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 5-6
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
Contains Spoilers for Episodes 15-16
I'm not even close to ready to let this series go, but these are the final two episodes, so let's see if we get something akin to proper closure.
When last we saw our heroes, all was wrong with the world. Eye Candy had broken up as a band, Ji-hyuk and Suah had broken up as a couple, and the entire cast had their individual hearts broken. Right now, keyboardist Kyung-jong is in Busan, drummer Do-Il is holed up in his family's pool hall and refusing to see visitors, bass player Hajin is dispassionately taking acting classes, guitarist Hyunsoo is singing his solo songs like they're funeral dirges, and leader Ji-hyuk isn't speaking to anyone. Hyunsoo finally mans up and calls Ji-hyuk, as does everyone else, but our boy is out aimlessly wandering the streets of Seoul.
And Pensively Riding the Bus.
The next thing we see is Ji-hyuk heartbrokenly visiting his dead friend Byunghee's funeral memorial. He wonders out loud if things would have been different if Byunghee was still alive. (Waaaaahh. *reaches for tissues*) But just when it looks like all hope is lost, the guys come back together. Kyung-jong returns from Busan, Hyunsoo and Ji-hyuk resurface, and finally they all yell at each other and get their issues resolved.
Eye Candy may have been dropped from their Korean label, but they've now got an offer to play in Japan! Hyunsoo bossily thinks they should accept, but Ji-hyuk points out that none of them truly want to go to Japan--this is just the only way they think they can keep from breaking up. Ji-hyuk says for everyone to give the matter some serious thought and consider a few facts: Do-Il hates the spotlight, Hyunsoo wants to succeed on his own terms, and Hajin and Kyung-jong have never been as passionate about music as Ji-hyuk. Is their high school band really what they want to pursue for the conceivable future, or are they just desperate to accept any venture so long as it means they won't split apart?
The guys finally admit that they mainly kept the band going as a way to stay together. Ji-hyuk and Byunghee were the only two who were really all about the music, and everyone has different dreams to pursue. So Ji-hyuk quits school to pursue music fulltime, and becomes apprentice to master musician Rock Kim. Hyunsoo has his vibrant solo singing career, Hajin's trying his hand at acting, sweet little baby Kyung-jong is going to be a chef, and Do-Il weirdly develops a serious taste for academia and decides to prepare for college.
But though Eye Candy has disbanded, they've still gained more than they've lost. Do-Il and Wookyung finally get together. Hyunsoo takes a shot at a romance with Yerim. Teacher Kim may not be their band manager anymore, but he's back in the classroom as their actual teacher again. Suah even moves back into the rooftop apartment across from Ji-hyuk, so the main couple is back together. The guys all gather at Ji-hyuk's place to watch Hajin's acting debut on TV, and it looks like all of their careers and relationships are going great.
And when it's time for Ji-hyuk's solo stage at a local club, all his friends come to support him and even his onetime arch-rival Seung-hoon comes to watch and enjoy the show. After his own set is done, Ji-hyuk calls his buddies onstage for one last performance of their smash hit song, "Jaywalking". The band may be done, but the friendship and the memories are forever.
Things I Loved:
1. Suah. She still doesn't get much of the story's focus, but as usual, I appreciate having a female character to connect with, and I'm proud of how well Suah holds up even in the most emotionally trying circumstances. I like how she decides for herself not to do the safe and expected thing by following her dad to China. Instead, she chooses a life that she wants, which isn't such a bad existence after all.
Cheer Up, Honey!
2. Ji-hyuk/Suah. We don't get quite enough of them, but what little we get is very good. Their relationship doesn't have a ton of depth, but it's not superficial either, and they always seem to draw strength from each other. I'm glad it was actually Suah, not Ji-hyuk, who made the big impressive romantic gesture that got them back together.
A Boy, a Girl, and a Guitar. All is Right with the World.
3. Haeri Noona. Seung-hoon's big sister has a great eye for talent and charisma, and she gave Eye Candy a gazillion chances to succeed. She couldn't keep them together because she's a shrewd businesswoman above all else, but Haeri Noona is a decent person at the core. And like everyone else in Shut Up, Flower Boy Band, she grows up a little, too.
All Things Considered, Haeri Noona is Pretty Cool.
4. Seung-hoon. What to say about our non-villain? I really appreciated his character and how he complicated life for the main cast without ever truly being a bad guy. Seung-hoon is now going to America so he can act like a responsible adult and take his place in the family business. He comments to Suah that he has developed personally over the last few months. For the first time in his life, he tried to do some worthwhile things; win Suah's heart and excel at music. He succeeded at one of those things. Although it's a tad bittersweet, I'm glad that Seung-hoon gets such a good ending.
Seung-hoon: He's Gonna be All Right.
What You Thought You Wanted is Not Really What You Wanted: Before he has fully repented of his sneaky ways, Seung-hoon says to Hyunsoo "We're both traitors," trying to draw a parallel between the two of them leaving their respective bands. But Seung-hoon points out that though they both got everything they ever wanted (Hyunsoo: fame, Seung-hoon: revenge), neither is happy.
Seung-hoon, Using His Jedi Mind Tricks on the Weak.
Referring to Other Dramas: I love it when dramas give a nod to each other! Hajin goes to an acting audition and tries out for the part of "Cha Chisoo" by slinging his hair to and fro just like Jung Il-Woo in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. What's even better is that FBRS was a previous show on this particular cable network, TvN, and FBRS and SUFBB were produced by the same company (note the similar names: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop/ Shut Up Flower Boy Band).
Shared Dreams vs. Shared Lives: The guys learn the hard way that they don't all have to pursue the same dream in order to be a consistent part of each other's lives. Rock Kim tells Ji-hyuk that guys like them (grouchy, focused guys) can really only do music. But the other kids in the band have many options in life. Yet these many different paths don't have to mean that friends must give up on each other.
Manhwa: While trying to keep his mind off his problems, Ji-hyuk flips through some Korean comics called manhwa. Unlike Japanese manga, the pages read left to right, not right to left.
Rock Music: The representatives from the Japanese record company mention that rock is more established in Japan than Korea. From what I can tell, this is true--Korea focuses more on pop and trot, though they do have rock and hip-hop.
New Words: "Tarrawa" is "follow me". "Arasso" is "okay, all right, I got it". "Maeil" is "every day". "Chunguk" is China, which is where Suah's dad is going to go. "Ilpon" is Japan, where Eye Candy has been given an offer to play music.
What an ending! I think I'm satisfied with it. Part of me wants for the show to end on a triumphant note, with the guys at the height of their popularity, frozen forever in that perfect moment that Byunghee talked about in episode one. But this bittersweet ending is just right, somehow. It's more realistic than having everyone riding magical unicorns off into the sunset. This is what life is like: endless victories, defeats, and changes. But the show indicates that no matter what changes arise, it's important to open up and share your life with the people you love. Thanks for a great story and a great time, Shut Up, Flower Boy Band.