boys in Eye Candy. In the competition to enter the big battle of the bands, Eye Candy came in 2nd while the rich-kid band Strawberry Fields was 4th. Hyunsoo feels that his guitar skills are being slighted when the judge comments say that the guitar part could have been stronger, but everyone else is elated. Valentines Day is coming up, and the boys are more popular than ever, as evidenced by the massive pile of chocolates they receive from girls at their school.

In these episodes, we finally get Suah and Seung-hoon's backstory to their ten-year friendship. Seung-hoon came to her elementary school from America and he didn't speak any Korean, but Suah stood up for him when he was bullied. She even carried him piggyback when they were kids and he was smaller then her. This is a great moment of character revelation because it shows why Seung-hoon is so bent on caring for Suah--it's partly paying her back for her help in the past. And it also shows that the privileged prince does know what it's like to be the underdog and the person everyone puts down.

Then finally, the day of the big rock festival arrives!  Hyunsoo is running in a panic to get there on time, and the guys begin to worry. In his rush to cross the street, Hyunsoo is nearly hit by a bus and he falls and cuts his guitar-playing hand badly. Noooo....

Things I Loved:

1. Ji-hyuk/Suah. They're shaping up to be an epic couple, but they're such a natural pair, too. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and they both get smarter and stronger over time. I like how they don't ever lie or manipulate anyone, least of all each other. And they get the cutest moments! For example: when Suah cries, Ji-hyuk awkwardly puts a comforting arm around her while pretending that he hasn't. And Suah leaves a bottle of milk at Ji-hyuk's door every morning, just to make sure he's getting his daily nutrition, I guess.

These two have a fun little subplot where Ji-hyuk has unknowingly recorded the vocals for the song that Suah always listens to for comfort. Although Ji-hyuk doesn't admit to being the singer when she asks him, he's smiling like a fool as he's walking down the street while sharing earbuds and listening to his own song with her.

Any More Cuteness, and the Screen Would Explode.

2. Seung-hoon. He's such a great character. I thought he was a cold shell of a person who had no interest in the world around him, but he has proven to be one of the more compelling members of the cast, right up there with Suah and Ji-hyuk. Seung-hoon rightly asks why Suah didn't tell him about her troubles, and he's all kinds of hurt that she didn't come to him for help. He's a hero at heart; he just hasn't had an opportunity to save anyone. One of the best parts of episode 6 happens when Seung-hoon bravely and awesomely declines the mean school Principal's offer to keep Eye Candy out of the band competition. Atta boy! Honestly, I'm rooting for Seung-hoon every bit as much as the Eye Candy guys.

Seung-hoon, Fighting!

3. Hyunsoo. More so than the "villains," this good--guy member of the band has the potential to cause serious trouble. Hyunsoo's definitely challenging authority when he smoothly suggests that maybe Ji-hyuk shouldn't be in the band and should instead spend his time on romance, since he's always flying off to help Suah. Whoops, looks like our resident loose cannon is getting ready to fire! And due to a bad case of absentee parents, Hyunsoo is always taking care of his baby sister, which keeps him from band practice and frustrates him more. Hyunsoo's a bit of a workaholic because he puts forth more effort than anyone else in the band, all while parenting his little sister. AWWW. Don't make me like you any more than I already do, Hyunsoo, because I know you're trouble.

Excellent Big Brother; Questionable Friend at Times.

4. Suah. What a doll! She's a gentle soul with a go-getter's attitude. Suah works at least two part-time jobs to support herself after her dad's financial crisis, but she never gets bitter toward her appa for his failures.  Suah truthfully tells her dad that she's doing all right in her current impoverished situation and that she's made some great friends. She has also grown more assertive and learned more about herself through the crisis. I find it interesting that I now care about Suah like a BFF, but it was a gradual attachment that developed over several episodes.

Only Gets Better With Time.

5. The Music. We don't hear enough of it, but what music we hear from the bands is good. Eye Candy sounds kinda like FT Island or CN Blue, the poppy yet instrument-playing Korean bands that have vocals you actually want to listen to.

Complaints: Most of my complaints about these episodes actually turned into beneficial things for the plot arc. Hyunsoo is missing from a lot of the scenes (presumably because his actor had other commitments with Infinite), and they make good excuses for it, but it got to be noticeable that one of the band members was only in a third of the band scenes. But having Hyunsoo offstage makes you wonder what's happening to him and when he's going to crack.

Also, thank goodness Suah's dad gives himself up to the police so that the loansharks will stop hassling his daughter. That subplot with the thugs was almost lasting too long, but it wraps up before it gets too repetitive.


Telling the Whole Truth: Well, most K-dramas wouldn't last a whole 16 episodes if the cast didn't have a veritable festival of misunderstandings and partial communications, but Ji-hyuk says that Suah needs to tell everyone at school the whole truth about her situation. And wouldn't you know it? He was right. As soon as Suah airs all her secrets in public, she has nothing left to lose and nothing to worry over. When in doubt, try confessing.

Leadership: After being chased out of one practice space too many,  Ji-hyuk acts like a grown-up and talks to the actual landlady of their practice space instead of just sneaking around behind her back. He shows his leadership skills in other ways, too, because he regularly takes care of his friends by cooking for them and he dashes off to help Woo-kyung, a girl who annoys him, when he gets a call. That's just the kind of person he is.

Sacrifice: Hyunsoo sacrifices his hand to win the band contest in honor of Byunghee, but then Ji-hyuk sacrifices their win to protect his hurt friend. Hyunsoo was grimacing and playing guitar with bleeding hands until Ji-hyuk forcibly stopped him from playing and shredding his hand further. But though Eye Candy loses the competition because of Hyunsoo's injury, the guys are worried about his hand, not about their win, just as they should be.

Bleeding All Over These Frets.

Cultural Observances:

Valentine's Day is rather different in Korea than in America. In America, I mostly see guys doing stuff for their girlfriends on V-Day, but in Korea (and in Japan, from what I recall from manga), Valentine's Day is a holiday specifically for girls to give chocolate to the guys they like. The more chocolate a guy gets, the more popular he is. But the guys on TV and in the comics never seem happy if they don't get chocolate from the one girl they like, which is the case with Seung-hoon, who sadly broods over a pile of chocolates that did not come from Suah.

Episode Evaluations: Character development for everyone! Sadness without angst! Plotlines that actually resolve themselves within a reasonable time frame! What a great show.

You can watch episode 5 HERE at DramaFever.

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