Monday, July 4, 2016

REVIEW: Click Your Heart (live action TV series), via Netflix

Click Your Heart is a short Korean romance series.

Review:

I started watching this one because I was curious about the format. It sounded like it was set up to be like an otome game, and it really was. Unfortunately, this format probably would have worked better on a website, with considerably better labeled episodes, than on my TV.

Min Ah has just transferred to a new high school, but she hasn't managed to leave the rumors about her behind. Everyone knows that if you get to close to her, you'll end up getting hurt. Luckily, one person still likes her and wants to be around her: her childhood friend, Da Won. He gets her into the school's broadcasting club and gives her her first assignment, interviewing the school's star baseball player, Ro Woon. Unfortunately, Ro Woon gets hurt protecting her from a baseball, which only seems to confirm the rumors about her terrible curse.

After that, it's all up to you, the viewer. Who should Min Ah fall in love with? Ro Woon, the arrogant baseball player who likes her even when the rest of the school hates her? Da Won, her childhood friend, who's secretly in love with her but doesn't know how to tell her? How about Chani, the sweet, smiling guy whose passion is dancing and who says he and Min Ah have met before but won't say where or how? Or maybe Ju Ho, the tough guy who's desperately trying to track Min Ah down?

At the end of every episode, viewers are given two choices. Should Min Ah go see Ro Woon when he calls her up, or should she turn him down and talk to Chani some more? Should she say she isn't sure who Da Won is to her, or should she say he's just a friend?

Do you know what would have made things easier? If the episode titles had indicated which episodes went with which choices. I eventually figured out what was going on, but by then it was too late. I'll make things easier for future viewers. Here's the order you need to watch the episodes in for the various endings:

Ro Woon's ending: Episodes 1, 2, 4
Da Won's ending: Episodes 1, 2, 5
Ju Ho's ending: Episodes 1, 3, 6
Chani's ending: Episodes 1, 3, 7

Each episodes is only 15 minutes long, which means each romance is developed over the course of only 45 minutes, in some cases less (Ju Ho doesn't even get to talk to Min Ah until episode 3). This means that although each route has some nice moments, they're also all unsatisfying in their own way.

In my opinion, the sweetest route was probably Ju Ho's, even if it relied a bit too much on flashbacks and summaries, and even though Ju Ho was only half a step up from cardboard. The wrap-up in episode 6 was surprisingly low key. However, that particular route also snubbed Chani – making the choice that led to episode 6 would have involved Min Ah ignoring Chani and leaving him behind, and yet none of this was shown.

Chani's route was probably the most surprising of the bunch, although not necessarily in a good way. According to Netflix's description, it was supposed to be the route that would best help Min Ah overcome her supposed curse, but instead the curse evaporated like it never existed. I probably would have liked this ending more if it hadn't had a “one year later” bit at the end. So viewers were supposed to assume Min Ah just sat around, smiled, and did nothing while she waited for a guy who might not even remember her to come looking for her?

Da Won's route was the most obvious one right from the get-go. It was clear that he was in love with her. Unfortunately, his route also led to awkward and difficult-to-watch moments. I'm really not a fan of characters who spend years pining over a person and then get pissy when said person is flustered when confronted with those years of brewing feelings that they didn't even realize were there. That said, I suppose Da Won's ending was kind of sweet, after he stopped giving Min Ah the cold shoulder. I winced at the brief look at Ro Woon's response to Min Ah and Da Won's very public confession of their feelings for each other, though.

Now for Ro Woon. Oh, Ro Woon. I have to admit, I disliked the guy at first. He was arrogant, and kind of a jerk. He showed his affection for Min Ah by ordering her around and then secretly enjoying being near her. It was a bit annoying watching Ro Woon and Da Won fight over Min Ah like they were dogs and she was a bone, but I did at least like Ro Woon's complete refusal to be swayed by everyone's dislike of Min Ah. His coach didn't like Min Ah because he worried she'd get his star player hurt again. All of Ro Woon's female fans hated Min Ah for monopolizing his attention and getting him hurt with her curse. Meanwhile, Ro Woon ignored all of that and asked her to stay by him. I loved that a part of him worried that she wouldn't come see him off before his game, and I really loved the little happy bounce he did when she finally showed up. The end of episode 5 was disappointingly sudden, however.

This was a nice experiment, and it might have worked better if I had followed my favorite routes from beginning to end rather than watched all 7 episodes in order. Then again, maybe it wouldn't have. Min Ah's “curse” appeared and disappeared whenever it was most useful for the story (it almost didn't exist in Da Won's route), and the curse's existence was never satisfactorily disproved. Also, the routes were too short to truly develop any of the romances and characters.

It's not a great series, but it's at least a short one, so it's maybe worth giving it a shot, especially if you're a fan of otome games. Just be warned, the actress who plays Min Ah is terrible at fake crying. There were a couple times when I wondered if her character was really crying or just pretending to cry – an embarrassing amount of noise and yet completely dry cheeks. There were other times when she was either able to work up a few tears or someone on set took pity on her and gave her some fake tears. It was weird.

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